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Category Archives: Will of God

A Study on the Will of God: Conclusion

Thoughts on decision making:

                                                                                                               

  • Know what is right today and do it: Many people who are consumed with seeking and knowing God’s personal will for their lives fail to do what God has clearly revealed is His will for their lives in His Word. 
  • Allow God to stir your heart uniquely through His various tools: Exposure to the needs of the world through mission’s trips and presentations, workshops, Scripture, family, and friends are a few of the many tools that God uses to stir our heart properly and motivate us into action. 
  • Develop godly desires. Godly desires are developed as God renovates our thinking through His Word and through mature, godly associations.
  • Evaluate every desire in light of God’s Word.  Our desires are never infallible, and they must be carefully and objectively compared to the unchanging Word of God.  It is also wise to ask Godly mature believers to objectively evaluate your desires in light of Scripture.
  • Thank God for His grace, but do not impose upon it. If everything was dependent upon us, we would NEVER be able to see God’s will accomplished in our lives.  It is God’s grace that brought us to salvation.  God’s grace changed our perspective.  God’s grace impressed Godly desires into our hearts.  God’s grace uniquely placed us.  God’s grace uniquely gifted us.  God’s grace uniquely brought us into favor with others.  God’s grace alone overcomes our folly as we make decisions on a daily basis.  While God’s grace overcomes so much, we should never make a decision to disobey the Word of God presuming upon God’s grace.
  • Ask God for wisdom.  James 1 tells us to ask in faith for God’s wisdom without doubting when we lack it.  We always need a greater degree of God’s wisdom when we make decisions in life.
  • Trust God to provide the wisdom needed to make an important decision as you do your part. A great missionary of the past said, “Pray as if it all depends upon God, and work as if it all depends upon you.”  God gives wisdom as He says that He will when we seek for it as He commands us to seek for it.
  • Plan carefully to accomplish Godly desires. Godly desires are not accomplished in a vacuum.  God uses our preparation, counselors, and thinking ahead to bring Godly desires to pass.
  • Have long term and short term goals in light of Godly desires.
  • View this aspect of God’s will as seasonal not lifelong. Many well meaning people get so consumed with what they believe God wants them to accomplish in the future that they ignore their responsibility today.  God uses today to better equip his servants for the future, and faithfulness should be viewed as a daily responsibility.
  • Recognize your spiritual giftedness. God uniquely gifts His servants, and their giftedness is a stewardship that God will evaluate at the Judgment Seat.
  • See your spiritual giftedness as a stewardship.
  • Be well informed and advised before any decision.  There is safety in the multitude of godly counselors.
  • Do not seek or wait for a subjective miraculous sign.  Indecision and folly often plague those who are waiting for something that God rarely uses to accomplish His will.  
  • Be decisive. 
  • Humbly submit to God’s sovereign intervention in your desires. Some godly desires will never come to pass.  David experienced this when he desired to build the temple.  He simply took what he had and prepared his son to build the temple.
  • Humbly trust God to accomplish what He desires to accomplish.  When we worry about what we cannot control, or tightly hold our desires which we are powerless to accomplish apart from God’s work, we set ourselves up for future frustration and discouragements.
  • Realize God is not trying to make you stumble. God deeply loves His children, is infinitely wise, is good, and all-powerful.  When we experience frustration in relation to the will of God, the problem is never with God, but rather with our limited perspective.
 

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A Study on the Will of God Part 6: Human responsibility in light of the will of God:

Human responsibility in light of moral universal the will of God:

Our responsibility is in our relation to the moral universal law is simple.  We must know it and obey it explicitly. James 1:22 says “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” What God has clearly revealed in His word, we should carefully obey!  There are no exceptions.

Our responsibility in light of God’s sovereign will:

Our responsibility is to prepare ourselves fully for what God has promised He will do, and to trust God to accomplish what He says He will do. There are three major events that God has clearly revealed will take place, no matter how we prepare. Revelation 20:12 warns every man who has not placed his faith in Christ about the coming Great White Throne judgment.  John writes: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” The responsibility of the unbeliever in light of God’s sovereign decree is to prepare himself for judgment day.  He may choose to reject the gospel message and face eternal damnation, or humbly embrace the gospel and be eternally saved.  God says believe it will happen, and prepare yourself accordingly.  II Corinthians 5:9-11 says: Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;” While the context is different, the warning is the same.  Prepare yourself to stand before God. Paul says that every believer must be faithful in His Christian life.  Eternal damnation is not at stake, but there is tremendous eternal gain or loss in the balances.  God will judge believers with perfect justice, so they must believe the message and diligently prepare for the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Luke 12:31 says, “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” God is ruling as Sovereign today, yet His administration will change in the future.  He has clearly promised that He will physically rule in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ on the earth.  We will be a part of this glorious Kingdom; however. The degree of glory which we will experience in it is dependent upon our faithfulness today.  If we are faithful, we will reign with Him.  What a glorious thought! Revelation 3:26-27 says, “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron;” We must prepare ourselves fully for what God has promised He will do, and we must trust God to do right in what He has chosen not to reveal, but will do.

Our responsibility in light of God’s personal will:

Our responsibility is to trust God to accomplish His unique, personal desires for our lives as we walk wisely in obedience to what He has clearly revealed in His word.  Our responsibility is not to seek it, wait for it, discover it, or hope for it.  We need to obey God with what He has revealed, trust God to do what we cannot do, and to accomplish what He will not reveal.  I plan to summarize our responsibility as practically as possible in our next section, “Thoughts on decision making.”

 

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A Study on the Will of God Part 5: The Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul

Before we conclude and summarize our study of the nature of God’s unique, personal will, notice the Biblical record of Paul’s general decision making. Acts 15 says that after Paul, and Barnabas were made aware of doctrinal tensions in the churches of Jerusalem and Antioch, the church of Antioch, “determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” The decision to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem was based upon special God given revelation on the debated issue, God’s moral will, and the collective godly wisdom of the leadership of the local church.  These men weighed not only God’s moral will on the issue, but what man would be best to send to Jerusalem to address the issue, and whether or not the issue should even be brought to the attention of the Jerusalem church. These decisions were primarily made based upon the godly collective wisdom of the church leadership.  At the end of Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas had a practical ministry differences that caused them to part ways.  Acts 15:37-39 says that, “Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus.”  In this situation, Paul chose the man he believed most qualified to travel, but Barnabas wanted to give John Mark a second chance.  Acts 16 tells us that Paul chose Timothy to travel with him based upon his godly testimony.  Paul also had Timothy circumcised because he knew that his un-circumcision would be an offense to the Jews and a hindrance to their ministry.  In verses 6-10, Paul desired and thought it best to go into the Roman province of Asia; however, they “were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, And a vision appeared to Paul in the night.”  God miraculously intervened in this situation, by sending Paul to a different region, leaving Paul with the conclusion that God must have a special calling for Him in that second region.  In verses 14-15, God used the heart of a new convert who desired to help Paul to care for Paul and Silas.  Acts 17:2 tells us that Paul went into the synagogue to preach the gospel because this was his habit or custom.   Acts 17:16 says that, Paul preached in Athens because his spirit was moved as he saw and heard the idolatry of the people.  He also left the city when he saw it was no longer profitable to continue preaching a message that the people has rejected.  Acts 18 says that the key components in Paul’s decision making were pure motives, God given wisdom, and God given desires, in light of God given opportunities, and the providential orchestration of events.  Acts 18:9 says that again God encourages Paul to stay faithful in this city, through miraculous means.  Acts 19:21 says that, “After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.” Acts 20:1-3 says that, “After the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.” Acts 20:16 says that, “Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.” I Thessalonians 2:17 says that we, “Endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” Romans 15 says, Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand. For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.”

These passages do not give us all the factors in Paul decision to go to certain cities, rather they simply say that he purposed in his heart to go.  I would assume that the same factors that caused him to make previous decisions factored into these decisions.  Please notice that it was very rare that God through “miraculous” means restrained Paul or encouraged Paul to make the decisions that he made, yet clearly, God was personally involved in these decisions, and was obviously accomplishing His unique will in and through Paul’s life.  If God generally worked in Paul’s life through “natural/providential” avenues when Paul was an apostle who received direct/special revelation from God, and was used to pen the majority of the New Testament, how much more would he use these same means for believers who live in a time when His Word is complete, and the temporary gifts of the early church have ceased.  In reality, God’s providential means are no less personal or miraculous than His special/miraculous means like visions or angels that prophets, apostles, and some others received from God.  

We do not see Paul putting our fleeces, praying that God would give him peace about a certain decision, looking for signs to confirm his decision, following a still small voice inside his heart, claiming a verse, or waiting for a vision from God.  We also do not see Paul following a formula for proper decision making.  Paul walked with God, and purposed to do what seemed best to him.  Those who have a fascination with the unique miraculous means that God has used in the past, and seek these same means as norms today in decision making, misunderstand God’s general means even during times when Scripture was still being penned.  This fascination or dependence upon signs, fleeces, special peace, the personal interpretation of events, or misguided applications that flow out of Scripture with no legitimate hermeneutical grounds, can be very dangerous, and is not encouraged by command or example in Scripture.  Those who make decisions this way do not always get themselves into trouble, but can confuse others, become indecisive as they look for “clues,” or make unwise and even ungodly decisions based upon their interpretation of events, fleeces, “peace,” or misguided interpretations of Scripture. In most situations, God accomplished His unique, personal desires through “normal” means.  God gave wisdom through His Word and godly counselors, providential provided opportunities, developed godly desires through His Word and exposure to needs, and uniquely gifted and providentially placed people to accomplish His unique personal will in their lives.  Those who did not walk in obedience to God’s Word at times disqualified themselves from opportunity, and others missed potential blessing and opportunities.  Others were able to see God’s grace overcome their folly.  Yet others who missed opportunity in one point of their lives were presented with others later in life.  God has a unique and personal will for people’s lives, and it is co-operative in nature, and He generally accomplishes it through “normal” providential means.  I encourage you to humbly walk in obedience to God’s Word, and trust Him to put you where He wants you, and to use you as He sees fit. 

I do not view this aspect of God’s will as a perfect plan in heaven that we are to discover, or one among many plans ranging from the perfect plan, a good, plan, and an acceptable plan.  God’s unique, personal will covers a broad spectrum of unique personal circumstances and events.  His will was for one to be king in Israel, for another safety and success in travels, for another to suffer persecution for the cause of Christ.  I see it as God’s personal work in the lives of people, whom He has sovereignly given a degree of freedom, as He works to accomplish His unique desires in the various changing seasons of their lives.  I do not think that we can fully wrap our minds around this concept, because of the limitations of human perspective, and reasoning, but I do believe that we can and must choose to relate correctly to it.

 

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A Study on the Will of God Part 4: Old Testament Examples

Old Testament Examples

First, consider with me the personal and unique will of God for Adam in the garden. Genesis 2:16-22 tells the early events in the garden, as God placed Adam in it, gave him responsibility in it, and gave him a wife. This passage allows us to see all three aspects of God’s will interacting within the same story.  First, we observe God’s moral will.  God commanded Adam to not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  This command applied to Adam and then to his wife Eve.  If Adam and his wife had not disobeyed God’s command, then their children in the garden would have been under the same mandate.  This was God’s moral will for them.  We know that though it was God’s will for them to obey Him explicitly, they disobeyed.  The second aspect of God’s will in this passage, is God’s sovereign will.  This was totally dependent upon God.  The creation of the universe, its governing laws, and its residence (human and animal) were all the result of God’s sovereign will.  God placing Adam in the garden was also part of God’s sovereign will, and God’s creation of Adam’s wife Eve and God’s creation of marriage were all aspects of God’s sovereign will.  These events were totally dependent upon God, and not man.  Lastly, we see the personal, universal will of God.  God gave Adam the unique responsibility to care for the garden, and then to name what God had created.  These responsibilities were totally unique to Adam.  Please notice what God did, and what He did not do.  God gave Adam a simple command.  This was His will.  From that point on, Adam used all the tools that God had uniquely given him to do the work.  Adam’s mental faculties and physical strength were the unique gifts of God, and they were the tools he used to accomplish God’s will.  We have no evidence that God micromanaged the process.  We do not hear Adam saying, “God what do I name this one?”  Adam simply did what God wanted him to do.  He took the unique gifts of God, and used them to God’s glory as he accomplished these tasks daily.  God’s unique personal will was accomplished in a co-operative way.  Adam would have done nothing without the prompting of God.  Adam could have done nothing without the enabling of God.  God’s prompting and gifting was only displayed to God’s glory when Adam made choices to uses these gifts and tools within the boundaries God had given.  The Bible does not tell us that Adam chose the “right” name for every animal, nor does it say that he did not.  All we know is that Adam did what God wanted him to do, and that these actions brought glory to God.  

Secondly, consider the life of Nehemiah.  Nehemiah 1-2 gives us the record of God’s work to send Nehemiah back to Israel to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. There are several key elements in this passage.  God had a unique desire at that time in human history.  This desire was intimately connected to His sovereign will, to restore Israel to the Promised Land, and have the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt.  God desired to use Nehemiah in these events.  How was this accomplished?  First, God providentially placed Nehemiah in the palace.  God stirred the heart of Nehemiah through exposure to people who knew the horrible condition of Jerusalem.  God stirred the heart of a pagan king to send Nehemiah back to the land.  God stirred the heart of the king to provide materially. God stirred the heart of the king to send protection and authorization.  God uniquely placed and gifted Nehemiah for the task, and stirred his heart when the time was right to go.  Nehemiah exercised humility and dependence upon God throughout the entire process, and Nehemiah used God given wisdom to make wise, godly decisions throughout this process.  We can once again see the co-operative nature of God’s work to accomplish this aspect of His will. 

Notice how many times in Scripture, God works behind the scenes stirring up the hearts of people to accomplish His individual desires for these people.  Exodus 35:21 says that, “they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.” Exodus 35:26 says, “And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.”  Exodus 36:2 says, “And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:”  All three passages give examples of people who God had uniquely gifted to play a role in building the tabernacle.  In each situation, God stirred their hearts to accomplish unique aspects of His desire to build the tabernacle. I Kings 11:14 says that, “the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon…” I Kings 11:23 says that, “God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon…” I Chronicles 5:26 says that, God stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh…” II Chronicles 21:16 says that “The LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians…”  These passages give examples of God stirring up the hearts of pagans to chasten His disobedient children.  II Chronicles 36:22 says that, “in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.”  Again, God stirred the heart of a pagan king, this time not to chasten Israel, but to restore them to the land, and to rebuild the temple.  Lastly, Haggai 1:14 says, “And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God.”  In each passage, we read that God uniquely stirs the hearts of both the saved and the lost to accomplish His unique desires thought different seasons of human history.

 

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A Study on the Will of God Part 3: God’s Personal Individual Will

God’s Personal Individual Will

We now come to the third aspect of God’s will, His personal individual will.  As I continue to study this aspect of God’s will, my understanding of it grows, but I also see more deeply the complexity of its interaction with the moral and sovereign aspects of God’s will.  There is alot I do not understand, and perhaps never will concerning this aspect of God’s will. This section most certainly will not be the “final word” in any study of the will of God, but I believe that these thoughts will help motivate many to think more deeply and Biblically about God’s personal individual will and understand it better. 

There are four questions I plan to answer in this section. Does God Have a personal individual will for each person?  What is the nature of His personal individual will?  Is His personal individual will dependent upon God, man, or both? How does He accomplish His personal individual will in believer’s lives?

Does God have a personal individual will for each person?

I want to answer this question by observing several passages of scripture.  Acts 13:36 says that “David…served his own generation by the will of God,” meaning that God had a unique personal desire for David as king of Israel. Romans 1:10 says that Paul was, “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.”  Paul desired to go to Rome, however he realized that his safety and success was fully dependent upon the will of God in that unique situation to make his travel successful. Romans 8:27 says that “he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Paul is saying that there are times that a believer does not know the will of God and he cannot, because God has not revealed it.  In these times, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf according to God’s will in that situation. Romans 15:32 says that Paul desired “That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God…”  Again, Paul desired to go to Rome to encourage and be encouraged, yet he recognized that this was dependent upon the will of God in this unique situation. II Corinthians 8:5 says that the churches in Macedonia “did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” These churches sacrificed greatly by the will of God to give of themselves and their money to churches in great need.  Lastly, I Peter 3:17 says that “it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.” In this passage Peter calls their suffering for the cause of Christ the will of God.  I have to conclude from looking at these passages and many others, that there were specific things that God desired to accomplish in the lives of each of these people.  You can see that there is an aspect to God’s will that is unique, personal, and not revealed specifically in Scripture. God actively and uniquely involved Himself in the lives of these saints in both the Old and New Testament to accomplish His unique desires for their lives.  From man’s perspective, God’s personal, individual will is His unique and personal desires that He accomplishes throughout each season of that person’s life. In other words, there are specific things that God desires to accomplish through specific individuals that are not explicitly stated in His Word. 

What is the nature of God’s personal, individual will?

Since we can see that there are clear examples of God’s unique personal will in the lives of believers, what is the nature of this unique personal will?  Can it be resisted or missed?  Is it exhaustive and meticulous involving every decision both great and small? Is it totally dependent upon God, or is it totally dependent upon men?  What is its nature?  I want to try to answer a few of these questions through comments on the following Biblical examples.

 

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A Study on the Will of God Part 2: God’s sovereign will

God’s Sovereign Will

The second aspect of God’s will that we find in our study is God’s sovereign will.  It might be better to call it God’s sovereign decrees, but for the sake of our study, we will call it His sovereign will.  God’s sovereign will can be further divided into two categories, what God has revealed, and what He has not revealed.  There are many things in the sovereign decrees or will that God never has or will reveal to His people.  These things are not for us to know, and truthfully because of the greatness and complexity of God, we could not understand them if He chose to reveal them to us.  They are far too great for us to comprehend.  The things that God has determined to do will be accomplished no matter how mankind may try to thwart God’s decrees. These things are completely dependent upon God to perform, though He uses men and their decisions to accomplish many of the things He has chosen to do. 

What God has chosen to reveal has been revealed exclusively through His Word, written today, and written and spoken in times past. Hebrews 1:1 says that God, “spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” II Peter 1:21 says that “the prophecy came not in old-time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Both Old Testament and New Testament prophets and apostles were tools that God used to reveal His moral and sovereign will.  Since the gift of the prophet has ceased, I Corinthians 13, and the office of the apostle has ceased with the death of the apostle John, the written Word of God is the final authority on all matters of God’s revealed sovereign decrees.

God’s revealed sovereign decrees are found in numerous passages throughout the Old and New Testament relating to national Israel, the Day of the Lord, His Millennial Kingdom, His Second Coming, the various covenants with Israel, the rapture of the Church, the Judgment Seat of Christ, and the Great White Throne Judgment.  The most important decree in the Bible is mentioned by Peter as he preached at Pentecost.  Acts 2:23 says that Christ was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God…and crucified and slain.”  There was nothing that could have been done to prevent this action from taking place.  God determined that it would happen, and it did.  Also notice that these people who nailed Christ to the cross did so without divine intervention. They willingly and hatefully had Christ nailed to the cross.  Galatians 1:4 refers to the same event by saying that Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”

I Corinthians 1:1, II Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, and II Timothy 1:1 say that Paul was “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” In each of these passages, Paul claimed that God sovereignly and uniquely called Him to be His apostle to the gentiles.  Paul’s conversion and calling into ministry was unique and miraculous.  We should be careful when reading the conversion and calling of Paul.  While the conversion of every soul is miraculous, the manner in which Paul was addressed by God, converted, and called were not normal.  Each of the other apostles received a calling in a very normal way.  Christ said follow me and they followed Him.  Paul’s calling and conversion was quite unique.

In Romans 8, we see another aspect of the sovereign will in its relationship to believers.  Notice the distinct difference between the will of God in Romans 6 and the will of God in Romans 8Romans 6 refers to God’s moral will as Paul commands believers not to yield their bodies to serve sin, but to yield their bodies to Christ’s service.  This is the believer’s responsibility and is accomplished by the Spirit’s enabling, yet the victory available is not predestined to be experienced to its fullest.  Some believers walk in obedience to God’s moral law more faithfully than others.  Some experience the eternal life they posses more fully than others.  God’s moral will is not the same as His sovereign will.  God has chosen to administrate one element of His will differently than another and the distinction is clearly seen in the relationships within Romans 6-11. On the other hand Romans 8 refers to God’s sovereign will or decree relating to believers. Paul writes: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul emphasizes one of the Bible’s most precious truths.  A believer is absolutely secure in Christ. There is nothing that could ever happen to a believer that will permanently hinder complete conformity to the image of Christ.  There is also nothing in this life whether past, present, or future that does not play a part in God’s purpose of conforming him to the image of Christ. Nothing can separate him from the love of God. God’s unique work in every believer cannot and will not be thwarted. 

In Romans 9-11, Paul once again emphasizes the sovereign will of God, and its distinction from the moral will of God.  God’s choice to use Israel as His peculiar treasure and a kingdom of priests was not based upon their faithful obedience to His moral will, nor was it based upon their spiritual aptitude.  Israel walked in rebellion to God’s moral will.  God’s choice in Israel was based upon His grace and greater glory.  God would use Israel to be the vehicle through which He would bring salvation to mankind and reveal Himself through His Word.  God’s interaction with Israel is a wonderful example of His sovereign will being accomplished despite the rebellion of men and apparent insurmountable obstacles.  God would through Israel’s rebellion bring the Gentiles to Himself, and through their belief will one day bring Israel back to Himself.  God’s sovereign will can be resisted, but it cannot be stopped.  He will fully accomplish what He has sovereignly purposed whether He has chosen to reveal or conceal it.

 

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A Study on the Will of God Part 1: God’s moral universal will

God’s Moral Universal Will

 I want our study to be as practical as possible.  In order to be practical we must start with a correct doctrinal understanding of the will of God.  It is impossible to carefully teach this and any other Biblical concept without thoroughly thinking through the doctrine first.  The more I study this doctrine in Scripture, the more fully I recognize its depth and richness. The God of the universe who does not need us, and is fully sufficient and content within Himself and apart from us desires to reveal Himself to us personally, and work uniquely in our lives for His glory. That concept ought to cause you to humbly rejoice.  God is good! 

Like so many Bible doctrines, it is important to see the multifaceted nature of this doctrine.  Our salvation for instance is multifaceted.  When I tell someone that I have been saved, I am speaking of my justification.  God saved me in the past when I placed my faith in His finished work on Calvary. When I tell someone that I am being saved, I am talking about progressive sanctification and daily growth into Christ-likeness. When I tell people that I am anticipating my salvation, I am speaking of my future glorification, I John 3:2,when we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”  Notice that the doctrine of Biblical salvation is deep, rich, and multifaceted.  I did not even mention the fact the salvation in the Bible often speaks of a physical deliverance as well.  In order for us to understand Biblical salvation, we must read carefully usages and contexts in order to understand the doctrine fully.  The will of God is similar.  I will attempt to do this in the doctrinal section of our study. 

“God’s will” can be viewed in Scripture in three different categories.  I have defined them as the moral universal will, the sovereign will, and the personal will. It is possible to break these three main categories down further, but for the sake of our study; I will focus on these three aspects of the will broadly. 

First, notice the moral universal will.  The moral universal will of God is His written Word.  In order to understand God’s moral universal law, we must carefully read and interpret His Word within the controls of grammar, context, and the rest of Scripture.  God’s Word is objective, and unchanging.  He has determined to reveal Himself personally through this Word.  In the narratives of human events, law, proverbs, prophecy, psalms, gospels, epistles, and eschatology, God has revealed His character and His past, present, and future dealings with mankind in ways always consistent with His unchanging character.  God has given us specific commands for a host of unique situations, for instance qualifications for picking pastoral authority and deacons in I Timothy 3, as well as broad commands that encompass every aspect of out lives in Matthew 22:37, where He commands all men to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind.  God’s truth is unchanging, and directly applicable to every generation and culture of both believers and the unbelievers. In order for us to know this moral universal will of God in every situation of life, we do not need a sign, peace, or peculiar feeling. We simply need to carefully and humbly study God’s Word to see where it speaks specifically regarding our actions, motives, and desires.

Though God has taken the time to carefully reveal His moral universal will, He has chosen to give us the freedom to willfully obey or disregard it. This in no way weakens or limits the sovereignty of God.  God has chosen to rule His creation with a limited degree of freedom; however, He will call all men to account.  His sovereignty is fully upheld as He will righteously judge every thought, action, and motive of mankind.

I want to give you a synopsis of several passages referring to the will of God that fall into this category, the “moral universal will of God.”  Romans 12:2 refers to the believer’s decision to present his body a living sacrifice as the “good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.”  In other words, it is God’s will for every believer to be presenting his body a living sacrifice.  In Ephesians 6:6 Paul uses the same phrase to refer to every believer’s responsibility to obey their human masters from the heart, “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” In I Timothy 2:4 Paul writes that it is God’s desires or will that, “all men be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth.” There is nothing to debate here.  It is God’s moral universal will that every person be born again; however, we know that this will not happen.  God as Sovereign over all has granted men a degree of freedom to either embrace or reject the proclaimed gospel message.  In Colossians 4:12 Paul states that Epaphras, fervently prays for you, “that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”  Epaphras was pleading with God to bring these believers to maturity.  This is the will of God for every believer.  I Thessalonians 4:3 says that the will of God is that every believer be set apart, “that ye should abstain from fornication.” There are no exceptions.  It is God’s will that every believer walk in moral purity.  I Thessalonians 5:18 says that every believer must give thanks in the midst of every circumstance, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Hebrews 10:36 says that believers are to hold fast to the faith in the midst of persecution, because they, “have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”  God’s will for these believers, as well as all believers is that they hold fast, despite persecution, persevering in the faith.  I Peter 2:15 says that submission to pagan governmental authority, “is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” I Peter 4:2 says that a believer should, no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” II Peter 3:9 says that “The Lord is not…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Lastly, I John 2:17 says that, “he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

Each of these passages referring to the will of God has several common elements.  These passages refer to God’s “moral will” relating to either every believer or unbeliever.  It is objective and personal.  His desires for these people can and often do not come to pass, yet God will hold these individuals accountable for their actions.  This is how He as the Sovereign over His creation has chosen to administrate His rule at this time.  The first aspect of God’s will is His moral, universal law. This aspect of His will is revealed objectively in His Word.

 

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