The Beatitudes - An Introduction

The Beatitudes - An Introduction [TRANSCRIPT]

The Bible says in Matthew 5:2-12
And He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Here at the beginning of The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lays the foundation for the wonderful truths that He’s declaring. Let’s begin to discover why these Truths Matter.

Today, I want us to begin a series on Truth Matters looking at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount which is the section known as the Beatitudes.

If you’re like me you probably wondered why they are called “The Beatitudes.” I’ve heard persons trying to make a play on words with these like, “Well, these are attitudes that should be in us.” But really, the term Beatitudes is really not a play on words. It is simply just the Latin from the Latin Vulgate in the Latin Bible for the word Blessed, which is “Beati.” Each of the Beatitudes begins with the word, Blessed are….., Beati. And so, these are the Beati..tudes beatitudes. Well, that’s not as important as what they declare.

Jesus is placing these Beatitudes at the beginning to lay the foundation for all that follows. The sermon is longer than the Beatitudes, but Jesus begins like this for a reason. And we’ll look at that as we move along.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, the Sermon on the Mount is a message that the world is acquainted with. At times they even quote from it. But as we look at this beginning of the beatitudes, I don’t want us to misunderstand that this section is part of a larger whole, the Sermon itself.

I want to spend a brief time to provide us a quick overview of the sermon as a whole to help us see how this beginning introduces us and it fits into the whole of the sermon.
The Sermons covers Matthew 5-7.

In Matthew 5:3-12 we have the Beatitudes, which describes the Character of a Christian. There is something that has occurred and does occur in the life of a believer which results in blessedness.

Then in Matthew 5:13-16 it deals with the relationship of the Christian to the world. Because of what has happened to the redeemed, we live in a world differently. We live it to glory God.

Then Matthew 5:17-48 covers the believer and the Law of God and what it demands. Jesus clarifies that men have confused and complicated our responsibilities before God and His commands. And so, Jesus clarifies that.

In Matthew 6 Jesus teaches us about the believer living their life in the presence of God. Every aspect of our life is lived in the active submission to Him and dependences on Him. See, the believer lives their life firstly with God in mind. How we give, how we pray, how we fast, what we treasure, and how we trust God for everything in our life, God is present. Matthew 6.

And then in Matthew 7 Jesus speaks to the believer living their life always with a sense of being accountable to God, the judgment and fear of the Lord. Judging others, asking and trusting God, God sees and knows. And He will not be fooled by the mere outward.

He then concludes with the short example that we’ve looked at before, the examples of how people respond to the truth that He’s laid out. This pointed conclusion comes to those who hear and disregards the words and their life ends in tragedy. It says “their collapse is great.

I hope you didn’t miss this the sermon outline that I just did? Because the sermon as a whole is descriptive of a believer and instructive to the believer. These are not just some, moral platitudes or mere ethical directives, but they are descriptive admonitions to believers. The world overhears these words and they should respond. But He is speaking to believers.

So, it shouldn’t be surprising that in the Beatitudes (Vv.3-12) we observe the character of the Christian.

The author D. Martyn Lloyd Jones said it this way.
The Sermon is a description of character, not a code of ethics or morals. It’s not regarded as law, like a kind of Ten Commandment or a set of rules or regulations that are carried out by us – but rather it’s a description of what Christians are meant to be.

It’s a description of character.

Some people look and read the Sermon and they get hung up on particulars and they forget about the Sermon in general. This relationship between the particulars and the general is important. Don’t miss that. You know, to miss it is to miss the intent and the heart of the message. It might be compared to someone who’s playing a particular piece of music. I mean, they can take the musical score and they can play each note perfectly but they miss the intent of the artist, the soul of the piece. So, don’t miss this.

Some people might read and find themselves arguing about particular parts of the Sermon. I’ve heard that. What they’re revealing says more about themselves than the sermon. If you argue with the Sermon, it means there is something wrong with you or your interpretation.

Now, the Beatitudes. Remember, as we look at each of these descriptive statements, what is foremost in view is character, the character of the believer. And character displays itself in certain characteristics.

All believers are meant to display these characteristics. We may not display all of them all the time. I mean, none of us have arrived. And yet, there is within these characteristics a building and dependence of them one upon the other. These Beatitudes are connected and interlaced. We will see that as we go through them.

None of these descriptions seen here in the Beatitudes fall into the category of what we would call natural tendencies. None of these are character traits that come naturally to persons. What we see in these is the working of God’s saving grace. And that grace works its work in us and on us. What is on display here is an outward manifestation of an inward reality.

This is not to be confused with certain personalities or natural tendencies or predispositions that people have. Someone says, “I’m naturally that kind of guy. I’m just a nice guy.” Maybe so, or maybe not.

Some of the behavioral sciences would tell us that man is basically good or naturally good. Of course, the Bible and empirical evidence says just the opposite.

A person’s natural tendencies and temperaments is not to be confused with what God’s grace achieves in the transformation of salvation. Being a “Nice” person is not equivalent to being a redeemed person.

 The confusion on this is made really stark in our present culture. We see it expressed in existentialism or political correctness. They both declare in a sense that “we are what we do.” Or one definition says, “Existence before Essence.” Another way of saying this is, “Well, I’m a good person because I do good things. Doing good makes me feel good. I’m a good person.” Therefore, within these systems there’s this never-ending declaration around us about conduct rules, speech rules, and even thought rules. Conform and be fulfilled. You’ll be right with society and in the world.

The Christian faith says the opposite. The outward is merely an expression of the inward. Outward conformity is insufficient before the reality of God. God looks within. He begins by viewing us from within. His transforming work is within. “You must be Born Again” said Jesus, which then manifests itself in an outward expression.

You see, the journey of the believer is noticeably different than a non-believer. And the redemptive work behind it is the difference. Where the world values self-confidence, here the Lord speaks of “poor in Spirit.” The world strives after wealth and money and power and position and here it says there’s a hungering and thirsting for something entirely different, an inward rightness with God.

That contrast moves even further when you see the believer and non-believer have their sights on two different realities, two different kingdoms. The believer belongs to a different kingdom. It’s a kingdom in which Christ reigns, a kingdom where He is always present. We live before an always present God. That reality affects us on every level. We live in this present world and yet we understand a greater reality exists. God is the Truth and that truth matters.

Finally, let’s address this word which accompanies the Beatitudes, “Blessed.” It’s accurate to translate the work “Happy or sense of well-being.” The problem is not with the translation but with the modern understanding what that means. I mean to paint an accurate picture on the confusion today, we only have to observe the things that are attached to being happy and how to achieve it. Look around you. It’s something that so many are chasing and yet few have captured it or can even tell you what it takes to have it. And in the end their pursuit only ends in misery.

And then, then enters the Lord and He makes a series of statements declaring who a happy person is. Now remember, the focus is inward. Happiness is not smiles and laughter but it’s a contented inward person. Because within that person is a character which is settled and calmed. Why?  Because some very essential and fundamental realities have been settled and calmed and set right. The most inward war has been replaced with a true and lasting peace. And then, regardless and sometimes in spite of outward conditions, a slow and gentle smile escapes from their soul and it shines out from that person that other people see it.

“I’m Happy. I can’t explain it.  But I know in my inner being, I’m happy.”

You see, Blessedness, or happiness is a result not a targeted goal or destination. I don’t seek happiness. Happiness is my possession because of a new inward reality of God, my King, my Savior.

We even sing about it. You remember the words?
When peace like a river attended my way,
When sorrow like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I'll bear them no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh, my soul.
It is well with my soul.

It is well for the believer because they have a true Savior. Not an idea or a moral standard but a True and Living God who has rescued them and now, it is well.

That Truth is truth, and that truth Matters.

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