God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles . . . (Galatians 1:15-16 NASB)
Were you startled when you read the title to today’s message? Perhaps you thought, “Set apart to preach?! I thought only a few are called by God to stand in the pulpit.” That’s true; only a few have been called to preach from a pulpit . . . but every believer has been set apart to preach. Allow me to explain, and I hope you will be encouraged to fulfill the holy calling God has placed on your life.
SET APART . . .
More than any New Testament writer, the apostle Paul set forth the doctrine of sovereign election—the understanding that we did not choose God, but He chose us according to His pleasure and will. Perhaps Paul’s most familiar exposition of election is laid out in Ephesians 2:8-10, which clearly reveals that God chose us and set us apart for His own purposes:
It is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Perhaps you have experienced one of those dark nights of the soul when you told yourself, “I don’t matter.” Perish the thought, Christian! You mattered enough to God that He chose you in Christ before the creation of the world to be His.
You may look at today’s passage and think that I am trying to make today’s verse “do tricks”—that Paul was speaking of God’s call on his own life, not on yours. Perhaps you’re telling yourself that God called you to be a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker . . . not a preacher.
I’m perfectly willing to grant that today’s verse is specific to Paul. He clearly said that God was pleased to make Jesus known through him, “so that I might preach him among the Gentiles.” But if you’ve been reading “Grace for the Race” for any length of time, you are familiar with Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 28:19-20, which we call “The Great Commission.”
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Galatians 1:16 may be specific to Paul alone, but the Great Commission most certainly is not! Jesus’ words were addressed to us all. It’s true that God may not have called you to stand in a pulpit; but He most definitely has called you to preach the Good News of salvation to all people—to your family, your neighbors, your classmates at school, your coworkers, members of your community, even complete strangers.
Martin Luther spoke of the priesthood of the believers—the idea that every Christian is called to speak forth the Word of God. As Peter wrote, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Men who stand in the pulpit often pray that God would use them to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Christian, I hope today’s message has had that effect on you. Be comforted that God called you through His grace to be His; he has loved you with an everlasting love! But I pray that you will feel a sense of affliction if you are ignoring the holy calling God has placed on your life, because He has set you apart to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!