May 23, 2010

#18

Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 6:9-13.

"Lord's Prayer", #1

While doing some research for Exodus 11, I encountered this statement, which I feel is worth repeating.

"As soon as man comes to see in the beings [context-any spiritual beings, angelic or demonic] by whose power marvels are wrought, personalities capable of emotions like himself and susceptible to persuasion, his magical art becomes an intelligent effort to propitiate [make peace with an unknown foe] these superior beings and his incantations become hymns and prayers. In all religions, Jewish, Moslem, Christian or pagan, when the act or prayer as such is held to produce certain results or to secure certain desired boons, we have to do with a species of magic. The word "religion" is inapplicable, unless it includes the idea of personal faith in a God or gods whose favor depends on moral acts and on ritual acts only in so far as they have a voluntary and ethical character..." ISBE also points out that sorceress [AV "witch"] is to be put to be condemned to death. (Emph mine. ISBE, pg. 1963, 4.)

In other words, prayer on the part of the child of God which seeks to influence God or His angles to do the petitioner's wish or desire, is little more than an exercise in magic. There are many passages which appear to give a "blank check" to the child of God; these passages appear to make God man's servant as He either comes personally or send His holy angles to do the individual's personal pleasure. But these passages will not stand alone.

We pray and receive from God because:

1) we pray according to His will:

1 John 5:14 And this is that assurance, that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us. 15 And if we know that he heareth us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions, that we have desired of him.

2) we follow His commandments and do those things which are pleasing in His sight:

1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things which are pleasing in his sight.

Thus, the primary purpose of prayer is for the Lord to shed His Divine grace upon the petitioner enabling him to know and do God's will that he might inherit the then part of the covenant:

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore go boldly unto ye throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

In other words, through prayer we gain Divine aid, or grace, which enables us to meet the conditions of God's if-then covenant.

Application:

I must admit that I participate in our local National Day of Prayer because I see it as an opportunity to represent truth. However, the normal idea behind the National Day of Prayer is for all people to join together in prayer for God to restore righteousness in this nation.

I head no mention of any kind of national repentance, nor effort toward the command-word of God on the part of the petitioners. According to ISBE, above, the National Day of Prayer sounds more like an exercise in witchcraft than in Godly prayer. Any effort to influence any supernatural power (God or Satan) to gain desired benefits through prayers, chants, hymns, &c, is an exercise in magic.

In my opinion, much of the so called "worship music" of our day is not much more than seeking to gain divine benefits through chants and hymns. The "worship music" includes no instruction in godly living.

Thus, Biblical prayer requests are based upon doing what is pleasing in the sight of God (obedience to the command-word of God) and praying according to His word for His will to be done in any given situation.

The purpose of prayer is to advance the kingdom of God and his will on earth.

Our example.

Matthew 6:9-13, contain what is commonly miscalled "The Lord's Prayer." Actually, the Lord's prayer is found in Mat 26:36-39 where He prayed the night of His arrest. In Matthew 6:9-13, the Lord gives a model prayer & teaches the importance of prayer.

 

INTRODUCTION & The importance of prayer

I am afraid we underestimate the importance of prayer and overlook the purpose of prayer.

AW Pink makes this important observation concerning "The Lord's Prayer":

Those professing to be the towers of orthodoxy and the most enlightened among Bible teachers have blatantly and dogmatically affirmed that "the Sermon on the Mount is not for us," that it is "Jewish," that it pertains to a future dispensation, that it sets forth the righteousness which will obtain in "the millennial kingdom." And this satanic sop was eagerly devoured by multitudes of those who attended the"Second Coming of Christ" conferences, and was carried by them into many of the "churches," their pastors being freely supplied with "dispensational" literature dealing with this fatal error. Slowly but surely this evil leaven has worked until a very considerable and influential section of what passes as orthodox Christianity has been poisoned by it.

That is, the "Second Coming of Christ" conferences taught that the "Sermon on the Mount is not for us". Rather, it is for a future Jewish dispensation which will be set forth in righteousness as obtained in the future millennial kingdom.

This satanic sop was then taken to the churches through the freely supplied dispensational literature, and has since been accepted as orthodox Christianity.

Pink certainly did not sugar-coat his words.

The fundamental error of those men claiming to "rightly divide the word of truth" is their opposition to and repudiation of the Law of God: their insistence that it is solely Jewish, that the Gentiles were never under it, and that it is not now the believers' rule of life. Never had the Devil succeeded in palming off the Truth a more soul-destroying lie than this. Where there is no exposition of the Moral Law and no pressing of its righteous demands, where there is no faithful turning of its holy and searching light upon the deceitful heart, there will be, there can be, no genuine conversions, for "by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom 3:20). It is by the law alone we can learn the real nature of sin, the fearful extent of its ramifications, and the penalty passed upon it. The Law of God is hated by man - religious and irreligious alike - because it condemns him and demonstrates him to be in high revolt against its Giver.
Knowing full well the detestation of their hearers for the Divine Law, a large percentage of those who have occupied the pulpits during the past few decades have studiously banished it therefrom, displacing it with "studies in prophecy" and what they designate as "the Gospel of the Grace of God." But the "gospel" preached by these blind leaders of the blind was "another gospel" (Gal 1:6): where there is no enforcing the requirements of the Law, there can be no preaching of God's Gospel, for so far from the latter being opposed to the former, it "establishes" the same (Rom 3: 31). Consequently, the "churches" became filled with spurious converts, who trampled the Law of God beneath their feet. And this, more than anything else, accounts for the lawlessness which now obtains everywhere in Church and State alike." AW Pink, Sermon on the Mount, p. 137.

We cannot underestimate the importance of what the Lord gave here concerning prayer, for he gave it a second time, almost word for word, in Luke 11 when his disciples asked him to teach them to pray.

In this section of Matthew, the Lord gives a practical example of the kind of Godly prayer and humility required to advance God's kingdom and His righteousness.

This prayer tells us that we must enter into any and every activity of life aware of our dependance upon the Spirit of God for our strength and for wisdom to face whatever we must face. When our "prayerful" attitude is lost, so is the grace of God because he promised to give grace is to the humble.

By giving this prayer lesson twice, the Lord shows us that man does not know how to pray and communicate properly with the Heavenly Father. He must learn to pray, and he learns from the word of God.

Romans 8:26, Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what [is] the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to [the will of] God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

Matthew 6:9, the Lord said, after this manner... In other words, in this passage, the Lord gives us the manner of prayer, or an outline of what Godly prayer should look like if we expect the Father to hear. This prayer, or any prayer for that matter, is not to be used as a vain repetition.

There are Protestant churches who repeat this prayer at every service. To the vast majority repeating this prayer, it is no more than a vain repetition, as a Papist would repeat the
Rosary.

Let us look quickly at the other prayer given by the Lord in Luke 11:1-13. In that instruction to his disciples, he said unto them, when you pray, say...

There certainly is nothing wrong with praying this prayer, but praying as a ritual makes it as useless the Rosary. People like to use this prayer as some kind of lucky charm.

6 things from Luke 11:

1) the disciples came to the Lord and asked Him to teach them to pray, as John also taught his disciples. The Lord did not give a new revelation, as maybe the disciples expected, but He gave again this general outline for prayer. This shows us some things:

A) as we mentioned last time, though the disciples heard the Lord's teaching on the Mount about prayer, it did not seem to sink in. Chapter 11 starts with v. 1 And so it was, that as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

It may have been a result of seeing Christ, the Son of God, praying that got their attention. Or it may have been because John was teaching his disciples about prayer. Or it may have been because they are starting to see the need of prayer.

B) we should not be afraid to repeat ourselves. People seldom hear us the first time.

C) there are those who say that Matthew is a Jewish book, and not for the "church age". However, the prayer is also given in Luke, showing us that the essence of this prayer is for all mankind from the time of Christ until the end.

There are two phrases found in Mat 6:10 (Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.) that throw Bible-denying "Christians" into a terrible tizzy. These two phrases destroy their theology of history so badly that they must "dispenstaionalize" the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6 out of Christian theology. The problem that they overlook is that the Lord gives the exact same prayer again some time latter in Luke 11:2.

In other words, if the Lord did not mean for His people to pray and work for His kingdom to come, and His will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven during this present age, He would not have given it twice.

How do we work for his kingdom and will on earth? By putting God's word into practice in our areas of influence, no matter where we are or what we are doing. His kingdom is advanced and will is done through one person at a time. He works from the bottom up.

By the Lord giving the identical prayer in Luke, He shows us that the substance of this prayer is for here and now; it is for every period of history until the kingdoms of this world have been placed under his feet, 1 Cor 15:24-28. Therefore, this prayer cannot be dismissed as being for another time or not really being important without destroying the overall teaching of Christianity.

2) Second thing from Luke 11 is its emphasis on persistence in prayer, vv. 5-13. Matthew 6, condemns hypocrisy.

The Lord's insistence on persistence in prayer speaks of faith; we keep on praying.

Lu 18:8, I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

3) Both Luke 11:2, and Matthew 6 open with When ye pray, say... The Lord's sample prayer is more than simply an outline. It is also a proper prayer for public and private "memorized" use. In Matthew 6, he had condemned cold, formal use of any kind of words, so this prayer cannot be regarded with any superstition or magical charm.

4) the word of God establishes boundaries, guidelines and general instructions within which mankind must operate. This prayer establishes boundaries and guidelines for prayer.

5) Christ, the giver of this prayer, knew both the people and the Father, so He gives the perfect approach to the Father.

Prayer in Christ's name will be added later.

6) Godly persistence in Luke 11 was pleading for bread to give to someone else. In other words, give us this day our daily bread is a plea, not only for personal supply, but a plea for supply for others. How can we share with others what we do not have.

Therefore, prayer in both Matthew and Luke speaks of Christian brotherhood. One way we must express our love for others is by praying for them. We are to be as concerned about them as we are about ourselves.

Furthermore, Godly prayer prays for those who persecute us. As we saw previously, that prayer could be like David prayed for the enemies of God, e.g., that they would be caught in their own snare.

"The Lord's Prayer" shows us that selfish praying is not godly prayer. Scripture also speaks against a selfish Christianity that is only concerned with my four and no more.

The Law-Giver Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, sums up the whole of Bible doctrine in these five verses of Mat 6 and Luke 11.

Now let us look at the prayer itself, Matthew 6, Luke 11.

Christ gave us three divisions:

First division: opens with adoration for the Father;

Second division: seven petitions or requests—the number of perfection, petitions of the Father, and

Third division: closes with praise to the Heavenly Father.

Christ's lesson in prayer here emphasizes the sovereignty of God and the desire that God's kingdom and will would prevail on earth.

Christ taught New Testament prayer in Old Testament terms. He teaches us that prayer must be according to the revealed will of God as revealed in Scripture.

1 Jn 5:4, If we ask anything according to His will, he hearteh us, and the Old Testament reveals the will of God.

The Old Testament connections are obvious, so I will only give one for each clause.

First division: adoration for the Father

Our Father:

Father speaks of loving care for His children:

1 Jn 3:1, Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.

Father was a term used for God by the Old Testament saints in their hour of distress:

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, thou [art] our father; we [are] the clay, and thou our potter; and we all [are] the work of thy hand.

Which art in heaven. heaven:

2 Chron 6:33 Then hear thou from the heavens, [even] from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as [doth] thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name.

Christ personally prayed and taught us to pray according to Solomon's great prayer at the dedication of the temple. Then we have,

Da 4:25, 26 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.

Notice that genuine, Godly prayer confesses that the heavens do rule: God in heaven rules every movement of history on earth. Godly prayer militates against any idea that man controls God, or man controls history in any way.

As I pointed out at the start,

prayer on the part of the child of God which seeks to influence God or His angles to do the petitioner's wish or desire, is little more than an exercise in magic. There are a tremendous number of passages which appear to give a "blank check" to the child of God; these passages appear to make God man's servant as He either comes personally or send His holy angles to do the individual's personal pleasure. But these passages will not stand alone.

Second division: seven partition or requests

The first three petitions concern God's name, God's kingdom and God's will. The last 4 petitions concern our own selves.

Christ, by listing man's duty to the Father first, teaches us that the basis of all prayer is to glorify the Father which is in heaven and seek His kingdom first on earth. The 10 Commandments were given in like manner: the first five presents man's responsibility to God and the second five, man's responsibility to man. And the central theme of the 10 commandments is also the advancement of God's cause upon earth.

Every modern studies I know of places the emphasis of prayer on man's needs. On the other hand, here we see that man's primary responsibility both in prayer and in action is to God and His kingdom. This responsibility will be detailed in the rest of Matthew 6:24-34.

The Seven Petitions, or requests to the Father. I will try to keep them short, so I will not bore you with details:

The first petition: Hallowed be thy name... The name of God Himself.

Hallow means
1) to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow
2) to separate from profane things and dedicate to God, to consecrate
3) to purify.

We (myself included) read the Bible very superficially. We often repeat words because we hear others use them, and we pray this prayer without understanding what we are saying.

Throughout both Sacred and Secular history, we find that, more often than not, God is glorified by His people going through the fires of persecution. Fair Sunshine

And when we examine this clause of the Lord's prayer from the Old Testament, we find it very dangerous to pray Hallowed be thy name.

The problem that we get into is that when we think of this phrase, Hallowed be thy name, we somehow think that God is going to write His name in the sky and impress everyone:

April 27, 2010. A London news paper, The Sun had this headline with pictures: "‘Noah's Ark' found in Turkey"

THE remains of Noah's Ark have been discovered 13,000ft up a Turkish mountain, it has been claimed.

A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers say they have found wooden remains on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey. ...

Local Turkish officials will ask the central government in Ankara to apply for UNESCO World Heritage status so the site can be protected while a major archaeological dig is conducted. ...
(http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2949640/Noahs-Ark-found-in-Turkey.html)

Our first thought is, "Great. Now folks will believe the Bible and be converted."

Note Isaiah's words, chapter 64:

1 Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, 2 As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! 3 When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence. 4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. 5 Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.

Then Isaiah goes on:

6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; (Romans 7:18, Philippians 3:9) and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, (James 1:10) like the wind, have taken us away. 7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: (Romans 3:11) for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. 8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. (Romans 9:20ff.)

As we see, Isaiah's words are commonly quoted in the New Testament. The point being that though the heavens would melt, and the mountains flow into the sea, the natural man will not and cannot repent.

Revelation 6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

The only way man can Hallow the Father's name is through a work of the Holy Spirit of God, who alone can exalt the Father in the hearts of fallen man.

Hallowed... By asking that God's name be hallowed, we ask that He would display His glory. Throughout history, God has displayed His glory and manifested His name through the fires of persecution against His people, e.g. Daniel and the three Hebrews. See also Isaiah 24:13-15, 45:8, Psalms 83:13-17, Ezekiel 38, &c.

In the real Lord's prayer, we see how God's name is hallowed in this world:

Joh 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (In the midst of the world, we can add.)

Peter said the same thing:

1 Pe 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

The prophet Habakkuk saw evil, lawless men prevailing against the righteous. And finally, in 2:4, Habakkuk submitted to the Lord with the tremendous statement, but the just shall live by his faith.

Notice that every time a Saint in Scripture got to witness for Christ to civil authority, it was when that person was before that authority for their stand for Christ.

As we follow history, every nation that fell, fell after it persecuted the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ: Example, Rome fell in 312 AD because it persecuted the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hollowed be thy name... According to the Old Testament implications, Christ's request is that God's name should be exalted through His people by God's Spirit keeping a remnant faithful in the midst of their fires of persecution and tribulation.

Do we really want God's name hollowed and glorified? Both Bible and secular history proves that the persecution of God's people is what hollows and glorifies God's name on earth. I would much rather see the sea boil and the mountains melt, but, according to the word of God, a boiling sea or melting mountain is not what shows God's glory. God's name is glorified by His people remaining faithful to their profession of Christ when times are difficult, and the more difficult, the more God's name is glorified.