“God’s Will for Your Life”
Thank you for your leadership and encouragement. I know that these weeks are challenging all of us. The strength of the series is that we are answering some challenging questions about self-examination, engaging in deep conversations, and gaining insight in how to grow and make disciples of Jesus.
I have heard from several people that his content can be controversial. Specifically, week one day three (page 20) was especially challenging. The questions I have heard can be summarized as follows: Is he teaching works salvation? Is he dissuading people from a prayer of confession or asking Jesus to save them?
I believe the answer is ‘No’ to both questions. Rather, he wants us to understand that there is no magic prayer or walk down an aisle that saves us. So when someone says “Son, you’re saved from your sins,” (p. 20) this can be misunderstood to mean that because you repeated these words, you’re saved. (This becomes clear as we continue in the book.) Further, as you continue to read and study, you will discover that his focus is on what it means to “follow” Jesus and not on the theology of conversion. His focus is on what it means to follow Jesus and he repeatedly calls us to surrender, personal faith, obedience, and this is only possible as we abide in Jesus and trust in the Holy Spirit with prayer to the Father. As we abide, God in grace will produce fruit that lasts.
So let me sum up: People calling out to God in prayer and demonstrating in some way a desire to follow Christ is a good thing. But these actions (e.g. a prayer or raising a hand) may or may not be biblical repentance and faith/trust in Christ. There are no works or actions that guarantee us redemption, only personal repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
So let me suggest a few thoughts regarding conversion (salvation).
Jesus repeatedly used two words connected with conversion: Repent and believe.
“Repent” means a renouncing of sin and turning to God.
“Believe” or “faith” means to put one’s trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior, and trust his promise of forgiveness and eternal life accomplished through his death, burial, and resurrection.
Personal “Faith” or “Belief” that saves is that which places my full trust in Jesus. There are no works or any other way or person that can bring us to God. (John 3:16; 14:6; Ephesians 2:8,9; 1 Peter 3:18). This personal trust is described in many ways in the New Testament including to “receive” Him (John 1:12), to “come to Him” (John 6:37), and to “believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
“Faith and Repentance must come together” (Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem, page 713) Indeed, “Scripture puts repentance and faith together as different aspects of the one act of coming to Christ for salvation.” Sometimes only faith is mentioned (Ephesians 2:8-9). In others, only repentance is mentioned (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:37-38; 3:19; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10). Jesus began his ministry saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17) True saving faith will be accompanied by repentance for sin.
Please let me know if I can be of any help to you or anyone else. I’m always glad to be invited to a group or to meet with you personally.
ABOUT SESSION 4: “GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE”
David Platt’s focus is often on mission. This week, the emphasis is on what it means to surrender all things to Jesus Christ’s leadership. The main application will be on God’s will for us to make disciples.
The week includes a brief study of God’s mission and will in the Old and New Testaments. We will learn that God is always working, that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, and that we are called to be his witnesses. As you get to the discussion of what it means to be a verbal witness, engage but don’t try to resolve the conversation. We will be discussing this more in the next couple of weeks. David Platt encourages people to have three conversations in three days. This is going to be a challenge for us all. Please choose wisely as you discuss the immediate application of this challenge. Urging people to engage in these conversations unprepared could prove harmful instead of helpful.
It will be my goal in the weeks ahead to share with you notes about engagement and how we “Team up” together to make disciples. There are many ways to reach people with the Good News and help them know, love, and follow Jesus. His ideas are good but not exhaustive.
Walking with you,