TEL International

Author: Reginald Harris

The Call of God

The Call of God

Something many struggle with is determining what the will of the Lord is. How can someone tell whether God is calling him into some aspect of service, such as missions? It would seem the account of Samuel’s call in Scripture might give some insight along with other helpful pointers in terms of ministry. The call of God is not necessarily a quick and fleeting call that a person might miss if he is not tuned to God at a precise moment. With Samuel, at least, along with others such as Moses (Exod. 3:2-3), the call of God persisted. It would not go away.

Often missionaries and pastors have testified that preaching, or whatever their task was, was something they just had to do. They had no inward peace when they were away from the ministry, and to them this was a confirmation from the Lord. It does seem to be something someone should look for when deciding the will of God for his life. His call would not go away. There is also a great need for older and wiser and more mature believers to offer words of guidance to younger Christians. The elders in the church should be approachable so that young people feel free to inquire of them. They should also always be able to give direction to those who seek their counsel. Blessed is the church in which both young and old are in touch and can relate to each other.

There is something very special and encouraging in the life of Samuel to any who in some way minister the Word of God. It is this: when the servant of the Lord faithfully proclaims the Word God has given, God faithfully brings that word to pass. He does not let it “fall to the ground” (Sam. 3:19). The Word of the Lord is both true and abiding, and all He says will come to pass. When His Word is the message, unadulterated in content, the Lord will not make His messengers liars. It is when men mix God’s Word with their opinions or some other way dilute it that God sometimes seems to fail in what He says.

The minister must also speak the Word boldly to any whom the Lord sends him. He must speak out against the false gods of society and urge men and women to turn “to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (I Thess. 1:19). John the Baptist, Paul, and many others including Samuel set the example of saying what needs to be said.

The Bible presents the Christian life and ministry as a war for the hearts and souls of men. It is a battle that at times may be easy but at other times may be difficult and bleak. Victories sometimes are handily won, while others may take a great deal of warfare and toil before they happen. However they may come about, it is always good to celebrate the victories.

Unity and Discipline

Unity and Discipline

The severity of God is kinder than the easygoing tolerance of the world. That is the great lesson of I Corinthians 5:1-13, in which Paul demanded that the church at Corinth expel a member engaged in immoral behavior. Such a step was important for two reasons. First, it was crucial for the spiritual well-being of the Christian community. Those who carried the name of Christ had to live holy, separated lives. A church that tolerated open sin would lose its testimony in a city that needed to see the changes Christ could make in people’s lives.

It was also important for the man guilty of immorality. Paul hoped that such discipline would have the effect of returning him to fellowship in the church. A disciplinary action of the church carried out in love could be a strong incentive for repentance and change in the life of a backslider. Think what would have happened if no action had been taken. The man would have continued in sin. He might have been lulled into an attitude in which he let himself believe there was nothing wrong with his behavior. His moral and spiritual life would have continued to deteriorate. It is likely that in time others would have engaged in the same kind of conduct. Soon the Corinthian church would have behaved in exactly the same way as the world.

Such church discipline has been widely practice in African churches. The major causes for discipline there are sorcery and adultery. Guilty persons are placed on a list of disciplined members. That means that while they can still attend worship services, they are not permitted to take communion and may not take any leadership role in the church. the people under discipline understand that the church awaits their repentance and a changed life. When that occurs, they are counseled by the pastor and church leaders and a decision is made to restore them to fellowship. On the next communion Sunday the restored member is officially recognized as a full member.

In practicing discipline, a church needs to show both firmness and love. We need to say to a person who has not repented of some sin. “You are doing wrong. You are displeasing the Lord. We cannot close our eyes to this”. We should also say, in one way or another, ‘We still love you, and we are waiting with open arms to receive you back into the fellowship of the church. We will do everything possible to help you return to the Lord.”

It may be argued that no one has a right to judge another person. In one sense, this is true. Certainly the judgment of one’s ultimate salvation is in the hands of God. There may be a reasonable doubt about reports of wrong doing, which means that we should delay action. When it is obvious to most members that a moral crisis exists, however, a church should act. When a decision is made to discipline a person, a church should do it with humility, realizing that we all are sinners. To do nothing in the face of a clear moral challenge is to invite the spiritual decline of a Christian community.