A Biblically based commentary on current issues that impact you
God's Will and Christian Liberty
Explaining God's Revealed Will and God's Providential Will
by Bob DeWaay
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but
the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe
all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29
The Bible is the revealed will of God. The Bible is
inspired by God, inerrant and authoritative. It contains everything God has
chosen to reveal to us. Through the Bible we know God’s plans, purposes and
moral will. Only the teachings of Scripture and valid implications drawn from
Scriptures are the revealed will of God in a directive and authoritative sense.
This article will explore important implications of this truth as they pertain
to Christian decision making and Christian liberty. To do so I will explain four
important categories: God’s revealed will, God’s providential will, Christian
liberty, and God’s offer to grant us wisdom.
Before proceeding, we must consider some important
distinctions and define our terminology. First, if the Scripture contains the
“things revealed,” what are the “secret things” that belong only to God? “Secret
things” consist of God’s future providential will that is not predicted in
Scripture, and forbidden occult knowledge of the spirit world that is forbidden
in Scripture.1 Seeking occult
knowledge is a sin and God’s providential will is not known until it is revealed
as history unfolds.
Second, what about all those things that are not
dictated by God’s revealed will and do not fall into the category of forbidden
or unknowable information? For example, should I repair my older car, or buy a
new one? Unless one of the alternatives causes me to transgress God’s revealed
will (such as failing to provide for my own household 2), then this decision
falls into the category of Christian liberty. I am defining Christian liberty as
the freedom to make one’s decisions about matters that are not revealed in
Scripture without fear of sinning against God. Later I will argue that
Christians who command others to follow certain actions in matters that rightly
belong in the category of Christian liberty, sin in so doing. They make
themselves authoritative spokespersons for God when the Bible grants them no
The Revealed Will of God in Scripture
The most important message of God’s revealed will is His
plan of Messianic salvation. Messiah is spoken of from Genesis to Revelation. No
matter how diligently one works to follow God’s revealed moral law, such a
person will be found in the most serious act of disobedience if he refuses to
repent and believe the Gospel. The Bible says, “How shall we escape if we
neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord,
it was confirmed to us by those who heard”(Hebrews 2:3). Since works
righteousness is the belief of all religions except Biblical
Christianity, it is not surprising that many are willing to submit to the laws
of God revealed in Scripture but not submit to the Gospel. Jesus Christ died for
sins, once for all, and was raised from the dead. Unless we trust Him fully,
realizing that we have sinned against God’s law and deserve a future in hell, we
shall be rightly judged for trusting man rather than God. However, if we believe
that Christ paid the full penalty for our sins, and trust His finished work on
our behalf, we shall be saved from eternal death and given the gift of eternal
The most important purpose of God’s revealed will in
Scriptures is to lead us to salvation in Christ. Paul told Timothy: “[A]nd
that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give
you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ
Jesus.” (2Timothy 3:15 ). People
are fond of calling the Bible the “owners manual” for life. One must be careful
however in thinking like that. If one refuses to give up trusting self and
refuses to put their trust fully in Christ, the “owner’s manual” will do them no
good. Messianic salvation must be the first issue we come to grips with,
otherwise all the moral and wise decisions gleaned from Scripture will be of no
Having believed the Gospel and submitted to Christ’s
Lordship, we can now appreciate the moral guidance revealed in the Bible. The
Bible contains the revealed moral law of God. This law is summarized by the
commands to love God and neighbor.3 The Bible contains
specific moral guidance in both the Old and New Testament. The prohibitions on
stealing, murder, drunkenness, idolatry, adultery, fornication, homosexual
behavior, and many others are clearly revealed in Scripture. Therefore everyone
who has embraced the Gospel also embraces the rest of God’s revealed will. We
cannot say, “I believe that Jesus died for my sins and I trust Him, but I retain
the right to sin as I please when I please.”4 This does not mean
that true Christians never sin. Christians acknowledge that God’s moral law is
binding, and confess that we need God’s forgiveness for sins, and confess that
we need God’s grace to gain victory. Lawlessness is saying to Christ, “we will
not have you rule over us.”5
The Bible reveals to Christians God’s will concerning
our duties toward God and one another. The Bible says that if we claim to love
God but hate our brother, we lie (1John 4:20). The
Bible covers a larger range of issues about church life, family life, and our
responsibilities toward civil authorities. These matters are revealed; God’s
will is known. We are to provide for our families (1Timothy 5:8), work
(2Thessalonians 3:10-12), pay
our taxes (Romans 13:6,7), and serve one another with the gifts God has
given (Romans 12:9-13). We are called to confess the gospel (Matthew
10:32, Romans 10:9).
In civil law there is a principle that says, “ignorance
of the law is no excuse.” If it were, then people could avoid penalty for
criminal behavior by keeping themselves ignorant of all laws. When the Bible
refers to, “the things revealed [that] are for you,” it thereby gives us the
responsibility to search the Scriptures. Every Christian is to know God’s Word
as fully as he or she is capable of learning. This duty is sadly neglected in
our day, which leads to many transgressions of God’s revealed will. We are
commanded to embrace sound doctrine (1Timothy 6:3, Titus 1:9;
2:1). Preachers are commanded to preach the word (2Timothy 4:2, 3).
To gather under the guise of church, and to not preach God’s Word, not proclaim
the glad tidings of salvation through Messiah, and not fellowship around the
apostles teaching (Acts 2:42), is sinning
against God’s revealed will. Remaining purposefully ignorant does not further
God’s work in the lives of His people.
There is one more category that is to be considered as
part of “things revealed” that are for us. Besides the explicit teachings of
Scripture, there are valid implications drawn from Scripture. Though there will
always be disputes about what is a valid implication, nevertheless if such
implications can be demonstrated, they are binding as God’s revealed will. For
example, the command to love one’s neighbor has many implications. Jesus shared
the parable of the Good Samaritan to show implications of the command to love.
God’s Providential Will
Providence is God’s sovereign oversight over all of
history, including things He directly decrees and things He allows.6 Therefore, God’s providential
will is everything that happens. This passage assures the Christian that God’s
providential will is always for our good: “And we know that God causes all
things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called
according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). The rest
of Romans 8 makes it clear that Paul means “all things” in a comprehensive
sense. After giving a list of anything one might consider to have not been
included, but yet are, he says “nor any other created thing” (Romans
8:39) which makes it clear that he means “all things”
literally. This neglected doctrine needs to be preached more in our
churches. God’s providential will includes everything that happens from creation
This doctrine is demonstrated throughout Biblical
history, but clearly revealed in a number of key incidents. For example,
consider this passage: “[T]his Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan
and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and
put Him to death. And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of
death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts
2:23, 24). Murder is against God’s moral law, and those who put
Christ to death are morally guilty for doing so. However, Christ’s rejection,
death and resurrection were fully in accord with God’s eternal purposes. The
rejection of Messiah was predicted in the Old Testament.
[vii] Christ’s atoning death is God’s
providential will and is the center piece of redemption history. Yet human sin
was involved in the process.
Another famous example is that of Joseph. After many
people, including his brothers, sinned in their treatment of him, Joseph said
this: “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good
in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive”
(Genesis 50:20). It is inescapable that God allowed their evil action in
order to bring about His sovereign and saving purposes. Yet in so acting, they
are morally culpable. Fellow Christian, God still does this. He may allow
someone else’s sin to have apparent deleterious affects on us. Yet Romans
8:28 still applies. Even evil acts of other people are part
of God’s providential will.
God’s providential will is mostly secret until it
unfolds in history, at which time it becomes revealed. I will share a couple of
exceptions to that shortly. First I want to address those who have theological
problems with what I am teaching. I have friends who will not be convinced by
what I am teaching no matter how carefully I explain it or how many Scriptures
are brought to bear on it. They claim that “providence” is actually “fatalism”
in disguise. They claim that if we believe that God’s providential will is being
done moment by moment, then we will not pray, not preach the gospel, and find a
built in excuse for our own sin. These objections are nothing new, Paul
anticipated them when he wrote Romans. Paul said, “You will say to me then,
‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’ On the contrary, who
are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the
molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” (Romans 9:19,
20). Paul was not misunderstood; he suggests that his critics are impudent
These objections have also been answered throughout
church history by some of the church’s finest theologians. The most
comprehensive rebuttal is found in Jonathan Edwards, The Freedom of the
Will. Martin Luther dealt with it his most important writing, The Bondage
of the Will. A wise, loving, personal God who is the God of all history is
not to be equated with the blind forces of fate that terrorize the pagans.
Frankly, I think that those who equate providence with fate in order to
discredit the doctrine are not trying very hard to understand the Bible. Many
are likely blinded by their own prejudice, but only God knows the motives. Some
are so opposed to any notion of God’s comprehensive sovereignty that they deny
His foreknowledge, thus creating an “open” future unknown to God. The Bible
teaches no such thing.8
There is a practical problem when God’s providential
will is not seen as a valid category for understanding God’s work in human
history. What happens is that rather than watching God’s providential will being
displayed as history unfolds, many try to find subjective revelations to make
known now what is secret because of being yet future. The idea is that there is
a future that is envisioned by God, but will only be actualized if we
make the right decisions. Thus many other matters that do not fall into the
category of God’s moral law or revealed will are considered nevertheless
necessary to be known for God’s will to be done.9 I
will show that believing like this impinges upon Christian liberty.
Let me give some examples to make this more concrete.
Let us suppose that a person believes that for God’s “perfect” will to be done,
he must make certain right decisions that are not of the sort for which Bible
gives moral guidance. Let us take marriage as an example. Suppose that a young
man is considering marriage. Before him are two Christian young ladies who are
both valid candidates for a godly, Christian marriage. Thinking that it must be
God’s will to marry one rather than the other, the young man seeks a revelation
of God’s will by prayer and going to meetings to seek personal prophesy about
the matter. The subjectively revealed answer comes back, “marry Jane but not
Ann.” So he marries Jane. But later in life many things go wrong. The couple has
a child with congenital problems. Jane’s health goes bad and she is not able to
care for her family as she wishes. Now the person has reason to doubt he made
the right decision. I have talked to people who feel that way. They say, “If
only I had made a different choice, none of this would have happened, it must
not have been God’s will.” When Jesus considered marriage, He said “whom God has
joined together.” He did not make any qualifications. We know that God joined
them together because after the fact it is revealed as God’s providential will.
There was no moral law transgressed, so there is no reason for second guessing.
I will discuss this more thoroughly in the next section
about Christian liberty. But for now we need to understand that God’s
providential will is comprehensive. If someone transgresses God’s revealed moral
law, though it is a sin, God nevertheless allowed it. If a person has
transgressed God’s moral law, then he or she needs to see that the only answer
is the shed blood of Christ and the grace of God to give victory. We must
simultaneously accept as God’s providential will that He allowed us to fail,
accept full responsibility for our failure, and see that even our failure as
something God will ultimately use in accordance with Romans 8:28. If someone
makes a decision on a matter that is not dictated by the teachings of Scripture
or valid implications from those teachings, whatever they decide is not a sin.
Also, whatever they decide, after the fact of the decision, is now revealed as
God’s providential will.
The only time the future providential will of God
becomes known before the fact is when the Scripture predicts future history.10
For example, that an antichrist will arise is known now. What we do not know is who he
will be and when exactly he will appear in history. That will be revealed when it
Christian liberty is the freedom to make decisions about
matters that are not revealed in Scriptures without fear of sinning against God.
This liberty is accentuated by the knowledge that whatever we choose within
those parameters is pleasing to God. I hope to show that the concepts of God’s
revealed will, and God’s secret will that is only revealed providentially as
history unfolds, serve to give Christians greater liberty ─ not less liberty as
some erroneously assume.
God granted human liberty in His act of creating humans
in His image. In Genesis, before the Fall, Adam was given the freedom to name
the animals, however he saw fit. Consider what God told Adam: “And the Lord
God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in
the day that you eat from it you shall surely die’“ (Genesis
2:16,17). Therefore in the original creation, God gave the categories of
liberty “you may freely eat” and moral guidance “you shall not
eat.” Clearly Adam had the freedom to eat at will, at his discretion, from
whatever trees seemed pleasing to him at the time. The forbidden tree was God’s
revealed moral law and rightfully restricted Adam’s freedom. He was told that
seeking autonomous freedom would lead to bondage and death.
In Christ, the “last Adam,”[xi] we
have significant freedom, even in this life, though marred by the Fall. The
redeemed will have perfect freedom in the life to come. In this world there are
many sinful desires and potentially sinful choices. However, we have God’s Word
to guide us in those matters. We also have myriads of choices that God allows us
to make at our own discretion and for our own enjoyment of His creation. Paul
wrote: “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited
or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly
supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1Timothy 6:17). That
everything is not dictated by moral law leaves us with freedom to enjoy human
diversity. One can choose to fill his yard with flowers and another with green
grass, and another with both.
This freedom extends to more consequential matters. In
these problems often arise. Many Christians think that there is one “perfect”
will of God which includes every important aspect of life. Discovering that
“perfect will” and making right choices to actualize that will, they believe,
are the keys to successful Christian living.12 I
am suggesting that this thinking is wrong and unbiblical. I will share a
Biblical example to illustrate.
I think then that this is good in
view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are
you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife?
Do not seek a wife. But if you should marry, you have not sinned; and if a
virgin should marry, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this
life, and I am trying to spare you. (1Corinthians 7:26-28)
Given the situation for Christians in the
Roman Empire in his
day, Paul thought that those who were single would be better off staying that
way as Paul had. However, he says that those who do marry do not thereby sin.
Elsewhere in Paul’s writing and throughout Scripture marriage is commended as a
good and honorable thing, one that illustrates Christ and the church.
Sin is that which is outside of God’s will. So Paul said
that marriage was not outside of God’s will. Paul merely offered his advice, but
would not curtail Christian liberty. On the contrary, Paul taught that
forbidding marriage was a doctrine of demons (1Timothy 4:1). As mentioned
earlier, those who do marry are joined together by God. So marriage or
singleness is a legitimate choice for Christians. No Christian who is single can
claim that God is more pleased with them for being single; no married Christian
can claim superior status on the basis of being married. However, once we decide
to marry God’s will is revealed: that we be faithful to our spouse “until
death do we part”!
How do we find out God’s will in matters of Christian
liberty? By making an informed choice and living out all the ramifications of
that choice to God’s glory by His grace. God’s providential will is known after
we make the choice ─ it is whatever we chose. If that choice does not transgress
anything revealed in Scripture, then it cannot be a sinful choice unless we make
it with evil motives. Examples of choices that the New Testament expressly says
are within the realm of Christian liberty are things like marriage, food,
circumcision, and holy days to be observed. Some choose a more rigorous and
restricted approach to life (see Romans 14), and others less restrictive.
What we are not free to do is judge others on matters that rightfully
fall into the category of liberty. These are matters God has not dictated in
Freedom Within Boundaries
Bible commands us to work (2Thessalonians 3:10) but does
not tell us at which job. The Bible tells us to fellowship (Hebrews
10:25), but does not tell us which church to attend. The
Bible tells us to pray (Romans 12:12), but
does not tell us for how long and where. The Bible tells us to do acts of
kindness to widows and orphans (James 1:27), but does
not tell us where and when. Even when doing what the Bible commands us to do we
still have Christian liberty.
For example, Paul was committed to preaching the Gospel.
But where and how often were many times dictated by circumstances. Consider
this: “For we wanted to come to you─ I, Paul, more than once─ and yet Satan
thwarted us” (1Thessalonians 2:18). Paul was
not able to execute his decision, because of Satan. Thus God’s providential will
became known. Paul nevertheless preached the Gospel elsewhere. What is revealed
is that the Gospel is to be preached. Where and under what circumstances is not
revealed in Scripture, but becomes apparent as we make our choices and history
God providentially works through civil authorities to
reveal His will through events in history. This happens in all levels of civil
authority, from nations to states, to cites, to families, to church government.
Sometimes this causes things to happen that we would not have chosen on our own.
For example, in 1992, the elders of the
church for whom I was assistant pastor at the time decided that they wanted to
send me to seminary. I had no desire to go to seminary and would not have
thought of it on my own. A dear friend of mine who was one of the
elders sat me down and said, “we want you
to go to seminary, we think it will help you fulfill your ministry, and if you
chose not to I am not sure what we will do.” That is how I found out God’s will,
it unfolded by the events of history through those who had civil authority over
me. I spoke to my father about my concerns saying, “Dad, I am 41 years old, and
with working full time I will likely be 47 before I graduate.” Dad said, “You
will be 47 six years from now if you do not go to seminary, so what is the
difference?” I love farmer wisdom. So I went, and it turned out be for the
furtherance of my ministry and the Gospel in many ways.
Paul was in prison when he wrote to the Philippians:
“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for
the greater progress of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). Paul was
in prison because civil authorities put him there. Thus God’s providential will
was revealed. There is no assurance that by learning to follow some secret
“inner voice of God” we will be more pleasing to God and be more “in the center
of His will.” This idea hinders true Christian liberty and leads to many
Many think that God will feed them information about all
their decisions and give them the “Midas touch.” This concept is false. God does
not tell us which stocks are going up, which car will never break down, which
house will go up in value, and other turn by turn directions that will lead us
to bliss and success in this life. In God’s wisdom He has granted us freedom to
make these decisions freely, and without recrimination for the results. It is
not a sin to make decisions within the realm of Christian liberty that we regret
later. As earthly parents, we will judiciously allow our children to do the
same. It is a central part of our human freedom and dignity to make decisions
and watch the consequences play out in life. It sounds good to have the “Midas
touch” but if it existed it would be ruinous as it was in the fable.
I am a fisherman by hobby. Suppose I had the ability to
gain information from God about exactly where the fish will bite, what lure they
will hit, the exact lake, exact time, and exact location of the biggest lunker.
The first time I used that ability would be great fun, less the second, less the
third, and eventually no fun at all. Why? Because I would soon be just going
through the motions of reeling in fish with no fun of the chase. It would be as
exciting as turning on the tap and knowing drinking water will come out. The
excitement comes from having to learn, to plan, and setting out on an adventure
that often ends in disappointment. But that one time you hook up with the “fish
of a lifetime” it is so very exciting and satisfying. Likewise, the unknown
about God’s future providential will is necessary for the enjoyment of human
Many who are on a quest to make the unknown future known
now through personal revelations are chasing the “Midas touch.” I know because I
used to believe that way. One still hears mostly mythological stories of people
who have gained secret information from God about the future so as to insure
unbelievable results. They claim to live in a “cannot lose” dream world where
success follows where ever they go. God does not offer such secret information,
but rather offers liberty. This liberty includes the freedom to choose courses
of action that do not work the way we hoped, like Paul’s choice to attempt to
visit the Thessalonians. Welcome to the real world. We never actually “fail”
when we exercise Christian liberty, we just learn and discover more about God’s
Let me make one more illustration of this concept. As a
pastor, I hate getting calls from people telling me that they are leaving our
particular fellowship. It used to make me so upset that it took days to get
over. I would ask, “How did I fail, or what are those people thinking of, or how
are we going to keep the ministry going?, etc.” After contemplating the things I
am writing in this article, I decided that my response was in-appropriate. That
we should join other Christians in fellowship, prayer, Bible teaching and
outreach with the Gospel is commanded by Scripture. The Bible does not reveal
which local fellowship to attend; so this matter falls into the category of
Christian liberty. So as a pastor, I have no right to question the legitimate
decisions of people exercising their liberty. I can only question these
decisions if they are leaving fellowship all together, or leaving a Bible
preaching church to go to one that does not preach the Bible, because in such
cases they walking away from what God has revealed to be His will for all
Christians. Now when people leave the church, I can send them with a blessing
and thank God for deploying his people on the scene of church history as He sees
fit. This is much more liberating.
gives wisdom to those who ask: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask
of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be
given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who
doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (James
1:5, 6). Many understand this passage as meaning that God will give personal
revelations about any decision we are contemplating. This is a misunderstanding.
The context is about enduring suffering and tribulation under various trials:
Consider it all joy, my brethren,
when you encounter various trials,
JAM 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces
endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect
and complete, lacking in nothing
wisdom of which James speaks is the wisdom needed in the midst of severe trials.
Lenski comments on James 1:5, 6: “The great need of the believer is
wisdom to understand all God’s purposes in placing us amid these continuous
trials.”13 If God allows a
trial to test our faith and has a beneficent purpose in the trial, then we
should ask God for wisdom that we may learn and grow in our trials.
There are other types of wisdom such as revealed in the
Proverbs. The teachings of the Scriptures give us godly wisdom so that we can
exercise our liberty wisely. Having wisdom does not mean that God has laid out a
“cannot fail” road map that covers every decision in life. It means that we go
about our decision making with motives that have been sanctified by the Holy
Spirit. For example, the Bible does not tell us what financial investments to
make, but it does warn us against greed. Consider what Paul told Timothy:
“But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many
foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction”
(1Timothy 6:9). The word “want” is a strong word for the human will.
Those who make it their determined purpose to get rich are the subject of Paul’s
warning. The underlying wrong motivation leads to a lack of wisdom. People who
are so motivated by greed often make foolish decisions trying to “get rich
quickly.” The book of Proverbs warns against this.
So wisdom is not God dictating moment by moment
decisions by personal revelation. Wisdom is the application of Biblically
informed knowledge to life situations. Wisdom often has less to do with making
decision A versus decision B, but more to do with the type of attitude we have
in making all decisions. For example, James writes further about
Who among you is wise and
understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of
wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do
not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which
comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and
selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom
from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and
good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy (James
issue is not the relative “success” of one’s decisions in obtaining the desired
outcome, but the motivations of the heart. A person with “bitter jealousy” is
not wise in the Biblical sense whatever decisions he or she makes. On the other
hand, the wise person who has the character qualities listed in James
3:17 is still free to make various decisions that are
permissible within the realm of Christian liberty. Here again, wisdom is not
defined in the Bible as having God dictate moment by moment decisions through
James gives us criteria for judging wisdom. We often
judge one another wrongly, basing our judgment on personal preferences or the
relative “success” of the outcome of decisions. The Bible instructs us not to
judge one another in matters that rightly fall into the category of Christian
liberty.14 Many times I have heard Christians say of one another,
“he or she is not hearing from God.” The
proof is often a judgment on someone’s decisions that may have had an
undesirable outcome. It is wrong to make such judgments for at least two
reasons. 1) The judgment is based on the erroneous idea that God will give
special revelations to more advanced Christians to insure their decisions all
work out nicely. 2) Such judgments are impinging on the freedom God has given
individual Christians to make their own choices on matters not revealed in
Let me give a concrete example. Christians often
criticize one another about how they raise their children. For example, a
Christian family goes to a seminar on home schooling and becomes convinced that
they should home school their children. That is within their prerogative.
However, at the seminar they hear stories about the evils of public schools and
the wonderful results of home schooling. This causes them to become convinced
that all other Christian parents who do not home school are not listening to
God. They begin to judge their Christian friends to the point of finally
breaking fellowship and attending a church where the pastor demands that all the
members home school. What began as a legitimate choice within the realm of
Christian liberty became a sinful attempt to speak for God and command what God
has not commanded.
Remember what James said about “wisdom from God.” It is
gentle, reasonable, peaceable and full of mercy. Much of what comes our way as
“wisdom from God” amounts to Christians taking it upon themselves to command
others in areas of life that are not part of the “things revealed” in Scripture.
Rest assured that this “wisdom” is not from God.
have examined two major categories: that which is revealed, and that which is
secret and belongs to God. That which is revealed and concerns God’s moral will
is found only in Scripture. God’s providential will also contains things
revealed and things secret. What is revealed concerning God’s providential will
is everything that has happened in history. What is secret in God’s providential
will is everything yet future that is not specifically predicted in the Bible.
Therefore God’s providential will is revealed moment by moment as history
We have also seen that we have liberty in matters that
are not revealed in Scripture. This liberty was established by God in His act of
creation. He chose to give humans the liberty to enjoy His creation as shown by
Adam’s freedom to eat of the non-forbidden trees and name the animals. The idea
that we ought to be getting special revelations about matters not revealed in
Scripture to more “perfectly” find God’s will for us is not a Biblical concept.
We are free to make valid choices in matters of Christian liberty without
recrimination or fear of failing God.
The next issue of CIC will deal with a specific issue of
Christian liberty, the matter of Sabbath keeping. Examining the matter of holy
days and Christian gatherings for worship will illustrate the New Testament’s
understanding of Christian liberty within the parameters of that which is
Issue 75 - March/April 2003
- For a sermon on the forbidden nature of occult knowledge click here.
- See 1Timothy 5:8
- This is taught in Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; and Luke 10:27.
- See CIC Issue 44
- See Luke 19:27
- Providence is the beneficent outworking of God's sovereignty whereby all events are directed and
disposed to bring about those purposes of glory and good for which the universe was made. Sinclair Ferguson and David Wright, eds. New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1988) s.v. Providence; 541. Louis Berkhof offers this definition of providence: Providence may be defined as that continued exercise of the divine energy whereby the Creator preserves all His creatures, is operative in all that comes to pass in the world, and directs all things to their appointed end. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996 one volume edition, originally published 1932) 166.
- see Daniel 9:26, 27 ; Isaiah 53:3,8; and Psalm 22:12-21.
- See CIC issue 58 on this topic.
- This matter is dealt with in detail in, Garry Friesen, Decision Making and the Will of God, (Multnomah: Portland, 1980).
- A prophet like Agabus could be an exception if one were raised up.
- 1Corinthians 15:45.
- Friesen offers several chapters critiquing and then rejecting the idea of a “third” will of God that is supposed a “perfect will” that must be discovered through inner impressions.
- R C H Lenski,
Hebrews and James in Commentary on the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1998; reprint, Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1966), 529.
- See Colossians 2:16, 17 and Romans 14.
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