Whom Does Jesus Call?
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Jesus points the way, saying Go!Sometimes we tend to think that Jesus only commissions certain kinds of people, but Matthew 28:19-20 sounds like a pretty inclusive mandate to me. No one is excluded from going into all the world to teach the gospel, no hand is to be held back that could be involved in service and outreach. Jesus commissions all of us! Without waiting for committee action or heated dialogue, Jesus ascended into heaven, expecting His adherents’ complete obedience to His command. 1

Ellen White adds some additional insight:

“In choosing men and women for His service, God does not ask whether they possess worldly wealth, learning or eloquence. He asks, “Do they walk in such humility that I can teach them My way? Can I put My words into their lips? Will they represent Me?” (Ministry of Healing, page 17.)

Let’s consider some questions God does not ask:

  • What is your age?
  • What is your gender?
  • What is your IQ?
  • Where did you get your education?
  • How much money do you have?
  • Are you ordained by men?
  • Are you strong?
  • Are you articulate?

Three questions God does ask:

  • Are they humble and teachable?
  • Can I put My words into their lips?
  • Will they represent Me

I earned my Master of Arts degree in pastoral ministry at an evangelical university, which I will not name to protect the privacy of the professor whose words I’m about to quote. My professors graciously allowed me to write my Master’s thesis on involving Adventist young people in evangelism, using Youth Challenge as the prototype. This program, which I coordinated first in the Michigan Conference and later in the North Pacific Union, used teens and young adults to teach Revelation Seminars, give Bible studies, and sell gospel literature door-to-door, in addition to participation in community service projects.

After I turned in the thesis project, my major professor called me on the phone.

“Cindy, I’ve read your thesis, and I want to say something to you privately, away from your reading committee.”

That got my interest!

“Did you know that our denomination’s membership has remained static over the last fifteen years? During that same time, the Adventist church membership has grown exponentially. I think I have found the reason in your thesis.”

You can be sure that I was listening carefully to his next statement.

“In your thesis you write continually about the eschaton, about Jesus’ second coming. This is your reason for mobilizing youth to do evangelism. You are expecting them to be heralds of this event. Now, in my church, we still have the second coming in our creed. It’s still in our books. But we don’t talk about it, we don’t preach it, and we certainly don’t prepare our young people to help others be ready for Christ’s coming. And that’s why I think your church is growing, and mine is not.”

I have no idea what I said in response to those startling comments. But I’ve thought about them often in the interim.

And I wonder. Do we Adventists still talk about the second coming? Are we still mobilizing an inclusive church to be heralds of this long awaited event?

I’m thinking about teen Ellen Harmon being disfellowshipped from her Protestant church for speaking too much about the second coming. If I (or you) were on trial for speaking too much about Jesus’ second coming, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

Read Matthew 24:14, and then I have a question for you.

If every Adventist did no more and no less than you did last week to share the gospel in your community, how long would it take for the gospel to go to all the world?

Jesus outside of church with common peopleSo, whom does God call?

He called Moses, who said, “Not me, Lord! I stutter.” But God sanctified his tongue, and used him mightily.2

He called Jeremiah, who said, “I’m too young! I don’t know how to give a Bible study.” But God answered, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you.”

God called David, who had had a problem with sex and murder, but God brought him to repentance, forgave him, and used him mightily.

God called Mary, who had low self-esteem and an unsavory reputation, but Jesus not only forgave her, He also gave her the wonderful privilege of being the first to announce His resurrection.

In Christ, there is no male or female, Jew or Greek, youth or elderly, extroverted or introverted, Anglo or Asian, all are one in Christ, and may be called by the Spirit to teach, preach, and walk with Jesus.

Our young Adventist pioneers were set ablaze with the thought of Jesus – His life, His death, His resurrection, and His ministry in the Most Holy Place.

What about us? Do we still have that vision, that passion, that urgency to tell the world – Get Ready! He’s coming!

Perhaps it is possible that this current generation of youth will re-capture the vision of early Adventist pioneers and become that segment of the church body who model, lead and inspire the church at large to re-engage in inclusive evangelism.

And as God sees us step by faith together into the symbolic Jordan waters, maybe He’ll part our rivers of difficulty and by His Spirit, bring us together so we can finally enter the Promised Land.


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Whom Does Jesus Call? — 11 Comments

  1. how true that is! most young pple have perfected the art of giving excuses when it comes to sharing the truth.am one of them

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  2. Dr. Tutsch, I greatly respect both you and your opinions. I also think what you have said is certainly true and I applaud your attempts to involve the youth of the church but I don’t think that is the whole story of what is needed.

    While your professor saw an answer to the problems in the church he belonged to he apparently ignored or didn’t have access to data concerning how many people in our ranks leave the church or just become inactive each year. I get a good indication of just how serious a problem this is when I see whole ministries emerge trying to win back the dormant and apostate members. As it has been said by others far more brilliant than I am, we have a revolving door which needs at least to be slowed down if not stopped. I believe that the ministry you spoke of is doing a lot to alleviate this problem by involving the youth which quite frankly are bored and quickly lose interest.

    The younger generation is very important to the church because whenever we have a social or political upheaval there is always a majority of younger people involved. Old wart hogs like me are generally too laid back and don’t have the ambition or energy for such things. Besides we tend to consider the gray areas of life more while youth seem to be more like toggle switches that tend to be a bit more idealistic so it is generally easier for them to get on the band wagon. When they get turned on to something it is usually with full force. So I think activating young people is one very good way toward getting the job done. It ends up being good for them and good for the church.

    One of the other problems I see in evangelism is that there seems to be a timing issue involved. I remember back more than thirty years ago the church I was in was doing ingathering and was very active and concerned about evangelism. We prayed earnestly for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit but it never came. Likewise the disciples in the upper room prayed but had to wait about a month before the outpouring happened and when it did it was on a specific day. Of course a large part of their problem was their lack of unity and selflessness but I don’t think it was the entire problem. Just like Christ’s first advent where “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6 NASV) there is a right time for things to happen (Ecc 3:1-11). So I believe that the Holy Spirit will do things when it is best to do them, not before and not after.

    Another problem is the environment. I have read stories of missionaries that went into very receptive fields and recounted what a joy it was to work under those conditions. Then they come back to their highly developed home country and moan and groan over the difficulty. I think of the contrast between Noah and Jonah. Jonah goes into an exceptionally wicked city, preaches a few days and the entire city changes its attitudes. Noah on the other hand preached for 120 years and the best he could do was win over 7 people within his own family. Even then it might have been more out of respect for patriarchal authority rather than attachment to God. So we need to be persistent (Heb 10:35-36) even as Noah was.

    I believe that there will come a time when a window will open where evangelism will become exceptional. It will be a time we need to be prepared for when all the conditions are right and the word goes forward miraculously. Until then for most of us it is like trying to run up a sand dune yet we can’t afford to become discouraged, we need to be active. Our evangelistic activity is the training ground for that time.

    It is unfortunate that in most of our churches, at least in the US, the pastors of necessity are involved in church maintenance. They should be training their congregations in the same way that Christ trained His disciples and Paul trained Timothy and Barnabas trained Mark. Of course that is idealistic; in actuality the devil is very active and makes sure that the pastor has plenty of problems to deal with so that the church is no condition for an outpouring of the Spirit. Furthermore, because of the situation the pastor ends up without having the time to get around to doing what he really should be doing.

    The problem is further complicated by the training they get as ministerial students in our colleges and universities. They often have to dig deep into the ancient languages and take numerous courses in theology in order to complete their studies. These have an importance but are being elevated almost to the point of deification while they lack skills in being trainers in the church.

    We also need to realize that often times things end up where the blind lead the blind. A significant number of our pastors don’t know how to present the gospel or in some cases even understand it. Our church is still arguing over issues that should have been settled long ago. And we wonder why our church is limping along with church population dwindling in many places and in some situations disappearing altogether.

    We have a big problem and I am so glad when I hear of successes such as Cindy Tutsch had in working with young people. We need more of that kind of thing to happen. When the church as a whole gets excited and unified then things will happen because the Holy Spirit will have something to work with.

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  3. How true that if we were all minded to commit ourseleves to that pr-eminent charge, 'Go Ye', Christ may have come! The day and hour knoweth no man; but we know that it is our duty to hasten His coming if we should make announcing the coming of the Kingdom our only business for Christ.
    He says, 'And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shalt the end come.' So you see, until the gospel reaches every tongue, and nation, and people, our Lord cannot come - against His express word.
    If indeed we don't feel cosy and comfortable in this world sick with sin, then we should sit up and just preach the gospel.
    As a church, if we should stay true to our calling, we should make this our no. 1 pre-occupation. And the best way to do it is to push every member to go bring his brother or her sister.
    I pray the Lord will give us the grace to do His work.

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  4. Thank you for your insightful thoughts Cindy.I've been battling in my mind for weeks about a ministerial calling I believe we are'nt ready for.I've listed all good reasons why I thought we should'nt do it and the reasons seemed well,pretty reasonable.But reading your message, has made me wonder if I am making excuses and if these excuses are born out of fear. I will bear in mind the 3 questions, GOD DOES ASK,because I can now see it can make all the difference.To add, I have seen that a church where the youth are trained/active ministers is a thriving church. We should never underestimate the influence of youth, for it is they(us) that will finish the work of Christ at the end. Thank you.

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  5. Tyler

    I think there was a time when ministerial students leaving our seminaries were often ill equpped to give Bible studies and engage in community evangelism. I think that is less true today. At least at our Andrews University SDA Theological Seminary, there is an excellent program for giving pastors opportunity to experience evangelism first-hand, and to engage in Bible studies.

    However, if one does not allow the Spirit to change our hearts so we enjoy and seek this type of work, even the best training is of no avail when pastors are in the field setting their own priorities.

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    • Cindy, though your Andrews University, theological seminary may have excellent program for Bible studies, the whole educational system is based the fact that one need to be educated to earn a good job. No matter what any seminary can offer, if one joins there just for the sole purpose of being educated to get a job as a pastor or an evangelist, the whole system would become wrong. My point is one need to study the Bible not for the purpose of using the study to get a degree to earn a living but to the sole purpose of knowing the BOOK for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness, and there by sharing the knowledge.

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      • Hi Johnson, I am intrigued by your argument. What is the balance though? I guess if we look at Jesus' example, he called his disciples from fishing and those sorts to follow him. I am not sure how they survived and surely their reosurces were limited as Jesus turned x amount of fishes and bread to feed the masses and picked fruits on the Sabbath.

        But what are we to do today? I do believe as with anything, most choose careers for different reasons and many pastors admit that it was only time in ministry, that they were converted. What would be a better way for people to study to be able to teach and still be able to occupy themselves until Jesus comes?

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    • Jason

      Evangelism to me is fulfilling the commission of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 and Revelation 18:1-4. In a nutshell, sharing Jesus in the context of the three angels' messages of Revelation 14.

      CT

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      • Thank you Cindy for your response.

        The reason I asked, at my church growing up, I think I got the wrong impression of what Evangelism was base on the predominant examples when men was filled with the Holy Spirit or was passionate enough to share. The Matt 28:19 reference is so well used but I was wondering if this type of evangelism should represent the definition of evangelism. The core being leading others to Christ.

        Sometimes, I think most of us assume that evangelism entails a door to door or evangelistic meeting and alter call.

        I was just wondering if you had thoughts on that. Maybe I should have asked that question first. :)

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  6. Cindy mentions that God does not ask whether one is "ordained by men." And I agree.

    I believe that the current distinction between clergy and laity was not God's plan for His New-Covenant church. While He gave various gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:10-13), for the edifying of the body of the church - not to create a class of clergy vs ordinary laity - the promise of the New Covenant is that all are to have a personal relationship with God. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) Thus all are to function as priests (1 Peter 2:5,9) to represent God to the unsaved world and intercede for them and introduce them to God. All are to fulfill the great commission of Matthew 28 to preach the gospel to all the world.

    Unfortunately, in the modern church, "ordination" has become a ticket to higher salaries and administrative positions denied to mere "commissioned" pastors. I see no such distinction in the New Testament church, and my studies have led me to believe that in the early church, "to ordain" simply meant to choose or commission individuals to fulfill certain missions. Thus we "ordain" people to office every time we vote anyone into church offices -- whether or not anyone lays hands on them.

    With this background, I am very pleased that our church is initiating a formal review of the theology of ordination. Please join me in prayer that the Holy Spirit will be allowed to bring clarity on this important issue.

    And, in the meantime, let us remember that each one of us bears a message to the world regarding the character of God -- whether we do so consciously or unconsciously. May our message draw others to Him.

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  7. In a recent, personal morning devotional, I was intrigued to read in Deuteronomy 31:14 that the NIV refers to the passing of the torch from Moses to Joshua as a commissioning. This intrigued me because of the recent denial of the opportunity for commissioned church leaders to advance to higher administrative office. Perhaps we have gone a little far afield from the Bible in what we consider to be commissioned and what we consider ordained. There may be a case that a ministerial secretary be ordained, but perhaps not so much for a conference or union president.

    A review of our theology of ordination (and commissioning) is long overdue. We should not have a system based on knee-jerk reactions to populist theology but a carefully thought out, Biblically sound hermeneutic. Whether or not this can happen in the politically charged atmosphere surrounding these topics remains to be seen. The willingness to begin the process gives me hope.

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