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God's Generous Response to Boldness in Prayer B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
March 11, 2021 3:00 am

God's Generous Response to Boldness in Prayer B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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God is so generous, He gives us more than we could even imagine. Don't dishonor God by doubting His generosity.

Go to Him in the middle of your night and know you couldn't interrupt Him. He delights that you're there and hold Him to His promises and be persistent and demand that He listen and give you what is best. Question – How can you please God?

Well, you certainly need to trust Him, to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, to obey His commands, and when you have a need, you should ask God and expect Him to give you what you need. If that surprises you a bit, if that sort of expectation seems presumptuous, I urge you to stay here today as John MacArthur shows you why you can and should pray boldly. The title of John's current study here on Grace To You, Don't Be Afraid To Ask. But John, before you continue this series on prayer, maybe just take a few minutes and tell our listeners how they can be praying for the ministry of Grace To You. And again, we said this yesterday, the effectual fervent prayer of righteous people avails much, so we need your prayers. Prayer is not just an empty exercise. Prayer is what moves God. Your prayers are part of God's sovereign purpose.

So we need you to pray. Pray for the daily radio program that you're listening to right now that it would reach listeners, particularly those who have never heard the gospel. Pray for our international outreach through what we call Grace Reaches Out. That program has translated hundreds of sermons into Arabic, Chinese, French, and Portuguese.

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Here's John continuing his study, Don't Be Afraid To Ask. We come now to our look at the Word of God, to listen to what God has said on the pages of Holy Scripture. Luke chapter 11 is our text and we are looking at verses 5 through 13. This is a very, very rich and encouraging portion of Scripture.

Starts out with a very simple kind of earthy routine look at a little village in an incident with a man who needed some bread to feed a friend who came at midnight. And it ends up with profound theology in the final verse. We see the parable which illustrates that we are to come at any time no matter how simple the need and to be overly bold in our asking.

The promise that underlies our coming is that whatever it is that we seek, if it's within the framework of His will, we'll receive it. That is based upon the principle that God is a Father. Now that takes us to the fourth and the most important point. Let's call it the premise.

And by premise I mean the bottom line, the foundation on which this whole discussion is built. And here it is, verse 13, if you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? Now we are launched into theology.

This verse is rich. We've gone through a parable and a promise and a principle, an analogy and we now come to a divine premise. We now come to biblical doctrine. If you then being evil...we could stop there and teach on the depravity of man, right? You're evil. And He's talking to His disciples, His followers.

Those who had embraced Him, those who were quote-unquote saved, those were His children. But they were still evil. He doesn't say those who do evil, those who are evil, being evil. It is not just what we do, it is what we are that is evil. But if you then being evil...and by the way, the word evil is paneras, bad, wicked, worthless, used in Matthew 5, 37 and 6, 13 and translated by many translations as a reference to Satan, the wicked one. You share essential nature that the devil possesses. You then being evil, even those who follow Jesus Christ still have an evil sin principle operative in them. You being evil, however, have the residual imagio Dei, you have left in you the residue of the image of God that was defiled in the fall but it's still there because even though you are at heart evil, the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, Jeremiah 17, 9, there is none good, no not one, Romans chapter 3, we are evil, yet know how to give good gifts to your children. That's the residual of the image of God.

Whenever you see what we call the milk of human kindness, whenever you see people who don't know God parent well, love their children, show kindness, give their children what they need, be philanthropic, you're seeing the residual of the image of God so warped and scarred in the fall but still there. So he says, you being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children? And here comes the key, how much more?

This is an old rabbinical way to argue, an old Jewish way to argue, the how much more argument, the how much more approach. How much more than you who are evil shall your heavenly Father implied who is not evil, who is perfectly holy give? I mean, if you who are at heart evil give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father who is holy give to His children? If you who can only love imperfectly give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father who loves perfectly give to His children? If you who are limited in your wisdom give to your children what you think is best, how much more will your Father who is perfectly wise give the best to His children?

The whole thing sets a huge gulf in our understanding. You can go to God because He's a loving Father, but He's a loving Father far beyond the most loving Father in this world who is by nature evil and who does His best to give good gifts out of a corrupt and fallen heart. How much more will your heavenly Father love you with a perfect love? How much more with perfect wisdom and perfect compassion and perfect mercy and grace and perfect understanding of your situation and perfect goodness give to you? So when you go to God and you go with boldness and you go with persistence and you rush in and you unload what's on your heart and first you ask and then you start pleading and then you start banging, know this, that God is delighted with that...delighted with that because He with His perfect love and perfect wisdom and perfect power and perfect provision is able to give the best to His children. In fact, Psalm 84, 11 says, He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly, His children.

He holds nothing back. So how much more shall your heavenly Father give than any earthly Father? You know, John 13, 1, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them eis telos, it says of Jesus, having loved His own in the world, He loved them eis telos , to the max, to the end, to the finish, completely, totally, limitlessly, infinitely. It's out of that love, it's out of that wisdom, it's out of those resources that God gives.

Very different than the concept of an earthly monarch or a false god. But there's this interesting point here. It says, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? Yeah, that doesn't seem to make sense when you first read that. In fact, in the parallel passage, Matthew 7, 11, only parallel in teaching, although on a different occasion, listen to Matthew 7, 11, see if this doesn't make better sense. If you then being Jesus taught the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount...if you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him?

Well that's good parallel, isn't it? You being evil know how to give good gifts, how much more shall your heavenly Father give what is good to those who ask Him? But it doesn't say that here. It says, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit? How did the Holy Spirit get in here? And I read some commentators not too long ago who said there is a narrowing here, there is a narrowing here. In Matthew it's that which is good.

It's broad, wide, limitless. Here it's the Holy Spirit. So he narrows it down to this specific thing. When I read things like that and they don't sort of sound right, it doesn't sound right that the Lord would narrow this promise. He would make it as broad as possible in one place, anything that is good, and then narrow it down to the Holy Spirit in another place, I sort of sit back in my chair and go into my meditation mode, try to figure out what may really be being said here.

The whole point of this is not that God's going to narrowly give us some prescribed things if we happen to hit the target. The whole idea is, come and ask for whatever is on your heart and rush into God's presence whenever you want, of course with a measure of humility and reverence, but still, unbear your heart, speak boldly, be persistent, go over the top, if you will, and you can expect that God who is generous will give you whatever is good. But how does the Holy Spirit fit in?

Let me just make it real simple, okay? It doesn't say you ask for the Holy Spirit necessarily. It says, give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. When you go to ask God for whatever you ask God for, whatever it is, God gives you the Holy Spirit.

Let me show you what I mean. You asked for comfort, He gave you the comforter, right? You asked for help, He gave you the Helper. You asked for truth, He gave you the truth teacher. You asked for power, He gave you the Spirit of power. You asked for wisdom, He gave you the Spirit of wisdom.

You asked for guidance, He gave you the guide. You asked for love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control and He gave you the Spirit whose fruit were released in your life. You see, this is the generosity of God. You asked for the gift, He gives the giver. You asked for the effect, He gives the cause.

You asked for the product, He gives the source. Is that generosity? He gives you according to His riches, not out of His riches. You asked God, as it were, going to the bank. You asked for some money, He gives you the bank.

That's the point. I'll just give you the Holy Spirit, then you've got it all because out of the Holy Spirit comes power. Out of the Holy Spirit comes the anointing which teaches you all things. Out of the Holy Spirit comes the giftedness. Out of the Holy Spirit comes the fruit. Out of the Holy Spirit comes the direction and the guidance from the work of the Holy Spirit comes everything. Out of the Holy Spirit comes intercession on your behalf so that all things work together for good. I'll just give you the Spirit.

Talk about generosity? You might go to God and you might say, Lord, I need comfort. Lord, I need some power to get through this circumstance, I'm struggling here.

I need some wisdom. It would be pretty brash to assume, say if you were a disciple, or even for us if we can sort of put ourselves in that position, to go to God and say, God, I don't want grace for the moment. I don't want comfort for the moment.

I don't want guidance for the moment. Would you just...would you just come down and live in me? Would you do that? That would be pretty bold, wouldn't it? I mean, that's asking a lot for a holy God to take up residence in this clay vessel, for a holy God to live in a fouled human. That is...that's pushing the envelope.

Wouldn't you say that? Okay, here I am, God. I don't want three flat loaves of bread. I don't want three crackers here for my friend.

I'm telling you, would you please come down and live in me permanently? That is presumption beyond description. That's exactly what happens. That is exactly what happens. How generous is God? What else can He do?

This isn't a narrowing, this is a definition. He not only gives you the good gifts, but He plants in you permanently the source of every one of them. You are, 1 Corinthians 6, 19, 20 says, the temple of the Holy Spirit.

You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. So it's only a matter of being strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man, right? And then in Ephesians 3, 20 it says, Now unto Him it is able to do exceeding abundantly above all it can ask or think according to the power that works...where? us. God says, in effect, they have so many needs, they need so much power, so much wisdom, so much guidance, so much help, I just put My Spirit in them. And then they have the giver and the source and the cause. I mean, the generosity of this is absolutely staggering. Giving us the Holy Spirit specifically is not something less than good gifts, it is something more than good gifts. The Lord is taking it a step further. He said, I'll give you that which is good.

Now He says, I'll just give you the good one. The third member of the Trinity, God of very gods, God the Spirit, to come and live in your life. Now those disciples knew about the Holy Spirit, the Jews knew about the Holy Spirit. They could actually say that phrase in the Apostles' Creed, I believe in the Holy Ghost. They read Genesis and it was the Spirit of God who moved on the waters, right, and brought creation into form. Isaiah chapter 40 ascribed creation to the Holy Spirit.

Job 33, 4, Elihu gives testimony, the Spirit of God has made me, the Spirit of God is the Creator. So they knew the Spirit of God's work in creation. They also knew the Spirit of God came upon the judges in the Old Testament and aided them in their leadership in Israel. They knew that the Spirit of God came upon craftsmen who built the tabernacle and built the temple, that the Spirit of God came upon leaders like King David and upon the prophets like Ezekiel and Micah, Zechariah. They knew the Spirit of God came for power and for prophecy and for certain works. But they also knew, and this is really important, they also knew that when the Messiah came, there would be a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 61 introduces the Messiah by saying, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me for He's anointing me to preach the gospel to the poor.

You remember in Luke 4, Jesus came and said, I have fulfilled that. So they knew that when the Messiah came, He would be empowered by the Spirit and the Messiah was. He was born of a virgin who was impregnated by the Spirit. He was anointed by the Spirit at His baptism. He was filled by the Holy Spirit and led by the Holy Spirit in His temptation and His ministry. The Spirit of God energized them, you see it right through the gospel of Luke as you move through all those elements of the life of Jesus.

And so they knew that that was the way it should be. That's what the Old Testament said, the Messiah would be anointed by the Holy Spirit. But they also knew that when the Messiah came, He would bring a kingdom which would be dominated by the Holy Spirit.

How did they know that? Because in Joel chapter 2, verses 28 and 29, it says the Spirit of God would come on all mankind. There would be a release of the Holy Spirit, the likes of which had never been before. And you remember on the Day of Pentecost, Peter says, what you've seen on the Day of Pentecost is a preview of what Joel said, the Holy Spirit is going to come on all mankind and there will be prophecies and visions and dreams. That's going to happen in the future kingdom and there was a preview of it on the Day of Pentecost. So they associated the Holy Spirit with the coming of Messiah, Messiah's personal life and ministry, with the Messiah's kingdom as well. But there's a third element. They knew that the Holy Spirit was going to come in fullness to believers who were a part of that kingdom.

How did they know that? Because of that key passage that all knowledgeable Jews were aware of, Ezekiel chapter 36, that wonderful New Covenant passage which Nicodemus knew so well as a teacher in Israel. This is what the New Covenant promises, I will sprinkle clean water on you, you will be clean, I will cleanse you from all your filthiness, all your idols. I will give you a new heart, put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh, give you a heart of flesh.

In other words, I'm going to totally regenerate your soul, your inside. Then this, and I will put My Spirit within you and He will cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to observe My ordinances. So they knew that the Holy Spirit was going to come and come in them and enable them to walk obediently to the Word of God. They knew this was in the promise of the New Covenant. They knew what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3, that the letter kills and the Spirit gives what?

Gives life. So Jesus understands that they're waiting for the Holy Spirit. They're waiting for the Holy Spirit and they know that all fullness is going to come in the Spirit. And that when the Spirit comes and takes up residence in them, they're going to obey the Law of God. They're going to walk in His commandments.

So Jesus knows this is in their heart. And so He says to them, if you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more is your heavenly Father who's perfect and perfectly good going to give you what you want most and what you want most is the Holy Spirit because in having Him you have not just the supply, but you have the source, right? And you remember Jesus said in John 14 to the disciples, He has been with you, speaking of the Spirit, but He shall be in you, a new fullness. And Jesus said in John 7 that when the Spirit of God comes in you, out of your soul will flow rivers of living water.

You will become a gushing fountain of divine blessing. The Spirit will lead you into all truth. He'll bring you into remembrance of things I've said. He'll guide you. He'll direct you.

He'll convict you. Do you understand that everything that has happened to you as a believer is a product of the work of the Holy Spirit? At this point we can go into what's called pneumatology, the study of the Spirit. As a sinner, you were convicted by the Holy Spirit, John 16, that's how you came to understand your sin. When you confess Jesus as Lord, you did it because of the Holy Spirit. No man confesses Jesus as Lord but by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12, 3.

You received the knowledge of God's truth from the Holy Spirit because it's only the Spirit who knows the things of God, 1 Corinthians chapter 2, the natural man doesn't understand them. You were given liberty from the law of sin, the law of death by the Holy Spirit. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, 2 Corinthians 3, 17 says, there's liberty. You were sealed to eternal life by the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1. You walk in righteousness by the Spirit, Romans 8. You were baptized into the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12, literally immersed into His life and power. You are indwelt by the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6, 19 and 20. You are filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5, 18. You're gifted by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12. You're given godly virtues by the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5. You are empowered by the Spirit for evangelism, Acts 1, 8. You are constantly prayed for by the Spirit, Romans 8, who makes groanings which cannot be uttered, interceding for you. You are sanctified by the Spirit, 2 Thessalonians 2. You are made like Christ by the Spirit from one level of glory to the next, more and more like Christ, 2 Corinthians 3, 18. You have hope in the Spirit, Romans 8, 23. The Spirit is the arabond, the guarantee, the down payment, the engagement ring of your future eternal glory. In summary, when the Lord gave you the Holy Spirit, He gave you everything, absolutely everything. By His presence, by His power, by His grace, we are permanently the possessors of everything we need and so much more that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can what? Ask or think. You have more resource in the Holy Spirit than you can even imagine.

It's all over the top, the whole passage. God gives you more in giving you the Holy Spirit than you could ever possibly understand. That's why the prayer also of Paul was that God would give us the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge that we would understand what we have.

And it's to those who ask. You ask and He doesn't give you what is the Spirit, He gives you the Spirit. God is not like that neighbor, is He?

Who was bothered and said, go away, but finally relented. God is so generous, He gives us more than we could even imagine because since we can't comprehend God or His power or His wisdom or His resources, we can't comprehend the Spirit even though He lives in us. That's why He's able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think. Don't dishonor God by doubting His generosity.

Go to Him in the middle of your night and know you couldn't interrupt Him, He delights that you're there and hold Him to His promises and be persistent and demand that He listen and give you what is best. Does this help you to see prayer in a different way? Good. This is all so overwhelming to us, Father. We are so undeserving and so utterly unworthy and yet You have just given us way beyond what we could ever comprehend. We asked for a gift and You gave us the giver. We can only say thank You and we will come and we will plead and we will pray, we will ask, we will seek, we will knock because You've told us that that's how we will receive and find and the floodgates will be open to us. We love You and we thank You for being the generous One that You are, so magnanimous.

We could never be so bold as to ask You to live in us and yet that's what You've done. We thank You for that and we thank You that the Spirit is there to strengthen us, to teach us, to guide us, to comfort us, to help us, to intercede for us and to keep us, seal us until eternal glory. For this we thank You in Christ's name. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. John's current study is a practical guide on how to pray boldly and why you should pray boldly. It's titled, Don't Be Afraid to Ask. And friend, if you're feeling distant from God or you're not getting the joy out of prayer that you once had, I would encourage you to get this series.

It not only spells out practical reasons you should pray, it will also help you cultivate a deeper biblical understanding of the God you're praying to. To order Don't Be Afraid to Ask, contact us today. Don't Be Afraid to Ask comes in a two CD album.

It's affordably priced. Just call us at 800-55-GRACE, or you can place your order online at You can also download the MP3 recordings free of charge at, and in fact, all of John's sermons, 3,500 of them total, are available free at our website.

So log on today and start downloading. And thanks for letting us know when our broadcasts hit the mark. We want to help you understand God's Word and apply it to your day-to-day life. Thank you also for remembering that Grace To You is a listener-supported ministry. If you've benefited from John's verse-by-verse teaching, consider making a donation so that spiritually hungry listeners in your community and beyond can have access to the same teaching. To express your support, write to Box 4000, Panorama City, California 91412, or you can call our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to be here tomorrow when John looks at the life of Daniel and shows you how to pray more fervently and effectively. Don't miss another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-16 21:16:33 / 2023-12-16 21:27:43 / 11

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