THE GENERAL WILL OF GOD
1. We have just finished a series on faith, and made the point that, in order to move mountains, you must know God’s will before you pray.
2. That brings up some obvious questions:
a. Is it possible to know God’s will in that kind of detail — before you pray?
b. Don’t you just have to pray and wait and see what happens to know God’s will?
c. How can you know God’s will?
3. In this lesson, we want to consider this issue — can you know God’s will for your life? If so, how?
a. There is a lot of confusion and frustration in peoples’ lives over this issue.
b. As with any subject, the root of our confusion and frustration is lack of knowledge of what the Bible says.
1. God’s will is His Word.
a. Testament = will; will = purposes, intents, desires
b. God’s purposes, intents, and desires are revealed in the Bible.
2. God has a general will and a specific will for each of us.
a. His general will = the information revealed in the Bible; there are two categories:
1. The Bible tells us what God has provided for us through Jesus Christ.
2. The Bible tells us how God wants us to live — His commandments.
b. His specific will = who to marry; where to live; what job to take, etc.
3. We tend to focus more on God’s specific will than His general will.
a. That is putting the cart before the horse.
b. If we would give as much effort to learning the general will of God as we do to worrying about the specific will of God, His specific will would be much easier to figure out.
4. We also tend to talk in terms of being in the will of God — that can be misleading.
a. The Bible speaks of doing the will of God rather than being in the will of God.
b. Matt 6:10; 7:21; 12:50; John 4:34; 6:38; 7:17; Eph 6:6; Heb 10:7 (Ps 40:8); 10:36; 13:21; I John 2:17
5. We could say it this way: when you do the will of God, you are in His will.
6. As we cooperate with God’s general will (His written Word), that puts us in a position to learn His specific will for our lives.
a. Prov 3:6 tells us that if we do our part, God will do His part. 1. Our part = walk in agreement with His general will and obey Him
2. His part = get us to the right place at the right time = His specific will
b. Prov 3:6
1. In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success. (Living)
2. At every step you take, keep Him in mind, and He will direct your path. (REB)
3. Have mind of Him wherever you go, and He will clear the road for you. (Moffatt)
7. In this lesson, we want to focus on God’s general will.
a. God has clearly revealed His will, His intentions, His purposes in the Bible.
b. We often ask / beg God for things He has already provided (said yes to, purchased through Jesus).
c. It is not a question of persuading Him to give or do something, but rather of:
1. Us believing His Word about what He has already provided.
2. And, then He fulfills His Word — brings it to pass.
1. Jesus is the complete revelation of God, the Father. Heb 1:1-3; John 14:9
a. Everything that God has for us and has done for us is found in Jesus.
b. It is in Jesus, through Jesus, because of Jesus, that we have access to God the Father, His grace, and His blessing — specifically, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
c. God has no blessing, no help for anyone, apart from Jesus Christ and the Cross.
2. What Jesus did for us on the Cross through His death, burial, and resurrection is called redemption.
a. Jesus has redeemed us. Rom 3:24; Gal 4:4,5; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Heb 9:12; I Pet 1:18,19
b. God has met every human need through redemption, so, it is vitally important that we understand it.
3. What is redemption?
a. Greek = APOLUTROSIS = a loosing away; particularly by paying a ransom
1. Strong’s = a releasing / deliverance / liberation by payment of ransom
2. Vines = to buy out; esp of purchasing a slave to be free
b. Webster = to buy back; to free from captivity by payment of a ransom
4. The word redemption implies bondage.
a. Mankind is in captivity to sin and its consequences.
b. Jesus and His Blood is the ransom that bought our freedom from sin and its consequences. Matt 20:28; Acts 20:28; I Tim 2:6
c. The purpose / point of redemption is to remove all trace of sin and its consequences from us so that:
1. God can have a relationship with us. Rev 5:9
2. God can demonstrate His glory through us. Titus 2:13; I Pet 2:9
5. Since redemption is already accomplished, could we say that it is God’s will? Obviously we can!
6. Could we further say that any result or benefit redemption provides is God’s will for us since it has already been accomplished by Him? Of course we can!
a. This is where you begin a study of God’s will for you.
b. What has God already provided for you? accomplished for you?
7. The results / benefits of redemption are God’s will for your life.
1. We have remission of sins. Eph 1:7
a. Remit = to send money in as payment; dismiss; release; remove
b. God’s plan was to remove our sins. Heb 8:10-13; Ps 103:12; Isa 43:25; 44:22
c. The message of the gospel = preach remission. Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19
2. We are freed from the curse of the Law. Gal 3:13
a. Curse of the Law = consequences of breaking God’s law.
b. As we study the OT, we find a three-fold consequence (punishment) for breaking God’s law:
l. Spiritual death Gen 2:17; Eze 18:4
2. Poverty Deut 28:15-68
3. Sickness Deut 28:15-68
3. In the NT Jesus gave us a perfect picture of what it means to be restored to God, our Father — the Prodigal Son. Luke 15:11-32
a. Although there are many wonderful points in this parable, we want to focus on one in particular — a return to Father’s house means that all He has is ours. v31
1. Through redemption, God has made available to us all that we need to live this life and the next.
2. He has already said yes — that is His will.
b. Eph 1:3
1. For giving us through Christ every spiritual benefit as citizens of heaven (Phillips)
2. Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing heaven itself enjoys (Norlie)
3. Who has Himself blessed us through Christ with every kind of spiritual and supernatural blessing. (Wand)
c. II Pet 1:3
1. His divine power has given us everything we need for our physical and spiritual life (Norlie)
2. He has by His own action given us everything that is necessary for living the truly good life. (Phillips)
d. Jesus reveals God’s will to us. 1. Everything that Jesus did and said while on earth, everything He provided through the Cross, is God’s will for us.
2. God now wants to fulfill His will in our lives.
1. God’s will does not automatically come to pass in peoples’ lives. II Pet 3:9; Matt 23:37; 13:58
2. God works in our lives by grace through faith. Eph 2:8
a. Salvation is an all-inclusive word.
b. SOTERIA = implies deliverance, preservation, healing, wholeness, soundness
c. God’s grace provides all of those things, but they must be received by faith.
3. We often spend time in prayer asking, begging, pleading God for things He has already done / provided.
a. We should be praying prayers of thanksgiving instead.
b. God is waiting for us to receive what He has done.
4. The benefits of redemption (God’s will for us) don’t come to pass in our lives because:
a. We lack knowledge of what it means to be redeemed.
b. We don’t know how to cooperate with God in receiving the benefits of redemption.
c. All of these things can be corrected by studying God’s general will = His Word.
5. If you know that your need is covered by redemption then:
a. You can know God’s will ahead of time, pray in agreement with Him, and see that prayer answered. I John 5:14,15
b. In other words, you can see your mountain move.
6. How do I know if my need is covered by redemption? That is why we study the Bible — to learn God’s will.
7. This brings up the question: what if, under normal circumstances, God would want me to have this blessing, but He sees something in my life that keeps Him from giving it to me.
a. We don’t / can’t earn anything from God — is that the basis of your approach to God?
b. But, if there is something in your life which will keep you from receiving (unforgiveness, worry, complaining, irresponsibility), God’s Word will show you.
1. When we talk about knowing God’s will, the first kinds of thoughts that come to mind are:
a. Who am I going to marry? What job should I take? What is my ministry?
b. But that is not the place to start.
2. Step #1 = find out God’s general will for you from His Word.
a. What He has provided through redemption.
b. How He wants you to live; His commandments.
3. If you are going to determine God’s specific will for your life, you must first get your mind renewed.
a. We do that by studying God’s Word. Rom 12:2
1. Let God remold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands, and moves toward the goal of true maturity. (Phillips)
2. First of all, let Him give you a new mind. Then you will know what God wants you to do. And the things you do will be good and pleasing and perfect. (New Life)
b. From the Word of God we learn:
1. What He has provided and how to receive it.
2. Principles of God’s kingdom
3. Behavior and attitude changes we need to make.
c. All of those things put you in a position to learn God’s specific will for your life. John 14:21;23
1. Jesus said that if we would obey His commands, He and His Father would make themselves known to us.
2. Make what known? Their will, their character, their desires for us = God’s will.
4. If you will walk in the light of God’s Word, He will get you to His specific will for your life.
5. If you do His will, you are in His will, and you’ll meet that husband, get that job, find that ministry, etc.