July 11, 2010

#22


Sermon on the mount

Let me quickly mention again that the "Lord's Prayer" is divided into three sections:

1) adoration for the Father
2) seven petitions to the Father
3) closes with praise to the Father

Now we come to the third and final section as the Lord closes this lesson concerning prayer.

The prayer closes with praises the heavenly Father: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

This phrase is missing in Luke 11, and the dispensational rapture crowd does not like the Lord's final words to this prayer a bit. Though the kingdom and power is missing in Luke 11, he did start there with "Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name: Thy kingdom come: Let thy will be done, even in earth, as it is in heaven...", which is basically the same things. Both emphasize the a KINGDOM NOW doctrine, and that God's kingdom will prevail.

Both of the Matthew 6 and the Luke 11 prayers emphasize the spread and victory of the Kingdom of God on this earth.

Though there are a great many reasons to praise the God of Heaven, Christ only gives three reasons as he closes this prayer. All the reasons for praise can be summed up with Psalms two.

1. For thine is the kingdom... His kingdom is total and everlasting which no one will overthrow. This phrase emphasizes the total and everlasting Kingdom of God and the Lordship of Christ:

Ps 145:12, 13 To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. Thy kingdom [is] an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion [endureth] throughout all generations.

God's kingdom includes all power and authority over every last atom of creation, and there can be no dispute about the kingdom's ownership.

2. and the power... His power is omnipotent and everlasting which no one will usurp. The emphasis is on the omnipotent and everlasting power of God:

1 Ch 29:11 Thine, O LORD, [is] the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all [that is] in the heaven and in the earth [is thine]; thine [is] the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.

Certainly, the enemies of righteousness have power, but that power must be from the God, for all power is his.

3) and the glory, forever. His glory is an everlasting glory which no one will replace.

Ps 8:1 To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David. O LORD our Lord, how excellent [is] thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Of course, Daniel 4 embraces the whole of this final part of the prayer.

We are not to judge according to appearances, but judge righteously; that is, judge according to God's word. The Lord made praise for the Father an act of faith, not an act of emotion. It is prayed in the same breath as the request for forgiveness, deliverance and daily bread.

And finally, note the meaning of the already established word Amen:

Ps 72:19 And blessed [be] his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled [with] his glory; Amen, and Amen.

2 Co 1:20 For all the promises of God in him [are] yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

Thus, the meaning of the word Amen is "let it be so," or "so be it."

Conclusion of final phrase:

This phrase closes this prayer with praise to the Heavenly Father, showing us that prayer and praise must go together.

Conclusion of this prayer:

1) Every request to the Father is for Christ's sake, and for the glory of God. There is nothing good in us to deserve any thing from the Father.

2) Every request we make in prayer must be according to Scripture.

3) The child of God cannot survive without prayer. Failure to pray says that one can get along with life very well without the Lord.

4) All of our prayers must be with the attitude, nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.

I am reminded of the TV commercial of several years ago: "Mother, I would rather do it myself." What a Christian says when he fails to pray and study his Bible is, "Lord, I not only would rather do it myself, but I can do it my self. I don't need you or your enabling Spirit to see me through."

And the Lord might well say, "O K!, if you believe you can handle life without Me, go ahead." The Lord has a way of humbling the pride of man that prevents him from praying and casting himself upon the Lord.

Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgiveness is the only point of the Lord's prayer that he returns to. Human nature would return to and expand on "give us this day our daily bread". That is, to the only personal request included in the prayer.

V. 16 Moreover when ye fast,

He is not necessarily tying forgiveness and fasting together. He is simply adding further instructions, or laws concerning his kingdom.

Though the Lord already dealt with forgiveness back in v. 12, he touches it again, and so will we.

Evidently, forgiveness is one of the most important doctrines in the Kingdom of God, or the Lord would not have covered it again. Forgiveness is one of the more difficult areas areas of emotions to conquer, but without it, we cannot wage an effective battle for the Kingdom with a clear conscience.

In other words, our power to do God's will is compromised by pride and unforgiveness; pride, unforgiveness and bitterness will grieve the Spirit of God, and persistence in these sins will cause us to be set aside by God.

Ps 15:1 A Psalm of David. LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. [He that] backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. [He that] sweareth to [his own] hurt, and changeth not. [He that] putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these [things] shall never be moved.

1Ti 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and [of] a good conscience, and [of] faith unfeigned:

Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

God is glorified and His kingdom advanced by His people who have a pure heart,

Thus one of the major weapons in fighting the good fight of faith is a pure heart free of bitterness, malice and envy. We can not stand strongly for the Lord in the face of fierce opposition unless we have a clean heart.

Forgiveness

1) We cannot say that the Lord here gives a new condition on forgiveness for our sins. There has never been a time in Old or New Testament history that God bestowed mercy upon any who retained revenge, bitterness or unforgiveness in their heart.

Prov 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh [them] shall have mercy.

Receiving the mercy of God has always presupposed genuine repentance on our part. How can we expect divine pardon and mercy if we are unwilling to show pardon and mercy to those who injure us?

2) Vv. 12, 14 & 15, must be taken in light of the general teaching of Scripture. At no time in the word of God does God offered pardon for our sins based upon our good works. In other words, one's forgiveness of others has never merited God's forgiveness. God pardons sin, whether Old Testament or New Testament, based on Christ's atonement, not our merit.

Our very best works are no better than filthy rags before the Holy Heavenly Father. The law of God lays upon His people the responsibility to forgive others even as they have been forgiven by the Father.

3) God does not pattern His forgiveness after our forgiveness of others, or we would indeed be in a sorry state of affairs. In fact, Isa 55:7-9 clearly tells us that the Lord's idea of forgiveness and mercy is as high above ours as heaven is high above the earth.

4) The Lord's emphasis on forgiveness shows us that the primary ingredient for the advancement of the cause of Christ is a humble attitude and freedom from envy, strife, guilt and bitterness. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. And the strongest weapon we have is a clear conscience toward man and humility before God.

Ac 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men [and] brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

5) One of the most sever test of discipleship is the test of forgiveness—forgiving those we do not feel deserve forgiveness.

6) Only the humble heart before God can expect to have their prayers heard by God,

1 Tim 2:8, I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

7) Christ is the great peacemaker—not only does He make peace between God and man, but He also makes peace between man and man. Christ does not bring peace through the threat of a sword, but He brings peace from within the heart. He changes the warring, contentious heart to a heart of peace.

Men war with one another because they are at war with God.

Tit 3:1-3, Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, [but] gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another.

In other words, the Spirit of Regeneration softens the heart, so how can we remain hardened toward others? Peace with God is shown by our peace with every man,

Heb 12:1 Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Illustration:

There are some authors who write some very good, sound theological material under the name of Christ, but I cannot read them. Their material, though Bible based, contains a terrible spirit of intolerance. As I read their material, I get the distinct impression that if one doesn't agree with their theological outlook, that disagreeing person is worthy of death. That spirit is not the Spirit of Christ.

I have experienced that attitude among modern padeobaptist. Some years ago, I was told that the cause of our social ills is our failure to baptize babies. Furthermore, they felt punishment of some kind was warranted against those who did not agree with them. Many of the Reformers held to that punishment idea, and they persecuted those who would not baptize their infants.

The spirit of Christ is the spirit of peace, not the spirit of contention. One of the major means of advancing Christianity is the Christian grace of the spirit of love and forgiveness, yet uncompromising on the commands of God's word. This Christian grace is sorely lacking today.

8) every blessing carries with it a responsibility before God.

When the Lord put the two statements together in vs. 14, 15, forgive us as we forgive others, He tells us that we cannot claim His benefits in prayer without fulfilling our corresponding duty:

We may not ask for our daily bread unless we agree to work for it;
We may not ask lead us not into temptation unless we agree to avoid tempting situations ourselves, and to not be a stumbling block for others.

Likewise, we may not ask forgiveness unless we agree to forgive others.

Every time we must ask the Lord's forgiveness for our own shortcomings, we are reminded of our responsibility to forgive others.

Every time we must plead for the Lord's mercy, we are reminded to show mercy to others.

Messages from the pulpit that dismiss responsibility are readily accepted by human nature.

Let me define forgiveness again

1) we can only forgive offence that are against us. We cannot forgive offence by others against God nor that are against others.

2) We cannot seek or desire personal vengeance and retaliation:

Pro 24:29, Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

Throughout Scripture, the Lord calls for a controlled spirit in His people:

Pro 16:32, [He that is] slow to anger [is] better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

There are certain violations of God's law which only He is permitted to deal with; such as failure to control the tongue.

The state is responsible to deal with the open violations of God's laws, such as murder, theft, sodomy, adultery, &c.

The law of the blood avenger ended with the end of the Jewish economy which Christ ended.

Certainly, the murderer did wickedly, but we are the one who will be damaged by harboring hatred, malice and vengeance against him.

3) not only are Christians forbidden to seek vengeance, they are to actually pardon those who have wronged them. All anger, hatred and malice must be cast aside and replaced with Christian love toward our neighbor, whether that neighbour is friend or enemy.

Forgiveness without repentance on the one who did wrong does not mean fellowship can be restored.

Also, Christian love will desire the offender find the same Heavenly forgiveness we have found. Stephen left an example of the Christian attitude in the very worse of situations: And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

When Joseph finally had the chance to get even with his evil brothers, he comforted them and spake kindly unto them, Gen 50:21.

4) forgiveness makes one able to do acts of love toward the offender. In other words, we must return the stray ox to our enemy, and pray for him. When Miriam wronged Moses, Moses still prayed for her forgiveness and healing, Num 12:13.

Mat 7:12, we are to treat others as we desire to be treated. We need to pray for God's grace so we can be gracious to others whom we feel do not deserve our grace.

The law of the Lord is very clear:

Lev 19:17, 18, Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.

5) God does not require us to condone evil-doing and continued sin, which is dealt with more completely in Mat 18. We are told there to seek out the offender, privately and meekly, and confront him with his sin. We are to attempt to persuade him to make things right with the Lord and with man.

Luke 17:3, 4, Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, we are to go to him and rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

Even if he does not express any remorse, we cannot harbor malice or vengeance, but we cannot be as free and open with him as before the offence. And we must pray for him.

Maybe to us forgiveness is not important, but to the Lord it is important enough that He will come back to the subject in this sermon: Mat 7:2, with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

God's government is a reality, and He firmly establishes His real law of forgiveness and His law of sowing and reaping.

Pro 21:13, Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

James 2:13, For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Conclusion:

Do we secretly rejoice when we hear of any calamity befalling the one who wronged us? Is so, we certainly have not forgiven him and we are retaining a spirit of vengeance against him.

We are surrounded with unloving and unlovable people who will neither forgive nor do they deserve forgiveness. The Lord was firm in His assessment of the situation; His people are expected to go the extra mile and do more than the natural man is either willing or able to do. We do it by God's grace, and as we do, Christ is glorified, and we are known as Children of God.

The Word of God clearly teaches that the pure heart, the heart free from bitterness, vengeance and malice, is the key to the Christians' power to stand for Christ in their evil day. The pure heart is the key to the power of God to go against the forces of evil.

No doubt one of the most sever test of discipleship is meekness and forgiveness in the most difficult of situations.