#Reimagine...How To Discover the Will of God
Theologians have different ways to explain the will (wills?) of God
- Intentional, Circumstantial, and Ultimate
- God’s Perfect Will, God’s Proscribed Will, God’s Predetermined Will
- The Sovereign Will of God, the Permissive Will of God, the Secret Will of God
- God's Prescriptive WIl, God's Permissive WIll, God's Providential WIll
These categories help us know how God "thinks" and how to differentiate and implement God's decrees, demands, and direction.
Mature disciples must know how God's will is revealed :
... in Creation and Scripture... during trials and troubles... while facing opportunities or obstacles
"Be anxious to do the will of God." 1 Peter 4:2
Is the Scripture text, the guidance of the Spirit, the counsel of the Body of Christ (my relationships and my research) an unchangeable/ unavoidable decree? A demand to be applied and obeyed without equivocation? Or, a decision I have responsibility/freedom to participate in?
"I looked for someone to defend the city and to protect it from my anger, as well as to stop me from destroying it. But I found no one." Ezekiel 22:30 Contemporary English Version
God is looking for individuals to partner in the releasing of God's will.
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. Jonah 3:10
"So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people." Exodus 32:14 New American Standard
God's attributes never change but God's actions ("mind") may change depending on how we respond .
“Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” "If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.” Genesis 18:27-28 New International Version
God allows Abraham, a righteous person with authentic faith, to barter/beg mercy for his family and the city. (see also Amos 7:3, Jonah 3:9, 4:2; Jeremiah 18:18; 26:3, 13)
“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Mark 14:36
Jesus teaches us when we converse with God, we can ask for anything, but because we are surrendered in our spirit, we do not control God nor do we determine God's will. We share our best hope/petition, but always yield to God's direction.
- "before; written"
- "A prescriptive approach to something involves telling people what they should do, rather than simply giving suggestions or describing what is done." (dictionary)
- The will of God for all people, in all times, in all places; a decree that cannot be undone or thwarted.
- The will of God seen through the wonders and works of God: Creation (cosmology, chemistry, geology, etc.), Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, Consummation ... that reveal God'snature and attributes.
- "Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance, because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God’s nature have been made visible, such as his eternal power and transcendence. He has made his wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without excuse." The Passion Paraphrase
- The Sovereign God is our Creator; the Living God
- Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. Colossians 1:15-16
- They will proclaim the mighty acts of God and realize all the amazing things he does. The godly will rejoice in the Lord and find shelter in him. And those who do what is right will praise him." Psalm 64:9-10 / New Living Translation
- "They raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them."" Acts 4:24 / New International Version
- Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created. Revelation 4:11 Holman Bible
Our objective: Knowing the wonders and the works of God, so that we may praise God's attributes and pursue a life of "imitating God in everything we do, for then we will represent our Father as beloved sons and daughters" Ephesians 5:1.
- "from; written"
- The will of God exegeted (explained) through precepts, teachings, statutes, parables, instruction, presented as demands (request) or commands (compel)
- The will of God revealed in the Word of God. Scriptures that expose the heart of the Father and the mind of Christ
- The ways of God (Sovereign, Savior, Spirit); actions that teach truth and direct us how to love our God and love our neighbor
- The Lord our God is our Communicator (ie, the Word of God incarnate; John 1:1)
- "You have commanded that your precepts be diligently kept." Psalm 119:4 Christian Standard Bible
- "No longer spend the rest of his natural life living for human appetites and desires, but for the will and purpose of God." 1 Peter 4:2 Amplified Bible
- All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right. 2 TImothy 3:16 New Century Version
- The Spirit of Holiness, the One like me who sets you free, he will teach you all things in my name. And he will inspire you to remember every word that I’ve told you. John 14:26
- Our objective: To know the Word and the ways of God, so that we may live according to the commands and instructions of God.
- "together; written"
- The will of God discerned from investigation of Scripture in intercession with the Spirit and often including interaction with other believers
- The will of God known as we yield to the Spirit ("be filled'') for a wise and righteous application of biblical teaching.
- The Spirit of God is our Collaborator (a counselor, comforter, coach)
- "I looked for someone to defend the city and to protect it from my anger, as well as to stop me from destroying it. But I found no one." Ezekiel 22:30 Contemporary English Version
- When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. Jonah 3:10
- “Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” "If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.” Genesis 18:27-28 New International Version
- God will continually revitalize you, implanting within you the passion to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:13
- Be continually filled with, under the control and guidance of, the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 (personal paraphrase)
Our objective: Righteous wisdom; knowing and doing the right thing for the right reason at the right time in the right way for the right person(s), resulting from a constant conversation with God ("Make your life a prayer.") 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
- God is our Creator.
- We praise the wonders and works of God, trusting even when our personal circumstances are difficult or disturbing.
- God is our Communicator.
- We pursue the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), the teachings in God's Word, in order to follow God's ways that we see in Jesus and biblical men and women and nations.
- God is our Collaborator.
- We ponder, listen for, the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we respond to God's invitation to walk and talk together.
- Ask God to reveal to you (may the "eyes of (my) heart be enlightened" Ephesisans 1:18) the glory of God's creation and the wonder and works of God throughout history.
- As God to reveal the truth of God's commands to you through Scripture and empower you to live them out every day, in every situation.
- Ask God to reveal to you the righteous way to apply Scripture to every desire and decision.
- Being "right" (correct) is never enough. Seek to be righteous: the right perspective applied the right way at the right time for the right people with the right motive.
- Be careful not to make one of the three categories dominant, while ignoring the others. Living solely focused on God's majesty or God's message or God's mentoring can blind us to the varied ways God speaks to us, and cause us to emphasize one aspect of God's will to the ignoring or exclusion of other essential truths.
- Be learned in God's attributes (alive, eternal, love, holy) and be thankful each day for God's power, promises, provision, presence, protection.
- Research God's teachings and resubmit yourself not merely to the propositions of Scripture but to the Person revealed in Scripture who is the way, the truth and the life.
- Relearn prayer as listening rather than merely listing. "Be quick to listen, slow to speak" (James 1:19) is God's descriptive will in how to commune with the Lord; not only for personal relationships.
- Stop living your Christian life as if your explanations (doctrines) and applications (decisions) of Scripture have as much authority as Holy Scripture. One is inerrant; the other is not. Error, even heresy, results from pointing out the errors of others without yielding to an ongoing spiritual assessment from the Spirit.
•God's decreed will is waiting to be discovered as we see the beauty and praise God's glory across the "land and the sky." (Genesis 1:1)
•God's desired (ie, demanded/commanded) will is waiting for us in Scripture.
•God's discerned will is available as we partner with God (Sovereign, Saviour, Spirit) and others in study, prayer, and counsel.
- Praise Almighty God as revealed in our encounter with Creation
- Search for the Mind of Christ as revealed in Scripture
- Yield to the counself and direction of the Holy Spirit