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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « Is the Bible a Collection of Ancient Myths? | On War and Peace (Not the Novel) »
    Friday
    Dec232011

    Can We Know God's Will for Sure?

    Reader's Question:

    “How should a Christian feel about the death penalty? What about drinking alcohol? There are an endless number of tough moral issues; these issues have Biblically-legitimate arguments on all sides. Accordingly, faithful Christians have disagreements on these issues.

    Generations ago, Christians used Biblically-legitimate arguments on both sides of the slavery debate. Scripture is God breathed, and the Holy Spirit guides us as we try to apply scripture to our lives. The historical reality of the Bible is that it was written by many people over a very long period in diverse cultural contexts.


    I am suspicious of anyone who says "the Bible is absolutely clear that...". I'm especially leery of pastors who take that approach. The Bible is rarely "absolutely clear" on anything.”

     

    My Answer:

    Those are big questions, but I do feel “the Bible is absolutely clear that” drinking alcohol is fine, getting drunk is not (To get you started, please see: Matt. 15:11 & 17-20; John 2:1-11; Ephesians 5:18) ; The death penalty is appropriate for certain crimes and especially when the criminal is unrepentant (murder, for example) (For some examples please see: Numbers 35:16, or look up “punish/ed/ment”, “evildoer/s”, and “death” in your Bible's concordance).

     

    These are tough moral issues, but I believe the point in reading, following, and believing the Bible is to:

    1. Understand God better.

    2. Have a guide on how to live and behave the way God wants. If the Bible is not clear, it is a poor guide and does not serve to help us understand God better. Therefore, if the Bible is not clear on basic moral issues, it has no point other than to be a nice collection of stories, no better and no worse than other myths.

     

    Rather, I firmly believe a comprehensive reading of the Bible (which takes a lot of time, study, research, and energy) produces a clear understanding of who God is, what He wants from people, and how He expects them to behave.


    As for Bible-based arguments/debates existing…this is not usually so much a reflection on the Bible and what it says as a reflection of how people try or choose to “interpret it”. Many times people take passages out of context to make it sound as if the Bible supports a certain issue they are in favor of. Other times, instead of doing enough research to try and understand what the Bible is actually saying and/or why, short cuts and assumptions are made. 

     

    If we cannot know God’s precise will, we have excuse to sin in ignorance. A can of worms gets opened too because now who is to say what is right or wrong, as people all “interpret” their Bible’s differently. This line of reasoning is exactly what atheists use as well as other religions, “How can one know for sure God’s will?”

     

    But we have been given the beautiful gift of His self-revelation through the Bible. We CAN know God and His will in full, black and white detail. God knows our hearts; that they are prone to sin. He does not leave us in shades of gray, but makes Himself fully known for our benefit.

     

    There is no other god in history who has done this. Most people feel instinctively that God is far above us. Other religions seek to span the gap by trying to reach God on their own. Christians believe that God, in His mercy came down because He knew we could never get up to Him on our own.

    (See also in the archives: “Life Scripted or The Devil’s in the Details”)

    Can we know God’s exact will? According to the Bible we can.

    Eph 5:8-21 (esp. 10 & 17) “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord… [17] Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” 

     

    It would be cruel to exhort people to find out God’s will if it cannot actually be done.

    Heb. 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
     

    1 John 5:20, “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”

     

    1 Corinthians 4:6, “Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other."

     

    Romans 1:16-19, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last just as it is written:

    “The righteous will live by faith.” The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

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    Reader Comments (2)

    "a comprehensive reading of the Bible (which takes a lot of time, study, research, and energy) produces a clear understanding of who God is, what He wants from people, and how He expects them to behave."

    That's the frustrating part, though. We have to work at finding out what God wants sometimes. Why couldn't He just have come out and said it, or inspired His writers to come out and say it instead of making us work so hard?

    But maybe it's the working hard part that really develops our faith. Beliefs easily come by are beliefs easily lost.

    February 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRev. Stephen R. Wilson

    “But maybe it's the working hard part that really develops our faith. Beliefs easily come by are beliefs easily lost.”

    Interesting insight here. I am reminded of the people Jesus held up as having great faith. They all worked hard and sacrificed something to get to see, touch, or speak to Him. Zacchaeus, a wealthy, well-known man (though probably not well-liked), shimmied up a tree in the midst of a crowd to get a glimpse. The Roman Centurion humbled himself publicly before a Jew (Jesus) to ask for healing for another. The bleeding woman fought through a thick crowd, desperate just to touch the hem of His robe.

    We tend to think of faith as simply believing or trusting, but I think it is more like believing plus being willing to put those beliefs to the test (think Daniel and the lion’s den, or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, etc.).

    February 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterA Christian

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