SOTM – Introduction

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

This verse appears at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. After our Lord delivered this discourse to His disciples and all those who were present He closed with this solid advice. All of us are builders. Some of us build with our hands while others build with our thoughts. We are all manufactures of some product. But it is all for naught if we do not first build a good life. A life that will not only carry us through this world but to a grander life in the world to come. To build a life is no different than anything that is built, it requires a solid foundation. The Sermon on the Mount was the first teaching of a three year ministry which I view as a foundation for the work that continues on to this very day. I view the Sermon on the Mount as a blueprint for the foundation of a life well lived in the character of the Lord we serve. I believe that if we hear the words of Jesus and act upon them in our own personal lives that we will rest upon a foundation so strong that no evil spiritual force will cause us to fall.

Some commentators say that the Sermon on the Mount was a far reaching discourse that was aimed at speaking to the coming eternal Kingdom of God. When life here in the world has past and we now rest on the eternal shore surrounded with the love of our Heavenly Father and living in complete peace and joy. It is a time when we meet Jesus in the sky and become fully sanctified and are as He is. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2) We will be glorified and no longer to struggle with our fleshly sinful nature. The battle with self will be over and no longer are we tempted by the evil one but only desire to please our Heavenly Father. This is the Kingdom Age that we all long for, that our hope is born from and for us that time will come when it is proper according to God’s plan.

I believe that the Sermon on the Mount presents a foundation that we as followers of Christ are to build our lives upon. It is a life that is to carry us through our journey to the Promised Land while we are living in the Age of Grace, which is the Church age. We are marching to the Kingdom of Heaven on some far off shore but we also are a part of the Kingdom of Heaven that is in the here and now. From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry He began to teach, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) When we accept Jesus for who He is and follow Him in faith we are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light. Therefore we are no longer citizens of this world but citizens of His Kingdom. In that truth we are to live as citizens of His Kingdom and be lights unto the world. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand through us living in Christ.

The Sermon on the Mount displays to us how we are to live as the Children of God through His grace working in our lives. The chief end of the Christian’s life is to glorify God. We are involved in many occupations but the goal of each endeavor is to do each in a way that brings honor to God. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) By this way, in our word and deed, our neighbor can see Jesus living through us and be drawn to Him. The difference between a citizen of this passing world and a citizen of an eternal Kingdom of Heaven is Jesus living through them. If the professing Christian dishonors that, then we have destroyed the testimony of Jesus Christ. This is why we eagerly await His return that our faith may be fully manifested that men will know the truth. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

The Sermon on the Mount is found in the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus begins His sermon with eight blessings which are proverb like proclamations. There is little narrative but they are filled with meaning. Each of these blessings will develop into a major biblical theme. The first seven beatitudes as they are named are guidepost to the Christian character. The 8th beatitude deals with the response of the world to these traits of a Christian’s character. All the Beatitudes are related to each and show a progressive flow. The Christian character is not natural to the world’s character and provide a distinctive difference between the Christian and the non-Christian.

The Beatitudes are found in verses 3-12 in Matthew chapter 5 and the emphasis is that of what we are to be as opposed to who we are presently. Verses 13-16 gives us a definition of what a disciple of Jesus is to be for the benefit of the world. Verses 17-19 is Jesus’ explanation that He has not come to abolish the Law of God but is the fulfillment of God’s Law. When one studies biblical prophecy concerning the Messiah and look at the life of Jesus everything He did was foretold by the Prophets. The remainder of Chapter 5 deals with relationships and the relationship of Jesus to the Law of God. Matthew chapter 6 deals with our relationship with God and Matthew 7 deals with our relationship with our fellowmen.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, January 3, 2016

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