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6-9-24 The Will of God

The Will of God

David Peterson / General

Will of God; Faith / Mark 3:20–35

Sermon Type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: The will of God is his eternal plan whereby he chose human beings to be drawn into the divine life. He is ever working to bring his plan to fulfillment.


Key Text: Mark 3:35 NIV

Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

1. Popular conceptions of will of God

2. Theological Dictionary Definition

will of God. God’s divine purpose for creation as a whole and for human beings in particular. Many theologians distinguish between God’s “free” will and God’s “necessary” will. God’s will is free in that as Creator God acts toward creation out of freedom rather than compulsion, but God’s will is necessary in that God always acts in a manner consistent with the divine nature or character. Theologians likewise sometimes differentiate between God’s “hidden” will (what God alone knows he will do) and God’s “revealed” will (what God discloses to humans about what he will do or purposes that creatures do).

Grenz, S., Guretzki, D., & Nordling, C. F. (1999). Pocket dictionary of theological terms (p. 121). InterVarsity Press.

I. The Will of God is Closely Tied to the Kingdom of God

1. Explanation

a. The establishment of the Kingdom (1:15), 12 disciples basis of new people of God (3:13-19), he’s been talking about kingdoms (3:24)

τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ is. Mark does not use the phrase again, but in the context of his story so far it must surely relate to Jesus’ proclamation of the coming of the kingdom of God, with its consequent call to repentance and belief of the εὐαγγέλιον (1:14–15), which is the only general injunction of Jesus which Mark has so far recorded. It is that call which both scribes and family have, in their different ways, rejected, and in so doing have put themselves outside τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ.

France, R. T. (2002). The Gospel of Mark: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 180). W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.

b. The Lord’s prayer the two are tied together. Catechism definition of Kingdom of God

2. Application

The Greek word (thelema) is primarily an emotional word and only secondarily is it volitional. “God’s will” is not so much “God’s intention” as it is “God’s heart’s desire.” God does have an intention, a purpose, a plan. It is called prothesis in Greek (see Eph 1:11), and it literally means “a laying out beforehand” (like a blueprint). This plan was created by God’s counsel (called boule in Greek, Eph 1:11). However, behind the plan and the counsel was not just a mastermind but a heart—a heart of love and of good pleasure.

Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). In Tyndale Bible dictionary (p. 1302). Tyndale House Publishers.

The impetus of God’s eternal purpose came from a heart’s desire, and that heart’s desire was to have many sons and daughters made like his only Son (see Rom 8:26–28).

Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). In Tyndale Bible dictionary (p. 1302). Tyndale House Publishers.

3. Illustration

II. The Will of God is Expressed in Jesus

1. Explanation

a. In the verses leading up Jesus has been expressing the will of God

b. The will of God is expressed in human lives made right

i. That which has limited people’s lives is being removed: demon possession, guilt over past sin, physical ailments

ii. This is for all people, regardless of status

By real, spiritual affinity every one in whom Christ is born can be a Mary (Stier); and all who are united with Him by heavenly love He is not ashamed to call brethren and sisters (Heb. 2:12).

Haas, J. A. W. (1895). Annotations on the Gospel according to St. Mark: Vol. III (H. E. Jacobs, Ed.; p. 67). The Christian Literature Co.

2. Application

3. Illustration

Woman Finds Acceptance at Church

Gloria S. was ready to take her life. Years of drug abuse, failed relationships, and multiple rejections had taken their toll. Prepared with countless prescription drugs she saved for the purpose, Gloria turned on the television to keep her neighbors from hearing.

The channel was tuned in to a Billy Graham crusade. At the bottom of the screen was a telephone number for anyone needing help. Gloria called the number before she took the pills.

The counselor recognized the seriousness of Gloria’s situation. She directed Gloria to a nearby Wesleyan church were someone would be able to help her.

Gloria decided to put off her suicide and attend the church the next day, Sunday. Just before the worship service began, Gloria met the pastor. “Billy Graham sent me,” she told him.

Sometime later, Gloria was able to give this testimony.

Billy Graham saved me from killing myself, but my church showed me how to be saved from my sins. The love of the people was incredible. I never knew someone as dirty as me could ever receive love again. The people accepted me just as I was. I have seen Jesus. He is in the faces of all these people who love me.

Source: Thom S. Rainer, Surprising Insights From the Unchurched, (Zondervan, 2001) p. 166

III. The Will of God is Expressed in the Disciples

1. Explanation

a. The disciples are being contrasted with the religious leaders and Jesus’ family

“Behold, my mother and my brothers.” It is probable that the group indicated did not embrace more than the Twelve. The larger context stresses their special position as those who are with Jesus in obedience to his summons (Ch. 3:14). Their openness to God’s action in sending Jesus bound them to him with ties more intimate than those achieved through physical relationship. By following Jesus the Twelve are marked off as those who do the will of God. Jesus’ statement regarding the true family, however, looks beyond the Twelve to a larger company of men and women: “whoever shall do the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.” It is the performance of the will of God which is decisive in determining kinship with Jesus. In the new family which Jesus calls into being there is demanded the radical obedience to God which he demonstrated in his submission to the Father and which the disciples manifested in their response to his call. The one context which makes Jesus’ word intelligible is that provided by the demands of the Kingdom of God which has drawn near in his person. Because the Kingdom is breaking in upon men there is a new urgency in the demand for obedience. At the same time this demand creates a fellowship in which the common pursuance of the will of God binds a man closely to Jesus and permits him to know another as brother, sister or mother.

Lane, W. L. (1974). The Gospel of Mark (p. 148). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

2. Application

The false and the true family of Jesus.—

1. The one would watch over Him and His cause; the other will be watched over by Him.

2. The one would lead Him; the other will be led by Him.

3. The one would save Him; the other will be saved by Him.

4. The one would restrain and bring Him into danger; the other will be restrained and bound by His Word and Spirit.—J. P. Lange, D.D. (Preacher’s Homiletic Commentary)

3. Illustration

Venetian Loyalty

In Venice there was a law forbidding the erection of monuments in the public streets to people who had sacrificed anything for the good of the State. The reason for this was that all Venetians were supposed to be filled with loyalty, and that, therefore, the erection of such monuments was a reflection on others who were equally ready to sacrifice themselves for the good of the State should opportunity arise.

On the other hand, it was held that treason and disloyalty must prove so rare that only to the infamous was publicity to be given. “Tomes of infamy” were therefore erected in public places to record the deeds of betrayers and dishonest citizens. And the smallness of the number testifies that the Venetians’ claim of the loyalty of their citizens was no idle boast.

—James Burns

Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (pp. 1184–1185). Bible Communications, Inc.

A college man walked into a photography studio with a framed picture of his girlfriend. He wanted the picture duplicated. This involved removing it from the frame. In doing this, the studio owner noticed the inscription on the back of the photograph: “My dearest Tom, I love you with all my heart. I love you more and more each day. I will love you forever and ever. I am yours for all eternity. It was signed “Diane,” and it contained a P.S.: “If we ever break up. I want this picture back.” Charles Krieg in Illustrations Unlimited



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