Chapter One

 


 

KNOWING GOD’S WILL

God has a General will for non-Christians and a General and Specific will for Christians; this, perhaps, being an over-simplified but doctrinally correct statement. The General will for non-Christians is simply this: -

2 Pet 3:9
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(NIV)

The Lord is not willing for anyone to perish but that all (Non-Christians) should come to repentance and Faith in Jesus Christ. Noah (of the Old Testament also known as “a preacher of righteousness”) painstakingly tried to persuade the people of his generation (for one hundred and twenty years) to forsake their evil ways and to turn to the Lord.

2 Pet 2:5
5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;
(NIV)

Gen 6:3
3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."
(NIV)

 

Sad to say, none heeded his (Noah’s) plea except his wife, sons and their wives. Today, God is still reaching out to the unbelievers through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we, the believers, are the present “preachers of righteousness”- preaching a righteousness achieved by faith through Jesus Christ and not of works.

What then is the General and Specific Will of God for Christians?

In the New Testament, the ‘WORD’ of God is sometimes translated in Greek as “LOGOS” and sometimes as “RHEMA.” We must understand the essential difference between Logos and Rhema so as to be able to understand what is God’s General and Specific will for the Christian.
Logos is the General Word of God as contained in the Scriptures;
Rhema is the spoken WORD on which Faith is based. In the verse below, the WORD refers to the Rhema and NOT the Logos of God....

Rom 10:17
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
(NKJ)

GOD’S GENERAL WILL FOR CHRISTIANS

The Logos as contained in the Scriptures is divided into the OLD and NEW Testaments. New Testament teachings and principles (with qualifications below) reflect the General Will of God for all Christians.

Having said thus, we should further clarify that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John contain practices and principles pertaining to the Law of Moses and also Kingdom principles and practices taught by our Lord Jesus Christ (Remember that Jesus lived in the dispensation of Law but taught Kingdom principles at the same time). For example, Jesus’ teaching pertaining to tithing (Matt 23:23) is valid only during the dispensation of the Law of Moses and is not binding on New Testament Christians; whereas his teaching on divorce (Matt 19:3-9) is a New Testament Kingdom Principle applicable to all New Testament Believers. In addition, we must also bear in mind that there is a distinction between principles and practices before the advent of the Holy Spirit (before Acts Chapter 2) and principles and practices after the advent of the Holy Spirit (Acts Chapter 2 and following). The drawing of lots (Acts 1:26) to find an Apostolic replacement for Judas (who hanged himself) is not the norm for Spirit-filled Christians, for this method of discerning God’s Will was before the advent of the Spirit in Pentecost. To recapitulate, let me just say that Kingdom principles taught in the Gospels and the New Testament Scriptures after Acts Chapter One reflect the General Will of God and is a General Guide for every Born Again, Spirit-Filled Believer.

Just an example to illustrate this point at this juncture...

Rom 13:7
7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

(NIV)

We are commanded to pay our taxes to those in authority (Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar). It is therefore not necessary to pray whether to pay our taxes or not because this commandment is already incorporated in the New Testament “LOGOS” and is binding on every Born-Again believer.

Here is another Scriptural example...

Eph 4:28
28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
(NIV)

The Thief who has become a Christian must no longer steal (true repentance) but instead engage in productive activity so as to be able to provide for himself, his family and needy brothers and sisters and the poor. In other words, a Christian need not have a direct WORD (Rhema) from the Lord to refrain from stealing. The General Will of God for a Christian (as mentioned in Ephesians 4:28) is that the Christian, who has been stealing, must stop stealing, repent of his sin and do something productive instead.

GOD’S SPECIFIC WILL FOR CHRISTIANS

This refers to the Rhema or spoken Word of God. It is a specific word and is given to a Christian (or Group of Christians) at a specific time and place and for a specified purpose. An act of Biblical Faith is a step of obedience based upon the Rhema that is given. Apart from acts done in obedience to God's Logos by New Testament Christians (as described in the preceding heading), Spiritual acts not based upon the Rhema of God are essentially “dead works” (Hebrews 6:1).

Rom 10:17
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
(NKJ) (The ‘Word’ here is Rhema in Greek and Rhema is the basis of Biblical Faith
).

Rom 14:23
23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
(NIV) Emphasis mine.

The all-important question now is, How do we know the Specific Will of God for our lives?

Let us consider one or two examples of how God used Rhema to guide His people in the Old Testament...

Gen 12:1
1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.
(NIV)

In Genesis Chapter 12 verse 1, God spoke to Abram (and to him only) to leave his homeland in Ur of the Chaldees. He did not speak to Terah (Abram’s father) or to Lot (Abram’s nephew). In fact, God told Abram to leave his people (kindred) and father’s household behind. God told Abram to go to the land of Canaan (implied in the Scriptures). So, if Abram were to go, say to the land of Russia, he would be going against God’s Rhema and would be sinning against God.

Take another example; the example of Joshua and Jericho. God told Joshua to have the people march around Jericho once for six days and on the seventh day to march round seven times (Joshua 6:11-16). This is God’s Rhema to Joshua for a specific time, place and purpose. If we were to march around Jericho or any other city (or hall) for a spiritual purpose using Joshua Chapter 6 as a basis of our action but without God’s Rhema, we would be essentially acting on our own “Rhema” and sinning against God.

Are there examples in the New Testament of God speaking (a Rhema) to His people? Yes, take a look at the Scriptures below...

Acts 16:6-8
6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.
7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.
8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.

(NIV)

In the Scriptures above, you will notice that the Holy Spirit’s Rhema to Paul and his companions was “not to preach in Asia.” Of course, God’s Rhema was for that particular time and persons concerned, as we know that the Gospel has already been proclaimed in many parts of Asia today.

Acts 13:1-2
1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.

2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
(NIV)

In the Scriptures above, you will find that there were prophets and teachers in Antioch, but God’s Rhema to them is to set apart Paul and Barnabas for a specific duty.

How then does a New Testament Christian discern God’s Rhema or God’s specific will for himself? As we review the ways that God spoke to His people in the New Testament (see page 11 in italics), we will essentially be able to draw some conclusions as to how God imparts His (Specific) Will to us....

·THROUGH PRAYER…

Luke 6:12-13
12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:
(NIV) It should be mentioned that Prayer may need to be accompanied by Fasting when one is led by the Spirit to do so (Acts 13:2).

Our Lord prayed all night before choosing His twelve disciples. That Judas Iscariot was “lost” in the final count does not detract from the fact that the original twelve was the Will of the Father in answer to Jesus’ prayer in Luke 6:12. Judas had to bear the consequences of his own actions after he was chosen.
 

·THROUGH INNER CONVICTION....

Rom 8:16
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
(NIV)
The Holy Spirit speaking to our spirit should be a rule rather than an exception.

·THROUGH THE SCRIPTURES (LOGOS)...

Luke 24:32
32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
(NIV)

The Scriptures became “alive” when the Resurrected Christ caused the “Logos” to become the “Rhema” Word to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus.

·THROUGH SPIRITUAL GIFTS....

Acts 13:1-2
1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.
2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
(NIV)

Verse 2 above did not specifically state how the HOLY SPIRIT spoke to them but the implication here is that the Rhema Word was spoken by prophetic revelation by one or more of the prophets and teachers.

Christians who do not believe in the Gifts of the Spirit for today are essentially depriving themselves of a major channel whereby God imparts His Rhema to His people.  This is also one of the reasons why the Scriptures command us not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together (Heb 10:25)”; for Spiritual Gifts can only operate in and within the body of Christ.

·THROUGH GODLY COUNSEL

1 Pet 5:1-2
1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:
2 Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-- not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;
(NIV)

God has appointed Godly elders to be Shepherds of the flock (verse 2). A Shepherd guides and leads his flock and God’s Shepherds (Elders) should provide spiritual direction and guidance to the people of God.

·BY DREAMS, VISIONS AND DIRECT REVELATION....

 Acts 2:17
17 "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
(NIV)

Acts 11:5
5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.
(NIV)

Acts 18:9-10
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.
10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."
(NIV)

God does speak audibly to His people but in this present dispensation of the Holy Spirit, I would be more inclined to believe that this method of imparting His Will is the exception rather than the rule.

·MEDIATION BY ANGELS

Acts 8:26
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road-- the desert road-- that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza."
(NIV) Philip brought the Ethiopian Eunuch to Christ as a result of this incident.

The Skeptics who say that God does not use angels anymore need to rethink their theology. Those who depend on angels for guidance every other day also need to rethink their theology.
Why would the inspired writer of Hebrews command us to entertain strangers (potential angels) if there were no angels in the present dispensation?

Heb 13:2
2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
(NIV)

Just a word of caution here though, the Apostle Paul did also warn us about deceiving angels preaching to men...

Gal 1:8
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
(NIV)
Be warned that willful preachers of a false Gospel are eternally condemned!

It is, therefore, possible for an angel from heaven to preach a different gospel and we need to be like the Bereans, examining everything with the Word of God (Acts 17:11).

What about “circumstances?”
“Closed” or “open” doors, so to speak, do not necessarily reflect the Will of God. Today, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and we should not use Gideon’s method of “fleecing” (a total dependence on external signs) to determine God’s Will. The correct sequence should be hearing from God first (from one of the channels mentioned above) and then allowing circumstances (if applicable) to unfold itself, bearing in mind that “closed doors” can be opened and “open doors” can be closed (supernaturally), as God so desires. God in His Sovereignty can also narrow down the physical options available to us. Using “circumstances” as the only first-line indicator or index of God’s Will may lead one to the door of deception.

IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING GOD’S WILL

TRUE Disciples of Jesus are not necessarily those who claim to know Him; rather, they are those who not only know the Will of God but are also doers of His (God’s) Will.

Matt 12:49-50
49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers.
50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."
(NIV) The Lord was referring to His “spiritual” brothers, sisters and mother.

In fact, mere lip service will not guarantee one’s entry into the Kingdom of God...

Matt 7:21
21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
(NIV)
Contrary to popular belief, a “Christian” label does not guarantee automatic access into God’s Kingdom.

 It follows that, in order to DO GOD’S WILL, we must first discern His Will (General and Specific) for us using the Biblical Principles mentioned above. When He was on earth, our Lord never acted outside the Will of the Father...

John 5:19
19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
(NIV)

A “Christian” who claims that he does not know God’s will is either not “Born-Again” or speaking out of sheer laziness or hypocrisy (Didn’t the Lord Jesus say “Seek and you will find”?) Let us remember that the Christian Walk is a narrow spiritual path eventually leading to eternal life. God has placed numerous spiritual signposts to guide us along the way. Taking a wrong path is a step towards deception and no Christian can get deceived unless he or she chooses to do so (Eve strayed away from God’s Word into deception. It was not an accident!)
 Salvation is only the first step (righteousness acquired by Faith in the atoning work of our Lord Jesus and signified by white robes- Rev 7:14 below); the second part of our walk is the fine linen or righteous acts of the Saints (Rev 19:8 below)- righteous because these acts are born out of the Rhema of God.

Rev 7:14
14 I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Rev 19:8
8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
(NIV)

On our part we must resolve to walk in newness of life crucifying our old selves, renewing our minds and walking away from the ways of the world. Then and only then, can we know what is His good, pleasing and perfect will…

Rom 12:2

 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

NIV

Last but not least, IS THERE SUCH A THING AS GOD’S PERMISSIVE AND GOD’S PERFECT WILL FOR CHRISTIANS?

God had only one will for His Son Jesus whilst He (Jesus) was on earth; therefore, He has only one will for you and me....

John 6:38
38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
(NIV)

Jesus spoke of the road (not roads) that leads to life…

Matt 7:14

14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  NIV

Jesus came down to do the Father’s will (singular) for Him. If Father God had more than one will for His Son, then Jesus would not have to pray, “Not my will, but yours be done” at the Garden of Gethsemane.

As stated in Romans 12:1 God’s Will (singular) is always good, pleasing and perfect and anything out of His perfect will is not His Will at all. God may “allow” a person to move out of His perfect will, but rest assured that if you “sow” out of His Perfect Will, you will also “reap” (outside) of His Perfect Will (with dire consequences following).

Gal 6:7-8
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
(NIV)

In short, there is no such thing as a ‘God’s permissive will’. God’s will is always perfect and a Christian believing that he is in God’s permissive will is living outside His perfect and only Will. Amen

 

Click here to return to

Dr Eddy's Homepage