Yesterday I started to give a further explanation of a comment that I made in my sermon on Sunday. The crux of the matter lies with a statement that I made in regards to our making decisions and trying to discern the right path for our lives. Does God care about which person we marry, which college we attend, what job we take and so on? On Sunday I essentially said:
"At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I don't think that God really cares what we do in these situations unless there is a Biblical or moral reason involved."
Yesterday I looked at what I think is a poor understanding of Jeremiah 29:11. It is my contention that to use this verse to justify that God has good plans for us today is a false way to understand the verse. However that does not really get at the question of whether or not God has plans for us. It is my understanding that he does have a plan for us and for the whole world. But to say that is different than saying that God has a specific plan for our lives and that we need to listen to him in order to figure the plan out.
Let me start off today's discussion with explaining what I mean when I say that God has a plan for us.
The first thing that needs to be said is that God is sovereign–or in other words–God is ultimately in control of everything. There is nothing that happens in this world that is outside of his permissive will. He has either caused everything to happen or he has allowed it to happen. Paul tackles this notion of God's sovereignty in the book of Romans. Paul states in Romans 8:28-30:
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
Paul is saying that God has chosen those that would become followers of Christ and that all things would work towards his future purposes. There is no way that this could happen without God having a plan–and a specific one at that–for us and the world. Paul is also saying that God's plan is that we will be glorified. But these verses come in a section where Paul starts off by clarifying when we will see the end result of this plan:
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
Notice that the "all things work together for good" are working together for a good that will come in a time that Paul considers to follow "this present time." Paul is referring to the glory that we will see in heaven. So God does have a specific plan for us that will come to completion in the future. God also uses all of the things that happen to further that future plan.
There is also no way that those specific plans or the future cannot happen without specific plans in this present time. God does have specific plans for us today. Plans that are working towards our future good. Paul goes on to tell us that these plans bring us hope:
"For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
These are the specific plans that God has for us. These are the plans that bring us to a saving knowledge of Christ. He has these plans so that we can have the hope that they bring. These plans don't require us to do any special work to try and figure them out. We just need to trust that God is working them out. I find a great freedom in the fact that I don't have to rely on my own smarts or abilities to work these plans out.
So God does have specific plans for us but what does that say about our making choices in regards to our lives? Does this mean that we need to listen to his voice in order to make the right choices? Yes we do need to listen to God in order to make right choices and I will tackle that topic tomorrow.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.