by A.E. Knoch

GOD'S WILL consists of the activity of His spirit in deciding the details planned by His love for His own glory and the blessing of His creatures. As He is love, He is not a cold and imperious despot, insisting on having His own way, with no consideration for the wills of others, but with warm and persuasive persistence, He seeks to win their will into perfect harmony with His own by the operation of His spirit and the mediacy of His Christ. His heart does not hunt for slaves whom He can force to do His will in opposition to their own, but longs for sons who delight to carry out His will because they are in hearty accord with it.

The material universe is a marvelous manifestation of the power and omnipotence of God's will. Everywhere the stars of space, immense and innumerable though they are, obey the laws He has laid down for them. Even the straying comets pursue the course prescribed for them in His wisdom. On the other hand, moreover, the tiny atom, yea, the very nucleus of this infinitesimal force, never oversteps the boundary of His decrees. Only at His command do they break their bonds in order to fulfill His intention. The winds and the billows on lake Galilee seemed to challenge His control when they threatened to swallow up the boat which held the apostles of His Christ. But when He arose and rebuked them, they obeyed His will. So His Father will yet stop the raging of eonian evil and bring about eternal peace.


God's purpose, is the goal of His will or intention. This is well illustrated by Paul's journey to Rome (Acts 27:9-12). As "Ideal Harbors" was not fit for wintering, the majority counseled to go to Phoenix. When the south blew gently they supposed this purpose to hold. This purpose of the navigator and charterer of the ship and the majority of the passengers was defeated. They never arrived at Phoenix. So it is with human wisdom. They knew nothing about the northeaster and the shipwreck, or they would have altered their purpose. On the contrary, however, Paul had often purposed to go to Rome (Rom.1:13), and, as this was in God's will, nothing, not even the hurricane and the shipwreck could prevent it. He came to Rome. God's purpose will be fulfilled.

Intention or resolution is the effect of counsel, as shown by the sublinear, which is COUNSEL-effect. Like will, it is a determination, but it differs from will in that it is not the direct expression of the divine essence, which is love and light, but arises from the accompanying circumstances in carrying out His will, in which wisdom advises a temporary change of course. This is clearly illustrated for us by the soldiers who brought Paul to Rome (Acts 27:43). Their will was to take him to the city, for that was commanded, but, as they thought he would escape when the ship was wrecked, they held a counsel (verse 40) and intended to kill him. Their intention was prevented by the centurion, who intended otherwise. The will of all was temporarily set aside, and the intention of the centurion prevailed. So, also, no one can withstand God's intention, and, eventually His will will prevail. Meanwhile He operates all in accord with the counsel of His will, that is, His intention.

As it is not easy for most of us to comprehend such an abstraction as the human will, it may help us to see it in action in this incident. At first all were agreed.

God had made known His will. He said to Paul, "you must testify in Rome also" (Acts 23:11), Paul had said, "I must see Rome also" (Acts 19:21), Agrippa and Festus sent him to Caesar, and Julius, the centurion, had orders to take him there (Acts 26:32; 27:1). Although it was God's will that he should eventually arrive in Rome, it was not His will that he should go immediately, or without incidents which would reveal His hand. So He sends evil. He alone controls the weather. He sent contrary winds (27:41,7). Paul, being in the mind of God, warns the men to seek shelter (10), but they do not believe. They still will to go to Rome, but they make a mistake, or sin, for lack of faith.

So God sends more evil, not merely a wind, but a hurricane, so that they gave up all hope of getting to Rome, and expected to be lost. Their will was not changed, but they realize that they are not able to carry it out. Paul tells them plainly that they should have heeded him. Their sin, their mistake, will cost them dearly. Then, however, he gives them good news, a little cameo of his evangel. God had graciously granted salvation to all who sailed with him (24). Paul believed this, but the mariners were unbelievers, so they sought to save themselves and leave the rest to their fate. If it hadn't been a gracious salvation, they certainly deserved to die!

Not only the sailors, but the soldiers also, although they still will to bring the prisoners to Rome, are influenced by the circumstances to go against God's will. They fear personal punishment if they allow the prisoners to escape. This is a good example of how men are not controlled by their basic will, but by their soulish emotions. But, in this case, the centurion is actuated by higher motives, for he wishes to fulfill his duty in bringing Paul to Rome. Thus we see the will of all happily united and fulfilled at the close, but the intermediate counsel of their wills, or intention, causing a continual clash. This is a miniature of His eonian operation of the universe (Eph.1:11). At present God's intention prevails, but man's fails. Eventually the will of all will agree with God's.


A clear apprehension of the meaning and force of the verb will is almost impossible in our decadent tongue for two reasons. First, the very same combination of letters is used to express three distinct ideas. "I will write," may mean either I am determined to write, or, I propose to write in the future. "I am willing to write" simply denotes assent, acquiescence. As there is no such confusion with the noun, we can say, It is my will to write. But that is a cumbrous expedient. Consequently, in the CONCORDANT VERSION we are forced to use want as an alternate. But this may express many things, such as a desire or inclination or wish, and, in some connections, a lack or a need. In German we have no such confusion. We can use wollen as the verb for Willen in every case, for the future is expressed without the use of this auxiliary.

We may be thankful that the noun, will, can always be used for the Greek thelema, in English, or our effort to understand the subject would be almost hopeless. If we should use the word want as a noun, the effect might be disastrous. The "want of God" might give the impression that He is wanting, or lacking in some way, or even is in want! It was with a good deal of reluctance that we used the verb want for will in the CONCORDANT VERSION, for we realized to what false ideas it might give rise, but a version is not a literal translation. That we have in the sublinear. As it was, we overstepped the mark at times by using the participle willing, which might merely mean favorably disposed, rather than determined.


The significance of the word will is of supreme importance to the saints, as it deals with an attribute vital to our knowledge of the Deity. One helpful method in attaining an accurate knowledge of God's Word, which is basic in the concordant method, is to distinguish it from other expressions with a similar sense. It is axiomatic that it does not convey exactly the same significance as its synonyms, such as desire, wish, long for, resolve or intend.

Desire enters into the realm of feeling. In fact, the original is ON-FEEL epi thum e oo. This is very intense in the stem, which is rendered fury. God's fury will be manifested in dealing with the worshipers of the wild beast (Rev.14:9). Desire is also rendered by its close synonym yearning, and, when evil, by coveting, lust. It is connected closely with the flesh, and is often opposed to the will of God. It belongs to the realm of the soul, while will is in the domain of the spirit.

Wish, in the Scriptures, is a higher thought than desire, as its elements (WELL-HAVE) indicate. Paul wished for the adjustment of the saints (2 Cor.13:9), and John wished that Gaius be prospered (3 John 2). We can never substitute will for wish, and should never water down the meaning of will to a mere wish, as is so often done. Neither of the apostles would think of using will on these occasions.

Long for is an even stronger feeling than desire, and is usually so rendered in the A.V., with an adjective as great, earnest, vehement.


That we are to exercise our determination is evident from other expressions also, which are used as exhortations in Paul's epistles. We are encouraged to stand firm (1 Cor.16:13; Gal.5:7; Phil.1:27; 4:1). We are not irresolute minors, carried about by every wind of teaching (Eph.4:14). Figuratively, our Lord described a man with a weak will as having no root in himself, unable to stand affliction or persecution (Matt.13:21, etc.) It is difficult to see how the panoplied warrior of Ephesians six could stand his ground against the spiritual forces of wickedness if he were supinely passive, and let the sword of the spirit hang idle by his side (Eph.6:10-17).

It should be evident from these synonyms that God's will is not the fruit of His counsel or the effect of circumstances, but the expression of His inherent light and love. It arises from what He is, rather than any outward influence, and will accomplish His purpose, notwithstanding the failures and opposition of His creatures. As circumstances do affect human intentions, as all of us are continually learning, God is using them to expose the futility of man's will when opposed to God's, and also to bring their wills into harmony with His own. Eventually, soldiers, sailors, and all were saved and in full accord with God's will in regard to Paul, in his journey to Rome.


When Christ entered the world, He said, "Lo! I am do Thy will, O God" (Heb.10:7). He taught His disciples to pray, "Thy will be done" (Matt.6:10). His spiritual food was to do the will of Him Who had sent Him (John 4:34). Nevertheless, again and again, He speaks of His own will. When a leper came to Him saying, "Lord, if Thou shouldst be willing, Thou canst cleanse me," then He said, "I am willing! Be cleansed!" (Matt.8:3). He fed the throng with the seven cakes and fishes because He was not willing to dismiss them fasting (Matt.15:31-39). When He prayed concerning His disciples He did not hesitate to appeal to His Father to carry out His will that they should be with Him (John 17:24). Only on one occasion did He so much as suggest that His will was not in perfect harmony with His Father's. He did not will to drink the cup of suffering set before Him (Luke 22:42). But this only emphasizes the fact that He did not do God's will out of compulsion. At all other times it was His will, as well as His Father's.


God's will is sourced in Himself, and is determined by what He is. As He is essentially Light and Love, it is His will to reveal Himself, especially His affection. As no other motives can change this, His will is constant and His purpose immutable. As He has all power, nothing is able to thwart His will. But, as He has all wisdom, and revelation is best accomplished by the use of opposites, He uses darkness to reveal the light, evil to give the knowledge of good, and hate to impart a comprehension of His love. These temporary intentions seem to oppose His will, but must eventually serve in fulfilling it. Then there will be no night and no more doom, and all will be reconciled to God.

Since Christ has such power over the raging elements, why did He not subdue His enemies with a word? Many legions of messengers were at His command. Why did He not coerce His enemies to become loyal subjects of His kingdom? Many times He willed to gather the children of Jerusalem under His wings, but they willed not (Matt.23:37). Even one of His chosen apostles obeyed Satan, the Adversary, rather than His word (John 13:2; Luke 22:3). His disciples were not won by force, but by the constraint of love. Their wills were won to work in harmony with His own. It is not God's will to reveal His power at the expense of His love. His worship must be voluntary, not forced. His greatest power lies in the weakness and suffering of the cross. Through that He will gain the adoring allegiance of men's hearts.

Man's will is modified by circumstance. He is influenced by his ancestors, his environment, his associates, his health and his wealth. Unlike God, he does not commence life with a definite determination or a permanent purpose. In many men the will is very weak. They drift with the tide. In all mankind the will of the flesh, due to their dying, as inherited from Adam, inclines them to sin. Besides, as in the beginning, when Eve hearkened to the serpent, so, still, the sinister spirit of the air is operating in mankind to persuade them to go contrary to the expressed will of God (Eph.2:2). As these influences are far stronger than man's will, it is enslaved until God's spirit displaces the evil spirit, and operates in us to will and to work for the sake of His delight.

There is nothing in the Scriptures to show that man's will is evil in itself, but only when in conflict with God's will. Indeed, our Lord told the people that, if anyone should will to be doing God's will he shall know concerning the teaching, whether it is of God (John 7:17). Evidently those who do not will will not know. When our Lord went through Jericho, and two blind men begged for mercy, He asked them, "What do you will that I should do to you?" He it was Who put the word into their mouths. And immediately they received sight and follow Him (Matt.20:32). Indeed, among the last words He spoke from the glory were these, "Let him who will take the water of life gratuitously" (Rev.22:17).


Normally, the will should determine action. What we will we should do. It should be the central controlling function of human life. In a mortal, however, this is not so. Sin is in control. In the expressive language of Scripture, both the will and evil are lying beside the saint, while sin is at home in him, that is, in his flesh (Rom.7:13-23). All of us once did the will of the flesh, but have been rescued from its domination by grace (Eph.2:5; Rom.7:25). This seems to be the only power that can liberate. The law of God is good, but it also is impotent, infirm through the flesh. Only the grace of God in sending His Son enables us to walk in accord with spirit, and do that which accords with our will (Rom.8:1-4).


For quite a long period, in my early experience as a believer, many of the most devoted saints were occupied with the slogan "full surrender." It was never very clear just what this involved, as the phrase was non-scriptural. But, in the Welsh revival, many followed the example of Christ, and said, "not my will," but they failed to add, "but Thine." They "surrendered" their will to any impulse that came to them, under the false impression that this must be the spirit of God. But, in many cases, it was the spirit which is now operating in the sons of stubbornness (Eph.2:2), and led to demon possession, and spirit control and many unscriptural excesses. As I already had willed to do only God's will as revealed in His Word, and I found no instruction to surrender my will, I was saved this sad experience.

There are two directions in which this movement failed: in regard to God's will, and in regard to man's. The nonscriptural word "surrender" should have shown that the thing was not God's will, for it was not in His Word. Christ will subject all to Him, and will Himself be subject, and that implies willing submission, not surrender. Our Lord said, "If anyone should will to be doing His will, he shall know concerning the teaching, whether it is of God..." (John 7:17). Some, however, think they must give up their will and open themselves to supernatural spirit-leading, not realizing that other spirits than the Holy Spirit could, in this passive state, obtain control of them. Paul prayed for the saints that they should be filled full with the realization of God's will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Col.1:9). Then God's spirit will operate in us to will as well as to work. God does not want passive indolence, but willing cooperation.

There have been, and are today, many similar movements, in which God's written revelation, as revealed through His holy spirit, is displaced by an inner light, or unknown spiritual influences, under the impression that their apparent illumination and seeming goodness are proof that they are God's holy spirit. Few fully realize that the very air in which we live is under the jurisdiction of a spirit chief, who still operates as he did in Eden (Eph.2:2). God's spirit says explicitly that, in these closing eras, some will give heed to deceiving spirits (1 Tim.4:1). If these are not resisted, they may enslave the will. These are not dark and detestable devils, but appear as messengers of light (2 Cor.11:14). Let us never surrender our wills to their influence, and believe only the spirit that speaks through God's written revelation.


The will plays a vital part in salvation, both negative and positive. God locks all up together in stubbornness (willfulness), that He should be merciful to all (Rom.11:32). Basically, it is not of him who is willing, but of God, the Merciful (Rom.9:16). Yet God wills that all mankind be saved (1 Tim.2:4). This is illustrated for us in the parable of the wedding feast when some of those invited would not come (Matt.22:3) and the attitude of Jerusalem in the days of our Lord. He would have saved them as a hen assembles her brood under her wings, but they would not (Matt.23:38). So, in the wilderness, their forefathers were not willing to be obedient under Moses. God does not save men contrary to their will. He first makes them willing. Our Lord told the Jews, "Not willing are you to come to Me that you may have life" (John 5:41).

Our wills were imparted to us by begettal, but who has any conscious recollection of receiving it? So also will Israel receive the will which will enable them to please God in the millennium. As a nation they will be saved by a new figurative begettal (John 3:3-8).

But the higher truth for the present grace is illustrated by a much stronger figure. We are like Adam, into whose nostrils God blew the breath of lives (Gen.2:7; 2 Cor.5:17). That enabled him to will and to work. So was God's spirit imparted to us when we believed. Only by its power are we able to do anything to please God, or even to will what delights Him.

Just as God's spirit is operating in us to work for the sake of His delight, so with the will. Consciously, we are doing the work, and we speak of it as our work for the Lord. So, also, we do the willing, though the power is of God. It should not seem strange to us, for, in reality, even on the physical plane, we can do nothing apart from His power imparting spirit. If He should withdraw the spirit of life from all flesh it would perish completely. As the spirit we obtain when we believe is like that which we already have in its functions, its importation is explained to us by means of creation and birth, the two methods by which mankind has already obtained the spirit of life that they have.


Paul's will is mentioned in the Scriptures more often than that of any other man. Our Lord speaks of His will about ten times, but Paul refers to his more than twice as often. Besides more than a fourth of the occurrences of the word will are found in Paul's writings, although they are less than a fourth as long as the rest of the Greek Scriptures. That is, he uses it about twenty times as often in presenting the truth for the present, as was necessary for other administrations. This accords with its importance in the truth for today. The will in the believer is discussed at length near the very beginning of his primary epistle to the Romans (7:15-21). It continues to be the most important element in conduct right through to the highest unfoldings in the perfection epistles (Phil.2:13).

Romans five to eight corresponds to chapter eleven, and deals with conciliation. Justification dealt with the transformation of sinners to saints, but this deals with the transmutation of enemies to friends. From the fifth chapter on the subject is peace with God. From chapter six, verse fifteen, we enter a discussion of our relationship to the law, which is the expression of God's will to His covenant people Israel. Reason would say that we must keep it, but experience showed that, being fleshly, we cannot keep a spiritual law. The apostle comes to the startling discovery of a distressing contradiction. His will, being the product of God's spirit, is in accord with God's will, as expressed in His law, but the weakness of the flesh lead him to practice what he does not will, and do what he hates (Rom.7:15).

It is important to note that there is no conflict between the will of the saint and the will of God, but the flesh of the saint and the law of God. Paul identifies himself with his will, and concludes that, not he, but indwelling Sin is controlling his conduct. The will is lying beside him, not inside him. The good that he wills he is not doing, but the evil that he does not will he puts into practice, and again deduces that, since he does what is contrary to his will, he is not the one effecting it, but indwelling Sin. This leads to the discovery of a conflict between the law in his members and the law of his mind, in which he is made a prisoner of the law of sin. A similar thought was expressed by our Lord when He said to His disciples, "The spirit, indeed, is eager, yet the flesh is infirm" (Matt.26:41).

What a wretched state to be in! Yet most believers, who have God's spirit, and by its power will to do good, find themselves unable to effect the doing. In their experience they have not yet arrived at the goal given in Paul's latest epistles, where we find that God is operating in us not only to will, but also to work, for the sake of His delight (Phil.2:13). Meanwhile, in line with the great truths of justification and of reconciliation, of which this section of Romans treats, the saint is rescued from his captivity to the law of sin by grace. As he himself is in harmony with God's law, and is not willingly doing the behests of the flesh, there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.

It is important to note, in this, the earliest introduction to the will of the believer, that there is nothing evil or sinful attributed to the will. On the contrary, while the flesh is as bad as ever, and, indeed, seems to be worse by contrast to the spirit, the mind and the will of the believer himself are altogether good. When the spirit of God is received and imparts life to the saint, this is limited to his spirit, his mind, his will, and does not affect the flesh directly until the deliverance of the body in Christ's presence. It does not eradicate his will, but forms it. Unwilling obedience would be most unacceptable to God.

Not only for salvation, but for walk, the will of the saint plays a part. It is the necessary precursor of doing (2 Cor.8:10,11). God leaves it to man's will to act according to His will (1 Cor.7:36; 10:27; 14:35). It plays the same part in doing well as in doing evil. The difference lies in the source of the will. If it originates in the flesh and our own comprehension, it will bring down God's indignation (Eph.2:3). But if it is formed in us by God's spirit through His Word, it will be the incentive to do that which is His delight (Phil.2:13). Mere work, without the will, cannot satisfy Him, for it is the spiritual activity of the will which delights Him. In fact, it pleases Him even if we are unable to carry out the determination with which His spirit has filled our hearts.


As the unbeliever's will is not formed by the spirit of God, this is not true of him. In Ephesians, the saints are now dead to the offenses and sins in which they once walked in accord with the eon of this world, in accord with the chief of the aerial jurisdiction, the spirit now operating in the sons of stubbornness. This spirit led us to do the will of the flesh and the comprehension, so that we were children of indignation before we were reconciled with God.

While the saint is no longer in flesh (Rom.7:5), but in spirit (Rom.8:9), the flesh is still with him, and we read of the disposition of the flesh, which is enmity to God (Rom.8: 7), and the desires or lusts of the flesh (Gal.5:16), which still may affect his walk. But we never read in this connection of the will of the flesh, for it is the product of spirit, without the admixture of soul or sensation.


In the realm of spirit there is a special danger in these last days that the saint do the will of the Adversary, rather than the will of God (2 Tim.2:23-26). Since there is so little real knowledge of the Scriptures, many stupid and crude questionings arise, which generate fighting. These are a trap of the Adversary in order to get God's slaves to do his will. Instead of being gentle and bearing with the evil, and training those who are antagonizing, in accord with God's spirit, the spirit of the Adversary is evident in false charges and challenges and accusations.

This very subject is a good example. Almost all are ranged on two opposite extremes, when the truth lies in between. Some insist on a "free" will, uninfluenced by either God or the Adversary, and superior to circumstance. The others renounce all human will, leaving themselves open to every influence, because "God is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will." Both have an element of truth, but more of error. Man's will is due to the operation of spiritual forces outside of himself, either that which is now operating in the sons of disobedience (Eph.2:2) or God's spirit, which is operating in us to will, for the sake of His delight. God does not eradicate the will, but uses it, for it is absolutely necessary in God's great purpose to bring about voluntary worship. Involuntary worship is hypocrisy.


As human rule, especially its inspired record in the Scriptures, is intended to teach us the character of God's government, it will help us to see the part played by the will in human history. We are shown two extremes, both of which serve as a background to enable us to appreciate the rule of Christ and of God. Before the deluge there was anarchy. Everyone carried out his own will. The conflict and confusion was so great that God, in mercy, had to put an end to it by the flood. It is notable that nothing is said of God's will in this connection. Man could exercise his "free" will fully and thought he did so, to his destruction.


The opposite is seen in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, which was an absolute despotism. Yet here also, most significantly, we do not read of the king's will at all. In fact, he was degraded to the status of a beast for a time in order to learn that, even in such a despotism, the despot's will is not supreme, but God rules as He will (Dan.4:14,23,32; 5:21). Not only Nebuchadnezzar, but others in his class, notably the coming prince of the end time, show that such a rule may be much stronger and more prosperous than anarchy. Nebuchadnezzar's government was like a great tree that provided shelter and food for all. One will is certainly far better than many clashing determinations, so far as peace and plenty are concerned. But it is always opposed to God.


In between these two we have an example of God's rule in the reign of David, though, of course, it was only a shadow of Christ's millennial kingdom. Perhaps we may find the key to it in David's advice to his son Solomon, when he said, "And you, Solomon, my son, know the God of your forefathers, and serve Him with a peaceable heart and with a delighting soul..." (1 Chron.28:9). Here is something much more than mere determination. Not merely the mind, but the heart and soul are engaged. When we delight in God we need not worry about our will. David's name denotes affection. He was the darling of the people. They gladly agreed with him, concurred with his plans and came to be in accord with his ways, because both his will and theirs were formed in them by God's holy spirit. He was no despot, even though His will was law.

But when Saul and Solomon and Jeroboam and others were not subject to God's will, as expressed in His law, the evils of both anarchy and despotism, oppression and slavery, afflicted them. Obsessed by the spirit of the adversary, both ruler and ruled were lawless. This led to distress and deportation. Such an alternating kaleidoscope of doing the will of God and opposing it is the necessary textbook to initiate humanity, and through them the heavenly hosts, into the great truth that God's will alone is good, and blessing for the creature lies, not merely in doing it against its will, but in willing and hearty cooperation with His. God could have forced all of His opponents to comply with His law, but that would have alienated their hearts. Only those whose will was in harmony with His could enjoy the blessings He provided. He hates hypocritical obedience.

During the millennial reign of Christ this lesson will continue. Some will render feigned obedience, because they are forced to comply. But that will not be acceptable. The very presence of the iron club shows that that eon is not the conclusion of God's dealings with mankind. In the new earth there is no such compulsion. One is tempted to think that God has at last eradicated the wills of His creatures. How else could there be such harmony and blessedness? Are not all forced to slake their thirst with the water of life (Num.22:17)? By no means! Undoubtedly all will do so because the lesson of the eons has been learned by God's ways and His Word, through His spirit. As now, so then, it is for him who wills (Rev.22:17)!


Willing is not working. This should be abundantly clear to the humblest saint, not only from the seventh of Romans where the wretched man wills to do the ideal, yet cannot do what he wills, but from his own experience. What a gulf there is between the two! Those in whom God's spirit dwells are most willing to please Him, but, until they are energized by His grace they are unwilling captives of the law of sin. Will is in contrast to work. They are by no means the same. That is why Paul, in his perfection epistles keeps them separate, and, after exhorting the saints to carry their own salvation into effect, assures them that God is operating in them both to will and to work.

Paul called himself and others fellow workers of God (1 Cor.3:9). They cooperated, as master and servants, in the evangel. The term here used, sun erg oi TOGETHER-WORKER, has been falsified by theologians, and used in a hazy sense of those who deny that all is of God, or teach salvation or sanctification by works, apart from faith. Such are called reproachfully "sunergists." In the Scriptures the term is never so used. We read that the eleven apostles, after our Lord's ascension, heralded the evangel everywhere, "the Lord working together with them" (Mark 16:20). All of the apostles were "sunergists," and so are all of His servants. This is the divine usage of the word. May we not be guilty of falsifying it!

Even though all power is out of God, and nothing can be accomplished without Him, nevertheless He works through others. In fact all is through His beloved Son. And He also delights to use His lower creatures, even the worst of them, even persecutors like Saul of Tarsus, the foremost of sinners, to accomplish His work, in fact all to whom he has imparted a special measure of His spirit. He does not do this by compulsion or coercion, but by winning their will through the revelation of His love, so that they want to work with Him even when they have not grasped sufficient grace to work together with Him. They then are only sunthelists, TOGETHER-WILLISTS. However, when their experience of grace brings them into the eighth chapter of Romans, the spirit's law of life makes them a sunergist TOGETHER-WORKER.

Give the human will no place in God's great exposition of Himself, and there will be little left. To begin with, we could never apprehend what God's will is unless we had one of our own. Even the stubborn will is essential. If God had not locked all up in stubbornness, He could not be merciful to all (Rom.11:32). God could have made a world of automatons, which would obey the slightest impulse, but without a soul, and incapable of affection. The evangel does not alter us into robots, which respond mechanically to His commands. It engages our hearts with His love, and wins our will so that we are determined, not only to do His will, but delight in it with all our being.

The consummation of all at the close of the eons calls for subjection, which has conquered stubbornness. But it does not, therefore, denote apathy. What a world that would be, filled with indifferent, impassive, callous, will-lacking automatons! That is a sign of serious disease even in mortals today. Surely the Son will not take such a supine and abject place! He will also be subject, but, at the same time the center of universal acclamation (Phil 2:11). We also will be voluntary subjects, who have such a regard for God's will that our own will will be completely attuned to His.


As with many another great truth, the saints are prone to go to two extremes. Some insist on the "freedom" of the human will, and that God must, perforce, submit to it. Others discard the will of man altogether. Both reason from the Scriptures, instead of believing all the passages and harmonizing them. In this essay we have tried to show that both have some truth, yet both over-stress it so that it denies the whole truth. Sad to say, both hurl insolent epithets at the others, and both despise a full presentation, not realizing that such conduct itself is proof that they are walking in error. Truth does not need the support of vituperation and reviling. Indeed, the reviler should be shunned by the saints (1 Cor.5:11). They are not to shun the one who is reviled.

In this study we have sought, first of all, to set forth what God has to say. Then, to help our brethren, even though they revile us, we have striven to acknowledge every atom of truth in both extremes. We submit to the candid judgment of truth seekers, the question: Is not this course far more likely to be right than either side? Both are forced to ignore some passages or such contradictory views could not be upheld. But we use all, and emphasize those in the latest and highest revelation. May we lovingly implore all to consider and believe all that is written (Luke 24:25)? A fragment of truth may be most misleading, because it rests on Scripture. Even our own expositions, when I stressed one aspect in the face of opposition, has been used to "prove" that we did not believe the rest. Some claim we teach one side, some the other. Here we have tried to show all, even though the result has been far from the perfection for which we strive. May our God be very gracious, and use it for His glory!

It would be a comparatively simple matter for God to force His will upon His creatures. The material universe, and even the lower forms of life cannot oppose Him. Could He not bring about the consummation, when all will be subject to Him, without the terrible tragedy of the eons, apart from sin and suffering, judgment and wrath? By no means! The vital and essential element of love would be lacking. The response would be mechanical, without feeling or affection. His grace would be unknown. The creation would be bound with bands of iron, rather than held to His heart by the golden links of love. Our wills must be melted together in the crucible of love before He can be our All.

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