Summary: Sermon 17 in a study in the Sermon on the Mount
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! 12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
In one of the commentaries I perused in coming to this portion the author observed that many cults have taught that God is the ‘universal father’ of us all, and that He will give us anything and everything we ask for.
Just the fact that proponents of this lie gain a following and even grow rich from the offerings of their victims is evidence that sin and evil are alive and well in this world and still able to deceive otherwise prudent and intelligent human beings.
It also demonstrates the utter weakness and uselessness of mankind without the Spirit of Christ, that greed is so strong and the service to self of such a high priority that men and women will swallow such obvious deception and even yield themselves and their resources as a sort of burnt offering in the pursuit of the proverbial ‘free meal’.
But we’re not here today to expose the deception of what we generally refer to as the ‘cults’. Jesus was talking about Christians, remember? So He is still talking about the Christian here in these verses.
What causes me concern and should also cause you concern is that the deceptions I was talking about a minute ago exist within the church that claims to be founded upon Christ and His gospel
Because when men and women who represent themselves as ministers called to preach God’s Word tell you and me that in the authority of the believer who has the Holy Spirit indwelling we can claim for ourselves health and wealth and comfort and prestige, are they not simply cult leaders with a blinded following? Deceived and deceiving?
The sort of teaching that implies God is interested in giving us whatever material thing our hearts desire demonstrates a profound ignorance of the very character of God; not to mention, ignorance also of His written Word.
What do these false teachers then do with James 4:3?
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
What is the wrong motive for asking God for something? Anything selfish. Anything that is entirely focused on our fleshly desires. So when we pray and continue to pray for something and there seems to be no answer, the first thing we need to do in analyzing the situation is to ask, ‘Why am I asking for this?’ ‘What is my motive?’
ASK AND IT WILL BE GIVEN
Plucked from the context of the Sermon on the Mount this passage can cause a great deal of confusion, as can many of the other statements in this sermon.
On the surface doesn’t Jesus seem to be handing out blank checks to everyone? Ask, seek, knock, receive. No apparent limitations whatsoever.
From verse 7 through verse 11 there is not one mention of a condition. Jesus is encouraging persistence and even a progression of persistence.
“Ask” is verbal. “Seek” implies action. “Knock” conjures a picture of someone standing at the door banging on it, expecting someone to open up for them.
So as I said, lifted out of the context of the sermon much damage can be done to this passage. But that also requires ignorance of other things Jesus said in other places. Let’s look at a couple.
“If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” John 15:7
This promise is not without condition is it? “If you abide in Me…” That would be a reference to being saved in the first place, then “…and My words abide in you” would indicate that the one asking is a faithful student of God’s Word who has the words of Christ dwelling in Him richly and in a way that manifests obedience and Christ-likeness in his life.
Folks, we are sinful, silly creatures who do not know what is right and Godly.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12