Foundational Principles about God’s Will
God’s will is not so much about results (the destination) as it is about process (the journey). It is not so much about choosing jobs and deciding where to live, although those are very significant decisions. More often, it is about building faith as we grapple with God’s mysterious ways.
God’s ways and our ways
God’s ways are past finding out
“Who removes the mountains, and they know it not when He overturns them in His anger; Who shakes the earth out of its place, and the pillars of it tremble; Who commands the sun, and it rises not; Who seals up the stars [from view]; Who alone stretches out the heavens and treads upon the waves and high places of the sea;…Who does great things past finding out, yes, marvelous things without number. It is God!” (Job 9:5-10(Amplified Bible)
God thinks and operates differently
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
Humans cannot comprehend the mind of God
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” Romans 11:33-34 (NIV)
Like astronomers studying the night sky, we peer into the vastness of God, searching His mind for reasons, motives and intentions. When tragedy happens, we cry out, “God, what are you doing? And we look up for answers. No matter how educated we are, no matter how perceptive we are, we may never completely understand why He does what he does.
Two Facets of God’s Will
While we strain to see God through a telescope, God sees us in microscopic detail from beginning to end, conception to the grave. We can view God’s will in two ways. The first is the determined will of God, the second is human free will.
The Determined Will of God
As the sovereign ruler of the universe, God determines everything that happens.
“so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things.” Isaiah 45: 6-7 (NIV)
He is sovereign, so His will surrounds whatever occurs. Having said that, we need to note that there are some things God cannot do. For example; He cannot lie (Num. 23:19) He cannot tempt anyone to sin (James 1:13). He cannot contradict himself (2 Tim 2:13). God is eternally consistent.
Four Statements about God’s Determined Will
It is absolute
It is immutable/unchangeable
It is unconditional.
It is in complete harmony with His plan and His nature
The Permissive Will of God
From the “free will” angle, we see a different perspective of God’s will. God has given us free will to make choices. Lewis Sperry Chafer brings some measure of clarity to this deeply mysterious reality;
"In respect to His permissive will,…God determines not to hinder the course of action which His creatures purse, but He does determine to regulate and control the bounds and results of such actions."
Under the permissive will of God, we are accountable for our own choices. We can’t blame God for our sin. The drug addict cannot say, “Since drug addiction is God’s determined will. I had no choice. God made me an addict.” God doesn’t will anyone to sin. Rather within His permissive will, He gives us freedom to choose between righteousness and sin.
How God reveals His Will Through Scripture
Obey parents (Eph 6:1)
Work an occupation (1 Thes 4:11-12)
Support your family (1 Tim 5:8)
Give to the Lord’s work and the poor (2 Cor 8, 9; Gal. 2:10)
Raise Children by God’s standards (Eph 6:4)
Meditate in the scripture (Ps 1:2)
Pray (1 Thess. 5:17)
Have a joyful attitude (1 Thess. 5:16)
Assemble for worship (Hebrews 10:25)
Proclaim Christ (Acts 1:8)
Set proper values (Matt 6:19-21)
Display love (1Cor 13)
Have a spirit of gratitude (Phil. 4:6)
Accept people without prejudice (James 2:1-10)
The more we know God’s word, the more we will understand His will.
The ways God has revealed His Will
Through miracles (Exodus 3)
Through dreams and visions (Gen. 37: 5-11)
God spoke audibly (1 Sam 3)