Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 8, 1956

Doing The Will Of God

Robert H. Farish, Lexington, Kentucky

The kingdom of heaven is reserved for those who do the will of God. Christ said that "not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21.) It is not enough to assert that we are doing many mighty works in the name of Christ, this is shown by Christ's statement in the next two verses — we must actually do the will of the Father. Some people are confused — they are claiming to be doing the will of God while actually they are doing their own will — following the course dictated by their own wishes. It is difficult to select any one unworthy motive as the one which prompts that particular process of rationalization by which people identify their ideas, plans or even whims as the will of God; perhaps pride is the chief offender. We need to be impressed that it is the will of God; not the will of man, which we are to do.

This passage clearly demands doing the will of the Father. Conscious human effort is involved, no rational being does the will of God accidentally. Hence it follows that knowledge of the will of God is a necessary precedent to doing the will of God. One must know where to go to learn the will of God and he must then come to a knowledge of that will.

With reference to the first we sometime encounter the question — "How can I know that the New Testament is the will of God?" A person once presented the problem in this way to me — " I believe that there is a God — no one could consider and accept the idea of limitless space and reject the idea of eternity — nor can space without end "filled" with myriads of bodies be attributed to chance. These and other things all around me declare the glory of God and evidence his handiwork. Thus the fact of the existence of a supreme being — a divine being with everlasting power, is not questioned. But how can I know where to go to learn his will toward me?" The answer to this was given by our Lord — "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself." (John 7:17.) Does this need any comment? Notice the context as you study this — Christ had just claimed that the teaching which he did was not his but God's. The New Testament claims to comprise the teaching of Christ — that which was taken of Christ's by the Holy Spirit and declared unto the apostles who in turn spoke it. It is clear then that the single-minded determination to do the will of God will result in the one so determining knowing "whether it is of God or whether" Jesus spoke as a mere man. When one is assured that the New Testament is the expressed will of God, he must then learn what that will is that is contained therein.

Understanding the will of God is required by both reason and revelation. It stands to reason that one must understand the wishes of another before one can comply with those wishes. But we are not left to reason alone in this matter, for revelation has expressly required that we understand what the will of the Lord is — "Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Eph. 5:17.) Paul prayed that his brethren might "be filled with the knowledge of his will," (Col. 1:9) and then placed upon them the responsibility of letting "the word of Christ dwell in you richly." (Col. 3:16.)

God appointed that Paul "know his will"--"see the righteous one" — "hear a voice from his mouth." (Acts 22:14.) This was necessary to equip him as a witness. (Acts 22:15.) Paul must know the will of God before he could open men's eyes. "That they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God ...." (Acts 26:18.) Knowledge of the will of God is essential equipment for any preacher who turns people to God, for no one can do the will of 'God until he knows the will of God. Other passages on this point may be studied but these suffice for our purpose of establishing that knowledge of God's will is essential to doing God's will. We can and must know the teaching and that that teaching is from God.

The Christian is required to arm himself with the mind of Christ "that ye no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." (1 Peter 4:2.) Our time must be lived to the will of God. But without the mind of Christ no one can accomplish this design. The proper attitude toward the will of God is indispensable to doing the will of God. Christ's attitude was "not my will but thine be done." When we arm ourselves with this mind, we are equipped to live the rest of our time in the flesh to the will of God. There are two alternatives — either we can spend our lives to the lusts of men or we can spend our lives to the will of God. The big question is shall we do the desires of the flesh or shall we do the desires of God.

Our abiding forever is conditioned upon our doing the will of God. "And the world passeth away, and the lusts thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." (1 John 2:17.) The one who does the will of God is more enduring than the established order of nature. When the world passes away and the lust thereof no longer exists, he that does the will of God continues. When we are all made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ, we shall each one of us "receive the things done in the body, whether it be good or bad." (2 Cor. 5:10.) How urgent is the need to make it our aim "to be well pleasing unto him." We have his assurance that we will be well pleasing unto him if we do his will.

"Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an eternal covenant, even our Lord Jesus, make you perfect in every good thing to do his will . . . ." (Heb. 13:12.)