“Man Will” Versus “God Will”
We’ll start off this sermon with a disconcerting set of verses from James…James 4:13-16 to be specific:
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Anyone listening right now have great plans? You know exactly what you are going do today…tomorrow…and maybe years down the road?
In those verses, an inspired James reminds us that no matter what we think we are going to accomplish, we are at the mercy of our mortality. You and I may not even be alive at the end of this talk.
Well, I suppose…with me…if the Lord calls me home…then that is the end of the talk. 🙂
[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]
Contrast the words we just read with these:1
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11)
God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19)
For I am the LORD; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed (Ezekiel 12:25a).
8 “Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
9 remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
11 calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it (Isaiah 46:8-11).
What have we learned from the first quote from James and these additional for sets of verses?
- Man can’t truly predict what he will do in the future…not even later today…and that’s not even touching on how untrustworthy and fickle we humans are (although Numbers 23:19 did speak to it).
- God is not like man
- God is like none other
- God does not lie
- God does not change His mind
- God will accomplish all His purpose
- God speaks and it happens
God will do what He says He will. [Repeat]
What Will God Do?
Now…Milton Berle seems to think that God has a bit of an unfair advantage on us humans:
God created the earth in six days because He didn’t have to wait for a legal opinion.2
God took six days to complete the world. But that was in the days before building permits.3
All joking aside…it bears repeating that…
God will do what He says He will.
This all came to mind a while ago thanks to a text conversation I was having with a friend of mine who lives in in the southern part of the United States. Especially during troubling times God’s promises can seem so remote…and the longer they take to get fulfilled…the easier it is for out doubts to plague us. However, in response to one of her texts I responded immediately and confidently, “God will.” As we can see from our Lord’s inspired Word, my confidence wasn’t misplaced.
God will do what He says He will.
But what exactly is that? What will God do?
So much that I can’t cover it all in a single sermon :-)…but let’s consider some important things the Bible reveals God will do…
And since we are in the Advent season, let’s start off with a verse that fits right into it…the godly man Joseph was trying to figure out what to do with his apparently promiscuous fiancé, Mary:
But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).
From those verses we get our second “God will” (remember…the first was “God will do what He says He will”):
#2 — God will save His people from their sins.
For those of us who are constantly reminded by God’s gift of a conscience just how sinful we are, those are awesome words! Now…it sounds like they have one big caveat…that you have to be part of “His people”…but if Christmas reminds us of anything, it reminds us that…
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned (John 3:16-18a).
You can become part of “His people” (if you aren’t already)…and if you do (or are), God will save you from your sins.
Staying with that basic theme for another reference, let’s look at 1 John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
That simple cause and effect clause leads us to our third “God will”:
#3 — God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness if we confess our sins.
Don’t we all wish that once our Lord saved us from our sins we’d just stop sinning?! But, we don’t…do we?
As usual…God’s got it covered. All you have to do is confess and the Most High will forgive you…
For our fourth and fifth “God will” I’d like to read some of my favorite words in the Bible (although I’m quoting a smaller portion to save time):
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonnians 4:16-18).
Now, if you are one of “His people”…then your reaction will be like John’s on Patmos, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (See Revelation 22:20).
And from those wonderful verses, we learn…
#4 — God will return.
#5 — God will resurrect the dead in Christ.
Oh death, where is thy sting?! (See 1 Corinthians 15:55 in the King James Version.)
Perhaps some listening might have initially reacted, “But that’s talking about Jesus, not God.”
And then you probably slowed down enough to remember…Jesus is God! Now, if you somehow disagree with that we’ll have to table it…it’s way out of the scope of this sermon to prove Jesus is divine. 🙂
Now…up to now all our “God wills” have been positive…but our sixth “God will” is informed about another fact about Jesus’ Second Coming. Let’s turn to 2 Timothy 4:1…and because I like its wording of this verse…we’ll use the King James Version instead of the English Standard Version (as I have been):
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Yes, God will return…but when He returns He also will judge. Of course, that is far from the only place in the Bible that reminds us of our sixth “God will”…which is:
#6 — God will judge.
And…I pray that when He does you are part of “His people”…if not, you will definitely not be exclaiming, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Instead you’ll more likely…
[call] to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:16-17)
God will judge. Are you ready for it? Are you looking forward to it?
(By the way, the Day of Judgement may not be good for the lost, but it is good news overall.)
Let’s return to clearly good news with our seventh “God will.” Before heading back into Scripture, I’d like to quote from a song from my favorite Christian artist…and my from favorite album from him, “Justice.” The song is “Love That Will Not Let Me Go”:
In this weary world, chasing after dreams, just led me back where I started
I couldn’t see my way, or find a hiding place, for the broken-hearted
You spoke softly to my soul, with one touch I was made whole
Now I know that there is a love that will not let me go
I can face tomorrow because you hold me forever
Stronger than the mighty winds that blow, I’m safe within your arms
Love that will not let me go
Man, I love those words…and also these in John’s Gospel:
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand (John 10:25-29).
What both Steve Camp and John are telling us…and our seventh “God will”…is that if you are one of “His people”…one of Jesus’ sheep:
#7 — God will never let you go.
Heading back toward the beginning of our list…our failures after choosing to follow the Lord can seem so bad it’s easy to think, “Of course He’s going to blot us out of the Book of Life!”
But, God will never let you go…and no matter how hard the Devil tries…he can’t snatch you out of God’s hand. Or as Paul states in Romans 8:38-39:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God will never let you go.
If that doesn’t deserve another “Praise God!” nothing, does…
And, by the way…I do realize that there are those who disagree whether a saint can fall away…but…like Jesus’ divinity…there’s not enough time today to “wrassle” about that 🙂
Since ten always seems like a good quantity for a list…I’ve got three more “God wills” for you.
Number eight could be wrapped into #4, but it is not only a favorite “God will” for me, it was for my dearly departed friend Larry Warren on his deathbed. Again John’s Gospel shares it with us:
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going (John 14:1-4).
Our eighth “God will” is another “please hurry up Lord” one 🙂
#8 — God will come and get you.
Not only that, but can you imagine what the place He is preparing for you…for me…for us…is going to be like? For instance, better than the incandescent lights our government is banning…or the fluorescent lights they want us to use instead…Revelation 22:5 tells us:
5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
And we won’t even need suntan lotion! 🙂
By the way, did you notice I just snuck in the ninth “God will”?
#9 — God will be our light.
Of course, if you are one of “His people”…one of Jesus’ sheep…He is already your light. It’s just after He comes and gets us we’ll see the light clearly and completely.
I don’t know about you, but I keep wanting to say, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
Okay…number ten. You would probably think that I would save the biggest, best “God will” for last…but how do you rate such great promises? If anything, I suspect our first one, “God will do what He says He will” is the greatest news, because the gospel and everything else flows from it.
Instead, for my tenth one, I am choosing one that speaks to what inspired this sermon to begin with…which is a texting dialogue with my friend in the southern U.S. She is not alone in the fact that life is especially painful for her right now. My guess is some who are listening are experiencing the tragic effects of a fallen world in extreme ways.
We’ve spent quite a bit of time in Revelation. Let’s return one more time to John’s amazing visions…a gift from God for him and for us. This time we’ll look at Revelation 21:3-4:
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
I long for for that day…for the day when…
#10 — God will wipe away our tears.
And look at that…I have overshot ten…and there is an eleventh one in those tremendous verses.
#11 – God will dwell with us.
Perhaps I did end my list with the best one after all, eh? 🙂
We’ve made it. Eleven “God wills.” Do you remember them all?
Just in case you don’t…and because repetition is a great teaching tool…let’s go through them quickly:
- God will do what He says He will.
- God will save His people from their sins.
- God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness if we confess our sins.
- God will return.
- God will resurrect the dead in Christ.
- God will judge.
- God will never let you go.
- God will come and get you.
- God will be our light.
- God will wipe away our tears.
- God will dwell with us.
Can I get a hearty “Amen!” to those?
Of course…even if I didn’t specifically call it out during the sermon…most of the positive promises directly in…or implicit in…that list of 11 “God wills” are dependent on the condition of #2…
You have to be “His people.”
If you already are “His people”…then the list should inspire you to recommit yourself to such a great and glorious Being.
If you are not part of “His people”…
God has told you what He is going to do…and…
Now the question is…
What will you do?
1These verses are a selection from my article, “Inclusivism (4 Reasons)” (http://traditores.org/2012/01/inclusivism-4-reasons/).
2Berle, Milton. More of the Best of Milton Berle’s Private Joke File. Edison, New Jersey: Castle Books, 1993: 246.
3Berle, Miltion. Milton Berle’s Private Joke File. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1989: 293.