Ask For Bread And Fish
Matthew 7:8-12, Message by Pastor Eric Chang
Today we continue in studying the Word of God in our systematic exposition. We continue in Mt. 7:8-12.
For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 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! So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.
God’s Word Is Clear In Its Promises, Open To Being Tested
In this passage, we saw that in v8 God has made a promise. Here the Lord Jesus says, “For every one who asks, he will receive; everyone who seeks, he will find; to everyone who knocks, it will be opened.” We saw that here is a word of God that can be tested; it can be proved. We saw that God is not afraid to give us words that can be tested. We find that this is not the only promise in the Bible that he makes, but here is something so clearly made, so clear a promise, that we can take hold of it and see whether God answers prayer or not. I find that God’s Word is so wonderful, in the sense that he makes his statements clear and specific. It is open to a clear empirical test, that is to say, you can see whether it is true or false, provided, of course, that like every promise, you fulfill its condition. There are no unconditional promises. That would be to leave the Word open to abuse. What this condition is we shall see in a moment. But I find much of the false teaching so vague that you are not sure exactly what it has said.
Element Of Deceit In Every Type Of Fortune-Telling
There is a temple in Shanghai called Town God Temple (Chenghuangmiao). I think those who are from Shanghai will know this. There people go, burn joss stick and shake the fortune sticks until one drops out, then they go to the fortune teller and he will give you a reading. I have heard that the wording of these statements are made in such a way that they can never be wrong. It is so typical that either way you read it, whatever happens, the wording is so stated that it is always right. An example that comes to my mind is that particular statement: “Fu mu shuang shuang bu ke shi qu qi yi.” (父母雙雙不可失去其一) which means “your parents are two and you cannot lose one.” At least that is how it sounds like.
Now, the “beauty” of this statement is that whatever happens to your parents, it is always right. “Fu mu shuang shuang bu ke shi qu qi yi” (父母雙雙不可失去其一 ) can mean your parents will be both together and you will not lose one. But you can also say, depending on the punctuation, “Fu mu shuang shuang bu ke, shi qu qi yi” (父母雙雙不可，失去其一 ), that means the two cannot be ‘shuang shuang - together’ (雙雙); one will be lost. You see, you just put a punctuation in, then the meaning becomes: if you lose one, you lose both! So, in anyway – if you lose both your parents; you lose one parent; you do not lose any parent – the statement is always right. That is why you see, not only in the Chinese, but also in the Greek – in every type of fortune telling – this element of deceit in it.
Some of you know a factual case of history where the famous king of Croesus went to see a fortune teller whether he should cross the river and attack the Persian Empire. And the Greek oracle replied, “You cross a river and a great empire shall perish.” The poor man thought it was the Persian Empire that would perish. He went, and of course, it was his own empire that perished. He lost his own empire, his own kingdom. You see, this prophecy cannot be wrong because, with this battle, one or the other kingdom would perish. So, you cannot be wrong in this kind of a statement.
Now you can see such false prophets that go around. And people believe them. People give money to these things. I see lots of people open their newspaper and they look for the astrology statement: “If you are a Pisces (or a Scorpio, or whatever you are), today you are ...” The statements are so general. You just need to look at them, and you can see that whether you belong to that group or not, they are bound to be right. And yet, there are Christians - and this is the terrible thing about it; not only unbelievers [do it], but Christians too - who order their life according to these astrologers. I know a Christian, or at least a self-professed Christian, who did exactly this and it ruined his relationship with his family. Sometimes one does not know where these false teachers get their ideas from.
There was a Christian who went to a fortune teller. The fortune teller said, “You have a very capable and brilliant son.” It was not difficult for this fortune teller to know this because this man was a very well-known public figure. To know that he had a son who was brilliant was no great achievement. But this fortune teller said to him, “You must beware of your son because he is so capable that he may put you in the shade; he will overshadow you.” Can you imagine what could be the consequence of a statement like this? If this father, if this Christian were not so ambitious, he might have been happy, “Oh, my son will be greater than me. That’s fine! Wonderful!” But this Christian was not so spiritual, nor so unselfish. As a result, he feared his son. He distrusted his son and broke off his relationship with his son. Because he was very ambitious, he did not want his son to be greater than himself. You can see how Satan then used this fortune teller to destroy the family of this so-called Christian. But, of course, maybe the fortune teller thought that by saying his son would be greater than himself, [as] many Chinese people would [be, this father would] have been very happy about that. But [the fortune teller] did not realize that that would not be flattery or nice words to this man. This man was so extremely ambitious.
We can see that the Word of God is completely different from this. You have to discern, by watching the content of what is preached and what is said, the difference in content and quality. The Word of God is not vague. The Lord says this, “If you fulfill the condition of what I teach” - and I am telling you what that condition is in a moment - “seek and you shall find. Ask and you shall receive.” Now, we are dealing with the living God, there is no way that a person can make this kind of promises. And if Jesus were a false teacher - I say this for the benefit of any non-Christian that might be present - if Jesus were a false teacher, he will do like all those false teachers; he would not make a statement that can be tested like this. But then, you might say, “Well, the condition is so difficult that nobody can fulfill it anyway, so he can’t be wrong.” Actually his condition is by no means unreachable.
What Should We Ask For to Begin With? The Experience Of The New Birth
But before he comes to the condition, he still is afraid you might not ask. He is concerned that you shall ask. Why is he so concerned that you shall ask? Why is Jesus so concerned that we should learn to know God in this experiential manner? It is because only in this way will your faith be established on the basis of a sure communication with God. You see, Christians who have no experience of God are Christians who live it second-hand, that is, they live on somebody else’s experience. That is to say, your Christian experience is ‘derived’ because God did such and such for somebody else. But that is not much of a foundation for spiritual growth and the growth of faith. To be a Christian is to be a witness for God in the world. To witness means that you are someone who has experienced what you are talking about. For example, how can you witness to other people about being born again? Being born again is an experience; it is not a theory. I am not talking about the theory of birth; I am talking about the experience of birth. How can you witness to other people about being born again, how God can change a person, if you have not been changed, if you have not experienced what it means to be born again?
If you are the same today as you were before you were a Christian, what meaning does new birth have for you? It has no meaning for you. How can you say with Apostle Paul, “To be in Christ is to become a new creation, a new creature,” when you look at yourself and you see only an old creature? So, we can see that it must always be that you can only speak with conviction and power when you speak about something that you know you have experienced. Otherwise, people can discern that you are only talking theory. And who cannot talk theory? Non-Christians can talk that, too. But to give this illustration that I have given about being born again is also to see the order where we begin in the matter of asking. You cannot take the second step if you have not taken the first step.
If you have not even come into the experience of God through the new birth, how can you enter into any other further spiritual experiences? So, that shows us also how we begin to ask and what we should begin to ask for. If you are only a nominal Christian, as there are so many in the church, then of course, the first thing to do, as you honestly know, is to say: “I have never experienced the new birth. I heard about it. I heard all about it. But I don’t know what it is in my own experience,” then you ask for it! Say: “Lord, I don’t know what this experience is. I heard other people talking about it. I don’t know what it is to be a new person. Make of me, I beg of you, a new person. Up to now, I have been satisfied with being a superficial type of Christian. Lord, I’m not satisfied with this anymore. I want to begin to experience what you can do in my life, to experience the power of resurrection, to be changed, to be raised from the spiritually dead into spiritual life.”
Once We Experience God’s Power, We Grow in Faith and Continue to Ask
Now, just think of this. Once you have experienced God’s transforming power in your life, the power of his resurrection, well, you are well on the way to spiritual life. Just think: once you have experienced God’s changing power in your life, will you want to stop there? Oh, no! You want to go on to know him better and better. I have found that the Christians who do not grow are the Christians who, in the first place, have not experienced God’s power in their life. But those who have once experienced God’s power, there is the fire; there is the enthusiasm. They want to go on. Those who have once asked of God and received from God, of course, are encouraged to ask again.
So, the first problem is the ‘first’ asking, because you are not sure whether God gives or not. But once you experience God’s answer, there is the encouragement to go on, “Oh, the Lord replied to me once; he is going to reply again.” But think that when you ask the second time and he answers, the third time and he answers, how your faith grows from strength to strength. And by the time you have reached the stage of George Müller, who had made 50,000 prayers and got 50,000 answers, wow! What kind of a spiritual giant you are by then! By this time, of course, people will marvel, “How is it that when you ask something, you have the certainty that you will get the reply?” That would not be surprising anymore because by that time, the Lord has answered you so many times, you know how to ask rightly, you know what to ask, and you know that you will get the answer. How many times you know that even when you have asked, that you will get the answer before you have actually seen the answer? That is the growth of faith! By that time, your faith has grown in such a way that you do not even have to see the answer. You know it will come. The reason is because you have come to know God. You have come to know what he is like. You know the kind of prayers that he will answer.
A Testimony Of How God Answered Prayer
As a testimony, there was once in our church in London a girl who was critically ill. The doctors said that there was next-to-no chance for her to live. She had hypertension, that is, very high blood pressure which burst a blood vessel in her brain. She was in hospital with a cerebral hemorrhage, that is, bleeding in the brain. The doctor said that even if she had any chance of living, she would be paralyzed all her life. In fact, she was already paralyzed at that time because of this thing. Her life was hanging in the balance. I always recall that having prayed for her, the Lord gave me immediate certainty - right away, at that very moment! - that she would not die; she would live! Having already asked for her life, the answer was given before we even saw the result. Somebody asked me, “Do you think that she will live?” I answered this person unhesitatingly, “She will live.”
Now, you do not talk like that carelessly because, if I were wrong, nobody would ever believe me again. In other words, to say such a thing is to stake your reputation on it, and I staked my word against the word of the doctor, who said that the chance for her survival was very little. I think also, in this case, I shared with some of you how wonderfully God worked because not only was I content to receive the Lord’s reply that she would not die, but I continued to pray for this sister. I was very concerned about not only her but her husband, because they had been recently married and they were both young Christians. I felt that this test might break these young Christians’ faith.
Every Problem Is A Means Of Blessing, If Only You Know How To Ask
The lesson is that when God brings a test, he is going to reveal his glory in a greater way to you. Never be afraid of testing, whether it is financial testing; or physical testing, that is, your health goes bad or you become sick; or family testing, that there is some problem in the family. Whatever the testings are, never be afraid! Do not be foolish and say, “Oh, Lord, why do you bring these problems to me?” It is because if you have not got the problem, where will you see the display of God’s power to take you out of the problem? Every time the problem comes, take it as an opportunity to ask something from God. When you have no problems, you often do not even know what to ask. You have all the money you need; you cannot ask for financial help from the Lord. Your health is so good, you cannot say, “Lord, give me good health.” You have no problems in the family; there is nothing to ask for. “You say, ‘Ask?’ Lord, I don’t even know what to ask for!” But when the problem comes, there is your chance to ask. That is why Paul says, “In every circumstance, give thanks.” When the problem comes, think, “Here is a chance.” In other words, every problem is a means of blessing, if only you know how to ask.
So, next time your problem comes, remember these words, “Ask. You shall receive.” You find a door closed? Knock! There is your chance. If the door is open, there is nothing to knock [for]. I remember when I was coming out of China, the door was so closed. How can I get out of China? I praised God for the closed door because when you knock, you can see whether God will open it. Especially when you know that only God can open that door; nobody else can. And how I experienced God opening that door! How amazing when he opened the door that even the non-Christians were astonished!
So, in regard to that sister who was ill and I was praying for that family, by this time, she was in hospital, lying there like a cabbage, completely immobile. She could not speak. She could not move. She was literally a cabbage. Maybe you would start saying, “Lord, how can you deal with a young Christian like this?” Let me tell you, the more seemingly terribly the Lord deals with you, it is because he wants you to get a greater blessing. So, I prayed for the husband of this girl. I said, “Lord, have mercy upon him. He is so distressed. He is so broken. They have married only for a few months and now she is turned into a cabbage, lying in the hospital.”
If you think you have endured testing, think about what this brother and sister had to endure. And so, I prayed before the Lord and he gave me an answer. I said to the Lord, “What shall I say to this brother that I might comfort him?” I prayed to the Lord and he gave me one reply: “2-1-4.” I said, “2-1-4? Lord, what’s ‘2-1-4’?” I prayed again, “Lord, what shall I say to him?” The answer came back: “2-1-4.” I was so puzzled! 2-1-4. I thought, “2-1-4. That must be a verse of Scripture!” Chapter 2, verse 14. The trouble is it might be Chapter 21, verse 4. And I did not know which book it was coming from. So, I prayed again. I said, “Lord, how can I say to him...? What am I going to say to him?” The answer came back, “2-1-4.”
So, I said, “Lord, which book it is from?” No book. No answer for any book. I said, “Is it Chapter 2, verse 14? Chapter 21, verse 4? Which is it?” I kept asking the question and I got no more reply from the Lord because the answer was finished. I had asked the question, “What shall I say to the brother?” and the Lord had given me the answer, “2-1-4.” At first, I thought, “I can’t go and say to him, ‘2-1-4’; he will think I am a nutcase.” You see, when the Lord has given you the answer, when you have asked and you have got the answer, stop asking because that is the end of the answer. He had no more answer to give; that was the answer! I said, “OK, I’m going to make a fool of myself now.” So, I went to this brother and I said to him, “Brother, I have been praying for you and I want to give you some word of comfort from the Lord.” I said, “Here is the answer.” I had to clear my throat, thinking, “What is he going to think of me now?” So, I said to him, “The word the Lord gave to you from me, after I prayed for you is ‘2-1-4’.” I thought he was going to look at me and think, “What is the matter with you?” Well, the thing that so surprised me was that he was not surprised. He said to me, “Oh, yes, I see. 2-1-4.” I thought, “Well, he understands!” He did not ask me, “What is ‘2-1-4’?” Then I would be really stuck! He just nodded his head and said, “Oh, 2-1-4, yes.” I was so amazed. You see, I had asked for an answer - to him; not to me! I do not know what it meant. I was just passing on the answer. Apparently, he knew what it meant.
How often, I then realized, the prophets spoke a word, but sometimes they did not know what they were saying themselves. They just gave on the word of God. Little wonder when you read in the OT, you ask yourself, “Could the prophet really have understood what he said?” For example, when the prophet spoke about the Lord Jesus in Psalm 22, “They pierced his hands and his feet.” [v16] Could the prophet really know what it meant to have one’s hands and feet pierced, especially since crucifixion was not used in the time of the psalmist? What would that mean to the psalmist? I am not sure that, to the psalmist, he knows what he is talking about. He was simply speaking God’s word. It was his job to declare God’s word. Whether he understood or not was not the point.
Anyway, eventually I understood what happened with this “2-1-4.” I only understood it when this sister came out of hospital. She was able to walk. She was able to talk. The Lord had healed her so wonderfully. How I worked it out was like this: after she came out from hospital, I calculated how long she had been in hospital. 214 days! Then I realized. Then I understood what the meaning of the Lord’s word was. Is not God’s way so wonderful?
Now, you can see, that is why God invites us, “Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, you will find.” And when you have done it, you say, “Ha! God is true!” How wonderful are his ways? His ways are paths finding out! Now also I began to understand why her husband seemed to have understood what my answer was. He was clearly praying specifically that she would come out of hospital and had asked, “How long, Lord, might it be that she would have to be in hospital?” Maybe every day he was saying, “Lord, how long will she still be in hospital?” And the Lord chose to give the answer through me. Of course, I did not know. I did not know what his prayer was, so that when I gave him the answer, he understood and said, “Ah!” That was the answer of his prayer; he got it. But, of course, I did not know that that was what he was praying for, so that only after she came out of hospital that I worked it out.
God The Father Gives Generously To His Children
Now, you can see it is through the asking, through the seeking, through the knocking that you come to know how wonderful God’s ways are. That is why the Lord Jesus is so concerned that you do not ask. So, he goes on to encourage us to ask by telling us how generous the Father is. He says, “Maybe you don’t ask because you do not understand that God is so generous.” So, he gives this illustration. He says, “Now, you know earthly fathers. Earthly fathers, no matter how bad they are, how selfish they are, to their little children, they are always prepared to be quite generous.” Surely, when your son comes to you and asks from you a piece of bread, you do not give him a piece of stone! And so, he says here also in v10: “If your son comes to you and asks for a fish, you do not give him a snake.” Now, he says, “If you - if human fathers - who are selfish, (who have the pig and the swine nature that we saw earlier in expounding the Lord’s words in v6 onwards), who have this kind of sinful nature inside of you and you still know how to be kind to those you love, how much more your heavenly Father?” That is, assuming he is your heavenly Father. Clearly, of course, he is speaking to his disciples who know God as their Father.
So, for those who are not Christians, who do not have God as their Father, of course, they first have to come to know God as their Father. That is why for the non-Christian to ask things from God is completely beside the point. You do not go to the millionaire and say, “Give me money.” He is not your father; why should he give you anything? Nor is it any good if you are merely a nominal Christian because a nominal Christian means that you are a Christian only in the eyes of other people. That does not make you a Christian in God’s eyes. And God becomes your Father only when you are born into the spiritual life, when you are born anew. That is why we saw earlier on, unless you have the experience of being born anew, you do not know God as your Father. But once you know God as your Father, how wonderful to know also that he is generous. This is something which many Christians do not know. That is why James says in his epistle, in James 1:5, “Ask, if you lack wisdom. If you lack something, ask, because God gives generously and without reproach.”
You see, if we keep asking God, we are afraid that we are troubling God, he may rebuke us and say, “Hey, don’t bother me all the time!” Or else he might say, “You only came to me yesterday, and what?! You are back again today?” You know, those of us who are earthly parents, we have to confess that sometimes we are really fed up with the children. They are always asking for this and asking for that, and you sometimes really give a reproach, “Don’t come back again, ha!” But here it is different. Here is the beauty of it. In James 1:5, Apostle James says to us that he “gives... without reproaching.” That is, he will never say, “Why do you keep coming back all the time?” He will gladly give; such is his generosity.
Ask For Necessities, Not Luxury - The Lord May Overwhelm Us With His Kindness!
Now, also observe this. What is asked for? The Lord Jesus speaks of bread and fish. Why does the Lord Jesus mention these two things? It is because bread and fish were the staple food of the people, that is, the food that they depended on everyday. In Palestine, those were the two main basic foods, rather like the Chinese, “chai mi you yan” (柴米油鹽) [wood, rice, oil, salt], the basic things. That is the reason why at the feeding of the five thousand, you notice two things: bread and fish. The five loaves and the two fishes! This means that when we come to God to ask, he is not saying we are going to ask for luxury. That is why in James, it says there, “You ask and you do not receive because you ask to consume it on your lust.” You ask for what you do not need. You ask for things which are not the kind of things that God will give. This does not mean that God will only give you the basic necessities of life, but it does mean that when we ask of God, we do not ask for luxury. So, if you need a car, you do not say, “Well, Lord, make sure you do not give me a Mini. I’d like something bigger than that. If you give me a VW Beetle, it is not good enough. I would like something really big.” Now, if you really need a car, you can ask God for it; if you are using it for God, if you really need it as a child of God. However, it does not mean that you can go on to say, “Give me a Lincoln Continental.” But it does mean you can ask of God for what you need, but he might give you something far beyond your expectation, and he often does.
God’s goodness is such that I have so often been put to shame. How many times I have asked God, “Lord, just give me the basic necessities,” and he would overwhelm me with his kindness, and leave me completely speechless. I recall how I needed a watch once. In this modern life, it is very hard to go around without a watch. You have to know what time it is most of the time. And if you have to go to classes, you have to know what time it is. I was content with anything that moves, that gives me at least some rough idea of the time. And then, one day my mother said to me, “You need a watch?” and “Here is a watch! This watch is what your father bought but he never used. Now, since it is a man’s watch, it is no use to me. So, you take it.” Wah! When I looked at the watch, I dare not put it on. It was a gold Omega automatic. Can you imagine that? I was walking around in England [with this watch]. Even now, I hardly dare to wear the watch. I still have it. I am wearing a very cheap watch as a result. But, I hardly dare to wear the watch. Here I was, a poor student, most of the time penniless, with that gold Omega automatic, so, I tried to keep my sleeves very far down. I wore that watch for many years. I have noticed many times how people looked at my watch and I have [had] to say that was the goodness of the Lord. Often when I said “ I am penniless”, they hardly believed or did not believe anything I said. [They would have said:] “Look at this guy with a gold Omega automatic watch on his wrist and he says he has no money!” Of course, I never said to anybody, “I had no money” but they would not have believed even if I had said it.
So, here we need to notice that when we pray, when we ask of God, God has not said you have the right to come to your Father, and say, “Give me the best there is.” But such is the kindness, the generosity, exactly proving what the Lord Jesus says, “If the earthly father knows how to give you good things, how much more the heavenly Father?” Your father might buy you a very nice watch; my heavenly Father gives me a gold Omega automatic. Now, often God gives it to us out of his loving generosity and kindness. Many times I have sought to go the hard road, only to find that in the hard road, I have found the blessing of the Lord there. Let me tell you a secret in the Christian life. If there is an easy road and there is a hard road – the road of the cross—always choose the hard road! It is because it is in the road of the cross that you will know how good God is.
When I was going over from Hong Kong to Europe, to England, I was looking for the cheapest boat I could get onto. Do you know what I found that I ended up with? I found myself ending up in the first-class compartment. I found myself sitting on a freighter from Hong Kong to Europe - in the first class! I was looking for the cheapest passage, and little did I realize that all freighters go first class. They do not have second class on freighters; they have only one class. Of course, not having been on freighters before, I did not know that. And the freighter, they say, takes only twelve passengers and all travel first class. There was I, this penniless fellow, sitting among all these people in the first class. And I paid less on that passage than those other people who were traveling from Hong Kong to England on the P&O Line, traveling tourist class. I am sure all of you who come from Hong Kong know P&O, the shipping line, the Pacific & Orient Line.
So, we find that although we are willing to go the hard road, the difficult road, God constantly overwhelms us with his kindness. Moreover, on the ship going from Hong Kong to Europe, I shared the cabin - this first-class cabin - with one man for four days. He got off in Singapore. And this man came to the Lord as Singapore came into sight. So, the Lord not only gave me a passage to reach Europe, he even gave me a soul on the ship. He knelt down with me and received the Lord Jesus. Four years ago, when we went back to Hong Kong, we had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife. Only I fear that in Hong Kong he could not get much spiritual food, and perhaps, has not grown much spiritually.
We Ought To Ask For Spiritual Food!
Thus, speaking of food - the fish and the bread - how we need to ask the Lord not only for the physical needs, but much more for the spiritual things, the spiritual food! How many people are spiritually hungry, but they do not know how to get spiritual food? That is why they cannot grow. Do you have difficulty understanding the Bible? Do you have difficulty understanding the Word of God? Then ask! He is able to teach you. I am a man with a very big spiritual appetite. I am so hungry I “eat” almost all my waking hours on spiritual food. Do you know that I am a spiritual glutton? I am never satisfied. I am all time in the Word of God trying to get more food.
Thus, as a young Christian, already I had this great spiritual hunger. All day long I wanted more spiritual food. And so, I turned to the Word of God looking for food. Often I could not understand. I read and I studied and I read; I still could not understand. I am sure that is an experience you are familiar with. So, again I applied these words, “Ask! You shall receive!” I knelt before the Lord and said, “Lord, I’m hungry and I’m not getting any spiritual food. I don’t understand your words. Teach me, I beg of you!” When I sat there, I could not understand, so I got on my knees. And I put my Bible on the chair and I knelt down and said, “Lord, teach me!” How amazing! The Lord began to open his Word. And so, there I got my spiritual food. The more I fed [on it], the more I grew and the more I delighted in it. I do not mean that I have got all I want. I am still spiritually hungry. I am still every day going after the food. When you have tasted the good food, your appetite is not so easily [satiated]; you want more of this delicious food. And as for me, my appetite seems to grow bigger all the time. The more I drank in and fed upon the richness of God’s Word, oh, it is so wonderful! And what have I found? God is so generous! He keeps giving in generous abundance. You keep asking; you will get. You keep knocking; it will be opened to you. And so, I can testify to you, whether in material things or in spiritual things, God is so generous. I want all of you to prove it for yourself. You do not have to take my word for it. I would like you to prove it for yourself. That is what Jesus wants.
Stop Being Passive - We Ought To Seek Actively
But notice, stop being passive and sitting back and waiting for somebody else to feed you. Go and ask! Get it! Go out and obtain it! And if there is some way you can have spiritual food, go and look for it. Ah, wherever there were men of God to proclaim the Word of God, I was there to look for it. That is why in London, every Sunday, I was there to sit at the feet of that great servant of God, Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I was eager to drink in whatever this man of God had to offer. That did not mean that I was a Christian tourist, going from church to church. No, no! That is because I was always there. I know where the good restaurant is and I stayed there: there in Westminster Chapel, where Dr. Lloyd-Jones preached. There is where I had a good spiritual restaurant.
And so, we find here that we need to also positively seek, exhausting every possibility, and then finally in v12, we come to this condition. Once we know that God is generous, how then do we obtain from his generosity?
God Answers Those Who Do His Will
In v12, we read, “So whatever you wish...”. The ‘so’, the ‘therefore’ connects it to what goes on before. But what is the connection? How does v12 connect with what goes on before? V12 reads: “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do... to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.” What is the connection of this v12 - of the Law and the Prophets - and doing the Law and the Prophets - with what has just gone on before? It is sufficient to say today that this indicates to us by what condition, what kind of person God answers. It is the kind of person who does God’s will, because, of course, the Law and the Prophets is where the will of God is revealed to us. The Law and the Prophets was a technical term which the Jews used to indicate the Bible, the Scriptures. Even in modern Hebrew, you would speak of the Bible as the Law and Prophets and the writings. Thus, here we find that this represents the will of God and God answers, in his generosity, to those who do his will.
Now you can see why the phony Christians can get nothing from God. It is because they are not doing God’s will. It is when you are doing God’s will that you will experience his generosity and kindness. Always walk in the center of his will! Then you will know the goodness of God in your own experience. Now, there are more riches in v12 and God willing, we will continue to expound this next week. We have to look much more carefully into what it means to say, “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.” What does this mean exactly? So, again the Lord Jesus is never vague. He does not just say to you, “Go and do God’s will.” The question is: “What is God’s will, that I may do it!” So, the Lord is going to tell us precisely what that will is. It is so wonderful - the Lord Jesus never leaves us in the dark! Everything is precise and clear. And so, God willing, we will look into this next time. In the meantime, then, let us take hold of his words and his challenge, and go and live it out, and prove for ourselves the truth of his words. Then we will know how sweet God’s will is, how good he is.
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church