Got some great questions concerning the Holy Spirit that I thought I would answer in a separate post, because I think they are questions many people have. This is also one of the things we are talking about at church during our current series.
The question of how to discern God’s will seems to preoccupy much of the modern church. Why?
This question does preoccupy the modern church, sometimes in an unhealthy way. This question, while it is good, can actually paralyze people from doing anything. We pray, talk to people, and wait until we “know” God’s will for our life, and then we do something. Oftentimes, we are too late. One of the things I said this past sunday, is that we need to find where God is working and just join him. Just do something, don’t wait until you “know”, just get started.
Is it possible that God has both His plan and a backup plan “B” for believers – just in case the believers fail to follow God’s plan? Yeah, I suppose it’s possible. But being able to get advance info on God’s plan, before it’s actualised in the believer’s life? Seeing the future, as it were, before it happens, then acting in such a way as to facilitate or even cause that future? That looks a lot like divination to me…psychic phenomena, dressed up in Christian terminology.
A lot of press is given to so-called prophets. The one thing to keep in mind when it comes to prophecy is that to be a legitimate prophet, everything you say must be true. You can’t be 99% right, it has to be 100%. So all the nutjobs who come out every year with the date of the end of the world are just that, nutjobs. They are wrong.
I do think that God has 2 wills. His perfect will, the will he wants us to receive and be a part of, the perfect will for the world. And his allowable will. Because we are sinful, fallible people, we screw up, miss him speaking, whatever the case may be, he does have a plan B, but in the end, it still accomplishes his will. This idea is all over the scripture. Whether or not we want to be a part of it, his will will be accomplished, we will either be a part of it, or he will get someone else.
What is the difference between, say, trying to see the future using a deck of cards, and determining the future through some vague feeling, impression, or other esoteric “communication” that is said to “come from God?”
I think the difference is where the answer is coming from. The traditional Christian answer is that getting your answer from a deck of cards is not getting it from God, because that is associated with pagan religions. Often, the communication from God is not some esoteric communication or feeling, it comes from our community, the Bible and a variety of other places. Often, when God speaks, you know it beyond a shadow of doubt.
The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to determining God’s will and him speaking to us is a test to know if it is from God. If it goes against God’s word, it isn’t from God. I have had people tell me, “God told me to divorce my wife.” No he didn’t, that goes against his word. Another thing that I say til I am blue in the face, this is not that tough, it is not as mysterious and mystical as we make it out to be. God’s will for Christians is wrapped up in 2 things: making more Christians (Great commission) and loving God & loving people (Great commandment). Do those things and we will find God working in our world, and we will find God’s will for our life.