Study 3 DISCOVERING THE WILL OF GOD
The Shining Pathway
by Francis Dixon
(Key verse: Ephesians 5: 17)
It is very necessary that we, as Christians, should discover and understand the will of the Lord, or, that we should ”not be foolish, but have discernment as to what is the will of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:17 - literal translation). Notice that the verse begins with the word “Therefore”, linking it to the previous verse where we are reminded that “the days are evil.” “Because the days are evil,” says Paul, “it is most important to understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Many Christians are foolish and have no discernment, and this disqualifies them from real usefulness in the service of God. For example:-
- 1. They have little or no discernment as to the true nature of the Christian life - that it is a new life (2 Corinthians 5:17); it is imparted by a new birth (John 3:3,5,7) and experienced on receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour (John 1:11-13).
- 2. They have no discernment as to the provision that God has made in Christ for victorious Christian living and the secret of a more abundant life (John 10:10); of fruitfulness in service (John 15:5); of deliverance from bondage to sin and self (Romans 6:11; 7:24-25; 8:2); or of a life of triumphant holiness (2 Corinthians 2:14).
- 3. They have no discernment as to the true nature and purpose of the Church – that it is not primarily an outward organisation but an invisible, living organism consisting of every true believer, and that the Church in the world is the medium through which God is accomplishing His saving purposes in this dispensation (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:47).
- 4. They have no discernment as to God’s purpose in this dispensation - that He is forming and completing the Church (Acts 15:14); that this world will therefore not be converted; the kingdom of God will not be built on earth in this age, and that the world will go on getting worse.
- 5. They have no discernment as to God’s future programme for the world, the Church and the Jew. All these wonderful revelations are made in the Word of God, and if we would understand them we must - 2 Timothy 2:15, with the prayer in our hearts - Psalm 119:18!
What is God’s will, His wish and His desire for men and women?
1. It is God’s will that all men should be SAVED.
He desires the salvation of everyone - look up 2 Peter 3:9, and compare Isaiah 45:22; 53:6; Ezekiel 33:11; John 1:29; 3:16; Revelation 22:17. In His great mercy God has provided salvation for everybody, everywhere; but sadly not everybody, everywhere, will accept God’s provision! The Word of God never leads us to believe that all will be saved, but it does teach that all may be saved.
2. It is God’s will that those whom He saves should be SANCTIFIED.
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1-4; 1 Peter 4:1-5. God’s will for His children is that they should be holy - look up Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 1:15-16; 2 Peter 3:11. If you are His child (John 1:12-13), God’s will is that you should be holy, that is whole (John 5:6, KJV); purified (1 John 1:7,9); and constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). What need there is today for holy people!
3. It is God’s will that those whom He saves and sanctifies should SERVE Him.
We are saved to serve! What is Christian service? Read Romans 12:1. The fundamental meaning of service for God is presenting ourselves wholly to Him, placing ourselves absolutely at His disposal for Him to work in and through us. The sphere and nature of our service may be varied, but the meaning of it is always - Romans 12:1.
4. It is God’s will that those whom He saves and sanctifies and who serve Him should also SUFFER for Him.
Many of God’s children are not instructed in this truth. Look up 1 Peter 3:17 - so we can suffer because it is the will of God for us to suffer! Look up 1 Peter 4:19 - so we can suffer and be right in the will of God! Look up Philippians 1:29 and Acts 9:16, and remember the three characteristics of His will - Romans 12:2.
5. It is God’s will that those whom He saves and sanctifies, who serve Him and suffer for Him, should always UNDERSTAND AND KNOW HIS WILL
The question of knowing God’s will can be a very real problem - but should this be so in the light of Psalm 25:9; 32:8; 73:24; Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 58:11; John 16:13; James 1:6? How does He reveal His will to us? There are three methods which He employs:-
- 1. By His WORD, in response to our study - 2 Timothy 2:15. The more we study God’s Word the more we become acquainted with the things that are pleasing to Him and which He desires for His children (Acts 9:6; John 2:5).
- 2. By His PROVIDENCES, in response to our surrender - Romans 12:1-2. When we are seeking God’s guidance on a certain matter, we must take into account all the circumstances, and expect Him so to arrange these that we may understand His will (Psalm 37:5).
- 3. By His HOLY SPIRIT, in response to our earnest prayer - Romans 8:26-27. We can be sure of God’s will when the clear teaching of the Word, the providences and the voice of the Holy Spirit harmonise (1 John 5:14-15).
Let us pray for each other the prayer that Paul and Epaphras prayed for the Colossians (Colossians 1:9; 4:12), remembering 1 John 2:17; Philippians 2:13 and Acts 22:14.