FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – During Southwestern’s April 23 chapel service, student preacher Daniel Dickard began his sermon by showcasing a blank check.
“I want for you to imagine for a moment that your life is represented by this check,” Dickard, a Master of Divinity student, said.
“And the question is this: Do you trust God so much with your life that you would be willing to do whatever God told you to do before He tells you to do it?
“Would you sign your name away to this blank piece of paper and allow God to fill in the rest, or would you first insist that God give you the details and then decide whether or not you would sign the check?”
Referring to such Scripture passages as Jeremiah 29:11 and 2 Peter 3:9, Dickard explained that God’s will is not esoteric but is bound to His Word. Preaching from Romans 12:1-2, Dickard explained how to discern God’s will.
“Because of your relationship with Christ,” Dickard said, “you can discern God's will as you present yourself to God, as you surrender yourself to God, and as you experience transformation.”
Using this as his thesis statement, Dickard expounded on each of those three steps. Regarding the first step, Dickard said Christians must present themselves to God completely and freely.
“God does not want 99 percent of your life,” Dickard said. “He wants it all.
“So many times in our life, we want to compartmentalize Jesus to a certain area of our life, but that's not enough.”
Dickard derived his second point—the need to surrender—from Paul’s command not to conform to the world.
“I think that surrender is the opposite side of the same coin of not conforming to this world,” Dickard explained. “Surrender is an overarching term, and it is as we surrender that we consecrate ourselves to God and we cut ourselves away from the world.”
Dickard argued that simply cutting oneself away from the world without attaching to Jesus as the object of one’s worship leads to legalism. Therefore, Dickard said, it is detachment from the world coupled with consecration unto God that collectively constitutes surrender.
The third step Dickard listed is to experience transformation. Dickard noted that the Greek verb translated “transformed” in verse 2 is present, passive and imperative. The word therefore connotes a continuous process that is received from the Holy Spirit but is also a command. Specifically, Christians are commanded to renew their minds.
“Change really begins in the mind,” Dickard said. “It’s what enters into the mind that affects your heart that determines your outward behavior. If you have a transformed mind, you'll have a transformed life. If you have a debased mind, you'll have a debased life.”
Dickard concluded his sermon by clarifying that the discernment of God’s will does not necessarily lead to an easy life, noting that sometimes the most difficult place to be is in the center of God's will.
“It is God's will that you will be molded and shaped and reformed,” Dickard explained, “and it's not always easy, but [Paul] says that it's good, acceptable and perfect.”
Therefore, Dickard said, Christians are left with a choice: “Will you be play-dough in the palm of the world, or will you be clay in the potter's hand?”