“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Duet. 29:29).
This verse places the will of God into two categories – “the secret things” and “the things that are revealed“. To put it another way, we will consider God’s secret will and God’s stipulated will.
GOD’S SECRET WILL
The secret will of God refers to God’s sovereign will that will come to pass. The psalmist declared, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (). Regardless of what is happening in our lives or in the world, God’s single sovereign plan cannot and will not be thwarted! There are three important things to know about this “secret will.”
Firstly, God’s sovereign will is eternal. His will is not a developing process nor is it under construction; it was formed in eternity past. Before anything was, God determined that it would be. Consider the following verse,
“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure'” (Is. 46:10).
When it is said that God’s sovereign will is eternal, this must not be confused with the un-biblical idea of God foreseeing what happens and therefore He makes it His plan. In this line of thinking God is not the determiner, but rather He is a reactor. Instead it is the other way around, God determines what happens and then it happens.
Secondly, His sovereign will is unchanging. When we devise plans it is not uncommon for them to change. Our plans can be easily frustrated or changed due to unforeseen events. Unlike us, God has a sovereign will that is unchanging. This truth is clearly stated in , “Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand.”
The final feature of God’s sovereign will is that it is all-inclusive. By this point I mean that all that happens, good and evil, small and large is a result of God’s sovereign plan. Consider the examples of Joseph () or even the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ ().
Though it is indeed impossible to fully understand, all things that come to pass happen as a result of the counsel of His sovereign will (cf. ). In words of Louis Berkhof, “the secret will of God pertains to all things which He wills either to effect or to permit, and which are therefore absolutely fixed.”
GOD’S STIPULATED WILL
The second aspect to God’s will is His revealed or stipulated will. Berkhof again is helpful, he says, “The revealed will prescribes the duties of man, and represents the way in which he can enjoy the blessings of God.” The stipulated will of God is revealed or made known to us in God’s Word. The pages of Scripture contain numerous commands from the Lord for His people. Some of these commands are actually called the “will of God” (; ; ; ).
When it comes to you as an individual asking the question, “what is God’s will for my life?” You need to immediately recognize that God’s stipulated will is abundantly clear and it is not up for negotiation. Though that won’t always directly answer your questions concerning the future, it does tell you what God requires of you in the present. That ought to be your greatest obsession, namely what God requires of you now! Since God has made this clear to us, it is then of great importance that our obsession ought to be pursuing what He has said to us. Not us pursuing the unknown. But what about the matters and decisions we need to make about the future?
Since God is in control of all things, we can be certain that we are here for a reason, and that our presence on earth was no accident. So what are we doing with our lives now?
In and 16 Paul implored his readers to conduct themselves in wisdom and to make the most of their time knowing that “the days are evil.” Because “the days are evil” we are not to lives as fools, instead we are to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (). This is what God expects from His people – conduct according to His will! Clearly this is no small task, in-fact, it is impossible. We do not have the ability or resources in and of ourselves to live in perfect biblical wisdom. We need a power source outside of our own abilities that will enable us to walk wisely and understand the will of the Lord.
Scripture clearly calls for God’s people to walk in the will of God. Knowing then that the Bible teaches us to examine our lives and the importance of walking in the will of God, how can we effectively walk in the will of God in such a way that we make decisions that align with the Word of God? This now leads us to some practical principles that will help you know God’s will and guide your decision-making.
 Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology, 77-78
 Ibid. 78
3 Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.