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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Decision-Making & God's Will - Part 7

(To read the other articles in this series, click: Part1  Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6 )  In this final article, we’ll deal with a couple of common objections to the view that has been proposed in this series.
“Didn’t God lead the patriarchs, the apostles, and other biblical figures according to the prevailing view?”
There is no doubt that in the OT and NT, God gave supernatural guidance that was much more specific and detailed than the moral will of God (Gen 12; Jonah 1; Acts 9, 10:17-20; 13:1-2, 16:6-10, 18:9-10,22:17-21, 23:11).  But there are a few questions we should consider.  Are these accounts descriptive or normative?  That is, what is the intent of each passage?  Is this guidance incidental to the story or is it intended to teach us how to make decisions?
For example, is it the purpose of the story of Paul’s call to ministry to teach that we should we expect to see a bright light, a voice from heaven, and blindness to accompany a call to the Lord (Acts 9:3-4)?  Should we expect God to speak to us through a donkey (Num 22:28-30)? These examples remind us that while Scriptural examples have real value, they must be interpreted with great care.  If it is not the point of the passage to teach how to find God’s will, we probably shouldn’t regard such guidance as normative for the Christian life.
There are other things to consider regarding this objection.  First, the number of recorded cases of specific guidance is not sufficient to constitute normative experience.  Most of the references above are to Paul, and yet most of the time when he had a decision to make, he had to make it (Acts 15:36, 20:16;Rom 1:10-13; 1 Cor 16:4-9; 2 Cor 1:15-2:4).  The cases of direct guidance are clearly the exception to the rule, even in Paul’s case. This is true of other people in the Bible as well.  The examples of specific guidance are not sufficiently comprehensive.  Guidance was only provided for a handful of decisions.  This does not fit with the view that we are to seek God’s will in all decisions.
Second, all the examples of specific guidance in the Bible involved supernatural revelation, not inner impressions/feelings.  Yet, most people who espouse the prevailing view rely upon the latter without expecting the former. The best that this argument could lead to is that God may give a believer guidance that is more specific than the moral imperatives found in the Bible, but if He does, it will be through supernatural means.
“The view you are proposing is so impersonal.”
First, we need to remember that this is all about God, not all about us. 
Second, this is far more personal than the prevailing view because it shows that God is so closely involved that He is moving our desires and steps.  And He is so intent on accomplishing His will in us that He doesn’t depend upon us to make the “right” decisions.
Third, this view does not mean that we have no daily interaction and dependence upon God.  In my experience, with this view there is greater dependence upon God.  It is more God-centered.  It involves praying for God to give me the desire to obey, that He will help me to recognize temptation before it grabs a hold of me, that He will give me the power to kill indwelling, and that He will provide for my needs.  It involves subordinating my will to His, praying for wisdom, and praying for a greater knowledge of Scripture.  It is focused on God’s revealed will for me, sanctification.
Fourth, the prevailing view tends to lead me away from Scripture, looking for extra-biblical revelation.  It is focused on what God has not revealed (His sovereign will for me) to the exclusion of what He has revealed (that I should strive to be holy).  My attention should be on the holiness that He desires for me and the ways He has revealed for me to pursue it.  

Hopefully, this series has been helpful to you. Search the God's Word. It is sufficient to guide you in all matters of life and godliness. If you truly believe that and live accordingly, you can't go wrong.

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