Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Knowing God's Will - P1

Deuteronomy 13:4 “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.

Created to hear God and to know His will, lost the ability to hear God and know His will and recreated to hear God and know His will
What is the will of God? Simply put, God's will is His desire, His wish, His decree to bring to pass whatsoever he desires.  The whole message of scripture can be summarized through this concept of knowing God's will or hearing His voice. 

1. Creation - Man was created to hear God and know His will. 
In Genesis 1:26-28 we read of how God stated to Himself that he wanted to make man in His image and likeness.  The Triune God created man with the capacity to hear His voice and to know His will.  Genesis 2:16 "The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely".  God originally created Adam and his wife to walk with Him and he with them.  However the fall changed all of that.

2. Sin - Man lost his ability to hear God and know His will.
When we come to Genesis 3, we find Adam and his wife exchanging the glory and truth of God for created things, heeding the voice of the serpent rather than God's voice.  Genesis 3:8-9 has God coming down in the cool of the day.  God knew what man had done.  He was searching out the man and his wife, for they were lost and hiding from him.  At that point God was not under any further obligation to reconnect with man.  The original covenant of works He had made with man had been broken by man.  Despite that, God issued forth a covenant of grace, whereby through faith and the shed blood of an innocent substitute, man could be re-created in his innermost part (his spirit) to hear and known God's will.

3. Recreation - Man is born again by grace through faith to believe, hear and know God's will
2 Corinthians 5:17 states - "If any man be in Christ, He is a new creation, old things have passed away and behold, all things become new."  Salvation in the Bible is about God reconnecting with man, and man in turn responding in that grace through faith to reconnect with God.  Jesus said concerning His reason for coming in John 10:3-4  “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice."

How you and I can know and follow God's W.I.L.L.
When we talk about the believer knowing the will of God, we understand this to be a central truth of scripture.  Great Bible teacher and theologian J.I. Packer wrote a little book years ago entitled: "Finding God's Will".  In that little book he writes: "Belief that divine guidance is real rests on two facts: first, the reality of God's plan for us; second, the ability of God to communicate with us. On both, the Bible has much to say." With that thought in mind, let us consider what God's Word has to say regarding how you and I as Christians can know and follow God's will.  Consider four thoughts, based upon the acrostic W.I.L.L from Deuteronomy 13-15 and 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12:

Word of God. Deuteronomy 13:4,18; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3
Indwelling Holy Spirit. Deuteronomy 13:4,18; 1 Thessalonians 4:8, 5:18
Live in obedience. Deuteronomy 14:1-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
Love fellow Christians. Deuteronomy 15:7-8; 1 Thess 4:9-12

For the sake of space we will consider the first two thoughts today...

Word of God
As Moses is preaching to a new generation of God's people, he warns them of not heeding the voice of false prophets.  The reason being is because He is training them for how to discern true from false prophets.  To heed the voice of a false prophet is to follow the will of man.  To heed the voice of God's Word from God's man meant they would follow and know God's will.  Deuteronomy 13:4 states -  “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him."  In Deuteronomy 29:29, the same author Moses writes -  “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."  Those revealed things are God's Words - His revealed will, His known will. 

 In 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3a "Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 2For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God..."  To know God's word is to know God will, since the scriptures are the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)  Quite literally the scriptures are the written mind of God.  The people to whom Moses was preaching had to know God's will, since they were going to be entering into the promised land under Joshua's leadership within a span of two months.  That is why God had raised up Moses, the greatest prophet of that era and most faithful to God in that capacity. (Numbers 12:6; Hebrews 3:5) 

So if you and I are going to effectively know God's will, we must first begin in the scriptures themselves, which are the known will of God for both us and out children. (Deuteronomy 29:29)  However there is a second thing necessary for you and I to effectively know and do the will of God....

Indwelling Holy Spirit
As Moses writes onward, he states in Deuteronomy 13:18 "if you will listen to the voice of the LORD your God, keeping all His commandments which I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the LORD your God." The voice of God, being the will of God, is no doubt equated with the scriptures.  However we also know that the voice of God is transmitted by the person of the Holy Spirit.  Was it not God the Father who spoke in the creation, with the Spirit of God hovering and taking those words and transforming them into sounds of life? (Genesis 1:1-2)  As God spoke to Moses and these people, scripture tells us in Hebrews 3:7 - "Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE."  In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit spoke to Moses and to His people, however something took place when God the Son came in human flesh in the New Testament.  Jesus Himself promised that when He raised from the dead and ascended into Heaven, the Father would send in His name the Holy Spirit, who would speak and guide believers from within their heart or human spirit. (John 14:17)

In Moses day, the Holy Spirit spoke to his people by the scriptures, as we have seen already in Deuteronomy 13:18.  However in 1 Thessalonians 4:8 we see the Holy Spirit guiding and speaking in His people  "So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you."  The Holy Spirit is given to New Testament saints to indwell and guide the child of God to know God's will through the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 6:19,20)  

As you and I dear Christian give ourselves to the scriptures, the Holy Spirit indwelling our human spirit will begin to speak to us. As a Christian is led more and more by the Holy Spirit in his human spirit, the scriptures that are taken into the human mind will equip him to know God's will.  1 Corinthians 2:10-13 "For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words."  Romans 8:16 tells us - "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God".

More tomorrow as we consider two more elements necessary to effectively know and follow God's will........