The Will of God – What Is It?

The Will of God – What Is It?

We often hear people refer to the will of God. A good friend of mine sent me a discussion by professor Jack Cottrell presenting this subject in some detail. We need to consider Dr. Cottrell’s words from the book What the Bible Says About God the Ruler, published by College Press in 1984.

He says that both preachers and atheists have made the mistake of portraying God as a Determinist. This view says that God has a plan for everything in everyone’s life. That includes their marriage, their grades in school, their suffering, their friends, accidents they will have–everything. This makes us robots and violates the purpose God had in creating humans. It violates biblical descriptions of Jonah and Nineveh, Moses and the Exodus (Genesis 32:7-14), and the whole book of Job.

Cottrell points out that the biblical view of the will of God gives three ways in which God’s will is expressed:

1) GOD’S DESIRE AND GOD’S DECISION. Some things are going to happen. God has predetermined them, and they are not open to debate. The end of time is one of these. The judgment is another. Ephesians 1:1-11 describes this and shows God’s will in reference to Jesus and human history.

2) GOD’S DESIRE AND HUMAN DECISION. God has given what is best and urged us to follow His advice, but He doesn’t force us. When we do what we want and ignore what God wants, there are always consequences. God doesn’t protect us from the results of what we do when it conflicts with what He told us is best. Jesus told Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37 what God wanted for that city, but people were not willing, and Jerusalem has had a tragic history as a result. In Genesis 2:24, God told us what He desired for marriage, but Mark 10:5 tells us that man’s hardheartedness rejected God’s desire. The result has been a massive percentage of the Earth’s people missing the incredible beauty of marriage.

3) HUMAN DECISION AND GOD’S PERMISSION. God told Israel to let Him lead them, but 1 Samuel 8:5-9 and 18-22 tells us Israel wanted a king instead. God warned them about the consequences of that. Those disastrous warnings did take place. Polygamy was another example of God allowing bad human decisions.

In our day, there has been increasing resistance to God’s will. The result has been war, abuse, poverty, slavery, crime, and division. Acts 14:16 says, “In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own way.” Galatians 6:7 tells us we will reap what we sow because “God is not mocked.” The Bible is full of warnings for us to know the will of God. Read God’s Word and live as He has called you to live. Read Acts 22:14, Ephesians 5:17, Colossians 1:9, and especially Matthew 12:50 and 7:21.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

You can find an updated version of this book HERE.