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The Will of God
Absolute, Irresistible, and Sure
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me…And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go. (Exodus 8:1)
The Lord God had determined that he would deliver Israel at the precise time he had appointed. When the appointed time of deliverance arrived, he sent his servant Moses to Pharaoh demanding, — “Let my people go, that they may serve me.” This was not a request, but a command. With those words, the God of Israel revealed his will by issuing a command to his creature. His command, “Let my people go,” was a word of power, like, “Let there be light.” Pharaoh was not inclined to let Israel go; but that was meaningless. The God of Glory said, “Let my people go, that they may serve me.” Thus, Pharaoh was compelled to release his grasp. God’s command came with irresistible force to the king of Egypt.
Then, the Lord revealed the reason behind his command. It was “that they may serve me.” He did not need to give a reason, yet he chose to do so. In giving the reason for his command, he revealed both his claim upon Israel as his people and his claim upon Pharaoh as his servant, a tool in his hand by which he would both thrust Israel out of Egypt and display his glory and greatness as the one true and living God. God’s authority over man is perfectly reasonable. He is the Creator. We are his creatures. He is the Potter. We are the clay. He makes no claim of sovereignty that our own consciences do not justify. He has a claim upon us, a claim that none can deny, resist, or rival. We must and shall serve him. While this claim is here specifically spoken regarding his chosen, it applies to every creature equally. — All must and shall serve him, either willingly or unwillingly. The Lord God said to Pharaoh, “You will let my people go.” And he says, with regard to his chosen, “They shall serve me.”
That which is here spoken concerning Pharaoh and Israel applies to all God’s creation with regard to the salvation of his elect. It is the intent of God the Holy Ghost that we make that application (Romans 9:15-28).
With regard to his elect, his church, the Holy One of Israel says to his enemies and theirs, to those who hold them in bondage, the Pharaohs of the world, to Satan, the demons of hell, and indeed to all creation, “Let my people go, that they may serve me.” When he does, he speaks with absolute, irresistible force. It is the will of God that his people be delivered out of all earthly bondage into “the glorious liberty of the children of God,” delivered from the bondage of Satan into the liberty of Christ, that we may serve him forever.
Liberty and Service
Salvation is the deliverance of our souls both to the liberty of grace and to the service of our God. These two things are inseparable. We are not called to liberty alone, but to liberty and service. And we are not called to service alone, but to service that involves and arises from liberty. Liberty is mentioned first, because service is impossible without liberty. Without question, there can be and is service in Egypt, such service as may be demanded by and may satisfy the gods of Egypt, mechanical, self-righteous, legal, Pharisaical service, the service of the outer man, a form of godliness; but there can be no serving God with the heart and from the heart, without the liberty of grace.
It is the will of God that every chosen, redeemed sinner be brought into the blessed liberty of grace that we may serve him forever; and God’s will is absolute, irresistible and sure.
God’s Irresistible Will
The very first thing to be considered is that which is the first thing, and the cause of all things: — The will of God. Let me repeat what I have just stated. — God’s will is absolute, irresistible, and sure. We are assured in the Book of God that all things obey the will of God. The will of God is his eternal purpose; and all things obey it, either willingly or unwillingly (Deuteronomy 29:29; Romans 11:33-36).
God has purposed, decreed, and ordained all things that ever have come to pass and all things that ever shall come to pass, without exception (Psalm 115:3; 135:6; Isaiah 46:10; Daniel 4:35; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 13:48; Romans 8:28-30; 9:15-18; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 1:11). Everything that is, has been, or shall be is the will of God. Here are five distinct things revealed in the Scriptures that it pleased God to do…
1. It pleased God to put all fulness in Christ, to give his Son pre-eminence in all things (Colossians 1:18-19).
2. It pleased God to bruise the Lord Jesus Christ in the place of his people (Isaiah 53:10).
3. It pleased God to make his chosen his people (1 Samuel 12:22).
4. It pleased God to reveal his Son in chosen, redeemed sinners and call them by his grace (Galatians 1:15-16).
5. It pleased God to reveal his Son in and call his elect by his grace through the instrumentality of the preaching of the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:21; Romans 10:17).
All that comes to pass in time comes to pass by the will of God to accomplish this great will and purpose of God (Isaiah 46:9-11; Daniel 4:34-35; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 13:48; Romans 8:28-30; 11:33-36; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 1:11).
God is absolutely sovereign in directing the affairs of the universe. His will includes all things, evil as well as good, sin as well as salvation, error as well as truth. And God’s will is always, perfectly accomplished in and by all things. Whatever he does in providence, God willed from eternity. — “He is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth” (Job 23:13; Ephesians 1:11). He acts voluntarily in all that he does. He is never compelled to do anything. God does in providence exactly what he willed to do from eternity (Acts 15:18). If he could will, desire, or purpose to do anything that he failed to accomplish, he would not be omnipotent. God’s will of purpose includes all things (Psalm 76:10; Proverbs 16:4). It is his eternal, immutable, sovereign, unconditional, and irresistibly effectual will, ever holy, wise, and good.
Because carnal men are ever bent upon perverting the things of God, I must give a word or two of caution regarding the will of God’s purpose. The sovereignty of God’s purpose does not destroy man’s responsibility. The universality of God’s purpose does not make God the author of sin (James 1:13). God is not the author of sin; but he is the author of the good which he accomplishes by overruling sin. Without question, Adam’s fall was ordained of God; but God did not force Adam to do what he did. Yet, he used the fall to accomplish his good pleasure toward his elect for the glory of his own great name (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). The Lord God certainly ordained the crucifixion of his Son in the place of his people (Acts 2:23). Yet, he did not compel wicked men to crucify him. He simply overruled their wicked deeds to accomplish his purpose, which is the salvation of his elect for the everlasting praise of his name. When we hear God say regarding all things, “I will do all my pleasure,” we rejoice to bow before him and say, “thy will be done,” knowing that the accomplishment of God’s will is the salvation of his elect, to the praise of his glory.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.” — Our natural condition, as the fallen sons and daughters of Adam, is one of bondage. We are born in Egypt, not in Canaan. We were born in prison, born in shackles and irons, born slaves, and born under the curse of the law. Our wills were in bondage. Our faculties were in bondage. Our affections were in bondage. Our wills, our minds, our thoughts, and our hearts were in bondage. Our souls were in bondage.
There is no free motion or free action in any part of fallen man. All is constrained by our fallen, depraved nature. Men in bondage act under the sense of terror, or for a reward, or in order to obtain pardon, but never freely. Work done in chains is no service to God at all. Work done in order to purchase liberty is not acceptable work. It is not worshipping and serving God.
Created for Liberty
We were all born n bondage; but God’s elect were made for liberty. Though Egypt was made for Israel, Israel was not made for Egypt. Though God raised up Pharaoh to be lord over Israel for a specified period of time, Israel was not made to be servant to Pharaoh.
So, too, we were not created for bondage and the prison-house. God’s will from eternity was and is that his people be free, free in the entirety of their beings: free in all our faculties, free in all our affections, free in all our works, free in our hearts, free in our souls, free in Christ. He created us to make us free, completely free, serving him without any constraint of any kind, except the constraint of our hearts, the constraint of Christ’s love revealed and shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. He created us to be his voluntary bond-slaves, serving him willingly. Religion, all human religion, all freewill/works religion operates upon the principle of bondage, and holds people in bondage. Christ sets sinners free. As soon as he raises a chosen, redeemed sinner from the dead in the new birth, he says, “Loose him, and let him go!” And every faithful servant of God, by the preaching of the gospel, proclaims liberty, not bondage, to all who trust the Son of God.
No Liberty No Service
Here is another thing clearly implied in our text. — We cannot serve God without liberty. — “And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.”
We may do many things without liberty. The body can labor in a prison, in shackles and irons; but the soul must be free in order to serve, completely free, without constraint, without force, without coercion of any kind from without.
In the worship and service of God, nothing is done by constraint. Everything is done willingly (2 Corinthians 8:12). Religion forces people into service against their will, threatening punishment or promising reward; but God’s service must be performed freely. He will accept nothing that does not arise from a willing heart. We must be free that we may serve him. We do not serve him in order to get liberty. We are liberated to serve our God. Until we are free, we cannot serve God.
Called to Liberty
Let me show you one more thing. — Christ calls us to liberty (John 8:32, 36; Galatians 5:1-5, 13). — “Ye have been called unto liberty!” The Son of God came to open our prison doors, to bring us out of the house of bondage. He came to break our chains, and to make us wholly free. The Son makes us free. Liberty comes directly from Christ.
The truth makes us free. It is through the truth that Christ gives us the liberty. His is the Truth; and his truth liberates. His Spirit is Truth; and his Spirit liberates. His Word is Truth; and his Word liberates. With our fetters broken by his touch, and our souls receiving his truth, being filled with his Spirit in the gift of life, we go forth as freed men to serve our God. Now, we sing with David, “I will walk at liberty,” because we are in Christ, where bondage cannot exist (Romans 8:1-15).
Have you been set free? Are you walking at liberty? Has the gospel brought peace into your soul? Is the Spirit of adoption teaching you to cry, Abba, Father? Perhaps you say, “I am trying to serve the Lord.” By what spirit do you seek to serve him? — In the Spirit of love or the spirit of dread? — In the Spirit of gladness or the spirit of terror? — In the Spirit of light or the spirit of gloom?
Has Christ made you free? Then let no man bring you again into bondage. Walk at liberty and serve God your Savior forever (Galatians 5:1-4).