Salvation
Lesson 2 in the series
Miscellaneous Lessons
Dr. Joe Temple

Summary of Permissive and Directive Will of God

We want to summarize the permissive and directive will of God. The directive will of God can be summed up with the stipulation that it is always related to a distinct command. That command, in most instances, is found in the Word of God–a definite Scripture related to it. ”This is what I command you,” is said in so many words. That is God's directive will; that is what He directs and what He wants.

The permissive will of God is related to what God permits us to do because we are not willing to comply with His directive will or, in some instances, perhaps are not able to comply with the directive will of God.

General Instruction

There are many illustrations. There is one in Matthew, chapter 19, to which we might turn because I think it illustrates this better than could any words of my own:

Matthew 19

1And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;
2And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.
3The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
7They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
10His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

The directive will of God in relation to the marriage relationship is found in verses 4 and 5:

Matthew 19

4And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

The permissive will of God in relation to the marriage relationship is in verse 8:

Matthew 19

7They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

The spiritual condition of the Israelites was such that they were causing a real hardship on the women of Israel by their manner of divorcement. So even though God did not approve of divorce, God permitted a writing of divorcement in order that the women in question might not suffer.

The writing of divorcement was a legal paper that stipulated certain conditions related to divorce. It was not God's first plan; it was His second plan. God permitted it because of the condition of their hearts–the hardness of their hearts.

Personal Illustration

That is a general illustration–not personal, but general. There is a personal illustration that comes to mind which it might be wise for us to look at. In Isaiah, chapter 38, a story is told of Hezekiah which illustrates the directive and permissive will of God.

Isaiah 38

1In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.
2Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD,
3And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
4Then came the word of the LORD to Isaiah, saying,
5Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.
6And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city.
7And this shall be a sign unto thee from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he hath spoken;
8Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.

You will notice in verse 1 the directive will of God:

Isaiah 38

1…Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.

That was God's first plan for Hezekiah at that particular moment. ”Thou shalt die and not live.” In verse 5, we have the permissive will of God:

Isaiah 38

5Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.

In God's directive will, Hezekiah would have gone home to Heaven. In His permissive will, he lived fifteen years longer.

Maybe you are saying or thinking, ”Well, how do you know that one is the permissive will? Why wasn't this just an answer to prayer? Why wasn't it that God extended Hezekiah's days because he prayed and asked for an extension of days?” I think that answer will be found if you will turn to II Chronicles, chapter 32, verse 24, where we find this story repeated in a little different way:

II Chronicles 32

24In those days Hezekiah was sick to the death, and prayed unto the LORD: and he spake unto him, and he gave him a sign.
25But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.
26Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.

These verses that we have read are somewhat of a headline to the story–an introduction to the story. Here are the details:

II Chronicles 32

27And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches and honour: and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels;
28Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks.
29Moreover he provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much.
30This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.
31[Notice] Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.

Verse 32 reminds us that after Hezekiah was permitted to live in the permissive will of God, God gave him an opportunity to see what he would do when he had a chance to do it. He failed miserably. The story becomes very plain when you read the rest of the chapter.

In chapter 33, you have the story of Hezekiah's son, Manasseh. Manasseh was the wickedest king that Israel ever had, and if Hezekiah had gone home to Heaven in the directive will of God instead of staying fifteen years longer in His permissive will, one of the blackest pages of Israel's history might never have been written.

If you remember Hezekiah's prayer, Hezekiah did not say one word about the will of God as to the extension of his days. He just begged God to let him live; that was all. He didn't say, ”Lord, if it is Your will.” He said, ”I want to live; I want to live; I want to live.” God permitted him to live.

This is an illustration of the directive will and the permissive will of God. It is always best to follow God's directive will. His permissive will comes second.

Knowing God's Best for Certain

How do you know for certain that you are in the directive will of God? Can you know for certain? Yes, ultimately you can know for certain. I say ”ultimately” because there may be a time of waiting on God before His will is revealed. Jesus said to John in chapter 7, verse 17, ”If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God…” Literally, this is ”willeth to do His will.” The word ”doctrine” may be translated ”teaching.”

There is one encouragement, I think, in relation to the permissive will of God and that is that it does provide what we might call, for want of a better term, a second chance. Sometimes because of the hardness of our hearts, we do not follow God's directive will. Then our hearts get right with God, and He permits us to follow Him in a way that gives us an opportunity for service, though it may not be as great and as effective as if we were in His directive will.

For example, God might call an individual to be (and I don't like to use the term, because I don't think the Scripture does, but we are used to it) a foreign missionary, and for any number of reasons that individual may not respond. He may want to make a little money before he goes, or any number of things; and while He is waiting to respond to the call, he may marry and he may have children. He may go past the age when most mission boards send missionaries out, and he will have missed God's directive will.

It was God's directive will for him to go, but God does not say, ”I'll never use you; I'll never do anything for you.” He may permit him to serve in the homeland as a pastor or a teacher or in some other way. He will bless him because he is giving forth His Word, but only the Judgment Seat of Christ will reveal what would have happened had he followed God's directive will instead of God's permissive will.

Did he know that this was God's directive will? If he did know and was disobeying it, then he was sinning. Yes. In this illustration, we are assuming that he does know it is God's will for him to go, but he is not ready to go right then.

Four Ways to Know God's Will

Let me suggest four ways in which you can know the will of God, and let me suggest that none of these four ways should be considered individually. They all must be considered together. The fact that one of these conditions is met does not necessarily mean that a thing is the will of God; all four things must be considered together.

I have followed the practice in my life of waiting until all four things are true. That is the reason I said a moment ago that ultimately you will know the will of God. There may be a period of waiting, but it is not so much doubt and vacillation as it is that you are waiting for the fulfillment of these four things. I don't know that I am giving you these things in the order of their importance. All of them must be true.

First of all, the Word of God must be considered. Anything that is the will of God, the Word of God will endorse; if the Word of God condemns it in any way whatsoever, it does not matter how anyone else feels about it or what you think about it, it cannot be the will of God. The Holy Spirit leads us; remember what we read in Romans, chapter 8. We talk often of the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and it is important for us to remember that there is such a thing as the leadership of the Spirit:

Romans 8

14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

The sons of God are led by the Spirit of God, but the thing that we need to keep in mind is that the Spirit of God never speaks independently of the Word of God–never. Turn, please, to the Gospel of John, chapter 16, verse 7:

John 16

7Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
12I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
15All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Notice the latter part of verse 13: ”…and he will shew you things to come.” Now notice verse 14: ”…he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” Notice also the latter part of verse 15: ”…he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” All of those phrases speak of the leadership of the Holy Spirit. But the key phrase in the entire paragraph is in the middle of verse 13: ”…he shall not speak of himself.” That does not mean that He won't talk about Himself; it means that He will not speak on his own authority, separately and apart from the Word of God. He speaks only in accordance with the Word of God.

Considering the Word of God

I suppose we could give any number of illustrations. This illustration comes to mind at the moment, and it actually is true. There was a lady who had eight children and a faithful husband, and she decided that the Lord had called her to be a missionary to Africa.

She wanted me to pray with her about it. I am not always as rude as this may sound; I try to be led of the Spirit. But sometimes rudeness may be the best thing. I said, ”No, I certainly won't waste my time praying about a thing like that. I surely won't.” She asked, ”Aren't you interested in missions?” ”I am very much interested in missions, but there is no point in my praying about something that the Word of God very plainly says is wrong.”

I took her to the Scriptures and showed her a woman's place, a wife's place, a mother's place; her responsibility is to be the keeper of the home. This was one instance when the Word of God would definitely condemn. There was no point in praying about it.

I asked her if the Lord had called her husband. She said, ”No, he was even mad about it.” She was just going to leave him and go. Then I called her attention to Ephesians, chapter 5, and I showed her from the Word of God, ”Wives, be subject to your husbands,” etc.

That is an illustration of what we mean when we say that the Word of God must be for a thing. If the Word of God condemns it, then there is no point in talking about it. The Holy Spirit does not lead in contradiction to the Word of God.

Now, this is one of the most important criteria for judging the will of God, because sometimes you will find any number of people who may be deluded by the Devil himself. You will find any number of people who plainly read something in the Word of God, but they want to do the thing they have in mind so badly that they will go pray about it. They will have a certain amount of peace, they think, and when you see them, they will say, ”I prayed about it and I know it is God's will.” ”What about God's Word?” ”Well, I know God's Word says that, but I prayed about it and I know it is God's will.” They are deluded (and I mean that) by the Devil into doing a thing that is contrary to the Word of God. That is the first basic thing.

Our Church of Christ friends are more nearly right on that than they are on most things, but of course they lean so far to the other extreme that they say the Holy Spirit is the Word of God. They are going too far to the other extreme. The extreme on one side is: ”I don't care what the Word of God says, the Holy Spirit led me to do it.” The other extreme is: ”The Holy Spirit is the Word of God.” In the middle is the Holy Spirit speaking in accordance with the Word. That is the first basic thing: What does God's Word have to say?

The Open Door Policy

The second step is the open door policy. You may call it what you will, but that is what I call it. Is there an open door for the thing that you feel led to do? Is there an open door?

Let's think about this in practical terms, and then we will look at a passage of Scripture. Suppose you feel called of God to be a missionary to Russia. Well, certainly you can have the Word of God in your favor: ”Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). You have the Word of God, but is the door open? ”Well,” you say, ”at the moment if it isn't open, but God has called me anyway. I know He has.” Well, if God called you, He will open the door, and if He didn't call you, He won't open the door.

Immediately there comes the suggestion that the Devil closes doors. That is true, but only momentarily. Will you turn, please, to Revelation, chapter 3, verse 7:

Revelation 3

7And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
8I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

You will notice what the Lord Jesus Christ says here: ”I am the One Who opens and I am the One Who shuts. When I open a door, no man can shut it. When I shut a door, no man can open it.”

That passage of Scripture should bring a great deal of comfort to our hearts in relation to this thing about which we are talking. Someone says, ”How do I know the Devil didn't close that door?” The Devil can't close a door which God has opened.

Then someone says, ”Well, how do I know the Devil didn't open it?” He cannot open any door that the Lord Jesus Christ has shut. Then someone may say, ”How can I be sure who does the opening and who does the closing?” Therein arises the matter of faith as it is related to a surrendered life. Notice why the Lord Jesus Christ said that these open and shut doors are dependable. Look at verse 8:

Revelation 3

8I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength…

That is, ”thou hast a little strength.” It is out of your hands; there is nothing you can do about it.

Revelation 3

8…and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

This suggests that the individual who is thoroughly surrendered to the will of God can believe in faith that God will open the door that needs to be opened and close the door that needs to be closed.

In Full Fellowship

If you know that there is nothing between you and the Lord, if you know that you are in full fellowship with Him, if you know that the Holy Spirit is filling your life and constantly controlling your life, then in faith you can ask God to open doors and shut doors, and whatever occurs you can trust as the work of God. Now, that is true only if you have kept His Word; that is true only if you have not denied His name.

Usually when we talk along this line someone will come along and say, ”Well, maybe there is something between me and the Lord, and I don't know about it. Maybe there is some way that I am not keeping God's Word as I should keep it.” That attitude is dishonoring to the Lord, and it also shows a lack of faith. Turn, if you will, to I John, chapter 1, verse 6:

I John 1

6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

That is as simple and as definite as can be. You notice there is a doubt about the fellowship, but there is no doubt about the darkness. It says, ”If we say that we have fellowship”–we really don't have it; we are trying to act as if we do–”and we are walking in darkness.” It doesn't say, ”and if we are walking in darkness.” You know whether or not you are walking in darkness. If you are walking in darkness, there is no fellowship.

I John 1

7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

It is a lack of faith and dishonoring to God to plague yourself about sins that you may not know anything about and about the deceitfulness of your heart of which you may not be conscious. If you are walking in the light, then by faith you accept the fact that the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, is cleansing you from all sin, and you are in perfect fellowship. If you are in fellowship, then in faith you can say, ”Lord Jesus, close that door if I shouldn't go through it.” If the door is closed, then you know that you should not go through it. If it remains open, then go through it on faith. You may not know what is on the other side of the door, because all He said is that He is going to open the door; that is all, but by faith you can go through it.

A concrete illustration of this is in Acts, chapter 16, the missionary journey of Paul and Silas. We are assuming for purposes of our discussion–I see no reason we cannot legitimately assume it–that Paul and Silas were in fellowship with the Lord and were surrendered to Him. In Acts, chapter 16, we read:

Acts 16

6Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,

There is nothing wrong with preaching the Word; that is what they were commissioned to do. But God closed the door to preaching the Word in Asia.

Acts 16

7After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

They wanted to preach the Word; there is nothing wrong with preaching the Word. They wanted to preach the Word in Bithynia, but God closed the door. And in verse 8:

Acts 16

8And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
9And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
10And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

The Lord had closed two doors and here was an open door. So, with assurance they decided that this was the door they ought to enter. So there it is: an open door policy–the Word of God and an open door policy.

Ability to Enter the Open Door

There is a third thing that I would like to suggest. I would like for you to keep in mind that all of these things must be considered together, never separately. First, what does the Word of God say? Second, is the door open? Third, is there an ability to enter the open door?

God never calls a man without enabling him to fulfill that call. Being practical to the point of being facetious, let me say that God would not call a man who had no ability to speak–I mean a dumb man–to preach the Gospel. He might say, ”I am called to preach,” but God wouldn't call him to preach. I am speaking of audibly speaking the Gospel. We recognize that there are many, many ways to get the message out, but I am speaking of what we usually consider preaching. God would not call a dumb man to preach the Gospel. If He did, He would restore His speech.

You may have heard the illustration of the man who was plowing on his farm, and he stuttered. As he was plowing, he thought he saw a vision in the sky with two great big letters, ”P.C.” So he went to his pastor and told him that God had called him to preach. ”How do you know that God has called you to preach?” ”Well, I saw this vision in the sky, and I saw the letters 'P.C.' which means 'Preach Christ'.” Of course it took him much longer to get it than it is taking me to tell it. The preacher very wisely said, 'No, you have misinterpreted the signs. 'P.C.' doesn't mean 'Preach Christ.' It means 'plow corn'.” That is right because God does not call a man to do something which he has no ability to do unless He gives him the ability.

So it would be absolutely foolish to go about saying that God had led you to do something if there were no native ability whatsoever to do it. That must be kept in mind. It might be wise to look at I Corinthians, chapter 12:

I Corinthians 12

1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
2Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
3Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

Literally, that is, ”the manifestation [spiritual enduements that are listed here] is given to every man for the profit of all.”

Whom the Lord calls, He equips. We can be sure of God. When I say that God is not going to call a man unless he has the ability, I am not ruling out the fact that God can work a miracle in a man's life and equip him for the service for which He has called him. So there are three things: the Word of God, the open door, and the ability to meet the need.

Going back to the original illustration of the woman with the eight children, you see there were two things against her already. The Word of God forbade it, and she had no ability to meet the need. A woman with eight children certainly cannot go to the mission fields adequately.

The Peace of God

The fourth thing is what I am going to call ”the peace of God.” I believe that when you are in the center of God's will, there is peace. If you are trying to determine what God's will is and you have no peace about it, then I would suggest that you go very, very slowly in making your decision related to the thing in question.

I said, ”Go slowly.” I didn't say, ”Rule it out.” I said, ”Go slowly,” because we recognize that there are a number of things that disrupt our peace. Sometimes discouraging remarks by other people will give us a sense of uncertainty so that there is no peace. Sometimes the very personality of an individual will tend to rob him of peace because there are some people with such natures that they will feel uncertain about any new possibility and they may never feel right about it. There is the possibility that a weary mind and a tired body can rob you of your peace and give you a sense of uncertainty about a thing.

And then, of course, you must never ignore the fact that quite often the Devil troubles the waters and causes you to be uncertain about a thing. That is the reason I am saying, ”Go slowly.” Then if you have no peace, I would say this: If you have no peace about a matter, I would wait until I had peace about it before I acted. I believe that if we follow the prescription that is given in the Word of God, we cannot fail to have peace. If we have followed that prescription and we have no peace, I would say that some characteristic is missing.

God's Recipe for Peace

God's recipe for peace is found in Philippians, chapter 4. I think that you are all familiar with this passage of Scripture:

Philippians 4

6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

These two verses of Scripture have been paraphrased in many, many different ways. It doesn't matter too much how we say it. But you will notice the first suggestion: ”Be careful for nothing.” That is the first ingredient for peace–”be careful for nothing.” The word ”careful” means exactly what it suggests–full of care. The injunction is not to worry about anything. That takes care of what I was talking about a moment ago when I said that some people are by nature uncertain or timid or fearful. They are worriers by nature, and they don't have peace about anything. But here is a command: ”Worry about nothing.”

Whenever I make this suggestion, I am always asked, ”How can you help it? I make up my mind that I am not going to worry, and the first thing you know, I'm doing it. It is easy enough to say, 'Don't worry,' and then find yourself worrying. How can you help it?”

I think there is a way that we can help worrying, and that way Paul suggests in II Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 3:

II Corinthians 10

3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

The last phrase is what I want you to notice. ”…bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Worry is thoughts; you fret out loud, but worry in your mind. You wouldn't fret if you weren't worried. You worry first, then you fret–you nag–whatever it is. But you worry first.

And so, what happens? Every thought must be brought into obedience to Christ, and whenever there is a worrisome thought passing through your mind, rather than to dwell upon it, rather than to give it nesting room, immediately, figuratively speaking, you reach up, you get hold of it, and you bring it into obedience to Christ. Turn it over to Him. If you practice, you can do it. Look at Philippians, chapter 4, verse 8:

Philippians 4

8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

You occupy your mind not with worrisome thoughts, but with the things which meet the requirements suggested in verse 8.

By way of illustration of thinking on these things which are true, here is someone worrying about dying of cancer when he is well and hasn't a sign of an affliction of any description. There are some people doing that–worrying about dying of cancer when there is not a sign of it. Well, instead of worrying about dying of cancer, they need to think about the things that are full of health and vitality and vigor, etc.

That is the first thing. Be careful for nothing; worry about nothing; that is the first ingredient for peace.

The Second Ingredient for Peace

The second ingredient, ”in everything by prayer,” means to pray about everything. I believe that the psychiatrists would have to go out of business if people learned to pray, because one of the purposes of prayer is to get things off your chest. Pray about everything–everything. Pray not just about spiritual things and big things, but pray about everything. Pray not just about a thing when it gets beyond your power to cope with it, but pray about everything. Don't have any secrets from God.

The Third Ingredient for Peace

Paul emphasizes the secret of being thankful for everything in I Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 18:

I Thessalonians 5

18In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Two suggestions are brought to mind by this verse. Both of them have their roots in our faith in the wisdom and goodness of God as manifested to His children. First, we give thanks to God for everything, for such practice is the will of God for us and will be pleasing to Him. Second, we give thanks for everything because the particular thing in question, even a trial, we accept by faith as God's will for us. In the midst of thanksgiving we find peace.

I would like to add to these ingredients a little seasoning, for these things that I have suggested to you are tasteless without this. Turn, please, to Romans, chapter 15, verse 13:

Romans 15

13Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Notice, ”joy and peace in believing.” I have had prayer with people who have been faced with decisions, and we have laid the things completely before the Lord. Then when we got up off our knees, we talked about it. I might say, ”Well, now, don't you feel better about it since you turned it over to the Lord?” And they have the audacity to say, ”I don't know whether He heard or not.” I say that is audacity because if we come to God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, He has to hear us. He doesn't have any choice. You see, there must be joy and peace in believing. That is the recipe for peace.

I would like to remind you, as we go back to Philippians, chapter 4, what He says about this peace. It isn't just that you will be filled with peace, but this peace goes to work right away:

Philippians 4

7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

It will guard your mind from worry; it will guard your heart from restlessness if you have that peace.

Now, those are the four things: the Word of God, the open door, the ability to enter the open door, and the peace that God lets you have in relation to the whole situation.

I wish that I could give you some characteristics of this peace whereby it would be simple for you to know that you have it. All I can say is that it is something you recognize for its presence or for its absence, and perhaps it comes with experience.

The Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew, chapter 11, verses 28-29:

Matthew 11

28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

That is the peace, the rest that we are talking about. It comes through experience, and recognition of it does likewise.

A Personal Illustration

Let me give you this illustration in closing so that we can make this practical. Some years back I had an opportunity to go on a preaching tour on the mission field, and I wanted to know the will of God about it. So I made it a matter of prayer and waited on the Lord to know His will. I had the Word of God for it and had an open door; the open door was really open. It consisted of invitations, and a missionary who was fluent in a number of foreign languages was going to be my traveling companion and interpreter, and I needed him. That was an open door.

A lot of other things made the door wide open. I had the ability to meet the need. I trust, and I say it humbly, I have the ability to preach. It was going to be a very expensive trip, and a lady who doesn't live here in Abilene had already written a check for it. There was no concern about money at all.

Everything but one thing was in favor of my going. I had no peace about it, and I didn't know why. I examined, of course, all the possibilities that we have gone over as to why I didn't have any peace. When I examined very carefully all of those things–the things that we have mentioned–I had no peace. When the deadline came, I went even so far as to get some shots, and all the rest of it, preparing to go. When the deadline came, I refused to go because I had no peace.

Some of the people involved thought I was nuts. That was all right, but I did not know why I did not have any peace. I did not know why God did not want me to go until one Sunday during the period of time when I would have been gone.

Two people called my home and wanted to know if I was going to preach at Abilene Bible Church that Sunday morning. They were very specific; they said that they wanted to know definitely; they wanted to be sure. If I was not going to preach, they would not come. My wife said that I would be there.

So they came–I didn't know this till afterward–and those two individuals came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior that Sunday morning. They told me afterward that they were just passing through town. They had heard me on the radio. There was a long story about their spiritual problems and their spiritual truths, and they put out a fleece before the Lord. They said, in so many words, ”If we can hear Joe Temple personally, we will go hear him preach.” They came, and they were saved.

Now, as far as I am concerned, that is why I didn't have any peace. God, in His providence and in His foreknowledge, knew that all those circumstances would be present. Though there were people in those foreign countries who might have been blessed through the ministry, here were two men who might not have been saved had I not been there. God didn't give me any peace for that reason. That is an illustration of what I am talking about. You should not take any one of those things alone; they all must be true.


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