This isn’t my typical blog. It does get a little heady. I’ve been taking a theology class at my church for the past several weeks and this particular lesson hit home hard. For some reason, the discussion of the sovereignty of God keeps popping up in my life over and over again. I can’t seem to escape it. I know it is a major struggle for us. Yes! I’ve talked to some of you! We cannot figure out why life is too complicated. Why is the will of God confusing? And we wrestle with how a good God could allow such disasters, such as pain, and such hardship.
Life is downright messy sometimes, leaving us scratching our heads. We want answers from God. Why does life have to be so hard? Isn’t there a better way? What is the deal with all of this suffering?
So often we think of the will of God as one-dimensional. We think God can only will one thing, one way all of the time. Like maybe we can figure Him out. If He did this for so and so, He will do it for me too. They were healed, I should be healed too. Since they are rich, I should be too. Like a mathematical equation…
But let’s pause for a moment and think about our wills. And to illustrate my point, I’m going to talk a little bit about my four-year-old son, Comerson. Now if you have children of your own, you probably will quickly relate…
I can tell Comerson to do something like pick up his toys, and there are days he will eagerly do so without questioning my authority or whining. But there are also days he will reluctantly obey. He will get it done, but you would think all hell is breaking lose to accomplish it. There are times when that little dude will choose to do something publicly…like give me a hug or a big smooch-a-roo. But there are also times when he will do something in secret. In the dark. Not telling a single soul.
A few weeks ago, my husband heard some noise coming from the kitchen at 4 am and he discovered there was a party going on and we weren’t invited. Our Christmas puppy had destroyed every piece of paper, mail, book, pencil, pen, and trash that was in sight, and meanwhile, Comerson had a party going on with fruit snacks and several juice boxes. They were having a good time all by themselves.
We can do something eagerly, reluctantly, cheerfully, regretfully, publicly, secretly…and the list could go on and on. In the same way, God has many aspects to His will but differs from us in that His will is always perfect. It is always good. And it is always in line with all the aspects of His character.
So there are distinctions in the varying aspects of God’s Will. In other words, He can will different things in different ways.
God’s Necessary Will and Free Will:
Definition of Necessary Will: It is everything that God must will according to his nature. It is who He is. For example, God is love. He cannot be any different. It is a part of who He is and He cannot be separated from it. Another example, God cannot lie. He is without sin. And therefore, He cannot act contrary to His very own nature.
Definition of Free Will: It is everything that God decided to will but had no necessity to will according to His nature. For example, the creation of the universe and mankind. God did not need us. He is fully complete without us. And yet it was by His free will that we were created.
God’s Secret Will and Revealed Will:
Definition of Secret Will: This includes His hidden decrees by which he governs the universe and determines everything that will happen. He has not made everything known to us. We find out the will of God when events come to pass.
Definition of Revealed Will: His will is what he commands us to do. The revealed will of God declares how we should go about living. It has been made known to us.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deut. 29:29
God’s revealed will contains His laws for moral conduct. Ephesians 5:17 instructs us to, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” It is our responsibility to know & do what He says in His Word.
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” Here we have a very specific instance of what God commands of us: holiness, sanctification, sexual purity. This is his will of command. But, oh, so many do not obey.
This one might hit home a little…Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Here again is very specific instruction as to how we are supposed to live: Give thanks in all circumstances. Pretty simple, right? But yet we all will fail to obey God’s will in all situations.
One more example comes from the story of Joseph. We see his life story coming full-circle. Despised by his brothers. They wished he was dead. Thrown into a pit and then into slavery. Falsely accused of approaching the Pharaohs’ wife. Thrown into prison. He lived a life with many ups and downs. And finally, the day arrives when he is reunited with his brothers. There should have been much hostility there, but rather he says these words in
Gen 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
The truth of the matter is that we do not always understand or comprehend what God is up to. There are times God’s will remains a secret…and when we can’t make sense of it all, How will we respond?
We can conclude from these passages that there are different aspects to the will of God and we must understand and interpret the will of God properly within the context of Scripture. God’s sovereign will always come to pass whether we believe in it or not. His revealed can be grievously broken and is every single day.
The discussion of the will of God is a sensitive subject because we must never assume or accuse God of taking pleasure in evil. (Ezek 33:11, “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?”) We also must not blame God for our sinful actions for we are born sinners (Rom 3:23). Likewise, we are responsible for our behavior and our evil thoughts. Therefore, we must uphold God in high integrity. He is always good.
Okay…this has been a truckload. I’ve sorta dumped all over you this morning. The bottom line is this…He is always good. He is good. It is who He is and He cannot be separated from it. We must know that He empathizes with our pain and suffering. And He also promises in Rom 8:28 to “work all things together for our good.” Hold on to these truths, Sister. Hold on.
How are you wrestling with the sovereignty of God? Do you struggle to believe God is always good?
FYI: This blog has been heavily influenced by Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem. If you are wanting to dig deeper…check it out!