The nature of God revealed in the cross

Appendix to What does it mean to seek the kingdom of God? Matthew 6:33 and Luke 12:31 in the Contexts of the Sermon on the Mount and the Lucan Parables:

Promises of the Creator’s provision for people’s needs in this age abound throughout the canonical writings. Are such promises exceptions to the rule that all Scripture confers hope (Romans 15:4), or do they imply that the hopefulness of Scripture regards not only hope in Christ seated above at the right hand of the Father, but also hope in having an improved life in this world?

Jesus dealt specifically with the relationship between eschatological hope and the needs of this life in his discourse on anxiety (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 12:22-34), the clarity of which has been clouded by reading preconceived ideas into the text. North American evangelicals naturally see in Matthew 6:33 a blessing only for the few who commit themselves to achievement in a purpose-driven life…

Making God’s gift of “all you need from day to day” conditional on “serving the kingdom of God” would challenge the hopefulness of Scripture. Applied consistently, this interpretation leaves the believer asking, “Am I committed enough that I can depend on God to give me that rare blessing — or even to meet my needs?”

Jesus, however, did not tell his disciples to seek the kingdom, much less to serve the kingdom, in order to secure earthly blessings. (Warren’s changing seeking the kingdom to “serving the kingdom” accommodates the doctrine of eternal security, which makes literally seeking the kingdom unnecessary for believers.) Rather, Jesus relieved the disciples’ anxiety about the needs of this life with the argument that since the Father feeds and clothes even the birds and lilies, he will much more feed and clothe those of much more value. Had he taught that only the disciples have greater value than the lilies and birds, the disciples would have worried about whether they truly seek the kingdom. The thought behind the argument is instead that according to the Father’s love, a man is of much more value than the lower creation (Matthew 12:12). Indeed, the Father’s provision for people’s needs in this age does not depend on their seeking the kingdom, for his love extends to the unjust as well as the just (Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:35-36; Acts 14:15-17; 17:24-27). Thus, Jesus gave the discourse on anxiety not to motivate the disciples to committed service driven by the prospect of a rare blessing, but to instill in those “of little faith” (Matthew 6:30…) a firm confidence in their Father’s love displayed in his care even for the birds, which “neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,” and for the lilies, which “neither toil nor spin.”

For only with such trust in his love can the disciples seek the kingdom (i.e., eternal life) by faith in the words of Jesus rather than by goal fulfillment or other human efforts (Luke 10:38-42). Since the Father who is pleased to give them the kingdom will also continue to provide everything they need in this age even without their anxious toil, they have nothing to fear and are freed from bondage to money…

This exhortation to seek good things, both of this age and of the age to come, by faith in the loving Father is also found in the address to “Our Father” that precedes all petitions of Lord’s Prayer…

In conclusion, the promises that the Father lovingly satisfies the temporal needs of all sinners are hopeful, but not in the sense of turning disciples’ hope to earthly things. They were instead written to impart strong confidence that he is so benevolent that he valued the whole world enough to give his Son to purchase eternal life for it in spite of its unworthiness. How can I believe God’s love for all people (and thus for me) moved him to sacrifice his Son for us if I do not believe it moves him to meet our needs in this age?

Full text: The nature of God revealed in the cross

Scripture quotations of the Appendix are from the New King James Version.

Comments on What does it mean to seek the kingdom of God? are welcome here.

5 thoughts on “The nature of God revealed in the cross

  1. Interpeting the Gospels as Jesus speaks to the apostles, He is not giving New Testament doctrine. Parts of the gospel is still Old Testament and Jesus is only speaking as a prophet to the Children of Isreal. The message was for their ears only. They were being baptised into God’ Kingdom (God’s Rule) according to the Mosaic Law, not into a new doctrine.

    Remember that prophets can not establish doctrine. Jesus was clearly God’s prophet. When he talks about the being the “Good Shepard”, he also says “there are other sheep I must bring into the fold” and He also told the apostles, as they were sent out ” do no take this message to the Gentiles (non Israelites)”.

    Paul was given the authority to speak to the Gentiles.

  2. well unlike the first comment on here i completely agree with you that is exactly what the Lord has shown me through his holy spirit. we are to seek eternal life then God will add things to you, but most people these days seek only money and pray for only money and pray amiss. that is why the Lord said it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom. and he also says weep now you rich for you gold and treasuries rust. we must seek to help the poor at all times. And not to save our lives but to exhalt His great Love. Pray to the Lord and believe in him!!!!

  3. Thank you for all the time taken to explain through scripture. The explanation really opened my mind and heart to actively seek God’s kingdom. I was looking for this information. Many thanks!

    What does it mean to seek the kingdom of God?
    Matthew 6:33 and Luke 12:31 in the Contexts of
    the Sermon on the Mount and the Lucan Parables

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