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Discovering God’s Will: Preconceived Notions

Various   |   Shaun LePage   |   June 8, 2008

Discovering God’s Will: Preconceived Notions

Various   |   Shaun LePage   |   June 8, 2008

I.       Introduction

A.    How do we discover God’s will? 2 wks ago: “been on my mind lately” (conversations and consolidation); actually been on my mind since I became a Christian in 1982; much of what I want to share in remainder of this series is my personal journey of answering that question: “How discover God’s will?” I didn’t begin my Christian walk by developing a clear, Biblical answer to the question, I simply began adopting the ideas of others so I collected several “preconceived notions” (ideas adopted w/out verifying acc. to Bible) before I eventually came to what I believe is a Biblical perspective

B.    Can’t talk about how to discover God’s will without dealing with these ideas—so popular; still I believe they are “Preconceived notions”; admit I’ve used these methods, had some amazing experiences, but popularity and experience are not good tools for determining what is true—nor for determining God’s will.

C.    Many people I love dearly disagree strongly with my conclusions—perhaps even some of you will also—but I believe this is so critical to the Christian life, I must share what I believe is Biblical; intend to do so with grace and truth…

II.     Body—examples of preconceived notions, talk about inherent problems, offer solutions

A.    Examples: things I’ve heard which became a part of my thinking:

1.     Impressions. “God told me ____…not audible, but clear impression…can’t tell you how, I just knew…HS led me”; Joel Osteen says things like: “I was praying one morning asking God about all of this. And the Lord spoke to me so clearly, not out loud but right down in my heart. God said…”; woman claims God spoke to her clearly while watching Prince Caspian, blogger claims God spoke through greeting card, popular author (books in every Christian bookstore) claims God spoke to him via the label of ketchup bottle, woman—Rod Stewart song on the radio

2.     Peace. Closely related to inward impressions; “God gave me peace that I needed to quit my job” or “I prayed about it…peace that this is what we should do.”

3.     Direct Revelation (voice/dream/vision). “I heard a clear, audible voice that my husband would get (a very specific job) by August of this year.” Benny Hinn, once said that God told him “homosexuals in America will be destroyed by fire by 1995.”; man on YouTube claims God communicated via AIM—what did God write? “Hi”

4.     Fleece. Closely related to divine revelation, based on Jdgs 6:36-40 (read); In essence, when you put out a fleece you say to God, ‘If you really want me to carry out plan A (ask Beth out), make it rain today / make her call at 8 p.m. exactly…

B.    Problems:

1.     These methods are subjective. (def.) opinion that cannot be substantiated by objective source of truth; If I am convinced that God impressed a message in my heart through a greeting card or a ketchup bottle—who’s to say I’m wrong/right (including me)? Usually no big deal, but do you really want your pastor to stand in the pulpit with little more than “God spoke clearly right down in my heart” about what I’m going to preach—would you really change your life based on such a flimsy source? And that’s the core of the problem—we can’t know for sure; is God really speaking or not? Maybe my own will looking for justification? How do we know the impression or voice or dream is not satanic? How do we know not just emotional impression, hormonal imbalance or too many jalapenos for dinner last night? Because so subjective, these methods are also…

2.     These methods are unreliable. 1995 Benny Hinn prophecy—don’t know a lot of homosexuals, but I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen; many have claimed God told them the date Jesus was returning; woman’s husband never did get that job (15 years ago); often these methods can be contradictory—an impression may give someone peace about a decision, but then the fleece doesn’t work (phone didn’t ring); which is right? Author Garry Friesen (strongly influenced my thinking) writes (pgs. 130-131). Bottom line: Do we really want to know God’s will or not—does reliable matter?

3.     These methods are dangerous.

a)     If you get an impression while watching Prince Caspian that you should climb into the lion’s cage at the zoo, will you do that? That may seem silly—but more foolish things have been done because God supposedly spoke; “Christians” have sold all possessions, had abortions, committed suicide because they believed God spoke; don’t underestimate the influence these methods can have over good people

b)     Not just danger of self-harm, but danger from God! “prophet” is someone who claims to speak for God—exactly what we claim when we say “God spoke to my heart…God said do this…” Give sober consideration to the warnings of the Bible.

(1)  Dt 13:1-5— Steve Camp (Christian musician) story, young man during concert (2500 people): ‘Brother Steve, I have a word from the Lord for you.’ Steve asked politely, ‘what Bible verse?’ Steve repeated this; man frustrated; Steve finally agreed—one condition: ‘Everything you say must agree perfectly with God’s final revelation in His Word. If anything you say, no matter how trivial, disagrees with Scripture, then I will have to rebuke you in front of all these people and then we will all have to take you outside and stone you to death!’ Man: ‘Maybe it was a feeling I had?’ Steve: ‘Good answer man—now sit down.’” Still stone? No (not theocracy) principle: false prophecy very serious.

(2)  Rev 2:20-25— NT stuff! 1st Century church Thyatira tolerating a false-prophetess; Possible some are sick and die because they’re false prophets?

(3)  Dt 4:1-2; Pr 30:5-6; Rev 22:18-19—Isn’t “God said” adding to? Think long and hard before say “God said”; say “I believe God may be leading / speaking…”

C.    Solutions:

1.     Test these methods by God’s Word (closer look at each next time)

a)     1 John 4:1-6: “spirits” recognizes spiritual reality behind false teachers (see 1 Tim 4:1,2); same false spirits can work through impressions; Two tests: 1) sound doctrine regarding person of Christ; 2) agreement with apostles’ teaching; “we” (apostles; see 1:1-4) is in contrast to false teachers; simple—test w/ Scripture

b)     Passages seem to say HS guides believers to God’s individual will; three of the most popular used to support these methods are:

(1)  John 16:12-14—most Biblical scholars agree “you” is the 11 disciples, HS disclosed “all truth” in NT; no hint of God revealing individual, personal will for all believers through impressions or feelings of peace.

(2)  Rom 8:14—context=righteous living; HS leading believers to put to death the deeds of the body—context not dealing with daily decision making related to God’s will for individuals (e.g., which college to attend, job to take, guy to marry); no hint of leading by impressions, peaceful feelings, etc.,

(3)  Gal 5:18—very similar to Rm 8:14; leading here is also about walking with the Spirit in regard to the moral will of God, not God’s will for individuals

2.     Transform your thinking by God’s Word (His clearly revealed will); what I hope to do in rest of series eventually answer the question, “If not by these methods, how do we discover God’s will?” For now, are you willing to lay everything you believe (possible preconceived notions) on altar, let God transform thinking by His Word?

III.   Closing: Prayer…Col 1:9-12

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