Discerning Your Calling & God's Will

  1. The term "God's will" can refer to very different concepts.
    1. God's will of purpose:
      1. Def: that will of God by which he purposes or decrees whatever shall come to pass.
      2. Biblical support: Dan. 4:35, Eph. 1:11, James 4:13-15
    2. God's will of precept:
      1. Def: that which God requires us to do; our rule of duty.
      2. Biblical support: Ex. 20:3-17, James 4:17, Matt. 6:10
    3. A comparison of the two:
      1. God's will of purpose is always accomplished. God's will of precept is not.
      2. God's will of purpose is never a rule of duty. God's will of precept is.
      3. God's will of purpose cannot generally be known until after the fact. God's will of precept is always accessible to us ahead of time.

  2. Decision-making is covenantal.
    1. God promises to be our guide. Ps. 23:3
    2. While there are difficult areas, God's will is generally clear.
    3. God deals with us as sons. We are given motives and reasons for God's principles, not just orders.
    4. Believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who is active during the process of decision-making. He leads through our use of ordinary means of making decisions. Rom. 8:5,13-14

  3. God's will of precept is both general and specific to each person.
    1. God's general will of precept applies to everyone -- e.g. repent, pray, don't steal.
    2. God's specific will of precept applies to each person in a different way -- e.g. whether to be a missionary, whom to marry, what to major in, whether to accept a particular job.
    3. God's will of precept does not give us detailed guidance on every decision in life.

  4. Scripture is a sufficient guide for decision-making.
    1. We do not need to look for a further revelation from God.
      1. Scripture is complete now.
      2. We do not expect various revelations now because God has spoken definitively to us in his son. Heb. 1:1-2
      3. Scripture is intended to thoroughly equip us for every good work.
    2. We must beware of putting stock in impressions, dreams, strange coincidences, and impulses as indicators of God's will.
    3. God, in his providence, most certainly orders our thoughts and circumstances, but these are not to be taken as a revelation of his will of precept but rather as circumstances to which biblical principles must be applied.

  5. God has supplied us with ample tools and principles for knowing his will.
    1. Prayer for wisdom and strength - James 1:5, Col. 1:11
    2. Scripture
      1. precepts
      2. principles
      3. examples
    3. Biblically ordained authority
      1. government
      2. parents
      3. employer
    4. Wise counsel - Prov. 12:15
    5. Observation of the experience of others
    6. Reason

  6. We must consider a number of factors in decision-making.
    1. Needs of ourselves and others - Matt. 9:36-38
    2. Our own desires - Luke 11:11-13
    3. Impulses - not revelatory.
    4. Gifts and abilities - Rom. 12:6
    5. Foreseeable consequences - Matt. 25:24-30
    6. Circumstances
      1. All events are in God's hands.
      2. Circumstances are not signs.


Discovering God's Will, by Sinclair Ferguson, Banner of Truth, 1982, 126 pp. Ferguson gives an excellent overview of the scriptural principles for discovering God's will. He shows that the guidance God gives comes primarily through knowing, loving, and obeying him.
Availability: CPC library