BRINGING HEAVEN DOWN
The Perfect Will of God
“And quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
– 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 man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him.”
– John 1:18
“Moreover, no man has ascended into heaven but he that descended 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:
"But a physical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know [them], because they are examined spiritually. However, the spiritual man examines indeed all things, but he himself is not examined by any man. For ‘who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, that he may instruct him?’ But we do 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.
“Jesus said to them: ‘My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.’”
– John 4:34
“I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear, I judge; and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.”
– John 5:30
“I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.”
– John 6:38
It is impossible to know and do the Father’s will by any way, except through Jesus.
“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:
“You must accordingly be perfect, 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:
“So, then, because we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also put off every weight and the sin that easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Indeed, consider closely the one who has endured such contrary talk by sinners against their own interests, that you may not get tired and give out in your souls.”
– 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 fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.”
– 1 Timothy 2:3-4
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him 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:
“[H]e that sent me is with me; he did not abandon me to myself, because I always do the things pleasing to 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:
“Always be rejoicing. Pray incessantly. In connection with everything give thanks. For this is the will of God in union with Christ Jesus respecting you.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“For the Lord’s sake subject yourselves to every human creation: whether to a king as being superior or to governors as being sent by him to inflict punishment on evildoers but to praise doers of good. For so the will of God is, that by doing good you may muzzle the ignorant talk of the unreasonable men.”
– 1 Peter 2:13-15
“So, then, also let those who are suffering in harmony with the will of God keep on commending their souls to a faithful Creator while they are doing good.”
– 1 Peter 4:19
“Do not be misled, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, for it comes down from the Father of the [celestial] lights, and with him there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow. Because he willed it, he brought us forth by the word of truth, for us to be certain firstfruits of his creatures.”
– 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 we have been discharged from the Law, because we have died to that by which we were being held fast, that we might be slaves in a new sense by the spirit, and not in the old sense by the written code.”
– Romans 7:6
“For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge; for, because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness.”
– Romans 10:2-4
“By means of his flesh he abolished the enmity, the Law of commandments consisting in decrees, that he might create the two peoples in union with himself into one new man and make peace; and that he might fully reconcile both peoples in one body to God through the torture stake, because he had killed off the enmity by means of himself.”
– 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 superseded the old ways.
“God, who long ago spoke on many occasions and in many ways to our forefathers by means of the prophets, has at the end of these days spoken to us by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the systems of things.”
– 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.
“In reply he said to them: ‘A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking for a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. Men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because they repented at what Jonah preached, but, look! something more 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 city cannot be hid when situated upon a mountain. People light a lamp and set it, not under the measuring basket, but upon the lampstand, and it shines upon all those in the house. Likewise let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.”
– Matthew 5:14-16
“Stop judging that you may not be judged; for with what judgment you are judging, you will be judged; and with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you.”
– Matthew 7:1-2
“All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them; this, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean.”
– Matthew 7:12
“But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for your Leader is one, the Christ. But the greatest one among you must be your minister. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
– Matthew 23:8-12
“Then the righteous ones will answer him with the words, ‘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 receive you hospitably, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to you?’ And in reply the king will say to them, Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to 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 saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.”
– Matthew 7:21
Doing God’s will is not difficult or complicated. Remember Jesus told us:
“Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load 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 - Heaven in the Home.
09/22/13 Did we misstate the sign of Jonah so that The Ninevite possibility is not consistent with what Jesus taught?