Faithlife Sermons

God's Upside Down Kingdom - Lenten Series 2007

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 24 views
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

FORREST HILL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

God’s Upside-Down Kingdom

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

 

1 Kingdom Tidings

Matthew 4:23 – 5:16

 

Introduction: During our Lenten studies this year we consider the Sermon on the Mount as we seek to come to grips with a significant and familiar portion of the gospels. Too often we have regarded almost as commonplace Christianity, a happy hunting ground for a more “liberal” Christianity of mere “do-goodism”! It is often alleged Christianised Western society is based on the Sermon. However, we need to appreciate in a new way just how radical the Sermon is – not just for its original hearers, but for ourselves as well. “The Upside Down Kingdom” is the title of a book which seeks to show that in the sermon which is Jesus’ Manifesto of the Kingdom, worldly patterns, standards and ideas are set on end. In fact, the new wine of the Kingdom is being offered. Historically, the Sermon may be viewed either as a synopsis of teaching the Lord gave to his disciples over a few days [a mini Bible School if you will] or a collection of the kinds of things Jesus taught and said on a number of occasions in various locations, or even both!

  • 1. The Message of the Kingdom

See how Matthew describes the theme of Jesus’ preaching and teaching, “the gospel of the Kingdom” [4:23]. It is one phrase. That’s the Good News: God’s rule or kingship and what it means; God’s reign and how it has come in Jesus of Nazareth.

The context of Christian ethics is that of the coming of the kingdom of God. For people of faith, the kingdom is coming and will always be coming, as we pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” While it is coming wherever and whenever God is ruling, it will ultimately come in its fullness in the Parousia (the Second Coming of Christ). To make it solely a present happening would minimize its greatness, and to make it only a future happening would destroy the meaning and authority of Jesus’ present lordship. Yoder says,

“Men may choose to consider that kingdom as not real, or not relevant, or not possible, or not inviting; but no longer may we come to this choice in the name of systematic theology or honest hermeneutics. At this one point there is no difference between the Jesus of Historyand the Christ of faith, or between Christ as God and Jesus as Man, or between the religion of Jesus and the religion about Jesus, (or between the Jesus of the Canon and the Jesus of history). No such slicing can avoid His call to an ethic marked by the cross, a cross identified as the punishment of a man who threatens society by creating a new kind of community leading a radically new kind of life”.

            The components of the message are – Repentance -  acknowledging sin, failure and need; turning away from works-righteousness [what we can do] to grace [what God does and bestows]; from formalism and institutionalism to a heart relationship with the living God: Righteousness – a right way of living reflecting that relationship which honours God before a watching world and brings Him glory: and Recognition – of Jesus as Messiah and King as confessed in the earliest Christian statement that “Jesus is Lord”.

# It is Authoritative – that is the significance of Jesus described as sitting [5:1] and of the prase “he opened his mouth” [KJV, etc] or saying solemnly – cf elsewhere in the Gospels Jesuis introduces his words by “Verily, verily”, “Amen, amen”, “Truly, truly”.

# It is Normative  - It is not an aside to His main teaching, it is not and appendix, it is not something tagged on, it is not somerthing applicable to a select few, or to be applied in certain circumstances. These are themes to which he constantly returned.

# It is Distinctive – Kingdom-people are radically different – cf. Paul’s phrase “a new creation”. Tertullian said there were Jews, Gentiles, and “the third race”, Christians. The sub-title of John Stott’s book of the Sermon on the Mount is “The Christian Counter Culture”! cf Jesus’ words in the Upper Room discourse, “my disciples”.

# It is Demonstrative – Kingdom reality is deeds, transformedd lives, signs, wonders, healing, [4:23] that is, not only something heard, but seen and experienced. Compare how after his baptism and the descent of the Spirit upon Him in Luke there is the message in the synagogue in Nazareth – “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me . . .” [Luke 4:16ff].

  • 2. The Mandate of The Kingdom

“You are the salt of the earth “ [5:13]; “You are the light of the world” [5:14]. These are times when calling a congregation or fellowship by a saint’s name, or merely by a geographical location seems to be “old fashioned”. We go in for the subtle or the stunning nowadays. So if we wsere to change from “Forrest Hill Presbyterian”, what would we choose to be called? How about “The Salt and Light Company”? Is that our church? Dare we assume such a name? Both salt and light give and expend themselves. Salt prevents corruption and rottenness. Light dispels darkness. So you see, evangelism and social action are not in opposition to one another but belong together.  

We are meant to be different from the world. We are called to be different, unique, special, peculiar [in the old, KJV meaning!]. That’s what being “holy” really means! Are we qualitatively different from the world around us – or are we too like the world today. Is the only difference between us is that Christians usually go to church on Sunday! Yet we are to be in the world and ministering to the world. There is always the movement from the synagogue and temple to the hillside and the market place. See how in the Book of Acts, “riots and revivals go together”. We need always to making that transition in ways relevant to our time and situation. Compare the “old-fashioned” street corner open air meeting, with Graham Kendrick and co’s “March for Jesus” whose formula was Praise + Prayer + Proclamation, and one even had the rousing theme song, “Make way! Make way for Christ the King”.

What about our interface with society? Jesus was near the Sea of Galilee. Less than a hundred miles south was the Dead Sea and the community of the Essenes. They styled themselves as “the sons of light”, but in effect they were a closed ghetto. They took no steps to let their light shine out. Their saltiness was as the deposits on the shores of their nearby sea. Helmut Thielecke talks somewhere about how some Christians seem to have the ambition to be “the honey pot of the world” – to sweeten and sugar life with a too easy concept of the love of God! Salt bites – the message of the judgement and the grace of God. The world – and the church – needs salty words and deeds!

  • 3. The Membership of the Kingdom

The Chapel of the Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee is a beautiful building with porticos and representations of the sayings. It is a lovely, serene setting. The trouble is – how do see the Beatitudes – idealistic or radical? They are meant to denote the qualities and the lifestyle of the those who belong to the Kingdom.

 Dr. Richard C. Halverson says, that “the way of the Kingdom of God is antithetical to the way of our contemporary culture.”12 God says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” but we say blessed are the achievers. God says, “Blessed are those who mourn,” but we say blessed are the self-fulfilled. Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek,” but we say blessed are the powerful. Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,” but we say blessed are the unrestrained. Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful,” but we say blessed are the manipulators. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” but we say blessed are the uninhibited. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” but we say blessed are the strong. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteous-ness’ sake,” but we say blessed are the expedient. Jesus said we are blessed when persecuted for His sake, but we say blessed are the aggressors. Jesus challenges the very selfishness that determines so much of our social behaviour.

The Beatitudes have a totally different frame of reference from the world of our happiness/blessedness. For example the Greek/Roman culture despised meekness. For them it was no virtue. Forget gentle and forbearing – hello the hardboiled and the brass-necked!

For instance “the poor in spirit” – that might well relate today to poor or low self-esteem – “I’m only” or “I’m not worth . . .” Is that you? Jesus says God’s healing, delivering reign is here now, has come to you, now! God loves you. Jesus died and rose for you. The Spirit can live in you. The French theologian/philosopher, Blaise Pascal, talks about God’s dealings `with human beings. When we exalt ourselves, God brings us low. But when we are low, downcast; God raises us up.

What about being “hungry and thirsty for righteousness”? Are we eager for all God has for us and is willing to give us? You will be satisfied - even although there is always more to follow!

What about “the peacemakers”? It’s not just about enjoying “peace with God” [Romans 5:1] but effecting peace, ministering peace and reconciliation, shalom, well-being

      # within creation

      # within the family – any long-standing feuds, quarrels?

      # within the church - remember the invitation to communion, “in love and charity

          with your neighbours”?

Truly, we are citizens of the Kingdom. This is how we ought to live - as the pure in heart who shall see God; not naïve but knowledgeable, not “innocent” but with integrity.


FORREST HILL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

God’s Upside-Down Kingdom.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

 

2 Kingdom Standards

Matthew 5:16 – 30

 

Text: “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets,

              I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them” . [5:17 NIV]

 

Introduction: The Sermon on the Mount is a significant portion of the gospels – not least because of its “early” position in Matthew – “the Manifesto of the Kingdom”. Perhaps we have too easily regarded it as commonplace Christianity, a happy hunting ground for a more “liberal” Christianity of mere “do-goodism”! It is often alleged Christianised Western society is based on the Sermon. However, we need to appreciate in a new way just how radical the Sermon is – not just for its original hearers, but for ourselves as well. “The Upside Down Kingdom” is the title of a book which seeks to show that in the sermon, this Manifesto of the Kingdom, worldly patterns, standards and ideas are set on end. In fact, the new wine of the Kingdom is being offered. It comes to us fresh and new still – not least in a hurting society, in a country without direction [consider the current debate as to whether New Zealand is a “Christian” country!] and in a church seemingly unable to give a clear, certain trumpet call in our time!  

  • 1. Affirming God’s Standards:

The gospels record an increasing and intensifying confrontation between Jesus and the religious establishment. Some scholars describe the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as “the year of popularity” as evidenced by the great crowds and such comments as “the people heard him gladly”. It descends through various degrees of opposition to outright rejection. It culminates in accusations and charges of blasphemy and plotting how to kill him. This was the reaction to his claims as well as his words, his conduct and his actions. Even John describes how there came a time when even many who followed him “turned back and no longer followed him” [6:66]. Indeed, at this point Jesus asked the Twelve, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” [6:67].

            Remember John the Baptist’s description [Matt 3:10]? “The axe is already laid at the root of the tree”. In a word, Judgement is already over the religious institution and system. Jesus continues the theme by describing the scribes and Pharisees as “blind leaders of the blind” [see Matt 15:14]. They might be “leaders” in terms of position or prestige in their community, but not in terms of teaching what God requires - His word and will.

See how radical Jesus’ teaching is. In first century Palestine the Pharisees were regarded as the very pinnacle of religious devotion, observance and holiness. Yet, listen, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” [5:20]. Look again at Jesus’ scathing denunciation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:1-36 and the seven “Woes” he pronounces against them.

On the contrary, while they accuse Him of overturning the Law, He asserts He has come not to destroy it but rather to fulfil it in its truest sense. Compare the introduction to Mark’s Gospel [1:14]   “The time has come, [literally, “fulfilled the time”] the Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News”. Remember too, the occasion in the synagogue at Nazareth, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” [Luke 4:21]. Or in the disputation with the Pharisees; “Search (or, you search) the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they that testify of me . . .” [John 5:39].

The Old Testament contains doctrinal teaching, revealed instruction – about God, humankind, salvation – all of which is fulfilled in Jesus. It contains predictive prophecy – eg about the servant of Jahweh, his character, his rejection, his suffering, his death [cf Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-9a; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12] – and again all this is fulfilled in Jesus. It contains ethical teaching, the moral Law; all of which he fulfilled by his submission and obedience.

We see Jesus’ authority and insights regarding the Law in his cutting loose burdens imposed by institutions and man-made traditions, and instead showing its life-giving, life-enriching principles. Think of his declaring that the Sabbath was made for man and not the other way round [Mark 2:27]. Thus what day could be more appropriate on which to perform acts of healing or doing deeds of mercy and compassion? Thus, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath [Mark 2:28]. Regarding the sacrifices of the ceremonial law, Jesus is indeed the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world [John 1:29]. Jesus gives new light on what the Law means, “but I say unto you”; thus moving from external actions to internal attitudes and motivations. 

           

 

 

 

 

 

  • 2. Abandoning God’s Standards:

# We do this by denying the authority and integrity of the Scriptures. This is done by watering them down to suit our own point of view. As the late Dr W E Sangster has it in one of his few published sermons entitled, “What to Do When You Stumble” - “Don’t minimize the sin. Don’t tamper with the labels!” The quarrel many of us have with so-called “theological liberalism” is that it distorts and twists Scripture into saying what it manifestly does not say!

# We do this by flouting God’s sovereignty and standards for covenant living. We accede to human sinfulness. We pander to human desires. This is done in the name of “love” and of being non-judgemental!

# Think of the “cult of softness” and the “new morality” of the 1960s typified by the song “Age of Aquarius” - which rapidly led into militant humanism, rampant secularism and the whole “new age” philosophy. So what about Matthew 5:19 – “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”

 

  • 3. Applying God’s Standards:

Jesus himself said, “Scripture cannot be broken” [John 10:35]. It seems to me, at times, that people particularly in our reformed and evangelical tradition can learn from Jesus’ indictment of the Pharisees. Why? Sometimes our glad acceptance and vigorous affirmation of the Scriptures as the word of God written, can lead us into a most unscriptural and unloving legalism with its various cultural manifestations of restriction and fossilization in turn producing stultifying and paralysing effects in people’s lives. Just think of the lists of dos and don’ts with which many of us grew up within the Christian fellowships of our younger years! Doubtless they were intended for our protection – which was precisely the argument of the Pharisees – but what needless pangs of guilt and self-condemnation we went through when we transgressed. Compare that with clarion challenge “that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom/liberty” [2 Corinthians 3:17]; or again, “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” [2 Cor 3:6]. However, in all these things there is need for revelation as well as relevance; integrity and authority as well as freedom of interpretation or personal conscience. 

For example, what about “do not kill/murder” [5:21]? Over the years there has been consternation and revulsion on the part of many in our society at the merest suggestion of the reintroduction of capital punishment even limited to the most heinous of crimes.  Yet there is no similar outrage at the ever increasing number of abortions – into the thousands – carried out in New Zealand every year, where we have, if not in law then virtually in fact, abortion on demand. Of course, every instance is fraught with some personal tragedy – we only have to think of the case a few years ago in the Republic of Ireland where parents took their raped daughter [if I remember correctly] to England to have the other side of the debate starkly highlighted.

            For example, what about the healing of relationships [5:23]. We are back to the ministry or activity of peace-making again. Within our society here in New Zealand we have ongoing struggles with relationships between ethic groups and cultures – for instance pakeha-maori, maori-Pacific Islands and the haves and the have-nots. As more groups come from Asia and elsewhere, doubtless as time goes by problems will surface and proliferate. In the Church we have the marvellous opportunity to embody and model healthy, harmonious cross cultural relationships. Sadly in Church so often we fail to do so, and sometimes even with in our wider family relationships because of sectionalism, rivalry, suspicion or bitterness. What counsel Jesus gives! “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” [5:23f].

      For example, what about personal temptation and sexual ethics [5:27] in terms of sexual promiscuity and deviation? I think it is a false Christian charity that counselled the church that it should keep out of the nation’s bedrooms.


FORREST HILL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

God’s Upside-Down Kingdom.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

 

3 Kingdom Paradox

Matthew 5:33 – 48

 

Text: “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.”  [5:20 NIV]

 

Introduction: The Sermon on the Mount is a significant portion of the gospels – not least because of its “early” position in Matthew – “the Manifesto of the Kingdom”. Perhaps we have too easily regarded it as commonplace Christianity, a happy hunting ground for a more “liberal” Christianity of mere “do-goodism”! It is often alleged Christianised Western society is based on the Sermon. However, we need to appreciate in a new way just how radical the Sermon is – not just for its original hearers, but for ourselves as well. “The Upside Down Kingdom” is the title of a book which seeks to show that in the sermon, this Manifesto of the Kingdom, worldly patterns, standards and ideas are set on end. In fact, the new wine of the Kingdom is being offered. Our text tonight is our righteousness needing to surpass that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. In first century Palestine that was radical! The Pharisees were regarded as the super-religious of their day. Originally they were founded to defend and restore spiritual standards, but by Jesus’ time rather they desecrated and undermined them. What ought to have been a joy and delight to believers they had turned into a burden.

  • 1. The Form of Righteousness:

For the pious Jew righteousness could be systematized and measured. It was a matter of doing, of religious observance. Thus the question of the rich, young ruler was to him a perfectly normal, natural, obvious one; “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” [Matt 19:16]. Or in the discussion with the Jews about the Bread of Life they ask him, “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” [John 6:28] Jesus’ reply was, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” [John 6:29].

Paul described the Pharisees as “the strictest sect of our religion”. Later he would talk of some in churches who had “a form of religion, but denied the power thereof”! The form – the outward shell, the appearance seen by others – can be very convincing to ourselves or to those around us, but has no real inner substance. It can frequently manifest itself in our own time in one shape or another, for instance –

  • Traditionalism – the custom or the way of our forebears and elders. Often it is merely a love of the familiar way of doing things, believing things or expressing things. This is not necessarily bad in itself.
  • Legalism – goes somewhat further and regards certain actions as consistent with Christian conduct and lifestyle and other actions as not. It is Christianity reduced to a list of dos and don’ts. Very often these are minor matters and often culturally formed!
  • Institutionalism – is where the system or the organisation takes over whether temple, synagogue or church fellowship. Righteousness equates with doing all the right and proper religious things, ie do it our way.
  • Formalism – Often has its roots in a sense of awe and reverence for the living God, but in the end seems rather to keep God at a distance from us. The result is it prevents intimacy with God. [Please note, there is a very real difference between intimacy and over-familiarity or irreverence!]  cf For us a few years ago addressing God in the form “Thee/Thou” denoted reverence, awe, or a “proper” distance; but in the 17th century KJV the form denoted the personal, the familiar, the intimate, in a word, closeness.
  • Conservatism – the tendency to keep well within certain prescribed borders; and being cautious about stepping outside them.

The difficulty with all of these is that they might be quite well and good in themselves, nothing at all the matter with them, nothing blameworthy in the least – but, it’s when you tack on the “ISM” to the end of them. It’s when tradition becomes traditionalism that things go badly wrong; when the legal becomes legalism, the institution becomes institutionalism, the formal becomes formalism, and the conservative becomes conservatism that the mischief takes place. The “ism” spills over the edge of the helpful to become the hindrance, the warranted to the unwarranted. Other more modern tendencies and “isms” might be “Liberalism”, “Radicalism” and “Feminism”. Think about it.

            Overall, for the Pharisees, their zealousness degenerated into a hardness, a lovelessness, almost an indifference to real people and their needs. Remember the old T/V advert some years ago for the washing powder, FAB2, and the slogan, “It cleans AND softens!” So it is with the blood and the Cross of Christ. So it is with the Holy Spirit. They cleanse hearts. They soften hearts – and give compassion and love for people, removing judgementalism and condemnation!

  • 2. The Mask of Righteousness:

We need to turn again to chapter 23 for a view of some of the reasons why Jesus might declare our righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. There Jesus utters a devastating indictment of the Pharisees, summarized in the seven “woes” he pronounces on them. Jesus calls them “hypocrites”. The word derives from the actors on the Greek/Roman stage, and described the mask behind which the actor played his part in the drama.

See how Jesus warned the multitude against them – “Everything they do is done for people to see” [23:5]. In a word, He is saying their motivation is wrong – it is self-glorifying rather than God-glorifying. More than this, they resist the message of the Kingdom for themselves and try to hinder others from receiving it [23:13].

They are described as “blind guides” [23:16]. They have a wrong perspective on things themselves and pass it on in their teaching to the people, thus blinding them, binding them, burdening them and inhibiting them. They are careful, indeed scrupulous, in the observance of minor matters, but are culpable of gross neglect in the weightier matters of the Law [23:23]: They “strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” [23:24].

They are outwardly scrupulous in observing holy things, but within they are unclean. They are “whitewashed tombs or whited sepulchres” [23:27]. Theirs is a righteousness that speaks of life, but in reality it is death. Biblical righteousness – the righteousness that Jesus imparts by his indwelling Spirit – is rather winsome, attractive, and infectious and manifests Life in all its fullness.

  • 3. The Integrity of Righteousness:

True righteousness essentially is not something we do at all, rather we receive it and it is worked out in us. It is of grace, by faith in Christ, through the Cross, by the Holy Spirit. Throughout the whole of our pilgrimage God by his Holy Spirit keeps on working away on us, transforming us more and more into the likeness of Jesus. This is true not only personally and individually, but corporately as Christians together; and not only corporately but personally!

Let’s go back to the Beatitudes for a moment. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall se God” [5:8] – surely speaks of simplicity of faith and relationship with God. Here there is no mask, no charade, no parade, and no catalogue of what I’ve done to deserve God’s favour: just, “Lord, I love You!”

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled” [5:6]. It expresses, surely, our hungering for all God has to offer us, all He wants for us, all He wants to work in us for His glory and all He wants to work through us in His service. It expresses the deep longing for a growing heart-relationship with God as our Father, with Jesus as our Saviour and Lord and with the Holy Spirit as our Sanctifier, Empowerer and Enabler.

What are you doing more than others?” [5:47], asks Jesus of His followers. Here is the Kingdom dimension of something more – because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. “To return evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; but to return good for evil is divine” – Plummer.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” [5:48]. An emphatic statement in terms of the disciples in contrast to the world, as children of the Kingdom compared to the children of this world – or in Paul’s terms people of the Spirit as distinct from those who live by the flesh. Perfect – surely only God is perfect, so who among us could claim such a thing or live up to it?  In Greek it is the word “telios” – the same word translated elsewhere as “mature” or “maturity” in such well known verses as Ephesians 4:13, “until we all reach unity in the faith, in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”; or Hebrews 6:1, “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity . . .”; or Philippians 3:12, “not that I have already attained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me . . .”. Maturity is not just the passing of the years in Christian experience. Nor is maturity some kind of spiritual graduation having come to an intellectual understanding of the Truth. Rather, the life and the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit are released within us to work on and on and on. True righteousness or holiness or goodness never considers it has arrived – merely on the way, moving along in the stream of God’s grace and love.

Conclusion:

            # True goodness is not hard or bitter, but cleansed, softened and sweetened by God’s love.

            # True goodness never seeks to get round God’s standards while professing to uphold them.

            # True goodness is neither false-fronted nor a death-in-life – but real, true and attractively

                Life affirming.

            # True goodness never considers itself to have arrived, just joyfully, trustingly, on the way.

 

FORREST HILL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

God’s Upside-Down Kingdom.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

 

4 Kingdom Devotion

Matthew  6: 1 – 18 

 

Text: “Be careful that you do not do your acts of righteousness

                                                   before others to be seen by them”.  [6:1 NIV]

 

Introduction: The Sermon on the Mount is a significant portion of the gospels – not least because of its “early” position in Matthew – “the Manifesto of the Kingdom”. Perhaps we have too easily regarded it as commonplace Christianity, a happy hunting ground for a more “liberal” Christianity of mere “do-goodism”! It is often alleged Christianised Western society is based on the Sermon. However, we need to appreciate in a new way just how radical the Sermon is – not just for its original hearers, but for ourselves as well. “The Upside Down Kingdom” is the title of a book which seeks to show that in the sermon, this Manifesto of the Kingdom, worldly patterns, standards and ideas are set on end – even religious ones too! In the light of warnings about the Pharisees, we have explored “righteousness” or “goodness”. Now we need to look at Kingdom Devotion, or what is true piety and real spirituality.

  • 1. The Perversion of Piety:

It can be something of a shock to think that piety or spirituality can be distorted or twisted – even to the extent of becoming so corrupted as to lose all its value and purpose. Acts of piety, spiritual discipline and Christian devotion serve to keep us with a true perspective between the world and the Kingdom. They draw us closer to God. They can be a means of compassionate service in the world or of witness to the world.

            “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before others to be seen by them” [6:1]. Some may well be “in public”, but they are never for public consumption or personal publicity. It is not personal “public relations” exercise! The motivation must never be “to be seen by others” – that is, for personal reputation or kudos. In fact, Jesus seems to be emphasizing the importance of the “hiddenness” of true spirituality and devotion. Certainly, the emphasis is not on what others see – but rather on what God sees! Humans see in public, but God sees in secret. That is double-edged God looks on the heart! He discerns the true motivation – the deceit or the integrity.

  • 2. The Practice of Piety:

 

Remember how we saw that for the pious Jew righteousness and goodness could be systematized and measured. It was a matter of doing, of religious observance. Thus the question of the rich, young ruler was to him a perfectly normal, natural, obvious one; “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” [Matt 19:16]. The three main forms of traditional Jewish religious obligation are now cited – and these are still applicable to Christian discipleship, living as Kingdom-people

  • GIVING – It is not that giving, Christian liberality and generosity, is unimportant or does not matter – it is rather that our motives in giving are important and do matter. Giving is commended and commanded! Money and possessions are neutral in themselves. It is our attitude towards them and the use we make of them that is truly spiritual or unspiritual, of the Kingdom or of the world.

From Paul in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 we learn something of the principles of giving for the Christian – of joy: God loves a “cheerful giver” [9:7]; of proportion – “in keeping with his income” [1Cor 16:2]; of love for Jesus/God; of sacrifice – not offering to the Lord that which costs me nothing, so King David [2Samuel 24:24]; of regularity – “first day of the week” [1Cor 16:2]; of confidentiality/hiddenness – Jesus’ saying about not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing [Matt 6:3], denoting discretion rather than confusion!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Giving and Christian liberality can be corrupted in “public relations” giving for pride or status.      It can also be a means of manipulation or power to control or dominate a congregation or fellowship – by a large donor or benefactor in a smaller congregation. “He who pays the piper calls the tune”, we say.

  • PRAYING/WORSHIPPING – Jesus’ reference to “hypocrites” loving to pray standing in the synagogue and on the street corners [6:5]. In a word, here is an ostentatious show of religious devotion. It is a display of personal pride. This is not the same thing as the old-fashioned Open Air Service – I’ve part in my fair share of those in my time! That is primarily a means of witness to the world. How effective you consider it to be is another matter. A more modern version of this in recent times has been the Graham Kendrick “Jesus March” with its formula of Praise, Prayer and Proclamation.

Here again, it is the heart relationship with God that is important – the God who sees in secret. Notice, interestingly, neither the spiritual ostentation of the Pharisees with their wide phylacteries and long tassels [Matt 23:5-7] and the “vain repetition” nor “babbling” of the pagans is acceptable! So too, our public worship should have an atmosphere of humility, love, reverence and devotion – with a sense of joyful expectation and freedom of expression. We should not be concerned with what people think, or “Will I be judged?” – as would-be super-spiritual, freak, fanatic or fraud if I raise my hands; or uptight, chilled-out and ultra conservative if I don’t? Be comfortable in God’s presence. Be free to be yourself. Give others that same freedom!

  • FASTING/SELF-DISCIPLINE – This does not only apply to the pious Pew or to the old-style Roman Catholic “days of obligation”, or even to the Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian, but to all of us.  Even Presbyterian and Reformed churches have a heritage and tradition of seasons of prayer and fasting and repentance. Notice how Jesus says that others looking on should not know we are doing this. Rather, it should be almost a party atmosphere! How do our personal devotions or “Quiet Time” fit into this pattern. It might not be fasting – but it certainly is self-discipline. Finding a time and place and sticking with it.

  • 3. The Paradigm of Piety:

 

Certainly in our Christian devotion we need to beware of “hypocrisy”, of playing the part, or merely going through the motions. We need vigilance constantly to check our motivation and our walk with the Lord, and stay close to Him.

It is in this section – on Kingdom Devotion or piety – that Jesus introduces the Lord’s Prayer.

# See how it focuses first on GOD as Father in heaven denoting not only

     Transcendence, but relationship.

# Then in quick succession the three petitions –

     * “hallow your Name” – an expression of God’s character

     * ”come your Kingdom!” – God’s rule of justice and peace.

     * “be done your will” – on earth as in heaven; joyfully, obediently, faithfully, utterly

# Then the focus on ourselves –

          *  “Give us . . .” - daily bread, sufficient provision

                     *  “Forgive us . . .”  - restoration of relationships

                     *  “Deliver us . . .” – protection

Here is the paradigm, the template, the model that keeps us right and true.

Conclusion:

Devotion, piety and spirituality have to do with motives as well as actions, with the inner as well as the outer, with what others cannot see as well as what they do see.


FORREST HILL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

God’s Upside-Down Kingdom.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

 

5 Kingdom Living

Matthew  6: 19 – 34 

 

Text: “But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and

                                                    all these things will be given to you as well”.  [6:33 NIV]

 

Introduction: The Sermon on the Mount is a significant portion of the gospels – not least because of its “early” position in Matthew – “the Manifesto of the Kingdom”. Perhaps we have too easily regarded it as commonplace Christianity, a happy hunting ground for a more “liberal” Christianity of mere “do-goodism”! It is often alleged Christianised Western society is based on the Sermon. However, we need to appreciate in a new way just how radical the Sermon is – not just for its original hearers, but for ourselves as well. “The Upside Down Kingdom” is the title of a book which seeks to show that in the sermon, this Manifesto of the Kingdom, worldly patterns, standards and ideas are set on end – even religious ones too!

Nowadays we are constantly urged to be clear about what we want out of life. Set your goals!  Envision it! Go for it! But Christians profess Jesus is Lord. Christians acknowledge the Gospel. Christians live by the Word. Christians belong to the Kingdom. Christians march to a different drumbeat – do we not? Christians not only come to Cross, believe in the Cross, worship at the Cross; Christians take up the Cross. It has to do with life-choices – the right ones and the wrong ones!

·         1. Right and Wrong Values [19-21]:

 

What kind of “treasure” are we after? We’re not talking now of the romantic world of old schoolday tales of Long John Silver, Ben Gunn and Jim Hawkins or iron bound chests filled with doubloons, pearls, gaudy jewels pieces of eight. What about the 21st century real world of money, possessions and status, where your “success” or failure as a person hangs on your income bracket; where everything is reduced to dollar signs whether it is income, success, possessions, gifts given or received?  We daily witness the perpetual, passionate pursuit of possessions, the acquisition of things – even if it’s only the “latest” things. Just look at the old TV games, Wheel of Fortune, Sale of the Century or Lotto or Instant Kiwi - all beefed up in recent years. It’s the obsession of our age and society.

            The trouble is the worldly church is not essentially different from the worldly world! And we’re supposed to be! Where is our treasure? That’s the question. What values do we have – worldly values or Kingdom values? What are pursuing?  We’ve talked before about the Pharisees with their legalism and hardness of heart. The pursuit of worldly “treasure” – whatever its varied forms – also hardens the heart. What a warning to the worldly, complacent church, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” [6:21] cf 1Timothy 6:9-10.

·         2. Right and Wrong Vision [22-23]:

 

# What fills our eyes, what is our mindset, what drives our lives?

    See  Philippians 4:8

# What about our ambitions, goals, purposes, desires, longings, dreams

    and aspirations? Are they filled with me, my and mine?

# What about our understanding of what life is all about

    both for ourselves and others?

# Is it the understanding of the world, which is “darkness”, or

   of the Kingdom, which is “light”? Jesus said: “I am the light of the world.

   So if you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, for living

   light will flood your path” [John 8:12 Living Bible].

·         3. Right and Wrong Masters [24]:

 

“No-one can serve two masters.” Think of some one who has two part time jobs. It can work out alright if there is a clear demarcation of hours, tasks and responsibilities. Sometimes it’s not so simple and clear cut. Think of a parish with multiple preaching places or clearly defined districts within the parish area. Believe me, rivalries can arise! Too much time spent there. Not enough priority or resources given to here! True, one can work for two employers; but no slave could be the property of two masters – and that is the metaphor!

Who do we belong to? Whom do we serve? Now do we see the strength and force of Peter’s words; “You were not redeemed with such corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ” [1Peter 1:18-9]; or of Paul’s assessment; “You are not your own, you were bought at a price . . .” [1Cor 6:20]?

“You cannot serve God and Mammon”, said Jesus. We cannot serve both the Kingdom and the world at the same time. We cannot live for Christ and for self at the same time. Who are we choosing to serve with all our hearts, all our devotion and all our strength day by day?

    

·         4. Right and Wrong Perspectives [25-30]:

 

Now Jesus focuses on the ordinary human needs of daily life – what to eat and drink and wear. His listeners, the poor hard working peasants of Galilee could readily identify with all of this. It has taken on new meaning in New Zealand in the last decade or so. We’ve the Hikoi of Hope, the pros and cons of the “trickle down theory” of our social situation with others – including church leaders saying they wanted to hear about a “trickle up theory”! Nowadays there has been the debate sparked by John Keys and his declaration of a growing “underclass” in our country. It is about our security and God’s provision; our daily needs and God’s sovereignty and sufficiency. “Do not be anxious . . .”

As believers, as citizens of the Kingdom, we are not immune to hardships, troubles and difficulties. As believers, citizens of the Kingdom, we are not exempt the testing times of recession, redundancy, perplexity, heartache and all the rest! The world’s obsession is with security – of being assured, of knowing, of having resources. The Kingdom principle and perspective is positive, active faith – trusting in God. God loves us. God cares for us. God is present with us. Do we believe this? I saw poster a while ago - “WHO IN HELL CARES? NO ONE.  BUT GOD IN HEAVEN DOES!”

 

 

·         5. Right and Wrong Priorities [31-34]:

 

The pagans, the unbeliever, the worldling and the secularist all “run after these things”. They actively, assiduously, ardently pursue these things. They are the goal to be reached; and won the prize is to be held high in triumph.

# “Seek first his Kingdom . . .” – that is, the Lordship of Jesus, as well as our service

     in the Kingdom’s ventures to spread the Good News of truth, justice,

     peace and righteousness.

# “seek . . . . his righteousness” – that holiness or true goodness without which

     no one will see the Lord” “Be holy as I am holy” says the Lord. It is the

     special ministry of the Holy Spirit to make us more like Jesus day by day.

     We need to be open to him and let him work in us.

# “and all these things shall be yours as well” – that is, the things we foolishly

    thought we had renounced or “sacrificed” will be “given into our hands,

    pressed down, shaken together and running over” [Luke 6:38].

    Remember the discussion of Jesus with his disciples following in the incident

    with the rich young ruler – Matthew 19:16-30, etc?

In our Kingdom living day by day, what choices are we facing; what choices

are we making?

FORREST HILL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

God’s Upside-Down Kingdom.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

 

6 Kingdom Attitudes

Matthew  7: 1 – 14  

 

Text: “Enter through the narrow gate . . . . small is the gate

            and narrow the way that leads to life and only a few

           find it.”    [7:13f NIV]

 

Introduction: The Sermon on the Mount is a significant portion of the gospels – not least because of its “early” position in Matthew – “the Manifesto of the Kingdom”. Perhaps we have too easily regarded it as commonplace Christianity, a happy hunting ground for a more “liberal” Christianity of mere “do-goodism”! It is often alleged Christianised Western society is based on the Sermon. However, we need to appreciate in a new way just how radical the Sermon is – not just for its original hearers, but for ourselves as well. “The Upside Down Kingdom” is the title of a book which seeks to show that in the sermon, this Manifesto of the Kingdom, worldly patterns, standards and ideas are set on end – even religious ones too!

Now we consider our attitudes to and relationships with one another, to God and the Gospel, to Discipleship and to the Kingdom. They might also be described as self-testing kits of spiritual life and reality.

·         1. Concern rather than Condemnation [1-6]:

 

Clearly Jesus never expected his new covenant community to be perfect, merely human. We are truly “ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven”; redeemed and justified as well, but still human. We have not “arrived”, simply on the way – still on our faith journey! Thus in our relationships misunderstandings and misdemeanours abound. Tensions arise giving place to disagreements, disputes, quarrels and divisions. Jesus said; “Do not judge . . .”.

Equally clearly, it does not mean we can suspend the processes of law or even suspend our critical faculties regarding right and wrong in belief, standards, conduct, actions or lifestyle. We need to exercise spiritual discernment and good Christian judgement.

This is not the same as judgementalism for which the church or believers are so often blamed, Judgementalism ministers condemnation rather than grace, correction and restoration. These are the true aims of all spiritual discipline and admonition. For example,

We’ve all grown up with the story of the “Titanic”. We’ve seen the movie. We’ve watched countless documentaries. We’ve heard all the theories, the “what ifs” and the “if onlys”. Captain Stanley Lord of the “Californian” was for years judged and condemned – but never charged, mind you, for failing to assist the sinking Titanic. He was alleged to have been incompetent, unseaman-like, even cowardly. He turned up at the Enquiry without a lawyer, never suspecting that he would end up as some kind of scapegoat. He was never employed again.

Now, all these years later, it is realized the distance between the ships was greater than first reported, so probably they did not see the Titanic in distress, and therefore such help as the Californian could have rendered would not have materially affected the outcome.

We minister condemnation by our censoriousness, our carping criticism, our murmuring and complaining and by our dismissive attitudes to others.

William Barclay repeats the story told by Gilbert Frankau of his Victorian days in his mother’s home which was a salon for the brilliant. A young Australian soprano once entertained to be dismissed as having “an appalling voice” and ought not to sing again. Her name was Nellie Melba! Later on, Frankau himself produced a play, for which a young man was auditioned and summarily dismissed. “This man cannot act. He will never be able to act”. His name was Ronald Colman.   Too often we rush in quickly, glibly and tritely to criticize, condemn or censure.

Judging others in this way implies a sense of spiritual superiority or elitism on our part. Notice Jesus’ words about “the speck” or “the plank” in our own eye! Remember too Luke 18:9 and the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Sometimes we try to magnify ourselves by disparaging others. See how Paul handles it in Galatians 6:1, “You who are spiritual should restore such a one in a spirit of meekness . . .”

See 7:5 – “you hypocrite . .”. There is always the need first to set ourselves right with the Lord. Remember those onboard safety announcements on the aircraft? If you’re travelling with young children and the oxygen mask appears? Attend to yourself first, then to the child.

It’s a good safety technique. It applies in the spiritual realm too!

·         2. Confidence rather than Controversy [7-12]:

“ASK – SEEK – KNOCK” Is this not an emphasis on confidence and constancy? It is continuous present which is the Greek tense for repeated action. In a word we are being urged to keep on asking, to keep on seeking and to keep on knocking! There is also, I think, a progression in intensity – longing, aspiring, desperation, urgency.

Again there is the suggestion of never giving up. Don’t be put off! Don’t be discouraged! This applies not only to prayer surely, but to every aspect of the life of faith – to understanding, to discipleship, to maturity, to holiness/goodness and to service

The Fatherhood of God means that the blessings are not merely those of “common grace” which are given to all; but rather those bestowed on the people of the Kingdom because they are the children of God. We pray to the Father in heaven, we ask, beseech and implore not because God needs to be informed of our needs but rather because this is the Father’s way of training and instructing the family.

Notice here there is no great debate on the nature and character of God or of his goodness. It is gathered up in the title “Father in heaven” who is willing to bless and to bestow [cf 7:9-11]. It might not always be in our way. It will be in his way. It might not even be in our time. It will be in his time. Over all is the truth that “God is faithful”. Just for interest sake, remember the “good gifts” the Father bestows ties into the fruit and gifts of the Spirit – cf Luke 11:13, “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”.

See what our relationship with and actions towards others ought to be. “In everything, do unto others . . . .” [12]. Notice there is no selectivity, no picking and choosing, no exceptions – however costly or time-consuming or inconvenient. Doing unto others is truly what we would call today affirmative action!

           

·         3. Commitment rather than Conformity [13-14]:

 

Now we come to the first of four concluding warnings in the Sermon. We are back to where we were last week in terms of right and wrong choices. We never just drift into citizenship of the Kingdom or membership in God’s family. We never unconsciously, so to speak, just find ourselves within the new covenant community. There is the narrow gate and the wide gate. There is the narrow road and the broad road.

Think of vast crowds making their way to some event – international match or pop concert. They find their way to the narrow gate – the turnstile. Admission is narrow – by money or, more usually, by ticket. Remember Jesus reference to the “eye of the needle”, where things had to be discarded in order to pass through; for the believer and commitment to Jesus it might mean the baggage of the old way of life? Or even more succinctly, think of the aircraft descending from 30,000 feet of open sky to land on the “narrow way” of the airport runway. It is certainly not a time for the captain and crew to be “broadminded” about landing.

The warning contains references to the two destinations or ends – life or death; and to the two crowds or sets of people – the many or the few.

Conclusion:

The way of faith, belonging to the Kingdom means

·         Love and understanding of others rather than condemnation

and judgementalism

·         Truly, earnestly, urgently asking God, and continuing

on our pilgrimage.

·         Giving oneself deliberately, choosing the narrow gate and the

narrow way, no matter the cost, for that is LIFE indeed.

FORREST HILL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

God’s Upside-Down Kingdom.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

 

7 Kingdom Confession

Matthew  7: 13 – 29   

 

Text: “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord!’ shall enter

            the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the

   will of my Father in heaven . . . .”  [7:21 NRSV]

           

 

Introduction: The Sermon on the Mount is a significant portion of the gospels – not least because of its “early” position in Matthew – “the Manifesto of the Kingdom”. Perhaps we have too easily regarded it as commonplace Christianity, a happy hunting ground for a more “liberal” Christianity of mere “do-goodism”! It is often alleged Christianised Western society is based on the Sermon. However, we need to appreciate in a new way just how radical the Sermon is – not just for its original hearers, but for ourselves as well. “The Upside Down Kingdom” is the title of a book which seeks to show that in the sermon, this Manifesto of the Kingdom, worldly patterns, standards and ideas are set on end – even religious ones too!

            Today is Palm Sunday – the presentation of the King, We stand in the shadow of the Cross, reflecting on the truth that “the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me” [Gal 2:20] and looking to the glory and triumph of the Resurrection. So again we face up to the total and radical requirements of the Kingdom. Too often we settle for lacklustre living, mediocre spirituality, half-hearted discipleship and lukewarm devotion. The Kingdom Confession includes solemn warning, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ shall enter the Kingdom of heaven”. As ever, there is need for true spiritual discernment.

·         1. Discerning True Direction:

“Lord, Lord!” – We may say it, but have we truly entered at the right gate and are we walking on the right way/road? Are we on the narrow way of self denial, of dying to self [as Paul has it], the way of the cross – unmindful of all the difficulties or trials and always pressing onwards and upwards? Remember, this is not the narrow way of self-righteousness, judgementalism, censoriousness, spiritual pride or works righteousness.

            We must not be misled by the allurements of the broad way and the large, eager, bustling throng – the “many”. On what have we fixed our eyes? On what have we set our minds and hearts? Is it the Kingdom and the Life Jesus offers – for that is the narrow way indeed. The end of the broad way – for all its tinsel, glitter and seeming glamour – is destruction.

·         2. Discerning True Leadership:

 

Notice how the Scriptures never shrink from directly and frankly referring to false prophets, false shepherds and false leaders. One of the most devastating indictments of false shepherds occurs in Ezekiel 34 where the sovereign Lord declares himself to be against the shepherds of his people [34:10].

            Notice Jesus describes such false leaders as wolves in sheep’s clothing. We’re back to the play acting metaphor of the stage again. They are dressing up. They are in disguise.

We’re told elsewhere in the New Testament that Satan goes about like a roaring lion seeking to terrify and devour believers [1Peter 5:8]. Sometimes, so we are told, he can appear as an angel of light to trick, dupe and deceive us [2Cor 11:14]. Thus we need to be vigilant and discerning regarding leadership and teaching.

            We need to beware of the abuse of right words and phrases – that is when preachers and teachers e using familiar words but with a different meaning. They can come with plausible ideas and even impressive qualifications! The reality is that they are destructive of the truth, opposed to the faith once delivered, divisive of the Church and contrary to the Kingdom. It can al appear so plausible, even attractive. It can appear in the strangest places – like the article that appeared in the April 1992 issue of the “Harvest Field” which in reality was an attack on the authority of Scripture and evangelism and mission!

           

            As the New Testament urges us we must “prove all things, and hold fast what is good” [1Thess 5:21] and “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are from God” [1John 4:1]. Otherwise we are in danger of deception and being led astray.  Thus Jesus says – look at their lives – “by their fruit you will recognize them” [7:16]. Look at their lives – their character: are there evidences of righteousness, grace and love? Look at their lives – their lifestyle: are they worldly or Kingdomly?

            Consider their teaching – and I am not suggesting we conduct witch hunts or heresy hunts all over the church. It is really quite simple and straight forward

            # Are they upholding the Scriptures as the Word of God written?

            # Are they uplifting the Son of God as Crucified, Risen and Reigning?

            # Are they upbuilding the Church as the people of God ministering to a broken        

               world and humanity?

Consider their effects, that is, their influence on others. Are they bringing people nearer and closer to God to make them more Christ-like and enabling them in Kingdom-service? Yet this comes back to ourselves in our own Kingdom ventures. “By their fruits” – what are our fruits?

Are they grace, love, truth and goodness? Or are they bitterness, hardness, cynicism and negativism?

·         3. Discerning True Discipleship:

 

There is the devastating verse about our saying the right words, “Lord, Lord!”. You can’t get a more orthodox or conservative confession of faith than that! Yet there is the danger of delusion; of saying the right words, of thinking or presuming we are disciples of Jesus and we are not! There is the danger of right words without the living reality to demonstrate it.

Formalism is not enough –

·         Orthodoxy – right, but “dead” right! Need the Holy Spirit to make alive?

·         Conservatism – rigid attitude, watchdog mentality!

·         Evangelicalism – good truth, but inward looking, “deeper life” but . . .?

·         Radicalism – too easily cut loose from biblical base and theological roots

·         Charismatic – in the Spirit! – but are we?

Institutionalism is not enough – that is, a concern for the system, the “church”, the structure or the trappings of “success”, power and prestige – but what about the vision of the Kingdom, and the Kingdom’s call to servanthood? We can immerse ourselves in committees, programmes, policies, but over all is the Kingdom!

Intellectualism is not enough – playing around with abstract theological concepts, spiritual truths, religious ideas and insights merely reduces it al to a talking shop for our own cleverness. The Kingdom is about real life in the real world – “doing the will of the Father”!

The warning about the wise and foolish builders comes down to “hearing these words of mine and putting them into practice”. Cf John 14 – FAITH: believing in me; LOVE: loving me; OBEDIENCE: doing what I say.

·         4. Discerning  True Authority:

 

The crowds were amazed because of “his authority”. It relates to his identity - who he is. He is the Lord! He is the CHRIST – Messiah, the Sent One from the Father. He is the SAVIOUR – pointing to the narrow way, and indeed on the Cross he IS the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the LORD – exalted over all, reigning for ever, requiring and deserving our utter loyalty and obedience.  He is the JUDGE – that is plain from this passage [7:22f]. He is the SON of GOD in his special/unique relationship with the Father

Conclusion: “The Sermon on the Mount wrings me out”. So it does.

Now is the time for Kingdom Confession!

 


----

12 12. Richard C. Halverson, in Perspective 31, no. 7 (March 28, 1979).

Related Media
Related Sermons