Wednesday, July 31, 2013
By James Fire
What does the word ‘beatitude’ actually mean, have you ever wondered? One rendering says, “To be supremely blessed, consecrated, and holy, in a state of bliss”.
Those who follow the truth as expressed by the LORD in this chapter will certainly know (even if they don’t understand) this bliss and peace; yet there must be no mistake: in order to follow the Truth Incarnate, His Spirit must be the one to empower and enable them by indwelling their person!
Christianity is not, and cannot (successfully) be a mere philosophy or a set or principles for ‘moral man’ to abide by. The one statement alone, made by our LORD should put an end to any such endeavor: Matt. 5:48!
Christianity is “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27)!
The apostle Paul likewise deals with the moral man in his treatise found in the book of Romans 2:1-16 (See the TTUF study of Romans, chapter Two).
Certainly the principles laid out by the LORD here are absolutely contrary to the edicts and principles and philosophy of this world which is ruled by Satan.
This is why the kingdom of God and Light is diametrically opposed to the world’s view which is under the kingdom of Satan and darkness, and why the true church that lives by the Spirit of God is so hated by those of the world:
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
We are entering now into that area in the Gospel of Matthew where the King of Israel is laying down the holy law that applies in His kingdom, specifically in the case of Matthew’s account, the kingdom as it pertains to Israel and the Davidic covenant . This perspective will aid us in understanding many of the verses recorded in this section (Ch’s. 5 – 7).
Dr. Scofield comments:
“The Sermon on the Mount has a twofold application:
“(1) Literally to the kingdom: In this sense it gives the divine constitution for the righteous government of the earth. Whenever the kingdom of heaven is established on earth it will be according to that constitution, which may be regarded as an explanation of the word ‘righteousness’ as used by the prophets in describing the kingdom (e.g.) Isaiah 11:4-5; 32:1; Daniel 9:24. In this sense the Sermon on the Mount is pure law, and transfers the offence from the overt act to the motive: Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28.
“Here lies the deeper reason why the Jews rejected the kingdom. They had reduced ‘righteousness’ to mere ceremonialism, and the Old Testament idea of the kingdom to a mere affair of outward splendor and power. They were never rebuked for expecting a visible and powerful kingdom, but the words of the prophets should have prepared them to expect also that only the poor in spirit and the meek could share in it (e.g.) Isaiah 11:4. [Psalm 72 speaks of that] . . . which was universally received by them as a description of the kingdom . . . For these reasons, the Sermon on the Mount in its primary application gives neither the privilege nor the duty of the Church. These are found in the Epistles. Under the law of the kingdom, for example, no one may hope for forgiveness who has not first forgiven, Matthew 6:12, 14-15. Under grace the Christian is exhorted to forgive because he is already forgiven, Ephesians 4:30-32.
“(2) But there is a beautiful moral application to the Christian. It always remains true that the poor in spirit, rather than the proud, are blessed, and those who mourn because of their sins, and who are meek in the consciousness of them, will hunger and thirst after righteousness, and hungering, will be filled. The merciful are ‘blessed’, the pure in heart do ‘see God’. These principles fundamentally reappear in the teaching of the Epistles.”
Let’s come before the LORD Jesus as He takes His seat and teaches us in this sermon . . . on the mount.
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
The LORD sees with His holy eyes, two groups of people here: the multitude, and His disciples. As He ascended a mountain (interesting how He decided to teach there and not on the sea shore, or valley, or river or forest – a mountain is often symbolic in Scripture for a kingdom, and in this case, representative of the kingdom of heaven) He sat down, and His disciples came to Him and He taught them – that is, His disciples who looked for the kingdom of heaven to be established (this was in a very profound sense, a ‘pre-church’ time period!).
On the subject of ‘disciples’ – these were more than just students; in any classroom setting, once the class is over with, the students and the teacher leave and go to their own homes; not so with disciples and their teachers – they shared their lives with one another. The disciple would not only hear their master’s teachings, but observe how the truth they taught was applied to their life.
In John’s Gospel we read:
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
This 'continuing' involved more than just hearing and learning the truth as spoken by the Messiah, but in following Him and to continue to follow Him with obedience (Matt. 7:24-27) in disciplined fashion – this is the mark of a True Disciple
In today’s church one can hardly find the preaching of the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the essentials of repentance, surrendering one’s life wholly, continually to the LORD, and living the crucified life of self-denial – so that Christ may be manifest more fully in us and receive the glory (Gal.2:20); this aspect of Christianity – the life of the Cross is what discipleship is all about!
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Discipleship – where elder saints come along side of new babes in Christ, novice believers, and live their lives together, expressing the love, grace, truth and practical living and all the Christian duties inherent to one who is born again in the LORD Jesus Christ: this is something significantly (and sadly!) uncommon in the church today!
One is hard pressed even to find parents who are faithfully discipling their children!
For an excellent book on True Discipleship, may I recommend William MacDonald’s work.
The other aspect of true discipleship is that we shall have such a love for one another as saints of God, that the quality of such will be indistinguishable from the very love of Christ for us (John 13:34-35), because it’s the same love as by the Spirit of God in us! Astonishing!
Paul Washer talks about true discipleship in a video, here (11 mins 14 secs).
Here begins the Sermon on the Mount and our LORD begins with what is called the Beatitudes. As followers of Jesus what should be ‘our attitude’ in life and our daily conduct?
The greatest in the kingdom would be that one that fulfills the spiritual truths of these verses in their lives. None fulfills them better than the LORD Jesus Himself (even verses 3 and 4? I will address this a bit later) – He is the standard, the measure of true holiness by which any that would claim to be holy should look to for comparison.
The verses following are excellent as a kind of ‘spiritual barometer’ to determine where we are in the level of maturity we have (or not) in the LORD. Other such passages are 1 Cor. 13:1-8 and Gal. 5:22-23.
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
How blessed to overflowing are those who are poor in spirit – does this sound like a contradiction to you? One would suppose the LORD would have said, “Blessed are those who are rich in spirit . . .” but this is not the case.
Exactly who would qualify as being “poor in spirit” and what does this mean exactly?
Spiritual impoverishment is something that all of humanity suffers from because spiritual wealth – holiness, purity, beauty, truth, peace, grace, wisdom and knowledge (and so very much more) are all held in the treasure houses that is God’s own heart!
As sinners, sold under sin, in bondage to sin and separated from God (and all of the spiritual wealth inherent in His being), we are such poor and beggarly creatures that not only are deficient of such blessedness and riches, but also have the very perverted perception that ‘true riches’ are all about sin and sinful lusts and practices (that old ‘sex and drugs and rock n roll’ or even the devilish idea that ‘it’s MY life and I will live it as I see fit, and if God doesn’t like it, TOO BAD!’).
How then can we who are in such a deplorable condition ever think to be “blessed”? The LORD said of such that “. . . theirs is the kingdom of heaven”!
Of course, it’s those who come to the realization, by the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11) that they are in such a state. In life, knowing and admitting that one has a problem is the first step in getting it solved.
If we humble ourselves by admission of the truth, by such a confession of our guilt, and with genuine repentance the LORD will honor such and respond (Luke 18:9-14; James 4:9-10; 1 Peter 5:4-6).
Conversely, the religious who are sure of their supposed right standing before God, those who are rich in themselves and not of God, those who by pride in their religious accomplishments and deeds – these are those who will never share in the kingdom of heaven (See Luke 18:10-14 for an example of both kinds of people, the humbly repentant and the arrogantly self-righteous). The LORD will address this religious pride later on in this sermon.
This leads us to the second verse in our study – “blessed are they that mourn . . .”
This mourning is not merely regret or ‘feeling bad’ about wrongs committed by ourselves. This sort of grief is far deeper than that. The Greek word pentheo describes the kind of passionate grieving associated with the death of a loved one, or the destruction of one’s homeland.
It is a grief that encompasses the entire being until the entire consciousness is consumed by such. It is not emotionalism – that would entail the idea that we are made sorry by an appeal to our emotions via the soul (the seat of our emotions) rather than an appeal to the truth of God’s Word convicting our hearts (the central and essential being of who we are).
Such mourning over our sin – for the extreme offense it causes the Holy God Who created us, and for the spiritual poverty and death it has wreaked in our lives – is what this passage is addressing (See also 2 Cor. 7:9-10).
As the model and holy standard for these beatitudes, the One Who alone was able to claim to fulfill the Law; how would the LORD be described as someone who is spiritually poor and in need to mourn for such?
While the LORD Jesus would not Himself have any spiritual poverty of His own, and thus a need to mourn for such a non-existent deficiency, He is our sin bearer and mediator – thus for our own sakes, He became poor (2 Cor. 8:9) and a Man of sorrows (Is. 53:3).
For such sinners then as we, who express this brand of deep, genuine, whole hearted repentance in acknowledging their sin and seeking for God’s forgiveness, these shall “be comforted” that is, they shall “called near, invited, invoked by imploration, . . . to beseech, comfort, exhort; to call to one’s aid”. I am reminded of the LORD’s own words:
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (see also John 7:37-38).
To comfort those who mourn is specifically a Messianic mission as spoken of in Isaiah 51:3, 11-12; 61:2-3.
That mission was (and is) intended to take place in what we know as the Millennium (mille – meaning one thousand; ennium – count of years). In these same passages it speaks of the LORD making the “wilderness (of Israel) like Eden” and “her desert like the garden of the LORD.”
Also in the 61st chapter we read what the LORD Himself quoted (Luke 4:18-19) in reference to His ministry which He engaged in two thousand years ago, and yet from vs. 2 and on it speaks of “vengeance . . . to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion . . . and they shall build the old wastes . . . repair the waste cities . . . strangers shall stand and feed your flocks . . . and you shall eat the riches of the Gentiles . . . For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth, and the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness and all kings thy glory . . . (Isaiah 62:1-2)”.
These things have not happened as yet . . . but they will.
Such ministry was to be a part of the rule of the Messiah in Israel, and such would have been the case had the Messiah been received two thousand years ago; but because He was rejected nationally, such ministry is postponed until later (at the Second Advent) when the LORD Jesus will inaugurate His reign alongside of His Gentile bride (the church; Matt. 16:18).
In the meanwhile, the ministry of the LORD involves comforting those who mourn for their sins and bringing assurance to those who have humbled themselves before Him in a spirit of meekness, that such will inherit the earth!
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Satan took away the stewardship of the earth from Adam who lost it when he fell into sin, subjugating himself and the human race under the enemy’s power; those of this world are ever seeking power and ruler-ship in this world over cities, districts, regions and nations, and now a global oligarchy is assuming power over the entire planet.
Each of these have used power to take what they would (Nietzsche’s own philosophy of “the will to power”) without any appeal to a higher authority to bequeath such, but seizing upon it for themselves and their own selfish agendas.
Suppose you were the son of David Rockefeller or one of the Rothschild’s – imagine the sort of inheritance you would come into upon their death as their Last Will and Testament was read! Yet as the result of the New Testament (covenant; see Jer. 31:31; Heb. 8:8) we have a far, far greater inheritance than the mere pittance acquired from the aforementioned trillionaires!
The Maker of heaven and earth will simply deliver this world into the hands of . . . the proud? The arrogant? The selfish? Those that deem themselves gods? No – but to the meek (Ps. 37:11). Again, observe how diametrically opposed God’s ways are to the ways of this Satan-inspired world and how grateful I am that they are!
Meekness is not weakness by any means! In the Greek it refers to: “mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness.
“Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time (Is. 41:17).” Quote from Scofield’s Commentary on Matthew.
The Messiah, the majestic God Incarnate, Who spoke all of creation into existence with only His spoken Word (thus demonstrating only one aspect of His omnipotence) could have wiped the universe out with another spoken Word when the Roman soldiers scourged the flesh from His bones, plated that crown of thorns on His Holy Head, and nailed Him to that rough hewn and blood stained cross – but He endured those things with meekness.
Great power under total control is part of this meekness; another is absolute surrender to God, leaving our own lives in His capable hands and looking to Him to address wrongs done to us, injustices suffered by us, sufferings endured and dire circumstances placed upon us and doing nothing to defend or save ourselves from such things that are entirely out of our hands any way. The LORD Jesus modeled this for us perfectly!
As the meekest Man in all the world (Matthew 11:29), the LORD Jesus shall inherit all the domains of creation as KING of Kings and LORD of Lords – and we shall partake of such at the grace of our LORD as we exhibit this quality of meekness. In such meekness, there is a rest from strife, from self-preservation, and burdens to ‘fend for ourselves’.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Earlier this month I wrote an exhortation FROM the MIND of FIRE entitled A Passionate Thirst for God; please feel free to check this out as we continue in this study of Matthew’s Gospel.
Since much has been stated already in the FMF article above, let me simply say this (as I have quite often before): In a world of empty, sinful mirages, amidst the barren bleak deserts of parched souls – there is an O.A.S.I.S. Only the Almighty Savior Immanuel Satisfies.
We are not merely physical beings; otherwise physical things would satisfy us – but they don’t ultimately. We are not merely mental or emotional beings; otherwise intellectual and experiential things would satisfy us – but ultimately, neither do these satisfy us.
We are spiritual beings: beings who because of sin are suffering from broken, ruined spirits that are incapable of anything at all in regards to responding to and receiving the LORD.
If you are thirsting and hungering in life, if you find that there is ‘something missing’ (despite the fact that we have tried everything this world has to offer) but the answer proves elusive, know that it’s because you are at heart a spiritual being, and nothing can ever satisfy you except the spiritual, and such spiritual satisfaction can only be acquired through the One Who created your spirit – the LORD Jesus Christ:
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this [physical] water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the [spiritual] water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
So far we have observed that the poor in spirit will mourn over their condition, and as a result of being comforted, they are grateful, worshipful and full of meekness to the LORD Who has saved them. As a result of this comfort and salvation we find that we are no longer thirsty or hungry for the things of this world – but only such appetites that find satisfaction in the LORD Jesus the Righteous, the Bread of Life Himself is what we hunger and thirst for more of!
See Isaiah 61:3 and 2 Cor. 9:10 to observe trees and their fruit of righteousness.
God’s desire is that His righteousness would ‘branch out’ (every pun intended) into all aspects of our lives!
The blessed benefits of the righteousness of Christ in our lives as seen in: 2 Tim. 4:8; James 5:16; 1 Peter 3:12; 1 John 2:1, 29
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Those of us who have received the grace, mercy and peace from the LORD Jesus Christ have our lives so transformed, that we become a merciful people, people of tender mercies and loving kindness – even to our enemies, having the very character of Christ working in our hearts to fulfill all of His will for us, and through us! In sowing such mercies, we reap more mercy in abundance.
See 2 Sam. 22:26; Psalm 41:1-3; Psalm 112:4-9; Is. 58:9-11.
Remember that justice is receiving what you deserve.
Mercy is the opposite of justice: it’s something you don’t receive that you do deserve.
And grace is that which you receive that you don’t deserve.
The unrepentant sinner will receive God’s justice, and will perish forever in hell!
The repentant sinner will be spared from God’s justice and will not perish in hell!
The repentant sinner will not only receive the mercy of God, but also the grace of God, both via the LORD Jesus Christ – and be blessed by an eternity in heaven as the LORD’s gift of salvation; salvation from hell and for heaven!
Having received this mercy from God, and the Spirit that is working in us along with the Word of God, the ministry of sanctification is operative in our lives – working out the things of the old man, and instilling in our minds that which conforms us to the image of Christ in the new man.
We become purer of mind just as we have been made pure of heart (having that “new heart” as a result of our spiritual rebirth; John 3:3-5; 1 Peter 1:23; Ezekiel 18:31; 36:26).
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
No one can see God and live according to Exodus 33:20. In our natural state, such a visitation would prove our undoing.
Our Father dwells in heaven (Matt. 6:9) and only those who are pure in heart will see Him in the Kingdom that the saints shall inherit; thus the need for the spiritual rebirth, without which no one will enter or even see it!
This perfection (of purity) is something so entirely alien to our humanity, though mankind strives to obtain it for himself by education, philosophy and esoteric knowledge, by medical and nutritional technology, through exercise; through the obtaining of monetary wealth and power, and what not.
He is destined for failure in as much as he himself is a failure – a ruination of sin and all the destructive influences contained therein. Were God to enforce the Law that demands such perfection, aside from any aid or intervention on His own part, we would be utterly hopeless to ever see God in His glory.
Therefore God determined by His foreknowledge of all that would transpire from that point of transgression at the tree of knowledge of good and evil that by grace we would be saved (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5-7; Eph. 2:8-9), and not of works – because no one can in fact, boast of their accomplishments which are absolutely void of any element of goodness and holiness.
We will never know complete purity experientially while on this Earth, but one day we shall be complete in Christ when we see Him (1 John 3:2) and on that day, we shall experience for the first time in our lives that complete and entire purity that is unmatched by any other, save for the One Who’s purity has been granted to us!
That which was impossible under the commands of the Law, are now possible by the efficacious grace of God delivered to our hearts by the LORD Jesus Christ and His blood atonement and His Spirit! Psalm 24:3-4; Isaiah 1:25-26; 1 Tim. 1:5; 5:22; 1 Peter 1:22; also Eph. 5:27; Hebrews 9:22-26; James 1:27; 2 Pet. 3:14.
Purity of heart is not a religious drudgery but life and joy and peace in the Holy Spirit! Romans 14:17; 15:13.
For those who know the mercies of the LORD and that such mercies are provided in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and knowing the blessedness of the purification process performed in us by the Holy Spirit, we saints endeavor to proclaim this good news to all far and near, heralding the reconciling peace that God offers to fallen man. Thus we become peace makers.
Thus we complete these first eight verses of the Beatitudes of the LORD Jesus Christ! We shall continue in this sermon on our next occasion of study on TTUF! Until then, may our LORD continue to work His blessed will in and through our lives by the power of His Spirit!
Posted by James J. Fire at 9:53 PM