For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:36 ESV
We all want to receive the blessings promised in God’s Word. Yet many of us overlook the condition scripture links to attaining it: doing the will of God.
Does that surprise you, dear one? When I first began to fervently seek God through His Word, it surprised me. After all, the message of Ephesians 2:8-9 had been shaping my beliefs since childhood.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Faith—not works—saves us. And yet the writer of Hebrews isn’t the only one who links doing the will of God to our salvation. Jesus said something similar in Matthew 7:21.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Apparently, doing the will of the Father remains integral to entering His kingdom.
Jesus went on to prophesy that when He returns, there will be many who think they are His—who even do great works in His name—who will have no part in His inheritance.
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:22-23
When I first read those words, they didn’t sound at all like the Jesus I thought I knew. How could He turn away people who served Him? Doesn’t the fact that they were doing works in His Name mean that they believed in Him?
Obviously not, according to Jesus’ response.
‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:23
Here’s the truth I’m praying God will sear into your soul today, dear one. Your salvation isn’t about works. But it is about relationship.
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3, emphasis mine
People have all sorts of opinions about what it means to believe in Jesus. I figure Jesus knows, so we might as well let Him tell us. And according to Him, salvation is all about knowing. Not knowing about Him. Or even serving Him, as Matthew 7:22 makes clear.
Salvation is about knowing Jesus personally and trusting His leadership in our lives. Beloved, serving Him without seeking Him gains nothing.
Do you know Him, dear one? Do you seek Jesus through His Word? Or have you settled for knowing about Him and serving Him from a distance?
If you haven’t drawn near, beloved, I cannot offer you assurance that you are His. If Jesus’ own words haven’t convinced you, the writer of Hebrews also declared,
. . . [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25
We cannot access Christ’s salvation without drawing near. Period. Trying to serve Him by doing works in His name without ever getting close to Him is works-based salvation and will receive Jesus’ response, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
Jesus wants our hearts and souls, beloved, not our activity.Jesus wants our hearts and souls, not our activity. Matthew 7:22-23 Click To Tweet
So what about Jesus’ assertion that no one will enter heaven without doing the will of God? Doesn’t that seem to conflict with scripture’s teaching that salvation comes through faith?
Beloved, God’s will is that you know Him. And saving faith isn’t a noun. It’s a verb.
Faith is a commitment to draw near to Jesus and trust Him to lead. Faith desires to know the Creator and chooses to seek Him at whatever cost. Faith longs to please Him.
And that’s where doing the will of God comes in. Because if you and I really do draw near to Jesus in relationship, some very specific things will start happening.
Our thoughts and attitudes will begin to change. His Spirit will come alive in us and begin to manifest the life of Christ within us. We’ll begin to love what He loves and hate what He hates. In the presence of our Savior, we become changed.
And as we are changed, we become empowered. The gifts of grace manifested in us by the Holy Spirit emerge, and the Spirit Himself moves us into our place of ministry.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
Beloved, we may be saved by faith, but we’re also saved for works. And not just any works. Works that God prepared in advance and fashioned us for.
Authentic faith in Jesus Christ means committing to follow Him just like the disciples did. It means choosing to trust God’s will instead of your own and allowing Him to lead you to complete the works He created you for. And here’s the really beautiful part.
You won’t accomplish any of it by your own efforts.
You and I have one job, dear one. Seek Jesus. Spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer, offering Him a humble heart. If you and I will commit to do that one thing, He will do the rest in us. Even the faith required to fulfill His plan is a gift from Him, a fruit of His Spirit.
Do you want to live the will of God, dear one? Don’t just follow rules. Follow Jesus.