Posted By Thomas Perez. February 2, 2012 at 9:08pm. Copyright 2012.
Have you ever felt disappointed by God? Have you ever felt that you were doing the will of God, only to find that you fell flat on your face concerning matters that are important to you? Matters of the heart, matters pertaining to ministry, matters concerning that promotion, matters concerning that wonderful Christian man or woman; of whom you thought, of whom you had conformation, of whom you had word of knowledge, of whom you felt led by the Spirit to marry. Matters concerning career choices gone bad – all of which you felt was His divine will?
If so, you (as well as myself) may have wondered; “Why did this happen? You may have asked yourself, “Why did God let me down“? “Its His fault”! “I blame Him, it was His will”!…“I’m disappointed with God”. “I lost my faith, I give up trying to understand Him”! “I don’t care anymore”! Many have lost their faith due to their disappointments with God. Moreover, many have lost their faith because they were walking in the “Will of God”. Notice I didn’t say, they thought they were walking in the “Will of God”. To do so, would be a cop-out.
But how can walking in the “Will of God” be the cause of someone losing their faith, even to the point of becoming an atheist? The answer to that question should not be understood as pertaining to the general understanding of the term “Will of God”, but rather the misconception of it.
What Then Is the Will of God?
As found in Scripture, and through out many other major notable religions there are 2 apparent wills of God.
1. The Sovereign Will of God
2. The Moral Will of God
There can be no argument or discussion concerning the two categories since we know that they are inherit in almost every faith. No one can argue the Sovereign Will of God because all things created are based on established laws and governing bodies – such as the universe, its laws, its physics, and His salvational plans. Though they can be interpreted differently, as shown within the field of the larger science’s as opposed to the smaller (quantum physic). Even salvation can be interpreted on many scales – but this much is sure, we can believe that the concept is there and thus its reality can be taken at face value; regardless of the many interpretations one might apply to them.
No one can argue issues of morality either because the concepts of morality are based on what is right, and what is wrong, what is good, and what is evil – though there are many ways to interpret them based upon an individuals society, culture, and local ethics.
In this study, we will not concentrate on these, but we will focus our attention on what many call
“The Individual Will of God”
Moreover, many include,“The Individual Will of God,” as a third category to be included into the list given above.
Having now established the 2 apparent Will’s of God. We will only focus on the last category; “The Individual Will of God” What is God’s plan for your life? How can we apply that “Individual Will of God” into practical guidance? Or as mainstream Christian Fundamentalists call it, the “3rd Will of God”, the “Individual Will of God”.
Such a 3rd Will involves questions from important decisions, down to the most minor; such as…
1. Does God have a specific plan for my life?
2. Whom should I marry?
3. When married, Should we have children? If so, how many?
4. What career should I chose?
5. What Church should I go to?
6. What school should I go to?
All these questions are important and thus should be considered when deciding the direction one is to take in this present life. But moreover than that, we must begin to realize that these questions fall under what is called “Christian Liberty”, not His moral will – though it may entail such, as we will soon find out.
Now that we have come to the 3rd category, (the Individual Will of God) we must realize that this interpretation is divided into 3 sub-views. According to mainstream Fundamentalists, they are as follows:
1. The Traditional View
2. The Charismatic View
3. The Wisdom View
But before we can answer this, lets look at the focus of God’s interest; “You”,
Scripture’s reveal that…
1. God is interested in you (Psa 8:3-4)
2. There are example’s of His interest in you through guidance (Gen 10:1, 50:20, 22:1, 26:2, 24:1)
3. There are also examples of His interest in you through His laws (Ex 13:21-22, Num 9:15-17)
4. He is a friend to you (Ex 33:11, Num 12:6-8)
5. There are also recorded passages of Guidance in the Psalms and Proverbs (Psa 5:8, 23:1-2, 27:11, 31:3, 11, 48:14, 139:9-10, 13-18, Pro 3:4-5, 19:21)
6. It is also seen evident in the lives of the Prophets (Isa 14:27, 49:9-10)
7. It is also seen evident in the Gospels and after Pentecost (Matt 10:29, Jn 14:8-11, Acts 2:1-25, Rom 8:28-29)
Yet the concept of an Individual Will of God should be seen simply as the application of God’s commands and precepts to be the specifics of our lives. It is not a separate distinct non-moral sense of God’s Will. What should be seen as the application of God’s commandments and character to the specifics of our lives is not a separate and 3rd category.
How Then Does God Guide Us?
With that question in mind, we are now ready to turn our attentions to the aforementioned 3 sub-views within this so-called “Individual Will of God”.
The 1st sub-view deals with the “Traditional View” or majority view.
This view teaches the opinion that guidance involves a specific and detailed plan for each Christian life. We as Christians must determine that plan or “Will”. Thus…(1)This plan is strictly secret and can only be discovered by discerning that plan. (2) Must be within the bounds of Scripture. (3) Within the commandments of God. (4) By response to prayer. (5) Others include guidance to interpret circumstance, inner senses, promptings, and the view of others to arrive at what you believe to be “God’s Will”.
The 2nd sub-view deals with the “Charismatic View”
This view deals with direct communication from God whether by : individuals, family members, churches (in churches, this often occurs through an apostle, prophet, prophecy, word of knowledge, dreams, and visions).
The 3rd Sub-View Deals With the “Wisdom View”.
This view deals with the idea that God gives us insight into issues and choices so that we can make proper decisions. In this view guidance is found by applying practical wisdom, achieved from Scripture. In short, guidance comes by God making us wise. There is no need for a direct word spoken by prophecy, dreams, or visions. In this view there is no seeking clues, signs, or fleeces of God plan. This is where “Christian liberty” can come into play through proper discernment. Discernment which involves questions of morality or ethics.
Ethics such as “Is it ok to smoke”? “Is it ok to date a non-believer”? “Is it ok to go clubbing every Friday & Saturday night”? “Is it ok to wear that mini skirt”? These things, or rather I should say, these questions are best answered by practical wisdom. We must begin to realize that Biblical principles can be applied here in reference to such questions pertaining to “Christian Liberty” (Ie. I Cor 6:12, 19-20, Rom 12:1-2, I John 2:15-17). Moreover, we should not use our Christian Liberty for an occasion to the flesh (Gal 5:13). Remember the Biblical principle “Do not let your good be spoken of as evil”. I’ am not claiming that these things are wrong or sinful per-se. What I’ am trying to convey is the Biblical principle of accountability. What may be a sin to some, may not be a sin to you, what may be a sin to you, may not be a sin to others. Thus is the principle of godly “Christian Liberty”.
Christian Liberty can be used for the good in all things, and it can be used as a mechanism of justification concerning all things not considered to be of any value or merit. However, we must also remember the words of our Saviour when He said, “Judge not, least ye be judged”.
Perhaps a proper interpretation of the 3 sub-views can be better answered by adding a 4th component to the equation; the doctrine of “Providence”
The Doctrine of Providence
The doctrine of Providence was brilliantly summarized in 1648 in “The Westminster Confession of Faith” ( a document foundational to the theology of English speaking Congregational Reformed, Presbyterian, and many Baptist Churches). This statement summarizes the answer to many questions that arise as we try to understand the Bible.
When we add the Providence of God to the equation, the individual “Will of God” as seen by the majority as having the popular status quo can easily be illuminated. The Providence of God can be seen within His sovereign and moral will working as one collective whole within His ultimate plan for us.
Thus God’s Sovereignty + His Moral Will = His Providence. Christian Liberty and Providence are parallel, similar to two lines approaching its ultimate goal – Perfection! Let all things be done according to God’s glory.
The Providence of God is channeled through the 3 sub-views, which again are; the majority view (Biblical), the charismatic view, and the wisdom view respectively…
Biblical, because all Scripture is given by God (II Tim 3:16), for moral and spiritual insight (I Kings 4:29, II Tim 2:7, Phil 1:9-10, I John 2:27). Charismatic, because the Holy Spirit works in believers. Here we are told to be led by the Spirit (Rom 8:14, Gal 5:18). We are also commanded to be filled with the Spirit, practicing the gifts of God. We practice the gifts of the Spirit because we have the internal witness of the Spirit (Rom 8:16) as one speaking the very words of God (I Pet 4:11).
Thus one can receive insight from various hunches, dreams, impressions, promptings, prophecy, visions, and sensations to help make decisions but only in conjunction with Scripture. Yet, as beautiful as these inner and outward voices are, one must take great care and test the spirits. For to often the claim that God leads individuals by such means have continued to crowd out the overwhelming Biblical emphasis on our need to acquire godly wisdom and discernment.
In most Churches one gets more respect by saying that “God told me something” than by sharing an application of God’s values to our lives. Jesus tells us to judge a teaching by its fruit (Luke 6:43-45) The fruit of this sort of guidance has been very mixed. It often winds up associating the name of Christ with ridiculous decisions taken by unwise Christians; thus resulting in a disappointment with God.
Such teachings can lead to confusion and dismay. Yet, the wisdom approach to guidance allows us to enjoy the influence of impressions, hunches, dreams, and circumstances – we must use Providential input as direct revelation or spiritual guidance. The crucial difference is that they are not seen as a means of guidance, but they are seen for what they really are: the workings of God’s Providence. Disappointment with God can be disconcerting when one believes in the fleeces of what is called an “Individual Will of God”, but when a more practical approach is taken; things become clearer and understandable.
In His daily governing of our lives, God can bring about circumstances, feelings, hunches, dreams, and other phenomena that suggest a course of action to us (Ie, who to marry, what school to go to, etc). We should evaluate these things based on the revelation of Christ in the Word of God. Yet, we must also realize that God’s Providential control can include cancelling or altering plans we believe were His will while doing the will of God. We should always be willing onto Him. Following what we believe to be His guidance, we can boldly pursue that goal; while realizing that it is finally subject to God’s sovereign permission.
Acts 16:1-8, speaks of God altering our plans even when we are walking in direct obedience. Even in clear visions or dreams that indicate the will or plan of God, we see alterations (Acts 16:9-12). Remember Paul’s statement to the Romans when he wrote, “If God willed, he would come and visit them” (Rom 1:7). Paul was fully aware that all matters were under divine submission and permission of God.
When these things are practiced, everything is made more beautiful and works together for the good within God’s own time frame in which He has set for us (Rom 8:28, Eccl 3:11-14). This includes our responsibilities in conjunction with our faith (Eccl 12:13-14, II Cor 5:10). Eccl 3:15-16 explains it best. God’s preordained plan cohesively works together with His plan of salvation, sanctification, growth, and the overall purpose of our lives. This purpose can be discovered as we go about our daily routines, yet while all the time fully knowing that we are walking beyond reproach or neglect. It is our responsibility to give God our best and in turn we will ultimately achieve the purpose of our lives.