God’s Will Found

Text: Ephesians 5:7-10

There are times when theological distinctions can provide extremely helpful, practical benefits to the Christian. When it comes to knowing and understanding the will of God, this is definitely the case. Here’s why.

Decision Making & “I Have a Peace About It”

thinkingwomanArticle: Decision Making & “I Have a Peace About It” by Eric Davis (original source here)

A professing Christian was in a rough marriage for many years. It came to the point where they felt as if they could not take it anymore. Divorce entered the thoughts. They sought counsel from other Christians. Some opened Scripture, some didn’t, and some prayed. Though no biblical grounds for divorce, it came to the point where they could not see how God would want them to be unhappy in marriage. The marriage did not bring feelings of peace and comfort. So, they went through with the divorce on the grounds that both they and their close Christian friends “had a peace about it.”

Perhaps you’ve said it. “I have a peace about it.” Sometimes it takes on a different form. “I have prayed about it, so it’s God’s will.” Or, “I have a peace about it, so God is calling me to…” Those words are often-assumed gateways to what God wants me to do in the throes of life. But, is my “peace” God’s enthusiastic permission slip for my “it”? Is my prayer and peace heaven’s approval for whatever “it” may be in my life?

That process of making the decision usually goes something like this. I am facing a difficult issue in my life, requiring some wise decision-making. However, I approach the decision with a pre-existing bent towards my own comfort. Instead of an objective approach to the decision, I have a subjective bent towards getting my own way. I have some desire for God to weigh in on the decision. I may pray about it, look up a few verses, and ask a few friends, but I am hoping to discover some Christian key to unlock my wants. I likely run into counsel either from godly friends, leadership, or Scripture which hinders getting my way. I subsequently feel more drawn towards my decision. I find a few verses (which I do not rigorously study with a proper hermeneutic and help from church leadership) that, though taken out of context, seem to support what I already want. This fuels my existing idolatrous pursuit. I run across some friends and verses which assure me that God wants me to feel happy and joyful about what I do. Since it does not seem joyful to make the more difficult decision, I am further established in my own way. I run across some verses which discuss personal peace. I perceive a feeling of personal peace as I meditate on my pre-desired decision and the consequent ease it will bring in my life. Therefore, since I experience feelings of increasing pleasure, I conclude that I am at peace. Thus, since I presume that God wants me to be at peace, I conclude that my feeling of peace is God assuring me, “This is the decision you should make.” Finally, I declare, “I have a peace about making this decision. I have prayed about it. God is calling me to ____.” And I go through with the decision. But all is not well.

Here are a few thoughts to consider before we use our personal peace as determinative of God’s will.

Scripture alone is God’s means of communicating his will for us.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Much of this issue boils down to the sufficiency of Scripture. Is the Bible alone sufficient to guide me in decision-making with matters pertaining to life and godliness? Has God adequately outfitted humanity to know and do his will?

Leaning on feelings of peace, in effect, says, “No.” Though Bible verses may be consulted, what tilts the decision scale is subjective to the individual; what is subjectively comfortable. Thus, to use “I have a peace about it” as the determinative factor says, “Though the sovereign God of the universe has spoken in his word, God has simply failed to provide humanity with what we need for life and godliness.”

And, leaning on feelings of peace and the Bible also may deny the sufficiency of Scripture. Bible verses can be ripped out of context. I can operate with a hermeneutic of happiness: since I should be joyful always, I will make whatever decision helps me to maintain feelings of joy.

Bottom line: the “I-have-a-peace-about-it” method of decision-making denies the sufficiency of Scripture.

Our “peace” could be putting ourselves in the place of God.

Overall, the “I-have-a-peace-about-it” approach to life can be dangerous. I may “have a peace” and “have prayed about” a decision, but if my decision is in contrary to the word of God, then my peace or prayer is likely a self-permitted license of self-sovereignty. I am placing myself in authority over God, while ensuring that others cannot question me because of my supposed “peace” or “prayer.”

I wonder if sometimes we use our “peace about it” as a self-issued cosmic fortune cookie for our idolatrous pursuits. Perhaps our peace is not God’s will at all. Instead, our peace is simply our feelings. So, our feelings become determinative. Thus, our feelings are functionally authoritative. Our feelings are a functional god, which is to say, we have made ourselves god.

3. God does not tell us that an internal peace is his means of communicating his will.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105).

There is no Bible verse which says, “Ok, the decision which causes you to experience peaceful feelings is the decision you should make.” And God never said, “The way in which I will signal to you what I want you to do in big decisions is by causing you to feel a peace.”

When God communicated to us, it was a revealing, hence the reason Scripture is called “special revelation.” He did so because fallen humanity is in such a damaged condition that we are incapable of determining his will and desirous of self-sovereignty. In his mercy, he spoke in the 66 books of Scripture. We need a lamp for our feet and light for our path because we willfully and naturally are in complete darkness. Thus, God’s will is something that is determined by resources outside of us, not inside; by Scripture, not hunches. Continue reading

The Will of God

sproul-r-c-This excerpt is taken from Dr. R. C. Sproul’s book, “Everyone’s a Theologian.”

What does the Bible say about God’s leading? It says that if we acknowledge God in all our ways, He will direct our paths (Prov. 3:5–6). We are encouraged by Scripture to learn the will of God for our lives, and we do so by focusing our attention not on the decretive will of God but on the preceptive will of God. If you want to know God’s will for your life, the Bible tells you: “This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). So when people wonder whether to take a job in Cleveland or in San Francisco, or whether to marry Jane or Martha, they should study closely the preceptive will of God. They should study the law of God to learn the principles by which they are to live their lives from day to day.

The psalmist writes, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:1–2). The godly man’s delight is in the preceptive will of God, and one so focused will be like “a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season” (v. 3). The ungodly, however, are not like that but “are like chaff that the wind drives away” (v. 4).

If you want to know which job to take, you have to master the principles. As you do, you will discover that it is God’s will that you make a sober analysis of your gifts and talents. Then you are to consider whether a particular job is in keeping with your gifts; if it is not, you should not accept it. In that case, the will of God is that you look for a different job. The will of God is also that you match your vocation—your calling—with a job opportunity, and that requires a lot more work than using a Ouija board. It means applying the law of God to all the various things in life. Continue reading

What is the will of God for my life?

The Secret Things of the Lord from Ligonier Ministries on Vimeo.

Transcript

R. C. Sproul: The secret things belong to the Lord our God. (Deut. 29:29).

That refers to what we call the hidden will of God. Now usually when we’re speaking of the hidden will of God we have in our mind the decretive will of God. And when people say to me, “What is the will of God for my life?” I say, remember that the Bible uses the word “will of God” in several different ways. The first way in which we talk about the will of God is what we call the decretive will; and the decretive will of God is that will of God by which God sovereignly brings to pass whatsoever He wills. Sometimes it’s called the absolute will of God.

Sometimes it’s simply called the sovereign will of God. Sometimes it’s called in theology the efficacious will of God. But normally, we talk about the decretive will of God. That is, when God decrees sovereignly that something should come to pass, it must needs come to pass.

The Bible frequently speaks about the determinate counsel of God. Where, when God has decreed from all eternity that Christ should die on the cross in Jerusalem at a particular time in history, it must needs come to pass. It comes to pass through the determinate counsel or will of God. That’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about the decretive will of God. That will that God brings to pass by the sheer power of His sovereignty. It’s irresistible—it has to happen. When God calls the world into existence, it comes into existence. It cannot not begin, the lights cannot not come on when He says, “Let there be light.” That’s the decretive will of God.

Now, we also talk about the preceptive will of God. And we understand that the decretive will of God cannot be resisted. The preceptive will of God not only can be resisted by us, but is resisted all the time. The preceptive will of God is a reference to God’s law, to His commandments. This is the will of God that you not have any other God’s before Him. Now when people call me and they say, “How can I know the will of God for my life?” I want to say to them, “What will are you talking about? Are you talking about the decretive will of God? Are you talking about the hidden will of God?” If you’re talking about the hidden will of God, the first thing you have to understand about the hidden will of God is that it’s hidden.

And when people say to me, “What does God want me to do in this sort of case?” I say, “How do I know? I study theology, but I can’t read God’s mind. All I can do is read God’s Word. And what God’s Word does for me is give me His revealed will. And that’s enough of a task to last me my lifetime trying to sort out everything that is in this book that God has revealed. And if you’re asking me about that I can help you with it. But if you’re asking me about His hidden will you’re asking the wrong person, because I have no earthly idea what is in God’s mind where He has not revealed Himself.”

Now Calvin made his comment at this point, he says, “Where God closes His holy mouth, I will desist from inquiry.” I’ll say that again, “Where God closes His holy mouth, I will desist from inquiry.” Now to translate that into modern nomenclature, we would say something like this, “The hidden will of God is none of your business. That’s why it’s hidden.”