Many fine Christians believe in a call to ministry. I have often been asked whether I am called to ministry myself. What does the Bible say about such a call?
I wonder if the idea of a call comes from the call of prophets in the Old Testament. Isaiah and Jeremiah were called to be prophets; Saul and David were called to be kings. However if this is where the idea comes from it would be on very shaky ground! We must read the Old Testament as fulfilled in Christ (Luke 24:44-46). The kings and prophets are types of Christ, not us. We are not kings and prophets; we are like the normal Israelites. We need to move from the Old Testament to us in application by a two stage process, not a one stage process. A one stage process jumps from the Old Testament straight to us in application, bypassing Jesus and the gospel. Many errors result from such a reading of the Bible. A two stage process moves from the Old Testament to its fulfilment in Jesus, and only then to us. I do not believe that the call of kings and prophets in the Old Testament applies to us. These calls apply to Jesus (and perhaps the apostles).
Broughton Knox says: “It is better to speak of “being sent” than of “being called” when speaking of the Christian ministry. “Calling” is a status concept, and in the New Testament refers to being called to be a Christian, called into God’s presence. Then God send us out, he sends us as labourers into his harvest…”
In the New Testament we are called to be holy (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 2 Timothy 1:9); we are called into fellowship with Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:9). In short, all Christians are called: called out of darkness into light, called to salvation (1 Peter 2:9). There is no verse that I am aware of that speaks of being called to be a minister.
Why is this important? It is a good idea to use Biblical words in a Biblical way. We should not use Biblical words in an un-Biblical way, however much it may be accepted in our own Christian circles.
My hope is that all of us who are Christian will serve Christ in holiness all the time. Some of us may leave secular work and serve in church or on the mission field full time. But we are all called to serve Christ in holiness all the time. If you are a Christian, then you are called to ministry! You might keep your day job, or you might leave it. But either way, you are called to be a Jesus-person all day every day.
 [D. Broughton Knox Selected Works (ed. T. Payne; volume 1; Kingsford, NSW: Matthiasmedia, 2000), 351.]
Steve Farrar in his book “Point Man” says that reading the Bible is the equivalent of a soldier eating his rations. The Bible is our spiritual food, and without it we become weak and easy prey for the enemy.
This month’s Briefing magazine (www.Matthiasmedia.com/Briefing) contains a series of questions to use when reading the Bible. These come from the Cornerstone church in Kingston, south-west London. Their church uses these questions when reading large slabs of the Bible, and they can be used individually as well. They’re great questions and I hope they can be of use to you in your Bible reading. Not all questions will apply to every passage.
- What strikes you? What questions does this passage raise?
- What dangers/ warnings/ sins are there? (1 Corinthians 10:11)
- What do you learn about God – Father/ Son/ Holy Spirit?
- How is Jesus previewed/ revealed? (Luke 24:27)
- How are you corrected and rebuked? (2 Timothy 3:16)
- How are you encouraged to endure? (Romans 15:4)
- What do you learn about doing works of service and building up the church? (Ephesians 4:11-13)
- What do you learn about loving God?
- What do you learn about loving your neighbour as yourself?
- How do you feel you need to change to live as a man/ woman of God?
Photo Credit: © AZP Worldwide – Fotolia.com
As a Jewish Christian, I celebrate Hanukah and Christmas.
Hanukah occurs in December (Dec 20 this year). I think that Hanukah has become a modern Jewish substitute for Christmas (presents are given). Originally this festival celebrates the Maccabees’ defeat of the Greeks in 165 BC. The Greeks had stopped the sacrifices at the Temple. They were oppressing God’s people and trying to bring an end to God’s one true religion. But the Maccabees trusted in God and defeated their enemies. It was just like the time of the Judges and other Old Testament events when God defeated the enemies of his people.
After 100 years or so of independence the Jews were then dominated by the Romans. During this time Jesus came and died for his people’s sins. Later, the Jews were defeated by the Romans in 70 AD, and the Temple was destroyed. The Zealots had seen themselves as modern-day Maccabees. If they trusted in God, God would defeat the Romans, they thought, and save his people. But having rejected their Messiah, they were not trusting in God, and they were defeated. Continue reading
“That brings us to the vital principle which underlies all the causes of self-deception. In many ways the root trouble, even among good Evangelicals, is our failure to heed the plain teaching of Scripture…
“Instead of taking the plain teaching of the Bible, we argue with it. ‘Ah, yes,’ we say, ‘since the Scriptures were written, times have changed.’ Dare I give an obvious illustration? Take the question of women preaching, and being ordained to the full ministry. The apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy (1 Tim. 2:11-15), prohibits it directly. He says quite specifically that he does not allow a woman to teach or preach. ‘Ah, yes,’ we say, as we read that letter, ‘he was only thinking of his own age and time; but you know times have changed since then..
“Paul does not say that it was only for the time being; he takes it right back to the Fall and shows that it is an abiding principle. It is something that is true, therefore, of the age in which we live. But thus, you see, we argue with Scripture. Instead of taking its plain teaching, we say that times have changed – when it suits our thesis we say it is no longer relevant…