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MY CALL TO THE MINISTRY

by Mr. John Samuel Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, October 8, 2017

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).


Earlier in this chapter, Isaiah was confronted with the reality and the holiness of God. He saw “the Lord sitting upon a high throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1). Isaiah had put his trust in the good king Uzziah, but he had not put his trust in the one true King. But then God revealed Himself to Isaiah. And having seen the glory and the majesty of God, Isaiah also saw his own sin. Isaiah said, “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).

I had this experience when I was fifteen years old. I did not put my trust in God. I was against God. I hated God. But even when I was the enemy of God, He had mercy on me and revealed Himself to me through His Holy Spirit. I was confronted with God, and therefore I was confronted with my sin. I saw how sinful I was, and I felt hopeless and doomed. My sin had not really bothered me until I was in the presence of God. But when God came down to me, I knew I was undone. I knew I was lost and doomed because of my sin. I needed my sins to be cleansed by the Blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

When Isaiah came into the holy presence of God, he needed his sins to be cleansed. But God had mercy on Isaiah,

“Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (Isaiah 6:6-7).

God provided a way for Isaiah to be cleansed. There was nothing that Isaiah could do to cleanse himself. He was completely powerless to cleanse his own sin. Isaiah needed the grace and mercy of God to intervene on his behalf.

That was my case as well. I was sinful and there was nothing I could do to make myself clean. I needed to be saved. God provided a way for Isaiah’s sin to be cleansed, and God provided a way for my sin to be cleansed. When I was sufficiently confronted by God’s presence, the reality of God’s holiness and my sinfulness demanded that my sin be cleansed or else I would die. I needed my sins to be cleansed. I needed the Blood of Jesus. Only the Blood of Jesus could cleanse my sins. Isaiah’s sin was cleansed and his iniquity taken away by the coal from God. That “coal” was a type of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away our sin. My sin was cleansed by the Blood of Jesus. My heart of iniquity was cleansed and changed by the Blood of Jesus.

But Isaiah’s story did not end after being cleansed from sin. There was a job to do. God needed someone who would go on His behalf.

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

Isaiah, having been cleansed from his sin, knew that he must go. Maybe Isaiah was afraid, but ultimately it did not matter. God needed someone. Isaiah had to respond to the call of God. After Jesus saved me, after Jesus gave His all for me, I knew that I had to give my all for Him. I knew that Jesus wanted me to do as much as I possibly could for God in my local church. But as much as this was clear to me, I still struggled against surrendering to the ministry. At first I struggled against becoming a preacher. Dr. Hymers and I began a conversation concerning my going into the ministry in 2015.

Dr. Hymers noticed that I possessed many of the gifts of the ministry. Because the church would have to be pastored by someone who came from within the church, Dr. Hymers felt that I was best equipped to succeed him in the ministry. However, I always resisted his counsel of surrendering to preach. One of the last conversations Dr. Hymers had with me concerning the ministry was explaining to me that the ministry was often like taking up a cross. I began to feel that I would be holding something back from Jesus if I did not agree to go into the ministry. I felt that I had no choice but to take up my cross and accept the ministry. However, at that time, I did not feel called to the ministry, but accepted it as a responsibility.

Dr. Hymers accepted my willingness to go into the ministry on the belief that it would be beneficial to the church. Dr. Hymers did everything in his power to equip me for the ministry. He gave me many opportunities to speak, and even asked me to speak on Sunday morning, which is traditionally reserved for the main speaker of the church. He gave me hours of his time to try to help me understand the nuances of what it meant to be a minister. He bought me tailor-made suits to help me look my best when preaching. He made sure that my tuition at Talbot School of Theology was paid for and that my future education would also be sponsored by the church.

Additionally, he arranged that I received a stipend from the church during the time that I received my education. He planned speaking engagements for me in the Dominican Republic and India, and raised the money to fund the trips to give me the opportunity to speak all over the world. He put my messages on his website which went out to hundreds of thousands of people. He advised and counseled me as I wrote sermons. He set up a board of deacons composed of men from the next generation to help enable the transition. He left no stone unturned in his efforts to support me in the ministry. He took the time to get to know me. He invested himself into building a relationship that would be a lasting friendship. He encouraged me and treated me like I was his son. But he could not call me into the ministry. God had to call me into the ministry.

My struggle with a call to the ministry continued. I had previously been willing to go into the ministry based on my father and Dr. Hymers’ evaluation of my gifts of preaching, prayer and counseling. But they both felt I needed something more – I needed God Himself to tell me that I should surrender my life to the pastoral ministry. I needed to respond for God’s search for someone to be sent, just as Isaiah responded to God.

“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

After much prayer and fasting, I can now say with total conviction that God Himself wants me to prepare to be the next pastor of this church. My call to this ministry has been confirmed by God, based on Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Dr. Timothy Lin said, “A pastor has to be sent by God and be gifted in preaching before a church can have any growth...It is paramount that he has God’s calling and gifts. The Bible says, ‘How shall they preach unless they are sent?’ (Romans 10:15)...The desolation of the church of the last days is not due to the lack of pastors, but an abundance of pastors who serve without God’s sending” (The Secret of Church Growth, pp. 21, 22). I am convinced that God Himself has called me and sent me to be the future pastor of this church, and that God Himself has given me the gift of preaching. As I complete my seminary training I ask that you constantly pray for me while I learn, not only from the seminary, but from our pastor, Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

I was afraid of the ministry. Isaiah was also afraid once he realized what God was calling him to do.

“And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land” (Isaiah 6:9-12).

God called Isaiah to do a fearsome task. But Isaiah was sent; he had to go. I was afraid of the ministry. In many ways, I still am afraid. But God has called me to step aggressively into that fear. Now I know what a hard task it will be to become the next pastor of this church. In fact, this task is too great for me. We cannot hide from this, instead, we must confront it. On my own, I will not be able to lead this church, and I know it. So therefore, what should we do?

Dr. Hymers says our church must have “revival for survival.” We have a huge task before us. God has given our church a world-wide audience of preachers. Many of them do not know how to preach evangelistic sermons, or lead lost people to Jesus. Hardly any of them know how to prepare a church for revival. We are called by God to help meet their needs. God needs someone. God is looking for someone to send. God is looking for you.

“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

Dr. Hymers brought up the sacrifice and dedication of the first generation of Christians in our church. He talked about how the first generation lived simply, so they could give their money to the church. The first generation sacrificed their social life and enjoyment, so they could go to evangelism and bring people into the church. The first generation put their family second, and Christ first. The first generation of Christians put Christ and the church first. They gave up good jobs to stay in Los Angeles. They gave up opportunity. They gave up hope in the promise of a career. They believed that God had called them to live their lives for the cause of Christ. They believed that God called them to seek the kingdom of God first. They put their lives in the hands of God. The first generation did not just believe this, they did this. What about you?

Our pastor, Dr. Hymers, presented a vision to our church and to our generation. He said, “Our church has a mandate from God. He has put us in a position to bring hope and help to churches throughout the world. But we will fail without revival.” We will fail in our mandate without the power of God in our church. Do you have the will to live? What will you do with the burden that has been passed on to you? There were some that put their whole lives into this work. There were some that left everything to follow Christ. They were like the first wave of soldiers that stormed the beaches of Normandy. They were ripped and torn by the enemy so that they could open the door for you – the second wave. They counted the cost. They realized all they had to give was their lives, and so they gave all of it for Christ. They went because they were sent. They cleared the barricades. They cleared the mines. Now their names will live forever in the halls of Heaven. But the fight is not over.

Now it is your turn. Everything is ready. The flag of Christ flies fluttering on that beach. The high watermark of Christianity has not been reached. We cannot let the flag of Christ stay there where it flies. They pushed it as far as they could. Now we must push it farther. Give your life. Run into the fog, the haze, the smoke of the battle recklessly and relentlessly. All you can do is die. And that is the very best way to live: to live for a reason, for a purpose, for the cause of Christ. Take the ground of our city and our world for Christ! Give your soul, your life, your all to Christ. Step aggressively, boldly, and bravely into the fight of our church.

We are called by God to meet the needs of preachers, missionaries, and lost souls who are hopeless without Christ. But we can’t do that unless we are revived. I know you are a little bit afraid. I know you want to hold back where it is safe. I feel that way too. Isaiah felt that way. But you are called to be brave, to be valiant, and to be a pilgrim in this city of destruction.

He who would valiant be ‘Gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy Follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent To be a pilgrim.
   (“He Who Would Valiant Be” by John Bunyan, 1628-1688).

We must have the Spirit of God in our church. We must have revival in our church. Do you have a will to live? Will you let your place of worship and service slip into apostasy? Do you have the will to live? You must confess your faults and pray for one another. You must consecrate your life to make our church great enough to fulfill our purpose. That is the way to have the Holy Spirit’s power in our church. That is the way to live, and fight, and be sent as you have been called.

“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

Dr. Hymers, please come and close the service.


WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

(END OF SERMON)
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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“He Who Would Valiant Be” (by John Bunyan, 1628-1688).