“Not My Will, But Thine, Be Done” Part I
[15 August 2010]
What is God’s will? How are you to determine God’s will for you? Oftentimes, Christians pray for God to show them His will for their lives. Have you ever asked God whom He wants you to marry? Where He wants you to work? What He wants you to do on any given day? How does God expect you to accomplish His will, seeing as to you are a mortal, weak human? In this three-part series, we will examine God’s will as laid out in the rightly divided Bible. In part I, we will look at the overall will of God, for lost people and for saved people.
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Where should one find God’s will? Need we seek angelic appearances, theophanies, or voices in our heads to reveal God’s will to us? Absolutely not! God wrote a book, a book that He inspired and preserved just so you could read it. For you and I as English-speaking people, the King James Bible is God’s inerrant, infallible, and preserved Word. Everything that God Almighty has to say to you today is found in the King James Bible. God has not sent any further revelations than what the completed canon of Scripture already contains.
If you want to be submissive to God’s will, you must first read His Word so that you can understand His will. God the Father’s ultimate will is to glorify His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in both the heaven and the earth. The Bible says in Ephesians 1:9,10 KJV: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:” No matter what happens in the meantime, one day, God will appoint Jesus Christ as the Head of the governments of the heaven and the earth.
Did you notice what the Bible said? As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, God has already “made known unto us the mystery of his will.” We do not have to pray for God to show us His will because He has already shown us His will in His written Word. We need to now read God’s Word in order to understand God’s will!
God’s will is to make His Son, Jesus Christ, the Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth. God will accomplish that by two means: using the nation Israel as His chosen people on the earth, and utilizing the Church the Body of Christ as His chosen people in the heavens. In the “Old Testament,” the Four Gospels, and the first few chapters of the book of Acts (chapters 1-8), God dealt primarily with His covenant people, the nation Israel.
The Apostle Paul writes that God has temporarily set aside Israel today (Romans 11:11,12,15,25). Currently, God is not dealing with national Israel, so God’s will does not involve the nation Israel today. Right now, the Lord is calling out a people for His name from the peoples of the world, and this spiritual entity/creature of believers is called “the Church the Body of Christ.” If you have trusted in Jesus Christ and His finished work on Calvary, you are a member of this new creature. In this Dispensation of Grace, God’s will is “to have all men saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
Remember, God does not want anyone to go to the everlasting lake of fire (2 Peter 3:9), but not everyone will get saved (reasons being pride, contentment with works-religion, etc). God’s will today is that everyone would receive salvation by faith alone in Paul’s Gospel of Grace: how that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). God the Father wants everyone to trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, alone for salvation. God wants lost people to be saved. As Christians, our desire should be to see the lost people of the world saved.
So, are you saved today? Do have eternal life as a present possession? Have you trusted exclusively in Christ’s bloodshed on Calvary and His subsequent resurrection? God is not asking you to walk an aisle, say a prayer, go to confession, join a church, or participate in Mass. God wants you saved today, but you cannot be saved by your good works. Because you were unable to provide your own salvation from your sins, the Lord Jesus Christ died for you in your place and He was raised again for your justification (Romans 4:25)! If you have any questions, contact me for more information.
Okay, getting back to 1 Timothy 2:4, I want you to notice the last portion of the verse:“[God’s will is] to have all men saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The Lord not only wants lost people saved, but He also wants us “to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Now, what does that mean?
After a person receives salvation as a free gift, he or she needs to reach a spiritual maturity. The only way to gain the profit God stored in His Word is study God’s Word, God’s way. Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV): “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” All of the Bible is true; after all, it is the “word of truth.” However, all of the Bible is not true for us—that is, there are promises in the Bible that God made to other people, and not to us, and these promises are not in effect today. Promises given to other people do not belong to us!
A failure to rightly divide the Scriptures will only bring confusion and discouragement. We need to acknowledge the context of the verse/passage: the author, the audience, the circumstances, and so on. Verses that belong in Israel’s program and dispensation need to stay with Israel—we are not Israel and we are not under law. Paul is our apostle (Romans 11:13; Romans 15:16; 2 Timothy 1:11), and God’s directions to us are found in Paul’s 13 epistles, Romans through Philemon. When a Christian studies God’s Word rightly divided, he or she “comes to the knowledge of the truth.” Turn with me to 2 Timothy 2:24-26 KJV:
“24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
In the Bible, repentance is defined as understanding the truth of God’s Word. It is a “change in mind, a different way of thinking about or viewing something.” There are nearly two billion professing Christians in the world, but how many of them truly understand the Bible? How many of these “Christians” are even going to heaven in the first place? If you are saved today, God wants you to understand His Word, and enjoy His Word, but you can only enjoy and understand God’s Word when you know how to use God’s Word—that is, study His Word rightly divided.
The Bible says that we live in a time period called “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2). The Bible also says that works-religion is the antithesis (opponent/enemy) of grace (Romans 11:6; Galatians 2:20). There are genuine Christians today unknowingly bound in religious tradition and under satanic influence (“taken captive by [the devil] at his will”). They have been pressured into following doctrines and verses given to the nation Israel in “time past,” failing to understand that God has changed the program and is doing something different with us today!
Myriads of church members are placing so much emphasis on good works that they actually ignore Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary! What a tragedy, one that has eternal consequences. As one dear brother said, “Lost people need to be saved from hell, and saved people need to be saved from religion.” We give a hearty amen to that!!!
Next week, we will continue the series, as we will discuss how God’s will is manifested to the Christian believer. We will further examine this issue of right division, and how we use that Bible study principle to discover God’s specific will for us as members of the Church the Body of Christ!
“Not My Will, But Thine, Be Done” Part II
[23 August 2010]
In part I, we looked at the overall will of God, for lost people and for saved people; in this second installment of the series, we will look at how God has manifested His will to us Christians and we will examine God’s specific will for us as His children. You will be surprised to learn that God’s will is not as “specific” as religion makes it out to be!
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In part I, we read 1 Timothy 2:4 KJV: “[God our Saviour] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” God’s will is that everyone be saved from eternal damnation in the lake of fire. Alas, rebellious mankind mostly ignores God and rejects His grace. God’s will is that every believer comes to spiritual enlightenment and maturity. Unfortunately, denominationalism and religious tradition prevents this from coming to pass.
Using the Bible, but failing to “rightly divide” the Bible, has left multitudes of non-Christians and Christians confused. Most believers have no idea of the principle of dispensational Bible study as presented in 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Because dispensational Bible study is scarce, most Christian follow directions God gave other people (that is, placing themselves under Israel’s law system). Legalism has led to discouragement and confusion within the lives of countless believers. Oh, what a pity!
If you are one of those dear Christians who are struggling to make sense of the Christian life, then I hope and pray that this Bible study will be a help and blessing for you. If you have trusted in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, then you are eternally secure in Christ. Now that you are saved, you need to be “edified”/strengthened and “perfected”/matured according to the Pauline design (Ephesians 4:11-14). God wants us to study all of His Word, but to place more emphasis on the Pauline epistles of Romans through Philemon. When you study the Bible “rightly divided” (as it relates to Paul’s ministry), you begin the process of spiritual maturity.
It is in Paul’s epistles alone that we discover our identity and position in God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The doctrine you need to learn and follow today is that which the Apostle Paul received from the ascended Lord Jesus Christ. Keeping this principle of right division in mind prevents us from confusing ourselves with Israel living in time past. God does not want us to confuse His will for Israel with His will for us. God has not put us under Israel’s law, her performance-based acceptance system. Let me briefly recap Israel’s legalistic economy of long ago.
In time past, God revealed His will to the nation Israel by means of the Mosaic Law (Romans 2:17-20). The entire Mosaic Law consisted of not only the Ten Commandments, but also the 613 laws of Judaism. JEHOVAH promised Israel that He would bless them when they obeyed His laws, and He would curse them when they disobeyed Him (Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 15). Is legalism (Mosaic law-keeping) the answer to us accomplishing God’s will today? NO!!! We are under grace, not law (Romans 6:14)! Our performance is not the issue today because we are sinners who fail to keep God’s law (1 Timothy 1:9,10).
The principle of right division prevents us from following the system of the Mosaic Law, that “ministration of death” that God crucified with Christ (Colossians 2:14; cf. 2 Corinthians 3:6-7). God abolished the Law of Moses, and something far better has taken its place—the system of GRACE. God’s will for you is that you live the victorious life He has for you in Jesus Christ. Failing to approach the Bible dispensationally will cause you to follow Israel’s law, just like most of Christendom attempts to do today.
Legalism (law-keeping) will work defeat and misery in your Christian life. Law “frustrates” (hinders, prevents) God’s grace from controlling your life (Galatians 2:21; cf. Romans 7:1-25; Galatians 5:16-26). Again, the Apostle Paul writes that we are under grace, not law, beloved (Romans 6:14). We are living in the Dispensation of Grace, not law (Ephesians 3:2)! Do not let legalism ruin your Christian life. In the Dispensation of Grace, God the Father accepts you today on the basis of Jesus Christ and HIS performance, not on the basis of us keeping the Law of Moses and us performing religious rites and ceremonies (Galatians 2:20,21).
We as Christians have been given spiritual riches in Christ (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 4:19), but oftentimes, many believers are distracted into gaining the “pocket change” that works-religion offers. Works-religion not only keeps lost people lost, it keeps saved people from hearing and knowing God’s will for them. Works-religion (like Judaism of Israel’s day, or today’s “denominationalism”) is what you can do for God through your own strength. This contradicts grace, for grace is what God can do for you through Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork on Calvary!
The Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross of Calvary, purchased our salvation with His blood, and provided our justification through His resurrection. We are now reconciled with God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)! Now, God the Father wants every Christian believer “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29 KJV). What does that mean? God wants to change your life from the inside out, without using the Law of Moses! Positionally speaking, God has already sanctified us (set us apart) in His Son. Now God wants to sanctify us in His Son practically (in our day-to-day living). See 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, for example.
Contrary to the prosperity theology being widely taught and proclaimed today, God’s will does not involve you becoming a millionaire, living a problem-free life, and enjoying perfect health at all times. God’s will for us is that we are filled with His “fulness,” on the inside, in the inner man. Let us examine Ephesians 3:16-19 KJV, and notice what Paul prays for us believers:
“16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
God’s will is that your inner man (the “real” you, the invisible you, your soul and spirit) be “strengthened with might by his Spirit.” God wants you to reach a spiritual maturity so that “Christ may dwell in your heart by faith.” Verse 17 is not a salvation verse; it is a service verse explaining how Christ will live His life in you when your faith rests in Him—this is “Christ in [us], the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
God desires for you to be “rooted and grounded in love,” understanding His love for us. God wants His Son living His life in and through us: this, brethren, is the “fulness of God.” With this sound doctrine in mind, you can begin to appreciate God’s Word and you begin to understand that God is doing something magnificent. Surprisingly, God wants our participation in what He is doing!
If you remember in part I, we studied the will of the devil in 2 Timothy 2:24-26. The Bible is quite clear that Satan wants to keep lost people lost, and Christians unlearned. We look around us today, and see just that taking place! Go to the ordinary church, of any denomination, and more than likely, you will never see or hear this information. Denominations emphasize your performance and your will rather than God’s performance and God’s will!
Next week, in part III, we will conclude this series by learning how God will use us to accomplish His will. Remember, God’s will is the issue, and no mortal weak human can accomplish the will of an Almighty God! We will learn that it takes God to accomplish His will in us!
Whom does God want you to marry? According to religion, God has already pre-selected your spouse, you simply need to “pin the tail on the donkey” and hope you pick the man or woman God had already planned for you to marry. Nonsense—there is no Scriptural basis for such line of thinking! Rather, God’s Word tells us that IF we choose to marry, God’s will is for us to marry a person who is a member of the Body of Christ and a member of the opposite sex (1 Corinthians 7:2-4, 39). If you choose to remain single for life, God is pleased with that too (1 Corinthians 7:1, 8). Based on this advice from God’s Word, you make the decision whom (if any) to marry!
Where does God want you to work and live? The Bible never explicitly addresses that question. However, we know that God’s will for you is that you get saved and that you proclaim His salvation to others. As long as your job is decent and honest (not vulgar or illegal), and will provide you with a reasonable income to survive, then God is all for you. Wherever you feel you could best reflect God’s grace, move there and live there. Again, there is nothing in the Bible commanding you to work at a certain workplace or live in a certain region of the world. Just work and provide a living for yourself, and God’s Word will do the rest!
“Not My Will, But Thine, Be Done” Part III
Shawn Brasseaux – firstname.lastname@example.org
[29 August 2010]
What is God’s will? Whom does God want you to marry? Where does God want you to live and work? In part I, we looked at the overall will of God, for lost people and for saved people. In part II, we looked at how God’s will is manifested to the Christian believer, and what is God’s specific will for the believer. In part III, we will conclude the series by gaining an understanding as to how God has equipped His saints to accomplish the work He wants done.
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We now understand God’s will for our lives as Christians. God wants His Son Jesus Christ formed in us (Galatians 4:19). God’s will for you is to be separate from works-religion and legalism (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). God wants you to intake sound doctrine according to the Pauline design (Romans 16:25,26). Just as a small child needs physical food to grow stronger and healthier, so our inner man (soul) needs spiritual food to grow to maturity (1 Corinthians 3:1,2; cf. Ephesians 4:11-14; Hebrews 4:11-14). The sound doctrine for us today is the doctrine committed to the Apostle Paul, the information contained in the books of Romans through Philemon. You attempting to make yourself acceptable to God is not the issue. God wants to make you acceptable to Himself, and sound doctrine will make that happen! We now look at the mechanics of how God will use us to accomplish His will.
If you recall in part I, we asked the question: How does God expect you to accomplish His will, seeing as to you are a mortal, weak human? Truth is, God does not expect you to accomplish His will. What God wants from you is your willingness to let Him accomplish His will in and through you! As believers in Christ, we have been given a new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are saints, now we need to walk in that new identity. How? By letting God’s grace teach us how to live!
God’s Word will go to work in our lives after we take Titus 2:11,12 and believe it: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all mean, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” This is the grace life too few believers understand and enjoy—a life not under strict demands of the law, but a live motivated by God’s grace!
Okay, now that we understand God will accomplish His will in us, rather than us accomplishing God’s will for Him, we want to learn how God will accomplish His will in us. In 2 Timothy 3:16,17 KJV, we read: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” God’s Word is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”—it contains the power and information we need to live the grace life. God’s Word equips us, it “throughly furnishes [us] unto all good works.”
The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 KJV: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” Colossians 3:15,16 instructs: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” God’s will is that His Word dwells in you “richly in all wisdom” because God will use His Word to work in you and through you!
In the passage of Ephesians 5:15–6:9, we read of God filling the believer with His Holy Spirit. I remind you this is not a Pentecostal/Charismatic experience. Rather, it is the Holy Spirit controlling us and empowering us to live the grace life. Christians making wise decisions, understanding God’s will, wives submitting to their own husbands, husbands loving their own wives, children obeying their parents, fathers instructing their children in love, employees obeying their bosses, employers treating their workers with respect. WOW! This is grace living, and it comes not by our keeping rules and regulations in a church setting. It only comes through the working of the Holy Spirit in our inner man!
Being a Christian “ambassador” means that your life is a reflection of God’s righteousness; it is Christ’s righteousness living in and through you! “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV). Note modern Bibles corrupt this verse! It is Christ that lives in us, and we walk by Christ’s faith, not our faith!
In part II, we looked at Ephesians 3:16-19, but let us look at verse 20: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,…” Whose power? Our power and our strength? (No, that was the system of law in Israel.) The Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 4:7 and Philippians 2:12-13, it is God’s power working in us and accomplishing His will in us and through us as members of the Church the Body of Christ!
God’s will is that you enjoy the liberty and the peace that comes from you being “in Christ,” (Romans 5:1; Galatians 5:1) because “ye are complete in Him [Christ]” (Colossians 2:10). You lack nothing in Christ. Everything God wants to provide for you He already gave it to you the exact moment you trusted exclusively in His Son Jesus Christ for salvation. There was no water baptism, no tongues, and no tithe necessary to receive anything else from God. To receive something from God on the basis of your efforts is to deny the sufficiency of Jesus Christ’s performance! God has already equipped you to accomplish His will: “ye are complete in Christ!”
Philippians 4:13 says that no matter what your circumstances are—whether rich or poor, sick or healthy—“[you] can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth [you].” See, your strength comes from the Lord Jesus Christ, not from yourself (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 4:7). God has equipped you to handle all that life will “throw at you.” Be not weary or discouraged; just as you endure the struggles in life, the Lord endures it with you (2 Corinthians 12:9,10; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18)!
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:8 KJV: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” God’s will for us as believers is that we give Him thanks “in every thing.” Even in the midst of dire financial straits, a divorce, or terminal illness, believers should have the attitude of gratitude. As Christians, we are secure in Christ. Depressing circumstances may shake—or seemingly destroy—our world, but God continually supplies us with the strength to “endure hardness” (2 Timothy 2:3; cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3-11). We can handle all our circumstances through Christ, and be a reflection of His grace whatever we face in life! Always thank the Lord for that!
God’s will for your life is found in Philippians 1:9-12. God wants “your love to abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment,” for you to approve things that are “excellent,” (godly, exemplary behavior), for you to be “filled with the fruits of righteousness,” and so on. God neither wants you living carelessly and ungodly nor living in the strict legalistic system of Israel. God wants the grace life for you, and we want that for you too!!
Look at Romans 12:1,2 KJV: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” As a member of the Church the Body of Christ, God wants your life to be separate from that of the world. God wants you to present yourself as a “living sacrifice”—He wants you to submit to His will, and by submitting to God’s will, God will accomplish His will in you and through you. Grace is God’s will working within you that will set you apart from the world, not you working to make yourself separate (this would be religion).
Notice in Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 4:30, and 1 Thessalonians 4:8, we read about the “holy Spirit” (notice the lowercase “holy” in the King James Bible). This implies the role of the Spirit of God—making things “holy” or “sanctified, set apart for God’s purpose.” (Compare that to “Holy Ghost,” capital “Holy,” in the King James, which relates to His title “Holy Ghost”; for example, Romans 5:5, 1 Corinthians 2:13, 2 Timothy 1:14). It is the Holy Spirit that empowers us, not our own efforts, so do not hinder/“quench” the Holy Spirit from working in your life (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
So, now that you understand God’s will, and now that you see how God accomplishes His will, what should you do? Read the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said it best: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). “…I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). “…I come…to do thy will, O God…I come to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7,9).
What we need to do is place our faith in God’s will for us. That He wants His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to live His life in and through us. He wants to renew our thinking with His Word, to wash us and cleanse us, for us to be reflections of His grace (Romans 12:1,2; Ephesians 4:17-25; 1 Thessalonians 1:3-10). God’s will is that we believe that sound doctrine committed to Paul, and when we place our faith in God’s Word to us, God’s Word will begin to “effectually work” in us (1 Thessalonians 2:13). That will enable us to “come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
The night before He died, our Lord Jesus Christ prayed to His Father in such agony and distress: “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup [of Your wrath, Revelation 14:10] from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). In Mark 14:36, Jesus Christ prays this prayer and addresses God as “Abba, Father.” The Father’s will was for Christ to come die for us, to suffer in our place, and Christ submitted to His Father’s will. As children of God in Christ, we too can call God “Abba, Father,” submitting to His will, and letting His Holy Spirit—not the Mosaic Law—guide us and empower us to bring glory and honor to Him (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:1-7).
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In concluding the series, remember that God’s will for all people is that they come to the knowledge of salvation, and that every Christian comes to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). As believers, God’s will for us is not that we live the Christian life (like works-religion teaches), but rather God’s will is that we place our faith in His Word to us, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon, and that faith will allow God to His life in and through us (Galatians 2:20). We will “serve in newness of spirit [the Holy Spirit], and not in the oldness of the letter [the law]” (Romans 7:6). Not religion. Not legalism. Not bondage. But, the grace life, the life of Christ living in us, being totally submissive to the working of God inside of us. That God the Father wants us to have the same attitude that His Son Jesus Christ had: “Abba, Father, not my will, but thine, be done!” This, my friends and brethren, is the will of God for you.