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Thread: God's Will

  1. #1
    Follower of Christ cmnahrwold's Avatar
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    Feb 2008

    God's Will

    I would like to write about a topic that has caused much confusion in my life, and I am sure in the life of many Christians. This has been such a stumbling block for me in making sound decisions for my family and I. This topic is knowing God’s will for my life. There are countless books out there that claims that we can know God’s will in certain situations or what to do next in life. To the far extreme, I once had a man tell me that he prayed while at the grocery store to determine which brand of frozen pizza to purchase. I would often feel so jealous of such people, because they made it seem as though they had such a solid relationship with Christ. I prayed my heart out to know what God wanted me to do in certain situations in regards to work, my family, and how to get involved with my church. I once wrote down all of my prayers, and underlined scripture when I thought that it might be God trying to tell me something. All of which led to deeper confusion.

    I grew up in the Lutheran Church in a small town of northeast, Indiana. I am not sure if I really was saved back then, because my life most certainly did not reflect my faith. I was in a constant state of rebellion, although most people probably did not know it. My life took a turn off the narrow path, especially when I went off to college, but God did not give up on me. I recommitted my life to Christ six years ago, was baptized, and my family and I became members of a small church plant. This is where I heard the phrase “God’s will” over and over again. I perceived from this constant teaching, that the next step in my sanctification was to find out what God had planned for my life. This is hard to do. Turns out that this beloved church plant, which God raised up to be a pillar in the community, shut its doors a few years later. Was it really God’s will to create such a loving church and then pull the plug? It is my thought that most Christians have a huge misunderstanding of the phrase “God’s will”.

    There are three areas of God’s will as found in scripture. The three areas include God’s sovereign will, His moral will, and His individual will for our lives.

    God’s sovereign will deals with His supreme desire. Nothing will hinder God’s progress for this desire. When God wants something, it will happen. When God wanted to create all things it happened. Revelations 4:11 states the following:

    “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

    When God wanted to save mankind, He developed a plan immediately. Nothing could have prevented the coming of Jesus Christ, because of God’s sovereign will:

    “And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” (Ephesians 1:9-11)

    God’s moral will deals with what God desires for us as found in scripture. His moral will is his prescription for our life. Because we are not robots, God has given us the ability to either accept this truth or reject it. The number one moral will is that God wants us all to be saved.

    “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
    (1 Timothy 2: 3-5)

    Other examples of God’s moral will for our life includes that we love God above all else, that we love others, to forgive, how to pray, how to train our children, how to walk with God, how to be sanctified.

    The last area involves God’s individual will for our own life. This deals with the specific questions that come up in life-like: a) what job does God want me to take? b) who does God want me to marry? c) how many children does God want me to have? d) which church does He want me to go to? e) which ministry does He want me to support or work in? f) who does He want me to share the gospel with? All of these are tough questions at times, and when we seek God to answer such questions, it can often lead to further confusion. Some people waste all of their time making sure that they are living in God’s individual will. I have heard that this is called the “Dot view”, meaning that people are constantly trying to stay or jump on a tiny dot which is God’s will or plan for their life. This becomes very frustrating and exhausting. This is not biblical!!!! There is no place in the bible that teaches us how to know God’s individual will. The bible does not even tell us to ask God to know His will for our individual lives. Now sure there are very few exceptions in which God instructs people to complete a task (building an ark, leading people out of Egypt, etc), but in these circumstances the people heard or experienced God in such a way that they clearly understood the instructions. They did not have to fumble around with a formula to determine what God wanted. It is my view that 99% of the time when we hear people today say that they did something because it was God’s will, that it is complete (to steal my pastor’s term) bologna. Perhaps, I should say it more politely by stating that it is a self-delusion.

    I see such a different picture of what God’s will is for my life. I view my life as a green pasture open with possibilities, but surrounded by a fence which represents God’s Word. This fence is for my own protection. God is not concerned about where we are, but God is concerned about what kind of person we are. When we open up the bible and seek God‘s instruction, wonderful things happen. When we seek and apply God’s moral will into our daily lives, we will make good decisions that honor our Father.

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  2. #2
    Christ's Bride Johanna's Avatar
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    Jul 2009
    I do believe that God is concerned where we are. For example, I married my husband because I thought it was within God’s will for me

  3. #3
    Follower of Christ cmnahrwold's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Johanna, please let me explain my point of view further. I think that God guides our lives, but he does not have a pinpoint plan for us. He uses everything for the greater good. You marrying Steve, was without question within God’s will for you. But you had a choice, God did not demand you to marry Steve. You could have made a decision to stay in Chilli and stay single, God would have honored that and used it for the greater good. You grew up following Christ at a very early age, learning His Word. The person you have become and will become by obeying His Word is God’s will for your life. When we obey God’s word our life decisions fall into place with what seems good. Steve is a good person, dedicated to the Lord, who loves you unconditionally. Because of your dedication to God’s moral will, you found these attributes very attractive. You indeed did follow God’s will for your llfe, however there were many many different paths that you could have choosen and God would have honored such decisions. When Steve asked God whether he should pursue someone from Chile, God guided him by impressing upon him “This way is difficult” (paraphrased). With Steve knowing the scriptures, he knew that this path would be challenging, but at the same time rewarding.

  4. #4
    Awesome article, Chris!

    Scripturally speaking, we see many examples of God having pinpoint plans. While during the period ot that person’s life, it was not obvious, but in hindsight, it is clear that God was working toward an end. Yes, we do have a choice to choose not to follow God’s plan, if we are not listening or resisting Him, and this being because we lack proper lordship submission in Him. But those who are in fellowship, as a horse yielding to the bridle under the rider, naturally move in the prompted direction.

    The broader concept is known as God’s decretive, sovereign, or hidden will. By this, theologians refer to the will of God by which He sovereignly ordains everything that comes to pass. Because God is sovereign and His will can never be frustrated, we can be sure that nothing happens over which He is not in control. He at least must “permit” whatever happens to happen. Yet even when God passively permits things to happen, He chooses to permit them in that He always has the power and right to intervene and prevent the actions and events of this world.

    Though God’s sovereign will is often hidden from us until after it comes to pass, there is one aspect of His will that is plain to us—His preceptive will. Here God reveals His will through His holy Word. Finding God’s will comes when one lives his life daily for the Lord according to the truth.

    God’s immediate will is summed up in Romans 12:1-2

    1. Present your bodies a living sacrifice. V1
    2. By not conformed to this world. V2
    3. By transformed by the renewing of your mind. V2

    God’s will is simply that we live today for Him, giving our lives sacrificially to Him, and He in turn gets us to where He wants us to be and uses us as it pleases Him. We are to pray seeking God’s will and making ourselves available. If we have the desire to teach or even be a pastor or missionary, we should seek to determine if we have the God given ability. Then we wait ready for God to open a door or means to use the gifting. If it is God’s will, the door will open and the means to use our God given gifts will present itself.

    Many Christians become preoccupied or even obsessed with finding the “will” of God for their lives. We should not concern ourselves with seeking God’s will in the sense of trying to know the future, but rather seek to obey God this moment, and thereby be in His will. Ecclesiastes 12:13 states it well, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

    We need to realize that God rarely lets us know the future and He has a reason for doing so. If we knew the future, it would be our natural reaction to work toward accomplishing it. But God does not want us to accomplish His will for us in the flesh and in our human power, but rather being dependent on Him, let Him bring about that will in our lives. Then what is accomplished will honor the Lord and He will be able to use us to reach others for Christ.

  5. #5
    Follower of Christ cmnahrwold's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Thanks Steve. I think we are both on the same page. You call it preceptive will, and I call it moral will. Like I said in my original post that God does have certain acts or plans for our lives, like the examples that you are referring to from scripture, but 99% of what we hear in the modern day church is in my opinion questionable. But like you said it is not our role to figure all of that out, but to simply live in the Spirit and let it come to pass in God’s timing.

    What I am writing about in particular is when Christians over-spiritualize situations. Not sure if God always gives a thumbs up or thumb down with everyday questions. On a bigger scale, it can become very difficult at times. What happens when a leader of a church believes that it is God’s will for the church to go in a certain direction, but another leader believes that it is God’s will for the church to go in the opposite direction? Can God have two wills about an issue? It becomes absolutely ridiculous.

    Also Steve one quesiton for you:

    “We are to pray seeking God’s will and making ourselves available.”

    I assume that by “God’s will” you are talking about what is said for us to do in scripture, correct? So we should seek God’s will for our lives by reading what it has to say in the bible.

    Or are you talking about what God has planned for us in our individual lives like a) who we will marry b) how many children to have c) which house to move into d) which job to take. e) which city to move to.

  6. #6
    Great extended commentary, Chris. Regarding your question, my mention of seeking God’s will through prayer, it is referencing the daily petition of our calling and purpose revealed, along with a boldness to take each step as given. God’s decretive, sovereign, or hidden will is again, the main categories as theologians teach.

    As far as division of purpose, when leaders have different ideas of what God’s will is for a church. Scripture suggests to us the leading of the Spirit is harmonious, congruent, and consistent. However, Paul said that divisions would occur, so that those who are right will be more clearly seen, 1 Corinthians 11:19.

    God’s will for us mentally, emotionally and morally is taught us through the Word of God. His sovereign will universal and personally, is how we fit in His grand plan by means of our own life choices and use of our resources and gifting’s. God’s universal will is clear and indisputable because it is spelled out in His Word. God’s will secretively is in large most of what we don’t know ahead of time, but requires the assurance that He is in control and intimately moving us into completion of His sovereign will.

    The question would again come to bear, does God have a specific choice for our marriage, our occupation, our home, which city we live in? Most teachers in the faith answer “yes”, God has a specific plan for each of us. Although some matters may be more multiple choice or by personal preference, there will be a leaning in even those matters, as the Spirit directs.. As mentioned above, when we walk closer to Him, the transparency of choice become less vague and more defined. Our purpose in life is not to choose our own plan but to discover His plan (Jeremiah 1:5). When we discover God’s will, we will simultaneously discover a supernatural empowerment to do what He has called us to do (1 John 2:27). This supernatural empowerment is called an anointing, or a divine enablement, from God that removes burdens and destroys yokes.

    As we set our hearts to obey the fundamental truths and other facets of God’s clearly revealed will in Scripture, we are aligned to discover God’s specific will for our life. It doesn’t matter which question we might be asking right now, from the great number of seemingly important and urgent decisions we may face. By committing ourselves to follow God’s universal will, we open the door for God to reveal His specific will for our life.

    Although some may have already discovered bits and pieces of His plan, we will not be truly satisfied until we know, with certainty, what He has called us to do. If we have already discovered God’s call for our life, we should not sit and wait for Him to do everything for is. As Paul understood his divine appointment, he actively pursued and operated within the anointing he had received.

  7. #7
    Follower of Christ cmnahrwold's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    I would have to disagree with your 4th paragraph. And it is certainly ok to disagree, I am not alone in my thinking. I have heard a few popular pastors who hold the same position as myself including James Macdonald and John Macarthur.

    Jerimiah 1:5 desribes how Jeriamiah was called to be a prophet. This does not provide evidence from scripture that God has a specific plan for us. 1 John 2:27 also does not deal with God’s specific plans for our life. It is dealing with how there was a teacher who was teaching a false gospel. John advises that we should remain in Christ. The “anointing” in this passage refers to the Holy spirit given to God’s children as they become saved.

    I therefore must stick to my guns and state that our life is like a blank canvas in which we get to choose the strokes. Thankfully, Jesus has his hand on my hand, gently guiding my life in a beautiful synergy. No need to find this so called “God’s will” for my life, because when I obey what is taught in the bible, I have already found it.

    Great discussion Steve! Love you brother.

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