Gospel Quest through Matthew #1
Text: Matthew 7:7-14
Introduction: We all want to be successful as Christians. We want to do well as soldiers in the Lord’s army. But many times, we have no clue as to what they are doing. Sometimes we get lucky, sometimes we fool others but most times we just pretend. Let me share with you how to be a successful Christian. These aren’t my instructions, they come to us from one who is the ultimate authority on anything pertaining to Christianity, Jesus Christ. Let’s turn to Matthew 7 and the last chapter of the sermon on the Mount.
The Sermon on the Mount is the best known of Jesus’ sermons, but there is much that is misunderstood about it, just as there is about Jesus himself. When Jesus preached this sermon the people who heard it had a lot of questions. Who was this rabbi, this teacher they had heard so much about? Could he really do miracles? Was He the Messiah? Would He overthrow the Roman invaders and establish a new kingdom for Israel as David and Solomon had done thousands of years ago? And so they came by the hundreds and sometimes by the thousands and sometimes by the tens of thousands to hear Jesus speak. They came on a quest to find who this man was. What they heard was not what they expected and many times it shocked and outraged them, but many times it also eternally changed them. As we start our new series on the Gospels, my prayer is that we could put our selves in same frame of mind as those who first heard the sermon on the Mount. That we would launch ourselves today and everday on a quest to find, know and listen to Jesus Christ. We may not hear what we expect but I pray it will change us as profoundly as it changed those who first heard Him and as dramatically as it changed the world.
Commands of Christ Matthew 7:7-8
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Commands for the Kingdom
We are taking up the sermon on the Mount at the last chapter. Jesus has already given the Beatitudes in the first of the sermon. He has shocked his audience by telling them that their righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and pharisees as well as telling them things like cutting off hands and plucking out eyes. He meant to shock them, to make them stop and question what they thought was the way to eternal life by keeping the law. Jesus tells them you might as well be maiming your body. The Sermon does not give us the Gospel, but it dramatically show us our need for some other way to find salvation. That way was Grace and the one preaching this message was the only one who could open that door for them. They wouldn’t find salvation in the method of the Sermon, they would have to find salvation in the Messiah who preached the sermon.
The shocking statements of the Sermon on the Mount would send them on a quest for another way, the only way, the true way of salvation.
Here is a quick outline of the Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5:1-16 Describes the Kingdom of God,
5:17-48 Gives the Law of the Kingdom and
6:1-7:14 gives us the actions of those in the Kingdom.
Finally, 7:15 to the end of the chapter teaches us how to judge those who truly of the Kingdom of God.
The Sermon on the Mount is sometimes called the marching orders for the church but it is really more than that. It certainly has application for us but it supersedes our time and is a description of the entire work of the Kingdom of God that will one day be on the earth with Jesus as its King. We, as Christians in this age, are citizens of that Kingdom by our new birth into that Kingdom as Jesus told Nicodemus, but some things contained in the Sermon will not be fully implemented until Jesus returns. In the meantime, we as citizens of that Kingdom are to think, live and represent ourselves as those who belong to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Chapter 7 is especially for us in this age as we wait for the coming of our King. In verse 7 of chapter 7 Jesus begins to give basic commands for us to live and think by. He tells us,
Matthew 7:7-8 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
We are to Ask, then Seek, then Knock. The words speak of the necessity of intense and persistent prayer and action as a child of God and citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is should be our overriding attitude if we are to live and serve as Jesus commands.
Quest for the Kingdom
How do we Ask, Seek and Knock?
The commands Jesus gives are truly one of the most important aspects of the Christian life during this Age of Grace. As we wait with hope for Jesus to return and as we work and witness for Jesus to enter the hearts of those who are lost and then become their King, one of our greatest tasks is prayer. In these verses Jesus gives us a powerful formula for persistent and effectual prayer.
First, he tells us to ask. This is only effective if it is done in ways we are taught by Jesus.
We must Ask in Jesus name (Authority and Responsibility) John 16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
We Ask according to need not want. Philip. 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
We must Ask in faith. Matthew 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
And we must Ask according to His will. 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
Then, Jesus goes on, once again surprising and challenging as with the next command.
We are to Seek. This is an intensifying of the prayer command. By telling us to seek, Jesus tells us that you can’t stop at just asking but you must go further and search.
I believe that Seeking especially involves finding God’s will in scripture that you might know what to pray for. By Seeking God we are looking for opportunities and open doors that that you may more fully serve as representatives of that coming Kingdom and its King Jesus. But most of all seeking God means that we want to know Him more as we see and hear Him revealed to us in these pages and in that knowledge we will be changed. Isn’t this what Paul meant in Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:
We are told to ask and seek but still Jesus is not finished with His challenge, next he tells us me must Knock! Once again of the action of prayer and the way a Christian should live is intensified. Knocking means actively pursuing and then acting upon those opportunities that God will open as we have asked and sought.
Knocking is just that. When confronted with an obstacle, a setback even a complete failure, knocking means the child of God refuses to accept the roadblocks as final because we know we have asked according to His will, we have found our orders in His Word and we will not be stopped. We will keep knocking on the closed doors until we knock them down. By the power of prayer, and the strength of the Word, we knock them down. We should understand that the obstacles are a part of the process.
Paul saw it that way when he asked the Corinthians to pray for him in 1 Corinthians 16:9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
Luke 11:5-8 Persistence – Importunity In Our Quest
And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
The man in the parable had a need. He was trying to do what was right. He had a someone who he knew could help him. Therefore, he would not quit until he was successful. That man is a picture of us as we follow Christ’s commands to ask, seek and knock.
Transition: Why should we be so bold, so persistent? Because of God’s love for us !
Compassion of the Father Matt 7:9-11
9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
God, Giver of All Good
Here is the next concept we must keep in mind as we continue in our quest. God is the giver of good.
Jesus tells us ask, seek and knock and keep on asking, seeking and knocking because God always gives the best to his children.
Didn’t He give His own son for our salvation?
Doesn’t He give us power, comfort, courage, joy, peace?
Doesn’t He give us a sure unshakeable hope for the future?
Doesn’t He give us the forgiveness of sin and the great gift of eternal life?
Scripture: James 1:16-17 Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
God, Our Loving Father
If we are to succeed as Christians, as Citizens of the Coming Kingdom then this you must understand and never waver in your belief, that God love us as a Father loves his children.
He cares for us as an all loving, all knowing father. He works to raise us in love to full maturity. And He delights to give us good things through His only begotten son, Jesus. That is what Jesus said and I must revel in that goodness and love of God if I am to fulfill my quest as a Christian on my way to that Heavenly Kingdom.
Scripture: Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
We once had a young woman in our church who forgot to give her tithe that morning. She called me just after she had driven out of the parking lot and said, “I better bring it before tonight because God might do something to me.”
That's not the right understanding of God and His love for us.
Transition: The final instructions for our Quest in Matthew 7 deal with how we deal with others and with ourselves. Look at verse 12
Consideration of All Matt 7:12-14
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Rules of Gold and Iron
This is the final consideration for our quest as Kingdom Citizens and Servants. The word therefore, shows that it is a summation of what Christ has just said about God, asking seeking and knocking.
This last command is in two parts, the first we know as the Golden Rule: Do unto others. The second we could call the Iron Rule: Do unto yourself.
Measured by the Rules of God and Iron
The Christian life is measure in two ways, first it is measured in how we treat others. The Golden Rule is really a compaction of the law of Christ.
That law supersedes all the laws that went before it and it is encapsulated in the command to love the Lord, lover one another and love our neighbor.
Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
John Wesley’s Rule of Life
"Do All the Good You Can, By All the Means You Can, In All the Ways You Can, In All the Places You Can, At All the Times You Can, To All the People You Can, As long as Ever ... You Can!" - "John Wesley-Revival and Revolution," Christian History, no. 2.
As Christians, we must be willing to risk much and even lose much in the power of the love of God.
Second, is the measure of the Iron rule, the Christian life is measured in how we walk and live. How we do unto ourselves.
We must be prepared to withstand the pressure and the strain, the opposition and the stress as we walk through the strait gate and in the narrow way.
This verse is not about salvation, this is not the one door that Jesus speaks of when he talks of himself as the only way to be saved. This gate that you pass through as you walk, is how we are to live every day. The strait describe here is a narrow passage a long, close and arduous gate that begins when we become disciples at salvation and does not end until we take our last breath and pass through the gate from this life into the next. Jesus tells us the way will be difficult. It means we are measured as disciples by how we discipline our lives
Mark 8:34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
All Noble Things Are Difficult –Oswald Chambers
If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome. … Thank God He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a glad thing, but it is also a heroic, holy thing. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is bringing many "sons" unto glory, and God will not shield us from the requirements of a son. God's grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not milk sops (wimps).
Illustration: The Iron Rule, No wimps in God’s Service
Jim Eliot missionary in South America killed by the Auca Indians. “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
George Whitefield preached in the fields of both old and New England. Near the end of his life, a friend advised him to go to bed rather than keep a preaching appointment. But Whitefield prayed,
“Lord Jesus, I am weary in Thy work, but not of it. If I have not yet finished my course, let me go and speak for Thee once more in the fields, seal Thy truth, and come home and die!” Returning from the tour he lighted a candle and went upstairs to retire, weary after the journey. But the people gathered in front of the house and filled the street; and there on the stairway with a lighted candle in his hand, he preached his last message, retired and was no more; for God took him.
The successful quest of a Christian is not to be rich, nor smart, pious or influential. The Child of God who will be counted as a good and faithful servant, is one who prays to God, searches for God and finds God’s open doors. Then they set their mind and hands to hard work because obstacles are part of the quest. We continue faithful because we know, without a shadow of doubt, that our Father in heaven loves us. We will do what He says, take the good gifts He gives and will pass on God’s love to others, no matter how difficult that may be or how much it may cost us. That child of God is a success in the eyes of his Heavenly Father and that is the only measure of success that counts.