How Christ Reveals His Will

By Royce Frederick

Christ reveals His will for us today by means of the New Testament.

God the Father gave the Old Testament to Israel, then later gave the New Testament to us through Christ (Heb. 1:1-2). Both the Old and New reveal God’s will for His people for each time period. But the nature of the New is very different from the Old.

The Old Testament law for Israel contained ten laws written on stones, followed by hundreds of other laws. Someone has counted more than 700 laws in the Old Law for Israel. These were written in a way similar to the civil and criminal laws of nations today. They contained many detailed commands and punishments, even including the death penalty for several crimes.

The New Law of Christ is very different from that. John says, “...the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17). The will of Christ is not a long list of laws.

Some of the will of Christ is revealed as commands (see Jn. 13:34-35; Rom. 12:9-21). But we also learn His will through examples. The New Testament gives some examples of conduct which is clearly not approved (see Acts 5:1-11), and other examples of conduct which is clearly approved (see Acts 8:35-38).

But we also learn the will of Christ from other kinds of verses. Consider some words Jesus spoke in prayer: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jn. 17:20-21). This does not contain a command to His disciples. Jesus was not even speaking to any humans, but was talking to God the Father. Yet, as we listen to Him talking to God, we learn that Jesus wants us to be united with Him, with God, and with each other. If we ignore His will as expressed in this prayer, it is the same as ignoring a command. These verses tell us that we should seek unity, so it becomes the responsibility of each Christian to work for unity (see also Eph. 4:1-6). Many other scriptures teach us the will of Christ in similar ways.

Instead of a list of laws, the will of Christ is written on our hearts as we read the New Testament story. We learn His will when we walk with Him through the gospels, when we face struggles with the apostles and early Christians through Acts, and when we read the love letters to Christians, from Romans to Revelation.

The will of Christ is not burdensome like the Old Law. John wrote, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome(1 Jn. 5:2-3).

The New Testament is the means by which Jesus rules as our Lord and Head. James refers to the will of Christ as “the perfect law of liberty” (Jas. 1:25; see 2:12). Christ gives us liberty from sin (Rom. 8:1-4), liberty from the bondage of death (Heb. 2:14-15; 1 Cor. 15:50-58), and liberty from the Old Law (Acts 15:10; 2 Cor. 3:7-9; Gal. 5:1-3; 3:24-25; Col. 2:14).

The New Testament contains many specific instructions, yet often gives us liberties regarding how to accomplish those instructions. For example, the Lord gave us specific instructions to Go into all the world…” (Mk. 16:15). But we have liberties regarding how to go.

As we endeavor to obey the will of Christ, we must do our best to be sure that our actions are always in harmony with His revealed will (see 1 Cor. 8:9; Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:16). We should pray for wisdom regarding how to accomplish what the Lord has told us to do (see Jas. 1:5). Our aim must always be to please the Lord, not ourselves. The apostle Paul asks, “...Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).