By James J. Fire
We continue now learning from the Messiah and hear the Kingdom message He declares. Once again we must recognize that the Kingdom of heaven is in a very real sense, a sort of sub-set or division under the over all Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of heaven there are wheat and tares; there are good fish and bad, there is “the enemy” – hardly what one would think should be present in such a kingdom.
Yet we understand that this Earth is polluted by such things, though God is present (behind the scenes as it were) and working to accomplish His objectives which will ultimately bring the Messiah King back to this rebel planet known as Earth, ruling and reigning and ‘cleaning house’ as it were of all things that offend.
This will become quite observable once the LORD Jesus Christ returns and commences the Kingdom given back to Israel in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant, the veritable “kingdom of heaven” itself!
So as we learn more of this Sermon on the Mount, let’s not forget that though these Scriptural truths are entirely applicable for learning by us saints, who are of the church, its primary focus is in fact the Kingdom of Heaven, the reign of the Messiah and Israel in her glory during the Millennial reign . . .MATTHEW 5:9
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
The world, for all its pretense of worship of God in the myriad of religions that span the horizons, is in actuality at war with the true God and proves their satanic origins. Religion is incapable (as is man himself) of creating a nature and a life that God would approve of. Religion at best can only reform; only the Spirit of God can transform.
I love John MacArthur’s address on this issue of just “two religions”. Did you realize that in all the wide world, there really are only two religions? It’s true; have a listen to ‘Johnny Mac’ in this short video explaining the truth of just Two Religions, based on Gal. 6:11-16.
This enmity will culminate when the Beast of Revelation leads his armies into Armageddon (that is, the Valley of Megiddo, which I myself have seen twice now; perhaps the third time it will be from the heavenly mezzanine! See Rev. 16:12-16; 19:20-21; Isaiah 10:28-34; 63:1-6; Zech. 12:1-14) to destroy Israel, only to witness the intervention of the Messiah, the LORD Jesus Christ at His Second Advent. The utterly ridiculous will then occur – the Beast and his armies will actually turn their weapons upon God. Holy incredulity will bring laughter from the lips of our LORD who will then express His derision and begins to destroy the blasphemous edifices of man’s world system (Psalm 2:1-12; 9:6-20).
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Becoming citizens of heaven by the spiritual rebirth in Christ, we are now warriors of God that wage holy battles against Satan and his principalities and powers (Eph. 6:10-18). We are also ambassadors to fallen humanity, seeking for the enmity between God and man to be dealt with, and relieved, so that reconciliation and peace with God may be experienced by those who surrender themselves at the Cross (2 Cor. 5:18-21; Heb. 2:17; Rom. 5:1-2).
It’s a sobering thought that as God’s peacemaking ambassadors, we shall one day be removed from these hostile territories that continues unrelentingly in its war and strife against the LORD and that this is one of the first courses of action taken when one nation declares war on another – the removal of its ambassadors and shutting down their embassies.
Once we, the church of the LORD Jesus Christ depart from this world in the rapture (1 Thess. 4:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-57), God shall finally declare war on this Satanically inspired world that will openly defy Him by worshipping His enemy, the fallen cherub Lucifer (Isaiah 14; Ezek. 28) also known as Satan. Yet even in the midst of such terrible judgment, God will temper such with grace and opportunity to turn to Him for salvation (Rev.7:13-15). God will commission yet more peacemakers to herald the Gospel of the Kingdom with the two witnesses and 144,000 Jewish evangelists (See Rev. 11:2-4; 7:1-9)!
The peacemakers of God are the Gospel heralders of God, for it’s only by the preaching of the Gospel and believing from the heart in the LORD Jesus Christ and His atonement for our sins that peace with God can be obtained (Rom. 5:1; 10:15; Eph. 6:15). However, as mentioned already, this dark world, filled with dark souls, have no desire for the Light and hate the Light as well as those who bring the Light of God to them (Matthew 5:14; Phil. 2:15), thus the peacemakers become the persecuted.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The LORD ends this portion of His sermon where He began it – at the kingdom of heaven; at the beginning He spoke of those who are poor in spirit, and here He speaks of the persecuted who suffer such because of righteousness.
The righteousness of Christ imputed (Rom. 4:11, 22-24) to such who are poor in spirit, thus making them rich spiritually (Rev. 2:9) is something that is despised by this world because of its pride and insistence in providing their own (dead) works for salvation – the quintessential element of self-righteous religion and works of the flesh (Rom. 8:7-9; Gal. 2:16; 5:18-20).
I find it ironic that Christians who proclaim the Gospel of grace, and profess quite readily that they themselves are sinners who in their own right are deserving of hell (1 Tim. 1:14-15) and but for the unmerited favor of God, and having received the gift of eternal life are labeled by the world as ‘self-righteous’ when the very opposite is true.
Those engaged in ritual, ceremony, works, penance, mystical exercises, and all other religious forms that demand self-effort in order to achieve by their own merit the rewards, in view of such persuasions are the truly the self-righteous ones quite simply because they look to themselves for provision of righteousness!
In these days of increasing ecumenism and a push towards a one world religious system, any exclusive claims made by any religion must be deleted in order to fit in to this global apostate ‘church’ and yet Christians declare that it’s only through Christ Jesus that salvation and righteousness may be obtained. This is a non-negotiable that will (and has already the world over) earned the church persecution by the hands of those who despise such grace (Heb. 10:29).
The LORD states that those who are persecuted are “blessed” and this truly is our inestimable estate because of the reward we shall receive for enduring such “light afflictions” patiently (See Heb. 11:36-40; 1 Peter 2:19-21; 2 Cor.4:16-18).
He goes on in the following verses in Matthew’s Gospel:
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
We know that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD (Rom. 6:23), and that gifts are different than rewards obviously. Gifts are freely given at no charge to the recipient, but rewards are based upon merit.
While all saints will be granted access to heaven by grace and receive the blessedness inherent in that glorious place, not all saints will receive equitable levels of rewards but such will be based on how faithful we’ve been in conduct, in service, in the very worship of God by self-sacrificing our lives for the furtherance of the kingdom of God as well as dying to self that Christ may be glorified in us (See 1 Cor. 3:6-15; Dan. 12:3; Matt. 10:42; 25:23; Luke 6:35; Rom. 2:10; Eph. 6:8; 2 Tim. 2:12; also see various crowns earned for faithfulness: 1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Tim. 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 3:11).
It’s imperative to understand however, that any rewards we are given for any service done, any suffering endured, any stand for righteousness we may exercise is to bring glory to the LORD and not ourselves, because it’s only by the Spirit of the LORD. His divine love shall motivate and enable us to work such exploits for God.
Even in the giving of rewards there is a considerable measure of grace, for without the grace of God operating in yielded hearts intent on obedience to the LORD (1 Cor. 15:10; Heb. 4:16), such works would prove impossible for us creatures made of dust.
1 COR. 13:1-3
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Please note that for the cause of Christ in suffering persecution, our LORD states that we will receive, not merely “reward” but “great reward” comparable to the prophets of old, like Isaiah (who was sawn in half for his holy testimony to the truth) and all the others who were likewise persecuted, even slain for righteousness sake!
The “evil speaking” against us that accompanies persecution should be false of course; as false as the witnesses against our LORD who couldn’t even agree among themselves what exactly He supposedly did that was sin (Mark 14:55-56). The LORD challenged His enemies to point out any sins He committed that could be used against Him (John 8:46), but they couldn’t name a single sin or fault – I wonder what my enemies could say about my own testimony for the LORD?
Finally its been said by many, especially by those here in America who observe such worldliness and carnality in the church, that we need some persecution to purge out these heinous things and be purified.
The sentiment is well received by yours truly and I know what those who say such things mean by them, but persecution in itself does not and can not purify. People of opposing religions have persecuted each other for centuries and this has done nothing to purify and make holy and clean such religious adherents.
Some believe that before the LORD can return, the church must be so purified so that she will be presentable to Him. Yet, it’s the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for the remission of our sins and that bestows the garments of salvation that makes us presentable, not suffering or suffering persecution (Rev. 19:7-9; Rom. 3:25).
Persecution (and suffering in general) is but a tool which the enemy would use to destroy the saints, but it’s rather more effectively used by the LORD for His own purposes of purifying His people (Job 23:10; Ps. 66:10-12; Is. 48:9-11; Mal. 3:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:12-14, 16, 19). God alone works purification and sanctification by His Spirit, not by the deeds of sinners who persecute saints.
What persecution does is it allows the saint to re-focus their attention and their hearts on the LORD and away from worldly pursuits and desires that would cause lukewarmness to set in; that refocusing in the midst of such hardships like suffering persecution is what is effective in the lives of believers who become ardent and persistent in their seeking God at such times.
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Salt has long been known as a preservative, and the reason being is that when introduced to foods, particularly meats, it absorbs the water from invading bacteria, thus dehydrating them to the point where they simply die off.
Likewise light when can kill off fungus and molds when they are exposed to it; no longer safe in the dark where they thrive, light, especially ultra-violet light destroys the DNA of such growths, effectively doing away with them.
Spiritually speaking we who are salt and light are to ward off the spiritual infection sin and corruption by the Light of the LORD which like salt in an open wound stings the corrupted with conviction for their sin (Col. 4:5-6).
This is why any society may be potentially free from corruption in proportion to the indigenous church as it’s living in the Light of the LORD Who is Himself Light (John 8:12; 9:5; 12:46), walking in purity and holiness (1 Tim. 1:5; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:22; Rom. 6:19). The church has a direct effect, by the Spirit of God, in warding off wickedness in a culture – if the church hasn’t lost its savor, if the Light given to the church has not been hidden.
This is not to say that sinners are compelled to refrain from sin because of the Light emanating from the church, but that the church is an influence of holiness that tends to convict the lost of their sin and inhibits (but doesn’t make it impossible for) their practice of the same.
What can we say then about Western civilization and America especially in light of this truth? When we bemoan the fact that such corruption is only increasing dramatically in these recent years, and lament over the deplorable immorality that plagues our nation, can we and should we ask ourselves what has gone wrong with the church of Jesus Christ? Where is her potency; where is her effectiveness as salt and light in combating corruption? Where is her ardent affection and submission to the Holy Word of God, both in believing all the counsel of God by faith and adhering to it by loving obedience?
What we see instead is a departing from the faith, that is, apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1), and the promotion of leaven (1 Cor. 5:7-8; Matt. 16:12) which flourishes in the lukewarm* church!
(* Leaven or yeast as we know it, cannot grow in cold water as it needs a temperature that will activate its production; hot water will kill yeast. The optimal condition for yeast to flourish in is in tepid (or lukewarm) water. No wonder the LORD admonishes us to have fervent and “hot” zeal and love for Him and His Word as this will ensure that such spiritually lethal leaven is killed off!)
It would seem the duty of every Christian, every saint bought with the blood of the LAMB, to seek the LORD and ask Him to reveal our own hearts (Psalm 139:23-24) for any wicked way that might be there; to shed His Light on such corruption to destroy it. Not only the world, but also the church herself (at least in this and some other nations) is infested with sin and corruption that has caused us to lose our spiritual potency! Israel who suffered its own apostasy during the days of Isaiah had the Word of the LORD given to them with very much the same kind of rebuke (Isaiah 1:1-31).
The LORD admonishes us, His children – the very saints of the Living GOD, to let His Light shine before all, not with the objective of ourselves being seen by others, but to allow our good works (and they are good only if they are born of God’s Spirit Who alone is truly good) to testify of the Father’s work in our lives, that He may be glorified and draw such wayward sinners to His Son (John 6:44).
On this sobering matter, let’s turn to the apostle Paul and hear what he has to say about this in his epistle to the Ephesians:
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
For your provision allow me to present FROM the MIND of FIRE, this chapter in Ephesians with a study I did nearly three years ago. Here is Chapter Five for your consideration.
No condition found in any of the saints who have gone astray and suffered dilapidation and ruin at the merciless handling of the Harlot which is the world, is beyond remedy; the LORD Who spoke into darkness and brought Light, Who spoke into void and formless lifelessness and brought forth order and life, can speak into such lives and bring His Holy Light to shine in the heart and restore them to vibrant vitality and victory: we only need to repent and turn back to the LORD and open ourselves to His efficacious grace and glory.
Perhaps the flames of the Holy Spirit have dimmed in one’s life and reduced to nothing more than a cold smoldering. We can take heart, because any such saint who finds themselves broken like a reed, or smoking like flax that won’t ignite may know the rejuvenation of the Righteous One who can mend such brokenness and bring back to living flame that which merely smolders (Matt. 12:20).
2 COR. 3:17-18
17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
In our next study we begin by examining the Law and what its purpose is, and whether or not that purpose has been complete so that we no longer need to consider the Law. We shall learn about the power that the religious authorities had over the common people, and how these leaders abused both the Law and them in God’s Name. We shall observe in this next section what true holiness and obedience is, and that should carry us through to verse 32.
Until then, may the LORD bless you, and keep you!