John Newton on finding God's will

I've just finished reading Kevin DeYoung's book, Just Do Something, a Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will. I plan to gush about - I mean - review it in the near future. But for now, here are a couple of quotes from John Newton (writer of Amazing Grace) which I found there. These speak particularly to the practice some make of removing a Scripture from its context and intended use, in order to construe it as direct personal guidance from God.

"I remember, in going to undertake the care of a congregation, I was reading, as I walked in the green lane, 'Fear not, Paul, I have much people in this city.' But I soon afterward was disappointed to find that Paul was not John and that Corinth was not Warwick."

"Others, when in doubt, have opened the Bible at a venture and expected to find something to direct them in the first verse they should cast their eye upon. It is no small discredit to this practice that the heathens, who knew not the Bible, used some of their favorite books in the same way...for if people will be governed by the occurrence of a single text of Scripture, without regarding the context, or duly comparing it with the general tenor of the word of God, and with their own circumstances, they may commit the greatest extravagances, expect the greatest impossibilities, and contradict the plainest dictates of common sense, while they think they have the word of God on their side."

"In general, he [God] guides and directs his people by affording them, in answer to prayer, the light of his Holy Spirit, which enables them to understand and to love the Scriptures. The Word of God is not to be used as a lottery; nor is it designed to instruct us by shreds and scraps, which, detached from their proper places, have no determinative import; but it is to furnish us with just principles, right apprehensions to regulate our judgments and affections, and thereby to influence and direct our conduct."


karin said…
Good thoughts! Thanks for sharing them.
Laurie M. said…
Many thanks, again, to my friend Judy who pointed out to me that I'd yet again confused John Newton and John Bunyan, writer of Pilgrims' Progress, in my original publication of this post. I'll never understand why my brain accepts those names as interchangeable.
jeri said…
It is a helpful book, isn't it? And on the Johns Newton and Bunyan, I do it too, just did it yesterday. Or, sometimes I'll pull a really sly one and call John Bunyan Paul Bunyan (of Babe the Blue Ox fame.)
Anonymous said…
That's funny, Laurie, because my pastor almost invariably, when he means to say John Newton, says John Owen.
Laurie M. said…
Y'all have made me feel much better. And Jeri, this should make you feel better - at church Sunday the fellow doing announcements told us he was doing the prayer meeting devotions from a book on prayer by Paul Bunyan - to the correction of his wife, snickers, and a joke from another congregant about it being a book of lumberjack prayers.

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