by Robert B. Killen

GOD'S WILL IS SOVEREIGN. His is the only "free will" in the universe. That has been pounded home in this magazine [Unsearchable Riches] for over 85 years, but it cannot be overemphasized. Man's will is a complex mixture of several components, not one of which is under sewn's independent control. In the final analysis, God is in complete control of our lives, for "out of Him and through Him and for Him is all: to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen!" (Rom.11:36). We (and all else), are created out of God, and "in Him we are living and moving and are" (Acts 17:28). He is the "One Who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will" (Eph.1: 11).

       The greatest "decision" of our lives, to believe God, came about because of His choice. For "in grace, through faith, are you saved, and this is not out of you; it is God's approach present not of works, lest anyone should be boasting" (Eph.2:8,9; cf Eph.1:4; Rom.8:28-30; 9:9-18). These are unequivocal statements of God. As to our experience in faith, His declaration is equally definite: "...for it is God Who is operating in you to will as well as to work for the sake of His delight" (Phil.2:13). If our wills are thus controlled in these great "decisions," should we quibble about man's part in the lesser ones?

       Think on the decision of Joseph's brothers, mean-spirited, jealous men, who sold Joseph into Egypt. Later, as they were trembling before Joseph in Egypt he reassured them: "And now, you must not grieve, and it must not be hot in your eyes, that you sell me hither, for to preserve life the Elohim sends mew before you" (Gen.45:5). The will of the brothers to eliminate Joseph was caused by Elohim!* [*Read the story in Genesis chapters 37-45.]


       An early section of Romans discusses the conduct of mankind, and this section climaxes with the finding that "Not one is just --  not even one" (Rom.3:10). One of the major charges is that "knowing God, not as God do they glorify or thank Him" (Rom.1: 21). The key phrase here is the words "not as God." Thus we have italicized the words in the quotation, "as God," but what do they mean? The context defines them. "For His invisible attributes are descried from the creation of the world, being apprehended by His achievements, besides His imperceptible power and divinity..." (Rom.1:20). So we should glorify and thank Him as Creator, Who creates and sustains the universe with power and divinity.

       Recognition of God as Creator is apparently fading. Science flits from one theory to another, but it seems not many of the intelligent today attribute the creation to the Creator.

       Now let us consider His power and divinity. The Greek word translated "power" in the CV, has been assigned the standard equivalent ABILITY. "Divinity," the qualities pertaining to God, bring to mind His PLACERship. Thus He has the ability to place His creatures in the right place and at the right time to carry out His intention, and ultimately His will. His will is that humans recognize and glorify Him as God. The counsel (intention) of His will determines the degree to which all humans believe and follow His will. Our will should be to accept thank and glorify Him as God; as believers we have the great advantage over the unbeliever of believing His Word which reveals His will.

       Unbelievers and those without His Word have consciences and "reckonings between one another." By nature, they may be carrying out some, at least, of the demands of the law (Rom.2: 14). They may fear God, recognize His power, and even to a limited extent "glorify and thank Him as God," even though knowing only what nature itself manifests to them.

       Failure to fully recognize God as God is costly, for it adversely affects the quality of human minds, the objects of their worship, even as conduct (Rom.1:21-32). Perhaps every generation is shocked by what it perceives as declining morality and increasing violations of the instincts of humans, and if so, I am no different for it seems to me that "God is giving them over" to "uncleanness, dishonorable passions" and "to a disqualified mind, to do that which is not befitting" (Rom.1:24,26,28,29) at an increasing rate.

       Could believers participate in any of these? That may be rare in the more flagrant offenses. But failure to glorify and thank Him as God seems almost universal if we include a recognition of His deity as a criterion. Let us quote from the book THE PROBLEM OF EVIL AND THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD by A. E. Knoch, page 121:

       "God's will is not only ignored by the world today, but even His saints set it aside, or water it down to a mere wish. How few there are who hold that the universe is being operated according to the counsel of His will! It has become the fashion to say that will means wish, and the margins of some Bibles do not hesitate to change it to desire. We are assured that God does not will all mankind to be saved, but merely desires it and since man wills otherwise, He is quite powerless and impotent before the superior force of human determination. God is He Who is operating in us to will (Phil.2:13), yet even those who teach a "fun surrender" insist that our own will is to be the means of honoring Him. The truth is that man's will is always opposed to God's, and the saints are safe only so long as they accept His will, as revealed in the Scriptures, and reject their own."


       Obviously, if we accept God's statement that He operates all in accord with the counsel of His will, then He must be operating the evil, for it would surely have to be included in all. Admittedly, that puts a severe strain on the faith of even the most sincere and earnest believers, for, consciously or not, they jump to the false conclusion that God must therefore sin, and no believer will stand for that. The answer lies in a study of the meaning of the words evil and sin. Such a study will show that evil has no moral bias, that God can and does operate evil, and does not sin in the process.

       Evil is here, all around us. News reports are concerned with little else. God must have created it for all is out of Him. And it surely was not unforeseen, for He provided its remedy long before sin's entrance, with the blood of the cross of Christ, "foreknown, indeed, before the disruption of the world" (1 Peter 1:20). God boldly and openly says that He creates evil. Listen to His words through the prophet Isaiah: "I am Yahweh, and there is no other. Former of light and Creator of darkness, Maker of good and Creator of evil, I, Yahweh make all these things" (Isa.45: 6,7). The counsel of God's will says that we must suffer evil, that He may ultimately bring about His will of universal good. Evil is temporary; it will end when it has served its purpose.

       Without minimizing the untold groans and travails of His creatures, yet expecting the future deliverance of our bodies, our hearts still can sing when we see God's character cleared from the confusion of misunderstanding, and when the earnest questions about God's failure to stop the evil in the world can be answered. Evil has a purpose, just as all of God's creations. He wants us to know good, to be able to return His love, and to perceive that He is accomplishing His purpose by subjecting us to vanity "in expectation that the creation itself, also, shall be freed from the slavery of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Rom.8:20-22). God planted a tree in the garden which first and foremost gives us the knowledge of good, and does so through the knowledge of evil. That is implicit in the name of the tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


       Early in this article we mentioned the complex mixture which goes into the human will. The components are succinctly described in Ephesians 2:1-3. "And you, being dead to your offenses and sins, in which once you walked, in accord with the eon of this world, in accord with the chief of the jurisdiction of the air, the spirit now operating in the sons of stubbornness (among whom we also all behaved ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, doing the will of the flesh and of the comprehension...."

       So the human will may be made up of a combination of these: (1) influence from Satan or his workers; (2) influence from the flesh, a complicated mix of heredity, often influenced by the condition of one's body at any given time (e.g., hunger); and (3) one's evaluation (comprehension) of an environment or situation in which one finds himself. It is clear that we are by no means in control of our wills. God controls all the factors. If we had all the facts, perhaps with a super-super computer we could predict accurately a human's response to any situation. God has all the facts, controls them all and has the ability to predict the response (which may range from deeds of benignity to malignant sin), and is doing just that with billions of His creatures constantly!

       We all have walked in accord with the above influences. "Yet now, apart from law, a righteousness of God is manifest (being attested by the law and the prophets), yet a righteousness of God through Jesus Christ's faith, for all, and on all who are believing..." (Rom.3:21,22). Jesus Christ's faith has changed the whole picture and will have universal effects. Now there can be no question of God's righteousness. The evil is justified! The sins of mankind justified! God's own righteousness is for all and even now reckoned to believers! And new factors have entered the make-up of the wills of believers. God's spirit is given to the saints, sealing us "with the holy spirit of promise" (Eph.1:14). The Scriptures have been completed, for it was granted to Paul "to complete the word of God" (Col.1:25). We now have all that we need to know about God's will as revealed in the Scriptures. "So that, if anyone is in Christ there is a new creation: the primitive passed by. Lo! there has come new!" (2 Cor.5:17).

       In place of influence from without from the "chief of the jurisdiction of the air, the spirit now operating in the sons of stubbornness" we have, through Christ's obedience, through hearing the evangel of our salvation, on believing also, God's own spirit within us. The flesh is no longer the dominant influence. Our comprehension is not confused by worldly, contradictory impressions which often do not represent the true state of, affairs, but is directed to God's Word and the revelation of His will in the gift of His Son.


       Now, perhaps beset by corruption and deterioration of our bodies even as by evils without we may be encouraged by a renewed mind, recognizing that God has a purpose in evil, that it will play a part in His becoming All in all. Consequently, we will regard our distresses as momentary light afflictions, producing for us a transcendently transcendent eonian burden of glory (2 Cor.4:17,18). Thus, even now, while groaning in these bodies and horrified by events outside, in the midst of it all, we can indeed glorify and thank Him as God!

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