May 30, 2010

Sermon on the Mount, #19

Matthew 6:9-15

We are looking at the "Lord's Prayer", from 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 to the Father,

Third division: closes with praise to the Heavenly Father.

The first petition was hollowed by thy name.

We saw that it is not great, impressive natural events that cause others to respect God's name. Rather, it is as his people remain faithful to their profession no matter what the circumstances. In fact, the more desperate the circumstances, the more God's name is glorified.

Christian wives remaining faithful regardless of their husband's actions. Christians remaining faithful in face of public radicle.

The second petition: v. 19, Thy kingdom come.

This petition and v. 33, gets right to the heart of the word of God. It also cuts through the smoke and clearly gives the meaning of life and man's responsibility: the advancement of God's kingdom on earth and man's responsibility to God's kingdom.

Actually, we could combine the second & third petition, because the third petition tells us how God's name is hollowed and His kingdom advanced: Thy kingdom come. Thy will WILL be done through doing God's will.

Let's consider God's kingdom a little at this point (after all, are we not to seek God's kingdom first above all else?):

KINGDOM AND CONFUSION

There is a tremendous amount of material from Scriptures on this subject, and it can be terribly confusing. But I will only give a quick overview.

The Kingdom of God, or The Kingdom of heaven are two different terms for the same idea. The Jews did not use the word "God," so they substituted the word heaven. Matthew reflects the Jews' thinking of his day and uses only the term, "Kingdom of heaven."

The Kingdom of heaven in the NT refers to:

1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule; not to be confused with an actual [physical] kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom
2) a kingdom or territory
3) used in the N.T. to refer to the rule of the Messiah.

A few brief points:

First, Ps 103:19 The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

The Lord's throne is in heaven, from where He rules every living thing and every event on earth.

Second, there is a spiritual kingdom with is also called the "Kingdom of God" or the "Kingdom of heaven." This kingdom is entered into by a work of the Spirit of God in the heart of the elect and their faith in the finished work of Christ.

Third, the spiritual kingdom is identified with the visible people of God (the church), although certainly not exclusively.

Mat 6:10 Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done even in earth, as it is in heaven.

The Lord Jesus tells His disciples that even before the desire for their own well-being must be the desire to see God's name glorified and His kingdom advanced into every part of the world.

From his dwelling place in heaven, God reigns over his physical kingdom, which includes all of creation. His attention is on the slightest details, as not even a sparrow falls apart from his knowledge.

God reigns over his kingdom, the church, by his people obeying his laws concerning the church.

From within the believer, God reigns over society: His people reign in society by putting the word of God into action in their realm of influence.

The second petition was Thy kingdom come which expresses the desire to see God's word honored throughout the whole world.

The third petition, first part: Thy will be done...

This request desires that men and nations everywhere submit to the will of God. This desire is expressed in prayer for the Spirit of God to subdue the hearts of men to Himself.

This request also contains the desire that WE would submitted to the will of the Lord.

The Lord clearly defines the advancement of his kingdom. Advancement means thy will be done on earth.

Here we are to desire to know and do God's will as revealed in his word, in our own hearts, home, community and throughout the whole earth. We are required to do our part in our area of the world to see his will done.

Third petition, second part: as it is in heaven.

This desire that is common in heaven can be summed up in the desire of our Lord, who said, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. Hebrews 10:9.

Our desire should be to do his will. Our desire should be to see his will done all around us, and in the whole earth. And we should pray to that end—that both we and others would desire do his will, as it is done in heaven.

There is a great controversy among pagan scholars, "What is the meaning of life? Why am I here?" The word of God clearly tells us the reason we are here: TO DO THY WILL O GOD, and bring glory to Him.

The Scriptures speak of a day when all the earth will willingly submit to the spiritual Kingdom of God:

Isaiah 2:2-5 And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.

God's rule over the earth is not accomplished by his physical rule, but through his people.

Da 7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom [is] an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

The rule of God on earth is established the same as is Satan's rule on earth: not through a physical rule , but by doing the will of the ruler of the kingdom. Certainly, Satan uses the sword to conquer men and nations once he has their minds, as we see in the followers of Mohammad.

The battle is spiritual, and it is for the minds and affections of people.

About the best and most practical illustration is in the home. Godly rule in the home is established by the head of the home doing the will of God in the home. Godly rule is then expanded into every area of society by the individual doing the will of God from the heart:

Ephesians 6:6, Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;)

What are we doing to bring about the request, Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven??? Prayer without works useless, dead presumption.

We have seen the 3 requests having to do with the Glory of God. Now we have the four personal petitions, vv. 11-13.

This section, chapter 5-7, gives us four methods for advancing God's kingdom:

1) alms/righteous works
2) prayer/humility
3) forgiveness/purity, and
4) fasting/self-denial.

In 6:33, we see that Christ conditioned God's supply of His people's personal needs upon their seeking the kingdom of God first above all else. In other words, if they do not seek first God's kingdom, God is not obligated to add these things unto them, v. 33.

Christ, in very few words, summed up the Old Testament. That is, our concern about God's kingdom will result in God's concern about our well-being. And that concern must start in the home:

Zec 7:13 Therefore it is come to pass, [that] as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts:
Mic 3:4 Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.

Ho 4:6-11 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. As they were increased, so they sinned against me: [therefore] will I change their glory into shame. They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD. Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

Eph 6:1-8, Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Servants, be obedient to them that are [your] masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether [he be] bond or free.

We see that the King does not give His people any authority to claim God's promises above what is basically needed for life, 1 Ti 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

He does not condemn abundance. He does tell us that when we desire more than we need we are in danger of covetousness.

Now, the four personal petitions:

V. 11, the fourth petition, and the first personal petition: Give us this day our daily bread...
V. 12, the fifth petition, and the second personal petition: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
V. 13, the sixth petition, and the third personal petition, And lead us not into temptation...
V. 13. Seventh petition & the fourth personal petition: v. 13, but deliver us from evil.

Notice that all the petitions have something in common: they speak in a plural sense. The four personal petitions all use the word us, our & we. Clearly, the Lord holds individual Christians responsible for Christians in general. He makes no distinction between mine & our.

The King clearly lays the responsibility upon His people to love one another, care for one another, watch out for one another and pray for one another. Throughout the word of God and especially here, I am commanded to be as concerned about the welfare of other Christians as I am about my own welfare.

The kingdom of God should have no selfishness in it.

I believe the day is quickly approaching that will require Christians to form a strong community of care for one another, regardless of what denomination they might be part of.

V. 11, the fourth petition, and the first personal petition: Give us this day our daily bread...

V. 11 contains the only request for our physical well-being: Give us this day our daily bread. Thus, only one petition of the seven even mentions our personal, physical needs: daily bread. The physical is important, but out of our whole being, it is only 1/7th of our requests to God.

This lack of emphasis on the physical supply by the Lord shows us that we spend far to much time concerned about this one area. We usually set aside 6/7th for our physical and 1/7 for the Lord.

This request for daily bread is based in several OT passages:

Ex 16:16 This [is] the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, [according to] the number of your persons; take ye every man for [them] which [are] in his tents.

Pr 30:8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

The request to the heavenly Father for daily bread confesses that through sin, all men have forfeited their right to the outward blessings of God. Because of sin, no man has the right to expect the Lord to take care of him. Man only deserves God's curse. It is only by his mercy that man is provided with daily food.

A large part of the curse is that man may work his "fingers to the bone," yet have nothing. It is the Lord that causes man to prosper. When man requests from the heavenly Father his daily bread, he confesses that it is the Lord that provides daily substance, and not his own effort and labour.

Another point about daily bread:

The Lord provides for His people through their hard work and labour:

2 Th 3:12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

Prayer without works is dead. Worse than that: it is an abomination to God. As the saying goes: We must put feet to our prayers.

Now, the fifth petition & the second personal petition, v. 12: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. This is a key law in the kingdom of God because the Lord moves into its explanation as soon as He concludes His instruction in prayer, vv. 14, 15.

Some things about debt:

1) debts... Man owes a debt of obedience to his Creator. The believer owes obedience to his Redeemer King, the Lord Jesus. When man fails to render what is owed, he is in dept.

2) debts... the sinner owes a debt because of sin:

1 Jo 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

3) V. 11 give us & v. 12, forgive us. We cannot pray for daily bread without a clear conscience. Our "power" with God in prayer depends upon the confession and forsaking of sin:

1 Timothy 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

Paul tells Timothy that there are a great many Christians shipwrecked along the sea of life because they ignored their conscience. They know down deep in their heart what is required of them by the Lord, yet they refuse to confess their disobedience and turn to obedience.

All pastors who preach God's truth have this problem—when people are confronted with their Biblical responsibility, many do now want to deal with that responsibility. In order to ease their conscience, they go to another church where they do not have to face their responsibilities.

I should mention that we will be held accountable before God according to the knowledge and opportunity we have been given by God, Mat 25:15ff.

Luke 8:18 Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

4) forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors: the Lord clearly connects our forgiveness by the heavenly Father with our forgiveness of others.

Vv. 14, 15, the Lord develops this point.

Conclusion:

1. How much time do we spend worried about our personal needs? The Lord allotted 1/7 of this prayer for our personal needs, and then they were only the basic.

2. debts... Have you been forgiven your sin debt for Christ's sake. The debt must be paid. Either the individual must pay it or the Lord Jesus will pay it. The debt must be paid.

3. forgiveness... as we see in vv. 14, 15, forgiveness is a key issue of the Christian life.