A Priority Response of God’s People —
With no conservative Presbyterian dates found on December 21, we turn to the treatment by the Confessional Fathers on the doing of God’s will. It is found in Shorter Catechism answer 103, which says, “In the third petition, which is, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,” we pray, that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.”
There are two statements in this petition of that which is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer. First, there is a statement of faith. God, being the Sovereign God of all things, does His will at all times. The fact that it was acknowledged by a pagan king, namely Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:35, after that earthly sovereign was thoroughly humbled, makes the truth all the more powerful. He said, “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him ‘What have You done?” We who are of the faith, of saving faith, of the Christian faith, says “Amen” to that declaration so long ago.
Second, there is a statement of life. It is one thing to say that we believe it. It is quite another to state that we live our lives in the light of this. But this petition, when earnestly prayed, states our desire that God by His grace, and we could add, as the Larger Catechism does, “by His Spirit,” would enable us to know, obey, and submit to God’s will in all things, just like the angelic beings do in heaven.
First, it is important to “know” the will of God. We generally “know” the will of God because it is revealed to us in Scripture. This is the revealed will of God, or called His preceptive will. All His commands, whether we speak of the Ten commandments, or the commands found in all of Scripture, is able to be known by us. We “know” them when we read the Scriptures daily, or hear the Word preached to us by those called of God. Sometimes we “know” the will of God due to God’s providence of the affairs of life. Solomon in Proverbs 16:9 stated, “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”
But we are to go further than merely knowing God’s will. We are to “obey” God’s will in all things. We are to do God’s will actively in what He commands. Whether it be the moral law, as is found in Exodus 20:1 – 17, or that of loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and our neighbors as ourself, as is found in Matthew 22:36 – 40, or any of the other commands revealed as God’s will in His word, this is the revealed will of God for us.
Part and parcel of this is submitting to God’s will patiently in what He allows in our life. This is the secret will of God. It may be disappointments in our plans, sorrows over the sickness or death of loved ones, or sufferings in this life for unexplained reasons not revealed to us. Submission to God’s sovereign allowance of these events in our lives falls into doing the will of God.
The standard of knowing, obeying, and submitting is the activity of the angelic beings. The Larger Catechism explains this as “humility, cheerfulness, faithfulness, diligence, zeal, sincerity, and constancy.”” (WLC 192)
Words to Live By: The next time you utter this petition of the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,” remember that you are asking God the Father, by His grace, to make you able and willing to know, obey, and submit to His will in all things. That last phrase “in all things” may be the challenge to us. We must be able to say like our Savior said in the garden, “not my will, but Your will be done.” Try it this day, the next few days, the next week, month, etc., and you will find God’s will to be best for you.
Through the Scriptures: 2 Timothy 1 – 4
Through the Standards: Destiny of the righteous and wicked
“The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonor; the bodies of the just, by His Spirit, unto honor; and be made conformable to His own glorious body.”