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Purpose - Malcolm Webber, Ph.D.

Chapter 5
You Discern God's Purpose Through the Word of God

The first path to discern God's will is through His Word.

A great deal of God's purpose for your life has already been revealed in the Word of God. He has given you 66 books filled with wisdom and filled with the revelation of His will in one form or another.

Therefore, God's purpose will be shown to those who diligently study and meditate on the Word of God.

After Romans 12:1 (surrender to God) comes Romans 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 God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom. 12:2)

As you are transformed through the Word of God, you will be able to fulfill God's will for your life. This is because you will find in the Word the specific answers and principles you need, and also because of the spiritual life that is in the Word of God.

For the word of God is living and powerful… (Heb. 4:12, NKJV)

The Word of God is living and powerful. The Word of God is so powerful, that God created the world by His Word:

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command… (Heb. 11:3)

God created the entire universe out of nothing, by His Word. Since that time, God continues to hold the whole universe together by His Word:

The Son is…sustaining all things by his powerful word… (Heb. 11:3)

The word of God is powerful. Moreover, God's Word has spiritual life. Jesus said:

…The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63)

Paul wrote:

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. (1 Thess. 2:13)

The Word of God "is at work" in those who believe. The Word of God has the power to change your life; it actually possesses the power to do things in your life, as you get into the Word and the Word gets into you.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, (1 Pet 2:2)

We need the word of God to have spiritual life:

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matt. 4:4)

To the Ephesian elders, Paul said:

Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32)

The word of God is our food. The word of God is our spiritual meat. The Word is our life. It does not merely contain a future hope, but also the power now for wisdom, strength, joy, peace, life and victory. Through meditating in the Word, you will grow spiritually strong, and you will be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit leading and guiding you. You'll grow in wisdom and be more perceptive to the hand of God in your circumstances. Overall, you will find it easier to discern and understand God's purpose for your life. In Matthew 7:13-27, Jesus gives a series of examples, and in all of them, the Word of God makes the difference between success and failure.

The Importance of the Word of God

Our lives should revolve around the Scriptures. We should be people who place a great priority on knowing the Word and on obeying it.

God reveals His will and purpose to us through His Word.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

The Word of God is not just academic. It is your life. Your life, your growth as a Christian, your future, and whether or not you fulfill your purpose revolves around your life in the Word. The Word of God is not just for preachers to know, or for students in seminaries to study, but it's for all of us daily to meditate in and to apply to our lives.

In the Scriptures, it is said that those who attend to the Word hold fast to the Lord and to eternal life,

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Tim. 4:16)

There are many churches who are very supportive of the Holy Spirit's work in the life of the believer, but who are unbalanced, having come to the point where "doctrine" is looked down on. "Doctrine" is seen as something that the "denominations" were involved in. (As if anything that the "denominations" are involved in is to be avoided!)

For many, this has become a convenient way out of a lot of work. Their belief is that they don't need to study the Scriptures because they "hear from the Lord." Study is just for people without the Holy Spirit!

However, God says:

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Tim. 4:16)

Paul (who wrote these words), of course, had the Holy Spirit, and Timothy (to whom Paul wrote these words) did, too!

There is great deal in the New Testament concerning the importance of knowing the Word and having correct doctrine:

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (1 Cor. 15:1-2)

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. (2 Tim. 2:16-18)

…our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. (2 Pet. 3:15-17)

This is why teachers of the Word of God will receive a stricter judgment (Jam. 3:1).

The church of God is called:

…the pillar (the Greek word means prop or support) and foundation (the Greek word means stay, undergirding; from the verb which means to make stable, settle firmly) of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:15)

We are commanded by God to seek doctrinal purity,

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

and to keep the church free from error:

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. (Rom. 16:17)

Paul took correct doctrine very seriously. Moreover, Paul was not the only one. John, who wrote so beautifully concerning our fellowship with Jesus through His Spirit, also wrote some very strong words concerning true doctrine:

See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us - even eternal life. (1 John 2:24-25)

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 9)

This was the very same John who wrote John 17:3. The Christian life is to know God, but if you don't have the right doctrine, you don't have God and you don't know God. That is what John wrote! There is no contradiction between knowing God and having good doctrine.

Levels of Authority of Doctrine

To have a proper balance, we must recognize that our doctrines have various levels of authority.

Jesus said there are certain doctrinal matters that are "more important" than others:

…you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness… (Matt. 23:23)

By implication, this means there are some doctrinal matters that are "less important." We must realize that our doctrines have varying degrees of significance and of authority. They are not all equally important (although, of course, nothing in the Bible is unimportant).

Vital doctrines such as the deity of Christ, the substitutionary blood atonement, Jesus' virgin birth and bodily resurrection, justification by faith alone, the inerrancy of Scripture, the triunity of the Godhead, etc., that are clearly taught in the Scripture must never be compromised. These are the doctrines for which you should be prepared to die and which you should defend even if it means causing division in the local church.

However, issues such as the exact method of water baptism and the timing of the rapture should not be the causes of church divisions. You should be prepared to die for the deity of Christ, but not for someone's speculation regarding the meaning of Paul's head covering in 1 Corinthians 11!1 You should not divide churches over disagreements about the historical identity of the king called "Darius the Mede" in the Old Testament book of Daniel!

The following graphic shows the relationship between a particular doctrine's importance and clarity and its subsequent authority.

As the importance and clarity of the doctrine increases, its authority increases. However, if a doctrine is relatively less important or clear, then its authority decreases.

There are five levels of authority of doctrines2:

Level 1. Direct statements in Scripture. To the extent that our doctrines are built on direct statements and not on interpretations of Scripture, they have the highest level of authority. They are the direct, clear Word of God. There is no element of human interpretation involved. For example, the fact that Jesus is God is directly stated many times in the Bible:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1; cf. 20:28; Is. 9:6; Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:1; Heb. 1:8-9; etc.)

"Level 1" doctrines that are built simply on direct statements of Scripture are doctrines for which we can, and should, be willing to die. These are the doctrines we need to believe to be saved. If we disagree with these doctrines, we are not saved.

Other examples of direct statements are Jesus' genuine humanity (1 Tim. 2:5), His substitutionary blood atonement (Is. 53), His bodily resurrection (Luke 24:39), and justification by faith alone (Rom. 3:28).

Level 2. Direct implications of Scripture. These are "close interpretations" from the Scripture. They are interpretations, as opposed to direct statements, but they are very "close" interpretations, as opposed to "distant." Consequently, they are not quite as authoritative as direct statements, because there is an additional small step of interpretation involved. These doctrines, however, still carry a high level of authority and should be taken very seriously. An example of this kind of doctrine is the triune nature of God. There is no verse that explicitly says, "God is three in one," yet there is much clear scriptural evidence for this truth.

Level 3. Probable implications of Scripture. There is a much greater degree of interpretation involved in the formulation of these doctrines. The authority of these doctrines increases as the number of Scriptures used to support them increases (as long as those Scriptures are interpreted with accuracy and integrity). Level 3 doctrines often become the particular "distinctives" between one Christian group and the next. An example of such a doctrine would be the relationship of divine sovereignty to human responsibility. While many would argue this doctrine to be fairly clear from a study of the entire Bible, this is probably not a doctrine for which you should die. Another example of this level of doctrine is the method of water baptism that one uses or one's position on divorce and remarriage. We all should believe, teach and practice our differing convictions on these matters, but we should still be able to work together as believers as long as we agree on Level 1 and 2 doctrines.

Level 4. Inductive conclusions from Scripture. This is when we look at what the whole Bible says about something, seeking to understand it in the context of history and culture, trying to understand what the author originally intended by his words to those people in that place at that time, and prayerfully considering how to apply it to our lives now. There is quite a lot of interpretation entailed in these conclusions, and the more interpretation involved, the less authoritative the doctrine becomes. This doesn't automatically mean that such a doctrine is wrong, but it does mean that we shouldn't burn someone at the stake simply because he disagrees with it!

"Level 4" issues are addressed in the Scriptures in some form or another, but there is a high level of interpretation involved in these doctrines. Some examples are: one's particular view concerning the rapture, the correct mode of women's dress, the precise function of deacons, the role of women in the church, the meaning of the head-covering in 1 Corinthians 11, etc.

Many of our hallowed church traditions are actually "Level 4" doctrines. To some believers these doctrines are absolutely clear. However, in reality, they are not so clear. Problems arise when believers become dogmatic over "Level 4" doctrines, and many churches have been divided or destroyed over such issues.

Level 5. Speculations from Scripture. These doctrines are derived from a single statement or hint in the Scripture. Frequently they come from an obscure or unclear part of the Bible. They may also involve "spiritualization" of the Scriptures. These are theories; in fact, they are often guesses. In spite of the fact that doctrines of this nature frequently become very big issues in churches, nevertheless, in reality they possess little authority.

Here are some examples of these theories:

 • Some say the distance of 2000 cubits between the Ark and the people in Joshua 3:4 represents the 2000 year period between Jesus' resurrection and that of His people at His return. Of course, this is pure spiritualization and speculation. The difficulty with this interpretation is further compounded by the fact that some Hebrew texts (along with modern translations) say 1000 cubits!

 • Some teach that Gideon's Army in Judges 7 is a prophetic type of God's "end-time army" that consists of an elite group of believers. One cult in China has developed a large following with this teaching, and the leader claims to be Christ Himself!

 • Others combine Peter's assertion that "with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day" (2 Pet. 3:8) with the six days of creation to suggest that there will be a total of only 6000 years of human history, before Christ returns to institute the Millennium - the "seventh day" of rest on the earth. This idea is nowhere found in the Scripture and is contradicted by the genealogies of Genesis,3 which indicate a period of time somewhat longer than this, and also by the Early Church's belief that Christ would return in their generation (e.g., 1 Thess. 4:17).

 • The "Gap theory" that says there was a "gap" between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1, during which time God created and then destroyed a "pre-Adamic race," is another speculation that is nowhere taught in the Scriptures.

 • Certain groups handle deadly snakes and drink poison as part of their worship times in "obedience" to Mark 16:18!

 • The identity of the Antichrist.

 • The meaning of the "baptism for the dead" in 1 Corinthians 15:29.

This is where things can get dangerous. It becomes a very serious problem when speculations are presented as possessing the same degree of authority as "Level 1" direct statements of Scripture. Due to a lack of theological training, many church leaders and Christians do not have a balanced view of the degrees of doctrinal authority, but they have a "flat" theology in which everything they believe is considered to possess the same absolute authority. In such churches, aberrant speculations are believed and held to as zealously as direct statements of Scriptures, and sometimes even more so.

Strangely, in some churches, "Level 5" speculations are stated and pursued as pure and absolute revelations from God, whereas foundational "Level 1" doctrines are disregarded as unimportant ("that's just 'doctrine,' and 'doctrine' is not so important!"). Of course, the opposite is the truth: foundational doctrines are important, speculations are not.

Obviously, you should not give your life for someone's speculation. Unfortunately, however, in small, "cultic" churches, many believers have done just that.

We need to know the Word of God, and we need to know it in a balanced manner:

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work - which is by faith. (1 Tim. 1:3-4)

In essence, Paul says to avoid speculation and focus on sound doctrine that is solidly based on the Scriptures. Stop worrying about peripheral issues and get into the Word - into matters that count, matters that will build you up and help you fulfill God's purpose.

He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach - and that for the sake of dishonest gain. (Tit. 1:9-11)

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. (Jude 3)

Jude says to contend for "the faith." He is speaking of foundational doctrine. We should not contend for someone's theory, however attractive it may seem.

For us to discern and fulfill the purpose of God for our lives, we need to know the Word, and to know the Word in a balanced way. We need to know the difference between a direct authoritative statement of Scripture on the one end of the scale, and a speculation from human reasoning on the other end. We need to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15).

People waste years and sometimes their whole lives, never coming close to their purpose in God, because they get caught up in their own or someone else's religious speculations. This frequently happens in churches.

Furthermore, when a believer has a "flat" theology and he embraces all doctrines as "Level 1" for which he should die, then he will be in trouble when someone points out the error of one of his (in reality Level 5) beliefs. This will frequently happen because Level 5 doctrines do not have scriptural integrity and can be disproved easily. Since everything he believes forms the bedrock foundation of his Christian life - instead of only the top level beliefs forming his foundation - he will suffer a spiritual crisis and will not know what to believe anymore. His entire belief system will unravel. On the other hand, a believer who has a clear understanding of the different levels of authority of what he believes will be able to examine, adjust and occasionally reject, his lower level beliefs, while safely holding to the doctrines that matter the most.

Concerning the many minor issues about which Christians differ, you should:

1. Learn to distinguish between major issues and minor ones (Matt. 23:23). Build your life on the major issues.

2. Learn to distinguish between matters of command and matters of freedom (Rom. 14:14, 20).

3. On debatable issues, cultivate your own convictions (Rom. 14:5).

4. Allow your brother the freedom to determine his own convictions - even when they differ from yours (Rom. 14:1-2).

5. Let your liberty be limited, when necessary, by love (Rom. 14:13 - 15:2).

6. Follow Christ as the Model and Motivator of servanthood (Rom. 15:1-3).

7. Pursue unity among the brethren (Rom. 15:5-7). This appeal for unity is a direct statement of Scripture!

Knowing God Himself is more important than splitting hairs about fine points of peripheral issues. Nevertheless, there is no contradiction between knowing God and knowing His Word.

You Must Know the Word of God

Your attention to the Word of God will probably determine whether you find and fulfill God's purpose for your life. Consequently, if you are seeking the true purpose of God in your life, then you will take the Word off the bookshelf, dust it off and get into it, and get it into you.

Many Christians ask others what they think God wants them to do, when they should instead spend their time in God's Word. That is where the answers are! Instead of asking someone else for their opinion, or trying to get a prophetic word from someone, get into the Word. It will help you. The more you know the Word of God, the more you will understand His will for your life.

You need to diligently study the Word. Moreover, you need to do it as a habit, as a discipline; not just when the mood strikes you or the wind blows you. Some people will tell you that God hasn't "led" them to study the Bible recently. Yet, it seems that He apparently did lead them to get up every morning and go to work, to eat and to sleep! Of course God doesn't need to "lead" someone to do those things; and neither does He need to "lead" you to study His Word! You should be in the Word of God every day, whether you feel "led" or not.

Spending time in the Word of God should be one of the normal habits of your life. But remember: the only habits you develop are the habits that you develop!

To put it another way: you will start getting into the Word when you start getting into the Word. It is that simple. When you deliberately set yourself to be diligent and consistent in the Word of God, you will become spiritually strong.

Your Bible is not going to suddenly come before you and open itself before your eyes and speak to you and say, "Read me." You need to do it. The only habits you develop are the habits that you develop!

Furthermore, if you have time for breakfast, then you have time for the Word of God. If you have time for , then you have time for the Word of God. If you have time to start a business, then you have time for the Word of God. The Word of God is your life. You need the Word of God for life, for strength, and for direction in your life.

The Word will help you understand your purpose. The Word of God will help you make sense of your life. It will help you understand your past. It will help you plan for the future. It will help you to know and do God's will and purpose.

Misuses of the Word of God

Many Christians who would never have anything to do with the , nevertheless seek divine guidance in ways that are either directly or dangerously close to divination.

Some believers play "Bible roulette" to seek God's direction for their lives. They let their fingers walk through the Bible's pages, seeking some kind of guidance as they scan the words. If a verse pops out at them while they're scanning, they believe that is what God is saying to them.

Others let their Bible flop open at a particular passage or verse and accept that as the voice of God. There's a well-known fable of the man who was trying to find God's will for his life. He shut his eyes, opened up his Bible at random, and put his finger on a passage. Opening his eyes, he read the passage from Matthew 27:5, "Then he went away and hanged himself." Feeling the need for better direction than this, he closed his eyes again and opened his Bible to another passage. He looked and read Jesus' statement in Luke 10:37, "Go and do likewise." That wasn't quite what he was looking for either, so he tried one more time. He shut his eyes, opened his Bible, and read Jesus' words in John 13:27, "What you are about to do, do quickly"!

Other believers misuse the biblical account of Gideon's fleece in Judges 6:36-40. When trying to determine God's will, they "put out a fleece." Usually, however, the fleeces they put out require nothing like the supernatural intervention that Gideon's fleece required. Gideon's fleece was not merely a circumstantial sign. If your fleece does not require intervention that is absolutely supernatural - not just unlikely, or abnormal, but absolutely impossible except for a bona-fide supernatural intervention from God - then you have not followed the biblical example. In other words, if you are going to lay out a fleece, then lay out a good one! Gideon asked for two miracles from God. His odds were not 80 to 20 or even 99 to 1. What Gideon asked for was utterly impossible. He asked for two miracles, and he received them both. If you will lay out fleeces that are of truly biblical proportions, you may find that they are not answered anywhere near as often!

Moreover, although God gave Gideon the miracles he asked for, that does not mean He approved of such a method of determining His will. The use of fleeces is not repeated elsewhere in the Scriptures.

How the Word of God Helps Us Know God's Will

The answers for many of the questions of your life and purpose will be in God's Word in either one of two ways: specifically or in principle.

1. Specifically.

The issue you are interested in may be directly addressed in the Bible and God's will clearly revealed. For example, immorality is specifically dealt with many times in the Bible:

It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; (1 Thess. 4:3-5)

There is no doubt about whether or not fornication is permissible for a Christian!

Likewise, there are many specific questions that are easily answered by the Word. For example, does God want a Christian to marry an unbeliever? Many women have married an unbelieving man, thinking and hoping that God would change his heart, or that they would change his heart, after marriage. It rarely happens. The Word would have answered this question for them and spared them much grief (1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14-15). You don't need someone to prophesy over you about issues like this since God has already told you what to do.

Does God want a Christian doctor to perform abortions? Does God want a Christian businessman to take on a new account if he would have to bend the rules of ethical conduct just a little to keep that account? The answers to these and many other questions are plainly revealed in the Bible. Consider the following Scriptures, all of which clearly address specific situations in our lives:

…But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Pet. 2:20-21)

Wives…be submissive to your husbands… (1 Pet. 3:1)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph. 5:25)

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing… (1 Pet. 3:9)

All these passages, and hundreds of others like them, give us clear biblical direction for specific situations in our lives. As the following table4 demonstrates, God has laid out very clear revelations of His will concerning even our inner attitudes.

God's Will for Our Attitudes
Is...Is Not... Key Passages
LoveLustMark 12:28-31; Rom. 14:13-19; 1 Cor. 13:1-3; Rom. 13:14
RelianceIndependenceProv. 3:5-6; Gal. 5:16
HumilityPrideJam. 4:6; Phil. 2:5-8
GratitudePresumptionCol. 3:17
Clear ConscienceGuiltRom. 14:22-23
IntegrityIrresponsibilityCol. 3:17, 22
DiligenceLazinessCol. 3:23
EagernessCompulsion1 Pet. 5:2
GenerositySelfishness1 Tim. 6:17-19
SubmissionSelf-advancement1 Pet. 5:5-6
CourageCowardiceJohn 16:33; Matt. 10:26-28
ContentmentGreedHeb. 13:5; Phil. 4:11

The Bible gives us extensive guidance on everything from A to Z, a fact graphically illustrated by Psalm 119 which contains 22 sections beginning with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These sections show us the place of the Word of God in the Christian's life.

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. (Ps. 119:97-104)

God gave us His Word to reveal His will for us. The Bible is so comprehensive that many times people who are trying to excuse their sin will claim that the issue is not mentioned specifically in the Bible. For example, someone may ask, "Where does the Bible say you can't take recreational drugs?" However, neither does the Bible say you shouldn't jump out of an airplane without a parachute. Look it up in your concordance and you will see that such a commandment is nowhere found - in any of the translations!

Thus, while there are many specific questions we can find answered, there are also clear principles in the Word that will help you discern God's will and purpose for your life concerning issues that aren't specifically addressed.

2. In principle.

Dr. Erich Klinger at the University of Minnesota conducted a study and found that each of us face between 300 and 17,000 decisions every day! Certainly, the exact answers to each of these questions are not all found in the Bible.

Since the Scriptures do not directly address many issues that we face, in prayer we should take the principles that are taught in the whole counsel of God and apply them to our specific situation. In this regard, there are certain passages that apply very well to a whole range of questions.

For example, Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 would keep a Christian from taking recreational drugs (including nicotine), even though their use is not specifically prohibited in the Bible:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

Moreover, we should dress in a manner that glorifies God in our bodies. That also is applying this Scripture in a practical manner in our lives.

Thus, there are many Scriptures that we can apply to our lives, even though they don't directly address our specific questions. There are also broad principles taught in the Bible which can be applied to a large range of situations. For example:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17)

Take these principles, bathe them in prayer, and you will many times have a clear understanding of what God's will is concerning many issues that are not otherwise dealt with in the Scriptures.

This is one reason why you must study the Word of God. If you were given a book that had your name written on the front, and the title of that book was, "God's will for Bill," and the will of God for you was clearly set out inside, would you read that book? You would devour it!

Of course, the Scriptures do not read like a grocery list for your life. They aren't quite that clear. There are at least three reasons why they aren't:

1. The Scriptures are written for many other people, places, times and cultures as well as you.

2. With increased revelation comes increased responsibility. This means that if His will were crystal clear on every issue and you did not do it, your judgment would be stricter.

3. God does not want merely to tell you what to do; He also wants to deal with your heart and life along the way. Consequently, it is a journey, a journey of discovery.

Although the Bible is not written as a grocery list or a road map, if you will study it and learn it, as the Holy Spirit helps you and illuminates His Word to you, then you will have a much clearer knowledge of His purpose for your life.


1 In some of our Hispanic churches, the women sincerely believe they should wear the head covering during public meetings. We respect that genuine conviction on their part.

2 To say there are exactly "five" levels of authority is arbitrary and has no biblical basis. The general idea of differing levels of authority of doctrines is, however, biblical. The designation of five levels used here helps us to grasp this valuable principle. For the sake of simplicity, it may sometimes be better to reduce the five levels to three: Dogma (my Levels 1 & 2), Doctrine (my Level 3), and Tradition or Speculation (my Levels 4 & 5).

3 The difficulty of determining the exact time periods indicated by the genealogies in Genesis is compounded by the omission of links in them.

4 Adapted from Garry Friesen & J. Robin Maxson, Decision Making and the Will of God (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1980), 156.

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