“To God’s Glory” : A Practical Study of a Doctrine of the Westminster Standards
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn
THE SUBJECT : Divine Guidance
THE BIBLE VERSES TO READ : Matt. 6:10; 26:39; Ps. 40:8; 67; 103:20-21; 119:36; 143:10; 2 Sam. 15:25; Job 1:21; Eph. 6:6.
REFERENCE TO THE STANDARDS : Confession of Faith, chap. I.6; Larger Catechism, Q. 192; Shorter Catechism, Q. 103.
“Not with eye service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph. 6:6).
“I delight to do Thy will, O my God; yea, Thy law is within my heart” (Ps. 40:8).
Two verses from the Word of God, both of them speaking to us regarding the will of God.
The question has been asked again and again by believers : How can we find the will of God for our lives? This is an important question for believers are commanded by God to seek out, to follow, His will in their daily living.
The two verses above have three basic principles for believers regarding finding the will of God :
1. The believer has a duty, a privilege, to do the will of God as a servant of Christ;
2. The believer has a responsibility to delight to do the will of God;
3. The believer must recognize there is an inseparable connection between the will of God and the Word of God.
First, it must be considered as to what is meant by the will of God. When the believer prays the Lord’s Prayer and states, “Thy will be done,” he is meaning by God’s will two things :
(1) His will of providence in which He determines what He will do for us and to us. This is the will of His decree (“His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His will, whereby for His own glory, He hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass” — Shorter Catechism, Question 7) as taught in Isa. 46:10.
(2) His will as revealed to us in the Bible and for which we should be constantly praying.
With these thoughts in mind, a consideration of how to find God’s will is in order. Immediately, we must think of an important factor. A knowledge of the will of God is always paralleled with a desire to do the will of God. And a desire to do the will of God comes with an attitude of commitment to our Lord.
Therefore, whenever we think of knowing the will of God we must be willing to submit ourselves unto His Word. And right here is where the problem presents itself too many times in regard to finding out His will. Too many believers become trapped by methods used by Satan as they seek to find out God’s will for their lives.
There are many methods Satan would use to lead believers away from what is God’s will for their lives. Let us list a few of these ways so that we might be on guard :
1. Satan suggests : “If you feel right about something, it must be the will of God.”
2. Satan suggests : “Certainly, revelation did not stop with the last verse of Scripture. After all, those things were written for the people of that time. Therefore, God’s will can be found apart from just God’s Word.”
What is wrong with his suggestions? Both of them ignore a basic premise to which all believers should be dedicated : The Word of God is our ONLY rule of faith and practice (Confession of Faith, I.6). This is the only standard from which we can find His will. The principles of God’s Word must be used in any given incident in finding the will of God. God’s Word is sufficient for this purpose. The task of the believer is to apply His Word to all of life, to be convinced that the Holy Spirit will never lead contrary to God’s Word!
Therefore, in obtaining guidance from God, the method of the believer must be that of a constant study of God’s Word. The more study accomplished, the more God’s principles become fixed in the mind of the believer, the better the believer can know God’s will.
This is presented clearly by Paul in II Tim. 3:15-17. He tells the believer of what use the Scripture is and then proceeds to inform the believer that it is through God’s Word that the believer can be equipped unto every good work. Certainly, a good work would be the finding of God’s will. It is God’s Word that is sufficient for this task.
Two warnings should be heeded. First, the Bible does not always give the believer a complete blueprint for life. Sometimes it does not even give a glimmer of light. The believer must trust during those times when He keeps hidden the working out of His providence.
Second, the believer needs to be careful to understand that there are certain things that are God’s will! For example, that of being good stewards (I Cor. 4:2), of living a holy life (I Thess. 4:3). This is clear teaching in God’s Word!