Summary: The conclusion of a four-part series on the pastor’s commission to "preach the Word" from 2 Timothy 4:5. This sermon addresses the call of God and how to identify it.
Marks of the Faithful Preacher, Part 4
The dominant element of 1 and 2 Timothy is a series of commands that Paul gave to Timothy. What makes those commands binding not only on Timothy but also on all preachers and teachers is the call of God. What is the call of God? To find out let’s look more closely at that subject.
A. Whom the Lord Calls into Ministry
1. His general call to all believers
Scripture affirms that all believers are to proclaim Christ.
a) Ephesians 2:10—"We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." We are saved for the purpose of doing good works, which include evangelizing the lost.
b) Revelation 22:17—"The Spirit and the bride say, ’Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ’Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." All who hear and accept God’s invitation for salvation are responsible to proclaim the gospel to others.
c) 1 Peter 2:9—"You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." God’s people are to proclaim Christ to others.
d) 2 Corinthians 5:20—"We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." All believers are responsible to urge the lost to come to Christ.
Charles Spurgeon wrote, "The propagation of the gospel is left, not to a few, but to all the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ: according to the measure of grace entrusted to him by the Holy Spirit, each man is bound to minister in his day and generation, both to the church and among unbelievers. . . . [All Christians are] to exert themselves to the utmost to extend the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ" (Lectures to My Students [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978], p. 22).
All believers have the worthy call of exalting Christ and extending His kingdom (Eph. 4:1). By exercising our spiritual gifts each of us can serve Christ and His people.
2. His specific call to some believers
God also calls some men to minister vocationally. Throughout Scripture that has always been God’s way.
a) Exodus 28:3—The Lord said to Moses, "You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me. " Aaron, the brother of Moses, was to be properly cared for because God had set him apart as the high priest of Israel.
b) Isaiah 6:8-9—Isaiah said, "I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ’Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, Here am I. Send me! And [the Lord] said, ’Go, and tell this people. ’" The Lord called Isaiah to proclaim His message to the nation Israel.
c) Ephesians 4:11-12—The Lord "gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ. "
d) Colossians 1:23, 25—"Continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. . . . Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God. "
B. How the Lord Calls Particular Ministers
How can a man know if the Lord has called him to preach? I believe Scripture indicates four ways he can know.
1. He calls subjectively
I believe that men who are called to preach are internally compelled to do so by the Holy Spirit. Spurgeon described that compulsion as "an irresistible, overwhelming craving and raging thirst for telling to others what God has done to our own souls" (Lectures to My Students, p. 26). Paul said it this way: "If I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me" (1 Cor. 9:16-17).
Now compulsion isn’t necessarily the same as ambition. Ambition usually stems from our own desires to fulfill certain established goals and dreams. But compulsion is generated by an external source—in this case the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the One who gives a man the compulsion to preach "for the sake of the Name" (3 John 7) and aspire to the office of an elder (1 Tim. 3:1).