Never has there been a sermon delivered where so much soul-searching, profoundly moving teaching has anything ever fallen like this from the lips of any ordinary man. This is the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Hello again, I'm Bill Wright. We're continuing a series called Escaping the Anxiety Trap. And today we'll begin contrasting doubt and faith. You know, God in his word makes absolute promises about his loving care over our lives. We say we believe, but we nonetheless seem to allow doubt and then anxiety to gain a foothold in our lives. And Don, this is where the rubber meets the road where real faith is concerned, isn't it? It may be the most practical outworking of our salvation, Bill. Beloved, Christ actually commands us not to be anxious.
That sounds striking until you remember this. Controlling worry isn't a disease, it's sinful. And that's a wake-up call for you and me. Jesus says that trusting God is one way to distinguish an unbeliever from a true Christian.
There's freedom for you just ahead. Thanks Don and friend, let's join our teacher now as he teaches God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit. We've come to our last section on Jesus' teaching on anxiety in Matthew chapter 6.
And I'd encourage you to turn there. The wonderful thing about the Sermon on the Mount, and as we get ready to move into chapter 7, the end is kind of inside as we turn the corner. There is no way that you could truly study and truly understand the Sermon on the Mount at any level whatsoever than to immediately conclude that it comes from the divine mind of God. Never has there been a sermon delivered where so much soul-searching, profoundly moving teaching has anything ever fallen like this from the lips of any ordinary man.
Only the mind of God could search the heart like this. And in the Sermon on the Mount, you see tangible proof of the fact that Jesus is not only Lord over creation, but He is Lord over the innermost spiritual life of man as well, particularly of His disciples. Even in this teaching on anxiety, if we look at the section of verses 19 through 34, if that was all that you ever looked at in the Sermon on the Mount, your life priorities would be profoundly sifted. Your thinking would be probed. Your deepest affections would be searched out and examined, shown where they are wrong and guided toward where they should be right. Jesus has examined our fundamental beliefs about the love and wisdom and goodness and power of our God and Father.
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. Words that come from the text of this Sermon on the Mount. You have to ask yourself whether you really have that kind of fundamental trust in your Heavenly Father as well. Jesus doesn't leave it open for you to say, well, that's a nice ideal, but I'm going to stay over here. Jesus says, this is what the Christian life is supposed to look like. That kind of fundamental trust, that utter serenity in the face of all of life's issues, is not only the privilege of the Christian, it is his duty.
It is his opportunity. And so, beloved, if you've come in here with your heart kind of tied up in knots over whatever issue it is, come to this Sermon on the Mount, come to this section of Jesus' teaching, and hear what Jesus says, and respond to it. Because Jesus calls you to look at all of the character of God the Father that is revealed in the Scripture. He tells you to look out at nature around you, look at birds and look at flowers, and in them see the activity of God in caring for the smallest of creatures. And if truly, if His eye is on the sparrow, and you belong to Him by faith in Jesus Christ, how much more is He going to watch over you? The conclusion is inescapable. And the conclusion should drive you not only to an intellectual head knowledge, but to a heart embracing and a heart resting in the fact that God will certainly take care of you if you know the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is not just an academic theoretical thing. It is the kind of true trust that would move a writer to say, His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me. I know, beloved, I know He watches me. And you say, well, you don't know just how bad life is. Beloved, listen, this is independent of the worst life circumstances. And that isn't to diminish the depth of your difficulties that you bring in with you.
It is to show the surpassing greatness of the love and care and sovereignty of God, that He is over all of that, and somehow, one way or another, in the infinite wisdom of a divine mind that spoke the worlds into existence, He will work out those issues for your good and to His glory. If that's true, and if you say that you believe that, then coming with that affirmation of that belief is a recognition that your anxiety is banished. You cannot simultaneously say, I believe all of that, preacher.
And man, am I worried about tomorrow. Now, those two things are fundamentally incompatible. It's light and darkness.
You can't have both in the same room. What a blessed God we serve. Now, let's get into the text here. Matthew chapter 6 verse 30 is where we'll start out, and this kind of overlaps a little bit with what we said last week. Jesus says, But if God so clothes the grass of the field which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, you of little faith? Do not worry then, Jesus says, Do not worry then, saying, What will we eat, or what will we drink, or what will we wear for clothing? For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own. And beloved, just in a preliminary observation, understand that Jesus here, when He is speaking, He is not suggesting. He is not just kind of standing on the sidelines and urging you in a particular direction. He is commanding you. Do not worry. He is commanding you. Don't worry about tomorrow. He is commanding you.
Don't be anxious. The challenge of this teaching is that this is an imperative. This is what your life is supposed to look like. Even more, this is what the inner man that only God sees is supposed to look like. This is what tranquility of soul is supposed to be. This is your responsibility as a believer in Christ. You can't say, I believe in Jesus as Lord and that I follow Him and cherish anxiety in your heart or allow it to fester. When Jesus lays a command like this on your soul, and lays a responsibility like this on your soul, you have to respond. As we've been seeing, Jesus gives you the tools to do that. When you understand Jesus' teaching here and you've come to grips with it, you no longer have an excuse for your anxiety. Stated in a positive way, the keys to your prison have been given to you and you can walk out and go free.
Period. Christians don't have to live in that kind of bondage. Christians cannot live in that kind of bondage. And when you see the totality of what Jesus teaches in this passage, understand this, and I really want to emphasize this, that particularly in the superficial environment that tends to mark Christianity in America today, and all of the Jesus trinkets and the cheap little books that you can go into a store and get and pluck ten dollars down on stuff that's not worth the paper it's written on, what Jesus gives you here is far more than a thought for the day that will wear off by tomorrow. What Jesus is laying down in this passage is the fundamental pillars of living the Christian life. He is giving you the essentials to live your entire life from a position of trusting strength.
This is not designed to help you through today. This is designed by the mind of God and by the plan of Jesus. This is designed to develop, get this, in you, in your heart, settled fundamental convictions about the character of God and the nature of life so that anxiety is permanently banished. When Jesus says in verse 31, He says, don't worry then, He's using a form that says, don't even start to worry.
Don't even go there. And the only way that He could make such a pervasive commandment upon your soul is if what the things that He's telling you here deal with every anxiety in life. The goal of our instruction, the goal of what Jesus teaches is more than helping you to feel better. What I want for you and what God is calling you to as you study the Sermon on the Mount is a settled faith that frames your entire disposition to all of life and sustains you even when the most severe trials hit. This is to be settled. This isn't something that you study and you have to fight a different battle tomorrow.
This is to settle the whole thing for all of life. And so, beloved, it's just urgent for you to pay attention to Jesus here. Now, the challenge and the depth of the challenge that Jesus lays out before us here can best be seen when you see how He uses the term that we see at the end of verse 30, look at it with me, where He says, you of little faith.
You of little faith. He connects, He links anxiety to a status of soul that He calls little faith. And in this context of worrying about eating and drinking and clothing, you might think that He was simply limiting it to the easier issues of life. In our Western society, as we have prosperity, we don't worry too much about those, but we've got bigger issues, we think, that we worry about. But, beloved, here's what I want to say to you as we start to look into that particular phrase. If you only saw Jesus rebuking fear and anxiety in the context of such basic daily needs, in our prosperous society, you might think to yourself, okay, that's fine for that little stuff, but preacher, what you don't understand is I have major trials in my life.
This is about more than food and clothing. The precious things in my life are at stake in what's going on in my life right now. I don't know what's going to happen. You don't understand how much my loved ones are at stake. You don't understand, preacher, that it's my unsaved loved one that's on the brink of death, and I don't know if he's going to come to Christ or not. You don't understand that the doctor has said it's terminal, and I don't know what's going to happen. And I'm worried.
And frankly, I'm scared. If that's you, you need to see how deep Jesus' commandment about little faith and trusting God goes. Turn over just a couple of pages to Matthew chapter 8, beginning in verse 23.
You'll remember this story, which makes it easy to point you to it. But in Matthew chapter 8 verse 23, let's just read the narrative here. Jesus gets into a boat and his disciples followed him. Verse 24, and behold, there arose a great storm on the sea so that the boat was being covered with the waves. It makes me seasick just to read that.
The waves are crashing over this boat. But Jesus himself was asleep. A certain amount of divine silence in the midst of a really serious storm. And so his disciples, verse 25, come to him and they wake him up and they say, save us Lord, we are perishing.
And look at verse 26. Think about this situation. This boat is about to capsize. They are sick. Their life is in utter danger.
If ever there was a time for someone to be upset, this was the moment. Because who knew what the next second was going to hold? And so they wake him up and they say, save us Lord, we're perishing. And look at what Jesus says to them in verse 26. He said to them, why are you afraid, you men of little faith? Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea and it became perfectly calm. In a moment of utter life crisis, Jesus looks at his disciples and before he calms the sea, he says, why are you afraid?
This is an unjustified state of soul for you, you man of little faith. Look at chapter 14, verse 28. Another familiar story. Peter is going to do something miraculous. He's going to walk on water. We'll pick up the story in Matthew 14, verse 28. Peter said to him, Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water. And Jesus said, come.
And Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened and beginning to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me. Again, another moment of utter life crisis. If you've ever been a poor swimmer and you've started to go down under water, you know the sense of panic that comes over you. It's happened to me a couple of times.
And you just, this is it. Life is about to go away and you're gripped by panic. And even in that moment, verse 31, immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and took hold of him and said to him, you man of little faith, why did you doubt? I mean, if I'm Peter, I'm thinking, Lord, come on. I mean, I'm standing on water here.
That doesn't happen. And I'm going down and so of course I'm going to cry out. And yet even in that moment of life crisis, Jesus expected more of Peter's faith than what Peter delivered. This is astonishing teaching. What I want you to see is in the midst of daily cares of life, as we see in Matthew 6, or in the times of greatest stress, where the next moment could bring utter disaster. Jesus rebukes anxiety and fear as stemming from little faith.
Wow, we have to come to grips with that, beloved. That means that no matter what your life trial is, if you are here as a believer in Christ, your anxiety, that nervous, controlling concern over your circumstances is not permissible. It is not allowed. It is not necessary.
It's not allowed because it is not necessary. Jesus says in this passage, He says, a true knowledge of your Heavenly Father frees you from anxiety even in times of greatest distress, even when the provision for life is at stake, even when your future is at stake, even when wicked men are opposed against you, even when those that you love the most are at stake and are at risk and are at jeopardy, even when it's matters of life and death, you have to transcend little faith. So beloved, at whatever level you are dealing with anxiety, whether it's a momentary crisis like a bumpy plane ride or the relentless pressure of a difficult life, Jesus' teaching here can move you and is intended to move you from that state of anxiety to a state of settled trust.
And it's utterly transforming. What I want from you as we move into this passage, what I want from every one of you, I want from you a settled commitment as we start out here that says, yeah, I want to transcend my anxious life. I want to transcend my anxieties. You have to realize that that anxiety is a bad thing to put to death. It's not just something that troubles you, but it is a foe for you to attack and to vanquish. That's the point. This isn't the spiritual pick-me-up.
It's not a spiritual vitamin for today. This is the conquering Jesus Christ, the conquering Son of God, coming to conquer your soul and to conquer it in terms of total peace, total trust. Do you want that? Hello. Thank you, both of you.
No. This is where reality is supposed to be lived out. This can take you from the basement into the upper room of spiritual life. This can take you from that miserable condition of being a frustrated Christian into a place where you shine like a light on a hill.
I want that for each one of you here today. The way Jesus lays this out for us is I'm going to show you the simple but profound contrast between the way unbelievers and a believer approaches life to help you develop composure as you live for Christ day by day. We're going to contrast unbelievers with believers, the thinking of unbelievers versus the thinking of believers to help you see where your mind is supposed to go.
First of all, what we're going to see, point number one today, is I want to show you the worries of the unbeliever. Look at verse 31 with me again in Matthew chapter 6. Jesus says, Do not worry then, saying, What will we eat, or what will we drink, or what will we wear for clothing? Key point here in verse 32.
For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things. If you collapse the sentence a little bit and just pick up the main parts of it, Jesus is saying, Don't worry, because the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things. Remember in the Sermon on the Mount, He is speaking to His disciples. He is speaking to people who have truly been born again, and now He is showing them, He is teaching them and commanding them about what the life of repentance looks like. He's showing you what your life can be, and He is commanding you to be this way all at the same time. And He says, Do not worry then, and the word then is what I want to focus your attention on. What He's doing here is He's connecting what He's about to say with what had gone before in the prior six verses, verses 25 to 30.
The flow of the thought is this. He says, In light of God's providential care over creation, which is shown in His care over your body, His care over the birds of the air, His care over the blossoms of the field, in light of all that God does in all of those myriad of ways with lesser things, Jesus is now going to reinforce that command against anxiety with further reasons that you are to grasp and apply to your heart. Because these things are true about God and the way He relates to creation, then you cannot worry, you cannot be anxious, and that's the flow of the thought here.
He's developing it a little bit further. So what He's saying is don't ever start being anxious in light of the way God is. Don't cultivate untrusting questions about the future in your heart because Gentiles live that way. He says Gentiles, He's referring to people who are unbelievers, people who do not know God. Keep your finger in Matthew 6 and turn quickly to Ephesians chapter 4. Ephesians chapter 4, I want to show you a little bit about the way the Bible views Gentiles and views unbelievers.
Ephesians chapter 4 verse 17, the Apostle Paul says, in a parallel thought to what Jesus is saying here in Matthew 6 32, he says, So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord. We see a direct tie with the way Jesus taught about Gentiles and what it meant for the life of the believer. Paul says, I say that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk in the futility of their mind, verse 18, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart, and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
Paul says, Don't walk like the Gentiles. They're excluded from the life of God. They're darkened in their understanding. They're ignorant.
They're heart of heart. That's the idea of what it means to be a Gentile in the scriptural language in terms of their spiritual state. It's more than just not being a Jew in this context. It's the fact that they are unbelievers separated from the life of God. That's the idea. Now, follow this very carefully. Jesus is speaking to his disciples, and he comes and he says to you, if you are a Christian, he says, Listen, child of God, you have to live life, and your inner man has to transcend that of what unbelievers are like who do not know God.
That's the thought there. If you have been born again by the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God dwells within you, and you know that Christ has taken away your sins on the cross, and you know that in front of you lays nothing but eternal glory and the bliss of seeing Christ face to face, if that is true and you affirm that in your heart, then it has direct implications about how you live out your daily life today and how you deal with the uncertainties about what the future may bring. If you truly know this sovereign God and you truly belong to him, then what Jesus is saying is you can't live in an anxious, fretful state like Gentiles do. You've been listening to part one of a message called Contrasting Doubt and Faith here on the Truth Pulpit.
Don Green will have part two for you next time, so plan now to join us. Well, Don, today you told us about the worries of the unbeliever. As you continue, you'll be looking at the wealth that we as believers have in Christ. So what can we look forward to?
Bill, I'm excited about what comes next. Knowing God and his providential control is the key to escaping the anxiety trap. My Christian friend, your Heavenly Father is the person who rules over all of creation.
And Jesus said that when you make his kingdom your highest priority in life, that he'll provide all you need to sustain yourself through this earthly life. Our next broadcast may change your life, and our website has resources to set the stage for you to receive it. Again, friend, just visit thetruthpulpit.com. You can also hear today's program or any in the Escaping the Anxiety Trap series, again at your convenience, when you log on to thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you again next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word here on the Truth Pulpit.
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