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Discerning God’s Will as Revealed in Scripture

June 30, 2013 Leave a comment

In my studies this week, I read this passage from Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way.  I want to share it with you as a way of furthering our discussion about our calling.  Horton writes,

Romans 12:2 promises that “by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  On this basis, some have taught that God has a sovereign plan for our lives, but that we can step in and out of it.  Often referred to as God’s “perfect will,” this notion of God’s sovereign plan considers it merely a Plan A—God’s best for our lives—rather than God’s secret but certain decree.  Many believers struggle to discern God’s secret will in daily decisions because they confuse it with his “perfect will” in this passage.

However, Romans 12:2 is not speaking of God’s eternal counsels, sure to be fulfilled yet hidden to us. Rather, the context (renewing the mind through the Word) indicates that the perfect will that Paul calls us to discern is God’s moral and saving will (i.e., the law and the gospel) insofar as he has revealed it in Scripture.  Therefore, when it comes to our vocations, whom we should marry, where we should live, and so forth, we are responsible to discern God’s will only insofar as it is revealed in Scripture.  For example, we must marry fellow believers (2 Co 6:14), but other considerations are left to our wisdom, the counsel of friends, and the desires of our hearts.

Unlike God’s good and perfect (revealed) will, God’s hidden decree is secret to us. We have no reason to believe that God will reveal to us where we should live, even though he has “determined allotted periods and the boundaries of [our] dwelling place” (Ac 17:26).  But we can be confident that he has revealed everything necessary for salvation and godliness.  It is liberating to know that we cannot step in and out of God’s sovereign will, although it remains hidden to us, even if we discover that a decision was poorly made or circumstances did not work out as we had planned.  It is not only unexpected that we should know God’s secret purposes; such inquisitiveness is treated in Scripture as an affront to God’s majesty (Ro 11:34). (p. 363-364)

The bottom line is to focus on our calling as Christians and as we live out our lives as such, the rest will come together.

Reference

Michael Horton. (2011). The Christian faith: A systematic theology for pilgrims on the way. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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Crisis of Meaning

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

In the book, Courage and Calling, by Gordon Smith, he discusses how we live in a time of rapid change and that this is "having a profound effect on the way we live, the way we work and the way we think about our lives and our work" (p. 15). He goes on to discuss four types of crises we face today, one of which is a crisis of meaning.

Many people struggle with the meaning of their life. Perhaps the reason so many struggle with it is because they base the meaning of their life on what they do for a living. But as we study God’s Word, we come to understand that it is not so much what we do that is important, but who we are. We should not focus on what it is that we do in order to understand the meaning of our life. Instead, we should focus on who God created us to be, and to live our life in a way that brings honor and glory to Him.

Smith wraps up his book with this. “Our ultimate goal is not so much to accomplish great things, as it is to be women and men who know, love and serve Jesus. Our final concern is not career or ministry or reputation but whether through the course of our lives we grow in the saving grace of Christ, living and working in such a way that others might know him” (p. 196). And that, my friends, is what should give meaning to our life.

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Contemplations about Facebook

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Over the past month or so I have been thinking about taking down my Facebook page. I have been contemplating this for a couple of reasons. The first is simply because I rarely logon, so I am not using it much anymore. The second reason is a bit more complicated.

Although I like the idea of being connected and keeping up on what is going on, it has changed the way I interact with other people. Rather than stopping in to visit someone, or making a phone call to a friend, I post something on my Facebook page. Facebook has changed the way I commune with others, and in many ways, it has become very impersonal.

Facebook has some great advantages. For one, it is very convenient to post something and let everyone read it at their convenience. It is also a great way to keep up on what my family and friends are doing. Facebook is also a great way to promote an organization or event such as our churches and other ministries. Facebook has changed the way we share information. But there are a few drawbacks as well.

A critical part of sharing and living out my faith involves spending time with others in a community of family and friends. I would rather talk to someone over the phone or have a conversation over a cup of coffee than sit in front of my computer. I spend enough time in front of my computer. Creating and developing relationships takes time and effort, and the rewards are much greater than the impersonal relationships I have on social networking sites such as Facebook.

I am going to keep my Facebook for the many advantages I mentioned, but I am going to change the way I do things. Perhaps it is something you want to consider. Rather than posting a note about something cool that is going on in my life, I will pick up the phone and call a friend to tell them about it. I will go to a coffee shop to meet with friends and share what is going on in my life, and in turn, listen to what is going on in theirs. Who knows? I might even make a new friend while I am sitting in the coffee shop waiting on a friend.

Blessings,

jim

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Transform Your Life

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

This past Sunday I preached both sermons at Cornerstone Baptist Church.  The title of the sermon is Transform Your Life, a look at Romans 12:1-2 and our call to be disciples.  View a video of this message here: Transform Your Life.

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Question of the day:

January 4, 2010 Leave a comment

“Why should God reveal new truth to you when you don’t embrace the truth he gives you?” (Dr. Johnny Hunt in his sermon dated January 3rd, 2010 http://www.fbcw.org/).

Army of Spears

July 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Last Sunday, our pastor spoke of the origin of his last name. My wife did a little research and found the origins of our last name on ancestry.com. It is English from a Norman personal name composed of the Germanic elements hari, heri ‘army’ + gar, ger ‘spear’, ‘lance’. In other words, we are an army of spears, only our spears are the word of God!

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword” Hebrews 4:12 (New International Version).

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Just Do It!

July 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Continuing with our look at Spiritual Discipleship

The second chapter in Sander’s book is “Conditions of Discipleship.”

“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:27 (ESV)

Oswald opens this chapter discussing how Jesus seems to be “intent on alienating [the crowd’s] interest and actually discouraging them from following him.” He goes on to say, “The line Jesus took with the impressionable crowd was the exact opposite of much evangelism today.” Rather than focusing on the benefits of following him as a disciple, he spoke of the “difficulties and dangers” and “sacrifices.” Jesus was not interested in the number of people who followed him; he was interested in the quality of those who chose to make the necessary sacrifice to be disciples (pp. 19-21).

We must challenge not only ourselves, but also those around us to “bear [our] own cross” and be true disciples of Jesus Christ. It will be difficult. It may be dangerous. It will definitely demand sacrifice. However, as Oswald writes, “following Christ is not a joyless experience” (p. 24). True joy and happiness come to those who follow Jesus Christ. And if that is not incentive enough, try following the popular directive, “Just do it!”

Holy Bible. (2001). English standard version. Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society.

Sanders, J. O. (1990). Spiritual discipleship: Principles of following Christ for every believer. Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute.