Thursday, June 21, 2007

What are we to do when we find it difficult to discern God’s will?

he following includes excerpts from the book The Devoted Life, (ed. Kapic and Gleason, IVP, 2004). Dr. Sinclair Ferguson contributed a chapter to that collection on John Flavel’s (1628-1691) The Mystery of Providence. I had to consult Flavel for one chapter of my thesis, which I am writing on Stephen Charnock’s (1628-1680) doctrine of providence (a chapter on his full doctrine of God). I found Flavel’s instruction very interesting:

"If Scripture does not speak directly to our situation, our task is prayerfully to apply its general principles. Admittedly “God doth give men secret hints and intimations of his will by providence … but yet providences in themselves, are no stable rule of duty nor sufficient discovery of the will of God” (Flavel, pp. 469).

Here is Flavel’s counsel [Ferguson summarizing]:
"If therefore in doubtful cases, you would discover God’s will, govern yourself in your search after it by these rules: Pray for illumination and direction in the way you should go; beg the Lord to guide you in straits, and that he would not suffer you to fall into sin … And this being done, follow providence as far as it agrees with the word, and no further" (Flavel/Ferguson, pp. 220).

My comment: Do you always, without exception, follow this rule? I was reminded again of the simple but precious teaching that Scripture and prayer are always to be taken together for our spiritual life, and the balance between each one unbroken. To be sure, the doctrine you come to know from the interpretation of Scripture should be practiced in your life?

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