Called to Ministry (Part Three)

“Where the call is manifest, the promise is assured”

“Nothing can be more explicit than her solemn question to us- ‘Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you this office?’…the answer that is made to this ought to be well considered…”

            I remember when I had first become a Christian (while in a prison) and seen first hand the hypocrisy in “Christian leadership”. I was dismayed. The man that led me to Christ consoled me by explaining that true ordination for ministry comes from God not man. Sadly, many today who are “leaders” in the “institutional church” are simply called by denominations to stabilize things, not lead the mission of Christ, the Truth of Christ forward. As was said:

“The national Church groans and bleeds from the crown of its head to the sole of its feet from the daily intrusion of unworthy men into the ministry from this source”.

            So how to we discern a “call to ministry”?

“…A DEEP IMPRESSION OF THE WORTH OF SOULS…THE LOVE OF CHRIST TO SPEND AND BE SPENT FOR HIM…DIRECTING THE CONSCIENCE TO A SOBER, SEARCHING, SELF-INQUIRY; TO A DAILY STUDY OF THE WORD; TO FERVENT PRAYER….”

“- a special kindling within- in character, if not intensity, like “the burning fire shut up” in the prophet’s bosom, and overcoming his determination to go back from the service of his God”.

“One of the most certain marks of the Divine call is, where it is the purpose of a man’s heart to live, to labor, and to possess nothing, but for Jesus Christ and His Church”.

“But if you do not feel in yourselves a desire of being employed as the ambassadors of God- judge ye yourselves, whether ye are called into the Lord’s vineyard. God implants a love in the heart for the service to which He calls; and better would it have been for you to have felt, that it was not the ministry for which you were intended, than that you should possess a want of inclination for the performance of its duties”.

“We are laborers, not loiterers, in the Lord’s vineyard”.

“No man, indeed ought to think of this profession, unless he feels within himself a love for religion, with a zeal for it, and an internal true piety, which is chiefly kept up by secret prayer and reading the Scriptures”.

            I have seen many young men and women stand up with the desire to “do ministry”, yet when I question their motives and reasoning, namely a desire to “demolish strongholds and bring all thoughts captive to Christ”, they are found wanting. Many today are lacking what I call a “zeal empowered by knowledge”, and have failed to “count the cost” and would much rather follow the “social club” outline than seriously endeavor to follow Christ.

“Let the novitiate be found in the DAILY HABIT OF PRAYER, in the conscientious IMPROVEMENT OF HIS NATURAL GIFTS, in a diligent INCREASE OF HIS INTELLECTUAL AS WELL AS SPIRITUAL STORES- and he will find the promise made good- “Whatsoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly”.

            I thought this sermon by John Leland of England concerning a call to ministry:

God has been graciously pleased to give me some talents, which seem capable of being improved to the edification of the Church. He hath disposed and inclined my heart to a willingness to take upon me the sacred ministry, and that not from the worldly, carnal ends and views, but from a sincere intention and desire of employing the talents he has given me in promoting the salvation of souls, and serving the interests of truth, piety, and righteousness in the world…Upon seriously weighing all of these things, I cannot but think, I have a clear call to the work of the ministry; and I verily believe, that, if I rejected it, I should sin against God, grieve many of His people, counteract the designs of Divine providence toward me, and alienate the talents he has given me to other purposes, than those for which they seem to have been intended”

“The pastoral dignity is really the condition of a servant. It obliges a man to devote himself entirely to Jesus Christ, and His Church. Both the minister and the ministry are only for the Church. He who in this state does not apply himself entirely to the service of the Church, will be treated as a thief, and a sacrilegious person”.

MISSIONALITY

“As men of God, we should have it at heart and in hand, spreading a spiritual savor over the common walks of society, and stamping us with the mark of confessors of Christ in the midst of a world, who hold Him still in the same contempt, as when eighteen centuries since they nailed Him to a cross. There must be some defect if we do not bring an atmosphere with us, which is more or less instantaneously felt”.

“The character of our profession with the world must not be merely negative. It must be MARKED by a wise, tender, but unflinching, exhibition of THE BROAD LINE OF DEMARCATION, which, under the most favorable circumstances of mutual accomadation, still separates the world and the Church from real communion with each other”.

  So…an issue that seems to be facing many Christians today is clarity on what exactly is THE BROAD LINE OF DEMARCATION that sets us apart from the world? Is it a touch not, taste not attitude concerning our interaction with the world, such as the religious leaders of the first century? Is it an odd quirkiness about us as we spout Bible verses, sing songs, and preach incessantly? What is it? I believe the line is the authority, the forthright truth and answers we have in Jesus Christ, through the gospel. A wisdom not of this world, a peace not of this world, dare I say, a love not of this world demonstrated by us individually and corporately as the ‘kingdom of God’. A liberating freedom from the slavery to ANYTHING- whether it be drug use or television, or comfort zones to what we ‘think’ we rightfully deserve. We demolish those strongholds opting for “life to the full” in Christ found by seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness for the glory of God alone! Can I get an AMEN?

“We should endeavor to make our religion agreeable: but not to make ourselves agreeable by leading our company to forget religion. We should ‘everyone of us, please his neighbor for his good’, but not so ‘please men’, as to fail in the character of ‘servants of Christ’. We should be made in a fitting sense and measure, “all things to all men, that we may by all means save some,”, but we shall lose ourselves not save others, if we are quite different persons in the pulpit and out of it”.  Cf. Galatians 1:10

LIVE IT OUT AUTHENTICALL

“I am to speak boldly, “not as a man-pleaser, but as the servant of God”- and therefore I endeavor to master all these fears, and to act implicitly as my conscience suggests, without respecter of persons”.

            Be challenged my brethren.

   By His grace,

         Michael Miano

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