Question:

I must question your answer in "How will I know that this is the girl God wants me to marry?"  The Bible is remarkably clear that God has an intricate plan for our life, which includes specifics such as which college to attend, whom to marry, where to live, which car to buy, and when (and if) to retire.  Only those who find and obey God's specific will for their lives will enter the reward he has planned for his followers.  This will is found by meditating in prayer and listening for the whispers of the Holy Spirit, who lays impressions upon our hearts.  We confirm these impressions by continued prayer, consulting goodly friends, and observing opportunities we have in our life.  Because Jesus is our LORD as well as Savior, we do not have the freedom to choose our own ways.  Our every decision must be conformed to the "will of God" (Romans 12:2 et al.)  We are to "trust in the LORD with all our heart" (Proverbs 3:1) and let Him, not ourselves, "direct our paths" (Proverbs 16:9).  This was the fault of the traders in James 4:13-17, they did not ask the Lord for His approval of their plans.  "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me" (Isaiah 30:1).

I do hope that you do not take this note as offensive, but I simply cannot allow you to deceive young Christians into thinking that they have the freedom to control who they marry.  To marry someone whom the Lord has not approved is just as heinous a sin as murder, and will be punished with eternal torment.  Anyone who has married without consulting the Lord first should immediately divorce their spouse, regardless of even the most dire of circumstances.  This applies also to careers; I beg you in the name of all that is holy, if you have entered a field without the Lord's permission, you may be in dire jeopardy!  To those whom Satan has bound in worldliness, conforming to the divine Will may be burdensome, but it is truly better to enter heaven a divorcee, or unemployed, than to enter Hell with your "true love" or your "dream job."


Answer:

I don't recall asking or needing your permission to teach the Bible, so I don't see how you can allow or deny the teachings which takes place on this web site. You certainly have the right to question what is being taught, but you ought to realize that you really don't have any authority.

A claim that God as a specific will for each individual doesn't make it so. Truth is found in the Bible. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). Before delving in the verses that you used to justify your stance, let's notice that you accept that each individual has free will. You state that God has a will that covers every individual's decisions, but each person has a choice to conform to that will or not. Further, you claim that not conforming to this custom-tailored life plan will send a person to hell. Yet this individual plan is not directly knowable. A person can claim to get "impressions" (i.e. feelings). Since these aren't specific you tell them to also consult with godly people and watch for opportunities. But wait a minute! Asking other people's advice and watching for opportunities implies that the person must come to his own judgment on who to ask and being aware of when opportunities arise. Thus you claim that a person must follow a plan that he doesn't know, gets only vague impressions about, but then is required to use his own intellect and if he doesn't guess correctly he'll end up in hell.

Further, notice that you urge people who make mistakes in their choices, though it would be hard to tell since there is so little to go on, that they are to make immediate changes. You tell people, who decide that they misunderstood God's directions earlier, to divorce their wives -- a direct contradiction of God's teaching. "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife" (I Corinthians 7:10-11). You tell people, who decide that they made a wrong career choice because they misunderstood God's directions earlier, to quit their jobs -- a direct contradiction of God's teaching. "Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God" (I Peter 2:18-20). You rather see people unemployed, but God tells us we must work. "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (II Thessalonians 3:10).

The conclusion is that your beliefs are not from God since they lead you to positions contradictory to what God has said. Since God doesn't contradict Himself that means you are misapplying God's word in your proofs.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:1-2).

You claim that every decision must conform to the will of God. If you had stopped there, I would agree. But you are assuming that the will of God mentioned here is a individual plan -- that the will of God for you will be different from the will of God for me. Yet where is that stated? Paul describes it as good, acceptable, and perfect -- very similar to his description of God's law. "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good" (Romans 7:12). Paul also talked about renewing the mind in another letter. "But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:21-24). In Ephesians Paul stated that the renewing of the mind came about by the teachings of Christ -- the good news in our New Testaments -- which changes a person as he conforms his life to what Christ taught. The "will of God" in Romans 12:2 is the same as the truth in Jesus in Ephesians 4:21-24, it is the recorded teachings of God, our Bibles.

Peter taught the same thing. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (II Peter 1:2-4). God has given us (past tense) everything that pertains to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him (the Bible). Does God influence my decisions? Absolutely! His teachings have shown me how to make good choices and escape the world's influence. But it is the same teachings God has given everyone one in the world. These passages don't teach a unique individual will for each person, but an overall divine will for the direction of every man's life.

"My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:1-6).

In your teachings, an individual must come to his own understanding of what he thinks God wants him to do. But Solomon tells us not to lean on our own understanding, but to trust in the Lord. How? Is it some vague impressions on the heart? Some whisper we might miss if we don't listen attentively? No, Solomon says we must not forget the law and the commands. It is God's laws which direct our paths and we need to trust that God knew what He was stating when He gave those commands. "Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; for it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips, so that your trust may be in the LORD; I have instructed you today, even you. Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, that I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?" (Proverbs 22:17-21).

You assumed that God directs each person in an individualized plan, but what Solomon states is that God has taught all mankind how they should live and that teaching directs the course of their lives. You cited: "A man's heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps" (Proverbs 16:9). But where does this state how the Lord does the direction? You assumed it is directly imparted by impressions and whispers, but such is not stated here. Instead, similar statements tell us that God allows each person to make their own decisions, but those decisions will not change what God has decided.

"The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD" (Proverbs 16:1).

"There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the LORD'S counsel-that will stand" (Proverbs 19:21).

"This is the purpose that is purposed against the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?" (Isaiah 14:26-27).

"The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations" (Psalm 33:10-11).

This brings us to James: "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that"" (James 4:13-15). James' point is that since we have little real control over our lives and we definitely have no control over how long we live, when we make plans, we need to acknowledge our lack of control. I might decide that next year I would like to move, but I not even be here. While we ought to consider God's desire for us (His teachings He has given to lead us), that isn't the point that James is making. James is saying that when we make future plans and state them as if they are definite, we are speaking from pride because we don't have that much control over our lives. "But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil" (James 4:16).

Isaiah is a specific warning to Israel. They thought they could turn the tide of events by making an alliance with Egypt. As was stated before, God tells them that they can't change His plans. ""Woe to the rebellious children," says the LORD, "who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore the strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame, and trust in the shadow of Egypt shall be your humiliation"" (Isaiah 30:1-3). In fact, God tells them that their choice will make things worse for them.

While this is a specific application, we can learn from it. As the passages we have seen before state, God gives us free choice, but we don't control every aspect of our lives. "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). We are too close to the problems. Instead, we depend on God to guide us. You assume that this guidance comes in vague impressions and whispers. But the Bible tells us God guides us through His teachings.

"How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You! Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes!" (Psalms 119:9-12).