The Word of God and the Will of God

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January 17, 2020

John 15:7-8 (NIV)

7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

CONSIDER THIS

One of my first mentors in the Lord, Mrs. Betty Jane Oldner, always reminded me, “John David, you can’t do the will of God unless you know the Word of God.” How does our engagement with God’s Word impact our prayer life and pursuit of God’s will? Today’s first word—last word text gets at this.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

It is tempting to read this text at a transactional level. If I do this then God must do that. If I stay close to God and God’s Word then he will have to do whatever I ask of him. I do my part and God does God’s part. Something within our fallen and broken humanity wants to hold a claim on God. 

We must learn to read this text, and indeed the whole of the Word of God, at a transcendent level. At a transactional level we try and engage the Word of God on our terms and in order to achieve our agenda; even what we might conceive of as a godly agenda. At a transcendent level, we surrender our lives to God and sign on to God’s will and agenda in the world (i.e. on Earth as it is in Heaven). We exchange our control for an abiding relationship with Jesus. The reality of abiding occurs as God’s presence and plan transcends our presence and plans. 

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

As the words of God remain or abide in us, the Spirit of God transforms our heart and mind to reflect and refract the heart and mind of Christ, indeed the ways and will of God— in our lives and relationships. We learn to pray the kinds of prayers Jesus prays and that the Father answers. We learn a way of praying that participates in the unfolding will of God as it unfolds. We learn to pray simultaneously with humility and boldness, not presuming the outcome but confident in God. In this way prayer ceases to be a transactional practice and becomes a transcendent place of laboring with God in the power of the Spirit for his will to be done. There is simply no way to get to this kind of place apart from a long, deep and abiding engagement with the Word of God. The outcome of this kind transcendent life is flourishing fruit bearing. Hear Jesus on this point:

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

The transactional mentality understands the outcome of abiding to be receiving whatever we ask for in prayer. The transcendent mindset understands the outcome of abiding to be bearing much fruit as the disciples of Jesus for the glory of the Father. As we abide in Jesus in the power of the Spirit and his words abide in us, our wishes come to be shaped by God’s will and their fulfillment becomes the great delight of God for the great good of his glory. 

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

First Word. Last Word. God’s Word.

THE PRAYER

Lord Jesus, I want to abide in you and for your words to abide in me. I want this not for my agenda but for your will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. I want for my prayers to be infused with the Word of God, for the Word to be encrypted and embedded in my praying. I want to learn to labor with you in prayer in the power of your Word and Spirit and not according to my willful pleadings and petitions. Train me in this way of life. I surrender myself completely to you and submit myself to your will and ways as I pray in your name, Jesus. Amen.  

THE QUESTION

How are you understanding this distinction I am trying to draw between transactional faith and transcendent faith?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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