the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:11-12).
In the fourth part of the Lord's prayer we are instructed to acknowledge God as the source of all blessing. We must thank him for our material and spiritual blessings even as we ask him for their continuance. “Give us this day our daily bread, shelter, clothing and health” we should pray, “and thank you for the food, home, clothing and health (etc.) you provide.” And again, “forgive me this day my sins and empower me to forgive those who have offended me” as we give hearty thanks for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that effects our forgiveness and enables us to do so.
This fourth section of the Lord's prayer corresponds to the forth part of the covenant sequence: God blesses obedience and punishes disobedience. Therefore we are right to expect God's blessings as we live in obedience to his Word. Indeed, whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:22), keeping in mind that you ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:3)
So, what is the outcome for those who pray and live in obedience under the mediate representation of Jesus? According to the covenant sequence echoed by the Lord's Prayer, we can be confident that the obedient life results in blessing. The Bible says, Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 28:1-2). Then in verses three through 14, God lists the general categories of blessing his obedient followers might expect.
Blessing as a reward for obedience has nothing to do with earning salvation. Instead, it reaffirms the fact that God's choice precedes man's obedience even while man's obedience is a prerequisite for enjoying the full benefits of election. Thus these promises, like all of God's promises, continue to be “yes” for those who are in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:20).
Yet we must not overlook the fact that the promise of blessing is given to the corporate people of God. This does not mean individual Believers who walk even as Jesus walked will fail to experience God's favor. It means the fullness of God's grace is realized when individuals in a large part of society are working out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
The primary commitment given to the people of God is the promise that they will become great and through them all the will would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-4). The promises given in the Law are simply an expansion of this special guarantee. In the new covenant this promise has been dramatically focused and then tremendously enlarged. Remember, the covenant promise is that in Abraham's seed, all the world will be blessed. The new covenant reveals that the seed is singular - Jesus Christ alone (Galatians 3:16). It is also discloses that if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29). In other words, the recipient of the covenant blessing has been reduced to Jesus alone so that covenant blessings might be diffused among men, women and children of every race, tribe, tongue and nation.