The Gospel of Matthew
"E. Schuyler English: The Gospel According to Matthew"
The Book of MATTHEW
In chapter five there are recorded the characteristics of the heirs of the Kingdom of the heavens, characteristics which believers in the Lord Jesus Christ already possess in Him, for He is the perfect manifestation of the law of love. In chapter six we find the proclamation of what should be the attitude of the believer toward the world, while in chapter seven we shall see what the believer's relationship with other heirs of the Kingdom should be like. Let us remember that the laws and the perfections of character set forth by our Lord in "The Sermon on the Mount" are not something by the attainment of which one may inherit eternal life; but that these are the characteristics of the heirs of the Kingdom of the heavens, and thus the present possession of every born-again believer. Eternal life is not obtained by the works of man, but is received by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who died that we might have everlasting life and fellowship with Him, free from the guilt of our sins. We are possessors in Christ of a new nature, Himself, by which the attributes of the heirs of the Kingdom are already ours; it is a sad trait of human nature that we do not appropriate to the full that which we possess. Let us consider prayerfully and personally what the attitude of the Christian should be toward his brother in the Lord.
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, ... rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). To divide the Word aright we must be careful not to take a passage of Scripture out of its context, and equally careful to compare Scripture with Scripture. "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matt. 7:1). Our Lord was speaking to His disciples, believers. This fact is further made clear, for we see in verse three that He asked: "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye?" Now the Lord Jesus later gave the Christian the right to judge the actions of a brother, Matthew 18:15-17, and in the Epistles we have further authority for so judging: "Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth" (1 Cor. 5:12, 13). Then what did our Lord mean when He said, "Judge not"? By the Scripture above, and by the words of the Lord Jesus recorded in verse 20: "By their fruits ye shall know them," we certainly have the right to judge evil and good actions. It is evident that He referred to the judgment of the motives behind the actions, and this is confirmed in the Epistles. "Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? ... Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way" (Rom. 14:3, 4, 13).
"Man looketh upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). Actions are seen by men; them we may judge, for "by their fruits ye shall know them." But our judgments are to be in the fear of the Lord and with an eye single to His honour. Motives are seen only by God; them we must not judge, for in so doing we are assuming our heavenly Father's prerogative: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: ... and why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" If we busy ourselves in censorious fault-finding and criticism we are inclined to be watching a small error in our brother's life and forgetting a grave error in our own. "Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgest his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: ... who art thou that judgest?" (James 4:11, 12).
"First cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly. ..." That is the test. What is our relationship to our Lord? We are saved, but are we surrendered? Are we so busy finding fault with other Christians that we do not notice the sins in our own lives? Let us be humble before the Lord, not judging others, but ourselves. Then shall our eyes see clearly, and be single to the glory of His Name.
"Give not that which is holy to the dogs." The Lord was speaking of our attitude to our brothers. Surely this does not mean that the Gospel should not be preached to the unsaved, as is sometimes stated. Who are the "dogs"? In Philippians 3:2, "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers. ..." In Isaiah 56:10, 11, we find reference to dogs, which slumber, which cannot understand, which are greedy, and look to their own gain. They are the professors, who later shall say "Lord, Lord," but who shall not enter the Kingdom. Our Lord's counsel is that when we see clearly, we will be careful not to discuss the things of the Spirit with those who cannot understand, and who profess because of gain to themselves. "They have their reward."
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. 7:7). There is little exposition needed for this passage. If the heir of the Kingdom needs counsel, he is to ask of the Counsellor, and it shall be given. If one is troubled about the proper procedure, he is to ask, to seek, to knock, and his Heavenly Father will answer with good gifts. There is a parallel passage for the Christian: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, Who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not: and it shall be given him" (James 1:5). What a wonderful blessing we have in prayer. If we, who are evil, will care for our children, how much more will our Heavenly Father meet our every need. "Ask ... seek ... knock ..." There is no condition but that we be children of God, and He has provided the Way into Sonship through the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." There are thousands upon thousands who make no profession of Christianity, but who say: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. The Golden Rule; that's my religion." But they do not keep the rule, nor can they. It is a summary of Old Testament law, and no man can keep it, for man is a sinner. Our Lord has given the believer this exhortation because in Him he has love, and in love alone can the Golden Rule be kept. The law of love is further given for the Christian in 1 John 4:19-21: "We love Him, because He first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God Whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother also." The result of receiving the Lord Jesus as Saviour is love, because He first loved us; the result of communion with our heavenly Father is love of our fellow men. Thus the Golden Rule cannot save, but should be the normal fruit of salvation.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate. ... Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." It is the Person of the Lord Jesus Who is the Gate and the Way. "I am the Door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved" (John 10:9); "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6). "And why then is the gate narrow? Not because certain conditions and hard terms are to be fulfilled, but because man does not want to give up his own righteousness, and clinging still to his miserable, filthy rags, he refuses God's Way and God's Door of salvation, which is Christ, and Christ alone" (A.C. Gaebelein). Do you know the Lord, or are you on the broad way that leads to destruction? It is not necessary that you lead a life of carnal and flagrant sin to be on the broad way, for the broad way is any way other than Christ. It may be self-righteous and moral, it may be as a follower of some religion, but if it is Christless it leads to destruction. He is the Way, He is the Door, "and few there be that find it." But you may enter in by receiving Him today as your Saviour. His blood will cleanse you from sin, His life will then dwell within.
"Beware of false prophets." These are the "dogs" of Philippians three. We must be ever so careful to test the teachings of men by the Word of God. If you want pears, you do not go to an elm tree. Our Lord told the disciples, and He tells us; "ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit. ..." These are solemn words. Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit. What of our lives? As Christians, are we bringing forth good fruit? "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Gal. 5:22, 23); does this fruit show forth in our hearts? Do those who know us see the Lord Jesus in us? That is the test.
"Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." We know that because we have believed in the Lord Jesus we shall never be judged for our sins. Verse 19 refers to those who are false teachers, who are lost, yet it cannot but remind us of the day when rewards shall be given for our service in the Lord's Name. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (1 Cor. 3:11-15).
"Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of the heavens."
When the Lord Jesus comes to reign upon the earth, there will be many who, having come to believe in Him during the Tribulation, will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens. But there will be others who will merely profess His Name, but who, because of unbelief, will not be heirs of the Kingdom, for He will say: "Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity." This passage does not refer to the Church; "in that day" we shall already have been caught up to meet Him in the air. Yet there is teaching here for this dispensation also, for there are many today who call upon His Name who are none of His. For their own gain, tools of Satan, in the Name of Christianity, they may profess Christ, but they do not know Him as Lord and Saviour. When "that day" comes, to them also will He say, "Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity."
Our hope is built either upon the Solid Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ, or upon the sand of self-righteousness. If the latter is the case, then when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and this mortal life is gone, our hope is vain, and great will be the fall into eternal damnation. But if our hope is built upon the Lord Jesus, come what may, founded upon a sure foundation, the Rock, faith in Him will carry us into everlasting life. How wonderful a Saviour He is. In Him we are safe for eternity.
"On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand."