KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
TO BE THE LORDíS PRAYER
THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH
"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven...Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Mat. 6:9).
"Thy will be done!" In meditation I have come to the conclusion that these are the greatest of all words; and yet they can mean nothing, or worse than nothing, and often do. A cloud of false teaching surrounds them; all sorts of lies have been told in their name; all manner of evils have been tolerated under their auspices; they have covered for the most damnable hypocrisy, and the most devilish superstition. To say, "Thy will be done," may either mean that you have found God, that you are taught in His ways, that you love Him with all of your heart, or that you know nothing of God whatsoever. These words may be the watchword either of the faith and obedience of sons of God, or of resignation to a passive fatalism devoid of any faith or obedience.
TO BE HIS WILL
"Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." This is not a prayer of passive Resignation, but of active Consecration. It is not the plea for patience and understanding of the evil that befalls us, though we need that, but the vigorous vow of a son of God coming to maturity. It is not a sigh of surrender when the devil walks all over us. It is the final bold and daring thrust to bring in the eternal reign of righteousness. Too often we have thought otherwise. And we have thought wrongly. In the midst of our disappointed hope and bashed dreams this has seemed to us a prayer which strengthens us to accept the catastrophe and clings to the mercy of God. The prayer has been too often a mournful wail. When the heart has been crushed by anguish, when the waters have overwhelmed us, when we have been beaten back and trampled down and when the sun has hid its face and darkness has invaded our land; when sin, evil, sickness, sorrow and death have robbed us of our inheritance in Christ, then we have tried to steady our faltering faith on God with this prayer of fathomless pain: Thy will be done.
The mistake is in supposing that this is chiefly a prayer of resignation to affliction and loss. Consider the words of the petition as our Lord teaches them to us:: Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven ó as in heaven, the realm of Godís Spirit, where there is no blight nor sorrow nor failure, where there is no sad resignation to the triumph of evil because there is no darkness there ó Godís will is done and our prayer is that it may be accomplished in us upon this earth even as it is in heaven.
One of my many moments of being spiritually thrilled was upon examining the second statement of the Lordís prayer: "Our Father which art in heaven." But to be correctly translated it should read, "Which art in the heavens," for it is plural, not singular. So, contrary to popular thought, God dwells in more than one heaven. Paul spoke of a man who was caught up into the third heaven, and God, our Father, is the God of all the heavens. God dwells in the heavens. He fills every heaven. He rules in every heaven. He is above every heaven, beyond every heaven, higher than all heavens and greater than the reality of each heaven. And in our journey into God we pass through all these heavens. Jesus passed through all the heavens on His way into the glory of the Father. How do we know this? "He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things" (Eph. 4:10). In His ascension to the right hand of Power He passed through ó experienced ó all the heavens. But not only did He pass through them, He has also FILLED THEM ALL so that God in Christ is the essence of every heaven. You will find Him on a different plane, in a different dimension, in a unique aspect of His life, in each heaven. Heaven is not a place, not a planet somewhere out in the vastnesses of infinity ó it is a sphere or realm of reality. It is a dimension of life. It is the level of God-consciousness. It is the invisible realm of spirit that transcends this gross material realm. It is as omnipresent as God is omnipresent. It is an absurdity to say that heaven is a place somewhere beyond the blue where God dwells, and then say that God is omnipresent. The omnipresent spiritual dimension is co-existent and co-extensive with the physical universe, but on a different level of reality and consciousness, on a different "frequency," if I may use the term in an illustrative sense. It is the dimension of spirit reality, of spiritual being where God is all that He is.
Heaven is also the realm where God is revealed by the Spirit. Heaven is the realm where God is known by the Spirit. Heaven is the realm where God can be touched in the Spirit. Heaven is the realm in which God can be experienced in the Spirit. God is the God of the heavens, and if ever you will see Him, if ever you will know Him, if ever you will touch Him, if ever you will experience Him ó it will be in the heavens wherein He dwells, in the realms of His Being. Heaven means "height, eminence, elevation." God is in heaven. God is spirit. Heaven is the high and holy realm of the Spirit where God exists. As the starry heavens are higher than the earth, so is the invisible realm of spirit higher than the tangible world. To be in heaven is to be in the Spirit. To experience God spiritually is to experience heaven. Thus, heaven is the realm of spiritual experience. To be "caught up" in the Spirit is to be "raptured" to heaven. The heavens are the various realms or levels of spiritual experience where we meet and know God. When God is revealed to you by the Spirit, heaven is opened and you behold heavenly things. In the lower heavens you know God in a more elementary way.
It is wonderful to know God in His heavens. Each heaven speaks of a plane of relationship with God by the Spirit. When the Lord unveils Himself to you on a higher plane, in deeper measures, in richer and fuller dimensions of His life, wisdom and glory, and you experience Him in it, you ascend in Him to a higher heaven. As you pass through the heavens you come to know God in greater and grander measures. When a person dies physically, they no longer have any part in anything that is done "under the sun." Their mortal thoughts have perished and there is no knowledge in the grave whither they go. But they live unto God in the spirit! Because they are now conscious only in the realm of spirit we say that they have "gone to heaven." They havenít actually "gone" anywhere, except that their body has gone to the grave. Their spiritual consciousness and being which they had in Christ exists still in that eternal and omnipresent dimension of spiritual reality, in the presence of the Lord.
So our Father is in the "heavens." But when you come to the words, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven," there is a significant change. Here the word heaven is in the singular. It denotes one specific heaven. How wonderful that is! "Thy Kingdom come" reveals the deep meaning of our Lordís words. The Kingdom of God is the reign and rule of God. The Kingdom of God represents that dimension of heaven which is Godís throne ó the realm of His almighty power and authority. "Heaven is my throne" (Isa. 66:1). It is there ó in the sphere of Godís Kingdom Dominion that His will is perfectly done.
There are at least six billion wills on earth, and still only one in heaven. Out of the six billion and one, only one is holy, pure, omniscient and divine. Every other is vile, weak, carnal, limited and stupid. I trust that some of the wonder and glory of this is beginning to break upon your heart. In this prayer we are shown that our Father dwells in all the heavens ó but as sons of God we want His will to be done in us upon this earth just as His will is done in heaven, or in the HIGH AND EXALTED REALM OF HIS THRONE, LORDSHIP AND DOMINION. Our prayer is for God to take the throne of our hearts which is the place of His dominion within. The cry within our hearts is expressed in the words of the chorus:
Take Thy throne, Lord; Take Thy throne.
Take Thy throne, Lord; Take Thy throne.
For our eyes have seen the King in all His glory,
Cleanse our hearts, so Thou canst take Thy throne!
I share the following words from the anointed pen of Paul Mueller. "Those who shall be considered worthy to rule and reign with Christ must first forsake their own will and enter into harmonious union with Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. We are now at our Gethsemane, as Jesus was. It is here, at our spiritual Gethsemane, where we shall lay down the last fragments of our own will and our own soulish desires and opinions, to receive His mind, by which we shall do only His perfect will. It has been our sincere desire that His kingdom should come to earth, so that Fatherís will shall be done in all the earth, including our earth, even as it is being done in heaven. This is the hour of the fulfillment of that holy purpose, and we are the people.
"Jesus taught us to pray that His kingdom would come to earth, and that the will of God should be done in earth as it is done in heaven. In the heavenly, spiritual realm all is wisdom, truth, light, love, peace, and life. The carnal mind does not exist in the heavenlies. There is no deception, destruction, death or violence there. No carnal kingdoms exist there. No distorted visions or selfish works are allowed to defile that holy realm of God. But there, all is in harmony with the Fatherís will. In that heavenly realm of His dominion, no foreign entity can ever interrupt the constant and continuing praises of the Father, as His will is being done in perfect and total harmony and peace. And as it now is in the heavenlies, so shall it be on this earth. We have prayed that His will shall be done in all the earth as it is being done in the heavenlies, and our prayers are being answered. Everything in and of this earth shall be blessed with the peace and harmony that can only come when the will of the Father is done everywhere, and for the benefit of all. It is His will that is being imparted to us now, even as we become the will of God in the earth.
"The purpose of the tests and trials of our wilderness journey has been to strip us of all self, including self-seeking, self-glory, self-exaltation and self-will. By the mind of Christ, we also may confidently affirm that the feet of the Christ body have been thoroughly tested just like all the other members of this Christ body have been tested. Though the elect are a small remnant in the earth, their numbers are sufficient for the task. Jesus Christ was the first of many brothers in this brotherhood of sons. He was only one at the time of His manifestation, but He alone was all that was needed to do the will of God and bring about a change in ages. When Jesus came to do the will of God, the former dispensation ended and a new age began. Today, more brother-sons have come forth with no other purpose than to become the will of God in the earth. Though somewhat small in number, they are sufficient to fulfill our Fatherís purpose for this new day. And now, with our expressed desire and purpose to do only the Fatherís will, the old age is passing away and a new one is dawning.
"There is no greater truth for this hour than the wonderful truth that we are now becoming the will of God in the earth. All who are Ďbeheadedí for Christ have received His Headship, and have become His will on earth. As the old age is dying and evening time has come, a people is coming forth to do only the will of their Father. And the Fatherís will is the foundation of the new order of the Kingdom of God on earth. If the Day Star has risen in our hearts and we have no other desire but to become His will in the earth, then the kingdom of God has come to the earth. At the present time, the Lordís chosen ones are enduring the tests and trials that prepare us for the glory of incorruptible life, to rule and reign with Christ. The kingdom of God is possessing us in a greater measure. While the worldly minded are gratifying self and the flesh, and seeking for the things of this dying order, God is bringing forth a people who have no other desire but to do the will of their Father. The first principle of sonship, and of the kingdom of God, is expressed in these words spoken by Jesus: ĎI seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent meí (Jn. 5:30).
"In the midst of all the worldly confusion and the pursuits and ambitions of man, the Spirit of God has been calling out a people for His name. He has stripped them of self-interest, purged them of self-will, removed from them all personal ambition and self-seeking, and is causing them to despise the works of the flesh and of the carnal mind. From within them, out of their innermost beings, comes the joyful, liberating, age-ending cry of the spirit of the kingdom, saying, ĎLo, I come to do Thy will, O God! Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven!í All who express this holy desire have become His will in the earth. And we have also become the firstfruits of His kingdom. The will of God is the foundation of the kingdom of God. It is upon this foundation of the kingdom of God that the earth shall be established" ó end quote.
There is indeed a time to resign ourselves to the will of the Father who knows what is best for us, accepting all that comes from His hand. But this prayer reaches beyond that. This is a higher, grander theme. It is the cry for the release of creation from the bondage that brings corruption and death. It is the prayer for the triumph of light over darkness, of righteousness or unrighteousness, of love over hate, of health over sickness, of life over death, of Christ over Belial. I adjure you, sons of God, pray this prayer ó Thy will be done! Bind it upon your heart as a vow. Bear it upon your spirit as a passion. See it written in the sky above you and on the earth beneath your feet. Breathe it everywhere! Let life have no other grander meaning that this that vibrates in our living prayer. Thy will be done! IN us, BY us, THROUGH us, AS us ó our Father, Thy will be done!
IF IT BE THY WILL
No prayer, to be a true prayer of faith, can contain the expression: IF it be Thy will! But let me make one thing very clear ó there is a vast difference between the expression, "If it be Thy will," and the declaration, "Thy will be done." The latter is the form our Lord has taught us to pray, to desire and petition Godís will to be accomplished. It is a positive confession. This may be prayed in utter confidence, expectation, and faith.
One there is who in the sphere of manhood has done the Fatherís will on earth even as it is in heaven. The will of God was the lodestar by which Jesusí life was lived. What had He come down to earth for? To do the will of God. Why did the firstborn Son of God set foot on the stage of human history? To do the will of God. Why did He condescend to be born in a stable, to be raised among the commonest of men; to grow up as a man, the son of a carpenter in a remote Galilean village; to minister as an itinerant preacher; to preach, teach and heal wherever He went; to die the ignominious death of the cross, to be buried in a borrowed tomb, to rise again the third day, to ascend back to the Father? All this was just to do the Fatherís will. From childhood to manhood He was evermore about His Fatherís business, having it for His food to do the will of the Father who had sent Him, to finish the work which His Father had given Him to do. And in that obedience of Christ the Head is the prophecy and firstfruits of the many-membered Christ body ó even that pulling down of strongholds, and casting down of reasonings and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, which shall be achieved when every human thought and intent shall be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Then indeed shall earth see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
"Thy will be done," is the deep cry of sonship. But the expression, "IF it be Thy will," is a confession of doubt, uncertainty, hesitation, weakness, and lack of understanding and faith. Furthermore, it calls into question the nature and purposes of God. Many Christians begin their prayers boldly only to end with this absurdity, "If it be Thy will." "If" is the weakest word in the world. I do not doubt that millions of prayers have gone unanswered because they were rendered impotent by the word "if" in the middle of them. The secret to praying according to Godís will is to discern the will of God ahead of time, before you attempt to pray the prayer of faith. If there is a key to answered prayer it could certainly be nothing other than praying as God would have us to pray. It is only as our prayer corresponds to Godís purposes that there will be any hope at all of their being answered by Him. Prayer ó the soulís sincere desire offered unto God ó must be then according to the way that God would want us to pray. That is why the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Lord, teach us to pray."
The reality is, no one can pray the prayer of faith apart from the clear knowledge of Godís will. If you are uncertain about the Fatherís will in a matter, you certainly cannot pray in faith for it to happen. But when you have positive assurance of His will the prayer of faith evoked by that assurance will certainly be answered. Precious indeed is the promise given in I John 5:14: "If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us...and we know that we have the petitions that we desired from Him." If we ask anything ó no exceptions ó no limit to Godís confidence in His sons! And why? Because He trusts them to ask right things "according to His will." He is guiding them, even in what they ask, if they are truly sons after His own heart; so God sets no limit to His power. If anyone is doing Godís will let him ask anything. It is Godís will that he ask anything. Let him put His promise to the test.
Notice here what the true basis of sonship prayer is. The prayer that is answered is the prayer after Godís will. And the reason for this is plain. What is Godís will is Godís wish. And when a man does what God wills, he does what God wishes to be done. Therefore God will have that done at any cost, at any sacrifice. Thousands of prayers are never answered, simply because God does not wish them! They have absolutely nothing to do with His plan, purpose, promise or desire. If we pray for any one thing, or any number of things we are sure God wishes, we may be sure our wishes will be gratified. For our wishes are only the reflection of Godís! And the wish in us is really equivalent to the answer! It is the answer casting its shadow backwards. Already the thing is done in the mind of God. It casts two shadows ó one backward, one forward. The backward shadow ó that is the wish before the thing is done, which sheds itself in prayer. The forward shadow ó that is the joy after the thing is done, which sheds itself in praise. Oh, what a rich and wonderful reality, this!
Asking anything, getting everything, willing with God, praying with God, decreeing with God, praising with God! Surely it is too much, this great promise. How can God trust us with a power so deep and terrible? Ah, He can trust His sons with anything! He is teaching us. Patiently. We are learning. Are you still asking for all the petty, selfish, carnal things you used to demand from God? If not, you are learning sonship. "If we ask ANYTHING ACCORDING TO HIS WILL." Well, if we do, we will ask nothing amiss. If we do, we will ask nothing to consume it upon our lusts. It will be Godís will if it is asked. It will be Godís will if it is done. For they are come, these sons, TO DO GODíS WILL! May God grant that you and I may learn to live this great and holy life, remembering the solemn words of Him who lived it first, who only lived it all: "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but HE THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER which is in heaven."
DOING ONLY WHAT WE SEE THE FATHER DO
When I pray for Godís will to be done in earth as it is in heaven, I bring myself into harmony with the infinite mind of the Father. When my will is harmonized with the Fatherís will His omnipotence becomes active in the sphere of my praying. How awesome the thought! What I do, He is doing. It is just as the Pattern Son has taught us, "My Father abiding in me is doing the works," and again, "I assure you, the Son is able to do nothing from Himself ó of His own accord; but He is able to do only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does is what the Son does in the same way" (Jn. 5:19, Amplified). Consider the firstborn Son, our elder brother and example. Note that all of His prayers were answered; that whenever He approached His Father His prayers were heard. "Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard me. And I knew that Thou hearest me always," Jesus said. Now, why was this? It was not simply because of His divine nature, but rather because of His human nature, or more specifically, the nature of His humanity. He is the One who can say, "I do always those things which please the Father." "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," testified the Father. Therefore, because of what He was, the way in which He walked out His sonship, His prayers were answered. His prayers were the desires of His Father.
Consider any parent and child. Every parent has some ideal or idea in mind about what he wants his child to grow up to be. He has some ideal for their education, their physical well-being, their sleep habits, their character and their destiny. Consequently, when a child comes to a parent and makes a request, this request, consciously or subconsciously, is filtered through the ideal the parent has in mind. If it is contrary or detrimental to what the parent has as the ideal for that child, if the parent has any backbone at all it will be denied. Children need to understand the parental ideal for their lives. They not only need to understand it but they need to conform to it, because as long as they are in rebellion to that plan and that ideal their requests are going to be ignored or turned down. As long as they do not understand what it is, they are not going to make requests in accordance with it. Often parents may have an ideal for their child and yet be mistaken. They may try to force the child to become an engineer when he is better suited to be a plumber. But our Father is infinite wisdom and infinite love, and therefore, when we submit ourselves to His ideal and His plan for our lives, it can be nothing other than that which is good and perfect.
There is the wonderful secret to Jesusí praying and Jesusí ministry! He did only what He saw His Father doing. His whole life was an apprenticeship to the Father. If He did not see the Father at work, He did nothing. He rested with the Father, and He worked with the Father. That is the mark of sonship. A son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. That is why Jesus always had 100% results! He never spoke a word that didnít come to pass. He never prayed a prayer that wasnít answered. He never touched a sick person that wasnít healed. He never failed. He never lost a case! And that is why we often have such poor results, and so few prayers answered.
In this connection George Wylie wrote: "There is nothing wrong with praying for the sick, God has commissioned us to do this, but sometimes we pray for the sick when it is not Godís will for us to do so. The only prayer that we can pray that is effective is the one that is prayed in the Spirit. When we pray by the Spirit we pray according to Godís will, but when we pray from our own understanding and desires, we often pray contrary to God. From ourselves we know not how to pray as we ought, but, Ďthe Spirit helps us in our weaknesses; for we do not know what is right and proper for us to pray for; but the Spirit prays for us with that earnestness which cannot be described. And He who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, for the Spirit prays for the saints according to the will of Godí (Rom. 8:26-27, Lamsa). Only the Spirit, working according to the divine nature, knows what the will of God is, and prays through us accordingly. Because our human nature can be nothing else but opposed to God, any thoughts or desires that emanate from it will always be contrary to the mind and will of God. If we are to inherit the Kingdom we must know, and do, the will of God. How can we do the will of God, how can we pray the will of God, if we do not know it?"
People ask me sometimes to pray for things which I discern are not the Fatherís will. Other times the Father reveals nothing to me about the matter. He is silent, He hides His purpose. I cannot see what the Father is doing. I cannot hear what the Father is saying. The things I am requested to pray about are often good things, seemingly desirable things, but they are not what the Father is doing. He has another plan, a different design and time schedule. When I do not see what the Father is doing, or when I see the Father doing other than what I have been requested to ask for, I cannot pray. I do not pray. It would be foolish to pray. It would be rebellion to pray. It would be a terrible waste of time and energy to pray. When my own father lay in the hospital dying, the Lord spoke to me in a dream and I saw him lying in a gray casket. I knew the Lord was going to take him. The saints called an all-night prayer meeting to seek God to raise him up. But I could not pray. I had already received the word of the Lord in the matter, and within two days he passed away, the all-night prayer meeting not withstanding.
Ray Prinzing has shared some valuable insights into Godís will in prayer. "ĎIf two of you shall AGREE on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered IN MY NAME, there am I in the midst of themí (Mat. 19:19-20). This is far more than just agreeing in the same letter of the word in our prayers. People say, ĎAgree with me that God will do this, or that.í Yet I am not even sure that it is Godís will for that to happen. If we both know that this is Godís will, then we can agree in prayer ó for true prayer is the expression of the Divine Will. Agreement isnít just on the natural plane, it is when we are all so much one in His Spirit that we become a symphony ó a harmonious expression of HIM, in all its manifold expression.
"It has been well stated that before we pray for mountain-moving faith, we do well to pray for understanding of His will ó does He want it moved? And when? And where does He want to put it? There is so much more to this walk with God than just claiming miracles and demonstrations of His power. Oh, to know the mind and purpose of God, that we might be one in His will. ĎThe Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do.í A true son of God does not minister because he is Ďneed consciousí but ĎWILL-OF-THE-FATHER-CONSCIOUS.í Needs are everywhere, and the Father knows all about them ó not even a sparrow can Ďfall on the ground without your Father. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of much more value than many sparrowsí (Mat. 10:29,31). So the issue is not the Ďneedsí around us, but to LIVE OUT THE WILL OF THE FATHER, doing with our might what He leads us to do, and all unto Him, for His glory and praise.
"ĎThe effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth muchí (James 5:16). ĎYe also helping together by prayer for us...í (II Cor. 1:11). This goes far beyond the utterance of our petitions filled with sympathy and natural compassionate desires that God do such and such for this one for whom we are praying. A lot of our sympathy is of the flesh, it would seek to hold them back from their cross, to help them escape the severer processions, as if we would bail them out of their troubles. But it is right and proper to pray for Godís grace to be poured out upon them, that is true supplication, and by this divine enablement they shall OVERCOME ó whether the outward circumstance is changed or not.
"Yet beyond all this ó we find an increased longing deep within to be able to pray in such a way that we become a part of the birthing of a new moving of His Spirit that will establish His righteousness in the earth, bringing forth His holiness among men, and a lifting up of the Christ, who will draw all to Himself. Even while we write these words, there is an inner sense that this deep prayer, unexpressible in words, is rising from the hearts of countless numbers of men and women. It is a ĎSPIRIT CRYí which has proceeded from the Throne, into our hearts ó to become an expression of His will in the earth, and now it flows back to Him from our spirits. It will be answered, because it is HIS OWN PRAYER ó HIS WILL. A sovereign working of our God!" ó end quote.
George Hawtin adds these words of wisdom: "If Godís dear children would turn the searchlight within, they would see that the multitude of their spoken prayers are nothing more or less than the desires of their own hearts, which they, alas! imagine to be the will and plan of God. I have seen people almost beat their heads against the wall in their determination to pray a revival into their church, but no revival came. ĎWell,í you ask, Ďwhy did not God answer prayer?í The answer is simple. The people were praying for something that it was not Godís will to do. ĎBut,í you reply, Ďwas it not Godís will to revive His people? Was it not Godís will to save souls?í The answer to that is simple also. God always does the things that are His will. Therefore, had it been His will, He would have done it, for if we ask anything according to His will we know that He heareth us and we have the petition that we ask of Him. The thing that many fail to see is that the people who pray in this manner are very often more concerned about seeing their prayer answered than they are about Godís will and purpose. They are concerned that a revival should come, a revival after their own liking, that they might have a thriving church and a real spiritual boom. But the idea never enters their minds that God, having now called His elect, may now choose to scatter the flock as He did in Jerusalem long ago (Acts 8:1,4).
"Oh, that men would heed the words of Jeremiah! ĎThe heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?í (Jer. 17:9). So, you see, it is never safe to ask God for anything that proceeds from the natural mind, for the natural mind will hide its true ambitions behind a cloak of fervent prayer, availing itself of the subtle suffix, ĎWe ask it in Jesusí name,í or, ĎWe ask it all according to Thy will.í But the natural mind cannot ask anything according to Godís will and it may as well not try. Paul the apostle further demonstrates the unfruitfulness of our human understanding by saying, ĎWe know not what we should pray for as we oughtí (Rom. 8:26). Whether we wish to believe it or not, this is the naked truth, for man, whether he be a Christian or not, simply does not know what to pray for as he ought. He thinks he knows and he goes right ahead making all manner of requests according to his own will, but if he would stop his talking long enough to do some considering, he would see that his prayers are born, not of the will of God, but of his own wishing. Thus his wish is not only father to his thoughts, but father to his prayers as well. How often have I heard Christians dreamily say, ĎI wish the Lord would send us a revival.í ĎI wish the Lord would save my husband.í ĎI wish the Lord would heal my body.í ĎI wish the Lord would send us a good rain,í or some such thing. Then they will make request in the congregation desiring people to pray that these wishes of theirs, which they call prayer requests, will be answered. Then when such requests go unanswered for years we wonder why the Lord did not hear us. Why should He hear us when the request is born, not of His Spirit, but of the natural mind?
"The coming of the will of God into a believerís life is a personal experience far, far greater than the receiving of any spiritual gift. The coming of the will of God into your life is in truth the coming of the mind of Christ. It is the beginning of the very spirit of the kingdom within you. It is the crowning and enthroning of Jesus Christ in the throne room of your heart. As long as self sits on the throne, carrying out its private ambitions and ordering your life according to the human will, Jesus is still rejected, still despised, still crucified. The world is full of men and women who proudly boast that they want Godís will and only Godís will, yet they spend their whole lives carrying out their own ambitions and trying to fulfill their own purposes.
"At this trysting hour we cannot possibly emphasize too strongly the need to seek to become one with the will of God, to cast off the carnal mind and let the mind of Christ dwell in us. As it is impossible for the oak that fell last winter to uprear its shattered stem, so also it is impossible for the natural mind to attain sonship. Only the indwelling mind of the Father can bring us to sonship, for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. It is the Spirit of His mind that brings us into unity with the Father, unity with the Son, and unity with each other. Those rejected men who will come to the Lord, saying, ĎLord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name and in Thy name done many wonderful works?í were not liars nor even deceivers. They were self-willed men who preached and performed miracles because that is what they wanted to do. They were not doing it because Christ had either called them or sent them. Therefore their works, though wonderful, amounted to nothing because they were done after manís own will. The existing church system has an endless variety of this type of men and women who lay claim to being great servants of God, but who in reality are serving their own bellies" ó end quote.
Jesus had 100% results in every aspect of His ministry because He ministered only to those the Father showed Him. On a particular day the Father showed Him to heal all who came to Him. At other times Jesus withdrew and could do no mighty miracles. When He saw nothing, He did nothing. When He heard nothing, He spoke nothing. Preachers today, however, are disposed to pray for every request they hear and lay hands on everything that moves. They even solicit "prayer requests" and suggestively attach the prayer request form to the offering coupon. And the results are very poor. God will only do what He purposes to do regardless of how many times we ask, how forcefully we command, or how subtly we use the name of Jesus. Evangelists will pray about anything. Faith preachers will command everything. Men with gifts will minister to anyone and everyone at all times. But in the end it will be seen with absolute and inviolable certainty that only what the Father was doing was done. All they plead for, all they command, all they rebuke, and all they prophesy to apart from what the Father is speaking and doing bears no fruit whatever. What an incredible waste! Many years ago, in the heyday of his ministry, Oral Roberts confessed that he felt fortunate indeed if one person out of five that came through his healing line received anything from the Lord. What divine wisdom is taught in the pathway of sonship where the Son does only what He sees the Father do, where the Son speaks only what He hears from the Father! This is the way of sonship.
Forty-seven times in the Gospel of John, Jesus says that He was under the Fatherís orders, and that He never did anything, never said anything, until He received a command from His Father. He was listening every moment of the day to the inner voice of His Father and always saying, "Yes." This perfect obedience was what made Him one with the Father and what gave the Father perfect confidence in the Son. This perfect obedience is the reason that now "God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him the name that is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11). Notice now the words of Jesus again and again: "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do; for what things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (Jn. 5:19). "I can of mine own self do nothing...I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (Jn. 5:30). "My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me" (Jn. 7:16). "I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me...and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him" (Jn. 8:16,26). "I do nothing of myself...the Father hath not left me alone (to my own devices); for I do always those things that please Him" (Jn. 8:28-29).
Into that glorious realm of sonship we are called. This is what Jesus says again and again. It is what He came for. He came to bring many sons to glory. The glory He is bringing us to is the glory of the Father. This incredible calling is to be more than angels, it is to be a son of the Most High, a son of our heavenly Father, a member of the God family, as Jesus prayed, "That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us...I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one...Thou hast loved them, as Thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them" (Jn. 17:21-26). After the resurrection Jesus said, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God" (Jn. 20:17). He invites us to His side, not on a golden street nor in a mansion over the hilltop ó how carnal are such notions! ó but He invites us to share His sonship. It is a family, a divine family, a Father and His children ó we are the God Family! This is all one can make of these startling words which Jesus spoke of us being made ONE IN THE FATHER AND THE SON, THE FATHER IN HIM AND HE IN US AND WE IN THE FATHER ó ONE IN THE GODHEAD. But this realm of sonship to God is marked by a perfect obedience, the kind Jesus gave to His Father every minute and every second of every day. "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God!" "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." This is the spirit of sonship and the prayer and activity of all who treasure the blessed hope of sonship.
"I do only those things that I see my Father do." It not only means that He did what He saw the Father doing, it means that He didnít do what He didnít see the Father doing. When He saw nothing, He did nothing. How different from the way we are prone to be! Oh, yes, we all profess a zeal to do the will and works of God. If only God will show us we will do it or burst! Our problem is not with doing what we see the Father doing ó it is in not doing what we donít see the Father doing. If we donít see God moving then we try to move God. If the Spirit isnít moving, we want to move the Spirit. We canít stand to be still and quiet. It sets us on edge to do nothing. We are possessed of a spiritual nervousness when something isnít happening. So ó sing a chorus, clap your hands, stomp your feet, have a "Jericho march," pray for needs ó letís do something and get the show on the road!
But Jesus wasnít this way. Thatís what held Him in Nazareth for thirty years while the world was gone mad and millions were dying and going to hell. What wasted years! the carnal mind reasons. But Jesus was doing exactly what He saw from His Father. Obviously, the Father wasnít preaching, teaching, healing, saving, delivering, dying, rising, or ascending for those thirty years! The Father showed Jesus the carpenter shop and the solitude of the green Galilean hills. That is where Jesus waited upon God and grew in His knowledge of the Father and the ways of the Kingdom.
DEATH COULD NOT HOLD HIM
In the light of such truth as this I draw your attention to the deeply meaningful words of the apostle Peter, spoken on the day of Pentecost to the amazed multitude that gathered to witness the wonder of the mighty works wrought at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Standing up with the eleven he said to the assembled crowd, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: BECAUSE IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE THAT HE SHOULD BE HOLDEN OF IT" (Acts 2:22-24).
The thrust of Peterís message was that God raised Christ up from the dead. He loosed the pains of death. And there was a glorious reason behind this event. The reason is stated in these words: "Because it was not possible that He should be holden of it." In plain language that means that it was an utter, total, absolute IMPOSSIBILITY for the grave to hold Jesus Christ! Why? It is my deep conviction that it was impossible for death to hold the firstborn Son of God because NOTHING ELSE COULD HOLD HIM. Nothing could influence, motivate or control Him except the will of the Father. He had absolutely no correspondence to the desires and lusts and passions and demands of the fleshly realm of this worldís bestial system.
One day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus, His mother and His disciples were bidden to the wedding. In all likelihood the family was closely related to, or very friendly toward, the family of Jesus. At least, we notice that the host had acquainted the mother of Jesus with the embarrassing situation that had arisen when the wine had run out too early in the festivities. Mary went to her son and told Him the terrible secret. She said, "They have no wine." The answer she received was both hard and strange, at least it seems so to us. Jesus answered, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." She was given a hard answer, a very hard answer. That it was hard was due to the fact that her request was a strong temptation to Jesus, and that from His own mother. How He loved His mother! He would do anything humanly possible to please His lovely, holy mother. She had come and spoken to Him of the embarrassment that was about to confront their beloved and bewildered host. Quick action was therefore necessary in order that none of the guests might discover that the wine was giving out. This was the next temptation to Jesus ó to act before His hour had come, apart from the direct command of His Father.
But Jesus lived in such a bond of obedience and dependence upon His Father that He could "do nothing of Himself." In doing the will of the Father He had to wait for Fatherís hour. Jesus was obviously pressured by His love for His mother and respect for the host to take some action for her sake, and before the Fatherís time. He recognized the wily tempter at once even though he came in the garb of His own mother; and He cut him off at once with the harsh word, "Woman." Jesus let His mother know that when it was a question of the Fatherís will, or the Fatherís timing, her position as His mother could not be allowed to even enter into consideration. Neither could Jesus be pressured by circumstances. "Mine hour is not yet come." That is the same as saying, "I cannot do anything until I hear it from my Father, until I see my Father doing it." Nothing could hold Jesus ó not even His mother!
How Jesus loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus! When Lazarus became gravely ill the two sisters sent word to Jesus, saying, "Behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick." When Jesus received the urgent message He tarried two days longer in the place where He was. He then started the journey to Judea, to the town of Bethany. But on the way Lazarus died. The natural mind wonders why Jesus waited while the sisters mourned in grief. When He arrived Marthaís greeting words were the accusation, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother would not have died." I am sure she could not understand the Lordís tardy response in the hour of their desperate need. If Thou hadst been here! What unmeasurable depths of anguish sound out of those words! But the spiritual mind of Jesus knew exactly what was going on. Jesus in spirit had seen Lazarus is the tomb, raised from the dead, and He knew that all the sorrowful events of those days would be swallowed up in the glory of God. Only the word He received from the Father directed His steps and ordered His movements. He could in no way be swayed, moved or influenced by the pain of those He loved or by their misunderstanding of His actions. You see, my beloved, nothing could hold Jesus ó not even His friends!
Go with me now into that long ago when Jesus walked the dusty streets of Caesarea Philippi with His disciples. He had asked the twelve who they thought He was. Peter promptly answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!" Then Jesus said to him, "Peter, flesh and blood did not reveal this unto you, but my Father which is in heaven." In other words, "This understanding didnít come from your fleshly mind. You didnít think this up by yourself. This is not the result of your own reasoning and logic; this came to you from my Father." So remarkable was this revelation to Peter that the Lord said to him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona!" So here we have an instance of the Father working in Peter, imparting His thoughts and understanding to Peter.
Only minutes later Jesus began to introduce to His disciples the subject of His approaching suffering and death on the cross. The possibility of the death of their beloved Lord was a prospect so foreign to the thinking of the disciples that they were hardly able to comprehend His presentation of this unspeakable fate. Was He not the Messiah? Was He not the Son of God? Did He not come to establish a great Kingdom? Were not they, His disciples, to reign with Him in that Kingdom? With these questions in mind, they could barely endure the dark foreboding that grew in their minds as Christ talked about the future. Then Peter, who had just been pronounced blessed, took hold of Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee!" Ah, when Jesus mentioned the cross and dying, Peter became very agitated and began to rebuke Him. Where did he find the senseless courage that would dare to rebuke the Lord? The answer is disturbingly evident ó far, far too clear to be a comfort to any of us! The Lord Himself gives us the answer, for, He turned and said unto Peter, "Get thee behind me, SATAN! thou art an offense unto me; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." What a shocking way to talk to the great apostle Peter, the one possessing the revelation of the Christís identity, the one called Blessed, the one to whom the Lord had just given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven! Atrocious to say to this man of keen perception and deep revelation, "Thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men!" Indeed, "Get thee behind me, SATAN!" How unthinkable!
Hearing Peterís entreaty to the Lord, which of us would not have said that this was the language of genuine affection, tender solicitude, and loving concern? No doubt we would have chimed in and said, "How kind! How true! How good! Peter is right, Lord! Amen!" But Jesus replies, "Get thee behind me ó Satan!" And our Lord was not merely on a name-calling spree when He uttered these words, either. He never uttered words in vain, without a definite meaning. Jesus did not speak merely to Satan in Peter, neither did He say, "Peter, you are acting like the devil; your words sound like the words of Satan." He simply addressed Peter AS SATAN. Peter as Satan ó on what basis? That he was demented, insane? That he was a medium, raising familiar spirits out of the spirit world? No ó merely that he SPOKE AS A MAN! He was speaking as Peter, not the word of the heavenly Father. Jesus rejected the words of Peter for He spoke only those things which He heard from His Father. The message is clear: Nothing could hold Jesus ó not even His disciples!
Have you noticed how strangely Matthew and Mark speak of Jesusí temptation? "And immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil" (Mat. 4:1; Mk. 1:12). What a strange statement! The Holy Spirit of God drives the sinless Son of God into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, the arch enemy of all righteousness, a murderer from the beginning, and the father of lies! Ah, but it was necessary for the Son to be PROVEN, to be made STRONG, to OVERCOME in these realms before commencing His glorious sonship ministry to be followed by the agony and death of the cross.
Do you suppose the devil came to Jesus there as a weird-looking figure, with little evil-looking horns protruding from his temples, and a pointed tail? How often with our childish and distorted understanding, have we pictured Jesus confronted by that legendary personage in the red suit, with a pitchfork in his hands! This is nought but foolishness, for Satan is invisible spirit. Let us see how Jesus was tempted, for He was tempted in all points like as we are. Have you ever seen that devil in the red suit carrying a pitchfork? Have you been tempted by that devil? Come on, now! The record states that after fasting for forty days, Jesus hungered. When youíre hungry, what kind of desire do you have? You want to eat! In that crucial moment the Tempter came to Him. He began to feel the physiological pangs of hunger, and then the thought occurred to Him. With fascinating, compelling power the idea swept through His mind and emotions. He said, "I know who I am; I know the power that is now mine; I can turn these stones into bread." And in His consciousness the voice cunningly suggested, "If you are the Son of God, go ahead and do it! Use your sonship to fill your belly. Use it to satisfy your own needs and desires! You can do anything you want!" But Jesus quickly discerned that subtle devil and knew how to nip that idea in the bud, before it had time to blossom. He got to it before it could conceive, before it could start making a baby of sin, the devilís own child. Jesus answered out of the depths of His spirit, "It is written ó man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Mat. 4:4). If a man can live by the eternal and incorruptible word of God, why should he need to create bread to satisfy a temporal need? By the spirit of His Father He saw a higher law, a higher life. And that ended the temptation! And with that victory it became everlastingly evident: Nothing could hold Jesus ó not even Satan!
When His ministry began, Jesusí irreverence to religious traditions was startling to the scribes and Pharisees. His violation of the Sabbath norms was His most irritating and flagrant act. The Sabbath rest was instructed by the law of Moses, the ten commandments, and the Oral law. From the day of Godís rest from creation it symbolized the respectful fear and worship of the Creator. Except for circumcision, it was the most distinctive feature of Hebrew faith which set the people of Israel apart from all other peoples. Transgressing Sabbath laws was no joking matter. It was so serious, in fact, that the death penalty was inflicted upon violators. If a person received a warning after one violation, and then deliberately broke a Sabbath ordinance for the second time he got the Hebrew electric chair ó stoning.
On a certain Sabbath day Jesus in spirit saw the Father healing a man with a withered hand. Later that day He entered into the synagogue and taught. There in the synagogue He saw the man with the withered hand. The Father said, "Heal him!" The scribes and Pharisees were there watching Him that day for the express purpose of seeing whether He would heal on the Sabbath day as He did on the other days. They were looking for some grounds of accusation against Him. Jesus perceived their thoughts and plot, so He said to the man with the withered hand, "Come, stand here in the midst." The man got up and stood there. Jesus fastened His eyes on the scribes and Pharisees and said, "I ask you ó is it lawful to do good deeds on the Sabbath day? Is it permissible to save a life on the Sabbath day?" Then He glanced around at them all, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand!" The man stretched out his hand and it was restored like the other one. The Pharisees went out and immediately held a consultation with the Herodians against Him, how they might put Him to death.
You would think that Jesus had made His point. He could let it rest. No need to further infuriate His enemies against Him. But He went out of the synagogue and did no miracles for a time. Then on another Sabbath day He again attended Sabbath services at a synagogue. And there was a woman there who for eighteen years had an infirmity, she was bent completely forward and utterly unable to straighten herself or to look upward. When Jesus saw her He called her to Him and said to her, "Woman, you are released from your infirmity!" Then He laid hands on her and instantly she was made straight and thanked and praised God all over the synagogue! "And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day. The Lord then answered him and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?" (Lk. 13:14-16).
Why is Jesus so audacious? Why does He continue this disrespectful behavior? Why does He play with death? Why does He strike out at the heart of the law and traditions, jeopardizing His own life? When people were sick for eighteen years why didnít He politely wait at least one more day to heal them? Whatís one day compared to eighteen years? Rather than waiting courteously, He deliberately offends all the religious leaders with these outrageous acts on the Sabbath. I will tell you why! Because He was doing only those things He saw the Father doing. He saw the Father healing on the Sabbath, so He healed on the Sabbath. He didnít see the Father healing for a season between Sabbaths, so He healed no one between the Sabbaths. What religion or religious leaders thought about it was not even up for consideration. That is the perfect obedience of sonship. That is the way of one who says with Jesus, "I come only to do those things I see my Father do." Jesus knew full well the penalties of the law, yet He mocked the scribes and Pharisees in spite of their warning, and continued to heal. Oh, the wonder of it! Nothing could hold Him ó not even religion!
That, precious friend of mine, is why death could not hold Jesus ó NOTHING ELSE COULD HOLD HIM! Nothing in the whole world could hold Him. Sin could not hold Him, for He was "tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). His mother could not hold Him. His friends could not hold Him. His disciples could not hold Him. The Pharisees could not hold Him. The traditions of the elders could not hold Him. Religion could not hold Him. Satan could not hold Him. His own personal desires, His own will could not hold Him. The hatred of His enemies, the plaudits of His friends could not hold Him. So it was a natural thing that DEATH COULD NOT HOLD THE CHRIST, because nothing else could hold Him! Therein lies the secret to life and immortality. Paul said it this way, and it means the same thing: "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit the things of the spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Rom. 8:5-6,13).
To be continued... J. PRESTON EBY [HOME] [KINGDOM RESOURCES]