As we begin to see the signs of religious persecution raise its ugly head in our culture, one thing we need to do as the church is take a crash course on how to live under persecution and in a society hostile to our message. And the best way to do this is by following the example of other believers who have faced what we are soon to face yet remained steadfast, confident, and faithful to the end, no matter what.
So we began to look at the early church, as revealed in Acts, to see what they knew then that maybe we don’t know today or what they believed back then that maybe we have conveniently forgotten. And we found they knew far less than we know, but believed so much more. For them, God’s Word was just that— God’s Word. It was not to be analyzed, scrutinized, or debated. It was to be obeyed. And to prove this point, we took one familiar passage and asked ourselves if our belief in its truth differs from how the early church believed. It was from 1 John 2.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life— is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever – 1 John 2:15-17.
It seems this truth comes with a command, followed by a warning, and ending with a great promise. The command is to “not love the world or the things in the world.” The warning then states those who do not follow this command will find the “love of the Father is not in him (them),” which is quite frightening. But it ends on a high note. The promise says those who do “the will of God abides forever.” As you recall, the word for “abide’ is ménō and means to “remain, dwell, live, to make their home, to be united in one heart, mind, and will” with God. And to “abide with God forever,” both now and for all eternity, is the perfect description of the Higher Christian Life.
But one question remains: What is the will of God? In other words, if we abide forever with God by doing His will, then exactly what is His will for us as individuals, and for all believers in general? I can’t think of a more important question to get answered than this, can you?
Remember, we always move from the general to the specific when it comes to knowing God’s will for our lives. In other words, we must start with knowing God’s will for all His children (general) before we need to know His will for us as individuals (specific). For it is only when we are faithful to obey His will for all believers that He will reveal to us His specific will for how He wants us as individual believers to obey His general will. We must be faithful with the macro will of God before He will reveal His micro will for us.
So as a starting point for knowing God’s specific will for our lives, we need to first know His will for all believers. Theologically, these are called the Five Wills of God.
One, it is God’s will for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 5:17-18.
Two, it is God’s will for us to be sexually pure – 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.
Three, it is God’s will for us to suffer (ouch!) – 1 Peter 4:19.
Four, it is God’s will for us to give thanks in all situations – 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
Five, it is God’s will for us to submit to governmental authorities – 1 Peter 2:13-15.
In this message, we will explore the first four of these five wills of God. Remember, once we are faithful with these, God will gladly reveal to each of us His specific will for how He wants to us follow Him. And isn’t that the goal of our life with Him, to know exactly how He wants us to spend this life He has given us for His glory? One (specific) always follows the other (general). So let’s begin with the general and watch how the Lord reveals to us His specific will for our lives. And yes, it is always a wild ride.