In a very specific manner, Seventh day Adventist ministers are designated in the prophetic utterances of Isaiah. Referring to those who "shall build the old wastes," and who shall repair the breach in God's law by establishing the Sabbath in its rightful place, and shall restore the paths which lead to the eternal dwelling place, this very significant statement is made: "Ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men [supplied word] shall call you the Ministers of our God." Isa. 61:4, 6.
From the earliest time, God has called and named men as His priests. Prior to the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai, the first-born of every family was a priest, officiating for himself and his household. Thus we read of Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Job, Isaac, and Jacob. In the solemnity of the covenant that the Lord made with His people at the foot of Sinai, Moses was directed to choose young men from among the children of Israel to perform the office of priests, and later the priesthood was perpetually annexed to the tribe of Levi. But there was to come a time when the priesthood should embrace representatives of all tribes and nations, who would be known as "ministers of our God."
The divine appointment of the Christian ministry was made by Christ Himself. When He entered upon His earthly ministry, He chose twelve men from the common walks of life, to be associated with Him as day by day He went about doing good, that He might instruct them and prepare them to be ministers of God in finishing the work which He began.
Concerning His own ministry, Christ said, "I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent." Luke 4:43. And centuries before His birth it was prophesied concerning Him, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." Isa. 61:1. Thus is brought to view the great leader in the gospel ministry,
Jesus Christ. In that wonderful prayer which He uttered in behalf of His ministers, we find His statement, "As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." John 17:18. His parting words to that little group of ministers, whom He had called and ordained, and to all whom He would call thereafter, were, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15. What a holy calling! What a sacred responsibility! "He chooses human beings, men compassed with infirmity, as instruments in the working out of His designs. The priceless treasure is placed in earthen vessels. Through men His blessings are to be conveyed to the world. Through them His glory is to shine forth into the darkness of sin. In loving ministry they are to meet the sinful and the needy, and lead them to the cross. And in all their work, they are to ascribe glory, honor, and praise to Him who is above all and over all."—"The Acts of the Apostles," p. 330.
The apostle Paul recognized that to him had been given the "ministry of reconciliation," and states that the ministers of God are able to be known as "ambassadors for Christ." 2 Cor. 5:19, 20. An ambassador is a man who receives a message from his government, his king, his sovereign, and who transmits that message faithfully, without adding to or subtracting from it. And the grander and stronger the government, the more influence and power is invested in the ambassador. Consider what it means to be called to become an ambassador for Christ, the Creator and Redeemer of the universe, the One in whom is vested "all power ... in heaven and in earth."
The ambassador for Christ must receive his commission direct from Christ. To go forth without being sure of his commission is presumptuous folly; and yet men have dared to go forth in haste and in self-confidence. Such unworthy ambassadors are noted by the Lord, and their shameful conduct calls forth the following recognition: "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied." "I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord." Jer. 23:21, 32. How important that we make sure of hearing God's call which separates us from the world as "ministers of our God," as "ambassadors for Christ," and that we do not run to carry tidings until God has spoken to us, and given us the message He would have us proclaim. Is any reader of these lines uncertain as to his calling or the message he is to proclaim? Better far to do well any menial task in life's necessities than to stand in the ministry as a barren fig tree, lacking the vital connection for life and fruitage, or as an unworthy servant who speeds away on a worthless mission.
The first evidence of the divine call to the ministry centers in the consciousness of the individual. There should be experienced a personal, secret, intense conviction that God is calling, just as directly and as actually as the call came to the twelve when they were engaged in their daily pursuits. The Saviour still walks among men, and He observes the faithful toilers in their various vocations of this modern age, and by His Holy Spirit He sends His call to the heart, "Come and follow Me." Have you heard that call, clearly, unmistakably, unknown to any but your own soul and God?
The next evidence of the divine call to the ministry, is the Spirit's indication to the church to place sanction upon the acceptance of the call, and lead forth the divine appointee into the field of service. When the call came to Paul, he responded by asking, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" and the answer was, "Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do."
"Saul was brought directly into the presence of Christ. He was one whom Christ intended for a most important work, one who was to be a 'chosen vessel' unto Him; yet the Lord did not at once tell him of the work that had been assigned him.... The Saviour placed, the inquiring Jew in connection with His church, there to obtain a knowledge of God's will concerning him. . . . Ananias represents Christ, and also represents Christ's ministers upon the earth, who are appointed to act in His stead. . . . Christ is the fountain; the church is the channel of communication."—"The Acts of the Apostles," pp. 120-122.
The third evidence of the divine call to the ministry is tangible fruit of his labors. Unless a man can in due time point to soul-winning results in his ministry, he should consider that he has mistaken his calling, and should return to his farm, trade, or profession. Paul points to the fact that those who had accepted Christ under his labors were the seal of his apostleship; and God will surely bestow this seal upon every apostleship of His appointment.