THE WILL OF GOD
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
The Bible has much to say regarding the "will of God." However, organization of the material is a complex task. Two words in the Greek New Testament basically represent the concept of the Divine will. Boule (and its kindred forms) suggest the idea of God's purpose or counsel (cf. Luke ; Acts ), and thelema denotes what Jehovah wills as a result of His desire (John ; ). Some suggest that the former term gives prominence to the intellectual will, while the latter emphasizes the emotive will (cf. J. H. Thayer, Greek Lexicon, p 286). Jehovah knows what is best for mankind, and He wants us to conform to the proper standard. The will of God may be considered under several topical arrangements.
The Ideal Will of God
The ideal will of God represents that state of
which is wholly consistent with the character of the Creator. Ideally,
example, God would have us not sin, not even one time (so the force of
original verb in 1 John 2:1), but He granted men and women freedom of
We have abused that gift and sin has marred our planet. It is the ideal
of God that all sinners accept His plan of redemption (1 Tim. 2:4), so
not a single soul will be lost (2 Pet. 3:9). But the tragic fact is,
reject the divine counsel (cf. Luke )
and thus will be lost (Matt. ).
The ideal will of God does not prevail on earth as it does in heaven
Matt. ). It is not the
will of God that suffering and death be the plight of humanity, but
are effects that have come in the wake of rebellion (
The Permissive Will of God
The permissive will of God has to do with conditions which our Maker allows us (without approval) to obtain, due to the fact that He has constituted us as creatures of volition. Humans are beings of choice. This means that we must be granted the option of choosing either good or evil (i.e., that which is consistent with the will of God or that which is deviate from it). If we are to learn the value of choosing the good over the evil, there must be negative consequences attached to wrong-doing. Accordingly, the Lord has allowed an environment to exist wherein the devastating consequences of sin become dreadfully apparent, e.g., in pain and suffering. He does not will it ideally, but He allows it permissively (cf. 1 Pet. ). This distinction must be recognized by the devout student of the Bible.
The Active Will of God
The active will of God involves the intervention
deity into the events of human history. This concept stands in
to the philosophy of deism, the idea that the Creator is an absentee
with no interest in earthly affairs. The active will of Jehovah may be
in two ways. He may act directly, as in the case of miracles. When
exalted himself, God acted directly and took the ruler's life (Acts ). Biblical evidence indicates
the Lord is not operating miraculously today (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8f; Eph.
However, God does act in an indirect way in this age. We call it
The Decreed Will of God
The decreed will of God might be described as the implementation of the purposes of the divine mind. Christ was delivered up according to the "determinate counsel" and foreknowledge of God (Acts ). As a means of reconciling sinful man to the holy God (2 Cor. ), the Heavenly Father appointed Christ (Acts ) to be a tested (Isa. 28:16) but innocent sacrifice (Heb. ). This agreement allowed God to be just, and yet be the justifier of tarnished man, who in faith, submits to Christ (Rom. 3:25-26). The "mystery" of this plan, not fully understood in former ages, is made known through the Gospel (Eph. 1:9; 3:3f). God has also decreed the ultimate destinies of people (Matt. 25:46).
The Objective Will of God
The objective will of God is made known in a body of written instruction that can be understood, believed, and obeyed. Note the following: (a) The divine will can be known (Luke ; Col. 1:9), understood (Eph. ), and tested (Rom. 12:2). (b) By the apostles it was fully proclaimed (Acts ). (c) It is a teaching (John ), which must be obeyed (Matt. ; Eph. 6:6; Heb. ; ; 1 John ), and not rejected (Luke ). (d) By this holy will we are sanctified (1 Thess. 4:3; Heb. ) and prepared for the Creator's presence. (e) In the divine will we must stand mature and maintain our confidence (Col. 4:12).
The Implied Will of God
Though the will of God is frequently made known in
form of statements (Mark ),
commands (Acts ), and
(as in the case of Gentile acceptance into the church - Acts -18), the Lord's will must
be deduced from divine premises which have been given. Note an example:
his second missionary campaign, Paul and his companions were forbidden
the Holy Spirit to speak the word in
God wants us to know and understand the workings of His will as much as we are able. Our prayer is for all Christians to continue their search of the Divine mind of God.