Who Sent You to Preach? God or You?
Updated: Feb 8
What is the Meaning of Called to Preach the Gospel
The meaning of called to preach is “sent by the Lord God to spread a message of the opportunity to reconcile with HIM, from our sins, through the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ”. In the Bible, this call was often accompanied by miraculous signs, such as the healing of the sick and the casting out of demons. These were/are meant as a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit.
The call to preach is not limited to the biblical Apostles, however. Throughout the New Testament, individuals such as Stephen, Philip, and Timothy are also described as preaching. This commission from the Throne of God is also not limited to a specific gender or race. There were certain women in scripture who directly represented God’s message as well.
Among them were Deborah (Judge & Prophet), Huldah (Prophet), Anna (Prophet), as well as Phoebe and Priscilla. This call is a command to be a witness for Jesus and to use one's gifts and talents to serve others. Further, it results in a life dedicated to spreading the good news of salvation and to sharing the love of God with all people.
Here are six (6) more examples of New Testament preachers:
Matthew 4:19: Jesus calls Peter and Andrew to be fishers of men.
Acts 7: Stephen preaches before the Sanhedrin Council and was then stoned.
1st Timothy 2:7: Paul instructs Timothy to preach the word of God.
James 5:19-20: James instructs the faithful to bring back those who have strayed.
Acts 8:26-40: Philip is called by an angel to preach to the Ethiopian eunuch.
Acts 13:2-4: Barnabas was set apart by the Holy Spirit to preach the word of God.
Here are six (6) examples of Old Testament preachers:
Moses: Called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and deliver God's message to them (Exodus 3:10).
Jonah: Called by God to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh (Jonah 1:1).
Nehemiah: More than any single scripture, Nehemiah's boldness in God to rebuild the wall is a book long "sermon" of "fulfilling the vision". (Book of Nehemiah)
Hosea: this prophet "cried out" on the Jews for their unfaithfulness to the Lord God (Book of Hosea).
Samuel: Called by God to be a prophet and judge over Israel (1st Samuel 3:1-10).
Elijah: Called by God to be a prophet and challenge the false gods of Israel (1st Kings 17:1).
God so loved us, throughout human history, that He sent Prophets and Preachers speaking of His love and protection. First, it was to Israel and then, in the New Testament, to the entire world. The meaning of this “call” could hardly be understated. Literally, those He sends directly affect the eternity of others.
Signs God is Calling You to Preach
There are certain spiritual signs God is calling you to preach. Whether you will eventually preach from sermon outlines, or open the Bible and Holy Ghost "free-style", the Lord will use you. One sign could be a troubled spirit and you do not know why. Determining if God is calling you to ministry is simple: God will place an overwhelming urge to preach within your spirit that you cannot resist. It is not a desire to “do good work” either - it is something much more significant.
Another sign is a strong desire to communicate God’s message where none was present before. You do not need to attend seminary or other religious institution to preach. Just an FYI: I have never trusted the calling of those who said: “I wanted to serve God so I went to seminary/Christian college to get my degree to do so.”
Further, suddenly you will experience biblical clarity that was never present prior. To be more clear: no human being will need to "instruct you" in the Word during this foundational phase. If I were you, I would "ignore" others and allow the Holy Spirit to build. This is not saying you can no longer "learn"! Be careful, however, that you do not become prideful. You will still need guidance, prayer, and a mentor.
Literally, one (1) day the Bible is a mystery and the next, it speaks to your spirit. This develops into an insatiable “hunger” for more of the Word of God. It's important to note that a calling to ministry is not always a clear and straightforward experience. Some may struggle with uncertainty or fear as I did. In these cases, seeking guidance through Holy Spirit.
Here are seven (7) signs I experienced when being called to preach in 1997:
Someone I admired in ministry approached me with a “hint” I did not understand at the time. I was not in fellowship with any church during this period either. He simply walked up to me and said: “I saw something in you today. You can run but you cannot hide”.
After this experience, I became consumed with his words over the ensuing several years.
When the Holy Spirit provided clarity and confirmation, I fell into a state of denial. In my mind, this simply could not be true. I was the lowest down, heathen scoundrel in Springfield, Missouri during this time.
A “still small voice” became louder and louder” as the years passed until I could no longer ignore “it”. It was like a flat screen television whose volume began at the level “5” and was finally blasted to “100”. It is not hard to ignore level 5 in a home. However, where is there to hide from “100”? Worse, the “volume” followed me everywhere I went.
Someone else, who is among the most annoying I know, validated this call although she probably had another agenda.
The Holy Spirit opened the Word of God to me. What once was nothing more than another “book” was now something much different. The words which rested on the pages of the Bible became an instantly readable “road map”.
A path through ministry, to the place God had for me, opened up. Not by any effort from me either.
Let’s be clear: many feel God is calling them to “Preach” when what God desires is a closer relationship with them. If you are someone who: “wants to make a difference”, God is not calling you! This is not simply some “do good non-profit” cause helping people.
This is not a game, so if you desire to do good work, apply to work at a charity, or volunteer at a homeless shelter. Stay off this field of battle because if you were not given “God’s Armor”, you will be destroyed. You are never safe standing in a place God never sent you. Clear enough?
Called to Preach but Not Pastor
Not all individuals called to preach are called to be pastors. The calling to preach, and the calling to be a pastor, are two distinct ministries. Just for clarity – all Pastors are preachers but not all preachers will lead a congregation. Further, this is not God’s Will either. A person called to preach may speak in public gatherings, evangelize, or share the message of salvation through various means.
A Pastor, on the other hand, may have additional responsibilities. These include (but not limited to): church oversight, teaching, counseling, spiritual guidance, as well as the duties mentioned for preachers as well. Both callings require a deep commitment to God, but the scope and responsibilities differ.
This does not mean a Pastor is more important than anyone else. As a Pastor (currently anyway), 90% of those I serve with believe themselves better than the “serfs” they lead. None I have challenged can produce the biblical case for this, but they still act “as if”. They confuse the Hebrews teaching on “being more accountable” (to God) with “being more important” (to Him). It is sad, truly sad.
Here are seven (7) things to remember about Pastoring:
The church is not corporate America where seniority and “time in position” equals promotion to leadership. God “exalts” and does not “promote”.
Preaching the Gospel is an assignment from God’s throne which “may” result in Pastoring. Just because you are not (and will not) Pastor does not mean God did not call you to preach.
Most Pastors “called themselves”. Strong statement, sure, but is it truly God’s Will for sometimes six (6) churches to exist within a few blocks of one another? Perhaps this is “God’s provision” but His Will?
“Seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened” does not apply. You are either a born church leader, or you are an “usurper”.
Your skills and resume mean NOTHING to the Lord. What matters is you are open and obedient to following His Will. If Pastoring, great, if not, great as well.
Although Pastoring is viewed as a “fraternity” of sorts, it is more akin to a gladiatorial event. It breaks my heart to say this but 70% are the most career ambitious people you alive. In their warped sense of scripture, a larger church and congregation means they are “more blessed” than micro-church leaders.
IF you are “called” to lead, stick to YOUR assignment. If you leave God’s Sheep in the hands of others while you are somewhere else “building your reputation and network”, God is ANGRY.
Can Anyone Preach
Anyone can preach who has the desire to. Jesus did not limit His commandment to “go into all the world to preach the gospel” to “assigned” preachers only. Nevertheless, and according to scripture, not everyone is called to serve as a full-time, by gifting, preacher/teacher. However, all believers are called to share the gospel and make disciples. In 1st Peter 3:15, believers are encouraged to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that they have.
Additionally, Romans 10:14-15 states that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”. This implies that all believers can be effective witnesses through the sharing of their own testimony and God’s Word. While some may have a specific calling to preach, all believers are encouraged to play a role in spreading the gospel and making disciples.
Examples of non-Preachers sharing the gospel:
Philip in Acts 8:5-40: He shared the gospel with an Ethiopian official/eunuch.
The Samaritan woman: in John 4 she had an encounter with Jesus and immediately went and “preached” to the townspeople.
The healed man in John 5:15: he shared his healing with others and told them about Jesus.
The blind man in John 9:32-33: testified about Jesus to the Pharisees which is preaching!
Mary Magdalene in John 20:17-18: this woman "shared" the news of Jesus' resurrection with the disciples.
Four (4) daughters of Phillip Acts 21:9: this early evangelist’s daughters prophesied which is another word for “preaching”.
Priscilla in Acts 18:26, Romans 16:3-5, 1st Corinthians 16:19, and 2nd Timothy 4:19: this Saint is noted for her role in teaching and spreading the gospel.
As you can see, some who shared Christ were women! Women in Pulpits is a sensitive subject which is beyond the scope of this article. However, being called to preach, by “gifting”, is much different than simply being called to “share Christ” when the opportunity arrives.
What if I Refuse God’s Call
If you refuse God’s will, you will forfeit your peace, joy, and sanity. As was revealed earlier, I speak from personal experience. Disobedience has its price and while I would never suggest God would violate your free will, He WILL win the battle. Factually, He already has. This is simply a matter of you being sensible. If you can resist without consequences, you were never called to begin with!
The Bible teaches that there are consequences for refusing to preach the gospel. In Matthew 25:14-30, the Parable of the Talents, a servant who buried his talent instead of putting it to use was punished. In the same way, those who have been given the opportunity to spread the gospel but choose not to will be held accountable for their inaction.
Additionally, in Romans 1:16-17, it states that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Those who suppress the truth will face judgment. Refusing to preach is rejecting the call to be a witness for Christ and to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). The Bible emphasizes the urgency and importance of spreading the message of salvation, and the consequences for neglecting to do so are severe.
Here are seven (7) examples of people who did not heed God’s call (but did eventually):
Jonah in Jonah 1:1-3 and 4:1-11: was called by God to preach to the city of Nineveh but initially refused and ran away.
Moses in Exodus 3:11-4:17: this Prophet of Prophets initially argued with God with respect to whether he was the right man to go to Pharoah.
Saul in Acts 9:1-19: initially persecuted the early Christians and did not believe in the message of the gospel until he was personally confronted by Jesus.
Elijah in 1st Kings 19:1-18: became discouraged and ran away from his prophetic calling until God “encouraged” him to continue. (Remember we spoke earlier about methods God uses to “encourage” those He calls).
Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1-13: initially questioned his ability to preach the message of God.
Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:4-10: doubted he could accomplish the mission because he was a youth when called.
Simon Peter in John 6:66-69: before personally seeing the Lord Jesus post-resurrection, Peter would not preach for fear.
As these examples prove, and in my own experience as well, there is no excuse God will accept. You are not alone, ever, and the Lord will strengthen you. Eventually, you will preach if you were born to. Just do it – your sanity (literally) is at stake!
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