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Daily Bread and Forgiveness

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
March 7, 2024 12:01 am

Daily Bread and Forgiveness

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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March 7, 2024 12:01 am

Since we have been forgiven an immeasurable debt by God's grace in Christ, how can we refuse anyone who seeks our forgiveness? Today, R.C. Sproul considers several challenging implications of the Lord's Prayer.

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Give us this day our daily bread. Jesus is saying that we should in our prayer lives live on a daily dependence upon the provisions that God gives to us from His bounty. With refrigerators and freezers, same-day delivery, and drive-throughs for coffee or food, it's easy to be fooled by the illusion of independence, self-sufficiency, but the Lord's Prayer corrects this wrong thinking, reminding us of our day-to-day, moment-by-moment dependence upon the Lord. This is the Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind, and I'm glad you're joining us today.

Yesterday R.C. Sproul reminded us that earthly kings take and take and take. The Bible describes our God as a king who gives and gives and gives every good and perfect gift, and we see that truth in the petitions we'll be looking at today in the Lord's Prayer. If you'd like to dig deeper into each petition of the Lord's Prayer, more than we'll be able to get to this week, request the complete 10-part series and R.C. Sproul's book, The Prayer of the Lord, at renewingyourmind.org.

Here's Dr. Sproul as we continue this week's study. I remember when my daughter was two years old and we were living in the Netherlands during the time that I was doing my doctoral studies there at the Free University of Amsterdam, and this was a difficult adjustment for a two-year-old child to be moved to a land where she didn't understand the language and the place where we lived out in the villages. Our landlady didn't speak any English, and so it was tough. But I remember the first phrase that my daughter learned to speak in Dutch, and it went like this, Dach minir bakker en halafjevit gesneden als de blift. Now, being translated, that phrase meant, good morning, Mr. Baker. A half a loaf of white sliced bread, please. Because it was the custom in the Netherlands in those days that people normally did not buy bread in the grocery store, but it would be delivered daily from a little bakery truck. And the bread that they made was just out of this world. I love that bread. There'd be big, tall loaves of bread and fresh right out of the oven, and they didn't put any preservatives in the bread, and that's why the baker came to the house every day.

And at that time, we didn't have two pennies to rub together, and I basically lived on peanut butter and bread. And it sort of made the petition in the Lord's Prayer, come alive for me, give us this day our daily bread. We usually incorporate bread in some way in our daily diet, but it's not the custom in America to buy bread every single day like we did in Holland.

And we look forward to that every single day to get that wonderfully fresh bread. But what is Jesus saying here when He tells His disciples that when they pray they should say, give us this day our daily bread? Obviously, Jesus was not restricting the principle of prayer in terms of our supplication to pray simply for bread.

On the other hand, He didn't say, give us this day our daily caviar. What He was referring to was the Christian's dependence upon the providence of God to sustain us every single day of our lives by meeting our basic needs. Bread was a staple in the diet of the ancient Jew, and the history of God's provision of bread for them was nothing less than remarkable. We remember when that nation was first formed in the wilderness in Sinai, and God took care of Israel, He provided their daily food by giving manna from heaven. And so the whole concept of God's provision of the daily food needs of His people was deeply rooted in the Old Testament. And it's also not by accident in the biblical framework of things that when Christ comes into this world to be the one who provides for our ultimate need, our need of salvation, He calls Himself the bread of heaven, the bread that has come down out of heaven in a sense that He is the one who feeds our souls, who nourishes our spirits, and who sustains our very life. And now what Jesus is saying then in the Lord's Prayer when He says, give us this day our daily bread, He's saying that we should in our prayer lives live on a daily dependence upon the provisions that God gives to us from His bounty. This was a recurring theme in the teaching of Jesus. You remember on one occasion He said, do not be anxious for tomorrow. And He said, consider the lilies of the field, they neither toil nor spin, and yet Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these. And in that same context, Jesus makes the illustration by way of analogy between an earthly father, an earthly parent, and our heavenly Father saying, what child, if you ask for bread, will the Father give him a stone?

Or if you ask for fish, will He give him a scorpion? So much more is God, who gives perfect gifts, willing and able to meet those daily needs that we have, which needs we are to bring before Him on a daily basis. Again, the emphasis on daily bread, I think, is designed in part to remind us of our constant dependence upon the provisions of God to sustain our very lives. And we have a tendency in the modern day not to live from day to day or from hand to mouth with terms of food. We stock up food. We have refrigerators and freezers and so on where we store up our necessary foodstuffs for the long haul.

It's not our custom to face each new day with the fresh need of deriving our foodstuffs. I remember after the Korean War ended that one of the results of that conflict was that the nation of Korea was left with a huge number of children who had been orphaned by the war. We've seen the same thing in the Vietnamese conflict and in Bosnia and other places. And there were relief agencies that came into Korea to try to meet the problem of hunger and starvation among children. And I talked to one of these people way back in the fifties who was involved in this effort, and they said that one of the biggest problems they had with the children who were in the orphanages, even when they had had three meals a day provided for them in their need, they were restless and anxious at night and had difficulty sleeping. And they didn't understand why they were having such difficulty sleeping. And as they talked to the children, they soon discovered that the great anxiety that those children had in the orphanage was whether they would have food the next day because they had become accustomed to having to scrape in the gutters and search out orbs that they could use to survive. And so what they did in this one particular orphanage was that every night when the little children were put into bed, the nurses there would place a single piece of bread in each child's hand, not for the purpose of eating before they went to bed, but so that they could hold on to that piece of bread while they went to sleep.

It was literally their security blanket because of the experience of having a daily need for sustenance. David tells us in the Psalms, he makes this personal observation. He says, "'I once was young, and now I am old, but I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.'" That's a tremendous testimony to the constancy and consistency of God's answering the prayers of His people when they bring their needs to Him. And also I've said this about prayer, if we find that God's hand seems to be invisible to us and that we don't notice His providential intrusion into our lives, partly that is a result of the way we pray. We have a tendency to pray in general. And when we pray in general, then the only way we're going to see the hand of God's providence is in general. One of the grand purposes of prayer as we enter into this conversation and communion with God and we put our petitions before Him and pour out our souls and our needs specifically, and then we see specific answers to that prayer, our faith is increased. And our spirit of appreciation and gratitude and our whole confidence in the Christian life is strengthened by praying specifically, because when we pray specifically, then we see specific answers. All right, now in addition to this petition, give us this day our daily bread, Jesus then moves to the next petition where He said, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Now there's something a little bit unusual about this transition in the Lord's Prayer from give us this day our daily bread to forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors or forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. In the old acrostic that is often used to describe the constituent elements of prayer, we remember the word acts, A-C-T-S, like the book of Acts. Notice how you say that word. We used to have to practice that in seminary with our homiletics professor. He said, Gentlemen, that book is not a sharp tool that you use to chop down trees. It's not the book of Acts, A-X-E, but rather it's the book, and he used to make us pronounce it specifically, A-C-T-S, A-C-T-S.

I still have trouble with it. But anyway, A-C-T-S stands in the acrostic for the four constituent elements of prayer as we find it expressed in the Bible, the A standing for adoration, which we've already looked at in the petition of the Lord's Prayer. The very first one is to pray for the exaltation of the name of God that God may be regarded as holy and that we may revere Him. This is consistent with that portion of prayer that is given over to the praise of God in adoration. The C in Acts stands for confession, the T for thanksgiving, and the S for supplication. Now, where we are in the Lord's Prayer now is at the S with the supplication. We're making these petitions that Jesus suggests that we bring before God, and it now reached the point where we say we are to ask God to forgive us of our sins or to forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Here we see the C from Acts coming in, that element of prayer that is devoted to confession of sin. Now, what's conspicuously absent in the Lord's Prayer from our little acrostic is what? The T. Where is this specific reference in the Lord's Prayer to thanksgiving?

It's not there. And that's strange because when the Apostle Paul, for example, gives us guidance for praying, he said that we should come with our supplications always in a spirit of thanksgiving, that it is with thanksgiving that we are to bring our request for God. Now, following up on Paul's mandate for prayer, that it always should include thanksgiving, I kind of sneak thanksgiving into the Lord's Prayer by implication, even though it's not explicitly mentioned there. And I think it's part of the whole complex of the petition, give us this day our daily bread, because we are to be alert not only to the need that we have daily for food supplies, but also we should be alert to the reality of God's daily provision of our needs, which should then do what?

Induce us to an attitude of thanksgiving. But even though it's not there explicitly, it's kind of implied in the request for the meeting of the daily requirements of bread. But the confession part is in there explicitly, for give us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. That's one of the most frightening elements of the Lord's Prayer as far as I'm concerned, because it's not simply stated in this way, dear God, please forgive us our sins. But it's forgive us our debts or our trespasses as we forgive our debtors. This is tied directly to Jesus' teaching to us about a judgmental attitude, that we are always in the context of our prayers for forgiveness of our sins to remember that we are pardoned sinners, that the only way we exist in the kingdom of God is by virtue of the remission of our sins, by the free grace of God by which He grants His forgiveness to us.

But with that blessing, always is given the responsibility. Jesus tells parables about this, where if we are forgiven much, we should then reflect the same spirit of charity towards other people. How can we refuse to forgive somebody who's offended us when they ask for our forgiveness, when the whole reason for our being able to live in the kingdom of God is forgiveness? Forgiveness is the only way we can stand in the presence of God, and since we have sinned so much more radically against God and more egregiously against Him than anyone has ever sinned against us, and God is willing to forgive us of our sins, how can we therefore not be willing to forgive those who sin against us?

Now there is a little warning I want to give here. I think there's a serious misunderstanding in the Christian world about forgiveness. So often I hear people say that if anybody sins against you, you are required of God to forgive them unilaterally, immediately, whether those people repent or not.

I don't find that in the Scriptures. I do see the example of Jesus doing that, where Jesus prays for the forgiveness of His executioners even when they haven't repented. Now we certainly may forgive those who have offended us without their repentance or without their acknowledging of it. In fact, the closest thing to a mandate that we should do that is the biblical teaching that there is a charity that covers a multitude of sins, and that we are not to be vindictive or vengeful in our attitudes.

And if somebody wounds us or hurts us or harms us, we should be ready and willing to absorb it in the name of love. But there are those injuries that are so serious that there are provisions, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, to bring the church authorities involved. You know, somebody sins against you, and you go and you see them, and they refuse to repent and so on.

Then there's a process that we follow where we take another friend with us, and if necessary we appeal to the church. And church courts exist to settle grievances and to bring justice to the interrelationships among Christians. Now, if we're obligated in every situation to forgive immediately, directly, and unilaterally, then there'd be no place for the whole process of discipline in the church. But since God gives these measures of discipline to the church, it would follow, wouldn't it, that we are not absolutely obligated to forgive everybody that sins against us if they remain impenitent. God will not forgive us if we do not repent. But the point is that our basic spirit should be as gracious towards others as God has been to us, so that if somebody does sin against us and then they acknowledge their guilt and they repent and they apologize, now we are duty-bound to forgive. And sometimes we refuse that forgiveness. Jesus tells us 70 times 7, we are to forgive our brothers if they sin against us the same sin over and over and over again. If they keep repenting over and over and over again, we have to keep forgiving over and over again, because that's the basic relationship that we have with God.

And again, if we're to pray for bread daily, the assumption here is that the Lord's Prayer would indicate that we should be praying for forgiveness every day. But I said this is a terrifying part of the prayer for this reason. It's scary for me to say, dear God, please forgive me directly proportionately to the way in which I forgive people who have offended me.

That's scary, because I know I have not been as gracious in dealing with people who have offended me in any manner that approaches the graciousness of God. And if God holds me to this prayer, I can be in deep trouble if He only provides enough forgiveness for me in the same degree and in the same way that I am willing to do to others. And so we are reminded not only of our sinfulness and our need for daily confession and our need to be forgiven by the hand of God, but this petition in the prayer reminds us of our Christian duty in terms of our interpersonal relationships on the human level, not just the vertical relationship that I have with God by which I am to keep short accounts and to be bringing my confession to Him each day. Yes, my sins have all been paid for once and for all on the cross. And so in one sense I wouldn't need to confess my sins if they're already covered on the cross. But remember, Jesus taught us to do this as part of this communion that we have with God.

I need a fresh understanding, a fresh experience of His grace and of His forgiveness every day. I saw a study recently of guilt complexes that can be measured by certain tests in our culture, and a psychological survey was done. And they took students from various universities and colleges, and I was interested because there was one particular college in this field study that was a Christian college, and the study was designed to reveal the anxiety level of people psychologically with respect to unresolved guilt problems. And this one Christian college, their students measured in the 99th percentile of people who are walking around with unresolved guilt. And I said, how can that be in a Christian college that we have all this paralysis of guilt that has not been taken away? If any people should have freedom from that, it should be Christians who understand grace, who understand the cross, and who understand the Father's willingness to forgive us of our sin. Now, I suppose part of the explanation for that is that in the secular colleges people have so sublimated and repressed their guilt feelings that they don't feel all that guilty about their behavior. And when one becomes a Christian, one is then sensitized to the greater obligation we have to obeying God, and so our consciences can become uneasy quite easily. And maybe that explains it, but I still say there's something wrong there if we were following this mandate of Jesus to pray everyday for the forgiveness of our sins. We should be healthy with respect to our confidence in our relationship to God, knowing that God has promised to forgive our sins when we ask for them. What a kindness it is and a practical help to us that Jesus reminds us to pray everyday for God's provision and forgiveness.

That was R.C. Sproul from his series The Lord's Prayer. Over ten messages he walks through each petition in this prayer given to us by Jesus and answers common questions related to prayer. This is a wonderful study to help families as parents seek to disciple their children in the daily habit of prayer. Request lifetime digital access to the series, plus we'll send you Dr. Sproul's book The Prayer of the Lord when you give a donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org or when you call us at 800-435-4343.

Add this practical series and book to your collection before this offer ends tomorrow. Simply visit renewingyourmind.org and we thank you for supporting the daily outreach of Renewing Your Mind. How often do you pray that the Lord will not lead you into temptation? This petition is greatly misunderstood by many Christians and that's perhaps why we don't pray it as much as we ought to. That's what we'll consider tomorrow, so be sure to join us Friday here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-07 03:03:46 / 2024-03-07 03:12:26 / 9

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