The Search For God's Will (pt.1)

God’s Sovereign Will

Over the course of the next 5 weeks we’re going to explore a topic that has great importance in the life of a Christian.  Subsequently, the topic of God’s will has been crucial for the leadership at Mercy Hill in understanding God’s call on us to plant a church in Greensboro.  We hope you will be challenged and encouraged.  Please feel free to leave comments and let us know your thoughts on this issue.

How many of you in one way or another have ever asked yourself this question: “I wonder if it’s God’s will for me to _______?”  (I’d ask for a show of hands but I guess that would be pointless).  If you’ve ever believed or thought about God then at some point you’ve most likely wondered what His will is for this world and more personally – your life.

Over the course of the next few weeks we’re going to explore several short posts on God’s will:  what is it, can we know it, and if so how do we do this?  Furthermore, we will explore the interplay between God’s will and the problem of evil as this is the cause of much controversy.

If you’re a follower of Jesus my hope is to lift the unnecessary burden we often place on ourselves in a vain attempt to find God’s will for our lives when in reality it’s not actually lost.  If you’re not a follower of Jesus my prayer is that you will begin to see the beauty, wonder and deep care that the sovereign God of the universe has for you and your life.

And so we begin in Deuteronomy (fifth book of the Old Testament) of all places.  In chapter 29 we read, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law,” (vs. 29 ESV).

This verse falls in the middle of a warning by God to the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness.  God is charging the second generation of Israelites to remember what He had done in rescuing them from Egypt and exhorting them in future obedience in light of who He is and His great grace demonstrated to them.

In the middle of this whole excurses we find this verse, which gives us profound insight into the nature of God’s will.  More specifically we find two dimensions of God’s will mentioned in this text – the sovereignty of God’s will and the morality of God’s will.

Today, we look at the former. We call this first dimension of God’s will the sovereign will of God or His will of decree.  But what exactly does this mean?

The fourth century theologian St. Augustine summarized it this way: “The will of God is the necessity of all things.” 

If that’s still a little confusing, Kevin DeYoung – one of my favorite contemporary pastors and writers – says it a little differently: “What God wills, will happen, and what happens is according to God’s will.”[1]

Simply put nothing happens outside of the will of God.

Scripture is full with this reality of God’s will:

            – Ephesians 1:11 – “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

            – Matthew 10:29-30 – “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered,” (Micromanagement at its best).

            – Psalm 139:16 – “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

            – Isaiah 55 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares 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.”

 So in trying to understand God’s will we cannot dive into it without clarifying the infinite dimension of God’s sovereign will.  It is vital in our understanding of the nature and person of God, His intricate work in this world and for our relationship with him.  He is in control and nothing that happens is outside of this. 

As DeYoung so helpfully articulated, “God knows all things and sovereignly superintends all things.  God’s will of decree is absolute.  It is from before the creation of the world.  It is the ultimate determination over all things, and it cannot be overturned.”

From this foundation is where we dive into the heavy topic of the will of God – who created us and rules over us lovingly, justly and most of all sovereignly. 

Next, we’ll explore the second aspect of God’s will from Deuteronomy 29:29 – the morality of God’s will and how that applies directly to the way you live.

[1] All quotes from Kevin DeYoung in this series are taken from his short book on God’s will entitled Just Do Something.  I highly recommend it to anyone trying to figure out how this deep topic applies directly to the everyday of your life.

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