What is God's will?
Many Christians speak of knowing or doing God's will, but what is it? The Bible speaks of God's will from more than one perspective.
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First, the Bible speaks of God's sovereign, or supreme, will. Ephesians 1:11 teaches God is the One "who works all things according to the counsel of His will." Job 42:2 affirms, "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." Romans 8:28 states that God's will works for the good of believers: "We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
Second, the Bible also speaks of people doing God's will. For example, God "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). John 3:16 teaches, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." The Lord wills or desires people to come to salvation as well as to obey His commands. For example, Jesus left the earth with the challenge to His followers to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).
Third, the Bible speaks of God's will for our individual lives. Some of these desires are universal, such as 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." In other areas, God has a unique plan for groups of people as well as for our individual lives. For example, God spoke to the people of Israel as a group on one occasion, saying, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11). To the apostle Paul, God once gave a dream to travel to a particular area to share the Gospel: "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them" (Acts 16:9-10).
In summary, God's will can refer to His perfect plan known since the beginning of time, God's teachings for all people, God's specific desires for a community of people, or God's unique plan for our individual lives. God knows all that will take place, has commanded us to follow certain teachings, and leads and guides both individuals and communities of believers toward certain actions that bring glory to His name.
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