Join us as Senior Pastor Chris Johnson, Associate Pastor Aaron Hufty, and Associate Pastor Bryan Richardson walk us through Matthew 5:1-12 in our Winter Re:Verse Series: “The Sermon on the Mount – Living Kingdom Values.”
There is an amazing contrast between the voices in chapter 5 and chapter 6. The outcries of the martyrs, and the praises of the saints, both are the center pieces of each chapter. The martyrs inquire of God, “when?” The saints declare His praises. Together they summarize the message of Revelation, both the longing for God to complete His work of Salvation and the certainty of it.
Not only are these voices a summary, but also they model for us how we are to live this side of eternity. We pray and we praise; asking Jesus to come quickly, while also praising Him for the certainty of our salvation.
What if they don’t believe me? Or think I am weird? What if they ask questions I can’t answer? Moses had these insecurities when God called him to lead his people out of slavery. God assured him that He would provide signs, signs that would lead people to believe that what he said was true.
Jesus promised the church signs as well. He said, “If you love one another, then they will know you are my disciples.” In His high priestly prayer he also said, “Lord may they be one as we are one,…so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you have loved me.” Two signs, love and unity. The promise is that when we love the way Jesus loved, when we see and savor God in unity then the world will believe God’s message of reconciliation.
What sign does your family, co-workers, and neighbors need to see?
Joshua implored his people to commit to “love” God. The covenant between God and the Israelites was not a business contract; their obedience to God was not payment for services rendered, nor is it an attempt to repay Him out of indebtedness. That’s not the arrangement. Joshua told them to obey, worship, and love because the God of the universe first loved them, made himself know to them, rescued them out of idolatry, and in His love was great reward.
Stop doing business with God; love him with all your heart!
The book of Joshua is a remarkable history, and it begins with a rousing introduction from God himself! The promise of presence and great success to Joshua, but most of all, the promise of rest to the Israelites in a land of their very own, indeed a kingdom. The Israelite people were no doubt desperate for rest and peace after forty years wondering in the desert and four hundred more as slaves in Egypt. And God would provide it to them, he would fight their battles, and lead them Joshua’s faithful leadership.
It is a picture of the Gospel. To the Church belong the promises of God made possible by the new covenant in Jesus’ blood. We are co-heirs with Jesus, and ours is not only the forgiveness of sin, but full restoration and rest in a new heaven and a new Earth. Aren’t you desperate for true rest (a life without sin)? I am. By God’s grace let’s continue to shake off the shackles of sin and press on in the hope of our future eternal rest as sons and daughters of God.
It was a loud mess, a cacophony of voices, some hushed and others loud, as Jesus was paraded into Caiphas’ courtyard in the middle of the night. It went from courtyard to courtroom with the raising of the high priest’s hand; everyone went silent, and every eye on Jesus. The silence lasted for only a moment when one, then two began to make accusation against Jesus in disjointed coordination, as if they had rehearsed what they would say. Three. Four. Ten. A pause and then ten more just the same. Each pause was followed by feverish anticipation of what this man might say in his defense. As if to raise the stakes and rouse a response, each accusation became more outlandish than the next.
Silence. And yet without even a word his very presence spoke with authority, and they felt it, and hated him for it.
He would eventually speak, making a declaration rather than a defense. His words, albeit few, sealed his fate. Their plan was working, so they thought; they had sprung their trap. Little did they know that his words, which brought him condemnation and them triumph, played into the hand of a sovereign and gracious God. Words.
Paul writes something mysterious and incredible to the Romans. He writes, “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness,…the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Have you ever given that much thought? It is a marvelous one! Now I don’t know all that this verse means, but there are a few things I do know. The Holy Spirit prays for us when we don’t know how to pray. This means, not only does the Holy Spirit know the nitty gritty of our life, but He is actively doing something about it. When we are at a loss, the Holy Spirit is not-He intercedes! That is incredible news!
You know those times when you are done? You can’t endure anymore; you’re spent, and yet you seem to make it through? Well now you know the reason why; the Holy Spirit pulls you through! Maybe you should give Him thanks! It’s okay, go ahead and praise Him for His intercession!
I think it is very important to note this is not a “fire and brimstone” text. Paul is not trying to intimidate sinners into being righteous out of fear that they may not “be saved.” (You can go to Hebrews 10:26 for that.) Paul is in fact answering critics who argued that this “faith” business would only lead to more sin, not less. So, Paul is not trying to scare anyone, but is actually writing matter-of-factly about the nature of God’s grace at work in the Christian’s life.
He began his argument in chapter five when he wrote, “how much more shall we be saved by his[Christ’s] life.” He makes the case that in the same way sin and corruption struck like a virus in humanity through Adam, so shall the life of Jesus spread into the life of those who believe in the Gospel by faith. If this is true, Paul believed that the resulting life is one given to more and more righteousness, or fruits of the Spirit. By God’s grace, the Christian is freed for the first time to fight the fight of faith, or to increasingly give themselves to the righteousness of Christ. It is a given reality, not just a possibility.
Abraham’s story is a remarkable one. He was rough around the edges, but when it counted he did some extraordinary things. There is no wonder that God chose him to be the father of nations,…except that is not the story at all. The glorious hero in this story is not Abraham, but God. God sovereignly made a promise to Abraham, to provide him a son, make him a father of nations, ultimately blessing the whole world, and Abraham “fully convinced that God was able to do what He promised,” believed Him. This remarkable story of faith is not about God’s confidence in choosing the right person for the task, but Abraham’s confidence, or faith, in God. It was at that moment, when Abraham was “fully convinced,” before he had obeyed God even once, that God credited his faith as righteousness.
“The righteous will live by faith.” Will you? Will you follow hard after Jesus, not because you are fighting for His approval, but because you believe what he was promised? Let’s believe together, and take great steps of faith!
But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. Romans 2:29
Paul makes it increasingly clear that we are all in trouble. We are idolaters, all of us; and even those of us who look the part, we too have rejected God for the praise of men. He then introduces the type of person that God seeks, one who is concerned more about the affections of their heart, then the one putting on airs. This one doesn’t live for the approval of men, but lives to worship God in all of life. Finally he tells us how such a person takes shape, “by the Spirit.” The Spirit of God does the work of reshaping the human heart through faith in the Gospel. The key to living a life of faith is just that-faith! It is not working harder, or beating yourself up over past sins (penance), it’s not adding another Bible study to your schedule, no, it is none of those things. Live from faith to faith forever resting in God’s approval of you because of the work of His Son! Have faith in the Gospel, and let the Spirit of God do the hard work of reshaping your heart!