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Answer to a common human vexation from God's perspective - refreshing and biblically solid!!
on 29 December 2015
"How can a Christian know the will of God for his or her life?" This is an age-old question especially when we are at a decision cross-road in life. But when we ask this question, we have an expectation of what kind of answers we wish to get - we would like God to function almost like a fortune teller who will point out the fortune for us. Once again this kind of commonly phrased question and expectation of answer proves that our mind is not reformed.
The answer provides in this book is refreshing. There is a very basic principle in Christian life - rather than being bogged down with what we don't know (the specific choices in our life in this context), focus on what we do know. I think MacArthur is right in pointing out that once we have professed our faith, there is a long road ahead of us in discipleship. God's will is not about what we do but who we are as persons! This is what He is interested in, first and foremost. Once we get that right, the rest will fall into place.
MacArthur takes us through five spiritual principles: it is God's will that we are saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive and suffering. His exposition is Scriptural based, and patiently guides us what each of the principles means. It is an exposition of Christian life, which requires first and foremost our love for Christ, followed by our resolve, daily effort and discipline. We will not get there without investing our time and effort in our relationship with Christ. There is no short-cut. To know Christ is to know the Bible.
When we are in that place, with all five spiritual principles checked, I believe we will know God's will in our heart. And the opening question is no longer relevant.
The question is asked in a way as if God's will was external to us. But when our life is Spirit-filled, we will know from inside us what His will is - at least in the general direction of how we live. When comes to the specifics, I think MacArthur's advice is sound too - move and God will steer.
Therefore I believe MacArthur is right in pointing us to examine our Christian walk with God in answering this question. I have seen friends who are full of enthusiasm to do God's work, specifically to enter the mission field. But when I look at their life, I have my doubts - are they equipped? How are they spending their time? If we look at Hudson Taylor's life, for example, he spent years practising walking with Christ and exercising his faith before he went out to China. Why? I believe that we have to be mature before we can guide others. But I believe more importantly, it is God's way to protect us before He will send us out. We will suffer for His name and we will face temptations. Without a solid grounding, strong faith and firm understanding ourselves, how are we to survive the relentless trials? We will stumble at the first hurdle, or our endurance fails us.
I think therefore it is right before we ask the opening question, our immediate step is to focus on if we are fit for the purpose. MacArthur is right in saying, "He's using experiences in your life to shape you into His will." (p.75)
I believe we all have this frustration from our early teens and wonder what we are to do with our life. We are impatient to launch. But with God, waiting time is never an idle time - He uses that time to train us. May we all submit to His timing and His plan for us.