MONDAY MINUTES With Pastor Chris McCool (January 17, 2022)

Last week, we began sharing an article by Elder Michael Ivey regarding the Sermon on the Mount. In this article, Bro. Mike takes the current issues facing the Lord’s church – in particular the divisiveness of the current political situation, and the pandemic that still afflicts us – and examines them in light of the Sermon on the Mount.

I should clearly state at this point, that IN NO WAY is this article an attempt to “take sides” or “point fingers” at any particular position held by any particular group of people today! We have too much divisiveness in the culture in which we live – even members of God’s churches can find themselves divided over differing approaches to the pandemic, or politics, or any other issue du jour.

I offer these introductory remarks simply to say that Bro. Mike’s purpose in this article is to point out how Satan will take our natural tendencies toward such divisions (which we inherited from Adam!) to further divide us, and ultimately to destroy our fellowship in the Kingdom of God. Satan truly is subtle and devious, and will use the failings of our human nature and our lack of knowledge of the teachings of God’s word against us if we’re not careful – and that is why it is so important to stay in the word of God, studying to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that need not to be ashamed!

May the Lord bless you is my prayer!

In Christ,

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor

A Contextual Summation ofJesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Part 2)

By Elder Michael Ivey

I. Context of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount 

The timing, placement in scripture and audience of Jesus’ Sermon is telling. In Matthew’s account it occurs shortly after he is baptized by John and begins his public ministry. It is the earliest example contained in scripture of Jesus preaching in the presence of an audience described as “a multitude.” The message is immediately directed to “his disciples” who “came unto him.” It is unclear as to the specific number and composition of those Matthew refers to as “his disciples.” Luke’s account of the lead up to the sermon suggests it was some portion of the multitude mentioned by Matthew. (See Luke 6:17-20) In part, the significance of the audience is apparently it was not limited to a few insiders who were receiving private instruction as to how to go about growing the church kingdom. Rather, Jesus’ message of participation in his kingdom by repenting and with singular devotion to God was/is addressed to all of God’s children in all ages. 

Context of the audience to whom Jesus addresses his lesson concerning kingdom discipleship (church membership) is contained in the last few verses of Matthew, chapter 4. There, we learn he had traveled far and wide from Jerusalem preaching the gospel and healing “all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.” (Matthew 4;24) This description is telling in that it characterizes those who came to him in terms of illness and disease. This of course serves as a metaphor for the sin-sick condition of all seeking to follow Jesus; and it speaks to his unique yet obvious ability to comfort and heal them.

Jesus specifically directed the Sermon to his disciples. These are people who are in need and who believe Jesus can help them. They follow him because they have either experienced, witnessed or heard that Jesus is able to heal conditions no one else is able to heal. The tone of the message is encouraging and cautioning. It begins with the encouraging announcement that those who follow Jesus and apply the forthcoming lessons he teaches are blessed. Their lives will be guided by love for God and devoted to doing His will. Their love and devotion provides an optimistic mindset and joyous countenance owing to the blessings they receive. Simply put, the blessings of God causes them to be obviously happy regardless of whatever challenges to their well being they face in life.

Perfect happiness for God’s children is what Jesus came to attain by his atonement; which assures we will “ever be with the Lord” experiencing eternal bliss in the resurrection when Jesus returns for us. This being so, it follows that until he returns Jesus wants us to experience an abundant measure of the happiness we will have in eternity. We may do so through spiritual fellowship with him, through which we can enjoy the earnest of our eternal inheritance while here on earth. 

To be continued. . . .