Month 9:29, Week 4:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5941:265 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 17 December 2017
Your Life's Calling
Obtaining a Sure Testimony
The George Müller Memorial Sermons Part 7
Continued from Part 6
The George Müller Memorial Sermons (GMMS) are a series of sermons honouring the Prussian evangelist Georg Müller who founded orphanages by complete faith and dependency on Elohim (God). These sermons highlight the principles that George Müller so successfully and inspirationally lived by.
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and mishpachah - I pray that you have had a blessed, productive and Messiah-centred week in this the commercial and religious season of the pagan winter gods. Indeed, this is one of the best times to be a witness as people prepare to celebrate at Christmas what they do not know.
The Eight Petrine Injunctions
The apostle Peter said:
Making Your Calling and Election Sure
"...make every effort to add to your emunah (faith), goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, ahavah (love). For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Master Yah'shia the Messiah (Jesus Christ). But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:5-10, NIV).
This is quite a promise, is it not? If you pursue the list of virtues given by Peter:
then you really don't have much to worry about because you will absolutely reach your goal - the 'bull's-eye' of your life's journey, if you like, which is to "make your calling and election sure".
- 1. Emunah (faith);
- 2. Goodness;
- 3. Knowledge (spiritual);
- 4. Self-control;
- 5. Perseverance;
- 6. Godliness;
- 7. Brotherly kindness; and
- 8. Ahavah (love),
When We are Secure in Messiah
You may be assured that if you are honestly pursuing these 8 virtues, your calling and election are safe. It means that you are rooted in your salvation and have nothing to be afraid of. Yes, you may make mistakes and will have need of repentance, but so long as you pursue these things, Yahweh's grace will always overtake you, and you will not only receive the assurance or security of your salvation brought by your emunah (faith) but that, as a living emunah (faith), you will also make your calling secure too. So long as you are pursing these things, you will bring forth the spiritual fruit which all believers are called to manifest (2 Pet.1:3; Rom.8:30; 1 Pet.2:21) and know that you have been chosen (1 Pet.1:2). Remember, your first calling is to actually be saved. No other calling will follow until you have secured that.
Our Calling as a Witness or Minister
Whether you are called to be a simple witness or indeed to enter the ministry itself, the route is the same, and it is the one detailed by Peter. Both are works for Yahweh which are unsurpassed in dignity and responsibility, for both are what A.T.Pierson called "the consummate flower of the divine planting" , because both bring salvation into the world as well as tremendous blessings to the bringers of the Besorah (Gospel). Whatever your calling may be - and most of us have more than one - the eightfold path listed by Peter is a guarantee, if you pursue it, that you will both come to know your callings as well as thrive in them, because that's what Yahweh designed you to do with your life and nothing else will give you real satisfaction.
Obtaining a Sure Testimony
Some people seem to 'know' what Yahweh has called them to do without any really serious consideration but I would suggest that is usually quite rare. We may get inklings early on but it will not become clear, nor will we have any real conviction that this is actually our Heavenly Father's calling on our life, until we have honestly and conscientiously searched the matter out. This must be done until you have received such a sure testimony that you would be willing to stake your life on it. For until you are quite sure, you may well be easily deflected by both well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning friends and opponents. Until you know for sure, it is both permissible and essential that you remain open-minded or neutral whilst willing to do whatever Yahweh wants of you.
Boldness and Testing
To be a good witness, boldness is needed. But boldness alone is obviously not enough. It is possible to be bold and reckless. In my time I have known many bold zealots who lacked wisdom and it was not difficult to see that they were heading toward a precipice of disaster, disappointment and dissilusionment. There is nothing wrong, moreover, in testing something out, and to take the time required to be thorough about it. The reason George Müller was so confident and bold in all his doings was because he thoroughly tested things out.
Good and Bad Testing
Elohim (God) will not be offended by someone who wants to "test everything" and "hold on to the good" (1 Thess.5:21, NIV). This is not, obviously the same as testing Yahweh Himself by doubting something He has clearly said and seeing what He will do if we foolishly decide to test him by deliberately sinning. I am not talking about that kind of testing. We are explicitly commanded:
Test the Spirit Behind Things
"Do not test Yahweh your Elohim (God)" (Deut.6:16, NIV).
So, no, I am talking about testing thoroughly things you are not sure about, not rebelling against mitzvot (commandments). I am not saying that's easy, mind you - it's a hard thing because sometimes we can over-test and at other times, under-test. The first and most important test is to subject an option against the Davar Elohim (Word of God). And first of all, if you are counsidering a course of action, a doctrine, or anything, for that matter, begin by testing the spirit that's behind what is driving you, as it is written:
Motive and Simplicity
"Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from Elohim (God)" (1 John 4:1, NIV).
Be thorough, be business-like and keep it simple. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Take no more than one two questions at a time. Yahweh will respect and honour this because the motive will be to do what is right, and to do what is right is what He wants.
Seeking the Ruach Through Study
Begin by seeking for the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) so that what you read in Scripture will be divinely guided, if indeed it is the Bible that is to lead you in the decision you need to make. And even if the Scriptures themselves do not yield you the words you are looking for, they will certainly lead you into the Ruach (Spirit) that caused their writers to pen them.
Be in prayer as you study the Davar (Word), asking Yahweh to keep your mind and heart free of fleshy impulses so that your focus is right. And if you discover a false spirit, motive, or leaning, rebuke it and turn away from it so that its influence will be gone from your search. There is no sense in stumbling over the same rocks again and again.
Someone Else's Conclusion May Not Be Right For You
Be humble enough to retract any error you may stumble on in your thinking or feeling. "Let Elohim (God) be true, and", if necessary, "every man" (and, by extension, every human impulse), be "a liar" (Rom.3:4, NIV). And by that I mean, just because someone else has studied the same, or a similar, matter with the same amount of care, do not assume that their conclusion is necessarily the one Yahweh wants you to arrive at.
Carried Away by a Calvinist
To give you an illustration. I myself have been struggling with the whole idea of prayer for years now, trying to fathom it. I have been digging afresh into the life of George Müller for weeks in search of answers. Then I came across an impassioned sermon on George Müller by John Piper that was gripping and I admit that I was somewhat carried away by His enthusiasm, which in turn started unconsciously influencing my thinking. He was very convincing about many things and, I have to admit, he was starting to make me wonder whether I had been wrong about Calvinism on a number of points, for as you know I am a fully pursuaded Arminian.
John Piper Gets Worked Up
I guesss what started carrying me away was Piper's conviction that Müller was a Calvinist, and he did his utmost to prove this to have been the case. At first I was bewildered - confused - and that is not a good place to be. But once the passion of Piper's oratory had settled down in me - and I think you may be aware that Müller was not necessarily impressed by oratory - and I started being level-headed again, I could see that Piper was desperate to conform the man to his own doctrine, as Calvinists are. (Arminians seem to be more 'settled' and 'relaxed' about their Arminianism than Calvinists are about their Calvinist, I have noticed). I am not saying that Müller might not have entertained Calvinistic doctrines and he himself admits that he was wrong on so many things and had to change ... and that's OK, for none of us has it all correct, and certainly not all at once.
The Uniqueness of Every Life
After I had settled down, Yahweh spoke very clearly to me. Paraphrasing as best I can, Yahweh showed me that I was not a George Müller, was not called to be a George Müller, and could never be a George Müller, because every life and every calling is utterly unique. And though we may be impressed by great men and women of Elohim (God), and though it may serve us well to imitate them in many things, no two callings are exactly alike.
No Duplicate Paul's and Müller's
Yes, Paul did say to the very immature and wild Corinthians, "I urge you to imitate me" (1 Cor 4:16, NIV) as their spiritual "father through the Besorah (Gospel)" (v.15, NIV), but there has never been an exact duplicate of the apostle Paul nor of George Müller, and that is how Yahweh intends it to be.
What to Imitate in Others
Rather, speaking of the spiritual giants of the past, the writer of Hebrews says that we are to "consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their emunah (faith)" (Heb.13:7, NIV) by "imitat[ing] what is good" because "anyone who does what is good is from Elohim (God)" (3 John 11, NIV).
Learning by Imitation
There are, for sure, a lot of good things we can imitate in good people but our imitatation must be in the general sense. We are not to do what the talmidim (disciples) of Talmudic rabbis did, and still do, in imitating their rabbis down to their minutest mannerisms. Do that, and you will imitate the imperfections along with the desirable thimgs. Of course, we can't avoid imitation altogether, for that is how we were designed to learn. Children imitate their parents and peers as preparation for learinng to imitate Yah'shua (Jesus) in everything. We are always copying, often unconsciously. That is why we must measure what we imitate up against the Davar Elohim (Word of God).
Learn and Apply
But back to a couple of nights ago. I realised, quite rightly, that I had a lot to imitate in the life of George Müller, both in regard to his prayer life and his emunah (faith). But I do not have his calling. I am not to be a Paul, a Jeremiah, a George Müller, or anyone else, and neither are you, though unquestionably we are to learn much from them and apply it in our living.
Proving the Reality of Elohim
George Müller established and sustained orphanages by prayer and emunah (faith) alone, never asking any individual for assistance. What may interest you - and it has certainly interested me - is that his primary calling was not to establish orphanages but to demonstrate to believers and unbelievers alike the realty of Elohim (God) through the miracles that took place and all the answered prayers. And in that he succeeded admirably because George Müller is held up by so many as a wonderful example of prayer and emunah (faith) two centuries later. What he did in establishing orphanages was wonderful enough, to be sure, but then thousands of others have established orphanages too, and on a far grander scale.
The Sin of Comparison
So this is what Yahweh told me: 'I have not called you to demonstrate the reality of Elohim (God) in the same way I called George Müller to.' That came as a huge relief for I was by this time feeling very inferior and rejected. Was I rejected? No. Why did I feel that way? Because I had fallen into the temptation and sin of comparison.
The Ultimate Purpose We All Have
The ultimate purpose and calling of George Müller was not to establish orphanages and rescue lost souls (though he was absolutely called to do these) but to bring glory to Elohim (God) through his life. And so are you - so am I - but according to your calling and my calling which are unique, for which you have been endowed with a unique set of gifts. If that makes you special, know that you are on target - not 'teacher's pet' better than anyone else, but equally valuable. My Scottish Presbyterian uncle taught me that principle.
George Müller's Advice
To round of my thoughts today I'd like to share a word of sound advice, and a warning, from George Müller:
Consistency vs. Truth
"I never remember, in all my Christian course, a period now (in March, 1895) of sixty-nine years and four months, that I ever sincerely and patiently sought to know the will of Elohim (God) by the teaching of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Ghost), through the instrumentality of the Davar Elohim (Word of God), but I have been always directed rightly.
"But if honesty of heart and uprightness before Elohim (God) were lacking, or if I did not patiently wait upon Elohim (God) for instruction, or if I preferred the counsel of my fellow men to the declarations of The Davar (Word) of the living Elohim (God), I made great mistakes" .
There is no more valuable lesson to be learned as early in your life as possible than discovering how to depend on the emet (truth) of Scripture. We neglect the Bible at our peril and often end up making serious mistakes with unfortunate long-term consequences. In pursuing the Davar (Word), we are the better able to rid ourselves of all fleshy, human bias, prepossession and prejudice. If an object of our praying is to be free from the influence of human tradition, popular custom, cultural prejudice, ecclesiastical sanction and - most dangerous of all - pride in our own consistency - we will do well. Then we will be humble enough to retract any erroneous teaching, renounce any false position, and be better placed to live out that wise maxim: Don't be consistent, but simply be true.
Find our your calling and pursue it with passion and watch Yahweh work in you! Watch and be astonished by your fruitfulness. Follow the eight Petrine injunctions. Your gratitude will abound, your simcha (joy) will be full, for you will have found your shalom (peace). I get these in writing and preaching these things, for that is my primary calling. Then I get to be a co-creator and -worker in the Kingdom. May Yahweh bless you as you find your own calling and thrive. Amen.
 Dr.A.T.Pierson, George Müller of Bristol (Pickering & Inglis, London: 1972), p.63
 A.E.C.Brooks (compiler), Answers to Prayer from George Müller's Narratives (Moody Press, Nashville). p.10
Continued in Part 8