7-4 God's Will
These ideas help explain the fact that there appear to be two groups of words used to convey the idea of God's "will" in the New Testament, and possibly in Hebrew too. We are familiar with saying that we 'will' something to happen- e. g. 'willing ' a child to win a race. We do not decree against all odds that the action will happen. The same is true of the word in Greek. Christ "would" (will-ed to) have passed by the disciples in the boat- i. e. He wished to, but He did not irrevocably will to do so, because actually He didn't- because of Peter's willingness to show faith. This same word is used to describe God's will:
"If we ask anything according to God's will, He heareth us" (1 Jn. 5:14). This 'will' can therefore be affected by prayer and reasoning.
"This is the will of God. . . that ye should abstain from fornication" (1 Thess. 4:3); "It is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing "(1 Peter 3:17). "I will give unto this last, even as unto thee "(Mt. 20:14). The word thus means the desires, which can be emotionally swayed:
"Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring (willing) to see Thee" (Lk. 8:20).
"Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would" (i. e. desired); Mt. 27:15.
"Joseph. . . not willing (wishing) to make her a public example" (Mt. 1:19)
"This they willingly are ignorant of" (2 Peter 3:5)-i. e. they desire to be ignorant.
Further examples are: Mt. 16:24; Lk. 13:31; Jn. 8:44; 1 Cor. 7:37; Eph. 2:3; James 4:15; 1 Peter 4:2; Rev. 4:11.
It is this will of God, His emotional desires, which can be changed, and which are expressed through His Angels being able to be 'emotionally' swayed. Thus any prayer can be theoretically answered according to such a definition of the will of God. This realm of God's dealings with man, we suggest, is delegated to the Angels. Such a situation where God Himself in person is subject to emotion cannot be possible. So let us "not be unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:17).
The other group of words describe the determinate will of God which is totally immutable:
"The counsel and deed" of the Sannhedrin that condemned Christ to death (Lk. 23:51)- no changing them.
"The ships. . are. . turned about with a very small helm, withersoever the governor listeth"- the captain moves the rudder, and the ship inevitably moves in the direction commanded (James 3:4); just like God's control of His immutable will.
"They. . . took counsel to slay them " (Acts 5:33)- they firmly decided.
The same word is used about God's will:
"The immutability of His counsel" (Heb. 6:17)
"Of His own will begat He us with the word of Truth" (James 1:18)- His predestination of us to receive the word of the Gospel over and above our personal worthiness. Similarly the Angel did not give Israel in the wilderness "a heart to perceive" (Dt. 29:4), although they have opened our heart (cp. Eph. 1:18 RV).
"Him (Jesus) being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23)- thankfully, nothing could ever alter God's will that Christ should die for our sins (see too Acts 4:27,28; Heb. 7:212).
Most significantly "Father, if Thou be willing (the determinate will), remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will (emotional desires). . ", Lk. 22:42. And so the pattern is set- recognizing that our will and desires are emotional, merely our wishes, compared to the determinate will of God.
It is this will which presumably God personally superintends, although it appears to apply only to the basic elements of salvation- e. g. the sureness of His promise of salvation (Heb. 6:17), His calling of us to the Gospel (James 1:18), and His will that Christ should be sacrificed. He will not let the Angels change His purpose concerning such fundamentals- "I will ransom (Israel) from the hand of the grave (the Angel-hand of death). . . repentance shall be hid from Mine eyes" (Angels)- Hos. 13:14; cp. "I have purposed it, and will not repent" (Jer. 4:28). The less fundamental aspects of His purpose are in the control of the Angels, and subject to His desires only. It is these things about which we normally pray, and therefore knowing the nature of the Angels we have every encouragement to wrestle with them in our prayers so they may be heard, in that God will give power to His Angels so they can perform their will. "(God). . performeth the counsel (humble advice) of His messenger" (Heb. Malak- Angels; Is. 44:26).