Phil Johnson just put up another wonderful post, Prophecy revisited, in which he returns to the issue of putative modern-day prophecies. This is related to the ongoing controversy between woefully-misnamed continuationalists and inadequately-named cessationists. The ensuing comment thread was quite lively and interesting, with some particularly good posts by centuri0n and others.
What was a bit vexing is that the conversation immediately swerved aside. "But if God isn't still speaking, how do I know which brand of beans is His will for me to buy, or whether to watch Buffy re-runs or Touched By an Angel? How can I find His will for my life, in things not touched on by Scripture?" Oodles of earnest, good-hearted, but traditionalistic thinking was in evidence.
A simple-minded man myself, I'll venture two simple statements. I'll lay them down, then put them together, then move on.
Statement the First: Foundational. Concerning this issue, as concerning all issues, the central question for the Christian is -- "What does the Bible teach?"
Statement the Second: Practical. Concerning the specific issue of God's will for my life, the central question for the Christian is -- "For what does God hold me morally responsible?"
The assumption of many of the good brethren and sistren in the thread is that God has three wills: His sovereign will, His revealed will, and His jus'-sayin' will.
They would agree, I hope and assume, that God's sovereign will is (A) God's sole responsibility to effect, and (B) always carried out (Psalm 115:3; Ephesians 1:11b, etc. ad inf.).
They would further agree, I hope and assume, that God's revealed will is (A) found fully and adequately revealed in the Bible alone (2 Timothy 3:15-17), and (B) is our responsibility to carry out by His grace and enabling (Romans 8:12-13; Philippians 2:12-13, etc. ad inf.)
So what is God's "jus'-sayin' will"? You'll really have to ask them. The term isn't theirs, but it seems to be the aspect of God's will that most concerns them. It's the one that tells us who to marry, which lane to take in the freeway, whether to witness to Abdul or not, and the like.
To find this will requires reading a lot of books, hearing a lot of sermons, attending a lot of seminars -- because there is nothing about it in the Bible. The Bible's statements about God's will fall into category one or two, above; there is nothing about category three being a factor in normal Christian living.
You see, the central question is, "Does God hold me responsible for knowing and doing this will of His? Is it a sin if I do not do it?"
If we apply that question to category one (God's sovereign will), the answer is simple and clear: no. God's sovereign will is, by definition, His to carry out, using whatever means and secondary causes He chooses (cf. Isaiah 10:5ff.)
If we apply that same question to category two (God's revealed will), the answer is again simple and clear: yes. God's revealed will is, by definition, revealed to me to tell me what God expects me to think, be, do, or avoid (cf. Deuteronomy 6:5ff.; 29:29; John 13:17).
But if we try to apply that question to category three (God's jus'-sayin' will), the answer is less clear. Is it a sin if I buy the wrong can of beans, or marry the wrong person ("wrong," not for directly Biblical reasons, but against this elusive third category), or accept the wrong-but-moral job offer, or wear the wrong honestly-purchased cologne?
The adherents are in trouble here. If they say "No, it is not sin," then they can only be saying that it is not sin to go against God's will. But isn't violation of God's will a necessary element in any definition of sin? And if God means me to buy Breyers ice cream, but instead I buy Dreyers ice cream, how can I not be sinning?
But if it is a sin-issue, and God neglected to spell it out clearly in Scripture -- how can Scripture be complete or adequate, or anything near what Paul says it is in 2 Timothy 3:15-17?
On the other hand, if it is not sin, then what is this supposed will of God? "Jus' sayin'"?
The Biblical answer is that there are only two categories to God's will, and I am only responsible for knowing and doing one of those categories. In other areas of life, I am free to act according to wisdom within the lines drawn by God's Word.
I think of unfallen, sinless Adam. We read that "out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them" (Genesis 2:19).
Now, can we easily picture Adam saying, "Oh, no, Lord God -- I would not name these animals in my own will! What would You have me name them?"
Might God not have replied, "You goofball -- I brought them to you to name"?
Check your decisions by the adequate, complete, sufficient Word of God. Pray for clear thinking in applying the principles, values, and guidelines of the Word. Then buy the beans you like, wear the cologne that smells best, praise God for a rich array of choices, and honor Him by the full use of your faculties in making those choices.