|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES
|GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE
I AM REVEALED
Sep 22 2013
A MEMBER OF OUR CHURCH named Matthew served for many years alongside Christians in one of the most severely
persecuted areas of the world. Coming to Christ in this almost exclusively Muslim nation was extremely costly. Matthew
told me that on the first day men or women came to faith in Christ in that country, they were encouraged to make a list of
all the unbelievers they knew (which was often practically everyone they knew). Then they were encouraged to circle the
names of the ten people on that list who were least likely to kill them for becoming Christ-followers. Out of those ten
remaining names, the new believers were encouraged to share the gospel with each one of them as soon as possible.
That’s exactly what they did and this is how the gospel spread in that country.
It sounds a lot like Matthew 4, doesn’t it? “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 6:9). As soon as
people become followers of Jesus, they begin fishing for men.
But sadly, this is not the case for many – maybe most – professing Christians in the world. Many have hardly ever
shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with even one other person at any point in their Christian life. Even for those who
have shared the gospel at some point, most are not actively leading people around them to follow Jesus.
Why is this the case? Why are so few followers of Christ personally fishing for men when this is designed to be central in
every Christian’s life? Could it be because we have fundamentally misunderstood the central purpose for which God
has created us? And could it be that as a result, we are completely missing one of the chief pleasures God has planned
As Jesus transforms the thoughts and desires of our lives, he revolutionizes our very reason for living. Understanding
this reality is essential to knowing and experiencing the will of God as a disciple of Jesus.
THE MOST COMMON QUESTION
What is God’s will for my life? This is quite possibly the most commonly asked question in Christianity today. We have
questions and face decisions all the time, and we find ourselves constantly wondering about God’s will in them.
Some decisions are small and seem less significant. What book should I read this month? Where should I eat today?
Should I eat in? Should I eat out? If I eat out, where should I go? Do I want Mexican? Chinese? Burgers? Italian?
What do I do when my two-year-old is having a breakdown? What do I do when my six-year-old is having a breakdown?
What do I do when I am having a breakdown?
Other questions involve large, life-altering decisions. Should I date? If so, whom should I date? Should I go to college?
If so, where? What should I major in? What career path should I choose? Should I marry? If so, whom should I marry?
Should we have kids? If so, how many kids? Where should I live? How should I live?
We find ourselves buried under a myriad of questions and decisions, and in the middle of it all we keep coming back to
one question: What is God’s will for my life? What does God want me to do? How do I find God’s will for my life?
We operate as if God’s will were lost. And we’ve devised an assortment of methods for finding it.
There’s the “Random Finger Method.” Whenever you need to know God’s will, close your eyes, open your Bible at
random, put your finger down on a verse, and then open your eyes to discover his will for your life. A friend of mine in
high school tried this one. He wanted a date with a particular girl, but she wasn’t showing interest in him. In his struggle
for guidance in how to get her to pay attention to him, he randomly pointed to Romans 8:25, which says, “If we hope for
what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” It was like a voice booming from heaven. He had seen the light. Just
wait, the will of God was saying, and she will come around. The only problem was that this verse was never intended to
bring hope to a desperate teenager looking for a date. It was written to give hope to suffering people who were waiting
for the day when they would see Christ. And in the end, this girl apparently didn’t hear the same boom from heaven that
my friend did.
So we move on to the “Astonishing Miracle Method.” Look for a burning bush like Moses found or a blinding light like
Paul experienced, and there you will find the will of God. The primary problem with this method is that it’s apparently not
too common. Among people I’ve asked, very few have talked with a bush (or at least a bush that talked back to them)
and not many others have been blinded by a light while walking down a road. Apparently this is not God’s most popular
What about the “Striking Coincidence Method”? This method tells us to be on the lookout for striking coincidences to
pop up and tell us what we should do. Maybe you’re in college and debating whether to major in English or math. You
go to sleep one evening and wake up in the middle of the night, look over at the clock, and it says “2:22.” Then the next
night, you wake up and the clock says “3:33.” You think something is going on, so you go to sleep the next night with
eager anticipation and just happen to wake up, look over at the clock, and it says, “4:44.” Stunned, you get out of your
bed and fall to your knees, for God has spoken. Math it is.
Or maybe God is just telling you to take some NyQuil so you can sleep through the night.
Imagine you’re that same college student and you’re walking down the sidewalk on your campus, thinking about the
person God wants you to marry. Someone has littered a classic red Coke can, and you’re kicking it as you walk.
Suddenly you look up and see a group of girls standing ahead of you. In the middle of them, you see one girl standing
with a bright red shirt on. You stop dead in your tracks. Yet again, the Lord has spoken. You look down at the red
Coke can and then up at the girl in the red shirt and conclude that God has shown you the woman of your dreams.
Of course, at this point, you are basing your understanding of God’s will and your future marriage on the idea that God
caused someone to litter a Coke can at the very spot where you would be walking. At it’s a good thing that litterbug
wasn’t a Sprite drinker, because if he were, you would have looked up and seen the girl in the green shirt, and you
would have married the wrong girl and messed up your life, her life, the life of the guy she was supposed to marry, and
so on – you’d have messed up the whole thing for everybody.
The list goes on. We have the “Cast the Fleece Method,” which requires testing God to see what he wants us to do. We
have the “Still Small Voice Method,” which advocates waiting for God to speak in a still, small way, and when his voice is
still enough and small enough to meet our standards (whatever those are), we know his will. Then we have the “Open
Door Method,” which says that if God opens up an opportunity, it is obviously his will for us to take it. Another version of
this one is the “Closed Door Method”: if a decision seems difficult, it’s obviously not God’s will for us to make it (for he
would never want us to do anything difficult). (The titles for these methods of finding God’s will are not my own.) I have
seen them in a variety of different sources and adapted them for use here.)
With good intentions, we try hard to use various methods to find God’s will. But what if God’s will was never intended to
be found? In fact, what if it was never hidden from us in the first place? What if God the Father has not sent his children
on a cosmic Easter egg hunt to discover his will while he sits back in heaven saying, “You’re getting
colder…warmer…colder…”? And what if searching for God’s will like this actually misses the entire point of what it
means to be a disciple of Jesus?
THE MORE IMPORTANT ISSUE
Consider how discipleship transforms not only our minds and emotions, but also our wills. You and I have seen that
when we come to Christ, we die to ourselves. To return to Paul’s words, each of us says as a Christian, “I have been
crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20). As followers of Jesus, our lives are
subsumed in his life, and our ways are totally surrendered to his will.
This is precisely what we illustrate in baptism when we first become followers of Jesus. Paul asked the Roman
Christians, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were
therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the
glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3-4). In baptism the Christian makes a public declaration that
he or she is dead to sin and alive to Christ. Just as Jesus died, so a disciple has died to self. Just as Jesus rose again,
so a disciple now lives in Christ.
The significance of baptism was etched into my mind and heart during my time with Asian brothers and sisters in
underground house churches. I was teaching one day from Matthew 18 on making disciples, and I explained Jesus’
command for Christians to be baptized. I emphasized how baptism is a critical, essential, and nonnegotiable step of
obedience for a new follower of Christ because it symbolizes his or her fundamental identification with the death and
resurrection of Jesus.
After I finished, two of the men in the room, Li and Huan, shared that they had not yet been baptized, and they wanted to
be. So the next day, one of the pastors in this house church, Jiang, asked me to do some more extensive teaching on
baptism. As I walked through passages like Romans 6, it suddenly hit me. I was sitting in a country where it was illegal
for these two men to identify themselves as followers of Christ through baptism. This was a decisive turning point in their
lives and a potentially dangerous decision for them to make. Humbled by this realization, I closed our time in the Word
with a reminder to Li and Huan that it could cost them greatly to be baptized that day.
Immediately, Jiang asked Li and Huan to come to the middle of the room. Everyone sat silently by as Li and Huan took
their stand. Jiang looked at Li, a brother in his midtwenties who had just recently come to faith in Christ, and asked him
point-blank, “Li, are you willing to be baptized, knowing that it may cost you your life?” With unhesitating resolve, Li
looked back at Jiang and said, “I have already sacrificed everything to follow Jesus. Yes, I want to be baptized.”
Huan was a teenager who had also recently come to faith in Christ. In front of the rest of this house church, Jiang asked
him, “Huan, are you willing to be baptized today, knowing that it may cost you your life? With a slight quiver in his voice,
Huan looked back at Jiang and said, “Jesus is my Lord. Whatever he says to do, I will do.”
With that, Li and Huan were baptized – at the risk of their lives. As I watched these brothers identify with Christ through
baptism, I knew that from this point forward, both of their futures would be completely different. They had given
everything they were, everything they had, everything they would ever do, and everything they would ever be to Jesus.
They had completely and gladly surrendered their ways to God’s will.
Yet the picture of these brothers in a house church in Asia is so different from the way professing Christians often talk
about the will of God in our culture. So often we speak about the will of God in negative terms or somber tones.
“I don’t know if I’m willing to go wherever God leads,” people will say (or at least think). “I’m afraid of where he might take
me. What if he leads me to Africa? Or what if he tells me to downsize my home? What if he turns everything in my life
upside down?” As a result, we’re anxious and hesitant to say to God, “I will go wherever you lead and give what you ask.”
But how can a Christian ever be afraid to say this to God? After all, he is our Father. If my kids were to say to me, “Dad,
this week, we will do whatever you think is best for us,” how do you think I would respond? Would I make their week
miserable? Certainly not. I would honor their trust in me by leading them toward whatever is best for them. Now I’m not
perfect, and I don’t know what’s best for my children 100 percent of the time. But God does. He is a perfect Father, and
he makes no mistakes. He desires our good more than we do. So shouldn’t we gladly surrender our will to his?
This is what it means to be a disciple. Declared and demonstrated in our initial act of baptism, we have lost our lives in
Christ, and we have gladly surrendered our ways to his will.
So is this true in your life? Is your heart wholly and unhesitatingly surrendered to the will of God, no matter what it is?
Are you underestimating God’s care for you, as if he doesn’t know what is best for you? Or are you overestimating your
wisdom before God, as if you know better than he does what is best for your life?
WALKING IN GOD’S WILL
Such questions lead us to realize that far more important than looking and searching for God’s will is simply knowing and
trusting God. We yearn for mechanical formulas and easy answers when it comes to the will of God, and all of the
methods I mentioned previously – the random finger, astonishing miracle, striking coincidence, cast the fleece, still small
voice, open door, and closed door methods – are examples of this. We want to find shortcuts to the mind of God. But
this is not God’s design – or should I say, this is not God’s will. His ultimate concern is not to get you or me from point A
to point B along the quickest, easiest, smoothest, clearest route possible. Instead, his ultimate concern is that you and I
would know him more deeply as we trust him more completely.
After writing Radical, I received all kinds of questions and comments about specific facets of the Christian life in
America. People would ask me, “What does a radical lifestyle look like? What kind of car should I drive, or should I even
drive a car? What kind of house should I live in? Am I supposed to adopt? Am I supposed to move overseas to a
foreign mission field?
I found these questions, though sincere and honest, to be a bit troubling. It felt like people were looking for a box to
check or a criterion to follow that would ensure they were obeying God. But such questions, if we’re not careful, bypass
the core of what it means to follow Jesus. Outside of the commands of Christ in Scripture, we have no specific set of
rules or regulations regarding how the radical commands of Christ apply to our lives. Instead, we have a relationship
So we go to him. We spend time with him. We sincerely listen to his Word as we walk in obedience to it. As we do these
things, God leads and guides us according to his will, and suddenly we realize that the will of God is not a road map just
waiting to be unearthed somewhere. Instead, it’s a relationship that God wants us to experience every day. This is the
fountain from which radical living flows.
Oswald Chambers uses the illustration of a man walking on a path through the woods. Chambers asks at what point that
man will ever wonder where the path lies. Of course, he says, the only time that man will wonder where the path lies is
when he is actually off the path. As long as the man walks on the path, he will never have to ask where the path is. In
light of this illustration, Chambers writes:
stage of your discipline in the life of faith. When you are rightly related to God, it is a life of freedom and liberty
and delight, you are God’s will, and all your commonsense decisions are His will for you unless He checks. You
decide things in perfect delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will always
check; when He checks, stop at once (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, entry for March 20 [classic
edition], accessed at www.utmost.org.).
The goal of the disciple of Jesus, then, is not to answer the question, “What is God’s will for my life?” The goal, instead,
is to walk in God’s will on a moment-by-moment, day-by-day basis.
GOD’S WILL REVEALED
The more we know God, and the more we walk in his will, the more we understand how foolish it is to think that he would
ever want to hide it from us. Instead, we realize that God’s desire for us to know his will is exponentially greater than our
desire to know it. He desires for us to know his will so much that he reveals it to us in his Word.
God has a will, and he has made it clear. From cover to cover in the Bible, God wills to redeem men and women from
every nation, tribe, language, and people by his grace and for his glory. At the beginning of history, God creates man
and woman to enjoy his grace and extend his glory across the earth (See Genesis 1:26-28). The patriarchs then show
us how God blesses his people so that his blessing will spread to all peoples (See Genesis 12:1-3; 26:4; 28:14). The
psalmist in the Old Testament knows this is God’s will, so he prays, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make
his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” (Psalm 67:1-2). The
prophets echo this cry, connecting God’s salvation for his people with God’s will to save all peoples. The book of Isaiah
ends with God’s promise to send out his people to all nations to declare his glory:
sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations…that have not heard my fame or seen my
glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations.
Habakkuk prophesies the day when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters
cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14).
God’s will to be worshiped among the nations continues into the New Testament. In the Gospels, Jesus ends his time on
earth by commanding his followers to go to the nations. He tells his disciples to make disciples, preach the gospel, and
proclaim his glory to the ends of the earth (See Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:47-49; Acts 1:8).
The story of the church and the letters to the church in the New Testament reveal the same emphasis. In Romans 15,
Paul describes the purpose of Christ’s death on the cross, saying, “I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the
Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his
mercy.” (Romans 15:8-9). In other words, Christ died not just for Israel, God’s people in the Old Testament, but so that
all nations might praise God for his salvation. As a result, just a few verses later, Paul describes how his will is now
surrendered to God’s will, saying, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known” so
that “those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” (Romans 15:20-21).
Peter echoes this purpose of God in history, saying that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should
come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9, NKJV). At the end of the Bible, God’s will to save men and women from every nation,
tribe, people, and language is ultimately fulfilled. John writes in Revelation 7:9-10:
people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and
were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
The will of God is clear from cover to cover in Scripture. From beginning to end, God wills to be worshiped. He wills for
all people to hear, receive, embrace, and respond to the gospel of his grace for the sake of his glory all over the globe.
Therefore, it’s not shocking for Jesus’ first words to his disciples in the book of Matthew to be, “Follow me, and I will make
you fishers of men.” In the days that followed, he taught them that he “came to seek and to save what was lost,” (Luke
19:10), and he told them that just as the Father had sent him into the world, he would send them into the world (See
John 17:18). Subsequently, we are not surprised when the last words of Jesus to his disciples are, “Therefore go and
make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19).
This is God’s will in the world: to create, call, save, and bless his people for the spread of his grace and glory among all
peoples. This will is not intended to be found; it is intended to be followed. We don’t have to wonder about God’s will
when we’ve been created to walk in it. We have no need to ask God to reveal his will for our lives; instead, we each ask
God to align our lives with the will he has already revealed.
God’s will for us as disciples of Jesus is to make disciples of Jesus in all nations. Therefore, the question every disciple
asks is, “How can I best make disciples of all nations?” And once we ask this question, we realize that God wants us to
experience his will so much that he actually lives in us to accomplish it.
THE PURPOSE OF THE SPIRIT IN THE BIBLE
Now you may think, Aren’t you oversimplifying the will of God? Certainly there’s more to God’s will than just preaching the
gospel to all people and making disciples of all nations. In one sense, the answer to that question is clearly yes – there
is more to the will of God than people simply coming to Christ. At the same time, have you ever wondered why God has
given us his Spirit? We’ve seen how as followers of Christ, God unites our lives with the life of Jesus by putting the very
Spirit of Jesus inside of us. So what is the purpose of Jesus’ living presence inside of us?
The New Testament answers that question in many ways. The Holy Spirit dwells in followers of Christ to comfort and
convict, to give gifts, and to provide guidance. The Holy Spirit is the Christian’s Helper and Counselor who opens our
minds to understand God’s Word and compels our hearts to offer God worship (See John 4:24; 6:63; 14:15-17, 25-26;
15:26-27; 16:4-15; I Corinthians 2:6-16; 12:1-11; Galatians 5:22-23). Yet amid all of these things, one overarching
purpose of the Spirit seems particularly evident from the moment he first fills followers of Christ.
When Jesus promised to send his Spirit to his disciples, he said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on
you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
Jesus had already told them to “make disciples” and preach “repentance and forgiveness of sins…in his name to all
nations,” for they were “witnesses of these things.” (Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47-48) His will for their lives was for them to
witness, and he would send his Spirit to enable them to follow and fulfill that will.
So what does it mean to witness? Quite simply, it means to speak – to testify about who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and
how Jesus saves. Such verbal speech makes total sense in light of how we’ve seen the Holy Spirit at work in the Bible
up to this point. A quick perusal of Old Testament instances where the Spirit of God fills various people reveals one
particular purpose associated with the coming of the Spirit. Look at these six examples and see if you can identify it:
the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied (Numbers 11:25).
his oracle…(Numbers 24:2-3)
“This is what God says…” (II Chronicles 24:20).
paid no attention (Nehemiah 9:30).
In each one of the instances above, the Spirit of God is associated with the spoken word. Everyone on whom the Spirit
of God came spoke or prophesied the Word of God.
When we come to the New Testament, we see eight different times where Luke describes people specifically being filled
with the Spirit. Look at these eight instances, and see if you recognize a common purpose in them:
will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their
God (Luke 1:15-16).
spoke the word of God boldly (Acts 4:31).
Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and
be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He
got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:17-20).
the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never
stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:9-10).
In all eight of these circumstances where people are filled with the Holy Spirit, the result is that those people begin to
speak (The only one that’s not directly clear about this is Luke 1:15-16, but remember that this was a prophecy about
John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, whose purpose in redemptive history was to verbally proclaim the coming of
the Kingdom of God.)
When the Bible repeats something like this over and over again, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament,
we are wise to pay attention. The filling of the Spirit in God’s people is clearly linked to a particular purpose: the verbal
proclamation of God’s Word and the ultimate accomplishment of God’s will.
This is exactly what we see Jesus accomplishing through his church in the New Testament. Even though Jesus ascends
to heaven in the first chapter of Acts, he still continued to work. Jesus pours out his Spirit in power upon his people. He
adds to the church daily those who are being saved. Jesus appears to Paul to save him and call him to spread the
gospel to the nations. He appears to Peter to lead him to accept the Gentiles into the church. As Jesus is worshiped in
Acts 13, he sets apart Paul and Barnabas through his Spirit for the spread of the gospel to new areas. Jesus guides his
people to different cities at different times. As the gospel is preached, Jesus opens hearts to believe it. Jesus does all
of these things through his Spirit in his disciples (See Acts 2:33, 47; 9:1-31; 10:1-48; 13:1-4; 16:6-10, 14).
THE PURPOSE OF THE SPIRIT IN OUR LIVES
And Jesus is doing the same thing today. Just as Jesus filled his disciples with his power and his presence to accomplish
his purpose in the first century, Jesus has filled every one of his disciples today with his power and his presence to
accomplish his purpose in the twenty-first century. Yet we are prone to miss this, even in the way we talk about the Holy
I often hear Christians say, “Well, I share the gospel when the Holy Spirit leads me.” As with similar statements, there is
some truth here. We want to be led by the Holy Spirit in everything we do. At the same time, we need to remember that
the Spirit lives in us for the explicit purpose of spreading the gospel through us. If you have the Holy Spirit in you, you
can officially consider yourself led to share the gospel! You don’t have to wait for a tingly feeling to go down your spine
or a special message to appear from heaven to lead you to tell people about Christ. You just open your mouth and talk
about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and you will be carrying out the purpose of Jesus’ presence in you. In
other words, when you’re telling others about the wonder of the gospel, you’re carrying out the will of God.
I also hear professing Christians say, “Well, I don’t witness with any words; I witness with my life.” Again, there’s some
truth here: we want the character of Christ to be clear in our actions. At the same time, when Jesus told his disciples that
they would receive his Spirit and be his witnesses in the world, he wasn’t just calling them to be nice to the people
around them. Whether in a courtroom or any other circumstance, the basic function of a witness is to speak. As we’ve
already seen, ten out of the elven apostles who heard Jesus’ words in Acts I were not martyred because they went into
the world doing good deeds; they were murdered because they witnessed to the Word of God.
We have brothers and sisters around the world who are imprisoned, beaten, persecuted, and killed today not because
they smile as they serve people. Martyrs from the first century to the twenty-first century die because they speak the
gospel. Doesn’t it seem ignorant and even arrogant to say, particularly in areas where we are free to proclaim the
gospel, that we will “just witness with our lives”?
God has given us a gospel to believe, a Spirit to empower, and a language to speak for a purpose – a grand, glorious,
global, God-exalting purpose that transcends all of history. From the beginning of time through today, God has been at
work, drawing people to himself, and he is using us to accomplish his will.
THE DISCIPLE’S DAILY EXPECTATION
Do you believe this? Do you believe that Jesus is at work in the world around you and that he wants to use you in
alignment with his will to accomplish his work?
Several years ago, I spent a couple of weeks in one city in India. The gospel partners we were working with in this
relatively gospelless city asked us to go out every single night into a popular park full of people. “We believe that God is
working in people’s hearts in this city,” they told us, “and he wants them to know his love. God has revealed Jesus to
some of them in dreams and visions. Others of them have heard a little bit about him, and they have a desire to know
more.” Then they said, “Your job is to go out and find people whose hearts God has prepared, and share the gospel
with them.” With that, they prayed that God would direct our steps to people who were open to talking about Jesus and
they sent us out.
Every night, I went into that city park full of confidence. My confidence was not based on my personality or my ability to
share the gospel. Instead, my confidence was grounded in the reality that God was already working in people’s lives all
throughout that park. He desired their salvation and was drawing them to himself. Now that didn’t mean that every
single person we talked with responded positively to the gospel. But many did. We had numerous fruitful conversations
about Christ, and some of the people we met eventually became followers of Christ. Along the way, I and the team with
whom I serve had the privilege of being part of God’s supernatural work in people’s lives.
Could it be that God wills for us to approach every single day like this? Maybe he is doing things we have no idea about
behind the scenes in the lives of the people we work with, live around, and meet every day. Maybe God has led them
into our paths so that they might hear the gospel from us. And maybe when we speak his gospel, he will open their eyes
to see his glory. This certainly seems like the daily expectation of the disciples two thousand years ago.
So imagine sitting at a coffee shop today. What if God has been preparing the woman at the table next to you to hear
the gospel? What if he has sovereignly arranged the circumstances in her life to set the stage for a conversation you
will have with her about Jesus? What if God desires to use you, as you speak the gospel to her today, to change her life
But, you might think, it’s just not that easy to start speaking about Jesus to the person sitting next to me at a coffee
shop. We all have fears that quickly rise to the surface – the fear of offending someone, the fear of initiating an
awkward conversation. Yet such fears are only a sign that we are forgetting who we are. We are followers of Christ who
have been crucified with him: we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. He has united his life with ours and put his Spirit
in us for this purpose. Without him, we have reason to fear; with him, we have reason for faith.
On our own, we are destined to fail. Just think about the outrageous nature of the gospel we share. We tell people that
they are wicked at the core of who they are, condemned by their sin, and destined for hell. Yet two thousand years ago,
the son of a Jewish carpenter who claimed to be the Son of God was nailed naked to a wooden cross, and everyone’s
eternity is now dependent on denying themselves and declaring him Lord, Savior, and King. At first glance, that
message certainly seems like a tough sell, doesn’t it? How will anyone believe it?
They will believe the gospel for the same reason you have believed the gospel: because the Spirit of God opens their
eyes to see the glory of God and to receive the grace of God. For the last two thousand years, God has willed to draw
people to himself through the proclamation of his Word by the power of his Spirit, and he simply calls each of us to do
the same today. And when we are faithful to obey his will, he will show himself faithful to bless his Word.
THE TRANSFORMED LIFE
As Jesus transforms our thought and our desires, he conforms our ways to his will. I think about Luke, a member of the
church I have the privilege of pastoring. I have seen God turn Luke’s thoughts, desires, and will upside down from the
When Luke was in college, he found himself living the typical collegiate lifestyle. Though he had heard of God’s love, he
tried to drown out God’s voice with alcohol as much as he could. By God’s grace, it didn’t take long for Luke to come to
the end of himself as he realized the emptiness of the worldly pleasures he was pursuing. Luke said, “One night I cried
out for God to change me through Christ.” That night, Jesus saved Luke from his sin. Luke died to himself and became
alive in Christ. Not long after that, he was baptized.
Immediately after college, Luke became a successful businessman with significant means. At the same time, he was
growing in his understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. After a sermon one day on God’s will to be
worshiped in all the world, Luke wrote me and said, “David, I realize that the entire reason God has blessed the business
I lead is so that I can fulfill his purpose in the world. He has blessed me not so that I can drive a BMW or live in a big
house or have prestige. He has blessed me to glorify himself.”
As he began to understand God’s will in the world, Luke started intentionally meditating on and memorizing God’s Word.
He told me, “I used to not even bring my Bible to church, but now God’s Word is changing my life. My Bible no longer
sits in one place long, as it now comes with me to work and everywhere I go. I just want to know and follow him.” Before
long, Luke memorized the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). He told me, “My insatiable desire for business books,
seminars, and motivational speakers has completely gone away. God has replaced that desire with a hunger for his
Word. I’m now reading through the entire Old Testament. Scripture is coming alive as I begin to see the beauty of the
interplay between all of the Old and New Testament. As I aggressively read the Word, I am encouraged in the Lord, and
he is daily changing my desires.” Luke was not just content to soak in God’s Word for himself, so he began teaching
God’s Word in the church.
As Luke’s desire for God’s Word began to grow, so did his passion for Christ in prayer. He wrote me about a prayer time
he had with a friend named Stephen, saying, “Stephen and I prayed together this morning for the first time. Wow! I
thought we were just going to get together and pray over the request list from our small group. But we never even got to
it because we were so busy pouring ourselves out before the Lord. The Holy Spirit’s presence was so strong it was
almost overwhelming. We both looked up with tearstained faces after about an hour and a half of prayer and said,
“What in the world just happened?” After another similar prayer time, Luke wrote to Stephen, saying, “Stephen, after
you left our prayer time this Scripture came to my mind: ‘Taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who
takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8, ESV). We literally tasted and saw that the Lord was good this morning.” On another
day, Luke told me, “We had an awesome prayer time this morning as we prayed for about two hours. It’s amazing how
good God is and how he longs for us to intercede and talk with him. God is birthing in me a desire to not only pray in
fellowship with others but also to pray without ceasing and about all things.”
Continual praying then led to regular fasting in Luke’s life. He found himself desiring God in ways he had never
experienced before, and physically putting aside food for a few meals served as an external expression of an internal
longing inside him. Luke literally found himself feasting on God’s Word.
Meanwhile, Luke’s business continued to grow, and he was invited to give an address at his corporation’s annual
nationwide meeting. Though he was nervous, he knew that God had given him this opportunity to speak about Christ,
and so he incorporated the gospel into different facets of his speech. After he finished, he sat down and a manager
across the table said to him, “Luke, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, but I want to know more.” In response,
Luke fully explained the gospel to this manager and everyone else listening in at his table. When he was finished, Luke
asked the manager, “Would you like to turn from your sin and yourself and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord?” To Luke’
s surprise, with ten other people at the table looking on, the manager said yes, and that night he became a follower of
In the last few years, by God’s grace, Luke has shared the gospel intentionally with his coworkers, and some of them
have come to know Christ. Luke has also traveled overseas, where God has opened Luke’s eyes to urgent spiritual and
physical need around him in the world. As Luke has felt firsthand God’s heart for the nations, his life, family, and
business have changed. Luke and his wife adopted a child, and Luke now takes profits from his company and pours
them into ministry to physically and spiritually starving men and women. Luke wants to spend his life making disciples of
The difference between the day Luke knelt before God and became a Christian and today is nothing short of radical. In
the process of transforming Luke’s thoughts and desires, Jesus has conformed Luke’s ways to his will. Luke is basking
in the word of God and walking in the will of God, and the joy in his eyes and passion in his heart are unmistakable.
Simply put, Luke loves following Jesus, and he loves fishing for men.
A NEW WAY OF LIVING
Now I’m certainly not saying that every disciple’s life should look exactly like Luke’s. Far from it. In his divine creativity,
Christ forms us in a variety of ways to serve in different places and positions through diverse avenues.
What is constant, though, is clear. As we turn to Jesus, he transforms us. As we die to ourselves, we live in him. He
gives us a new heart – cleansed of sin and filled with his Spirit. He gives us a new mind – an entirely new way of
thinking. He gives us new desires – entirely new senses of longing. And he gives us a new will – an entirely new way of
The will of God is for every disciple of Jesus to make disciples of Jesus. None of us need to wait for still, small voices or
random coincidences or supernatural signs in the sky to realize what God wants us to do with our lives. In fact, we don’t
have to wait at all. Just like new believers in the Muslim country where Matthew was serving, as soon as we follow Christ,
we start fishing for men. And as we do, we discover the distinct delight that is found not in searching for God’s will, but in
experiencing God’s will. Even better than this, we discover that we belong to an entire community of brothers and sisters
who are all committed to accomplishing the same purpose.
FOLLOW ME: A CALL TO DIE. A CALL TO LIVE., by David Platt, Copyright 2013, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.