7-4 God's Willing
These ideas help explain the fact that there appear to be two groups
of words used to convey the idea of God's "will" in the New Testament,
and possibly in Hebrew too. We are familiar with saying that we 'will'
something to happen- e. g. 'willing ' a child to win a race. We do not
decree against all odds that the action will happen. The same is true
of the word in Greek. Christ "would" (will-ed to) have passed by the disciples
in the boat- i. e. He wished to, but He did not irrevocably will to do
so, because actually He didn't- because of Peter's willingness to show
faith. This same word is used to describe God's will:
"If we ask anything according to God's will, He heareth us" (1 Jn.
5:14). This 'will' can therefore be affected by prayer and reasoning.
"This is the will of God. . . that ye should abstain from fornication"
(1 Thess. 4:3); "It is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer
for well doing "(1 Peter 3:17). "I will give unto this last, even as
unto thee "(Mt. 20:14). The word thus means the desires, which can be
"Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring (willing) to see
Thee" (Lk. 8:20).
"Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people
a prisoner, whom they would" (i. e. desired); Mt. 27:15.
"Joseph. . . not willing (wishing) to make her a public example" (Mt.
"This they willingly are ignorant of" (2 Peter 3:5)-i. e. they desire
to be ignorant.
Further examples are: Mt. 16:24; Lk. 13:31; Jn. 8:44; 1 Cor. 7:37; Eph.
2:3; James 4:15; 1 Peter 4:2; Rev. 4:11.
It is this will of God, His emotional desires, which can be changed,
and which are expressed through His Angels being able to be 'emotionally'
swayed. Thus any prayer can be theoretically answered according to such
a definition of the will of God. This realm
of God's dealings with man, we suggest, is delegated to the Angels.
Such a situation where God Himself in person is subject to emotion cannot
be possible. So let us "not be unwise, but understanding what the will
of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:17).
The other group of words describe the determinate will of God which is
"The counsel and deed" of the Sannhedrin that condemned Christ to death
(Lk. 23:51)- no changing them.
"The ships. . are. . turned about with a very small helm, withersoever
the governor listeth"- the captain moves the rudder, and the ship inevitably
moves in the direction commanded (James 3:4); just like God's control
of His immutable will.
"They. . . took counsel to slay them " (Acts 5:33)- they firmly decided.
The same word is used about God's will:
"The immutability of His counsel" (Heb. 6:17)
"Of His own will begat He us with the word of Truth" (James 1:18)-
His predestination of us to receive the word of the Gospel over and
above our personal worthiness. Similarly the Angel did not
give Israel in the wilderness "a heart to perceive" (Dt. 29:4), although
they have opened our heart (cp. Eph. 1:18 RV).
"Him (Jesus) being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge
of God" (Acts 2:23)- thankfully, nothing could ever alter God's will
that Christ should die for our sins (see too Acts 4:27,28; Heb. 7:212).
Most significantly "Father, if Thou be willing (the determinate will),
remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will (emotional desires).
. ", Lk. 22:42. And so the pattern is set- recognizing that our will
and desires are emotional, merely our wishes, compared to the
determinate will of God.
It is this will which presumably God personally superintends, although
it appears to apply only to the basic elements of salvation- e. g. the
sureness of His promise of salvation (Heb. 6:17), His calling of us to
the Gospel (James 1:18), and His will that Christ should be sacrificed.
He will not let the Angels change His purpose concerning such fundamentals-
"I will ransom (Israel) from the hand of the grave (the Angel-hand of
death). . . repentance shall be hid from Mine eyes" (Angels)- Hos. 13:14;
cp. "I have purposed it, and will not repent" (Jer. 4:28).
The less fundamental aspects of His purpose are in the control of the
Angels, and subject to His desires only. It is these things about which
we normally pray, and therefore knowing the nature of the Angels we have
every encouragement to wrestle with them in our prayers so they may be
heard, in that God will give power to His Angels so they can perform their
will. "(God). . performeth the counsel (humble advice) of His messenger"
(Heb. Malak- Angels; Is. 44:26).