0238 The Will of God in Contemporary Life
Encounter Radio Outline #0238
Air date: 9/22/02
The Will of God in Contemporary Life
by Dr. Stephen F. Olford
III. The Divine Object in Dedication (v. 2)
While each aspect of dedication is equally important (see #0236 and #0237), there is something very special about what Paul now has to say. There is a twofold objective in this life of dedication:
A. The Transformation of Character (v. 2)
While believers maintain an attitude of surrender to God, a daily change takes place that is defined here both negatively and positively.
Negatively, this transformation of character involves non-conformity to the world. Worldliness is the love of sensuousness, covetousness and glamorousness, and what we love, soon determines how we live! Before we know it we find that we have substituted the spirit of this age for the Holy Spirit of God. Positively, this transformation of character involves true conformity to the Lord. God’s redemptive purposes for each one of us is to make us like His Son. But this change only takes place while we are dedicated to God. The very phrase “be transformed” (v. 2) implies and involves our willingness to be fashioned into the likeness of Christ. It is the Greek term from which we derive our word metamorphosis. It means “a change of form” or “a change of character.”
B. The Regulation of Conduct (v. 2)
There is no greater joy in heaven or on earth than the realization of the will of God in terms of everyday living. But, once again, the Christian cannot even know the will of God until he is wholly yielded. To know the will of God, we must have:
1. The Instruction of the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
The will of God is the expression of the Word of God. Therefore, the yielded Christian can never be guided to do that which is contrary to the clear instruction of the Scriptures. The Bible expresses God’s will for us in terms of guiding principles, which are inculcated through the teaching, the reproof, the correction and the instruction of the Holy Scriptures.
2. The Direction of the Spirit of God (John 16:13)
The Spirit of God and the Word of God are never in conflict. In fact, the Scriptures are the legible form of the breath of the Spirit. The Bible can never be understood without the guidance of God’s Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can exercise our spiritual senses when we are up against false teaching (Heb. 5:12-14), bring to our remembrance the appropriate Scriptures at the right moment (John 14:26), and strengthen us to take our stand for Christ in the hour of crisis and conflict (Mark 13:11). We can be given that momentary guidance and direction as we count upon the ministry and witness of the indwelling Spirit. This is the evidence of Christian maturity.
3. The Tradition of the Church of God (1 Cor. 11:2)
The word “tradition” in the Greek means “something handed down” or “delivered from one generation to another.” It is clear from Scriptures that instructions concerning the gathering and practices of believers have come down to us by way of tradition (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6). The concept of tradition carries with it the thought of the experienced counsel of mature men and women of God within the community of saints. This is why the New Testament lays such emphasis on the ministry of exhorting one another and provoking one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:24-25).
4. The Protection of the Peace of God (Phil. 4:6-7)
The Enemy’s object is to deflect us from obeying the will of God, but to overcome this God has given us the protection of peace. The word translated “keep” is a military term that means “to guard” or “to garrison.” When the will of God is made known by prayer and supplication, the peace of God pervades and protects their hearts and minds against the attacks of Satan and his demons. With such peace believers can step out with confidence and courage to obey what has been revealed as heaven’s plan of action.
Given these means of discerning the will of God, we still have to face the more basic issue of total surrender. It is only when our dedication is complete that God will enable us, through the instruction of the Word, the direction of the Spirit, and the tradition of the church, to discern His will. In other words, a guided life is dependent on a governed life, and a consecrated life is likewise dependent upon a dedicated life.
There is a further blessing which flows from a yielded life. Not only is there the discernment of the will of God, but also the enjoyment of the will of God (v. 2). The three adjectives which qualify the will of God are spelled out here in order to encourage us to enjoy the divine will. The will of God is “good” because it is profitable, “acceptable” because it is pleasurable, and “perfect” because it is purposeful..
Conclusion: God forbid that we should neglect the full salvation and blessing of a dedicated life! If we know anything about the obligation to surrender, the divine order of surrender, and the divine object of surrender, we shall see to it that in character and conduct our lives are brought into alignment with the “good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (v. 2). When this happens our desires will be substituted for His design.
Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
P.O. Box 757800 Memphis, TN 38175-7800
Phone: (901) 757-7977 or (800) 843-2241 Fax: (901) 757-1372
Comments? Send mail to: OMI@olford.org