The Will of God

Read Me!
This essay is designed to be read AFTER you have first read the essay on Making Decisions in Light of God's Will.

Although it won't give you a toothache if you fail to follow this suggestion, it MAY make things a bit more clear.

The Four Forms of God's Will
Careful study of the Bible shows that the will of God takes four forms as follows...

  • 1- Design Will -- this is God's will as expressed in the ways He ordained that the universe and its life forms will function.
  • 2- Moral Will -- this is God's will for human conduct, as expressed in the Bible.
  • 3- Permissive Will -- this is God's will whereby He usually permits humans and angels to make moral choices, even when such choices run contrary to His moral will. He also allows *consequences* to result from those choices, whether good or evil.
  • 4- Plan of the Ages -- this is God's will for the ultimate destiny of the universe, angels, and people.

1- God's Design Will

  • It is by God's Will that the earth orbits the sun, stars stay in place, wind blows, clouds form, rain falls, plants grow, birds fly, your heart beats, and so forth.
  • Mankind has compiled God's Design Will under what we call the "natural sciences": chemistry, biology, physiology, oceanography, ecology, physics, geology, pharmacology, and so forth.
  • All of our so-called natural sciences are merely catalogs of God's Design Will as set forth in His ordinances of the heavens and earth.
  [God said...] Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? ... Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone ... Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? can you set their dominion over the earth?" Job 38.4-6, 38.33

[Spoken to God...] Your faithfulness endures to all generations. You established the earth, and it abides. They [the heavens and earth] continue this day according to Your ordinances, For all are Your servants. Ps 119.90-91
  • God designed certain life forms with the ability to reason and make choices. Examples are lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), and people, and angels.
  • To others of His living creatures, God did NOT give reasoning or choice-making ability. Examples are crab grass, bedbugs, and agents of the Internal Revenue Service (I'm only kidding about the IRS, folks).
  • The more intelligent animals can make "chocolate-or-vanilla" choices. For example, my dog Kuro can decide whether to wag his tail, chase a cat, or add to the water supply of a particular tree.
  • Animals do NOT make moral decisions, as such.
  • Only to humans and angels did God give the ability to make MORAL choices. And therein lies the beginning of the rest of the trouble.
Because of God's Design Will, people and angels can choose to lie or not, kill or not, steal or not, hate or love, and so forth.

These are examples of Moral Choices.
  Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him.
Gen 4.8

[God said...] I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him.
Deu 30.19-20a

2- God's Moral Will
God's Moral Will as expressed in the Bible tells us the moral choices that God desires us to make.

  • Negatively, God wills us not to lie, cheat, steal, hate, murder.
  • Positively, God wills us to tell the truth, be honest in all dealings, love one another, be gentle and kind, and so forth.
  • In essence, God's Moral Will tells us to be exactly like Him because He created us in His own image.

The "Ten Commandments"

  • 1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  • 2. Do not worship idols.
  • 3. You shall not take the name of God in vain.
  • 4. Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.
  • 5. Honor your father and your mother.
  • 6. Do not murder.
  • 7. Do not commit adultery.
  • 8. Do not steal.
  • 9. Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  • 10. Do not covet... anything that is your neighbor's.
  • paraphrased from Exod 20.3-17
Thus, the definition of sin is to "come short of the Glory of God" -- that is, to NOT be in God's image.

Accordingly, God's goal for His children is that they become conformed to the image of His Son, who is the express image of God.
  For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God Rom 3.23

For whom God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Rom 8.29

[God's Son is...]
the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person Heb 1.3a

There is a TENSION between God's Moral Will and God's Design Will...

  • That is, God designed you with the ability and freedom to make moral choices, whether good or evil.
  • On the other hand, God's holiness, as expressed in His Moral Will, does NOT want you to make sinful choices.

This tension manifested itself within the human race, right from the very beginning...

  • It was NOT God's will that Adam disbelieve and disobey Him.
  • At the same time, it was by God's will that Adam was ABLE to disbelieve and disobey Him. TENSION!

3- God's Permissive Will
God's "Permissive Will" is just another name for the tension that exists between God's Moral Will and God's Design Will.

  • Because of His Design Will, God permits us to live sinful lives as we wish, rather than holy lives as He wishes.
  • Because of His Design Will, God permits us to foul the earth as we wish, rather than keep and replenish the earth as He wishes.
  • Furthermore, God USUALLY permits the sad and evil consequences of our deeds.

If I decide to murder someone with a knife, the knife doesn't suddenly turn to rubber. Neither does my victim suddenly grow a steel-covered skin. God permits the consequence of my evil decision. The person dies.


4- God's Plan of the Ages

A primary and ultimate goal of God's Plan of the Ages is stated in Eph 1.9-10 alongside. A few more examples of the components of God's Plan are as follows:

  • Jesus Christ would be virgin-born, a direct descendent of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and King David.
  • Jesus Christ would be crucified as an atonement for our sin, be buried, and be resurrected on the third day.
  • Through Jesus Christ, God would redeem a people for His name. Those people would reside in an eternal heavenly kingdom.
  • Israel would have an eternal earthly kingdom, with Jesus Christ as its King.
  • In the fullness of time, God would make a new heavens and earth, devoid of sin, sinners, death, and suffering.

Nothing will thwart God's Plan of the Ages. Not satan, not humankind, NOT ANYTHING!

  ... having made known to us the mystery of God's will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth in Him. Eph 1.9-10

Known to God from eternity are all His works.
Acts 15.18

[God said...] I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure" Isa 46.9b-10

God Sometimes Intercedes in Earthly Affairs
There are those times when God chooses to override our moral freedom, or else to intercede in the consequences of our evil deeds, or else to interfere with His own natural laws.

We have a name for those times when God has interceded -- we call them Miracles.

Here are a few examples:

  • The resurrection of Jesus Christ is undoubtedly the premier example of God's reversing the effect of His own natural laws while, at the same time, overriding an evil consequence of man's free will.
  • Other examples include the parting of the Red Sea, bringing water from a rock, Balaam's talking donkey, the ten plagues on Egypt, and the changing of water into wine.

When and Why God Intercedes

Since it is by God's will that we can make moral choices, why does He sometimes interfere? Two pertinent facts:

  • We have seen that God has a long-term plan for this universe and its creatures.
  • Humans, Satan, and Satan's angels often make choices which are at odds with God's plan.

In most cases, our ungodly choices amount to mere flies in the ointment. Let's say someone burns down a good, evangelistic church somewhere. Is God's plan deterred? No way! God's people simply pull together and build an even stronger church.

Once in a great while, however, there comes an evil human choice (often engineered by Satan himself) which could totally jam up the works. The following panel gives a few examples of instances when God interfered in earthly affairs.

In Genesis chapter 20, King Abimelech took Sarah, Abraham's wife, into his harem. God's plan called for Sarah to bear a son by Abraham. That son was to be an ancestor of Jesus. Therefore, God directly prevented the king from having sexual relations with Sarah.

In the Bible, there were two concerted attempts to totally wipe out the Jewish race, as recorded in the panel to the right.

  • God did not allow these attempts to succeed because His plan called for Jesus to be descended from the Jews, according to the flesh.
  • Moreover, God was and is committed to preserving the Jews to receive the eternal kingdom He promised to King David (2 Sam chapter 7).
  And God said to him [King Abimelech] in a dream, "Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.
Gen 20.6

Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives... and he said, "When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.''
Exod 1.15-16

[Haman said to the king...] "If it pleases the king, let a decree be written that they [the Jews] be destroyed... So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman... Esth 3.9a, 3.10a

Our Final Destination
We might say the saga of human history is like a sailing ship, and God has placed mankind's hand on the tiller.

Sinful human choices steer us here and there -- zigzag, madly insane, willy-nilly, lost in a sea of despair.

We humans steer the ship, but the winds and currents are of God.

  • An Abraham is called.
  • A Moses is saved by a princess of Egypt.
  • A Child is born in Bethlehem.
  • A Pharisee named Saul meets Someone special on the road to Damascus.

There are infrequent course corrections, but the ship of human destiny draws relentlessly closer and closer to the ultimate destination God has planned.
Amen and Amen!



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