GOD'S CALL TO MINISTRY by Gordon G. Gentry
“Christ has given gifts unto men for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4: 8-13)
The question that always seems to be before us is whether men called of God are going to meet man’s requirements or God’s requirements. How are this prepared for this ministry? What is needed, with regard to education? To answer these questions, we can only look to God and the instruction He has given us in His Word.
It is God who calls, and it is God who prepares men to labour in His church. When calls men, He always reveals His purpose to them and gives them the grace to function in what He is building. In saying this we must state that the building in the church is by the Spirit. (Eph.2:22) Christ gave gifts to men and men with gifts of ministry are given to the church as channels for grace to flow to the body (church) from the ascended Christ.
Today, when a man is called of God, he is faced with a choice: either to let man prepare him for ministry, or to let God. Men who look to man’s institutions will never be a gift to the church, man in himself does not know what God is doing. If man does not see God’s purpose, how can he be faithful to that which he does not see, or have the ability to function in it together with others under the Holy Spirit? There can be no mixing of head knowledge with spiritual knowledge. What God is doing is all spiritual.
Let us look at the spiritual work that God is doing in the world. 2 Cor. 3:3, “ For as much as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in the table of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” (5-18) “Not that we are sufficient of our selves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth , but the spirit giveth life”.
“But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious”?
“For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious”.
“Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: and not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: but their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ”.
“But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”.
II Cor.4:1-2, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have receive mercy, we faint not; but have renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
If we look to the religious system of our day as being any different than the religious system of Jesus’ day, we are blinded. It is the same religious system and religious people that once cried out, “Crucify him!” What God is doing today, as in the, is a living organization, not a religion with a form of godliness that denies the power of God. We must be able to discern the difference between what man is doing for God and what God is doing by His Spirit. To be able to do that, we must be spiritual, controlled and taught by the Spirit.
THE GOSPEL WE PREACH – THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION
What is the true gospel? If we are going to be faithful as ministers of the gospel, we must know the gospel is. The gospel being preached in most of the fundamental groups of our day is nothing more than a “cheap believism,” rather than the power of God unto salvation.
The religious group has redefined salvation, and most of what is being preached is not salvation at all. In many cases the salvation that is being preached leaves people in sins; but the salvation that God gives us in Christ saves and sets us free from sin. In most cases the salvation of man is according to the letter, rather than life by the Spirit. The salvation man preaches, which he says is by grace, is nothing more than a salvation of works.
This is why we are saying that we must come back to God and His way of ministry, being called and prepared by God.
1 Cor.2:11b-13, “Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God: that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God. Which things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth: comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
1 Cor.2:4 – 7, “And my speech and preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come nought: but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.”
When Jesus was preparing to leave and go back to the Father, He told His disciples, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things..” (John 14: 26)
John 16:13, “Howbeit when he the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…” God has made full provision for the preparation of those He calls, and His provision is the Holy Ghost.
The choice is still the same – God’s way or man’s way? Are we looking for the approval of man or God? Our choice will either throw us on the Lord, or right into man’s institutions of higher religious learning.
THE TRAINING OF A MINISTER
The religious system has training programs that are supposed to turn out ministers. But it does not matter who the teachers or sponsors are or how good the program sounds: unless the Spirit is in control and doing both the building, we are only working in the natural realm. Men can be most sincere, and seeing the need, but without the Holy Ghost in control, man is still just trying to do something for God.
With transportation being what it is today, men have brought men together from around the world, in order to equip those who would minister to do what the Holy Ghost alone can do. They have had schools in evangelism, congress on evangelism, and many other good intentions, but are missing one thing – the Holy Ghost and God’s plan. Many good men have had their minds corrupted by other well-meaning men moving in a natural way, blind to the true spiritual revelation of what God is doing Himself. God never give s the control of what He is doing into man’s hands, in any area of His kingdom. God uses men, but never gives them control.
Jesus did not tell His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they finish Bible College; He commanded them to wait until they were filled with the Holy Ghost. Then, that is still not enough. Before we can labor, we must have God’s ability with God’s plan (revelation).
Paul didn’t go out and do what he wanted to do for God; no, the Spirit Himself separated and prepared him for the work He had called him for. Why doe a man thinks that because he sees the need around him, he can go out and meet the needs without the Spirit’s ability and timing? Jesus tells us that we can do nothing of ourselves. We must be abiding in the Vine, moving in union with God. This is the only way we can see the fruit come forth that will be a glory to our heavenly Father.
Moses had the best education Egypt had to offer, but when it came to God’s plan, it was God who instructed Moses and sent him to Pharaoh. Moses came to Pharaoh in the power and demonstration of God’s working, not with the wisdom of man. What good will the education and wisdom of man do for Moses before Pharaoh? Moses was there by God’s appointment and in God’s power. Moses was not there to speak meaningless words or to tell Pharaoh a Bible story; he was there to speak for God.
We see another man called of God who already had the best education man could offer. Paul sat at the feet of Gamaliel, and “was taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and zealous God, as ye all are this day.” (Acts 22:3) Yet when he needed education for the call Christ gave him, he did not go to man. Ananias was sent to Paul, and this is what he said, “The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldst know His will, and see that Just one, and shouldst hear the voice of his mouth.” (Acts 22:14)
Paul’s own testimony was, “The gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal.1:12) Paul didn’t go to a religious school, but wnt to Arabia, there he was taught by God, prepared by God – for the work God had called him for. Then again Paul tells us plainly, “And my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (1 Cor.2:4)
If we want God’s result today, and want to see God’s people brought to maturity and spirituality, there is only one way – God’s way.
God’s ministers are those who are called and prepared by God; there are no exceptions. If want to learn how to preach, then go to man. If want to speak for God, you must come to Him.
Man, with only his knowledge about church history, his schooling about the church and how to preach and how to evangelize, cannot know what the church is, or know the head of the church, Christ. I would not make a place for ignorance I ministry – all I am saying is that when it comes to God and His call, we cannot go to man to learn how to do what is spiritual – it all comes from God by His Spirit.
The Apostle Paul couldn’t possibly get into the religious group of our day. He had no degree. He was not Dr. Paul or Rev. Paul – he was just Bro. Paul, one sent by God. He spoke for God. This is what preparation for the ministry is all about. In God’s presence we experience God by faith and become men with the revelation that is from God, with the living word burning in our hearts. God’s ministers are being trained in life, not in methods and theology. God’s church must have the living bread; it must drink from the fountain that will never run dry. There must be rivers of living water flowing out from the church.
It is evident in all we see around us that we do not have many men called of God or prepared by God. If we did, we would see clearly the testimony of the oneness of the church. Jesus said, speaking to His Father, “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them thou in me, that they may be perfect in one; that the world may know that thou hath sent me, hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:22-23)
This is not the ecumenical movement of our day with its characteristic compromise, but true oneness that comes from obedience to His Word – this is the new and living way. It would seem as only severe persecution such as China has gone through is enough to purge man-made methods from the church and bring forth the testimony God has designed.
At Antioch, there were prophets and teachers. This is what we need – that the Lord gave gifts to men. Here we see the two gifts that the Lord has given to the church in order that she might be built up and move together. The functioning of more than one gift together must be under the authority of the head, Christ and moving under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
The religious world has gone to the “one pastor system” because men are not in touch with God and thus cannot function together. God has never changed His plan, which is plurality of ministry as it was at Antioch. The church needs the ministry of both the prophet and the teacher for proper feeding, and that it might stay in the purpose of God. In almost every religious group, the ministry of the prophet has been done away with and the teacher has been placed in the Sunday school program.
This has been done because Christ is no longer the head, and because the Holy Spirit has been given His proper place in the church. Instead, men have been chosen by the members of a congregation to be pastors. In all these individual cases, men have taken control and then asked God to bless their plans and methods. But they have tried to use the right terms, and say they have been led by the Spirit.
In reality, this is not true, because if men were moving in God’s purpose under the direction of the Spirit, we would see God’s purpose revealed in the testimony He wants, and the church would be the light and salt she has been called to be. We don’t see this taking place with the course the religious system is taking.
The church will never be light and salt until man gives control back to the Head and until the power of the Holy Spirit is in the life of each member. It would take severe persecution to purge the religious system, to throw people back on God for their lives, and to bring the ordering of church back under Christ who is her head.
Let us look at what God’s order is, pertaining to the elders of the church.
ELDERS AND THEIR FUNCTION
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God..” (Acts 20 28)
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