Today, I found myself expressing to God a desire to be “moved by the Spirit” to preach and lead (etc.). I recalled this language from the 1784 Discipline that I reviewed over the weekend (and wrote about yesterday).
In the 1784 Discipline, Section XII is called, “Of the Trial of those who think they are moved by the Holy Ghost to preach.” It asks the question, “How shall we try those who profess to be moved by the Holy Ghost to preach?” The answer is supplied in three parts …
1. Let them be asked the following Questions, viz. Do they know God as a pardoning God? Have they the Love of God abiding in them? Do they desire nothing but God? And are they holy in all Manner of Conversation?
2. Have they Gifts (as well as Grace) for the Work? Have they (in some tolerable Degree) a clear, sound Understanding, a right judgment in the Things of God, a just Conception of Salvation by Faith? And has God given them any degree of Utterance? Do they speak justly, readily, clearly?
3. Have they Fruit? Are any truly convinced of Sin, and converted to God by their preaching?
The section concludes with the following …
As long as these three Marks concur in any one, we believe he is called of God to preach. These we receive as sufficient Proof that he is moved by the Holy Ghost.
From the beginning, Methodists have had a process of “trying,” or examining, men (and now women) who sense God calling them “to preach” (the language “call to preach” has been replaced as a call to serve in a specific capacity, such as ordained ministry, etc.). Until four years ago, this trial period was called “probationary” (now “provisional”).
The examination process has evolved, of course, but I like the language of being “moved by the Holy (Spirit) to preach”; not just called, but moved by the Holy Spirit to preach.