by Mike Ratliff
3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 NASB)
From the time God saved me in 1986 until He shoved me out of our church in Olathe, KS back in 2006 when it began going Purpose Driven, I was immersed in a form of evangelicalism that can best be described as the pastors and leadership of the churches we belonged to teaching and preaching in such a way so as to make all of us uncomfortable with how much we served and how much we gave. They even twisted it in such a way to say that to mature and grow so you can hear the voice of God Christians must make themselves uncomfortable, get busy, then God will speak to them. My brethren, this is not grace, this is not Gospel, it is pure Law. Our Lord has some good news for refugees from this sort of bondage.
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. (Matthew 11:25 NASB)
Yes, our Lord Jesus used sarcasm. Here, he refers to the Jewish leaders as wise and intelligent while His followers as infants in comparison. On the other hand, carefully read the following passage.
2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!
8 “ If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. 9 If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.
10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 [ For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.] (Matthew 18:2-11 NASB)
God has revealed His truths to those the world would not deem worthy, while those the world would otherwise elevate, like the Jewish religious leaders, are left blinded to them. These “unworthy ones” in the world’s eyes are given the truth of the Messiah and His Gospel even in the face of those who hate these very truths. God’s ways are not man’s ways.
26 Yes, Father, for this way was well- pleasing in Your sight. 27 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (Matthew 11:26-27 NASB)
Here we see the Sovereignty of God over all the affairs of men and that Christ claims that the task of executing the divine will has been committed to Him. This claim would utterly blasphemous if Jesus were anything less than Sovereign God Himself.
28 “ Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy- laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB)
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post (Matthew 5:3) then reread Matthew 11:28-30 (above). To whom are these messages addressed? They openly invite all who hear, but they both are phrased such that the only ones who will respond are those burdened by their own spiritual bankruptcy and weight of trying to save themselves by keeping the law. The unregenerate heart is so stubborn that without a sovereign-bestowed spiritual awakening, none will acknowledge the depth of their spiritual poverty. Jesus says in v27 that salvation is the sovereign work of God. Then in vv28-30 this coheres with the free offer of the gospel. What is the result? In v29 those to whom the Son chooses to reveal the Father (the regenerate) hear the gospel, believe the gospel, turn in repentance to the Son for salvation and, in return, find rest for their souls.
This is why it is so tragic for those so-cool pastors with their “mega-cool” works-righteousness churches putting so many of their “Jesus-followers” in their congregations into such bondage of trying to keep the works of the law. This is the opposite of the rest promised by our Lord. This rest speaks of a permanent respite in the grace of God completely apart from works (v30).
Soli Deo Gloria!