In our 4 part video series we have been looking at How Do We Discern God’s Will. The other day I was reviewing Jesus prayer in the garden and the struggle He was having in dealing with what faced Him. His prayer of resolution was ended with these famous words …
Mark 14:36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” ESV
I read something from David L. McKenna recently that really expanded my understanding of the will of God in Jesus’ own words at the last supper. It was about His own will at work in understanding the Determinate will of God, speaking the Declarative will of God, and choosing the Discretionary will of God. How we are to walk out the will of God?
The Determinative Will
Mark 14:21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him … ESV
Jesus, in His own free will, followed the will of God that was written for Him … the Determinative will of God. Gordon Allport painted a picture of what that entails. There is a man on the edge of a cliff looking down at a man rowing a boat on a river. From his perspective he sees around the bend what the man cannot see. The man is heading over a waterfall. God sees the whole the entire picture but that doesn’t mean that the man’s fate is settled. For God to see the future is not to say that He determines the future. Up until the very last moment the man has a choice; just as Judas at the Last Supper and just as Jesus in the garden. Jesus submitted Himself to the Determinative will of God, trusting that His ultimate purpose is good even if the path leads through suffering and death. That’s our challenge as we walk through this life. We not only need to seek His will but when He reveals it we are to choose to follow it.
The Declarative Will
Mark 14:22,24 “Take; this is my body.” … “This is my blood of the covenant.” ESV
Jesus declares His intention to do the will of God feely and fully. McKenna put it this way:
“Man is neither an ape nor an angel. An ape is a creature of physical instincts neither good nor bad. An angel is a creation of spiritual instincts… knowing only God. Suspended between the apes and the angels is man… capable of immense good or insufferable evil.”
We have been given a free will and are allowed to make choices, and there are two dimensions of that will: the freedom to choose and the purpose of choosing. Jesus shared our dilemma because He is both fully man and fully God. He chose according the purpose of God, accepting what was written for Him. Are we prepared to trust God and accept what He has written for our life and declare that stand?
The Discretionary Will
Mark 14:25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
As McKenna noted, “contrary to some expectations, all aspects of God’s will are not signed, sealed, and delivered.” God’s Discretionary will gives us many options to choose from. Jesus could choose to drink wine again or not, although His marriage to His bride involved not drinking wine again after the betrothal until the wedding supper. He chose to be obedient and His choice is symbolic of Christian discipline. God gives us the opportunity to make Discretionary choices, which may not be life and death matters, but do reflect our desire to do His will.
In responding to the call to communion, all three of these dimensions of will are engaged, just as they were for Jesus. Once again McKenna: “We are asked to trust the Determinative will of God, even though all of the outcomes cannot be traced. To come to the table of the Lord, eat the bread and drink the wine is to celebrate the Declarative will of God as it is revealed to us. And wherever the Discretionary will of God gives us open options for choice, our decision is to honor Him.
It’s a challenge to discern His will but it doesn’t end there. We are to choose to walk it out, trusting only in His perfect plan for our life.