Thursday, August 23, 2007

God's Will

I have heard many sermons on the topic of God's will. Many books have been written on the subject. I searched a popular online Christian bookstore and found 6,238 books that came up when I typed in "God's will". They were all about discovering, finding, desiring, knowing, seeking, discerning, following, or praying God's will. One of my favorites was entitled Knowing God's Will Made Easier and the book only costs $3.49. What a bargain! If it were only that easy. Obviously it isn't or there wouldn't be over 6,000 books on one website about the subject.

As an avid reader, I have to careful how many times I turn to books about the Bible or about God, instead of turning to the Bible, God's Word. (I am not saying that there aren't some wonderful Christian books out there that can challenge, encourage, and strengthen each one of us in our Christian walk. However, we all have to be careful that we aren't substituting reading these books for reading the Bible...But I digress...)

All of this leaves me to ask myself, "What is the will of God?"

In my studying I found out that the main Greek word that is used to for the will of God is thelema which means a determination, choice, or inclination. Often this word is translate into desire, pleasure, or will. It occurs 64 times in the New Testament.

Here are a couple of examples:
  • Paul was an apostle of Christ by the will of God (1 Corinthians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1)
  • Our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
  • Giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  • Doing good (1 Peter 2:15)
However, a lot of the other references were a tad more ambiguous.
  • We are to filled with "knowledge of [God's] will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Colossians 1:9)
  • We receive God's promises when we "hand done the will of God" (Hebrews 10:36)
  • Sometimes God's will is for us to suffer for doing good (1 Peter 3:17, 1 Peter 4:19)
  • God hears us when we ask for things in accordance to His will (1 John 5:14)
  • We are to understand what the Lord's will is (Ephesians 5:17)
  • God's will is good, pleasing, and perfect (Romans 12:2)
They all sound great, but it doesn't help me quiet answer the question, "What is the will of God?" Perhaps I am making this much more difficult than it really is.

The more I think about it, I have asked the wrong question. I think the right question is, "What is God's will for my life?" What is that He wants me to do in life? (If you are beginning to wonder if I am having some crisis in my life, the answer is no. I have just been thinking and reading a lot, which can both be very dangerous.)

It can be easy to become bogged (not blogged) down with these questions. Even as I have been thinking through this whole idea, it seems that this is one big circular discussion. I may even be more confused now than when I began. I think the goal is to pray, stay in the Word, seek godly counsel, and wait on God's answer.

Other's thoughts on God's will:
"I find doing the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about his plans."
-George MacDonald

"I want what God wants, that why I am so merry."
-Saint Francis of Assisi

"To walk out of His will is to walk into nowhere."
-C.S. Lewis

"There are no disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God."
-Frederick William Faber


Meems said...

wow. you have taken on a broad and much debated subject.

i laughed when you mentioned the bargain book because it does seem that as humans we want to go by a book that will tell us exactly what to do in every situation hoping it will be the will of God for us. not gonna happen. i found it interesting that you pointed out the trend of today -- choosing to read other books "about" God and His word instead of turning to the B-I-B-L-E for our foundation. As we are renewing our minds (Rom 12:2)to what the Bible has to say, we can then measure the truth (or lack of it) in the other books we read. Renewing our minds will transform us so we can prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

if we have been walking this walk with God for any length of time we have discovered that knowing God's will for our own personal lives and each decision in life is not something we can go to the Bible and look up. we will each have to seek God and His word and learn to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us to follow His will in these matters. of course i just super-simplified that statement because as you said thousands of books have been written exploring the depths of that subject.

However, there are some things in the Bible that clearly state what the will of God is. I won't list them all for the sake of time but one of them clearly stated is the new birth. it is God's will that every man receive Jesus Christ as their savior and he is waiting with open arms for anyone who will say yes to Him:

it is God's will that no man should perish--"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:8-10

"This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." I Timothy 2: 3-4

If we would all find out what the Bible makes clear is the will of the Lord and DO THAT ---the other decisions in life wouldn't be as difficult as we make them (me included).

Jane said...

meems- thanks for sharing your thoughts. i completely agree. yet, i still want an a, b, c, and d list or a formula that i can follow. as humans we always want the quick and easy way out. often this flows over into our spiritual lives as well. recently i read about a church who has started a drive through church service. my thought was "what?". i picture it like a mcdonald's. can i get #1 (love with a side of make me feel good about myself)...oh, and supersize that would you!

you also pointed out some of the verses that i found when i was studying this topic. while it might sound super simplified, your right...that is all we can do. do what we know he wants and then every thing else will not seem as difficult.

Jane said...

Oh, yeah...I do have a follow-up post begun, so stay tuned for more! :)

MLM said...

Meems: That'll PREACH!

(When I'm looking for God's plan and can't find "MLM chapter 5 verse 12" in the Bible, I may just come back and re-read your comment and learn, "If we would all find out what the Bible makes clear is the will of the Lord and DO THAT ---the other decisions in life wouldn't be as difficult as we make them." Selah!)