Summary: A message addressing the challenge of determining, accepting, and enjoying the impact of being within God's Will for our lives.
UNDERSTANDING GOD’S WILL
Though John’s writings are typically referred to as letters, or epistles, they lack many characteristics of other letters found in the Bible. (Paul, for example) John does not designate certain recipients, nor does he express any personal greetings. It’s likely that John was living in Ephesus at the time he wrote 1 John, and as is commonly done in the New Testament writings we find a writer addressing certain problems or heresies within the church. The lack of specific recipients in this letter suggests that John likely wished for his writing to be passed around throughout the entire area of his ministry.
‘And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.’
Perhaps the most important part of this verse comes in the first sentence: ‘If we ask anything according to His will…’
John writes this after writing some pretty deep theological stuff including the testing of false prophets, hypocrisy, eternity, so on and so on. He sums this up by saying that we must seek God’s will from the start. God’s will, and the seeking of God’s will, is the underpinning of the Christian life.
How do we come to a better understanding of God’s will? First, we start by determining what the Bible tells us about the subject.
1. Determining God’s will
“If we ask anything according to His will, he hears us…”
Another Bible translation says, “If we ask God anything that agrees with what he wants…”
How do we know what God wants? I believe this is a question with a two-fold answer.
1. God’s will for everyone
2. God’s will for us as individuals
A. God’s will for everyone is to establish a relationship with Him
In order to establish a relationship with God we must have holiness. In the Old Testament this meant dozens of laws, commandments, and rituals. In Exodus 20, we find the Israelites having been freed through God’s
intervention, and they have now arrived in the Desert of Sinai. At this point God gives them:
The Ten Commandments, Laws for living, Laws about violence toward one another, Property laws, Laws about Marriage and Relationships, laws about fairness, Laws for the Sabbath and requirements for the three annual feasts. This is a laundry list of requirements. In essence, God says to them: ‘If you are going to have a relationship with me, which is what I want, you have to be pure. You have to live right.’ But he also makes them a promise:
Exodus 23: 27-28
I will send my terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among who you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets ahead of you, that they may drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you.
This is an incredible promise from God. He is saying here are the rules-you follow them and we will have a relationship. I will be for you. I will be your God.
As we all know, the Israelites didn’t fair too well in keeping God’s laws (just as we would today). So fast forward to the New Testament, where the requirements, or at least the method of achieving God’s requirements, has changed, but the fact remains: God’s will, as it pertains to every single person in this room and on this earth, is to have a relationship with Him.
John 1: 12
‘But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,’
‘And I give eternal life to them, and they shall never parish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.’
‘In my father’s house are many dwelling places, if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.’
God’s will is to establish a relationship with us. Rather, for us to establish a relationship with Him. For us, today, this means an acceptance and belief in Jesus Christ.
For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.’
B. God’s will for us as individuals
It would be silly for me, or anyone else, to try and tell you God’s will for your life. This is a personal, intimate thing between a person and God. What we can be sure of, however, is that God’s will for you as an individual does exist.