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After quoting Romans 12:1-2 (“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”), Calvin writes,

This is a marvelous thing – we are consecrated and dedicated to God to the end that we might not think, speak, meditate, or act unless it be to His glory. The sacred can’t be put to profane use without injustice to God.

If we are not our own but the Lord’s, it’s clear what errors we must flee, and what we must direct our whole lives toward. We are not our own; therefore, neither our reason nor our will should dominate our plans and actions. We are not our own; therefore, let us not make the gratification of our flesh our end. We are not our own; therefore, as much as possible, let us forget ourselves and our own interests.

Rather, we are God’s. Therefore, let us live and die for Him. We are God’s. Therefore, let His wisdom and will govern all our actions. We are God’s. Therefore, let us – in every way in all our lives – run to Him as our only proper end. How far has he progressed who’s been taught that he is not his own – who’s taken rule and dominion  away from his own reason and entrusted them to God. For the plague of submitting to our own rule leads us straight to ruin, but the surest way to safety is neither to know nor want anything on our own, but simply to follow the leading of the Lord.

Let then our first step be to abandon ourselves, that we may apply all our strength to obedience to God. When I say “obedience,” I don’t mean giving lip service to God; but rather, being free from the desire of the flesh, turning our minds over completely to the bidding of the Spirit of God.

(A Little Book on the Christian Life, by John Calvin, translated by Aaron Denlinger and Burk Parsons, pp. 22-23; Reformation Trust, 2017.)

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R.C. Sproul’s latest book written for children – The Knight’s Map – explains the importance of the Bible to Christians today. It’s not just a book of fables and contradictions as some claim; it’s God’s gift to us. The Bible gives us a map for life – what to believe and how to behave. It’s instructions can only be understood, though, by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The Knight’s Map will remind some readers of another allegory – Pilgrim’s Progress.

This may be the best of Sprout’s children’s books. It’s a good story without an abundance of moving parts which is well told. The study guide is excellent, as well. Tolle lege!

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Kevin DeYoung, in his book Just Do Something, says that the way to discern the will of God, which he calls “the way of wisdom,” is to search the Scriptures, get the advice and counsel of godly people, and pray.

A good question, however, is what he means by prayer. Should we simply ask God to “whisper the answer in our ear?” What should we pray for and about? When a point like this is made (“pray about it”), the obvious question on our part should be, “What do you mean by that?”

DeYoung has given us answers to these questions. I’ll let him speak for himself.

But what do we pray if we aren’t asking God to tell us exactly what to do? Well, we pray for illumination. We ask God to open our minds so we can understand the Scriptures and apply them to our lives…Second, we pray for wisdom…Third, pray for things you already know are God’s will. Pray for an attitude of trust and faith and obedience. Pray for humility and teachability. (p. 96)

In the next chapter, DeYoung applies the way of wisdom to two specific situations: vocation and marriage.

In relation to vocation:

Let me give you an example that may give you some ideas of what to pray for when considering a job change. I mentioned earlier the decision I faced as to whether to come to University Reformed Church or to stay at the church in Iowa where I was quite content. I prayed a lot about the decision. But I didn’t ask God to tell me what to do. So what did I pray for? I prayed that God would make me honest in my interviews. I prayed that I would see a true picture of this church and that they would see a true picture of me. I prayed that mostly my heart would be right, that I wouldn’t be motivated by pride – either to stay because it was a big church or to move because I could be the senior pastor. I prayed that I wouldn’t make a decision based on fear: “What if I fail as a senior pastor?” “What if everyone in Iowa gets mad at me for going?” Or pleasing people: “I don’t want to let down the search committee that’s been working hard for this at this for so long.”…I prayed that I would make a decision based on faith, hope, and love – and not the praise of man and greed and selfish ambition. In other words, I prayed that I would be following God’s will of desire rather than praying to figure out His will of direction. (pp. 101-102)

In relation to marriage;

Ask God for pure motives. You don’t want to get married for lust or money or for fear of being single. You certainly don’t want to get married to spite an ex-girlfriend of show an ex-boyfriend that you are desirable after all. Ask God that He would help you to be honest about who you are and that you might know the other person for who she really is. Ask God for help not to make a decision based on your hormones, and that you won’t refuse to make a decision out of cowardice.

Finally, pray less that God would show you who is the right husband or wife and pray more to be the right kind of husband or wife. (Emphasis in the original) (p. 106)

Prayer is an essential element of discerning the will of God to be sure, but we’re not asking God to give us the answer. We are asking that He would make us more like Christ and build our character in the process of making a wise decision that will glorify Him.

Good question. Good answers.

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Just Do Something, by Kevin DeYoung has become my “go-to” book when the issue is God’s will.

The subtitle just about says it all: “A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will – or – How to make a decision without dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, open doors, random Bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc.” That’s one of the longest subtitles I’ve seen in a while, but it summarizes DeYoung’s purpose – making sense of the will of God.

DeYoung, pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, presents a better way – the way of wisdom – than the conventional approach which seems to be the majority (and default) opinion in today’s church. If we would have wisdom and live the way God wants us to live, we must do three things: study God’s Word (drink deeply of it); get the advice and counsel of godly people; and pray continually.

DeYoung applies these principles to work (the question of “what job should I take?”) and marriage (the question of “whom should I marry?”) in an excellent chapter which was most likely directed to some of those he regularly ministers to in a university town. Pastors can attest that these two questions make up the majority of discussion regarding God’s will, especially with younger people.

I heartily recommend this book. It’s well-written, clear, and most importantly, consistent with Scripture. It also meets my criteria of a good book these days – it’s under 200 pages (128 including notes).

Tolle Lege!

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Here are two recommended articles for your perusal.

The first is an interview with Keith and Kristyn Getty called “Singable Doctrine.” They wrote “In Christ Alone” with Stuart Townsend, which is one of my favorites. You can read it here.

The second is a post by Mark Dever on Together For the Gospel’s site called “The Bondage of ‘Guidance.'” You can read it here.

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