by Steven Chan
20 March 2011
In Matt 7:21, Jesus gave an important warning to those who wish to enter the kingdom of heaven: “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.”
While it is important that one must desire to enter the kingdom of heaven, desire in itself is not sufficient. It is also important to call upon the Lord for salvation (Rom 10:13). Though one should want Jesus to be Lord of one’s life, it is still not sufficient to enable one to enter the kingdom of heaven. According to Jesus, if one desires to enter the kingdom of heaven, one has to go beyond merely calling on the name of the Lord: one has to actually do the will of His Father in heaven. In Luke’s account, Jesus asked: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)
Jesus emphasized the need to do His will by highlighting the contrast between the man who built his house on the rock, and the other who built his house on the sand: “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears
these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”(Matt 7:24-27). The one who does not do the sayings of Jesus (which is the will of the Father, as He has given His words to the Son: John 17:8) will suffer loss because the foundation upon which he built his house was inadequate. When we do the will of God, our foundation will be well laid and we can be confident that heaven will be our home.
The Bible urged us in James 1:22: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” It is easy to equate hearing the Word of God or knowledge of God’s word to thinking that we have done the will of God. One must hear the word of God and actually do what God’s word requires of us.
God’s grace does not excuse us from doing God’s will. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Cor 15:10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Paul labored or worked more abundantly by God’s grace.
It is obvious that before one can do the will of God, one has to know the will of God. There are two aspects of God’s will that we should be aware of. One is the revealed will of God as penned in the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:15-17; John 7:17; 17:8); the other is the over-arching will of God which He accomplishes providentially. In Matt 26:39, we note that “Jesus went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” In Acts 18:21, the apostle Paul said to the Christians at Ephesus: “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” In James 4:15, Christians are exhorted to be submissive to the will of God: “Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” Insofar as the revealed will of God is concerned, we are to ensure that we do His will. However, as regards the will of God which He accomplishes providentially, we need to submit our will to His will in all things and to pray that His will be done and not ours.
We are to do His revealed Will and we are also to submit our lives to the providential working of His overall will. As Prov 19:21 puts it: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” (NIV). May we seek to do His will at all times: Rom 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”