In this first message of the series, Your Will Be Done, we look at the nature of God’s will as it’s revealed in Scripture. Theologians often talk about God’s will as having two distinct aspects. First, there is God’s “Hidden Will” or “Will of Decree”. This is the aspect of God’s will whereby He sovereignly decrees and guides all things to His intended ends. We say it is ‘hidden’ because we do not have access to this aspect of God’s will. We might see it in retrospect but, at the end of the day, these are the things that “belong to the Lord our God” (Deut. 29.29). God’s hidden will lies above and behind all the things we do see.
The second aspect of God’s will is His “Revealed Will” or “Will of Desire”. This is the aspect of God’s will that He has made known to human beings. It is contained in Scripture and includes His descriptions of Himself and the nature of reality, His deeds, His commands, and His promises. These are the things that “belong to us and to our children forever” (Deut. 29.29).
If we are to move forward with freedom and confidence with respect to our understanding of God’s will, there are several things we need to understand or perspectives we need to adopt. First, God does have a plan for our lives. It is unlikely, however, that we will ever see the fullness of that plan all at one time (if we did, we’d likely be tempted to change it – ask Adam and Eve). Instead we should focus on pursuing God, Himself, and not a vision of a ‘grand plan’.
Second, we must remember that we have both the capacity and responsibility to make decisions. Being created in God’s image means, among other things, that we have intelligence, reason, creativity, and also responsibility. If we are in Christ, God is redeeming and transforming our thinking such that we are being restored in our ability to make decisions that honor and glorify Him. We should go through a process of prayer, consulting Scripture, seeking wise counsel, etc., but we then need to decide and move on. God is gracious and more than able to continue to bring about His will, even as we make decisions.
Next, we need to remember that God is not just concerned with directing us but also with shaping us. Paraphrasing one writer, God isn’t just concerned with what we choose but how and why we choose it. The act of choosing/deciding surfaces our values, desires, goals, and hopes. This gives us the opportunity to identify if they are godly.
Finally, we trust God’s hidden will while we live by His revealed will. As this series continues we will see that three things are ALWAYS God’s will: obedience, faith/trust, and sanctification/holiness. If we pursue these, we can be confident we are aligned with God’s will.