Knowing the Will of God

 

 

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Knowing the Will of God

Text: Rom. 12:1-2

Dr Alex Tang

Summary

Instead of seeking what is Godís will for my life, we should be seeking where is my life in Godís will

 

Introduction

The author of the Epistles to Romans is the apostle Paul. It was probably written in the spring of AD 57 in Corinth or Cenchrea (about six miles away). At that time Paul was ready to return to Jerusalem with offerings from the mission churches after the completion of his third missionary journey. It was written after 1 & 2 Corinthians. Although it was intended for the church in Rome who are predominantly Gentile, the letter may have arisen from a series of lectures Paul may have given to the Corinthian churches.

The main theme of Romans is the basic gospel, Godís plan of salvation and righteousness for all mankind. The first 11 chapters provided the theological basis and the rest of the epistle was on the practical aspects. Paul often gives practical applications of his theological concepts, a lesson we should all learn.

Thus chapter 12 deals with the practical aspects of the gospel. It starts with what is true worship.

RO 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.

Thus true worship is not burnt offerings as in the cultic worship of  the Old Testament but an offering of our bodies as living sacrifices. That is the true worship of the New Testament.

The second verse in chapter 12 deal with knowing Godís will. Knowing Godís will as in the New Testament. Christian in knowing Godís will.

Rom 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Godís will isóhis good, pleasing and perfect will.

Often when anyone talked about knowing Godís will, we often talked about knowing Godís will for my life. What is Godís will for my life? What is Godís will for my choice of career? What is Godís will for my choice of a life partner? What is Godís will for my choice of a lifestyle? What is Godís will for my choice of which church to attend? Notice the pattern. Who the centre in these questions? My career, my life partner, my lifestyle, my church. Even though the name of God is invoked in this questions concerning His will, but the questions are still self-centered. Mine, mine, mine. It is like asking the Lord, where do your will fit in my life? Or how can I fit God into my life?

In studying Romans 12:2, I think the emphasis is different. Instead of seeking Godís will for my life, Romans 12:2 actually asked the question: where is my life in Godís will. A paradigm shift for many of us, Christians. Where is my life in Godís will?  There are 3 considerations in Romans 12:2:

1.      What is the Will of God?

2.      The Basis to discern the Will of God.

3.      The Will of God is perfect for us.

 

1.      What is the Will of God?

The Greek word Paul used for Godís will is thelema qevlhma. Thelema carries the connotations of  what one wishes or has determined shall be done

1a)   of the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ

1b)  of what God wishes to be done by us.

What is Godís will for mankind and for creation. Godís will is for redemption of mankind and creation. Godís will is for a new creation, the establishment of the kingdom of God, so that fellowship between man and God be restored as in the garden of Eden. The prophet Isaiah gave us a good picture of what Godís will is.

Isaiah 11: 6-9 and Isaiah 40:4,5

ISA 11:6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.ISA 11:7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together,and the lion will eat straw like the ox.ISA 11:8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest.ISA 11:9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

ISA 40:4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. ISA 40:5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Thatís Godís will Ė the redemption of  mankind and creation. Imagine a desert. Hot, dry, barren desert. Lifeless. Sand dunes and rugged rocks. Miles and miles of desolation. Imagine a river flowing into this great desert. As the river flows, the sand became wet. The land became cooler. Plants start to grow near at edge of the river. Slowly the vegetation began to spread away from the rivers as the river started its tributaries which irrigate vast tracks of land. With vegetation comes other forms of life- insects, lizards, birds and man. This river is like Godís will. Godís plan for mankind. This river is the river of life. It is Godís passion for the redemption of mankind. As it comes into this, our fallen world, it brings life where there is death, joy where there is sorrow, compassion where there is injustice and hope where there is no hope.

Eph 1:9,10

9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

Godís will involves the redemption of mankind through His son, Jesus Christ.

 

2.      The Basis to discern the Will of God. Rom 12:2a

2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

The basis or ability to discern Godís will involves two action on our part, namely

(a)    do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world

(b)   be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

These are the two prerequisites for us to discern the will of God. Unless we are no longer conformed to the pattern of this world and are transformed in the renewing of our mind, we cannot see or understand the will of God. We will be like watching an opera in a language we do not know. There are a lot of action on the stage but we do not know what is going on. [Beijing Opera]

 

(a)   do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world

Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:14-16

14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

This means we are to turn away from the way we were to a new lifestyle of holiness. We have been conditioned by our childhood, our culture, our schooling and our society. And this conditioning calls for us to chase after power, money, fame and sex. We may not be conscious of our conditioning, But it affects everything we do and the way we do it.

For example, when I walk into a supermarket to buy toothpaste, I also buy ĎColgateí. Why Colgate? Itís not because I have done some research and discovered that Colgate is far superior than other toothpaste like Darkie. It is not because Colgate reduces my need to see a dentist compared to other people. It is because I have always used Colgate. My parents used Colgate and I see advertisement of Colgate on television and on the billboards.

Marketing experts called it brand name recognition. I called it conditioning. So is our life before Christ. After we become a Christian, we need to break our conditioning and acquire new conditioning. We need to break our conformity to the world. The world ruled by the Iron Rule and the Silver Rule.

Iron Rule: Do unto others before they do unto you.

Silver Rule: Love only those who love you: eye for an eye/ tooth for a tooth.

Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would them do unto you.

Titanium Rule: Love one another as I have loved you  (Jn 13:34,35)

Worldly behaviour to Kingdom behaviour. Self-centered behaviour to Christ-centered behaviour.

 

(b)   be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

We can break our conditioning by renewing our mind. The Greek word for mind, nous nou`" is more than just the faculties of thinking, perceiving and understanding. It also include the perceiving and understanding of spiritual truths and of the supernatural world.

The Greek word that Paul used for transforming the mind, metamorphoo  metamorfovw ,is the same word used in the transfiguration of Jesus. It means a change to another form. So Paul meant that we can break our conditioning of the world by transforming our mind. How do we transform our mind?  By reading and meditating on the Word of God, by prayer, by fellowship with other Christians, by examining our actions and thoughts and by cultivating a personal relationship with God.

Worldly mindedness to kingdom mindedness. Self-centered mindedness to Christ-centered mindedness.

 

3.      The Will of God is perfect for us. (Rom 12:2b)

Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We know Godís will is good for us. God is omniscient (infinite in knowledge) and omnipotent (all powerful and able to do whatever he wills).  Job acknowledged

JOB 42:2 "I know that you can do all things;  no plan of yours can be thwarted.

Therefore, Godís will is the best for us. Nothing we plan for ourselves can ever match what God has planned for us.

So Paulís challenge to us is this. You want to know Godís will? That good, perfect and pleasing will. You want to test his will? Then do it by not conforming to the world and be transformed by the renewing of your mind. This transformation is moving us from being self-centered to Christ-centered. When you are Christ-centered, you will be in the will of God. You will be able to understand the will of God and how it affects your life, your career, your choice of life-partner, your lifestyle and your future.

Going back to our illustration of Godís will or plan as a river. We are like little drops of water. Can you imagine a drop of water arguing, shall I stay here in this little puddle, shall I remain on the bank of the river, shall I join with another little droplet, how can I as a droplet discover the riverís will for myself, when nearby the river roars past on its course.

John, ended his book of Revelation with these words:

REV 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

 

    REV 22:6 The angel said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place."

 

                                                                                                                                                   Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

 

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