God’s secret will and revealed will
Christians often ask, “How can I know the will of God of my life?” The Bible says that God has a hidden will and a revealed will. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29).
God’s hidden will is His decretive will, which refers to the fact that He sovereignly has decreed (planned) whatsoever comes to pass. What God has decreed will most certainly happen. The only way we are going to know the hidden will of God for today is to wait until tomorrow and look back on the past and know that whatever happened in the past is the outworking of the hidden will of God. In other words, we only know God’s hidden will after the fact.
God’s revealed will refers to God’s law, His commands revealed in the Bible, which teach us what God wants us to do in every area of our life. For example, the Bible says, “This is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). The decretive will of God cannot be resisted, but we can by our disobedience resist God’s revealed will.
Most people who inquire about the will of God are struggling with what to do in particular situations. We are encouraged to learn the will of God for our lives by focusing attention not on the decretive will of God but on the revealed will of God. So when people wonder whether to take a job in Cleveland or in San Francisco, or whether to marry Jane or Martha, they should study the law of God to learn the principles by which they are to live their lives from day to day.
If you want to know which job to take, you have to master the principles. As you do, you will discover that it is God’s will that you make a sober analysis of your gifts and talents. Then you are to consider whether a particular job is in keeping with your gifts.
When it comes to deciding whom to marry, you look at everything Scripture says with respect to God’s blessing on marriage. Having done that, you might discover that there are several prospects who meet the biblical requirements. So which one do you marry? The answer is: whichever one you want to marry.
Be encouraged, we cannot miss God’s decretive will for our lives! God will lead us and direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
[Adapted from Everyone’s a Theologian by R.C. Sproul]