MONDAY MINUTES With Pastor Chris McCool (January 31, 2022)

Today’s post will be the fourth in a series regarding the Sermon on the Mount. The full article was written by Elder Mike Ivey, and is an attempt to show us how relevant this Sermon is to us today – ESPECIALLY in a time when the world seeks to divide us in so many ways! I hope these thoughts have been as convicting and encouraging to you as they have to me!

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor

A Contextual Summary of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Part 4)

by Elder Michael Ivey

I. Context of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (cont.)

In Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus’ repetition of the phrases “Ye have heard that it was said” and “but I say unto you” is a recurring implied call for his disciples to repent and be converted. In these several verses the Savior rejects self-righteous and pseudo-moral behaviors and attitudes of legalism and traditionalism. We repent by examining our motives and behaviors in light of God’s word. We are converted when changed thinking compels us to make necessary behavioral changes from “Ye have heard it hath been said” to “But I say.” From Jesus’ call for his disciples to engage in ongoing self-examination and correction it can be inferred to participate in the Kingdom of heaven and receive its accompanying blessings we must repent from preferring anyone other than God as our moral authority.

II. Organization of the Sermon

A. Purpose

Jesus states the purpose of discipleship in Matthew 5:13-16. Our purpose is to glorify God by serving as salt and light for the benefit of others. As salt we are to be a savor of life which both enhances and preserves quality of life. We are to serve as metaphorical salt for otherwise quickly perishing, purposeless (and so bland) lives to help others enhance their quality of life. Our example as light serves to enlighten others to the purpose, course and blessings of living godly lives. Submitting to God’s moral authority by practicing godly ethics provides examples which can enlighten others and illuminate God’s paths of righteousness.  Being like salt and light to benefit others and glorify God indicates godly social interactions with others, whether they be other church members or the unchurched is a primary duty of discipleship in Christ’s church. Doing so ascribes glory to God and also gives opportunities for others to affirm God is glorious. 

B. Nature of Commitment

In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus indicates the nature of our commitment as disciples of Jesus in his church. It is complete devotion to God. He makes this point by revealing a higher plane of obedience to God’s commands which extends beyond purely technical obedience to the letter of law by including one’s motive for obeying.  He characterizes this as seeking to “fulfill the law;” which, Jesus did in fact. His explanation indicates God looks beyond technical obedience by assessing whether our motives to obey are faithful. This inner devotion motive for obedience Jesus asserts surpasses the mere outward obedience practices of the scribes and Pharisees; whom the Savior implies are held in low esteem by God and will not have a role in his church kingdom. In contrast, disciples in the church/kingdom of heaven must follow Christ’s example of fulfilling the spirit of God’s will by serving Him in true devotion that is a product of love for God above all others. We do this by taking to heart as our core creed and keeping in mind the two Great Commandments; that we each: 1. “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength;” and in so loving God we, 2. “love thy neighbour as thyself.”  (See Luke 12:30-31)

Jesus revisits devotion to God in Matthew chapter 6 beginning in verse 19. There, he teaches the interest of disciples in his church/kingdom of heaven must be singular. It must be wholly oriented toward the heavenly, where treasures are forever preserved according to God’s permanence which is undisputed and eternal; and not on earthbound things which cannot be safely secured nor everlastingly preserved. This argument appeals to logic in that possessing cherished things forever is better than cherishing things that cannot be preserved and are inevitably lost.  Therefore, it makes sense to focus our attention and efforts on treasures which God promises we may always enjoy.  

Although these are rooted and proceed from eternal things in heaven and are thus “treasures in heaven” we can enjoy them now. In that Jesus is teaching about discipleship in his kingdom, it follows Christ’s church in its organic phase on earth is an example of treasure that is outsourced from heaven. The Church is the earthly component of the kingdom of heaven which by God’s grace and mercy we may now enjoy.  Through participation as faithful disciples of Jesus’ church, members receive a significant measure of the blessings of the heavenly treasures of Christ’s Triumphant Church composed of all the elect family of God and which is eternal in the heavens. We receive these blessings by participating in godly worship and fellowship with a number of God’s elect family as members of his local, organic church on earth. Thus, we lay up treasures (as to accumulate blessings day-by-day) of the heavenly sort that while hear on earth, which we will fully enjoy in heaven for all eternity. Being eternal and outsourced from heaven these blessings cannot be exhausted, removed nor destroyed. But we can turn away from them and thereby lose the happiness, joy and peace they supply.

To be continued. . . .