The Secret of Knowing God's Will

The highlights below are taken from "The Secret of Knowing God's Will" by R. Scott Clark. To read the full article, click here.


The single most pressing question I hear is: “How can I know God’s will?” Prospective seminary students want to know whether they should attend seminary. Couples want to know whether they should get married. Ministers want to know whether to take a call. The problem of knowing God’s will plagued my Christian life for years. Who knows how many books have been written (and that will be written) to try to answer this question? The good news is that the secret of knowing God’s will is right in front of us.

According to Deuteronomy 29:29, believers are to trust in, rely upon, listen to, and obey that which God has revealed rather than seeking that which He has not revealed. In the history of salvation, seeking what God has not revealed was considered idolatry and sin. Perhaps the classic example of this sin is that of Saul turning to the witch (the ESV has “medium”) of En-dor (1 Sam. 28:7). They both knew it was wrong and criminal (under the Israelite civil law), and what is most ironic is that it was completely unnecessary. Saul’s first sin, in this instance, was that he did not obey the explicit revelation of God! (1 Sam. 28:18). Like Saul, many of us have turned away from the explicit revelation of God’s moral will in favor of alternative sources of guidance.

One reason why we are tempted to act like Saul is Americans are conditioned to believe that there is a “secret” for everything and they seem to conclude that God’s moral will must also be a secret and that there must be a method for unlocking the secret. Many scholars have observed that American evangelicalism has similarities to gnosticism, i.e. the quest for secret knowledge. One of the fastest ways to entrepreneurial success in American evangelicalism is to peddle heretofore unknown secrets.

Mormonism is founded on alleged new revelation that disclosed things hitherto secret and marginalizes Christ as God’s final Word. The Millerites offered a new revelation about the end times. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a new revelation that replicates ancient Christological heresies. The Church of Christian Science has a new “revelation” that replicates ancient Gnostic heresies. Bob Schuller and Joel Osteen offer the secrets of a happy life. Word-Faith preachers offer the secrets of health and wealth. Radical dispensationalists offer the secret of which biblical books are really canonical for this dispensation. The list seems endless.

We like the idea of special, individualized messages from God about our particular circumstance or question. We do not much like the idea of struggling in prayer and thought over what is the wisest course. But as important as the Reformed doctrine of illumination is, when it comes to making decisions, Scripture probably says more about “wisdom” than it does about illumination.

What if God’s will for your life was already revealed? Would that not be grand? Would it not be wonderful if you were not trapped in a circle waiting for God to speak but never really knowing if He has “spoken”? After all, how do you know if God has spoken directly to you? Is it an intuition? A hunch? Why does He seem to “speak” to others but not to me? Are there two classes of Christians? (those who receive special, extra-biblical revelations and those who do not?)

God has revealed himself in His Word. His will for your life is revealed. Read more…

The above highlights are taken from "The Secret of Knowing God's Will" by R. Scott Clark. To read the full article, please click on the "Read more..." link above or visit:

R. Scott Clark is professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California (Escondido, California). He is author of Recovering the Reformed Confession (P&R, 2008).

You can listen to the Heidelcast series on knowing the secret to God's will at the following links:

This page may contain affiliate links through which Beautiful Christian Life may receive a commission to help cover its operating costs.