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030914_Kingdom Bound: Kingdom Thinking_Matthew 5:1-12

030914_Kingdom Bound: Kingdom Thinking_Matthew 5:1-12

 
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TITLE: Kingdom Bound: Kingdom Thinking – Matthew 5:1-12 AIM: Developing kingdom attitudes & ways of thinking. INTRO: Said a few wks ago that the gospel of Matthew was called by some the gospel of the King/kingdom. That being so, the passage which contains what is called “The Sermon on the Mount,” ch.5-7, might be thought of as Jesus’ “declaration of the kingdom” or what the kingdom is all about. David Gudzik wrote that the Sermon on the Mount “is recognized as the sum of Jesus’ ethical teaching…expressing the spiritual implications of the rule of Jesus in our lives.” Several yrs ago I read a book entitled The Gospel Dilemma, The Gospel Solution, by Tom Weaver, who argued that not only the Sermon on the Mount, but most if not all of Jesus’ teaching in the gospels was intended by Jesus, at least in part, to express our absolute need of a Savior, & the absolute impossibility of our doing anything to save ourselves. That’s the gospel dilemma. Of course, the Gospel Solution is Jesus & His atoning work. We can certainly understand why Matthew wanted to convey such a message, writing to the Jews. Their keeping the law/traditions could not save them. That being so, the Beatitudes are a very fitting introduction to the Sermon on the Mount. Someone has said they are the “Be attitudes” or “the attitudes that should be.” But the wd beatitudes actually means “blessings” & each beatitude begins w/“Blessed are…” Another expression for blessed is “happy,” or “truly happy.” That, of course, is what most of us are looking for – true happiness. 2014 theme: Kingdom Bound – bound for eternal life in the future kingdom of God by the grace of God thru faith in Christ, but also bound by the kingdom here & now – the present kingdom of God, rule of Christ as Lord marking our lives today. As we look into the Beatitudes, I would submit to you that true happiness in life comes thru kingdom of God thinking. Matthew 5:1-12 [READ]. When it says that Jesus “opened His mouth & taught them,” it means He had something imp to say. C.H. Spurgeon wrote, “Jesus Christ spoke like a man in earnest; He enunciated clearly & spoke loudly. He lifted His voice like a trumpet & published salvation far & wide, like a man who had something to say which He desired His audience to hear & feel.” Barclay wrote that this was “a solemn, grave & dignified utterance…a most weighty saying.” He started this discourse w/the wd, “blessed.” Again, blessed means happy – truly happy, in the deepest sense of the wd. Gudzik wrote, “It is that joy which has its secret w/in itself…which is serene & untouchable & self-contained… which is completely independent of all the chances & changes of life.” Spurgeon wrote, “Notice that the last wd of the OT is ‘curse’ (Malachi 4:6) & …that the opening sermon of our Lord’s ministry commences w/the wd ‘blessed.’” Jesus took the curse for us & brings us blessing. Again, Spurgeon wrote, “This wd ‘blessed’ is in the present tense. It is happiness now to be enjoyed & delighted in.” So, what does Jesus say will make us blessed/ happy? “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” Right away this seems an oxymoron. How can we be happy if we are poor in spirit? But I think it very significant & intentional that Jesus begins here. He was laying a foundation upon which we can build our lives/true happiness. That wd “poor” means “reduced to begging; destitute of wealth, influence, position, honor; helpless, powerless to accomplish an end; poor, needy” (Strong’s). Again, that doesn’t sound happy. But what Jesus is saying is simple: it’s when we recognize our abject spiritual poverty, our spiritual bankruptcy, our spiritual destitution, our desperate need, it’s then that we are able to look up to the only One who can make us spiritually rich w/redemption & justification & forgiveness & relationship w/Himself & the gift of the Holy Spirit & the gift of eternal life & the gift of the Kingdom of Heaven, which encompasses all of this. But not only these gifts of salvation, but the gift of sanctification – transformation of our lives to be more & more like Christ. We can’t save ourselves nor change ourselves, but God can. It’s when we recognize our desperate need of Him that we look to Him who alone is the source of our salvation & sanctification. And, we are spiritually bankrupt when it comes to handling our own lives & relationships. We desperately need God’s help & His rule. We need to do life His way if we would be happy. Someone asked me once, “Doesn’t God want me to be happy?” This person was wanting to leave their spouse & family to escape the struggle of marriage. Yes, God wants us to be happy, but we won’t be happy if we don’t do it His way. And to do it His way we need His help. We have no spiritual resources on our own. If we don’t recognize our need, we are left w/only ourselves, trying in vain to reach God & secure a happy relationship w/Him & happiness in this life, & it won’t work. Again, this is foundational, because all of life flows from this – our recognition of our desperate need. Then Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn…” Again, seems the opposite of happiness. But recognizing our spiritual poverty should lead to mourning over our sin & its affects in our lives & society. And that should lead to our crying out to God who alone can help us. It’s when we lament our spiritual destitution that we look up to Him & find comfort in His provision for our redemption thru the work of Christ & provision for our daily Christian walk thru the Holy Spirit He has given us & provision for the ills of a sin-sick society thru us as the salt of the earth & light of the world, pointing others to Jesus. That wd “comfort” means to come alongside to hold up, walk w/, encourage, exhort, instruct, etc. That’s what Jesus has done for us. That’s what the Holy Spirit does for us. There’s where we find happiness – deciding to follow Christ, walking w/, in the Spirit, being about His business. “Blessed are the meek…” That wd “meek” means “mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit” (Strong’s). Gudzik wrote that being meek “is not [being] passive or easily pushed around, but [it means having] strength under control – like a strong stallion trained to do a job instead of running wild.” It’s “anger w/out sin, being restrained,” it’s a “willingness to submit & wk under proper authority,” “submitting to God’s will & word, submitting before men – not feeling superior…strong, yet also humble, gentle, patient, long-suffering.” The meek, Jesus said, “will inherit the earth.” In other wds, as Gudzik wrote, “God will not allow His meek ones to end up on the short end of the deal.” That doesn’t mean that thru meekness we will gain the riches of this world. The gospel of Christ is not a prosperity gospel. We will gain much in this life – God’s provision & blessings as we seek Him 1st; but also we will inherit the riches of Christ now & the New Earth Kingdom spoken of in Rev.21. We are fellow-heirs w/Christ the King! I think what Jesus is saying here is that we should not build our kingdoms here & now which cannot last, but will only crumble. Rather, we should humbly receive His salvation, commit our lives here to seek Him 1st & serve Him & we will gain His kingdom here & now & in eternity. That’s borne out by the next beatitude. “Blessed are those who hunger & thirst for righteousness…” This hunger & this thirst are desperate needs. Few, if any of us have ever suffered true hunger or thirst, like many children/ adults in our world today actually do. It’s a longing that can’t be satisfied by a snack or sip. Jesus says that’s how we ought to long for righteousness, which is, according to Strong’s, “the state of one who is as he ought to be” & “the condition acceptable to God.” Thankfully, thru Christ we have, as Paul wrote (Phil3:9), “a righteousness…which comes thru faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…” That is the condition acceptable to God, the basis of our right standing w/God. But God also desires us to be righteous in practice – like Christ in our day to day lives. So we should also hunger & thirst for the way things ought to be in our lives. We hunger & thirst for many things – acceptance, esteem, success, power, riches, or just relief, but the kingdom thinker hungers/thirsts for righteousness in his/her practical life. Someone has said that righteousness is right living & right relationships, & I think that is a huge part of it – how we live & relate to others. In our relationships & in all of life God should be 1st, but then our spouse, then our children/family, then our church family & work family, etc. Those who hunger & thirst for righteousness will be satisfied – filled up, sated. That’s true happiness. “Blessed are the merciful…” We have already received mercy if we have recognized our spiritual poverty & cried out to God & embraced Christ by faith. So, we are expected to show mercy to those around us, those who offend, hurt us. How can we not? We who have been forgiven so much & received so much. Unforgiveness will not lead to happiness. There is no blessing in bitterness. Cry out to God for the grace to be merciful, forgiving. You will enjoy God’s mercy as you give mercy to others. “Blessed are the pure in heart…” That wd “pure” means “clean, pure – like a vine cleansed by pruning & so fitted to bear fruit; free from corrupt desire; free from every admixture of what is false…” (Strong’s). Gudzik wrote, “In ancient Grk, it is the idea of straightness, honest & clarity, a single undivided heart – not ceremonial purity, or visible, but in heart – whether or not anyone sees.” It’s single-minded focus on what is good, right. This thought in itself should make the best of us mourn our spiritual bankruptcy, for who of us can achieve it? Yet we can – not on our own, but by the Holy Spirit’s wk in us. It takes that ongoing realignment we talked about last week. It takes Christ living His life in us as we submit to Him. And what a wonderful reward – “they shall see God!” That is, enjoy a greater intimacy w/God. Sin has a definite blinding effect, but purity in heart enables us to see. Poole wrote, “Tho no mortal eye can see & comprehend the essence of God, yet these [pure in heart] shall by an eye of faith see & enjoy God in this life, tho in a glass darkly; & in the life to come face to face.” You/I know that those who are His thru faith in Christ & who look for Him see God everywhere & in everything – nature, Scripture, prayer, bro/sis in Christ, a baby’s laughter, touch of someone love – God’s gifts, thru which we see God’s true character, enjoying intimacy w/Him, & that is the marrow of life/happiness. Still, the best is yet to come, when the King comes again. Gudzik wrote, “Ultimately, this intimate relationship w/God must become our greatest motivation for purity, greater than a fear of getting caught or a fear of consequences.” “Blessed are the peacemakers…” These are those, as Gudzik wrote, “who bring about peace, overcoming evil w/good” – seeking “live peaceably w/all” “as far as it depends on” them (Rom.12:18). Restoration of relationship – 1st w/God, but also w/in the body of Christ & everywhere else – is the goal, not self-serving cutting off of relationship or seeking revenge. It is also helping others be at peace, again 1st w/God – we are ministers of reconciliation, pointing others to Christ & urging them to embrace Him by faith & so be right w/God. But also seeking to help others reconcile w/each other, thru prayer & exhortation. Those who are peacemakers are recognized as son (& daughters) of God, like their heavenly Father who has reconciled us to Himself. The last 2 beatitudes really go together as one. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…Blessed are you when others revile you & persecute you & utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account…” Why might we be persecuted or reviled or falsely accused? Jesus said it in John 3:20 – “Everyone who does evil hates the light.” Today more people are persecuted for their faith in Christ than in any other time in history – imprisoned, beaten, put to death. You may not suffer that (tho it is coming), but you may be falsely accused or spoken of despairingly, or hated if you stand for Christ, for what’s right, because this way of thinking is so counter-cultural & it exposes the darkness of others’ lives. That’s not to say that some are not reviled for their own foolish acts (such as those who parade about at funerals carrying placards & yelling “God hates fags!), but if we lovingly hold up the light of Christ, those in darkness will hate us & revile us. But Jesus said if this is so, “rejoice & be glad” – jump for joy! “Yours is the kingdom of heaven. Your reward in heaven is great.” And you’re in good company, “for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” David Brown wrote, “As the kingdom of heaven, which is the 1st & the last thing here promised, has 2 stages – a present & a future, and initial & a consummate stage – so the fulfillment of each of these promises has 2 stages – a present & a future, a partial & a perfect stage.” In Christ, ours is the kingdom now & it marks our lives by the rule of Christ in us; but ours is also the kingdom to come, when all will be made right. We are Kingdom Bound!