Most problems in life are due to hermeneutical errors

Saint Augustine addressing God in the Confessions:

The answer you give is clear, but not all hear it clearly. All ask you whatever they wish to ask, but the answer they receive is not always what they want to hear. The man who serves you best is the one who is less intent on hearing from you what he wills to hear than on shaping his will according to what he hears from you. (X, 26)

Klaus Bockmuehl in Listening to the God Who Speaks: Reflections on God’s guidance from Scripture and the lives of God’s people (Colorado Springs: Helmers & Howard, 1990):

Beware passivism
The theology of passivism, or quietism, … conceals the human propensity to sin and ignores the biblical task of the sanctification of the believer. Asking the individual to do nothing but repose in redemption, it fuels the already existing human sloth-factor. Fitting in nicely with the contemporary philosophy of individualism, quietism gives people the impression that salvation ends with me, the individual, and makes them oblivious to the perspectives of the Kingdom of God. Jesus, however, attends to both the individual and the Kingdom of God; in him, listening and action go hand in hand, not against each other. (142)

Our first calling
The question we need to answer is how the New Testament, how Jesus himself, can hold two attitudes together when one calls for workers and the other calls for listening as Mary did. The answer is that the Bible incorporates “both/and”. … We may grasp the need for true and practical dedication to God, but our next move, if we rush in with a self-chosen mode of worship or service to God, can destroy everything. Our first calling is to have fellowship with Christ, and only after that are we called to ministry. (144)

Make ourselves receptive
… our work must be illuminated from within by our contact and fellowship with Christ. Such illumination comes from listening: “What does my LORD say to his servant?” (Joshua 5:14). We need, especially when we begin a new stage in life, to become quiet before God and seek direction from God. Devotion engenders attentiveness. We must make ourselves receptive to God’s instruction. Only in this way can we arrive at wisdom for action and make the spiritual investment in people and situations so needed by humanity. (144–145)

The Kingdom of God as scope and goal
… we should look for the subjective application of the time, place, and person in the objective commandment of love. Love and the Holy Spirit will always go together … Love will always go with obedient listening as well. The actual contents or subject matter of what we hear when we listen can be spelled out by the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done.” The Kingdom of God is always the scope and prominent goal of God’s teaching to us through the Holy Spirit. (148–149)

Testing our perceptions
1. Holy Scripture
… is the starting point and measuring rod for individual insight. Scripture must continue at all times — like the bass line in music — to underlie momentary insights. It must be the voice that carries our quiet times. We should be profoundly grateful that Scripture is available to us as an objective foundation, especially in times of crisis when our own inner voice provides only a maze of contradictions that lead us into confusion and despair. (149)

2. God’s guidance is practical
It concerns our walk (Isaiah 30:2). It is ethical. Scripture compares the person to a temple, a person’s life to a place where God’s name is hallowed and sanctified — not in a cultic, but in a moral, sense: each individual is presented before God as holy, as available for God’s service (Colossians 1:28–29). (149–150)

3. For the purposes of ministry
… not merely for personal edification, but for the social benefit of all. … When God speaks and guides us, he instructs us in the healthy sustainment and regeneration of human relationships. … The litmus test for God’s guidance is the concrete promotion of love of God and love of neighbour. (150)

To sum up, individual insight must always be concordant with Scripture. The Holy Spirit, we are told by the apostle John, takes what he has to say from Jesus, from the way he taught and actually lived himself. … The Spirit always points back to Scripture. Indeed, true prophecy is the personal application of the biblical word in a new situation. Otherwise, all “guidance”, “prophecy”, or “vocation” can be criticised as an illusion. When we test our insights against Scripture, however, we can live with confidence, experiencing God and his blessings. (150)

Why listen?
The listening of the Great Listener is the source of his philanthropy and gentleness, derived from his patience in looking back to earlier experiences of God’s speaking and guidance and attained by “waiting upon the Lord” … Of critical importance is that this confidence replaces rashness or the artificial build-up of pressure, a self-manipulation seen so often in success-hungry lives. (152)

To act out of receiving, to be a people of prayer — that, and not intellectual brilliance — will build God’s kingdom. We can nevertheless all have our own part in this work of building God’s Kingdom, because, listening, we receive God’s creativity, which knows no limits of natural talent. Such creativity is attained through human availability to God, which is the true meaning of sanctification. (152)

Let us for a moment ponder the past and consider our perspectives for the future. Whatever we have done, and whatever we have become in the past, we commit into God’s hands — the good with thanksgiving, the bad with a prayer for forgiveness. For the future, let us pray that, above all, God would make us listeners to himself, so that we may be neither idle, nor self-sufficient; not rash in our deeds, but ever pausing to listen, and then to follow him, moving in consonance with his will. (155)


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