Lesson 4 – Elements of Biblical Call – Desire

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IV. The four elements which comprise a biblical call to the pastoral office Introductory clarifications and qualifications

A. An enlightened and sanctified desire for the work of the pastoral office

Definition of:


Robert L. Dabney, “What is a Call to the Ministry?” in Discussions: Evangelical and Theological, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1967), p. 34.


1. The necessity and legitimacy of this desire

a. The desire ordinarily precedes and attends the work.

1 Tim. 3:1

The desire is to be strong and prevailing, not weak and intermittent.  The use of two strong present-tense verbs underscores this.

b. The desire is to focus upon the work connected with the office and not just a “desire to preach.”

c. The desire is desirable and noble.

1 Pet. 5:2

Patrick Fairbairn, A Commentary on 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2002), pp. 136-137.

2. The focus of this desire

a. A longing to be used in self-denying service to edify the people of God

Eph. 4:11ff
Acts 20:28ff
1 Pet. 5:2ff
Heb. 13:17

b. A longing to be used in a spirit-filled ministry to call out more of God’s elect

Rom. 10:14-17
2 Tim. 2:10
1 Cor. 9

C. H. Spurgeon, “The Call to the Ministry,” in Lectures to My Students (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim Publications, 1990), book I, p. 29.

c. A longing to discharge a growing sense of God-given stewardship

1 Cor. 9:16-17
1 Cor. 4:1-2

See also Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry, pp. 94-98.

3. The assumed context of this desire

1 Tim. 3:15

4. The proper channels for expressing this desire

a. To God Himself
b. To one’s wife, if married
c. To one’s overseers
d. To mature, trusted, spiritual friends and counselors

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