BRINGING HEAVEN DOWN
THE PERFECT WILL OF GOD
September 11, 2013
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
– Romans 12:2
Before we can ‘bring heaven down’ so that the will of God takes place on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9), we must know what the will of God is, and we must know what ‘takes place’ in heaven. These two things cannot be discovered by man. They can only be revealed to man by someone who has been to heaven and who has personal knowledge of God’s will. And when those matters are revealed, it rests upon each one of us to ‘prove to ourselves’ or ‘be able to know’ (Good News Translation) or ‘know how good and pleasing and perfect’ (New Living Translation) is the will of God.
Fortunately, there is one who personally knows both the Father and his perfect will. That is the Son of Man, Christ Jesus of Nazareth. About him is it written:
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”
– John 1:18
“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.”
– John 3:13
Man looks at life through a narrow veiled lens based on his limited understanding of the universe and the true personality of God the Father. He simply cannot know by his own reasoning the divine plan for mankind unless he examines the matter spiritually, through the mind of the only one who knows:
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:14-16
So, the key to understanding the perfect will of God is to quit allowing ourselves to be fashioned after the thinking and the will of man, and then transform our thinking so that it conforms to the mind of Jesus Christ – the one who knows and revealed God’s perfect will.
Jesus, the Revealer of God’s Will
Jesus is the embodiment of the Father’s will on earth. He is ‘the reflection of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s very being.’ (Hebrews 1:3) Through his life and ministry, Jesus ‘brought heaven down.’ In every move he made, he was sure to do God’s will.
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’”
– John 4:34
“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
– John 5:30
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”
– John 6:38
It is impossible to know and do the Father’s will by any way, except through Jesus.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
– John 14:6
Thus, the easiest way to do God’s will is to imitate Jesus – to put on the mind of Christ and be led by the Spirit of Truth. (John 16:13) We must abandon all ways that do not conform to the mind and spirit of Jesus, and reject all ideas that conflict with it. So, what exactly is God’s will for man on earth?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus introduced the perfect will of God to his listeners. After enumerating many things that evidence subjection to God’s will, he summarized:
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
– Matthew 5:48
This is the universal will of God – that man, along with all of God’s creatures, those in heaven and those on earth, ‘be perfect.’ Of course, for us this is relative perfection since it is impossible for earthling man to be as perfect as our heavenly Father. But it is the mandate and the eternal expectation. In other words, the Father does not expect us to reach absolute perfection while we are on earth; but that goal is progressive and a part of the eternal adventure. (For an indication of why we must be perfect, see Heavenly Contemplations III.)
For us, we might restate God’s will by saying: ‘You must be as perfect in your realm as the heavenly Father is perfect in His realm.’ This is what Jesus demonstrated – a perfect man in the earthly realm. And he remains ready, willing and able to help us reach the divine ideal of perfection, doing the perfect will of God:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
– Hebrews 12:1-3
Since God’s will is perfect, there are a few things we can assume about it. For example, it is holy, just, good, great, true, beautiful, eternal and changeless. It always benefits, never destroys. It has application in every earthly endeavor – there is nothing man does that cannot be improved by applying God’s will.
Nothing can frustrate God’s will. Even when it does not prevail concerning the individual, it always prevails concerning the total. God’s will may not be easy and it may be slow by man’s reckoning, but it is the natural, sure and steady way of accomplishment, like the natural, steady flow of water. (Isaiah 55:11) There is nothing man can do to add to or enhance God’s will. And we can be certain that any attempt to modify or dilute it would be folly, even evil. And deliberate rebellion from God’s will is sin.
Doing God’s will requires that we search for God and share our inner life with Him. As we do, we become more and more like God. We are literally and figuratively coming closer to our Father. We are becoming ‘perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.’
Doing God’s will does not mean we are making perfect choices. We are still imperfect beings living in an imperfect world. What it means is that we are doing the best and right thing under the circumstances. Since the process of perfection is gradual and progressive, it follows that there will be sorrows and trials as we ‘work out’ God’s will for us. But the joys greatly outweigh the sorrows because the primary blessing of doing God’s will is that it is the passport to infinity, the secret of survival after death – eternal life.
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
– 1 Timothy 2:3-4
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
– John 6:40
This is God’s trump card. No endeavor can grant survival after death other than exercising faith in Jesus Christ by doing the will of God as Jesus did it. There is no other way.
God’s All Encompassing Will
God’s will is that each one of us be perfect. We do God’s will by simply doing the best and the right thing under the circumstances. Although what we do may vary, the intent is always the same – to do the things that would please the Father. That is the path to success:
“The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”
– John 8:29
The will of God covers many aspects of earthly life and this explains why there are so many different ways God’s will is described in the Bible. For example:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”
– 1 Peter 2:13-15
“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
– 1 Peter 4:19
“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
– James 1:16-18
In each instance, the will of God is expressed in a different way, but the common thread is that each one describes the best and right course under the circumstances mentioned in the verse. In all matters, we must choose God’s way of doing things over any and all alternatives. It must be our conscious choice to partnership with God and make God’s will our will. This is the ideal and successful way of life.
It is a travesty that modern man does not know the will of God because it was revealed to man nearly 2,000 years ago by demonstration and by the written record that has been in existence, and feverishly studied, the entire time. This evidences a lack of true appreciation for the Master’s life and teachings while on earth. To this day, even those who claim to follow Jesus choose as their exemplar, not Jesus, but the prophets of old as if Jesus never came. They chose as their law the Law of Moses, and adopt the elementary view of God as wrathful, bloodthirsty and eager to find and punish fault. We have a lot of work to do as a people to bring heaven down. We’re 2,000 years behind!
Yes, we must do away with that primitive view of God and His will, including ideas of retribution and vengeance. The true God does not respond ‘eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ (Matthew 5:38-42) Those days are long gone:
“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”
– Romans 7:6
“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
– Romans 10:2-4
“By setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
– Ephesians 2:15-16
Whatever occurred in generations past, Jesus of Nazareth brought a new revelation – a new wine that put an end to and superceded the old ways.
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”
– Hebrews 1:1-2
Today, we are to look at the example and teachings of Jesus if we are to truly discern God’s will for us. His words supercede the words of the prophets of old such that whenever there is a conflict, we ALWAYS choose the words and example of Jesus in discerning how to do the Father’s will. Without discounting the value of the prophets in their day, we must understand that the prophets were at a distinct disadvantage to the wisdom and knowledge of Jesus, their maker who existed before any of them (John 1:1-3) and actually descended from the heavenly realm (John 3:13) bringing with him superior understanding and truth.
Jesus, not the prophets, demonstrated the all encompassing and perfect will of God for mankind today. It is Jesus’ example of doing God’s will that must permeate our world if we are to be saved from our own destruction at our own hands. If we do, we can hope for and work for The Ninevite Possibility that Jonah initiated. (See Turning Back Destruction.) And how appropriate that Jesus is called ‘something more than Jonah.’
Something More Than Jonah
On one occasion when Jesus expelled a demon, the Pharisees asked him for a sign as proof that the works he did were from God.
“He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.”
– Matthew 12:39-41
The only sign Jesus would give is his message of salvation. As with Jonah, the proof of Jesus’ authority comes from the changes that occur in the hearts of men who listen to him. It is the message, not the miracles, that lead to salvation. And like the Ninevites, all who listened to Jesus and turned to the true God were saved from the calamity that befell Jerusalem in 70 C.E.
In our day, we can surely expect to be saved from calamity if we pay attention to the teachings and the example of the greater Jonah, Christ Jesus. Things like these:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
– Matthew 5:14-16
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
– Matthew 7:1-2
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
– Matthew 7:12
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
– Matthew 23:8-12
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
– Matthew 25:37-40
This is the lifestyle and attitude that Jesus brought down to earth. Salvation does not come from professing Christianity. Man’s salvation depends on doing God’s will in the way Jesus demonstrated for us:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
– Matthew 7:21
Doing God’s will is not difficult or complicated. Remember Jesus told us:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
– Matthew 11:28-30
Yes, we are told to reach out for perfection, but we do this by doing the best and right thing under the circumstances. This mandate is all encompassing and applies in every situation. By its very nature, this includes selfless and gracious service to our families, our brothers, and our neighbors. When we work at bringing heaven down, we are showing appreciation for the life and ministry of Jesus. He will not have lived and died in vain.
But more than doing the divine will, let us make the divine will our will. When the Father’s will is your law, you are near the kingdom. But when the Father’s will is your will, you are in the kingdom. Let us therefore lift our hearts toward God who is spirit to seek insight through the intelligent discovery of His will by means of Christ Jesus.
Remember that we are faith sons of the Father poised to be adopted into the heavens. We have a living hope. We should not think in terms of a coming end, but rather of our eternal future of being transformed ‘from glory to glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18) until we reach the very presence of our Father and can fulfill the divine mandate in absolute perfection. That is the Father’s will for us.
In the next article in this series, we will discuss how to bring heaven down in the home where service to God begins.
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