Two conversations I have had over the last three days made me realize how much I love being a pastor. For those who are unclear, I am still technically “part-time intern pastor” at Kailua Baptist Church. But I really do function as the senior pastor for all intents and purposes. Here are the two things that stick out from those two conversations:
- Many people have heard about the many difficulties that my church has gone through over the last several years, mostly secondhand information. The sentiment I get from many pastors is something to the effect of: “Boy, you got your work cut out for you.” Friends, if you do not have your work cut out for you at your church, you better start preaching the Bible! Getting Christians to think more biblically is always hard work. Loving pastorally means you will risk friendships to make people more like Christ.
- When asked how I like pastoring I said “any stresses that come with the job are more than worth it.” I enjoy preaching, teaching, counseling and loving sheep so much. Even if they do not listen, I am satisfied knowing that I am pleasing God in it, and giving them the only chance they have for lasting change by giving them Bible.
If you do not face some friction by your preaching, you are doing something wrong. If your church does not appear dysfunctional in some way, dig deeper in the Scriptures. If it doesn’t seem broke, fix what you’re doing!
Let’s be very clear about this: the Bible only describes God’s will in two ways.
1) God’s unchangeable will (I call it his redemptive plan) is that Jesus Christ be glorified in all the earth. This will happen no matter what. And since Jesus is the perfect image of the invisible God, the glory of Jesus equals the glory of God.
2) God’s revealed will (I call it his revealed desire) is that all people be holy. I call it revealed desire because a lot of times Christians believe God’s will to be mysterious. They are paralyzed as far as what to do and when to do it because they are afraid to “miss” God’s will for their lives. But God has revealed all he ever needs to reveal for us to know how to please Him. I repeat: God has revealed all he ever needs to reveal for us to know how to please Him.
Here are some places I see these two wills happening:
Redemptive plan- Ephesians 1.4-11, Acts 2.22-23, 4.24-28, James 4.15, 1 Peter 3.17, 1 John 5.14-15
Revealed desire- 1 Peter 1.15-16, Matthew 6.10, Romans 12.2, Ephesians 5.17, 1 Thessalonians 4.3, 5.18
Christians must not live and slave and wrestle with any other category of “will of God” or they are simply living unbiblically, at best majoring on the minors.
The word “will” does not appear in this passage, but because of the frequency of commands like this: “be holy, because I am holy,” we can say confidently that this is what God desires from his people more than anything else. So if you want to please God, God’s will is that you work toward your holiness. Here are four motivations:
- The return of the Son of God (13)- believers should be more motivated to be holy by setting their hope fully on the day Christ returns to judge the earth because that day means final, full redemption for believers.
- Your relationship with God (14)- Peter says, “as obedient children” stay away from evil and be holy. Like a loving child would obey his/her loving Father, be holy.
- The holiness of God (15-16)- of all the reasons God gives he says, “Be holy, because I am holy.” And this is basically the overacrching command of the Scriptures. Unbelievers, look to Christ, because he is holy. Believers, be holy, because God is holy.
- The Word of God (15-16)- Peter could have stopped at verse 15, but he continued “for it is written,” and then he quoted Leviticus. The Word should motivate any true believer indwelt by His Spirit.
I would call this God’s revealed will, or God’s revealed desire. If you want to please God, be holy. God loves to see holy people because holy people look like His Son and His Son is His perfect image and God loves for His image to be spread out all over the earth, as the waters cover the seas.
A better preaching block is verses 3-14, but I am just trying to pick out what Paul is saying about God’s will; and what I hear him saying is that God’s will is for Jesus Christ to be glorified in all the earth:
- The point of creation is redemption in Jesus- God chose believers in Christ before the foundation of the world (4) and predestined them for adoption in Christ according to the purpose of his will (5) so that they now have redemption through the blood of Christ (7). The thing God had in mind at the moment of creation was redemption.
- The point of redemption is to unite all things in Jesus- God’s will is no longer a mystery (9) and his will is and always has been to unite all things in the universe in Jesus (10); taken with Eph 1.20-23, this seems to point to the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ.
- God works all things according to that plan- “his will” in verse 11 is the same “his will” as verses 5 and 9; and “all things” in verse 11 is the same “all things” as verse 10. So God’s will has always been to glorify Christ, and he works everything in the universe to fit and support that will.
I would argue this is the main way the Bible talks about God’s will. It is what I would call God’s redemptive will, or his redemptive plan. It is unchangeable; you cannot stop it from happening. I pray this is the will you are seeking whenever you are making decisions, or seeking direction, or searching for “God’s will” for your life.