As I continue to prepare for a couple of services coming up at SGCC, I thought I'd link a few more of our pastor's Sermon Notes from our present series on The Sermon on the Mount. Below each link is his overview of the message and you can access the audio of the sermon by clicking the SGCC link in the sidebar and looking for the Sermon on the Mount series.
I'll continue with my Hughes series shortly. The next two posts will deal with chapters two and three of his book, "The True Image: The Origin and Destiny of Man in Christ". These chapters deal with whether or not there is a "bodily aspect" to the Image and then whether or not man and the Divine Image are identical. Until then, enjoy more of our pastor's Sermon notes on The Sermon on the Mount.
Part 6: Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness
This message continues the examination of Jesus' Beatitudes. It considers the fourth Beatitude, first as it fits within and contributes to the Beatitudes as a whole, but also to the broader context of the Sermon on the Mount. Most importantly it seeks to understand this Beatitude (as all of them) in terms of the larger salvation-historical context of Jesus' teaching and ministry. Sadly, the tendency for Christians (as much as non-Christians) is to read and interpret the Beatitudes through "natural" eyes, with the result that they become simply more performance "benchmarks" by which a person can measure himself and determine his standing with God. Perceived in natural terms, all people - not merely Christians - recognize and openly acknowledge the goodness and propriety of the qualities set out in the Beatitudes. The problem is that Jesus was speaking of human qualities that transcend the conceptual capability (let alone the performance capability) of man in his fallen state. Far from providing moral and ethical definition to assist people in their pursuit of personal righteousness (Christians commonly regard the Beatitudes as a means for authenticating their conversion and assisting their sanctification), Jesus was declaring that His kingdom demands a divinely-wrought new creation - not a new conviction, new commitment, or new discipline of life (John 3:1-3).
Part 7: Mercy
The fifth Beatitude introduces mercy as characteristic of the subjects of the kingdom of heaven. Christians and non-Christians alike recognize that Christ's people are to be merciful, but few seem to understand the true nature and function of Christian mercy. This message examines mercy from a biblical standpoint, showing that it is an inward disposition and that merciful deeds are merely mercy's fruit. Moreover, the acts that can be legitimately regarded as merciful are directed toward the recipient's spiritual well-being and not simply the alleviation of physical and temporal needs.
Part 8: Purity of Heart
Whatever the nuances of understanding, inward purity is a core ethic in all religions and a virtue lauded in all cultures. This reinforces the truth that, though corrupted in his estrangement from God, fallen man yet bears the divine image and, therefore, retains his innate sense of righteousness. At the same time, estrangement from the One in whose image they were created leaves people unable to rightly discern their true selves. In turn, the absence of accurate self-knowledge (and the inability to obtain it), results in a distorted perception of purity. If a person cannot discern or discover his true humanness, how can he know what it means for his humanness to be free of all pollution and imperfection? The result is that "purity of heart" is universally reduced to conformity to a collection of moral and ethical (and, in some instances, religious) obligations. In effect, this "purity" attained through self-reform (religious or otherwise) amounts to "cleaning the outside of the cup and dish" (Mat. 23:25). Tragically, the damning delusion that is pseudo-purity permeates much of professing Christianity; Jesus' confrontation of it with His Jewish contemporaries is equally His confrontation of it in the Church today.