Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Will of God

If there is ever a subject that captures the attention of every child of God it would be one that addresses the will of God. For the believer this is where all of life revolves. All of us are faced with decisions. Some are more complex than others. Therefore, the will of God is an important matter. It’s so important that Paul has something to say about it in Ephesians 5:15-17: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

He first says to see to it that you “walk circumspectly.” The word “walk” is peripateo (pres.act.ind.), which means, “to conduct one’s life” (Fritz Rienecker, The Linguistic Key to the Greek NT) or “to order one's behavior” (Wuest) or literally to “behave” (LN). Paul said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3:3 that they were “still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving [peripateo] like mere men? He told the Thessalonians that they “should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk [peripateo] and to please God” (1 Thess.4:1). The word “circumspectly” Gr.akribos, means, “accurately, carefully” (Rienecker), or “exactly” (Wuest). “The idea here is, that they were to take special pains to guard against the temptations around them, and to live as they ought to” (Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible). “As believers walk through the spiritual mine field of the world, they are to be constantly alert to every danger that Satan puts in their way” (John MacArthur, Ephesians). So Paul tells the Ephesians to be careful how they conduct themselves; be alert. You have to conduct yourselves as those who are wise and not fools “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” I think it is important to note at this point if you’re not conducting your life in this manner it is impossible to know what the will of God is for you life. He’s not going to reveal to you anymore than what He has already revealed. In other words, if you don’t obey what is the clear will of God, as noted here in Ephesians 5:15, then don’t expect Him to reveal anything else. Paul goes on to say that we are to walk carefully as wise (see Proverbs 2). Verse 17 he says, “Therefore do not be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is.” It is clear from this verse alone that we are to “understand what the will of the Lord is.” But before we can progress further in what he is about to say we have to back up to chapter 1.

In Ephesians 1:1 he uses an address to these believers that tells us where the will of God begins. Notice what verse 1 says, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus.”

The will of God begins at salvation. You cannot know the will of God apart from salvation. Paul addresses the Ephesians as saints which is something he could not have done if they had not been saved (Eph.1:1). This is true of all his epistles. He said to the Romans - “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” (Rom.1:7). To the Corinthians he addressed them as “the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Cor.1:2). He later challenged the Corinthians on their reception of the Gospel in chapter 15:1-2: “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved if you hold fast that word which I preached to you– unless you believed in vain.” He made the same statement to the Colossians: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight– if indeed you continue in faith, grounded and steadfast and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which, I, Paul, became a minister” (Col.1:21-23). All the wisdom and Word of God begins at Salvation.

In Matthew 13:10-11 the disciples asked Jesus “‘Why do You speak to them in parables? He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” Again, Paul writing to the Corinthians, tells them that “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches the deep things of God” (1 Cor.2:9-10). In verse 14 he says, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The will of God at this point is to repent and come to Jesus and be saved. John the Baptist told the Pharisees and Sadducees that came to his baptism to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Mat.3:8). When Jesus began His ministry He said in Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Paul said this is God’s will “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim.2:4). Peter said, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet.3:9). These two verses stress the responsibility of man to repent at the hearing of the Gospel. The death of Jesus on the cross was sufficient for every man to believe, therefore, he calls all men to repent: Acts 17:30-31 - “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

The Will of God begins at salvation. It our next blog, I will show you how the will of God continues once you’re saved.

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