The Calling of God

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by christianyouth, May 30, 2006.

  1. christianyouth

    christianyouth
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    What exactly does it mean when someone has been 'called' to preach? How about when someone feels 'called' to be a missionary? How do you know this calling? What are the requirements for one to be 'called'?

    What if someone is willing to enter into full-time Christian service, but they are not sure if they have been 'called'?

    God Bless,
    Andy
     
  2. Pipedude

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    Andy, it's a big topic with a long history. Some even believe that there's no such thing as being "called to preach." Those of us who are, know better. But it's a highly debated topic and I assure you, our experiences differ.

    I was called to preach in a dramatic way, contrary to what some will say: "God's not gonna hit you over the head with a ton of bricks and say I want you." Sometimes that's exactly what he does.

    You will get MANY responses to this question, all helpful. My advice is
    • move ahead; God can steer us best if we're already in motion
    • push open a few doors and look inside
    • move as far toward the front lines as God will permit you to go.
    • Listen to your church's opinion of your calling
     
  3. christianyouth

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    Great advice!

    Well, can someone actually describe personal experiences? That should give some good insight.

    See, my church strongly believes in preachers being 'called'. That is why I am abit nervous to tell them I want to go in to full-time ministry serving my God. I feel they will stress the importance of actually being 'called' into Christian service. The thing is, I dont have any supernatural reason for wanting to serve God. God did not send me a vision! Not quite sure what to do.

    Anyways, I vowed to the Lord, five months ago, that I was going to devote my life to him and serve him full-time at a Christian camp. I have not shared this with anyone, except the people on this board. I wasnt called, but I was willing. Is my ministry doomed to fail simply because I have no supernatural calling?

    Anyways, back to the actual topic, would be very interesting to hear some personal testimonies.

    God Bless,
    Andy
     
  4. bapmom

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    I would consider a "calling" to be a strong desisre to serve the Lord in a given field.....so much so that you cannot get away from it. At least this is how it has been for me. In college I felt that God was calling me to the mission field, and I cannot imagine anything else for my ultimate goal.

    I also agree with Pipedude's points wholeheartedly. Go ahead and prepare yourself for how you are interested in serving God. As you do that preparing God will guide and direct your path to refine it according to what He ultimately wants for your life. It may be several different directions.....we never know.

    Just keep going for God. Keep movin' forward.
     
  5. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303
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    I commend you for wrestling with this topic. It is one that many of us have wrestled with and it is one of those things that you cannot describe to someone that hasn't wrestled with it. The following is my testimony regarding my calling to ministry:

    When I was about 16 years old I began sensing that the Lord was calling me to be a preacher. That was in reality that last thing I wanted to do with my life. I had a course that I felt was going to be a good plan for life. Yet the Lord would not leave me alone.

    One day I was sitting and talking to my pastor. I had not shared any of this inner struggle with him. He told me that he felt that I would make a good preacher and I might consider the Lord was calling me in that direction. I could not believe this, how in the world would he know that? That was not what I wanted to hear at all, so I kept running...
    A little while later that pastor left to go into another ministry and our church called a new pastor. One day while talking he asked me if I had ever considered that the Lord was calling me to preach. Again, I was just floored, why was the Lord doing this? It was enough that it happened once, but how in the world could it happen twice unless the Lord really meant business?!? Yet I was still not ready for that and I continued to run...

    A couple months later my father had a major stroke and eventually a blood clot hit his heart and he died. Throughout this period, God had really been dealing with me on this calling. He finally had my complete attention and I was ready to follow His plan. On July 25, 1995 I surrendered my life to the plan of God and committed to Him that I would do whatever He wanted in my life.

    Throughout the whole experience the Lord used Jeremiah 1 to help me in many ways. I found that I was not the only one making excuses. And yet in God's sovereignty He has a plan and that plan is going to be fulfilled. I have found myself many times stopping and hearing the Lord ask me the same question, "David, what do you see?" Everytime I take comfort in knowing that the Lord is watching to see that His word is fulfilled.
     
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    That's a wonderful testimony, PastorSBC1303.

    I agree with everyone so far. Let me add my two yen worth.

    I was a clueless 18 when God called me. I had no real plans for the future and no dreams of what I wanted to be or do. But I had surrendered to do God's will at age 16 in an evangelistic meeting. In another evangelistic meeting when I was 18 the same evangelist preached, and God called me. His calling was very forceful. Before I knew it I found myself down front at the invitation telling the preacher I was called to preach. I don't remember standing up or walking to the front, I just remember being there. The Holy Spirit truly moved me! Since that day I have never doubted His call to preach.

    My call to be a missionary was quite different. I was sitting in the back of the huge Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga listening to a missionary from Japan during the Tennessee Temple College missionary conference, a great affair with as many as 200 missionaries at a time. God spoke to my heart as if to say, "Would you go to Tokyo, Japan, if I asked you to?" My immediate reply was, "No way, Lord!" (A contradiction in terms, right?) The missionary had told us how Tokyo was the second most crowded city in the world, and I certainly did not like crowds!

    God continued to work on my heart until the last day of the conference.
    There in my seat I surrendered to go whereever in the whole world the Lord wanted me to go, and had great peace about it. However, I did not take that as a call to Japan, just the call to be a missionary. I prayed about Hong Kong for four years after that, since I love the Chinese people and my parents had tried to go to Tibet under the China Inland Mission until the Communists took over.

    When I graduated from college in August of 1976, Dr. Jim Norton of Japan, whose daughter was also graduating, was sitting behind my parents. They began talking, and Dad and Mom shared with him how I wanted to be a missionary to Asia. Dr. Norton met me outside after the graduation exercises, and after the greeting his first words to me were, "Will you pray about coming to work with me in Japan?" I went into seminary and prayed every day about the call to Japan. One day during my private devotions I read Romans 15:20-21, and God confirmed the call to Japan: "Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand."

    Christianyouth, God called people to His service many ways in the Word of God. He will deal with you individually in His own way and His own time. But however He deals with you, I assure you that after all is said and done you will know for sure you are called. Here are some of the Biblical ways people were called:

    1. Through the will of man, volunteering (Is. 6:8, 1 Tim. 3:1)
    2. By force through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ez. ch. 2)
    3. Through preparation from the womb (Jer. 1:4-10, Luke 1:15, Gal. 1:15)
    4. Through a vision (Amos 1:1, Nahum 1:1, Acts 16:9-10, 26:19). God no longer uses this method.
    5. Through the Word of God (Jonah 1:1-2)
    6. By a miracle (Ex. 3:1-10)
    7. By the laying on of hands (Deut. 34:9)
    8. Through the words of a man (1 Kings 19:15-21, Matt. 4:18-21, 9:9)
     
  7. Marcia

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    In my case, the Lord was opening doors right and left, giving me opportunities to share my testimony and talk and write on the New Age. A few years later, people were either asking me when I was going full-time or saying I should. My missions pastor suggested this and I said, "No way!" But that year, the Lord gave me the desire to go into full-time ministry (I was really already doing it part-time).

    I think in most cases that it is a combination of factors such as, for example: circumstances pushing you in that direction or opportunities that come, other believers encouraging you, and a strong desire or burden.

    I think you have some good answers in the other posts here and I agree with them. I don't think you need to feel a "supernatural" call; I think the strongest evidence of a calling is your desire or burden for that particular work or ministry, which is something that I think the Lord gives, so in that sense, that can be the supernatural calling. :Fish:
     
  8. John of Japan

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    Marcia, if by "supernatural call" you mean "miraculous call" I agree with you. In my list of calls from the Bible you will have seen a couple like that. Elijah was used of God to call Elisha--one prophet calling another. Isaiah simply volunteered when he heard a general call by the Lord. In 1 Tim. 3:1 we are told that someone wanting the office of "bishop" ("overseer") wants a good thing. So sometimes someone is called when they realize the great desire in their hearts to serve God is indeed from God.

    If, on the other hand, by "supernatural call" you mean a call you know for sure is from God, than I disagree: we need that deep down assurance that our call is from God, or else when the going gets rough the doubts will come!

    Years ago there was a book entitled, Decision Making and the Will of God, which put forth the "wisdom view" of God's will. This was the idea that you simply looked at your own qualifications and gifts and decided by yourself what you should do with your life. I believe this to be a huge mistake. (Of course, I don't know that you believe this--you don't seem to.)

    A missionary settled near us in Yokohama back in the early 1990's to start a church. One day we had a discussion in which I mentioned my call to be a missionary, and he said, "You were called? I wasn't!" When I asked him what, then, he was doing on the mission field he said, "I just came out under the Great Commission!" Alas, he had an emotional breakdown that was affected his heart, so that the doctor in the States said if he went back to Japan he would die. On the other hand, missionaries with a genuine call from God, like William Carey, Adoniram Judson and David Livingstone, can live through incredible difficulties and end up praising and thanking God for the chance! :saint:
     
  9. Rhetorician

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    On Finding God's Will and Being "Called to Preach"

    Christian Youth,

    I commend you on wanting to find and do God's will. That is so refresing for one of our Baptist young people of today.

    I might add just a couple of things if I might?

    I would get a book to read that came out about 20 years or so ago by Gary Friesen (sp?). It was called Decision Making and the Will of God. Read it and I think you will find some help. If I remember properly, his big thesis was that you need to wall through the doors that God is opening where you are presently. (I may need some help from my BB colleagues here?).

    Secondly, there is the "internal call." When God begins to stir your heart about "the call to preach" or the "call to full-time Christian service" it is an awesome thing. You will have feelings, motivations, fears, et al that you have never known before. But as the Scripture says, "don't be dismayed!" You can feel assured that he will not leave you alone and he will make his will known as you go along. Sometimes it is open and plain, and at other times it is quiet and subtle.

    Thirdly, I would say; go to those leaders of your church and see what they think of your: heart for service, love of holiness, faithfulness, knowledge of the Scripture, meek and humble spirit, teachable spirit, ability to speak, and other leadership qualities that might suit one for the ministry. These responses have been called the "outward call." God tells the church that He is setting aside one for the ministry.

    Fourthly, I would tell you this. RUN!! Run away from the call. IF YOU CAN DO ANYTHING ELSE, DO THAT!!!!! If God has shut up the ministry like "FIRE IN YOU BONES," then follow that call!!! But, if you can do anything else then go and do that. If you can do anything else, that is a sure sign that God has NOT called you!!

    Whatdayathinkofthat?:thumbs:

    sdg!

    rd
     
  10. PastorSBC1303

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    I would have some of the same worries regarding this book and way of looking at things as John of Japan listed above.

    This advice was shared with me a long time ago and I would agree with it and I have passed it on to others who have dealt with a calling.
     
  11. gb93433

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    According to Romans everyone is called to preach the gospel. According to the scripture everyone is called to make disciples. But according to the Bible not everyone is called to pastor. One who preaches and does not make disciples is in direct disobedience to scripture.

    Take a lok at http://www.bibleteacher.org/Dm118_8.htm

    Ro 10:14,15, "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!"

    Mt. 4:19, "And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

    Mt. 28:19, 20, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
     
    #11 gb93433, May 31, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2006
  12. thjplgvp

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    ChristianYouth,

    Virtually everyone has struggled with their calling or their voluntering. God calls one and accepts the other, the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, to deisre the office of bishop is to desire a good thing.

    The best book I have ever read on the subject is "The perfect will of God by Christian Weiss it is short about 120 pages and to the point. One illustration still stands out in my mind even after 25 years, The servant is like an apple on a tree and God is like the farmer looking on. The apple looks at the farmer and says I wish you'd use me in applesauce or make an apple pie with me or apple dumplings and the farmer looks at the apple and says to himself I wish you'd get ripe so I can use you.

    God wants to use us but sometimes we have to get ripe first. Don't worry about you call right now worry about preparing to fulfill the call.

    thjplgvp
     
  13. Marcia

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    John of Japan, thanks for your remarks. Just to clarify, I do believe one needs the assurance that they have been called by God. So I did not mean that one's calling is not necessarily from God.

    I think I was referring to a more subjective thing - where one feels one needs to "hear" God's call as a voice. I think "hearing" God's call comes through a combination of these: through the desire God gives someone, through God's word, and sometimes through circumstances.

    The testimonies I have heard from most missionaries is how profoundly they were burdened to bring the gospel to certain people or countries, or the strong desire they had to serve somewhere or in some certain kind of ministry. They felt there was no other option -- this is what God wanted of them. This happened to me as well, but in addition to the desire was what other believers were telling me, including my pastors, and the opportunities that came to me.
     
  14. John of Japan

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    Well said, Marcia. And I agree! This is my testimony, as well. I heard no voice from Heaven, but I knew exactly what God wanted me to do. All that was left was to obey. :thumbsup:
     
  15. John of Japan

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    Another good book, still in print, is Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion? by Bruce Waltke. Waltke does an extra good job explaining what is wrong with methods such as waiting for a vision or dream, or putting out a fleece. Here are a couple of sample quotes:

    "God leads His people not through signs, but through His Word, His Holy Spirit, His Church, Christian friends who offer counsel, and through His providential circumstances" (p. 68).

    "A call is an inner desire given by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God and confirmed by the community of Christ" (p. 128).

    However, the best thing I ever read about finding the will of God is this by a great prayer warrior and missionary:



    How To Ascertain the Will of God
    George Mueller


    (1) I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people generally is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.
    (2) Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.
    (3) I seek the Will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.
    (4) Next I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s Will in connection with His Word and Spirit.
    (5) I ask God in prayer to reveal His Will to me aright.
    (6) Thus, through prayer to God, the study of the Word, and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. In trivial matters, and in transactions involving most important issues, I have found this method always effective.
     
  16. Marcia

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    John of Japan, thanks for posting the info and those quotes. Great stuff! :applause:
     
  17. ccrobinson

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    My testimony is a little different. I wanted to preach. As a senior in high school, I visited a Christian college with the intent of enrolling in the fall. But, after a week or so of praying, talking to others, etc., I had no peace about it and didn't feel that God was leading me there.

    3 years later, I actually left the secular college I was at and enrolled in that same Christian college, again with the intent to be a preacher. But, just as it was 3 years prior, I wasn't at peace with that decision at all, and I reversed my course, going back to the secular college. I do believe that God calls preachers and as much as I wanted to preach, I don't believe that God was calling me to be a preacher.
     
  18. christianyouth

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    Thank you for all of the imput. This has helped me greatly.

    The different experiences and the different oppionions have all led me to some conclusions.

    1) I need to prepare my heart to do his will, whatever that may be. Right now it looks like going into full-time Christian ministry somehow, but whatever the calling is I need to be prepared.

    2) Regardless if I was called to 'full-time' Christian service, all of us should in some way be serving full-time if you catch my drift. Even if God wanted me to be a business man, I should still serve God with the opportunities he gave me. As someone said, we are all called to share our faith, all called to pursue holiness, and are all called to renew our mind.

    The second conclusion that I stated has had a really significant effect on the way I view Christian service. God has not called everyone into the ministry, but those that he called does it make them somewhat superior spiritual being? Of course not. For some reason, I have had the misconception that it did, and now I confess that to God, it was wrong.

    3) Not everyones calling is the same. This was also a good point, some people have had those callings where the Holy Spirit ushered them down the isle, such as John of Japan, others have not.

    The one thing that hasnt quite made sense to me, is the 'Running from the will of God'. Im not sure if I missed something, it may be my age kicking in here, but this one is WAY above my head. It seems like quite the opposite of what some have told me to do. Some have told me to prepare for the will of God, others told me to run?? :)

    Im sure I misunderstood something.
    I could go on and stress some other points that I got from this, but I wont. I just want to say God Bless everyone, and thank you so much for taking the time to offer some Christian advice to a young person in need.

    Sincerely,
    Andy
     

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