NEW ORLEANS (BP)–As he introduced Frank Page as the day’s chapel speaker, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary president Chuck Kelley asked the Executive Committee president to tell about the last time he shared his faith.
Page said he led a woman to Christ during a flight from Salt Lake City to Denver recently.
“It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Page said.
Early in the conversation, he said, he asked the woman about her spiritual life.
“She said, ‘Well, I’m Christian.’ I said, ‘… Does that mean you’re a member of a Christian church or a Christian denomination?’ She said, ‘Well, I don’t know what that means,'” Page recounted.
Page then began sharing from Hebrews 12, which urges Christians to fix “our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” The woman was so moved by the message that she began to cry. She soon prayed with Page to place her faith in Christ.
The woman later sent Page an e-mail that read, in part, “Prior to getting on that plane, I felt empty. I wondered how I could ever get close to God. Then miraculously, somehow, God brought you on this airplane last night. It was an amazing journey — the best 1.5 hours of my life.”
While Kelley’s “pop quiz” and Page’s response provided a good example of both Christian accountability and a commitment to verbal witness, it also connected well with Page’s sermon, which focused on the call of God.
GOD’S CALL TO SALVATION
Page pointed to 1 Samuel 3, the story of God calling Samuel as a boy, as a powerful example of God’s call.
“The call of God is issued for lots of causes, for many purposes, for many reasons,” Page said. “We know this experientially, don’t we? But we also know it scripturally. The call of God comes for many reasons.”
The first kind of call Page highlighted was God’s call to salvation.
“We know that one of the primary callings we have is to be saved,” Page said. “We know — the Scripture tells us multiple times — that God is calling us to salvation.”
Page pointed to 1 Corinthians 1:2, Romans 1:6 and Romans 8:28 as other examples in the Bible where God’s call to salvation is mentioned. He emphasized that the call to salvation is initiated by God.
GOD’S CALL TO LOVING CARE
God also calls people to accept and experience His loving care, Page said.
“There are days in ministry where you’ll be at the end of your rope, when your well has run dry, when there will be a time of spiritual drought,” he said. “There will be those times when you’re ready to give up.”
Page shared that he and his family went through one of those times just over a year ago when his oldest daughter died. The pain of that loss, Page said, is still very intense. But in his pain, and in the midst of every person’s heartache, God stands ready to offer His loving care.
“He wants to [put] His loving arms around you. Did Jesus not say it beautifully, ‘Come unto me all you who are weary, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’?” Page said. “Do not give up when the difficult times come.”
GOD’S CALL TO SERVICE
The final type of calling from God that Page focused on was the call to service. Page reminded those present how difficult a lifetime of ministry service often is. Many who enter vocational ministry abandon it within a decade, he said.
“You can look around you, because we know — it’s a statistic we don’t like to talk about — that in 10 years someone to your right or left won’t be in ministry. That can cause great discouragement,” Page said.
And to remain in ministry, Page said, it’s crucial to have experienced God’s call to ministry, much like Samuel did.
“Samuel was hearing from the Lord, but he did not yet know why. The Bible tells us that He spoke to him some four times before finally [Samuel] was able to say the correct response, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant heareth,'” Page said. “There needs to be a clear calling on your life where you’ve said, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant heareth.'”
God does not require that people be fully mature or fully equipped in order to be called. Samuel, after all, was a just a boy. Page said the most important thing is for a person’s heart to be ready.
“The call comes for many reasons, but it is best received by a prepared heart,” Page said. “The question is, ‘Is our heart impressionable and tender to the voice of God?'”
Samuel had that kind of heart, and as 1 Samuel 3:19 says, “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.”
“You listen to the call of God, [and] God may make you into such a person that you will be like Samuel. The place where you serve … may become a place where the Word of God is heard and the Lord continues to appear,” Page said.
That type of powerful Gospel ministry, Page said, begins with hearing and heeding.
“Hear the call, heed the command,” Page said. “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.”
Frank Michael McCormack writes for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.