"Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which ia in heaven."—Matt. vii. 21.
E have seen that the will of God constitutes
*" the glory of heaven. Heaven is nothing but the unhindered manifestation of the working of God's will, the outshining of His hidden glory in what He does. The inhabitants of heaven owe all their glory to God's working His will of love in them, and all their happiness to their working it out in His service. The petition in the Lord's Prayer teaches us to long and ask that earth may become like heaven, and that His will may be done here even as there. From this truth that of our text follows naturally. The only way to be fit to enter heaven must be, to do the will of God here on earth. Every thought of heaven that does not lead us to do the will of God is a vain imagination. There are multitudes of Christians who have never seen this. They think that the way to heaven is found in pious desires and religious duties, in trusting Christ for mercy, and seeking to be kept from gross sin. But the thought that Christ puts here—that only those who love to do the will of God can enter heaven—has never taken possession of their mind or heart. And yet our Lord makes the difference between the religion of prayer and profession, and the religion of obedience and performance, as plain as words can make it. Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord—that prays to Me and professes to acknowledge and honour Me as Saviour; but he that doeth the will of My Father in heaven—he alone shall enter the kingdom of heaven. It is the Father's presence and the Father's will in heaven that makes heaven what it is: doing the Father's will on earth is the only conceivable way of entering heaven: nothing else can give the capacity for enjoying it. There must always be harmony between a life and its environment. To enter the heaven of God's will, without a nature that loves and does God's will, is an impossibility.
But whence then comes the terrible mistake that so many make, who think that they are honestly longing and striving to get to heaven? Let us try and answer this question. In everything that exists there is an outward form or shape, in which it manifests itself, and an inward power or life which constitutes its true nature or being. It is thus with heaven and our thought of it. Men regard it as a place full of brightness and glory and happiness—free from all sorrow or pain, full of all that can give rest and joy. And who would not wish to enter there? The most worldly hope to find a place in it when compelled to leave the present life. But they never think that what attracts them is only an external image they form of heaven. And they know not that what constitutes the actual, essential glory of heaven, what really gives heaven and its inhabitants their rest and joy and everlasting song, is—the Presence of the Father who is in heaven, and the undisturbed supremacy of His Holy "Will. Because in heaven God's will does everything, and is done by everyone, God's own blessedness fills all. Oh, the folly of thinking of entering heaven while they are utterly incapable of enjoying heaven! The Father in heaven, and His will on earth as in heaven, are not the desire or joy of their heart.
The same error, in mistaking the outward for the inward, is made in regard to religion. God's word calls us to seek and to strive, to listen to God's truth, to pray and believe, to forsake sin and follow after that which is good. And so men seek to put their trust in Christ, to confess Him, and do many things in His name, and think that this is religion. And all the while they forget that the inner spiritual reality of true religion is this— the knowing, and loving, and doing of the Father's will as their one desire and delight. They know not that it is to work this that Jesus is a Saviour from sin; that this is the only proof that our faith is true; that by this path alone can the entrance to heaven be found.
When this is preached, many a one comforts himself with the thought of God's mercy. Did not Christ just come for those who had sinned, and had not done God's will? He did indeed, blessed be God! But not for those who continue in sin, and do not make the will of God the object of their life. Our sin and misery was that we had fallen out of the will of God into our own will and the will of Satan. Christ came with the one object of redeeming us from the power of our oivn will, and giving us a new nature and His Holy Spirit, to enable us here on earth to love and do God's will. Without this, our Lord assures us, there can be no thought of our entering heaven. The same righteous grace that in Justification receives the ungodly into favour without works, through faith alone, for the sake of Christ and His work, will in the great day take the works and the life into account as the proof of the reality of faith and union to Christ, and of the fitness for entering heaven. As we are saved without works, we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them. Without these there can be no entrance into heaven; they are indispensable. The Master's words are plain and decisive: He that doeth the will of My Father in heaven, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Study carefully Matt. xvi. 2 7, xxv. 31-46; Eom. ii. 6-7; 2 Cor. v. 10.)
Christ came from heaven to show us that doing the will of the Father is the one mark of a son of God, and to save us into doing that will. True conversion is turning away from our self-will and giving ourselves to the will of God as our duty and our only blessedness. I ask every believer who reads this to inquire, and say whether he thinks that the doing of the Father's will, as the one object of Christ's salvation, and the one preparation for entering heaven, has taken the place in his life and faith and conduct, that it had in the life and conduct and teaching of Jesus Christ. Eead the question over again, and pause; it is worth while giving a careful answer.
All salvation on earth or in heaven is—doing the will of God. If we find that this blessed truth has never shone with its full heavenly light into our souls, let us at once turn to our Lord Jesus and ask Him to teach us. Let us give ourselves up to it, to study, to believe, to practice, to rejoice in it. Let us each day choose the will of God, His whole will, and nothing but His will, to have rule over us and dwell within us. The living Father, whose love can make it our blessedness, through the living Christ, who loves to teach it us and work it in us, will enable us to do His will