The ministry of John & Bron Fergusson
© JF Ministries, Auckland, New Zealand. Registered charity in England and NZ.
I am so often asked, ‘Do you have a word for me?’ Almost invariably the supplicant wants to know what God wants them to do, either in the short-term over some problem or decision; or in the long-term regarding their life, ministry or purpose. I have recently realised that Paul addresses precisely this problem in the familiar passage of Romans 12. But usually when we quote the first few verses, we don’t continue with the rest of the chapter which tells us HOW to know the will of God! Please take a moment to read the whole of Romans chapters 12. It begins like this: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2). If we want to know God’s will for our lives, there are two conditions:

Submission

First we must be willing to offer ourselves fully and completely to the Lord. So often I find people want the blessings of the Lord without the commitment. No, that won’t do! God wants all of you, warts and all! Submission is an unpopular subject in a self-sufficient culture, but we were never meant to be self-sufficient as Paul goes on to explain later in the passage. Submission is giving up you right to choose. It is easy when we agree with the command – quite another when we disagree vigorously! Which is why Paul then says, ‘be transformed’.

Kingdomview

The second condition is a change of worldview – the renewing of our minds. We develop our mindset by imbibing the culture and teaching of the world around us. When we come to Christ, we are asked not merely to review that old mindset, but totally renew it – we must throw away the old way of thinking, and drink in the Lord’s – which I might call ‘Kingdomview’. We discover Kingdomview in the truth of the Word and the Spirit, but changing our whole perspective requires first that we reject our existing one before we can adopt the Kingdom one! Challenged by a miracle In 1984, I watched a withered arm become totally normal in a few seconds. As a trained scientist that dramatically challenged my worldview, and I had to reject my previous mindset. I had just seen what to my previous thinking was impossible. We struggle with this (it is not called a mind-‘set’ for nothing!) but rejecting that limiting mindset is essential if we are to discover the will of God for our lives. Otherwise his will can only conform to our limited, worldview mindsets, instead of the other way round. Get immersed To adopt the Kingdomview, we need to be immersed in Kingdom thinking more than that of the world. It’s not enough to read a chapter of the Bible, pray for 5 minutes a day, and go to church on Sundays. That is not immersion! Especially if we’re still spending hours a day in front of the TV and newspaper purveying worldview, not Kingdomview. We need to change channels, get preaching CDs for our cars or ipods, read faith-building books – get immersed! But simply the best way is to fall in love with the Bible. You cannot say you love Jesus if you don’t love the Bible. He IS the Word! Having firstly been willing to be fully submitted AND change our worldview, we are ready to begin to discover God’s will for our lives!

Humility

The next step Paul gives us is to be humble: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, (Romans 12:3a). True humility always considers others better than ourselves. This is a journey for all of us, of course, but think of the people you meet (or met) today. How do you view them? Are you more important than any of them? Hmm. I find this challenging. But without humility, we will never accept the Lord’s will for us. Instead, we will set conditions. A Bible College graduate once prayed, ‘Lord, send me anywhere there are no snakes.’ He waited for seven years without a posting. Finally he prayed, ‘OK Lord, send me anywhere!’ Within two weeks he was posted to Greenland. There are no snakes in Greenland.

Faith

Secondly Paul tell us to use the faith we have been given: in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you (Romans 12:3b). Our faith is a gift from God, and we are expected to use it, just as the servants were expected to use their money in the parable of the talents (see Matthew 25:14-30). Faith is in Jesus, not what we are or do (John 14:12). Faith is being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised (Romans 4:21), and THEN stepping out of the boat. Hope prays for rain – faith carries an umbrella. All the promises of God are received by faith and knowledge of his purpose for our lives is no different. There will ALWAYS be a moment when we must simply trust him and step out. So many people want it all laid out for them. Sorry! God doesn’t work like that. TRUST HIM! Others seem to just flow with the conditions around them. But no one ever changed the world by following the crowd, and we believers are called to change the world!

Community

Thirdly, in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others (Romans 12:5). There is no place in the Kingdom of God for independents. You actually BELONG to the body of Christ, which includes ALL those people who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16,18). Including that church across the street! This is not merely membership, but ownership (read the verse again). You are called to serve in community. We are inter-dependent, because God has given you gifts that others need, and they have gifts that you need. God’s will for your life CANNOT AND NEVER WILL BE fulfilled without giving your gifts to the church community. Paul then lists some of the gifts we may have. There are others of course, but you will only know which is yours when you submit, develop a Kingdomview, and step out in humility and faith to serve your community, the church.

And finally put on love!

It is no co-incidence that Paul ends this chapter with one of the great love passages. Without love we are merely noise, not ministry. If you want to know God’s will for your life, start loving people. Begin with the unlovely, and you will soon find all the fulfilment you seek.

Knowing God’s will

We quote Romans 12, but then stop. We miss the key points.

 JF Ministries
John & Bron Fergusson
I am so often asked, ‘Do you have a word for me?’ Almost invariably the supplicant wants to know what God wants them to do, either in the short-term over some problem or decision; or in the long-term regarding their life, ministry or purpose. I have recently realised that Paul addresses precisely this problem in the familiar passage of Romans 12. But usually when we quote the first few verses, we don’t continue with the rest of the chapter which tells us HOW to know the will of God! Please take a moment to read the whole of Romans chapters 12. It begins like this: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2). If we want to know God’s will for our lives, there are two conditions:

Submission

First we must be willing to offer ourselves fully and completely to the Lord. So often I find people want the blessings of the Lord without the commitment. No, that won’t do! God wants all of you, warts and all! Submission is an unpopular subject in a self- sufficient culture, but we were never meant to be self-sufficient as Paul goes on to explain later in the passage. Submission is giving up you right to choose. It is easy when we agree with the command – quite another when we disagree vigorously! Which is why Paul then says, ‘be transformed’.

Kingdomview

The second condition is a change of worldview – the renewing of our minds. We develop our mindset by imbibing the culture and teaching of the world around us. When we come to Christ, we are asked not merely to review that old mindset, but totally renew it – we must throw away the old way of thinking, and drink in the Lord’s – which I might call ‘Kingdomview’. We discover Kingdomview in the truth of the Word and the Spirit, but changing our whole perspective requires first that we reject our existing one before we can adopt the Kingdom one! Challenged by a miracle In 1984, I watched a withered arm become totally normal in a few seconds. As a trained scientist that dramatically challenged my worldview, and I had to reject my previous mindset. I had just seen what to my previous thinking was impossible. We struggle with this (it is not called a mind-‘set’ for nothing!) but rejecting that limiting mindset is essential if we are to discover the will of God for our lives. Otherwise his will can only conform to our limited, worldview mindsets, instead of the other way round. Get immersed To adopt the Kingdomview, we need to be immersed in Kingdom thinking more than that of the world. It’s not enough to read a chapter of the Bible, pray for 5 minutes a day, and go to church on Sundays. That is not immersion! Especially if we’re still spending hours a day in front of the TV and newspaper purveying worldview, not Kingdomview. We need to change channels, get preaching CDs for our cars or ipods, read faith-building books – get immersed! But simply the best way is to fall in love with the Bible. You cannot say you love Jesus if you don’t love the Bible. He IS the Word! Having firstly been willing to be fully submitted AND change our worldview, we are ready to begin to discover God’s will for our lives!

Humility

The next step Paul gives us is to be humble: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, (Romans 12:3a). True humility always considers others better than ourselves. This is a journey for all of us, of course, but think of the people you meet (or met) today. How do you view them? Are you more important than any of them? Hmm. I find this challenging. But without humility, we will never accept the Lord’s will for us. Instead, we will set conditions. A Bible College graduate once prayed, ‘Lord, send me anywhere there are no snakes.’ He waited for seven years without a posting. Finally he prayed, ‘OK Lord, send me anywhere!’ Within two weeks he was posted to Greenland. There are no snakes in Greenland.

Faith

Secondly Paul tell us to use the faith we have been given: in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you (Romans 12:3b). Our faith is a gift from God, and we are expected to use it, just as the servants were expected to use their money in the parable of the talents (see Matthew 25:14-30). Faith is in Jesus, not what we are or do (John 14:12). Faith is being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised (Romans 4:21), and THEN stepping out of the boat. Hope prays for rain – faith carries an umbrella. All the promises of God are received by faith and knowledge of his purpose for our lives is no different. There will ALWAYS be a moment when we must simply trust him and step out. So many people want it all laid out for them. Sorry! God doesn’t work like that. TRUST HIM! Others seem to just flow with the conditions around them. But no one ever changed the world by following the crowd, and we believers are called to change the world!

Community

Thirdly, in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others (Romans 12:5). There is no place in the Kingdom of God for independents. You actually BELONG to the body of Christ, which includes ALL those people who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16,18). Including that church across the street! This is not merely membership, but ownership (read the verse again). You are called to serve in community. We are inter-dependent, because God has given you gifts that others need, and they have gifts that you need. God’s will for your life CANNOT AND NEVER WILL BE fulfilled without giving your gifts to the church community. Paul then lists some of the gifts we may have. There are others of course, but you will only know which is yours when you submit, develop a Kingdomview, and step out in humility and faith to serve your community, the church.

And finally put on love!

It is no co-incidence that Paul ends this chapter with one of the great love passages. Without love we are merely noise, not ministry. If you want to know God’s will for your life, start loving people. Begin with the unlovely, and you will soon find all the fulfilment you seek.

Knowing God’s will