The Call of God
Recently a leading seminary educator lamented the fact that so many applicants to a particular educational institution were simply searching for a vocation and few were speaking of any sense of divine calling into the gospel ministry. When, as a young man, I was hearing God’s “call” to my heart for ministry, my pastor, Dr. W. Fred Swank, said to me, “Son, if you can do anything else in life and find joy and contentment, go and do it; for if you can, you have not been called into ministry.”
The Apostle Paul did not see himself as someone who had chosen the ministry as a career change but as a “sent” man (Acts 13:3-4). In Acts 13:2 there are four important elements related to the call of God upon our lives.
I. The call of God is personal
The Holy Spirit said to those believers at Antioch, separate Barnabas and Saul for the particular task He had in mind. There were many others in the church at Antioch but it was only Barnabas and Saul who received God’s call to a specific task. He did not call Lucius or Simeon or Manaen or any of the others named in this church. The call of God is personal. He still calls particular people to particular places for particular purposes.
II. The call of God is purposeful
The Lord said, “Separate” for me Barnabas and Saul. The same Greek word is used in Galatians 1:15 when Paul says, God set me apart from birth and called me from my mother’s womb. God has purpose for each of our lives. We are set apart by Him for that particular purpose which no one can perform quite like we can when we are called and empowered by His spirit.
III. The call of God is practical
The Holy Spirit said that these two individuals were set apart for the work to which He had called them. Not only did God choose the man, He chose the work the man was to do. The ministry is work. When we are walking in the spirit, we do not wear out the seats of our pants but the soles of our shoes. There is a very practical part to the calling of God.
IV. The call of God is providential
Note. They were set apart for the work to which I have called them. This Greek expression is in the perfect tense indicating that this was something in the mind of God completed in ages past. There is a very real sense in which churches do not “call” the servant of God. Resumes and recommendations do not place us in divinely appointed positions. The call of God is providential.
Some churches today have forgotten that what we are about is supernatural. Some act as if the pastor was to be a “hireling” of the church. The God-called pastor does not work for the church. He has a higher calling. He loves the church and gives himself to her and for her, but he recognizes a higher calling.
Yes, God still calls particular people to particular places for particular purposes. The call of God is personal, purposeful, practical, and providential.