Elements Of God’s Call
In this post we examine the essential elements of God’s call. We will refer to King David, as God’s man, to shed light on this vital topic. The story of David and Goliath is a familiar O.T. story. As a young lad, David visits his brothers in battle and finds Goliath blaspheming God and defying Israel. Moved with holy zeal, the young man volunteers to face the wicked giant. Then, take special note of what happened…
“And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.”
-1 Samuel 17:38-40
There are three, distinct and progressive elements to the call of God. Namely, in the beginning, there is the gifting, then in the end, there is the fulfillment, but what bridges the gap between the two is the testing. When we say “progressive” we mean we must pass through one stage to qualify for the next. If we fail to recognize these progressive stages we set ourselves up for great disappointment and heartache.
In this article, for the purpose of illustration…
• The confrontation between Israel and Goliath will represent the eternal clash between light/darkness.
• David will be a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, the mighty Champion of God who fights and wins the church’s every spiritual battle.
• And finally, the instruments of war, the armor, the shield, the sword, the sling and stone, are figures of the God-called man in the hand of the King.
Here, in this O.T. story, if we look carefully, we can clearly see this progressive pattern of gifting, testing, and fulfillment represented.
FIRST, IN THE CALL OF GOD: THE GIFT
1 Samuel 17:38 And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail.
We see, there were instruments specifically set aside and consecrated, if you will, for the purpose at hand. David, God’s chosen and anointed champion, was given these instruments for the specific purpose of battle. And because they were given, they can be referred to as gifts. Moreover, they were the logical choice. There’s a fight to be fought, a battle to be won. There’s a ten foot giant begging to be confronted; certainly a shield and a sword are in order. My point is simply there is nothing intrinsically wrong with such instruments. They were divinely used at other times (of course, there are other spiritual lessons to be gleaned here as well, namely, killing a giant with a sling and stone is virtually impossible apart from the supernatural intervention of God). However, for our purposes today, let us simply see that these instruments were gifts given to David, suitable for the task at hand. The parallel in the spirit is obvious…
• The king (Saul) provided a man (David) called to the work of a king with instruments of war, and likewise, the risen Christ has provided gifts to the Body of Christ.
Ephes. 4:8b,11-12 (He) gave gifts unto men…11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…
Right here we see the first element of the call of God, gifting. Somebody made those instruments, the helmet, sword, and coat of armor, with a distinct application in mind. They had only one purpose to fulfill: equip God’s Champion in defeating the enemies of Israel. So it is preacher with the gifting you’ve been privileged with. You say, “I’m called to the ministry, I sense destiny and purpose burning in my soul.” This may be true, but don’t you mistake gifting with approval and appointment. Gifting is only the beginning. Just because you’ve been given to the Body doesn’t necessarily mean you are fit to be used for your ultimate purpose. Yes, there are battles to be won, tasks to be accomplished, and God calls instruments to fill these needs, but gifting alone never means qualified.
SECONDLY, IN THE CALL OF GOD: THE TEST OF CHARACTER
1 Samuel 17:39a And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them…
The gifts given to David were unproven, therefore, though they were gifts from the King, they were unfit for battle. Now, it’s not that these instruments were unsuitable, they were made for war. They were created and consecrated for this purpose alone. No, it wasn’t that these instruments were ill-advised or inappropriate, but only that David was unfamiliar with them. He was uncomfortable with objects foreign to his touch. This alone, disqualified their use.
1 Samuel 17:39b …And David put them off him.
Regardless of how fitting your gift, Jesus is not going to use what He has not tested, he’ll put you off.
Preacher, you say, “well I’m gifted and I know Jesus.” True, you may be gifted, and I don’t doubt that you know Jesus, but does Jesus know you?
Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Now, it is during the testing where inner character is developed. The reason some run so fast and speak so loud is they’re afraid if they’re still long enough someone will expose their lack of substance. Without this proving, the Champion cannot trust us in the heat of battle. In the King’s possession are many vessels, but only those who have been proven are worthy to be used. Remember, David had fought many a battle with more familiar tools in the obscurity of the desert tending to his father’s sheepfold. Sadly, many today dream of the accolades and glory that accompanies bringing down a Goliath in the presence of all Israel, but they refuse the discipline to face the bear and the lion of everyday life. They covet the pulpit while they are unfaithful in the pew. If you’re struggling to overcome the everyday battles you face in private what makes you think you can instruct the Body at large? And remember, if you are called, you are given by a King to the King, for a King’s purpose. Thus, the gifts are inseparable from the body, they are not for your edification, but for God’s people.
Preparation is essential to hone and season the instrument for battle. Likewise, faithfulness is an important test in proving our worthiness for ministry.
Luke 16:12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
Remember, we will reap what we sow: could you build a church on 100 people just like yourself?
Examine your giving, your service, your prayer, your evangelism, your holiness, etc. and multiply it by one hundred and that’s what kind of church you will reap.
Like Abraham, who was called to birth a nation, God intends for us to be a blessing; yet, Abraham was declared a blessing only after he was tested…
Genesis 22:18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Sadly, in today’s haphazard and spiritually irresponsible age, all that is necessary to call oneself “preacher” is the evidence of the gift. Yet, it is a narrow way, no short-cuts, no back-door escapes, no exceptions, every vessel must be proven.
LASTLY, THE CALL OF GOD: FULFILLING THE OFFICE
1 Samuel 17:40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.
David chose to fulfill the extraordinary purpose at hand with the common instruments he was familiar with. It is interesting to note, that the tools David did choose seemed less appropriate for war than what he rejected. To the natural mind, a staff, a sling, and five smooth stones don’t favorably compare with a coat of armor and a sword.
Why were those stones smooth?
He got them out of a brook where they were subject to a constant flow of water. I believe this represents the local church, a place where God intends for living water to perpetually flow. The local church is proving ground for the call of God. I often lament seeing young men go off to “Bible-school” at the expense of the local church. God’s pattern to raise up true ministers is through the means of discipleship within the local church. Unfortunately, this is a concept almost wholly rejected or ignored today.
There is no doubt, Jesus is going to use someone. However, He doesn’t necessarily choose the most gifted, but the most proven. We’ll never fulfill our office if we refuse to complete our training/discipleship. If we try to bridge the gap between office and gift before we have character we will, at best, wander around in the wilderness.
Let us resolve to submit to God’s way.