The Gospel Call

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ALAN GILES – December 27, 2009
“THE GOSPEL CALL”

Intro… Today we come to the 4th installment in this series we have come to simply call “The Gospel Series”.

We have examined The Gospel from a few different angles and in each case observed the journey that God has taken me on over the past
nine years.

We began with The Gospel War, where we developed a clearer understanding of who we are in Christ, and I shared with you how this affected my life as I began to truly realize what it meant that, even though I have been justified… or counted as righteous before God…
I am continually being sanctified… or made to be righteous, By the Holy Spirit.

We saw that this was the process Paul was describing in Romans 7, where he gave expression to the fact that his flesh was constantly battling against his spirit, or the inner part of him that delights in
the Law of God… The Gospel War.

Next came the realization of The Gospel Church, where my heart began to burn for Christ’s bride, and the Spirit began to build in me this desire to see the Church redeemed back into The Gospel Driven, Fully Committed, Christ Centered, Called out Body of Witnesses that He had created her to be.

Then, God brought me through the study of The Gospel Church Member, showing me how He has strategically placed each one of us within the Body, and how He had from the very beginning of time Created me in His image, that is a Trinitarian-Like image, in which it is not good for me to be alone.

And so Cassie and I had taken these truths on board in our lives.
We were living in Washington, I was an officer in the Navy, and I
was preparing to deploy on a Nuclear Submarine for the first time
ever… and God was showing me something that was… at first…
absolutely mind blowing.
God Calls His People To Full-Time Ministry.

Now maybe that doesn’t reel you like it did me… but let me explain a little.

Up until that point… sad to say… I thought that there were Christians… and then there were CHRISTIANS…

Or in other words… I thought there were those whose job was to simply believe in Christ… and then there were those whose job was to tell EVERYONE about Christ.

We called these people missionaries, pastors, worship leaders, seminary professors, etc… And these were the people who, for whatever reason, God had told that they were supposed to go to seminary, learn to play the guitar, and be able to read the Bible in Hebrew.

And for the most part… I thought very highly of these people.

I had relatives who were missionaries, knew some really good pastors, and had even come across a couple of worship leaders that weren’t quite as crazy as the people I had seen on TV.

But they were who they were. They were different. They were ministers. They were supposed to be different than me, because they were paid to be different.

And then God started working on me. I was listening to a sermon one the radio one day, and the preacher said something I will never forget…

“We have all been called to be ministers of the Gospel.”

The verse he was working in was 1st Peter 2:5

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into
his marvelous light.”

He had settled in on the phrase, “that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of the darkness into His marvelous light,” and He was making a case for something that I had never thought of…

God Calls…

And not only that, But as I have stated it in today’s Key Truth

Key Truth
God Calls His People To Full-Time Gospel Ministry

Continue Personal Story

Now today, I want us to look, not only at my life, and the way in which God has called me, but I want us to look at the lives of two other Biblical men.

Today’s Examples
Moses – Exodus 2-4 … Paul – Acts 9:1-9, 13:1-3

Now I understand that both of these men are men who led what we might see as extraordinary Christian lives, and I don’t want to downplay in any way the significance of God’s calling on their lives, but I do want us to see how through the story of these two men’s lives, God has laid out Characteristics, Clarifications, and Cautions for us to understand when seeking to know his calling on our lives.

So to begin with, I would have us look at the 4 Characteristics of God’s calling.

First of all, God’s calling is Strategic.

Moses was an Israelite, a member of the tribe of Levi. Yet he was raised by an Egyptian princess.

Paul was an Israelite, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. Yet he was a Roman citizen.

Both men had a strong Jewish Heritage, but through the course of their lives had not only learned another culture, but were most likely versed in the language of those cultures, understood the rhythms and patterns of those cultures, and even understood the ways by which they could seek an audience with figures of higher authority in those cultures.

Have you ever wondered how Moses got an appointment with Pharaoh? Something tells me that not just any Israelite off the street could have had that kind of access to the Egyptian ruler.

Consider also Luke’s entire account of Paul’s dealings with the Roman government throughout the book of acts. Or how Paul was so well versed in the scriptures (a Jew of all Jews), or a Pharisee, and yet how incredibly well he related the gospel to Greek and Roman audiences.

Both men had been called Strategically prepared… and then subsequently Called by God.

Secondly, God’s call is not only Strategic, but it is Specific.

Moses – “Bring my people, the Children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
(Exodus 3:10)

Paul – “that I might preach Him [Christ] among the Gentiles.”
(Galatians 1:15-16)

In both men’s lives, God gives them a calling which is very specific.

He had been preparing them for the specifics of their calling, and then Strategically and Specifically called them to the work He had prepared for them.

Now you might be thinking that God does not call all people in such a specific way. But I would argue that He does call all Christians to certain specifics, and then in all of our lives He goes into a more personally specific calling.

Let me clarify by providing an example from my time on a submarine.
Submarine Example

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.
(Mark 12:30)
Love your neighbor as yourself
(Mark 12:31)
Husbands love your wives.
(Colossians 3:19)
Wives submit to your husbands.
(Colossians 3:18)
Children obey your parents.
(Colossians 3:20)

These are all specific callings.

There is 1 God. Love Him!

There is only 1 you. Love your neighbors like you love you!

Love your wife. 1 Woman. Love her.

Submit to your husband. 1 Man. Submit to him.

How much of our focus is actually on looking to God for direction in regards to how He would have us Love Him, Love those around us, Love our spouses, and honor our parents?

Do we even see these things as God’s calling on our lives or do we treat these as optional paths to follow while living a Christian life?

Because I will tell you this. If we do not come to a point where we see the simple things in life as a calling from God, than we will most likely never come to a place where we are looking to God for the more personally specific calling He has for us!

“God, should I move to here or there, should I take this job or that job, should I attend this school or that school?”

All good questions, all pertaining to our personally specific calling in life, but all questions we may never even lay before God if we do not see the whole of our life as being under the call of God.

Thirdly, God’s calling is Supernatural.

Moses had a burning bush.
Paul had a bright light and an audible voice on the way to Damascus.
Mary had a visit from an Angel.
Joseph had a dream.

I had a stirring in my spirit like I had never known before…
and an understanding.

“Become a Pastor. Love my Bride, the church, and bring her back to what I created her to be.”

You say, “how do you know that’s what you are called to?”

“I just know. God told me.”

“But did He tell you, like, out loud, or in a dream? Did you see some sort of message in the sky?”

“No, but He told me.”

“So then how do you know?”

“I just know”

In fact, this is the point in the conversations on airplanes, or with people I have just met, or am trying to explain my life to, where things just get weird.

Because there always comes a point when people want to know how we know we have been called to what we have been called to… and that’s where we usually get to the point in the explanation where we just have to say, “God told me.”
And that’s what it is. It’s Supernatural. It is an understanding between the Supreme God of the Universe and a human being. It is not ordinary. It is a calling.

Lastly, God’s calling is not only strategic, not only specific, not only supernatural, but God’s calling is Sustaining.

Read the story of Moses’ little 40 year jaunt through the desert with the Israelites. It was not easy.

Read Paul’s account of what He went through for the sake of His calling in 2 Corinthians 11. It was not easy.

In fact, in Paul’s case, his calling led him to:

5 separate occasions of 40 lashes minus 1
3 beatings with rods
1 stoning
3 shipwrecks
A night and a day spent lost at sea
Constantly being on the move
Danger from rivers
Danger from robbers
Danger from Jews
Danger from Gentiles
Danger in the city
Danger in the wilderness
Danger at sea
Danger from false brothers…
Toil
Hardships
Hunger
and
Thirst

What kept him going? What Sustained him?

The CALL.
How about Isaiah? We have probably all read the account of his calling in Isaiah 6:1-8 where Isaiah sees God on His throne, and sees the temple, and the seraphim. He hears the worship of God, and is overwhelmed with who he is in front of such a Holy God.

God then says, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” and
Isaiah responds with “Here am I! Send me.”

But don’t stop there, keep reading. Look at what God calls him to?

He essentially says … “go tell the people that they are deaf, blind, dumb, and evil, and if they do not turn from their ways, I will destroy their cities, raze their land, and send them into exile!”

What a calling! Read Isaiah some time and see what He went through?

What kept him going? What keeps us going?

The CALL.

It is sustaining … It is enough.

Life might bring us to a place where all we have left is The CALL.

Maybe the only reason we can love any deeper, or work any harder, or take that next step, or even get out of bed… is because we know we
are Called.

And as we look back at how we were called so strategically, so specifically, and so supernaturally… we are sustained.
And we continue on… in Gospel Ministry.

Quickly, I just want to make a few Clarifications to God’s calling,
and highlight a couple of Cautions, and then we’ll close.

First Clarification:

* We Are Called By The WILL And COMMAND Of God…
Not To COMMAND God To Our WILL (1 Cor. 1:1, 1 Timothy 1:1)

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus… (1Co 1:1)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of
Christ Jesus our hope, (1Tim 1:1)

We are called by God’s command, to do God’s will, and not to command God to our will.

Second Clarification:

* We Are Called To JOIN God At WORK…
Not To A WORK Which We Then Ask God To JOIN
(Exodus 3:7-10, Acts 13:1-3)

Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their task-masters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the
cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:7-10)

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen
a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. (Act 13:1-3)

God does not ask us to strike out on our own… start something up… and get it to some unknown point at which He will then show up and start helping us. God works… then calls us to join Him in the work that He is already doing.
Third Clarification:

* We Are Called To A WORKING Gospel…
Not To WORK The Gospel (Romans 1:1-5)

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart
for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, (Rom 1:1-5)

2 sermons ago we looked in depth at how The Gospel has pushed and driven its way from a little upper room in Jerusalem that Pentecost morning, through Judea, through Samaria, through tribe and tongue, through Europe, and Asia, and around the world.

The Gospel is a working Gospel. It does not need to be worked. Our calling is simply to allow The Gospel to work in us and through us… and God will take care of the rest.

Finally, 2 Cautions regarding our calling.

It must be Defended, and it must be Developed.

The last thing Satan wants is for you to take God’s calling on your life seriously. He will attack you through your friends, family, and co-workers. He will distract you with money, trinkets, and toys. He will take shots at your health, your happiness, and even take shots directly at your heart. So our calling must be Defended.

Furthermore, our calling must be Developed. Jesus spent somewhere near 30 years training for his calling. He spent 3 years preparing his disciples for their calling. Paul spent at least 3 years developing his calling, and Moses was 80 years old before God put him into action.

Allow God to help you develop your calling. Spend time in prayer, know Him, Know His Word, seek Godly mentors… Defend and Develop your calling.
Final Thot:
God Has CALLED Us All To Full-Time Gospel Ministry…
He Simply Routes Our PAYCHECKS Through Different AVENUES.

God has not saved us to a meaningless series of years spent wandering this earth, collecting things that gather dust, storing up treasures that will perish, and doing whatever it is that we want to do with our lives.

God has us here for a reason. He has a purpose for every one of our lives. He is calling us all to a life of Full-Time Gospel Ministry. Seek Him. Ask for His guidance, ask for his direction, seek out His calling
for your life.

It might not seem like you are called to anything great. But I guarantee you that you are called.

Maybe it’s to host a cell group. Maybe it’s to help lead worship. Maybe you are called to be a light in a dark place, or a salt to a people who do not sense their thirst for the living water. Maybe you are called to be a friend to someone who has none, or called to be an encouragement to someone who is down. Maybe you are called to be a witness to your neighbors, or to raise children who will be a witness at school. Maybe you are called to train leaders or teach youngsters… I don’t know.

But I do know that He has called us all to Full-Time Gospel Ministry. When we are at work… we are to be at work… in Gospel Ministry. When we go home… we are to bring God with us… and be at work… ministering to our families.

We are ministers on the road… ministers at the store… even ministers at our kid’s athletic events. In every aspect of life we are on the clock as employees of God. Ambassadors… servants… lights. Wherever He calls… we are to go… and whatever the calling… we are called to answer.

Year after year… month after month… week after week… day after day.
Until that final day when God calls us home and greets us with those warm and comforting words that we are all longing to hear…

“Well done, my good and faithful servant…
“YOU ANSWERED THE CALL.”

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