I am super excited about the topic for our upcoming Transform Conference! Dr. Stuart Scott is going to help us all develop a better understanding of what God’s will is, and how we are to seek to live it out faithfully. Here is my attempt to give you a foretaste of what is to come.
Do you often feel like God’s will is some kind of mystery, where He gives you clues and you have to put the pieces of the puzzle together?
I believe much of the confusion in the church regarding the will of God arises because people are frantically trying to determine the “secret, sovereign, decreed” will of God, when all He has revealed—or has even promised to reveal—to us is the “moral, directive” will of God. Within God’s moral will there is vast liberty to make free choices. This is not always the most common way to think about God’s will though.
“People are frantically trying to determine the ‘secret, sovereign, decreed’ will of God, when all He has revealed—or has even promised to reveal—to us is the ‘moral, directive’ will of God.”
Most books on the subject of finding God’s will lay out a somewhat familiar process to go through in order to discern His plan for your life. The typical process advocated by these authors suggest that God will lead us in a number of clear and particular ways.
This approach is probably familiar to anyone who has been a Christian for very long.
What this approach does not consider is whether God has actually promised to “reveal” certain things to us in the first place. I am not saying that God never gives us clear direction. I am saying that there is no guarantee that God will always bless someone’s attempt to seek His will through the means listed above.
Don’t get me wrong. There are aspects of some of the actions above that are appropriate (especially “study the Bible” and “seek counsel”). However, with others there are definite inadequacies and even dangers involved. What dangers and inadequacies may be involved in attempting to discern God’s will in that way?
Although few are bold enough to say that we should not study God’s Word or seek counsel, on a practical level this is often what dangerously happens. Sadly, if someone is convinced that their experience of any of the other “signs” above are clear and direct leading from God Himself, it is generally very difficult to persuade them otherwise. In many of those cases “biblical principles” are forgotten, ignored, or even shoved aside.
We have the promise that Scripture is infallible. But there is no guarantee that any other standard or experience in the above list carries that guarantee. How is it that the other common “guidance principles” above might lead us astray? Let’s look at them one at a time.
Quite frankly, it is often difficult to discern the difference between making decisions using the means and methods above, and making decisions using a crystal ball. The bottom line is that God does not speak of His will as something that He will reveal to us. He speaks of it as something that He already has revealed to us, or as something that is known only in His own secret counsels. When we understand that the Bible speaks of the will of God only in these terms it should clarify our thinking. And approaching this subject with clear and biblically informed thinking is the only way to avoid living life in a quandary of uncertainty and subjectivity.
Brian is the Pastor of Counseling & Equipping at Faith Bible Church. He is passionate about the local church, and equipping the saints to effectively serve one another. Before coming to Spokane, he spent 14 years serving God's people as a pastor in rural New England (Vermont & New Hampshire).View Resources by Brian Sayers
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