Text: Proverbs 4:1-10
I. What we’ve seen
A. There are groups which teach that there are three different wills of God
1. A sovereign will in which God has laid down the course or direction of the universe
2. A moral will in which God has defined what people should and should not do.
3. An individual will in which each person’s life is mapped out
B. The claim is that only when a person matches his life closely to God’s desire for his life will he find success. Some go so far as to say that if a person goes against God’s desire for his life, such as in marrying the wrong person or going to the wrong school, that he is sinning.
II. What the issue is not
A. Not a question of whether God has control over His creation - Psalm 50:10-12; Ezekiel 18:4
B. Not a question of whether God has directed individuals in the past
1. God told Abram to move - Genesis 12:1
2. An angel sent Philip to teach someone - Acts 8:26
III. What the question is does God have a unique will for each individual?
A. Is there only one correct answer for every decision we face, which God has laid out and that we must discover?
B. If a person’s life is completely mapped out and we need to seek God’s guidance on every decision; well, each person makes a lot of decisions every day
1. When to get out of bed, what to wear for the day, what to do first, etc.
2. If every single decision needs to be discussed with God, then we could easily spend more time asking than doing.
3. Typically the focus is on “important” decisions, but “ordinary” decisions are ignored – but life has more ordinary decisions than important ones.
4. How does one act in a consistent manner toward decision making?
C. Some decisions are between apparently equal options.
1. Do I put on black socks or brown?
2. Supposedly God wants one, but there is no criteria in which one can be selected. We would conclude that it doesn’t matter, but advocates of an individual will argue that it does.
3. There are choices where the selection doesn’t matter to God
a. Whether you marry during times of distress - I Corinthians 7:27-28
b. Whether you give your blessing to a marriage - I Corinthians 7:36-37
c. Whether you eat meat - Romans 7:2-4
D. It introduces subjectivity over reasoning
1. The source of impressions is not considered.
a. How do you know whether this feeling is coming from God, Satan, or your own desires?
b. Actually supporters of an individual will recognize the problem. That is why they say you have to get multiple verifications.
c. But if it was truly from God, then why the uncertainty?
2. What about getting wisdom first?
a. Proverbs 4:5-9
b. Proverbs 19:8
c. Proverbs 23:23
3. Where does God tell people to follow their feelings?
E. What happens with conflicting guidance?
1. What if you feel you should do A, but those you sought out for advice said that B was a better choice?
2. Often a young person will go with his feeling. Thus personal feeling is placed over wise advice.
3. That is what got Rehoboam in trouble! - I Kings 12
IV. People made decisions on their own
A. Where to stay
1. Paul taught in Thessalonica, but was driven out by the Jews - Acts 17:5
2. So Paul went to Berea - Acts 17:10
3. But the same thing happened - Acts 17:13-14
4. Paul was concerned about leaving such new groups of Christians on their own - I Thessalonians 3:4-5
5. But they had a plan - I Thessalonians 3:1-3
a. Wait a minute! Did you notice “we thought it best.”
b. Who made this decision? Paul, Silas, and Timothy!
B. Who to send
1. While Paul was awaiting trial in Rome, the church in Philippi sent Epaphroditus with a gift - Philippians 4:14-18
2. But Epaphroditus became ill - Philippians 2:25-30
3. Why was he sent back? Because Paul thought it necessary.
C. Where to go
1. A famine struck Judea and the churches in Asia, Greece, and Macedonia took up a collection to aid the brethren in Judea - Romans 15:26-27
2. As Paul made the arrangements - I Corinthians 16:3-4
3. “If it is fitting.” Depending on circumstances, Paul would decide later whether he would go with the gift or not.
D. Whose in charge
1. The rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem caused management problems - Acts 6:1-4
2. Notice “it is not desirable.” It isn’t that the apostles couldn’t manage the distribution, but they didn’t see it as the best use of their limited time.
3. The church then chose men to accomplish the task - Acts 6:5
E. Notice in all these cases, there is no mention of people seeking out God’s will for the people involved.
1. They made the best decision they could given the facts as they knew it and based upon their knowledge of God’s overall teachings.
2. You don’t see them asking God to make the decisions for them.
V. Didn’t God interact with them to tell them what to do?
A. There were times He did so, but these were the exception instead of the rule
B. The point is that every decision did not need to come from God
C. Therefore to claim that there is an individual will unique to each individual that a person must conform to is not true.
D. What there is a desire by God for people to leave their sins - Ezekiel 18:23
E. But the choice to stay in sin or to leave sin is left to each person. What will be your choice?