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Discovering God’s Will: Preconceived Notions, Part 2

Various   |   Shaun LePage   |   June 15, 2008

Discovering God’s Will: Preconceived Notions, Part 2

Various   |   Shaun LePage   |   June 8, 2008

I.       Introduction

A.    Does God lead us with a map or a compass? Many say map: One “Plan A” route—God’s best, the “center of His will”! His perfect, individual will for your life! Of course, we never quite know exactly what that is, and we often don’t detect or properly interpret the inner impressions as the HS leads us, so we will almost certainly end up with Plan B, C, D or Q.

B.    Is this true? Are we destined to a life of detours, back-tracks and dead-ends? Or, did God give us a compass? Is God more concerned about direction than exact, detailed route?

C.    Last week: “Preconceived notions” built on idea of map—detailed, ideal plan we must discover if we are to walk in God’s will; Obviously not in Scripture, so we must discover it in other ways…

1.     Examples: Impressions, inner peace, direct revelation, putting out fleeces, etc.

2.     Problems: Subjective. Unreliable. Dangerous.

3.     Solutions: Test by God’s Word. Transform your thinking by God’s Word (today!)

II.     Body—Four questions I knew you were thinking (had an impression); ask someone to read

A.    [volunteer] Q1: Does the Bible promise that God will lead us by inner impressions and feelings of peace?

1.     Again, very subjective: peace of Christ or peace from getting what I want? But common passages used to support don’t support:

a)     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.

b)     Gal 5:18—Spirit’s leading in the moral will of God (revealed in Bible) as opposed to deeds of flesh, not God’s will regarding who to marry or where to go to college!

c)     Col 3:15—“peace” if in center of God’s will, no peace if moving in wrong direction? Context—not about inner peace of the soul, but peace in the church!

d)     Phil 4:7—“peace” not a rudder for steering decisions—reading too much, but in contrast to anxiety, those who pray rather than worry are promised peace

2.     A1: We have no such promises. Could look at several other passages, but when context closely examined, the promises just aren’t there. Granted, this is an argument from silence, so doesn’t prove God won’t, but simply that the Bible doesn’t promise such guidance.

B.    [volunteer] Q2: What about the examples in the Bible of people who received direct revelation?

1.     Obviously many examples of people guided by voice from heaven, dreams, visions, angels and yes—wet/dry fleece; but not a good case that we should expect similar.

2.     The number of examples is relatively few when you consider the span of history covered by the Bible. But such guidance is the exception rather than rule; many decisions made apart from any hint of direct revelation: e.g., Acts 15:19,22

3.     Examples are people—Moses, Elijah, Apostles—being used in a special way by God for important tasks (i.e., writing Scripture, pronouncing God’s judgment, establishing the Church or taking the Gospel to unreached peoples)—not personal decisions about ordinary life issues.

4.     Many things happened to people in the Bible that we don’t expect today: God spoke to Balaam through his donkey—should we expect animals to tell us God’s will? God spoke to Belshazzar through a hand that wrote on the wall—should we expect hands to appear suddenly and scratch out God’s will on our bedroom wall? God spoke to Job out of a storm—should we expect similar communication just because it happened to someone in the Bible? Obviously not.

5.     Most importantly, we have the completed Scriptures—all those who received direct revelation in the Bible did not, so such revelation was necessary for that time.

6.     A2: We have no reason to expect divine revelation.

C.    [volunteer] Q3: Haven’t lots of people testified about receiving clear, individual direction?

1.     A3: We must not base truth on experience. (subjective, unreliable and dangerous)

2.     Recently read a book by a wonderful Christian woman who claimed God led her very specifically to places all over the world (ex: Argentina)—impression, hop on plane, often didn’t know anyone there and had no place to stay. Eventually found shelter, opportunity to share love of Christ and God blessed it. Many examples like this!

3.     No great mystery: God blesses those who share the love of Christ! Don’t believe her impressions were divine revelation, but sharing love of Christ in Argentina was part of God’s moral will for her so God blessed her—same if impression was to go to China, Vietnam or Lawrence, KS!

4.     Of course these writers/story-tellers don’t tell us about all the times they followed their impressions or dreams and it led to nowhere or even failure, danger and disaster. Ex: Story this past month about a teenage boy who was convinced God wanted him to do something extreme. One week later he decided it was a bad idea, bad timing, put himself in serious danger—all because he had an impression it was God’s will.

5.     Basing truth on experience of others who say things like “God told me to go to Argentina” is very dangerous. Impressions, voices, dreams, visions, peace, etc. are not authoritative and are to be tested by God’s Word (1 John 4:1-6).

D.    [volunteer] Q4: Can’t God—our Father and Shepherd—lead us any way He wants?

1.     Don’t want to put God in a box—perhaps He does lead people through impressions, visions, dreams. But logically, why stop there? If God can lead any way He wants, why not any number of ways—alignment of stars, tea leaves and lines on your palm? A cult in Texas a few years ago announced God was going to proclaim His will on cable channel 18. Could God do it? Sure! Logically this could lead anywhere.

2.     This is exactly the point! He does lead us in the way He wants. Question is: Do we have a Biblical understanding of how He does that or not? Are we seeking His way or a popular misunderstanding or our own whimsical ideas and expectations? Are we ignoring what He has told us on this subject and insisting that He lead us in the way we want Him to? In an easier way? More spectacular way?

3.     True guidance is what we want—if we take this seriously we want to discover God’s way—the way He genuinely leads.

4.     A4: We must discover His way.

III.   Closing:

A.    Next week: Practicing Wisdom (where series has been leading)

B.    One more volunteer: Read Prayer inspired from Proverbs 2: “Lord God, we are ready to receive Your words and treasure Your commandments. We will make our ears attentive to wisdom, we will incline our hearts to understanding. We cry for discernment, we lift our voices for understanding; we will seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then we will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. Lord, You alone give wisdom; from Your mouth come knowledge and understanding. You store up sound wisdom for the upright; You are a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and You preserve the way of Your godly ones. Help us to discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course.”

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