Some revelations of the will of God are universal and immutable. For example, the second coming of Christ is a sure event that will happen in the near future of earth’s history. Nothing can change this reality. This is called the sovereign will of God. Complementary to the sovereign will of God is the revealed will of God. These are revelations of God for the individual, contextualized for the local setting. The principles extracted from the Bible are to be applied and enacted by the individual making the decision prayerfully and under the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
When a decision needs to be made, one should come to God in prayer, asking for help from the Holy Spirit. Then the Bible should be consulted for scenarios and narratives that are similar. What are the principles that can be gleaned from the narrative?
Let’s take this week’s Scriptural passage, 1 Kings 17:1–9; 18:1, as an example. What principles from the passage can be applied to your situation? Are there other biblical passages that can be compared and contrasted with this one? The repeated phrase and the principle in the passage is that Elijah always waited for the Word of the Lord. Rather than looking at the external circumstances of persecution and politics or the internal state of fear and hunger, he waited for guidance from heaven. Every time Elijah waited for the Word, he heard and obeyed it. Unfortunately, after the Mount Carmel episode, Elijah took his life into his own hands when he ran from the persecution of Jezebel. Nowhere in that passage is the phase, “according to the Word of the Lord.”
Prayer is needed not only to ask God formally for help but also to prevent the deception of our hearts. As the Lord says in Scripture, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9, 10). It is not the complexity or indiscernibility of God’s will that is a problem, but the dishonesty of the human heart. Even in the midst of Bible study, the human heart can be selective about what it wants to know and to do. Rather than selecting the principles we want to obey or forging together selected verses for a specific result, we are to seek God’s will with all of our hearts, as we discussed last week.
While some principles require more study, others are unambiguous. Some are part of His sovereign will, while others are prescribed just for your circumstance. Some passages will require a lifetime to understand, while the meaning of other verses will be supernaturally uncovered by the Holy Spirit. Regardless of category, more important even than understanding the will of God is following through and obeying the will of God by His grace and strength.