John A. Broadus lived from 1827-1895. Some consider him the father of American expository preaching. Noteworthy is the fact that he was personal friends with Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee and ministered to the Southern Troops in the War Between the States. Let’s listen in to one of his class sermons entitled, “Delight in the Will of God.”
I delight to do thy will, O my God! (Psalm 40:8)
This psalm tells of one who has suffered, been graciously relieved, and now responds in grateful praise and grateful obedience. This is not shown by mere externals of worship, but by delighting to do God’s will, by having his law in the heart, by proclaiming his glorious character and gracious dealings (verses 1-10).
Verses 5-9 apply to Christ. So it is with various psalms; often the language is exclusively prophetic of him. These words, therefore, are designed to be adopted by anyone, while at the same time it may look to the great example of the Lord Jesus Christ. Observe, that this delight is not merely to hear, but to do, the will of God.
I. In one sense, the will of God will always be done, Whether we do his will or not.
Here we touch a most difficult subject but we need not turn away from it; but we must be humble, and content to take what we can understand, and leave alone what We cannot.
We are compelled to speak of God’s will in terms applicable to our own. This is done in Scripture. There are three distinct senses in which this term is employed. First, the will of purpose; it is always done. “Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will”-“Who doeth his will in the army of heaven, and among,” etc. (Dan. 5:35). Next, the will of desire, or wish, which is not always done-for inscrutable reasons he permits free agents to act counter to his wish-“How often would I, etc. but ye would not.” “Not willing that any should perish,” etc. “Who willeth all to be saved,” etc. Last, will of command-the wish of one in authority, When expressed, becomes a command. Every command of God it is our solemn duty to obey-but, alas! It is not always done. Of course, it is human imperfection that makes these distinctions necessary, and they must not be pushed too far-yet they are, within limits, just distinctions, and should be borne in mind.
Now God’s purpose, as distinguished from other senses, is not dependent upon us for accomplishment. It may be accomplished without us, by overruling and finding others willing. But God’s will of desire, what is well-pleasing to him, we should seek to ascertain, and do. His will of command we should learn and obey.
How do we ascertain what is God’s will? Partly from our own conscience, aided by general conscience of mankind, but this is by no means an infallible exponent of God’s will. What has come to pass, is always in accordance with God’s general purpose, however wrong the motives of agents-gives indication as to what we should do. To some extent we may seek the best judgment and advice of others. It is always important to have the mind stored with Scripture. Then we can pray and trust we are doing God’s will.
Read the rest of this classic sermon.