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Systematic Theology: Revelation

October 1, 2016 Pastor: Don Green Series: Systematic Theology

Topic: Special Sermons

70S-002

My approach to thinking is that it is very valuable and very helpful to see the biggest, broadest, general principles and then work your way down from that. If you have the context of the big principles in mind, then you are in a position to interpret the more difficult application oriented questions or the more specific questions that come up so let me just kind of illustrate that for you here. In the big picture of what we're talking about in terms of starting a study on systematic theology, we ask the question what is the authority and we say God is the authority, Christ manifested his authority on earth and he delegated authority to the apostles. So you start with that big principle and then you narrow it down from there. Then, further, you say God is the authority and you say that he has revealed himself and so you have this principle, God is the authority, God has revealed himself, now you break that down into two smaller sections: he has revealed himself in a general way and he has revealed himself in a special way.

So you've got kind of a diagram that's breaking out, all things going back to God, back to God as the authority but these are the implications of it. God has revealed himself in a two volumed book, we could say. Revelation is done in two ways; God has revealed himself in two ways. Let's put it this way, in general revelation, we'll use Berkhof's definition from the reading assignment, revelation has two aspects: general revelation and special revelation. General revelation from Berkhof on page 5 is this if you've got the book, you can look at that with me, the general revelation of God does not come to man in the form of verbal communications but in the facts, the forces, the laws of nature, in the constitution and operation of the human mind, and in the facts of experience and in history. So general revelation is God making himself known in ways that are outside of the Bible, in nature and in the constitution of the human mind, you could say.

Let's look at a couple of examples of that from Scripture. He testifies to all men in a way that they can understand. Look at Psalm 19:1-2, it says,

1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.

What it's saying is that God has made his power and existence known in the created order. He has revealed himself in the consistent powerful way that creation operates and you can look at creation, you can look at the sky and see the fixed orbits of the heavenly bodies and say God has made himself known there. Men are on notice that God exists and that they should seek him as a result of this general revelation. It's available to all men everywhere. Any man anywhere on the face of the earth can look up at the sky and see the revelation of God made known to him.

Now, also another passage, Romans 1, if you would. Romans 1 is kind of the New Testament statement about this general revelation, using it in a technical theological sense. General revelation, Romans 1, beginning in, we'll start in verse 18.

18 The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for [look at this] God made it evident to them.

God made himself known in the things of which Paul is describing here in Romans 1. God revealed himself. He made himself known. In a manner of speaking he spoke, not verbally but in that which could be observed. Verse 20,

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Now, this is where it is so very important for us to come back to our original starting point, our original premise that God is the authority and we want to think God's thoughts after him. We want to see things from God's perspective rather than letting what a so-called atheist says about things; define the way that we look at it and try to shape our understanding of truth in a way that we could present so than an atheist would accept it. That's not the way that you think. Here's general revelation from God's perspective, general revelation being that self-disclosure of God that he has made to all men everywhere. What God says in his authoritative word about this revelation is that, "I have made myself known in nature. You can look at nature and you can see my divine power. You can see my divine order. You can see my invisible attributes of power and majesty on display by the grandeur of what creation discloses." And God says that that is a clear witness to himself that he has made to all men everywhere. He says that they understand it. They understand these things through what has been made, so much so – watch this, this is one of the most powerful things about general revelation in my opinion is that it is so clear and so obvious that men are without excuse when they deny the existence of God in light of it. There is no excuse for that. That is morally culpable and that's what Paul goes on to say in verse 21.

21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Go back to verse 18 with this and I've got a point that I want to make here. "The wrath of God," the anger of God, "is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress," they hold down, they squeeze out, "the truth in unrighteousness." Now, general revelation, God making himself known in nature, let's say. What's the effect of that? Well, first of all, what is the clarity of it? It's obvious. It's evident. It's clear. It's unmistakable. That's God's testimony to what he has revealed in nature. Now it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter that there are voices that chatter and deny that, we just want to see it from God's perspective. From God's perspective, what does God say about it? He says, "Men are without excuse in their refusal to believe in me, in their refusal to honor me, in their refusal to give thanks to me simply in light of general revelation." How clear, how compelling is it? So much so that God will judge men for sinful rebellion in refusing it and refusing to give him thanks in response to it quite apart from a Bible. God says, "There is no excuse for that."

Now, so we're seeing general revelation from God's perspective and we see that God believes that it is clear enough that men are on notice that he exists, they should seek him and their failure to seek him and to thank him is a morally culpable act of rebellion for which he will judge them with severity. Wow. Apparently, apparently God isn't messing around. God's not joking. God is serious. God is – watch this – God is making himself known for keeps. He is playing for keeps. He means business in general revelation and the fact that it is so easily dismissed by our modern society, by modern thinkers, supposedly even in the name of science, just compounds their guilt. We need to understand that general revelation is a serious matter.

Now, there are limits to general revelation. Berkhof says and I quote, this is on pages 5 and 6, what does general revelation do? It makes God known in a broad sense but it is limited. What God has revealed about himself in nature is not enough to save a man from sin, in other words. Berkhof helpfully says, "It does not convey any fully reliable knowledge of God in spiritual things. It does not furnish a trustworthy foundation on which we can build our eternal future. It conveys some knowledge of the goodness, wisdom and power of God, but it conveys no knowledge whatever of Christ as the only way of salvation."

So in general revelation, God has made himself known in a general non-specific way, you might say, enough to put men on notice, enough to convict them of their ungodliness, but not enough to save them, not enough to lead them to Christ. You can't go out and worship by yourself in nature, as fools often like to say they're going to do, "I'm just gonna go commune with God in nature." Well, no. That doesn't work. That's just to say that, "I'm going to know God through general revelation," and that's not true. General revelation is not given for that purpose in order to reconcile you to God. That's not the purpose of general revelation. It puts a man on notice of guilt, of the existence of God, but it does not give him the means to relieve his guilt. To find that, we have to go to the second aspect of God's revelation which is his special revelation. General revelation and now special revelation, God's, so to speak, two volumed book of how he has made himself known. We see it in what's around us, general revelation, now we find and deal with the issue of special revelation.

Now, let's back up again and think a little bit about, again, big principles: basic, the most fundamental principles that we tend to assume without bringing out and considering the implication and importance of. Whatever else we say about God, God is infinite and God is holy. He is morally separate from sin. He is infinite. He is beyond time. Who are we as men and women on earth, who are you? You are a finite creature of time and you are a sinful creature, at that: a sinful nature, a sinful disposition. There is a big problem there. How is the finite sinful creature ever going to attain to a true knowledge of the infinite and holy God? There is no way for that to happen if it's man going to God. We cannot bridge the gulf from time to eternity on our own. We cannot bridge the gap between sin to holiness on our own. We don't have that ability. Finite creatures cannot reach ultimate truth. Sinful creatures cannot attain to holiness because their mind is twisted by sin.

Speaking in general, speaking about you apart from Christ in your pre-Christian experience, who were you? You were without God and you were without understanding. That meant that something outside of you was necessary to pierce your darkness. Speaking about it as the human race, the human race needs something outside of its finite existence to bring it to the infinite; it needs something outside of its sin in order to bring it into the holiness of God. Well, what we believe, what Scripture teaches, what God has done, is God has made a special revelation of himself. God uses special revelation to communicate across the gulf to man so that man can know God. If God had not done that, we would have been helpless to know him. There would be no way to reach him. It would be like trying to jump across an ocean from the beach; to jump from New York City to London. Some of us might jump a little further into the water but none of us are getting to England. I'll leave it there.

God in the Old Testament revealed himself in special ways and in special manifestations at different times. He spoke to Moses in a burning bush, for example. He appeared as the angel of the Lord from time-to-time to his people, specially manifesting himself, specially bridging the gap. In comparison to what we want to talk about today, those are important but they're not the main point. What we find, where has God specially revealed himself, God has revealed himself in the Bible, in the Scripture. Berkhof says this on page 7 of the hard copy book, those of you that have the kindle version, you're on your own for finding that. He says this, "The special revelation of God is a revelation of redemption. It reveals the plan of God for the redemption of sinners and of the world and the way in which this plan is realized. Special revelation is the way that God has disclosed himself so that sinful finite creatures could be reconciled to himself." He has done that, he has made this revelation in Scripture, in the written word of God, and we won't talk about this aspect today, he has done it in the Incarnate word of God; in Christ he has revealed himself. We're just going to limit the discussion to Scripture here today so that, Berkhof said this and then we're going to get into the doctrine of Scripture a bit more, "The Bible is preeminently the book of God's special revelation, a revelation in which facts and words go hand-in-hand, the words interpreting the facts and the facts giving substance to the words."

Again, just to back off here, to keep the big picture context in mind: this is the way that we think, beloved. This is the way that we shape our minds to think accurately about God and about the world in which we live and the way in which we relate to God. God is unseen. God is a spirit. We would not be able to reach him in our flesh, in our finite existence; in our sinfulness we could never find him and yet this is the God who has all authority. So how do we get over this? How do we break down that wall? How do we bridge that gap? Well, God has revealed himself. How has he revealed himself? He has revealed himself in two ways: he's revealed himself in nature, in general revelation; he has revealed himself in the Scripture. This is how we start to come to know God, this is how we find him, it's because he has made himself known otherwise we wouldn't know him. We are utterly dependent on the self-disclosure of God to know him. We cannot find him on our own. He's a spirit and we're flesh. He's infinite, we're finite. He's holy, we're sinful. We're miserably lost without God disclosing himself and that is the foundation of systematic theology that, "Ah, yes, God has disclosed himself, he has revealed himself. This is how he can be known."

Now, that brings us to the third point on your outline. "What outline?" you say, "You didn't give me an outline." I got it. The establishment of authority, number 1; secondly, the issue of revelation, revelation being in two parts, general revelation and special revelation, special revelation being found in the Bible; now we're going to expand on the nature of Scripture, the issue of Scripture, you could say, point number 3 in your outline. Where has God made himself known? Well, he is the authority. His authority is manifested in Christ who delegated it to the apostles. The apostles gave us the New Testament. We can say that God's revelation is found in the 66 books of the Bible.

Now, let me give you a definition, a more specific definition of special revelation. Special revelation is used – this is a quote from Berkhof – "Special revelation is used to denote the Bible as a whole; that whole complex of redemptive truth and fact that is found in Scripture and has the divine guarantee of its truth in the fact that it is infallibly inspired by the Holy Spirit." Let me say that again. When we talk about special revelation, we're really using it as a technical term to describe the Bible. This is where God's unique revelation of himself is found. So special revelation is used to refer to the Bible in all of its truth and facts and its historical setting that was given to us by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Okay? So the Bible is God's special revelation. Someone wants to know God, they've got to go to a Bible. If you don't have a Bible, you cannot know God. That's why the whole issue of translating Scripture and missions was so essential, those people were in darkness; they were not going to find God apart from Scripture.

Now, we want to distinguish two ways in which the term "revelation" is used with respect to the Bible. This is kind of technical but that's okay, we need to know these things. Two ways the term "revelation" is used with respect to the Bible, talking about special revelation, there are two ways that we can use it: one, we can talk about the product of revelation; and secondly, the process of revelation. The product of revelation and the process of revelation and those two things will be very helpful to you.

When we talk about the product of revelation, we're talking about the end product that you can hold in your hand: the 66 books of the Bible. That is God's revelation to man, the 66 books of the Bible. That's the end result. Tangible. It can be read. And let's tie a Scripture to this, go to 2 Timothy 3:16, if you would. So we're going to deal, first of all, with the product of revelation, a reference to the written 66 books of the Bible that we have in our hands. 2 Timothy 3:16 says,

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness

We'll just leave it there for now. "All Scripture," prophetically including the completion of the Canon that came after Paul wrote these words, "All Scripture is inspired by God." It's a word that means that it was God-breathed. It's the Greek word "theopneustos," which means it was God-breathed. Here is the thing, beloved: this term "God-breathed" speaks to the origin of Scripture. Where did the Bible come from, in other words. Where did this book, Old and New Testament, the 66 books of the Bible, ultimately where did it come from? What is it, in other words. Well, the idea that it's God-breathed gives us the sense that its origin was found in God. God breathed it out. He blew out, so to speak, with the intention of delivering a revelation of himself in written form to man. God breathed out the Scripture. Beloved, this is vital. The Bible came from God ultimately, not from man. That's in part why we rightly call it the word of God. The Bible found its origin in God himself. It is God's self-disclosure. The Bible is inspired in that way.

Now, when we talk about the inspiration of Scripture, we are not saying that the human writers of Scripture were simply elevated in a human realm. The inspiration of Scripture is infinitely more than saying that the human writers were particularly gifted or that they had extraordinary insight into human affairs and that they were inspired in that sense. People will talk about, "Oh, that poet was inspired when he wrote that." You know, just to use it in kind of a subjective wishy-washy sense that his emotions were really elevated and he expressed it really well. That's not what we're talking about when we talk about the inspiration of Scripture. When we talk about the inspiration of Scripture, when we say that the product of revelation is the Bible and it is God's inspired book, we are saying that God himself worked through the human authors to produce exactly what he wanted to be said in a voluntary act of self-disclosure to man. That's a mouthful, isn't it? I'll say it again. When we say that the Bible is inspired, we are saying that God himself worked through the human authors to produce exactly what he wanted to be said in a voluntary act of self-disclosure to man and so in the Bible we have the product of God's revelation. This is the end result. God spoke and we have God's word in our hands.

Nothing, I would say at the risk of being contradicted on this point, nothing illustrates the total hypocrisy of man, the total hypocrisy of the entire academic realm than this: we spend billions looking for life in outer space. It is undeniable that if a book from outer space written by aliens fell into human possession, that there would be a media circus over that book and everybody would want a piece of it, everybody would want to know what it said, everybody would be interested in it. Nothing exposes the hypocrisy of man other than the fact that we actually have a book from another realm, we have a book from the realm of eternity, a book from the realm of the mind of God, and by and large men don't care about it at all. They're not interested to read it. They don't want to hear it taught. And they certainly don't want to bring themselves under its authority. We have a book from another realm. We have a book from the realm of eternity. We have a book from the realm of the mind of God and most men and many professing Christians are content to leave it closed and not study it, not read it, and pay no attention to it whatsoever.

That's awful. That's inexcusable. You know, people can flock to the latest current starlets of Hollywood and fawn over them and read all about the gossip of their lives and look at all of their pictures, but when God speaks, man is not interested. That's awful. I can't think of anything that convicts men of their guilt and shows the deadness of their spiritual state than that because if they knew they had a book from outer space, they'd want to read it. They've got a book from a transcendent realm and they don't want anything to do with it. Hypocrites. What's that? Well, not for us. Not because we're better, not because we haven't been sinners in the past, but here today as believers in Christ, we care about what God's word says; we care about what he has said and that's why we want to study these things.

So with that said, the questions becomes this: how did God produce the Bible? How did he produce the Scriptures? We start with the fact that we have this word of God, we have this book of God, the question is: how did we get from non-disclosure to the product? How did we get from God and his authority, how did we get from him and his mind to something that was written in human language that we can read and understand? That brings us to the question of the process of revelation. The process of revelation. So we're studying Scripture, we're saying that Scripture is the product of revelation, it's a God-inspired book, now we're looking at the process of revelation and asking ourselves: how did this book come to be? And this is what we're going to probably close our time with here today.

Look at 2 Peter 1. 2 Peter 1 is kind of the classic text on this matter. 2 Peter 1, beginning in verse 19. Peter here is authenticating the Scriptures as being the authoritative word of God and in verse 19, he says in a word that all of humanity should hear,

19 We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

We want to focus on that last phrase there, that last clause, "men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." What was the process of inspiration? How did God go about disclosing himself, as it were, through men to men? That's what we want to understand and what we see in this passage is this, look at the text with me again: the Holy Spirit moved on these men, moved on the writers of Scripture, and then they spoke in such a way that what they wrote is properly said to have come from God. The Spirit of God did a work in the hearts and in the minds of these men so that they were motivated to write and he continued to work on their hearts as they wrote things and directed them so that they were moved by the Spirit to write the word of God.

Many people have noted that this Greek word for "moved" in 2 Peter 1:21, they were moved by the Holy Spirit, is the same word that is used to describe a ship being carried along by the wind. Look over at Acts 27, if you would, verse 15. I'll give you just a moment to find that. Acts 27 in verse 15, "the ship was caught in it," caught in this violent wind called the euroclydon, "the ship was caught in it and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and let ourselves be driven along." That translation "be driven along" is a different form of the same verb called "moved" in 2 Peter and so you have a picture of a ship, everybody can understand this, you have a picture of a ship with sails being driven by the wind and the ship is not really under its own power. It is being controlled and directed and moved by a power beyond itself and carrying that ship in the direction that the wind is blowing.

Well, this is somewhat the picture of the writer of Scriptures. In an invisible way, the Holy Spirit came upon them and operated on their minds, operated on their affections, and stimulated them in a way that they responded to and wrote down what was in their minds to write. In other words, the men who wrote the Scripture were subject to a greater power, the power of the Holy Spirit, that was directing them as they wrote. That's really critical because...let's just think about it pastorally for a moment; think about it from the prospects of being a Christian and wanting and having an assurance that your sins are forgiven and realizing that people whose sins are not forgiven go to hell in judgment forever and ever and ever. Well, look, don't you want to know that the word that you are resting your salvation on is reliable and that it can be trusted? You say, "Yes, and I have that word in the Bible." Right you are. Whoever believes in the Son shall not perish but have eternal life. The question is: how do we know, what's our assurance that that word is true and that it is reliable? Because if this is merely the word of man giving us speculation of man about how God accepts people, then I don't have a secure basis upon which to rest the security of my soul and neither do you.

So what we want to know is: how do we know that we actually have the word from God, God who is truth, how do we know that we have a true word that we can rely on, that we can stake all of our eternity on? The well-being, beloved, of your eternal soul depends on the certainty of the things that we're discussing right here. The Bible has to be the word of God in order for your soul to be secure, and if it's not the word of God, then we have no hope because we have no revelation from the unseen God and we can't just guess our way into it. What God has said in Scripture is that he gives us the assurance he has given us a word that we can rely on. We have a word that is sure and we know that this word is sure because the Holy Spirit worked in the hearts of the men, the human authors who wrote Scripture.

Now, how does this work? How did that work, you might say. Well, there's an element of mystery in this in that we cannot fully and exhaustively describe the process, but there is enough for us to know what is true. Berkhof, I think, gives us an outstanding description of the process of inspiration in what he describes as "organic inspiration," and he gives theological voice to the Scriptures in what is said here. This is on page 12. What was the process that God used to give us an inspired book, and I'm going to quote here. "The Holy Spirit acted on the writers of the Bible in harmony with the laws of their own inner being, using them just as they were with their character and temperament, gifts and talents, education and culture, vocabulary and style." In other words, God used these men as the men that they actually were. These were men that had training, some of them; they had experiences; they had their own personality; they had their own vocabulary. God worked through those human aspects in order to produce his words as the Spirit came upon them.

And what did the Spirit do? Continuing the quote now, "The Holy Spirit illuminated their minds, aided their memory, prompted them to write," watch this one, "repressed the influence of sin on their writings and guided them in the expression of their thoughts even to the choice of their words. This allowed the writers to put the imprint of their own style and language on their books while what they said was still very much the word of God."

So God in his infinite power and in his omniscience, along with all of his other attributes, exercised an influence, speaking we'll just limit it to the New Testament, limited to the writers of the New Testament, and the Holy Spirit came upon them and directed them to write certain things. God guided them as they wrote so that as a God of truth, that they would write nothing of error, and that as a God of holiness, they would write things that were perfectly pure. As a God of infinite being, the God of eternality, he writes in a way that human authors were able to express human truth.

Now, he used those men as men. He used them. The men still made, as it were, had a human act of participation that they made. So, for example, Luke says in the opening of his Gospel that he investigated everything carefully from beginning to end, and so God was using the historical research of Luke in directing him as he wrote. He used Paul in his vast mind, his Jewish trained mind, and used those dimensions of Paul's training and experience and that became, as it were, something of the glass through which his word was communicated. But the Holy Spirit came upon these men and directed them and influenced them in a way so that the power of what they wrote came ultimately from God, not merely their own human thoughts.

Now, this process, theologians talk about it this way, this is not a process of dictation where the human authors of Scripture merely heard what God was saying and they just wrote down what God told them to say and bypassed their mind, bypassed their experience, bypassed their own vocabulary and God just dictated to them what they would write. That's not the case. As we said, Luke gathered materials; Paul and others recorded their own experience, they have their own individual style and vocabulary. As you compare one writer to another, the writings of the Apostle John have a different style than the writings of the Apostle Paul. This is a reflection of the human aspect of inspiration, but what we need to see is that the motivating force and the motivating power came from God as he worked through these human authors to give his word. And, beloved, God guided them, not simply in the ideas that they expressed, but in the actual very choice of the words that they made. They used the very words that God wanted them to use so that it's not just that the ideas are inspired but the words can be faulty, no, God worked through the writers in order to give us a Bible that is expressed in the realm of that human author, in the vocabulary of that human author, he said exactly what God wanted him to say. What does that mean? It means that when you read the letters of Paul, when you read the Gospel of John, when you read the Gospel of Mark, when you read the Old Testament, you are reading the very word of God, not simply a human author. You are reading the self-disclosure of God. You are reading what God has given to us so as to make himself known.

Now the question is often said by critics and skeptics, said, "If men are fallible, if men are sinful and men wrote the Scriptures, then the Scriptures are fallible and have error and cannot be trusted." What you have to understand in order to protect yourself from that faulty realm of thinking is to understand the process by which we receive the Scriptures. You must understand this. The Holy Spirit superintended the writings of the authors of Scripture as they wrote. He influenced them. He directed them. He empowered them. He equipped them. All of those verbs that show his influence was at work and because the Spirit of God is omnipotent, he had the power to remove and, as Berkhof said, to repress the influence of human sin and human error so that what they wrote was accurate and true. The governing force, the governing power that gave us the Scripture came through the Spirit, he worked through men and protected what they said from error and directed them so that they chose exactly the words that God wanted, and through that influence of the Spirit upon them, gave us the self-disclosure of God so that in the Bible we have a completely accurate and a completely complete record of what God wanted to say.

So to sum up this morning all in two sentences: God is the ultimate authority. God has disclosed himself in a general way and in a special way, and in the special revelation he has given us the 66 books of the Bible. The Bible is inspired in that it came from God, and it came from God in a process that God himself superintended so that, as we come to the end here, what has been given to us, what has been delivered to us, is a perfect book from God and as we study this book, this is where we learn about God, about man, about sin, about Christ, about salvation, about the church and about things to come. God has given us everything that we need to know in the Scriptures.

I think on Tuesday I may flesh out some of these things a little bit more on our Tuesday study. There is a lot left that is unsaid here and so I think on Tuesday, I may push this a little bit further with the doctrine of Scripture because there is so much more to be said. For today, God is the authority. He has revealed himself in two ways: general and special. The special revelation is the Scripture. It came by inspiration of God. The product was an inspired word of God. Alright? So we'll stop there for now. I'll close us in prayer and then we'll see what happens after that.

Father, we thank you as we come to the end of our time together, covering so much material of basic thought and the foundation of right human thinking, it begins with everything that we've said here. We acknowledge your authority and we praise you for it. We bow before it. We thank you that you have made yourself known in nature and in your word, and we thank you that you have given us a word that is completely reliable, received from you as you mediated it through the human authors of Scripture. Father, we pray that you would allow this to establish a foundation for thought and godly living in our lives that would motivate us and equip us and help us to be the Christians that you would have us to be, and that as we said at the very very beginning, that as men contemplate on these things, Father, that there would be a sense in some of their hearts directed that, "I need to give myself over to defend this word of God and to be an instrument in the leading of the people of God, and I want to order my life in such a way that I'm available to be used in that way by my Lord." So, Father, we just commit all of these things to you with gratitude for our time, with gratitude for our fellowship. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.