Summary: God’s will for us is that we be saved.
God’s Will: Our Salvation
As we begin this series of sermons entitled “Knowing God’s Will,” I want to first say that God gets blamed for a lot of things that are not his fault—things like tsunamis and other natural disasters, and evil in the world. We’ve all heard the remarks, “Well, it must be God’s will” when some tragedy happens--words that are often spoken by well-meaning, even if misinformed people. On a more personal level, we seek simply to know God’s will in our individual lives. We know we have little control over tsunamis and other disasters, but the day to day decisions we face is a different matter, and we want to be sure we make good decisions that are in accord with God’s will for us. We find ourselves asking the question, “What is God’s will for my life?”
So how do we begin to answer that question? We start by making two assumptions. First, asking the question “What is God’s will for my life?” is a sure sign that we are not in God’s will. If I have to ask, then I don’t know, and if I don’t know, then I am not in God’s will. As a pastor I get all kinds of questions about God’s will. From good circumstances to bad, everyone wants to know about God’s will. I have heard the statement from people with life-threatening illnesses, and I have heard it from young couples deciding to get married. I have heard if from men who were seeking to change jobs, and from women facing the prospect of divorce. I have heard it from high-school students as they contemplated a college or career choice, and I have even heard if from pastor’s fresh from the Staff-Parish Relations Committee. The reality remains though, if we are asking the question, it is a sign we are not in the will of God.
The second assumption we need to keep in mind as we seek to discover God’s will is this: we will never discover God’s will for our lives unless we do the obvious, primary thing God has told us to do. We anxiously wait to hear God’s voice giving us clear direction saying, “take this road, marry this person, choose this career, go to this church, buy this house.” But the clarity of God’s voice is never there because we haven’t done that obvious thing that God wants us to do in order to discover his will. Doing those obvious things is what this message series is about.
What are those obvious things? The Bible is pretty specific about what those things are, and there are three, primarily, that we want to discover over the next three weeks. Those well-meaning folks who say “It must be God’s will,” when tragedy strikes simply are not thinking about what they are saying. Death is not God’s will. Tragedy is not God’s will. Jesus said these words in John 10:10:
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Jesus came to give us life, abundant life. So if life is God’s will for us, how do we discover this life in the context of our lives? How do we live out the abundant life so we can live in God’s will? I believe there are three primary ways. We discover God’s will by being saved. We discover God’s will by being obedient, and we discover God’s will by being holy. Let’s look at the first one today because it is the most obvious thing.
The Apostle Paul, as he neared the end of his life, wrote a letter to his protégé Timothy, whom he had left as the first pastor of the tiny Ephesian church Paul had planted there. As we read these words, Paul offers us a perspective on what I think is the most important decision any person will ever face: the decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—it is the decision to receive God’s salvation.
Paul wrote this letter to Timothy to offer advice on handling the affairs of the church, and to help Timothy in handling some false teachers and teaching that had arisen in the early church. It was in the context of offering this advice on false teachers that Paul sort of takes off on his own salvation experience. Listen as Paul shares his experience:
1 Tim. 1:12-2:2
How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for considering me trustworthy and appointing me to serve him,  even though I used to scoff at the name of Christ. I hunted down his people, harming them in every way I could. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief.  Oh, how kind and gracious the Lord was! He filled me completely with faith and the love of Christ Jesus.