THE PATTERN OF GOD'S WILL

Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to the good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him; In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. (Ephesians 1:9-11)

FACTS ABOUT GOD'S WILL

Here are some basic facts about God's will:

GOD WANTS YOU TO KNOW HIS WILL:

Faith that it is possible to know God's voice rests on two foundational facts:

First: The belief that God has a plan for you.

Second: The ability of God to communicate to you.

God communicates with man so much that He actually used a donkey to speak to a prophet on one occasion (Numbers 22).

The Bible commands:

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:17)

Paul wrote the Colossians:

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. (Colossians 1:9)

In Acts Paul spoke to one man and said:

. . . The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will, and see that Just one, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. (Acts 22:14)

In addition to these verses, God has given many promises of guidance in the King James Bible. On the basis of these Scriptures it can be concluded that God wants you to know His will.

GOD'S WILL IS PLANNED:

God is working in this world to bring to pass all things on the basis of His plan:

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. (Ephesians 1:11)

God has an overall plan for the universe which He is working out. We call this His master plan. He also has an individual plan for each person. Those plans fall within this sovereign plan and His moral will.

GOD'S PLAN IS INDIVIDUAL AND PERSONAL:

God's will for each individual includes His sovereign plan of redemption:

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)

But God's plan goes beyond the revelation of His sovereign and moral wills. God has an individual plan for each person which He seeks to communicate. The Bible confirms this by many stories of God at work in the lives of individuals. He placed men in specific situations at exact times for special purposes. Each of the life stories recorded in the Bible is unique.

God told the Prophet Jeremiah:

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest out of the womb, I sanctified thee and ordained thee. (Jeremiah 1:5)

What greater witness is there to the personal plan of God for an individual?

When the Apostle Peter was overly concerned about what ministry John was to have, Jesus said to him. . .

. . . If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. (John 21:22)

Jesus had different plans for the lives of Peter and John.

Everywhere we look in the universe intelligent planning is apparent. The arrangement of planets, the stars, and the individual designs of each snowflake and flower reflect this planning. Given this evidence, we must conclude that the divine Creator also has an individual plan for man, the highest of His created beings. God promised:

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psalms 32:8)

An individual pathway is indicated in this verse.

Psalms 37 states that every step of a righteous man is ordered by the Lord:

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. (Psalms 37:23)

The same word used here for "ordered" is used in Psalms 8:3 in relation to the moon and stars which God created. The science of astronomy has recorded the amazing precision of the movement of heavenly bodies.

The same precision that has scheduled the movement of the planets orders the steps of believers. He promised:

Thine ear shall hear a word behind thee, saying This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:21)

God orders not just the big events of life, but each step.

GOD'S WILL IS NOT MAN'S WAY:

God's will is often contrary to the ways of man:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For 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)

God's will is not always the path you would naturally select. This is why it is important to recognize the voice of God. But this does not mean the will of God is something which will bring unhappiness, as the next point reveals.

GOD'S WILL IS GOOD:

The Bible teaches that God's will is always good. Although His way may not be the one you would select, God knows what is best. Psalms 37:23 states you will delight in the way ordered by the Lord.

Paul confirms God's will is good:

And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)

GOD'S PLAN IS PROGRESSIVE:

God’s Moral Will

God’s Individual Will

God's Sovereign Will

Ephesians 2:10 states "we are His workmanship." The word "are" is the present tense. God is constantly working in your life. It is a continuing, progressive process of revealing His will.

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

Paul wrote to the Hebrew believers that it was God's desire to. . .

Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ: to whom be glory for ever and ever. (Hebrews 13:21)

"Working" is in the present tense. God is continually guiding, developing, and speaking to you regarding His plan. You are promised continual guidance:

The Lord shall guide thee continually. (Isaiah 58:11)

TWO DIVISIONS OF GOD'S WILL

When we speak of knowing God's voice, we must understand there are two basic divisions of the will of God. Each division is in harmony with the other:

FIRST: THAT REVEALED IN HIS WRITTEN WORD:

The first division of the will of God is that which is specifically revealed in the Bible.

There is a sovereign, individual, and moral will of God.

The will of God for each individual always falls within His sovereign and moral will as revealed in the King James Bible. The written Word of God includes the complete revelation of God's moral will. This includes all the commandments as to how you should live. God's sovereign will includes His moral will.

It is His sovereign will that each man and woman live within the moral standards of the King James Bible. The written Word of God includes portions of His sovereign will which He has chosen to reveal to us and includes the general outline of His master plan for the world and man in general.

The best summary of this plan is:

Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to the good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him; In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. (Ephesians 1:9-11)

SECOND: THAT NOT REVEALED IN HIS WORD:

The second division of God's will is that which is not revealed in His Word. This includes the individual life plan for each believer. God's Word does not reveal your specific life ministry or occupation, who you are to marry, where you are to live, etc. Yet each of these decisions are important. It is for decisions like these that you must seek God's will and be able to hear His voice when He speaks to you.

THE TWO COMPARED:

When desiring to know God's will in regards to a certain life situation, first study the Scriptures to see if specific guidance is given in the written Word of God. There is no need to "seek God's will" or ask for confirmation of His will when He has already spoken in His written Word. Examine the Scriptures carefully for specific guidance already given.

Accept the written Word as God's voice speaking to you. If you refuse the guidance God has given in His written Word, you open yourself up to deception.

In many situations the Bible provides general principles--which when understood and applied-- will lead to a decision consistent with God's will. These principles apply to a variety of specific situations. For example, Paul warns:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial (Satan)? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (II Corinthians 6:14-15)

Here the Bible gives a general principle that believers and unbelievers should not be yoked together. This principle can be applied to many life situations: Being married to an unbeliever, going into business partnership with an unbeliever, making unbelievers your closest friends, etc.

Search the Scriptures for biographical examples which apply to your situation. Study the lives of Biblical characters to see what decisions they made in similar situations and if such decisions were in harmony with the will of God.

In matters where guidance is not given in the written Word of God, the Lord has other methods by which He speaks to man. Guidance for individual life situations always will agree with the written Word of God. God's voice leads within the limits of the written Word.

THE PATTERN OF GOD'S WILL

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present  your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

THE PERFECT WILL OF GOD:

The perfect will of God is accomplished when a believer is in harmony with the moral, sovereign, and individual wills of God for his life.

The believer has accepted the sovereign plan of God for his salvation through the new birth experience. He is in harmony with the moral commandments of God's written Word.

He also has determined God's specific guidance for his individual life plan.

THE GOOD WILL OF GOD:

In the good will of God, the believer is not in the perfect plan for his life but he is within God's sovereign will and moral will. He is not disobedient to God's revealed will, and he is still seeking to find that perfect individual plan of God for His life.

THE ACCEPTABLE WILL OF GOD:

This believer is missing the perfect will of God for his life but is still in an acceptable area. He is living in the permissive will of God. He may not even be concerned about God's perfect will for His life. God is permitting him to live in this area, although it is not God's perfect will for him.

OUTSIDE THE WILL OF GOD:

The believer in this realm is in direct disobedience to God's revealed will.

AN EXAMPLE FROM SCRIPTURE

The story of Balaam in Numbers chapter 22 illustrates these realms of God's will. Read the story. Some men from Moab asked a prophet of God named Balaam to go with them and prophesy against God's people, Israel. God spoke to Balaam and told him not to go:

And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed. (Numbers 22:12)

It was the perfect will of God for Balaam NOT to go with the men of Moab. But Balaam disobeyed God's voice and went with the men. When he did, he was functioning in disobedience outside the revealed will of God.

God desired so much for Balaam to know His will that He used a donkey to speak to him and convict him of his sin. After this God permitted Balaam to continue on with the men of Moab with orders that he was to bless rather than curse the Israelites. Balaam was now functioning in the permissive will of God.

The journey resulted in a series of trying encounters with a man named Balak. These could have been avoided if Balaam had obeyed the voice of God and never gone in the first place.

When David first became king, he walked in conformity to the will of God. God even called David a man after His own heart. But then David sinned with another man's wife who gave birth to an illegitimate child. This was in direct disobedience to God's written Word. David came before the Lord in repentance, was forgiven, and came back in line with God's will.

It is the overall pattern of your conformity to God's will that is important. Through every experience of learning to know God's voice, both positive and negative, you can continue to advance in your ability to discern God's perfect will. Continue to strive for conformity despite occasional failures. Don’t ever give up!

FOR FURTHER STUDY

There are general principles and examples in the King James Bible through which He communicates His will to man. There are also specific instructions in God's written Word which reveal His will in many matters. These include all the promises and commandments of the Bible. In some verses, God is so specific He actually states "This is my will for you. . . "

What are some of the things God has revealed as His will for you? Study the following references:

HIS PLAN FOR YOU:

And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40)

And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. (John 6:39)

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37)

Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father. (Galatians 1:4)

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will ... Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times, He might bather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him; In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, and predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. (Ephesians 1, 5, 9-11)

Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. (James 1:18)

HIS WILL FOR YOUR LOVED ONES:

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)

HIS WILL CONCERNING YOUR SANCTIFICATION:

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication. (I Thessalonians 4:3)

HIS WILL REGARDING PRAYER AND THANKSGIVING:

Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (I Thessalonians 5:17-18)

And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. (Matthew 16:19)

HIS WILL REGARDING YOUR LIFESTYLE:

For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. (I Peter 2:15)

HIS WILL FOR YOU REGARDING THE HOLY SPIRIT:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pout out my Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: An on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit: and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18)

HIS WILL REGARDING YOUR CHRISTIAN WITNESS:

And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Mark 1:17)

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)

HIS WILL REGARDING CHILDREN AND BABES IN CHRIST:

Even so, it is not the will of your Father which is in Heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:14)

HIS WILL REGARDING SUFFERING:

Let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing as unto a faithful creator. (I Peter 4:19)

HIS WILL REGARDING MATERIAL POSSESSIONS:

But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

HIS WILL REGARDING YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY:

Father I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)