Summary: God’s will is not nearly the mystery we sometimes make it. God wants the lost saved, Christian to live godly lives, and for believers to pray. All three are inter-related.
What God Wants
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: A guy was on a diet. His biggest temptation was donuts. As he drove down the street in front of his favorite donut shop, he prayed, “Lord, if you want me to have a donut this morning, let there be a parking place right in front of the bakery.” Later his wife asked him if had stopped at the donut shop. He told her about his prayer. “Well, what happened,” she persisted. “There was a parking place right in front of the door just like I prayed. I spotted it on my eighth trip around the block.”
We say want to know God’s will. What we really want to know too often is how to bend God’s will to ours. At other times, we pretend that God’s will is a great mystery. We can’t do what we don’t know. Most of the time our problem is a lack of obedience not lack of knowledge. What Mark Twain said of the Bible applies to God’s will in general. “It’s not those parts that I don’t understand that give me the biggest problem, it’s the parts that I do understand.”
So what is God’s will? What does he want? Our text makes it clear that a big chunk of God’s will has already been revealed. It is not a mystery. It is not complicated. It involves three interrelated objectives. Notice how our text fits them together. We will tackle them in reverse order.
First, God wants everyone to be saved. Note verses three and four, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Can it be any clearer? God’s great desire is the salvation of lost people. The Christian message is not about making us feel better. It is not fundamentally about our earthly happiness. It is not about making us healthy, wealthy, and wise. Some of those things might be by products. The gospel is about how men and women who have messed up their lives by disobeying God can be made right with God now and for eternity.
The gospel is not about this political policy or that political program. It is not about social reform or caring for the poor and hungry. It is not about building hospitals or orphanages as good and important as those things are. The truth is Christians have always been the first people doing those things around the world. But the gospel is about what Jesus Christ did on the cross for us. It is not about what we do for God or for other people.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost. That’s how you became saved. Somewhere, sometime, somebody told you what Jesus had done for you. You heard it. You believed it. You accepted it. You obeyed the gospel and were saved. What was true for you can be true for anyone.
God wants all people saved. All means all. The gospel is not a white person’s, rich person’s, or an old person’s message. Jesus wants to save the up and out and the down and out. He want to save the person who has only broken one of the Ten Commandments just like he wants to save the person who has broken them all. He wants to save respectable people. He even wants to save the kind of people you don’t like. God wants all people to be saved.
That this is God’s will, however, doesn’t mean that all people will be saved. Jesus and the rest of the Bible make this clear. We don’t have to understand it all to accept the fact. God has so created humans that they have a choice. We can accept or reject God’s offer. God is ultimately in control, but we humans are still free and responsible. God does not play “eenie meanie minie moe”—you come in and you stay out of heaven. He truly and honestly wants all men to be saved. The Bible closes with the assurance, “Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev.22:17).
God’s will is truth based. God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Salvation comes from hearing and believing the Gospel. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men…”
Some have wrongly concluded through the years that since it is God’s will that all men be saved, then he does that without human agency. Two hundred years ago, William Carey and other missionary pioneers had to argue that foreign missions was God’s will. Some religious leaders around them contended that if God wanted the heathen saved, he would do it himself. He didn’t need our help. Any human actions or planning was just that—human. If we trusted God’s wisdom, they insisted, we would do nothing. God alone picks and chooses those to be saved. Clearly that’s not the meaning of this passage. “And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.” People become saved when those who are already saved speak the truth about what God has done in Jesus Christ and extend an invitation for lost people to come to Jesus. God will is our work.