In these modern times, we have many translations of the Bible to choose from - The King James Bible, the New King James Bible, the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version Bible, the Amplified Bible... and the list goes on.
Many teachers teach out of the King James Bible because it is the old favorite and very poetic and Elizabethan sounding. Frankly, not being a fan of Shakespeare, I've never been able to get a handle on it myself.
Some have chosen the New King James, for it is mostly true to the original King James, but easier to read and understand. I thoroughly enjoy my New King James Bible for my personal Bible reading, and it would be my second choice to teach out of.
Now many Bible scholars prefer the New American Standard, which we teach out of here, because for the most part, it stays true to the original Greek and Hebrew texts, desiring accuracy above readability.
There are also some teachers who use the New International Version. I love the readability of the NIV, but would not teach out of it, for it is more of an interpretation than an actual translation. In many cases, the authors have translated idea-for-idea, rather than word-for-word. A fantastic way to read through the Bible, but not my recommendation for an in-depth, through-the-Bible study.
Now the Amplified Bible gives you 5 or 6 simultaneous translations of many words. So as you're reading along in John 3:16, instead of "whosoever believeth on Him", you get "whoever believes in (trusts, clings to, relies on) Him..." My theory is that since you only retain a certain percentage of what you read, and the Amplified Bible amplifies the number of words that you are reading, you should actually remember more of the Bible when you read the the Amplified Bible!
So, that was my opinion of the various Bible translations. But a voice in the church today, much louder than mine, is the voice of a group that shouts "King James only!" There is a portion of the church in the world today that has become convinced that every other translation has been cooked up by the devil himself. They have given many teachings and written many books with abusive titles like "Bible Translations of the New Age". These books are both inflammatory and divisive, and feature very poor scholarship.
Why do I bring all this up? How is this in context of our text this morning? Because where we are in the Bible this morning is right in the middle one of the most popular attacks against every Bible but the King James Version. Here in Luke chapter 11, we read of what many call "The Lord's Prayer". Most of us know it by heart. But while the King James says, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name...", the NAS, the Amplified, and the NIV all translate it "Father, hallowed be Thy name..." The "King James only" crowd cries, "They've taken God out of heaven in these demonic translations!" But there is a very simple and historical explanation...
Somewhere along the line, a Bible scribe thought he were was doing us a favor by adding the words of Matthew to the words of Luke. But the earliest and most reliable manuscripts have Luke writing the shorter, synopsized version. And just so you don't think that the translators of our newer Bibles have demonic intentions, turn to Matthew chapter 6. No matter what Bible you are reading, you will see that they have been faithful to include the statement "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name..."
Oh, if only the church could see itself in the light of Titus 3...
Titus 3:9-11 But shun foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus taught the disciples HOW to pray. Here in Luke chapter 11, the disciples ask, "Teach us TO pray." Jesus gives a brief synopsis of the prayer He had taught them earlier, and then goes on to instruct them in answer to their request.. "Teach us "TO pray."
Jesus gives us a brief synopsis of "the Lord's Prayer", calling it to our remembrance from Matthew chapter 6. We will look at it in depth when we cover the gospel of Matthew. But in a nutshell, Jesus is reminding us to...
1) Pray with reverence. Many Proverbs and Psalms exhort us that:
Prov. 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom...
We are never told to have a cavalier attitude with God - we are to come with awe and wonder. Coming boldy, but never irreverently. Remembering His gracefulness, but also acknowledging his awesomeness.
2) Pray for provision. Every good and perfect gift is from above, and He watches out for His children. As Jesus taught us:
Matt. 6:31, 33 "Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' ...for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you."
Trusting God to provide for you today. Not tomorrow, or next month, just today.
3) Pray with regard to your sins needing forgiveness, and compare the forgiveness that you receive from God with the forgiveness you have given to others.
Matt. 6:14-15 "For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."
How bitter and unforgiving we can allow ourselves to be! Look at how much we've sinned against God. And yet
Rom. 5:8 ...While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Then think of someone that you're angry with. Someone who's really burned you. And you haven't forgiven them. When you pray, can you honestly say to the Lord,
Luke 11:4 "And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us..."
Jesus has given them a quick reminder of HOW to pray. Now He is about to teach them TO pray:
In the middle of the night, a traveling friend has come to stay and eat with you. You're totally unprepared. So you go to another friend's house to borrow 3 loaves of bread. Now, this guy and his family is asleep. His attitude is, "Better that one person should fast until morning than that a whole family should be disturbed at midnight!" (Lockyer)
But even if friendship won't get him out of bed, your persistent and shameless knocking will. Jesus is illustrating that if you can get an unwilling man to provide you with what you need, how much more our righteous God who loves you! If you can get a sleeping man to get up and provide for your needs, how much more the Lord, who...
Ps. 121:4 ...will neither slumber nor sleep.
So Jesus teaches them "Ask, seek, and knock" and you will receive, find, and be opened to. He illustrates that even unrighteous people provide for their children's wants and needs. How much more our righteous God!
The disciples had said, "Teach us to pray." Jesus didn't say, "Okay, you need a DayTimer day scheduler. Map out 6am to 7am every morning, and discipline yourself to get up early and pray. He didn't give them a legalistic law or a regimented rule. He was motivating them by demonstrating to them how purposeful and productive prayer is.
Let's suppose that you knew of an ATM Machine that frequently and freely spit out $20 bills. I wouldn't have to prod and provoke you to wake up early and get down there... You'd be motivated! It wouldn't be a burden, because of the great benefit to you!
The answer to "teach me to pray" is not regimentation and obligation. If you know that your prayer life is lacking, don't sit down and do it because it is your Christian obligation - do it because of your Christian motivation - knowing that you will derive incredible benefits from doing it!
I think that maybe the ATM Machine was an unfortunate example. Because Jesus has not instructed us to pray, "Okay God, I'd really like a nicer house, a bigger raise, and maybe a sportier car." For the book of James says
James 4:2-3 ...You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
God is not a genie in a bottle. Don't waste His time or yours asking for selfish, worldly things. Jesus is very specific here:
Luke 11:13 "...how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
Do you want to be full of the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, move in the power of the Spirit? All these things are there for the asking.
Now you may say, "Aw, that's not what I'm looking for - I need a job! I need somewhere to live! I need a total turnaround in my life! I need a fresh start! How am I going to get that?" By asking the Father for the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote:
Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
How does He strengthen you to accomplish what you need to do in your life?
Zech. 4:6 ..."Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says the LORD of hosts.
As we've studied the gospel of Luke, we have looked in depth at what the Bible has to say about the spiritual and demonic realm. I won't belabor the point - if you're interested in reviewing those topics again, the tapes are available.
We discussed spiritual warfare and the question of "Can a Christian be demon-possessed?" in Luke 4:31-5:11.
In our study of Luke 8:16-39, we talked about the legion of demons who had possessed a man, and how that happened. In that study, we also talked about the unbiblical practice of naming demons, as well as covering the various places we generally define as hell: the Abyss - the Bottomless Pit, Hades, Sheol, Hell, Gehenna, Tartaros, Outer Darkness, etc. We talked about their locations, their functions, and their distinctions.
And in Luke 10:1-24, we saw the origin of satan, and the whole concept of him falling from heaven like lightning.
In a nutshell, Jesus here is refuting their claims that He is casting out satan's workers by the satan's power. It clearly makes no sense that satan would be working against himself. The Jews had exorcists. Jesus asks them:
Luke 11:19 "And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges.
Notice that in verse 23, Jesus makes a bold statement against neutrality:
Luke 11:23 "He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.
There is no middle ground regarding Jesus Christ. He demands that you make a decision regarding who He is, and what your relationship with Him will be. Many people think, "Well, I haven't decided yet about this whole Jesus thing." Let me tell you, if you've chosen to be undecided, you've already made your choice - you're against Him. "You can't be neutral concerning Jesus Christ. He was a radical, you can't be neutral concerning a radical. You've got to have an opinion. You've got to form a decision. And not to be for Him, is to be against Him." (Smith)
This is one of the first attempts to worship Mary, the mother of Jesus. And even today, all over the world, the Virgin Mary is worshiped by people as the Mother of God, as the mediator between sinful men and an "angry" Jesus. But notice how Jesus responded. He says
Luke 11:28 ..."On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the Word of God, and observe it."
You see, we think of the special relationship between a mother and a son, and how much more of a bond there must have been between Jesus and Mary. But here, Jesus tells us that our relationship with God can be closer than even that mother/son relationship. Hear the Word of God, and observe it.
You hear the Word of God by being in the Word, being in church, and being in the Bible studies. But that's not enough. Doing the Word of God - that is a completely different level. It's far more than acknowledging in your brain what the Word says. It's more than giving lip service. Jesus said in Matthew 7:
Matt. 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven."
Lip service doesn't cut it - we've got to do it. James said:
James 1:22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
Being not a hearer only, but a hearer and a doer of the Word. Are you an observer of the Word of God? When you read suggestions, instructions, and exhortations in the Bible, do you apply them personally, do you appropriate them immediately? That is being a hearer and a doer. If that is what you allow the Word of God to do in your life, you will have a closer relationship to Jesus than even His mother Mary did.