Promises and Secrets

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A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.

Will of the Father


All devoted Christians believe that they are doing the will of the Father. But, when you ask them what defines that will, their answer is something shallow like, "Believe in Jesus and you will be saved." Show me a verse like Romans 10:9
9If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

, and I will also show you Matthew 7:21
21Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

. The will of God is more than platitudes stated without thought.


21Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)


How do we fit all these verses together so that we get the full meaning?

Matthew 7:21 above is not a contradiction of Romans 10:9. They are mutually expressive of the will of God. In the Romans quote, the key is in the declaration, "Jesus is Lord". Jesus' whole purpose is to give glory to His Father. His entire life on earth was dedicated to following His Father's commands and teaching others to follow them, and rebuking them when they fail (Mark 7:9
9And he continued, "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!"

). The commands of God are His will, and if you make Jesus Lord of your life, you will follow those commands. Period. Just "believing in Jesus" without knowing what that entails does you no good. Calling Him "Lord", but not doing His will, will cause some serious consequences down the road (Luke 6:46
46"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"


What is the "Will of the Father?"

This morning I was reading another book by a well-known preacher, John MacArthur, and once again realized that few people realize how to determine the will of our Father in heaven - including the most famous pastors. In a recent discussion with a friend of mine, he mentioned that many people consider the will of the Father to be something like, "Believe in Jesus and you will be saved!" and nothing beyond that. While I considered that statement to be "tongue-in-cheek" (that would be "just kidding" for you Millennials), it turns out to be reality. This book made it perfectly clear that even famous pastors are teaching that very thing with no regard to obedience to the will of the Father.

Some sound like they follow the right way...

On a site at Never Thirsty, they give a response to the very question we asked at the outset:

Bible Question:
What is the will of the Father in Matthew 7:21?

Bible Answer:
First, we will define the "will of the Father." The will of God the Father is whatever He has decreed in His wisdom, knowledge, holiness, and grace. His decrees include the decision to create the universe, including humans. His decrees include the plan for salvation, the future roadmap for the creation, and the righteous standard that we to conform to. The will of God the Father is found in all sixty-six books of the Bible. His will is revealed in the Ten Commandments and in every command found in any Scripture. Sometimes He explicitly uses the phrase the "will of God is." In a previous study entitled Seeking God's Will, you discover five things are explicitly described as the will of the Father. The will of God the Father is found from the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation.

Amen. Notice that lines in the Bible Answer: passage that say "His will is revealed in the Ten Commandments and in every command found in any Scripture." and "The will of God the Father is found from the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation. " Further examples they give include Matthew 7:21-23:

Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS." Matthew 7:22-23[sic] (NASB)

Sounds like this site is giving out good advice, right?

...but it turns out to be a deception

Most of today's pastors tell us that people commonly reject Matthew 7:23 as not possible because the law does not apply to Gentiles. Well, maybe they added the subtle, hidden part where Jesus supposedly said, "Depart from me, you JEWS who practice lawlessness." The word JEWS is not in there. This passage seems to apply to anyone who practices lawlessness.

While this seems very clear from their own words on the site, the same site then goes astray to give you a summary in the page at Seeking God's Will of what that statement really means instead of what it says:

There are five "will" statements in the New Testament which answer these questions. They add to what we already know about the "will of God." These passages are as follows:

No lawlessness is even mentioned here. That summary is true of Christians, but it seems to change the concept of the will of God from being everything He commands in the Old Testament to becoming something that "will happen" because you accepted Christ and are "therefore in the will" of the Father. But, the Bible says more about the Father's will than just those five results in the list.

"Lawlessness? What does that mean? I have to...WHAT!?"

Notice the last verse in the Matthew 7 quote two boxes above. Is that possible? Could "many" be rejected merely because they were not following the laws of God, even though they "believe" in Jesus? Again, notice the final comment and the remark about LAWLESSNESS. Now, this is pretty subtle, but that word lawlessness seems to imply something that every Sunday pastor in the world ignores, making Jesus out to be a liar.

Is there a connection between believing in Jesus and following the law (also called the "Will of the Father") with regard to entering the kingdom of heaven? Jesus said that there is. Why don't pastors teach that truth? They make their way sound good, but as Jesus said in Matthew 22:29
29Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."

, they read the Scriptures, but do not know them or follow them. Remember, the Scriptures for that day were the Old Testament, and their meaning has not changed. Jesus pointed to them as a guide for us.

And it's not just one site...

Pastor John MacArthur of Grace To You church based in California wrote a book called How to Get the Most from God's Word, which contains a chapter called How Does God's Word Reveal The Lord's Will? Now, reading this book, you will notice a subtle shift in the subject matter. Most will not notice it, but the title of that chapter is a perfect example. Changing "God's will" to "the Lord's will" steps back from the "harsh, mean" will of God to the "softer, gentler" will of Jesus, as though they are different from each other. The summary for the chapter does the same as the website page Seeking God's Will mentioned above, but with a few differences:

From page 112 of How to Get the Most from God's Word, by John MacArthur, (emphasis in original):

To Sum It Up

There is a lot of concern and confusion about God's will, but it doesn't remain a mystery. God's will is not lost neither is it the brass ring that some people catch and others miss, but in the end it really doesn't matter.

There are many good formulas and systems for learning God's will. But the best system is simply reading the Bible and finding out what it teaches about God's will:
He wants us to be saved (see 2 Pet.3:9).
He wants us to be Spirit-filled (see Eph. 5:15-18).
He wants us to be sanctified (see 1 Thess. 4:3,4).
He wants us to be submissive (see 1 Pet. 2:13-15).
He wants us to be willing to suffer for His sake (see 1 Pet. 4:12-19).
About now you might be saying, "All these biblical principles are fine; but they're general. What about taking a new job, picking a mate, buying a new car or house, and the million other decisions that involve my Christian walk and testimony?"

Well, I've got one other principle for doing God's will, and it may sound too good to be true. If you are saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, and willing to suffer, do whatever you want. Whatever you want? That's right. If you are obeying God's Word in the five areas discussed in this chapter, God is already controlling your wants and desires. He is at work "in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). If you " the LORD," He will give you "the desires of your heart" (Ps. 37:4) because they will be His desires for you.

"I did it myyyyy waaayyyy..."

And, there it is. Do whatever you want. They have summarized the entire Old Testament in five points, only one of which says anything about following God's will (submissive). But, that goes out the windows when the vast majority of Sunday-keeping Christians are ignoring God's holy day by "keeping" their own, they worship in the way of the pagans in their churches, make up their own so-called "Christian" holidays, and eat things God calls detestable. That, to my understanding, is "doing whatever you want", but it is outside the "will of God". How do you equate two opposites?

The things in MacArthur's list are true. God wants us to be saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, and willing to suffer for Him. There is one teensy thing missing from the list - obedient - but, maybe he includes that in "submissive". Obedience includes the knowledge of something to which to be obedient - commands or (shudder) LAW (grin). Let's take a look at this list.


When we truly accept Christ, we are forgiven and no longer guilty. At that point we are saved. Now, according to Hebrews 10:26-27
26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

, that condition only lasts as long as we try to stay away from conscious sin. That requires staying in the will of God (1 John 3:4
4Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

). If we do not, we are no longer saved. Doesn't sound like "Do whatever you want" to me.


One of the things we are told not to do is "grieve" the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30
30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

). How do you grieve Him? Ephesians 4:17-19
17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

says you do it by going your own way instead of God's way. By now, you must know what I mean by that. Again, not "Do whatever you want."


Go through any passage in the Bible about what it means to be holy. You set yourself apart from the world, act differently from the world, shine the light of God in the world. Act like a born-again believer and follow the will of God. No cheating. Be truly set apart because you obviously, by your choices in life, are obedient to God and Christ.


If you are truly submissive, you will become sanctified. If not, you won't.

Willing to Suffer

If you are not willing to obey the commandments because it makes you look Jewish or weird in the sight of others, then you are not willing to suffer for Christ. If you deny Him before men...(Matthew 10:33
33But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

). You must be willing to explain why you are a true follower (1 Peter 3:15
15But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

), no matter how it "makes you look" to others.

So, what does MacArthur consider the Will of God?

Of course, there is no mention by MacArthur that the will of God is what God Himself declared. Doing it MacArthur's way supposedly gives you "the desires of your heart" because God evidently doesn't care if you trash His will, as long as you are happy...even though he does mention that God is working in you to do His pleasure, which you aren't if you are doing whatever you want...wait, I'm confused. If only God was more clear in His word...wait, He is very clear. People are the ones who mess up the intent.

As is seen from the site at Never Thirsty:

"The will of God the Father is found in all sixty-six books of the Bible. His will is revealed in the Ten Commandments and in every command found in any Scripture."

But, then, if you keep reading, they even tamed the truth down to say only what their audience's itching ears want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3
3For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

). I really hope that Jesus is as forgiving of blatant, in-your-face disobedience as is the common pastor who defies God in their own disobedience. But, based on the words of the Bible, I doubt it. If He is that forgiving, how will that affect the state of eternal life if we do not have to obey the Owner of the house where we will live? How does that fit with Matthew 7:21
21Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)


For pastor MacArthur

My question for John MacArthur is, "What about the Sabbath day, not mixing paganism with your worship, eating what God calls detestable that will defile us", and hundreds of other commands that "Christians" break at least weekly? I know, you say that the Sabbath is a ceremony that we don't have to keep. I don't see where God changed to redefine it that way. When did you declare that one of God's Ten Commandments was no longer necessary for Gentiles? What does God think about that?

These are commands of God to those who want to be called His people. Does "Whatever you want" include those things that He has said that He clearly hates? If not, then why do you still do them in your church? If so, then where is your justification from God to continue these practices? Based on the number of your publications, you are a scribe:

From Merriam-Webster:

Definition of scribe (Entry 1 of 5)

1 : a member of a learned class in ancient Israel through New Testament times studying the Scriptures and serving as copyists, editors, teachers, and jurists
2  a : an official or public secretary or clerk
    b : a copier of manuscripts
3 : writer specifically : journalist

Definition 1 makes you like the scribes (teaching writers) and Pharisees of Matthew 23:15
15Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

. Why do you not teach keeping His holy day holy? And, another question, "Why did you change the question of chapter 11 from "God's will" to "the Lord's will"? That distracts from the message by calling on your gentler, softer Jesus, as though He is not God. Even Jesus asked for the Father's will to be done, not "His own" (Luke 22:42
42Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.

). Their wills are the same for us, including all of God's laws and expectations - not in order for us to be saved, but to show that our faith in their plan, not ours, is real.

For the rest of us

We all have decisions to make. Did Jesus mean what He said in Matthew 7:21
21Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

? Do we know how to identify the "will of the Father", or do we let our pastor tell us what he thinks in order to keep people in the pews? And, the final one is whether we will follow the commands of the Father, also known as His will, as we discover the truth about them. Especially when they differ from the words of the pastor.

These decisions are not to be made lightly. Your fate is determined by your decisions and how they fit into God's plan. When God commands us to do something, or to not do something, we must follow Him to be faithful. If you decide it's easier to follow your pastor than God, even when the pastor's way contradicts very words of the Bible, then you will have to be ready to accept the consequences.

Not easy, but necessary

Your pastor will argue that the Bible does not mean what it says because God was only speaking to the Jews when He made those rules. You know, that means God spoke only to people He cares about, so He doesn't care what the rest of us Gentiles do because we have no place in His plan. Think about that. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, spoke in Galatians 3:28
28There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

uniting his readers with one group if they so choose. This makes all believers part of the family of God, hardly exempt from any of His commands to those He loves. Remember, God "so loved the world", not God "so loved the Jews".

Apply that context to 2 Chronicles 7:14
14if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

, and see if you fit into the group that are called by His name (Christian, believer). If you do fit, then find out what this verse means by the term "wicked ways", tie that to Matthew 7:21-23
21Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (NIV)

, and act accordingly. Actually, the Greek uses a word in Matthew 7:23 that the NIV mistranslates. The word evildoers is a mistranslation of the Greek words for working lawlessness:

While the very wide, general concept is the same, the word in Greek is anomian which literally translates to "without law" or "against law" or "lawlessness". The NIV translation does not do the reader the courtesy of keeping the declaration of the Lord in the right context. No Christians consider themselves 'evildoers', but they all know whether they follow the laws of God, because their pastors tell them it's OK to ignore them. The other way to say that is that it's OK to "work lawlessness". Jesus is speaking to anyone who do not follow His rules. How else do you take His words? If your pastor says that your church does not have to keep the Sabbath day holy, then he is advocating lawlessness.

"What do we do about it?" Confront your pastor.

If you can see the truth of this matter, then you should go to your pastor and describe to him the nature of his sin (Matthew 18:15-17
15"If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses'. 17If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector."

). But, be prepared. He will tell you that this is all hogwash, and that someone is trying to turn you into a legalist. If he does, have him show you another way to interpret the Scriptures and words of Jesus presented here that does not contradict the Bible. I have confronted pastors on this, and it is not an easy thing to do.

Legalism, schmegalism...get real

Legalism is only when people think they can gain eternal life through only obedience to the law. The truth, as stated by Jesus Himself is that He must be your Lord, and you must be in the will of the Father. That requires faith and obedience, which those in the past did not understand (Hebrews 4:2
2For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.

). Disobedience to that same law, and lack of faith in His plan, was the primary cause of their many downfalls.

They know the truth, but will not change

Most of these obstinate pastors are solid in their false beliefs to the point where they have told me, "I know this is the wrong way, but it is how we worship in this church. If the people don't know it's sinning, then they will not be held responsible." They should read Leviticus 5:17
17If anyone sins and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD's commands, even though they do not know it, they are guilty and will be held responsible.


Take a stand, or run away, but decide

If you are not prepared to confront your pastor, try speaking to others. If they will not confront him, then you have another decision to make. You can continue in your path in that church, or you can try to find a church that stays closer to the will of God. If you understand the facts presented here, then any decision to stay in that church will keep you outside the will of God (1 Corinthians 5:12-13
9I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people - 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. (emphasis added)

12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked person from among you."

). No I am not calling your pastor sexually immoral, but if he puts his own will above that of the commands of God, then he is an idolator.

If you do decide to find another church, be aware that a vast majority of them have been off the path for so long that they feel comfortable with their antinomian beliefs. The easiest way is to talk to people in small groups and find those looking for the truth. Getting through to one at a time is better than ignoring everyone's need because of fear of how the world will react...

The will of God is more important than anyone's feelings

While you are in the small groups, when you are convinced that your understanding of the truth does not contradict the Bible, then you must pass it on to others. If you hesitate because you do not want to hurt someone's feelings, then you are missing a chance to help them find the real way to salvation. For some, this may be their only opportunity to get exposure to the truth. Although it may not be what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3
3For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

), at least they will have heard the truth, even if they do not believe it. It is as simple as the statement, "Both belief in Jesus and staying in the will of God are necessary to stay on the path to eternal life." That is just a paraphrase of Matthew 7:21
21Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.


I may understand if you are too afraid to speak the truth, but Jesus won't like it. Like He said in Matthew 10:33:

33But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

and James said in James 4:17:

17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.

Believing lies and not standing up for the truth is the same as disowning Jesus. Learn the truth, build a firm foundation for defending it, and you will be ready for what Paul passed on to his disciple in 2 Timothy 3:16:

16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

All Scripture is God's will, so we should make sure we get it right. Passing on the truth sometimes requires rebuking. A day is coming when we will have to make our stand or take the mark of the beast. If we fear making that stand, we fail in His message (Matthew 10:28
28Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.


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