A number of years ago, I visited a man whose children attended the Church that I pastored. He made sure his boys were there every Sunday, but he never came. In the course of the visit I inquired about his absence and was greeted with a flood of anger. He explained that he was angry with God because of his Mother’s death. Furthermore, he felt completely justified in his anger toward God because he had prayed that God would heal her, and He did not. As far as he was concerned, God had failed to keep His word. As proof, he cited Matthew 7:7-11.
“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 he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being 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!
Did he have a point? Has God promised to answer every prayer we utter? Does Matthew 7:8-9 indicate that we can pray with complete confidence? Well, He certainly can answer our prayers, if He wants to do so. To this we would all attest. However, we also know from experience that God doesn’t answer every prayer that crosses out lips. Prayer is not a blank check. We cannot ask for whatever we want from God and be assured of receiving it. We all understand this reality. Our prayer life has confirmed it. So, how are we to understand Matthew 7:7-11? It seems to say that we can pray with every confidence that God will answer, but we know He does not always grant our requests. How do we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory truths? To do so, we must look elsewhere in the Scriptures.
The seeming contradiction is resolved when we consider the broader context. Considering the whole of God’s revelation on prayer clearly reveals the parameters or restricting factors that limit the promises made in Matt. 7:7-11.
In examining the whole of Scripture, the first parameter that limits answered prayer is this. When we pray, we must be right with God before we can expect Him to answer. Our lives as His children must be properly oriented to Him-obedient and dedicated to Him. David said in Psalm 66:18 that if he regarded iniquity in his heart, God would not hear his prayers. In 1 Peter 3:7, Peter instructs husbands to be understanding of their wives and to honor them as weaker vessels and heirs together of the grace of life. Then he follows with a purpose clause, adding, “that your prayers be not hindered.” So, the first parameter involves answering this question, "Are we right with God?" Being right with Him is necessary, if God is going to answer our prayers.
The second parameter requires answering another question, "Is the request we are making, right?" The problem is that we don't always know what our real need is. We are keenly aware of the problem and we may well believe that we know the answer to the problem, but God doesn't always answer in the way we expect. Our request may not be in accord with God’s mind at all. For example, we may ask God to take away our problems when it is God who has orchestrated those very problems which need to be endured for our spiritual growth (Jam. 1:2-4). So, our requests are not always right.
Finally, a third parameter is this, the timing of our requests also has to be right. Sometimes God delays His answers. Obviously, He knows when it is best for Him to act, and we do not. This reality is apparent in the present tense verbs used in Matt. 7:7-8. Asking, seeking, and knocking are all defined by the present tense as ongoing activities, and not singular requests.
As long as all three of these parameters fall into place, what’s said in Matthew 7:7-11 can be taken to be an absolute promise
By Guest Blogger, Dr. Mike Richardson
H. This GREAT truth is central to all men when it comes to the issue of salvation
I.Now read the text. This message is about GRACE
J.Today, we find that men have many and varying answers dealing with the terms of salvation.
K.Thesis: Today I wish to compare and contrast man’s misunderstandings about the terms of salvation with what the Bible teaches about the issue of Salvation.
Part I—Man’s misunderstandings about salvation.
A.The most common misunderstanding about salvation can be found in:
Mt. 19:16-The rich young ruler… “, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”
Luke 10:25 –lawyer “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Acts 16:30-The Philippian—“Sirs, what must I do to be saved? “
B.Preachers who toss in works for salvation say to the lost, “Do and live” but the
Bible says concerning salvation, “Live and Do.”
C.Under grace the operative word is not DO but DONE!
D.Works preachers do not particular subtract from grace they just add to it
E.Some major examples of this are:
2.However, the Mosaic law consisted of 613 commandments not just 10
3.James 2:10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
4.Notice what the Apostle Paul says concerning the Law and the Spirit in II Cor. 3:7-9 “But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
5.Why does the Apostle Paul call the Law the “ministration of death? Because in Exodus 32 on the day Moses brought the Law down from Mt. Sinai they were worshipping the Golden Calf and 3,000 people who refused to come to Moses’ side died. Compare that with Acts 2:41. On the day of Pentecost Peter preached that great message of Grace and 3.000 got saved
6.That is the difference between law and grace. Law brings forth death. Grace brings forth life!
7.Gal. 3:24 “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
8.The purpose of the law is to show us our need for a savior
9.Imagine a man hanging over a 5,000-foot cliff. It does not matter if he breaks a little link or a big link. You see people think of the 10 commandments as having big links and little links
10.The Law is a mirror to show us how terrible we really are. Jer. 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
11.Rom. 3:19 “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
12.Church of Christ preacher-20 things you have to do to get saved. He pounded on James 2:21 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered Isaac his son upon the altar”
13.This is just the ranting of a bellicose, bloviating baboon.
14.Martin Luther did not like the book of James. He called it a “strawy” epistle.
15.Luther offered anyone a Doctorate degree to anyone who could reconcile James and Paul
16.The argument is a Non-Sequitor [means it does not follow]. This is comparing apples and oranges. Paul is talking about the “root of faith” while James is talking about the “fruit of faith”
17.James is talking about Christian conduct after salvation
18.Look at what the Apostle Paul consistently says:
Romans 3: 28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
Romans 6: 14,15 “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for
Ye are not under law, but under grace. What then, shall we sin
because we are not under law, but under grace? God forbid.”
19.Gal. 3:11 “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of
God, it is evident: for the just shall live by faith”20.Gal. 2:21 “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
The word “frustrate” in the Greek means to “replace”. That is what “works preachers” do.
21.Folks, God has always saved by grace. Gen. 6:8 “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”They unwittingly replace the grace of God by their own ignorance.
22. Folks, concerning “works preachers”, I do not suffer fools
gladly. The Devil is a boring preacher1
23.God has always been gracious. Jonah 4:2 …for I knew that thou are a gracious God, and slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of evil.”
24. Acts 4:33 “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Why” Because he is a great God of Great Grace!
Part II—More misunderstandings about salvation by grace
A.Yes, you are saved by grace, but you must keep yourself saved by being obedient.
B. II Cor. 1:10 “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in who we trust he will yet deliver.”---- 3 tenses of salvation
C. You are saved by grace but you must also:
1.Be baptized. Acts 2:38 is used as a proof text. But this verse does not teach such a teaching. There is a comma after the word repent. It is not a compound verb
2.You have to speak in tongues. I Cor. 13:8 “¶ Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
3.You have to keep the “Sabbath”—The tease: Prophecy Meetings
4.And it goes on and on
D. Notice Matthew 5:17,18 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the
prophets:; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till
heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be
E Folks, if there is something for you to do in salvation then there is something Jesus
Part III—My response
A.Question? What is the value of the blood of Christ? I Pet. 1:18,19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with the corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by the tradition of your fathers; But with the precious blood of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
B. Did God send his son into this world to die the most horrible death possible and to pay an infinite price for your salvation to obtain only at best a conditional salvation?
C. In Act 4:33 we see that the church was in great unity because of great grace but by Act 15 a major division occurs. The divide? Works Salvation
D. It still raises it ugly head today. How hard works for salvation dies!
E. Works preachers make themselves to be like the Jews in Rom. 10:2,3 “For I bare them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
F.You cannot commingle law and grace. Rom. 11:6 “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
G. Good intentions are not enough. Uzza is a good example. God used him as an example. We often put out our signs “Help wanted.” Concerning salvation God puts out his sign and it says, “ NO HELP WANTED!”
Part IV—Concerning Grace
A.Ephesians chapters 1-3 is salvation from God’s point of view
B.Grace is God’s unmerited favor
C.Your part in salvation is to RECEIVE the grace of God by faith
D Jesus actually dealt with this question. John 6:28,29 “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him who he hath sent.””
E. God’s mathematical formula for salvation is as follows: Faith + nothing= salvation!
Guest Blogger, Dr. Mike Richardson
Text: Romans 4:3, II Cor. 5:21
A.Rom. 4:3 “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.’
B.II Cor. 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
A.James 2:10 says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
E.When God tempts or puts your faith to test, he does it to build your faith. Satan does it to destroy your faith
F.Concerning the picture of Genesis 22 let me observe the following:
Dr. R. Jay Waggoner
Dr. Waggoner has been in the pastoral ministry since 1980, serving churches in West Virginia and North Carolina. He has been the Senior Pastor at Fellowship Baptist Church since April 1992.
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