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April 18, 2021 8:00 am
The greatest sermon ever preached may well be the most misunderstood and misinterpreted sermon of all time is Christ's sermon on the Mount set an ethical standard that would bring peace. If only we can live by it or is it a standard reserve for the future kingdom welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically are the standards of the sermon on the mount too high for practical living in the modern world of compromise values.
If not, then how are we to live up to those standards. Join Dr. Boyce as he explores Christ's famous sermon and interprets it as a measure for daily living 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 written about the sermon. Billy Graham wrote one based on the attitudes it 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 now is presented as a single discourse on only here in Matthew but also in Luke where 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 chapter 4 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.
However, sermon has a theme.
I have a theme for this one I called it the new humanity, because 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 on that 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 first three 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 in 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 we have in the sixth chapter, your kingdom, and then it's near 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 a great emphasis but not as 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 this standard. At least not by themselves and so there has been a tendency in the history of interpretation somehow push the sermon assigned is not being relevant for how Christians actually are to live today or else to excuse our hearings to its standards in one way or another. Now I 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 is 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 that standard may repeat it. 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 is 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, 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. Who are those who are blessed, we would say happy. It's not a very good translation talk about that in a moment, but that's what we would say in the soon as you say that you know that the world gives an answer utterly different from what we find in Christ sermon 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 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 got have a lot of money to be rich. One of the young people said got to have a lot of wealth what is now 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 are 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 that will get them blessed at the sophisticated with a will have a good time. Blessed are the winners because got it made. Jesus says those are blessed to her poor in spirit to mourn for sin who are meek, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, you are merciful Luke are pure in heart and to make peace and are persecuted. I sent them is going to say something about that word blessed and really has to come in here now, we sometimes render them 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 sexually 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 then 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. Which white 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 the 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 joke simply said, the Lord gives Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord see 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. What's the first Blessed are the poor in 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 or 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. 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 us.
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 her that's the meeting of the first beatitude now.
Secondly, Blessed are those who mourn, when asked the question mourn for what 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 is offered.
The second half of the beatitude must be the comfort of the gospel.
The only real comfort comes from the gospel for the fact that God who sees our sin, which in one way or another because 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 he first began his ministry at the synagogue at Nazareth. He opened the scroll to the 61st chapter you read those verses and he said that's what I 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 cowardly 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 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 bylaw trusting and submitting oneself to God is what Jesus himself did. He was meek, above all, not 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 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 all but which are there for them to enjoy while the world thinks it has to own everything and control everything and 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 discontent 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 process that we call justification 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 in 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 that said 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 Jonah. 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 and your merciful to others, which is what the beatitude says it links it together. Those who are merciful receive mercy as a receive mercy, show mercy. Jesus said that we will do what we certainly need it. Number six. Blessed are the pure in heart 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 to see them face bifaces what Moses asked for a one occasion what Jesus promises here.
It's a very great promise that those were brought into his kingdom and experience his grace will be purified of sin, and will see God. One day, 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 asked whether Christ's 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 there in the position actually to work for peace with one another.
This extends all kinds of human reconciliation number eight Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness. This last beatitude is stated briefly in verse 10, the others of Bama then it's elaborated in verses 11 and 12 are to find that this is a pattern Jesus Wallace further on in the sermon. 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 a 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 I 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 warrior like Jesus Christ more. You will be disliked and persecuted and ostracized by those who hate Jesus said yourself well and 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 prophets 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 of your consultant 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 and 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 of my predecessors here at 10th Presbyterian Church. Years ago, Donna Ray Barnhouse used to explain it like this. He said the illustration 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 and 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 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 a little shine like the sun. We don't have any power of illumination in ourselves the moonshine only because it reflects sometimes it's a full moon. Sometimes the church is in the full moon of 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 to our understanding and more than that to the transformation of our heart to some might find Jesus Christ as Savior and begin to live for him and that all know him to be stimulated to live in a way that really does bring glory to the Savior and benefits mankind. We pray in Jesus name, listening to the Bible study our featuring the teaching of Dr. James Boyce. How do we find happiness. The answer is tied to how we live our Christian lives in the Bible gives us a clear pattern to that end by describing the life of Christ. Find out more about this often misunderstood topic in our free CD message entitled a clue for finding happiness.
This free offer is our way of saying thanks for listing give us a call at 1-800-488-1888 will be happy to send you a copy of a clue for finding happiness. That number again is 1-800-488-1888. You can help share the happiness of following Jesus by keeping messages like these on the air and on the Internet make a monthly pledge or a one time donation by calling us at 1-800-488-1888 or visiting online at the Bible study our God over our mailing address is 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601 in Canada. You can reach the Bible study our med PO Box 24097 RPO Josephine North Bay, Ontario P1 BD 0C7 Reformation 21 and a place for truth are websites of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals, proclaiming biblical doctrine to foster a reformed awakening in today's church, find blogs, articles, and podcasts from today's most influential reformed thinkers connect to it all at the Bible study our daughter by Mark Daniels. Thanks for listening in.
There's plenty of talk today about the evils of poverty in the power of riches. Just as there was in Jesus time. Certainly our Lord was concerned for the poor, but his focus was not so much on material possessions. What kind of poverty need Jesus addressing his earthly ministry.
Find out next time. As Dr. James Boyce outlines the requisites to inheriting the kingdom of God.
That's next time on Bible study our you to think and act