In Mt 6:1-18, the Lord Jesus addresses the issue of man’s approach to religious observances (almsgiving, prayer, fasting). He cautioned His disciples against praying like hypocrites and heathens. The Lord then gives His disciples a model to use for prayer. Calvin comments on the prayer: “[Christ] embraces, therefore, in six petitions what we are at liberty to ask from God. Nothing is more advantageous to us than such instruction. Though this is the most important exercise of piety, yet in forming our prayers, and regulating our wishes, all our senses fail us. No man will pray aright, unless his lips and heart shall be directed by the heavenly Master.”[1] It is important to note that Jesus says, Click to read more about “The Preface to the Lord’s Prayer”

The first thing to notice about John’s vision is Christ’s location. He is “in the midst of the seven lampstands” (Rev. 1:13). The lampstands are the seven churches of Asia Minor (Rev. 1:20). Christ is present with His church! He is not an absentee king, ruler, head, or prophet, but He fulfills all of these functions within the context of His churches. This is not an isolated theme in the NT but is repeated for the encouragement of the people of God. In commissioning His church to make disciples, Christ promises “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20). In Acts 1:1, Luke highlights that his previous book (the gospel) was a record of “all that Jesus began both to do and teach.” The implication is obvious: Acts is a record of all that Jesus continues to do and teach in His church. Click to read more about

John’s Relationship With His Audience

John writes in Rev. 1:9, “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island of Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” John identifies with his audience in three important aspects of Christian living: tribulation, kingdom, and patience. John spoke as one who shared in the sufferings of Jesus Christ. He was not immune from the tribulation facing his audience; he shared in it. D.S. Clark writes, “He stood with them on common ground. Every hardship they bore, he endured. Every prospect of martyrdom they faced, he had already contemplated. He was even in the vanguard bearing the first baptism of fire and blood. They would listen to the words of one who suffered in their sufferings, and stood in the forefront of their dangers.” Click to read more about “Revelation: The Commission of John”

In Matthew chapter 6, the Lord Jesus Christ cautions His disciples against praying as the hypocrites (v.5) and the heathen (v.7). He then prescribes a model prayer for His disciples’ use. Prior to the model prayer (or, “Lord’s Prayer” as it is commonly called), Jesus makes this statement in v.8, “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” This statement is a corrective to the technique employed by the heathen: use many words so that God (or the gods) will hear you and answer. Jesus is saying that you cannot manipulate God or control God or exercise certain formulas in order to make God perform; rather, He knows what you need before you ask Him. It is important to notice what Jesus does not say; He does not say, “Your Father knows the things you have need of so don’t bother asking Him.” No, the Lord Jesus says “He knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” – the Lord assumes we will present our petitions before God. This is consistent with the Prophet Isaiah in chapter 65:24, “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” God is a sovereign God and therefore knows the end from the beginning and has certainly decreed all things that come to pass. If God were not sovereign; if God did not decree all things; if God did not possess absolute authority over all things, prayer would be useless. Click to read more about “Why Pray if God is Sovereign?”

The Apostle John begins the book of Revelation with a theologically rich greeting to the seven churches of Asia Minor. In many ways, the greeting sets the foundation for the remainder of the book. The people of God are experiencing trials and they need to be reminded of the source of their comfort: the triune God who dwells in heaven and rules the nations. Click to read more about “Revelation: A Theological Greeting to the Churches”