Friday, March 11, 2011


How do you find the will of God about who specifically to marry, what job to take, what career to prepare for, and a ton of other choices we have to make every day. Does God HAVE a specific person for me to marry or college to which He intends me to go? What about some of the things which happen to us that we don't understand? How do they fit in His Will? What if I miss His will? How can I know for certain I'm doing His will in all things?

Interestingly enough, I find no where in scripture where we're commanded to or instructed on how to find the right person to marry. [Except if we lack wisdom let us ask for it.] The same can be said about a job or career. What constitutes God's will anyway? Only three passages even mention what His will might be. 1 THESSALONIANS 5:18, EPHESIANS 5:17-1, and 1 THESSALONIANS 4:3. All three speak of "being" something. It seems to me we really do need to re-think this whole thing of God's will scripturally. Let's do just that!

Two words have recently come to mean a great deal to my way of thinking about biblical Truth and I've mentioned them before. One is the word 'function' which means "The particular purpose for which a thing exists." A clock is the perfect example. It exists for the specific purpose of telling time. If it fails to fulfill this purpose, it may be a lot of other things, but it is failing to truly be a clock. So one could say that function is, in fact, a matter of 'being.'

The other word is the word 'form.' Form by definition is "The way something is done or the shape something takes to fulfill a purpose." That clock mentioned before could be round or square, have big hands or little hands, be black or white. It could even stand on the floor or hang on the wall. But if it doesn't function as a teller of time it is useless no matter how it looks.

I've concluded personally that the New Covenant materials [New Testament] are materials that speak to function and not form. I would go so far as to say that the New Testament is a guidebook on function and NOT a handbook on forms. The NT tells us why and what something is to BE instead of how it is DONE. It is a book about 'being' instead of 'doing.'

Now this is pertinent to a biblical understanding of the Will of God in my judgment. So using this concept, I've come to think of the Will of God as something that can be seen functioning at four levels. These levels explain His intention and our responsibilities in the things that happen in life. I want to give all four of the levels with a brief explanation of what I mean by them and some illustrations of how I think about life as a result. What I'm saying here is not mine originally at all but has been gleaned from my research of what tons of other people have said and I've put it all together in my own way of thinking.

The first level at which I understand God's Will functioning is at a design level. This relates to, as you would imagine, the cosmos and universe in which we live. It involves all the natural sciences and the wonderful research that shows us the intricate designs and detail of the marvelous world in which we live. It all screams to me of an Author of it all with a purpose for it all. But I'll leave that for other discussions at other times. [Like the last post for example.] I'm simply stating that I see God's design functioning in this natural world. Our responsibility is to discover, examine and care for it all.

The second level of God's Will functions in what could be called a Moral level. These are the moral principles found in the NT which are to be reflected in our lives as Kingdom people. These principles concern themselves with what we are to 'be' relationally as opposed to how we are to 'do' something.

An example is the early 'Ekklesia' or Church. Believers were to be a "called out people" which is the definition of the word Ekklesia. That Ekklesia was to be together on occasion, [Hebrews 10:35] but the form their 'being together' took was not given. There is no command as to place, time, length of gathering, day of gathering, order of presentation of participation or anything of that nature.

It is true that some in the Ekklesia were to be to the gathered group as pastors, teachers, and other ministries for the perfecting or maturing of all. But that speaks to how they functioned when gathered and not the shape the meeting was to take in my opinion. Any revelation of the form that ministry took is limited if not totally non-existent in the biblical materials.

The third level of God's Will functions in what could be called a freedom level. This has to do with human choices both good and bad, right and wrong, and generally whether one chooses to obey or disobey God's biblical principles. We as humans are able to make decisions in this realm as evidenced by Jesus saying to Jerusalem "How often would I have gathered you...but you would not." Whatever these choices, there will be consequences and results will come always. But they can be made. We're even more free in Kingdom life. [We can freely choose to act holy.]

This is where I believe who to marry, what job to take, or whether to go to this college or that one are decisions that Kingdom kids are free to make without any fear of "Missing God's Will" for their lives. All those things speak to the 'form' ones life can take. [Remember the clock] But I believe God's concern is that ones' life functions and reflects His moral purposes whatever college one might choose to attend. His concern is that a person function in the reality of His being the source of all their life rather than their decisions in life. Now if you're concerned that what I'm saying seems to indicate that God doesn't have a specific college in mind for you to go to... you're right. I'm convinced He's concerned that you 'be' who you are by His grace and life "Whatever your hand finds to do." [College you choose.]

The final level that Gods's Will functions on is the Sovereign level. He has a plan and purpose for all things and that purpose WILL come to pass. This is because He really is "The blessed controller of very event" as the biblical materials declare. But this has to do with His purposes and ways that are far above ours and we see truly "see through a glass darkly." This includes things that are not understood or that might be painful, hurtful, and even evil. It is not to say He is the author of evil, but it is to say that even the evil done by evil men will ultimately be sovereignly overruled to His glory and our good. It is only here that your free decisions at the moral level find their ultimate place in God's will.

So my philosophy of Kingdom living is simply to...

Make good, thoughtful decisions about any choices you might face. This only after living your life according to His revealed moral will and principles scripturally as you understand them.

Then analyze where you are and what you're equipped for personally. For example, what do you like? If you hate dealing with messy people and relational problems, job wise, the sciences might be for you, not counseling. God never says to Christians, "Touch not the unclean microscope."

Also remember it's wise to seek what significant people with whom you're in a relationship think. But never give over the responsibility for your own choices to any other person or group.

Finally, make a decision about whatever confronts you with the understanding that behind every decision made there is to be a willingness to always remember that God's Sovereign will is at play. Much as when Peter was prayed for by the Ekklesia and was released from prison but James was not. He was beheaded. Peter stood and preached and three thousand got converted. But Stephen stood and preached and no one got converted. In fact they all got mad and stoned him to death.

So good things or bad things happening DO NOT tell the story of whether God's will is being done or not. That is all within His purposes that we can never fully understand this side of eternity. Make choices with what I've just said as a backdrop and I believe you will not miss God's will in any fashion.

Four simple guiding principles and I close.

One...Whatever you choose to do, "be" what His moral will says to be. [Loving, forgiving, honest, faithful, trustworthy, pure, caring]

Two...Whatever you choose to do "be" ready for His sovereign will to alter things however He Sovereignly chooses.

Three...Whatever you choose to do "be" honest when you make a bad choice concerning a moral biblical principle or a hurtful choice in a practical, personal way relationally. Admit it, take personal responsibility for it and repent of it. [Repentence means to change your mind and go a different way.]

Four...Whatever you choose to do "be" sure to do it AS UNTO THE LORD and not unto men.

Kingdom kids following what I've just indicated would be functioning on every level of the Will of God it seems to me and can forget being FEARFUL of His will or not FINDING His will or living OUTSIDE His will. Just enjoy all of life as a gift from Him. It is, in fact, that.

Paul B.


Steve Young said...

Thanks for this post. Been thinking on this a lot lately. Not sure I am exactly where you are on this, but it is more satisfying than a recent blog which advocated "If it is not prohibited in the Bible, do what you want." Bottom line is the imporatnce of walking with God.
Steve in Montana

Bob Cleveland said...

I like to think that He said He'd give us the desires of our heart if we'd just take delight in Him. And, that He gave us a Book to hide in our heart so we'd know when desires were from him (good), or from the prince of the nether world (sin).

I think we ought to act like adopted kids who have hearts full of desires our Father gave us. Sometimes we don't seem to.

Aussie John said...


Our advice, to folk who asked, was briefly covered by these points, which, by-the-way, we followed ourselves, and has led to where we are now:

1. Prayerful consideration of pro's and con's.

2. The Scriptures.

3. Circumstances. God is sovereign over our circumstances

4. The still,small voice.

5. Others of maturity, spiritually and years.

God's will is clearly evident in the way my wife and I found each other(see my last blog article).

Paul Burleson said...


I think you're right. It is knowing we're walking with Him. Then to know He's faithful even when we don't is incredible. I guess there's a reason it's called Grace.

Good comment.


Thanks again for reading and commenting. I'm always looking to see your response to what I write and it's always insightful. Well, here it is again. Good stuff.

Aussie J,

I just read your blog and WOW, what a story to share on your wedding anniversary. It was really special. Congratulations again.

Anonymous said...

"Whatever you choose to do "be" sure to do it AS UNTO THE LORD . . "

Good words, Paul.

(Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

“ I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse;
therefore choose life,
that thou mayest live,
thou and thy seed; to love the LORD thy God, to hearken to His voice, and to cleave unto Him; for that is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”