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HOW DO YOU KNOW ... by Dr. John H. Painter June 9th, 1997

How do you know when you are in the will of God, concerning your calling? That is, how do you know that you are doing the right things to proceed down the center of that pathway God has laid out for you, in the context of the works He wants you to do. First, let's deal with this business of "callings."

Does every Christian have a calling? The answer is "yes." [Eph. 4:1-16]. And, it is a specific calling, not just a general one. Does every Christian know his calling? The answer is "no." [Eph. 1:18]. But, the callings are indicated by whichever of the seven gifts of grace [Rom. 12:6-8] are predominant in a Christian's life [Eph. 4:7]. And, there are seven areas of callings, matching the grace gifts. Two are the discipling callings [Mat. 28:19-20]. And, five are the church-building callings [Eph. 4:11]. (I don't mean stone buildings.) As a Christian may have several high giftings, so he may serve in more than one calling. Paul described himself as preacher, apostle, and teacher [2 Tim. 1:11].

It seems obvious that a person can't know if he's in the will of God concerning the daily activities of his calling if he doesn't have some idea of what his specific calling is. (I am using the pronoun, "his," generically, not excluding our sisters in Christ.) And, in knowing his specific calling , it would help to know what all the callings are and what his particular grace giftings are. That's why Paul prayed that the saints' "eyes of understanding be illuminated," so that they might know what is expected of His calling, and therefore the glory of His inheritance in His saints [Eph. 1:15-18]. That means that this knowledge is available in the Bible.

Let me now share some abbreviated definitions of the seven calling areas, based on eight-years of intense Bible study of the subject. A complete definition of each area takes more space than is available here, but hopefully the idea will come through. As a point of interest, Jesus professed the first six of these seven elements as his ministry in His home synagogue in Nazareth. He didn't read the seventh ministry from [Isaiah 61:1-2]. That is reserved for Him at His return.

1. GIFT: SHARING - CALLING AREA: FAITH. Sharing the Faith, in order to make disciples, fulfilling the first part of the Great Commission. A disciple-maker. One who brings unbelievers to Jesus. Heralding liberty to those captive [Luke 4:18-19].

2. GIFT: ENCOURAGEMENT - CALLING AREA: TRUTH. Exhorting new disciples to know the whole truth about Jesus and about themselves. Bringing a believer to a level of understanding of the Cross sufficient to his conversion. A discipler. Comforting those who mourn [Luke 4:18-19].

3. GIFT: PROPHECY - CALLING AREA: SPIRIT. Working in the area of spiritual foundations. The first work area for building the Church. Dealing with holiness, and sanctification. Bringing Jesus' rhema word to the hard of hearing. Calling out the Lord's acceptable timing. [Luke 4:18-19].

4. GIFT: LEADERSHIP - CALLING AREA: POWER. Expressing God's authority and dynamic power. Signs, wonders. A "point man," out front. The corporate interface between the church and the world. The evangelistic, missions work area. Preaching the dispatch of destitution [Luke 4:18-19].

5. GIFT: SERVICE - CALLING AREA: MINISTRY. Getting the wrinkles out of the Bride's clothes. Cleaning up the congregation, one by one. A healing work area, in the broadest sense. The pastoral work area. Counselors, Deliverance Ministers. Healing those whose hearts don't work right [Luke 4:18-19].

6. GIFT: TEACHING - CALLING AREA: DOCTRINE. Spiritual warfare, tactics and strategy. Dealing in how God wants things done. The preparation and deliverance of "teachings." Not the same as discipling. Heralding restoration of vision to those who can't see [Luke 4:18-19].

7. GIFT: MERCY - CALLING AREA: MATURITY. Putting the church together. Final things, completion. Judgement, diagnosis, wisdom. The church "fathers." Calling out the day of pay-back [Isa. 61:1-2].

Now, back to the main question. How do we know we're in the will of God ... ?

The indicator that we are in the will of God is answered prayer. If our prayer about a certain matter is answered in the affirmative, we are in the will of God [1 John 5:14-15]. It's that simple. This is not to say that if a prayer is not answered we are out of the will of God. The answer may be delayed [Dan. 10:12-13]. This is why we are to persevere in prayer and wait on the Lord for an answer. But, an immediate affirmative answer indicates the will of God.

I didn't understand this clearly until yesterday, which is why I'm writing today. I was at a cabin in the woods, which I bought eleven years ago without praying about it. Consequently, I now need to dispose of it at some probable financial loss, as the Lord gets me portable, according to His will for my calling and ministry. The cabin needs about $14,000 work to make it sellable. But, that amount would price it out of consideration, if I were to get my full equity back.

I was in the cabin praying about getting rid of it and asked the Lord, "Please send me a walk-up offer, so I can just get out of this." Then, I turned and went out to the truck I was loading for the return to town. Immediately up walked a new next-door neighbor who asked, "Are you still interested in selling?" I said I was and that the payoff balance on the mortgage was $29,000. He then said, "I'll give you $30,000, cash." I breathed a silent "Thank you, Lord," and continued talking to the man. We negotiated for even a little more. The bottom line is that my prayer was answered within sixty seconds. I now know that it is the Lord's will that I get portable in the context of retiring from my secular job and devoting full time to my calling.

Through prayer and its answers, we can know the will of God concerning our work for Him in our callings. But, it helps to know somewhat of the callings and their underlying giftings. And, to obtain this knowledge, we must go to the Bible. There is no substitute for knowing the Bible. And, you don't need teachers for this. It is the anointing of the Holy Spirit that teaches [1 John 2:27]. All you need is the desire to increasingly know your Lord through the illumination of His written Word which the Holy Spirit will bring upon request. As a teacher, it is my hope that I will soon work myself out of a job [1 Cor. 13:10].

© Copyright 1997 by John Painter, all rights reserved

Go To About the Author for a brief bio on John Painter

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