by Rayola Kelley
The Christian life presents many interesting twists and turns. It seemed that the way I have been traveling has been constantly under construction. Some of you might relate to my experience. You may think you are heading one way, but the ever transforming work of the Spirit can quickly change the terrain of your present life and the direction you are heading. Nothing is for sure except that in God’s economy you must expect the unexpected.
There is one thing I have learned in this incredible journey, and that is that you cannot gauge what is going to happen. I have many times tried guessing how God is going to do something to bring resolution. My best logical conclusions proved to miss the mark and my best reasoning never prepares me for the element of surprise that God throws into the midst of my reality. Since such guessing constantly proves to be inept, I have accepted that God is going to be God, and He will never do things according to my way of thinking.
The constant reminder is that no matter how much I size up a situation, I will never come out on top of a matter or manage to nose ahead of God. There will always be an element of surprise that will keep me off balance and require me to put my faith in the character of God and His ability to work out every detail of a matter, regardless of what I see on the horizon.
This brings me to the matter of God’s will. I have learned that if I am in God’s will, the outcome will produce the fruits and impact I desire to see. However, my journey has brought me to places where I have had to choose the will of God to see any results; therefore, the challenge of the odyssey has been to learn how to find the will of God in a matter.
Let me first ask, how important is it for believers to do the will of God? We figure that such a question is a no-brainer, but how many of us live according to, and in the will of God? Most Christians determine what might be the best recourse to take and will ask God’s blessing on it as they pursue it and count it as being God’s will. Such a practice points to wishful thinking. In a sense it is like playing Russian roulette in a positive way. You hope in the end the attempts will ultimately prove to be in line with God’s will, hitting the mark of His acceptance and approval (Romans 12:1-2). Some Christians assume that if their attitude appears pious and their actions religious that it must be God’s will. However, the Bible refutes both practices.
We are told to ask or pray according to His name, but this means we are praying according to who He is. In other words, what we ask of Him will line up to His character and His ways (John 14:13). The truth is God cannot honor what does not originate with Him or honor Him. He cannot bless that which is contrary to His will and ways. In the end, prayers that do not line up to the will of God, will be prayers that miss the mark because at the core of them are self-serving agendas and ways (James 4:3).
Obviously, we are not to ask God to bless our attempts to serve Him as we shoot in the dark as to what we think might be important to Him. Instead, we are to first seek His will in order to assure His blessings on what is being done. So many prayers miss the target because the will of God is missing from the equation. We often think in noble terms when it comes to prayer, but, if we are honest, how much of our prayers are self-serving and are directed towards our will being done? It only makes sense that if we are to pray according to His will, our first order of business is to ask for His will to be revealed to us, seek the means in which we can line up to His will, and knock on all doors until His will is accomplished (Matthew 7:7-8; 1 John 5:14-15).
When Jesus was facing the cross, He did not ask what the Father’s will was, for He already knew it (John 4:34). His request was that in spite of the flesh being weak, that the Father’s will be done. Christ came the way of Calvary to fulfill the will of God. His focus was to carry out the will of God to its fullest extent. After teaching the disciples in the model prayer how to best approach the Father, Jesus clearly established by the order of the subjects in the prayer that asking, seeking, and ensuring God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven, was to be their main priority and goal in their prayer life (Matthew 6:9-10).
It is for this reason that the Word of God talks about God’s will in clear terms. It tells us that God’s will serves as the meat of a matter when it comes to His kingdom (John 4:34). The goal of God’s kingdom is righteousness. When you combine these different aspects of God’s will together, we can conclude that the goal and evidence of God’s will, will always be expressed in righteousness. It will honor His character, adhere to His plan, and be in compliance to His Word.
In light of the ways of the world, how does God’s sovereignty operate? I have often stated that Satan may rule the systems of the world, but God reigns over all creation. In other words, Satan is limited in what he can do, but God is sovereign in all that He does. This brings us to an important reality—that no matter what happens within creation, it does so in line with God’s will. The question is, as believers can we believe and receive such a truth?
It is important to point out that God’s will operates on three levels: His permissive will, His providential will, or His perfect will. The level in which man operates within the sovereignty of God’s will is determined by the stance or pose of his personal will. In other words, even if man’s will is contrary to God, it is within God’s permissive will more often than not to allow him to have his way in a matter. In summation, man cannot carry out any matter, without God first allowing it. However, what distinguishes the form of will man is operating in when it comes to God’s kingdom are the fruits. God’s permissive will often ends in dire consequences, failure, and defeat, His providential will has been known to move some mountains, straighten out some crooked paths, and part some waters along the way so that the saint can advance forward in carrying out His will. However, God’s perfect will, will always result in Him being glorified.
It is because God’s will operates in three arenas that man is confused by the things that God permits and allows in this present world. It is for this reason God is forever getting a bad rap as He is blamed for the evil of the present world. This evilness is also used as a reason for those who mock, reject, or rage against the existence of God to walk in utter unbelief towards Him. However, there is also another determining factor when it comes to the type of events that parade across our lives. This factor has to do with the second ingredient when it comes to the concept of will, and that is who is ruling in our lives?
The one who rules will greatly impact our will. Jesus brought this out in Matthew 7:21-23 when Jesus stated that even though there will be those who call Him Lord and do things in His name, yet they failed to do the will of the Father; therefore, they will be rebuked and rejected. God’s providential and perfect will can only be done in and through those who are in obedience to His Lordship and Kingship.
When you study Satan in the book of Job, God determined what Satan could do against His righteous servant. However, it is clear that Job was in right standing with God and under His rule, therefore putting him under His authority and protection. Even though Satan was given the right to do certain things against Job, he had limits as to how far he could go. In fact, God used Satan to establish Job in a greater faith. This proves that no matter how much wickedness is present in an event, God will use it in some way to bring about His will. We can see in the events of today that God is allowing evil to come to full bloom so that He can bring judgment against it and usher in His kingdom according to the many prophecies located throughout the Bible. It is for this reason that believers can seek and stand within God’s promises such as Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
This brings us to an important subject. It is obvious that Satan must come into compliance with God’s will when it comes to blood-bought saints, but what about those who are under his rule? How much say does God have over their lives? Granted, Satan must come into compliance to God’s will because His sovereignty will always trump Satan’s rule, but how much intervention can God display towards those who walk in unbelief without overstepping their will? How would those in rebellion view God’s mercy and grace? Would they see both as an overture from God in regard to their souls or would they see these virtues as something they deserve?
The Bible tells us that everything good comes from the Father who never changes (James 1:17). Therefore, we must conclude that He is the source of all true blessings, whether they grace the lives of the saved or the unsaved (Matthew 5:45). Without God’s blessings, none of us would be here. But, when it comes to Satan, he likewise can bless man, but his blessings have an evil, destructive twist to them.
God blesses man because He is a loving Creator. It is His way of reminding man that he is not an island unto himself, and that He has a purpose for creating him. It is with the eternal in mind that man must be reminded that he needs the constant intervention of the One who is greater than he, the One who must constantly intervene in his life if he is to live and function. Satan blesses man so that he will sell his soul to him in exchange for partaking of the deadly fruits of the world, allowing him to freely pursue the lust of his flesh and lust of the eyes without any restraints. God’s blessings lead to eternal fruits, but eventually Satan pulls the rug of blessings from underneath those who serve this present age as they tumble headfirst into the abyss of judgment and hell.
As I have meditated on this subject, I have concluded that God will always have an ultimate say over all matters. His final say over a situation will become more evident when He judges all matters and everything of this present world becomes His footstool. Meanwhile, the blame for the mess of this present world must never be laid at the feet of God. The prevalent wickedness of today’s world is a result of man refusing God’s leadership and submitting to the rule of Satan and his world so he can pursue his own personal will and conclusions on a matter.
Sadly, sult, ng to the rule of Satan and his world world, needs never to lay at the feet of God. kedness h is rebellious man is always operating according to God’s permissive will and Satan’s rule. The more man demands his own way, the further he gets away from God’s protection and becomes part of the dark terrain of Satan’s plan of destruction. Righteousness becomes fuzzy, godliness becomes adjustable, and moral goodness becomes a joke as man determines what is right and wrong in his own eyes. As man moves further away from God’s rule, he finds himself digressing downward into a whirlpool of absurdity and darkness. It is then that he might realize he has become a ship that is no longer moored to the peer of sanity, but is now adrift on the ocean of life without any anchor attached to the immovable Rock, any purposeful direction, or any heavenly protection. He now will fall prey to the fierce storms and destructive waves of life.
Clearly, there is a very fine line between God’s rule and protection, and Satan’s rule. As Christians, we must learn to walk this fine line by discerning what form of God’s will is in operation, not only in our lives but those around us. We do this according to each of our walks. We are either walking according to God’s permissive will concerning something, and will end up tasting nominal fruits at best, and bitterness and judgment at worst; or, we could be walking in God’s providential will that will ultimately lead us into the place of perfection where He is being glorified in our lives.
This brings me to the subject of the three types of God’s will. They are general, collective, and personal. We must be obedient to God’s general will, seek and submit to His collective will, and discern and assimilate His personal will into our lives in order to consecrate them for His purpose and glory.
The general will of God is applicable to all and can be found in the Bible. Here are few examples: It is not the will of the Father that any perish, but that everyone who sees the Son and believes will have everlasting life (Matthew 18:14; John 6:40; 2 Peter 3:9); that it is God’s will that we must possess our vessels (body) in sanctification by abstaining from fornication (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4); and that it is His will that in everything we are to give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18). If God’s will is clearly outlined in Scripture, people should not waste their time or God’s time about using prayer to get around or justify disobedience towards His general will. Remember those who do the will of the Father confirm that they are rightly related to Jesus (Matthew 12:46-50; John 1:12).
The collective will of God has to do with finding our place in His Body. As His many-membered Body, the Church, He has united us into one by giving us a commission, a burden, and a calling. In order to carry out this commission, burden, and calling throughout the world, it takes teamwork. In other words, it takes each member of the Body, submitting to one another in the fear of the Lord and allowing the Holy Spirit to place us in the body and equip each one of us according to God’s plan (Ephesians 4:13; 5:21).
What commission does the whole Body of Christ share?—to preach the Gospel. What one burden does the Body share?—to love one another according to the sacrificial example that Christ left us. What calling does the Church share? It is the call of discipleship—to become a follower of Christ and to train others to be His follower (Mark 16:15-16; John 8:31; 12:34-35; 15:12-15). The Gospel gives the Church perspective, godly love is the glue that binds the body together to ensure power and authority, and discipleship gives each of us purpose and direction.
This brings us to God’s personal will for each of us. This entails our personal calling, gifts, and mission field. Our calling will determine how we operate in God’s Body, our gifts will establish how we will often minister to others, and our mission field represents the burden that will be entrusted to us to ensure that God’s general will, such as salvation and sanctification, is fulfilled in the lives of those who are heirs of salvation.
The key about doing God’s will is that we must always be prepared by Him to carry it out. The reason for this is because we have our own plans as to how to carry out God’s will. Our plans not only limit God, but they can put us in an unpleasant situation. Take Moses. He knew it was God’s will to deliver the people of Israel from the tyrannical oppression of Egypt. When Moses witnessed a Jewish man experiencing cruelty at the hand of his oppressor, he stepped in and delivered him. However God’s plan to bring about His will was not to deliver one Hebrew at a time, but the whole nation of Israel from its oppression. Moses spent 40 years out in the wilderness of preparation in order to carry out God’s will according to God’s plan.
I have learned that the safest place in the kingdom of God is His will. However, much of my journey has been about my preparation to first of all learn how to discern His will, secondly, to seek His plan as to how He wants it executed, and third to continue to knock until His will has been fulfilled for His glory.
The question now is what about you? In these dark times are you where you need to be to ensure God’s will is being done in your life and through it?