“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 22, NO. 27&28 – THE WILL OF GOD
I know having the mind of Christ does not make us God. And mind and will may be two close, but separate things. But God’s will, which usually means we are wondering about things we don’t understand and where God fits in it all, has a lot of different answers for lots of people.
Among the ideas about God’s will is that everything that happens is God’s will, so if prayer isn’t answered, it’s God’s will. We rarely entertain the idea that what we are praying for can’t happen under the circumstances. We believe “all things are possible with God” even though in the texts where these words are said, three of the four times deal with God’s ability to save the wealthy, and the other is about Jesus’ reassuring answer to a man whose son needed to be set free from what was seen as an “evil spirit.” Jesus never implied that God would defy the laws that order the universe. You can believe all you want, but if you jump off a building you will hit the ground, hard. Of course, if you are a hard line “god decided it all before I was born” you know, predestination, then you fell to your death or serious injury because God willed it. Bummer.
We also know and admit that there are things impossible for God. We preach and know that God can’t, can’t make anyone believe. God can’t make anyone do anything they refuse to do. It’s called free will. God’s will can not overpower the free will God has given humankind. I can almost feel the tension of some as they read those words. There is the need to say, “Well, God could but he chooses not to.” No, God can’t.
The old guide is, “It’s always a good idea to read the manual.” In this case, the Bible, and in particular, the New Testament, where we find the teachings of Jesus. What better place to examine the will of God than the one who said he came from God?
The first thing we notice is that Jesus does not use the language we do about the will of God. When Jesus talks about the will of God he talks about doing what God wants us to do, not if God already has willed that we will or won’t do it. He say’s we should pray that God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Which means God’s will is about what God wants, not what God makes happen, or lets not happen. He talks about those who know and practice God’s will. But he never says, “It was the will of God that a man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho…” He also teaches that it was not God’s will that towers fell on people, or the Pilate’s murdering and mixing the blood of some Galileans with their sacrifices had anything to do with God’s will or punishment. Jesus says over and over that it is the will of God that we do what God knows makes for a better world, and is therefore salvation. The only place Jesus really gives a specific example of the will of God is when he said it was not God’s will that anyone perish. Now that’s one we need to remember! That being true, it would mean that God’s will has nothing to do with those who do perish.
One more thing about Jesus and God’s will. At his death, Jesus prayed for deliverance from the cross, but said he would do whatever God’s will was. Did he know the will of God? Yes. Did he believe God could offer him a way out? Yes. Was it “foreordained” that he die? Yes. Could he himself have refused the cross? Yes. Does the preordained death of God’s one and only son, become the standard to teach that our exact method, time and place of death is set by the will of God? No.
What about Paul? Paul believed it was the will of God that he was an apostle to the Gentiles. He even believed he was born for that task. Does that also mean he believed he could not fail? No. Does it mean he believed he himself could not “fall away.” No. Quite the contrary, and he says so in several places.
So when Paul and James (4:15) speak of the will of God, neither of them say the will of God controlled or was part of everything that happened. When James says the good thing to say, rather than boast, is “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” he is not saying that if that was not done, it was also the Lord’s will.
Nearly all of what the New Testament refers to as God’s will, has to do with what God wants for humankind. What we get into is something rare to scripture, and that is if God’s will is everything that happens. The only place in the NT even close to that is in Romans 9, where Paul; is trying to show that the Jews are not lost. And it is typical that such a scripture is used to try to build a complete doctrine of the will of God.
In the text, Paul says God can do whatever God wants. Then he talks about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, which we latch on to like a drowning man. If that is to be taken at face value, would it not also mean that all sinners who resist God and commit evil acts, are doing it because God has hardened their hearts? Paul never deals with that. In fact, he says “Who are you to question God?” But neither does he ever excuse sin on that basis.
While we will always have trouble with what God knows, what God does and how the events of life are related to God, we are told over and over in scripture that God is love and always does the loving thing. And we need not believe God “causes” everything that happens or even “allows” it.
However, each of us has to come to a place where we have a relationship with God. If that relationship requires that we believe everything that happens to us, both good and bad, is the will of God, that’s where we stand. However, we should not enforce our view on others. We tend to get nervous around people who have a different view of God’s will than do we. If we think about it, differing views can be a good thing. They can make us reexamine our own.
Monday: Genesis 28:10-22
Tuesday: Matthew 18:1-14
Wednesday: Luke 5:1-11
Thursday: II Samuel 12:15-25
Friday: Acts 19:23-41
Saturday: Psalm 91:1-16
Monday: Genesis 2:1-14
Tuesday: Matthew 3:1-17
Wednesday: I Thess. 3:1-13
Thursday: Matthew 28:28-44
Friday: II Peter 1:16-2:10
Saturday: Psalm 33:1-22
The food pantry has helped three families recently. A donor has given money to restock it. A couple of persons were helped with utility bills as well.
Our High Seas Expedition Vacation Bible School is just a week away. Erma needs more help. See if you can be the one. Also. Alice Blessing needs a ride to VBS for Summer. They are without a car at this time. If you know of a good Lumina for about 1,000. to 1,500. Let her know.
Also, there may still be “needs” barrels that have not been taken. If you can help, take one off the foyer wall and fill it.
The dates for VBS are July 26- 30. Please sign up today either by letting Erma know, or on the church web site. Roanokechurchofchrist.com
A special thanks to Lisa Hawks for once again helping out getting things ready for VBS. Also, be sure to invite some children.
Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday to help with the construction of Vacation Bible School materials. As always, it looks great. We will also be meeting next Saturday to actually place the decorations and sets in the auditorium.
Lights are being left on in both buildings. When you leave the main building, the only lights that should be left on is the one by the water fountain near the restrooms, and the one in the hallway at the bottom of the back stairs under the baptistry. Once again, in the annex, the newer switch has a “soft” click at the end of the dimmer. This is the one with the white knob. It must be turned all the way until that soft click is felt. Thanks.
Today we will be reading the letters from the two ABC children we educate in Guatemala. We also have pictures of them and their families. They are Luis Alexander Perez Nicolas and Nery Neo Perez Nicolas. The pictures are on the foyer table.