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Discerning God's Will Part 1

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Illus: There are certain biblical principles that I remember being taught as I began to grow in my faith as a young Christian. I remember evangelism training, and learning about issues on dating, music, spiritual warfare, and of course dispensational teachings on the end times. However, I cannot remember a time when anyone taught me how to discern the will of God. What I do remember, is that everyone always talked about things like “the Lord leading,” and looking for “open doors,” and “God just gave me a sign or peace about something.” It seemed like many around me had it all figured out while I struggled to “hear the small voice.” Little did I know that though my friends and mentors were using language like this, and I was unintentionally, being trained to discern God’s will in a mystical and unbiblical way.
There are certain biblical principles that I remember being taught as I began to grow in my faith as a young Christian. I remember evangelism training, and learning about issues on dating, music, spiritual warfare, and of course dispensational teachings on the end times. However, I cannot remember a time when anyone taught me how to discern the will of God. What I do remember, is that everyone always talked about things like “the Lord leading,” and looking for “open doors,” and “God just gave me a sign or peace about something.” It seemed like many around me had it all figured out while I struggled to “hear the small voice.” Little did I know that though my friends and mentors were using language like this, and I was unintentionally, being trained to discern God’s will in a mystical and unbiblical way.
here are certain biblical principles that I remember being taught as I began to grow in my faith as a young Christian. I remember evangelism training, and learning about issues on dating, music, spiritual warfare, and of course dispensational teachings on the end times. However, I cannot remember a time when anyone taught me how to discern the will of God. What I do remember, is that everyone always talked about things like “the Lord leading,” and looking for “open doors,” and “God just gave me a sign or peace about something.” It seemed like many around me had it all figured out while I struggled to “hear the small voice.” Little did I know that though my friends and mentors were using language like this, and I was unintentionally, being trained to discern God’s will in a mystical and unbiblical way.
Psalm 33:9–11 CSB
For he spoke, and it came into being; he commanded, and it came into existence. The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations; he thwarts the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart from generation to generation.
Romans 12:1–2 CSB
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Illus: There are certain biblical principles that I remember being taught as I began to grow in my faith as a young Christian. I remember evangelism training, and learning about issues on dating, music, spiritual warfare, and of course dispensational teachings on the end times. However, I cannot remember a time when anyone taught me how to discern the will of God. What I do remember, is that everyone always talked about things like “the Lord leading,” and looking for “open doors,” and “God just gave me a sign or peace about something.” It seemed like many around me had it all figured out while I struggled to “hear the small voice.” Little did I know that though my friends and mentors were using language like this, and I was unintentionally, being trained to discern God’s will in a mystical and unbiblical way.

Living in God's will is the daily decision to live for Christ, die to self, and obey the Scriptures.

Wayne Grudem defines God’s will as
“…that attribute of God whereby he approves and determines to bring about every action necessary for the existence and activity of himself and all creation.”
Wayne Grudem defines God’s will as “…that attribute of God whereby he approves and determines to bring about every action necessary for the existence and activity of himself and all creation.” It is because of God’s will and who He is that ultimately everything happens. Paul illustrates this perfectly in
It is because of God’s will and who He is that ultimately everything happens. Paul illustrates this perfectly in
Ephesians 1:11 CSB
In him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will,
Literally, everything is happening to bring about God’s will and plan. Indeed according to and everything was created by the will of God.
Literally, everything is happening to bring about God’s will and plan. Indeed according to and everything was created by the will of God.
and
Revelation 4:11 CSB
Our Lord and God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because you have created all things, and by your will they exist and were created.
everything was created by the will of God.
Psalm 33:9–11 CSB
For he spoke, and it came into being; he commanded, and it came into existence. The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations; he thwarts the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart from generation to generation.

2-3 Categories within God’s Will

The Moral, Sovereign, and Secret Will.
In the Greek New Testament there are two words that can be translated into the English word ‘will.’ The first term βουλή (boule) is found 12 times in the New Testament and literally means counsel, decree, or divine wisdom. Luke uses this term 8 times in the Gospel of Luke and in Acts (; ; ; ; ; ; ; and 27:42) in which he speaks of God’s sovereign will that cannot be stopped or changed.
Acts 2:23 CSB
Though he was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail him to a cross and kill him.
The second term is θέλημα (thelema) which is found 63 times in the New Testament and literally means will, wish, or desire. Thelema is diverse and can range from meaning that which is agreeable, or desired, or intended, that which is chosen, or commanded. Paul uses the term 24 times in his epistles, while Matthew and John use thelema 6 and 8 times respectively.
When thelema is used it often refers to God’s moral will (for example: ; ; ; ; ). God’s moral will is that which the Bible commands concerning how people should behave and believe.
Colossians 1:9 CSB
For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,
Many times when we think moral will we think 10 Commandments. And yet while Sinai is the first time we know of that these rules are written down, we also know that they are built into God’s design.
Adam does not here “you shall not commit adultery” and yet that is built into the original creation of marriage as found in .
We know
Genesis 2:24 CSB
This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.
Ezra 10:10–11 CSB
Then the priest Ezra stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful by marrying foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Therefore, make a confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the surrounding peoples and your foreign wives.”
Adam isn’t told that murder is wrong ad yet we know immediately that it is when Cain kills Abel in .
It is in obeying God’s Word that we begin to live in God’s Will.
In Ezra’s day their again was the problem of marriage as it relates with idolatry.
Ezra 10:10–11 CSB
Then the priest Ezra stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful by marrying foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Therefore, make a confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the surrounding peoples and your foreign wives.”
Ezra explains that the people are breaking the law by marrying foreign women and that the need to repent and then “do his will.” According to Ezra, it is God’s will that we obey what God says. It is the moral law that reflects the character and nature of God and as we obey the commands in Scripture we reflect who God is to the world. This obedience to God’s Word is what the moral will is all about.
According to and God has fully revealed to mankind His moral will through the Bible.
Hebrews 1:1–2 CSB
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 CSB
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The second way that the will of God is presented in the Scriptures is the sovereign will of God. Several Old Testament passages need to be mentioned before we look at the New Testament.
Job 42:2 CSB
I know that you can do anything and no plan of yours can be thwarted.
says “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
Whatever God plans, nothing can stop his purpose and will. Understanding the sovereignty of God is important for understanding what it means to discern the will of God. Isaiah also speaks to unstoppable nature of God’s sovereign will when says concerning Assyria in
Whatever God plans, nothing can stop his purpose and will. Understanding the sovereignty of God is important for understanding what it means to discern the will of God. Isaiah also speaks to unstoppable nature of God’s sovereign will when says concerning Assyria in :
:
Isaiah 14:24–27 CSB
The Lord of Armies has sworn: As I have purposed, so it will be; as I have planned it, so it will happen. I will break Assyria in my land; I will tread him down on my mountain. Then his yoke will be taken from them, and his burden will be removed from their shoulders. This is the plan prepared for the whole earth, and this is the hand stretched out against all the nations. The Lord of Armies himself has planned it; therefore, who can stand in its way? It is his hand that is outstretched, so who can turn it back?
includes oracles against the nations that God will use to execute judgment on Israel and Judah. Even the mighty Assyria cannot thwart the plans of the Lord who has stretches out his hand across the whole earth. Nothing can stop the purpose and plan of God’s sovereign will.
includes oracles against the nations that God will use to execute judgment on Israel and Judah. Even the mighty Assyria cannot thwart the plans of the Lord who has stretches out his hand across the whole earth. Nothing can stop the purpose and plan of God’s sovereign will.
Moses predicts the history for Israel in and and 28 before saying in
Deuteronomy 29:29 CSB
The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law.
We cannot begin to comprehend the secret will of the Lord, but when He does reveal part of his will it is meant to lead us to obedience. Unfortunately, instead of leading to obedience, most people (and dare I say most Christians) ignore the moral will of God and instead try to figure out the secret sovereign will of God.
We cannot begin to comprehend the secret will of the Lord, but when He does reveal part of his will it is meant to lead us to obedience. Unfortunately, instead of leading to obedience, most people (and dare I say most Christians) ignore the moral will of God and instead try to figure out the secret sovereign will of God. is clear that divination is a serious sin. Divination is the act where someone seeks unmediated spiritual knowledge. Pagan nations would try to manipulate their gods by practicing divination. The Bible is clear that what can be known about God is revealed through Scripture.
We cannot begin to comprehend the secret will of the Lord, but when He does reveal part of his will it is meant to lead us to obedience. Unfortunately, instead of leading to obedience, most people (and dare I say most Christians) ignore the moral will of God and instead try to figure out the secret sovereign will of God. is clear that divination is a serious sin. Divination is the act where someone seeks unmediated spiritual knowledge. Pagan nations would try to manipulate their gods by practicing divination. The Bible is clear that what can be known about God is revealed through Scripture.
is clear that divination is a serious sin. Divination is the act where someone seeks unmediated spiritual knowledge. Pagan nations would try to manipulate their gods by practicing divination. The Bible is clear that what can be known about God is revealed through Scripture.
**We think if we just knew the secret things of God all would be ok. And yet when the secret things of God are revealed to prophets it almost kills them: Daniel and John
In the New Testament both boule and thelema are used to describe God’s sovereign and secret plan. , , and describe the crucifixion as the secret plan of God that has now been revealed. Paul speaks in of mystery of the gospel (picking up language from ) and how Gentiles are now adopted included in the family of God through nothing else but the gospel. The New Testament is clear that God is determining all things, and yet does so without eliminating the reality of decision making, (; ), without violating the will of man (), and without being the author of sin ().
In the New Testament both boule and thelema are used to describe God’s sovereign and secret plan. , , and describe the crucifixion as the secret plan of God that has now been revealed. Paul speaks in of mystery of the gospel (picking up language from ) and how Gentiles are now adopted included in the family of God through nothing else but the gospel. The New Testament is clear that God is determining all things, and yet does so without eliminating the reality of decision making, (; ), without violating the will of man (), and without being the author of sin ().
Isaiah 45:7 CSB
I form light and create darkness, I make success and create disaster; I am the Lord, who does all these things.
even says “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.”
God is absolutely sovereign over everything. Not even the false pagan gods can get credit for anything. Yahweh is the only God and he is responsible for all that is, and yet he is not evil, never does evil, and evil never thwart’s his plan.
What great peace begins to flood the soul when one comes to understand that God has good purposes that are not thwarted but accomplished by evil.
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