Robert Munger’s talk on "Knowing God’s Will"

When a person has come to believe in God and that God calls people to follow him, the often asked question is, “How do I know what God wants me to do?” At Urbana 81, Robert Munger talked about “Knowing God’s Will.” Here are my notes:

How do we make right decisions (that is, the decisions that God wishes for us to make) and is there a process that assures us that we are doing God’s will for us?

Basic Principles of Guidance Found in Jesus’ Call

Jesus, while physically here on earth, called people to follow him. And he calls people to follow him while he is physically absent from the earth.

  1. “The call of Jesus is first and always to himself, to walk with him and be at this side.” Our response should be to make a “wholehearted, irrevocable decision to follow Jesus Christ, to live for him, to be his.”
  2. “. . . the greatest work in all the world is to make Jesus Christ known as Savior and Lord.”
  3. Jesus is our shepherd. “Sheep are stupid animals . . . [but] the shepherd’s call and encouragement, his rod and staff, make sure that every sheep in the flock will arrive safely.”
  4. The key to guidance: “we must be willing to do God’s will before we know what it is. To trust ourselves to him. To be taught, shaped and led as he shall choose.”

Some Practical Procedures

  1. “Offer yourself to daily to God.”
  2. “Pray for guidance and grace. Ask him to make his way plain to you and put his desires within you.”
  3. “Inform the mind . . . People are guided by what they know, not by what they don’t know.”
    “We are guided by the truth of God’s word.” We can learn much in the Bible about what is important to God as we study his actions in history and as we study his words spoken to people in the past.”
    “We are guided also by the facts of God’s world.”
  4. Spend time with other Christians who are wise and know God’s word who can provide support, encouragement, wise counsel, and accountability. [Greg’s addition: But be careful of those who seek to control your life and imply that to do God’s will you must do what they say.]
  5. Start where you are. Don’t think that this or that has to change before you can start. Jesus said that he would be with us and never leave us. Give yourself to God, pray for his direction, study his word, get wise counsel and take that next step.

Knowledge: Acquired versus Experienced

Knowledge can be gained in one of two ways: acquisition or experience. If I tell my daughter that the stove is hot and that she ought not to touch it as it will hurt her, she has acquired knowledge. (It remains to be seen what she does with that knowledge.) If she touches the stove and gets burned, she has acquired knowledge through experience.

People can take accumulated knowledge that is gained through either acquisition or experience and also come to know other things (provided that it is built upon accurate information). For example, if my daughter has experienced a hot stove and I tell her that the iron is also hot, she can correctly conclude that she ought not to touch the iron as well.

A question that frequently comes up when discussing the events in the Garden of Eden is why didn’t God want Adam and Eve to know about Good and Evil (See Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-19)? There is an assumption in that question; the assumption is that God didn’t want them to have that knowledge. But perhaps it was that God wanted them to acquire that knowledge rather than experience it first hand. That is, God would teach them and they would accept the knowledge from him rather than finding out by their own personal experience. (As a side note, in the process of their rejecting God as a reliable source of information, they dishonored God and by their actions said that they believed him to be unreliable.)

This topic will be built upon in a later post regarding how we come to know about God.