DiM | “Even So Come” by Kristian Stanfill

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

August 18, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Even So Come” by Kristian Stanfill which currently sits at #15 on 20theCountdownMagazine’s top 20 and at #2 on the KLove top 10.

This is another cross-over song written for corporate worship that is very popular on in Christian radio. This song serves no purpose for the unbelieving hearer, it is meant as a song of declaration of anticipation for the return of Jesus Christ for His Bride, the Church. We’ll discuss the merits of the song in that vein, to see how to best equip the believing Christian for maintaining a Gospel focus grounded in Biblical Truth. Overall, this song has some good stuff. The further removed from Passion/Hillsong the better, since their theology regarding the Church, the Kingdom of Heaven, Presence theology, and Word of Faith is aberrant. Whatever good can be found in this song, I strongly discourage anyone from accepting Hillsong theology.

PassionVEVO Lyric/Chords Video

Lyrics (via Air1.com)

Kristian Stanfill – Even So Come Lyrics
From the album Passion: Even So Come

All of creation
All of the earth
Make straight a highway
A path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon

Call back the sinner
Wake up the saint
Let every nation shout of Your fame
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

There will be justice
All will be new
Your name forever
Faithful and true
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You’re coming soon

So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You’re coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Publishing: © 2015 sixsteps Songs // Worship Together Music // S.D.G. Publishing (BMI) (Admin. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com) // Vistaville Music obo Itself / Go Mia Music / Chrissamsongs Inc. (ASCAP) // Sony/ATV Timber Publishing // Open Hands Music (SESAC)
Writer(s): Chris Tomlin, Jess Cates and Jason Ingram

Discussion

To begin, it is important to note that this song is not written for the unbeliever. There is no Law/Gospel, Sin/Grace, Repentance/Forgiveness… this song does not convey the Gospel message for the unbeliever. For that, it will not get an overall Approval. The song’s message gets a little bit scattered after the first time through the chorus. Rather than a unified message, it sort of bounces between loosely related  verses, sometimes sung to God, sometimes sung to believers, so it can easily become awash in experiential emotionalism, so that bears some guarding.

That aside, as a song intended for believers to focus on the imminent return of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I think it is quite good. Let’s work through the themes of the song and focus on the passages of Scripture being invoked.

Make straight a highway, a path for the Lord. The Prophets in the Old Testament often called Israel to repentance in light of the Promised Messiah of the Lord God. Probably the most often remembered passage comes from Isaiah 40.

Isaiah 40:1-5 (ESV) | Comfort for God’s People

40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
    that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord‘s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Now, for the unbeliever, this is at-best a prophecy of “the end”, when God will finally be revealed. For those who have believed in the Name of Jesus Christ, we know this to be a prophetic call to repentance. If I may, we find similar words of comfort connected to repentance in Isaiah 57.

Isaiah 57:12-21 (ESV)

12 I will declare your righteousness and your deeds,
    but they will not profit you.
13 When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!
    The wind will carry them all off,
    a breath will take them away.
But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land
    and shall inherit my holy mountain.

14 And it shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
    remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
    who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.
16 For I will not contend forever,
    nor will I always be angry;
for the spirit would grow faint before me,
    and the breath of life that I made.
17 Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry,
    I struck him; I hid my face and was angry,
    but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.
18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
    I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
19     creating the fruit of the lips.
Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the Lord,
    “and I will heal him.
20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea;
    for it cannot be quiet,
    and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

The Promise of restoration, comfort, healing, and peace. The rest of our Lord Jesus Christ. We who are of the household of faith will enter into that rest. There is, however, no peace for the wicked.

Like a bride waiting for her groom… Here is where we need to pay attention to our theology and discern what is Biblical and what isn’t. Hillsong (and many others) push a “Kingdom” theology that declares the present church is the bride of Christ and we have a role to play in ushering in the Return of Jesus Christ. This is a false narrative. We have no part to play in spurring on the return of bridegroom; rather, our task is to be dressed in readiness and to keep our lamps lit (Luke 12:35). Hillsong hijacks the promises of God and twists them to promote their services or “worship experiences”. The end of the song with the repeating “even so come, Lord Jesus come” ends up falling into Hillsong’s presence theology, the idea that the point of worship is to invite the Holy Spirit to manifest in the church service in an emotional way… because Hillsong is a cash-cow selling an emotional high while calling it worship. The key to having the right perspective in all of this is asking one simple question… Who is preparing the Bride for her King?

Revelation 21 (ESV) | The New Heaven and the New Earth

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

The New Jerusalem

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

God prepares the Bride, the Church of Jesus Christ. It is God who does the work, it is the Alpha and Omega who declares ‘It is done’! and it is He who allows the thirsty to drink without payment. Hillsong preaches a man-centric, works-based, theology that exalts the Hillsong brand. They are not the only ones who peddle in this false doctrine, but they are the single most influential music mogul in the world, and it is important that we recognize the theology that fuels their music. The Church has her marching orders, expressly laid out through the New Testament. Preach the Word, grow in the knowledge of Christ, keep the faith. What we’ve read in Revelation 21 isn’t about what the church is doing… or going to do… it is about what God is doing and Will do. With that in mind, let us read the last chapter of the book.

Revelation 22 (ESV) | The River of Life

22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city;also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Jesus Is Coming

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

It is my prayer, that as the song plays on the radio and repeats the refrain, “Even so come Lord Jesus, come…” that it will be this passage you meditate on. Our Lord is coming back, and He will make all things new.

Luke 12:35-40 (ESV) | You Must Be Ready

35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Conclusion

The song bears a great proclamation of the Promise of our Savior… He is coming soon. Be ready, bear the fruit in keeping with repentance, and walk according to the Spirit by faith in Christ Jesus.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

August 11, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour which currently sits at #16 on 20theCountdownMagazine’s top 20 and at #10 on the KLove top 10.

This song is a goal-setting motivational song. The goal is scriptural for Christians. Unfortunately, the song doesn’t provide any indication in how to achieve the goal, nor does it share the Gospel or call people to repentance. It doesn’t stand on its own, but I think if we take some time to study what God’s Word says, we can make the best of hearing this song played the radio. Let’s give it a listen, examine the lyrics, and then search the Scriptures for the clarity this song sorely lacks.

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via Air1.com)

Finding Favour – Cast My Cares Lyrics

When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steal my breath away

When my back’s pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

This war’s not what I would’ve chosen
But You see the future no one knows yet

And there’s still good when I can’t
See the working of Your hands
You’re holding it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

I’m finding there’s freedom
When I lay it all on Your shoulders

Cast my cares
I will
Cast my cares
I will
Cast my cares on You

Publishing: © 2014 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (ASCAP) / Songs Of Emack (ASCAP). All rights for the world on behalf of Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing and Songs Of Emack administered by CapitolCMGPublishing.com. Sony/ATV Timber Publishing/Not Just Another Song Music (SESAC). Shivel Songs a div of Daywind Music Publishing/Sesac (admin. by ClearBox Rights).
Writer(s): Blake NeeSmith, Casy Brown & Sam Tinnesz

Discussion

Let’s knock out the obvious… this song doesn’t bear any Gospel message. There is no call to repentance. No mention of sin. It doesn’t even clearly identify the “You”. This song most assuredly does not stand on its own. If this song is to have any value or provide any degree of encouragement, it must be heard by Christians with solid theology. The allusions to Scripture are so pale that they can be hijacked by the most amateur false teacher. Nevertheless, this song can be an encouragement for one who has a good foundation of solid theology, and for that it does not get a flat-out disapproval.

I think the best place to begin this discussion is in Peter’s letter to the Church. We are going to look at the closing chapter of his first letter, because in his closing he is leaving general marching orders to the Church. These apply to us directly, so let us examine what the Holy Spirit wrote via the Apostle Peter:

1 Peter 5 (ESV) | Shepherd the Flock of God

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Final Greetings

12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.14 Greet one another with the kiss of love.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Peter first addresses the Elders of the Church, and he includes himself as their fellow elder.  He then addresses the need for the younger ones to be subject to the elders. Peter than shifts to “all of you” for his exhortation. Notice that Peter begins the command to Humble ourselves… casting all our anxieties on [God], because He cares for us. Is it not pride / arrogance / selfishness that motivates us to insist that we do things on our own, carry loads we weren’t meant to carry, and refuse help? Notice something else here… Peter begins with humbling ourselves, flows into casting our anxieties upon God because He cares for us, and then moves directly into resisting the devil. James also put these things together in his letter.

James 4:1-10 (ESV) | Warning Against Worldliness

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Now James was addressing different issues, but notice the submission to God, humbling of ourselves, purifying our hearts of double-mindedness (Someone who doubts God James 1:5-8). The connection to our song is right here, I think, in the purifying of our hearts of doubt and holding on by faith as the intersection with what Peter described as casting our anxieties on God. The heart of a double-minded man is filled with anxiety and tossed by the seas of circumstance. Let us look to one more passage of Scripture found in the letter to the Philippians from the Apostle Paul. Again, we’ll be looking at the concluding portion of the letter, beginning in verse 1 of Chapter 4:

Philippians 4:1-9 (ESV) | Exhortation, Encouragement, and Prayer

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

So much good stuff in this passage. I want to start with the highlighted portion… The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious… That’s vital. It isn’t just an empty imperative or command to “stop being anxious”, not at all… it flows as a result of the acknowledgement of the Truth that the Lord is indeed at hand. Read it as you did Peter’s exhortation to cast your cares on [God], because He cares for you. The Lord is at hand. You are not alone, you are not on your own, it isn’t your burden to carry… put your faith in Him and purify your heart of doubt (double-mindedness).

We see something else here in Paul’s conclusion that can help us in our next step… searching for the “how” in casting our cares upon God. Paul doesn’t begin with the “thou shall not be anxious”… he begins with rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Don’t make this a commandment as in “be happy or else!” because just as we saw in verse 6, Paul is making this commandment a reflection of the previous statement whose names are in the book of life. Yes, at the Resurrection every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, but Paul is urging us to rejoice always (x2) in knowing that our names are written in the book of life. We are to rejoice in the Grace God has shown toward us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By faith we have been redeemed and our names have been written in the book of life. Rejoice in that, brothers and sisters in Christ. The Lord is at hand… cast your cares on Him. In everything… by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests to God. Prayer and supplication require humbling yourself in the sight of the Lord. In verse 7, we see that the peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ… from whom? The devil and his temptation. We are not to be ignorant but vigilant and sober-minded, as Peter wrote. That brings us the finally of Paul’s exhortation… think about these things.

We are not ignorant of the trials and tribulations that lie ahead… in fact, we are to count it all joy (James 1). But we know that it isn’t by our strength or might that we are to face these challenges; rather, we are to cast our cares on the Lord who is at hand, because He cares for us. Rejoice in the Gospel of Grace, think on whatever is praiseworthy, and the God of peace will guard our hearts.

Conclusion

The song doesn’t stand on its own, but for those who are in Christ Jesus, it can be a reminder that we are to humble ourselves before God, casting our cares and anxieties upon Him, and trusting in Him in everything. There are some other nuggets than can be fleshed out, but I think we’ve covered the heart of the intent of the song here. Think on these things, trusting in Him who paid the price of our sin, suffered and died on a cross, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and Promised to return once more.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 7

bibleLast week we looked at Jesus’ teaching regarding anxiety and where we should put our hope and our focus. Today, we are going to look at how the Jesus closes out the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 7. I didn’t do a great job of planning out how to segment Chapters 6 and 7, so today we’ll just knock out the whole chapter today. Next week, we’ll be jumping ahead to the fulfillment of the Gospel at the cross in time for Easter.

Summing Up the Law and the Prophets

As we close out the sermon on the mount, we will see Jesus take all of the teaching on Worship and service for our fellow-man, with our focus on treasures in heaven and our anxiety, hope, and trust laid firmly at the throne of God, how are we to conduct ourselves?

Matthew 7 (ESV)

Judging Others

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

The first section is often misquoted and twisted to rebuke any who declare Truth in the face of error, and rebuke sin and falsehood. Is Jesus saying we are not to rebuke sinfulness? Absolutely not. This section needs to be read in context of the entire sermon, both what has already been spoken and what is still coming later in the chapter. Let’s look at how Jesus followed up His demonstration of how we are to pray in the preceding chapter.

Matthew 6:9-15 (ESV)
9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There is a difference between identifying sin and falsehood, and sitting in judgement over our neighbor. Don’t let anyone silence you from preaching God’s Law, practicing discernment, or rebuking sin. However, in your rebuke, discernment, or preaching of the Law do not stop short of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ, we’ve been given a ministry of reconciliation. And when your brother (or sister) repents, forgive him (or her) for the sake of the Gospel and for our own forgiveness according to Jesus. To sit in judgement over a brother or a sister, is to place yourself in the wrong seat. Jesus Christ is the Judge. We are to provide counsel to our brothers and sisters, and some of us are called to shepherd Christ’s flock, but we will all answer to the Judge, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 7 (ESV) cont…

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

Verse 6 is a tough verse. As we deal with it in this present context, it seems to be addressing those to whom both Law and Gospel have been preached yet they remain unrepentant. Bearing in mind that we are NOT to take the judgment seat and damn the unbeliever to hell for their unbelief, we also shouldn’t attempt to pour out holy gifts (of teaching, sound doctrine, and eternal promises) unbelievers. For an unrepentant, faithless, generation will simply trample these things underfoot and turn to attack you. Let that be a warning to those caught up in the “churching the unchurched” bandwagon. Church is for believers, for the repentant sinner-saved-by-grace, not for the unbelieving. For this understanding, I’m drawing heavily from the Reformation Study Bible’s cross-reference to Acts 13.

Acts 13:44-51 (ESV)
44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.

In that last portion, we see Paul and Barnabas doing as Jesus taught His disciples when He sent them out (Matthew 10:13-15). If any place would not receive them, they were to shake the dust from their feet against them and move on.

Matthew 7 (ESV) cont.. | Ask, and It Will Be Given

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

The Golden Rule

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Now, regarding verses 7 through 11, what is the context of this promise? Growing up in Pentecostal churches, I’ve heard this passage used to justify asking anything of God and expecting it to be given to me. In the previous chapter, Jesus expressly commanded His hearers not to lay up for themselves treasures on earth. He is not now opening the prayer requests as some sort of prosperity vending machine. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, don’t be anxious for what you will eat or what you will wear… set your sights on upward call toward Heaven, and God will meet your needs. We’ll address this again when we reach Matthew 10 and look at how Jesus instructed His disciples in going out. This teaching bears weight in those instructions. Yes, God the Father gives good gifts, and He will meet our needs. But our inheritance is stored up for us in Heaven.

The Golden Rule, as it is often called, is to do for others what you would wish for them to do for you. This should guide our Worship of God through our service to our neighbors. Don’t let anyone presume to skip the Greatest Commandment and hold only to the second commandment of “loving your neighbor as yourself”, for without the first, the second is impossible. Jesus laid that out already at the start of this sermon on the mount.

Matthew 7 (ESV) cont…

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Build Your House on the Rock

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Notice how quickly after summarizing how we are to conduct ourselves and deal with our brothers and sisters Jesus turns to the matter of discernment and false teachers. Guard your doctrine. Hold fast to sound doctrine, the Word of God. Remember this whenever someone tries to use the beginning of this chapter to silence Biblical discernment and just rebuke. This whole section goes together. What is the fruit of a false prophet? False teaching and false doctrine. When you recognize the thorns and thistles on the tree, you don’t continue looking for figs. Do not wait for the floods to come and knock down the house to then ask the question, “should I be building my house on this sand?”

Can a false teacher be forgiven? Yes, but not without repentance.  Are we to call them to repentance? Absolutely. If they remain in their unbelief, we do not move from the preaching of repentance, we do not cast pearls before swine, neither do we endure their false teaching.

Romans 10:5-17 (ESV) | The Message of Salvation to All

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Indeed it does.

Matthew 7 (ESV) cont… | The Authority of Jesus

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

All authority in heaven and on earth were given to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Until Next Week…

We will pause our working through the Gospel According to Matthew, and take a look at Christ’s finished work on the Cross in preparation for Easter Sunday. After Easter, we will pick back up beginning in Matthew 8, hopefully keeping these posts shorter as we address each account in smaller bits. Until then, be blessed, and continue to spend time in the Words of Christ.

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 6:25-34

bibleLast week we looked at Jesus’ teaching of the Law as it pertains to Worship. How we are to be about good works, prayer, and fasting. Jesus commands His audience not to lay up treasures for themselves on earth. Our focus is NOT to be earthly prosperity, for it is temporary. Instead, our focus is to be on treasures in Heaven. Over the past several weeks as we’ve studied Matthew, it should be abundantly clear that any notion of pleasing God by keeping the Law is futile and presumptuous. No man born in sin has a hope of maintaining the righteousness of God by avoiding sin. Jesus begins transitioning into more and more Gospel preaching. We know that before the cross, a veil remained over their understanding, and even His own disciples failed to grasp the full Gospel until after Jesus revealed Himself to them after the resurrection.

It isn’t up to You

As we close out Matthew Chapter 6, we see Jesus offering encouragement to those who are being killed by the work of the Law on their hearts. Everyone who heard His words were dead in sins and trespasses and were being shown their sin in the authoritative preaching of the Law by the very Word of God made flesh, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV) | Do Not Be Anxious

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Therefore… Therefore what? Well, they were totally, and utterly sinful men, completely separated from and unworthy of God. They were told to worship God in secret, not looking to men for recognition and not even looking to God for earthly reward; rather, they were to worship God laying up treasures in Heaven. They have no power on their own to affect their daily lives, and they were not to focus on earthly vindication, riches, or the praise of men. Therefore, do not be anxious about your life. The Gospel side of the “you are powerless” coin is that you serve a God who is able, where you are not. He is mighty in your weakness. His Goodness makes everything else evil by comparison. King Solomon was wisest man to live, and was blessed with all manner of earthly riches. Let’s look at one of his Psalms.

Psalm 127  (ESV) | Unless the Lord Builds the House

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

God gives His beloved sleep. God watches over His people, not because they’ve earned it, but because He Loves them. And because He loved us, God sent His Son to pay the penalty of our sin, so that by His blood, we might be reconciled to Him.

Until Next Week…

I will be doing some traveling next week, but I hope to have posts ready up to Gospel Wednesday, where we will close out the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 7 and skip ahead the following week to Christ’s finished work on the cross leading into Easter weekend.

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge