Friday, May 3, 2013
P1 of 3 - Understanding God's Ultimate Will in general
Deuteronomy 29:29-30:1,5 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law." 30:1 “So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you." 30:5 "The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers."
God's Will in the Bible
The three verses above contain massive truths about God's Will. Before we go any further, we need to ask: what is God's Will?
When we combine the testimonies of God's Will from the Old Testament and New Testament scriptures, we discover that God's will is Him being both passionate and planning through how He would execute His Sovereign purposes - both saving and eternal.1
With those general considerations in place, we can now turn to tracing out the Bible's teaching on God's Will.
God's Ultimate Will. Deuteronomy 30:5
We could classify this as God's Overall will or His Sovereign Will.2 The Bible speaks of God's Ultimate Will as being incapable of frustration (Job 42:2); working forth all things for the good (Romans 8:28) and all things being from, through and to God. (Romans 11:36). When it comes to God's Sovereign Will, Daniel 4:35 clearly states - “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ Revelation 4:11 similarly states - “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” God's Ultimate Will covers all areas. It is impossible for anyone or any creature to be outside God's Ultimate Will. I liken God's Ultimate Will to an Umbrella, under which all other aspects of His Will fits. Regarding the purpose of God's Ultimate will, God aims to reveal His glory. (Romans 11:36)
The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 summarizes God's Ultimate or Sovereign will in this fashion: "God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures."
A few examples of God's Ultimate Will
In Deuteronomy 30:3-10 we see God's Ultimate Will for Israel that no matter what - He will bring her into the promised land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. No devil, angel or man can prevent God from fulfilling this promise to Israel. Ephesians 1:11 tells us that God works out all things according to the counsel of His will. Thus for the Christian, their salvation is plugged into God's Ultimate Will, meaning that no matter what - "He Who began a good work in you will bring it unto completion in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6) One other example of God's Ultimate Will is Christ's Soon return that marks the end of this current age. No one can change the date which the Father has appointed, since it is fixed on His prophetic calendar. 3
God's will has important distinctions
In Deuteronomy 29 and 30 we see Moses laying out the prophetic future for Israel, which is an example of His Ultimate Will in general. If we work our way back from Deuteronomy 30, we will see some necessary categories for understanding God's Ultimate Will specifically. Knowing such truths can aid us in understanding better (albeit not fully comprehending) complementary truths such as God's Sovereignty and human responsibility.
For now we will just list them, and then consider each of them in tomorrow's blog: God's Unrevealed Will, Revealed Will and Permissive Will.
1. In the Hebrew Old Testament, the idea of "God's Will" has to do with God's passion and desire. The Hebrew language is a very concrete and emotionally charged language, thus when God revealed the Old Testament in the Hebrew (and Aramaic), he utilized terms to describe His Passion and Desire to see His plans brought to pass.
When you come to the New Testament, its original language was the common Greek of the first century. Greek people were more cognative or cranial in the Greek words used to describe the word will. When the Apostles wrote the 27 New Testament Books by divine inspiration, their words for "will" had more to do with God using His mind to plan seek counsel within Himself as the Triune God.
2. Some great Bible Teachers and Theologians have described God's Ultimate Will in the following manner: Sovereign Will, The Decree, General Will and other designations.
3. Sinclair B. Fergunson. "Discovering God's Will". The Banner of Truth Trust. Page 16.
Sinclair Fergunson notes this about God's Sovereign or Ultimate Will: "The long-accepted idea that history in general and life in particular, was cyclical - that is, that life really did go around in circles - was abolished. Christ began to straighten out men's view of history." Fergunson later notes: "The history of mankind (and our personal history too) is not cyclical. It has direction."