Doing the will of the Father
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother. Mt. 12:50
What does it mean to do the will of the Father of Christ? To unpack the implications of this text, we note the following things. To do the will of the Father in heaven means that I must have a proper guide. It is not doing what I think the will of God is. It is doing the will of God as he has revealed it to us. And the way God has done this is in Scripture.
First of all, this means that we understand the overall message of Scripture, and seek to apply this overall message to the particularities of our lives. In other words, we need to understand the “big picture” as the Bible gives it to us. Only then will we be able to solve particular problems in a God-honoring way. Not having the big picture in mind is like playing football without understanding that the overall goal is to score points. Passing and running the football without this big goal in mind is ultimately pointless. If fact, every play is geared to this overall purpose. In the same way, to be successful in God’s universe, we need to live life in light of the overall purpose and goal for which we were made.
What is the big picture as the Scriptures give it to us? It is that we and everything that exists does so to bring glory and honor to God. “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36). “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11). “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). In other words, this world was not designed and created in order to make you and me look great. It was made to make God look great. We do not exist to magnify ourselves: we exist to magnify God. And that ought to guide all the decisions that we make, the words we speak, and the things we do.
The second thing we need to understand are the general principles of Scripture. To use another game analogy, chess, we might say that the overall goal is to take out the opponent’s king. That’s the main goal. Then there are general strategies, like controlling the center, defending pieces, and so on. You need to get these things straight before you come to the particular strategies of the game. Even so with Scripture. Underneath the overarching principle – the glory of God – there are corollary principles. Among the central themes of Scripture are redemption by Christ and salvation by grace. God’s glory among men and women is advanced primarily through their salvation from sin by the grace of God alone through Christ alone.
Understanding this is crucial because you cannot do the will of God in your life apart from the grace of God in Christ. The message of Scripture which reveals God’s will to us is that we are redeemed through Christ. We cannot even begin to approach the throne of God apart from Christ. The ability to do the will of God comes through the grace of Christ. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). To seek to live before God in any other way will only lead to legalism and self-righteousness, and ultimately to failure.
And then in light of these general principles, we apply the particular instructions of Scripture to our lives. How do we do this? First of all, we must be committed to reading Scripture daily, and seeking to understand it. We need to be like the Bereans who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11). What the Bereans did is especially amazing when you consider that they did this in the first century when very few people actually had a copy of the Scriptures. We need to be like the psalmist, who prayed, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11).
Of course, it is assumed that we believe all that Scripture teaches. God has spoken in Scripture, but we will not obey it and conform ourselves to its demands unless we are convinced that it is the Word of God. And then we not only need to believe that it is God’s word, but that it is good for us. We need to be like the prophet Jeremiah, who said of God’s words, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jer. 15:16). We need to share the view of the psalmist: “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (Ps. 119:72). Finally, we must be committed to obeying Scripture in all that it commands. We need to be committed to universal holiness. What use is it to obey only those passages that are easy for us? Instead, let us “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us” (Heb. 12:1).
Doing the will of God characterized the children of God. It characterizes those who have fellowship and friendship with Jesus Christ. And we do the will of God by believing, delighting in, and obeying Scripture. It speaks to all of life. We can have utter confidence in it. The apostle Paul put it best: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).