July 26, 2023

July 26, 2023

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
July 26, 2023

Matthew 6:9-14, “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses.’”

Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.”

The very first series of sermons I preached here at Grace Baptist Church, 35 years ago, was on the Sermon on the Mount. So it stuck in my mind and I find myself over the years going back to the Sermon on the Mount again and again. And there's so much of what Jesus teaches us here that is crucial for living the Christian life. But more than anything else, I think perhaps the two most fundamental issues here, the two points that he wants to drive home have to do with identity. He wants us to know who we are, and he wants us to know who God is, two identity issues. He starts off by telling us how wonderfully privileged and blessed we are as saved sinners. Those nine Beatitudes describe or define our character and our privilege and the greatest of privilege I would argue was what I just read, Matthew 5:9, “I am a son of God.”

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson says, “This is not the only way, but it is the most fundamental way a Christian is to think about himself or herself. Not the only way, we're also bond servants, we're also pilgrims; but this is the most fundamental way in which we are to think about ourselves and that means God is my father and the church is my spiritual family. So when he teaches us how to pray, he certainly is bringing in the family concept by those personal pronouns and personal plural pronouns that he uses here; our father, our daily bread, forgive us our debts.

But here again is what I think Jesus wants to us to know more than anything else from the Sermon on the Mount, and that is that God is our Father. Look back at Matthew 6:9, he picks up that Greek word, pater, which is equivalent to the Hebrew word Abba, Abba Father. It's a very intimate word that he is using here for us.

And so Jesus is telling us that you can have an intimate relationship with God as a father. Now again, we've heard that so many times over it doesn't really excite us. I'm sure it doesn't seem to affect us all that much, hardly a blink of an eye. But if you were living in the days of Jesus, it would have been shocking. In fact the Jews, remember they were so aghast when they heard Jesus talking to God as their father, they wanted to pick up stones to kill him. It was scandalous to talk to God in this way. And Jesus wants us to know, not identical, because we're not the only begotten son, but we still can approach God in this very intimate personal way of Abba Father. And again, what he wants us to know in the sermon is who this father is, he's like no other father. If you go back to that prayer that was read earlier, “Our Father in heaven,” what does that tell us? He's a transcendent father, he is far above us, he is far above any earthly father. He's infinitely glorious, holy, “Hallowed be your name.” He's a sovereign king father, ”Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” He's an all-knowing father. He goes on to say, (look at verse 6 of chapter 6) “Your father who sees in secret.” He knows everything, everything about us, he knows all our cares, all our problems, all our tears, he knows everything. And he wants us to know that this father cares for us like no other father.

If you read on into Matthew 6 he gives quite an extensive treatment of the sin of anxiety. That plagues every Christian, right? I don't know a Christian who would not say, “I don't struggle in any which way with anxiety.” All of us are plagued with anxiety in some way and to some degree. And I would argue that the greatest remedy to fight our anxiety is the father's care. The greatest remedy, not the only remedy, but I would argue the greatest remedy to fight our anxiety is to think of the father's care.

Doesn't Peter make that same point when Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5, “Cast all your care upon him because he cares, he cares for you.” Then Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount says, “You want proof, you want me to tell you just how much God cares? I'll give you tangible proof. What are they? Look at the birds, look at the flowers. Take a walk in the woods and look how God cares for the birds and how he cares for the flowers.” And then he sort of presses the issue to our conscience, “Are you of not more value than they? Are you of not greater value than the birds and then the flowers?” And everybody should be able to say, “Amen, I am not only a creature made by God, a special creature in terms of his image, but I'm also a child of God.”

John says in his epistle, “Behold what manner of love that we should be called the sons of God.” And then Jesus goes on to tell us more about the Father's care by that prayer. He's a protecting father, “Lead us not into temptation.” He's a generous father, “Give us our daily bread.” He's a forgiving father, “Forgive us our debts.”

Now, I think all of us know that there is no one master key for living the Christian life. Anybody who tells you that is not appreciating the Bible as a whole. We need the whole Bible to live the whole Christian life and all of the principles found in Genesis right through Revelation. We need all of those principles and directives to live the Christian life. We need, you could say, a thousand plus keys to live the Christian life. But one of the most important keys is this relational key, the father key, the key of adoption. That's the most fundamental way in which we are to think about ourselves. I am a child of God and God is my father. And I think we should think about that more than we do. I know I should, the privilege we have to call God our father.