The presence of the Holy Spirit, the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, means that we taste heaven even in the midst of earth. And as we do that, naturally our desire is that more and more our lives and the lives of God's people will have a heavenly atmosphere about them in order, as Jesus has said earlier on in the Psalm and the Mount, although we are unconscious of it, people will take note of this.
They will see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. The Lord's Prayer. Many Christians are familiar with it.
Perhaps you memorized it as a child. Perhaps you sing it regularly as a congregation or use it as a framework for how you pray. But did you know that the Lord's Prayer is also a pattern for the Christian life?
Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham and thank you for joining us today for Renewing Your Mind. If the Sermon on the Mount is the most well-known sermon, then the Lord's Prayer, which is found in the Sermon on the Mount, is perhaps the most prayed prayer ever. But in all of our reciting of this prayer and singing of this prayer, it can be so easy to miss the riches that are contained in it. Today, Sinclair Ferguson continues his series, the Sermon on the Mount. He's going to walk through the Lord's Prayer and help us see how it really is a framework, a pattern, for the Christian life.
Here's Dr. Ferguson. Now we were introducing ourselves last time to that part of the Sermon on the Mount, which contains what we call the Lord's Prayer. And I want us to notice as we come to this study two particular things.
The Lord's Prayer is obviously a pattern for praying, but one of the ways in which we can use it enormously helpfully is to think of it as a pattern for living so that we learn to live in the presence of God. Remember when I was a teenager, I came across a little book with a really enormously fascinating title. In fact, the title has really meant much more to me than the book. It was written by a medieval brother of the common life, and it was entitled, The Practice of the Presence of God. And I think one of the things I learned just from that title, the book itself is like a cure its egg, as they say.
There are good things in it and not so good things in it. But one of the things that we learned from that title is that prayer is not a compartmentalized part of our lives, but that what prayer is, it is the outflow of the way in which we actually live our lives before the face of God. That expression that Calvin loved to use, Coram Deo, we live the whole of our lives in the presence of God, and we live the whole of our lives in communion with God.
It's not as though we become schizophrenic and are two different people, but as we grow as Christians, we, I think, develop a consciousness that we are living in two different worlds. And we live in the broader circumference of our lives within this circumference in which we are living in God's world, in God's presence, in company with the Heavenly Father. And it's this that's so obviously characteristic of the Lord Jesus. His life is punctuated by seasons of prayer, but He's able to teach His disciples this prayer because He understands this is the lifestyle into which He is introducing them.
Life lived in the presence of the Heavenly Father. You know that the prayer is divided into two sections really. The first that focuses on God and His glory, and the second that focuses on ourselves and our need. Martin Luther, who you probably know, wrote a wonderful little book for his barber entitled, A Simple Way to Pray, taught his barber how to use this as an outline for all of our prayers.
It is an outline not only for living, but it is especially an outline for praying. I mention Luther because one of Luther's great watchwords was this, let God be God. Let God be God.
And this is what the opening petitions focus our attention on. The intercession we make here is that God would be God to us, that God would be seen to be God in the world, and that God's kingdom would come to fructification in our lives. And so, we come to Him as we've already seen as our Heavenly Father. And we recognize that that intimacy that we have with Him is especially wonderful because His name is holy. And because we understand His name is holy, we want to see His name treated as holy. It's not because we have some kind of idiosyncratic prejudice that when the Lord's name is taken in vain, it hurts us. Not because we were some kind of strange sect, but because you're speaking about our Heavenly Father.
And think about the reaction that you have when perhaps somebody says offensive about your wife. And this is God we're speaking about. And so, we're praying that in the world God's name would be recognized as the expression of who God is. So, we pray, our Father hallowed be your name. And then we pray, your kingdom come.
Now, this is interesting, isn't it? Because when Jesus appeared publicly on the scene, His message was that the kingdom of God has drawn near. So, if the kingdom of God has already come in the person of Jesus, why would we pray that God's kingdom would come in the future? And of course, the reason for that is that God has always worked in history in staging posts. Think about the progress that there is in His self-revelation in the Old Testament. In the days of Moses, people had the sacrifices and could catch some sense that these sacrifices pointed them to the great sacrifice. But for example, it wasn't until the time of the prophet Isaiah that we get these magnificent pictures of Jesus as the servant of God who seems to be coming over the horizon of history and dealing with a deeper spiritual bondage than the people's exile in Babylon. And we have this marvelous prophecy of the suffering servant so that, in a sense, Isaiah knew something about the coming Savior that Moses didn't know, that Abraham didn't know. And the same is true when God brings in His kingdom.
It is established in Jesus. He defeats the Lord of this world, and now He wants His kingdom to move out into the world. At the end of Matthew's gospel, the kingdom gospel, He sends them into all the world because all authority is given to Him, but all authority has not yet been extended into the hearts of all the people. And this is what we are praying for, until the day comes when the kingdoms of this world will be the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ, and the Lord will reign forever. And so, we want to see the transforming power of God breaking out into people's lives and then bowing the knee to Jesus because there are blessings and blessedness to be found in Jesus that is to be found nowhere else.
And then, in a sense, we are moving nearer home. We are moving from God's majesty in heaven to God's expression of majesty on earth, and then we are praying about that majesty in our own lives especially and among God's people. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Remember what Jesus had said at the end of Matthew chapter 5, be perfect because your heavenly Father is perfect. What are we praying now? We are praying that as we progress towards the full expression of the Father's image in our lives, as His will is done in heaven, so His will will be done on earth. And this is why we live in the presence of God. It is in order that the obedience to the Father that is displayed in the heavenly court will begin to be displayed in our earthly lives as well.
Or, if I can put it this way, there will be something obviously heavenly about the way we live on earth. Some of you will know the name of a great seventeenth-century minister called Richard Sibbes. And there was a man also in the seventeenth century who wrote a little poem about Richard Sibbes who was a great and godly man. The author's name was Isaac Walton. If you know anything about the history of fishing, Isaac Walton is the man who wrote the book, The Complete Angler. And Isaac Walton wrote about Richard Sibbes these beautiful words, "'Let this just praise to that blessed man be given, that heaven was in him before he was in heaven.'"
Now, Walton said that because Sibbes was an outstanding Christian, but actually that's true of every Christian. The presence of the Holy Spirit, the love of God being shed abroad in our by the Holy Spirit, means that we taste heaven even in the midst of earth. And as we do that, naturally our desire is that more and more our lives and the lives of God's people will have a heavenly atmosphere about them in order, as Jesus has said earlier on in the Psalm and the Mount, although we are unconscious of it.
People will take note of this. They will see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. So, the early petitions were taken up with God and His glory. And that means we see that He is adequate for the second half of the prayer, the second series of petitions.
Because of who He is, we know He is adequate to meet our needs. And so, we begin to pray about our particular needs. We begin to pray, for example, about our daily need for provision. Give us this day our daily bread. There has been a great deal of discussion among New Testament scholars as to what that word daily might mean. Does it mean give us enough bread to get us through tomorrow? Does it mean give us enough bread to get us through today?
In a sense, that's an incidental matter that the scholars can discuss. But the key thing is this, that already this prayer, which is a pattern for prayer, has also become a pattern in our lives. We are beginning to think in terms of daily dependence on the Lord. We realize, no matter how much we have, that the heavenly Father does not mean us to live in dependence on what we have rather than in dependence on Him. But your daily bread is already in the supermarket, isn't it?
In the refrigerator, or perhaps you have a ton of it in the freezer, or you've got all the ingredients for your marvelous bread maker. So, that's not a prayer for the 21st century, is it? So, how do we who have so much bread, this is the bread basket of the world, how do we who have so much bread, how can we really pray? Aren't we being hypocrites, you know, overly pious when we pray this? Well, of course, what we need to learn is that without our dependence on the Lord and His provision for our needs, we can't open the refrigerator door. We can't get the butter out.
We can't get whatever it is you'd like to spread on your toast in the morning. It's really a prayer that spreads out into all the little details of my life, that I actually don't have it in myself to use the resources that I think belong to myself. Think about it in so many different ways. Think about it in terms of the medicines that you may be on just now. Will the medicines themselves cure you apart from the sanctifying work of God? I think, for example, of ways in which sometimes people are marvelously helped by a medicine and sometimes not helped at all by a medicine, but why should that be? Doesn't God superintend those things as well so that there are really no details of the basic needs of our lives in which we're not saying to the Lord, Lord, I see it's there, but it won't do me any good. It won't be an encouragement to me to live for You unless You're the One who provides for me my daily bread. And of course, one of the things that this does for us is it leads us to live in the presence of God and to live constantly in the dependence of faith.
I think in that respect we're all the same. We always would like to think that as a plan B. We always would like to think it will be okay, Lord, want it if I don't trust You. There is a plan B. And the Lord Jesus said, no, there's no plan B.
There is only one way to live, and that is the way of day by day dependence upon the Lord. And this does something to us when we pray this way. It makes us, I think, instinctively ask the question, do I really need it?
Do I really need it? Dare I ask the Father for this? You can think of all the kinds of things that you have or would like to have, and you just assume you can have them because they're there. See, one of the things this prayer does is it delivers us from the clinging nature of the material world in which we live, in which our lives tend to be measured by the possessions we have, the houses we live in, the cars we drive, and the size of our bank balance. And here Jesus is teaching us a principle of prayer that carries a principle of life. Do I need this so obviously that I would go to the King of the universe and say, give me this day this?
Give me this day this? And it's a kind of litmus test, isn't it? Because there are so many things that our hearts rise to and say, wouldn't it be great if there are so many things that our hearts rise to and say, wouldn't it be great if God gave me that? That when we learn to pray this way, we are delivered from these things, and we learn to live without the things we think we need.
You know, it's true, isn't it, that many of us as Christians, our lives are cluttered up with so many toys, so many things, and Jesus is giving us a principle here that brings us back to basic simplicities. So we pray for our daily bread. We also pray daily, apparently, since this is a daily pattern for prayer. We also pray for the forgiveness of our debts or the forgiveness of our sins. And we pray this, you notice, in a very striking way, forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And then just to explain this, Jesus says, if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
What's that about? It's this, that if I am not engaged in forgiving others, I cannot have experienced the forgiveness of God. The forgiveness of God is like a flood that washes unforgiveness out of my soul.
That's what He's saying. And so we pray, Father, forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors, not as a quid pro quo. If I forgive them, you should forgive me. But in the knowledge that He is a God who comes to us with hands full of forgiveness, and as we look to that forgiveness, contemplate it, all unforgiveness is washed away out of our lives. Someone said to me just last week in the course of a class I was teaching, I have a friend who says, but I am justified, and so I don't need to ask for forgiveness. What would you say to that?
Well, the first thing you would say to that would be, oh, so you don't think the Lord's Prayer has any relevance in your life. The other thing you would say is this, why is it in the New Testament we're encouraged to ask for forgiveness? But why do we need this forgiveness if we've already been justified? Because justification means our sins are pardoned and we are accounted righteous in God's sight.
And the answer to that question lies in the big word, doesn't it? He is not just the Judge who justifies us. He is the heavenly Father who enters into relationship with us. You know how often people illustrate justification and adoption by saying, you know, the Judge acquits you, and then He steps down from the bench and says, now I'm going to take you home and you're going to be my son. Those are two different kinds of relationships.
The Judge once and for all acquits you, but you've got to live with the Father for the rest of your life. And when you grieve Him, you need forgiveness. The older writers had a lovely phrase to describe this. They spoke about keeping short accounts with God.
That's a good way to put it, isn't it? You want so to live in sensitive love for the heavenly Father that you will never grieve Him or offend Him. This is actually what the Bible means when it speaks about the fear of God. The fear of God is not cringing terror.
The fear of God is the Spirit in a child of God that wants to see the Father smile on his or her life and wants to avoid ever doing anything that would bring a frown to His face. But sometimes we do, don't we? We grieve Him, and we need to come to Him. And the great thing that we're learning here is when we grieve Him, we still have this instinct to hide from Him. But whenever we remember He is our heavenly Father, we go to Him and we find His fatherly embrace and His fatherly forgiveness. And it's because we realize we need forgiveness that we also pray, Father, don't lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Would God ever lead us into temptation? Well, He would never solicit us to temptation. But if you think about it, it wasn't so long ago that Jesus had actually been led into temptation. And there are times, it seems, in the economy of God when in His wisdom He will expose us to testing in order that we may resist it and grow stronger as a result.
And sometimes that testing can be very severe. You know, we have sinful desires. But interestingly, sometimes we have those sinful desires and we have no opportunity to express them. And sometimes we have opportunities to express sinful desires and they don't seem to be so powerfully present in our hearts.
But sometimes there are occasions when there is external opportunity and there is internal desire. And when those two things come close to one another, we stand in what the New Testament refers to as the evil day and we need to put on all the armor of God. And because He is such a wise and sovereign heavenly Father, sometimes the heavenly Father will take us places where we would not go because He wants us to see that He is able to keep us from falling. And He wants to see that we really know that we actually trust Him. But it's a fearful thought, isn't it?
That we might find ourselves in a test that we might fail. And so, we're praying here in dependence upon Him, knowing our sinfulness, knowing our tendencies, knowing, as Robert Murray McCheyne says, that the seeds of every known sin are in our hearts. And we pray, Father, keep me. So, He provides our needs. He forgives our sins. He protects us in time of temptation.
Of course He does because He's your Father and He really cares about you. Many Christians can struggle to believe that, but what a joy it is when we recognize and believe the words of Scripture that He is our Father in heaven and He loves us and He cares for us. What you just heard was Ligonier teaching fellow Sinclair Ferguson from his series Sermon on the Mount. And I'm sure you could tell the many years of deep reflection that Dr. Ferguson has had on this sermon, perhaps the most well-known sermon ever preached. And you'll hear that deep reflection and care for the practical application of God's Word in every message of this series.
It's 12 messages in full and it can be yours for your gift of any amount. You can give your donation by visiting renewingyourmind.org or by calling us at 800 435 4343. And when you make your donation we'll send you the DVD package as well as giving you digital access to all of the messages and the study guide. That study guide has follow-up questions and further reading to help you go deeper in your study of the Sermon on the Mount. So give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org. If the Sermon on the Mount is the most well-known sermon and the Lord's Prayer is the most prayed prayer, then what are the most misunderstood words of Jesus? Discover what they are and what they mean tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. you
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