"To testify the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24
**PUBLISHED AS A MISSION PROJECT OF PILGRIMS HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH**
August 1, 2004
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In this Issue:
A REPORT ON THAILAND MISSIONS
UNDERSTANDING THE CALL TO PREACH, PASTOR, AND DO MISSION WORK
A REPORT ON THAILAND MISSIONS
By Elder Bill Lee
Pastor: Central Baptist Church, Grenada, Mississippi
Once again I greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ as I give you an update on the Lord’s work in Thailand. I especially wanted to give you a report on my latest trip. As many of you know, I did make a trip to Thailand in June. I left the United States in June 6 and returned on June 22.
We normally do not make a trip to Thailand during this time of the year, but I thought it was needful to go now instead of waiting for our usual trip in October. Bro. Wayne Camp returned from Thailand the first of March and I thought it was just too long of a period of time for one of us not to be there. This trip was a little bit different from other trips that we have made in that on this trip I went alone. I got a little taste of what Bro. Camp must experience when he is there for four months and it made me appreciate even more the work he is doing there.
Upon my arrival in Chiang Mai and meeting with Bro. Anond, I found that he had me scheduled to visit 19 villages as well as one trip to preach at a prison.
As it turned out, we were only able to visit 14 of these. It rained in the mountains almost every night during the time I was there which made driving the mountain roads very difficult and on a couple of occasions impossible. On one day we were scheduled to visit two churches but were unable to get there because of the mud and washed out conditions of the roads. On another day we were scheduled to go to three churches, but because of similar road conditions we were unable to get there. And I will have to say that it was not because we did not try to get there.
On both of these days we literally went as far as we could go, slipping and sliding along the rough mountain roads, and we went until Bro. Anond’s four-wheel drive truck would go no farther. On one of these days when we reached the point where we could no longer continue, I had serious doubts about us being able to even go back the way we had come. But we did make it, after Bro. Anond suggested we pray before our attempt, and we were able to get back to the city, both of us, as well as Bro. Anond’s truck, covered with mud. On one occasion, just after we had made it back to barely drivable roads, Bro. Anond exclaimed, “Thank God, Hallelujah!” which I thought was very appropriate.
As we visited the many churches and villages that we were able to get to, I was very happy to find the saints there doing well and it was very evident that in many of the churches there was continual spiritual growth. I attribute this mainly to the work of Bro. Camp and his teaching in the school. It was very clear that those who had attended the school were carrying what they had learned back to the villages and churches. Their growth in Bible doctrine and practice is clearly visible, and as a result, many of the problems and questions we have had to address in the past, no longer exist.
I am convinced that the school and the systematic teaching of Bro. Camp is one of the most important parts of the work in Thailand. The fruit of Bro. Camp’s teaching in the school are both immeasurable and very evident. I found in almost every village I visited anticipation for the next term of school. The students who have attended in the past are anxious to return in order to learn more, and there are many who are looking forward to attending for the first time.
It is clear to Bro. Camp and me that we must build a larger and more suitable building for the school. We have plenty of room on the land we purchased for the children’s center to do this. Bro. Camp will furnish more information about this building in his newsletters.
If any of you do not receive Bro. Camp’s reports and would like to get them, just send an email address to either Bro. Camp or myself and we will see that you receive these reports. If you do not have email access and would like to receive these reports just let me know and I will copy these and mail them to you.
Please remember to pray for Bro. Camp and this important part of the mission work in Thailand. As many of you already know, Bro. Camp is recovering from knee surgery. He has made great progress in his recovery, though it is not yet a full recovery. Pray that the Lord will have him completely over this by the time he returns to Thailand.
During my time in Thailand, as I visited the different villages and churches, I preached from two to four times each day. And once again it was such a blessing to notice the eagerness among the people to learn Bible truth. In almost every service I saw people with their Bibles, which many of you helped to purchase. Many of the people would also come with pencils and paper to write down all they could of the messages. It seemed that some were trying to write down every word that was preached.
In some of the villages I found a few doctrinal errors. These I was able to correct simply by taking time with them to discuss these and to then show from the Scriptures what was truth and what was error. Once again, when they were shown from the Word of God exactly what God had said about the matter, they agreed and the problem was solved.
There were some practical matters that I addressed in some of the churches, that I fear if they had not been dealt with now, would have resulted in problems later. Once again, all that was needed was a lesson or two from the Word of God concerning these matters and the problem was cleared up.
I mention these things in order that you may know and understand that this work in Thailand is not a perfect work. It has its ups and downs like any other work. There are constantly problems that Bro. Camp and I have to deal with, and I suspect it will always be this way. But I am thankful that we also see constant spiritual growth and understanding among the churches and that the Lord has enabled us to deal with the problems in ways that are beneficial to the work.
Please remember to pray for these saints as they grow in grace and in the knowledge of Him. Also please pray for us that our God will grant unto us the wisdom and knowledge that we need in these matters.
In visiting the churches during this trip, I was also made more aware of the dedication and commitment of many of the pastors there. Some of the pastors are preaching at two and even three churches each week. For some, this requires traveling long distances on the mountain roads. Their means of transportation is a motorbike. Please remember these men also as they faithfully go about their work.
One of the highlights of my trip was a visit to Chiang Rai to preach in a prison. I don’t know the distance from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, but I do know it took us about 3 ½ hours to get there. There is a very good highway between these two cities, which certainly made the trip a lot better. We left the hotel in Chiang Mai at 5:00 A.M. We were scheduled to be at the prison at 9:30. This gave us a little time to stop and eat breakfast on the way.
Bro. Anond had been to the prison two or three times before this trip. As we were traveling, he told me to expect about 60 for the service in the women’s part of the prison. When we arrived at the prison I noticed immediately that this prison was much larger than the prison in Chiang Mai, where I have preached on other trips. Also it was immediately evident that this prison was more modern in its facilities.
We were met shortly after arriving by one of the prison officials. He was a very neat and very polite man, probably in his forties. After we passed through their security, where even our Bibles were x-rayed, this official escorted us into the inner part of the prison. There were different compounds and buildings all around the outer wall, with a large open area in the center. All of the grounds were beautifully landscaped with all sorts of flowers and shrubbery.
I noticed as we were walking through this area that there were several of the inmates who were busy working in this area keeping the grounds clean and working with the flowers and trees that were planted there. I saw a couple of the men who were cutting the grass with hand tools that looked like hedge shears to me. I mentioned to the official that it must take a long time for them to cut all of the grass in this manner. He reminded me that the one thing the inmates had was time. He also told me that those we saw working in this large courtyard had earned the privilege to work by their good behaviour in the cellblocks.
When we reached the building in the women’s compound, the number of women inmates in the prison surprised me. There were several thousand women who are inmates here. We went to the upstairs area of the building and began to get ready for the service. Then the women began to come in. I had asked the official with us if the women’s attendance was mandatory or voluntary. He assured me that it was completely voluntary. I noticed that all of the seating area at the front began to fill up as more and more women kept coming in. Bro. Anond had said to expect about sixty in attendance, but I am sure there were over three hundred in attendance for the service.
I began to look around at those present and I noticed that some of the women had Bibles. Those who did not have Bibles would gather around those who did and they would all follow me in the Scriptures as I preached. I also noticed that many of the women had brought paper and pencil with them to the service. I used I Timothy 1:15 as a text as I was once again able to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in a very unique setting in Thailand. I was amazed by the attention and the interest of almost all who were present. It was truly a good service that we had with these women in this prison.
Following the message I answered several questions about what I had preached. Several of the women asked me if I could help those who did not have a Bible to get one. I promised them that I would.
After the service, as the prison official was leading us out, he mentioned to me that he could tell the difference in the Christian women and those who were Buddhist. He said that none of the women had to tell him if they were Christians or not, that he could tell by the way they acted, by the way they talked, and by observing their cleanliness. And as I looked around at the women in the prison, I could readily see there were two distinct groups of women in this prison. One group was clean and orderly and the other was loud and disorderly, and many of them were dirty. He told me that he was ashamed of the way the Buddhist women behaved and that he was trying to get them to be more like the Christian women in the prison. This gave me a great opportunity to tell him that only a work of God could make such a difference in people.
When we left the women’s compound and were walking back through the open area of the prison, the official said he wanted me to see their library. He led us to the library and it seemed to be well stocked with books. Of course, there were many books on the Buddhist religion and there were also many other just general types of books. Then he showed me an empty bookshelf, right in the center of the room. He told me he had reserved this space for Christian literature. Then he asked me if there was someway I could help him obtain Christian literature for the prison.
Once again I was amazed at how our God opens so many doors for us in this work. Here was a prison that is operated by a Buddhist government, staffed by Buddhist officials, but yet they not only allow us to come and preach the gospel in the prison, they encourage us to do so. And then, beyond that, this high ranking, Buddhist prison official reserves the most prominent place in the prison library for Christian literature. I assured him, before I left the prison, that I would send Bro. Anond money for Christian books, and that Bro. Anond could bring these to the prison. The ladies fellowship here at Central Baptist Church has taken this as one of their projects. If any would like to help them furnish Christian literature for the library and Bibles for the women who do not have one, you can do so by sending your offerings for this to: Ladies Fellowship, Central Baptist Church, P.O. Box 876, Grenada, Ms 38901. This is a worthy cause and a great door our God has opened for us to minister to the people there. We hope to do the same thing in the prisons in Chiang Mai where Bro. Anond also preaches.
I am also happy to report that things are well at the children’s center. We now have sixty children at the center, the majority of which are orphans. They all seem to be happy and well, and I am thankful for this. Bro. Daniel is doing a great job in overseeing the children’s center. It is very evident that the children like Bro. Daniel very much, and they also have a great respect for him. It is equally clear that Bro. Daniel loves and cares for the children.
Bro. Daniel’s wife, Moi, is also a very important part of this work at the children’s center. Moi is a registered nurse, which is of great help when you have sixty children to care for. As we all know, with children there seems to always be a need, whether it is a case of the sniffles, a cold, scrapes and bruises, or something more serious. What blessing it is to have a registered nurse at the children’s center. Moi is a Christian lady who really cares for the children and this can be seen in many different ways.
The children have services each Friday night with Bro. Daniel teaching and preaching. They also have services each Sunday morning. Moi teaches the younger children in a Bible class each Sunday morning and Daniel teaches and preaches in the service for all of the children.
There are several gardens that have been planted at the children’s center. This allows them to grow much of the food for the children. We also have a rice field where we are able to grow enough rice for the children’s center and also for the students in the school when Bro. Camp is there.
All of the children have their own chores to do around the children’s center. There is always much to be done and everyone has his or her own part to do. The children are all doing well in school. Bro. Anond told me that the children from our center are consistently in the upper grade levels of their classes. We have an exceptional group of children and some very exceptional workers at the children’s center. These children are receiving a Christian education and a Christian influence in their lives that I am sure will continue to bear fruit for generations to come.
We are already making plans for our trip in October. We are thankful that on this trip Bro. Paul Brown and his wife Susan will be going with us. Bro. Brown is pastor of the Sherwood Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Bro. Paul will be helping with the preaching in the villages as well as at the Bible conference we plan to have while there.
The Bible conference is a time when all of the churches come together for the services. There are usually several hundred in attendance. Bro. Brown, Bro. Camp and I will all be preaching to those in attendance. Also during the conference there will be special sessions just for the women. Susan Brown will be teaching during these sessions. There is a great need for teaching on the Biblical role of women in the churches and we are thankful that Susan will be able to fill this need.
Our plans are for Janice and myself, along with Bro. Paul and Susan, to leave the U.S. on October 18. Bro. Camp will leave the U.S. on October 25. We will have a week to visit the villages and preach in the churches, as well as administer medicine as needed before Bro. Camp arrives in Thailand.
The day after Bro. Camp arrives we will begin the Bible conference. The four of us are scheduled to leave Chiang Mai November 2 for our return trip home, and Bro. Camp will remain in Thailand for four months, for another school term.
While much has been done, there always remains much to be done. The work is ever expanding and we are thankful for this. Our God continues to open up new ways for us to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to more people and more places. We continue to see more and more needs that we will seek to fill as the Lord supplies the means to do so.
Please continue to pray for this work in Thailand. The Lord has allowed us to do many things there and we look forward to doing many more. Our prayer is that our God will receive all of the glory and honor for all that is done, for this truly is His work. Thank you all for your faithful support of this work. Without your support so much of what has been done would yet remain undone. What a blessing it is for so many of us to be able to work together, as we seek to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ even to the regions beyond.
UNDERSTANDING THE CALL TO PREACH WHETHER TO PASTOR OR DO MISSION WORK
By Wayne Camp
1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.
Hebrews 5:4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
Amos 7:14-15 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: 15 And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
Acts 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
1 Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
I have been reading TO THE GOLDEN SHORE: The Life of Adoniram Judson by Courtney Anderson. Having read about Adoniram’s conviction that God had called him to take the gospel to Burma I was not surprised at his mother’s and sister’s reaction and opposition to his going. Even his father was very disappointed because he had dreams for his son that he had never achieved himself.
As I read the following information I was made to realize again that the average Christian has little understanding of the Divine call to the Lord’s work. I speak of preaching, pastoring and doing mission work. My paternal grandmother, though a Christian and Missionary Baptist thought that I should be able to drop everything as far as the Lord’s work was concerned and go home every time there was a birthday dinner, homecoming, or just when my brothers who were in service were home on furlough. When I left a job in 1958 when I was taking home over $200 per week to go to Seminary I went without work about 6 weeks and then got a job at which I took home about $40 per week, my own father told me what a fool I was.
Now, please read the following account of Adoniram’s experience in going home and telling his parents that God had called him to preach the gospel in Burma.
He was welcomed warmly, as usual—perhaps even a little more warmly than in the past—and for a few days he kept his secret to himself, waiting for the best time to bring it up. Soon, however, he began to be aware that he was not the only one with a secret. His father, mother and sister were keeping something to themselves too.
They were seated around the fireplace one evening when Mr. Judson began to drop rather broad hints to the effect that something highly desirable was about to happen to Adoniram. Mrs. Judson and Abigail, with smiles and cryptic remarks, suggested that, what-ever it was, it concerned his career and was something Adoniram would like very much indeed. In view of his own secret all this was disquieting. Growing more and more uneasy as he listened, Adoniram finally asked his father to explain directly what he was hinting at—adding, by way of warning, that he might have plans of his own which might interfere with what they had in mind.
Mr. Judson was undisturbed. He was positive that Adoniram would be overjoyed. Adoniram knew Dr. Griffin, of course, who with Dr. Stuart had influenced him to go to Andover, and who now was Adoniram's instructor in Sacred Rhetoric? Adoniram nodded impatiently. Well, continued Mr. Judson, Adoniram had heard that Dr. Griffin was about to become pastor of the Park Street Church in Boston—the largest church in Boston? And this was the secret—he wanted Adoniram to be his assistant as soon as he graduated from the seminary. He had spoken to Mr. Judson about it this early to be sure Adoniram would not commit himself to anyone else!
Nothing could possibly have made Adoniram's father prouder. His mother, who had been almost unable to contain herself while her husband spoke, broke in with, "And you will be so near home!" Abigail followed. Dr. Griffin was sure, she said, that Adoniram was destined to become one of New England's great ministers. This assistantship would be the first step on the ladder! So the three talked, fairly exploding with joy.
Adoniram, meanwhile, was overcome with a feeling akin to horror. Every word they spoke was a blow on his heart. Although he had known he must hurt them with his own news, he had never expected to hurt them as he must now. For a few moments he was unable to speak at all. Then, his voice hoarse and shaking with emotion, he broke in on his sister's glowing description of his future with, "No, Abigail. I shall never live in Boston. I have much farther to go."
His vehemence stilled them. In broken phrases, he told them of his decision and how he had arrived at it. As its full meaning sank home, his mother and Abigail exchanged fearful glances. Their eyes filled with tears and they broke into uncontrollable sobbing. As soon as they could recover themselves a little, they flung their tearful arguments as they had once before, when he set forth for New York. Why should he throw himself away among ignorant savages who could never appreciate him, half a world from home? Think how much good he could do in Boston! There were souls to save in New England, too. And so on . . . to no avail.
Only Adoniram's father had nothing to say. As a minister, what arguments could he bring against this decision? He sat with a stony face in the rocker beside the fire, silently digesting the wreck of his hopes, in the bitterest moment of life.
The remainder of Adoniram's vacation was a tumult. His mother and Abigail persisted in believing that if they deluged him with enough entreaties and enough tears he would give in. The father kept his hands off. It was obvious, to him, that no power on earth could move Adoniram Judson once he had come to a decision.
Note these words especially:His mother and Abigail persisted in believing that if they deluged him with enough entreaties and enough tears he would give in.
It is obvious that they had little or no conception of the power and effectualness of a real call of God to his work. I am convinced that this is true of many of our Sovereign Grace Baptist people as well. In fact, and may God forgive me if I err, I sometimes wonder if some men who say God has called them to preach, pastor, and/or do mission work really understand the call of God.
Some who believe that the call of God to salvation is irresistible and effectual, always resulting in the repentance, faith, and newness of life of the called seem to have such a different opinion of the call of God to his work. Some say, “If I do not do what God has called me to do, he will just leave me alone and get someone else to do it.” The late Brother Wilbur Johnson, responding to such a declaration as that said, “I asked Jonah about that and he said there was not a word of truth to it.”
UNDERSTANDING THE CALL TO PREACH, PASTOR AND DO MISSION WORK REQUIRES THAT WE UNDERSTAND IT IS A SPECIAL CALL FROM GOD
In the years that I have pastored, I am amazed and the number of preachers that I have met who say they are called to preach that have never pastored, or have pastored very little. I fear that far too many of these brethren are like one who came to me one time and asked that I try to help him get a church to pastor. At the time I was moderator of the Grand Prairie Association and pastor of the Park Avenue Baptist Church in Stuttgart, Arkansas. I also preached a number of revival meetings. This brother thought that I would be more apt to hear of churches that were looking for pastors than he would be.
About one week later I heard of a church in Northeast Arkansas that was looking for a pastor. The church this brother was pastoring only paid $15 per week. I went by his house—neither he nor I had a phone—a day or so after I heard about the church and I said, “I heard of a church that pays $50 per week, furnishes a parsonage, pays the utilities, and has a freezer at the church building which they keep supplied with various fruits and vegetables and some meat that is all for the pastor’s use.” He was excited.
“Where is this church located,” he eagerly inquired.
I replied, “It is about a hundred or so miles from here up in Northeast Arkansas.”
His face immediately reflected great disappointment. He said, “Oh, I wanted a church in the Grand Prairie Association. I am not interested in moving that far.”
I told the brother, “Do not ever ask me to help you again. For you, God is limited to the Grand Prairie.”
God does not call men into his service for them to only serve if it is convenient to do so. I knew another brother who said that God had called him to preach who sat in his home church for at least fifteen years waiting for that church to call him as pastor. Though they changed pastors three or four times during that period, they never called him. Finally, they were without a pastor for several months and as a last resort called him as pastor. This church had an annual call so that every year they voted on whether to retain the pastor or if another was nominated they might call him. After a couple of years the church wanted a new pastor and called another brother. The brother did not look for another church. He just sat in his home church again hoping they would get desperate again and call him back as pastor. Is this kind of conduct evidence of a Divine call?
I am also dumbfounded by the number of men who have said that they have been called to a certain mission field and they have spent months and even years visiting among the churches and have never gone on the mission field. In fact, I know of some who have allegedly been called at different times to different foreign mission fields who have done “deputation” for each of these fields and have made “survey” trips to the fields but have never spent any time in actual mission work on those fields.
I fear that men are sometimes seized by a perceived “romanticism” of pastoring or of doing foreign mission work and say they are called to such work. They never sit down and count the cost. They never consider the ramifications of the matter. They are like a man who sets out to build a tower but never counts the cost to see if he can finish it. Luke 14:26-33 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
It is obvious that Adoniram Judson was not seized by “romantic” notions of what mission work would entail. [Editor’s note: After the death of his first wife and of their children, Adoniram went through a period of time when he thought that his motive had been pure ambition to be the first American missionary, to be the first to go to Burma, and to be the first to translate the Scriptures into the Burmese language. But he did not change his conviction that God had called him to the work and continued in it until his death.] One thing we can know is that Adoniram had apparently spent a good amount of time counting the cost and though he perceived that the cost would be excessive, he went to India and from there to Burma to the work to which GOD had called him.
That he had counted the cost is evident from this letter that he wrote to Mr. John Hasseltine, the father of Nancy, who would become his first wife. He wrote as follows:
I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?"
Later, Adoniram wrote to Nancy the following:
It is with the utmost sincerity, and with my whole heart, that I wish you, my love, a happy new year. May it be a year in which your walk will be close with God; your frame calm and serene; and the road that leads you to the Lamb marked with purer light. May it be a year in which you will have more largely the spirit of Christ, be praised above sublunary things, and be willing to be disposed of in this world just as God shall please. As every moment of the year will bring you nearer to the end of your pilgrimage, may it bring you nearer to God, and find you more prepared to hail the messenger of death as a deliverer and friend. And now, since I have begun to wish, I will go on. May this be the year in which you change your name; in which you take final leave of your relatives and native land; in which you will cross the wide ocean, and dwell on the other side of the world, among a heathen people.
It is certain, as these letters bear witness, that Adoniram had counted the cost and that he was calling on John and Nancy Hasseltine to count the cost before they consented to his desire to marry Nancy before departing for India and Burma.
Adoniram was certain that he was Divinely called to this work and was ready to hazard his life for that work. He wanted Nancy to count the cost before consenting to marry him. Of course, he wanted her parents to count the cost before they gave their consent for the marriage.
I repeat what I said earlier. Men who think they may be called of God into his work—preaching, pastoring, or mission work—need to count the cost before announcing that call. And, in the case of mission work, be certain to count the cost before setting out to raise support. Also, one should investigate to see if he will be able to get into the country before spending a lot of time and money on deputation. I recall one man several years ago, who spent about two years visiting among churches, living off the money he raised, only to learn the country was not open and he ended up not going because he could not get a visa. At best, that is poor stewardship of the Lord’s money.
GOD’S CALL TO THE PREACHER IS AN IRRESISTIBLE, IRREVOCABLE CALL
We Sovereign Grace Baptists believe in an effectual or irresistible call to salvation. This writer is one who believes that the call to preach, pastor, and/or do mission work is an irresistible, irrevocable call.
Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.I know that this verse is in a context that has to do with the call to salvation. But, there is nothing in the verse to indicate that we can restrict it to that call of God only.
I believe that if we could call Jonah as a witness on this matter he would affirm that the call of God to preach is an irresistible, irrevocable call. God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach his word there. Jonah 1:1-2 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
But, Jonah did not want to go to that wicked city of Gentiles and preach the word there. It was contrary to his alleged free will to go. But, did God leave it to Jonah and his “free will”? If God’s work depended on the fickleness of the assumed free will of men, even saved men such as Jonah, it would never get done.
Jonah did not rise up and rush to Nineveh to begin preaching God’s word. Instead, he rose up, went to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish, and paid the fare and boarded the ship for Tarshish. Jonah 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
Jonah wanted to get completely out of Israel where God’s presence was especially manifested. He thought that by leaving Israel he would be free from the obligations of the Divine call to preach in Nineveh. But God did not simply get another person to do the work. No! He sent a storm and then a great fish to swallow Jonah and make him willing to go to Nineveh.
When Jonah repented the fish threw him up on the outskirts of Nineveh, the very place to which he did not want to go. Then God renewed his irrevocable call to Jonah. Jonah 3:1-2 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, 2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
Sometimes one of God’s preachers gets so discouraged in the work that he may decide to quit. But, if he is truly called of God I have serious doubts that he will be able to do so.
Consider Jeremiah’s attempt to quit. Jeremiah 20:7-9 O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. 8 For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. 9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name.
Jeremiah felt God had deceived him in laying the burden of prophesying to the backslidden nation of Israel. On every side men reproached him because of the word of God which he preached. But, God would not let him quit. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. It sounds as if Jeremiah had learned that God’s call into his service is an irresistible call.
It appears that the Apostle Paul felt the call of God to preach his word and to do the work he was doing was an irrevocable call. 1 Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
Jesus had said to Paul, But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee. This was not a call that Paul could take or leave, depending on his own will in the matter. God had made it so obvious to him that he must preach that he cried, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
It is evident that others knew this irrevocable call to preach. David had the same fire burning in him that burned in Jeremiah. Psalm 39:3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue.
Ezekiel spoke of this irresistible call of God to deliver the Word of God. Ezekiel 3:14 So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me.
According to the biblical record, various men whom God called into his work made their excuses. Moses complained that he stuttered. God did not let him go his own way. He called Aaron to be his spokesman.
Isaiah, when called of God, declared, “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). But God cleansed his lips and sent him forth to his work.
Consider the testimony of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 1:5-9 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. 6 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. 7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. 8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. 9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
When Amaziah challenged the credentials of Amos he was clearly told by the prophet that he was not a prophet by profession and he was not a prophet by parentage but that God took him and sent him to prophesy. Amos 7:14-15 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: 15 And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
What I have already written makes it clear that the call to preach, pastor, and do mission work is a call from the triune God-head.
According to one account, the Holy Spirit is the one who called and sent forth Paul and Barnabas. Acts 13:2, 4 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
I said in the beginning that the call of God to his work is an effectual call. That is obvious from what Paul says to Timothy concerning his own call. Ephesians 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. When one understands this, he will understand why one who is truly called of God to a work, he must do it. Jonah knew this very well. —End—
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.
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This page was last updated Friday, March 04, 2011