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The Will of God
By David A. DePra
God has a will for each person on this planet, and for each situation. This is a clear revelation of the Bible. But it is just as clear that God, for the most part, does not impose His will upon anyone. If we doubt that, then we must assume that what we see in the world and the church is, in fact, Godís will Ė Godís imposed will. Does anyone actually believe that God is getting His will, generally, in this world today? Or even in the church today?
God is, however, not defeated. Part of His will, and within His sovereignty, is the provision that man be allowed to reject His will. In the long run this will glorify Him, since all the efforts of man to reject Him will come to nothing. In the end, God will have His way.
Letís be clear about something. God is not pleased that men reject His will. God does not cause men to reject His will. God does not ordain sin or unbelief. Teachings that suggest that everything that happens must be of God -- or God is not sovereign -- are error.
The fact that God knows ahead of time that someone will reject Him, but nevertheless allows it, does not mean that it is Godís will that the person reject Him. God is so entirely sovereign that He knows exactly when to move or not move, intervene or not intervene, or bring about circumstances which will give people the opportunity to turn to Him. But the choice is up to them. God is so sovereign that He is able to know our choices ahead of time, yet not interfere with them. Any suggestion to the contrary is not only unbiblical, but results in grave error.
The age old argument of where Godís will ends and manís responsibility begins is not one which God started. It is the result of people getting lost in philosophy, rather than in Jesus Christ. The Truth is, once I say man has no real choice Ė no matter how I prop it up with a religious song and dance routine -- I am in error. Man does have a choice Ė even a choice to reject the very God who gave him that choice. GOD has made it so.
God has made room for the possibility that man reject Him. All morality, free will, love, and righteous character depend on this. God does not care whether this makes Him look like a failure Ė right now. He knows that in the end, He will have His will. And even those who reject Him will prove Godís sovereignty by virtue of the fact that they did reject Him and did lose out for all eternity.
God has a will for this age. He has a will for His church. He has a will for each person. THAT is not the question. The question is how to find Godís will. The Bible gives us the answer: We find the will of God when we find God.
Seeking the Will of God
None of us are born knowing or wanting the will of God. In fact, our fallen nature automatically seeks our own will. The idea of living for the will of God is totally foreign to fallen man. To us, seeking the will of God is ABNORMAL. Getting our own way is NORMAL. This is all part of what it means to be born "in Adam."
At some point in those God "draws" to Himself through Christ, the LIGHT COMES ON. Not necessarily a big light. Not necessarily a light like the one which knocked Paul off his horse on the way to Damascus. But a light comes on that begins to show a person that they are out of Godís will, and need to get into Godís will. A person begins to sense that they are wrong with God and need to be right with Him. This is not yet conversion. It is the beginning of the work of the Spirit.
Jesus said, "No man can come to Me except the Father who sent Me draw Him." (John 6:44) It ought to be clear that the "drawing" isnít the same thing as the "coming." God does the drawing to Christ. We do the coming. At some point, we have to relinquish our old life to Christ.
Some teach that no one can do this unless God does in it him. In other words, if God draws us, our surrender is inevitable. This is not Biblical. Once we understand that man was made for God, and is a moral creature, we see that, yes, God MUST open our eyes and show us Jesus. But at some point, we are free enough to choose. God will not have robots in His kingdom.
Even after we give our lives to Christ, God would have us SEEK His will. The fact that He wants us to seek His will ought to prove to us several things. First, God never imposes His will upon us. Otherwise, we would not need to seek it. Second, unless we seek it, we wonít have Godís will. The exhortation to SEEK His will, by definition, puts a certain amount of responsibility upon us.
Now, donít misunderstand. To "seek" the will of God does not mean to "figure it out." It doesnít mean to drag it down from heaven. Predicated upon the Godís exhortation to us to SEEK His will is the promise that God wants us to find His will MORE than we want to seek it! So this isnít a matter of us twisting God arm. It is a matter of us opening ourselves to what God already wants to do in our lives.
Notice the CONDITIONAL aspect of our asking and seeking God for His will, as related in the Bible:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asks receives, and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened. (Mat 7:7-8)
You have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:2-3)
Now, before proceeding, we need to make sure we do not misunderstand. God is not leaving it up to us to figure out WHAT to ask. Not in the final analysis. In other words, there is no need to fear that because I donít know what to ask, or what to seek for, that I will miss out. There is no need to think that unless I am smart enough to know what to ask of God, that I will never receive it.
Can you imagine God saying, "Whoops. I didnít consider the possibility that someone would not know My will. I didnít make room for the possibility that someone would not have it all figured out." No. God knows all about our struggles. He simply tells us to ask, seek, and knock on whatever level we are able.
What does that mean, practically? It means that when it is all said and done, God wants us to seek HIM. Thus, all I need to do is surrender myself to HIM Ė in any situation. I can tell God that I donít know what His will is, or what to ask for, but that WHATEVER it is, I want Him to do it, reveal it to me, work in into my life. This is real asking, and seeking, and knocking.
The Bible verifies this:
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Rom 8:25-27)
"Infirmities" means INABILITY. Paul is here promising that no matter what our inability in prayer, that simply turning to God in prayer is enough. What we lack, the Spirit will make up.
God knows our hearts. He looks at our heart, and not so much as our words, or lack of words.
God wants us to seek us for His will. The promise of Jesus is that if we will seek His will, and keep seeking it, that we will find it. No some of the time. ALL of the time.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)
I mentioned it earlier, and it says this in Jeremiah 29:13, that God does not want us to merely seek His will. He wants us to seek HIM. The will of God, and the Person of God, are not separate things. For God will not be content to merely give us "things." He wants to give us HIMSELF.
Now, this presents a problem. But it is a good problem. It means that in order to receive the will of God, we have to be able to receive God Ė in a new way. Yet this automatically means that we, ourselves, must be adjusted. In effect, God doesnít want us to merely DO His will, or merely to receive His will. He wants us to BECOME His will.
God wants us to BECOME His will so that He can give us Himself Ė that is Ė expand us such that we can have a greater relationship with Him. This is a large part of what God wants to accomplish through prayer. Through prayer, we donít just ask God for STUFF. We ask God for HIMSELF. And God says, "I will answer. But I must first get you to the place where you can receive both MYSELF and the stuff."
Here we see why it sometimes seems as if it takes God forever to answer some prayers. In many of those cases, God IS answering. But the answer requires a change or adjustment in YOU. Until you are brought to that place, you will never see, understand, or be able to handle the answer.
When we pray to God, we seek an answer. But seldom do we realize that God has to make us fit to receive the answer. If we would just understand this possibility, we would make things a lot easier on ourselves.
We have to remember that God never does anything which will hurt us. So just as a child often wants things, or to do things, which are beyond his capability, and must be denied by the parent until he grows, so it is with us and God. God will often say, "You must grow to the point where this answer I want to give you will not do you damage."
God does not sit in heaven, simply handing out answers to prayer. All answers to prayer are in complete harmony with Godís overall purpose in our lives, of revealing Himself to us, and of teaching us to walk with Him. Again Ė God wants to give us HIMSELF. But in order to receive Him in these new ways, we have to BECOME the will of God.
To BECOME the will of God means to become a living witness to the Person of Jesus Christ. This involves what we say, and what we do. But more importantly, it focuses on what we are.
According to the Bible, a living witness of Jesus Christ is a SAINT. The word, "saint," means "holy one." It is one who "belongs to God." Thus, a saint is supposed to be in a growing relationship with God which reflects the fact that we are no longer our own. We belong to God Ė are set apart for His use. We are HIS witnesses.
What we need to see here is that we are not to witness to our own righteousness or holiness. We are to witness to HIS. This makes it easier to understand, because it means that included in OUR witness is the acknowledgement that we are simply redeemed sinners. When we fail or sin, we point to HIM. That is what a witness does Ė he points to the one he represents. We will never live perfectly. But we can always point to the One whose Blood makes us perfect in the eyes of God.
Jesus said that He wanted His people to be witnesses:
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Certainly included in this was the fact that the disciples would testify to the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ. They would be witnesses to that great event. But there was more. John writes that there an even a greater witness:
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (1 John 5:9-11)
There is a witness of God which is NOT merely the testimony of men. It is a witness within Ė the life of Jesus Christ within. If we have THAT witness within, eventually it will be manifested THROUGH US. It will be a living witness.
You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. (2 Cor. 3:2-3)
Here we see people who do not simply DO the will of God. They have BECOME the will of God. First, through salvation. But then through a process whereby the witness within is made manifest outside of them to Godís glory.
Thy Kingdom Come
Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Well, HOW is the will of God done in heaven? Totally, and without resistance. Thatís quite a prayer. But we can pray it with regard to any situation. We need to pray it with regard to ourselves. Again, WE need to become the will of God.
It may be surprising to find out that often the only way God will do His will in a situation is if we become His will in that situation Ė for He wants to work His will through us. Take a relationship, for example. If we ask God to do His will in a relationship we are in, how do we expect Him to execute His will without OUR faith and obedience? He canít and wonít. A relationship between us and another person is a relationship WE are in, and thus, we must become the will of God for God to be able to do His will in it.
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