Mark 14:34-35 (LEB)
[Jesus] said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death….
Abba, Father, all things are possible [Causality] for you! Take away this cup from me!
Yet not what I will , but what you will [Command].”
John 6:38 (LEB)
because I have come down from heaven not that I should do my will, but the will [Command] of the one who sent me.
[Jesus said], so that the world may know that I love my Father and… just as the Father has commanded me, thus I am doing.
Definition of terms:
I. Christian Causality
“God’s will” can mean two things, as defined by Scripture. Sometimes it refers to God’s sovereignty or control. In philosophy verbiage it is called metaphysics(existence) or ontology(causality). Christian ontology is God’s absolute and direct control over all things; yes, even over evil and sin. He is the metaphysical author of all things; therefore, God is the metaphysical author of good and evil. Biblical words for this would be God’s decree, predestination, or God’s Word (i.e. “Let there be light”).
All things are decided and caused by God – nothing is free from his control, and he has not chosen to forego his control on anything. The doctrine is repulsive to those who abhor the rule and honor of God, and so they oppose it. But the doctrine is a source of comfort and celebration to those who love him. Why would we want it any other way, than for God to rule over all things? And what better life can we wish for, than to be ruled by God?
However, there is no problem for him to issue a decree that causes his creatures to violate his precepts. Whereas decrees are declarations of intentions about things that he would cause to happen, precepts are declarations of definitions, not intentions, and do not overlap with the decrees. It must be true that God decrees and causes events that are contrary to his precepts; otherwise, there could be no evil, but there is indeed evil. Therefore, God must be the metaphysical author of sin and evil.
This does not mean that God himself is evil. To metaphysically cause evil and to morally commit evil are two different things. One is a matter of ability to cause something, while the other is a matter of conformity to a principle. The Bible teaches that God is the one who defines right and wrong, and that sin is a transgression of God’s law. Therefore, for God to commit evil by causing evil – for this to be bad or wrong – he must declare a moral law that forbids himself to decree or to cause evil, that is, to decree or to cause his creatures to transgress his law. There is no biblical basis to suppose that God has declared such a law against himself. Indeed, the Bible teaches that all that God says and does are right and good. If he says it, it must be true. If he does it, it must be good. Therefore, since God is sovereign and there is evil, God must be the cause of evil, and since he is the cause of evil, it must be right and good for him to be the cause of evil.
There is no divine law that says God would be wrong if he were to be the cause of evil. Why, then, do men assume that it would be evil for God to be the author of sin? What law would God transgress? He would transgress the law of men, or what men have imposed upon him to define what a righteous God must or must not do. This is the sinister truth behind the religious tradition that says God is not the author of sin, for if he were to be such, it would mean that he has transgressed a law that men has declared against him. The necessary conclusion is that the doctrine that God is not the author of sin, or that it is blasphemy and heresy to say that he is, is itself the real blasphemy and heresy. Unless God is the author of sin and evil, he is not completely sovereign, and he is not God. Therefore, to deny that God is the author of sin and evil is to deny God.
The Bible teaches that God’s decrees and actions are always right and good. Since he is completely sovereign, and there is evil in this universe, this means that he is the one who decrees and causes evil in this universe. But since his decrees and actions are always right and good, then this means that it is right and good that he is the one who decrees and causes evil in this universe. The very fact that he decrees and causes evil means that it is right and good for him to do so. There is no authority or standard higher than God by which to condemn him. If he thinks that it is good for him to cause evil, then it is good for him to cause evil.
This does not mean that evil is good, which would be a contradiction. Sin is defined as a transgression of God’s moral law, and when we say that God is the author of sin, we are saying that God is the metaphysical cause of a creature’s transgression of God’s moral law. God transgresses no moral law, since there is no moral law against what he does, but he causes the creature to transgress. Morality relates to moral law. But there is no moral law against sovereign metaphysical power. It is right and good for God to metaphysically cause evil, just because he does it, and because he has not declared himself wrong for doing it. It is wrong for man to morally commit evil, because God has declared man wrong for doing it, although it is God who metaphysically causes man to do it. Therefore, God remains righteous, and the sinner remains evil. The distinctions are clear. There is no paradox or contradiction, and also no biblical or logical basis for objection against the doctrine.
Moreover, there are subcategories of ontology. First is the logical order of reality. These are God’s decrees, predestinations or sovereign plans (I call this the logic of ontology). It is what God pre-plans to cause; God gives a logical order to what he plans to cause. The second is what God has caused to exist, and right now is directly holding into existence. It’s the definition of the ‘whatness’ and essence, and how it operates. It is about how God is directly controlling it (pure ontology). God defines existence; He defines the ‘whatnesss’ for each type of existence He creates, holds and moves. There are no secondary causes when relative to God, which is how most people naturally ask the question. Relative to God, or that is, to the Ultimate Level there is no secondary cause. Therefore, the WCF is wrong, and Martin Luther is correct. In addition, there is another subcategory here under 2, which is (2a). This causality is stated on the Relative Level (2a). This is from man’s perspective. It is what God is directly causing; however, it said relative from man’s point of view. Or causality said relative from one created object to another created object. (i.e. “Your faith has healed you.” The third subcategory of ontology is the end purpose or accomplished plan of God.
This is important for a logical reason. If we are going to be making inferences, it is important to use categories that belong together. If we do not, then we run the risk of invalid conclusions. It is not a category fallacy to stay in the same broad category of ontology. Therefore, if God pre-decreed X, then God will directly cause X to happen, and if God directly caused X to happen, then God accomplished His intended goal.
II. Christian Ethics.
The other instance of the, “will of God,” is Christian Ethics. In Scriptural terminology, this is God’s precept or command. I like to refer to this as “what God causes”, versus, “what God commands.” In philosophy verbiage this is, ontology versus ethics. They are different categories. Thus, to mix them up is a category fallacy. Example: apples and baseballs are the same; therefore, you can eat a baseball.
Martin Luther made this distinction in Bondage of the Will (indicative vs imperative). Thus, it seems modern Reformed people are dumber than elementary school boys, because they systematically make the same mistake Erasmus made. Vincent Cheung has been helpful on this topic to me, and he gives some good examples from Scripture on this distinction. Notice the “will of God,” in Mark 3 and 1 Peter 3 are used differently.
1 Samuel 2:25, His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, [precept] for it was the LORD’s will to put them to death. [decree]…
Mark 3:35, For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother. [precept]
1 Peter 3:17, For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. [decree]
Paraphrasing Mark and Peter with a more direct meaning of the term “will of God.”
Mark, “Whoever obeys God’s commandments is my brother.”
Peter, “It is better if God causes you to suffer for doing good rather than evil.”
Obviously, the doctrine of God’s sovereign causality over all things, and His commandments revealed to man are very different categories. To make an equivocation here is a huge category fallacy. It would be like saying my invisible thoughts and rocks are the same category; therefore, all rocks are invisible. It would directly violate the basic laws of logic. It would make all inferences from scripture to be invalid. If categories were to be violated like this, then it would thrust knowledge into skepticism. Yet, skepticism denies the law of non-contradiction. To be true, it would have be false.
If I say, all [bark] is [silent]. And all [dogs] [bark]. Thus all [dogs] are [silent],” then my syllogism is not sound because I made a 4-term fallacy (with bark), or a equivocation as an informal fallacy.
For a syllogism to be valid, then the category needs to stay the same. If not, then mental blunders such as a 4-term fallacy, equivocation or a non-necessary connection is made (etc.). For a propositional syllogism to work, it must have a necessary connection and not merely a sufficient one. A modus ponens where the “if…then,” connection is merely sufficient but not necessary, is most likely the fallacy of affirming the consequent wrongly disguised as something it is not.
For a correct example, consider the Ultimate level.
(~P) If God causes(ontology) reprobate X to not believe the gospel, (~Q) then reprobate X will choose not to believe(ethic).
The antecedent is ontology the on ultimate level. The consequent is ontology on the relative level. The ultimate level of ontology (p), necessarily results in the relative level ontology(q). This works, because it is a true cause and effect revealed by Scripture. Also, both aspects broadly belong to ontology. The relative level of ontology is a correct subcategory under the ultimate level ontology; therefore, the relative level is a necessary consequent from the antecedent of the ultimate level. Think of a game like checkers, or chess. The ultimate level is saying, “Oshea moves white pawn.” But on the relative level, “white pawn moves to E4.” Or in propositional logic, going from ultimate ontology to relative.
(P) If Oshea directly moves black bishop to B3, (Q) then the necessary result is that black bishop will take white pawn on B3.
This is saying, “God directly causes all things; thus, God directly causes specific x, y or z.” If God ultimately causes all things, then God ultimately is the author for all rain. Or. If God ultimately causes all things, then God ultimately is the author for all sin. Like Vincent Cheung says, “Deduction is more like an application of knowledge, unlike induction, which is a fallacious attempt at arriving at more knowledge.” Now, what if I were to say this on an ultimate level of ethics, going into a necessary consequent of relative ethics?
(P) If God commands(ethics) all to believe in the gospel, (~Q) then Jack is unethical in choosing to not believe(ethics) the gospel.
(P) If God commands(ethics) that no one is to bear false witness, (Q) then Jack is wrong when he bears false witness against Sally
The big idea? All [Christian ethics] are [God’s revealed commandments]. God commanded x, y and z; thus, is it always ethical for human (H) to obey x, y and z, and ethically wrong to disobey. [NLV 1 John 3:4] “For sin is breaking the Law of God.” Thus, all [sin] is [lawbreaking]. If said in the immediate deduction of contraposition: all [law-keeping] is [ non-sin/righteousness]. Or, “if the law is being kept, then, there is no sin.”
Look, what happens if we mix categories up? (ontology 2)
(~P) If God caused(ontology) the Apostle Thomas to not believe Jesus’ resurrection, (~Q) then it is right(ethics) for Thomas to not believe what Jesus commanded to.
This is obviously false. Now, this time we will go from an ontology of God’s plan, going into ethics with the same Thomas. (Ontology 1)
(~P) If God’s sovereign plan (ontology) was for the Apostle Thomas to disbelieve Jesus’ resurrection, (~Q) then it is right(ethics) for Thomas to disbelieve what Jesus commanded.
Again, this is unsound and false. It does not matter if it is ontology level 1, regarding God’s sovereign plan about reality, or if it is level 2, regarding God’s direct causality right now. To go from ontology to ethics is not a necessary connection. It is invalid and a false description of reality. It is invalid to conclude an “ought” from your observations, which is an “is.” What you observe is at best what something “is”; although, I do not even say observations are able to even give this, due to the logical fallacy of empiricism and induction. There is not a necessary connection (p), to an (q) ought. Those who practice this fallacy, practice a doctrine of witchcraft and divination. It is demonic stronghold over the mind.
God caused the Pharaoh to not obey His command, by making the Pharaoh’s soul hard. However, this secret causality of God, does not negate His command(ethic), to let His people go. The same is with the gospel call to repentance. God might pre-planned, and then caused human reprobate F or H or O, to not believe the gospel; however, what they “ought” to do is what God commands and not what God causes or decrees. The Pharaoh was a lawbreaker by disobeying God’s command to let His people go; therefore, He is guilty. Pharaoh did not resist God’s causality, because nothing can. Pharaoh is guilty because he disobeyed God’s command.
Necessary Connection of Ethics
The Scripture often gives explanations (of reality and causality), or that, it gives definitions and context when the commands are given. Yet, the explanation is not the command and vice versa. In propositional logic, there is not a necessarily connection in “if…then.” Or, in syllogistic logic, either premise 1 or 2 would be a false premise. Therefore, I cannot make a truth claim from scripture that, “All [what God causes] is [human ethics].” And so also, I cannot assert that, “if God caused the Pharaoh to be hard minded to obey, then it is ethically good for Pharaoh to disobey God’s command.”
However, there is a NECESSARY connection from what God commands man, to what man OUGHT to do. It always applies. God commands all men to obey Him. Oshea is a man. Thus, Oshea ought to obey God’s commandments.
Here is the right question to ask. “What OUGHT I do in this situation?” An ought, is referring to an ethic.
Now try this with “God’s Will.” Notice the category fallacy is now being used like a sleazy used car-salesman; it is like a fallacy called a “slight of hand.” It is hiding the clear definition behind ambiguity and rhetoric.
(P) If God’s will is for the Apostle Thomas to not believe Jesus’ resurrection, (Q) then necessarily Thomas ought to do God’s will.
What does this mean? Depending how you use “God’s will,” whether for causality or command it will output different conclusions. And this—slight of hand ambiguity—is how I often see people use it. They output the conclusion that fits their bias. They find the easiest conclusion to fit their unbelief, rather than, outputting the conclusion that Scripture, with its correct categories, would give.
Jesus’ Prayer: God’s Causality or God’s Command?
The main point? What did Jesus mean by “God’s will,” in His prayer? Do people use the phrase correctly; or, do they use it as a fallacy when they pray about, God’s will?
The New Testament uses the Father’s Will as ontology. Matthew 18:14 (LEB), “In the same way it is not the will of your Father [ontology] who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” The context of Jesus’s statement is not about perishing from physical harm, but about eternal life or death. To paraphrase. “The Father sovereignly planned and uses His direct causality to ensure that not one Elect person will be lost. He will save them and cause them inherit heaven.”
How does Jesus often use the phrase, “the Father’s Will,” or “God’s Will,” in context of what Jesus ought to do on earth?
A little context. Jesus is the Godman. He willingly took on humanity; and thus, Jesus placed Himself under the law. “Born under the law,” (Galatians 4:4). Christ put Himself under commandments only meant for mankind, by becoming a man. God has commanded man. Thus, God’s commandments do not apply to Himself, because God is not a man. If not, then God is a law breaker for taking vengeance. The result, Christianity would be false.
But there is more to it. Jesus gave to the Father a freely given oath of obedience, before the world began, and before He was under the commandments of the law. This was a freely given obedience to the Father of glory. God controls all created things. But Jesus is not created. Jesus who is equal with God, freely said “yes,” to God’s plan of redemption.
When he says above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and offerings for sin you did not want, nor did you delight in,”[b] which are offered according to the law, then he has said, “Behold, I have come to do your will.”[c] LEB
There is an important aspect to this freely given choice of the Son of God. Once made, it becomes an unbreakable oath to fulfill. God cannot lie; this includes the Son. Jesus promised to fulfill this “will” of God. (‘Will’ in this context is more like an organized plan). Relative from Jesus to the Father, after the promise, this “will” is now a command. It is an ethic that must be fulfilled.
Psalm 116:18 (LEB)
“I will pay my vows made to Yahweh...” (see Jesus in Matthew 5:33-37)
Jesus constantly refers to ‘God’s Will’ in a precise way in the Gospels. What Jesus ought to do, is not about mere ontology (of predetermined plans), but ethics.
John 6:38 (LEB)
because I have come down from heaven not that I should do my WILL, but the WILL [Ethic] of the one who sent me.
“Will,” here is not merely referring to the Father’s sovereign plan. What Jesus OUGHT to do, is not what Jesus temporarily wants at a given moment on earth, but what He promised His Father that He would do. He promised to complete the plan of redemption—even to the cross.
The presupposition is about God’s sovereign plan [ontology]. In context of Jesus, it is an ethic of command and obedience that He completes. In other words, salvation of God’s elect children has the presupposition of God’s sovereignty plan [ontology]. However, in context of what the elect ought to do, the elect ought to obey God by believing the gospel.
John 4:34 (LEB)
Jesus said to them, “My food is that I do the WILL [Ethic] of the one who sent me and complete his work.
What should Jesus do? He should obey His Father’s commandment. He needs to complete the plan of redemption that He promised to do. IF not, then Jesus would be a promise breaker. The result, Jesus’ “yes,” would be a “no.”
A command to obey, is how Jesus referred to it. Even the act of voluntarily going to the cross is a command.
John 10:18 (LEB)
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down voluntarily. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take possession of it again. This commandment I received from my Father.”
John 12:49-50 (LEB)
For I have not spoken from myself, but the Father himself who sent me has commanded [ethic] me what I should say and what I should speak.
And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So the things that I say, just as the Father said to me, thus I say.”
[Jesus said], so that the world may know that I love my Father and… just as the Father has commanded [ethic] me, thus I am doing.
Let us not forget that Jesus speaks John 14:31 during the night of this betrayal. This is how Jesus defines the context.
The world knows Jesus loves the Father, because He willingly said yes to the Father’s plan. Even when the Son wanted to get out –due to the horrific pain—He still set His face like flint. He still obeyed His Father out of sheer unmeasurable love. He finished the difficult work commanded Him. The free agreement to the Father’s plan is established on Jesus’ love for the Father. Yet, in love it was finished as indebted obedience to the Father’s command.
God’s Will for Our Prayers?
“Yet not what I will , but what you will[ethic].”
I have come down from heaven not that I should do my will, but the will [ethic] of the one who sent me.
Just as the Father has commanded [ethic] me, thus I am doing.
To paraphrase Jesus’ prayer:
What I ought to do is not what I want I in this moment—and I want out of this pain; rather, what I should do, is obey my Father’s commend.
Father’s response to Jesus prayer (speculation based on Jesus’ words and context):
My Son, this is My command, the promise You gave to Me in love and oath, accomplish it.
Jesus did not irrationally and wickedly go from ontology to and ethic in His prayer. Rather, Jesus consistently and rationally inferred from God’s command what He ought to do. Yet, this is not how I often hear this phrase used by so-called Christians today. They will say, God is sovereign in that “x” [causality] is part of my life. Thus, what I ought [ethic] to do is “y.” They will say,
I am in a difficult place right now. I am suffering and I want out. But praise God, I have humbly learned to accept [ethic] this suffering as His Will [decree] in my life.
(P) I am in a bad place. I want out. I prayed, but I still hurt [causality]. (Q) Thus, I ought [ethic] to accept God’s will [causality] and suffer through what God is doing to me.
This is so stupid. It is demolishing categories beyond recognition. Why stop here is in destroying categories? Why not just say trees are rabbits, and grace is works? Also, this tramples on the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and His promises. Jesus did not use it this way. Paul did not used it in Romans 15:32 that way.
John Piper mentions this prayer of Jesus as referring to ontology [sovereign plan]. Yet, this is deceptive and misleading to the point it is blasphemy. I have already shown that God’s sovereign plan was a presupposition of the prayer, but not the direct meaning of Jesus’ request. We will get back shortly to Paul and Jesus.
Think about King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20:1-6. God said, “You will die,” by the prophet Isaiah. If God is the ultimate cause of all things, then by definition, it is God’s Will for Hezekiah to die from the sickness. And so, what if Hezekiah said, “(P) if it is God’s Will [decree] for me to die, (Q) then it is God Will [command] for me to accept this.” How moronic is that? What pathetic faith that would have been! This is like our first example: “If God’s will[decreed] is for the Apostle Thomas to doubt Jesus’ resurrection, then Thomas ought[command] to do God’s will.”
Scripture records that Hezekiah did this instead: “(P) If the Bible commands[ethic] us to believe that God is good and commands[ethic] to seek healing, (Q) then what I ought[ethic] to do is obey God by praying for healing and forgiveness.” Hezekiah practiced true Christian ethics. As a result, he did not die. Another 15 years were added to his life.
When dealing with regular life issues the Biblical precept is simple. We ought to pray in faith and get victory over it; this is particularly true with things like confusion, healing and general hardships. It is both a direct promise of God and a revealing of His Divine immutable nature that He forgives all our sins, heals all our diseases, delivers us from destruction, and crowns us with kindness and goodness (Psalm 103 and James 5). The promises of God are not suggestions. His promises are commands. Therefore, they are God’s Will for you. This is true Christian ethics. This is a correct use of God’s sovereignty and nearness. This is Christian humility. It respects God by obeying Him. This avoids inductive, human superstitions. For everyday difficulties, obtaining God’s promises in faith is God’s WILL. If one desires to be obedient and reverent of God, then this is what you ought to do.
God’s word is God’s will. Focus on what he has already said. As long as you leave it up to some unknown will of God, you will not pray in faith. When you do this, you tell yourself that you respect his sovereignty, but the truth is that you despise his revelation. You will keep wishing for deliverance, not believing for it and receiving it. The Bible says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). You are the one who resists the devil, not someone else. And the devil will flee from you, not from someone else. Relative to the problems we face, God often speaks as if we are the ones who decide, as if we are the ones in control. God promises that if we will have faith, we will receive what we want. He promises that if we will resist, we will overcome the enemy. He leaves no room for uncertainty, and no room for a different doctrine.
The Bible says, “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.’” (Matthew 8:16-17). Healing is not something that happens at random or that is decided on a case-by-case basis. Jesus already took your infirmities and he already bore your sicknesses. Healing belongs to you. It is too late for anyone to withhold it from you. Don’t keep praying and hoping that God will decide you help you. Instead, affirm what Jesus has done and tell that thing to leave you. Something like this should not take hours and days and weeks. You do not have to put up with it. And it should not take many people to pray. You can tell it to leave by yourself.
Both with Jesus’ prayer and Paul’s request—to find it in God’s will to go to Spain—is that they are NOT just referring to God’s sovereign plan in general. Rather, they are requests of ministry of people who already PROMISED to do a ministry that the Father stipulates. They are not about general life difficulties and sickness.
Read passages like Acts 20:21-23 and Acts 26:12-28. Paul signed up to do what God commanded him in ministry. It seems, God never told Paul to go to Spain. In this context, it is like going to a creditor and asking them to change the contract you signed to do. Paul’s prayer is that God might change the ministry contract or covenant he signed to do. Paul wants to redraft the contract to include Spain. If you make a vow to God, then you must keep it. You must be faithful to your word. If you are in ministry, you better the oath you made to serve God. There is a reason Paul referred to himself as a slave and those who he preached to as free.
The context for Jesus and Paul, is what they ought to do. It is relative to what they already agreed to do. Thus, it is Christian ethics.
First, Jesus said something like this when he prayed, a short time before he was arrested (Luke 22:42). However, it is outrageous when the REC applies this to many of our prayers. Jesus was making a prayer of dedication, committing himself to his mission. The REC applies this to praying for things like healing or other things that we want. They claim you do not know if it is God’s will to heal you, so you say, “If it is your will, heal me.” But if it is applied this way, this would have to mean that Jesus did not know if it was God’s will for him to perform the atonement, even though he mentioned it several times to his disciples. In other words, this interpretation becomes a denial of a basic and core doctrine of Christ. This demonstrates either utter incompetence or how far some people will go to annihilate God’s word in order to protect their unbelief.
Second, James instructs his readers to say, “If it is God’s will, then we will do this or that” (James 4:15). However, he is talking about our plans in life, not about things that God has already said that we should have, like healing (James 5:15), our daily bread (Matthew 6:11), and so on. He is talking about what we will do, not what God will do, or what we ask God to do. Also, James is referring to people who “boast and brag” (James 4:16) about their future and their plans. Therefore, this interpretation implies that if I accept the Bible as a revelation of God’s will and pray with confidence, then I am sinfully boasting, so that I become the target of this rebuke. In order words, the REC interpretation implies that it is sin to accept God’s will, that it is sin to accept the Bible. It is an attack on the authority of God and the inerrancy of Scripture.
Third, John writes, “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14). So God’s will is important to prayer. But John does not tell you to say it, as in, “God, if this is according to your will, give me this.” He tells you to do it — you should pray according to his will. He says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him” (v. 14-15). Many people would pray, “God, do this if it is your will,” and then if it happens, they would think it is God’s will. On the other hand, John says we can know that something is God’s will before we pray, so that we can approach him with confidence as we pray, and as we ask for something that we know is in line with God’s will, we can know that we have what we ask. Here there is no “if” when it comes to God’s will — you know before you ask, and because you know as you ask, you know that you have what you ask.
This contradicts many people’s theology and practice of prayer. The REC makes God’s will a basis for doubt, appealing to a secret will in God that they do not know, but the WOF makes God’s will a basis for faith, appealing to a revealed will that they learned from Scripture. As Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7). Since this is exactly the WOF doctrine, the WOF is right, and the others are wrong. Unless you are making a prayer of dedication, it is often wrong to pray “if it is your will,” as if you do not already know his will. In a prayer of petition, it can be an indication of unbelief and rebellion.
When you came to Christ, how come you did not pray, “God, I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and he came to this earth to die for sinners. If it is your will, save me, but if not, let me burn in hell”? Now when you sin, how come you do not pray, “God, I have sinned. If it is your will, forgive me, but if it is not, then revoke my salvation and damn me to hell.” How come? Because you know Jesus already suffered for your sins and paid for your forgiveness. God tells you this in his word. You knew God’s will before you asked, and you received by faith. Well, Jesus paid for a whole lot of other things, and God also tells you about them in his word.
As for ordinary life difficulties, it is God’s will for victory. James says if you face the common difficulty of lacking wisdom you are to ask in faith, and then God WILL give it to you. Think about it. It is not God’s will for you to stay in a lack of wisdom. What you “ought” to do is have faith and be victorious over this hardship of confusion by getting wisdom from God. This is not a self-help tip. It is a precept from your Master. The command is that BY YOUR FAITH, YOU are to obtain it. Obey your master.
Give it some thought. If God directly controls all reality, then everyone who lacks wisdom is due to God’s Will [sovereign plan/direct causality].
(P) If it is God’s will [decree] for me to lack wisdom, (Q) then what I ought to do is accept God’s Will [ethic] and be unwise.
You realize how incredibly moronic this is, right? You realize how disobedient and disrespectful that is toward God, right? What God causes you to experience is not the same category of what you ought to do about it. If you want to know what you should to do, then ask what are God’s commands about this. Obey God! Get some wisdom by your faith. If you do not get wisdom because of your lake of faith, then you are in direct disobedience of God.
There is a trickier way to do this. Often people will—like witchcraft or star-chart reading—devise what they think God is telling them from their experience or observations. It might go something like this: If I calculate from my experience God is saying “y”, then it means God is commanding me to do “x”. Again, ethics are being produced from ontology. However, this time it is worse, because it starts with man as an epistemology to get the ontological statement. From this human speculation of reality an ethic is illogically made into a necessary consequent.
Do not appeal to human speculations of what God’s will is, by divining one’s current experiences. To do so, is logically superstitious. It is not resting on Scripture as one’s starting point of knowledge.
Example. Elijah prayed for rain 7 times. During the failed 6th prayer could not Elijah have said,
“(~P) If God has not answered me 6 times in a row, then (~Q) it concludes that rain is not His will [decree]. And if (~Q) rain is not His Will [decree], then (~R) it is not His Will [command] for me to pray anymore about it.”
This is wrong on so many levels. Yet, I hear so-called Christians speak like this. How many saints in the Bible, if they spoke that way would have failed? Their stories would have never been recorded.
To think like above, is a false form of humility. It uses the good doctrine of God’s sovereignty and character as a steppingstone to glorify the kingdom of self. For man becomes the starting point, with his experience and observations. It makes one’s “own speculation” from inductive experience on equal grounds with Scripture–as a first principle for knowledge. This proceeds from a broken mind and a soul of witchcraft. Why bother criticizing the Pope as a dual epistemology with Scripture if one makes their own speculative experience greater than God’s Word? Why bother asking a witch to divine your life, or star charts, if you use own inductive speculations to find out God’s secret decrees?
This is no different than if someone comes into God’s kingdom crippled, or blind, or sick with cancer. “Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:17), just like he bore our sins. Healing is part of redemption, just as much as forgiveness, because the basis is the same. To deny this is to preach a different gospel, and to trample on the blood of Jesus as a common and ineffectual thing. In fact, there is so much healing for the church, for “the children,” that Christians can dispense it to the outsiders (“the dogs”) as the “crumbs” that fall from the children’s table (Matthew 15:27). As Jesus said, “They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18).
Think about those everyday hardships of forgiveness of sins, confusions and healing? James says that not only are we to pray about the sickness to get healed, but that we are to get an answer of healing every single time. “Will be raised up.” Sounds just like Psalm 103. “Heals all my sicknesses.” That is, the command in James 5 is a command like James 1 with wisdom. Our lack of wisdom is not due to God’s will, but due to our lack of faith; Jesus says stuff like this all the time.
We are commanded to obtain the forgiveness and obtain the healing. If you lack faith to get the forgiveness of your sins and lack faith to get healing, then you are disobeying God’s commandment. Jesus says if you pray for anything and get the very thing you ask for, then you prove you are His disciple! And Jesus also says in the same passage (John 15) that God’s commandment is for His followers to bear fruit. He connects this to asking and getting the very thing you ask for in faith. Do you obey the commandments of your Master?
1 Corinthians 11:29–30 (LEB)
For the one who eats and drinks, if he* does not recognize the body, eats and drinks judgment against himself. Because of this, many are weak and sick among you, and quite a few ⌊have died⌋.
Let us use man, with human experience and observations, to divine an ethic.
(P) I am sick, and many around me are sick and dead (God’s decree).
(Q) Therefore, I will accept (ethic) God’s Will (decree) with longsuffering.
This is of course logically unsound, for there is no necessary connection here. Such a person is using good doctrines for personal gain, by show off how super humble they are. They are enduring God’s decree. They are humble and awesome.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
(Eph. 6:10 NKJV).
This is not a suggestion. It is a command. The command is to be strong like God. To wield His strength as your own. It is a command to not use your might, but the power of God’s might. Is something to much for your strength? Yet, is it too much for God’s strength? The command is to use God’s power and cast your weakness aside. Paul purposefully makes this sound like what God said to Joshua. The walls of Jericho were not too strong for God; and therefore, it is not so for Joshua who wielded God’s power as his own. Obey your Master. Do you cast aside your weakness? Do you wield God’s mighty power? If not, then what power are you wielding? Then, whose disciple, are you?
“Not my will, but God’s will.”
 It is because of God’s absolute sovereignty that the existence of evil poses no challenge to the biblical worldview. See Vincent Cheung, The Author of Sin.
 This is more like a definition of metaphysics, when referring specifically to its definition of its essence or ‘whatness.’
 The above might loosely be compared to Aristotle’s explanations of the 4 types of causes. I say loosely because Aristotle was an empiricist, the Scripture rejects empiricism. Thus, there will be a foundational viewpoint difference when looking at these questions. What is the cause (ultimate and relative) for “x” having this essential definition, and what are the implications of this? What is the cause (ultimate and relative) for “x” foundationally being made up of this type of physical or spiritual substance? What is the author (ultimate and relative) for “x,” and how it interacts with things around it? What is the final cause (ultimate and relative) for “x”, or what is the end purpose of “x,”?
 See my website and the essay, “Logic Lesson – Categorical vs. Hypothetical,” by James Creighton
M.1. (P) If my yard is wet, (Q) then it rained.
M.2. (P) Indeed, my yard is wet.
M.3. (Q) Thus, my yard is wet.
This Modus Ponens is really an affirming the consequent that is merely disguised. The connection is not a necessary one. Maybe I watered my yard with the garden hose? Let us restate it as affirming the consequent, which is the correct form when reasoning backwards in pragmatic matters. It is a fallacy and is the basis for all scientific experiments.
N.1. (P) If it rains, (Q) then my yard get wets.
N.2. (Q). My yard is wet.
N.3. (P) Thus, it rained.
 Like the other above it, the antecedent is the ultimate ethic (God commands), and the consequent dealing the ethics on the relative level (human x choses to or not obey God’s command)—relative is the human level and not referring to relativism. There is some indirect use of ontology, for ontology, or reality can be predicated to any subject, but this is not the main or direct category here.
Scripture and Logic : Jesus commands Proof of Discipleship.