Our meeting was cancelled this week due to illness so there are no notes for the Sermon on the Mount study…we’ll resume with Week #4 next week!
In Week #3, Kay Arthur continues to prepare us for the study of the actual Sermon on the Mount by examining the true condition of the heart. According to Arthur, “men and women persist in believing that they can instill the moral, ethical structure of Jesus’ teaching without installing Jesus as their King.” (p. 46) She uses Gandhi as an example of a man who, albeit an incredible and principled leader who exemplified the teachings of Jesus, never (at least openly) accepted Jesus Christ as his savior. His heart was full of peace and love but he did not openly choose to bow his knee to confess Jesus as Lord.
What does Scripture tell us about the true condition of the heart? Genesis 8:21 tells us that “man’s heart is evil from his youth” and Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us that “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.” God gave the Law to Israel to make their sin and the true conditions of their hearts evident to them. In the Law God also provided the guidance and instructions for sacrifices that would atone for sin until the coming of the True Sacrifice, Jesus Christ. In Romans 7:24, Paul reminds us that the Law is spiritual and good but it is impossible for a person in the flesh to keep the Law perfectly, which leads him to ask “Who will set me free?”
We are slaves to sin and only God can set us free. How does this happen? The process is described in Romans 6:1-7 (note the process outlined in the italicized verbs that follow): those who are baptized into Christ Jesus are first baptized into His death, then buried with Him into death, then raised with Him from the dead through the glory of the Father, then united with Him in the likeness of His death and also in the likeness of His resurrection, and finally freed from sin because our old self was crucified with Him. The Christ who has died and been resurrected has freed us from slavery to sin! We now walk in the newness of life.
As believers in Christ, our hearts are no longer bound to the old covenant of the Law. We are part of the new covenant that God promised as far back as the prophet Jeremiah: “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall by My people.” (Jer 31:33) This covenant is no longer written on tablets of stone but on the tablets of our hearts renewed by the sacrificial blood of Christ.
It is only this kind of heart — the heart bound by the New Covenant of grace — that makes possible the kind of lifestyle described in the Sermon on the Mount.
The MIQRA Institute is offering a fall seminar, READING PHILIPPIANS, on Saturday, October 31, 8:00-12:00 noon, at Oak Lake Church, 3300 No. 1st Street, Lincoln. The cost is $50.00 per person or $75.00 per married couple. For more information or to register, visit www.miqra.net or call the MIQRA office at (402) 420-7677.
This will be a seminar for students and teachers of the Bible, including pastors, campus ministers, school teachers, Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, and others who are serious about biblical study.
“Jesus’ Kingdom in Paul’s Theology: The Contribution of Philippians”
“The Mindset of The Creator, The Christ, and
The Church: Self-Giving Humility, Unity, and Sublimity (Philippians 2:5-11)”
“Difference without Discord: Resolving Conflict in the Community (Philippians 4:1-9)”
Week #2 of Kay Arthur’s Sermon on the Mount Bible study continues her examination of the kingdom of heaven, focusing on the coming glory of His kingdom, the realm of Christ’s rulership, and the fact that as believers we possess this kingdom as our very own.
As we read in the parable of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27, this young man was desperately searching for the “secret” to possessing the kingdom and inheriting eternal life. He basically kept asking Jesus the same question but not hearing Jesus’ answer: you cannot earn your way into the kingdom of heaven. The key to entering the kingdom is a fundamental change of heart and this is not easy…but all things are possible with God. As Arthur says in Day 3 of this week’s study, “Salvation comes only through a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.” (pg 33)
The difficulty we face as Christians living in the “not yet” before the physical kingdom of heaven comes to earth, is that we are living amongst nonbelievers in a fallen world. These people are depicted as the “tares” in the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13. As we grow up amongst each other in the “field” that is the world, there really appears to be no difference among us. That is, until harvest time comes. Then, as the true kingdom of heaven is ushered into this world, the wheat (believers in Christ) will be gathered into the kingdom while the tares (nonbelievers) will be gathered up and burned by fire.
Arthur has designed this study to not immediately delve into the Sermon on the Mount, but to instead focus on the larger theme of the kingdom of heaven to prepare readers for the intense description of the lifestyle required by believers as described by Jesus in Matthew 5-7. I appreciate this approach, and really feel that this preface to the actual Sermon will prepare our minds and hearts for the challenging teaching ahead.
Yes, the Sermon on the Mount contains vital and valuable teaching for how Christians should live their lives in this fallen world. But ultimately we are being — and will be — reminded that we are to live the righteous lifestyle exemplified by Christ because the God who has saved us is Holy. We are being prepared to someday hear these words: “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
Thanks to Ann for bringing this devotional to my attention from the “My Utmost for His Highest” portion of the RBC Ministries website. This devotional coincides really well with our current study on the Sermon on the Mount.
Sin is a fundamental relationship— it is not wrong doing, but wrong being— it is deliberate and determined independence from God. The Christian faith bases everything on the extreme, self-confident nature of sin. Other faiths deal with sins— the Bible alone deals with sin. The first thing Jesus Christ confronted in people was the heredity of sin, and it is because we have ignored this in our presentation of the gospel that the message of the gospel has lost its sting and its explosive power.
The revealed truth of the Bible is not that Jesus Christ took on Himself our fleshly sins, but that He took on Himself the heredity of sin that no man can even touch. God made His own Son “to be sin” that He might make the sinner into a saint. It is revealed throughout the Bible that our Lord took on Himself the sin of the world through identification with us, not through sympathy for us. He deliberately took on His own shoulders, and endured in His own body, the complete, cumulative sin of the human race. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us. . .” and by so doing He placed salvation for the entire human race solely on the basis of redemption. Jesus Christ reconciled the human race, putting it back to where God designed it to be. And now anyone can experience that reconciliation, being brought into oneness with God, on the basis of what our Lord has done on the cross.
A man cannot redeem himself— redemption is the work of God, and is absolutely finished and complete. And its application to individual people is a matter of their own individual action or response to it. A distinction must always be made between the revealed truth of redemption and the actual conscious experience of salvation in a person’s life.
Week #1 of Kay Arthur’s Sermon on the Mount Bible study begins with a close examination of the “kingdom of heaven” — what it means, where it exists, and what Jesus has to say about it in Matthew 5-7.
What does the Sermon on the Mount tell us about the kingdom of heaven? It belongs to the poor in spirit and to those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. The reward is great there, but some will be called “least” and others “great.” The Father dwells there, we can lay up treasures there, and only the one who does God’s will can enter.
Scripture teaches us 4 aspects of the kingdom of heaven: God’s literal abiding place is in the third heaven (cf, 2 Cor 12), God’s universal and eternal dominion is over the heavens, the invisible spiritual rulership of Jesus Christ is within the lives of those who have genuinely been born again of the Spirit of God, and Jesus will reign over the whole earth in His millennial kingdom.
As Christians, we do not have to fear the judgment of the kingdom of heaven, but Scripture is clear that we will be held accountable for our actions and how we live according to God’s Word. We are to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ with gold, silver, and precious stones (I Cor 3:10-15) — and Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount provides us with clear and specific guidance on living in this way.
Where else do we read about gold and precious stones? Both in the description of the first temple in Exodus and the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation. Consider this thread throughout Scripture and what Jesus is saying to us about the realities of the kingdom of heaven. The first temple was built after a pattern that exists in heaven and, by building our lives with materials that will never burn when tested by fire, we will someday see with our own eyes a golden city whose temple is “the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” (Rev 21:22)
Happy Fall everyone! We are starting a new women’s Bible study at Grace Chapel here in Lincoln, NE, and I will once again be updating my blog on a weekly basis for those who want to follow along online. We will be studying the Kay Arthur book “LORD, I’m Torn Between Two Masters: A Devotional Study on Genuine Faith from the Sermon on the Mount.”
I am excited about this study because I have never read a book by Kay Arthur before, but I have it on good authority that she is an excellent author and Bible teacher. I am also excited because this study of the Sermon on the Mount will be an excellent follow-up to the study on the Ten Commandments we finished this spring.
I hope you will study along with us as we delve deeply into Matthew 5-7, read how our Lord Jesus expounds on the Ten Commandments, and teaches us to live with a deeper faith and understanding of His Word.
For the women of Grace Chapel, we will be meeting in the Geneva House every Monday night from 7-8:30 pm for the next 9 weeks. Please read Chapter 1 for next week and I’ll see you at Grace!