Lord’s Prayer Series – His Will on Earth

Christians believe that someday God is going to set up a kingdom, an everlasting kingdom of righteousness in this world and that war and violence and evil of all kinds will be abolished forever. But the question is, “What would be the requirement for a person to become a citizen of such a kingdom?”

The third petition of the Lord’s Prayer is “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). This is the climax of the first division of the Lord’s Prayer, that part which looks toward God and heaven and has to do with things divine. Each petition follows in its proper order. First we recognize the God of heaven as our Father. We ask then that His name, that is, His character, might be hallowed in us, which is accomplished when His kingdom is established in our hearts. That is why the next petition is, “Your kingdom come.” When His kingdom is established in our hearts and He reigns as King in our lives, then we will be doing His will. The evidence of God’s rulership over the dominion of our souls is our complete submission to His will. This petition is inseparably connected with the one that immediately precedes it. Praying for the coming of the kingdom of heaven implies a willingness to submit to the will of the King. Before we can enter the kingdom of heaven in its final and glorious phase, the principles of the kingdom must enter our hearts and have dominion over our souls.

When this desire is our experience, every provision is made for the fulfillment of the divine will. Our obedience to the will of the King, to the laws that govern His kingdom, is the evidence that you and I are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. The coming of the kingdom of grace into our hearts transfers our citizenship to the kingdom of heaven. But right now, we are still living in a revolted world where God’s will is almost universally disregarded. Earnest prayer is needed to be able to completely submit to the sovereignty of the King of heaven. Perhaps there is no petition that we need to make more often than this because we find this petition difficult to be fulfilled in our lives.

In this world we have a hard time learning the lesson of complete surrender to the will of God—a very severe discipline for many people. The purpose of the gospel is to give us victory over the spirit of rebellion that reigns in this world and governs the human race. Rebels cannot enter the kingdom of God and the kingdom of God cannot enter them. The kingdom and dominion were lost by Adam and Eve by disobedience, and only the obedient will be allowed to enter paradise restored.

When people presume upon God’s mercy while knowingly transgressing His law, they are actually trifling with their eternal destiny. It doesn’t matter what my profession of good works might be; if I am not doing the will of my Father in heaven, if I am not obedient to Him, I will have no right to be a citizen of His kingdom. Jesus made this exceedingly plain in the very same Sermon on the Mount where the Lord’s Prayer is recorded in Matthew 5. At the end of the sermon, Jesus made the following, astounding statement that many people still today have not paid attention to.

He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me at that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” Matthew 7:21–23.

In the Day of Judgment these people have an argument with the Lord. It is recorded in both the Old and New Testaments how dangerous it is to have an argument with the Lord. How can we think that we know more about anything than the Lord knows? How can we think that we know what is right and that He is wrong? How can we think that He is deceived and we know better? And yet, so often, that is the way human beings act now and will act on Judgment Day. Those referred to here are not atheists or infidels. They are not agnostics or people who do not claim to be Christians. Rather they are people who do claim to be Christians because they call Jesus Lord.

They believe they should be saved. They have prophesied in His name. They had the Holy Spirit and even cast out demons in His name. They knew they had the Holy Spirit because of the miracles and wonders they had performed. What could possibly have gone wrong?

But Jesus says, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” They are not loyal subjects of His kingdom because they do not keep the laws of His kingdom. They break the commandments; they are lawless and are practicing lawlessness. The Bible says that in the last days the idea that you can break God’s law and practice lawlessness and still be saved is going to be the great deception that will take the whole world captive. You can read that prophecy in II Thessalonians 2:1–12.

In the very heart of the prayer is the petition or request, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” There is no such thing as really being a true Christian without seeking with all your heart to do the will of God. After Jesus’ declaration in Matthew 7:21–23, He followed with a story about the two builders, one who built his house upon the sand while the other built his house upon the rock (verses 24–27). He said that if a person hears these sayings of Mine and doesn’t do them, he will be like the man who built his house on the sand, and when the storm and the flood came, it was all swept away. But the one who hears these sayings of Mine and does them, he’ll be like a man who built his house on the rock and when the flood came, the wind came, and the rain came, the house did not fall because it was established on a rock.

We must consider how the house of our character is being built day by day. Is it being built in harmony with the instruction that Jesus has given in the gospels or are we building on sand? Jesus said if you hear truth and do nothing about it, your character is being built on sand and it will not stand the storm that is coming that will examine and test every man’s work to see what it is like.

What Jesus was in this rebellious world, His disciples are also to be. Jesus lived in this world for more than thirty years in human flesh, and the Bible says in Hebrews 4 that He was tempted in all points just like we are and yet was without sin. His submission to the will of His heavenly Father was so complete that His heavenly citizenship was never cancelled or even questioned or interfered with in the slightest degree. He fulfilled the divine will while He was on earth just as He had when He was in heaven before He came to earth.

The change in environment did not alter His relation to the law or the government of God. The character and the conduct of Christ while He was on earth remained unchanged during His entire earthly pilgrimage. In John 6:38 Jesus gives the reason for His coming to this earth. He said, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

Jesus said in John 5:30: “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” In other words, the purpose of His life and what governed His every action was not to please Himself but to do the will of the Father.

He had no other reason for being in this world, and in fulfilling this purpose Jesus was preeminently successful. Notice what He says to His Father just before He was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4.

All the efforts of Satan to turn Him from His purpose had been thwarted. He finally said just before He died upon the cross, “It is finished.” He had perfectly performed the will of the Father. Every day of His life He fulfilled the will of His Father. Every day of His life and in His prayers at night, He sought and received directions for the following day.

Jesus is our example. He came to this world from heaven to show us the way from death to life, to show us the way out of darkness into light, to deliver us from the dominion of evil to the sovereignty of righteousness. And because of the completeness of the provision that He made for us, no earthly circumstance can excuse you or me from the same kind of submission to the will of our heavenly Father. For such obedience Jesus asks us to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jesus never asks us to do something that is impossible. It might be impossible on our own, but it is never impossible with His help. All of His commands, all of His promises will be fulfilled in us if we accept them by faith and cooperate with the heavenly agencies. Complete provision has been made so that God’s will can be done on earth just as it is in heaven. In fact, the time is coming when the Lord’s Prayer is going to be answered. God’s will is to be perfectly done here on this earth.

The time is coming when there will be no more war, or violence, or evil of any kind in this world.

How can the kingdom of God be established in this world so that war could be a thing of the past? The petition is, “Your will … as it is in heaven.” How is God’s will performed in heaven? Notice what the Bible says in Psalm 103:19: “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word.”

Notice that the angels, the beings in heaven, perform God’s word. They execute His will perfectly. The sovereignty of God is the sovereignty of law and order. His will is defined by His law. Actually when you think about it, the will of any king or government is made known to the citizens of that nation by the laws that have been enacted. There can be no kingdom without law.

The kingdom of grace, therefore, spoken of in the Bible, must also be ruled by His law. Some people are confused upon this point. They think that somehow grace abolishes the law or does away with the law. But the gospel does not abolish or alter any principle of the law. In fact, not in the least particular is the authority of the law broken down by the gospel. Jesus was very emphatic about this. He says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.” Matthew 5:17. Jesus knew that people would get confused by the devil’s lies that grace abolishes law. Jesus said, “Don’t even think that.” Jesus came to establish the kingdom of grace by His death on the cross of Calvary to pay the price of our sins. But He says, “I didn’t come to destroy the law or the prophets.” Notice how He talks about it in Luke 16:17: “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.” A tittle is not a whole letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is just a part of a letter.

Remember Who is saying this. It is Jesus, the One Who not only created all things, as you can read in Colossians 1 verse 16, but He upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). The sun, the moon, our world, our solar system, the innumerable heavenly bodies that spin in countless cycles and circles through space are all held in place by the word of His power. This person, the One Who does that, says that it would be easier for the heaven and earth to pass away than for part of a letter of the law to fail.

The more you think about it, the more intense that statement appears to be. He says that He would destroy the universe before He would allow even a part of a letter of His law to be done away (Luke 16:17). Read it a number of times and you will begin to be awestruck by what Jesus is saying and the extreme value that He places on His law. The modern teaching that grace supplants the law and that faith is a substitute for practice is a fallacy.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31. Notice, faith does not do away with the law; grace does not do away with the law; it establishes the law. This is a most emphatic denial of the idea that the exercise of faith would make void the demands and authority of God’s law. Not only that, but the apostle Paul says that through faith the law is established. In other words, it is through faith that the binding claims of the law are made certain or established. It is the purpose of the gospel to set up the kingdom of heaven in us and with it, the law of the kingdom expressing the will of the King.

The Bible defines sin as the transgression or violation of God’s law, or lawlessness (I John 3:4). The mission of the gospel is to take away sin so that we may come under grace, the unmerited favor of God. Paul drives home this question in Romans 6:1 with a very strong statement. He says, “Shall we continue in sin (continue transgressing the law) that grace might abound?”

Then he answers the question, “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” In the light of such a clear statement in Romans 6:1, 2, how can anyone say that the gift of grace takes away the necessity of the law? The very work of the kingdom of grace is to establish the law of the kingdom of heaven in our heart. In II Corinthians 3:3, the apostle Paul explains how that under the old covenant, the law was written in tables of stone, but under the new covenant, “It is written not with ink in tables of stone; it is written by the Holy Spirit in the fleshly tables of the heart.” Literal translation.

In Hebrews 8:10, quoting from the prophet Jeremiah, Paul says that “under the new covenant the law is written in our heart by the Holy Spirit.” Literal translation. Let it never be forgotten, that we cannot be saved by law without grace any more than we can be saved by grace without law.

In this petition we are asking that our obedience shall measure up to the obedience of the unfallen beings in the heavenly universe. Your will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.”

This prayer is not just a prayer for the future; it is a prayer to be fulfilled in your life, now, right here in this evil, sinful world that is in rebellion against the God of heaven. It is in this world, in this environment of sin and evil that we ask for God’s name to be hallowed. It is here that we ask for His kingdom to be established. And it is right here in this world that we petition in the Lord’s Prayer and ask for His will to be done.

This prayer is going to be answered. The question is, “Is it going to be answered in your life?” Will His will be done in your life, “on earth as it is in heaven”?

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: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.