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Sermon Transcript — July 26, 2003 Just What Is the Will of God? by Mr. Ken Martin Good afternoon everyone, great to be with you once again on God's Sabbath. This afternoon I'd like to ask you to join me by turning please to Romans 12:1-2. We're going to begin there this afternoon and take a note of what the apostle Paul stressed to those believers back in that time and it's recorded here for our learning, so we also might glean from the wonderful word of God. Rom. 12:1 — I beseech you therefore, brethren...anytime the term "beseech" is utilized it shows that there is a sense of urgency behind it, it's a beseeching message, like "please please take note of what I'm saying." So he's talking to converted minded men and women and he says...by the mercies of God...which certainly we've all received...that you present your bodies a living sacrifice...so our lives are pictured as that which belongs to God and should be providing a living sacrifice which is...holy and acceptable to God...notice...which is your reasonable...or spiritual...service...some translations say. In verse 2 we focus in on this: V. 2 — And be not conformed to this world....now why is that? Because you and I have been called to be conformed to something far greater, to the very wonderful character of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, to be stamped with His very character and the very essence of all that He is, and it says...but be you transformed...so we have here a transformation process going on in the lives of men and women called at this time and who have been called in the past and in their life time as well, who are going through a renewing process and notice...by the renewing of your mind...because this is where conversion takes place, the spirit of God works with the mind of a human being, it begins to involve itself in the thought process so that we stop and ask some very important questions and in this case, this renewing process does something. It guides us so that we may...notice...prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. That's what I'd like to talk about today. Just what is the will of God? Because today people are confused on this subject, they don't have a clear concise understanding on this subject and we may not be able to answer all aspects of that in this sermon today but we're going to cover some very important facets of God's will that I think will help us all to have a better handle and an appreciation for what God is saying and how it is to be understood. What I'd like to point out is this — that first of all, when you talk about the subject of God's will it is very important that we recognize this, that there are two very powerful ideas that pervade the scriptures: #1- That God is sovereign over all. He is revealed as the sovereign Lord, the sovereign Creator of all things, visible and invisible. And #2 —The scripture affirms another very important aspect that you cannot get away from, that humankind, the human family, male and female, have been blessed with an incredible gift by the hand of God and that is the gift of free moral agency. The ability to choose, do you want to go right or do you want to go left, what would you like to do? Now it's very important that we understand something here and first of all, let's back up a scripture or two, I'm just going to hit highlights of this for sake of time because we need to keep moving, there's a lot here in this subject and I'm afraid I'm only going to hit the tip of the iceberg, but I'll do my best to give you as much as I can in the time we have. To show you God is sovereign we go to Psalm 24. Turn if you will please to Psalm 24:1-2. Now I'll be quoting from the New King James Version unless I state otherwise. Now in the NKJV of Psa. 24:1-2, we're told the following. It says: Psa. 24:1 — The earth is the Lord's...because He created it, obviously...and all its fullness, the world and those that dwell therein. V. 2 — For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. So God reveals Himself in the scriptures as the masterful Creator of the heavens and the earth and the earth is where we dwell as human beings. All right, He claims then His sovereignty in this matter, but by His omnipresence, and omnipotent capabilities, it's very important to keep this in mind. It does not mean just because God is all sovereign, that He directs every little thing that's going on in the lives of human beings. Because if that is so, then we clash with free moral agency. There is something we've got to understand in these two principles, we've got to balance out free moral agency with the sovereignty of God's rule and see how that applies when we ask the question, Just what is God's will? Because we want to know that, it's a very important subject. We're told in the scriptures, back in the epistles of John in the New Testament, that those that do the will of the Father will abide forever. Now that's a pretty wonderful blessing in anybody's book. We all would like to abide forever and so when we take this into consideration, then we look and we see the following; we see that God is sovereign; we've seen that He claims that sovereignty in Psa. 24 but He also reveals that all that happens in terms of creation, all that happens, happens within the context of His will, but all is not His will. He allows many things to transpire and out of it He weaves an absolute masterful plan that is going to bring about the end result that He has purposed as sovereign Lord. And this is where the bible comes in so absolutely beautiful for each and every one of us. Because again, if God is directing every little thing we do, then where is free moral agency? It's out the window; there is no such thing. But if free moral agency does exist and the bible affirms this from Genesis to Revelation, always that man and woman have the ability to choose and to show you that I'd like to take you now to Deuteronomy 11:26-28. This is in the New American Standard Bible, the way they render it and it is as follows: Deut. 11:26-27 — "Seeing I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse....that's pretty self-explanatory. He goes on to say...the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today... The blessing then involves adhering to what God says and what He outlines for the welfare of humankind. On the other side: V. 28 — The curse...is what...if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but you turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known. Then what happens? There's trouble. This is what happened to ancient Israel and we'll talk more about them as we move along into the message. But ancient Israel was suppose to serve in a specific category of service to God and they did not follow through on that, they did turn to other gods and they went in a different direction and they brought upon themselves curses. God is showing that this is what is happening in the world today, that Israel is a role model for the nations of the world and as they were told what to do, what would have been good for them, they didn't do it, so what happened? The curse took its affect upon them and what mankind is doing today is turning a deaf ear also on the word of God. They're not listening and as a result the curses are mounting and we hear this every day in the news. We hear about this problem, that problem and we're cursed in the city, cursed in the field, cursed here, cursed there, it's turning into nothing but a mass of curses out there and God said it would be this way if we did not follow His command. Joshua 24:15, back to the New American Standard Bible, it also has an interesting thing that Joshua, the servant of God who replaced Moses after Moses died, Joshua had an interesting thing that he records when he was inspired of God to put this forth to the Israelites. He says: Josh. 24:15 — "If it be disagreeable in your sight...now that tells you something right there, if you disagree with something that means you have free moral agency, you can either agree with Joshua or you can disagree with him. Now he is speaking on behalf of God's way of life as God's representative and he's saying to the people...if it be disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord...you don't want to do this...then here is what you need to understand, choose yourself today who you're going to serve. Who do you want to serve? Is it the gods of where your fathers served beyond the river or the god of the Amorites in whose land you are living? But he goes on to make a clear delineation. He says: "But as for me and my house...he says I want to make it clear...we will serve the Lord." We will serve the Almighty, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now to get a fuller picture and breakdown of this thing of the will of God, what I'd like to do in order to reconcile these two ideas, to get a little more specific of the will of God. I'd like to break it down into three basic areas that we need to look at because scripture falls into these three component areas of the will of God when it is speaking of this subject. We have what is called the direct or purposeful will of God, I like to use the purposeful will of God, where God Himself has said certain things and He's the one whose going to execute it, bring it to pass and there is nothing that can stop Him from doing it for He is sovereign Lord. Then we have what the bible clearly shows from other scriptures is what I refer to as the preferential will of God. Ah, now this is where your free moral agency comes in. God says, Here is what I would like you to do as human beings, I would like you to follow this direction and walk in this direction, but I'm not going to force you, you're going to have to choose, you're going to have to make the delineation in your own mind, whether it be good enough to serve me or you want to go on and serve yourself. So this becomes a very important principle outlined in scripture as well. To show you example first of all of the first one, the purposeful will of God, it's in Isaiah 46:10-11 we find the following: Isa. 46:10 — Declaring the end from the beginning...and he goes on...from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying...notice... "My counsel shall stand." That's purposeful, that's determined from His point of view. And He says..."I will do all My pleasure...then He moves along and moves in the verse and He says: V. 11 — I will also bring it to pass, I have purposed it, I will also do it. So He says He is the one that is going to do it and nobody can change His purposeful will, that which He determines and that which He wants to happen. Now in the area of preferential will, how the will of God comes forth. This is where God tells us what ought to happen if you're listening, if you're paying close attention to what I'm having to say, He says, but if you're not giving ear to Me, then you can expect something else in terms of what you might experience in terms of consequences. So He determines in John 7:17 where Jesus makes this statement, He says: John 7:17 — If anyone wants to do His will...notice, it uses the term "if anyone," now that means free moral agency again, you either can or you can't...OK, let's say we want to, all right, then if we want to, it points out...he shall know concerning the doctrine. Why? Because the doctrine will flow from the pages of the word of God. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, as Paul told Timothy, and it's good for our learning process, it's what helps us to become better men and women, it shows us what is right, it shows us what is wrong, it tells us, Stay away from this, this is a spiritual mine field that will blow you to...you know, as we used to say, the old expression, kingdom come, but that's not the way you want to get to the kingdom, I guarantee you don't want to be blown to pieces, you want to serve in the right way and have God's blessing. Well God points out, through His Son, He says, Whether it be of God or whether I speak of My own authority," in other words, you would know by listening to Jesus exactly that He lived His life in accordance to the will of God. He knew what the preferential will of God was and He didn't stray from that because if He had, He would have sinned. Because He did the will of God and we know that He abides forever and because He abides forever we have the hope and the promise from scripture that we also will abide forever, if we do the will of God. So it's important to really understand this subject because it says you and I have got to have the ability to prove this and this is part of that conversion process. We've got to know how to rightly divide the word of God, what is purposeful from God's point of view, what is preferential and then what is a third category or a component of God's will, which I call the permissive will of God. It means that God has, He neither determines nor has He stated that this is His preference, but since He allows certain things to happen, it falls into the overall scope of His will. For example, God did not purpose Lucifer to sin, He didn't purpose that and it wasn't His preferential will that Lucifer should do that, but Lucifer, acting on free moral agency did what? He did sin and we have the account of that angelic rebellion written in the scripture for our learning. Now what did God do? People say, well if God is all-powerful, why did God do this? God is a master, Grand-master when it comes to understanding what needs to be done and He saw that rebellion and He took that rebellion as the scripture says and He's using it, all right, this was not His purpose, this was not His will that that should go that route, but He's taking that rebellion and using it and allowing it to exist for a purpose that will bring us right back to His full determined purpose — and what is that? It is through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God. We've got to get into the kingdom of God, that's our whole purpose for being and so God is going to bring about this wonderful plan of salvation where Paul says in Romans, and it's exciting because he makes this statement — he says that we know that "all things work for good to those that are called according to God's purpose." God is going to take all our mistakes and all our wrong decisions and choices in life and because we allow Him to bring this conversion process to full completion in our life, He is going to do what? He is going to make all the wrongs right, He's going to blot out our transgressions and bring us to the precious blood of Jesus Christ by His grace into a saving relationship for all eternity. Fantastic, what more can you say about a great and awesome God who has purposed something of this nature? But to show you an example, Psalm 2 tells us what happens in terms of how things can happen, again, because of free moral agency, God didn't purpose it this way, it is not His preferential will, but since it falls in the context that things cannot happen unless God allows it, then God, if He allows it, it's got a purpose that is working ultimately to fulfill His purpose in the final analysis. And what is that? Psalm 2:1-4 tells us: Psa. 2:1 — Why do the nations rage...why are they all upset...and the people plot...notice...a vain thing? Did God plot it? No. Did He put it in their minds? No, it wasn't His intent, it wasn't His purpose to do that, but they chose to do this. And what are they plotting? Well they're plotting against God's people Israel; they're plotting to do evil in this area. He says: V.2 — And the kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together. God is left out of the picture, this is something they're going to do and God says, Oh oh, so this is what you're going to do, well we shall see whose will will stand, yours or Mine. Now this is not what I like going down, but I'm going to allow this and I'm going to work this in such a way that it will all come out where God's way will be victorious when all is said and done. This is a constant theme that is given to us in the scripture. Now, it mentions in Verse 4: V. 4 — He who sits in the heavens shall laugh. The Lord shall hold them in derision. Now basically what that is showing you again is that who has the final word? It's always God. Man can plot and do all he wants, he can exercise his free will in a false direction, but it's not going to do anything for him. Now we go back and let's take in the time remaining, lets go back and review these three facets more fully. I want to hit some highlights showing again, the purposeful will of God, the number one area how God is revealed in the pages of scripture. Now we find in Isaiah 14:27 and here we are told, New King James Version: Isa. 14:27 — "For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out and who will turn it back?" Is there anyone more powerful than God? Scripture says no. Nobody can thwart the purposeful will of God. There are individuals who, in theological circles, have the idea that, and they mistakenly presume, that everything that happens is God's purposeful will and that's not so. For example, when terrible things can happen and there is a loss of life or loved ones. Sometimes people, maybe meaning to do well and try to help and give comfort, they'll walk up to somebody at this moment of grieving and they'll say, "Well it was God's will." And whew, who gets it in the neck but God? Wait a second, we have a problem with that because the bible says if God does not even enjoy of the death of the wicked, how can you say that God was responsible for that? Well you see, they kind of blur that in that permissive area, that gray area where nothing has been specifically stated, but since God is all powerful and nothing happens without His specific hand permitting it, therefore He must have been responsible for it. No, only in the sense that He has allowed because of mans choice — free moral agency. When you see what's happening on Interstate 75 for example here in the greater Georgia area, while they're working on these expressways and you see cars just on top of one another and suddenly they have terrible accidents — did God cause that? Did God allow some to live and some to die, was that His purposeful will? No. Was that His preferential will? No. He says you're to love one another on those highways; you're to back away and drive safely. You get instructions from the state patrol that tells you, stay away — but they don't listen, they drive like maniacs and then all of a sudden, boom, something happens and "Why did God allow that?" Somebody not knowing will come along and say, "It was God's will." Oh my, God gets a terrible rap folks, He really does. No, God is not willing any should perish but all come to the knowledge of the truth but it will take time for that to happen and God is very patient in doing what He wants to do and He's not in a hurry to get it done. He will be slow and methodical and when it's all said and done, it will fulfill His determined purpose, but He also has to allow for mans free moral agency and that muddies the water many a time, that free moral agency that we have because of the wrong decisions we make as human beings. As I said, some theologians jump on the case and they come up with the things like the doctrine of predestination, everything is all predetermined. Well where is free moral agency if everything is all predetermined? It's out the window, it doesn't apply, I'm a robot, I do everything that's predetermined. No, it's not, you're a free moral agent, you have a tremendous flexibility to obey or disobey at will. God has given us that tremendous capability, but He did not purpose that we should go the wrong way, He's already told us, "I want a blessing for you. Ah, but if you don't listen, there is a curse out there" and on the other side of the coin, He prefers that we listen carefully to what He has to say. In those areas there that individuals come up with those type of things, you know they're either predestined to go to heaven or predestined to go to hell, well the bible doesn't support that kind of reasoning and that rationale. God's purpose is for bringing many sons and daughters into glory in the kingdom of God and that's what's spoken of in Romans 8:28-29, I'll just refer to that, and Acts 14:22 tells us that our purpose is to enter into the kingdom of God. Well God purposed many things at creation, but one thing for sure, He did not purpose Adam and Eve to sin, that was their free moral agency. Remember there were two trees placed before them and they had the opportunity to choose one way or the other. Their choice has been basically all of our choices, we've all gone that same road, the broad way that leads to destruction and it is God who is bringing us back to the straight and narrow path that leads to life. And He says only He can do that, only He has the capacities so to do. So when we begin to see these things happen, then we say, Well now what does scripture say about these things? If we've got this conflict, we know here is what God purposed but then here is what we have because of free moral agency, what do we do? Well here's where we begin to see scripture come alive before our very eyes. In Acts 4:27-28, New King James Version, it says: Acts 4:27-28 — "For truly Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done." In other words, God has purposed that there would be a Savior for mankind, that Savior would be in the form of His Son who was the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. God makes it very clear that as human beings, we must understand that God has had definite areas where He has had His hand at work. We've seen it at creation, we see it at the birth of Jesus Christ, that that was a unique birth, we call it the incarnation, it wasn't like any other human birth, He was the Son of man but the Son of God, He had the full spirit, the measure of God's spirit from birth and He thought with the mind of God, He knew what the will of God was and He always leaned to that and that's why His Father could make the statement that we're familiar with, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Because He's executing exactly according to My will, He knows exactly what I as the Father have wanted. Now in Galatians 1:4 we see that Jesus Christ is pictured in the following manner: Gal. 1:4 — He gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil age...notice...according to the will of our God and Father. He understood that He had a mission in life and it was to comply with the purposeful will of God and to live a life of obedience to the preferred will of God because Jesus too had free moral agency, He was not a puppet, He could have walked a different way, after all what is the whole purpose of temptation if it is not to tangle against your choice? Adam and Eve were given a choice and Satan seduced them to go the wrong way. Matthew 4 tells us that Satan once again reappears to the Son of God, now in the human flesh, and what does he do? He tries to use the same bait on the Son of God. "If you be the Son of God, make these rocks, these stones, turn them into bread." Prove it. He said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone but every word.'" See the preferred word of God must flow through our minds so that we know and He knew that I have to live by God's word, even though I'm hungry and even though I have the power to do it, I'm not going to do it. That's not what My Father would have Me do; I don't have to prove anything to this being, who was the tempter. What we have to do is constantly demonstrate our faith and our confidence in God. So the incarnation was another important time. Then we have examples how God chose ancient Israel and how He determined these people would be a unique people by His gracious hand and He purposed this. He didn't do it with all nations, He did it for them, for a special reason, that would bring about the Son of God and ultimately bring a blessing to all mankind. Now Israel has not followed through on their obligation, they broke the covenant, so Christ had to come, He had to die, a new covenant had to put into operation, spiritual Israel had to be created. Jesus said, "I will build My church" and so we see again the dynamics involved here are pretty powerful and the scriptures are just alive with this information. We see here in Hebrews 2:9 where it says: Heb. 2:9 — We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for...what purpose...for suffering of death, who is now crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God...the kindness that has been bestowed upon all of us as human beings by Gods hand...might taste death for everyone. That we would not have to get hit by the full power and the penalty of disobedience to God's law, Jesus took that hit for us, that's what the Passover is all about which we study in the beginning part of the year. Well, we see that His purposeful will is very clear. He had a purpose in working with the kings of Israel, not only creating the nation of Israel, which He mentions back there in Deuteronomy 7:7-8, how He brought them out, He said, I've loved you, not because you were the greatest nation, because I just took you as the least of the people and I decided I was going to do it this way. And God has done it that way and that's why His people Israel today play a very very important part in the prophetic plan and purpose of God and that's why we are very very blessed at this time to have the sure word of prophecy given to us from the word of God because, again, He knows, He knows what is coming and He reveals to His servants what they need to be watching for, praying for and guiding their everyday footsteps with His guiding spirit. Now King David was a specific king that God did what? He brought him on line as a very special one. King Saul had terribly disobeyed God; he lost his kingdom because of disobedience. David comes on line now by God's decree, he had other brothers, Jesse had sons, but it was David who was picked by God. His purposeful hand, His will now comes into play and we see in Acts 13:36 this admonition: Acts 13:36 — "For David, after he had served his own generation...in other words, he lived in his time frame...by the will of God...in other words, events involving David's life, you're going to find God deeply involved in that young man's life because again, God had a purpose in working with this young man...and he has fallen asleep and is buried with his fathers and he saw corruption. Now other things that show God's deterministic will, His involvement — He was involved in certain elements dealing with kings and nations when He said, Because you've disobeyed Me, I'm going to allow the Assyrians to come in, and the northern tribes ended up going into captivity. Then Judah did not listen to God's admonition and so Judah then suffered at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, all these are case histories that are recorded, showing again, free moral agency, you can choose, but they didn't listen. The preferred will of God was stated by the prophets, it was stated by all those that were sent by God, but they didn't listen to that. In fact, the very very essence of this very thing that we're talking about shows that again, these events that are recorded for our learning all revolve around a clear understanding of what God has said, what God prefers and what God allows sometimes in ways that you and I don't understand for the purpose of, O.K., you've made a choice in this direction, I'm going to take this and weave this into My plan and I'm going to be glorified when it is all said and done. Mankind is going to have no answer for all this because only God can bring it to pass. We know that He purposed that there would be a Church of God, Jesus said, "I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." So the Church of God was prophesied to be also part of God's determined will and we see that in II Timothy 1:9. II Tim. 1:9 — He who has saved us and called us with a holy calling...it's a holy calling that we've been given...not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. Now that's far-reaching. In other words, He had this base covered way before man ever made the wrong choice, but knowing there was a Lucifer who had gone haywire and God now saying, All right, I'm going to take and weave this in, I'll put this opportunity for man to give him first a chance to do it the right way, but if he doesn't, if he submits to the wrong way and listens to Lucifer, all right, man will have to learn that Lucifer's way, now Satan, is not the way to live. And I will prove My point to the universe and all creation that I am God and My way is the only way that can be properly understood and lived in a righteous and honorable way that brings happiness, joy and peace to all participants and anyone who steps outside of that and chooses of his or her own volition will only create chaos and mayhem in their lives. I submit dear brethren, what do you see on television on the news? What do you read in the newspapers? It's one horrific story after another of people, precious human life, human cargo going down in flames, their lives are being destroyed and they don't have any answers. But you and I have been given the good news of what it's all about, a calling and a purpose and that brings us now to the preferential will of God. The preferential will of God is clearly again, emphasized in scriptures from this point of view — God desires for us to live a certain way, but mankind has not chosen to listen or respond. Those that do receive a blessing, those that don't, they reap the penalty of their decisions. In Colossians 1:9 we have this in the NKJV: Col. 1:9 — For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you and to ask that you be filled with the knowledge of His will... Notice, that you understand how God's will applies in living life so that you can have a quiet, peaceable, happy life, not a life in turmoil and upheaval. But people, when they get selfish, when they get self-centered, when they're only thinking of themselves at the expense of others, what do we see? We see a world going up in smoke, it's chaotic. Look what's going on in Liberia right now, the terrible things in Africa, the disease problems, the drought problems, one thing after another and you can understand why people — they get information overload, they can't take it, they say, "I don't want to hear about this anymore, I don't want to think about it." And you can kind of understand why they feel that way, it does get very depressing if you just had only that to look at, but when you look higher to that and you seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness and you have that vision and that understanding, then you understand as well the preferential will of God, how I am to apply the word of God in my life now, then it gives you a tremendous liberating effect. You begin to realize, I'm not strangled or handicapped by the commandments of God, I'm liberated by them! God has put a spotlight on life and He's told me, He's saying, Look, here's where the spiritual minefield is, stay away from that, you put your foot on that one, it'll blow you to pieces. It's like in physical combat, you learn to train your eyes, you watch, you're careful; you're just always on the edge because if you're not, you're dead. If that's what happens in mans world, how much more so in the spiritual battle that we're called to fight the good fight of faith. We can't afford to go to sleep at the switch and the preferential will of God is very important in this area. Ephesians 6:6 tells us the following: Eph. 6:6 - We are not to be doing things with eye service as men pleasers...in other words, we're not trying to impress other human beings, we're just trying to set a good example in living life...but as bond servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. That's the keynote; it has to come from the innermost sanctum of your makeup, you want to do the will of God and God sees that and He understands the importance of it. In Matthew 7:21 we're reminded of this very important scripture: Matt. 7:21 — "Not everyone that says unto Me, 'Lord, Lord...and there are many that say that...not many will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that does...what dear brethren, again...the will of My Father in heaven." If we're suppose to do that and it predicates whether or not we make it, by God's grace, into the kingdom of God, then we must be able to know and prove what is the will of God and the will of God thunders at us from the scripture. Let's take a look at I Thessalonians if you will, because here's a classic example of how God's preferential will impacts on mankind. I Thess. 4:3. Here we find the following: I Thess. 4:3 — For this is the will...now God is not going to make us do this, this still again involves free moral agency, but notice, it's His preferential will...this is the will of God, even your sanctification...which means "set apart for a holy purpose"...that you should abstain...that what...that you should abstain from fornication. Which is the Greek word "porneo" which means sexual immorality. That if you don't want to complicate your life and create all kinds of upheaval for yourself, it is saying here that you need to understand that God does not want us to be involved in relationships that are immoral. He defines that for our good. Now does He allow people to get into immoral relationships? Oh every day! So is it God's will that they should get into immoral relationships? No, not His preferential will, but it is His permissive will, He allows it. Why does He allow it? Why doesn't God just stop it? Because of free moral agency, you've got to blend the two together. You've got to let people make their decisions and then God knows where we stand by our choice. Elijah the prophet thundered that out to ancient Israel. "If Baal be god, serve him. If God be God, serve Him." That was a classic example, showing again, the choice of the nation. So every day we have choices that we have to make and God says, always temper your life to make the choices that will, again, emphasize the will of God in your life. To do what you must do as a man, to do what you must do as a woman and whatever age bracket you find yourself — as a young person, middle-age person, an older person, you still must apply the will of God in every facet of living life. It's a beautiful thing that God has revealed to us again in the scripture. Now to show you again how this impacts, Matthew 23:37. When Jesus stood looking down upon Jerusalem, here's what He said: Matt. 23:37 — "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those that are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but...notice...you were not willing." Free moral agency. This was God's preference, Let Me cover you, protect you, watch over you, but you didn't want it. There's no reason to have ministerial servants, prophets, teachers, even the Son of God if people aren't going to listen. You see somebody's got to listen, that's why they were sent. That's why the prophets were sent, that's why the ministry was sent, for the purpose of the saints, that's why the Son of God came, to reveal what God's preferential will is in the lives of all of us as human beings. Now the third sense that I touch on here, the permissive will of God, again, Acts 14:16 gives us an indication of this and how that God, again, blending in accordance with His overall will, He works many times through the circumstances of human choice and He does what? He weaves it into a pattern to accomplish His ultimate will and purpose. In Acts 14:16 it talks about: Acts 14:16 — "who in bygone generations...in other words, in past periods of time, how that God...allowed the nations...notice, He allowed them, He didn't stop them, He allowed them as free moral agents...to walk in their own ways." Well what does He do now? He commands repentance, He commands change in the lives of human beings and that's of course what the bible is all about. The Lord is always pictured as the key central figure in our thought process, that we should always be thinking in terms of, Does God want me to do this? And how do I know whether or not it is with God's blessing or not? Well, the bottom line is that things can come in life that we sometimes don't fully understand and human beings have a trouble trying to understand this. But I Peter 4:19 in the NKJ gives us something very important. It says: I Pet. 4:19 — Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God, commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. Now what is that telling us? That's telling us that sometimes decisions in life, you could be working on the job for example, somebody makes a decision and it creates a problem in your life. You don't deserve the hit that you're taking, but you take it in the right attitude and you follow God's guidance and direction, better that you take the hit than get all bent out of shape and then you end up sinning or creating a problem. You commit yourself unto a faithful Creator because God sees, God knows, He understands the circumstances in a way that none of us can. Even Jesus said it on the cross when He was dying, He said, "Father forgive them, they know not what they do." They thought they did, but they didn't and human beings as a whole do not understand and even we did not understand until this holy calling came into our lives. And we still don't understand in full, we understand in part but oh the part that has been revealed has been absolutely great news, it is the greatest thing that you could possibly understand, the calling of life. God uses the term in the scriptures that He is a zealous or jealous God and the term jealous there is not a connotation jealous with the wrong motivation, it's jealous in terms of holding on to what is good. God is jealous for that, He is not going to let that go and He tells us that you and I must hold fast what you have that no man take your crown. Because if you lose this one what have you got? You've got nothing, there is nothing apart from God and so this is the very important aspect of scripture that we must keep in mind. God does require a lot of us in regards to His preferential will. He gives us great flexibility however in so doing. He honors our free moral agency, He admonishes us to follow His words so that it may be good and well with us and our children. But if we don't, He says then, He will back away and let the lesson be learned and that's what happening to mankind today. That's why you and I don't want to go there, we've already been scarred enough in our lives, have we not dear brethren? Have we already not hurt and suffered in our own personal lives, do we want to go and be gluttons for punishment or do we want to say "uncle, uncle," I acknowledge, I surrender, I give up and let Jesus Christ do the guiding from this time on? You know there are many things we could say but I'm going to draw to a conclusion right now and just say this: People have different interpretations of events. One person can look at it and say oh this happened because of this and another person will say that happened because of that. How do you know? You don't. Only God who is the purposeful Creator of heaven and earth knows what is His purposeful will and if He hasn't explained it in the scripture, you and I don't know anything about something. It's only what He reveals to us. But sometimes people say, Well you know, God did this because of that. Oh He did? Did you get a telephone call? Did God tell you personally that's why it happened? No, you don't, you're just guessing, you're just shooting in the dark. And what one person can say happened here, another person can say happened there and it's as the old saying, it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. So what do you do? You don't go there dear brethren, you stay away from that. That's a trap. You let God be God, like the scripture says, God is in heaven and you are on earth, let your words be few. Don't speak for God. He speaks for Himself and when He tells us what His will is, you and I are given the charge, will you or won't you? And then of course, we see examples that are written for our learning. Examples showing that if you want to begin to really get things going in your life, you have to take the key of prayer. You take your key every day, you insert it into that very special spiritual lock and you turn that key and say, "God, I need Your guidance and help, I want Your will to be done in my life. I don't want to face this day going by myself, I want You at the helm with Jesus Christ, I want You to fill me with Your spirit and make Your words come alive in me because if I don't have this, I've got nothing. Anything I try to hold onto melts, it goes to nothing. You are everything and without You, there is nothing. So please guide me." When you do that and activate the power of prayer, God then takes a very special hand in how He is going to do that. He's going to intervene in ways that many times you pray for a job situation, the job appears. You don't know how He's going to do it because He's going to weave His will — you asked Him to, He will do it. How He will do it, when He will do it, we have to defer to Him and time. We can't have it just when we want it, but He will perform His will and good pleasure for our good. Think about the example we see in the life of Joseph in the Old Testament. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers in Genesis 45. They didn't take too kindly to him because they didn't like the way he kept telling them, Hey guys, you know some day you're going to all bow down to me. They said, Oh yeah, OK, you've got your dreams again huh? Well you're out of here kid! We're going to put you out of your misery and we're going to get you out of here and they did what? Shipped him on down to Egypt. Now what do you think Joseph felt at that moment? Oh fantastic, I'm going to go to Egypt. No, he thought the bottom had fallen out of his life, at that moment I'm sure he was crying out to God, Oh God please, show me, what does this mean? Why are my brothers turning against me like this? Events then continued to materialize as the story is given to us in the book of Genesis and what do you find? He says in Genesis 50:20: Gen. 50:20 — "As for you...now talking to his brothers...you meant evil against me but God meant it for good." God saw here was an opportunity, they exercised free moral agency, they sold their brother — good, I'm going to take this opportunity, I'm going to weave it into a pattern, I'm going to put Joseph right up there next to Pharaoh and he's going to be there because I want my people Israel spared from a famine that's going to come because God allows punishments to come, droughts and problems like that upon mankind because of their decisions, things that happen in this world. V. 20 - What did Joseph say? He said it was God's desire... "God meant it for good, in order to bring about this present result." You see, when God takes a hand and He starts intervening, things start to happen and so this is exactly where we are. The best way I can end it with is this, dear brethren, I'd like to finish with this thought: You know men do evil out of their own free moral agency, if God stopped it all, they wouldn't be free, so there's got to be bad guys out there and they've chosen not to do the right thing, they've chosen to be bad guys, that's why the police have to put them away, they have to be dealt with. All right, God allows it, but it is not His will, it is not His direct will that they should be bad, it is not His preferred will they should be bad. But since nothing can happen without His express permission and He is granted free moral agency, He allows them to do bad and when they do bad, God then weighs all things together and does what? Like a grand master chessman on a board, what does the rank amateur do? The rank amateur thinks he's going to win and so he makes his move, but with every move that he makes, the grand master is already four, five, six, seven steps ahead of him and is already planning his defeat. And that's how God has operated and does operate and as a voice from the past once said, "When you read the bible, the word of God, what does it reveal? We win!" And why do we win? Because our God has given us the victory, that's why we win. So we remember the marvelous words of Joshua, a man whom God used and he said, "Be strong and of good courage." He said, "Choose you this day who you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." That's the choice you and I should rightfully make every day of our lives.
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