Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could know for certain that a particular decision was God’s will? How about parenting our children to discover God’s will for their lives? Today AMBrewster builds on the principles of Friesen and Maxson to equip Christian parents to prepare their children for the future.
“Decision Making and the Will of God: a Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View”
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Click "Read More" for today’s Episode Notes and Transcript.
Click here to download a copy of Garry Friesen and J. Robin Maxson's free PDF handout called “Principles for Decision Making.”
Before we jump into today’s topic, I was listening to our last discussion and wanted to add something about interpreting The Insight Tool.
When it comes to interpreting your child’s second and third lists, don’t be surprised if you see a lot of overlap. Your child may have written that they love soccer on their second list and then included that they played on a soccer team four years in a row on their third list.
They may have recorded on their second list that they love playing their instruments, and on the third list mentioned that the placed in their state competition.
Hopefully, they wrote something about loving God and ministering to others on list two, and they may also have included a specific service opportunity or ministry on list three.
When you have similar items appearing on multiple lists, take special note of those items. The more lists on which they appear, the more important it becomes.
Also, due to the fact that I was running out of time, I didn’t share with you the cool things that developed from my lists.
I could take the rest of the show to talk about it, but for now I’m only going to share one thing. Growing up, my parents frequently invited people who were not our relatives to live with us. I have memories of college-aged and young career-aged individuals living with us at every stage of my life.
In addition to that, my parents had an open-door policy that meant that the young adults with whom my parents worked were almost always in our home.
One man lived with us a number of years before I turned nine. We had different people living with us on and off from junior high through high-school. Most were young men, but there was at least one girl that I can remember.
Most of the people who lived with us did so because they had hit a hard spot in their lives. There were nearly always relationship issues or financial issues or spiritual issues or all of the above. As I grew older, I remember being more aware of the tension these people sometimes brought into the home. On the extreme end of things, one man in particular made any number of suicide threats and attempts.
And then when you add that my parents constantly involved me in their ministry to children and young adults, you won’t be surprised to hear that after I filled out my lists, I decided to major in Youth Ministries at Bob Jones University.
Now, eventually I changed my major to Camp Ministries (which is another discussion entirely about how God can use our poor choices to glorify Himself), and I also got my Masters in Biblical Counseling because I knew that whether it’s my daily life or ministry, there was nothing more important than knowing how to point people to God and His Truth.
Now, fast forward.
I’m married, my wife and I live in the Chicagoland area with our very young children, and I’m teaching at a Christian school. I find out that our school is going to start hosting international students. I jumped at the idea and was blessed to have one boy from Korea and two girls from China live with us at different times.
It was a wonderful experience, but it was also challenging as only one of the young people was born again.
Those were unique List 3 life experiences. Is it any wonder that I now work at Victory Academy for Boys? Every year we invite up to eight at-risk teen boys to live with us and our kids all for the purpose of introducing them to God.
And it was from all of those experiences that this podcast came to be.
No doubt, way back when in Minnesota when Phil came to live with us, my parents had no idea that it would be a significant part of the process God would use to equip me for my future ministry.
But the reality stands that God uses everything we encounter — comfortable or uncomfortable — to refine us . . . as long as we submit to His will.
Alright, I know that was a little off topic, but if it intrigued you, and you haven’t listened to this whole series which started in episode 158, I strongly encourage you to do so.
Okay, so far we’ve talked about helping your children be the right people so they can do the right things. Those principles dealt with understanding and living out the clear will of God as revealed in Scripture.
We’ve also discussed using The Insight Tool to attempt to understand who God is uniquely creating your children to be. That tool gives us a peek into the sovereign will of God as it applies to your children’s future occupation.
And today we’re going to discuss four principles that apply to all life-decisions. Whether it’s your child’s future education, ministry, career, spouse, or whether or not they should purchase that black-leather sectional, these principles will help them know with confidence that the Lord will be glorified by their decision.
And — of course — it applies to God’s will for your life as well.
The info I’m going to share with you today is not of my own creation. The ideas were created by Garry Friesen and J. Robin Maxson for their book “Decision Making and the Will of God.” I have not actually read that book, but I did find a free PDF handout they created called “Principles for Decision Making.”
The handout I found is fantastic and simple. I can only imagine how good the book will be. So, I’ll include the link to the book in the description, just know that I haven’t read it yet.
Okay, here we go. We’re going to look at the four principles and apply them to you and your family, and then we’re going to look at a case-study from the life of Paul.
1. The Principle of Obedience: Where God commands, we must obey.
This is identical to our first two episodes in this series. One hundred percent of what God wants us to know about life has already been told to us. The Bible is our final and complete authority for faith and practice.
We need to teach our children that the complete moral will of God is fully revealed in the Bible.
II Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
I have a wholes series already prepared for Season 7 called, “A Parent’s 5 Jobs” that will be an in-depth study of II Timothy 3:16. If you’re listening to this episode after August, 2018, you should check it out. I plan for that series to start around episode 185.
Moving on . . .
II Peter 1:3 reminds us that, “[God’s] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”
Isn’t that an amazing promise!
Consider the peace our children can have when they acknowledge and submit to this one Truth.
We also need to teach our kids that the moral will of God is the expression of the character of God. God has saved us and called us to a Christ-like life. Because God's moral will reflects His character, it helps to produce that same character in the life of the one who obeys it.
Romans 7:12 says, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” Just as God is holy, His law is holy and will lead us to holiness as we obey it.
Psalm 19:7-11 tells us, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
Is this how you feel about God’s Word? When we and our children submit to God’s will we'll be revived, we’ll become wise, we’ll know true joy, we’ll see the decisions of life the way God does, we’ll live righteously and have an eternal relationship with the Lord, we’ll be warned of the destruction that comes from ignoring God’s Truth, and we’ll receive great reward.
As I’ve already said, there’s absolutely nothing more important you can do for your children than ground them deeply in the truths of God. This is Ambassador Parenting.
Okay, so, we need to teach our kids that the complete moral will of God is fully revealed in the Bible and that the moral will of God is the expression of the character of God.
But we also need to teach our kids that the moral will of God touches every aspect and moment of life.
This is true because God's will encompasses more than our superficial behavior. God’s not concerned simply with what we do; He cares equally about why we do what we do, as well as how we do it.
This is the core of our series on how to teach your children to obey on episode 138.
To put it another way, God's moral will prescribes the believer's goals and attitudes, as well as his actions. Furthermore, it shapes his perspective of reality which serves as the context in which his decisions are made.
Friesen and Maxson go on to say, “This point is so important that it merits further consideration. By their nature, goals are more general than behavioral commands. The Christian's goals should reflect God's stated purposes for his life.”
And then they list a few of the major ones:
When you teach your kids that the moral will of God contains His complete revelation for faith and life, expresses His own character, and touches every aspect and moment of their lives, you’re setting your kids up to have God’s word fully equip them for every good work.
Remember II Timothy. ”All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
That’s the first principle.
And don’t forget to check out our Episode Notes at Taking Back the Family. I won’t have the regular notes you’ve come to expect, instead, I’m going to attach a link to the free 11 page PDF handout called “Principles for Decision Making: Living According to God’s Will.” It will include today’s information and much, much more.
2. The Principle of Freedom: Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose.
The reality is that God’s Word doesn’t give us certain specifics for life. And there are some decisions which have multiple options, any number of which may be acceptable to God.
So, if we’re grounded in the first principle, then we understand that our final decision must not be in violation of God's moral will. That will immediately remove many possible choices from consideration.
But we also have to acknowledge that God will not dictate to the believer what he must do — the individual is free to make the decision. And this is not bad. Consider the following:
I Corinthians 10:27 teaches us that, “If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.”
II Corinthians 9:7 encourages us that, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
And I Corinthians 7:39 tells the wife that she “is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.”
Each of these passages leaves necessary room for freedom of choice. And — again — this isn’t bad. It’s the control-freak side of us that wants to KNOW that the decision we’re making is the right one. But sometimes there are multiple right decisions. No one is any better than another.
Consider Adam and Eve in the garden. God said, “Don’t eat from this tree. Instead, eat from any other tree you want.”
His moral will was clear. Don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But the fact that God didn’t specifically mandate what they were to eat and when they were to eat it didn’t mean that Adam and Eve had to fret over the decision.
I don’t think this happened, but in my imagination I can see Adam going to God and saying, “May I eat the pineapple?”
And God says, “Of course. Eat whatever you want as long as it’s not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
But then Eve asks, “What about the pears? Should we eat those now, or wait until later?”
Obviously, that illustration is ridiculous, but I believe we fret over similar things. And I think we fret over them because we feel ill-equipped to discern which of the options is better in the situation. So, that leads to Principle 3.
3. The Principle of Wisdom: Where there is no command, God gives us wisdom to choose.
I’ve heard wisdom defined as “skill in living.”
Friesen and Maxson define wisdom this way: “The power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it. Wisdom is the ability to recognize what is spiritually profitable in a given situation.”
Regardless of how you like to define it, we must understand that wisdom is not a collection of knowledge or facts. Wisdom is not merely a pithy statement. Wisdom is the action of doing what is best.
When it comes to wisdom, we need to acknowledge four things:
1. The Old Testament teaches wise decision making by its Wisdom Books and examples of wise men. Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, ”Wisdom helps one to succeed.”
2. Jesus commanded His servants to be wise. In Matthew 10:16 He says, ”Be wise as serpents.”
3. The apostles modeled wisdom in their decision making. In I Thessalonians 3:1 Pauls says, ”We were willing to be left behind.” In the King James it reads, “We thought it best.” They used the Truth God had given them and their own sanctified intellects to make the right decision.
4. The apostles command it. Consider Ephesians 5:15-16: ‘"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
But where does one find the kind of wisdom necessary for decision-making? Ultimately, of course, wisdom comes from God. Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
In His very essence, God is wise. You can read Job 9:4, 12:13 for more study on that point.
Also, wisdom cannot be found in its fulness anywhere else but God. Romans 11:33 and 16:27 speak to this Truth.
But we also have to deal with that fact that godly wisdom is not imparted to just anyone. It is granted only to those who value it enough to pursue it. Proverbs 2:4-5 says, “If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
I plan to do a future series called “The Circle of Learning.” My hope is to equip you to teach your children the biblical Truths concerning education, school, learning, and being a life-long student.
But in that study we’ll also talk a great deal about wisdom. I hope it will be a great benefit to you and your kids.
So we have the principle of obedience that makes most choices quite easy. Then we have the principle of freedom that should give us a sense of ease in the life choices God’s Word doesn’t directly address. But if we’re still feeling inadequate to make those choices, the principle of wisdom shows us the only way we can truly make the best decisions.
And lastly . . .
4. The Principle of Humble Trust: When we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for good.
Again, too often we’re more concerned with God’s sovereign will than we are His moral will.
But we have to come to grips with the fact that we only know the sovereign will of God after it’s already happened. In addition, His sovereign will makes allowances for sin that His moral will forbids.
We cannot know for certain God’s sovereign will before we make a decision. But we can know these four realities that should give us peace about His sovereign will.
1. God's sovereign will is certain.
It will be fulfilled. It will not be frustrated by men, angels, or anything else. Daniel 4:35 teaches us that. To Paul's challenging question: 'Who can resist His will?' in Romans 9:19, we are humbly compelled to agree, “No one!”
2. God's sovereign will is detailed.
Ephesians 1:11 teaches us that it is the ultimate determiner of all things, including which of our plans finds fulfillment. James 4:13-15 then builds on that concept.
3. God’s sovereign will is hidden except when revealed by prophecy.
As I already observed, Deuteronomy 29:29 shows us that man can only learn what it is after it happens. The only exceptions to this are statements of prophecy in which events are foretold — such as in I Thessalonians 4:13-18. This also includes the explanations of the destinies of the saved and the lost like we read in John 3:16 and John 3:36.
And lastly . . .
4. God’s sovereign will is perfect.
It is perfect in the sense that it will ultimately lead to God's greatest glory.
Ephesians 4:1 tells is there never was another plan. And for those of you who wonder why God would factor sin into His plans, we don’t have time to study it out here in any detail, but we know though sin is contrary to God's moral will, its presence is permitted in God's plan partly because His conquest of it reveals His grace and power.
God will be glorified for His holiness, for His defeat of Satan, for His righteous judgment, and for His grace to redeemed sinners. You can further study Revelation 5, John 12:32-33, and Romans 5:20, 8:28-30, 11:15, and 30-33 for more considering this powerful doctrine.
I can send my children to the refrigerator and know they will make a good choice concerning what they eat for lunch if they understand and submit to the principles of obedience, freedom, wisdom, and humble trust.
These truths will remove so much of the angst associate with choosing their friends or choosing their college. They also remove so much of the unnecessary difficulties of romantic relationships.
So, lets wrap this up by looking at a quick and practical example of this from the Life of Paul.
Friesen and Maxson call this: A Case History: Paul's Plans to Visit Rome
In Romans 1:8-13 and 15:20-29, Paul explained the travel plans by which he hoped to visit Rome. Careful study of these verses reveals the steps in Paul's decision-making process.
I highly recommend making this study part of your families Bible time. Read the passages I’m going to cite and discuss them. Make sure your children truly understand how the pieces fit together and how they can be fleshed out in your kids’ lives.
There isn’t a choice you or your kids will have to make that won’t fall under at least one of these principles.
Please share this episode with your friends so they too can be equipped to help their children discover God’s will for their lives.
As we’ve already discussed, one of the big things God wants your children to be is a servant.
On our next episode, Jessica Mair will join me to discuss the importance of this topic and share some very practical examples of how to help your children becomes a servant.
Of course, don’t forget about Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com. You can email us for free about whatever you like. And our TLP Mentorship Program is a paid program that will help you work through The Insight Tool with your Kids.
You can know God’s will for your life. Your kids can know God’s will for their lives. And we’re here to help you find it.
See you next time.
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