Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Beatitudes

A study of Matthew 5:3-10....

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" Matthew 5:3

This is not a poverty of finance or other worldly possessions, but a poverty of spiritual worth. John Gill's Exposition of the Bible states this refers to those who "acknowledge that all they have, or hope to have, is owing to the free grace of God." Their reward is a gospel that reaches not just their ears, but their hearts..."eternal glory, this is prepared for them, and given to them."

"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted" Matthew 5:4

Those that mourn not just for their own sinful nature, but for the wickedness of the world around them as well. They are comforted by the promises of God's word, the promise of an eternal home in heaven for those that are righteous in Christ's sacrifice.

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" Matthew 5:5

John Gill describes meekness as "humility", a person "not easily provoked to anger."

Not this physical earth we know now, not the land of Canaan as promised by God's covenant with the nation of Israel, but the "new earth". "(They) shall inherit it by virtue of being heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." Those that are meek and humble in spirit and have accepted God's grace through the sacrifice of His son will reign with Him for all eternity.

"Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" Matthew 5:6

This does not refer to a righteousness of justice and equity for those oppressed, nor does it mean a legal and moral righteousness. Rather the "justifying righteousness of Christ, which is imputed by God the Father, and received by faith." Those that seek this righteousness will be satisfied with it and all of its effects (i.e. joy & peace).

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" Matthew 5:7

We should show mercy to the outwardly poor and miserable not just physically through assistance with their situation, but with compassion of spirit for them as well. In turn, God promises that we shall be shown mercy not only on this earth by our fellow man, but from Him as well.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" Matthew 5:8

Our hearts can only be clean and pure through the righteousness of Christ and our faith in Him as our personal savior. God promises to those who are pure in heart that they will not only enjoy personal communion with Him here on earth through prayer and scripture, but also in an eternal home in Heaven.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" Matthew 5:9

God calls us to be of a peaceful disposition and to make peace between our fellow man. In turn He makes us "children of God by adopting grace...whereby they become like to the God of Peace."

"Blessed are the persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" Matthew 5:10

Those that are persecuted "on account of their righteous and godly conversation which brings upon them the hatred and enmity of the men of the world." They shall inherit the kingdom as joint heirs with Christ.

**all quotes are referenced from John Gill's Exposition of the Bible via

Friday, July 2, 2010

Original Sin in The Garden

We have recently started a new sermon series at EBC on "The Doctrine of Sin". Eaton's Bible Dictionary defines sin as "any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God." Today's society is not big on the idea of sin, in part because recognizing sin would mean to recognize that there is a higher power than self that we are to answer to. In our humanistic society the ultimate power is "self", we seek "self"-esteem and "self"-awareness through "self"-actualization and "self"-empowerment. There is no place in our self-centered lives for recognition that there is a power mightier than self and that we have transgressed against Him. But sin is very real and is very much a part of human existence today and throughout history...beginning with Adam & Eve.

In Genesis 3:1-5 we see the serpent approach Eve with the idea of eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'" (Genesis 3:1). This is a classic technique that Satan uses to lure us into sin, twisting the words of scripture to suit his needs. God's actual words were "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17). The serpent casts God in a negative light (perhaps like an overly strict parent) by focusing on what He told Adam and Eve NOT to do versus all the bounty of the garden that He gave them free reign over.

But for all the part that the serpent played in the Fall of Man, he did not force Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary On The Bible breaks down the Fall into five steps:
1.) Eve saw. She could have, even should have, chosen to look away from the temptation.

2.) Eve took. She chose to take the fruit offered, the serpent did not and could not force her.

3.) Eve ate. Even if she did not intend to eat when she took the fruit, the temptation once she
held it was too great for her to resist.

4.) Eve gave it to Adam. She did not want to be alone in her transgression, so she invited Adam to share in it.

5.) Adam ate. Adam could have chosen to rebuke Eve and refuse to eat, but he chose to share in her sin and, therefore, disobey God.

Once they had eaten of the fruit "the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings." (Genesis 3:7). This is an example of how man tries to cover his sins to the world, to appear "good" and "righteous" to his fellow man so he makes "aprons of fig leaves" to cover his true nature. Genesis 3:8 goes on to say "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden." We often think we can hide our true sinful nature, but we cannot hide from God. He knows our deepest thoughts in our heart of hearts, no amount of covering or hiding can keep that from Him.

The world today would have us believe that we are "not really that bad" or we are "better than _________ (fill in any name here)" and that is "good enough". But we cannot gauge our lives against the lives of those around us who are also living in sin. We must hold to a higher standard set forth by God in the Bible. Only through salvation by Jesus' death on the cross, His word, and prayer can we be acceptable to once again dwell in the presence of our Lord God.

Lord, I pray that You will make me aware of my sin. Teach me not to live by the standards of this world, but by the standards of Your Word. Do not allow me to fall into the trap of confession and transgression, doomed to repeat my same sins over and over. Help me to learn from my mistakes and continue to grow and mature in my walk with You. Help me not to be self-serving, but to deny self and humbly serve You and my fellow man.