Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

GOD's Will vs. Human Will . . .A Complete Mess of Conflicting Wills

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 30 November 2010

"There are two kinds of people: those who say to God,
Thy will be done," and those to whom God says,
All right, then, have it your way”.
~ C.S. Lewis

08/04/2010 OWATONNA, MN -- A 17-year-old boy was killed when a landscape block fell off a truck and crashed through the windshield of a van in Steele County. Sheriff's deputies say some retaining wall blocks were strapped on the truck's trailer, but one somehow fell off on Highway 14 west of Owatonna Tuesday afternoon killing the boy instantly.

Overheard at the boy’s funeral: “[Something, . . . something]. . . God’s will.”

09/18/2010 BAXTER , MN -- It was a fairy tail wedding over 40 years in the making. Joe Yoder left for Vietnam with a foreboding sense that his fate would leave his fiance' a young widow. He broke off their engagement and she was left alone and heartbroken. Pegge did eventually marry, but lost her husband to cancer only a year after their wedding. In 1973, Joe returned from Vietnam, forlorn and war-scarred. He never married. Thirty-seven years later, Joe and Pegge were reunited in -- of all places -- a surgery waiting room at Mayo Clinic.

Overheard at the couple’s wedding:
“. . . how wonderful that they found each other.”

And once again we see how easily God gets blamed for a shocking tragedy and given zero credit for a tenderly orchestrated reunion of sweethearts.

So...what is God’s Will? And at what point does God give in to the human will and say, "All right, then, have it your way"?

Before we can answer these questions, it is important to understand that there are two very different meanings for the term God's Will in the Bible.

First consider the words of Jesus when he prayed in Gethsemane:

“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
~ Matthew 26:42

In this passage, "your will" refers to God's Will of Decree -- that is, it relates to God's sovereignty over all that happens. The Will of God was that Jesus die. This was God's plan. This was God's decree. There was nothing that could change it. Jesus did ask that he not go through with the plan, but God had already decreed it. God's sovereignty was at work.

An unsettling fact for many Christians is that the fulfillment of God's Will of Decree does include the reality of sin. To fulfill His sovereign plan, someone usually commits sin. And as a result, someone somewhere is hurt, killed, emotionally wounded, etc. In Matthew 26 and 27, Herod, Pilate, the soldiers, and the Jewish leaders all sinned -- thereby fulfilling God's Will that Jesus be crucified.

A good summation of this kind of God's Will in terms of our lives today is found in the words of I Peter 3:17:

"For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God's will, than to suffer for doing evil."

And a perfect summation of this kind of God's Will in terms of Christ's incarnation is found in the words of Philippians 2:6-7:

"Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the vary nature of a servant,
being made in human likenes

Did the 17-year old boy die instantly because God decreed it?
Was his death the result of someone's sin
{-- which sin was part of another of God's decrees? . . . }

I don't know. I don't think anyone on this side of heaven can answer that.
I do know that God is Sovereign. And I do know that we live in a world of sin.

Does God orchestrate love stories?
Was it God's Will that Joe and Pegge find each other after nearly forty years?
. . . You decide.

Now consider another meaning of God's Will:

Jesus said in Matthew 7:21:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Oh Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."

Here we see God's Will of Command. Here, God's Will is what he commands us to do through His Word; and this is the kind of God's Will that we can choose to either obey or disobey.

Romans 1:20-21 tells us,

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew god, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."

Humankind is without excuse when it comes to our awareness and knowledge of God. And it is our will to choose whether to glorify Him and obey his commandments -- or to dismiss His presence altogether. Psalm 14:1 says,

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good."


In the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:10-14), Jesus says that God's Will is done "in heaven as it is on earth." Here's the thing:

In heaven, God's Will is done promptly, perfectly, willingly and joyfully.

On earth Not so much. The earth is full of human will -- a complete mess of conflicting wills even among people. ["There is no one who does good. . ."] Add the Perfect Will of God; and the whole theme of Scripture is embodied!

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
~ Isaiah 53:5-6

C.S. Lewis certainly had a heavenly perspective when he penned those words. . .

"There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way”.

But. . . Was Lewis referring to the two different kinds of God's Will?
One specific kind of Will?
When we pray "They will be done" we are saying first and foremost that God is Sovereign and that we submit to His Will [of Decree]. We relinquish our plans and ideas and allow His plan to be fulfilled. And . . .

Until we have surrendered our own will to God's Will [of Command], our will and behavior is centered on our self. God's Will [of Command] challenges our self-righteousness, our lifestyle, and our personal values and desires.

"Then I said, "Here I am, I have come -- it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do
Your Will, my God; your law is within my heart. . ."
~ Psalm 40:7-8

Unless we are recognizing that our will (i.e., our plans, our ideas, our desires, our behavior, our values, etc.) must be submissive to All of God's Will [of Decree & of Command], then we are the one to whom God says: "All right then -- have it your way."

We are the fool of Psalm 14. . . .

"Therefore God gave them up . . . "
~ Romans 1:24

~ Esthermay V. Bentley-Goossen
© 2010 The Heart of a Pastor’s Wife

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Miriam Pauline said...

Thought provoking quote. Thanks for hosting.

Twinkle Mom @ Sunflower Faith said...

Great quote; This is one of my favorites and had to resist writing a "book" on it...lol.
We live in so much a society that has taught us to base things on our feelings, if it feels good it must be okay and I see so many close to me wrestling with giving control to God and not justify what they are doing as "He will understand" or "We have an agreement" as if He goes into personal contracts.

It just had me mulling over...His will over Human will and just really encouraged a lot of thoughts!

Love it and enjoy participating this week...

Karen said...

Its one way or the other, God's will or our will. Its sad that some like the boy in the picture choose their will over God's. We fail to realize what a tragic thing it really is to "get it our way." No we should want it God's way! It's a better way to go.

kalopoieo said...

You have the gift of teaching and I need you to teach some of my theology students how to write!! (And think.)

God's Will vs. human will in today's culture must also take into account that most evangelical churches are preaching the gospel of self and surrender to His Will has not only the human will to overcome, but the teaching of the "church."

(You should blog more!!!)

Marsha Young said...

Will of decree and Will of command - thank you for a post that is thoughtful and intentional. I appreciate it. ... Marsha Young at Spots and Wrinkles

Nic said...

As always, WONDERFUL quote and post, dear friend! It speaks to SO much of what my life has been about. I have lived and breathed this quote for years on end and I'm trying to become the person in the first part of the quote, but more often end up the person in the second part of the quote. I loved this today! :-)

Rachel M. said...

Definitely some thoughts to contemplate. So often, even the best Christians readily accept God's Will of Command, but not His will of Decree. As usual, Estermay, you challenge me! Thank you. :)

D.J. Hughes said...

I appreciate your words today. Thanks for choosing such a powerful quote by C.S. Lewis.

Carol said...

Pastors' wives experience unique struggles and challenges that few others can understand, or appreciate. The new book, "The Runaway Pastor's Wife", takes a look, with an inside perspective, at one such pastor's wife and her struggles.

. said...

Hello, I come to via another friends blog.. I am co~author of http://heartofthehome-blog.blogspot.com/ and I enjoyed browsing your blog and wanted to introduce ourselves.. Heart of the Home is a womens ministry reaching out to women with encouragement from Gods word and his design for women as wives, mothers, friends and etc.. Hope you will get a chance to stop by and visit us, and that we can become Blogging Buddies.. Have a great weekend.. God Bless

Nikki said...

I've always been impatient, spontaneous, and have tried to push my will too many times. In the past, my prayer was that God would close the door if it was not His will, and that's what always seemed to happen. Lately, I'm trying to listen more to God and wait for Him. I want to do His perfect will, not just the permissive one.
Thanks for a very thought-provoking post.

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