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Catechetical sermon

Third Petition of the Lords Prayer

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Fourth Sunday after Trinity
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Sun, Jun 19, 2016 

"Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

Here it is necessary to ask: What is Godís will?  Many people claim to know Godís will for their life.  All too often they are projecting what they feel Godís will is.

We Christians are concerned about what Godís will actually is.  We believe that God is real, and He is not the same as our feelings.  So we rightly ponder what His will for us is.

There are two different kinds of Godís will.  There is the hidden will and the revealed will.

The hidden will is what God thinks about a particular situation.  Should I get this job but not that one?  Should I marry or remain single?  Should I move or remain where I am?  These are matters about which God is silent.  He does not directly speak about them in His Word.

This applies also to events in life.  Was it Godís will that this person died?  Was it Godís will that so-and-so was elected to public office?  Was it Godís will that a disaster struck?

Since God does not directly speak about these particular events, we cannot speak with authority about them.  We know that God is in control of all things, but that is not the same as saying that it was His will.  So we must be silent, as God is silent.  We can have no confidence about things God has not revealed.

As for His will that He has revealed, it comes in two parts.  One is the Law, the other is the Gospel.

In the Ten Commandments we see Godís will for our lives spelled out most clearly.  It is His will that we have no other gods, that we do not misuse His Name, etc.  These things we can say for certain.  If we are tempted to think that Godís will is that we sin, then we should recall that He has said without a doubt that it is not His will.

But then there is His will regarding the Gospel.  This is what Doctor Luther mainly expresses in His meaning for the Third Petition.  The Father sincerely desires to keep us firm in His Word and faith until we die.  The devil, the world, and our sinful flesh do not want this, so God also desires to oppose their plans to snatch us away from the Word and faith.

Does God always get His way?  No, because He desires that all men come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved.  But not all are rescued.  Many continue to resist Godís will.  Many remain in satanís clutches for eternity.  This sad truth is not Godís desire.

Here we must avoid the temptation to dig into Godís hidden will regarding the unsaved.  Why does God not save all?  That is not a question that is answered in Scripture.  Since God is silent, then we must be silent.  If we dig into this question, we will come up with some monstrosity, such as double predestination or works righteousness.  So let us leave it alone.

For us, who have been called according to His good pleasure and purpose, there is no conflict or confusion.  Godís love has found us, and He has no intention of letting us go.  So we pray that He would preserve us in the true faith.

We do not preserve ourselves.  We could not overcome satan or sin.  We could not resist the lures of this world nor our own wicked, fleshly heart.  So we pray that God keep us safe in spite of these terrible enemies. 

Notice that we are praying even against our own sinful heart.  The Old Adam in us must also be opposed.  This enemy in us would also surely lead us astray.  But God is faithful and gracious to keep us in the one holy faith.

Therefore His will for us is first of all repentance.  We must see that our sins are most grievous in Godís sight.  We have broken His will in the Law.  The commandments He gave us we have not kept.  This should fill us with sorrow.  We should sincerely desire to change our lives.  Most importantly, we should recognize that we are helpless to save ourselves, yet our Father has given the One who has paid the price for us, His Son Jesus Christ.

To preserve and defend us in the faith, He gives us tools.  He prepares a table for us in the midst of our enemies.  Here we are strengthened in the faith by the holy Body and Blood of His Son.  So we see in this meal the answer to our prayer, ďThy will be done.Ē

He also speaks to us.  He reminds us that His will is our salvation.  He enacted that will by sending Christ into human flesh to suffer and bleed on our behalf.  That is how important our salvation is to Him. 

He speaks of His will for us in the resurrection of Christ, because His plan for us is resurrection.  He will not leave us in this sin-filled flesh, nor in this sin-filled world.  Instead, the new heaven and earth will be our eternal home.  A body raised in power, righteousness, and immortality will be ours.  This is Godís will.

Although we surely pray for these eternal gifts to be accomplished in us, we also pray for other things.  We have problems in this life, and we ask our Father to help us.

Then the will of God can be difficult for us.  We may feel that He surely must desire to help us in the way that we ask Him.  But sometimes He does not.

When we pray, we must always leave the answer in the Fatherís gracious hands.  He is loving, and He is wiser than we, and we must trust that this is true.  As Luther said, ďHe is omniscient and also prudent, wise, and good enough not to require your wisdom in the least in order to determine what He wants to do.Ē God does not need us to determine the right answer to prayer.  Sometimes the most loving thing He can do is to say, ďNo.Ē We may not know why, but we bow to His will.  He is the Father, not us.

So we always pray, ďThy will be done,Ē even if we do not say those exact words.  We remember that His choice and decision is best.

This means praying like Christ in Gethsemane.  Christ asked the Father to remove the terrifying and awful cup that was coming, which was His suffering on Calvary.  Even the Fatherís only- begotten Son did not dictate to His Father what He must do, but prayed, ďYour will, not Mine, be done.Ē

If Christ, whose every desire is perfectly holy, can submit to the Fatherís will, then how much more should we?  Although we are fearful and in pain, the Father may not remove a cross He has placed upon us.  We think God should remove it, and we know that He will eventually remove all crosses.  But His time is best.  So we wait for His will.

May He give us patience to wait, faith to trust His loving will, and an obedient humility like that of His Son.

In His gracious Name.  Amen.

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