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Is God calling you to the ministry? How do you know for sure that He is calling you? What are the evidences?
If God no longer speaks to his ministers face to face, and in audible language, how may one know when he is called into this responsible work? The evidences are of two kinds, internal and external. Taken together it becomes unmistakable whether or not one is called, that is, if only the obstinate human will can be subdued.
Many refuse to recognize the call until some disaster comes upon them on account of their neglect of duty, and they are then made to cry like the Apostle Paul, "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel." Moses surrendered to God calling at the "burning bush" and Isaiah surrendered in the temple when he said, "here am I, send me."
This internal evidence is based upon the motive, common to all Christians, to serve God in the best manner possible. Added to that is the growing conviction that the ministry is the special method by which God designs him to work.
It is a conviction that this, and this alone, is the right thing to do, whether he is inclined to do so or not. In fact, the inclination is often absent. Many struggle against the distasteful impression till God gives them an ever growing desire to preach and the grace to yield.
These external evidences are of great value, mainly, as a corroboration of internal convictions. The will of God concerning us may be made manifest through outward circumstances.
First, the interference of God in the affairs of men often establishes their hidden but potential convictions. God may unexpectedly remove what seemed insurmountable difficulties that prevented belief in the genuineness of the inner experience.
Again, he throws difficulties in the way of a person pursuing any other vocation successfully, thus hedging him about till he is driven to decide. These are extreme conditions, and should not be expected unless there has been negligence on the part of the one called.
Second and perhaps the strongest external evidence is the call of the church. Not only had Paul been called personally, but the Holy Spirit said unto the church at Antioch: "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul to the work to which I have called them." (Acts 13:2).
If the church is not impressed with the fitness of the would-be preacher, it may not be an absolute indication that he is called to do something else, but that is the usual significance.
On the other hand, if the church sees in a member a fitness of which he has been unconscious before, and suggests to him that this is the work to which God calls him, it is well for him to consider the matter prayerfully, and unselfishly, for this may be God's method of making known His will.
All of this, of course, will take into consideration the personal qualifications mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:1-6, as piety, aptness to teach, good reputation and so forth. Without these qualifications a man may be assured that he is not called to the office of a bishop.
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