Divine Call to Preach or
Man's Call to Preach?

Do you have a divine call to preach or man's call to preach? It makes a big difference in whether or not you are fruitful and fulfilled in your ministry.

Just what makes a man a preacher and a minister of the Gospel anyway? Is it a voluntary profession, to be assumed by anyone who so desires? Is it to be thrust upon a child by an over zealous parent?

According to Merrill F. Unger in his book, "Principles of Expository Preaching" the preacher must have a divine call and commission. He says, "In addition to an experience of regeneration and spiritual fullness resulting in the enjoyment of the Spirit's unobstructed teaching ministry, the Bible expositor must possess the settled conviction that God has called and separated him to the Gospel ministry as a life work."

"This call and commission have been the portion of all God's prophets and apostles throughout Old and New Testament times. "Moses was called in the desert (Ex.3:1-12), the child Samuel in the Tabernacle (1 Sam.3:1-18), Isaiah in the Temple (Isa.6:1-13) and Paul in the city of Damascus (Acts 9:17)."

"Jeremiah had such a constraint to preach the message of God that it was in his heart 'as a burning fire' shut up in his bones and he was 'weary with forbearing' and could not stay (Jer.20:9). Paul cried out, 'Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!' (1 Cor.9:16)."

Unger goes on to say, "There are many ways in which the call my come--directly or indirectly, through circumstances. But come it must! Preaching God's Word is important work. God does the selecting, the calling and the empowering for this momentous task."

"Laymen may preach and teach the Bible and do it well. But when God calls a man to give his full time to the ministry of the Word, that man ought to know he is divinely called and commissioned for this sacred occupation. Moreover, God intends that he should know and graciously extends His call, so that no preacher ought to be without this divine assurance."

Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book, "Preaching and Preachers" asks, "What is the preacher? Well, obviously the preacher is a Christian like every other Christian. That is basic and an absolute essential. But he is something more than that, there is something further; and this is where this whole question of a call come in."

"A preacher is not a Christian who decides to preach, he does not just decide to do it; he does not even decide to take up preaching as a calling...This picture of the type of life lived by the minister has often appealed to young men, and there have been many who have gone into the ministry in that way."

"I need scarcely say that this is entirely wrong and quite foreign to the picture one gets in the Scriptures, and also as one reads the lives of the great preachers throughout the centuries."

"The answer to that false view is that preaching is never something that a man decides to do. What happens rather is that he becomes conscious of a "call." This whole question of the call is not an easy matter; and all ministers have struggled with it because it is so vitally important for us. Am I called to be a preacher or not? How do you know?"

No real preacher, no real minister is self called or parent called. To be a real minister, it is necessary to have a Divine call on one's life. Authority to do the work of God must come from God. How can one speak in the name of another without having been commissioned to do so?

Such a presumptuous person may expect a similar answer from the people to whom he preaches as the demoniac made to the sons of Sceva, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?" (Acts 19:15). Only the consciousness of a divine call to do a great and awful work can give that confidence and feeling of authority necessary to make one's ministry successful.

The Jews marveled at Jesus "because he spoke as one having authority, and not as the Scribes." Jesus gave the source of his authority when he quoted these appropriate words:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me: Because he anointed me to publish good tidings to the poor; He hath sent me to proclaim deliverance to captives, and recovering of sight to blind men, to send crushed ones away free, to proclaim an acceptable year of the Lord." (Luke 4:18-19).

Paul based his authority to preach upon a personal, divine call, to which the success of his life was largely due; for the same Spirit that called him also accompanied him and worked through him.

The non-commissioned preacher not only brings upon himself the scorn of men, but subjects himself to the judgment of a despised and rejected God. "The prophet that speaks a word presumptuously in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak...that prophet shall die." (Deut.18:20).

Does not He who refuses to angels the glorious privilege of proclaiming his saving truth, have a right to name his chosen vessels among fallen men?


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