Finding God’s Will
When speaking of God’s will, Scripture uses the word “will” and the idea of the “will of God” in two ways: sometimes, to mean God’s counsel—and at other times to refer to the revealed will of God, or His commands, such as in 1 Thes. 4:3, “. . .it is God’s will that you should be holy.”Though the Bible speaks of God’s will in these two ways, evangelical Christians use the idea in a third way. The problem is that the third way—that of “finding God’s will” by mystically discovering what God wants us to do—does not appear in Holy Scripture.
What people mean when they speak of “finding God’s will” is that there is a plan God has for our lives which we will live if only, at every fork in the road, we make the right choice. But how are we to choose since the Bible never tells us specifically what job to take, whom to marry, etc.? It is at this point that an expectation of immediate guidance, given directly to the soul by the Lord comes into play.
Yet in Scripture, Christian ethics, the living of a holy life, the doing the right thing never require us to know information that God has about the future. Rather, the Bible has a very different doctrine of guidance and decision making.
In addition to prayer, seeking godly counsel, and evaluating our circumstances from a Biblical perspective, the Bible points us first to the sufficiency of the Scriptures which “thoroughly furnish the man of God for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17). When the Bible is properly understood, a Christian man or woman has all the principles of conduct needed to make wise and godly decision. The Bible is sufficient and therefore rules over whatever impressions we may otherwise gather from our circumstances.
Insofar as the choices we make are not contrary to God’s Word, we are at liberty to choose many different things according to our likes, preferences, or pleasures. God has left us free to exercise genuine freedom. He commands only that we choose wisely and well, according to His Word, though we are reminded that even when we do not, we do not escape the divine will or frustrate His plan. The blessings that follow may come in the form of trials or the form of prosperity. That is God's business, not ours.
Indeed this is faith. To live with advance knowledge is not faith. To trust the Lord to keep His Word to us—no matter what our circumstances may be—to rest content to live by His Word come wind, come weather, that is faith!
The above is an excerpt from a sermon titled, The Holy Spirit’s Guidance, preached by Dr. Robert S. Rayburn, pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Washington.