Using the book entitled “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount” as a guide
Authored by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones,
who was minister of Westminster Chapel in London, England.
Continued from September:
Now before we leave these first three Beatitudes we must take another view of them because it is so important that we are sure we understand them. They are needed for the entrance into the kingdom of God, but as the rest of the Sermon on the Mount and the rest of the New Testament repeats over and over these three principles are to be the very fabric of all born again Christians for the length of their walk with the Lord here on earth. Are we poor in spirit, mournful, meek? Are they difficult statements to us? Jesus, King of the kingdom of God, through whom grace and truth comes, has told us in no uncertain terms that these three Beatitudes need not only to be in our understanding in order to enter the kingdom of God but are to be part and parcel of us as born again Christians. They do not come easy to us; they are not part of our natural instinct. Remember now the kingdom of God is not of this world, it is a spiritual kingdom. The world is constantly telling us on all sides that the way to happiness is the direct opposite. Eat, drink and be merry. Build up your self-esteem, do what ever is right in your own eyes, be your own person. The fact of the matter is that because of sin and the continuing sin that is in us we are helpless. We cannot keep the Beatitudes, or Sermon on Mount, or the Ten Commandments; in and of ourselves we are lost. Listen to what Paul say in regard to these things.
Romans 7:21-24: “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”.
Here is a perfect example of a man who is poor in spirit, mourning and exhibiting meekness in relation to the sin that dwells in his members. Who can deliver the Apostle Paul; who can deliver us? What is Paul’s answer; what is our answer? He answers his own question with these words which should be on the heart of every born again Christian. “THANKS BE TO GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD!”
So what is this condition that should cause us to be poor in spirit, to be mourning and exhibiting meekness? Lets look at some of the reasons as given in the scriptures:
Romans 1:18: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against ungodliness and unrighteousness…”
Ephesians 2:1-3: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…”.
These scriptures show the reasons we are to be poor in spirit, to be mourning and exhibiting meekness is because we begin to understand our true condition before God. Here are some of Scriptures descriptions of us before our conversion: we are sinners, enemies of God, weak, ungodly, unrighteous, spiritually dead in trespasses and sin, and under the wrath of God. Being spiritually dead we can do nothing about that condition. We are helpless and hopeless. but, wait there is a verse 6 in these Beatitudes:
Verse 6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”.
Remember what it said when we look at Romans 1:18:For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…”.
Verse 6 is saying that now knowing our true condition we begin to seek righteousness. Not only that, we emphatically hunger and thirst for it. We have a desire to be right with God, to be saved from his divine judgment. Jesus Christ says he knows how to do that. We begin to look to him and believe that he is speaking the truth, and He says, that if we are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, “ we shall be satisfied”, in other words, we shall be saved and we shall enter the kingdom of God. But, wait a minute, if we are spiritually dead unable to do anything to save ourselves how are we to have the power to repent, to be poor in spirit, to be mourning, exhibiting meekness and hungering and thirsting for righteousness?
Here is the mystery of the ages, why the gospel of Jesus Christ is called good news. Last month we looked at word is GRACE! What is grace? It is unmerited favor from the Sovereign, Supreme, and all-powerful Holy God of the universe. Lets go back to Ephesians 2:4; there is one of those tremendous three letter words that the scripture is full of in verse 4; and that word is BUT! But why is that but there? It is to give the truth of the most spiritual, supernatural move of God in the history of man and this earth. Listen now to what God has done.“…but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”.
We are to grow in understanding the full meaning of these great words: mercy, great love, made alive with Christ, by grace you have been saved, raised us up with him in the heavenly places, and in Christ Jesus. That is the good news of Jesus Christ! The scriptures are saying that if God in his tender mercies toward us has made these first four verses of the Beatitudes a reality in our lives; then we are born again, our spirit is alive, the Holy Spirit has come to us and we have entered the kingdom of God.
Once in the kingdom of God we must not forget Paul’s Lament in Romans 7:21-24, that we just look at where he showed us clearly that even though he was in the kingdom of God, he would still need to use these four tender mercies of the Beatitudes, a gift from God, for the rest of his earthly walk in order to keep growing in the knowledge of the fullness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in other words, to be taking on the image of Christ. In church terms that is called sanctification. For Paul and for us it is a life long process with ends at death when we will enter heaven and be with God through out eternity. The rest of the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount and the New Testament is the Lord giving us what this journey will look like as we walk in out.
It is reasonable to see from what we have covered so far that our Lord is giving us a description of the character and disposition of the Christian person. So now that this Christian person is born again and is in the kingdom of God next month we will look at what the Lord says should be the change in the actions of a person who has committed their lives to the Lord and his kingdom. This is where the Beatitudes begin to show that change and it carries throughout the rest of the Sermon on the Mount and New Testament. Jesus Christ says he knows how to do that. We begin to look to him and believe that he is speaking the truth, and He says, that if we are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, “ we shall be satisfied”, in other words, we shall be saved and we shall enter the kingdom of God. But, wait a minute, if we are spiritually dead unable to do anything to save ourselves how are we to have the power to repent, to be poor in spirit, to be mourning, exhibiting meekness and hungering and thirsting for righteousness?
Next month we will continue our “Journey Through the Beatitudes”