Every child of God ought to know what his Father desires for him. I seem to find three basic questions people ponder that leaves me with the impression that many who claim Christ struggle with the very idea of determining God’s will for their lives.
1.) How do you determine the will of God for your life? First – make sure you know and obey the revealed will of God, those things He has made clear for each of us. For example: 1 Thessalonians 4:3 – 7, 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 22, and 1 Peter 2:13 – 17. His first priority for each of His children is to conform us to His Son (Romans 8:28 – 30).
Beyond God’s revealed will, theologians categorize the will of God as providential – pleasing to Him because it aligns with His revealed will. How does one determine God’s providential will? First, study, know, and obey God’s revealed will, paying attention to principles found in Scripture on the topic at hand. Secondly, ask the Lord for wisdom – for He loves to give such to His children, and He is wiser than we. Thirdly, get godly counsel. Fourthly – decide. If we live believing God’s will for our mate, job, vacation, car, or dinner is a unique choice that He has hidden from us, we will be frustrated. Knowing His character and living in humble obedience to Him – as we study His revealed will – will equip us to make choices that please Him, as we exercise His providential will.
When we make what seem to us as stupid choices – we should review how we made the decision. If we were aligned with the Lord, we can be assured it was right and we now face decisions on how to respond. If you marry “the wrong woman”, know and obey God’s revealed will for how to live with your wife.
2.) Can anyone have assurance of salvation? Before having assurance of salvation, a man should make sure he is redeemed. Scripture tells us we can know we are in Christ (1 John 5:13). and Scripture also tells us how to know: we keep His commands – 1 John 2:3 – 6; love the brotherhood – 1 John 2:9 – 11, 1 John 3:10, and 1 John 5:1 – 3; love not worldly things – 1 John 2:15 – 17; believe in the Lord Jesus – 1 John 5:10 – 12; confess Him as Savior – 1 John 4:13 – 15; love God – 1 John 4:16; keep ourselves from wickedness – 1 John 5:18 – 21. We cannot do these things to be saved – we diagnose our spiritual condition by examining if and how we do them.
3.) Is every Christian supposed to witness? Many people look to Ephesians 4:11 and think only those called to be an evangelist are required to witness, to proclaim the gospel. What does Scripture say? As we saw from 1 John 4:13 – 15, one mark of a Christian is that he testifies (V 14) and confesses (v 15) Christ to be the Son of God. To testify means “to bear record of”, “to give witness of”; to confess, in this context, means “something said, a reasoned statement, an account or communication, preaching”. In John 10:22 – 25, Jesus told the Jews that His works bore witness of Him. Since we are the workmanship of Christ, we ought to willingly be witnesses of Him. We see Peter and John, in Acts 4, unable to keep from telling people of Jesus, even in the face of threats from the government (Acts 4:19 – 20). We need to keep in mind that it’s not our job to convince people to save themselves – which we can’t do and neither can they. Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit and since He abides in every Christian, He will do His work when we are witnesses of Jesus. Every Christian can do this work and every Christian should do this work. In the Great Commission, the Lord first tells us to “Go and teach all nations”. The only rational conclusion is that those to be taught must first be witnessed to and redeemed before they can be taught. So don’t think this commission doesn’t apply to you if you aren’t a teacher. Finally, look to the reward we gain by being faithful in this ministry – Revelation 12:11 shows martyrs recognized by God for their testimonies of Him. It’s always good for the Lord of Creation to approve your work – even if it’s as simple as telling people about Jesus.
4.) A bonus question, as follow-up. What is “the Gospel”, beyond simply being “good news”? Paul tells us (Romans 1:16) “it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” In 1 Corinthians 1:17 – 18, we see that the Gospel is about the cross: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Further in this passage, we see that it’s also foolishness and a stumbling block to men – so no man can win a soul to Christ by force of intellect or smooth speech. We find in 1 Corinthians 15 what is perhaps the best summary of the Gospel of Jesus: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once.”
The Gospel declares that Christ died as prophesied and required by the law as punishment for our sins. Man is wicked and sinful and in desperate need of a savior – Christ is the One. He was buried and raised from dead – as foretold in Scripture – though man tried everything to obscure the Truth of the resurrection. And Christ was seen by hundreds of people who were still alive when Paul wrote this, meaning they could have called him a liar to his face – if the Gospel was false. Your personal testimony is good news, but it’s not the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it won’t save anyone. Your walk of obedience is pleasing to the Lord, but your lifestyle is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it won’t save anyone. Trust God when he says “the Gospel of Jesus is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes.”