Why some people don’t appear to have Matt 6:1-6 work for them
Automatically Generated Transcript
If we were to venture onto the topic of how to find out and get to be doing God's will, you'd discover, we'd discover, that it's a fairly varied set of opinions that folk have as to what exactly is God's will and how do we get to find it. Or another aspect of the same thing is, is it possible to miss God's will or to have it and then muck it up? And some of the varying answers people have are held by people down through history who've been very good Christians but have differed. You may be aware of the two evangelists in the years 1600s, I think it is, around that time, George Whitfield and John Wesley, and Shona's new little baby, who's now one year old, is called Wesley. And from John Wesley, who gave the name Fame, he's really the person with his brother Charles behind the arisal of the Methodist denomination, and he was an evangelist.
And he differed from George Whitfield because Wesley was someone who had far more belief in the variability of us finding the will of God and the fact that we have a large contribution to learn to get discipled if we're ever going to do it. And he believed that there was such a thing as a form of sinless perfection. Sometimes these different groups name it differently. A type of entire sanctification is what the idea of sinless perfection is. And so his emphasis was very much on Christians striving hard to see if they can gain a greater righteousness. Now, we've been talking the last two Sunday mornings on righteousness, and I haven't managed to get off the topic yet, partly because I feel I've done just a little bit of a job and left so much not said. And so I gave myself tonight an opportunity to compliment and to complete a little bit more on this topic of righteousness.
Anyway, Wesley was one whose emphasis on the Methodist denominations and their varying styles of being a Methodist often do have a far more subjective approach to Christianity and one where they believe we should be striving to find that entire righteousness or sanctification. There are some other denominations who would call it sinless perfection, and there are subtle differences between exactly how they explain this, but that is amongst the people of Brisbane who are Christians, there are quite a few who would be in a denomination like that. And we sometimes have visiting speakers who are of that style and who love the Lord, and some of them are good friends of mine, and I admire them for their love of Christ. In fact, I discovered over studying in Dallas, in Texas, some good friends who actually came out to my wedding.
I invited three men to come and be my men standing with me, and I got married to Michelle down in Sydney. And when they kept changing their tickets, and so we became, or me, I became anxious that maybe Americans are very good at changing their minds, you know, so I didn't know for sure that they'd arrive, so I let them drive the cars rather than stand in the church and be the best men, you know, those things. But they did come, and they had a bit of fun driving on the wrong side of the road with Michelle sitting in the back, and so that was how our wedding went. But after the marriage had happened and we went off to Canberra for our honeymoon, one of the people I did use for a best man, bridesman, I've had a big day, was a fellow who was very gregarious and here are some Americans needing to be shown around, so he said, come with me, we'll go up and see Brisbane, and he drove them all the way up the coast and took them to some beaches in the way, and of course they were doing that on a Sunday, and some of these Americans were very strict about what you did and didn't do on Sunday, and what was worse, Russell, my friend, he took them down to a beach and there were a lot of people wearing less than they were used to seeing.
But nonetheless, one of these Americans, and he was one who believed in God's sovereignty so much that he believed that Jesus only died for the elect, and he was a very keen Christian, and that idea of limited atonement is where the death of Jesus that gets our atonement, was that he only took the sins of the ones who were picked out by God, and they're the ones who all end up getting converted. And he believed that, but yet he was a keen Christian, a valued part of our prayer meeting, he's the one, I might have told you before, he used to get down on his knees at the chair and pray to God and beat the chair as he prayed, and he was so enthusiastic talking about the prayer meeting to the other students, and we had varying students, there's a thousand students in the institution who were coming to see what was going on in the revival, he told them about it. It wasn't actually, it was just a good prayer meeting, but he'd never been in a good prayer meeting which had a subjectivity to the sense of the presence of God.
But he was someone that believed in limited atonement, which was a shock to me, it gave me a kick, you know, because I thought the ones who really know the truth are the ones that have had revival experience or are people who don't have his doctrines. But he proved it wasn't totally true. Anyway, when he was taken down on the beach and he said, I'm going to do some open air preaching, so he was there preaching to a lot of the girls who were not wearing as much as he'd be wanting them to, and one of my friends noticed some of the way that he put the phrasing about them becoming Christians was, Christ died for sinners such as you. And the reason why he said Christ died for sinners such as you is that he believed many of them Christ didn't die for at all, but just people sinful like them, because he couldn't tell who would be the called and who would not be the called. So he adjusted the way he gave his gospel message so as to not be theologically accurate in saying something that maybe wasn't true in their case.
Now, to me, that's evidence that he had it wrong, because I believe the Bible teaches that Christ died for the sin of the world. That's what this morning, if you weren't here, part of the message was on the fact that Jesus, in John 3.16, for God so loved the world as the world of sinners. Not just the elect, he died for the world, but then it goes on and says, but whosoever believes in him will have eternal life. When you put together the whosoever about the love of God, and when you put together the Christ died for the world, together with the whosoever, only the whosoever ones actually get to have the eternal life, then you can see that it's a smaller subset who get to believe and get the eternal life, but yet they still were died for. Okay? Now that's worth testing in the scriptures that my logic is really true. There could be ways around that somehow. I can think of one that you could believe the idea of there being God knowing who'd be the elect, and that is that Christ died for everybody, but it didn't mean that he called them all.
And it could be the ones that don't ever get called. He died for them, but didn't call them. Now, that doesn't suit my theology, but it is one way around the problem that my friend would have if I got him down and had a talk about this. But let's look and see a few verses, and so we'll turn, if you would, to one of those Peter verses, the second Peter. He picked the right one. That's good. Now, where this is helpful for us is not just the very thing it's talking about as much as the implications of things said in passing, but it's about the fact that in the old covenant days there were false prophets. There were true prophets, and there were some who said they were prophets, but yet what made them false was that it did damage to the truth or it did damage to people's security with God. Not only false because of a slip-up in the theology, but false because of the damage it did.
But false prophets also arose amongst the people. This is the Jewish people. Just as there will be false teachers amongst you. This is Peter writing a letter to Christians in the diaspora, the distant parts of the world back then where Christianity had come. There will be teachers amongst you who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the master who bought them. So they started out getting good acceptance and having people following their teaching, but they end up denying the master who bought them. That's Jesus. He's the one that bought us all by his death on the cross. Bringing upon themselves swift destruction. They don't escape with God saying, Tut, tut, you shouldn't have said it that way. And many will follow their sensuality. So it's also combined with teaching people some wrong behaviours. Many will follow their sensuality and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
We're living in a generation where that danger is far more prevalent because of the temptations that all Christians, us ourselves included, have to follow the world in various things. And because of them the way of the truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle and their destruction is not asleep, meaning it hasn't disappeared because the idea of them going to hell has not been forgotten. Their destruction is not asleep. So the fact that there are people who are ones bought by the master, Jesus, and yet they go off the track so much so that they're teaching false things and they're even in that teaching denying the master who bought them. And that tells me that Jesus died for more than just the elect. How could there be elect? Some who are going to be lost even though they might have had an attempt to be included in the people of God because something went wrong. And it was what I wanted to do tonight to talk about the fact that we can miss the will of God. And in our missing the will of God is a strange and unusual phenomenon from God's point of view. He had his will done anyway. But from our point of view and from earthly estimates some people didn't make it. Now I grew up in a church as you people are.
And it is a fact that of the people of the church in Adelaide when I was a high school young person we had a revival time and some became very keen. And some of the keen people got out and spoke to their fellow friends at high school and there was one particular fellow who got brought along because of the testimony of his friend and he said to us, it's because, and he named the bloke who was his friend at school, he saw a change come over him and he came back to the church to track down what did it. And he became a Christian. In fact, he was quite a stimulus to us. He brought up the idea of going and talking to people on the street and the terminology of doing street fishing came from this new Christian. Because we saw him one day, I was driving through Rundle Street in Adelaide, back when you could drive through, and I saw him and he was dressed in what were not his church clothes. This is back in a time when he dressed up a little bit better for Sunday. And he was wearing a jumper and that was like what you do if you're going to the footy at night down in Adelaide. And he was stopping people in the street and when I got to see him later, I said, I saw you in town and you were talking to strangers.
He said, yes, I read in the Bible, go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature and I was doing it. He really convicted me, this fellow had only just become a Christian, that he was off doing it. Yet he, along the way of life, got off the track and disappeared from the church. Now I'm trusting God to bring him back again. But at least as far as finding the will of God in his life, he missed it. And it brings the question, how is it that there are these great promises that we're going through in the morning service that was on the Beatitude that says, blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. They shall find and they shall be filled. Their hunger and thirst will be answered. And yet it is the fact, and I know from questions asked of me in my younger days of travelling around, there were some questions you got asked at almost every youth camp you went to. How do I find the will of God and what went wrong? And you meet young people who started well and then something happened and it all got smashed.
Or they went off the track. They prayed, or someone who's praying for God to do something, and they're praying for someone and then the person dies. And people who have been made to become keen about God doing things as Jesus did, there was a particular time in Adelaide, a movement about healing. And some of the different little groups or denominations put it as a part of what they broadcast, that God also heals anybody, but they can never produce it. Why is it that there are lots of people who get sick and they pray and they die? Some. Why is it that many of us also have testimonies of answers to prayer? It's amazing. What about the promise that is the Beatitude, the one that we're looking at this morning, in Matthew 5 and verse 6? Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. They'll find it. How true is that promise? The first thing I want to do tonight is to make sure you understand that that promise is quite literal. And that its possibility of being literal is when you understand it more fully, which is what this morning I was going on about, that the promise is actually about a righteousness that you don't, there it is, you don't work up yourself.
It's about the righteousness. I won't repeat what this morning I said, but to the way that the grammar is and the use of the inflections on the words, that righteousness is the righteousness, not some righteousness. It's not just you're getting a bit better, it is you finding the righteousness of God. It's an absolute thing that we don't have the capacity to produce. And even if we could get our lives a little bit nicer looking, we could get ourselves in spiritual shape as best we can. Because it comes from a fallen human nature that we got from the whole race fell into sin, it's tinged with its origin. The Bible calls it dead works. All that we think are our nice works, the Bible calls them dead works. They're not the works of God if they didn't come out of the righteousness of Christ that's given to us at our salvation. That's what this morning we're on about. So where does the righteousness of God that this verse is talking about come from? How is it that some people make a decision to be a Christian in church or they go through the wherewithal that particular church gets people to follow to become a Christian? How is it that so many of them don't seem to be able to continue in it? And our family know about this because they've all come up through the Lutheran education.
And in Lutheran education the belief is that they become right with God at their baptism as a baby. And so they have clubs at some of the schools where the young people come along, but they're basically given the idea that they are the children of God. Why that's a bit difficult because it's true in terms of all humanity is the children of God, but we're not all children of God in the sense of having come to Christ. As John says, as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believed in his name. And so there is a special way that the Bible talks about, like Jesus did to Nicodemus, of getting born again. And how is it that some people are very good churchgoers and you find among them some that when you think about all the fruits they have you say, yeah, I think they're a real Christian. But they don't understand it the same and they don't have any way to, when they go to interdenominational meetings, to have the same connection. And it's just a difficult thing. How is it that sometimes, and just a lot of the friends of my family, once they get to university they've more of gone off the track than stayed on it. And why is that, this phenomenon that people have every opportunity and yet the world wins? The parents lament and the church doesn't understand.
The understanding is in this righteousness being the righteousness of God. And what I've been wanting to communicate is that we get the righteousness of God when we go through, as the Beatitudes are leading us to, to sorrow over our sin. When we go through the mourning about it and we get a hunger and a thirst for God to give us what we can't do ourselves. And when he does, then we're released from the guilt and we then can display a complete peace. Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, is what the Gospel says. But it's because his righteousness has come to us in our conversion. But what I've also been trying to say is that that's not the end of the process of righteousness. Because having been granted the righteousness of Christ to get to be a Christian, the next step in your salvation, remember salvation is something that's happened and something that goes on happening and something that will happen. I have been saved, I am being saved, I will be saved. And there will be saves in heaven when we'll be made perfect. But the middle one is one that not many people have understood or taken on board or just managed to know how to get a hold of.
And it is the middle part of salvation, I am being saved or I'll go on being saved, whereby our sanctification makes progress. And so, yes, that's the right verse. 1 Corinthians 1.30 And because of him, that's Jesus, you are in Christ Jesus. Any man become a Christian or become in Christ is a brand new creation, all things have passed away, behold all things have become new. That's a conversion happening and you are justified totally from that moment on. And yet your justification in terms of the practical outworking of it and actually being something happening through you becoming more and more visible is the second part of salvation, I am being saved. And it happens because when you are in Christ Jesus, God makes you to, makes Jesus who became to us wisdom from God. We have in the home group on the Friday night a lot of, every now and then I should say, I talk about wisdom and what does God want, it's a very good emphasis to have.
But where does the wisdom, where do you get it from? You don't get it just from you doing your spiritual push-ups or you doing your exercise. I don't know what the spiritual equivalent of going to the park run is, maybe going to Tamborine Mountain and getting deeper teaching, all of which is good by the way, don't take me to, if you get a chance to go to greater camps or whatever, they give you the deeper teaching, it's a good thing to do. But it's God in Jesus who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. And all these things sometimes we take to go along with having made our decision or having been converted, become a Christian. There is a continuance of those things increasing in you. It's all happening because the Jesus that you came to and wrapped your arms around him to become a Christian, God makes you in him and through him we become more wise, we become more righteous, our sanctification increases, the redemption, the buying back by the master has a further outworking.
Now I think I probably need here to make sure you're convinced of this, some Bible verses and that this is a part of the gospel, the gospel that takes on more to talk about than just getting in the door. The gospel that talks about our righteousness growing. The person who's written in the New Testament, the book most really theologically about what the gospel is, is, tell me who? Which New Testament writer has written most, eh? I heard a word, I didn't... Well the answer, true answer is Paul, but if you picked John you picked a pretty good second place in my opinion. But everybody has their favourite places in the Bible. But certainly Paul has written about the gospel not only in terms of getting over being away from God and coming to Christ, but also over finding out what's going on in you and learning to become a bit sanctified. And in Romans chapter 12 and verses 1 and 2 he's talking about this... I didn't give you that verse, you're very good.
You'll catch up to your dad one day. But this very famous verse is about how to find the will of God. And if you were to ask me, as I have been asked by lots of times, how do you find the will of God or how did I miss it? I would direct someone to look at this passage. I appeal to you therefore brethren, is the old version, or brothers. So he's writing now to Christians at the end of his gospel how to become one and what are some of the hiccups you could get over along the way. Now in Romans 12, I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God. So he's saying this is not based on some exercise that you have to do and build up the muscle of spiritual muscle. That would not be the way Paul would put it. He's basing it on your getting to understand the depth of the mercy of God. And every spiritual blessing is what God makes to you through Christ as we look to that Corinthians verse. By means of the mercies of God. To present your bodies as a living sacrifice.
Certainly in Paul's mind he's drawing analogies from his reader's understanding of the Jewish system and the sacrifice being a part of what was necessary for them to get anywhere spiritually. But here he's talking about a living sacrifice of their persons. Holy. Now it's not one that you have to strive to make holy because by your hungering and thirsting after righteousness the moment has come that God gave you a righteousness in Christ. If any person be in Christ, he's a new creation. You are someone who's acceptable. You're holy and acceptable because of Christ. God has taken who Jesus is and has wrapped you up in the credit of it. Holy and acceptable to God. And then what you do as a consequence of that position of spirituality and of righteousness, that's what worship is. The more people that you have together who are in Christ and are worshiping Christ and when they come together and whether they're just having fellowship like after the service or whether they're singing in the music side, the whole of a service is actually properly called a worship service. It's not just the music, you know.
That's a part of it, a very good part. But it's what makes the worship in our church. And then it goes on. Do not be conformed to this world. So in the process that needs to follow, you're having gained the righteousness of Jesus so that you're acceptable to God. You need to watch out that you now be a person that listens to God and not the world. Don't be conformed to all the pressures, to the music of the world. You might have heard me repeat it before. Leighton Ford had an analogy or illustration that really struck me. So I tell other people the illustration. But he came in a car when he was here in 79 and they drove to one of the five ways and the car had to stop. And some other car came alongside where the person had his windows up and the fellow inside, when we looked around, we saw him going, you know, what people do when they don't know people watching. And he was keeping the beat on the steering wheel. We're waiting for the lights to turn. And then he did something unusual. He put the windows down.
He looked crazy when we saw him at first, but when he put the windows down we could hear the beat of the song and we knew what he was doing the movement to. And that's like Christians. When someone becomes a Christian, there's new music put in your heart. There's something wonderful. And anything to which you beat, do the beat. And other people think you've become weird. But if they would know of what the music is actually from, they'd understand. And sometimes you meet someone whose movement toward becoming a Christian is they couldn't quite explain the joy in the faces that they saw at church or the sense of the fellowship. Every club that you can get to always has its problems. People have different opinions and people who are competitive. It doesn't matter what club it is, there's always problems. When you're a pastor you learn that because it includes churches. But nonetheless, there is a renewal possible for people in a church. And sometimes it gets to be very, very visible. You'd be amazed at how many people who come to Christ because they had a neighbor who's a Christian. But they watched them. They came to some spot that they couldn't explain. There was something supernatural going on. That person didn't behave like they expected them to.
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. That's the process of being sanctified, whereby the righteousness that you've been given as Christ's righteousness, you're now taught how to have a character that lives up to it. Bit by bit, sometimes needing to have a few experiences where someone has to point out to you that you're not quite making it yet. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. By testing, this is this version of the ESV says testing, but the meaning of it is in the broader sense that you might be able to discern the will of God. You might be able to not only discern it. The word discern is troubling me because it's not just a mental discerning it's talking about. It's really saying that you might find the will of God. You might not lose your way amongst all the options. And you might try one way and try another but you will end up discovering what is the will of God? What is good and acceptable and perfect? And just as the righteousness that you get when you hunger and thirst for it and when you come to Christ, he gives you his righteousness, the perfect righteousness. And one of the signs that that's happened to you is you actually are aware you're no longer guilty. I'm not just talking about your memories forgotten.
Your memory might even still remember but somehow. That's what the Bible means when it says we're righteous by faith. And when we become righteous by faith, we have peace with God. And it's not peace as in feelings, peace, but it's peace as in we're no longer an enemy. No longer hostile. You have a relationship with God that he's owning. And he lets you know that you're his child. You belong to him. And one of the tests I was telling the people of the morning service about this verse in Matthew 5 and verse 6, that this verse that talks about the righteousness that God satisfies you with, that when it's really yours, all those past things that you used to be guilty about disappear as far as their importance is concerned. And what you are aware of is how you are at peace with God. It's a fantastic thing. And if every now and then you slip up and do something wrong, he doesn't abandon you. He lets you know he's still got you. By the collar sometimes maybe, but he's got you. And he's going to keep you. One of the things at college that I used to follow my father in, and that was that in teaching about the grace of God, mostly people in the church don't know this, but there are different definitions that people practically run by as to what the grace of God means. And for some people the grace of God is another way of saying you're elected.
And it's actually not the meaning of the word to the same degree they take it. There is such a thing as election, I'm not denying that. But the grace of God comes out of the whole idea of God's covenants. And being under the grace of God is something that is an outworking of him having had mercy on you and granting you righteousness, letting you in the covenant, which Paul often taught that the Gentiles had been let into the covenant. And when you have that standing with God as being one of his, then his grace, which is his covenant-keeping righteousness, never to go back on his letting you in, he'll always have you accepted to him. Even if you need a dusting off and teaching that you've done it wrong, he's not going to kick you out because he's got this grace that is going to go on holding you. And when the Bible talks about us being kept by the grace of God, that's what it means, that God is a covenant-keeping God. And when he lets you into his covenant, by the way, he does that by his mercy because you didn't deserve it, but when in his mercy he lets you in, then his grace follows you. And he's always going to come along and help you.
And if you fall over, he'll engineer circumstances to take you around the bush a bit to come back to the same general point where you tested and failed and give you another try. And you will discern as in the practical outliving of it. What is the will of God? The good and the acceptable and the perfect. And this is the ongoing work of righteousness that all of us have on offer. Why do some people miss it? Because they stumble in their faith, or they get defeated and think they're not worth it, or they think it's all too much for them. Of course, that's right. But the truth is you'll never be able to do what would make it good. But Jesus isn't asking that of you. He's just asking you to go on trusting in his grace. And he will work on you. Doesn't matter how many times you've failed, he'll bring you back to some test where you get another opportunity to succeed a bit more. And he'll be working your righteousness growing. So when the final time comes at the end, he'll make up any lack there is and you'll be perfect in heaven. Don't worry about your imperfections now because you won't have them in heaven. And we can make a lot of jokes about this. My wife won't be getting angry at me anymore because I'll be so nice.
I shouldn't make a joke. There's something about the salvation that we have that is very, very much more than what a lot of people think. They think it is getting a ticket into heaven. I've been saved. I'm going to heaven. That is such a small amount of it. But it is about the grace of God and your being admitting you into it. And it's a grace whereby he will keep you because he's a covenant-keeping God. He never fails his covenants. He doesn't give up on anybody. And yet in that not giving up on anybody, he doesn't override the integrity of your personality to be able to make a choice. Notice the little word, you, by testing, you may prove, is probably a better word than discern, you may prove what is the will of God, what is the good and the acceptable and the perfect. So there are some people who miss out a lot on what God could have done. I do believe that.
But it's never passed, he doesn't take you past the point where he can put you into his calendar again. And that's a fantastic thing. There's the end, nearer the end of the Book of Romans, which is a tremendous gospel tract. And it's a part of the good news about everything God has for us in Christ. In Christ he makes unto you wisdom. All those things that were listed in 1 Corinthians 1, verse 30 I think it is. Isn't it a fantastic topic? And because the people that come in the evenings are not always listening to what we do in the mornings, I didn't think I could not let you get a little bit of it too. On this topic, these Beatitudes, it's a fantastic thing to go on through. And let it get a grip of you, knowing that you can trust God, that he's going to take you all the way. Let's have a prayer.
Heavenly Father, I do thank you for the richness of your Word. I thank you for that verse, 1 Corinthians 1, I think it's verse 30 or verse 3. Anyway, Lord, that in Christ he makes unto us wisdom. Is there somebody here who is wanting more wisdom? Lord, will you take them to that verse, not only that one, but the one in James, that says, if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who won't tell you off, but gives generously. Lord, if there's someone here who lacks a sense of righteousness because they've fallen, would you help them to see that the righteousness of Christ can work in their life, and you're not going to let them go because they haven't made the first test. But you're going to take them through, and they'll end up proving in practice what is that perfect and acceptable will of God. May that be all our story we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.