Christians don’t have a right to unrestricted knowledge of what God does outside of his Son. We can shake our fists at the sky. We can beg and bargain for more information. We can claim our need to know God’s will, but outside of Jesus, God safeguards his secrets.

We usually don’t stop to consider that if we know something about God’s will, our enemies know it too: sin, death, and Satan know it. The importance for God to keep his will out of the hands of his enemies isn’t up for debate. It’s a matter of our survival. Anything we may learn about God’s will outside of what’s revealed to us by Jesus is a threat to our eternal salvation because of the power and authority of sin, death, and hell.

When we demand that God reveal his will to us, we’re so binary in our thinking we don’t consider that perhaps God’s will isn’t a singular thing. Maybe it’s two things at once. First, God’s will is what he commands us to do and leave undone. For example, Paul writes, “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thess 4:3). God commands holiness, sanctification, and sexual purity. This is his will. Then Paul writes, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess 5:18). And, as John writes, “whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). But, there’s the rub. We all die. So who can then claim to have fulfilled God’s will? Who can do what God commands? Who can even give thanks in all circumstances? This brings us to the second aspect of God’s will.

The real question we must ask about God’s will isn’t, “God, command us according to your will and we’ll do it,” but, “God, what are you willing to do for us who can’t do what you command?”

In Gethsemane, Jesus said, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39). Here, God’s will is that Jesus must die for the sin of the world.

This had to happen because, as Paul writes, “In him [Christ] 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” (Eph 1:11).

So, then, God’s will is that the Son dies for the sin of the world. Something none of us can accomplish because, as Jesus says, “this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39).

The real question we must ask about God’s will isn’t, “God, command us according to your will and we’ll do it,” but, “God, what are you willing to do for us who can’t do what you command?”

God’s answer is always the same: “Look at Jesus, there on the cross, crucified for you for the forgiveness of sin. He does for you what you can’t do; he obeys and does all that I’ve commanded.”

God’s will isn’t singular. It’s two things at once. What we call “God’s word of law and gospel.” The one word, God’s will that commands, kills. The other word, God’s will that promises Jesus died for our sin, gives life.

Outside Jesus crucified for the sin of the world, we can’t know God’s will other than to say, “Here’s what God demands we do and leave undone.” It’s a word that shuts us up, increases our trespasses, and kills us. But, God’s will as it’s revealed by Jesus is good news. God’s will is that when Jesus is lifted up, he will draw all people to himself. His blood sets us free from guilt and condemnation to celebrate God’s will, and not demand to know more about his will than what’s revealed to us at Calvary.