Can you give me even one good reason?
“No, I don’t need reasons—I just feel it’s so.”
That short exchange might take place many times a day between Christians. But it never should.
You may be wondering what the subject is that the two parties are discussing. It doesn’t really matter. I left it out for a good reason—to show the bare outlines of the issue.
The issue being, of course, how we know anything about God to be true or false.
There is no biblical precedent for basing the truth or the falsehood of any belief upon how one feels; yet many do so.
Our faith is one that can be objectively set forth—and has been—in a Book from which God expects us to learn what is/isn’t true.
What Jesus told us that Abraham said to the rich man suffering in hell was that people won’t believe even if someone rose from the dead (which, of course, He did). Experience and feelings won’t cut it! Instead, if a person wants to discover the truth he should turn to the Bible: “they have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them” Jesus said (Luke 16: 29).
It’s the same today-to learn the truth, and benefit from it—one must turn to the Scriptures. Stop listening to feelings; start listening to truth.
There is a sort of legalistic view that misunderstands and, therefore, misapplies the doctrine of predestination by failing to allow for human agency. It turns out to be very close to fatalism.
I’m talking about the sort of teaching that says, “Well you’ve got to find the right girl (fellow)—the one God has for you. If you don’t, you’ll be in misery the rest of your life for having missed out on “God’s perfect will” for you. You will be saddled with a second rate existence as the result.”
You see, there just isn’t any such thing in Scripture as “missing out on God’s perfect will.”
God’s decretive will is always accomplished. And it is established by the use of responsible, human agency. Sure, many Christians make bad choices about their life companions—and some do live in misery. But they are not “stuck” in some lesser-than-best situation about which nothing can be done to remedy it!
No genuine Christian is doomed to live on some sort of a second level existence. There is always the possibility for change through repentance, sanctification, and the blessings that accrue from it. If I didn’t believe in such possibility for radical change, so as to turn bad choices into good outcomes by the grace of God, I wouldn’t have counseled anyone. There is no perfect one for you—the options are always there so long as the other persons considered are genuine believers.
But even then—if one happens to be married to an unbeliever (not a legitimate option) God, according to 1 Corinthians 7, can save and transform the unbeliever. And if He doesn’t, a repentant believer, living according to the Word of God, can lead a joyous life.
“Having peace about a matter” is what many people think is the deciding factor about whether it is wrong or right to do something. And they base their opinion on Colossians 3:15,
let Christ’s peace have final say in your hearts . . .
Is that a fair understanding and application of the verse? Is it the way to determine what is right in answer to questions about which you need guidance? Are those who say, “I have peace about it,” right in concluding that God sends peace if a decision is correct, and that He sends a disturbed heart if it isn’t? That’s what many have been taught.
But “peace” can come from a conscience that has been seared so as to no longer effectively warn about what is wrong. So, how could you distinguish between the two? Moreover, we have all known those who said that they had peace about a matter, and the “peace” turned out to be the wrong way to go.
“What do you do when you don’t know what to do?”
Are you serious, or are you presenting me with a conundrum?
“No. I’m dead serious. I have a decision to make as to whether or not to do something. I’d like to do it but I don’t know whether its something that the Lord would approve of.””
Ah. I see.
“And it’s been bugging me for days. I can’t tell you what it is, either. I have to keep the matter quiet until I decide. Without any data, do you think you can help?”
Possibly. Let’s consider the matter abstractly—strictly from the side of the principle involved.
In making a decision it is always wise to check out what the Bible says about the matter, Often, you will find a direct, specific command: “You shall not commit adultery.” There will be no doubt in your mind as to what God’s will is in the matter.
There are, however many decisions about which there is no biblical command. If you read that you are not to commit adultery and you happen to be involved in that very sin when you read the command, and are convicted, you may (should) want to stop immediately. Now comes another decision—how should you break off the sinful relationship?
About this latter decision there is no specific command. Should you go personally to the other party and tell her/him your decision? Send an email? A letter? Perhaps phone? Possibly go together with your pastor to break the news? How will you make this decision?
There are possibly good reasons for it; but, of course, there may not be.
For choosing the green one over the blue—or the other way around.
“Do there have to be good reasons?”
No, of course not—basically, the choice of a color is a matter of indifference, a matter of preference, all other things being equal. There are no biblical reasons for one option over the other if it doesn’t involve stewardship of the Lord’s money or something else like that. Then something additional is at stake.
“Is every choice one in which one either chooses for Christ or against Him?”
In one sense “yes”; in another “no.”