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A Different Bill of Rights, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
February 15, 2022 12:00 am

A Different Bill of Rights, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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February 15, 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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These countries that may insult us and silence us and rob us of the dignity of rights and defraud us and maybe persecute us and maybe even bring in the lions, but we have been reminded through the words of Christ that our mission is to deliver to our world the gospel and to have this spirit and this attitude of graciousness and compassion and mercy and reminding them ultimately through the gospel that there is another country. Welcome back to Wisdom for the Heart. Yesterday we began a message that we didn't have time to complete.

Today we're going to do a little bit of review and then bring you the conclusion to that lesson. Many of the people who heard and followed Jesus misunderstood his mission. They thought he came to bring them political freedom, but Jesus had different intentions. Jesus preached a sermon about this and it's recorded for us in Luke chapter 6. Stephen Davey returns to that passage today.

It's filled with practical insight that relates directly to our lives today. This is part two of a message Stephen is calling A Different Bill of Rights. My manager and 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. 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. 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 the 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. Right 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. See 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, 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.

Hold it loosely. Now you can imagine by now that the energy and the excitement there on that plateau has just been sucked out of the air. I mean, thousands of people have come. They want to hear Jesus preach. They can't wait to see Jesus.

He's the most famous person in their world. And they're not so sure now. In fact, as I mentioned in earlier studies, John 6 tells us that when he gets to the end of the sermon, many disciples leave him and walk no longer with him.

They're not interested in this bill of rights. And Jesus isn't finished yet, right? Number seven, you have the right to be generous to those who don't pay you back. Verse 30, Jesus gives, by the way, the worst financial advice on the planet. He says, give to everyone who begs from you and from one who takes away your goods, do not demand them back. By the way, the term for beg here is understood in the context of borrowing. And there is an element of desperation. They're begging, please. They want to borrow. It could be food. It could be money. It would be helpful to understand that in this culture, the common people were desperately poor.

One historian said that they were all one bad harvest away from total ruin. So a person is on the edge, loaning to another person who's in need is not a good investment. Jesus says you might well just consider it a gift.

Are you generous? The Lord says here, if someone uses your possessions, again, it's in the context of borrowing, they've taken it and they won't return it. They can't. Maybe they've lost it. Don't demand it back.

It might have been your toolbox, your table, your milk cow, your plow. They just can't afford to give it back. So let them keep it.

And you think, well, wait a second. The Fifth Amendment of our Bill of Rights gives us the right, quote, to never be deprived of property without just compensation. See, Jesus isn't suggesting now, by the way, that we ignore the basic truths of property and possessions, but he is taking us to an entirely different standard, a different attitude of compassion for those who are in need. He is essentially saying in this Bill of Rights, people are more important than possessions. My citizenship should be none for their generosity. They give, they give, they give, and they give.

Right number eight, you have the right to never see in your lifetime many of your wishes come true. And people are thinking, boy, I really want to follow Jesus now. This is originally called the golden rule dating back to the 16th century. Jesus kind of summarizes in this statement everything. He says here in verse 31, 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.

They don't. In spite of that, press forward in this lifestyle of good deeds and speaking gracious words and praying faithful prayers and sacrificially serving and a heart of giving generosity. Now, at this point, I imagine somebody out in the audience here in the first century is beginning to think, all right, now, really, seriously, everybody knows this is not the way the world works. You've spent way too much time in the carpenter's shop.

You haven't been out here, obviously. The golden rule out here, Lord, is this, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. That's how the world works. Jesus knew their hearts. He knows ours. So he makes his point even clearer and more convicting in case we didn't get it beginning at verse 32. He says this, if you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? What act of grace is that on your part, in other words? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, well, what grace is that?

What benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. That phrase, expecting nothing, literally means losing hope.

You have given up hope that you will ever see it come back your way. Jesus is saying, I know how the world works. I know how sinners act. I'm not asking you to uphold their bill of rights. I'm asking you to uphold mine. Theirs come naturally.

Mine come supernaturally. See, Jesus is not calling us here to imitate humanity. He's calling us to imitate deity.

Did you catch that? In fact, look at verse 35. Your reward will be great, that is, you'll be compensated one day, and you will be sons of the most high, for he is kind. He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

Be merciful, even as your father is merciful. That phrase, sons of the most high, is a Jewish idiom. It means that your actions reveal what family to whom you belong. For instance, Jesus will refer to the sons of this age, that is, they belong to this age, this world system.

Luke chapter 16, verse 8. It will refer to the sons of those who murdered the prophets. They're not biological sons. They're just acting like their forefathers. They're acting like the family to which they've come.

Matthew 23, 31. So Jesus is saying here, if you live by my bill of rights, you will be recognized as sons of the most high. You're evidently not related to anybody on the planet.

Who are you? You must be related to deity. See, even Seneca, the philosopher who lived in the days of Jesus' ministry, said, and I quote, if you wish to imitate the gods, do good deeds to the ungrateful. Everybody gets that. Everybody sees this is different.

This is not of earth. This is supernatural behavior. So as citizens of heaven, act like your father. He says he's kind to the ungrateful and the evil, those who deny him.

He's merciful. You know, I pulled out of my neighborhood this morning and, you know, there's a guy cutting his lawn. He's not even going to come to church. And I'm thinking, it rained on his lawn just like it rained on mine. If I were God, I'd carve the clouds. It would just kind of rain around him until he started going to church. And it really bothers me that his yard looks better than mine. That's just not right. God is so gracious to our world.

They can live and love and paint and enjoy scenery and relationships and raise children and go to the beach and enjoy life. He's merciful to them. I would siphon oxygen off just for those who follow me. But God, to whom we belong, calls us to not respond naturally but supernaturally. You want to do that? You want to sign up as a citizen of his kingdom?

With that, let me make three very practical applications since this is also easy to take in today. Number one, let me encourage you to reject the rhetoric. What I mean is this. Reject the messages you're hearing today that Christians need to fight for their personal and religious rights. While we can't voice our objections, we do have a Bill of Rights.

They are just and balanced. It's within our right to claim them. The problem is when we consider them God-given and all of a sudden now we've become American rather than global Christians. We can voice our objections.

We can claim our legal rights as citizens. I mean, think about the Apostle Paul, remember? He claimed the right to a fair trial in Acts chapter 25 and verse 11. I appealed to Caesar. With that, he went off to Rome. He also reminded the jailer who was about to beat him that you don't beat a Roman citizen without a trial where he said that in Acts chapter 22 and verse 25. However, Paul viewed his Roman rights not as God-given guarantees. In fact, if you track his life, remember, he did not get a fair trial. He was killed and he was beaten many times.

Stoned to death more than once, they thought, and he went back in and continued preaching. You see, if our rights by our country are God-given, if that were true, then Christians today in China, in Afghanistan, in Turkey would need some answers from the Apostle Paul. Beloved, I want to be transparent and tell you that I believe and have been deeply concerned that the average Christian in our country is becoming angry and threatened, and it's because of a deeply held error that the Bill of Rights are biblical rights for the believer.

They are not. We can enjoy them, but our rights as citizens have been delivered here by Jesus. He says essentially this is how you can expect to be treated. In fact, think of Jesus himself. He lost all of his rights. He gave them, in fact, freely away. He gave up the right to live like God in that glorious state. He gave up the right to use his powers as God for his own convenience. He gave up the right to be treated like God. Every single one of his rights were demolished.

Why? Because he had a future view. He did that so that you and I could claim the right that we've been given. As many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God.

John 1.12. Anything beyond that, you're on thin ice. You're buying into the rhetoric of an ever-growing angry church and Christian community. Secondly, let me encourage you to rise above the arguments, especially in the classroom, in the hallway, in the boardroom, in the courtroom, those that you work with on social media. Let your social media posts reveal to others that you're praying for your civil leaders.

Would they be surprised to find out that you are? Let them read your responses that you're more concerned about the progress of the gospel rather than your political party. Or is it just going to be the normal responses to where you're going to give your perspective on every issue that comes down the pike? Let me encourage you to rise above, get beyond the arguments. If necessary, step away from social media for the next 30 days. Dive into this chapter, the record in Matthew 5. Immerse yourself in the implications of Jesus' counter-cultural claims for his followers and then come out of that 30 days, I believe, refreshed with a gracious spirit toward other Christians who disagree with you.

Imagine that. With a greater sense of compassion for unbelievers who are not your enemies, they are your mission field. Remember where they are going. With that in mind, here's my third encouragement. Remember your great commission.

This is our commission. It hasn't changed in 2,000 years. Make disciples of all the nations. Our mission hasn't been and isn't, from Paul's writings to Jesus' message to our day, to replace political leaders.

Paul never tried to unseat Nero. Although we vote our conscience and thank God for the ability at this point to take advantage of our freedoms for the sake of righteousness. But remember that our mission is not temporary. I've lived long enough to learn that winning at the ballot box is a temporary victory. Our mission is not to get our country to return to more conservative roots.

Again, don't misunderstand. I would be thrilled if the moral digression of our culture slowed to a crawl because today it seems to be infused with rocket fuel mixed with insanity. No doubt. I rejoice when Christians win seats on school boards and judicial benches and political positions. That may be God's sacred calling for you where you have a broader influence in those worlds than I will ever have to bring salt and light for the influence of the gospel and the sake of righteousness. And listen, righteousness always exalts a nation and sin is always a disgrace to any people.

That's true. And we grieve over the disgrace in our nation. Let's just remember that returning our country to conservative roots is not our mission. Conservatives can die and go to hell just as quickly as liberals. Remember the mission of the church is not to make someone a conservative.

It is to make them a Christian that is a follower of Jesus Christ. I hear more and more Christian leaders today essentially preaching that we must return America to Judeo-Christian ethics. We've got to save America. Beloved, our mission is not to save our country any more than it is for Germans who are Christians to save Germany, North Koreans who are Christians to save North Korea, Chinese Christians to save China.

That's temporary. Our mission is to remind the citizens of the countries where God has assigned us as ambassadors, these countries that may insult us and silence us and rob us of the dignity of rights and defraud us and maybe persecute us and maybe even bring in the lions. But we have been reminded through the words of Christ that our mission is to deliver to our world the gospel and to have this spirit and this attitude of graciousness and compassion and mercy and reminding them ultimately through the gospel that there is another country.

There is a greater citizenship. There is a higher allegiance. There is an eternal kingdom. There's a king who's coming and you'd better surrender to him. Ultimately, he will have the final word. He is the king of kings and Lord of lords and we in the meantime can entrust ourselves to him. Let's rise above the arguments. Let's remember our assignment with eternal implications from the Lord who has delivered to us a very different bill of rights.

Thanks for joining us today. This is Wisdom for the Heart. This lesson is entitled A Different Bill of Rights and it comes from Stephen's series from Luke 6 called The Sermon on the Plateau. Stephen wrote a booklet entitled Blessed Assurance. In it, he answers the question of whether or not a Christian can lose his salvation. The ebook, Blessed Assurance, is our gift to you this month. All you need to do is visit wisdomonline.org. There's a link right on our homepage that will take you to it. Thanks for listening. Join us next time as Stephen continues teaching through this series right here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-04 21:20:24 / 2023-06-04 21:29:04 / 9

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