Saturday, April 20, 2024

2024.04.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 7:7–12

Read Matthew 7:7–12

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the first command in Matthew 7:7? What will happen if you do so? What is the second? What will happen? What is the third command? What will happen? How many who do these things will have these outcomes (Matthew 7:8)? What scenario does Matthew 7:9 ask about? About what sort of response, from the father in question, does it ask? What is the implied answer to this rhetorical question? What other scenario does Matthew 7:10 ask about? What response? What implied answer? What does Matthew 7:11 say about Jesus’s disciples? But what do they still know how to give? To whom? To Whom does the verse compare them? Where is He? What will He give? To whom? How does the beginning of Matthew 7:12 connect it to the previous verse? How much of their desires should they act upon? Which desires? What are they to do with all that they desire to be done t them? What does this fulfill? What do the law and prophets tell us about God’s intentions? What do the law and prophets tell us about God’s requirements? 

What is progressing in holiness like? Matthew 7:7–12 prepares us for the morning sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that progressing in holiness comes through fellowship with a good Father, Who even uses us in our brothers’ lives.

Two great errors that Matthew 7:1-6 corrected are judgmentalism (Matthew 7:1) but also failing to value sanctification for ourselves and others (Matthew 7:5-6). But it is hard on us to know both that we are not holy and that holiness is priceless. If we are examining ourselves (cf. Galatians 6:4), and aiming at sowing to the Spirit rather than the flesh (cf. Galatians 6:8), we may grow weary (cf. Galatians 6:9a). The Lord Jesus now teaches us about not losing heart (cf. Galatians 6: 9b) and serving one another in the same vein (cf. Galatians 6:10). Growing in sanctification, growing in grace, must be marked by:

Neediness. The asker knows that he needs something. The seeker knows that he is missing something. The knocker knows that he is on the outside of something. The judgmental person feels (wrongly) that he has arrived. The believer’s view of himself is marked by poverty, mourning, lowliness, hunger (cf. Matthew 5:3–6).

Dependence. In our foolish inconsistency, we often respond to our neediness by trusting in how sincerely we wish to change, or how hard we intend to try. But asking, seeking, and knocking from Father is exactly opposite that. Growth in holiness is obtained primarily by prayer. Even the use of all other means (Ephesians 6:14–17) is joined to prayer (Ephesians 6:18), because they are the Lord’s means, and we are looking to Him to give the increase. Although, in our sanctification, we are instructed to work, the holiness comes not by achievement but by God’s loving gift.

Persistence. “Ask… seek… knock…” are imperatives in a tense that communicates an ongoing command. They are not something that are done once and disposed of. Asking, seeking, and knocking is always the way of life, the way forward, for the believer.

Confidence. Prayer doesn’t just ask and seek; it obtains and finds (cf. Hebrews 4:16). Each who asks receives, seeks finds, and knocks gains entry (Matthew 7:8). Why? Because of Whom it is that we are asking: our Father Who is in heaven (Matthew 7:11). Just as He sustains food to the birds and beauty to the flowers, He sustains even to the wicked world a sense of responsibility for their children. If He had not extended common grace so that fallen man gives his children bread and fish instead of stones and serpents, humanity would soon have perished altogether. And as the very one who grieves over his remaining sin still provides for his dear children, he must conclude that his heavenly Father will most assuredly give him every good thing.

Affection. Partially sanctified men, and even unregenerate men, feel not only a responsibility to their children but natural affection. By extending this to us in both common grace and special grace, God gives us an inkling of His Fatherly affection toward us. Coming to Him as dearly loved children brings forth from our own hearts a reciprocal affection.

Submission. Treating God as Father means more than just knowing His love. It also means trusting His wisdom. We trust His wisdom about what to ask for (cf. Matthew 6:8–13), and we trust His wisdom in how He answers. The law and the prophets teach us both what our Father has intended toward us and what our Father requires of us.

Imitation. Having learned from Father what to desire from Him, we understand what to desire from other men. We become grateful for assistance with the planks in our eyes. The “therefore” in Matthew 7:12 shows us that, in this context, the so-called “golden rule” is specifically about loving our neighbor with evangelism and loving our brother by fellowship in one another’s sanctification. We learn from the goodness of Father both the goodness that we should desire for ourselves and the goodness that we should desire to show to others. 

Behold how good and wise Father is! He has made fellowship with Him the necessary heart of the pursuit of holiness; thus He has infused our lives with much sweetness as we pursue that holiness. Let us learn from Him what is best, and imitate His goodness with others. 

What place does sanctification have in your prayer life? What place does prayer have in what else you are doing for sanctification? How does the biblical way of sanctification force you into the sweetness of interaction with your heavenly Father? How does knowing and desiring such sweetness for yourself shape how you interact with your brothers?

Sample prayer:  Father in heaven, we feel our great neediness! Thank You for also making us to know Your grace and the sweetness of coming to You for that grace, and depending upon You for that grace. You know how to give good things to those who ask You. Help us to aim at the same good in loving our brethren, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH518 “Come, My Soul, with Every Care”

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