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Gods mysterious Will, how can we know what it is?

Posted by appolus on August 6, 2008

So, when a trial comes, when tragedy strikes, when tribulation comes knocking at the door of a genuine Christian, how should one react? What do you believe about the “Will of God?” Is it your fault? Is it Satan’s fault? Is it God rebuking you? Are you being assaulted by demons? Does danger lurk everywhere? Can we be destroyed at any second by our enemy?



Psalm 38:18- For I will declare my iniquity, I will be in anguish over my sin.

There has been a thousand books written on the mysterious will of God. Theologians have debated for centuries about Gods sovereign will, His permissible will. His sovereign will meaning that God rules supreme and that He controls everything , His permissible will means that although things happen on this planet that goes against what God would want, He allows it, He permits it, because of “Free Will.” The point being, God could create a perfect planet without any sin , where all things are according to His nature.

Obviously this is an enormous subject and after a lifetime of study, one would die in relative ignorance to the true meaning of “Gods will.” This in no way means that we should not study. C.S.Lewis talked about two different men. One spent his whole life studying God’s word and His ways and ended his days by declaring that he knew less about God at the end of his life that he did at the beginning of his studies and walk. The other man, a young man, declared that God and His ways were unknowable therefore he would not waste his time studying it. Now their conclusions were both the same, God and his ways were “above ours,” but one was a lazy man and the other a devoted servant.

Yet, it is unmistakable, the way that you perceive the “will of God ,” for your life will shape who you are and how you react to any given situation. This is particularly true when it comes to trials and tribulations, chastening’s and corrections from the Lord. Again, there are thousands of books on the nature of trials and tribulations, afflictions and infirmities and why the man or woman of God suffers them. Why does bad things happen to good people? This is a question thousands of years old. The oldest book of the Bible, Job, is written to draw back the curtain and give us some insight into commonly held belief’s.

In Jobs day, it was assumed that if a man was poor and suffered afflictions of any kind, then it was undoubtedly hidden sin and Gods rebuke that was the cause. To put it simply, good men prospered, and evil men suffered. Now we know, by the book itself , that this was not the case and that it was vastly more complicated than this simple belief. Indeed the Book of Psalms talks many times and asks the question often “why do evil men prosper,” and the poor are afflicted and seemingly forgotton?

So, it is very sad to see movements like the “Word of Faith,” and “prosperity Gospel,” flourish in this day. Millions all over the world follow the teachings of the disciples of “Job’s friends.” It seems then that little progress has been made in humanity when the same philosophy that was exposed in the Book of Jon, is still followed today by millions.

So, when a trial comes, when tragedy strikes, when tribulation comes knocking at the door of a genuine Christian, how should one react? What do you believe about the “Will of God?” Is it your fault? Is it Satan’s fault? Is it God rebuking you? Are you being assaulted by demons? Does danger lurk everywhere? Can we be destroyed at any second by our enemy? How does our free will stack up against the will of God for our lives? If we mess up, have we derailed our walk with Him? Does His plan for our life lie in ruins now that we have messed up. If we contract cancer and are going to die, does that mean we have hidden sin that has brought us down? If we lose our job does that mean we have lost favor with God?

If we lose a loved one, did we not pray hard enough? If we had prayed more could that loved one have been saved? These are only some of the dizzying array of questions that assault our minds. There is a phrase for this “paralysis of analysis.” This is why it is so important to have a balanced view of “God’s will.”

Tozer gave this analogy of Gods will, it is pretty good. A large passenger Liner leaves New York bound for Liverpool , England. It will leave at a certain time, and will arrive at Liverpool at a certain time. While the schedule is definite, and the journey set, the people are free to move around the ship. God does have a plan for your life, the life of a genuine Christian. While Tozer’s analogy was meant to demonstrate the history of man, it can also be personalized. Your life, as a genuine Christian, can be represented by the Liner.

Think about this. If the will of God was determined by the actions of man, then would God be sovereign? Can a man derail Gods plan? Is God constantly having to change His plans to accommodate feckless man? And again, can Satan derail the plan of God? Does the enemy of our soul have the ability to counter the plans of God through you? Example…..God has a plan for your life, but along comes cancer and cuts your life short, has Gods will been thwarted either by the “hidden sin,’ that you must have had or by Satan who afflicted you with the cancer or by your lack of faith? If these causes are the only options, then we have just rendered God powerless to any number of circumstances or causes.

Now we know that God will never tempt His people. This is true and Scripture backs this up. What is temptation? Is not temptation the enticement of our soul to sin? God would never do that, Satan would. What is a test? Is a test the same as a temptation? Does God test His people? Does God chasten His people? Does God try His people?

How can we tell the difference between a test and a temptation? Is not one meant for destruction and the other for building us up? Yes. Can we always tell the difference between a temptation and a test? No. A Biblical example would be Abraham and Isaac. Now we know that God hated human sacrifice, He abhorred it. Yet, He compels Abraham to take his son up the mountain and sacrifice him. Is Abraham being tempted or tested?

Gen 22:1 And it happened after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Behold me. And He said, Take now your son, your only one, Isaac, whom you love. And go into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will name to you.

Did Abraham pass the test? ….

Gen 22:12 And He said, Do not lay your hand on the lad, nor do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only one, from Me. 

He certainly did. He was not being tempted to go against Gods will, he was being tested. I can imagine atheists accusing me of cutting that finely, yet this is what the Word of God does, even to the marrow. This is such an important point because often time, in fact most of the times, we will never know if what afflicts us is from the enemy or from God. Abraham , obviously, was obeying the word of God and that was his guide, even when it made no sense whatsoever. How could killing his son be of God? Was not all the promises made to Abraham come through this child? It would make no sense. And often times when trials and afflictions, tragedy comes knocking at out door, it makes no sense. Yet, just as Abraham was guided by a word from God, then we too will be guided by Gods word.

The truth is, in any trial or circumstance of our lives, even a serious diagnosis from the doctor, we must never deviate from trusting in God. Abraham knew that even if he had to carry out the sacrifice of his son, that God could raise him up. Job knew that even if God slayed him, he would still trust Him. So, trust must be our first line of defense, our first reaction. Secondly , we must search our hearts like David did in Psalm 38:18. Who amongst us would have no sin to declare or anguish over? Thirdly, we must strive to know how we can learn and grow from this situation. And fourthly, and most importantly, our lives must be “resigned,‘ into Gods hand.

The ship of our life will reach its final destination, the plan of God for us is not dependant upon your circumstances, nor is it dependant upon the actions of the enemy of our soul, even if it leads to our death. If that was so, then God failed eleven of the twelve Apostles. He failed all the martyrs down through the ages who fell to the lions mouth or were burned up in the zealots fire. The outcome cannot be how we determine Gods will for our lives. Yet, there are people who tell us today that the Apostle Paul preached a “weaker,” message. That Paul’s notion of suffering was faulty. And, because of “progressive revelation,” we now have a better way. One of the most famous Word of Faith teachers preaches that. Imagine that, he knows more, and has had more revelation that the man God used to pen two thirds of the New Testament, and people fall for this. God help you if your faith is dependant upon your circumstances, you truly have built your house on shifting sands.

Here is an example of a young man who used circumstances to determine his future. Several years ago I went to the funeral of a friends son. He had been shot and killed in a drive-by shooting. He was not involved in any gang related activity, in fact he was a community activist, working in the lives of young men, who just happened to be making a phone call at a public phone. At the funeral, the old and wise Pastor told this story to the many gang members that showed up .

He told them that 5 years ago, he was in his church one night, and he heard banging and a commotion on the front door. When he opened the door there was a young man lying there, he had been shot seven times and was bleeding profusely. He called the Para-medics and rushed back to the young man and sat with him in his arms,on the steps of the church crying out to God to save this young mans life. Miraculously, the young man survived, against all the odds. The Pastor heard a few weeks after the young man was released from hospital, that he had given himself a new nickname. He called himself “superman.” He would boast to other guys on the street that he was indestructible and that no bullets could stop him. A year later he was killed by a single bullet.

The moral of this story is about pride. Its about not looking inwards when trials come. The prosperity teacher will only have followers as long as his prosperity lasts. The divine health teachers will only last as long as their health lasts. Perhaps they will make it to old age, perhaps they will last a lifetime with wealth, what does any of that prove? That the wicked prosper? Well we know that the wicked do prosper often to the confusion of the genuine Christian. Yet, the solid rock upon which we stand is the fact that, despite circumstances, we stand in the shadow of His Holy wings. Despite circumstances, He will never leave us not forsake us.

This is as true to the martyrs and to the Apostles as it is to us. Its not the circumstances of this life that shape us, its our reaction to them. Satan has come to rob and to steal and to destroy, not your possessions, not your body, he cares nothing about these, he only cares about them in relation to how they relate to your trust in God, to your peace, to your joy in the Lord. These are the treasures that he is after. When the Romans tore down the Temple, they cared nothing for the building itself, they were only interested in the gold and the treasure that lay within. The reason that not one stone was left unturned was because the gold was embedded into the very joints of the stone. The treasures of the temple was then used to build the Colosseum, a place used to glorify other gods and to kill the saints to come.

How should you react to trials and tribulations, sickness and death as a genuine Christian? Always look upwards and inwards. Look to God and look inside yourself. Once you are satisfied that you have learned any lessons you need to learn, once you are satisfied that there is no hidden sin, then continue to trust God. Continue to protect your peace. In this way you will not suffer from paralysis of analysis. In this way you will glorify God despite your circumstances. Almost always, you will never figure out whether it is a test from God, or a scheme to take you down.

Put that aside, it is not important, what is important is to follow His Word and protect your witness of Him. May He be glorified in all that we do and may our Faith stand tall when the storms of life have come and done their worse, those who stand upon the solid rock will still be standing, those whose house was built on shifting sands will be crushed and blown away.

2 Responses to “Gods mysterious Will, how can we know what it is?”

  1. timbob said

    Good morning. This is indeed a very comprehensive look at an issue that tends to defy comprehensive looks. So many questions rise up when we are faced with upheaval in the physical realm. The attitude of Job, “though he slay me, yet will I trust him” is one which transformed my outlook. He determined to trust God; even if he didn’t understand what was taking place and even when nobody else could offer comfort or insight. As you write, “we must look inward and upward.”

    The paragraph about the “progressive revelation” teaching in which we supposedly have more revelation than Paul is alarming. I imagine they also teach that this “progressive revelation supercedes Revelation 22:18-19. Dangerous times these are. The prosperity gospel messengers profess the name of Jesus but focus on the wood hay and stubble. Ever catering to the three lusts found in I John 2:16 in order to draw a crowd and thereby construct their earthly kingdoms.

    This post is definatly in the “must-read” catagory. Thanks.

    Have a blessed day in Jesus.


  2. appolus said

    Hi Timbob…thanks for dropping by. It is indeed dangerous times. Many false teachings aimed at the core, the center of the pentecostal church. It has had the bullseye on it ever since the downfall of the denominations. Very sad to see my pentecostal friends veer dangerously of course, whether it is prosperity, health and wealth or the new dangerous teaching of dominionism, where the building of a Kingdom here on earth is the goal.Rick Warren and varous factions of the church belive this. Hagee embraces Israel as God’s special people who will accept Jesus when He comes, Dispensationalism, and Preterism, which would have to be embraced in order for a “Kingdom,” here on earth.(quite incredible when you consider that Jesus said that His Kingdom was not of this world)……………..Frank

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