What is God’s Will?
Preached by Mike Aiken
Today we are going to end our old year thinking about what is God’s will. There are two major points to this message. First, there is the sovereign will of God and second, there is the moral will of God Why address this topic? There is a lot of confusion about this topic and one of my goals is to remove that confusion and bring clarity. Listen to Kevin DeYoung , he says, “’The will of God’ is one of the most confusing phrases in the Christian vocabulary. Sometimes we speak of all things happening according to God’s will. Other times we talk about being obedient and doing the will of God. And still other times we talk about finding the will of God. The confusion is due to our using the phrase ’the will of God’ in at least three different ways, typified in the previous three sentences” (Just Do Something, p. 18). Scripture teaches the first two ways “God’s will” is used. I do not believe the third way is taught in Scripture. Second, I want to bring comfort to your heart and courage to your soul as you walk out of here today. The first Scripture we are going to look at and to frame this message is Deuteronomy 29:29
29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
I. The Sovereign Will of God
God’s sovereign will defined- It refers to God’s decreeing (or determining) all that comes to pass in his creation. God’s purposes have been determined by God from all eternity. Not only has God created all things out of nothing, he now is ruling all things. This is also called God’s providence. God is the ruler and governor of the universe. His sovereign plan and purpose cannot be thwarted. All of creation is ruled by our triune God who is personal, holy and loving
What has God decreed? All things such as the weather, the actions of all people (and nations) whether good or bad, the actions of all animals, Satan and his demons, angels. The day of our death. All things visible and invisible. All happenings are under God’s control and fulfill his plan and purpose.
What are the distinguishing features of God’s sovereign will?
- It is a secret (unknown)
- It is certain (Ps. 33:11-“The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” C.H. Spurgeon contrasted man’s purposes with God’s, “Men’s purposes are blown to and fro like the thread of the gossamer or the down of the thistle, but the eternal purposes are firmer than the earth.” (The Treasury of David, p. 107).
- It includes all things both good and evil
Since it includes all things (good and evil) does it make God the author of sin? No. Since it includes the actions of all people does it make them like puppets and robots which are not responsible for their actions? No
Scriptures which teach it- Ephesians 1:11; Mt. 10:29-31; Acts 2:22-23; Acts 4: 27,28; Isa. 46:8-11; Gen. 50:15-21. The death of Christ was the most heinous crime ever committed and yet it too was determined by God but yet those murderers of Jesus did exactly what they desired, and yet God holds them accountable for that sin. Westminster Confession of Faith 3.1 teaches that God does not force his creatures to act against their wills. They freely acted.
That all things fall under God’s sovereign plan does not negate human responsibility (Ill. Wearing seat belts and looking both ways when you cross the street; getting a job etc.) , and that God has decreed all things, does not mean that God condones all that happens. All people will be judged by God and give an account to him for their actions.
A word of caution. While we know that God is in control of all things this teaching must be applied with pastoral sensitivity. There is a time and place to teach Rom. 8:28 but not when a catastrophe has just happened (ex. loss of loved one, an accident). That the problem of evil is a difficult one cannot be denied and we must be patient with those who oppose this teaching. Furthermore, It is a doctrine of comfort as we live in a fallen world. So, be wise in using this teaching. There is a time and place to bring it up and when disaster hits someone they need your ear, your shoulder, and your helping hand but not your mouth. Silence is golden in those moments and actions will speak louder than words.
II. The Moral Will of God (Dt. 29:29)
The moral will of God defined. It refers to all that God desires for people to do and it is revealed in his word, the Bible. It is not a secret, and it is the responsibility of all people to obey. It is God’s commandments. Jesus said his food was to do the will of His Father John 4:34).
In relation to God (Ex. 20:3-11) (Love God supremely- Mt. 22:37)
- Worship God alone
- Don’t misuse his name
- Keep the Sabbath holy- gather with God’s people to worship
In relation to other people (Ex. 20:12-17) (Love people secondly- Mt. 22:39)
- Honor your parents
- Don’t murder
- Don’t commit sexual sin (sex is a gift from God to be enjoyed within the bounds of marriage).
- Don’t steal
- Don’t speak falsely- speak truthfully
- Don’t covet what others have
The New Testament reiterates the ten commandments (some would say the Sabbath excepted). What are some other commands which show God’s desires?
- Believe in Jesus Christ that you may be saved from the wrath of God ESV Acts 16:31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” ESV 1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
- If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, God’s desire, found in these commands, is that you would come to Christ. Jesus is the gospel, the good news we celebrate at Christmas.
We have covered two areas that Scripture has clearly taught are “God’s Will,” but what about the specifics for our lives such as what career should I pursue? whom should I marry? Should I remain single? Where should I live? Where should I go to church? Should I pursue another career or should I try to get a job promotion?
Do we need to find out in advance from God what the specifics are for these questions or does God want us to make a wise decision? I believe it is the latter of these two options. God wants us to make his revealed will found in Scripture our emphasis and as we are living life we need to constantly come to his word in prayer asking for his wisdom in making the decisions we make. God’s word doesn’t teach us to look for a sign or a word from God (a dream, an impression, a vision, a fleece etc.). Scripture gives us principles in making the above decisions. Example: Marriage. Scripture tells us it is between one man and one woman and that we are not to be unequally yoked. Seek godly counsel from your parents and other Christians and then make a decision. Do pray, but not as an excuse to not do something. Don’t be passive.
God’s sovereign will for our lives is an unknown, unless God chooses to reveal it to us (and he isn’t obligated). It should cause us to not fear the future but to trust God since all things that happen are in accordance with his sovereign will. We need to be obeying his moral will (his desires) found in Scripture, and as we are doing so making sure we are being active, not lazy or passive about living our lives. One last test case, James 4:13-17, where we see human responsibility and divine sovereignty displayed. It is not a sin to plan for the future but it is a sin to boast arrogantly about the future without submitting our plans to the Lord. God doesn’t rebuke planning that is done humbly.
ESV James 4:13-17
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”- 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. Let’s go into 2015 loving and trusting our God, loving others and submitting all our plans to his sovereign will. To God alone be the glory.