In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had quite a bit to say about the goodness of God and God’s willingness to provide for His children.
Jesus spoke of God’s love, reminding us that God sends blessings on both good and bad alike (Matthew 5:45). He urged His followers not to engage in materialistic worry, saying, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Mathew 6:26; ESV)
He added, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33; ESV)
As Jesus reached the concluding remarks of His sermon, He concluded, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11; ESV)
Contrary to what some teach today, Jesus was not advocating a Gospel of Health and Wealth. To the contrary, those who seek after physical riches, and an earthly reward, are disdaining the command of Christ not to lay up treasures on earth, but instead to lay up spiritual treasures. (cf. Matthew 6:19-21) People praying earnestly for carnal things need to carefully consider the words of James, the brother of our Lord, who stated, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3; ESV)
Nevertheless, the promise of Jesus is rather significant, especially in regards to spiritual rewards, which, throughout the Sermon on the Mount, is what Jesus urges His followers to seek. Again, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 6:33a)
If it is true that the man who asks, seeks and knocks, in regards to the spiritual blessings God wants to bestow, is going to have those doors opened to him and find what he is seeking for, then we must also conclude that those who fail to find these blessings failed to properly seek after them. Or perhaps, when they asked, and God opened the door, they failed to go through it.
God has demonstrated that He is willing and ready to save men. He sent His Son to be the propitiation for the sins of those who were willing to put their faith in Him (cf. John 3:16). He spoke to men, inspiring righteous men to write down His expectations for men. In these writings we see the power of God unto salvation (cf. Romans 1:16) and we gain that knowledge necessary to make us wise unto salvation (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15). If God was willing to sacrifice His only Son on the behalf of men, demonstrating love and good, why would He not be willing to work providentially to open doors and answer prayers on behalf of those who truly wanted to be saved.
We see an example of this in Acts 10, where Cornelius, a good man, is sent an angelic visitation, telling him that his prayers have gone up before God and that he should send to Joppa, for Peter, who would give him words by which he and his household would be saved. (cf. Acts 10:1-5; 11:14) Cornelius prayed, God directed him where to go, and Cornelius took the opportunity and obeyed. A little earlier in Acts, we have the account of the Ethiopian Eunech, who was also seeking for spiritual guidance. God sent him a preacher named Phillip. (cf. Acts 8:26-40) The Ethiopian gladly received this guidance and obeyed the Gospel.
God likely won’t send angels to guide preachers and teachers your way, but His providence is sufficient that if you are genuinely looking for spiritual answers, God will answer. If you are knocking at His door, God will open that door. Just make sure when the door opens, you enter through it.
If you are looking for spiritual answers and a closer relationship with God, the church of Christ invites you to come and study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.