Here is more Sermon on the Mount from our series on Sunday mornings. As usual, I've included our Pastor's brief summary of each message below the link to the PDF file. This is a tremendous series that I hope you will interact with--at least in your own thoughts, if not on this blog. I also encourage you to begin listening to the sermons from the beginning to get the full force of the Gospel. Thanks and "happy reading" :-)
Part 9: The Beatitudes--Peacemaking
Brief Sermon Overview:
While most Christians (as well as non-Christians) associate the concept of "peace" with the Christian faith, they commonly do so in a manner consistent with all religious thought. Every religious system holds out peace as an ethic to be pursued; even the militarism of Islam serves the cause of "peace" understood as the entire world being unified in subjection to Islam. All religions exalt and strive for peace, but they envision peace in natural, temporal categories. So it is with perhaps the majority of Christians: For multitudes, peace is "peaceability" that works to address human discord and conflict; peace speaks to harmony between human beings, cultures and nations. But if by the term "peacemaker" Jesus meant a conciliator, then those who are so characterized could hardly be called "sons of God," for God is not a conciliator in this sense. Jesus - as both true God and true Man - is the quintessential peacemaker, and yet He provoked strife and contention everywhere He went. More than that, by His coming Jesus had determined to introduce a whole new order of conflict into the world of men (Mat. 10:34-36). The only way to grasp Jesus' meaning in this beatitude is to understand "peace" as it is central to the Old Testament's developing promise and portrait of the kingdom of God. This sermon seeks to do just that and show how the promise of peace has been fulfilled in Christ.
Part 10: The Beatitudes--Persecution
Brief Sermon Overview:
Jesus' final beatitude is unique in that it ascribes blessedness to individuals on the basis of the evil way they are perceived and treated by others. All of its predecessors are concerned only with qualities in the blessed person himself without any direct consideration of those around him. Despite this distinction, this beatitude, too, has its focal point in the inward nature of the sons of the kingdom, for it is precisely who they are that provokes opposition. This becomes clearly evident when the nature and psychology of this persecution are correctly understood. Jesus was speaking of persecution in a very narrow sense; not recognizing this, the tendency among Christians is to regard any and every form and instance of opposition as persecution. The truth is, very little of what believers receive at the hands of others constitutes the persecution Jesus was referring to, and this sermon seeks to show how this is the case, what authentic persecution is, what provokes it and why it is inevitable and unavoidable for the true sons of the kingdom. This, in turn, will reveal why persecution shows Christ's own to be eminently blessed.
Part 11: The Similitudes
Brief Sermon Overview:
Jesus' observations regarding the certainty of persecution may have left His hearers concluding that it's best for the sons of the kingdom to keep a low profile in the world. The fact that the Israelite kingdom had been defined by separation would likely have reinforced this thinking. Christ's kingdom - the kingdom of heaven - is indeed to be marked by separation, but not of the sort expected by the children of Israel. The sons of the kingdom of heaven are to be separated from the world, but, in contrast to the Israelite prototypical kingdom, separation in Christ's fulfilled kingdom is entirely spiritual, having no geographical or cultural component. The point of distinction between the subjects of Jesus' kingdom and the sons of this world is His life and likeness in them, so that their Christ-likeness - not their practice or lifestyle per se - is the issue in their separation. This understanding is foundational to Jesus' instruction regarding salt and light. The symbolism of salt and light highlights "witness" as the central ethic of the kingdom - witness, not to religion, morality, or Christian doctrine as such, but to the reality of the new creation in Christ. Being salt and light means living an authentic life as one who has died and whose life is now hidden with Christ in God. For the Christian, authentic self-witness is witness to Christ (John 15:18-27); being salt and light is nothing more than living day-to-day, moment-by-moment in the life and likeness of Christ.