A Practical Example of Finding God’s Call (Updated Sep 20, ’08)
Brief Assignment #2
Option B: A good 18‑year old friend
comes to you and says: “I feel God is leading me to the mission field. Can you
help me?” Outline your response in sentence form. Be sure to indicate if you
think God calls or guides and include the role of the church, mission agencies
and schools. You may draw from your readings and the lectures. (1‑3 pages)
1. Evaluating the
My initial response would be to ask for the reasons why he is
feeling this way and for how long, so I can better access the situation.
Regardless of his reasons, I would encourage him for his heart for
seeking God and the desire to understand more.
2. Sharing the Biblical
Principles of Knowing God’s Will:
According to his response to my initial questions, I would share
with him the biblical principles that govern finding the will of God for one’s
life, especially one’s ministry-vocational call.
I would encourage and assure him that God has a plan and ministry
call for every individual (Rom 12:1-2), and that He certainly guides them along
the way with every possible means (Eph 5:17).
First of all, we can know all the general principles from the Bible.
God’s call will never contradict His Written Word. So I would share with him in
this area if he is not as clear in some parts.
Then I would show him that for specific leadings, such as what he is
feeling now, the primary way God guides is through the inward witness of the
Holy Spirit (Rom 8:14-16). The Holy Spirit guides us in specific life
circumstances such as ministry call and service, vocations, finding one’s life
He is to be led by the Holy Spirit in his spirit, and not by his
physical and soul feelings, or surrounding events in themselves, or what other
people say. Some of these do fall in line with God’s will from time to time,
but they in themselves are not the sure indicators of God’s leading, as many of
them contradict with one another at different points in most cases. If
something truly is of God, the outward events will eventually conform, but they
are more like passive confirmations rather than proactive leadings.
The "inward witness" of the Holy Spirit is a "spiritual sensation in
our new born-again spirit man," and not a soulish emotion. It can be
perceived variously as an "inner knowing," "inner peace," "inner
prompting," "inner leading," "an inner assurance," "an inner warmth,"
"an inner urge," etc. (There are different meanings to the various
types and levels of the inward witness, but the first basic step is to
learn to sense it.) An example of this can be found in Phil 4:7. The
"peace" here comes from God, who is Spirit (John 4:24), hence, this
peace has a spiritual origin and is a spiritual sensation that comes
through our spirit man. This is how this peace can surpass all
understanding, which is an aspect of the soul and not spirit, and can,
therefore, guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus, who dwells
in our spirits through the Holy Spirit (Col 1:27).
Another Scriptural example of the inward witness is in Rom 8:16, where
we see clearly that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit, not
soul or body, since the Spirit dwells in our spirits (John 14:17). The
context here speaks of the inner assurance of being the sons and
daughters of God. When one becomes a child of God, he or she doesn’t
really have a paper certificate or any outward physical proof showing
100% that they’re saved, born-again, and a child of God. But you just
somehow know that you know that God is real and you’re in God. This is
because the Holy Spirit is bearing witness with the spirit within us,
giving us an inner knowing or peace that we know that we know we’re
truly the children of God. So Rom 8:16 tells us that we can be assured
of our salvation through the inner witness of the Spirit. The principle
of being led by the Spirit behind this verse is the same, as it reveals
how God leads and assures us. The Holy Spirit in inside us, therefore,
He leads from the inside, not outside. The inward witness is also the
"anointing within" (not the "anointing upon" in which the gifts of the
Spirit operate–Luke 4:18; Acts 1:8) that teaches us all things through
the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27).
Normally one would only be more able to discern the inward witness of
the Spirit in personal time with God. He would need to pray, ask, seek,
and wait on God. He would need to first and foremost ask God to cleanse
his heart so that no impure motive is resident, as God values the heart
much more than the work and call (1 Cor 13:1-4). Love should be the
only motive in everything that we desire, think, say, and do (Mark
Usually God will only reveal one step at a time, to keep us
dependent on Him all the way. To sense the Spirit’s prompting takes time,
diligence, and sometimes extended travailing prayers, but God promises that
those who seek earnestly and persistently will find (Matt 7:7-8).
After a supposed prompting is perceived in the spirit, we need to keep
on praying and waiting to make sure we have not sensed wrongly or
understood wrongly, or interpreted a right sensing incorrectly, which
will lead to the wrong application. Sometimes one may pick up an inward
witness correctly, but interpret its meaning incorrectly. Spiritual
wisdom and revelation are needed for the right interpretation and
timing. Sometimes God may give visions, dreams, and prophecies to
confirm His leading, however, these must be subservient to the Word of
God and the inward witness, which comes from the Spirit of God.
Biblical symbolism and guidelines are needed for interpreting dreams,
visions, and prophecies, which are mostly symbolic with exceptions.
(For dreams and visions interpretation guidelines: (English) http://spiritword.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!F1ADB400A2626D84!243.entry (Chinese) http://spiritword.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!F1ADB400A2626D84!370.entry).
There are various means to discern whether something is from God,
ourselves, or the Devil. What is of the Spirit of God will always be in harmony
with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23). The root of
these spiritual-emotional sensations is from the spirit and they do not come
from external stimuli.
Another safety measure for checking one’s perception is to seek
godly counsel from mature and experienced men and women of God. Ask
good-hearted people to pray for you and input their thoughts. Many times God
does confirm through people. However, one needs to remember that this per se
still belongs to confirmations and not leadings, as one may hear different
opinions or even disagreement among the counsels received.
Time is usually the best plumb line to test whether something is of
God, as truth will endure the test of time but what is carnal will not. If
there is not enough time to make a firm choice, just go with the best possible
sensing in the spirit of humility, God’s grace will cover for the period and
correct later if it is not so in line with His particular purpose. Remember,
even the right thing needs to be done in the right timing and, most
importantly, with the right heart attitude.
In view of the biblical principles shared, I would encourage him to
seek and wait on the Lord to guide him through the Spirit for a period of time
in regard to this missions urge that he is feeling.
He should go and talk to respected men and women of God for counsel.
More importantly, he should go talk to missionaries, missions workers, pastors,
and check out mission agencies, and Bible schools to be well-informed on what
missions work is really all about. This process is necessary and it will help
him to better discern God’s call in the practical aspects of things.
If after a time period of seeking and waiting, discerning and
checking with related persons and agencies, he still senses a strong prompting
with seemingly good confirmations, then perhaps God is leading him to the
missions field. Then he should seek for the way and timing in which God is
equipping him for this work. If after a time the urge is not getting stronger
or fades, he should keep praying, while remaining open to God’s Spirit at all
I will also give him all the resources I have and know pertaining to
finding God’s will and the missionary ministry. I would certainly pray for him,
encourage him, and keep a regular follow-up with him to make sure he is on the
right track and in balance in terms of general biblical directives.
I would remind him not to be afraid even if he does make mistakes in
the process. God’s grace is sufficient and He can work all things for his
benefit as long as he loves God sincerely and purely (2 Cor 12:9-10; Rom 8:28).
In some cases, he may lose a few blessings, but minor errors or occasional
failures in weak moments will not stop God’s purposes in his life. For the
lover of God, the worst case scenario is that the will of God may be delayed
but not totally forfeited. The greatest is still love, if he remains loving God
with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love people with the same
love of Jesus as much as he can, he would not stray from God’s Perfect Will
from the overall and eternal perspective. If God does indeed calls him to
missions, it will be because He loves those people in foreign lands and wants
him to be a vessel of His love there. If He calls him elsewhere with a
different task, it would still be because God wants him to be a channel of His
love through other equally important avenues. God weighs the love we put into
the work much more than the work itself.
“Though I speak with the
tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass
or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand
all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could
remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my
goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not
love, it profits me nothing” (1 Cor 13:1-4—NKJV).
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Rom 8:14).
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My
name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all
things that I said to you" (John 14:26).
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