Summary: This sermon speaks to the question, does God call people specifically to the pastorate? This sermon was presented in the context of inviting Salvationists to consider if God is calling them to "shepherd ministry" as a Salvation Army officer.
The Call – Not a Ten Digit Number
Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:10
• As you consider your life-call to ministry today’s invitation is to ask if your life-call can be best lived out as an officer with The Salvation Army
1. Understanding the Call
Two things at play:
a. “Priesthood of all believers” (1 Peter 2:9)
• Controversy re. Interpretation and intent
• Peter borrowing OT (Pentateuch) language and theology – Ex 19:5-6 – kingdom of priests and holy nation
• OT theology of a priest to mediate between man and God – no personal, direct access - Lev 16:32 – only high priest could offer atonement for people
• Acts 7:38, “Moses was with the assembly of God's people in the wilderness. He was the mediator between the people of Israel and the angel
• Gal 3:19, “God gave his laws to angels to give to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people.
• Climate changes after Christ’s atonement – Heb 4:14, “we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him.
• Peter’s verse recognizes that the atonement of Christ brings us all before God as Priests; he declares our personal right to access! Christ is the fulfillment of the will of the Father in Exodus 19:5-6 that we have all become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation!
C Neal Johnson – Business as a Mission, A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice capture this teaching – “Every person, or soul, is competent to stand before God without any need for a human or human-made ‘go-between.” Johnson credits Charles Cyril Eastwood as suggesting that God has conferred on all of us “the right of entrance into God’s very presence – the right of every believing man and woman, whether lay or cleric, to go to God directly…”
“Priesthood of all believers” – Peter explains as an office that is about praise living (9), holy living (avoiding sinful desires) (11), and good living (12) that others will praise God as a result. To this we are all called, to this we are a “priesthood of all believers”.
Fork in the road –
b. The Priesthood of the Pastorate (Salvation Army Officer)
– Eerdmans and Brill, in The Encyclopedia of Christianity suggests that while we all have the same spiritual status we do not have the same ministry.
Derek Tidball – Ministry by the Book: New Testament Patterns for Pastoral Leadership: “Peter presents a view of the church where all are priests but some are called to exercise an overseeing role as elders and shepherds, which they do both with great joy and with great care, mindful of the chief Shepherd who will shortly appear.”
1 Timothy 3 – the elder language is attributed to the person who is the leader of the church specifically verse 5. The elder (officer) has deacons (leaders) to help with the work of the ministry and we are all pastors.
• Our focus – the call to the overseeing role as shepherds of God’s people, the deliberate and intentional focus of work that purposefully aims at the spiritual well-being of people where everything else is secondary
• Does this mean my career is my calling; or, is my calling the same regardless of my career? Does God call people to be doctors, lawyers, janitors, salespeople or elders (aka Salvation Army officers)? The word VOCATION comes from the Latin VOCARE which means “to call”. So, it is possible that your career is the context from which you live your call.
• The answers to how we view vocation, career and calling are as varied as the questions. If you asked 10 couples how they fell in love with their mate you would hear 10 different stories. Is one right and the other nine wrong?
• Point: to recognize some understand their life-call to be to a specific role (an officer); others understand their life-call to be a lifestyle regardless of the role; we should not engage in disputes about who is right or wrong but recognize interpretations are just different. “Maybe it’s not so much how we view it but how we respond to God’s call on my life.” (Major Dr. Bruce Power)
• Regardless of your interpretative view the question being put before you today is this: does God want you to consider Salvation Army officer-ship as the vehicle through which you should express your life-call at this juncture in your journey?
• Step further – Is God calling you to be an officer?
2. The Call is Personal
Explore different experiences…
• Amused with people – “the Lord told me I should have a few words next Sunday” … “the Lord told me we need to…” My response has been, “As soon as the Lord tells me I’ll give you a call!”