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What we Believe: The Rooted, Responding, Real Grace of Christ

November 7, 2011

Sermon on the Mount Part Six

From the very Beginning of the Sermon Jesus is outlining the marks of the Kingdom that He Himself is ushering in.  The Beatitudes spell out how we become members of the Kingdom, a surely Blessed state.  All who exhibit these signs of blessing are inheritors of the kingdom.

The beatitudes are about becoming; becoming poor in spirit, meek, merciful, forgiving, righteous, peaceful children of God.  Those who display these traits are blessed or Happy.  Then we move to verses 12-16, in this section Jesus spells out who we are.  So we have become blessed in the beatitudes, then we move on to understand who we are in Christ:  we are Salt and light, impacting the world, seasoning it, enlightening the darkness with the power of the Gospel.  A light that shines in the darkness, a light that the darkness can not overcome.  This is who we are, mixing with the society, engaging the culture, in it, but not of it.

What makes us different?  We are different because of what we believe and who we believe in.

This leads us to the next section; we have become blessed, we know who we are, now Jesus instructs us in what we believe. (verses 17-20)  We believe the Word.  A Word which Jesus has come to both preach and fulfill.  The temptation among those who have heard Jesus up until this point is to believe that this radical new preacher has come to do away with the law and Scriptures they have always been taught.  Until now the people on that mount, listening to Jesus had only every heard of righteousness as taught by the Pharisees and religious leaders.  These leaders, over the centuries, had added to the law copious amounts of rules and regulations, stressing outward conformity, regardless of the inner condition.  Jesus shines the light of truth into the darkness of their hearts, while their lips honor God, the hearts of the Pharisees are far from God.  Jesus will rebuke these teachers, calling them a den of vipers, and whitewashed tombs, clean on the outside but dead on the inside.  But in case anyone hearing this sermon was to doubt that Jesus was not orthodox, He uses this section to push those doubts aside.

Rather than slavery to law, Jesus gives us grace.  Grace rooted in the Word of God, (5:17-18).  Jesus’ ministry was to affirm the very Bible  that testified about His coming.  Grace responding to the law, (5:19).  Grace does not do away with the law, it responds to the law.   The law was meant to reveal the character of God, and set His people apart from the world.  The law reveals sin, (Romans 7:7-14) and Grace responds by covering our sin through Christ’s sacrifice. And finally Jesus preaches grace made Real in Himself, in Christ (5:20).  Righteousness is still required, but it is only through grace that we become more righteous than the Pharisees.

We are often tempted, when confronted with the grace of the gospel to change the subject and shift the focus to the law and rules that we all feel we need to uphold.  Think of the woman at the well in John chapter 4.  Jesus greets her and announces that the messiah has come, but all she wanted to do was to talk about how she worships and how her family has worshiped.  Beyond where the law prescribed that she should worship, Jesus wanted to address sin in her life and the heart of her worship.

The message of Jesus is one of grace, God’s grace has come upon us, and now we must deal with our sin, we cannot hide behind the law and behind rules.  Jesus sees into our heart and comes to proclaim the gospel recorded in the law and the prophets that one greater than Moses will come and has indeed come, and unless we are found righteous we will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.  The hope Christ provides is that through His grace we are found righteous in Him, when we become blessed, recognize whose we are, and believe in God’s grace.  Grace Rooted in His Word; Grace Responding to the Law;Grace made Real in Christ.

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