The Will of God

“The Will of God.” Four of the most intriguing words that can compose a brief sentence which has sparked multiplied thousands of voluminous books in pursuit of the essence of those four words. Why does this simple phrase incite such wonderment and exploration? Because “The Will of God” has at its roots the “why” of God more than the “how” of God and the “why” of God is always a more difficult thing to ascertain than the “how” of God. If this is true among men who seek out the motive of men to satisfy their understanding of men how much more true is the seeking of men to understand God through His motives (His Will)? Hence, the will of God is more often seen of men in a limited view rather than in a panoramic view. This was true even of the prophets of old that spoke for God concerning the fate of Israel and even the times of Messiah and the ultimate climax of all things. Even though these men spoke as the mouthpiece of God their understanding of that which they spoke was very often unfruitful. Why? Once again, because the Will of God is the essence of the Mind of God—and no amount of searching by men in this life will ever completely grasp the unsearchable riches of God’s Mind. This is exactly why Jesus is THE Logos—the very complete Mind of God. Paul gives a sweeping summary statement of this truth in Ephesians 1:11, “In him [Jesus Christ] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” However, God has allowed certain aspects of His divine Mind to be both had and understood of men—these aspects we should endeavor to seek after. Deuteronomy 29:29 says in essence that the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us.

The Will of God is one yet that one Will like the spokes of a wheel, all emerging from the hub, radiates in different directions. For instance, there is the will of God concerning the Church; the will of God concerning the nation of Israel; the will of God concerning the world; the will of God concerning the wicked and, of course, the will of God concerning each individual are just a few of the “spokes” that radiate from the Hub of God’s Will.

The “hub” (or the central and all encompassing will of God) is the sovereign will of God – the ultimate and the “why” of God which no man can infringe upon nor alter—it is the overall “motive” of God. It is God’s sovereign governance of all that comes to pass. And there are many other passages in the Bible that teach that God’s providence over the universe extends to the smallest details of nature and human decisions. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1). “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1). This sovereign will cannot be broken. It always comes to pass. Daniel testified that God does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, What have You done?

Another facet of His will has to do with the will of man–this will is accomplished only through a co-joining of God’s will and man’s will–this is akin to the “whosoever will” or the “if any man open I will come in and sup with him.” The sovereign will of God deals with man without needing his input but the joint will of God either succeeds or fails depending on man’s personal decision(s). Therefore, there is one Will of God which is good, perfect and acceptable from God’s viewpoint. However, that “will” may have several nuances according to the way that God positions His will–either outside of human interaction or in accordance with human actions. Outside of human interaction the Will of God cannot be defeated–this holds true even when God forms His will through the known actions of men and uses them to accomplish His will. Within the realm of human actions where men can choose their responses there is always the possibility of the error of man. It is similar to a school teacher asking her pupils “What is 2 plus 2?” Some of the pupils may be in accordance with the true answer of “4” and others may miss the true answer — however, regardless of how it is answered it remains a “4.” Some may miss it – others may get it – but no student can ever change the real answer – it remains “4.” Some men miss the will of God. Others may accomplish it – but the will remains the will regardless.

Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” Here we have a very specific instance of what God commands of us: holiness, sanctification, sexual purity. This is his will of command. But many do not obey. Then Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” There again is a specific aspect of his will: give thanks in all circumstances. But many do not do this will of God. The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:17). Not all abide forever. Some do. Some don’t. The difference? Some do the will of God. Some don’t. The will of God, in this sense, does not always happen.

God commands things like: Don’t be angry. Don’t be prideful. Don’t covet. Don’t be anxious. Don’t be jealous. Don’t envy. And none of those actions are premeditated. They MUST be chosen – However, anger, pride, covetousness, anxiety, jealousy, envy—all just rise up out of the heart with no conscious reflection or intention. Therefore to DO the will in these instances man must chose the will of God over his own will and nature. God reveals His will through His Word which is binding. We have no authority to violate this will. We have the power or ability to frustrate the will of God, though never the right to do so. His permission gives us the power, but not the right to sin.


— jlg —

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