THINGS SECRET AND THINGS REVEALED
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 God sovereignly has decreed (planned) whatsoever comes to pass. For example, those who crucified Jesus did whatever God’s “purpose determined before to be done” (Acts 4:28; cf. 2:33). The “only way you are going to know the hidden will of God for you 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 (also called ‘the preceptive will of God’) refers to God’s law, to His commands revealed in the Bible. “The first commandment, ‘You shall have no other gods before Me’ (Ex. 20:3), for example, is part of the preceptive will of God.” “Whereas the decretive will of God cannot be resisted, we not only can resist the preceptive will of God but we do resist it all the time.”
God “has a secret plan for your life that is absolutely none of your business… It is God’s business, which is why He is so severe in His warnings in Scripture against those who try to find out the future through illicit means such as Ouija boards, fortune tellers, and tarot cards. Those things are off-limits for Christians.”
LIVING GOD’S WILL
“We are encouraged by Scripture to learn the will of God for our lives…by focusing our attention not on the decretive will of God but on the preceptive will of God. If you want to know God’s will for your life, the Bible tells you: ‘This is the will of God, your sanctification’ (1 Thess. 4:3). 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 closely the preceptive will of God. They should study the law of God to learn the principles by which they are to live their lives from day to day (see Ps. 1:1-4; 119:105). “The will of God is that we obey every word that proceeds from His mouth.”
“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; if it is not, you should not accept it.” You also have to do the hard work of matching “your vocation – your calling – with a job opportunity.”
“When it comes to deciding whom to marry, …you might discover that there are several prospects who meet the biblical requirements. So which one do you marry? The answer to that is easy: whichever one you want to marry. As long as the one you choose falls within the parameters of the preceptive will of God, you have complete liberty to act according to whatever pleases you, and you do not need to lose any sleep wondering whether you are outside the hidden or decretive will of God.”
Be encouraged; “you cannot be outside the decretive will of God.” The Bible says that God will lead us and direct our paths (Prov. 3:5-6).
[Adapted from chapter 14 of Everyone’s a Theologian by R.C. Sproul]