Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Discovering the Unclear Will of God

How may a Christian discover the will of God and his own duty under dark and doubtful providences?

This would be a great chapter for teleheretics televangelists to read. More so it would be great for college students. I remember that time in my life when it seemed that every question lead to, "What is God's will for...." Who should I marry? What should I do with my life? On and on the questions went. Each day had some new occurence that would be interpreted through these questions. Because this girl like me, does this mean that God is opening up the door for me to marry her. Because I seem especially equipped at this job does it mean that God is calling me to it?

Flavel seems to make it simple. "The way we now have to know the will of God concerning us in difficult cases is to search and study the Scriptures." Well, you ask, does that mean I have to marry someone named Ruth or Rahab or Martha? How does the Bible answer these questions? What if the Bible gives "no particular rule"? Flavel then says, "there we are to apply general rules and govern ourselves according to the analogy and proportion they bear towards each other".

So, does that mean the girl winking at me means I should marry her? And this is where Flavel is very careful. "The safesty way therefore to make use of providences in such cases is to consider them as they follow the commands or promises of the Word and not singly and separately in themselves." What does that mean? It means that you probably ought not to read into Providences unless you can find confirmation in them from Scripture. Rather than interpreting the wink of the pretty girl as a sign of Providence, just interpret it as a wink from a pretty girl. Do not translate every occurence as a communication from the Lord. Only those that line up with Scripture.

Lest Flavel leave us with unsatisfying instruction he also gives us 5 general rules:
  1. Get the true fear of God upon your hearts. Be really afraid of offending Him. God will not hide His mind from such a soul.
  2. Study the Word more, and the concerns and interests of the world less
  3. Reduce what you know into practice, and you shall know what is your duty to practice
  4. Pray for illumination and direction in the way that you should go
  5. Follow Providence so far as it agrees with the Word and no further

Return to The Mystery of Providence Chapter 12

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