Bible Study: Ascertaining the Will of God (3-Part Series)
Bible Study: Ascertaining the Will of God – Thy Will Be Done! (Part 1 of 3 Parts)
We talk a lot of doing the will of God. In the Lord’s Prayer we petition God that His will be done. When faced with whether to have an abortion, to pursue an experimental treatment for a disease or to start or stop feeding of a terminally ill patient Christian’s seek to do the Lord’s will. This Bible Study is divided into three parts to help us explore why we seek to do God’s will, what prevents us from doing God’s will, and how to know God’s will.
Martin Luther said that in this petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “God’s good and gracious will certainly is done without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.”
So we presume that God accomplishes his will and pray that among us God’s will reigns supreme. The lingering question is “Why?” Why is it that God’s will is to be done and not our will, the will of friends and family or the will of the government? This Bible Study seeks to answer that question.
Read: 1 Timothy 6:13-16 & Psalm 24:1-2
(1 Timothy 6:13-16) In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time–God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
(Psalm 24:1-2) Of David. A psalm. The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
Q: Who is God?
A: God is the Creator of all things and Master over it all.
Q: What is man’s relationship to God?
A: He is subject to God and the object of God’s love and concern.
Read: 1 Peter 1:18-19 & 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
(1 Peter 1:18-19) For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Q: What does it mean to say an empty way of life was handed down from the forefathers? (See Genesis 5:1-3 & Psalm 51:5)
A: Original sin is a part of us from conception and it is a reflection (or likeness) of our human and sinful parents.
Q: What did God do for us?
A: God sent Jesus to redeem us (buy us back) from the curse of sin.
Q: How did God accomplish this?
A: By the sacrifice Jesus made with his own life.
Q: What is the value of life without Christ?
A: It is empty and without purpose.
Q: What change did this redemption make for us?
A: We are adopted by God as his own children.
Read: John 5:30 & 1 Corinthians 10:31
(John 5:30) By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
(1 Corinthians 10:31) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Q: When Jesus conducted his ministry whose will did he seek to fulfill?
A: Jesus set out to do the will of God (His Father).
Q: Who is to be glorified by our lives?
Q: What is significant about eating and drinking?
A: They represent some of the more mundane or routine things in life.
Q: What conclusion do we draw in light of the request to glorify God in our routine living?
A: God’s glorification and will is to be a central concern in our entire life.
Read: James 4:7, 2 Chronicles 30:8, Job 22:21, Hebrews 12:9
(James 4:7) Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
(2 Chronicles 30:8) Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were; submit to the LORD. Come to the sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the LORD your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you.
(Job 22:21) “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.
(Hebrews 12:9) Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
Q: What does it mean to submit yourselves to God?
- Resist the devil & evil (James 4:7)
- Serve God (2 Chronicles 30:8)
- Be at peace with God (Job 22:21)
- Respect God (Hebrews 12:9)
Q: Whose will should we serve?
Q: Why should we do his will?
A: In response to being saved through Jesus Christ.
Q: When it comes to making decisions about life and death, whom do we seek to please?
Dear Father in Heaven, forgive me for the times when I pray for your will to be done but I seek to do what is contrary to your will. Instill in me a growing desire and determination to act as you would act, respond as you would respond and care as you would care. May it be that when others observe my life and hear my words they might see a correct reflection of your will. I offer this prayer in the name of Jesus, whose sacrifice for my sins moves me to do your will at all times. Amen.
Bible Study: Ascertaining the Will of God – I Try But Fail (Part 2 of 3 Parts)
This is the second of a three-part series on the will of God. In the first study we learned that we are to do God’s will. We do it because God is the Lord and Master over all things. We especially seek to do the Lord’s will because if his gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
That is our goal but we fail. In fact, we fail often in doing the Lord’s will. We feel an internal struggle as we set out to God’s will but also feel other forces compelling us to do contrary to God’s will.
This Bible Study seeks to help us understand those obstacles we face in doing the Lord’s will.
Read: Romans 7:19-25
Romans 7:19-25 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Q: These words were written by the Apostle Paul, a believer in God. As such what did he desire to do?
A: He wanted to do good.
Q: What is “good?” (See Matthew 19:17)
A: That which is God’s will, namely obedience to God’s commands.
Q: What did Paul find that he often ended up doing?
A: Evil or just the opposite of what he desired.
Q: What explanation did Paul have for doing evil?
A: Sin inside of him caused him to do evil.
Q: Isn’t a believer able to go without sinning? (See Philippians 3:12)
A: No, because sin is at work in us we strive to be perfect.
Q: How did Paul see a Christian? (See Colossians 3:9-10)
A: As two persons: (1) a new person seeking to do the Lord’s will; and (2) a sinful person dragged into doing what is opposed to the will of God.
Q: Because of this battle with sin how did Paul see himself?
A: Wretched and lost needing to be saved because he cannot save himself.
Q: To whom did Paul offer thanks for salvation?
A: Jesus Christ.
Read: Psalm 51:5, Romans 8:7-8, Galatians 5:17, Ephesians 4:22-24, Hebrews 11:6
Psalm 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Romans 8:7-8 The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
Galatians 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
Ephesians 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Q: What are we by nature?
A: We are sinful from the time of our conception.
Q: What does being sinful mean?
A: Being sinful makes us contrary or in opposition to the will of God.
Q: When Jesus died on the cross what did he do for our sinful nature?
A: He created a new person within us that fights against our sinful nature.
Q: Can believers please God, even though they still sin on occasion?
A: Yes. When they act according to their new person they please God.
Q: Can unbelievers please God?
A: No, it is impossible. Because he does not also have the new person of faith within him the unbeliever is unable to please God, even with good actions (See Isaiah 64:6).
Read: Galatians 5:19-21
Galatians 5:19-21 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Q: Discuss the sinful actions according to the following breakdown as to how they are obvious and what is the hidden desire(s) and how do they justify the sin(s):
(1) Sins of the Flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, orgies
A: Obvious because the actions, when observed, are clearly contrary to Scripture (commands against adultery). The heart seeks self-gratification. Justification is that gratification is mutual and it is a private matter.
(2) Sins of Spirituality: idolatry and witchcraft
A: Obvious because the actions, when observed, are clearly contrary to Scripture (commands against idolatry and witchcraft). The heart seeks another gospel or another insight into life apart from that which is revealed by God, indicating a sense of dissatisfaction with what God has revealed (see 2 Timothy 4:2ff). Justification again is that there may be some historical precedent for success in witchcraft or certain forms of idolatry. Also, it is a matter of faith or internal conviction and is therefore a private matter.
(3) Sins of Attitude: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy
A: Of these three categories these sins are perhaps the less obvious. As sins of attitude they usually are more apparent to objective parties who observe the actions without knowing the inner workings. Most obvious manifestations would be war, killings, dishonest dealings, gossip, etc. The heart clearly seeks a will other than of God. Often justification is rooted in an appeal to some idea of justice. In fact, those who commit these sins may be convinced that they are acting charitably or honorably.
Q: What sins of the heart will people appeal to in the arena of abortion or euthanasia?
- Covetousness: A desire for an estate, the acceptance of others.
- Selfish Ambition: An unwanted child or caring for a dependent adult may interfere with plans for personal gain
Q: How does emotion cloud one’s judgment as to what is right or wrong?
A: Emotion often leads one to seek direction that conforms with his will and not God’s (2 Timothy 4:2ff).
In what way did emotion distort the perception of right and wrong for the following people:
(1) Jonah (Jonah 3:10-4:11)
(2) Abraham (Genesis 20:1-13)
(3) Job’s wife (Job 2:1-9)
(4) Peter (Matthew 26:69-75)
Because all people still sin they are inclined to do what is contrary to the will of God. The desires of sin often manifest themselves when people are overcome with the emotion of the moment.
Dear Father in Heaven, forgive me for when I allowed my sinful nature to overrule the new person you have made my in Jesus Christ. Help me so that each day I can put to death the desires and deeds of my sinful nature so that all my doings and life may please you. I ask you this in the name of Jesus, who gave me new life. Amen.
Bible Study: Ascertaining the Will of God – What Would God Have Me to Do? (Part 3 of 3 Parts)
This is the final part of a three-part Bible Study series on the will of God. We learned that while our will or the will of others may be strong, it is God’s will that should reign supreme. Nevertheless, all of us are still sinners and spend the rest of our lives with an internal battle between the desires to do good and to do evil. Our judgments are often clouded with the emotions of an unexpected crisis and our decisions and thoughts often seek to serve our sinful nature. In this Bible Study we will look at how to know God’s will and to then know how to translate that will into God-pleasing decisions and actions.
Read: 2 Timothy 4:2-4
2 Timothy 4:2-4 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
Q: As time passes what will be the tendency of people?
A: They will turn away from sound doctrine the truth.
Q: What kind of doctrine will they pursue?
A: One that suits their own desires.
Q: How will they feel justified in their new doctrines?
A: They will find teachers and others of good repute to reinforce what they want to believe.
Q: How are we to combat these self-serving doctrines?
A: Preaching the Word because it is the truth.
Read: Acts 17:10-12, Hebrews 4:12
Acts 17:10-12 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Q: What kind of work were Paul and Silas doing? (See Acts 16:10)
A: They were on a missionary journey preaching the Word of God.
Q: What problem did the Thessalonians have with Paul? (See Acts 17:1-9)
A: The Jewish leaders we jealous of Paul and slandered his name to get him out of town.
Q: What made the Bereans different?
A: They were primarily interested in knowing the truth.
Q: How were the Bereans going to know whether Paul spoke the truth?
A: They compared what he said to what the Bible said.
Q: The Apostle Paul lived around 50 A.D. The Bible the Bereans had was most likely the Old Testament Scriptures. It is estimated that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament around 1,600 years before Christ. Some argue that the Bible is too out of date to be a reliable guide for truth. How does one handle that argument in light of the Bereans?
A: The Bereans recognized that the Bible, with some portions being over 1,600 years old at the time, was a reliable testimony of truth applicable to their time.
Q: What does it mean to call the Word of God “living and active?”
A: It is always current and applicable for our time.
Read: Psalm 119:105, John 17:17, John 5:39-40
Psalms 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
John 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
John 5:39-40 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Q: What role does a lamp or light serve for one on a path?
A: A lamp or light reveals where the right path is and the way to go.
Q: How is the Word of God analogous to a lamp?
A: The show what is the clear and true will of God and express God’s desires for our lives.
Q: How does one understand John 17:17 in light of some who claim understanding the Bible is just a matter of interpretation?
A: The truth that is the Word of God establishes the foundation or principles upon which all applications (interpretations) are made.
Q: What makes the Scriptures so important?
A: They are the revelation of truth about life on earth and eternal life through Christ.
Q: The Bible does not contain the word “abortion.” Yet, we teach that abortion as it is most commonly practiced is contrary to the Word of God. What are we doing when we say something like that?
A: We are applying the truths or principles of Scripture to particular situations.
Q: When we are challenged to make a decision that is to glorify God and it is not real clear what to do that would be right, what should we do?
A: As the Bereans did, we are to search out the Scriptures to grow in our knowledge of God’s complete counsel so that we know all of the principles from which to draw on and apply to challenging circumstances.
Q: What if there isn’t time to search out all of Scripture?
A: As the heathen will gather around themselves a great number of teachers who will reinforce their false notions you will want to seek out people knowledgeable in the truth.
Q: What is the best solution for making right decisions?
A: Regular and diligent study of Scripture so that you have developed the foundation to make decisions quickly and unclouded be emotion.
The principles that apply to the abortion issue.
The principles that apply to assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Dear Father in heaven, forgive us for leaning on our own understanding and will and not turning first to your Word for guidance. Guide us by your Word to make right decisions in all we do. By your Word motivate us to more diligently seek out your guidance and will through regular Bible Study. We ask this in the name of your Son and our Savior. Amen.
By Pastor Robert Fleischmann – National Director Christian Life Resources
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