We are continuing with our look at the hymn, Trust and Obey by John Henry Sammis as part of our mini series “Maintaining a Healthy Fear of God” In our last post we looked at the presentation…….
What a glory He sheds on our way!
In this post we shall now continue with the first stanza of the hymn by looking at While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.
God’s Good Will
According to thesaurus ‘While’ could also be used as: At the same time as; concurrently; alongside; concomitantly; in tandem; parallel; along with
‘Will’ as: Desire, wish, choice, preference, bidding, command. So:
As we do His good ‘desire, wish, choice, preference, bidding, command’; He (At the same time; Alongside; concomitantly; In tandem; in parallel; Along with) abides with us still.
The immediate questions now are – What is God’s good will? And What provisions has He made for us to take hold of this good will?
What is God’s good will?
God’s good will is the pursuit of His eternal purpose.
PLAN A – The Glory of God – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. PLAN A1 – The Gospel of Christ – In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: PLAN A That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (Eph. 1:3-12 emphasis added)
To cut the long story short, God’s good will is: “bringing many sons unto glory” through His Son Jesus Christ. (Heb. 2:10)
God’s eternal purpose being a reflection of who He is; a reflection of those virtues that make Him God as we have seen in earlier posts, is the embodiment of His Good Will. Watchman Nee’s observation puts it this way:
“In Romans 3:23 we read: “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God”. God’s purpose for man was glory, glory, glory, but sin thwarted that purpose by causing man to forfeit God’s glory. When we think of sin we instinctively think of the judgement it brings; we invariably associate it with condemnation and hell. Man’s thought is always of the punishment that will come to him if he sins, but God’s thought is always of the glory man will forfeit if he sins. The result of sin is that we forfeit God’s glory: the result of redemption is that we are qualified again for glory. God’s purpose in redemption is glory, glory, glory.
The Lord Jesus was the only begotten Son, and as the only begotten He had no brothers. But the Father sent the Son in order that the only begotten might also be the first begotten, and the beloved Son have many brethren. There you have the whole story of the Incarnation and the Cross; and there you have at the last the purpose of God fulfilled in His “bringing many sons unto glory” (Heb. 2:10)”.
In other words the pursuit of God’s good will is whole hearted pursuit of Holiness; because the pursuit of Holiness will only lead to glory. God’s holiness is the fundamental attribute that defines all His other attributes:
Life – He is the essence of the breathe of life
Spirit – It is impossible to see Him with human eyes, but through the eye of the spirit
Omnipotence – He has the ultimate power to do whatever He wills.
Omnipresence – He fills the whole of creation which makes it possible for Him to be present everywhere at once
Omniscience – He knows all things that can be known in the past, present, future, so nothing can escape His knowledge
Infinity – He is, if I may say, interwoven into all things.
Nature of Love – God’s love for us is just as His attribute of being immutable, it cannot change
Immutability – God cannot change because He is the beginning and end ‘Alpha & Omega’
Holiness is bound to be at the core of His good will. This holiness which is inherent in Him means that in His time transcending existence, God was, is, and will be righteous in all His ways, so that – His plans can never be flawed (Psalm 145:17); He cannot look at wrong (Habakkuk 1:13); and cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13); Thus, the good will of God (bringing many sons unto glory) has holiness at it’s core:
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.” (Psalm 89:14)
If the foundation of His throne (not so much about the chair that He sits on, but by virtue of His power, rank and privileges as The Almighty King of all that exist) is:
Righteousness –Complete performance of whatever is right which warrants divine approval; a divine arrangement by which God leads men to a state acceptable to him; a revelation of His love for Holiness.
Justice – virtue which gives each one his due; revelation of God’s hatred for sin.
And before Him goes:
Mercy – God’s goodness and love shown towards people who have no way out; judgement which was due but was diverted.
Truth – Honesty or directness of mind (whether refreshing or distasteful) which is free from affection, pretence, simulation, falsehood or deceit. Our God is God of Truth; who lives in Truth; whose work is done in truth; who keeps truth forever.
Then we can safely say that His good will, His eternal purpose, is a plan to ultimately, bring us to His Glory, with provisions made for perceived blunders we will make along the way.
Ultimately, PLAN A – The Glory of God
provision made for:
Now in our mortal bodies: PLAN A1- The Gospel of Christ
The working out of salvation (not WORK FOR our salvation): PLAN A–Back on Track
Ultimately, PLAN A – The Glory of God –
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:3-6)
“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (I John 3:2)
We shall “be like him” (not Him, because God will always be God above all); Then we will be granted His attributes like: being incorruptible (sinless): And possess wisdom (be shown all truth)
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
In a nutshell, WE WILL HAVE ABSOLUTE FREEDOM because:
COMPLETE TRUTH – SIN = ABSOLUTE FREEDOM
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
“Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). If,
JESUS = TRUTH, (WAY & LIFE)= ABSOLUTE FREEDOM
So, when sin came along through Adam (first Adam),
JESUS – SIN = ABSOLUTE FREEDOM
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. LIKEWISE RECKON YE ALSO YOURSELVES TO BE DEAD INDEED UNTO SIN, BUT ALIVE UNTO GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.” (Romans 6:3-11)
Watchman Nee, in describing the fourfold conditions of living the normal Christian life in the book The Normal Christian Life – chapters on “Path To Progress” numbers the four stages as being : (a) Knowing, (b) Reckoning, (c) Presenting ourselves to God, and (d) Walking in the Spirit) : (we will have a comprehensive look at this discourse in Romans 6 when we get to it). Here, he describes this reckoning that comes after knowing as:
What does reckoning mean? ‘Reckoning’ in Greek means doing accounts book-keeping. Accounting is the only thing in the world we human beings can do correctly. An artist paints a landscape. Can he do it with perfect accuracy? Can the historian vouch for the absolute accuracy of any record, or the map-maker for the perfect correctness of any map? They can make, at best, fair approximations. Even in everyday speech, when we try to tell some incident with the best intention to be honest and truthful, we cannot speak with complete accuracy. It is mostly a case of exaggeration or understatement, of one word too much or too little. What then can a man do that is utterly reliable? Arithmetic! There is no scope for error there. One chair plus one chair equals two chairs. That is true in London and it is true in Cape Town. If you travel west to New York or east to Singapore it is still the same. All the world over and for all time, one plus one equals two. One plus one is two in heaven and earth and hell.
Why does God say we are to reckon ourselves dead? Because we are dead. Let us keep to the analogy of accounting. Suppose I have fifteen shillings in my pocket, what do I enter in my account-book? Can I enter fourteen shillings and sixpence or fifteen shillings and sixpence? No, I must enter in my account-book that which is in fact in my pocket. Accounting is the reckoning of facts, not fancies. Even so, it is because I am really dead that God tells me to account it so. God could not ask me to put down in my account-book what was not true. He could not ask me to reckon that I am dead if I am still alive. For such mental gymnastics the word ‘reckoning’ would be inappropriate; we might rather speak of ‘mis-reckoning’!
Reckoning is not a form of make-believe. It does not mean that, having found that I have only twelve shillings in my pocket, I hope that by entering fifteen shillings incorrectly in my account-book such ‘reckoning’ will somehow remedy the deficiency. It won’t. If I have only twelve shillings, yet try to reckon to myself: ‘I have fifteen shillings; I have fifteen shillings; I have fifteen shillings’, do you think that the mental effort involved will in any way affect the sum that is in my pocket? Not a bit of it! Reckoning will not make twelve shillings into fifteen shillings, nor will it make what is untrue true. But if, on the other hand, it is a fact that I have fifteen shillings in my pocket, then with great ease and assurance I can enter fifteen shillings in my account-book. God tells us to reckon ourselves dead, not that by the process of reckoning we may become dead, but because we are dead. He never told us to reckon what was not a fact.
Having said, then, that revelation leads spontaneously to reckoning, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are presented with a command: “Reckon ye…” There is a definite attitude to be taken. God asks us to do the account; to put down ‘I have died’ and then to abide by it. Why? Because it is a fact. When the Lord Jesus was on the cross, I was there in Him. Therefore I reckon it to be true. I reckon and declare that I have died in Him. Paul said, “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God.” How is this possible? “In Christ Jesus.” Never forget that it is always and only true in Christ. If you look at yourself you will think death is not there, but it is a question of faith not in yourself but in Him. You look to the Lord, and know what He has done. ‘Lord, I believe in Thee. I reckon upon the fact in Thee.’ Stand there all the day.
The Reckoning Of Faith
The first four-and-a-half chapters of Romans speak of faith and faith and faith. We are justified by faith in Him (Rom. 3:28; 5:1). Righteousness, the forgiveness of our sins, and peace with God are all ours by faith, and without faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ none can possess them. But in the second section of Romans we do not find the same repeated mention of faith, and it might at first appear that the emphasis is therefore different. It is not really so, however, for where the words ‘faith’ and ‘believe’ drop out the work ‘reckon’ takes their place. Reckoning and faith are here practically the same thing.
What is faith? Faith is my acceptance of God’s fact. It always has its foundations in the past. What relates to the future is hope rather than faith, although faith often has its object or goal in the future, as in Hebrews 11. Perhaps for this reason the word chosen here is ‘reckon’. It is a word that relates only to the past—to what we look back to as settled, and not forward to as yet to be. This is the kind of faith described in Mark 11:24: “All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them.” The statement there is that, if you believe that you already have received your requests (that is, of course, in Christ), then ‘you shall have them’. To believe that you may get something, or that you can get it, or even that you will get it, is not faith in the sense meant here. This is faith—to believe that you have already got it. Only that which relates to the past is faith in this sense. Those who say ‘God can’ or ‘God may’ or ‘God must’ or ‘God will’ do not necessarily believe at all. Faith always says, ‘God has done it’.
When, therefore, do I have faith in regard to my crucifixion? Not when I say God can, or will, or must crucify me, but when with joy I say, ‘Praise God, in Christ I am crucified!’
In Romans 3 we see the Lord Jesus bearing our sins and dying as our Substitute that we might be forgiven. In Romans 6 we see ourselves included in the death whereby He secured our deliverance. When the first fact was revealed to us we believed on Him for our justification. God tells us to reckon upon the second fact for our deliverance. So that, for practical purposes, ‘reckoning’ in the second section of Romans takes the place of ‘faith’ in the first section. The emphasis is not different. The normal Christian life is lived progressively, as it is entered initially, by faith in Divine fact: in Christ and His Cross.
Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin
Then in JESUS is our ABSOLUTE FREEDOM
In our next post will still continue with the first stanza of Trust and Obey (While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey). by looking at PLAN A1 – The Gospel of Christ. Which we have in fact delved into already.You might say – “Why do I have to know Him experience this Jesus you are going on about” Here is why, when and how you can get to know Him.
Admit your spiritual need.
We all are sinners: nobody likes that title “SINNER”, but the bible says in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.
What is the result of sin?
In Romans 6:23 we read “The wages of sin is death…” in other words, every sin is another step towards death. One thing that we need to remember is that God never sends anyone to hell; one can send himself there by rejecting the truth.
Since we can never measure up to God’s standards by our own strength; God has reached out to mankind.
John 3:16-17. In Romans 5:8 we read, “God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. It is Jesus, after all, who is the source of life’s greatest high.
What must a person do to accept this gift?
Simply receive it! Matthew 11:28 states –“come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.
Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me” Jesus stands at the door of your heart and knocks, seeking entrance into your life to give you peace, change you for the best. John 1:12 says: “For as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God”.
If you haven’t already received Christ as your Saviour, don’t put it off another day! Take time right now to reflect on the state of your life, how does Romans 3:23 apply to you? Ask God to empower you to see the true state of your heart – “The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) then when enabled, invite Jesus into your life. Confess your sins. Receive His forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. You might pray something like this:
Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank You for giving me eternal life. Help me to live my life in a way that pleases You, for whatever time You give me here on earth. I look forward to living forever in Heaven with You. Amen.