Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalms 40:8—KJV)
Now here is a strange thing. I have told this story several times. Many years ago while in Bible school, I was told by my teachers that no one has ever done God’s will. They added that the world was waiting for someone to do God’s will perfectly. Perhaps this was the result of lawless-grace teaching. In any case, the implication was that to do God’s will required the most excruciating contortions one could imagine; that the believer would be left as a scarecrow in a corn field that was not able even to scare away the crows because of its pitiable condition.
I became a Christian while serving in the United States Marine Corps. While stationed in Sasebo, Japan, the Lord visited me in a special way and called me to preach the Gospel. When I left the Marine Corps, some months after the conclusion of World War Two, I enrolled in a Bible school in San Diego, California. Not having been raised in church I knew very little about how Christians felt about the Gospel. I was zealous concerning my new-found faith. I was resolved to be an overcomer, although I don’t believe my teachers were impressed with this. I guess they thought I would be like they once had been—ready to save the world. If we are not careful, life knocks the idealism out of us, doesn’t it? In any case, I let it be known that I was going to do God’s will perfectly. I should have kept my mouth shut and just talked to God about it.
I was told that when this spiritual giant appeared who is doing God’s will perfectly, the most marvelous things would take place. However, I was also told that I must realize that as long as we are in this world, we must sin—we should do our best, but we are going to sin in spite of our best efforts.
I was about twenty-one years of age. I have no brothers or sisters. I was not married. My mother was in a rest home. My father was at sea in the Merchant Marine. So I was free to make any sort of commitment to God that I felt like making. So during one recess I got off by myself and I prayed: “Dear Lord, I will do Your will whatever it is as long as you give me the grace to do it. While I am alive on the earth You will not be able to say, ‘I looked for someone to make up the hedge and stand in the gap before Me, but I found none.’” This passage of Scripture was placed before me as a challenge by Dr. Ralph Byron, while I still was in the Marine Corps.
What my motive was for exposing myself to such a grim future I cannot honestly tell you. I wasn’t taking up a dare. I had no desire that I can remember to be a spiritual giant and perform outstanding miracles. Maybe God put the desire in my heart. One night the Bible students went to a missionary service at a large Assemblies of God church in San Diego, called Sixth and Fir (the location). At the conclusion of the service the pastor, Ben Hardin, gave an altar call. I went forward filled with zeal, ready to go to Tibet wearing only my sweater. While I was at the altar, I told the Lord I would go wherever He wanted me to. I knew God was going to speak to me. So I turned over on my back, and listened. God spoke. He said, “I love you.” I knew that was the end of the monologue.
All this took place in 1948, and I am writing this in September of 2012, so you see a few years have gone by. Yet, amazingly enough, I have maintained that zeal; that idealism. To this day I can look up to God and know I am in the center of His perfect will. There have been mistakes and deceptions along the way, but with the help of the Lord I recovered and pressed forward in Christ. When I remember those foolish actions of the past I say to Jesus, “Please put that behind my back, I am pressing forward.” I get the feeling Christ is pleased with this attitude.
I count the Lord Jesus as my Friend. I believe He responds likewise. We talk back and forth during all my waking moments. I do not wish to imply I hear His voice like on a cell phone. Most of the time I do not hear anything. There is just an impression that He is there, answering my prayers, receiving my worship and thanksgiving. But He does give me specific answers when I ask a question. I do not say everyone has the same experience of fellowshiping with the Lord or should have. I am just testifying of what is true in my own life.
One afternoon while in Bible school, I was reading the Bible. I became aware of a Personage at my right hand. Suddenly what I was reading was clear and made sense, but it was not exactly what was taught in the churches I had been in. Then came a struggle as to whether I should believe what I was seeing in the Bible, or forget it and stay with the current traditional teaching. I elected to go with my new understanding. It did not go against the Bible in any manner that I could see, and so I stayed with it. This unfolding of the Scriptures has continued for some sixty-four years. Nothing that has been shown me is in conflict with the Scriptures; but much of it assuredly is in conflict with the current traditions.
As I see it, the most wicked, most destructive of the current traditions is that God does not judge Christians for their sins, that He sees them through Christ such that their fornication and other sins somehow become holy. We really ought to know better than this from our conscience alone, but this deception is widespread wherever the Gospel is taught.
And as for doing God’s perfect will, I have found it to be a delight. God never has asked anything of me for which there has not been grace. I cannot imagine not doing God’s will. It is the most pleasurable experience one can have. Doing God’s will always is an adventure. If we do not clutch the future but just live in the Presence of Christ one moment at a time, God’s will is a dance, an adventure. But we must let go of our preconceived ideas and follow where Christ is leading.
I am having new experiences all the time even though I am eighty-seven years of age. My physical strength has waned. I hate to admit it but I am an old man, and carry a cane because I always have a sense of instability. But in my heart I still am that boy in Bible school—or even younger than that! What is next? I have no idea, but I know it will be wonderful. Underneath are the everlasting Arms, and the future is glorious with promise. I would love to go to be with Jesus, wouldn’t you? But not if it is not God’s perfect will for me to do so. And as to God’s perfect will:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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 12:1-3)
God only has one will for each of us at any moment. God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect.
One of our most difficult problems is that of clutching the future. We cannot hear the Lord in the present moment when we are worrying and concerned about the future. If we are going to delight in God’s will, it has to be for the present moment.
In the beginning of the world, Satan told Eve that God was not working in her best interests; if she would disobey God she would have a better life. God realized that angels and people need to learn that obeying God is the surest way to righteousness, love, joy, and peace, so He has given mankind six thousand years to observe the result of obeying their own will. Think about the world today, the pain, the sorrow, the remorse, the hatred, the rape, the starvation, the wars as political leaders strive for advantage. All of this is occurring because people do not trust God but attempt to better their own situation through their own efforts.
This is true of the leaders of the Christian churches. They plan how to build the Church of Christ by their own wisdom and resources instead of listening to Jesus. Yet Christ said He would build His own Church.
Perhaps waiting until we know what God wants before taking some action is the greatest challenge that ever faces a nation or an individual. We don’t believe that God knows what is best for us. Or if He does, we don’t believe He is guiding us to what is best for us. Nations don’t believe this. Individuals don’t believe this. For example, the current President of the United States is attempting to manage our country according to his own wisdom and desires, apparently. He seldom refers to God. He testifies by his actions that the welfare of our nation depends on his and our own abilities.
I cannot understand why people do not look to God for His will and then do it. It is the simplest, most straightforward course that any nation or person can take. Since God alone has the power to bring us to endless love and joy, why do we not do this?
Perhaps to delight in God’s will is a gift that not everyone has. In that case we should pray for it. We should pray that God will give us faith to believe that He always is seeking our good, and that He alone has the wisdom and power to bring us to the desires of our heart.
That must be the answer—to delight in God’s will must be a gift that is not given to everyone. Well, Jesus did say that no person could come to Him unless the Father drew that individual. He said also that the understanding of His parables was given to His disciples; but the meaning of His parables could not be understood by the multitudes lest they understand the parable and be healed. We recoil at this display of seeming favoritism (if that is what it is) and will have nothing to do with it. But it is as much of the Bible as the things we do believe!
There is much we do not understand! But of one thing I am certain: To do God’s will at all times and in every circumstance is the most wonderful way in which to live.
Is it possible for every person on the earth and in the spirit world to do God’s perfect will? Of course it is. But we must pray fervently at all times that God direct us and assist us in doing His will.
There is no detail of our individual life that escapes God’s attention. There is no detail about which He is not concerned. He desires that we “blow the trumpet” concerning every aspect of our being and doing; and when we do so, he can “bow the heavens and come down” to help us.
In actuality, God never shows favoritism. That He should draw some to Jesus and not others is righteous and fair, although in the present hour we have no way to judge God’s actions. One thing I do know is that God is righteous and fair. All of us receive the results of our own decisions and behavior.
Last Sunday I issued a challenge to the congregation. I said, “The time is coming when each of us will die and then stand before Christ. He will ask us how we spent our time on the earth.” Then I said, “When you go home this afternoon I want you to write down in two or more paragraphs how you are going to answer Him.” My motive in issuing this challenge is that each person would take a look at the way he or she is spending his or her life, and then consider what his or her response to Jesus would be.
The problem is that the believers have been taught that they are saved by grace, that it does not matter what they have done with their life, that because they have “accepted Christ,” when they die they will go straight to Heaven to live in a mansion. This kind of teaching has destroyed many Christians. They have not done the will of Christ during their lifetime because they were taught that grace takes the place of obedience.
I wonder what their answers will be when they stand before Christ after they die. Will they say, “I did not try to serve you because I was taught that all of our works are as filthy rags”? What will they then see in those eyes of fire? What will they hear from the Divine lips? Will they not see portrayed before them the things they have done as they pursued their self-centered existence, taking their own pleasure even though it brought pain to someone else?
I don’t want to ever be in that position, and I don’t want you to either, facing Christ without having sought and done His will during your lifetime on the earth. With this in mind, let’s resolve, no matter what other Christians say, that we are going to spend our remaining days seeking and doing God’s will at every moment.
It really is the most delightful way to live!
(“God’s Will”, 4070-1, proofed 20190301)