What is the single most decisive factor in determining your eternal destiny? Some people believe that it is belonging to a church or religious organization where you have a membership. Others believe that it is the theology or philosophy that you adhere to or espouse. The question could be asked, Could you go to the right church and still end up being lost?
As human beings we often excuse ourselves from perfect obedience to God’s will because we live in such an evil age and are surrounded by sin. But notice what the apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians in Philippi, the city in which he himself had been met with abuse. He writes, “That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:15.
He recognized that theirs was a Godless generation but still admonished the believers to be blameless and without fault and to shine. The Lord’s Prayer asks that, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
One must consider how God’s will is performed in heaven. His will is obeyed with perfection, with constancy, in fullness, with joy and thankfulness. All the unfallen worlds are loyal and obedient. This planet is the only world in the whole universe that is in rebellion against God’s law.
The purpose of the gospel is to conquer the one fallen world. To ensure its success God sent His Son who offered His life to pay the price of our sin and bring the world back into harmony with heaven. When the gospel has completed its mission and God’s eternal purpose has been fully carried out, Jesus prayer for “God’s will on earth” will be answered. At that time the entire world will be in complete submission to His will. There will be no more war or violence, no more sickness and no more pain or death because sin will be no more. The earth will no longer be in isolation, quarantined because of the disease of sin but in harmony with the heavenly universe that is governed by God’s moral law.
When we look up at the heavens at night and see the heavenly bodies they appear to be still because of the great distance from earth, but when astronomers study them taking accurate measurements they see that they are moving at very great speeds. This planet circles the sun making one revolution every year. After each revolution the earth loses 1/10,000th of a second of time. The precision with which the heavenly bodies follow their prescribed course through space is mind blowing.
The strict obedience of the heavenly bodies to the laws that govern them is no greater than that obedience of the celestial beings that inhabit those other worlds. This same perfect standard of obedience is what we ask for ourselves when we pray that His will be done on earth.
Angels of heaven perfectly obey the Father’s will considering it their greatest pleasure. The service they perform is not performed as drudgery or as legality but in love for their Creator.
Love for God makes their allegiance and obedience a joy. Jesus desired that same relationship for His disciples. He taught them to pray that their obedience might be of the same high order. Unless obedience is prompted by love it is not recognized or accepted by God. Paul said that it is the love of Christ that constrains us to do His will and keeps us from doing evil.
On the night Jesus was betrayed He said to His disciples, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15. If you do not love Him it will be impossible to keep them. Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. … If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” Verses 21, 23, 24. To keep God’s commandments is a response of loving Him. There are many who profess to love Him, but without the response of obedience their love is not real. The motive that underlies each action determines the value of obedience.
God holds in high esteem the service of love and when this is lacking, no matter how much form of godliness we may have or how many rituals or ceremonies we perform, they are all worthless. John said, “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.” I John 5:2, 3.
Loyalty to God should be a delight. It is never a burden or a sacrifice to help or to serve a person that we love. That is why the apostle Paul said, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10. So many misunderstand that verse thinking that if they love there is no need to keep the law but love fulfills the law when those who love God obey Him.
We keep the first four commandments as an expression of our love to God. We do not serve other Gods, worship idols, or swear, or break His Holy day. The last six demonstrate how I conduct myself with my fellow man if I love him. If I love my parents I will not dishonor them and if I love my neighbor I will not lie to him, steal from him, run off with his wife or kill him. The love that I have for God and my neighbor is seen in my response to them as reflected in the law. That is why love is the “fulfilling of the law.”
God has promised to write His law in our hearts. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Hebrews 8:10. This is the new covenant.
Some people think that because they are not Jews they are not part of Israel but if you are not a part of spiritual Israel you will never be in the kingdom of heaven. Paul says, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26–29.
According to the apostle Paul, all Christians are of Abrahams’s seed and are part of spiritual Israel. Paul told the Corinthian church that the law was not to be written just on tables of stone but in the fleshly tables of the heart. That is what made Jesus different than other people. The principles of God’s law of love within His heart motivated all of His actions.
In Psalm 40:7, 8 is a divine prophecy concerning the Messiah. It says, “Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of Me. I delight to do Your will, O My God, and Your law is within My heart.’ ”
Jesus did not do God’s will because He had to. He said, “I delight to do Your will.” Why? “Because Your law is written in My heart.” That is the essence of righteousness by faith. The prophet Isaiah said, “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law.” Isaiah 51:7.
These people know righteousness because the law is written in their heart. This is the new covenant promise that brings salvation from sin and they find that obeying Him is no longer drudgery but a joy. God’s commandments are no longer seen as a list of don’ts written on cold stone but a set of guidelines that when followed are a joy, protection from a life of misery and sin and become something in which to delight.
Conversion is all about receiving a new spirit; the things you once loved you now hate and the things you once hated you now love.
The experience enjoyed in heaven where God’s will is done with rejoicing and pleasure is the experience that is available through the new covenant. “Thy will be done” is like the gospel itself. It has a negative meaning to those who refuse to accept it and is positive to those who have a desire for something better than this present world has to offer.
Many people recognize that it would be a most wonderful thing if God’s will was done right now. So why is it so difficult? By nature, man is self-willed and stubborn. The Bible describes us as being obstinate, stiff-necked, with a brow like brass and a neck like an iron sinew (Isaiah 48:4). It seems as if it is almost impossible to change us from our mindset and turn us from our course. Whether it is right or wrong we obstinately and stubbornly carry out our own will and want to do as we please.
After receiving some manufactured goods that needed to be assembled, a man once told me that directions had come with the package but he said, “I did it my way.”
That is the experience of the majority of people. Regardless of the consequences we want to stubbornly carry out our own will and do as we please. The will of man is invariably opposed to God and his own salvation causing a Spiritual warfare to be fought. The greatest battle encountered is the warfare against self and the surrender of the will. It is the human will that is the most decisive factor that will either open or shut to us the gate to the kingdom of God, the kingdom of glory. It may be called the hinge on which the gate of destiny depends.
God created man as a free moral agent with the power of choice. It is the greatest gift given to man and the choices he makes will determine his eternal destiny. Multitudes, while hoping and desiring to be saved, never come to the place of surrendering their will to God and will be lost because of it. The Lord will never force the will of any man for love cannot be forced; it must be given freely.
Some Christians hope that God will somehow work out His will for them without any cooperation on their part but that is a futile hope. The doctrine of predestination or foreordination is often an excuse for human indifference and indolence. Our will must come into harmony with God’s will and our lives must come into conformity with His character and in this work we have an important part to act. In Revelation 22:17, it says, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires [or whoever wills, or whoever wants to], let him take the water of life freely.”
That is an essential part of the gospel invitation, “… whosoever will.” The benefits of the gospel, the issue of the conflict with sin, whether you will be saved or lost depends completely on the action of your will. God will never violate your choice. By refusing to surrender to God, you will be outside salvation, outside the city of God and outside the domain of His will. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” John 7:17.
Have you surrendered your will to God? Can you say with sincerity, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 literal translation. The devil would trick you into believing that God is a demanding tyrant but that is a lie. His will is that none would perish but that all would come to His saving grace.
The way to the kingdom of heaven is to surrender your will to His will and He will turn your crosses into crowns and the curses in your life into blessings. He wants to lead you out of darkness and bring you into light so that He can take you from death to an everlasting life of joy and happiness. The choice is yours!
Bible texts are from NKJV unless otherwise noted.
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Free Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.