By Andrew Street
The call of God has been neglected. It has been neglected because Christians have been expecting something that is, quite frankly, unbiblical: A dramatic, dynamic, special, specific call to a people and place before they engage in ministry. God calls people at all ages and stages of life. Amazingly, much of the conventional wisdom around God’s call is not rooted in biblical theology, but in personal experiences.
What does God want you to do with your life?
As holiness people we rightly emphasize a distinction of life that is sanctified by the presence of God; who has re-wired our very nature from sinful to holy. That is amazing! I would challenge you to look further at how the transformation of holiness that God seeks to develop in His people moves them to fulfill His mission.
God’s heart is to reach the world.
This is not a new concept, nor even a “New Testament concept.” God promised redemption from the very first sin, appointed Noah as a preacher of righteousness, called Abraham to bless all families of the earth, and established the Israelites to be a “kingdom of priests,” placing them strategically at the hub of world trade and commerce. We should be surprised that the New Testament church struggled to reach beyond the Jews to the Gentiles, because that has been God’s heart from the days of Adam!
Holiness transforms our hearts to the image of God’s heart.
To enter the rest that remains for the people of God (Hebrews 4), you enter by faith in God’s promises and surrender to God’s purposes. That rest provides transformation from a sinful, selfish, and carnal heart to experience a pure heart that is free to love God completely. It is also free to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Love for your neighbor is an implicit call to evangelize the world.
A heart that is filled with God’s life and presence, experiences greater, sweeter fellowship, victory over sin and a stabilized walk with God in “rest.”
Jesus also said, “You will receive power…to be my witnesses” when the Holy Spirit fills your heart.
Therefore, holy hearts should be oriented to reach the world by default.
At this point, I would encourage some careful and genuine introspection.
• Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?
• When is the last time you shared your faith in a bold witness?
• When is the last time you prayed with an unbeliever?
• When is the last time you invited someone to come to Jesus?
This is a primary benchmark of the sanctified life: Power to witness. If you love your neighbor as you love yourself, you will be empowered to share the Gospel with them. Moreover, if your heart is in tune with God’s heart, you will want to reach the world with the Gospel. Further still, if you are fully surrendered to God’s will, then you should be actively seeking for ways to engage as many people as possible with His message… and the Holy Spirit has promised His infilling power to help proclaim Christ!
Your “vocation” is no longer a mere means for paying bills and funding retirement—it is a platform for the Gospel. Your neighborhood is not your area of residence, it is the garden of ministry that God has entrusted to you. Your children are not yours to enjoy as you grow old, they are your care and responsibility to train as arrows to fly straight and true and to contend victoriously against the enemies of the cross (Psalm 127). This is the meaning of a “full surrender” that “walks in faith.”
When I see holiness people discouraging their families from answering God’s call to Bible college, full-time ministry or foreign service, it seems evident to me that the Holy Spirit is not operating freely in their lives, despite how modest and conservative their lifestyles are.
If an active witness and a yearning for the global spread of the Gospel is not central to your life, then you should ask for the Holy Spirit to fill your life with His presence. If you are not expecting your kids, and equipping your kids, to be fully invested in the world-wide reach of the Gospel, then you need to come to a new level of surrender.
This is the biblical “normal” expectation for those who “follow” Jesus. Following Jesus means you move with Him to where He’s going—to the ends of the earth.
And now this brings us back to the elusive “call of God.” Why is a subjective and specific “call of God” needed when the Scripture is already so clear? Is what is recorded in black-and-white not clear enough? Where does the Scripture teach that you “need” a call to ministry? You are saved to serve.
“Special Calls” in scripture (like Moses, Gideon, Saul, Jonah) go to people who are resisting God!
Most often, when we see those calls in Scripture, it is required not for the person who has previously surrendered, but for those who do not want to obey—and need some heavy-duty arm twisting. Moses saw the burning bush and still resisted God’s call. Jonah had to be drug through the sea and practically spat into Nineveh.
Is this the model that a holy person should reflect? Is that what we should teach? These descriptions are not prescriptions. The prescriptions are self-evident: “Do NOT grieve the Spirit…Make disciples of all nations, etc.”
Many people look back on their own “burning bush” experience to say “that specificity of the call is what has anchored me to ministry when I felt like giving up.” Well and good. But is that Biblically required for everyone?
Is not the Scripture alone enough to anchor you to your post?
Do you think God is ever displeased that someone seeks to obey what God’s heart has so crisply affirmed—even without a burning bush?
Isaiah certainly shows a different attitude in Isaiah 6: “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” The call was not specific—it was a general invitation. But Isaiah had seen enough and volunteered: “Here am I! Send me!”
If that call was good enough to be recorded in Scripture for you, what are you waiting on?
The heart of the IH Convention is to “Spread Scriptural Holiness across the land.” That vision cannot be completed without the Holy Spirit. But it also cannot be lost with the Holy Spirit.
90% of the unreached people in the world receive less than 1% of the “specially-called” missions efforts. I think real holiness will change that.
“Many are called and pews are chosen.”
Scriptures cited are the author’s paraphrase