Scripture Reading: Acts 12:25-13:3
“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.” (Acts 13:2,3)
Barnabas and Saul were sent to Jerusalem to take the contributions from the Gentile believers in Antioch to give relief to the Jewish believers who suffered from a severe famine. When Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch from Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit instructed the leaders of the church in Antioch to set apart Barnabas and Saul to be missionaries to the Gentiles (v. 2). The church leaders prayed, fasted, and laid hands on the two men who had been called of God to this ministry. Then the Holy Spirit sent them out on their first missionary journey (13:4-14:28).
The Holy Spirit effectually calls all God’s chosen people to salvation. But in addition He also calls some to the ordained offices of the church (elder and deacon) and to other Christian vocation (missionaries, Christian teachers, etc.). I have counseled many over the years who felt called of God to the ordained offices and to Christian vocation. The standard question is: How do I know that God is calling me?
First, there must be an inward calling by the Holy Spirit. God gives the desire to serve in a particular ministry. He also gives the necessary gifts for the specific calling. And He gives a holy dissatisfaction with one’s current status. This internal calling must be confirmed by an outward call by the church. The church leaders are to test the gifts of the one sensing an internal calling. Then the elders give approval and set apart those called by God by the laying on of hands.
God’s calling to the ordained officers of the church or to specific vocational ministry must be taken seriously. One of the roles of elders is to observe, examine, and affirm or deny those who sense an inward call of God to service in God’s kingdom.
Over the years I have been involved in the ordination of many who have been called as elders and deacons in the church. I have also participated in laying on of hands to those who have been called into vocational ministry as missionaries and Christian workers. What a privilege it is when we are a part of helping people determine these callings.
Lord Jesus, let me be an instrument of Your grace in helping people discern whether or not they are being called by You to the ordained offices of the church. Give the elders of our churches wisdom as they help others discern this call.
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