DECISION-MAKING AND THE WILL OF GOD
Â“If ye live after the flesh ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8.14.
Few things arouse more interest than knowing what is the will of God. In certain conferences if there is a seminar offered on the object of guidance most people will attend that. Editors of magazines often ask an author to write an article on this because they know there is a constant desire for help, and a number of useful books have appeared on this theme in the past two years. In some circles nothing is more abused than the claim to be guided by God. What pressure is put on other people when a Christian says he believes that God is guiding him to do this or that. How does he .now, and how can he evaluate his claim? The Bible says every Christian is guided by God. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8.14. It is not that in some periodic and occasional sense God leads His people at times of
particular crises. There are great problems about this whole idea that God by His Spirit now and again punctuates the life of a Christian. Paul is speaking here of something that is perpetual. Here is a human being in this extraordinary position that he is indwelt by the Spirit of God and God is motivating, modifying and influencing him in the deepest recesses of his personality. God has given us a new mind. This Spirit guides and informs the thought processes of the believer himself habitually. We are LED. This experience is one of the great blessings that every Christian knows. I admit it is more exciting if you have a more explosive view of the Spirit’s guidance and I do not deny that there are great peaks in the Christian’s life, but these things do not alter the fact that we are led by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God formulates our objectives and moulds our distinctive reactions to all kinds of circumstances. In other words, the Christian life is habitually and uniquely supernatural. These are persons who are constantly led by the Spirit of God. Of them it can be said that they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them. It is not simply a punctuated or occasional experience of the Spirit of God, but it is a life in which the Holy Spirit and the power of
the risen Saviour is our continual element and constant atmosphere. The Christian is being led by the Spirit of God even when he is not aware of it. The great question, then, is HOW DO WE RECOGNISE THE LEADINGS OF THE SPIRIT WHEN WE HAVE GREAT DECISIONS TO MAKE?
FIRST – THE DESIRE TO BE GUIDED BY GOD IS A SIGN OF SPIRITUAL HEALTH.
When the Apostle Paul describes to us the mentality of the unbeliever he says, “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Romans 3.11. It is only a converted person who says “I want to know God’s way. I want to turn my feet into God’s paths. That is what I want in my life.” Only true Christians have a concern to know the will of God. There are many promises in the Bible to the effect that God guides His people. “He will be our Guide even unto death.” Psalm 48.14. “The meek will He guide in judgment.” Psalm 25.9. There are prayers too that plead those promises, “Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness.” Psalm 5.8. One of the great pictures of our Saviour is that He is a Pastor, a Shepherd, even the Good Shepherd. “He leadeth me,” says the Psalmist. Psalm 23.3. “He calleth his own sheep by name.” John 10.3, and that is true of every single Christian – obedience of the inviting Saviour is the only qualification you need to be in the flock of Christ. He does not lead goats, but if you are the weakest lamb or the youngest of the newborn in the flock of Christ, this is true of you, that you have a Good Shepherd and He is actively guiding His sheep. “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121.4. So this concern to know the will of God is a sign of health, and that you are one of Christ’s sheep. You actually want to hear the Shepherd’s voice and walk in His ways. Nothing less than that can satisfy the longing of your heart. You are singing from your heart, “Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” But if you are not seeking God’s will in making choices, commitments and decisions to shape your life, you are going to have the most appallingly unhappy future. It is possible to gain the whole world and lose your own soul.
Now, having said all this, there is only one corrective I need to mention and that is that there are higher desires than always being sure you are being guided. To hunger and thirst after righteousness seems to me to be a higher desire. To love God with all your heart and soul is a higher desire. To love your neighbour as yourself; to present your body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God; to take up your cross daily; to deny yourself; to follow Christ; these are all higher desires. Sometimes a desire for guidance can be powerfully over-rated. Some Christians want a certainty about everything, a confidence about every single part of their lives. Many
times God does not give us an explanation for His providences. The long-promised Holy One of Israel kneels with a bason of water at the feet of Peter and begins to wash his feet – the Messiah. Peter wants to know the meaning of so abject an action, but all that Jesus would say to him is, “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou halt know hereafter.” John 13.7. Often we can be recipients of abject acts that humiliate us, or we are called upon to do certain things that seem to have no logic, and when we ask God for an explanation all He says to us is, “What I do thou knowest not now;
but thou shall know hereafter.” Then we have to be content with that; we have to accept that as the will of God. Remember our Lord and Saviour, and God was leading Him, and yet gave Him such a cup to drink. Jesus can see what is in that cup, and He knows it is God’s will, and yet He asks, “Is there another cup? Is there any possibility of another way? Can I possibly have another cup besides this one?” Yet He has been guided to Gethsemane and knows unmistakably that this is the will of God, but even then He does not find it easy. I think the challenge in our lives is never the problem of guidance, it is always the problem of OBEDIENCE. The challenge is to say, “I delight to do thy will, O my God,” and be transformed to do God’s good and acceptable will. Actually to Do it, because sometimes I don’t really like God’s will very much, and that is the root of my restlessness and discontented-ness. So my first point is that the desire to know God’s will is a sign of spiritual health.
SECOND – WRONG IDEAS ABOUT GUIDANCE CAN LEAD TO DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES.
We live in a day of instant food, instant entertainment and instant gratification. This is a ‘feelings orientated’ age. It is not a century of keep thinking, and this subjectivity has swamped evangelical Christianity. There is an abundance of wrong ideas about guidance;
for example, if you acknowledge, as God says, that He wants His people to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake,’ but then think that irrational acts are sure to be a sign of God’s will for you, you are in for trouble. If you think Christians always receive spiritual instructions from God when they have to take big decisions, you are in trouble. If you think that Moses, Gideon, Isaiah and Paul all got direct revelations from God and that that is the usual way guidance comes, you are in trouble. If you think all you have to do is to make your minds blank and whatever comes into your consciousness afterwards is God’s wi\ guiding you, you are in trouble. If you draw lots or set up situations in which you ask God for signs or a vision, you are in
trouble. If you think if you can only crack the Bible’s mystery code you will be able to find some personal instruction for you for each day, you are in trouble. Those feelings are all the easiest things for Satan to counterfeit. Of course when we were very young and immature God had compassion on our naivety. He does step into a child’s life and does answer its most artless prayers but later on in life He is not going to bale us out of our foolishness. To EXPECT exceptional revelations to be the norm, is to ask for trouble. Wrong ideas about guidance can lead to disastrous consequences.
THIRD – TO THINK YOUR LIFE WILL BE RUINED BECAUSE YOU HAVE MADE A MISTAKE IS UNBELIEF.
How often Christians are troubled with thoughts like this. They have acted unwisely and then Satan comes along and sets God before them as a hard ogre who is going to ruin the rest of their lives because of their mistake. They think they are now doomed to be ‘second best Christians’ sitting on the shelf and forfeiting their use as Christians. There are Christians who think like that, believing that God does not have the power and the wisdom to use them again. They think He is unable to give them relationships, usefulness and experience that they might have had if they had not made the first mistake. Some Christians judge that because of some disaster that has taken place in their lives their whole future is going to be wasted and, as a result, they are afraid to get involved in the work of the Kingdom, thinking there is bound to be another disaster. It is a very bitter life for such people and what is wrong at its foundation is unbelief. It is a distrust of God’s grace. Now let me say, our bad decisions can have sad consequences. You cannot expect to be shielded from the consequence of bad decisions. We live in a fallen world; indwelling sin is strong; Satan deludes us: every Christian makes mistakes, but our lives are not ruined. When Israel sinned and would not repent you remember how God gave them up to their enemies; He withdrew the rain, sent a plague of locusts into their camp. Then He spoke again to them and rebuked them, and still they would not listen. So then He began to chasten them until they cried to Him. You remember how God appeared for them when they cried to Him: Joel said that the Lord would restore to them the years that the locust had eaten. Joel 2.25. God overruled the mistakes they had made. God overruled the uselessness of those years so that the next years compensated for the bad years, as though those years that the locust had eaten had never been.
Scripture shows us many of the saints of God making great mistakes about what the will of God was for them. Jacob deceived his own father to obtain the blessing and yet later on God greatly
used him. He was the ‘God of Jacob’ even though Jacob was such a deceiver. Moses thought it right for him in anger to kill a man: Jonah disobeyed God’s will to go to Nineveh and set off for Tarshish. Peter boycotted Gentile believers and would not eat with them. They were all great men with the experience of God’s blessing and knowledge of God’s voice, but they made grievous mistakes. Yet not one of them became a second class believer Christian. Moses – a second class believer Christian!? Look at his leadership, even after he had murdered a man. Look at Peter. Read the letters he wrote after that terrible fall. Each one of them was forgiven. Jonah who knows God’s will but rejects it, is restored through a great storm and a great fish and is sent back to recommence a life for God’s glory. The whole city of Nineveh is transformed by his ministry. Now I am saying that if God restored David after the disaster with Bathsheba, if God restored Peter after the sad episode at the fireside, there is no doubt that He can and will restore Christians who make mistakes about their calling, about singleness, about marriage, about business, about the place of their labours, and so on. Misunderstanding God’s will is less important than knowing the will of God and not doing it, but God can restore even those who know it and defy Him. How much more will He restore those of us who misunderstand and misjudge the will of God for our lives. However badly you may have slipped He will not let you go. That is the great message of Micah. Micah turned to them who taunted him because he had made mistakes in his life (and he was a prominent servant of God) and said, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.” Micah 7.8. That really is all the light that is promised, or that any of us need.
MEANS OF GUIDANCE
Guidance is one of the New Testament new covenant blessings that has been purchased for the Church by the death of Christ. You remember the promise of the new covenant that every one will be taught of God. “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Psalm 32.8. Christ says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest . . . learn of me.” Matthew 11.28,29. Every Christian is unique, and we all receive personal tuition; God thus enables us to seek the best under the circumstances. “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
FOURTH – SPECIFIC MEANS OF GUIDANCE, THE SCRIPTURES.
Pride of place must go to the Scriptures. The great example is
when Christ was on the road to Emmaus with the disciples. They were in great need of guidance, utterly discouraged by the happenings of the past and prospects for the future. When Jesus comes He does NOT say, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” He sees that their basic problem is an ignorance of the Scriptures, and so He begins with Moses and all the prophets and shows them from the Word of God the things concerning Himself, how He the Messiah had to suffer and to rise the third day. Then He opens their understanding so they can grasp what He says. He applies it to their discouraging circumstances and in this way Scriptural guidance becomes a reality to them. There are many situations in which the great principles of Scripture are all the guidance we need or get. For example, how does God guide us about what we wear, the food we eat? He says He has “given us richly all things to enjoy” and that “every creature is to be received with thanksgiving.” He talks of self-control, that “our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.” Great variety and necessary liberty is given to us. The Bible lays down great principles of behaviour, and that is all the guidance we need for clothing and eating. God lets us use our intelligence to apply the great Biblical principles and priorities. When you had children at home you instructed them and did everything for them. However, all the time you were bringing them up to be able to choose wisely for themselves one day when you weren’t around. Israel in the Old Testament were like children. The Judaizers wanted to put the Galatians back to childhood again, giving them a yoke of regulations. There is in the heart of all of us a yearning desire for the security and the structure that childhood submission to our parents provides. We have to resist it. We are no longer children.
Then there is the moral law – The Ten Commandments. – the great
CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVES of God’s Word as to how we
must live, which will last until Christ comes; it binds the conscience
of every believer. It is amplified by Christ in Matthew 5, 6 & 7 and
applied by Paul in Romans 12 and Ephesians 5 & 6, BUT
The chief pattern is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“He left us an example that we should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter
2.21. We should be looking unto Him continually.
There are also models which the Apostles of Jesus Christ exemplify.
We are to be imitators of Paul in his love, in his prayerfulness, zeal,
wisdom and single-minded service. But from every part of Scripture
examples for our conduct abound.
There are the Patriarchs and we are to “walk with God” like Enoch.
Keep faithful on that lonely road as Noah did. We are to stand alone
like Daniel, and are to be faithful to the calling that God has given us
like Isaiah. We are to be full of love to God like David, and wise like
There are also various vocations which are all honourable callings. Scripture says, “CHILDREN, obey your parents in the Lord.” Eph. 6.1. “PARENTS, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Eph .6.4. “HUSBANDS, love your wives.” Eph. 5.25. “WIVES, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.” Eph. 5.22.
There are all the warnings in scripture
Do not be like the Church at Laodicea. Do not be like the children of Israel. Do not be like Abraham when he lied. Do not be like Noah when he got drunk or Peter when he blasphemed. So, God guides by scripture, and especially by the Scriptures as they are preached to us. That is why we must sit under the best preaching we can. God has given gifts to the Church, pastors and teachers, and we need them if God has provided them. Through the Word preached we can discern and do the will of God. God also guides by the study of the Word. God is not going to tell you things immediately if you are too lazy to turn to the Word of God and study its precepts. He teaches us His way, and then He calls us to act energetically, and take that road.
FIFTH, HE GUIDES US BY HIS COUNSELLORS
“Without counsel purposes are disappointed; but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” Proverbs 15.22. Our pastors are our counsellors but it is a weak Christian who goes to his minister for anything and everything. Often it is time people were able to make their own decisions. God has given them a mind and common sense and the Bible. They have the same heavenly Father as the Pastor, and they too must pray, think and decide. God does not play games with us when we honestly desire to know His will. Yet counsellors are valuable. Three times in the Book of Proverbs a multitude of counsellors’ is commended. Do you remember the problem in the Corinthian Church when one Christian was taking another to law and the Apostle said, “Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.” 1 Cor. 6.5,6. So the Holy Spirit uses the counsel of fellowship within the body of Christ to deepen our discernment of the will of God.
SIXTH – GOD USES IMPRESSIONS
Now this area, of course, is most dangerous, because even with spiritually-minded people feelings can come from such murky sources as wishful thinking, fear, obsessional neuroses, hormone imbalance, the effects of medication, satanic delusions, as well as
from God. Feelings can be injuriously wrong. Look at the feelings of the Pharisee in the temple – “I am not like that publican.” You think of the feelings of the Church in Laodicea. “We are rich, increased with goods, have need of nothing,” and they did not realise that they were “poor and miserable and blind and naked.” Revelation 3.17. Let us test the spirits before we sanction them.
Scripture speaks of what God had put into the heart of Nehemiah, what he was to do, and then by prayer and supplication to get the job done. It started with it being in his heart. Paul and Silas in Acts 16 attempted to go into Bithynia but the Spirit of the Lord did not allow them. I am not sure how they became aware of that fact, but perhaps it was just an inward impression of unease, and then they discovered that God was leading them to Greece. When Paul was at Troas in 2 Corinthians 2.13, his mind could not rest. He was preaching the Gospel but he could not get Titus out of his mind, so he judged that God was urging him to go and search for him. So he went away from Troas looking for Titus until he found him.
These are some of the Biblical examples of Christians who had special concern and restlessness of heart indicating that action must be done. These are, as it were, the subtle ways God guides; His ‘fine tuning’ by feeding concerns into our minds, creating a sense of dissatisfaction, inspiring us to choose better than otherwise we would have done, bringing to the surface the hidden dangers of temptation, or bestowing a peace of mind. All these impressions, divine nudges and feelings have to be tested rigidly by Biblical wisdom and at times by the congregation of which we are a part. If you do not test them, then impressions that are rooted in age, feelings that are rooted in pride, nudges that are rooted in headstrong unreality will take off and take over, developing a life of their own. We must be sure that our impressions are from God and not from our fancies. It is rather like the disturbance of atmospherics on the radio. Christians too get troubled by atmospherics when they are listening to the voice of God. Self-centredness, pride and tradition can cause atmospherics in discipline, and disobeying the guidance already received from the Lord, so that it is harder to recognise the voice and will of God. It is only by obedience and love for Jesus Christ that we can distinguish between the impressions that are of the Holy Spirit and deluded feelings.
SEVENTH – DOES GOD GUIDE BY PROVIDENCE?
It is evident that we cannot always go to providence for guidance. Providence can also bring occasions for sin into our lives. Remember David, resting on the roof of his house, and thinking,
“Look what providence has done; it has shown me this woman. Her husband is not there, and I am here all by myself. This is providence. Well, I will test her further, and I will ask her to come to my house,” and she comes. The rest is tragedy. Guidance does not come from providence. Remember Jonah; he rises up and goes to Tarshish in disobedience to the Word of the Lord. There is a boat there. ‘Where are you going?’ ‘Tarshish’. ‘Is there room?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘God is telling me to get on board and off to Tarshish we go.’ That providence served his disobedience of God. Listen to what Thomas Goodwin says, “Never be ruled by providences; they may be temptations and probations. Be ruled by the Word alone.”
Providence has brought you where you are, it may be to try you, to test you, to bring periods of probation into your life, just like that period of probation Adam had there in the Garden. Will you be faithful to Him through the strength of the last Adam? Remember Joseph as he has to accept his providence. Off he goes into Egypt as a slave, but still God is in control even when he ends up in prison in Egypt. What is God doing with him? God is “working all things after the counsel of his own will.” Joseph must wait upon God. Providence tests him; it does not guide him. So, in all our circumstances, we must test them by the Scriptures and Christian counsel.
Let us make a distinction between true guidance and false guidance. False guidance is when you try and manipulate God to get what you want, and true guidance is when you subject yourself to the will of God. False guidance is trying to take short cuts with God, whereas true guidance is the outworking of the relationship between a child and a loving Father. So true guidance is never an end in itself. When I am guided it is always to do ‘the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.’ True guidance, in other words, is just another of God’s means to make us more like our Lord Jesus Christ.
EIGHTH – THERE ARE THREE PRINCIPLES BY WHICH GOD ALWAYS WORKS
In all God’s dealings with us He never will contravene any of these three principles.
1. – He guides us in holiness. “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness.” Psalm 23.3. There is a life-style that is pleasing to God. There are behaviour patterns that God is pleased with. He never leads us into disobedience, unrighteousness, and in defiance of His will. His leadings are always in holiness.
There are two aspects to this – Negative and Positive.
Negative – God always leads us to put to death the misdeeds of the
body. Paul, when he speaks of the leading of the Holy Spirit, puts it into the context of putting remaining sin in our lives to death. “For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God”. Romans 8.13,14. We tend to think of the leadings of the Spirit in terms of personal decision. We want a revelation to take away the uncertainty out of particular decision making. But Paul, when he spoke of the leading of the Spirit, puts it into the context of putting to death remaining sin in our lives. How can you tell a Spirit-led person? He is filled with an overwhelming desire to be quit of sin, and the Holy Spirit is giving us the courage to wage war on this entity which is in our lives. We may have tremendous theological insight, we may be very confident as to what the will of God is, but do we know this kind of leading which prompts us to engage in this war against sin so effectively that sin is put to death? Many Christians are simply waiting for God to deal overwhelmingly with this problem of sin. They don’t want to wrestle and fight against it. But if the Spirit is leading us we are starving sin, we show it no mercy; it cries for titbits, but we give it no mercy. That is the NEGATIVE way that God guides us in the paths of righteousness, into holiness.
Positive – “If we walk in the light as he is in the Light.” 1 John 1.7. “We walk in the light.” That is the standard. Imagine, then, God tolerating any deviation from His will, any little sin, saying, “I will allow that in My heaven, in My Being.” Imagine God excusing some misdeed in Himself: “We walk in the light as he is in the light.” John repeats it later on and says, “He that hath this hope purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” 1 John 3.3. That is the standard – The purity of God. He is leading us to walk with God, in the light of God. Adam and Eve were in the Garden in that situation before the Fall and God would come and He would specially have fellowship with Adam; the spotless light of His presence would come and Adam would walk with Him – absolute communion between a man and his God. We too, through the last Adam may walk with God in the light. But we walk – God is the Guide. The guide does not carry travellers up the mountain – he leads them. He has his lantern. He knows the way. He shines a light on the road. But they walk. I say that because people think if they know they are led by the Holy Spirit then they won’t feel the journey, the burdens and problems. But it was when you were a baby that your parents carried you. You didn’t get footsore and weary; you left the whole effort to someone else. God does not carry His people in that way. We walk in the way of the Sermon on the Mount directed by the Christ of that amazingly stringent ethic. He directs us saying, “Love your enemies. Turn the other cheek. Forgive seventy times seven.” We walk in that way,
every yard of that road we must cover ourselves. The Lord Jesus Christ did His work in our place. The Holy Spirit does not. The Holy Spirit does not do the walking. The Holy Spirit does not do the carrying. The Holy Spirit does not do the enduring of temptation in our place. Now He is always with us and He is lighting up the way ahead with the light of His holiness. He is making our path the path of righteousness, but He does not walk that walk instead of us. We put down our foot, pace after pace. He does not carry that burden instead of us. Of course “He helps our infirmitites”, but if we are being led by the Spirit we are walking in the light, and there is no promise of immunity from trial. Many days we feel the burden is crushing us; we feel our own stamina has been sapped. Some days we feel ‘the outward man is perishing’ and we are physical wrecks and we ask, “Can this be the way God is leading us?” because it is taking such a toll on us. We walk in the light; we face up to temptation; we carry the load; we endure the sufferings of this present time. He is leading us in the paths of righteousness.
2. – He guides us in wisdom. “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5.17. The great emphasis in the book of Proverbs is about being wise. “Get wisdom.” “Get understanding” even though it cost you all you have. This wisdom comes from the Scriptures. Paul commends to Timothy the Scriptures. “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Tim. 3.15.
There are two ways in which scripture gives us this wisdom
a. – We become wise when we delight in them. Take the great picture you have of the godly man in Psalm 1. “His delight is in the law of the Lord: and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (v.2) We may read two or three chapters of the Bible every day, but are we in love with the Bible? Is our relationship one of delight and affection? Sometimes one finds oneself preferring other literature, the delight has slipped away from the Bible to A. W. Tozer or to the sermons of Dr. Lloyd Jones or to Jonathan Edwards, or – dare I say it? – to some television programme. I think increasingly we are making an unbiblical distinction between our religion and our pleasure. But a wise man does not do this; he loves the Bible. He has in his hands a
miracle, something that does not belong to this world, to mere humanity. This is wisdom “from above”, an intrusion from another world into this world, but yet it is not enough to love the Bible to be wise.
b. – We also have to apply the Bible to our lives, to the spiritual problems of our own situation, to the perplexities of decision-
making in our lives. The Bible is not just like a great light that comes
to us, but it is a Torch which we take everywhere in all departments of our lives. You know, the Saviour was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, and there He was tempted. He was under this providence of God. How did our Lord repel the temptation? He applied the Word of God again and again to the temptation. That is how the Spirit led Him. We get wisdom from using the Truth. God disciplines our lives by it, so keeping our emotions under control and bringing in His peace.
Let us remind ourselves of some of the possibilities of this area. We have in the New Testament an affirmation that says, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” Romans 8.28. Everyone surely has memorised this verse – it is the .stuff of preaching. There is no more basic counsel that I can give from the pulpit than to remind people about that. And yet, one of these days I am under pressure; I am perplexed; I do not know what to do; I am desolate; I am lonely; I am defeated. Now there is a cell here in my brain that many years ago remembered Romans 8.28, but can I bring it out of that memory cell and move it into the perplexity and practicality of this thing that is crushing me? This is a marvellous verse to quote, but it’s not there to quote – it’s there to use for my comfort, for my inspiration. That is wisdom; that is where God is leading us. Again, the great doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead – the glory of a day coming when “those that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God.” John 5.28. The grave is not the end of life in New Testament teaching! Surely everyone has some awareness of that mighty fact, and yet there are times when we lose the doctrine and fail to apply it for our consolation. So the Apostle comes with 1 Cor. 15. Christ died for our sins according o the Scriptures. He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve, after that to 500 brethren at once, of whom most were alive until this time. Then to James, then to all the Apostles, then unto me also as to one born out of due time, I who am the least of the Apostles. Some were doubting this doctrine that Jesus was raised from the dead and that therefore their loved ones could be raised from the dead. And Paul’s eloquent logic vindicates this truth again and again. If Christ be raised from the dead our preaching is not useless. If Christ be raised, our faith is not in vain. If Christ be raised, we are no longer in our sins. If Christ be raised, then not in this life only do we have hope. If Christ be raised, thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Him. If Christ be raised, be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord forasmuch as your labour is not in vain in the Lord – The risen Lord, the living Lord. That is what the d