Sermon by Pastor Tom Brown · Aug 23, 2020 · My Bible Year Series

We are facing a big decision at Vintage Faith Church.

We make a lot of decisions in the coursed of our lives. Have you ever thought about how many decisions we make?

Researchers at Cornell University estimate that we make 226.7 decisions per day, just related to the food we eat. Their research led to the total estimate of around 35k remotely conscious decisions each day.

Psychologists tells us that with decisions comes stress. The more choices we have in life, the more anxiety we tend to experience.

This morning I want to talk to you about stress free decision making.

We are going to start in 1 Corinthians 10:27.

If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.

When it comes to making decisions, I suppose the average American asks the question, “what will make me happy?”

Those of us who follow Christ ask a different question, “What is God’s will?” Which is really a better way of asking the 1st question, isn’t it? For the Christian, the greatest happiness comes from knowing and doing the will of God.

What is God’s will for Vintage Faith Church?

It’s a big question isn’t it?

To answer that question we have to define our terms.

What do we mean by God’s will?

Historically, theologians have delineated two categories meant by the will of God in the Scriptures.

First there is God’s moral will. It is God’s will that you should not murder. It’s God’s will that you tell the truth and keep your vows.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;

1 Thessalonians 4:3

In the sense of God’s moral will, when we try to do God’s will, we try to obey his commands. We try to live life and make decisions in a way that keeps us within in the boundaries of God’s moral standards.

Another sense we see of the will of God in the Scriptures is the sovereign will of God.

God has a moral will for humanity, yet our history is a long story of violating that will. What does that say about God? Does that mean that he is moral but he is weak and overcome by opposing forces whose will differs from his? No, God’s sovereign will includes allowing freedom to his creatures, even when they use that freedom to violate his moral will.

Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.

Psalm 115:3


I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’

Isaiah 46:10

So we can envision a circle: this is God’s moral will. To seek God’s will is to stay within this circle.

Are there other senses in which we can talk about God’s will?

Some see a 3rd category of God’s will. You might call it God’s individual will or God’s ideal will. A popular term for that will is “God’s will for your life.”

If you were drawing it out, you might place a dot somewhere within the circle representing the moral will of God. This is God’s will for your life. When making decisions and seeking God’s will, we must discover not only God’s moral will, but his will for me, now.

Which job offer should I accept? Should I marry my boyfriend? Which college will I go to? Who should I vote for in the election? God has an ideal plan for each of these decisions, and I can find God’s will or miss it.

There is an enormous amount of literature produced by Christians in order to help you find God’s will for your life. Much of it is good advice: you should look to your Bible, you should get wise and Godly counsel, you should pray and listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit. Of course, these are all essential in good decision making.

We teach each other that when your are stuck with a tricky decision, you can follow these steps and find God’s will for you.

Sometimes the process leads to clarity and peace. In my experience, more often than not it leads to anxiety and doubt. Is that true for you?

Why is that? Could it be that God’s ideal will for your life is not Biblical?

What if I told you that that I have found no evidence for the dot of God’s ideal will for you in the New Testament?

When the NT speak of knowing and doing God’s will, it is God’s moral will. For example:

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Ephesians 5:17

Is followed up by

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,

Ephesians 5:18

We should understand what the Lord’s will is by learning His moral will which is revealed to us plainly in the Scriptures. Within that will, there is freedom.

That takes us back to

If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.

1 Corinthians 10:27

Paul is addressing the Corinthian church about the tricky decisions of how to act around non-believing people and specifically, what to do about meat which has been prepared as a sacrifice to a pagan god.

Paul’s counsel?

When an unbeliever invites you to dinner, pray and find out what God’s will is for this specific moment? That’s not what he says, is it? He gives them freedom. If you want to go, go.

Paul gives the same freedom when he solicits financial donations for the struggling believers in Jerusalem. How much should they give? Should they pray until a specific amount is revealed?

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

Give what you want to give, he says.

One more example comes in Paul’s instruction about relationships. Should Christians get married? What about a woman whose husband has died?

A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:39

She is free to marry anyone she wishes. Paul doesn’t seem to be teaching the idea of one ideal plan here. There is God’s moral will, and within that will there is freedom.

Why is that? Don’t we see people in the Old Testament looking to prophets and seers, casting lots to determine God’s specific will for specific situations? Doesn’t God instruct people to make specific choices.

There are certainly instances of specific divine direction, particularly in the Old Testament, but these are the exception and not the rule.

What we see instead is God’s plan to shape us and walk with us as we live out our freedom in Christ.

God desires that we grow in our devotion to Him and to His kingdom. (Mt 6:33).
God desires that we grow in wisdom. (Pr. 4:7)
God desires that we grow in faith. (Pr. 3:5-6)
God desires that we grow in love. (1 Co. 16:14)

This is God’s will for the exercise of our freedom.

And the liberating reality of God’s sovereign will is that, at the end of the day, whatever we choose, God brings everything together according to His sovereign plans.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Isn’t that wonderful? We can’t escape the boundaries of God’s sovereign will. You cannot mistake your way out of the Sovereign wisdom and goodness of God. You don’t have to bear the weight of securing your future good. You don’t have to bear the weight of regret for past mistakes. It’s all working together for your good.

Some of you can grasp that concept, but you can’t yet experience the reality of it. Can I really trust God that freely? What about the pain I have experienced?

God can accomplish unimaginable good through unspeakable pain.

Consider the choice made beginning the night Jesus was betrayed.

Judas chose to betray Jesus. The soldiers who took him chose to mock and beat him. Pontius Pilate and Herod chose to parade Jesus as a spectacle and hand him over to be crucified. Has there ever been a worse string of decision making?

Surely none of this was in the will of God. God does not will that an innocent man suffer. God does not will that His Son is received with arrogant contempt and violence. God does not will that the good suffer. Surely all of this is firmly outside of the moral will of God.

But look at the Scriptural perspective on that situation:

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.

Acts 4:27-28

Ultimately, the violation of God’s moral will was wrapped up in the Sovereign will of God.

The terrible, wicked, foolish decisions of those who conspired against Jesus led to the very act which made possible their salvation.

If God can do that kind of good through such awful decisions, don’t you think he can work through our feeble attempts to seek His will?

Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown