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28. I Have Come, O God, To Do Your Will

Chapter 28

I Have Come, O God, To Do Your Will

What Did Jesus Come Into the World For?

Let us begin by asking an apparently very basic or fundamental question: What did Jesus come into the world for? If you are a Christian, especially a long-time Christian, you may think that the answer to this question is easy. In actual fact, the answer is not evident to the average Christian.

What did Jesus come into the world for? Most Christians have the answer ready on the tips of their tongues: “Jesus came to die for us!” It is true, of course, that Jesus came to die for our sins, but that is hardly the complete truth. If his only purpose was to die for us, why are we given the four gospels? Why is the life of Christ given to us in quadraphonic? If his only purpose was to die for us, we wouldn’t need to know anything about him apart from the fact that he died. Even then, we only need to know that he died, not how he died.

All we would need is the last part of Matthew or another gospel, plus a few verses from Romans or Ephesians; the rest of the New Testament and most of the Old Testament can be discarded.

Neither would we need to know anything about his compassion to the poor, the sick, the dying. Or how he dealt with the Pharisees and hypocrites, of which there are too many in the world today. Or how he cleansed the temple. We wouldn’t need to know any of this except to satisfy our intellectual curiosity.

The answer to the question What did Jesus come into the world for? is not so obvious after all. It is most certainly true that he died for us, but that is not the whole truth.

1. He Came Not Only to Die, But to Give Life

Much more than that, Scripture tells us that Jesus came into the world to give us life. This life is God’s own life, a life that extends from the heart of God to the heart of man, through Jesus Christ, a life that far transcends physical or earthly life.

God has given us the best Christmas gift possi­ble. This gift of eternal life is far better than the gift of physical life, which in itself is truly valuable. People cling desperately to physical life even when it is seeping through their fingers like sand. As age takes its toll, it steadily saps away the strength of even the sturdiest of men; the last flicker of life will elude every attempt to prolong it.

Physical life is certainly valuable, but God has something better in store for us: eternal life, which does not pass away. It is better not only in terms of duration but also in terms of quality. This new life with its eternal quality is, sadly, something that many Christians have never truly experienced.

How precious is the gift of life, yet how few have obtained it! The main reason is that many preachers, perhaps with the intention of attracting larger crowds into their churches, have been peddling eternal life at cut-rate prices, telling us there are no conditions apart from “believing”.

What Do We Do with the Life God has Given Us?

An equally important question is, What do you do with the life that God has given you? Few people know what they are doing with their earthly lives, much less their spiritual lives.

God has given you physical life, and you may live to sixty, seventy or eighty. What will you do with life? As you grow older, you may no longer strive for new achievements. When you are still young, you can study for a degree or look for a job. After graduation, life can become a grinding routine of working from nine to five at the office, and going home tired in the evening. Then you start asking yourself, “What am I doing with my life? It is just a hectic hand-to-mouth existence. But what choice do I have? I need to have income.”

There is nothing wrong with studying or holding a job. But if life is nothing more than studying, working, retiring and dying, then we could rightly ask what life is all about. What is the meaning of life if our goal is to earn more money to buy a nicer or faster car? The speed limit in Canada is 100 kph (or about 60 mph) and 65 mph in some parts of the United States. Just how important is it to have a car that reaches 100 kph in five seconds flat and cruises at 180 kph? If it is any satisfaction, a faster car would certainly im­prove the chances of getting a speeding ticket.

The question of life leads naturally to the quest­ion of eternal life. The good news is that God wants to give us the wonderful gift of eternal life. But even if we receive the best gift of all—eternal life—the question remains, What do we do with it? God has a special purpose for us in the new life, yet very few Christians know what it is.

2. Jesus Came to Show us Our Mission in Life: Carry Out God’s Will in the World

Jesus came to die for us and to give us new life. We are given four different gospels so that we may learn from a multi-dimensional per­spective, as it were, what he wants us to do with the new life. In the new life, God has prepared a whole program for us. He calls us to follow Jesus so that he may show us, step by step, how to fulfill the purpose of life.

In the new life, do I sit back and wait for heaven to come? And when I do get to heaven, what I am supposed to do there? Take a beginner’s course in harp-playing? Playing harps for eternity is not everyone’s “cup of tea”. The only activity in heaven, as many people seem to imagine, is sacred music! Baseball fans will be eternally bored to tears! If heaven has no television sets or compact disc players, how will you occupy yourself for all eternity?

Thankfully, God has given us something to do in the new life: In this present time He has assigned us the awesome task of carrying out His will in the world; and we can be sure that He won’t leave us without signifi­cant responsibilities in eternity.

But how can we know what His will is? Does God call us into His office to explain it point by point? Not quite, for He has his special way of revealing His will. The earthly life of Jesus, Son of God, is recorded for us in the gospels, and Jesus tells us, “Look at my life and my deeds. Then follow my example as the Holy Spirit leads and empowers you.”

This principle, alas, is foreign to most Christ­ians because discipleship, of the kind Jesus taught, has all but vanished from most churches. But any church that does not know about disciple­ship, or what to do with the new life, will eventually die. This is true also on the personal level: The Christian who has no direction will become frustrated and may not survive for long.

Hebrews 10.5-7 explains what Jesus came into the world for. Note especially the words in bold type:

When Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacri­fice and offering You did not desire, but a body You prepared for me; with burnt of­ferings and sin offerings You were not pleased. Then I said, Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do Your will, O God.” (NIV)

In this remarkable passage we see that when Jesus came into the world, using the words of Psalm 40.6-8, he said to the Father, “I have come to do Your will, O God.”

Let the force of this statement sink into our hearts. I meditated on it until tears came to my eyes, because I began to see a dimension of the Lord’s life that I had not seen before with such clarity. I was struck by his total and absolute commitment to the will of his Father. His life was resolutely fixed on one focal point: doing the will of God.

3. Jesus Chose to Be a Slave!

At the conclusion of the last chapter, we took note of the significant fact that for Paul, the concept of being a slave of God is a central element in his teaching. The failure to grasp this point inevitably results in the failure to understand his teaching correct­ly, not least on the matter of receiving the gift of eternal life.

What is the defining element about the life of a slave? Isn’t it the fact that he must always do his master’s will, whether he likes it or not? Therefore the mark of a servant or slave of God is that he always does the will of God. It is now apparent why being a slave of God is so central to the Apostle’s teaching. As can be seen in various places in his letters, he is concerned to emphasize that doing God’s will is a fundamental element in the life of the new man in Christ.

As can be expected, given his Christ-centered thinking, Paul’s teaching on this matter is rooted in Christ himself. This is how he puts it in a well-known passage, considered by many to be a hymn,

Christ Jesus, who, although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant (doulos, slave), and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name. (Phil.2.5-9)

During his life and ministry on earth, the Master took upon himself the status of a slave. Does any disciple dare to be above his Master? If we refuse to live as his slaves then, clearly, we are not his disciples who follow in his steps. And since all of Jesus’ earthly life was governed by the one purpose of doing the Father’s will, can our lives have any other goal?

Since Jesus himself chose to be a slave, it is little wonder that Paul considered “slave of Jesus Christ” a title of honor that he applied to himself (Ro.1.1; Gal.1.10; Phil.1.1; Tit.1.1). His earnest desire was to be just like his Lord in every way. It should also be ob­served that Paul was by no means alone in describing himself as the Lord’s slave. Other servants of the Lord did the same: James (1.1); Peter (2Pet.1.1); Jude (1.1); and John (Rev.1.1). Rejoicing in the privilege of being slaves of Christ, zealously doing his will, they were greatly used by God, and accomplished a lot for His glory in their lifetimes.

Few People Will Achieve Anything. Why?

The great tragedy is that few people will achieve anything in this world, much less accomplish the will of God. What about us? Will we achieve anything meaningful in this life? Or are we marching along with the vast regiments of people, billions and billions of them, who live in this world without knowing what they are living for, other than perhaps trying to enjoy themselves—though often not success­ful even in that? Do we know where we came from, and where we are going? The Lord says, “I know where I came from, and where I am going” (Jo.8.14).

A life without direction is a most pitiable life. Many people have been baptized, and have joined various churches, yet still don’t know what they are living for. That is why they won’t accomplish any­thing of spiritual value in the world. Let us make it our prayer that we won’t pass through this world in our earthly sojourn without having achieved the purpose that God has for us.

That God has a task for each one of us in the world is an absolute certainty. And let us think on this: if we fail to complete our task, we wouldn’t want to see the Lord’s face on that Day. Imagine the horror of being asked by the Lord, “What have you done with the life I gave you? Have you completed the work I gave you to do?” Work? What work? “Well, lots and lots of work. Here in front of you is a Bible with over a thousand pages, have you discerned the Lord’s heart and mind in it?” Some Christians say they have read through the Bible many times, but do they live their lives according to God’s will as revealed in it?

To Christians let it be clearly affirmed: If you squander the life that God has given you, you will be without excuse because you hold in your hands the Book which explains what God wants you to do with your life; and He gives us the Holy Spirit to lead us and to empower us in doing it.

Yet the tragedy is that many Christians will accomplish nothing, and will stand empty-handed when they meet the Lord. This, sadly, is absolutely certain, and one doesn’t need to be a prophet to see it. Most Christians will achieve little or nothing in this life, being inexcusably blind to spiritual reality. Why? Because their lives are not focused into one sharp point: the will of God.

Focus Your Life on God’s Will

If you swing a metal bar against a tree, you won’t be able to fell the tree no matter how strong you are or how heavy the bar is. The tree will sustain a few scars, and your hands will hurt after a few blows. But if the metal is melted down and molded into an axe, the entire weight of the axe head is now concentrated onto one sharp edge. This is why an axe can fell a tree in a short time.

Similarly, nothing will happen if you place a sheet of paper under sunlight. But if you focus the light into one concentrated point with a magnifying glass, you can get the paper to burn within a few moments.

When we study the four gospels, we see that Jesus’ life was sharply focused on one thing: doing the will of the Father. “I have come, O God, to do Your will.”

Jesus is the light of the world, and how power­ful is his radiance. We too are the light of the world, but how weak is our glow. We reflect or convey Christ’s light so inadequately. But if we focus that light, weak though it is, into one point, it can do amazing things!

This principle was impressed on my mind when I learned scuba diving. Night diving led to an adventure I had never experienced before: diving into the ocean on a dark night. Our boat took us to a place where a ship had sunk to the bottom, fifty feet below. The wind, the rain and the waves were battering our boat. It was pitch dark, and the water looked ink-black.

The guide said to everyone, “Are you sure you want to dive in?” Seeing that nobody was backing off, he said, “Think again. It’s dark, it’s windy, it’s raining.” Still no one withdrew. So he told us to put on our masks and tanks. One by one we went into the water, descending fifty feet down, to explore the sunken ship. As each person took his turn to dive in, he or she was given a flashlight. It was not the powerful type that I had expected, but a tiny thing about six or seven inches long. I thought to myself, “How are we going to explore the ocean with this tiny flashlight?” But at this stage there was no time to ask questions, each person just took a flashlight and dived in.

After entering the water, I was amazed to discover that this light could throw a long, effective beam. I could see objects forty feet away. Looking at the flashlight, you could see that it was a weak source of light. Yet that weak light could do amazing things in the murky ocean because it was focused into one sharp beam. Had the beam been scattered, out of focus, we couldn’t have seen much in those ink-like waters.

What can we Christians do with our weak light? If it is focused into a sharp beam, it will do wonders. If your life is sharply focused on God’s will, the power of that light will amaze you. God’s light has indeed come into our lives, but it’s up to us to focus it into one single concentrated beam.

4. Jesus’ Life: Focused on God’s Will

If you study the life of the Lord, you will see the secret of his earthly ministry. His light is far brighter than ours, and when it is focused into one sharp beam, we can scarcely fathom its awesome power. Jesus came into the world with one intense, focused goal: “I have come to do Your will, O God” (Heb.10.7). His intense desire to do the Father’s will is seen in all four gospels.

Wherever Jesus shone his light, many turned to God. Some hated the light, but many others were attracted to it. In this world, some will love the Lord, and some will hate him enough to crucify him. His intense light will frighten off anyone who wants to hide his own sins. But for people who are searching for a way out of the darkness, how welcome is the light that points the way to God and to salvation.

Once, when Jesus was twelve years old, his parents were searching for him all over Jerusalem, but couldn’t find him even after three days of effort (Lk.2.46). They then decided to look for him in the temple, which is where they should have gone to in the first place. Finding him there, they said, “We’ve been anxiously looking for you everywhere.” Jesus said to his parents, “Don’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house? That I must attend to His affairs? That I must do His will?” Already at that early age, Jesus was focused on the will of the Father.

Later on, when he began his ministry, one of the first things he did was to cleanse the temple of religious commercialism (Jo.2.14-17). Con­sumed by a fiery zeal, he fashioned a whip with which he drove out the animals, while overturn­ing the tables of the money­changers.

Nothing is as abhorrent to spirituality as com­mercialized relig­ion. Commercialized religion is crass and abominable. Churches tend to be caught up in the business of raising funds and construct­ing church buildings. Non-Christians often rightly accuse churches of being fund-raising organizations.

After Jesus cleansed the temple, one verse stuck in the minds of the people who observed him: “Zeal for Your house con­sumes me” (Ps.69.9, NIV). His heart was consumed by a fiery zeal for God’s will and God’s work.

In this day of wishy-washy Christianity, where do we find Christians with a fiery zeal like the Lord’s? In this generation, brothers and sisters, we will accomplish absolutely nothing with the life that God has given us unless it is concentrated, by God’s grace, into a single-minded spiritual zeal for God. May the Lord deliver us from a superficial, commer­cialized, easy-going Christianity.

If your Christian life is not focused, it will be feeble and without direction. In that case, it may be better to simply forget about being a Christian. A wishy-washy Christian life will only disgrace the Lord; it cannot reveal God’s glory or accomplish His will. If we are not doing God’s will, then we are living in disobe­dience and will, consequently, have only the judgment to look forward to.

The four gospels provide us with a comprehensive four-dimensional view of the life of Christ. In them we see that he resolutely sets his face to fulfilling God’s purpose. His absolute com­mit­ment to his Father, and his fiery zeal to accomplish His purpose, undoubtedly enthralled and inspired the disciples as they observed him. Can our lives bring some inspiration to others too?

That same preoccupation with God’s will is reflected in Jesus’ own teaching. He says, for example, that not everyone who believes in him and acknowledges him as Lord will enter the kingdom of hea­ven, but only he who does the will of the Father (Mt.7.21).

He also says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to accomplish His work” (Jo.4.34). What sustains me, says the Lord, and strengthens me like food, is doing the will of my Father. Whereas many Christians resist doing God’s will, doing the Father’s will is food to Jesus. It is his nourishment and his delight.

That is why he says, “I do not seek my own will, but the will of Him who sent me” (Jo.5.30). In the next chapter, he explains the purpose of his coming: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me” (Jo.6.38). The intense focus on doing the Father’s will is everywhere evident in his life and teaching. And what is the motivation behind all this? As Jesus explains, “I always do the things that are pleasing to My Father” (Jo.8.29).

His intense desire to please the Father is hard for us to under­stand, is it not? His whole being is saturated with a fervent love for the Father. How weak is our love for God, how little we care to please Him, and how puny our concern for His glory. We are in danger of passing through this life without even leaving a mark on the sand for His glory. The choice is ours. If we live for ourselves, we will be blown away like dust. If we live for God, we will live forever, for “he who does the will of God abides forever” (1Jo.2.17).

As he approached the end of his earthly ministry, and the cross was looming large before him, the Lord Jesus communed (as he always did) with his Father, “What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour” (Jo.12.27). Then amidst the encircling gloom of his impending death he declared, “Not my will but yours be done” (Lk.22.42). Even in that final dark hour, his heart and mind remained wholly focused on his Father’s will.

5. Gethsemane

We tend to have the fallacious notion that because Jesus was sinless and dedicated to doing the Father’s will that doing God’s will was easy for him. The error of this notion can be seen from the account of Gethsemane and the awful struggle he went through there, which wrung from him what one account describes as “sweat, like blood”. The whole verse reads, “And being in agony he was praying very fervently; and his sweat became like drops of blood, falling upon the ground” (Lk.22.44).

What does this mean? These words indicate that such was the great­ness of the suffering in his innermost being that the sweat that poured out from him was as if what really came forth from him was blood. His sweating was equivalent to bleeding. When the nails pierced him, he bled. But before ever the nails pierced him on Golgotha, his heart was pierced at Gethsemane. Blood flows from a physical wound, but sweat flowed in lieu of blood from his pierced spirit.

To be willing and even dedicated to doing God’s will doesn’t at all mean that doing His will is, for those reasons, easy.

We are not told what actually transpired in Gethsemane, and what was the cause of Jesus’ intense agony when faced with the imminent actuality of doing God’s will—to be crucified for our sins. Yet it is possible for us to deduce at least a tiny particle of it. I recall that as a child I was once required to swallow a spoonful of castor oil. Even though I knew very well that it was being administered for my good, the struggle to get the oil into my mouth and down my throat was exhausting because the repulsive smell and taste of the oil caused me to retch and to throw up. Knowing that it was a good and necessary remedy did not make it any easier for me to swallow it. If this little example could be magnified, perhaps to the nth degree, it may give us a glimpse of what Jesus went through at Gethsemane.

What if the horror of “being made sin for us” on the part of him “who knew no sin” (2Cor.5.21) was beyond what even he could cope with? What would have become of our salvation? In a very real and definitive sense our salvation hung upon his final “not my will, but Yours be done” (Lk.22.42). Without that final decisive submission to the Father’s will, there would have been no cross and, therefore, no salvation for us. Without Gethsemane there would have been no Golgotha—and no redemption for us. The question of man’s salva­tion was assured in those decisive words in which Jesus embraced his death in embracing God’s will.

Gethsemane—which forever uniquely exemplifies the doing of God’s will—was therefore every bit as important for our salvation, and perhaps even more so, than Golgotha. The cross followed from that decisive acceptance of God’s will. The process of doing the Father’s will reached its climax in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then went on to its full expression at the cross. At Gethsemane his sorrowful agony had already brought him to the point of death: “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Mt.26.38; Mk.14.34).

Our eternal well-being was lost in a garden, the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve fell through disobeying God’s will. Appro­priately, it was regained in another garden, the Garden of Gethse­mane, where our precious Savior already began to shed his blood for us in the form of sweat wrung from him by “the travail of his soul” (Isa.53.11); sweat which represented the “blood” of his inner most being.

His agony is revealed in the fact that “an angel came and strengthened him” (Lk.22.43; cf. 2Cor.13.4). The intensity of his suffering in the course of doing God’s will uniquely qualifies him to be a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb.4.15).

Therefore, though we are unable to fathom the depths of Gethsemane, the crisis he faced there, in weakness and then in strength, makes it so much easier for us to turn to him for help when we too wrestle with doing God’s will in difficult circumstances.

Jesus commenced his ministry, as Hebrews tells us, with the prayer, “I am come to do Your will, O God”. He concluded his minis­try with the prayer, “Your will be done”. The Father’s “good and ac­ceptable and perfect will” (Ro.12.2) was determinative for him from beginning to end.

How Do We Know God’s Will?

You might say, “I don’t know what is God’s will for my life. If you could tell me what it is, I would be ready to do it.” Is it possible not to know what His will is? Every page of the Bible reveals something about His will. If we read the Bible searching for an answer to the question, “Lord, what is Your will for me?” the answer will call to us from every page.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and our hearts to be receptive to God’s will. If after this we still don’t know what God’s will is, it is because we don’t really want to know.

George Mueller, that faithful servant of God, was once asked how he knew God’s will so clearly. He answered, “From the start I seek to get my heart into a state in which it has no will of its own in a given matter.” Ninety percent of the time the problem lies in our self-will. If our hearts are ready to do God’s will, whatever it may be, the door of our heart will be open to knowing His will. As Mueller tells us, the reason you don’t know God’s will is that you don’t really want to do it.

There are many who do want to know what God’s will is, but only to see if it coincides with their own will. Their intention is that they will decide whether to do it or not, depending on whether it agrees with their will or not. But God’s will is not subject to our prior inspection and approval. Unless we are com­mitted to doing His will, and sincerely say, “I have come, O God, to do Your will,” we will not find out what His will is.

A Challenge

If you are a non-Christian or a nominal Christian, I have a challenge for you. I challenge you to stand up and say, “I don’t know if God exists, but if He does exist, I will do His will totally and unconditionally.” If you say that in full sincerity, I guarantee you that He will reveal Himself—and His will—to you, as clear as day is from night. But if you start playing tricks with the living God, you will be in deep trouble.

The Christian life is not a matter of religion or philosophy, but walking with the living God. If you are serious about knowing Him, I challenge you to say, “I have come, O God, to do Your will.” That declaration of commitment is exceedingly powerful, because the one who does the will of God will experience God’s reality. If you dare say this in all sincerity, God will reveal His will to you with such clarity that it will amaze you. If you are determined to do God’s will, He will reveal it to you.

As a result, you will also know whether Jesus is from God, because you will know whether his teaching is from God. As Jesus said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7.17, NIV).

Whether you are a Christian or a non-Christian, I hope you can see the power of these words: “I have come, O God, to do Your will.” If you say to God from your heart, “I am willing to do Your will, whatever it may be,” you will surely be on the road to eternal life, and you will experience the living God along the way.

Unworthy as I am, I know and I can testify from long experience that God reveals His will to those who are willing to do it totally. Many people profess the Christian faith, yet God is not real to them because they are still struggling over whether to do His will fully or not. I stress “fully”. We must do God’s will fully, or we are not doing His will at all. As we saw previously, partial obedience is partial disobedience. And partial disobed­ience is disobedience nonetheless. We cannot say to God that we want to do only this part or that part of His will. We must do all His will or we don’t do it at all. God does not accept half measures.

6. Jesus Came so that We Can Know God and Know Him Intimately

Some people may think: “Jesus could do the will of his Father because he enjoyed intimate communion with Him. If I had this level of intimacy with the Father, I might do His will too.” But the fact is that we too can get to know God very well, as I shall explain in a moment.

But someone may say to me, “Your situation is different from mine. You know God because you have been following Him for over four decades. It is easy for you to stand there and talk about focus­ing on His will.” That is not quite the correct picture, because in the beginning I did not know God either. But it is true that our know­ledge of God increases with time; and relying upon the strength He gives, we steadfastly do His will.

I was meditating the other day, and I came to a startling conclu­sion: I actually know more about God than I know about my wife in terms of her biographical details! That may sound incredible, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it is true. I know more about God’s character and dealings than I know about my wife, Helen, who is the person closest to me. I actually know very little, for example, about the first twenty years of her life. I know that she was born in Shanghai, and also where she lived in Hong Kong, and which school she attended. I have met her parents and her brother and a few of her friends. But if I were to write down every biographical detail that I know about her in her first twenty years, I am not sure that I could even fill one small sheet of paper.

Yet I know a lot about God, and in great detail. From the Bible I have learned a lot about what He said and how He dealt with certain people and certain nations. By contrast, I don’t know of a single statement that my wife had ever made in her first twenty years. I have pages and pages of what God said and did; but I don’t have anything approaching that amount of material concerning my wife. So I could say that I don’t know my wife half as well!

In a given situation, I can more accurately pre­dict what the Lord will do, than what my wife will do. I can guess what she might do, but not always accurately because human beings are not always consistent. But just as Jesus His Son is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb.13.8), so God’s ways can often be predicted with aston­ishing accuracy when we understand the principles by which He did things in the past as recorded in the Bible, and as we learn from our own experience of following Him.

My wife is a witness to that. On one occasion, in a particularly problematic situation, I predicted the exact timetable of what the Lord would do in the next few days to resolve the problem. I said to Helen, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this; on the next day, the Lord will do that”. I gave her the whole timetable of the four days during which the Lord will resolve the problem. I told her, “I am telling you all this in advance so that you will be the witness of how our God will wonderfully work out everything.” And she is my witness that the events did come to pass exactly as I predicted they would.

You may be wondering how this is possible. We know God’s mind and character to the degree that He teaches us, by His indwelling Spirit, to discern it from His Word. That is why the Bible is given to us. The realiza­tion that I know God better than I know anyone else in this world filled me with joy as I was walking up and down the kitchen. Because God’s character does not change, and because the Bible reveals Him in great detail, it is possible for us to know Him better than anyone else in the world.

This is not to say that we can presumptuously assume that we can always predict everything that God will do with perfect accur­acy. This is because although by grace we do know Him, we do not know Him perfectly; at the present time we only “know in part” (1Cor.13.12). Yet even this is a lot compared to those Christians (or religious people like Nicodemus) who do not personally know Him at all, and for whom the Lord’s ways are as incomprehensible and unpredictable as the move­ments of the wind (Jo.3.8).

Isn’t it wonderful that the persons who really count in the world, God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, have revealed themselves fully to us? For our part, we must do God’s will unconditionally if we wish to know God and experience His reality.

May the Lord grant each one of us the grace to make this the dynamic focal point of our whole life: “I have come, O God, to do Your will.”

7. He Came to Bring Us into Union with God

In regard to doing God’s will, there is yet one more truth that is of the greatest significance: The union of wills is the closest possible union between two persons. In what way can two people be more closely and permanently united than in the union of their wills?

We often speak of love as that which unites. But human love is an emotion that is fickle and can soon dissipate like a morning mist. Only if love results in a true union of wills will it approximate to the kind of relationship we are called to have with God.

When from our hearts we say with Jesus, “I have come, O God, to do Your will,” what happens? Now we will what Jesus wills and what the Father wills. There is a union of wills, and therefore a union of persons in the closest way that persons can be united. This means that through doing His will, we become united with God!

The reality of the union of wills brings us to the wonderful realization that not only is it possible to know God intimately, but that we can be united with Him. This fulfills what Jesus prayed for in the words, “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us.” (Jo.17.21)

But there are two things in this connection that we must always bear in mind. First, while God’s will is unchanging, man’s will is not. If there is any parting of the wills, it will be from man’s side, not God’s. This weakness of man’s will, which is due to the weakness of his flesh, is the primary reason for Paul’s exhortation to live in “fear and trembling” (Phil.2.12). Even though “he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1Cor.6.17), that union with him can be threatened by sin, as the apostle warns. This drives us to depend utterly upon God, never upon ourselves.

Secondly, this union with God through the union of wills is not our achievement; it is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit within us “to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil.2.13), and God desires to bring us into union with Himself. In His love for us, it is His desire that we be united with Him, that we be one with Him. This fills us with unspeakable joy and thanksgiving.

 

(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church