God’s will and the Bible!

Of all the things I might find important in relation to God, I believe the thing that should concern us the deepest is simply this: What is God’s will for my life.” In view of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s amazing gift this ought to be our top priority!

In fact Paul felt the same and wrote to the Church in Ephesus in

Ephesians 5:17 saying, “therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Without trying to oversimplify matters, let me suggest to you that the Holy Spirit has inspired men of God to write the Bible so that God’s will is plainly revealed in a way that everyone can understand.

2 Peter 1:19-21 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

We will discuss this more in future lessons but for the sake of this outline we recognize that our study of the scriptures is very important for discovering God’s will.

Does this mean that I must know everything in both the Old and New Testaments in order to know God’s will? Do I have to do everything that both Testaments talk about?” Those are very significant questions. If we had to know everything in both the Old and New Testaments in order to know and do God’s will, then very few if any could ever make it! God expects great things from His people, but He certainly does not require us, in the beginning of our Christian walk, to know everything in the Bible.

Similarly, there are many things in the Bible that have been commanded, but which do not apply to us! For example, God does not require us to make three annual trips to Jerusalem for feasts in which we must offer an animal sacrifice in the temple. These things were commanded in the Old Testament for the Israelites, but we know that God does not expect them of us.

  • For one thing, the temple in Jerusalem is no longer there! It was destroyed in 70 A.D.
  • Secondly, the Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice which did away with the entire Old Testament practice of animal sacrifice as we read in Hebrews 10: 1-14.
  • Many other examples could be cited as well, but one thing is certain–God does not expect us to know and do everything that is written in both the Old and New Testaments in order to be saved or to do His will.

How, then, can we begin zeroing in on God’s will? One important step in doing this is to gain a more complete understanding of the role of the Old and New Testaments. We will begin by noting what the New Testament says about the Old Testament Scriptures (or the Law). It will be of help to remember that when the New Testament speaks of the “law” or the “old covenant,” it has reference to the Old Testament.

What do the New Testament writers say about the Old Testament?

Consider what Paul says in Romans 7:1-6,

“Do you not know, brothers–for I am speaking to men who know the law–that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”

Paul quite emphatically says that the Old Testament is no longer the “Law” for our lives. As the book of Hebrews points out, Jesus brought a better covenant which made the old one obsolete as we read in Hebrews 8:6, 7 & 13. Therefore, the Bible itself says that the place in which a Christian can find God’s will for his life is in the New Testament, not the Old Testament.

Does the Old Testament have any value then? Of course! Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:11 concerning the things that happened in the Old Testament that,

These things happened to them as examples and were written as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.”

The Old Testament has many valuable examples that can teach us about the spiritual things and therefore, should be studied thoroughly. It gives us valuable information on who God is and how we should live in the presence of a Holy God.   In fact, the New Testament quotes the Old Testament literally hundreds of times, and when Jesus was tempted by Satan he quotes passages from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy.  But in terms of God’s expressed will for our lives, the New Testament is the place which gives us answers.

Is there anything you should know about studying or interpreting the New Testament? As far as specific principles that should be applied to your personal study of the Scriptures, classes will be offered which will be of help to you. In the meantime, just use some common sense in your approach to the Bible.

FIRST, read a Bible version that you can easily understand.

There are many good versions like the English Standard Version, The New King James Version , The New American Standard Version, and others. As you know, for these lessons I have been using the English Standard Version and the New International Version, but the others mentioned are excellent as well. If you have any questions, please do not be afraid to ask.

SECOND, read the New Testament as you would any other writing whether it be a letter from a friend or a new novel that you picked up. What I mean is this: always remember who is writing, to who, and for what reason. Before you try to apply something to your life, make sure that it was intended for all Christians. Similarly, do not try to find numerous meanings or hidden ideas in a verse. God usually had only one meaning in mind, and the most obvious interpretation is often the best.

THIRD, when a passage was intended for all Christians, make a personal application to your own life. God not only wants us to know His word–he wants us to do it as we see in James 1:22-25.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

My prayer for you is that you will learn to enjoy reading and studying your Bible. Read at your own pace, and for your own enjoyment. But as you do, remember what Peter said when Jesus asked the disciples if they would do what the crowds were doing and quit following Him. Peter simply said in

John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” May these words, words of eternal life contained in your Bible, be a constant source of personal strength.

QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW AND STUDY

  1. What does Paul tell us that we are to understand in Ephesians 5:11?
  2. Who guided men in writing the Bible according to 2 Peter 1:19-21?
  3. Does God expect us to know everything in both the Old and New Testaments in order to know God’s will?
  4. According to Paul in Romans 7:1-6, do we find God’s will for our lives in the Old Testament?
  5. According to Hebrews 8:13, the New Testament has made the Old Testament what?
  6.  In 1 Corinthians 10:11 what value does Paul say the Old Testament has in our own study of the Scriptures?
  7. How many meanings should we normally look for in a passage of the Bible?
  8. Where do we find God’s will for our lives?
  9. God not only wants us to hear or know His word. What else does James 1:22-25 say He wants?

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