In his testimony about the call to preach, John Piper, wrote: “The calling to preach and pastor had become irresistible.” Paul describes his call in Ephesians 3.
The Call to The Ministry and The Call to Ministry is not Either/Or but Both/And.
God called Paul to preach the truths in Ephesians 3:1-6 as he states in 3:7: “I was made a minister.” This historically happened in Acts 26:14-18.
1. What are the Evidences of God’s Call to the Ministry? (See Part 1)
2. What are the Characteristics of God’s Call to the Ministry?
A. Service: “Whereof I was made a minister.”
The word “minister” “is used of a ‘waiter’ at a wedding feast” (John 2:5, 9) (Harold W. Hoehner. Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002, 449). The preacher serves God’s people God’s Word. I worked my way through graduate school by serving as a waiter at a seafood restaurant. The customers would complain to me if their fish was not good. I felt like saying, “I did not gig your founder, nor did I cook it, I only served it. Why are you complaining to me?” The same is true sometimes with serving God’s people God’s Word. They complain to us about the food. It is our job to faithfully serve God’s Word. We can’t help if a bone gets stuck in their throat.
B. God’s power: “According to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power” (Ephesians 3:7b).
It is true that all believers have this power, as Paul made clear in his first Prison Epistle prayer (1:19) and therefore all believers should be experiencing this equipment in ministry in and through their local church. Every believer, including the pastor, has the omnipotence of God behind his call to serve. Paul made a great statement on preaching in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 when he said he did not preach with eloquence or erudition, but “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
C. Humility: “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given.”
Paul felt undeserving of salvation (1 Timothy 1:11-15) and the ministry (Ephesians 3:8) “Because,” as Paul made clear in 1 Corinthians 15:9, “I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” God help us preachers to possess the humble attitude of Paul even when we are criticized for serving God’s Word. In Philippians 1:14-18, instead of retaliating against those who attacked him, Paul rejoiced that souls were saved under their ministry. Someone asked Spurgeon: “How can we reconcile the Calvinists and the Arminians?” Spurgeon replied, “You don’t have to reconcile brothers.” We need this attitude of humility today.
A must read for all believers, including pastors, is C. J. Mahaney’s Humility: True Greatness. Mahaney starts chapter one, “The Promise of Humility” by referring to Jim Collins’ bestseller, Good to Great. The result of Collins researching 11 corporations which had become great was that each corporation’s CEO was “quiet, humble, modest, reserved, shy, gracious, mild-mannered, self-effacing, understated, did not believe his own clippings” and thus respected by their employees.
Humility not only attracts the attention of the world but, vastly more importantly, God according to Isaiah 66:2: “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my Word.” In addition to attracting God’s attention, humility moves God to fulfill the promise of humility which is found in James 4:6, “God…gives grace to the humble.” As I read this chapter, I am asking myself, “Is God looking with pleasure on my life because of my humility?” “Am I experiencing His grace, His spiritual strength, in my life and ministry because of my contriteness?”
3. What are the Ministries of the God Called?
A. For Paul: “To make all men to see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:7).
B. For All Preachers.
It is our ministry to preach “the unsearchable riches of Christ to make men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God.” “Paul is saying in effect, ‘I am not only called in the vertical area to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ, but in the horizontal area to teach about the administration, the stewardship of dispensation, of the mystery of the church age’” (MacArthur, page 95). We must preach so men can be vertically related to Christ and once that is true they will be horizontally right with one another in unity. Translated, we preach to win men to Christ or as Paul will later say to Timothy, “Do the work of an evangelist.” Then we preach to win them to each other in unity and ministry.
4. What are The Results of God’s Call to the Ministry?
A. God’s wisdom will be displayed in the unity of the local church (Ephesians 3:10-11).
Even angels, “principalities and powers in heavenly places” (3:10), did not know about the church in the Old Testament. Since angels were created to praise God (Psalm 148:1-5) our unity in the local church can give angels cause to praise the Lord. While God revealed the mystery of the church to Paul and others, God did not reveal that mystery to angels. Angels must learn about this mystery by observing our unity in our local church.
God planned the church from eternity past, Christ accomplished its unity by His death on the cross (3:11) when He tore down the middle wall of partition, but the local church must display its unity. What do angels see, for they are watching (1 Corinthians 4:9; 11:10), as they observe our local church? Unity or division!
B. Believers’ responsibility (Ephesians 3:12-13).
Jews and Gentiles, “we,” for the first time, can now in unity access God together. In Acts 2, the church was in “one accord” and look what happened. The church in Acts 2 experienced for the first time what God the Father planned, what Christ accomplished on the cross, and what the Holy Spirit birthed. Unity can be a powerful weapon in God’s hands. Warren W. Wiersbe has a little book on prayers in the Book of Acts entitled, “Something Happens When the Church Prays.” Something also happens when the Church preaches, as Peter did in Acts 2 and experiences the results of this God called ministry.
Justin Taylor tells how God called John Piper to the ministry that puts a well-known personal face on this lesson. His post is entitled: 30 Years Ago Today: How God Called John Piper to Become a Pastor. I will post this testimony as Part 3 from the Gospelcoalition.