Understanding the Will of God.

How do we understand or recognise the Will of God?
Many Christians struggle with this question.
Do I turn left or do I turn right? Do I buy the red car or the black one?
Do I take job A or job B?

I belonged years ago to a charismatic fellowship and I remember people coming to the prayer meetings with these kinds of questions. The prayer group would go into prayer and during the course of the evening there would be a tongue and interpretation revealing the course of action that a certain person should go.
It may have been someone had a vision or what was said to be a vision and an interpretation of that vision that may have given an answer to a question. It could have been what was called a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge that revealed the answer.
It used to amaze me that someone would be trying to find Gods will on which job to take, I would wonder how they discovered Gods will on why they should be changing jobs at all.
Now, I do not follow those beliefs any more and I don’t see it being any different than visiting the local spiritual church and asking the visiting medium or clairvoyant, or for that matter reading ones horoscope in the daily paper. Alternatively I could toss a coin or throw a dice.
The outcome maybe in the sovereign will of God but it would not be the revealed will of God.

Why do I say this.
Apart from being a Cessationist and believing that the revelatory gifts of the Spirit are no longer needed in the Church fellowship and that God has finally spoken through His son, 
Hebrews 1: 1,2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Also, we are told in 1 Cor 13: 8 – 13 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.


I believe that God has declared His will to us quite clearly in the Bible.

I believe that there are two ways to understand the will of God.
1. The Sovereign will of God.
2. The revealed will of God.
These two different expressions of the will of God seem to be quite clear from scripture, even if they are hard for us to understand.


We know that the Bible teaches us that God is a Sovereign God and that He is Omniscient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent.
There is nothing that He does not know, does not see and does not have total control over.

God is All Knowing.

Psalm 147:5 Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.
1 John 3:20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
Psalm 139:4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
Matthew 10:30 "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Psalm 147:4 He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.
Hebrews 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
Psalm 139:1-4O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.


God is All seeing.
Hebrews 4: 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is  uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Proverbs 5: 21 The Lord sees everything you do. Wherever you go, he is watching.

God is in Total control.
God is in Control of All Things, including human decisions

(Job 42:2).  “'I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted'"
(Psalm 135:6). "The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths"
(Ephesians 1:11-12). "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory"
(Proverbs 16:4). "The LORD works out everything to its proper end—even the wicked for a day of disaster"
(Romans 8:29-30)"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified"


God has His Sovereign will, His purpose. His sovereign will cannot be thwarted. He will bring it to pass.
This sovereign will is not revealed to us.

Deuteronomy 29: 29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

We see His sovereign will come to pass, when it comes to pass.
In his plans and purposes, God predestines the end from the beginning. In the fullness of time He brings about His perfect will.

God has foreordained whatever is to come to pass.
We see this quite clearly in the statements made in The Westminster Confession Ch 3.
Of God's Eternal Decree.
I. God from all eternity did by the most and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions; yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, as that which would come to pass, upon such conditions.

III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.

IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished.

V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his free grace and love alone, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace.

VI. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

VII. The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.

VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending to the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.
God has decreed if I should be born here or there, my height, my time of birth, my gender, my direction in life, whether I should be included in His salvation. Who shall be king and who shall be pauper. All this is in His hand.
It will become apparent in the fullness of time. None of these things depends on me or you. It is His Sovereign Will.

Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane prayed “Father, if it be possible, take this cup from me. Yet, not my will but thine”.

God is in control of all things. The good deeds and the evil deeds of man are included in His Divine Will and He uses both to bring about His glory.
We see this in the story of Joseph, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery but at the end of this, Joseph could say:

Genesis 50:20  But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

Also, it was Gods divine will that Jesus should suffer the death on the cross at Calvary. Yet it was also included in His decree that there should be a conspiracy against Jesus.
Acts 4: 26 – 28 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

All this was predetermined beforehand in the Council of His Will.

So, we see that God has His Sovereign Will. And His Sovereign will, will be done.


Secondly there is Gods revealed will. His will of command.
This can be understood by reading 
Romans 12: 1,2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

“If you want to know God will for your life, read His word. If you want to hear God speaking to you, read His word aloud” (Justin Peters)

God has already revealed His will for our lives, His will is that we be holy, be righteous, that we walk by faith and not by sight. That we make our decisions in light of His word.
We are to live unto God, that whatever we do, we do as unto the Lord. We live in a way that pleases Him.

Colossians 1:10 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
Colossians 3:23-24  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

We do not need to be diviners; looking for signs. We do not need to go through life, struggling to know what we should do. We only need to live in the light of His word to make the right choices in life.
Proverbs 3: 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Augustine once said, “Love God and do as you please”.
The actual quote reads like this: “Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.”
A modern translation of that last phrase in the paragraph, could be read this way: “Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.”

What Augustine seems to be saying is that if you are living your life in obedience to the revealed will of God, loving God and seeking to please God, then nothing else you can do following that will be contrary to His will. In other words, if our primary objective is to love and please God, then no nothing we do secondary to this will offend or grieve God.

If we do this we will make all the right choices. What we want will be pleasing to God.

This is the will of God: That we first be born again, that we come to a knowledge of the truth. It is only then that we can take notice of the word spoken by the Apostle Paul:

Colossians 3: 1 – 10 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

To find the revealed will of God for our lives as believers. We can do no better than to read His word.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

1 Timothy 2:3-4  This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;

Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,
21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 2:15  For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.

Romans 12:2 - And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Ephesians 5:17 - Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord [is].
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

These are but a few of the many scriptures that tell us how to know the will of God for our lives.

The Bible does not tell us which car to buy, which job to take, who to marry or where to live. The decisions lie with us. It is up to each one of us to meditate on the Will of God which is the Old and New Testaments, the Old and New Will of God, the Bible.
By becoming the kind of person God wants us to be is the answer to making right choices.

If I am walking in the light of God’s word and being obedient to it daily, the decisions I make will be in the will of God and we can be confident that should we make a mistake, in His mercy and grace, God will surely put us on the right path.
Romans 12: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.

Gods Sovereign Will is invincible and cannot be altered but His will of command can be known and can be broken or kept.

The second part of the Deuteronomy verse tells us that His will for our lives is revealed to us.
Deuteronomy 29: 29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

By being obedient to Gods revealed will in His word we can be assured that He will direct our steps and our decisions in life.

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.
Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Proverbs 11:5 The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.





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