The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): This passage ought to be carefully observed, for no man can claim right or authority to teach unless he show that he has been prompted to it by the Spirit of God.
CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): We cannot suppose the Lord will send unqualified labourers, however willing, into His vineyard: and none but He can qualify them.
WILLIAM FAREL (1489-1565): If the church be God’s husbandry, then those that be employed in ministerial work ought to be men of great judgment and experience in soul affairs; for these are the labourers whom God, the mystical Husbandman employs and entrusts about His spiritual husbandry. Should a husbandman employ ignorant persons, that neither understand the rules nor proper seasons of husbandry? He will not employ such to weed his fields, as know not wheat from tares; or to prune his trees, that think midsummer as fit for that work as December: much less will God. He qualifies all that He sends with a wisdom for their work. His workman approve themselves workmen indeed, such as need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, 2 Timothy 2:15.
JOHN CALVIN: Gifts come before the office to be discharged.
WILLIAM FAREL: As Bezaleel was furnished with wisdom before he was employed in tabernacle-work, Exodus 31:1-5, so Christ instructs His servants with skill and insight, before they are employed in ministerial work. He gives them a mouth and wisdom, Luke 21:15, and endows them with power from on high. As Christ was filled abundantly with the Spirit for His work, so, according to proportion, are those that are sent by Him; As my Father hath sent me, so send I you, John 20:21,22. And as for those that run before they are sent, and understand not the mysteries of the gospel; I shall say no more of them but this: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
JOHN CALVIN: True pastors do not rashly thrust themselves forward by their own judgment, but are raised up by the Lord.
A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): I cannot recall, in any of my reading, a single instance of a prophet who applied for the job.
JOHN CALVIN: When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men…And he gave unto some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, Ephesians 4:8,11,12.
It may excite surprise, that, when the gifts of the Holy Spirit form the subject of discussion Paul should enumerate offices instead of gifts. I reply, when men are called by God, gifts are necessarily connected with offices. God does not confer on men the mere name of Apostles or Pastors, but also endows them with gifts, without which they cannot properly discharge their office. He whom God has appointed to be an apostle does not bear an empty and useless title; for the divine command, and the ability to perform it, go together…Another inference is, that no man will be fit or qualified for so distinguished an office who has not been formed and moulded by the hand of Christ Himself.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I have made thee a watchman, Ezekiel 3:17. Here we read a true account of the making of a minister. God alone can do it. Two things are absolutely requisite to make a man a preacher.
1. Special gifts—such as perception of truth, simplicity, aptness to impart instruction, some degree of eloquence, and intense earnestness.
2. Special call. Every man who is rightly in the ministry must have been moved thereto of the Holy Ghost.
WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): God alone can call any man into the ministry. This is a divine prerogative. No sovereign would allow another to appoint his ministers. The Sovereign of the universe calls to Him whom He will.
OLIVER CROMWELL (1599-1658): He that ascended up on high may give His gifts to whom He pleases: and if these gifts be the seal of commission, be not envious though Eldad and Medad prophesy, Numbers 11:27. You know who bids us to covet earnestly the best gifts, but chiefly that we may prophesy―which the Apostle explains there to be a speaking to instruction and edification and comfort. Approbation―[man’s ordination and appointment]―is an act of conveniency in respect of order; not of necessity, to give the faculty to preach the Gospel.
WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): We must not limit the Holy One of Israel. He will sometimes take a man out of our rules, and give him acceptance and success. And we must receive a Bunyan as well as an Owen. When will persons allow God to work in His own way, and learn that, because one thing is right, another need not be wrong?
JOHN CALVIN: If, therefore, having been appointed by the Lord, he abounds in the graces of the Spirit and the ability which the calling demands, he actually has the Spirit.
G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): The only way in which a man can possibly enter the ministry is when the Holy Spirit of God bestows upon a him a gift from the Head of the Church. By that gift he is made a minister of Jesus Christ. It means this, He will never call a man to preach who has no natural ability for preaching. I am afraid we often do―He never does.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There is only one thing to say about this; it cannot be taught. That is impossible. Preachers are born, not made. This is an absolute. You will never teach a man to be a preacher if he is not already one…I would say that a dull preacher is a contradiction in terms; if he is dull he is not a preacher.
JOHN CALVIN: How, then, shall we judge that any man has been sent by God, and is guided by His Spirit? By “anointing”―that is, if he is endowed with the gifts which are necessary for that office.
VERNON J. CHARLESWORTH (1839-1915): A lady once requested Rowland Hill to examine her son as a candidate for the ministry, remarking, “I am sure he has a talent, but it is hid in a napkin.” At the close of the interview with the young man, Mr. Hill said, “Well, madam, I have shaken the napkin, and I cannot find the talent.”