Obey God and Do What You Want
Exploring Decision Making and God’s Will
This course deals primarily with two large questions:
First, how does a believer make decisions in a manner than pleases God?
Second, what is the concept of the will of God and how does it relate to decision making?
Of course there are related sub-issues such as how does God guide us and does He have a detailed plan for every individual believer that we must discover.
Perhaps more importantly we need to focus on how to apply the didactics we will encounter. So, I trust you will enthusiastically contribute to applicational discussions and to small work-groups.
I said in the promotion for the class: “It has been said that life is a never ending series of decisions…There will be decisions and more decisions! How do I choose? Is there just one right choice? Do I even have a choice? What if I make a bad decision? What is God’s will about the matter? Can I miss it? Does God even care? How does divine guidance work? Is there a biblical model for decision making?”
I also suggested that "This class is for persons in all seasons of life. We may not satisfy everyone but we will address these questions and more.” I trust I haven’t promised more than we can deliver
- Orientation Quiz (True or False)
- At the end of the day, true spirituality is tied to knowing God’s individual will and doing it.
- Missionaries are called by God to a specific country or people group.
- There is more than one person I can marry and still be in the will of God.
- Christians can not know in advance whether God’s will is that they accept a certain job offer.
- God does not communicate with Christians today by means of visions and dreams but He does communicate by means of inner impressions.
- A key to knowing whether a course of action is God’s will for you is whether you experience peace about the decision.
- It is God’s will that you attend this class on God’s will.
- Who wins the Democrat and Republican presidential nominations are included in God’s will.
- God doesn’t care whether you wear black or red tomorrow.
- The terrorist attacks in Syria and Europe are God’s will.
- My life long endeavor should be to discover God’s perfect will for me.
- Some aspects of God’s will do not happen.
- “If God opens a door, step through it; if God shuts a door, stop banging on it.” (unknown; also there might be an elevator shaft on the other side of the door!)
- When there is no clear word from God, decisions must be weighed by wisdom.
- “The Bible does not provide a map for life - only a compass.” (GF 14 First edition)
- Flipping a coin is an okay way to make certain decisions.
- I can miss God’s ideal will for me and thus find myself outside the center of His will.
II. Orientation Discussions
A. Perhaps you have heard of “The Four Spiritual Laws”. They were created by Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. The booklet first appeared in print in 1952. The premise is, “Just as there are physical laws that govern the physical universe, so are there spiritual laws that govern your relationship with God.” Law 1 is, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”
(Note: as nearly as I can discover, this law has since been changed to, “God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.” The booklet has a 2007 copyright held by Bright Media Foundation and Cru).
Without consideration of whether or not this is an accurate statement as it pertains to the doctrine of salvation (it is not) and whether it should be employed in evangelism (no), is it generally true that “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”?
a. why so?
b. what do you make of passages like Eph 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” and Rev 21:3-4 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." ?
a. why so
b. what do you make of passages like Romans 9:22, “ What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” and Rev 20:15, “ And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”?
c. how does a person go about discovering this plan for his life?
B. All of us are required to make decisions. Some minor and perhaps even insignificant. Others are major and life changing. What are some of the issues about which you must decide? (Hopefully the class suggests items such as the following (see Kevin DeYoung, and others):
What should I do this/next summer? Should we take a vacation? Where?
What hairstyle should I wear? What style of clothing should I choose?
Should I go to college? Where should I go to college? What should my major be?
Should I get married? Whom should I marry? When should I get married?
What kind of career do I want? When I marry should I work outside the home?
Do I want kids? When? How many kids? Will I use birth control?
How should I educate my kids? How should I discipline my kids?
Do I play sports or sing in the choir? Should I let my kids play football?
What job should I take? Should I stay in my current job?
Should I take vitamins? Under what circumstances should I see my physical?
Should I recycle? Buy organic foods? Drink tap water?
Should I be a missionary? Should I be a pastor? Teach in a Christian school?
Should I spank my kids? If so, how?
In what part of the country should I live? Suburb, city, rural?
Should I buy a house? When is the right time? How much can I afford?
How should I spend my money? Where should I give my money?
Should I register with a political party? For whom should I vote?
Should I buy a car? A new fishing pole? Computer? Phone? (and what model of each?)
Should I incur debt? If so, what debt is acceptable? How much?
Where should I go to church? Should I be baptized? How should I serve my church?
When should I retire? What should I do in retirement? Or is retirement a valid option?
C. Some of us can make decisions easily and quickly. Others struggle. I seem to do both: I decided to buy a house within 45 minutes of seeing it. But I spent weeks buying a cell phone. Can you identify? What are some decisions, minor or major, over which you struggled? How about some that came easily?
III. Course Design and Goals
We plan to deal with three primary categories: The Will of God; How God Guides; Wisdom.
We plan to pull no punches as we explore what the Bible teaches about the will of God and His promise to guide us.
We plan to debunk some popular Christian notions of decision making. Our motto might be, “Sacred cows make the best hamburger, but the meat can be hard to swallow.” (GF 13 First Edition)
We plan to offer an approach to and model of decision making that is an outflow of true spiritually, based on solid Biblical truth, and guided by wisdom.
Our hope is that you understand and embrace the bottom line of decision making: Obey God and Do What You Want!
Our hope is that we can practically apply what we learn to real “case” situations of life. We have not covered any Biblical didactics yet, but, just for fun, let’s begin with a simple but common “case study”:
Robert is a 26 year old “full-time” college student. His personal data inventory reveals that he has changed majors 3 times and is still 3 semesters away from graduating if doesn’t make another change. You also learn that he lives at home with his parents and has no income. He has come to see you about “figuring out his future.” You begin by asking him to tell you about it. After he rambles for several minutes without giving you any useful data, you interrupt him…
“Robert, what have done so that you can make a decision about your future?”, you ask.
“Well, I’ve prayed a lot and I have asked many Christians to pray for me.”
“Great. Anything else?”
“I spend several hours a day the at library reading my Bible and meditating.”
“Oh really! “What passages are you reading?”
“Well,” he says, “I let the Spirit open the Bible to whatever passage he wants me to read.”
“How is this going?” you inquire. “I assume you haven’t yet found the answer you’re looking for.”
“No, but it’s amazing. I have read some really neat passages. God is really teaching me.”
You resist the urge to ask him what God has been teaching but instead you ask, “Robert, what are expecting to happen that will help you make a decision about your future?”
“Well, it’s like this. I figure if I focus on my own spirituality, God will reveal his perfect will for my life. I am desperate to discover it. I know God will show me. I just have to persevere.”
What are some of Robert’s issues that you must deal with?
What other questions do you think you should ask him?
Is Robert a candidate for evangelism?
What is Robert’s main problem?
IV. The Will of God - Basic Definitions
- The Decreed Will of God: God’s plan that determines and includes everything in the universe (all events, circumstances, and creatures). Other names for this will are: Determined, Ordained, Sovereign, Secret.
- The Desired Will of God: God’s commands and statements in the Bible that express His wishes and attitude regarding his creatures and creation. Other names for this will are: Moral, Revealed, Declared, Ideal, Preceptive
- The Individual Will of God (Traditional Understanding): God’s detailed plan for each individual person that He reveals to the believer by means of inward impressions and outward signs. Other names for this will are: Personal, Specific, Perfect, Undeclared, Detailed, Direction
Issue: Does God have an individual will for each person separate from His Decreed or Desired Will? And if so, is the traditional understanding correct? We will attempt to unpack this in our course of study.
A few logistical details:
Textbook: Kevin DeYoung. Just Do Something, (For purchase)
Recommended resources: (show)
Friesen, Garry. Decision Making and the Will of God, 2nd edition. Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2004.
Friesen, Garry. “Principles for Decision Making, Living According to God’s Will”, 2004 Version. Online.
Petty, James. Step by Step, Divine Guidance for Ordinary Christians, Philipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing. 1999.
Smith, Charles. Can You Know God’s Will for Your Life?, Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1977.
Assignment: Read textbook p 15-19.
© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2017. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source.