Monday, September 7, 2015

Answering God's Call to the Ministry

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” — Isaiah 6:8

Dr. Pipa administers ordination vows to Jeff Downs
During a recent ordination service for a Greenville Seminary alumnus, President Joseph A. Pipa Jr. spoke of the two-fold call of God toward men He desires to enter the Gospel ministry — the inward call and the external call. 

Charles Spurgeon described the inklings of the internal call as “an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work” of ministering the Word and pastoring the church. As Dr. Albert Mohler has explained it, “Those called by God sense a growing compulsion to preach and teach the Word, and to minister to the people of God. This sense of compulsion should prompt the believer to consider whether God may be calling to the ministry. Has God gifted you with the fervent desire to preach? Has He equipped you with the gifts necessary for ministry? Do you love God’s Word and feel called to teach?”

It should be added quickly that an internal sense of calling may not be enough to confirm a perceived claim by God on a man’s life. Spurgeon often warned against entering the ministry unless that claim becomes irresistible. To avoid troublesome self-deception at this critical juncture, however, one’s internal sense must be accompanied by an external affirmation — the second sign of the ministerial vocation.

The external affirmation comes from the church, specifically the authorities of the church within which a man serves, and possibly from one’s fellow saints, who recognize the man’s gifting as he serves among them. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians describes pastors and teachers as God’s gift to the church for its up-building, and it is the church’s understanding of a man’s own gifts which is the best confirmation of his calling. The call to public ministry is a public call, and those who enter it are held to particularly high standards, the exercise of which will always be under public scrutiny. He must enter his vocation with integrity and courage.

“Consider your calling. Do you sense that God is calling you to ministry, whether as pastor or another servant of the Church? Do you burn with a compulsion to proclaim the Word, share the Gospel, and care for God’s flock? Has this call been confirmed and encouraged by those Christians who know you best?” Mohler concludes.

Is God calling you?

Greenville Seminary has prepared a packet of information designed to guide you as you consider training for the ministry. You need a thorough acquaintance with the Word of God and the theology contained therein. You need the best possible guidance as you learn to proclaim these vitals of the faith and learn to care for God’s people and fulfill the Great Commission. As one of the brochures in the packet puts it, it is imperative that you begin well. We believe Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is uniquely equipped to uniquely equip you for the ministry to which you may be called. We stand ready to prepare you well!

Contact our Recruiting Office if you would like receive a copy of this packet,