The 'Mysterious' Will of God

The will of God is a mystery (in Bible terms),...but is it really mysterious?  I love these thoughts from Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest:

Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. (Psalm 25:12). At first, we want the awareness of being guided by God. But then as we grow spiritually,we live so fully aware of God that we do not even need to ask what His will is, because the thought of choosing another way will never occur to us. If we are saved and sanctified, God guides us by our everyday choices. And if we are about to choose what He does not want, He will give us a sense of doubt or restraint, which we must heed. Whenever there is doubt, stop at once. Never try to reason it out, saying, “I wonder why I shouldn’t do this?” God instructs us in what we choose; that is, He actually guides our common sense. And when we yield to His teachings and guidance, we no longer hinder His Spirit by continually asking, “Now, Lord, what is Your will?” (June 3)

The disciple who abides in Jesus is the will of God, and what appears to be his free choices are actually God’s foreordained decrees. Is this mysterious? Does it appear to contradict sound logic or seem totally absurd? Yes, but what a glorious truth it is to a saint of God. (June 7)

So it seems we make it mysterious because of our struggle and confusion, doesn't it?

When we were studying Paul's epistle to the Colossians, we found that the will of God is a much more glorious thing than we usually think.  And we are one with His will through our union with Christ.

In a post from that study, I tell a little bit of my own struggle and search.  Maybe you'll see some of yours there.

Let's take a look and rejoice in our God who enables us to "get it" about His will in His Son:


When I was a young child, my mom would sit me next to her on our couch and "read" to me from our family Bible.  You know the one:  leather, thick, heavy with gold-gilded edges and red and black print.

I knew this was an important book, because it had pages that recorded births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths of family members.  But more than that, I knew it was important because of the full-page, glossy, color "holy pictures."  I remember how Mommy would tell me "God's stories" from God's book using those beautiful pictures.

It was during those times, that I fell in love with God and Jesus and heaven and spiritual things...and something else...the Will of God!  My mom would constantly say that the most important thing in life was to do the Will of God.  So this became my my mantra, at a very early age -- to do the Will of God!

What a mysterious thing, the Will of GodMY journey (and at times, search) took me through obeying the rules of my church (as God's will), to several years in a convent (believing it was the best thing to do for love of God), to searching the Scriptures to see what GOD (not man) said, to exchanging one to do list for another until finally the burden was so hard and heavy, I gave up!  Really!

And you know what?  That's when I discovered the True Will of God...Christ Jesus my Lord -- WHO He is and WHAT He has done!  Oh, I already knew Him...but I needed to KNOW Him truly!  And in knowing HIM truly, I came to realize that HE is the Will of God!

If you've been following along with us in the letter to the Colossians, you've discovered the heart of Paul's prayer in the first chapter.  His main request is that the believers would be filled with (be controlled by and absorbed with) a true, deep, accurate knowledge of God's Will:

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives... Col 1:9 NIV

This Will of God is a much bigger thing than what we think.  We usually assume it refers to what we do today or tomorrow, who we marry, where we go on vacation, what car we should buy, etc.  Now these all may be affected by our knowing the Will of God.

But primarily the Will of God has to do with His good pleasure in His Son Jesus Christ and the Father's Plan carried out in and through HIM!  That's good news, because it's all about HIM!  I reap the benefits, but I'm I also empowered (through His indwelling) to make my choices according to this HUGE, AWESOME WILL of GOD!  What a privilege to be part of something bigger than myself!

OK, you say...chapter and verse, please!  The cool thing is that Paul wrote another letter to a church not far from Colossae.  In fact, he wrote it at the same time and sent it by the same messenger.  So we would naturally assume Paul would have the same thing in mind when he wrote to the church in Ephesus,

With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment —to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:8-10 NIV

That's it!  His pleasure and purpose in Christ!  Did you notice as you read and looked for the references to prayer in Colossians, that Paul wasn't the only one who prayed this way.  Paul says of Epaphras, the young pastor of the Colossian church,

He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. Col 4:12 NIV

Why did Paul and Epaphras pray for the believers to really "get it" about God's Will in Christ?  Paul prays on... that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Col 1:10-12 NIV

Paul knew that getting it about Christ is the only paradigm that can produce a God-pleasing, fruitful Christian walkNo Christian "to do list" can produce this!  It's a work of illumination/revelation by the Spirit of God.  Thus Paul's prayer!

And so, dear friends, when we pray for ourselves or for someone we love, why not start out with the heart of all prayer?  Our deepest need is to be filled with (and so controlled by) a true, heart knowledge of God's Will in the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This absorption, this getting it about Christ will then have an explosive and expulsive effect*-- changing our thinking, our attitudes, our affections, our choices, and thus our behavior.  And it will result in a life worthy of and pleasing to the Lord!


Revealed in all the universe: All things created by His hand, And held together at His command. He knows the mysteries of the seas, The secrets of the stars are His; He guides the planets on their way, And turns the earth through another day.

The matchless wisdom of His ways That mark the path of righteousness His word a lamp unto my feet His Spirit teaching and guiding me And O the mystery of the cross That God should suffer for the lost So that the fool might shame the wise And all the glory might go to Christ!

O grant me wisdom from above, To pray for peace and cling to love, And teach me humbly to receive The sun and rain of Your sovereignty. Each strand of sorrow has a place Within this tapestry of grace; So through the trials I choose to say: “Your perfect will in Your perfect way.”

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty Copyright © 2011 Thankyou Music & Getty Music




A challenge for those who want to go deeper:

Read this sermon by Thomas Chalmers (19th century):  The Expulsive Power of a New Affection This is really long, and it's not for the faint of heart.  But it's right on target!

Here's a short synopsis:

The best way of casting out an impure affection is to admit a pure one; and by the love of what is good, to expel the love of what is evil. We know of no other way by which to keep the love of the world out of our heart, than to keep in our hearts the love of God - and no other way by which to keep our hearts in the love of God, than building ourselves up on our most holy faith. Dr Ray Pritchard

The Rest of the Gospel: Making Decisions (Chapter 20)


The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:33 ESV

Key Question:

How do we know the "will of God?"

Read Chapter 20: Making Decisions and answer the following:

1. Through his own personal story, how does Dan challenge the notion of trying to find “the perfect will of God”?

2. In your own life, how have you thought you missed God’s will, only to find out the route you took was the route He used for His own purposes? Give an example.

3. Look up Romans 11:33. How does the knowledge that God is in everything affect our perspective on making decisions?

4. How does living out of a sense of separation adversely affect our ability to make decisions?

5. How does living out of our union with Christ help us have confidence in making decisions?

6. What is a decision you are facing in which you are living out of a sense of separation, not union? How could that change?

7. What does it mean to “trust Him to live His life spontaneously through us?” How might that look in your life right now?

8. Think about Dan’s illustration of the baby learning to walk. In what sense is this chapter taking a long-term view of Christian growth? What does that mean for you?