“God wills it!”
So justified the brutal era known as the Crusades.
In Claiming Christ, my family took some time to consider what the Bible has to say about understanding the Will of God and how that compares to popular theological definitions.
It is a sad fact of history that many use the name of God to influence the support of others for private agenda’s. Understandably, for both the superstitious and the religious, it is a scary thing to defy anything in which the will of God is invoked.
The very name of deception is recorded in Scripture as Jacob, who when seeking to secretly gain God’s blessing by his own efforts, answered his father Isaac by falsely claiming that God has given him success (Gen 27:20). Such deceitful claims of the apparent “will of God”–to get what one wants–continues to fester among believers to this day.
As noted, the infamous Christian Crusades put crosses on their shields and garments. The Catholic church frightened the simple and pious into doing their bidding by declaring that it was the known Will of God to slaughter non-believers in foreign lands. The Bible told Christians to “turn the other cheek”, but the Pope pushed violence–in God’s name.
Courtrooms in America have often invoked the name of God when demanding that witnesses tell the whole truth, in spite of the otherwise overt governmental denial of submitting to that God. Even Presidents who don’t submit to God are sworn into office by placing a hand upon the Bible. They just want to lend weight toward getting what they want, rather than actually encourage people to honor God.
On the streets of almost any city, one can hear intense mis-use of God’s name by those who seek to add extra intensity to their swearing and cursing.
Even the despicable Hitler forced his soldiers to swear allegiance to him in the name of God, when in practice he was his own god.
History has painted its walls with hypocritical blood by defining the Will of God as something in favor of godless agendas.
The same is true in Reformed theology.
My wife reported an interchange she observed recently when a student asked “So is it possible for me to be outside the will of God, but still remain in the plan of God?” To which the teacher happily confirmed, “yes”. It may sound legitimate, depending on how the key terms are defined. However, in this case, the contextual discussion (as I understood it) dealt with the difficulty of a Christian living in sin, but still being guaranteed heaven. In other words, the teacher confirmed that a believer cannot lose their salvation (ie: the plan of God) even if they persist in sinful behavior (ie: to be outside the will of God).
But the Bible teaches those who are already Christians, “He who lives like this will not inherit the kingdom of God”. As my wife astutely noted: isn’t Hell also part of the plan of God?
Scripture prophesies about those who twist the words of God for their own purposes in violation of what God teaches. We may not always like how God defines things, but they are his words, not ours. We are duty bound to uphold what he reveals and not add-to or take-away in some worthless attempt to bolster our own wills.
This tendency to twist what God says can be found in how biblical words are often redefined in ways that conflict with other related passages of Scripture.
I listened to a well-respected minister inform his audience that the saying “God helps those who help themselves, is not in Scripture” (which is correct), and then in the very same breath tell everyone that God is pleased with those who “do the least”; to which he then stated categorically “and that is in Scripture”! (verbal emphasis shown in italics).
Really? Where? Jesus taught that it was the wicked servant that did the least and buried his talent in the ground with nothing to show for his effort in faithfully using what the master had given in trust to him. He also said that those who refuse to produce the fruit God expects will be destroyed. It is not my intent to further prove the absurdity of this ministers claim, but I share it to further demonstrate how prevalent it is to shift the meaning of God’s words to emphasize our personal ideas.
I believe that minister was attempting to teach that it is best if Christians get their own efforts out-of-the-way of the working of the Holy Spirit and wait upon the Lord to fix our problems. That teaching can be supported within Scripture. However, the Calvinistic theological idea (to which this pastor also subscribes), that God forces believers to be saved and thus their personal participation is completely irrelevant and should be therefore avoided (ie: “do least”) is patently false and an outright violation of Scripture.
He so much wanted to convince his audience of his agenda, that he was willing to outright lie and tell everyone that God is most pleased with those who “do least”, and that that statement IS in Scripture.
For those willing to hear, here is my encouragement:
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.”
I’m pretty sure you’ll find that is both the accurate Word and Will of God.