Summary: If I will obey God's Word, I will walk in God's will.
As we begin this series, we need to understand two important truths:
1) God has a plan.
“(God) makes everything work out according to his plan.” - Ephesians 1:11b (NLT)
“But God knew all this would happen. It was his plan - a plan he made long ago.” - Acts 2:23b (Easy to Read)
A man had a fool-proof plan for sneaking into a drive in movie without paying. He’d crawl into the trunk of his car, and his wife would pay for herself. Once inside, she’d let him out of the trunk. The plan sounded good, but it failed. He crawled into the trunk, and his wife drove into the theater just as planned. Only when she tried to release him, they realize a problem - the husband had the keys to the trunk in his pocket. After firemen cut through the trunk, the man was released, but neither he nor his wife saw the movie. Some plans may sound good, but they do not work. Even if this plan had worked, it could hardly be called good, for the intent was to deceive and enjoy a movie at another’s expense.
Well, God’s plan for creation is a good plan. It is good in a functional sense, because the plan is certain to work, producing the ends for which it was ordained; and but it is also good in the ultimate sense. What is God’s plan? God’s plan is to rule in loving relationship over His creation in such a way that demonstrates His glory.
This was God’s plan in creating the universe and setting up man as the head of the earthly sphere of His creation. But if god was going to have a love relationship with the human race, He had to allow the exercise free will, which is so doing, allowed us to choose our own way, thus introducing sin to the world. But God’s plan also included the solution to the sin problem - Christ (“the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made” - Revelation 13:8). God would come to us in the person of Christ, live a sinless life, and pay the price for the sins of the world. God would raise Christ from the dead and He would be exalted above all. Through Christ, forgiveness and salvation would be made available to all, and all who turned to Him would one day share eternity with their creator, who will rule in loving relationship over His creation in such a way that demonstrates His glory for all eternity. This, of course, will take place when eternity is ushered in, after having returned, Christ will rid this sinful world of Satan, Satan’s influence and Satan’s people.
In the outworking of God’s plan in human history, God’s will is often viewed in three aspects:
A) The sovereign will of God - The sovereign will of God is carried out directly by God. For example, creation came about by the sovereign
will of God; as did the incarnation (the virgin birth) of Christ, which made possible His sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection (which also came about by God’s sovereign will). The return of Christ will come at a time of the Father’s choosing and is yet another example of God’s sovereign will.
B) The permissive will of God - In carrying out His plan, God allows certain things which sometimes lead to things that aren’t part of His plan. God’s plan is to have a love relationship with the human race. For that to happen, man had to be allowed to make a choice, even though that choice led to sin and its consequences - suffering, death, disaster, injustice, etc. entering the world. Though God isn’t the author of sin, He allows sin to exist and withholds judgment to give more time for as many people as possible to repent and be saved.
“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come. . .” - 2 Peter 3:9-10a (NLT)
C) The directive will of God - This is the will of God discerned through God’s Word and God’s workings in a person’s life. This is where human responsibility comes in. We must choose a personal relationship with God through faith in Christ and a growing in our
relationship with God, so we can participate in God’s plan. When it comes to God’s directive will, God has a part and so do we.
God’s part includes calling, convicting, illuminating, regenerating, leading, and working to enable us to accomplish His directive will.
Our part includes hearing and heeding His instruction.
2) Life has a purpose.