A Specific Will for Each Believer?

As noted before, I have been trying to determine the truth regarding a personal will that God would have for Christians. From my previous post on John Piper’s interpretation of Rom 12:1-2, I wish to better summarize and clarify some points:

John Piper offered two aspects of the will of God:

  1. The will of decree: God’s “control of everything that comes-to-pass” such as how it was God’s plan for Christ to be crucified.
  2. The will of command: Those things God has told us to do by way of His moral law – the Ten Commandments.

My preference is to separate the moral and individual aspects of God’s will. In part, this is because it has been my observation that nearly every Christian relates to three distinct aspects of the will of God. Those three aspects and some definitions are:


  1. The sovereign will of God: I understand this to be God’s overall or “cosmic” plan. It will happen no matter what we do or even if we do not believe in it. Jesus’ second coming would be an example of the sovereign will of God.
  2. The moral will of God: I understand this to be God’s revealed plan and truth for all of mankind. In essence, it is basic morality – the Ten Commandments
  3. The specific will of God: I understand this to describe God’s detailed plan for each believer. The specific will of God is revealed by the Holy Spirit, is specific for each believer and is not found in the Bible. Examples would be such things as what school to attend, whom to marry, whether or not to go on a mission, which job offer to accept, which house to purchase, etc.

Personally, I do not believe that God has a specific will. I simply do not see that concept taught in scripture. However, perhaps to some greater or lesser degree, virtually every Christian I have ever met does believe this. In general, Christians seem “married” to the idea that God has something already planned out for them.

Noted Christian author, Josh McDowell, clearly believes in a specific will that God has for each believer. Below are some quotes from his book, God’s Will, God’s Best for Your Life (the italics are mine):

· Pg 39: Understand that there are two big areas where God shows His will. The first is His will for all Christians. The second is His will just for you. God’s will for all Christians is what we can call His universal will. God’s will specifically for you is His specific will.

· Pg 61: Scripture is the first place you to go to know God’s specific will just for you.

· Pg 61: God isn’t going to tell you everything right now, and detecting His specific will is an ongoing process. Don’t be frustrated that you have to work at it. God usually leads you little by little.

· Pg 92: What you discern to be God’s specific will for you isn’t likely to come just from one source of guidance. (Mr. McDowell goes on to talk about making use of scripture, prayer, counsel and understanding circumstances.)

· Pg 112: Reading your circumstances will tell you a lot about God’s specific will for your getting things.

· Pg 113: God uses circumstances to direct us.

Here are some examples I have come across to help illustrate how people seem to actualize God’s specific will:

  • The many times that our pastor and members of the board prayed for God to reveal His will whether or not there should be a building program.
  • A letter to the congregation regarding the hiring of a children’s director; “However, we do not know what the Lord has in His plans.”
  • An email from the church secretary regarding a couple trying to adopt a child: “God may have presented this couple an opportunity out of the blue”.
  • Another email: “Due to the death of (name withheld from the church family): “God has opened this door for us.”
  • Printed in the church bulletin: “(a former intern and his finance’) are waiting on God’s timing for setting a specific wedding date.”
  • A letter to the congregation: “God has confirmed to (a staff member) that it is time for him to pursue other ministry avenues.”
  • My daughter-in-law’s belief that God led them to the house they purchased.
  • A 2006 candidate for mayor in Eagan MN who said, “The Lord told me I should run.”
  • Joni Eareckson Tada’s comment: “It’s no mistake that you got that bad medical report last week, that the economic downturn is affecting your retirement fund, (that) your children are not turning out the way you’d hoped they would, or that your grandchild was born with a disability.”
  • “Discover God’s Direction” – the cover page of an Indiana Wesleyan University admission brochure.

None of the above examples is in reference to a moral decision. Certainly, there are instances in scripture where God led or otherwise directed people. But, does that mean that God has a plan for each and every decision one encounters? As far as I can determine, evangelism seems to be the main motivator whenever God is leading or directing – not the ordinary and mundane things we earthly mortals confront everyday