Three Views of God’s Will — revisited

June 16, 2009 at 9:27 am | Posted in Marriage, Questions for Pastor Glenn, Wisdom | 1 Comment

My wife and I help with our daughter’s swim team the first few weeks of each summer, so we’ve been in the water with the kids every day; that has shortened my available time considerably.  As a result, blogging has been slow.  However, I’ve had plenty of thoughts to write about, so hopefully I will get caught up on those over the next few weeks.  I want to start with an e-mail I received concerning the previous post called “Three Views of God’s Will.”  Here is a part of the e-mail:  “I found this blog interesting.  However, I kept thinking, or wishing you had continued using the same example through out the three beliefs of God’s will, i.e. the wrong marriage partner or perhaps the wrong profession.”

Maybe that would have helped to explain things.  So here’s a shot at it using the marriage theme:

Those who believe exclusively in the “Narrow Bridge” view must believe that there is one person, and only one person, for them to marry, and if they marry the wrong one, they will be out of God’s will, as long as they are married to that person.  Of course, to any who take the scriptures seriously, divorce is not in God’s will either, so they are stuck with two options, both of which show the absurdity of this view.  Either both spouses are outside of God’s will for years – until they are parted by death.  Or they can get back into God’s will by divorcing and marrying the right person.  Although I’ve heard that latter option as an excuse to divorce and remarry, a moment’s reflection reveals it is believing that two wrongs make a right. Both of these choices deny the sovereign grace of God, by which he is able to make any marriage beautiful, even if it began in sin.  Besides that, Satan can use this thought to keep many people from serving God, making them believe they’ve already missed His will so they need not bother with serving him any longer.  I’ve heard that excuse too many times also!

Those who take the “Wisdom within Boundaries” view have to believe the only wrong marriage is one with an unbeliever.  God frees you to marry anyone who is a follower of Jesus.  If you have married an unbeliever, the boundaries set by God’s word would require you to stay in that marriage and pursue godly wisdom, character and relationship within it.  However, if the unbelieving partner were to leave the marriage, that gives the believing partner grounds for divorce (1 Cor 7:12-16).  In other words, one can admit that he has wandered out side God’s boundaries, but determine to stay within them from this day forward.  In the case of marriage to an unbeliever, I find this view much closer to the truth.

Those who believe the “In Step” view, might believe that God has a specific partner for them, but were they to misstep and marry someone else, the relationship with God would not be hurt, and God would still graciously lead that marriage to where he wants it to be.  He has a marvelous way of creating beauty where sin exists!  We can walk with that confidence, even after we do wrong.

I had a friend whose wife left him for another man with whom she was having an affair.  All three claimed to be believers, as did the second man’s wife who was also left alone.  Both cheating partners used the excuse that they’d married the wrong person.  I wonder how long it took them to realize the second partner was the wrong person also!  Anyway, my friend had five children at the time and told them, “What Mom did was wrong, and I’ve been wrong in this matter as well, but that doesn’t mean life for us will be bad.  Life may be more difficult, but with God’s grace, it can be even better.”  She took the wrong view of God’s will and used it as an excuse to seek her own pleasure.  He took the right view of God’s will, recognizing his sovereign grace in our lives, determining to walk with him in spite of circumstances.

There is an interesting storyline in Acts, where Paul was “compelled by the Spirit” to go to Jerusalem (20:22).  However, many who knew him repeatedly told him “through the Spirit” not to go there (21:4, 11-12).  When Paul could not be persuaded to stay away from Jerusalem those trying to persuade him gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done!”  I have always struggled to understand how to interpret this.  It seems there was no clear leading in this matter, so Paul was free to do as he determined.  However, everyone believed that God’s ultimate will would be done either way.  It becomes clear as the story progresses that God’s specific will was for Paul to stand before the authorities in Rome (See 23:21, 25:12, 26:32).  God used this side trip to Jerusalem to bring that about.  This story indicates that both the “Narrow Bridge” and the “Wisdom within Boundaries” views are not complete.

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  1. If you would like to hear my sermon on “Finding God’s Best” for marriage, go to this link for the podcast:
    http://podcast.village-baptist.org//index.php?id=6
    Blessings
    Pastor Glenn


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