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A Different Bill of Rights, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
February 14, 2022 12:00 am

A Different Bill of Rights, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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February 14, 2022 12:00 am

Early in His ministry, those who followed Jesus had expectations for Him. They expected their messiah to wage war against Rome, free Israel, and brings God's kingdom to earth during their lifetime. But Jesus had different intentions, and He challenged His followers to conform to His will, not try to make Him conform to theirs. Jesus' sermon on the mount, transcribed in Luke's Gospel, will be just as difficult and challenging for us today as it was for the Jewish patriots and nationalists in Jesus' audience.

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And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Get this, as you wish that others would do to you, and you can imply this, and they do not.

Now at this point, I imagine somebody out in the audience here is beginning to think, everybody knows this is not the way the world works. The golden rule out here, Lord, is this, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. Early in His ministry, those who followed Jesus had expectations for Him. They expected their Messiah to wage war against Rome.

They expected political freedom. They expected the Messiah to set up God's kingdom and rule over the earth. But Jesus had different intentions. He challenged His followers to conform to His will, not try to make Him conform to theirs. Jesus preached a sermon about this that is just as difficult and challenging for us today as it was for the Jewish patriots in His audience.

This is wisdom for the heart. Today, Stephen Davey has a message for you called, A Different Bill of Rights. In his sermon on the plateau, the Lord Jesus is in the process of turning everything upside down. And if I correctly preach His sermon today, I'm going to do the same thing. In short, very brief statement after a statement, Jesus rocks the expectations of Jewish patriots who long to be free from Roman oppression. He's going to take the sword, as we've already discovered in this series, He's going to take the sword of truth and He's going to cut through centuries of religious tradition. He's going to demand that motives and attitudes be given a higher priority than ritual and religiosity. As one author wrote many years ago, Jesus is delivering a series of bombshells.

They are explosive, counter-cultural. He's making shocking, bizarre, uncomfortable statements for those who will follow Him as His disciples. He's effectively delivering to them the constitution for the citizens of His kingdom. I couldn't help but compare Jesus' description of what a believer should surrender with our own constitutional rights today. We have our own constitution today in this country, in the opening amendments, called the Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791. I'm very grateful for that Bill of Rights. I'm grateful to be in a country that has a democracy and a constitution like ours.

I am proud to be an American. The Bill of Rights is a wonderful, just document. The problem is it is becoming more and more apparent to me that the church at large seems to have baptized the Bill of Rights into church doctrine. The average Christian today believes, I fear, that God has guaranteed us those rights. Those rights should now be fought for and argued by Christians, that the Bill of Rights are the biblical rights for believers.

Nothing could be further from the truth. While I appreciate our constitution, it is not inspired scripture. Now, don't misunderstand me, the tremendous benefit of this Bill of Rights. Many countries around the world today would long to be so greatly benefited by these personal liberties so described. However, the Bill of Rights is being debated more and more.

It's being rewritten in application. It's being eroded. And the reaction of the world is not my issue. The reaction of the Christian and the church is concerning to me. I'm hearing from more and more Christian leaders in our community, more and more Christians, who are considering everything from the creation of communes, to taking up arms, to refusing to pay taxes. The anger and the rhetoric and the demands are ratcheting up more and more, and they are revealing to me deeply held error in the church. One particular leader of a movement who wants, as he says, to renew America.

Recently, someone sent me the blog. I looked it up and did the research and read it for myself. He quoted Matthew 16, 18, where Jesus said, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Then he went on to interpret this text to mean that Jesus was calling Christians now to band together and fight against the forces of hell that are now entrenched in government, education, etc., etc. In order, he said, for the church to survive. That's not what Jesus said. What Jesus said was nothing less than a promise that he would successfully build his church and that hell has already lost. I have come to believe that what Jesus is preaching in this sermon would be absolutely unwelcomed in many evangelical congregations today.

He would never be invited back if he delivered this sermon. I'm convinced because he's about to preach to people who are deeply patriotic, deeply nationalistic, this Jewish audience who wants a change in government, who wants Rome removed. They're tired of being taxed and marginalized and mistreated. They want a leader that can rally behind who will uphold their personal rights and all their religious freedoms. Well, I want you to hold onto your hat because Jesus is about to deliver a different bill of rights to them and to us. So take your Bibles, if you dare, and turn to Luke chapter 6 again where we find ourselves working through this sermon. Now, as we work through the next paragraph, I want to structure our thoughts around eight different rights that Jesus promised his followers. Here are your rights as citizens of his kingdom.

Right number one, you have the right to love those who disagree with you. He says here in verse 27 as it opens, but I say to you who hear, love your enemies. Now, I think it's at this point that Jesus is going to identify an issue. It's kind of growing in his audience. They're going to start tuning him out.

They're going to want to change the channel. So he begins addressing those. He says, now, if you really want to listen, I've got some things to say, assuming, implying there are people that at this point are not going to want to listen. By the way, the reason, before we dive in, the reason Jesus' sermon isn't creating much of an impact in the Christian community today is either because we really don't believe he's speaking to us or we really don't know what he's saying. Everything, by the way, Jesus is going to deliver here will be affirmed by additional passages as you work your way through the New Testament.

Here's the first right for believers, and by the way, it sets the stage for all of them. Here it is again, love your enemies. The verb is from that family of words we refer to as agape. It's not a feeling word necessarily. It leads to feelings. This is a willingness to love. This is a conscious decision to love. This is choosing to love.

A couple walks down the aisle to Mary, and according to God's word, it isn't because they've fallen in love, but because they are choosing to love. It's the word used for the love between a husband and a wife. It's the love described as from God towards sinners in Romans chapter 5 verse 8. It's the word used to describe the love of Christ for his church. This is a love for someone who does not merit it, who doesn't deserve it. There isn't anything about the church that merits the love of Christ. There isn't anything about your life or mine that says, well, now I deserve God's love.

Are we glad he gives it to us even when we don't deserve it? This is the word used here. So Jesus is saying that the believer has the right to love people who do not merit that love, who do not deserve that love. Jesus, by the way, uses the word here enemies. Love your enemies.

You could translate that wittily hostile ones. Love those who are hostile toward you. They don't merely seem unfriendly toward you.

They really are unfriendly toward you. Now to Jesus' audience, the law has already made it clear, and they know the law, Leviticus chapter 19, that they're to love their neighbor. We'll eventually get to a text where Jesus redefines neighbor.

The Jews during this day defined someone's neighbor as someone who has a similar opinion. Love those who think like you do. Well, that's easy, isn't it?

That's kind of convenient. I can love people who share my opinion. In fact, I think they're pretty bright people who share my opinion.

But the idea of enemies here, one New Testament scholar writes this definition, and he wrote this decades ago. He said this. This is applying to anyone who does not share our opinions personally, religiously, and politically. Love them. And you want to respond, really?

Let's be honest. That person would be hard to love. This happens to be your right as a citizen of the kingdom. You have the right to love those who are hostile in their disagreement with you. Right number two, you have the right to serve those who hate you. Jesus says here in verse 27, love your enemies. Notice, do good to those who hate you.

I want you to notice the progression. First, we have the attitude, then the action. You got to have the right attitude. The action won't matter. They'll pick up on it. You're just doing it.

You don't love them. I got to do it. All right, I'll do it. Here.

That's not it. The attitude is right, then the action is right. And get this, he's essentially telling you that you don't get to avoid those people. You don't change classrooms to get out from underneath that professor. You don't quit your job because people around you hate you.

Have you ever thought about the fact that it's impossible to serve somebody physically without being next to them? This is what he's talking about. They hate you, but you will find ways to do good. He doesn't tell you what that is because that word means inherently good.

Everybody knows what good is. Whatever that is, it could be a cup of coffee. It could be a ride to work. It could be a kind hello. It could be help with homework.

It could be a bag of groceries. The Old Testament effectively said the same thing. Moses wrote this. If you come across your enemy's ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. Oh, man. He might be tempted to rejoice. There he goes, there donkey. This is fantastic. You're going to have to walk instead of ride to work.

Put it in today's economy. You're riding to work one morning, and there's your enemy on the side of the road who has a flat tire. What are you going to do? I know what you're going to do. Well, I know what I would want to do. Well, I probably would. I'd ride by wave and honk and sing, God is so good. He is so good to me. I deserved it.

I hope he has three more flat tires before he gets hung. That would be so natural, wouldn't it? So Jesus is saying the citizen of the kingdom has a supernatural response, an ability by means of the Holy Spirit who's producing fruit, remember, in our lives, even to love someone and do good to them who hates us. Right number three, you have the right to be gracious to those who curse you. Jesus says here in verse 28, bless those who curse you.

I mean, you hardly need any explanation for that, but I'm paid to explain it to you, so here it goes. The word for curse means to call down divine affliction on someone. There was a time when this was more literal.

I can remember in the Middle East standing there looking at different fragments, parchment fragments where then they had the translation there, but people were literally writing out their curses and giving them at the shrines of their gods where they were praying. These were ancient prayer requests calling on their God to bring down affliction, and they would specify, I don't want this guy's crops to flourish. I want disease.

I want a sudden death. I mean, they literally wrote them out. In some ways, this is the same thing as someone who is asking God to damn you. They're wanting some kind of affliction to come down, and they can't give it, so they want God to do it. Jesus says here, you might be tempted to holler back, as Howard Hendricks used to say to us in seminary.

You might be tempted to give them a piece of your mind you cannot afford to lose. Notice we've been given instead the right to respond with blessing. Bless those who curse you.

Bless you like gette. We get our word eulogy from that. He's saying, not when they're dead, but when they're alive, speak well of them and to them. But wait a second. I've got a Bill of Rights that gives me freedom of speech. I can say whatever I want to say. I've got the right to speak my mind.

Don't you get in the way of that. That's my First Amendment right. Jesus says, I've got a different Bill of Rights for you. Whose citizen are you? You now have the right to bless those who curse you. Right number four.

How are we doing? You have the right to pray for those who hurt you. Jesus goes on now in verse 28 to say, pray for those who abuse you.

The word for abuse here refers to mistreatment, most likely related to persecution. Jesus says, our reaction to mistreatment, discrimination, persecution is not to shout louder. It's not to demand our right to the free exercise of religion and the right to peaceably assemble.

That's in our Bill of Rights. It's not in the Bible. And Christians today around the world are meeting in secret.

Who would know nothing of this right. Jesus' words here in this sermon would be deeply encouraging to Christians today in Afghanistan, in Turkey, in North Africa, in Iraq, in North Korea. You see, when you interpret a verse of Scripture correctly, would you remember that it will work for them over there, just like it will here? I fear we tend to Americanize the Bible.

What that means is this. And they would never apply it over there. My Mandarin translator for our media ministry is currently leading an underground church in China. I had lunch a while back with he and other brothers who'd come here, and every one of those pastors had spent at least three years in prison. In fact, they said to me that they don't even really consider a prison sentence worth anything if it's less than three years.

Well, you've got to give me the right to do what I want to do in three minutes. Jesus is preaching to a church that will soon be hiding in the catacombs of Rome as the lions are carted into the arena. He's wanting them and us to focus on the eternal destiny of those who are hating and cursing and mistreating us. Pray for them!

Look at what's going to happen to them after this brief life. I want you to listen to one of the most persecuted believers ever. He's writing a letter to a young pastor.

Listen to his perspective that is eternal. He mimics the Bill of Rights delivered by Jesus. The Apostle Paul writes this. First of all, then I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions. Now get this, that we may lead a life that's noted by this, peacefulness, quietness, godliness, and dignity in every way. That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life godly and dignified in every way. Does that sound like your Facebook posts?

Does that sound like your Twitter account? Godly, dignified, peaceful, quiet. Can somebody say who disagrees with you, you know what, I know about that guy, he's one of those Christians, but I got to tell you, I can tell he's praying for our country. I can tell he's praying for our leaders. I get angry at him, he never responds that way back. You have the right to pray for those who mistreat you. Write number five, you have the right to refuse revenge. Jesus now says in verse 29, to one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.

Matthew chapter five delivers a couple of additional words that are helpful, it's the right cheek. This is the idea of a backhanded slap, it's a metaphor for being insulted. This is not a recommendation here that you let the neighborhood bully have one more shot at you. No, run.

However, this has to do with reacting supernaturally instead of naturally. The natural thing is to strike back. You insult me, I'm going to give you a bigger insult. I'm going to get the last word, that's called revenge. And if you're bigger than him, in a literal sense, if he slaps you, well, you take his head off, that's the American way. This is essentially a command to refuse to hit back physically or verbally, to never get even, to never top their insult with a bigger one.

Here he comes, I'm typing it out. To be vindicated when wrong is not our right. Jesus effectively says here, you have the right to live with never being vindicated anywhere on earth, but in the sight of God alone.

Right number six, you have the right to be robbed of personal possessions. Jesus says at the end of verse 29, and from one who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Now the cloak here is the robe, a heavier material that reached to the ground. It typically served not only as an outer robe, but as a blanket at night. In fact, the law in the Old Testament required that if it was taken as a pledge, you had to return it by that evening, otherwise they would be cold, they would lose their blanket.

The tunic was the undershirt worn next to the skin. Greek scholars differ. It's possible that Jesus could be referring here to robbery. It's also possible that this is a reference to legal action taken against the believer that is unjust. And so this is a metaphorical phrase, in fact, we use to this very day. We talk about somebody who lost their shirt.

We talk about somebody today who's out in the cold. Now we have a Bill of Rights that protects our privacy and our possessions, our houses, papers, and property, bound up in the amendments four and five. But again, Jesus is delivering a different Bill of Rights. He says we have the right to lose everything and keep nothing. So will we trust him that he will take care of us even when we are unjustly treated and left out in the cold? Now, you need to understand Jesus is not diminishing the blessing of just law or those who uphold it. It is a sacred calling. But he's essentially telling his disciples here to live with the attitude that those possessions, that shirt, that robe, it's temporary.

Hold it loosely. Thanks for joining us today. This is Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen's message today is entitled, A Different Bill of Rights. In addition to being our Bible teacher, Stephen is also the president of a seminary. How would your life be changed if you set aside one year to study God's Word, experience authentic community, grow in discipleship, take a trip to do some study in Israel, and earn your master's degree in theological studies, all in one year? The school Stephen leads offers a special one-year program called Shepherd's Inn.

Where you can experience all that I just described. This unique one-year program offers a life-changing opportunity to all believers, no matter your vocation. We've had men and women join us right out of college and before entering their career. They spend one year in God's Word, earn their master's degree, and then enter the workforce better equipped to do so. The workforce better equipped to serve God in both their church and community. We've also had men join us who believed they were called to be a pastor. They did this program and then jumped into our Master of Divinity program.

Invest one year of your life to equip yourself for the rest of your life. Stephen and the world-class faculty are eager to invest in you. You can learn more at shepherds.edu. And by the way, you can study at Shepherd's Seminary without relocating to this area.

Because most of the classes are available live, online, as well as in person. Thanks for listening. If we can help you today, call 866-48-BIBLE. We'll see you for our next Bible lesson tomorrow, right here on Wisdom for the Heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-05 07:37:13 / 2023-06-05 07:46:16 / 9

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