April 2, 2017 - MORNING WORSHIP
First Baptist Church of Manchester
The Sermon that Jesus Preached
Blessings of the
Kingdom – Part 3
Pastor David Saylor April 2, 2017
READ Matthew 5:3-10
Today we shall cover the next three beatitudes:
With each beatitude we look at, I hear another nail being driven into a coffin. Inside the coffin lies the corpse of a false understanding of salvation. The false understanding that says a person can be saved without being changed. Or that a person can inherit eternal life even if his attitudes and actions are like the attitudes and actions of unbelievers.
The Cry of the Beatitudes: Get a New Heart
One after the other the beatitudes (and entire Sermon) tell us that the blessings of eternity will be given only to those who have become new creatures. Matthew 5:7–9 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
If we don't obtain mercy, we receive judgment. If we don't see God, we are not in heaven. If we aren't called the sons of God, we are outside the family.
In other words, these are all descriptions of final salvation. And it is promised only to the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers.
Therefore, the beatitudes are like long spikes holding down the lid of the coffin on the false teaching which says that “if you just believe in Jesus you will go to heaven whether or not you are merciful or pure in heart or a peacemaker.” In fact, from beginning to end the Sermon on the Mount cries out, "Get yourself a new heart! Become a new person!”
And at the very end of the sermon in 7:26f. the Lord calls out over the crowds, "Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it." In other words, a life that does not reflect the beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount will not stand in the judgment no matter what we say or believe!
Not Optional Suggestions but the Path to Heaven
So I want to impress upon your consciences this morning with as much clarity as I can that if you are a believer, Jesus is not making optional suggestions. On the contrary, Jesus is describing what those on the pathway to heaven look like. That is what is at stake in the Sermon on the Mount. If you are on the narrow path which leads to life, this sermon’s purpose is to help you stay on it. And if you are still in the broad way that leads to destruction, it is to direct you to the path of life.
We are going to look at the next 3 together.
How does a person become merciful, pure-hearted, and a peacemaker?
Recall from last week how we saw the first three beatitudes in verses 3–5 describing the emptiness of the blessed person: and that is followed in verse 6 by a hunger and thirst for the fullness of righteousness.
If it is true that the first three beatitudes show how a person must stand in his relation as a sinner to God—spiritually bankrupt, sorry for sin, and meekly humble—and if it is true that the fourth beatitude contains the promise of God’s provision of righteousness for the person who so comes to God, then it is logical to expect that the remaining beatitudes will reveal the transformed character of the one who now has been touched by Christ’s Spirit and is being progressively remade in Christ’s image.
(1) all three qualities are divine qualities;
(2) we can understand them only because we have first seen them exhibited by Christ and experienced them because of a connection to Christ; and
(3) because we have experienced them in Christ we are on this account to exhibit them to others. The conclusion is that we shall be able to do this only as our lives are yielded to him.
That is how one becomes merciful, pure and a peacemaker.
Blessed are the MERCIFUL – V.7
What Is Mercy? Or: what is a merciful person like?
Mercy is grace in action. Mercy is love reaching out to help those who are helpless and who need salvation- just as God had mercy on us (1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,).
Showing Mercy or being merciful is the doing of some action on behalf of someone in need for which he cannot help himself, out of compassion.
Mercy in the Parable of the Good Samaritan
A great illustration of mercy is found in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25–37
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
The man asked Jesus how a person should act who may expect to find mercy at the judgment day and inherit eternal life. And Jesus answers that the persons who will receive the mercy of eternal life are those who have loved God with all their hearts and their neighbor as themselves. In other words, as we shall see, Jesus is saying, "Blessed are those who are merciful now to their neighbor, for they shall receive the mercy of eternal life in the future."
The lawyer asks, "Who is my neighbor?" And Jesus answers with the parable of the Good Samaritan in verses 30–37.
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”.
Four Dimensions of Mercy in This Parable
Here we have a very sharp photograph of mercy. Mercy has four dimensions in this story.
- First, it sees distress (verse 33: "A Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and he saw him").
- Second, it responds internally with a heart of compassion or pity toward a person in distress (verse 33: "When he saw him, he had compassion on him").
- Third, it responds externally with a practical effort to relieve the distress (verse 33: "He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him").
- And the fourth dimension of mercy is that it happens even when the person in distress is an enemy by religion or race… (verse 33: "But a Samaritan . . . "). A half-breed Jew with a warped religious tradition stops to help the Jew who hates him.
An eye for distress, a heart of pity, an effort to help, in spite of enmity—that's merciful. THESE are what those on the pathway to heaven look like. Who have been touched by Christ’s Spirit. Who will receive mercy from God.
What is the obstacle to mercifulness? Outward perfunctory religion that doesn’t reach the heart (as we shall see later)….. Religion where it stops after we make decisions to go to church, put in our offering, do my bit….
Pure in Heart – V.8
v.8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
[Jesus is Concerned About Our Heart]
The first thing we learn from this beatitude is that Jesus is concerned with our heart. It is not enough to clean up our act on the outside.
Matthew 23:25–26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. You blind Pharisee! First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
The aim of Jesus Christ is not to reform the manners of society, but to change the hearts of sinners like you and me.
Jesus would not be satisfied if all the murder and killing ceased on earth. He would not be satisfied because Matthew 5:21–22 (NIV)21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. ….
The heart is utterly crucial to Jesus. What we are in the deep, private recesses of our lives is what he cares about most. Jesus did not come into the world simply because we have some bad habits that need to be broken. He came into the world because we have such dirty hearts that need to be purified. He knows that until the anger stopped, neither could the murder possibly stop.
What is being Pure in Heart?
It’s one thing that in our fallen sinful natures the Bible says we don’t have. We have impure, sinful hearts. (Matthew 15:19–20 (NIV) 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man ‘unclean’… ” )
It’s only the righteousness of Christ that comes to us as we come to him that creates pure hearts.
If you know something about this sermon you know that after the beatitudes Jesus expands on this “righteousness” with Matthew 5:20 (NIV)20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
When Jesus speaks of the “Rightesousness that exceeds that of scribes and Pharisees”…(v. 20), He immediately illustrates that with 6 illustrations of “surpassing rightesousness” that all begin with the phrase “you have heard it said……” And they are all going beyond the external things to the heart.
The first, vv. 21ff is the one we looked at about murder. And He says it’s inward anger (in the heart) that is sin.
Matthew 5:27–28 (NIV)27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
"Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). From the heart are all the issues of life.
So clear that Jesus cares about our hearts and pure heart is one where Christ’s righteous life is emanating.
What is being “Pure in Heart?” It is the inner, invisible manifestation of the “righteousness of Christ” - then being lived out in us. It is inner holiness that leads to practical Christian holiness.
That brings us to the last phrase:
“They will SEE GOD”
He says that it’s the “pure in heart” that “will see God.” That is, purity is a prerequisite for seeing God. The impure will not see God..
Jesus' point is the same as Hebrews 12:14, "Strive for . . . holiness without which no one will see the Lord." In other words, “blessed are the holy for they shall see God.” There is a real purity and a real holiness which fits us to see the king of glory.
And that is the picture in the Old Testament in the temple too. No one could enter the Holy of Holies where God dwelt. Why? Because they were impure. Only once a year the High Priest was allowed in to offer the sacrifices for sin. Jesus is the Great High Priest. He made the sin offering and opened up heaven to all of us who are clothed in His righteousness.
And by his grace we must seek to manifest that gift of holiness by praying as David prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God" (Psalm 51:10). And we must look to Christ "who gave himself for us . . . to purify for himself a people" (Titus 2:14).
Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS -v.9
When Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God," he does not tell us how to become a son/daughter of God. He simply says that sons of God are in fact, peacemakers.
To see how to become sons of God we can look, for example, at John 1:12, "To all who received him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God." And Galatians 3:26 says, "For in Christ we are all sons of God through faith." In other words, we become children of God by trusting in Christ for our forgiveness and hope.
Sons of God Have the Character of Their Father
What Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:9 is that people who have become sons of God are “chips off the old block”. They have the character of their heavenly Father – a peacemaker. (merciful, pure in heart)
We know from Scripture that our heavenly Father is a "God of peace" (Romans 16:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20). We know that heaven is a world of peace (Luke 19:38). And most important of all, we know that God is a peacemaker!
2 Corinthians 5:19 "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them". Colossians 1:20 He made peace by the blood of the cross.
God is a peace-loving God, and a peacemaking God. The whole history of redemption, climaxing in the death and resurrection of Jesus, is God's strategy to bring about a just and lasting peace between sinful man and Himself, and then between man and man.
Therefore, God's children are that way, too. They have the character of their Father. What he pursues they pursue. You can know his children by whether they are willing to make sacrifices for peace the way God did.
So you see why it must be so, that the children of God must be peacemakers.
Now let's look at . . .
What It Means to Be a Peacemaker
The promise of sonship in Matthew 5:9 points us to Matthew 5:43–45 for our main insight. Both of these texts describe how we can show ourselves to be sons of God.
Matthew 5:43–45 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…
Notice verse 45, " . . . so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven." The thought is the same as in Matthew 5:9. There, we must be peacemakers to be called sons of God. Here, we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us if we would be sons of God (chips off the old blocks).
So Jesus thinks of peacemaking as all the acts of love by which we try to overcome the enmity between us and other people. And if we ask for specifics, he gives the examples. Pray (we saw that)
Then in Matthew 5:47 Jesus gives the other specific example of peacemaking-love in this text: "If you greet only your brothers (not enemy), what more are you doing than others?" In other words, if there is a rupture in one of your relationships, or if there is someone who opposes you, don't cherish it, don’t nurse that grudge. Don't feed the animosity by ignoring and avoiding that person. Offer a greeting.
Maybe it’s a brother/sister in this church. And you are walking down the hall and you see them. And the last time you spoke to them, the interchange was really red hot. The first impulse is “avoid” – to go to the water fountain and get a drink. “Good, I took care of that!”
You didn’t take care of it. Satan did. That impulse is right out of hell. The impulse, when an opportunity to greet an enemy is to avoid them and save your ego from being the first one to extend a greeting – that is from the devil! Doesn’t come from the Spirit of your father in heaven – HE KILLED HIS SON TO MAKE PEACE WITH YOU!.
When an opportunity to make peace comes and you let the impulse of the flesh turn your face away, you have not acted as a child of god in that case. We have all done it. And God will forgive those past acts. But if you let a lifetime of opportunities pass w/o seeking reconciliation, you are bearing witness that you are not a child of God.
What you should do is take a deep breath of the Holy Spirit and with all the earnestness you can muster, you look them in the face and say, “Good morning Dave.”
Not as a thin veneer of politeness, masking anger, but with an prayerful expectation that. in hope, a little step toward reconciliation occurs and someday a miracle may eventually happen.
Peacemaking - Praying for them and greeting them. acts of love by which we try to overcome the enmity between us and other people. (much more of course)
[Not the Same as Peace-Achieving]
A warning and a qualification.
It might not work. Important side note – peace-making is not the same as peace-achieving
Romans 12:18 is very important at this point. There Paul says, "If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all." Don’t ever let the breach be your fault!
Even that is a bit problematical, isn’t it?
“Am I a peacemaker if I take a stand for purity, and somebody gets mad at me?” Like a boyfriend?
Or, at work at the break I insist on only taking a 15 min. break because the boss says, “15 min.” And everyone else wants a 30 min one. And they get mad. And relationships crumble. Am I still a peacemaker?
I think so. Paul said, “if possible…” It might not be possible. Because you can live righteously and and speak the truth in all humility. You can of course speak he truth and take a righteous stand in a way that creates animosity. That must be avoided.
But you must never abandon your allegiance to Jesus or His word or His Gospel, even if it brings animosity down on you. You are not guilty; you are not in the wrong if your life of obedience and your message of love and truth elicit hostility from some and affirmation from others. (next time)
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.
“if you just believe in Jesus you will go to heaven whether or not you are merciful or pure in heart or a peacemaker.” NOT. Because they reveal the transformed character of the one who now has been touched by Christ’s Spirit
What is the obstacle to mercifulness, purity of heart and being a peacemaker? It’s not being in personal contact with the giver of mercy, pure hearts and peace.
It’s not being in a relationship with Jesus.
It’s Outward perfunctory religion that doesn’t reach the heart – it’s a life that is not in touch with the Living God.
If you never experienced – come to Jesus Christ today.
If you have let your relationship sour into outward religion, come back to Him
…let Jesus remove the nails of that coffin that w/o a new heart you will be entombed in for time and eternity.
“create in me a clean, new heart O God. And renew a right spirit within me”
What are the Weighty Matters?
Now I want to close by dealing with one more question that a peacemaking message like this might raise for some people today. Why, in view of the world like ours, does this message on peacemaking confine itself to the personal dimensions of prayer and greetings for individual reconciliation? Aren't these personal issues insignificant in comparison with the issues of nuclear war, civil wars, and international terrorism? Is Jesus out of touch with the weightier matters of peacemaking?
Before we answer that question, let's ask another one. Was Jesus unaware that the iron hand of the Roman Empire rested on the tiny land of the Jews without their consent? Was he unaware that Archelaus slaughtered 3,000 Jews at a Passover celebration? Was he aware that the Roman soldiers could conscript any Jew they chose to carry their baggage?
Was Jesus utterly out of touch with the big issues of his day too?
No. There is another explanation for why he preaches the way he does. In Luke 13:1–5 some people confronted Jesus with one of Pilate's atrocities. Here's the way he responded:
There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
He took a major social outrage of injustice and turned it into a demand for personal, individual repentance. "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish!"
That's what he always did.
They came with a question about the justice of paying taxes to Tiberias Caesar, "You give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:15–21). He turned it into a personal command aimed right at your own heart:
If you come to Jesus with a complaint about the injustice of your brother who will not divide the inheritance with you, he will turn it into a warning to your own conscience, "Man, who made me a judge or divider over you? . . . Take heed and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:13–15).
Why is Jesus always turning things back to my heart? Why is he always looking at my heart? “Why can’t I get in a conversation with this man without him making me feel guilty?”
That’s not the way it is. Here’s the way it is.
Jesus loves you this morning. He loves you and therefore the salvation of your soul, any one of you, is more important than the destiny of a nation. Do you believe that? I do.
The eternal destiny of your soul is more important than the survival of this planet. Nuclear war. “If something not done we may not live another 10 years.”
You are going to live forever, and ever and ever – in heaven or in hell. That’s a BIG ISSUE! A big big issue. So much bigger than if the world is going to last another 100 years.
Don’t ever accuse Jesus Christ of dealing with little issues when he points his finger right into your heart and asks you “Did you greet your brother in love this morning?” He cares about your heart. Your destiny.
An Alien Righteousness
If I can make one more point, then we will be done and perhaps you can go home early. If you really get this you have received more that a full course of God’s love this morning.
I already alluded to this important aspect of this all-important righteousness that we so desperately need and that changes everything, but we need to understand it in our hearts and not just in our minds.
The theologians of old used a term to describe what I’m about to convey, that if they heard how I am about to explain it, if they could I think they would roll over in their graves. But I believe it will help us to understand.
We as a human race have a love for make-believe, don’t we?
From time immemorial writers have invented fantasy land, and places. Along with that we have conjured up make-believe beings -- faries, knomes, pixies, and many others. (Lord of the Rings etc)
And as time went on, and we discovered out more about this universe, we added a new kind of fantasy - the fantasy of aliens. Beings that populate the universe. So we have Star Wars and Star Trek and multitudes of novels and movies about other beings who live throughout the universe. Once in awhile I love to read a good Sci-fi or go to the movies and be catapulted into an alien world that looks so different that the one I know.
Aliens make good subjects for “horror” movies too, don’t they? There are many stories of outer space life-forms that come and invade not only our planet, but our bodies and our minds. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and “Alien” - both about people are taken over by alien life-forms.
As far as I’m aware, there is really no solid proof of alien life forms. Yes some people believe that there are other beings living in the universe -- and maybe there are, but there is really no evidence of that as of yet.
But if someday we find out that ET does exist, or that Dr. Spock really will actually be appearing at Madisen Square Garden -- what you must understand is that that they too will have been created by the one and same and only God.
And because of that - as different as they might appear to us -- we will have a kinship, a connection to them by virtue that we are BOTH, (all) the creation of God. In a sense we will be “family.”
Now I said all that to get to this point. As different, as unique as you might imagine that we would be from Chubacka or the aliens in the lounge of a Star Wars movie, in reality we would be more LIKE THEM than we would be to God. God is infinite, immortal, and holy. We are not and neither will others (if they exist).
Therefore it is actually more plausible that an alien in a B-rated horror movie might be able to put his mind into our mind than for a Holy God to give to us his Righteousness! But that is exactly what He has done.
The old theologians spoke of an “alien righteousness” because they realized that what we needed so desperately and were hopeless without -- was not only not in our possession, but totally foreign to our own experience. Yet we needed and we receive in Jesus Christ an alien righteousness, a righteousness that is not our own but God’s.
And every one of us, no matter how good we think we may be in comparison to others - needs this righteousness desperately. And how thankful we should be when we realize that God who is so different, found a way to give it to us.
When God looks at you, because you are a Christian, he sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ!
My friend, if you have placed your trust and faith is Jesus Christ, He has given you that same prefect righteousness. And if you have not, you will not stand a chance before a holy, righteous God. But he loves you so He sent his Son who died in your place so that when you place your faith in Him, he can clothe you in His Righteousness. And that is what every one of us needs.
- James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 45. ↑