What Jesus proclaimed in His earthly ministry was the Gospel of the Kingdom. In His opening "Sermon on the Mount", we get details concerning what was included in Jesus' central message. To restrict the Sermon on the Mount to the Jews of Jesus' time or to seperate what He preaches from this current church age makes no sense in the mind of this writer. What Jesus lays out is nothing less than a detailed description of Kingdom life and the impossibility of it apart from the New Covenant ministry of the Holy Spirit. In short, Jesus lays out the "nuts-and-bolts" of what will be the reality of New Testament Christianity. Today's post wants to consider the contents of the Gospel of the Kingdom as set forth in the famous "beatitudes" of Matthew 5:1-12.
1. Kingdom Conversion. Matthew 5:1-5
How does one enter into the Kingdom of God? This question could perhaps be popularly stated: "How does one become converted to Jesus Christ". To become a follower of the King is to come into the Kingdom. Jesus told Nicodemas that unless He become born again, He cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven (John 3:3). Seeing one's spiritual bankruptcy ("poor in spirit"); The mourning over one's sin in repentance and yielding oneself under the yoke of Christ (i.e meekness) are central to Gospel conversion in Matthew 5:1-5. Such abilities are Spirit given in faith and repentance (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:25-26). What Jesus expresses here in the opening of His sermon describes Kingdom conversion. Such attitudes or "affections" ought to ever accompany the Christian all the rest of his days.
2. Kingdom Living. Matthew 5:6-9
What is Kingdom living? Kingdom living includes hungering for righteousness, craving purity in heart, showing mercy rather than retaliation and wanting God above all others. Such a lifestyle is impossible for the flesh to live. Religious people and moralists will opt out of this impossible demand. Only when one has died at the cross of conversion and experienced Christ's resurrection power can such a life be possible and real. It is here that Kingdom living is shows to clearly contrast with the worldly living so desired by fallen man.
3. Kingdom Triumph. Matthew 5:10-12
What does it mean to triumph in the Kingdom? Jesus includes the concepts of suffering, persecution and insults. Before the Christian can wear the crown of gold in heaven, he must necessarily bear the crown of thorns here on earth. The pattern of Jesus Christ is pressed deeper and deeper into the Christian as they strive against the world, the flesh and the Devil (1 John 2:15-17). Triumph is only manifest in the presence of seeming defeat. Light is only manifest whenever darkness seems at its thickest. Power is made perfected in weakness. It is here where Jesus shows how upside down and opposite the Kingdom is from the world. Such a victory is considered too costly by sinful man. For those who have been truly born again by grace alone through faith alone - no price can be ever too high. Why? Because the King is worthy!
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