Monday, March 1, 2010

Is Scripture Enough? Part 5

In Decisions, Decisions the book that I have mentioned previously, Swavely gives an outstanding biblical illustration of decision making. I want to take this final blog and just give you a synopsis of that chapter. We know that 2 Tim. 3:16-17 is true, so we should have an expectation as we approach the Word of God, that there will be examples of biblical decision making. The one example Swavely looks at is extremely helpful, but it will require that you open the Word of God and use this as a mini Bible study. So here we go:

Romans 1:8-15 and Romans 15:18-29 - What we see in these passages is that Paul was facing a decision when he was writing to the Church at Rome. The decision was simply if he should visit there or not. Now, there are some obvious prerequisites in our life before making a decision…as Swavely points out they include:
(1) Walking in the Spirit: Paul was doing this, and we see this through his writings to the Romans.
(2) Recognize God’s sovereignty: Paul obviously had made plans (Rm. 1:13), but there was a complete recognition of God’s sovereign control prior to his planning (Rm. 1:10). We even see that Paul is aware that through God’s sovereign control, he had been hindered from visiting, but he doesn’t complain about it - he just seems to trust in God’s control (Rm. 15:22).
(3) We must be praying for wisdom and providence: Rm. 1:8-10, Rm. 15:30. Prayer was essential in the life of Paul and is just as essential in our lives. A person who has no active prayer life can not be walking in the Spirit. It is safe to say that Paul could live out with complete confidence Prov. 3:5-6.

So, after these three benchmarks are checked, the response Paul had would be the natural response anyone would have if the prerequisites above are being met: he wanted to know What Does The Bible Say? Well in Rm. 1:9-13 we know that he wanted to serve the Lord, use his gifts, encourage others and bear fruit. These are clear scriptural mandates for every believer. God had also commanded him to carry forth the Gospel to the Gentiles Rm. 15:16. So Paul was called to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles and he was called by God to deliver the Gospel to areas that had not previously heard the Word of God. However, God didn’t tell him each specific area, He didn’t send him a map or a check list; that was the line of freedom Paul had and therefore, it became a matter of wisdom and desire. Paul had several choices, and none of them sinful - not a one of them would be a violation of the Word of God. He could have gone directly to Rome, he could have gone somewhere else, or he could have made a stop or two before going to Rome… all the while fulfilling His calling.

What is the wisest thing to do? This was something we know Paul considered based on Rm. 1:13. What prevented Paul from seeing the believers in Rome? It was simply wisest to evangelize the areas with Gentiles closest to Jerusalem and work his way outward (Rm. 15:20-24). It showed wisdom that before Paul goes to Spain, he would stop in Rome. It would help the believers in Rome and Paul believed they could financially help him carry forth the Gospel. There were a couple other things Paul needed to do such as helping the needy (Rm. 15:25-28)…so, as he thought things through his course, it made more sense to travel in a specific order. At this point, we see godly wisdom being used, we see Paul’s first passion was to seek first the Kingdom of God, and we see his freedom to decide the best way to accomplish this.

Paul did ask the question, “What do I want to do?” It doesn’t take a biblical scholar to see this in Rm. 1:11, 15:23. From what we see, it seems that Paul would not have been in disobedience at any time if he were to choose to go to Rome. Now, after Paul thought through all of the information on hand, we know that he had sought counsel previously, and very well could have this time. Paul certainly had contact with the elders in Jerusalem in order to be aware of the need and situation there as he referred to it in Romans. We see that Paul sought, followed, and even rejected counsel at times regarding his journeys (Acts 21:4, 10-12, 13-14).

In short, the question is - do we hold to 2nd Peter 1:19 or not? The truth is, it is much easier to open the Bible and treat it as some Ouija Board, or look at circumstances and get angry at God when I had “God-Bumps” and it turned out to simply be flu. The biblical evidence we have as to how to make a decision takes obedience, prayer, counsel, searching the Word and walking in the Spirit. That is a lot harder than having a hunch or waiting for “open doors” or “open widows” or some mystical “release.” So, the question is this: “Is Scripture Enough?” The answer to that question is a resounding "YES!"

No comments: