Grace and peace to you Beloved. Let’s read our passage for this morning. Read.
Matthew 14:35. And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”
Now please join with me as we go to our heavenly Father and seek His blessing. Pray.
Last week we looked at Mark 14:32-42 and we considered the three or four lessons of Christ by the prayer of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. I mentioned very briefly Christ’s submission to His heavenly Father. Not what I will Father but what You will. (Mk.14:36, Lk.22:42, Mt.26:39) And remember Christ was submitting to the will of the Father that He would become accursed by God His Father for bearing the sins of His people. (Gal.3:13) What love is this oh my soul?! Beyond our full comprehension. Deserving all of our life.
I thought it would be helpful for us to take one sermon and to consider in greater detail what it means to submit to the will of God. So today we are going to unpack the idea of “Thy will be done”. Submission to God. Denying self. Obeying God. Cross carrying.
We see this truth not only by Christ’ s own prayer in the garden, but Jesus also teaches this by precept in the Lord’s Prayer. It is the third of the Godward petitions. Jesus is teaching His disciples to pray like this, to pray for these things. (Lk.11:1-2) The first petition is hallowed be Thy name. The second is Thy kingdom come. And the third is Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Mt.6:9-10)
Please note this. Christ teaches us this same truth – submission to the will of God in two ways. By practice. And by precept. Jesus practices what He preaches perfectly. Doctrine and practice, theory and life are vitally connected. Doctrine without practice is hypocrisy. Practice without Bible truth is vanity. Everything Christ teaches is meant to inform our minds and to change our lives – how we think, feel, speak, and act. The gospel makes us new creatures in Christ. And new creatures in Christ follow Christ, imitate Christ, and obey Christ. (2 Cor.5:17-21, Lk.6:46)
Beloved, Christ has purchased us so that we would live for Him. The best way to live for Him is to follow in His footsteps. Not my will, but Thy will be done. Lord increase our faith. (Lk.17:5-10) May we decrease. May He increase. (Jn.3:30-31)
Before we get to the idea of will and submission to that will, let’s discuss the foundation of these things which is to say authority. Submitting to an other’s will means that there is an authority in our lives, over us. And we are under them. Submitting to authority means that we are not the authority.
Let me give a basic definition of authority. The one with official rights and powers to command, to give orders and to enforce obedience. Power, control, jurisdiction, command, all of these things are involved in authority. The authority is the one to whom deference and obedience is due because of who and what the authority is. And because of the relationship between the one with the authority and the ones under that authority.
The authority of God (essential, immediate, full).
The Bible shows us that the ultimate authority is the true and living God of the Bible.
One of the Hebrew words for God’s authority denotes His splendor, His majesty, His power or vigor. (hode) There is another Hebrew word for authority it means ‘hand’. We are under the hand of God. His hand is over us, guiding us, ruling us. We are in His hand. (yad)
Isaiah 45:5. I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. (Isa.43:10-14)
Isaiah 30:30. And the LORD will cause His voice of authority to be heard, And the descending of His arm to be seen in fierce anger, And in the flame of a consuming fire In cloudburst, downpour and hailstones.
The Greek word for God’s authority denotes His dominion, His power over all, the right and the power to act, the One in charge, the One in control. (exousia)
Think of the names of God. Elohim, powerful Creator Governor God. Adonia, Lord and Master God. Yahweh, covenant making and keeping God.
The titles of God. The king of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The Holy One. Our Fear. Our Dread. The Jealous One. (Isa.8:12-14, Exod.34:14, 20:4-5, Dt.4:24) The attributes and works of God. (WCF 2.1-2) They all teach in one way or another that God is our supreme authority. He has all authority and all power to command all to obey Him. (I Sam.15:22-24)
God is our supreme authority because He is our Creator and sustainer. We are His dependent creatures.
And if we are Christians, God is also our supreme authority because He is our redeemer. We are His thankful and dependent and saved and loved children. God is Jehovah our covenant God. He is our Father; we are His children. He is our Husband we are His Bride.
The authority of man. (delegated, mediate, partial)
In addition to God’s immediate authority over us, He has also instituted what I would call mediate authority. He exercises His authority over us via other people. God has established three spheres of earthly authority. The family. The state. And the church.
An easy example of this is the parents are the God given authority over their children. (Exod.20:12) God codified this in the Fifth Commandment. He has called children to reverence and to obey their parents as their authority unto the Lord. God’s authority has instituted what we might call these sub-authorities, or authorities under God. Parents and children. Civil magistrates and citizens. The stewards of Christ and the sheep of Christ. (Eph.6:1-9, Rom.13:1-8, Heb.13:7, 17) Authority over subordinates. Superior. Inferiors. (Gen.16:9, Gen.41:35)
Just as an aside, the first place we learn to submit to authority is the family. And the first place we learn to submit to the authority of God (or not) is the family. To a large degree the peace of the family and the church and the state depends upon parents teaching their children to submit to the authority of God. I am sad to say, current events prove the family is in shambles.
Now here is something significant for us to realize. God created man to be under authority. First under His authority directly. Then under His authority indirectly via other human agents. I am not here speaking about when human authority becomes sinful or tyrannical. I just want us to realize that God has not created man to be autonomous and independent. Man is a social creature. By God’s design. Contrary to the Simon and Garfunkel song, no man is a rock or an island unto themselves.
This is a good thing. Superiors and subordinates, in necessary relationship with one another. After the Fall our wills NEED subduing. Our wills need to be guided. We need oversight over our life. And God so graciously provides it.
But because of sin our flesh recoils at the idea of authority over us personally. Authority over others – of course. Over us (really). Not so much.
Satan’s great lie to Eve, and by extension to Adam, is that every man can be the Lord, the god, the authority over his or her own life. Subsequent the fall of Man and the curse of God, who is the real authority by the way, fallen man has this motto, “ I do what is right in my own eyes”. (Gen.3:1-8, Judges 17:6, 21:25, Lk.19:14, poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley)
We see the undeniable and sad and frightening effects of this daily in our world. People do not believe in the God of the Bible and so they will not obey Him. They live in defiance of His authority.
Children do not obey parents. Wives will not recognize then authority of their husbands. Citizens do not obey magistrates. To say nothing of the disregard for church authority. The devil is behind it all. He is the first anarchist. He loves chaos. (I Pt.2:13-14) All of this is rebellion against the authority of God. The unbelieving world is an unpleasant dangerous self-willed child. Selfish and self-seeking. A dependent creature trying desperately to be independent.
But Jesus Christ shows us a more excellent way. Father not My will but Thy will be done. The perfect Man, our Messiah, Christ Jesus acknowledges the authority of His heavenly Father.
The answer for Man is to acknowledge God is God and we are not. The answer for us as individuals is to rightly see ourselves as subordinates and inferiors before God. To lift God up. And to put ourselves at His feet. Not in a demeaning way. But in a right way. Man’s happiness can only be found by submitting to God as our authority.
Perhaps I should say a word about Christ’s acknowledging the Father’s authority in His prayer.
Christ as God is divine authority.
In our text Christ is praying as our Mediator. But let me back up and first say a word about Christ’s divinity. Jesus as God is a proper object of prayer. As Deity Christ is omniscient and omnipotent and omnipresent. Jesus is co-equal with the Father and the Spirit, same in substance and power and glory. (WSC 6)
Jesus Christ while He was on earthy received worship as He is Immanuel God with us. Doubting Thomas says of Christ, my Lord and my God. (Jn.20:28) Stephen when he was being stoned to death for his testimony that Jesus is the Christ, cried out, Lord Jesus receive my spirit. (Acts 7:59)
Christ as God was worshiped and is worshiped and should be worshiped. (Mt.8:2, 9:18, 14:33, 15:25, 20:20, Mk.5:6, Jn.9:38, Mt.28:17) We can and should pray to Christ, thank Christ, confess our sins to Christ and praise Him. And we should deny our will and take up Christ’s will.
Christ as Man submits Himself to divine authority.
But in our text we are looking at Jesus as our truly human Mediator. Christ is Mediator Savior is a real man to represent real men. So in this way, Christ as Mediator subordinates Himself under His heavenly Father. Christ submits to be sent by the Father. Christ submits to perform the work of salvation allotted to Him by the Father. This is why we see Christ praying to the Father and acknowledging the Father’s authority over Him.
God manifests His authority as He reveals His will to us. (John 5:30, 6:38, 4:34, Ps.143:10, Acts 21:14, 2 Sam.10:12, 2 Sam.15:26, I Pt.4:19, Zech.1:6, James 4:15, Rom.1:10, Acts 18:21, I Cor.4:19)
God reveals His will to us in two ways. (WCF 1.1) First in providence. Providence is God’s government over all that He created. And He created all. Providence is what happens in our life.
Here is how our secondary standards summarizes what the Bible teaches on providence.
WLC 18 God’s works of providence are his most holy,(1) wise,(2) and powerful preserving(3) and governing(4) all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions,(5) to his own glory.(6) (1) Ps. 145:17 (2) Ps. 104:24; Isa. 28:29 (3) Heb. 1:3 (4) Ps. 103:19 (5) Matt. 10:29,31; Gen. 45:7 (6) Rom. 11:36; Isa. 63:14
Beloved, nothing happens in our life but by the will of God. (Eph.1:11) He gives. He takes away. (Job 1:21) He lifts up. He puts down. (Ps.75:7) The heavens declare the glory of God. (Ps.19:1-6) All around us God testifies that He is. And that He is intimate with His creation. That He is near. That He is powerful, good, wise, and all knowing. (Mt.5:45, Amos 3:6, Rom.1:18-26)
And the second way that God expresses His authority over us is by His word. And God’s word is the Bible. And only the Bible. And only the 66 books of the Bible – 39 OT, 27 NT. (2 Tim.3:14-17, Jn.3:16) God reveals His will for our salvation in His word.
We can subdivide the Bible variously. The Bible teaches two main things. That God declares to Man what God requires Man to believe about God. That He is. That He is God. And He alone is the true and the living God. And He is holy and everything He says about Himself in the Bible is true.
That is authority. That is the Superior over the inferior. And this is required. We must believe what God says about Himself in His word. In the Bible God also reveals to Man what duty God requires of Man. Again – requires. (Eph. 2:20, 1 John 1:1-10)
We can also divide the Bible into Law and Gospel. The Moral Law summarized in the Ten Commandments. (Exod.20:1-17, Dt.5:1-21) And further summarized by Jesus Christ with the two great commandments, Love God perfectly and Love Man perfectly. (Mt.22:35-40, Rom.13:8-10, Gal.5:14, Jas.2:8)
God is holy and His will for man is that we would be holy. God is love and His will for man is that we would love as He loves. Remember – Thy will be done.
But the moral law also pronounces God’s curse upon all those that break God’s moral law. Death. And we have all broken God’s law. (Rom.7:5-25, 3:10-23, 6:23, Ezek.18:20, Eccles.7:20, I Jn.1:8, Ps.14:1-3, Gen.6:11-12, I Kings 8:46, James 2:10-13)
And God expresses His will to save us sinners in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. And by believing the gospel we are saved. And by not believing the gospel of Jesus Christ we are not saved, we are in our sin, and the wrath of God abides on us. (Jn.3:36)
May I say this. Sadly, not everyone that uses the word ‘gospel’ means the real Gospel of Jesus Christ that will in fact save you from your sins and the wrath of God to come. The world is filled with false Christ’s and false gospels. The true gospel is what Christ is praying about in the Garden of Gethsemane. He is going to die to pay what the Law demands for our sins – Blood. (I Pt.1:2-19, Eph.1:13, I Cor.1:17-18) By believing in Him, in His atoning sacrifice – we are saved. That is what God requires we believe. (Rom.10:1-17, Jn.3:16)
Now let’s address our submission to God’s authority declaring His will for our life.
The general idea of submission is this, that we yield to the government of God’s authority. We are putting our will under God’s will. We are agreeing with God that His will is our rule and not our own will. And in this we are also saying that if our will or desires differ from God’s revealed will then we will choose God’s will over our own, especially as He reveals it in His Word.
We are saying about ourselves that we are NOT the master of our own destiny, that we are not the lord and captain of our own life – God is.
Also, perhaps I should point this out, submission to the will of God in Christ is not something passive. This is not apathy. This is not being angry or depressed because our wills are thwarted by a God that is stronger than we are that we just internally give up and sit in glum and gloom.
Thy will be done Oh God is active, willing, free, conscious obedience to a God we love.
We submit to God because we love God. We love God because He first loved us. (I Jn.4:19) Jesus says, if you love Me you will obey My commandments. (Jn.14:15) We yield to Him because we love Him.
We surrender our mind, our heart, our tongues, our hands – our entire being to Him. Willing consent. Willing agreement. Because Christ has submitted Himself to death for us. So that we can have this wonderful new life with God.
Let me say something that you already know. Natural Man does not submit to the will of God. Unconverted Man is an avowed enemy of God. The sinner left in His sin is a rebel. (Rom.8:7, I Cor.2:13-16, Rom.3:10-18, Eph.2:1-3)
One of the ways we test ourselves to see if we are truly in Christ savingly is to see how our will reacts when it conflicts with God’s will as revealed in providence but especially as it is revealed in Scripture. (2 Cor.13:5, Mt.7:15-20) If our will rises up and declares to God, I will not have You rule over Me. (Lk.19:14) Or, since YOU have done this to me, then I will never serve you. (“curse God and die” Job 2:9)
Beloved that is a dangerous sign for the condition of our hearts. Children of God love God. Even in our pain. Children of darkness do not love God, and this is seen especially in their pain.
You see this sermon taken from Christ’s prayer is not to unbelievers, but it is to Believers. Oh righteous Father. (Jn.17:25)
We submit to God’s will in our life because God in Christ has subdued us to Himself. We are born again by the Holy Spirit. We have saving faith in Christ.
We say, Thy Law O God is just. My lawless ways are unjust. We say, Thy Law O God is righteous to condemn my sin. But Father, Thy Gospel of Thy Son is my only hope. Not my good news, not my petty self-salvation, but Thy Salvation be done.
Christ calls God Father. We, as Believers call God our Father. Oh Beloved, we are not submitting to a tyrant. We are submitting to our holy, loving, merciful, good, and gracious God. Our heavenly Father. Our Holy Brother Savior. Our Holy Comforter.
We speak to God, we pray to God by faith. By living faith in our living God we yield ourselves to Him.
Think of this, by faith we say to God, we are Your servants, You are our Master. We are your children, You are our Father, we are Your sheep, You are our Shepherd, We are Your Bride, You our Husband. We submit and reverence and obey Your blessed Authority.
Submission to the will of God is seen especially when God’s will crosses our will. (Lk.22:28, Acts 20:19, James 1:2, I Pt.1:6) Christ prays, Father if it possible to purchase Your people out of their sin without their sins being laid on Me, then please Father do that. But if not. If Your will means pain and shame for Me, then Your will be done. (Heb.12:1-4)
Think of this. Christ after the flesh as our Mediator-Savior ‘learned’ obedience to His heavenly Father. In this way, it is good for us when we are afflicted. It is good for us when our self-will is thwarted. (Ps.119:71, Heb.5:7-9)
Do you see Beloved? It is when hard things occur in our lives that we are being tested and tried in our submission to the will of God. Sickness. Death. Poverty. Dishonor. Opposition. Failure. Hardship. Will we respond meekly like lambs of Christ? Will we see behind the temporal things and consider the eternal things? (2 Cor.4:17-18) Will we look to Christ and see how He reacted to a lifetime of suffering and affliction and opposition?
You see in times of hardship or opposition we are tempted to deny God’s will and go our own way. It is precisely here that we have to watch and to pray, to seek God’s power and help in our time of weakness and need. That is the blessing of having our wills crossed – it forces us to ‘the’ Cross. (Gal.2:19-20)
I am sure that hundreds of times a day God presents us with opportunities to deny our will and to submit to His will. You remember the ceremonial law of the OT had dietary laws, which foods were clean and unclean. Like that all day we are called to say, Oh God is this desire unclean or clean. Oh God not my sinful will but Thy holy will be done. Shall I say this, think this, do this?
This requires we get the will of God IN us, to get the Bible into our heart and mind. This requires that we live with a constant awareness of God, Coram Deo. Bible. Prayer.
Beloved the way to heaven is through the cross of Christ. (Mt.7:13-14, Acts 14:22, Phil.1:29, Jn.16:33, 2 Tim.3:12) The way to heaven is all uphill. All the disappointments, the unexpected trials, our favorite plans dashed to pieces. These things pinch our flesh. And forces us to walk by faith. All of life is a training class in submitting our will to God’s will. Like our Christ.
And how we respond shows us our growth in Christlikeness. We pick up our cross, we deny our will and we yield to God’s will and we follow Christ by faith. We submit to His providential government by accepting and not pining. By believing that He is good. And we believe that He is doing good, to us and to all His people. By believing that He is right. That He knows best. Even when we do not understand. We submit to His decretive government, His Bible, by believing, loving, and obeying. Beloved much of the trouble and the strife and the worry we have in life is our refusal to submit our wills to God’s will. Why not yield to Him? Relent. Stop resisting His will. Only believe in Christ and all will be well. Preservation in this life. Glorification in the next life. Only believe. Only trust. Only submit your mind and heart to His mind and heart.
- What lessons do you learn by Christ teaching His disciples the three Godward petitions of the Lord’s Prayer? What do we learn about God in these petitions? About Man? (Lk.11:1-2, Mt.6:9-10)
- What do you learn by Christ teaching a truth and then by His practicing that truth? Why is doctrine and practice, theory and life vitally connected? What is doctrine without practice? What is practice without Bible truth? Why? Can you give Bible and current examples of each? (2 Cor.5:17-21, Lk.6:46, Lk.17:5-10, Jn.3:30-31, 2 Tim.3:14-17, Jn.8:31-32, Jn.17:17, Heb.11:6, Isa.64:6, Mt.7:15-20, see WCF 16.1-7)
- Define authority. What truths are contained within the idea of authority? If we are not the authority then what are we to the authority?
- God is the supreme authority. What names, attributes, and worships denote His authority over us? Why is God supreme authority over all men irrespective of their unbelief? Why is God authority over all Believers in Christ? (Isa.45:5, Isa.43:10-14, Isa.30:30, Isa.8:12-14, Exod.34:14, 20:4-5, Dt.4:24, WCF 2.1-2, I Sam.15:22-24)
- What are the three spheres of humanity authority that God instituted to minister His rule over us? What is the first human authority structure that we experience as people? What lessons do we in each sphere of authority? (Gen.2:21-25, Eph.5:22-33, Exod.20:12, Eph.6:1-9, Rom.13:1-7, I Pt.2:12-19, Jn.19:10-12, Mt.10:1-6, I Tim.3:1-13, Heb.13:7, 17, Eph.4:11-13, Gen.16:9, Gen.41:35)
- How does God manifest His will over us by His providence? (Ps. 145:17, Ps. 104:24, Isa. 28:29, Heb. 1:3, Ps. 103:19, Mt. 10:29-31, Gen. 45:7, Rom. 11:36, Isa. 63:14, Eph.1:11, Job 1:21, Ps.75:7, Ps.19:1-6, Mt.5:45, Amos 3:6, Rom.1:18-26)
- How does God manifest His will over us by His Word? What is the Word of God, where do we find it? What does the Bible principally teach? Where is the Moral Law summarized? What is the Gospel? In what way are the Law and the Gospel an expression of God’s authority over us? (2 Tim.3:14-17, Jn.3:16, Eph. 2:20, 1 John 1:1-10, Exod.20:1-17, Dt.5:1-21, Mt.22:35-40, Rom.13:8-10, Gal.5:14, Jas.2:8, Rom.7:5-25, 3:10-23, 6:23, Ezek.18:20, Eccles.7:20, I Jn.1:8, Ps.14:1-3, Gen.6:11-12, I Kings 8:46, James 2:10-13, Jn.3:36, I Pt.1:2-19, Eph.1:13, I Cor.1:17-18, Rom.10:1-17, Jn.3:16)
- What is submission? What does it mean to submit to the will of God? Is angry resignation submission? Is apathy or depression to God’s will submission? (Mk.14:35-36)
- Why does the unbeliever not submit to the will of God? (Rom.8:7, I Cor.2:13-16, Rom.3:10-18, Eph.2:1-3, 2 Cor.13:5, Mt.7:15-20, Lk.19:14, Job 2:9)
- Why does the Believer in Christ submit to the will of God? (I Jn.4:19, Jn.14:15, Jn.3:16, Jn.1:10-13, Acts 13:48, 2 Tim 1:9, 2 Thess. 2:13-14, Acts 2:37, Acts 26:18, Ezek. 36:26-27, John 6:44-45, Phil. 2:13)
- Why do we need our self-will thwarted or crossed by God? What benefits do we receive by having our will overruled by God’s will? (Lk.22:28, Acts 20:19, James 1:2, I Pt.1:6, Heb.12:1-4, Ps.119:71, Heb.5:7-9, 2 Cor.4:17-18, Gal.2:19-20, Mt.7:13-14, Acts 14:22, Phil.1:29, Jn.16:33, 2 Tim.3:12)
- Give examples from your daily life where you are faced with estimating your will to God’s will – in providence, in what is occurring in your life and in Scripture? What are some things you think, feel, say, or do that conflict with God’s will in the Bible? What is your recourse to this? What should you do to make God’s will your will? How does considering Christ help you with this? (2 Tim.3:14-17, Mk.14:32-42, Acts 17:11, Acts 2:38, Read Rev. 2 and 3)