Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Knowing God's Will for Our Lives: Two Aspects of God's Will


[In 2011 at Kosmosdale Baptist Church, I led my Sunday school class in studying through Tim Challies' The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. In studying to teach that class, I made an outline of each chapter. The following blogpost is expanded from the outline I made for Chapter 6. Some of the thoughts below are paraphrased quotes from Challies. I certainly recommend reading his entire book.] 

When asking the question, “What is God’s will for my life?” the Christian must consider two ways in which we—as time-bound, dependent creatures—experience God’s will. We experience God’s will according to both His will of decree and His will of command. Distinguishing between these two aspects of God’s will is crucial.

God’s will of decree is, according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, His determination by which He has “foreordained whatsoever comes to pass” for His own glory. As God has said, “I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it” (Isa 46:11b). God’s will of decree is sometimes called God’s secret will, as stated in Deuteronomy 29:29a, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God.” Except for prophecies found in Scripture, God has not—and will not—reveal specific details of what He will bring about in the future. Except for prophecies found in Scripture, God has not—and will not—give an infallible interpretation of why He allows specific events to take place in the past. We look to Scripture and see enough about God’s will of decree that we know He is in control and will bring His creation to a perfect end. Otherwise, God’s will of decree is—in a real sense—none of our business.

On the other hand, every person should have a keen interest in the specifics concerning God’s will of command. God’s will of command is defined by what God has told us to do in the Bible, and what He has written on our conscience, in order to direct us in how we should live for His glory. God gives us specific, over-arching commands concerning how to live in accordance with His will. These commands include: be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:17-18); be sanctified (1 Thess 4:3a); be thankful (1 Thess 5:18). God’s will of command is sometimes called God’s revealed will, as—unlike His secret will of decree—God has made the details concerning His will of command abundantly clear.

As we seek to follow God’s revealed will, several principles come to light. Where God’s commands are explicit, we must obey immediately, joyfully, and without question. Where the Bible contains no explicit command, God gives us freedom and responsibility to choose what we will do, with prayer and reliance upon scriptural principles. In acting upon scriptural principles, we recognize that God gives us wisdom and discernment to choose what we will do. Finally, When we have chosen what is moral and wise, as defined by commands and principles of Scripture, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for good.

As we seek to understand and obey God’s will, we must realize that understanding and obedience will require dedicated effort: we must be diligent in seeking to know and apply God’s revealed will. On the other hand, understanding and obedience do NOT require discovering God’s secret will of decree in advance of making decisions. When we must make a choice, and there is no direct scriptural command that clearly dictates which option we should choose, then understanding and obedience require acting in a way that is consistent with general principles God’s revealed will. In this, we must NOT pray for a glimpse into God’s secret will; instead, we must pray for wisdom (Jas 1:5).

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