Articles

The Secret Will of God

In Perspective, Soul Food on February 25, 2014 by The Spillover

Paul Tripp:

When you think about the will of God, what do you think? If you had to define the phrase – the will of God – what would you write?

I’m deeply persuaded that there are many Christians living in fear, anxiety, and confusion because they don’t know what the will of God is for their life. Are you one of them? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you constantly searching for “hints” or “clues” about what God is doing?
  • Are you worried that you’re not at the exact place where God wants you?
  • Do you find it hard to make decisions because you’re not sure of God’s will?
  • Do you struggle to rest with the decisions you’ve made because you think you might have made a mistake?

I think many Christians make the mistake of acting on what they can never be sure of rather than relying on what they can know for sure. In other words, Christians confuse God’s secret will with his revealed will.

By no means is this Article encouraging you to stop praying or seeking after God – the Bible says on countless occasions to seek after him. But I’m afraid that we sometimes seek in the wrong places. Rather than resting within the clear limits of what God has made known to us, we search in the foggy, unrevealed, secret parts of God’s will and end up lost, confused, discouraged, and anxious.

The reason why theologians call God’s secret will a secret is precisely because it’s kept secret from us! God’s sovereign plan for the universe hasn’t been revealed to us. Yet God hasn’t left us without guidance – he has given us his Word.

The Apostle Paul reminded Timothy of what a helpful book the Bible is. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The Bible is profitable for correcting – it gives us the steps of change we need to follow where God wants us to be. And the Bible is useful for training – it tells us all the skills we need to acquire to live life God’s way. God has revealed many things to us through his Word – just the right amount – and if we live by his revealed will, we can live at peace not knowing his secret will.

Let me give you an example from my own life. Years ago, we were living in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I was the pastor of a small church there, and out of the blue, I was offered an opportunity to move to Philadelphia to a new and exciting ministry.

Immediately, Luella and I started thinking about the will of God. How could we not? I wondered to myself, “How would I ever know that it was God’s will for me to leave this church and this ministry and move to Philadelphia?”

Let’s be honest: for a life-altering decision, you want surety. I wanted to be absolutely convinced of what God wanted me to do. But Luella and I decided that it wasn’t our job to figure out all the signs and to guide ourselves. We decided that we needed to do what God has revealed to us in his Word.

In the Bible, God says that we’re not supposed to live independent lives. We live in community with other people – the church – and each part of the Body contributes to each part, and we grow and mature as all the parts contribute (Eph. 4:13-16). So Luella and I decided to be open about talking to people about the offer that had been made.

We invited people to speak into our lives about what they thought we should do. And an amazing thing happened – as we obeyed God’s revealed will, the Lord began to guide us, and over a period of time, the people of our little congregation confirmed in many ways that we should be pursuing this new ministry opportunity.

I understand that life is confusing and big decisions are hard to make in confidence. I was there many years ago in Scranton, afraid of making a mistake that wasn’t part of God’s will. But I was reminded that I didn’t have to read the signs or search in the sky. God had given me his revealed will in his Word.

Rest in knowing that as you willingly obey God, God will lovingly guide you.

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