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February 16, 2021 7:00 am
We spend our lives in The Pursuit of Happyness, but according to Scripture, there's a big difference between being happy and being blessed. Blessings come from knowing God's commands and obeying them will learn more about this topic on the broadcast of the Bible study hour is Dr. James Boyce teaches from the sermon on the Mount with a message entitled the new humanity. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly.
Let's listen in together is Dr. Boyce teaches from the sermon on the Mount passage in Matthew five, a text he describes as the best known most extensively discussed discourse all the world. One of the shelves of my library. I have a book which is a collection of sermons is called great sermons of the world was edited by Dr. Clarence Edward McCartney was a great leader of the conservatives back in the fundamentalist liberal controversies earlier in this century, and for a number of years a pastor here in Philadelphia.
Over at Arch St., Presbyterian Church. This book contains great collection of outstanding sermons and it probably will surprise no one to learn that the very first sermon and I collection is the sermon on the Mount by Jesus Christ.
Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew five through seven, and it's the best known and probably the most extensively discussed discourse of all the history of the world literally thousands of books have been written about the sermon. Billy Graham wrote one based on the Beatitudes was called the secret of happiness. I wrote one myself. Now there have been so many books that there are actually books about the books that is books that analyze the book so that the student of the sermon on the Mount can begin the gap handle on what is been said before, he actually gets into it. We need to say of course that it's undoubtedly a shortened version of many things that Jesus was teaching in Galilee during these early days of his ministry. You can take these three chapters Matthew five, six and seven sit down in a quiet place and read them in about 10 minutes were not to think how could anyone think that these large crowds of people that followed Jesus went off to some remote place, which is where Jesus did his teaching collected and then had Jesus speak to them for 10 minutes. After that, he said, well, now it's time for everybody to go home that might work on television today where you have to make room for commercials, but it certainly wasn't done in that day were told. A little later on in the gospel in the 15th chapter, that a teaching session like this actually went on for three days or what we would call a retreat.
Probably what we are to understand is that this teaching is a shortened version of what would been an elaborate teaching session as Jesus tried to instruct the people in the principles of the kingdom now is presented as a single discourse on only here in Matthew but also in Luke or you have a similar report probably of the same sermon and yet it is also representative of the kind of things that Jesus was teaching these days.
Previous section of Matthew at the end of Dr. for said Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the good news of the kingdom of what you have in chapters 5 through seven is a sample of the kind of teaching that he was giving in those days.
Now every sermon has a theme.
I have a theme for this one I called it the new humanity because were going to be studying the first section of this important sermon today and that is what it's really about the sermon as a whole.
That is all of these chapters has a grander theme a Matt theme is really the nature of the kingdom of heaven. What it's like in the kind of life that is required of those. It would be citizens of the kingdom we can see that that's the theme easily because the words kingdom of heaven are repeated again and again throughout the sermon, and also because they occur at significant places. For example, first reference to the kingdom is found in the very first of the Beatitudes, that is version 3 of this chapter. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven by the reference closes the Beatitudes. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The 10th verse is given as a reason for the place of the Old Testament law and the kingdom unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom appears at the start of the Lord's prayer which we have in the sixth chapter, your kingdom, and then if they were the very end. As the sermon's climax, not everyone who says to me Lord Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 721 so here we have a great theme and also great emphasis but now there's a problem we might as well face it at the beginning and that is that the standards for participation in the kingdom which are sent by Jesus Christ are so high morality of the sermon is so exalted that anyone who takes it seriously recognizes that once that they can live by the standard.
At least not by themselves and so there has been a tendency in the history of interpretation somehow push the sermon aside is not being relevant or how Christians actually are to live today or else to excuse our appearance to its standards in one way or another to give you a couple examples.
First is dispensationalism is a very popular approach in Bible interpretation that was stronger in past days, but it still exist today and according to this approach, the sermon on the Mount is not something that is to be taken as a standard for Christians living today within the church of this particular church age, but rather it's the morality of the messianic kingdom. The Jesus was going to bring teaching goes like this Lord came announcing the kingdom. He said this is what the kingdom is going to be like it's going to be a kingdom and rule of unrighteousness.
The Jews weren't ready for that.
I didn't want that kind of a kingdom. They rejected it and therefore so the dispensational list teach the kingdom was postponed was satisfied. Jesus went to the cross. Instead, he died for the world since in order that the church might be established and then at the end.
People are going to come back Jesus will establish the kingdom and then the standards of the kingdom will prevail. Here's a few quotations I am Haldeman, one of the early dispensational list wrote this sermon cannot be taken in its plain import and be applied to Christians universally.
It's been tried in spots, but it's always been like planting a beautiful flower and stony ground, or in a dry and withering atmosphere along the same lines, earliest addition of the Scofield reference Bible says the sermon on the Mount and its primary application gives neither the privilege nor the duty of the church, but it doesn't course is a world just like ours and it's the people just like us, to whom the sermon is addressed in this messianic age to come. There's going to be no unrighteousness, and so statements in the sermon the tell you how to behave when you're treated unjustly would have no meaning. This is a world in which the poor take advantage of the rich and those with power to press those who have no power. That's the kind of world in which we are to live is Christ disciples. It's so obvious that the later dispensational list of tried to modify the earlier teacher somewhat by stressing what they call the sermon's timeless ethics are nevertheless driving a wedge between what Jesus teaches here authentic Christianity.
Let me give you another example. This is Lutheran orthodoxy Lutherans take the sermon on the mount with full seriousness as they do whole Scripture, and that is right. But in line with their characteristic emphasis upon law and gospel that you this sermon as an exposition of the Old Testament law.
The sole purpose of which is to drive us to the gospel or to faith in Jesus Christ. Others strength to that of course Bob will do that I'm going to affirm that as we go along.
Whenever we read the standards of righteousness in the Bible we recognize if we have any understanding at all that we can't live up to those standards and we are driven to the cross.
What we need is a Savior.
Having done that, we also have to insist that the standards that are set forth here are those which God's people. Those who have found salvation in Jesus by his death on the cross or actually to live. One thing the Lutherans do is treat the righteousness that's mentioned throughout the sermon as Christ imputed righteousness is not an actual righteousness of ours holiness on our part but that which is given to us by God, like money in the bank. People who study Matthew carefully point out, rightly, that the righteousness that's mentioned in Matthew's gospel is not imputed righteousness, its actual righteousness.
So when Jesus talks about it is something that we are actually to do well only get one more attempt to handle the sermon on the Mount, which I think is wrong and that's the emphasis was laid down by the social gospel movement in the early part of the century was carried forward by social reformers like Washington gladden an older Russian Bush offered the sermon as a kind of roadmap for world culture. The people of the world to just be caught ethics of the sermon on the mount. Then they would be able to live this way and peace and brotherhood and all that would come wars would cease, and so forth. Of course we discovered that simply teaching people higher standards doesn't work. The problem is the human heart.
What we need is a change of the heart. This vision of the early social gospel movement was exploded by two world wars, repeated recessions mass genocide in the kind of social and economic oppression that is still very much with us today problem of the social gospel movement is that it tried to urge Christ ethics on those who did not possess Jesus's life because they didn't possess the life of Christ. They couldn't do it now and brings us down the question, what is the right way to understand the sermon. Well, it's teaching about the nature of the kingdom number one drives us to despair of ourselves and our own morality in order that were to be my turn to faith in Jesus Christ and that as a result of finding new life in him. Number three we might live as Jesus himself lived while he was in the world and the sermon on the Mount is at standard be repeated.
This is teaching about the nature of the kingdom.
That number one drives us to despair of ourselves and our morality in order that number two we might turn in faith to Jesus Christ and that as a result of finding new life in him.
Number three we might live as Jesus himself lived when he was in the world. In other words, the sermon is about how we are to be calm and also how we are to live as God's new humanity may repeat that again sermon on the Mount is about how we are to become and how we are to live as God's new humanity. God's new humanity, and it is no because when you begin to read the sermon on the Mount first thing you discover is that this thinking is utterly different from the thinking of the world begins by talking about the blessed man says oh are those who are blessed, we would say happy. It's not a very good translation talk about that in a moment. That's what we would say in a soon as you say that you know that the world gives an answer utterly different from what we find in Christ sermon not long ago. This morning I was talking to the children in the Sunday school.
We talk to them about what were going to do here in the sermon time and I began by saying our people to be happy, according to what you read and see on television on all that they got it right instantly all the sales went out. They said you got have a lot of money to be rich.
One of the young people said you have to have a lot of wealth.
What is how the world thinks that we were writing the Beatitudes today.
According to the world standards would go something like this.
Blessed are the rich: I have it now blessed of the famous for people will defer to them blessed and happy because their content with themselves they don't need other people. Blessed are the arrogant because people defer to them. Blessed are those who fight for the good things in life because they'll get them blessed at the sophisticated relay will have a good time.
Blessed are the winners because they've got it made. What does Jesus say Jesus says those are blessed who are poor in spirit to mourn for sin who are meek, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, you are merciful, who are pure in heart and to make peace and who are persecuted. I said I was going to say something about that word blessed and it really has to come in here now, we sometimes render it happy, which essentially is what Billy Graham did in the book I mentioned earlier, the secret of happiness.
And that's a good way to communicate because the word blessed doesn't mean much to most people today happy. At least can be heard and understood. But it's a weak term because happiness has become so debased actually sure you know that is based on the old Anglo-Saxon word W study Anglo-Saxon.
I know Means chance and we have it in words like happenstance or something that just happens. That's what happiness is and if things happen the way you'd like them to happen when you're happy is a blessing goes far beyond that, if happiness depends on circumstances and when circumstances go badly are not happy if it's money that makes you rich. You lose your money, your miserable is a Jesus operating on a different level. That's why this is worth listening to. It's why we study and it is why so many books have been written about it he's talking about blessed, blessed is something that God does. It's those were favored by God because God has put his favor upon them.
They have happiness in the far deeper and far more meaningful sense so that things can be taken away the way it was with Job in the Old Testament. Job simply said, the Lord gives us the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord is a God blessed him, and so the was able to return the blessing Jesus begins to spell this out and he does it in these Beatitudes are eight of them in Luke's version. There are only four are matched by four walls that is negative side of the positive here.
Matthew gives us all eight. Undoubtedly Jesus taught on these themes again and again. But it's worth looking at them each briefly, because here they are all collected at the beginning of the sermon. What's the first Blessed are the foreign spirit that has nothing to do with poverty.
Sure we understand that poverty in itself is in good Jesus is saying that we ought I have social exploitation or squalor slums or starvation is always talking spiritually and so when he talks about being poor is talking about being poor in the inward man not in outward circumstances is what he saying is that the be poor in spirit, is to know one's own deep spiritual poverty before God of the first principle of the sermon on the mount. The critical one to put it this way, the beginning of all true religion is to know that you can't meet God's standards by yourself, whether it's the standards of the Old Testament law, the 10 Commandments. Whether it's a sermon on the mount of the other ethical teaching in the New Testament. You can't do it is not a list of high blood obtainable goals as if we could somehow motivate each other to reach it by saying things like now. Come on you can do it you haven't done very well so far but just keep trying to do all right, will make it. I remember last spring we had Alastair Baig here preacher from Ohio and he was telling because it comes from Scott under the first time ever saw football game. He was in Scotland at the time it was an American import and what just fascinated him was not so much the game of football which he couldn't understand at all the cheerleaders cheerleaders stood over there on the side and they were giving Little Rock laws to their team and they were saying you can do it you can do with you can you can you can do it, but as he pointed out they couldn't the team they were cheering for failed miserably. The score was woefully unsighted. Not now. That's the situation under the sermon on the Mount, part one another on the back and say you can do it you can do it.
We can't do it. So the first principle we have to realize is that we are spiritually bankrupt before God. Now we been funny enough. Let me read a scholar so we begin to get serious DA Carson gets it right. Here's what he says to be poor in spirit is not to lack courage, but to acknowledge spiritual bankruptcy.
The kingdom of heaven is not given on the basis of race earned Barrett's the military zeal and prowess of the zealots or the wealth of the psyche. Yes it is given to the poor, the despised Republicans, the prostitutes, those who were so poor they know they can offer nothing and do not try. They cry for mercy instead they alone are hurt. That's the meeting of the first beatitude now.
Secondly, Blessed are those who mourn, when asked the question mourn for Watts, well, the first beatitude has to do with spiritual poverty and the hopeless state of a human being before God and this has to be morning for sin. And if that is right in the comfort that was offered the second half of the beatitude must be the comfort of the gospel. Now that's nothing new. Jesus little further on in the sermon is going to say come to abolish the law and the prophecies come to fulfill the meat he's expanding the full meaning of what the prophets said we have an example here in the 40th chapter of Isaiah. Isaiah writes about comfort verse two says comfort, comfort my people and if you say, well, where does that come from or why. The answer continues because her sin has been paid for. See, that's the only true effective and lasting comfort for anyone and that's exactly what is promised in Christ sermon we go through bad times terminable things come into our lives if we speak merely from a human point of view we can offer sympathy and empathize, but we have no real comfort somebody's lost a child. What you say or somebody is abuse is another person is taken advantage by somebody who was wealthy or who has power. We can say all I really feel for you. I experienced something like that myself, but that's not very comforting. The only real comfort comes from the gospel for the fact that God sees our sin, which in one way or another is the cause of all the misery in the world forgives our sin in Jesus Christ because his gracious begins to work in us to give us an entirely new attitude and to make us actually vehicles a blessing to those around us.
We often weep in this life we we for our own sin and we weep for the sin that we see around us, but there is comfort in the gospel and we look forward to that day as it says in Revelation when God will wipe away every tear from our eyes we mention here that the first two of these Beatitudes echo the language of Isaiah 61 verse two verses of Isaiah 61, say, the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, to comfort all who mourn, you may recall that that's the tax Jesus used for his first sermon when he first began his ministry at the synagogue at Nazareth, the open the scroll to the 61st chapter you read those verses and he said that's what I've come to do now is preaching about here on the mountain number three Blessed are the meek. Most people today meek means week lacking spirit, maybe even collared labor course that's not what it means in the Bible, Moses were told in the Old Testament was the meekest man who ever lived, but he was anything but cowardly stood up before the greatest monarch of his day and demanded that they let the people go a better word for me would be gentle has to be explained because we don't like gentleness very much.
It's actually the gentleness of love and good manners and self-discipline on the ball trusting and submitting oneself to God is what Jesus himself did. He was meek, above all, now many of these Beatitudes are based on Old Testament texts already indicated some of these. This one is taken from the Old Testament directly comes from Psalm 37 verse 11 it says the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. What's important about that Psalm is that it explains what these meek people are like in a series of powerful statements.
It says that they do not fret because of evil men. They don't fret because there trusting God that's with the says they trust in the Lord and because they do that they do good. They delight in the Lord there still before him. They refrain from anger while people like this are genuinely blessed by God and is a very true sense in which they possess the earth because whatever God gives they receive it and thankful for it. They could even be thankful for things that they don't own, but which are there for them to enjoy while the world thinks it has to own everything and control everything somehow dominate everything in order to be happy and finds it when it gets all it is happy anyway.
Some of the wealthiest people in the world are those who are most discontents beatitude says Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Now, at this point is very natural to think of righteousness is that divine imputed righteousness of Jesus which is given to us in the process that we call justification. That's not actually what it's talking about here is nice as it would be to think that I've already pointed out that Matthew doesn't use the word righteousness. That way Matthew talks about actual righteousness were going to see it as we go on in the sermon so what Jesus is saying here is that the people that are blessed by God. In this beatitude are those who actually want to be righteous is actually trying to do what is right and also long to see upright behavior and other people and other places.
Jesus says that they will experiences right way of life through himself and through the power of the gospel number five Blessed are the merciful of the fifth, sixth and seventh of these Beatitudes begin to describe the inner character of the Christian, merciful, pure in heart, always ready and anxious to make peace and mercy is first because it's what we experience. First, when were saved by Jesus Christ.
It's the grace that comes to us and we don't deserve it. Mercy is like grace. Grace is God's undeserved favor, but mercy has an additional element.
It's God's grace shown of those were pitiful, miserable, and their sin. You may not consider yourself to be that that's the way God sees you unless you come to Jesus Christ.
Mercy is God's reaching out to save a person just like yourself. If you've experienced mercy in Jesus Christ, then you're merciful to others, which is what the beatitude says it links it to gather those who are merciful receive mercy as a receive mercy, show mercy. Jesus said that we will do it.
We certainly need it.
Number six. Blessed are the pure in heart.
This is also extracted from one of the Psalms of Psalm 24 verses three and four Psalm asked who may ascend the hill of the Lord and it answers just like you as clean hands and a pure heart to see God sometimes called the beatific vision was the great longing of the Old Testament saints to actually see God to see them face bifaces what Moses asked for a one occasion what Jesus promises.
Here is a very great promise that those were brought into his kingdom, and experiences. Grace will be purified of sin, and will see God. One day one of the apostles was present on this occasion.
The apostle John we are told in the previous chapter was called by Jesus early in the ministry later wrote about, because, in his first letter, John said, we know that when Jesus appears, we shall be like him or we shall see him as he is number seven Blessed are the peacemakers now raises concern here is not just with our being peaceful persons. That is, content that are actually being peacemakers that is actually working for peace among antagonistic persons ask whether Christ disciples can do this. Yes I can, and they must because if they've experienced brace themselves from God, which is brought peace with God then they're in a position actually to work for peace one another. This extends all kinds of human reconciliations rate. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness. This last beatitude is stated briefly in verse 10, the others of Bamberg and it's elaborated in verses 11 and 12 are to find that this is a pattern which is as follows. Further on in the sermon with other sayings, but when it's elaborated here it changes from the third to the second person from those who are persecuted to you who are persecuted. This refocuses everything, it becomes now the general principle about persecution, but something that is brought to bear upon the disciples themselves in the course upon us as well is made personal and another way to because the earlier phrase persecuted because of righteousness now becomes persecuted because of me. Otherwise, what Jesus is talking about here is persecution that comes to Christians, not because they're obnoxious and I have known many who are not because they're always meddling in other people's business and I've known many who do not.
For those who are arrogant in the way they present the gospel. Many of the persecutions, Christians and door are very much merited.
I would persecuted myself and I had the chance. But that's not what Jesus is saying, Jesus is saying the blessedness. The favor of God, that you experiences when you're persecuted because you're like me, otherwise if you lead like Jesus Christ. Lands shall be treated as Jesus Christ was treated because it's a sinful world. When Jesus came into the world with his righteousness every single thing he said every single thing he did every lock, every gesture, every prayer was a reproach upon the world and people hated them for and eventually they had until more.
You're like Jesus Christ more. You will be disliked and persecuted and ostracized by those who hate Jesus said yourself well then why should I do that Jesus gives the answer he says because I put you into the company of those were persecuted before you and those of the great people. The great spiritual people of the past, the profits of those when before them, and he says because you have a reward in heaven.
You can live for Jesus Christ regardless of what happens and have God the father of Jesus Christ loves his son ignore what you're doing. Jesus says you live like me and for me, you'll find that God notices and you will be blessed for it. We don't have much persecution for the sake of Christ. Today, at least not in the Western world, but people know elsewhere in the world. The early Christian certainly knew it they were persecuted. Peter understood it very well because he refers to this beatitude twice in his first epistle, which deals with persecution says in the third chapter verse 14. If you should suffer for what is right. You are blessed in the next chapter. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed persecution is a common experience for Christians, but it shows I belong to Jesus Christ and should rejoice in it. Now we come to the very end. Jesus uses two images here talk about what these people. Those who are blessed will be like the images of salt and white so much as been written about them. It's hard to say anything new there to be like salt. Because salt flavors food preserve some foods from decaying. It makes a person first day all of those things are to be true of Christ disciples and were to be like a light to be like city set on a hill which everyone can see our light which is put on a lampstand to give light to the household soul is of value to the world.
Christian should be of value to the world light is something that is noticed or stands out Christians living like Jesus Christ should be noticed stand out as well. That's what it is to be the new humanity. Someone will say that point. How is it possible that's a very good question, but let me answer with an illustration of one of my favorite illustrations on my predecessors here at 10th Presbyterian Church. Years ago, Donna Gray Barnhouse used to explain it like this. He said the alteration is that of the sun and the moon son is hereby day and it gives its light. But when the sun goes down, the moon comes out. That's somewhat the way it was with Jesus Christ and the church he left behind when Jesus Christ was here he was the son he shone forth in all of God's glory and people understood that and the result was the crucifixion, but when he was about to go out of the world, having set up himself first.
I am the light of the world. He turned to his disciples and he said you were the light of the world were to shine in the world will little shine like the sun. We don't have any power of illumination in ourselves the moonshine only because it reflects the sun's light.
Sometimes it's a full moon.
Sometimes the church is in the full moon. The revival sometimes of the new moon you can hardly see it like today.
It's 1/4 we don't over the waxing and waning quarter is any shining at all. It's because it's reflecting light of the sun were to reflect light of Jesus Christ in a dark dark world and were to do it is brightly as we can.
Father, we thank you that we've had time to study the first words of this great sermon today and we do ask that you bless them through our understanding and more than that to the transformation of our heart into some might find Jesus Christ as Savior and begin to live for him and that all know him. Be stimulated to live in a way that really does bring glory to the Savior and benefits mankind right you are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce, a listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse.
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