Friday, October 4, 2013

Finding God's will for your life

True Christians are consumed with obeying God and serving Him, because we love Him so much. That's why so many people say they want to "find God's will for their life." Finding God's will is at the top of their list of ways we want to serve Him. Christians ache when they feel that they are missing out on doing service for God, and they fear. 'What if I'm not finding it?' they wonder. 'What if He wants me to be a missionary in Burma and I haven't read the signs correctly and I'm just here in Dayton, not doing much?'
Rugendas, c. 1820, "Village of Christianized Tapuyos indians"

The book Radical by David Platt touched on this invisible fear among many Christians. The book Radical is, according to Kevin DeYoung, "an all-out assault on cheap grace, easy-believism, consumer Christianity."

And is against the Christian laziness that comes with it. I agree that those things should be avoided and denounced. But despite the softening language, Platt's overall tone is that we should throw it all over, sell all our stuff, and run off to Burma as a missionary.

DeYoung admires Platt but has five concerns of the book, and mentions this fourth: "I worry that radical and crazy Christianity cannot be sustained. If the message of Jesus translates into “Give more away” or “Sacrifice for the gospel” or “Get more radical” we will end up with burned out evangelicals. Even when Jesus said his hard saying (and he said a lot of them) it was not his basic stump speech. His message was repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15). When Jesus challenged the crowds to count the cost or let the dead bury their dead it was to make clear that following him was not all about miracles and wonders, it was about giving him the preeminence. The emphasis was doxological first and foremost. Worship Christ. Believe in Christ. Walk with Christ. And therefore, before you follow Christ be prepared for opposition."

"I don’t worry for David’s theology, but I worry that some young Christians reading his book might walk away wondering if a life spent working as a loan officer, tithing to their church, praying for their kids, learning to love Christ more, and serving in the Sunday school could possibly be pleasing to God. We need to find a way to attack the American dream while still allowing for differing vocations and that sort of ordinary Christian life that can plod along for fifty years. I imagine David wants this same thing. I’m just not sure this came through consistently in the book."
Rick Warren, Source

The book was a catalyst for the lurking doubt that rests in many Christians that they aren't doing enough. That they are missing their purpose. (thanks a bunch, Rick Warren). So what is the answer?

The bible. God wrote down about Himself, what He wanted us to know about Him. He also put in there by the inspired Holy Spirit what He wants us to do and not do, and to take comfort in His promises. His purpose for us is in there.

He has several purposes for us all. ALL.

God wants us to believe. That is our primary purpose in life. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15. Also 2 Peter 3:9 & Acts 22:16).

After belief, we are to be a witness, teaching and making disciples. That is the Christian's purpose in life. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Our chief purpose in Christian life is to glorify God. "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This next part is from MacArthur's outline from his essay "How to live for God's glory"
  • Confess Your Sins. (1 John 1:9)
  • Bear Fruit. (John 15:8; Colossians 1:10)
  • Give Praise to God. (Psalm 50:23)
  • Be Content. (Philippians 4:11)
  • Pray According to God’s Will. (John 14:13)
  • Proclaim God’s Word. (2 Thessalonians 3:1)

In the past, God made it clear to those whom He chose as to what their purpose was. Moses was to be His prophet. Jeremiah was to preach repentance. David was to be King. He spoke through a burning bush, a cloud, a still small voice, and even a donkey. He said what He said clearly and definitively- and directly.

Just because he isn't speaking like that any more does not mean He isn't speaking. Or, rather, has not spoken. Hebrews 1:1-2 says that God's final word is through His Son--

"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world."

His Son is the Word and His word can be found in the bible. That is where we find our purpose.

"But what if I am to be called as a missionary? Or a preacher? Or to do a certain work in a certain place as a layperson? How will I know if there is a specific purpose, then?"

Do we think that just because He doesn't come down to us and speak directly through a burning bush, that we cannot understand that if He has a specific call for our lives that He can't or won't make it clear? He is powerful! As Spurgeon praises Him in His power so eloquently,

"He changes not in his attributes. Whatever the attributes of God were of old, that they are now; and of each of them we may sing "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen." Was he powerful? Was he the mighty God when he spake the world out of the womb of nonexistence? Was he the Omnipotent when he piled the mountains and scooped out the hollow places for the rolling deep? Yes, he was powerful then, and his arm is unpalsied now, he is the same giant in his might; the sap of his nourishment is undried, and the strength of his soul stands the same for ever."

He has the power to instill in you the burning desire to be a preacher. As He did Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:16, or Jeremiah in Jeremiah 20:9.

Has He given you the gift of teaching? Do people remark on your teaching or preaching, whether you have done it impromptu or in formal settings? (Ephesians 4:11).

Even if we have submitted to His obvious working of circumstances in our lives so that we are now beginning to understand the specific purpose, He will also still sovereignly work to guide you within it! See Paul in Acts 16:6-8,
Mosaic, 'Man of Macedonia appearing to Paul'

"And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas."

In the next verse Paul received a vision of where He was in fact to go. Though we do not receive direct visions anymore like this, do we not think the Spirit isn't still working and guiding us within our lives to HIS purpose? Of course He is.

Because that is what it is all about, God's purpose, not our purpose. We believe, submit, and serve. He guides and organizes the rest. Do we believe that God is so timid that our busy lives can block Him out, and that it is even remotely possible for us to miss a specific purpose He has outlined for us?

No.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30)

Queen Esther - Andrea del Castagno, c.1450
God had a purpose and He wanted Queen Esther to be a part of its fulfillment. Esther's uncle Mordecai was talking to her about doing it. It seems that Esther already had an inkling about what she was to do. Mordecai cemented it. We usually focus on the last part of Mordecai's answer, "for such a time as this" but what about the first part?

"Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14-15)


'If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place'. So you see, God providentially works all things to the good, and we are not so powerful that we miss His call, and He is not so tenuous that it all falls apart if we refuse it.

God has a purpose. If you know what your purpose is- and you will, because God makes it clear, and you refuse the call to be a missionary or preacher or whatever, God will still fulfill what He wants to fulfill. His plans are immutable.

Our purpose is to believe, witness, make disciples, and glorify Him. We all have that purpose. In addition, He sent the Spirit to dispense Gifts as He wills, so that His purposes will be executed though us and by the fruits we bear by His Spirit's power. If we are to have a specific call, He will make it known. Moses was 40 years old when we learned he killed a man, and he waited another 40 years until God used him for his last 40. Moses was used by God from age 80-120. So even one of the great patriarchs of the bible was not called to a specific purpose until late in life. However, Moses's entire life was used of God's purpose! Moses just didn't know it. It is the same with us.

Not everyone has a call to run off to Burma or to preach to the masses. Most of us, I dare say, are simply operating in our mundane spheres, planting seeds and bearing fruit. If we have a call to perform a specific purpose, we will understand it when it comes. Until then, rest secure in His providence and His power. It's not our purpose in life that is the point, but His purposes.


19 comments:

  1. The Lord leads
    The devil drives
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nI9EzMWZoag

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    1. Jeff, thanks!! Very apt. It is a 4 min clip of an excerpt from MacArthur's sermon titled 'Apostates be Warned', and the clip's portion of the sermon directly addresses the Warren book Purpose Driven Life. It's actually exactly what I was looking for to share with someone off-site IRL.

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  2. I agree on this, Elizabeth. When I read that book, I felt like it placed the focus on man instead of God. It created tiers of Christians. If you didn't do what he suggested you weren't as spiritual as others. David Platt even admitted he couldn't do it. I think that Francis Chan goes along the same lines.
    Hey, if you feel led to do that, then do it but don't boast about it or make others think that if they don't then they are falling short in some way.
    Anyway, that was my take.......
    pam

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    1. very well stated, pam, thank you! I agree on the subtle higher and lower spiritual levels.

      Platt is a good guy and pretty solid, and there was not much I could really shake a stick at with the book in an overt sense, just the tone. My opinion is that Mr Platt is still on the side of the angels. Chan, however, is emerging more and more as a mystic emergent. I would not recommend anything from Chan. Your discernment levels in my opinion are acute on that score

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  3. Thank you for such a spiritually refreshing post!

    -carolyn

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  4. Platt is a reformed theologian and holds to replacement theology. Also an ammillenialist.

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    1. I have not seen that about him. I would be willing to take a look at the credible sources you have which support your contention, though. Please do share.

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  5. Hi Elizabeth, I'm a member of a prophecy Facebook group and I remember seeing the link. I'll look that up for you and get back on that.

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    1. thank you so much, hartdawg. I appreciate it.

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  6. I couldn't find the link because it was months old but someone from the site just posted and said this person watched Platt for years and he did in fact say he was ammillinial but was not firm in his belief because there are many aspects that don't make sense. Nothing was said about replacement theology. Also he is focused on the social gospel. (That last part was just this person s impression)

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    1. thanks for getting back, hartdawg. Platt is young and his leanings toward social gospel which are evident in Radical are tempered with enough warnings against it to have satisfied me for the time being. As for his replacement theology position, I have not heard anything at all regarding that. If Platt leans toward amillennialism, again, I give him a bit of time to grow and perhaps change his position if it is not solidified, since he is young.

      I hesitate to come to firm conclusions on people unless a great deal of time passes and they demonstrate consistently that they hold aberrant doctrines. I will not do so for Pastor Platt yet. It's too early and there is no evidence.

      Thank you for alerting us to the possibility that there may be something to cause a concern though.

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  7. And that's all it is, a simple heads up. We must be careful who we endorse. Even the best of them error.

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  8. Good blog entry Elizabeth. As to David Platt and Radical: I first read Radical about 2 years ago or so. At the time I was a false convert. While Radical made me feel guilty, it also made me realize my life didn't bear fruit at all. That sent me searching Scripture and seeking out Gospel Truth. It didn't take long for me to run across Todd Friel and Wretched Radio. I also ran across preachers like John MacArthur, Voddie Baucham, Paul Washer, Steve Lawson and of course David Platt. I quickly learned about God's wrath, sin and repentance and faith. It was at that time when I got saved. After that, my wife and I started visiting David Platt's church (Brook Hills) as we had been searching since moving to Birmingham. We visited for 6 months before committing to join. I wanted to make sure Gospel Truth was preached. I've sat under David's preaching for over a year now and can say with confidence that his theology is strong and orthodox. I haven't seen or heard anything that would lead me to believe he is an amillennialist or believes in Replacement Theology. I share the same concerns Kevin DeYoung shares about Platt and Radical. One good sign though, is he has been clarifying and correcting his tone when it comes to "being Radical". He is very careful not to elevate Christians who do over seas missions above Christians who serve locally. He still puts a big emphasis on missions, which I am glad of, but with the proper balance now I think. I wouldn't have joined the church if I found major theological problems such as Replacement Theology.

    BTW, his latest book, Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live, is much better in my opinion and Challies gave it a good review.

    -Brad; Birmingham, AL

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    1. Hi Brad,

      Thanks for the personal report! I'm glad to hear about Platt being orthodox. I'm really glad you found a good church home there!!

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    2. My thought as I read this post and the comments: why doesn't someone just ask Platt where he stands with regard eschatology?

      Ask him if he believes the church has "replaced" Israel, to which "millennial" view he holds, etc. Specific questions should yield the answer. That way, no surprises, no guessing.

      Since Mr. Wise attends Platt's church, perhaps he ought to ask outright? Those (questions about eschatology) are usually some of the first questions we ask a pastor, immediately after ascertaining if they preach the Gospel. :)

      -carolyn

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    3. I'm with you on this, Carolyn.

      pam

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  9. God always calls us to BE. He calls us to BE and then orders our steps to Do. From the perspective of following Jesus for over fifty years, I can say without a doubt, the steps of the righteous are ordered of the Lord. He has God appointed encounters for all who Become followers of Jesus. The success of all our Doing is in God's hands. He is looking for faithful, obedient servants.

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  10. Hey Elizabeth, check out the interview on The Gospel Coalition website with David Platt and Francis Chan at the DMZ in Korea.
    Most of the Gospel Coalition members are Reformed both eschatogically and soteriologically.
    And I said most not all.
    I hope Mr. Wise checks it out and lets your readers know.

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  11. I think I read on Challies that David Platt released a follow-up book that gives the ordinary life its due honor as well, to avoid the possible misinterpretation that young Christians can get from Radical that they have to do BIG things, that are out of the ordinary.

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