As I travel around, one of the questions I am asked most often is “How can a Christian know the will of God for his or her life?” Most of us acknowledge that God has a plan for the life of every believer, but often we have trouble in finding just which way this plan goes at a particular juncture. There are plenty of books, pamphlets, and sermons addressing the problem, and yet the answers sometimes seem to elude even the most persistent searcher. My prayer is that this little book will help fill in some of the gaps in a fresh and practical way.
One may look for definite guidelines in this area but merely wind up with a variety of ideas. Some apparently think that God’s will is lost. At least they say they are searching for it! To them, God must appear to be a sort of divine Easter bunny who has stashed His will, like eggs, somewhere out of sight and sent us running through life, trying to find it. And He is up there saying, “You’re getting warmer!”
Others offer the suggestion that God’s will is to be found via a dramatic experience. Running down the street, you fall on a banana peel and land on a map of India. Immediately you say to the Lord, “Thank You for that clear leading. I understand! India it is!” Or there is always the voice from heaven or the vision in your dreams calling you to Chile.
Then there are those who are actually afraid of the will of God. I will never forget the athlete who came up to me at Hume Lake Camp and said, “I’m not sure I want to give my life to Jesus Christ because I am afraid of what He will make me do.” He had the idea that God wants to take robust athletes, break both their legs, and make them play the flute. This implies that God is a kind of “cosmic killjoy,” stomping on everyone’s fun and raining on parades. People with this view actually fear the will of God as a severe way of life that will demand the sacrifice of their most treasured abilities or possessions.
Then there is the brass-ring mentality. Remember the old merry-go-rounds with the brass and iron rings? As the merry-go-round rotated, riders would reach for the rings that dangled from dispensers along the outside. If you grabbed the one brass ring among the numerous iron rings, you would win a prize. Some Christians see God’s will like that: it’s nice if you get the brass ring, but if you don’t, just settle for an iron one. In other words, don’t really run to win—just be in the race.
I have read in some sources that the will of God is nothing more than the “fortuitous conjunction of circumstances and impulses.”
And so the theories go on and on.
In the middle of this muddle we still ask, “What is the will of God? Are there any concrete principles that may be simply stated and actually put into practice?” I believe there are! That is the point of this whole book. Can you know what job to seek, what school to attend, what girl or guy to love, what decision to make in any given situation?
John MacArthur, Found: God’s Will (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2012).
We have just released a new Bible study on topic of God’s Will.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
Lesson #1: God’s Will and My Will
Roman 11.33 – 12.2; Ephesians 1.4 – 9
Lesson #2: God’s Will and God’s Refreshing Word
Psalms 19.7 – 14
Lesson #3: God’s Will and the Holy Spirit
1 Corinthians 2
Lesson #4: God’s Will and the Church
1 Corinthians 12
Lesson #5: God’s Will and Circumstances
Romans 8.26 – 32
Lesson #6: God’s Will and the Glory of God
John 11.1 – 4, 38 – 45