If that is the spiritual “sense” of the call, what are the biblical “tests” of the call? There are at least five of them that must be carefully and prayerfully considered. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Do I meet the qualifications of a preacher, as set forth in the Word of God? When God called Paul to be a preacher, He clearly delineated what was involved and required (see Acts 9:15–16, 20; 22:14–15; 26:16–18). You cannot study these divine instructions without discerning both the qualifications and responsibilities of a preacher.
2. Have I the witness of the Spirit in my heart that God has called me? The same Holy Spirit who witnesses with my spirit that I have been born of God also witnesses with my spirit that I have been called of God to be a preacher (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 1:15–16; 2 Tim. 1:8–11). As you pray earnestly about the matter, “the sense of call” will either come alive or die altogether. When Paul prayed “Lord, what do You want me to do?” he received the answer.
3. Has the gift of the preacher become evident in my life and service? First Corinthians 12:7 declares that “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” The Revised English Bible renders this “In each of us the Spirit is seen to be at work for some useful purpose.” This “manifestation” is not human ability alone, but rather the indwelling and directing power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the “sense of call” comes through “inferential” means. A set of circumstances will be ordered providentially to bring about a growing conviction that God has called you to be a preacher. This will explain why men who initially followed other professions subsequently become preachers. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen when Jesus called them (Mark 1:16–20)!
4. Has my church recognized and confirmed my preaching gift? First Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6–7 give a significant object lesson in the divine/human recognition and confirmation of a person’s gift and ministry in the early church (see also Acts 13:1–4).
5. Has God used my preaching gift to the salvation of souls and the edification of saints? Writing to the Corinthians, Paul could affirm with confidence, “You are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord” (1 Cor. 9:2). Can you point to converts or disciples and say the same thing?12
Stephen F. Olford and David L. Olford, Anointed Expository Preaching (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 13–14.