Sunday, June 01, 2008

The will of God for who?

Pastor Chris gave a sermon today following through what the speaker had spoke about in the recent church camp - from Colossian 1:3-12 - concentrating on v.9, on the will and purpose God.

The "will of God" is one biblical and theological theme I have not quite worked out yet, which I still have loads of questions on and so while I was listening to the sermon, I worked out the verses as follows to try to understand the passage better:

Some "splendid" observations (as Dick Lucas would have termed it):

1. Faith and love, from hope
Most people who have refered to v.5 and most places I have refered to so far, talked about love, faith and hope as a group of qualities the Colossians had. But I would beg to differ. What the Colossians have shown were love and faith that comes from the hope stored in heaven, and at the same time are the results of their hearing of the Gospel.

2. Eternity has begun
The hope that is stored in heaven has already brought forth the fruition of faith and love. This means that eternity for those who belong to Christ has already begun.

3. Paul heard and Paul prayed
Because Paul has heard about their faith and love - and not any other faith but faith in Christ Jesus and not any other love but love for one another in the body of Christ - he prayed for them.

4. We reflect on His word, He provides the insight
He prayed that God will fill them with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. In reference to 2 Timothy 2:7 - which was actually brought up by Dick Lucas in a teaching session on Psalm 63 - this learning of God's truth is quite a paradoxical thing. We reflect and agonise on His word, and He will give us insight. Not in the sense that we reflect and in return get insight as result of our own reflection, or the other extreme where we don't reflect but He plants His word and truths in our mind and thoughts. In the same way in v.9, in our spiritual wisdom and understanding, we reflect on His word and He will fill us with knowledge of His will. But what is the "knowledge of His will"?

5. In order that, so that ...
The reason why Paul prayed for that is "in order that" and "so that" followed by a list of purposes in our lives:
* living a God-worthy life
* living a God-pleasing life that is bearing fruit, knowing Him more and more, and living only in His power and strength
* living a life full of endurance and patience
* living a life that is joyful and thankful to the Father
Is this the knowledge of His will? Or is this more the results of being filled with the knowledge of His will? If it is the latter, the same question remains, what is the knowledge of His will?

6. One full circle?
I feel that in the mention of the Father who has qualified them ... in the kingdom of lights, brings the whole thing to a full circle, to where the hope that is stored in heaven. But what is this hope that is stored in heaven? Why is it stored up? Why is only hope stored up, and not others?

The will of God for who?
On the topic of the "will of God", I performed a search in the NIV translation of the bible for the phrase "God's will for", and the result was only one verse:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

We only find in this one verse the mention of God's will for anybody.

But the phrase "God's will for you" is so widely and freely used for a long time now. My question is this: is there ever a God's will for you? for anybody? Even in 1 Thess 5:18, it is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. It is a will that is qualified by Christ - i.e. ultimately it is still God's will, period.

I remember some time ago listening to a speaker - by whom, from where, or when I cannot now remember - who said quite frankly that God does not care two hoots which job is better for us, which car we should be buying, which town we should be moving into, or whatever. Yes, these are important decisions, He does care - in fact, He did command us to cast all our cares to Him, which really means, don't worry about your life, but that of course will be another long discourse.
He does care about our whole lives, but when God's will is talked about, it isn't about us, not one bit - it is about His over-arching purpose, His work that done through Christ, His will that is done for His own sake and His own glory. So there is no God's will per se for you or for me. God's guidance and lead for you and me, yes. But only God's will for God.

Our will then is to follow God's will: that is to take part in His work, to be a part of His purpose in the work of the Kingdom, as being in body of Christ. Just like He is the vine and we are the branches, saying "the vine's purpose for the branches" would not make any sense. The branches exist to perform their function and duty for the vine, that is all.



  1. my, you're really open to misunderstanding big time on this. :P hehe people might miss the point you know. anyway, in the course of trying to find or so imagine going after God's will for them, some have made some wrong choices ... and I'm always on guard when people start talking out finding God's will for them, like it's some kind of a set blueprint. ... tough subject this one ;P

  2. Pearlie,
    No chiastic structure?

  3. Melissa,
    When I heard that for the first time, I was taken aback really. And I wanted to reject it, but after awhile I realise what he was onto. Some things are hard to listen to but the truth will get to you ;)

  4. Kar Yong,
    Got meh? Where, where?! I didn't see one? Die!

  5. I think Kar Yong is talking about v.5 and 6, and possibly v.4 and v.7ff. :)

  6. bk,
    hmmm ... really?
    Can please show me?

  7. Well...

    v.5 ...that you have already heard about in the word of truth the gospel...

    v.6a that has already come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing food and growing,

    v.6b just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.

    The encouragement is in v.6a, where Paul shows that the same gospel that the Colossians have heard is bearing fruit all over the world, which is also important in light of the "Colossians heresy/syncreticism". This gospel is bearing food globally, and it will also bear fruit locally in Colossae, so they can have confidence in it. (see for eg. 1:23)

    I suppose the chiasm could be larger - v.4 your faith in Christ Jesus and love...for all the saints

    & v.7-8 He is a faithful minister...and has made known to us your love in the Spirit... but this is perhaps less clear.

    Btw ah, i've been meaning to ask, how did you get that graphic you used in this post to map out the verses?

  8. "bearing food"...

    Alamak, I meant bearing fruit of course! Though I wouldn't mind if it could magically produce chicken rice, nasi lemak, kolo mee right now...

    Must be all this increase of food prices... :D

  9. I'll hv to work it out tmr then ... now nak tidur dy ... zzzzz ... :)

    the graphic? Create in MS Powerpoint, and then save as jpeg and load. Easy peasy.