Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sensitivity to the Spirit

So, a previous post raised the question of what's a big decision?

A couple of weeks ago I was in Oxfam books in Reading - it's a great place to pick up old Christian books - much of it's not good but there are a some treasures in the dirt. My best buys have probably been Lloyd-Jones on Romans 3 and this one...

Taking Sides by David Field of Oak Hill [Update - not the same David Field who is currently at Oak Hill - ht: David Gibson]. It's a 1975 book from IVP which seems to be out of print now.

It's a brilliant practical pocketbook on ethics. I really wanted it because it's helping me with a seminar I'm writing on a Christian attitude to work (study). But, the rest is good too.

The first chapter is called what does the Bible say? and is helpful on this other issue. This is a book that starts where others finish - pushing hard the application on the basis of firm Biblical foundations.

David Field notes we should distinguish the weightier matters. He cites Jesus' critique of the Pharisees for neglecting the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy and faith (Matthew 23v23). Not saying that somethings don't matter but that there are major priorities that can't be missed. Likewise the church in Acts 15 distinguished some weightier matters that Gentile converts should observe and others that could be overlooked. I think that says, we can use the term 'big decision', though it doesn't immediately help distinguish what is weightier. - perhaps we can discern some Biblical principles for that?

Field then talks about some factors - choosing lesser evils and weighing the interests of others before concluding with 'listen to the voice of conscience'. He says it's not an infallible guide - the conscience can be anaesthetised by persistent sin (1 Tim 4v2) and taught by godliness (Hebrews 5v14). Spurgeon is quoted as saying that the conscience '..should shiver whenever the ghost of a sin goes by'.

But, also (Phil 2v13) God is at work in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
"Through the Spirit's dynamism, the Christian becomes increasingly sensitive to the things which please God, and increasingly capable of acting according to his will."
I wonder if Tim Keller's words at EMA are helpful - some of us need to start attributing more of our hunches to the voice of God, whilst others need to admit that what we label as God's voice is actually just a hunch. I fear I don't listen for God's voice enough.


  1. Dave, there is more than one David Field, are you sure that this is the Oak Hill one?

  2. Not 100% but the preface ends David Field, Oak Hill..

  3. Sounds like a reformed man who is emotionally and psychologically integrated. I would like to read this.

  4. Yeah, Tom, I think you would like it. If you don't manage to stumble across your own copy, let me know sometime and you can borrow it.

    I've been very struck by the way he is very clear on his doctrine and foundational assumptions about the authority and clarity of scripture but then takes the time, a whole little book, to push the application carefully into the areas you can see listed on the cover.

    And it might be 32 years old but still speaks very helpfully today.

  5. Loads of cheap copies for sale at abebooks - see here.