As in Works Driven Door-To-Door Activity
By Steve Van Nattan
Ever since Cain went around to check on Able to see what he was offering as a sacrifice, men have been "calling" on their neighbors. When I was a kid in Los Angeles, when TV cost a prince's fortune, and the screen was eight inches and fuzzy, folks called on each other frequently. Few people stayed home to watch TV if they could "go visiting." I loved it. I thought that nothing could beat spending an evening being, or having, "company".
Today, in Christendom, from the Unitarians to the Fundamental Baptists, "calling" is a corporate exercise. It is all about nickels and noses and a butt every eighteen inches. Calling is an obligation, it is essential to get the numbers out, and it is a means of earning Grace from God. Calling is a monastic exercise which men force themselves to do, as in the dark ages in the Whore of Rome. Later, preachers exalt and praise those who "come out" to go calling.
This has NOTHING to do with the life and ways of Jesus Christ and the Apostolic Church era.
This article is starting out to be confrontational and cranky, which may have something to do with my Dutch genes, so I shall digress into lighter thoughts for a moment.
Who be ye, calling?
To Call: To most Americans this is what you do if you want to stay in the game. The alternative to calling is folding. If you want to stay in the game, you better shove those poker chips into the pot. I am surprised some jerk preacher from Sword of the Lord has not written a book comparing poker to church life. There are frightening parallels.
To Call: Long ago this was what a fast talking hick would
do as the dancers whirled and the fiddler and banjo played an Irish jig in a Kentucky
barn on Saturday night. He
"called" OK, but the dancers kept running into each other.
To Call: Back home they had contests at the state fair in which Bufford and other sundry farmers called hogs. Suuuuuuuiiiiiiiiii pig, pig, pig. There may be subtle parallels in this for some church members and their hacking preachers.......... oh, never mind.
To Call: What religious people do to meet their obligations to the fire breathing bishop to allegedly "win souls". Faithfulness in calling results in being exalted before all next Sunday morning, maybe even being used as a sermon illustration.
The Baptist preacher was calling in eastern Tennessee and came to Billy Bob's house. He knocked on the door, and Billy came to the door. The preacher asked if he could come in and have a little visit with Billy. Billy chuckled, "Preacher, you take a number and have a seat on the porch there. You will have to wait until the two Mormon elders get done telling us about the glory of Zion in that forsaken Utah. Then, the two dudes from Kingdom Hall are waiting to give us a song and dance. After that, it will be Baptist time for you."
THE TOPIC AT HAND
In the deep South of the USA, people are kind hearted, and they will let just about any preacher or deacon in the door to recruit rug rats for the church bus and troll for pie. I do believe that American pie is keeping many preachers faithful to the Great Commission.
I like to do my pastoral calling at the Post Office and the general store or the hick cafe on the edge of town. Real people hang out there, and it is possible to be accepted into the good old boys club if you drive a rusty pick up truck and wear your old flannel shirt and a knit hat.
I heard of one preacher from Indiana who went calling in Hawaii with his personal secretary while his wife was "unavoidably detained" back home in Hammond. Hmmmmmmm And, some folks want to accuse Catholic priests of excess in their attention to the ladies? Any preacher who calls, in the name God or any cause, on a lady alone, is a hustler. The lady's husband has my permission to shoot the four flusher on the spot. This is also done in poker when you have two aces, and another player lays 'em down and has three aces. Time to open a couple of chapters of Poker Rules for Beginners by Msrs Smith and Wesson.
The Methodist preacher goes calling, takes a seat, and is dealt a bob tailed flush, aces high. At least some possible fellowship is accomplished, though slightly tarnished by gin and tonic.
The Presbyterian preacher assured me he was going to knock on every door in town..... just as soon as he got done knocking on all the doors where a BMW was parked. He made his way on through the list of Range Rovers, on to Lexuses, and finally to the lowly Hummer homes, at which point he was exhausted and had to take a vacation on a Christian cruise ship. John MacArthur was the keynote speaker.
The weary Jehovah's Witness visits every rat hole in town, and after his thousandth cussing out at Kingdom Hall for not catching a real fish, he throws his whole collection of pretty colored kingdom books in the drop box at Goodwill Industries and joins the Moose Lodge.
Ah, but here is the fine upstanding Mormon Elder. Now, why is he posting bond for assault and battery? Well, this boy was promoted to "Elder," and given his first suit of funny underwear, by the High Toolimuckahee at a ceremony in the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City. He then raised the cash to go to Bangladesh on a "mission" for two years. He had amoebic dysentery 43 times, ate tetracycline until his teeth turned yellow, and was jailed twice for not paying the bribe to get his passport back.
Then, our Mormon friend, with high hopes of being a god and having a full set of lovely nags running laundry out back of heaven to hang on the eternal clothesline, made one Mormon convert in Bangladesh. He was a shoeshine boy in Chittegong. He taught the kid how to quote Brigham Young and Orson Pratt by the hour, and one day he taught the boy the evils of drinking coffee. The boy then said, "Not to vorry, I don't drink coffee already, I am a Seventh Day Adventist."
The Mormon elder came dragging back to Salt Lake City heart broken and full of worms from bad beans, and checked into the hospital for a alimentary cleansing that lasted six weeks.
So, why is Elder John up on charges for assault? Well, his lovely new bride who married him with the lofty hope of being god John's royal consort, and pregnant forever in their future heaven, came to John one day and said.... "Dear godly husband, I decided to give you a special present on our anniversary. I bought two round trip tickets to Bangladesh so we can go see where you did your mission last year." John lost it, and his goddess in waiting is now in intensive care, recovering from god Johns' ministrations with a baseball bat, and wondering about resigning from the glory to come.
We must so live our lives that we go to heaven without going straight to jail and not collecting $200.
CALLING IN THE BIBLE
In the Bible "calling" is not what YOU do, it is all about what GOD does.
You are the called, not the caller. Of course we use vocabulary in our daily walk that is not found in the Bible, but when a common word contradicts the use of a word in the Bible we should alter our word usage. Conversely, when a word in the King James Bible speaks clearly of truth, and that same word in modern usages is uncommon or even vulgar, we should use the King James Bible word, and find a way to make it clear we are speaking God's language.
For example, here is a verse that needs to be used more with regard to many professing Christians these days:
Hebrews 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
When I use the word "bastard" I add the adjective "spiritual" in front. This takes away the vulgarity of the word in modern usage and gives biblical context to the discussion. It is a fact that across the USA, and the world, every Sunday morning, thousands of spiritual bastards climb into their pulpits and feed the sheep the sort of stuff that one would have found all along the way of the horse gate in the city of Jerusalem long ago.
That last statement will be in my coming book along with two other powerful statements I thought up all by myself last year. :-)
So, back to the point-- What is "calling" in the Bible? It is rather simple if we care to be literalists, as all alleged Fundamentalists claim to be.
In Bible study there is a rule of first mention. In this case it is instructional:
Numbers 10:2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.
Calling in the Bible is first associated with God calling his people to assemble. God is not telling Moses to "go calling" on the people, tent by tent, as in, "In the next year I am going to knock on every door in this town." There was to be a silver toned sound sent up on sabbaths and feast days in the "church in the wilderness," and the PEOPLE responded to the call. Moses probably did not go anywhere except up to the tabernacle with his neighbor. God was calling. The blowing of the trumpet here reminds us of the declaration of the Gospel or the revelation of God to man. The trumpet will quickly be falsely associated with revival meetings and advertisements by the numbers racket preachers. Not so.
When any Bible believer speaks of Jesus Christ in even the most casual way, including the saving power of Christ, IN ANY KIND OF VOCABULARY AKIN TO THE GOSPEL MESSAGE, the silver trumpet has sounded. It is not the task of the Bible believer to call the sinner to Christ. It is ONLY needed, and it is limited to, the declaration of the Gospel. If that "calling" does not get the sinner's attention, he is either never going to get saved, or at least this is not the moment.
Sound the silver trumpet of Jesus Christ at every opportunity, and then GET YOUR ARROGANT EGO DRIVEN POSTERIOR OUT OF THE WAY. The Holy Ghost is still quite willing and able to take charge of the quickening business without your Baptist frenzied obsession to get results within ten minutes. Some water and water for years and years before the harvest is taken.
What did David command about the blowing of the trumpet?
Psalms 81:3 Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
Keep blowing the Gospel trumpet.
There is a large dose of sovereignty in this biblical calling. Most Fundamentalists believe in sovereignty, even preach it, while in real life they believe it is all up to them. Thus, "Come go calling with us Thursday night." It is not enough to speak of Christ every day where ever we are and unscheduled. We must get our works driven zeal fired up, and go bang on doors and make it happen at all costs. Much of the alleged salvation the results from this sort of calling game involves aisle walking, cum "invitation," at the church house. The end result is that most of these aisle walkers fall away at once and are not heard from again.
The most grotesque form of "calling" is that which is aimed exclusively at filling church buses with rug rats so the local church can transform itself from an oasis for fellowship into a day care center. This day care center is used by ungodly parents who want to have the house to themselves for one morning.
HERE IS YOUR CALLING:
First, we need to see who does the calling in all generations:
Isaiah 41:4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.
So, what is it God is calling us to? Perfect attendance? Fill a pew? Follow the preacher? Fill the offering plate?
Here is when and how we were called:
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places
We are are CHOSEN in Christ in eternity past.
We are PREDESTINATED to be adopted as children of God.
We are ACCEPTED in the beloved, who is Christ Jesus.
Now, do you see what the silver trumpet is calling us to, in virtually all generations? This is the call of the Church Age:
2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
Does that sound remotely like the process of door to door workaholic religion we practice in most churches today?
Tell me, dear reader, does the knock on the door of a sinner hark of joy and delight? Does the backslider jump for joy when he peeks through the drapes and sees the fire breathing preacher strolling up the sidewalk in his three piece suit with a morose deacon in tow?
Here is the response to the call of God, that is, when it really IS God calling and not a man trying to force religion to happen with a canned hit and run "visitation" spiel or at the front of the church house:
Psalms 89:15 Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.
When the silver trumpet sounds, the elect, not the damned, respond and walk in the Lord. Do we know who the elect are? Of course not, so we can only "blow up the trumpet," and, "God giveth the increase." We are NOT the caller any more than we are the Savior of the lost. We are to preach the Gospel, Christ Jesus crucified and risen from the dead, and get out of the way.
This is the ONLY joyful sound that saves? It is the Gospel, not a lot of bluster and blather about "our church."
The elect from eternity past hear and rejoice, and the damned hear and make jokes about Jesus saving at Bank of America. At that point we have done the work, blown up the trumpet, by the foolishness of preaching. This is best done in the check out line in Wal-Mart or over the back fence with the neighbor.
If, after you have talked about Jesus, someone asks what to do with the message, how to respond to the sound of the silver trumpet of the Gospel, tell them. Repent and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. If they don't ask keep moving. They may ask your or some other Christians some day. Peter preached in the Upper Room and to Corneilus until the people interrupted him. That is the plan. If they tell you to go to hell, there is your answer. You will get just as big a reward as Peter when many believed.
Did Jesus go door to door in his days on earth?
Yes and no.
No, he did not enter a town and frantically beat on every door in town and say, "Shalom, I am from the synagogue in Caperneum, and I would like you to visit your synagogue next Sabbath morning. We are having a guest speaker named John from Jordan Jones University. He will be showing us how to eat locusts and honey to be healthy, and he will baptize everyone who wants to join our synagogue. I hope you will be there, g'bye, gotta hit more doors."
As a matter of fact, when Jesus got his numbers up too high, he ran them off by preaching a very tough message that was revolting:
John 6:52 (KJV) The Jews therefore strove among themselves,
saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Jesus was NOT concerned with numbers. He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom, and said, "Come, follow me," and then he walked away and let the hearer decide whether or not to follow. This brings up the final question? What is our invitation? Is it to our church, to attend, to be there "every time the church doors are open," or, in the words of a Baptist heretic I know, "follow me, and I will follow Jesus."?
There is ONLY ONE object in the calling of a sinner:
1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
JESUS IS CALLING
Who is calling whom?
Jesus is calling, indeed the Godhead is calling. God the father, in Christ, elected some unto salvation in eternity past. Jesus called sinners, saying, "Come unto me, ye who are weary and heavy laden....," and finally, the Holy Ghost quickens the dead sinner in the call to Christ.
2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence
to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never
We do not save ourselves-- God saves us. But, we better make sure we answered the call to faith in Jesus Christ, not just the call of a fat reverend from the First Baptist Church to attend revival meetings and take a short walk and weep on the ecclesiastical sacred carpet at the front of the church. As in 1 Corinthians 1:2 above, make sure you called back. What does that mean?
Here is an above verse again:
1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
Saints call on the name of Jesus:
Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out
of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus,
the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.
The calling of Jesus was to the sinner, calling him to faith in Christ himself. Jesus did not call people to attendance at the temple or the synagogue. In fact, Jesus rejected the hit and run methods of modern preachers. He spent time in the homes, and without exception, he was invited to those homes. The closest Jesus came to soliciting a sinner was with Zacchaeus:
19:1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
Even here Jesus knew the heart of the man, and he invited himself for a good long visit, probably lasting the rest of the day. How many times have you struck up a conversation at the supermarket where the other person showed real interest in spiritual things? Have you ever thought of canceling what you were doing and invite that person to have coffee with you then and there? THAT is what Jesus was doing, NOT door to door hit and run calling.
The early church fathers write about Paul and his manner in Ephesus. They report that in the morning Paul circulated in the agura, the market place. He did not street preach. He visited with the merchants who had become his friends. He followed this method until he got a verdict of total rejection, and then his method changed:
Acts 19:9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
Paul did not move to another town so that he could force the visitation method to keep working. He changed the method so that he could keep calling men to faith in Jesus Christ. Paul was not worried about his resume, and he was not interested in numbers. Read his two reports to the leaders in Jerusalem. "Many believed" was the report, but the prospering of the Gospel of Christ was the ONLY context.
Calling today, door to door, is all about filling pews. It is assumed that soul winning need not be done in the home. Get them to the church house, to the sacral real estate, and get them saved there. That way we can keep them coming back to get their spiritual cookies and fill our offering plate. THAT is a fact, and you KNOW I am right.
I now call your attention to the commissioning of the seventy to spread the Gospel:
10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two
and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
The message was the Gospel of the kingdom, not invitation to attend at the temple of the local synagogue. The method was to stay in a home for a while accepting hospitality, and preach and heal in that neighborhood. And then, move on. Jesus did not give all of his attention to one town:
1:37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.
Modern church growth is real estate based, not Gospel based. Disagree if you wish, but I have lived over 60 years watching the present stress, and it is all about nickels and noses and a butt every eighteen inches. The way I can tell if that is your plan is to hear your people say, "We have something for everyone at our church," or, "You should hear our pastor-- he is a wonderful Bible teacher." Jesus and the Gospel play second fiddle to the hubris of a stone pile called "our church."
And, you preachers, when asked how things are going in your church (which it ain't), will reply, "We baptized 50 last Sunday," or, "We bought two new Sunday School buses last week." Argument closed, I win. Can you imagine Jesus saying, "You should come to our synagogue, why it is the fastest growing synagogue in Palestine," or, "You should send your kids to our Sabbath School, we will send a camel around Sabbath morning to pick them up."
The point is, the Lord Jesus based his whole ministry in homes, like that of Lazerus, and Paul started all the churches in Acts in the home. That is where they stayed until the Whore of Rome started building stone piles, which is exactly what you are doing as well. The home is NOT where the church of today sees itself. It LIVES in special real estate, and it calls men to that real estate.
"Calling," as it is in Christendom today, is blasphemy in action. If Jesus were to return in body to your town, he would not be caught anywhere near you calling program. He would be down at the local cafe with the good old boys at the round table. And, one preacher here in Tennessee told me he avoids the cafe because the men are wicked.
Please read that last sentence again, and ask God if that is also YOU. I also invite you to, with an open mind, browse your memory of the ministry or Paul. Think of all the ways the home comes up in his ministry. He was either in homes with believers, or up on Mars hill contending with skeptics. If you had been there would you have tried to start a First Baptist Church or Mars Hill? Believe it or not, we have just that near us, and they have had to call the police out to break up fist fights in the church parking lot several times on Sunday morning. Mars Hill Baptist Church of Kingston, Tennessee. Send your resume. :-)
THE CHURCH CALLING
In 1 Corinthians 1:2 above we saw that the saints were said to call on the name of Jesus. Was this the case in real life? Here is the testimony of the wicked:
9:20 (KJV) And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the
Son of God.
Paul did not "go calling." He gave the Gospel of the Son of God, and sinners called on God.
I do not believe we Bible believers today have any idea how we miss the point in this calling business. The Muslims make a big fuss over declaring the faith. It is one of the five pillars to complete Islamic submission.
We see that the saints in the early Church were declaring the name of Jesus Christ, not in a testimony meeting when cloistered safe in a secret place, but they declared the name of Jesus in the market place daily until the Jewish leaders knew their confession well and hated it. WHAT IS THE CALL OF THE LOST?
"Jesus thou son of David, have mercy on me."
What is the declaration of faith?
John 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall
we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
Peter had heard the other disciples give a declaration of their belief in Jesus Christ, for he felt the freedom to speak for them with the pronoun "we." He had just heard that message we cited above about eating Jesus flesh, and he was confused about that particular message, but he and his fellow disciples were "sure" that they had no other source of eternal life outside of Jesus Christ, AND HE SAID SO without being prompted.
When is the last time you declared your faith in Jesus Christ? You see, ONLY Jesus calls you, and only YOU can call on him for your soul's salvation, AND if you will not declare it until sinners hate you, you may well not be born again at all.
Sounding the Gospel trumpet is what YOU do, and calling is what sinners do. Do you see the upside down use of the word "calling" in the Lord's Church today?
What does this biblical calling have to do with the "calling program" of any local church? Nothing. Calling programs are man driven, man empowered, and man directed exercises in futility. This is why thousands of sinners for a radius of a hundred miles around Hammond, Indiana HATE Jesus Christ and the First Baptist Church of Hammond. It is not because Jesus actually offended them. It is because they were suckered into responding to the hustle of fast draw religion. They attended the monster temple, walked the aisle, even got baptized, and later they felt NOTHING.
They called on the monster church, and famous Jack the guru, and they told friends that, "They did it to me in Hammond...." When their mind finally went back into gear they realized they were the victim of a numbers racket and a cheap scam, and they now HATE. They HATE everything about the Gospel and Jesus Christ and Christians. This is NOT because the saints called on the name of Jesus Christ in and around the real world of these victims. That would have resulted in their having to make a choice about JESUS, not First Baptist of Hammond.
Frankly, I am delighted they hate the memory of Jack Hyles and his pagan temple. They are now potential targets of grace to someone who walks it and talks it next to them at work or over the back fence-- where Jesus would have declared his Gospel of the Kingdom.
We end with the Bible study rule of last mention. Let us consider the last call:
19:5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants,
and ye that fear him, both small and great.
"Blessed are they which are called...." Your calling is from eternity past (Ephesians 1 above), it is to Christ in the beginning, not to the local church, and your final calling will be to come to supper-- supper for the Bride of Christ with their Lord.
Now, what is a biblical "calling program"?
"I would like to invite you to visit our church next Sunday morning...."
"Would you like to send your kids to one of the most exciting Sunday Schools in Texas...."
"If you don't come forward now, you may never have a chance again...."
"Come to our church, we have something for everyone...."
"I believe and am sure that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. I sure would be pleased to learn that you too have come to Jesus for his salvation, my friend."
Now, go call men to Jesus Christ, not to programs and real estate. To hell with any other "calling program."