Summary: If you’re serious about knowing God’s will, then don’t say no to God’s will.
Knowing God’s Will
Rev. Brian Bill
An older lady came out on her porch every morning, and would raise her arms to the sky and shout, “Praise the Lord.” One day an atheist moved next door and over time he became very irritated with this worshipping woman. So every morning after he heard her exclamation of praise, he would shout out, “There is no Lord!” This went on for several months, then one morning in the middle of winter the lady stepped onto her front porch and shouted, “Praise the Lord! Lord, please reveal your will to me because I have no food and I’m starving. Please provide for me, O Lord!”
The next morning, when she came out on her porch there were two huge bags of groceries sitting there. “Praise the Lord!” she cried out. “He has provided groceries for me!” Just then the atheist jumped out of the bushes and shouted, “There is no Lord. I bought those groceries!” Without skipping a beat, the lady threw her arms in the air and shouted, “Praise the Lord! He has provided me with groceries and He made the devil pay for them!”
We’ve all asked questions like these at one time or another: How can I know God’s will? Is He really interested in me as an individual? Is there a master plan for my life? We’re beginning a six-part series that we’re calling “Living Life on Purpose” and our topic today is “Knowing God’s Will” from Romans 12. One of my classmates from my Bible College days posted something on Facebook this week that caught my attention: “If I could give a Christian only one chapter to live by it would be Romans 12.”
Please turn in your Bibles to the twelfth chapter of Romans where I want us to notice the very first word in verse 1: “Therefore….” Whenever you see the word “therefore” in the Bible you should always ask what it’s there for. When we come to this chapter, Paul is making a shift from doctrine to duty, from creed to conduct, from principles to practice, and from beliefs to behavior. We must not only know, we must grow and instead of just filling our heads, God’s Word must also affect our attitudes and actions. It’s as if he’s saying, “Based on everything that I’ve just said, this is what you now need to put into practice.”
I love what Martin Luther said about this book that literally changed his life and became the rallying cry for the Reformation: “Romans is the chief part of the New Testament, and the very purest gospel, which, indeed, deserves that a Christian not only know it word for word by heart but deal with it daily as with daily bread of the soul. For it can never be read or considered too much or too well, and the more it is handled, the more delightful it becomes, and the better it tastes.”
This past week at our elders meeting we had the privilege of meeting with PBC member Jeremy Leacock. Jeremy has been sensing that God may be leading him to serve as a lay pastor in some church and asked us to consider licensing him to the ministry. One of the questions we asked him was this: “What’s your favorite book in the Bible?” Without hesitation he told us that it was Romans. After meeting with him and asking him a bunch of questions, we have decided to license Jeremy for the ministry.
We’ve spent over three years and 44 different sermons roaming through the first eleven chapters of Romans. While we’ve taken breaks during this time, we always come back to this incredible section of Scripture and it’s my prayer that Romans will become more delightful the more we study it. At this pace, we should be finished in another year or so (or not). I encourage you to go on our website (www.pontiacbible.org/index.php?/blog/romans_rendezvous/) and read or reread some of the sermons in order to more fully understand Romans 1-11.
There are at least four “therefores” in the book of Romans that help unlock its teaching and provide a summary of where we’ve been. 3:20 is the “therefore” of condemnation: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” 5:1 is the “therefore” of justification: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 8:1 is the “therefore” of assurance: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And Romans 12:1 is the “therefore” of surrender.
The immediate context for our text today is the wonderfully deep doxology found at the end of Romans 11: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond finding out. ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?’ For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory! Amen.”