Living on Mission

Psalm 139:1–17 & Romans 12:1–2

by   |     |   |  

Download the PDF study guide

We have spent our semester taking a careful look at what God has to say about divine design and our identity as image-bearers. We are called to 1) display the glory of God; and 2) proclaim the Gospel of Christ by means of our God-given identity as men and women who, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit, have come to know God, love God and obey God.

Three Important Observations to Consider

Divine design is one of the most important topics you will hear during your four years at BJU—it will help you find your place in life.


For thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Marvellous are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, When I was made in secret, And curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; And in thy book all my members were written, Which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! Psalm 139:13–17

  • Divine design establishes the person God intends you to be in life.
  • Divine design explains the plan of God for your life.
  • Divine design sets the orientation and direction God intends for your life.

Question: How does the Psalmist respond to these truths? (hint; see verses 14,17) What would a biblical response to God’s divine design look like in my life?

Divine design is one of the most controversial topics you will face throughout your life.

  • The beliefs you hold regarding gender and marriage are not just becoming more unpopular—increasingly the surrounding culture considers these ideas to be immoral.

Question: In today’s culture, what is the potential price you might pay to remain committed to the truths of divine design we have studied together this semester?

Divine design is one of the most powerful truths to embrace because it enables you to live a significant life.

Question: How can knowing the truth about God and understanding His design for us help us to display God’s wisdom, power and love to a world that desperately needs to know Him?

Three Important Questions to Ask and Answer

Why should I embrace divine design when it is so counter to the world I live in in 2019?

Divine design displays the wisdom of God (Jer. 10:12, 8:22–31)

  • You are designed by a Master Craftsman whose workmanship is on display constantly—by His wisdom the heavens and the earth were made—they stand as glorious evidence of God’s skill and ability.
  • But there is an even greater display of His skill and ability (wisdom)—you and me! Unlike the heavens and earth which declare the glory of God (His presence and power)—you and I were actually created to display the image of God (who He is and what He is like).

Divine design displays the moral authority of God (Matt. 19:1–9)

  • Jesus could have answered by His own authority—but He went back to the authority of Scripture and divine design.
  • God has spoken authoritatively about gender, human sexuality, marriage and the roles He assigned to men and women.

Divine design displays the goodness of God (James 1:17)

  • Your body, gender, sexuality and roles are gifts from God—do you think of them that way? Or do they frustrate you?

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17

God is All-Wise—the ultimate designer.

God is Good—He only gives good gifts.

Question: What are some ways I can right now show a trusting, grateful spirit toward God for His good and wise design of me with regards to my gender and sexuality?

How should divine design actually shape my life? (Rom. 12:1–2)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1–2

According to this passage, you should use your earthly life to render spiritual service that is:

Based on the gracious activity of God in your life (12:1)

Described as a life-long sacrifice
  • Living—a life that is actively and consistently devoted to God daily as opposed to dead and done
  • Holy—set apart in total consecration to God
  • Acceptable—morally and spiritually upright, well pleasing
Done through your physical body
Requires a totally new way of thinking—renewed mind
  • This new way of thinking is not possible for a natural/carnal person.
  • It is possible only for believers, but it requires something of them—that they look carefully and continually to the Word of God to renew their thinking.
Results in a totally new way of living—non-conformity to the world
  • Understanding and embracing what God’s Word says about divine design means you will think differently about your gender.
  • It means you will behave very differently than the world with regard to your sexuality.
  • It means you will live very differently with regard to how you display masculinity and femininity.
  • In short, your entire life will be transformed into a display of what God intended all of humanity to look and act like.

Question: How should the mercies of God in my life (Rom. 12:1) shape and direct my thinking about gender and sexuality right now?

Question: How can we be more intentional about allowing our thinking to be shaped by God through His Word rather than through the pressures of the culture around us?

What will living according to divine design require of me?

You must believe God is telling you the truth about life. (Titus 1:2)

You must trust God to do good and not evil in your life. (Ps. 84:11)

No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly!

You must obey God for all the days and in all the ways of your life.

Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful creator while doing good! (ESV) 1 Peter 4:19

Question: The answer to this question was threefold: believe God is telling you the truth, trust Him to do good in your life, and obey Him no matter the cost. What kind of relationship with God will I have to have in order to wholeheartedly embrace each of these steps?

Conclusion—The Gospel changes everything.

The Gospel doesn’t just change your eternal destiny—it actually changes you!

And because this is true, we can have immense contentment in this life as we use our gender, our sexuality, our marriages and our masculinity or femininity to display the beauty, wisdom and power of God.

One writer summed it up this way (Owen Strachan, “Designed for Joy”):

Men, you were designed to display the spectacular intelligence of God! Women, you were designed by the cosmic brilliance of the Father. A true reflection of God requires both!

So go forth and live in ways that bring immense glory to God by simply living joyfully as men or as women, savoring your divine design, and seizing every opportunity to live obediently as contented followers of Christ according to our sex and our calling!

Watch Dr. Horn’s message on Living on Mission:

Join us for chapel at 11 a.m. every Monday through Thursday.


Sam Horn (BA, ’86; MA, ’88; PhD, ’95 from BJU; DMin, ’07 from The Master’s Seminary) joined the executive team at Bob Jones University in January of 2015.

Sam has served in both academic and pastoral roles throughout his ministry. Sam desires to use his experience in pastoral ministry, teaching and academic administration to recruit and train students for all disciplines and to embrace the mission of advancing the Gospel and serving the Church effectively.