“Whatever God may will“
“Where there is a will, there is a way.”
“I will order a pizza soon.”
As I’ve become acutely aware in my Greek classes, there is a term known as semantic range. This is in reference to the variety of definitions possible for one word. Sometimes, the word may mean something different due to changes in time and culture. By way of example: rarely is the “#” called “a pound sign” anymore today.
This same kind of change and variety occurs to words; there are words that change connotation over the years, even the word “bad” can be an example of such a word… is it bad as in “cool/awesome”, or bad as in “opposite of good”?
The reason I draw our attention first to semantic range is that the word “will” can be understood in so many different ways, placed in so many different contexts. Will could simply be inquiring about a future plan or event, or it could even be a person’s name. The predominant understanding of “will” is volitional; will is associated with choice, it is the portion of the soul sandwiched between your mind and your emotions.
To avoid such confusion, this article will focus specifically on the will of God and how we can know that will.
One of the most helpful distinctions I have heard came from John Piper, when he discussed God’s will in two parts: God’s Will of command and God’s will of sovereign decree.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
What is God’s will for your life?
God’s will is not a mystical sphere of your unknown future. “If you want to know the future details of God’s will of decree, you don’t want a renewed mind, you want a crystal ball.” – John Piper.
I Thessalonians 4:3 tells us that God’s will is for our sanctification or holiness. God’s will is that we would repent of our sins and trust him for salvation. When we pray, “Your will be done…” as instructed by Jesus, we are not granting God permission nor ascribing to fatalism. We are aligning our wills with God’s will. We are echoing the sentiment that Jesus prayed in the garden, “Not my will, but your will.” We are praying that our hearts are aligned with the heart of God and that we desire the same things that He desires, which ultimately is holiness and the glorification of His name.
Put simply, God’s will for your life is obedience.
“God works all things according to the counsel of his will.” -Eph. 1:11.
This aspect of God’s will is not his Great Physician “prescription”, it is his declarative description of what is and will be (remembering that God is not bound by time). God is able to transform what is evil and bring good from it (Rom. 8:28), Ex. 4:11 – “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” Read Job 38 and reflect in awe and wonder at the sovereign control God has over all things. Some would say that God acts only as man allows… This is the farthest thing from biblical. Man lives only as many years as God ordains. We are completely dependent upon the sovereign will of God and we should therefore obey the commanded will of God.
The beautiful harmony of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility is echoed throughout the pages of the Bible. When we realize this, we not only honor the Lord, but we honor him with our lives.
Click Here to read more from Pastor John Piper on this distinction of wills.