Saturday, December 10, 2011

Understanding the Will of God

I found this discussion in Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology concerning the will of God very helpful. He articulates that there are many different usages for God's will in the Scriptures and it is always helpful to know what you are talking about when that term is being used. Maybe these several short quotes will help as you have questions about the will of God.

God's Necessary Will "includes everything that he must will according to his own nature. What does God will necessarily? He wills himself. God eternally wills to be, or wants to be, who he is and what he is. He says, 'I AM WHO I AM' or 'I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE' (Ex. 3:14). God cannot choose to be different than he is or to cease to exist" (212-3)

God's Free Will "includes all things that God decided to will but had no necessity to will according to his nature. Here we must put God's decision to create the universe, and all the decisions relating  to the details of that creation. Here we must also place all God's acts of redemption. There was nothing in God's own nature that required him to decide to create the universe or to redeem out of sinful mankind a people for himself . . . However, God did decide to create and to redeem, and these were totally free choices on his part" (213)

God's Revealed Will are those things that God has revealed for the purpose of obeying Him.  For instance, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are told to give thanks always for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. Even beyond direct statements of His will for us, we know that the Scriptures as a whole encompass His revealed will for us. This is "sometimes also called God's will of precept or will of command. This revealed will of God is God's declared will concerning what we should do or what God commands us to do" (213).

God's Secret Will "usually includes his hidden decrees by which he governs the universe and determines everything that will happen. He does not ordinarily reveal these decrees to us (except in prophecies of the future), so these decrees really are God's 'secret' will. We find out what God has decreed when events actually happen. Because this secret will of God has to do with his decreeing of events in the world, this aspect of God's will is sometimes also called God's will of decree" (213).

So, next time someone tells you that they are trying to determine God's will, ask them, "which one?"

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