by Jim Carmichael
Presented to the prisoners of Dick Conner’s Correctional Center in Hominy OK as part of Park Plaza Church of Christ Prison Ministry.
That unity was broken in the Garden of Eden, mankind experienced a spiritual death. The saddest moment in human history occurred in the very beginning. The loss of spiritual life, the saddest of all things causing a separation from God…
But God being the Glorious Creator He is, has given us a way back, a healing through the blood of His own Son, and His Son, our savior gave us instructions, the groundwork for our successful return to the people we were designed to be, and this can only be accomplished by the work He has done for us, and when we accept that work, that blood, we can find salvation.
I spoke to you the last time about this healing, once we are baptized, a spiritual death and resurrection as an antitype of Christ’s physical death and resurrection, (1 Peter: 3: 21) we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the spirit that resurrects our dead spirit into new life.
When we first begin our physical life, we begin learning don’t we, we learn how to function. We fall, burn our hands, we suffer, and that suffering teaches how to live safely.
We learn to walk, to talk, to obey. We go to school, and grow to whatever level our ability and circumstances allow us, and now we are born again, spiritually, and again we must learn to walk and talk in a spiritual sense, and we will suffer, and that makes us start asking why, then we begin to grow spiritually. We have a guiding light for our journey, and it’s called the beatitudes.
The beatitudes describe that journey, and I would like to look at it with you, in a somewhat new light, nothing different than you’ve heard before, but simply how it looks from a different angle.
I would like to reveal a framework for salvation. Let’s think of this as a framework with four pillars of salvation.
1. Experiencing the Need that leads to salvation:
2. Obtaining Salvation as prescribed in Scripture;
3. The walk that leads to perfection;
4. The arrival.
The sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though possibly it is the least understood, and certainly it is the least obeyed. It is the nearest thing to a strategy that CHRIST ever uttered, for it is His own description of what He wanted His followers to be and to do, but also a pattern of the development of a person spiritually, eventually achieving the goal of spiritual completion.
Tonight, we are going to concentrate on the first 12 verses. Which appear to be 1st the motivation to seek salvation and 2ndly the result of that salvation, with a few side steps in-between.
FIRST PILLAR: EXPERIENCING THE NEED FOR GOD:
We see those who never suffer, but that is just a gilded cage an illusion, where it’s very comfortable, nothing bad ever happens, and even though the door is wide open, they never leave… because they see no reason to… and then one day the door slams shut…. There is no escape… there is no hope… and the gilded cage turns into the true prison of an eternal hell that it really is…
On the other hand, we see those who suffer, and how they seem to find comfort, and happiness in their pain.
I felt this matter was so important I decided to go to the original Greek to determine the exact meaning of each word, and what I found was very interesting, to begin with, the one word, the tread through the entire section is Blessed…
Blessed, in Greek is makarios and it simply means happy..
MATTHEW 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
And the very first thing we are told that those who are poor in spirit are “happy”.
Poor in spirit; the Greek word for poor is [po-hass] and it means destitute of wealth, lowly, afflicted, powerless in the pneúma (new- muh) the spirit of man, which is the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, and makes decisions.
So how or why would a person be happy when his spirit is absolutely destitute, afflicted, and powerless. Maybe because it leads to the next verse, happy is the man who mourns….
MATTHEW 5: 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
And mourning in Greek is penthéō ( fah knee ah) –grieving over a death; or to grieve over a personal hope (relationship) that dies, it comes to divine closure.
Well we can certainly see why we would mourn if we are poor in spirit, but why are we supposed to be happy in a condition that points to death? And, that death is the death of our spirit, and our relationship with God.
Our spirit now without hope, powerless… and we are supposed to be happy about that? Maybe because it causes a condition in us, one we find in the next verse.
MATTHEW 5:5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Meekness, the Greek word for meekness is… práos (pra aus) and it is the necessary balance of exercising power and avoiding harshness. The opposite of arrogance or self-assertiveness.
I see a reason we could be happy in our meekness. The poorness of our spirt, our mourning leads us to the condition God requires of us: to be meek and humble.
It’s hard to get into an argument when someone is meek., and It would probably lead to a peaceful life, but it also leads to something else, for we are meek in this instance because we are mourning over the death and hopelessness of our spirit, the death of our relationship with God. It puts us in a willing condition for spiritual growth
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
The word for hunger in Greek is peináō, (fee – nah) to famish; to crave:—for the very basics of life, and Thirst: in Greek is dipsaó (dip sow) those who are said to thirst who painfully feel their want of, and eagerly long for, those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, strengthened by the bread of life.
A renewing of this destitute spirit that has died, a hunger and thirst for a new hope, a new life, salvation…
Here it is…. We are happy because it leads us to seek God…. Diligently…
Let’s see where this hunger and thirst leads us; go to psalm 42:1-3
1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God
I want you to feel the overwhelming passion, his heart literally being torn apart as he hungers and thirsts for the righteousness of God… and the result…. He is filled…
WE must possess this level of passion, this level of hunger and thirst to find God, to Know God, to Know His Word, to Know His very Heart…
The word know in Hebrew is Yada, and it means a deep intimate knowledge of the subject being spoken of, and we are speaking of yada (knowing) the heart of God
I hope you see the pattern of our growth in our Christian walk. We become destitute, then… we seek God out of our desperation…. Then we find God…. Then we grow… Then we learn the pain, the sorrow, the mourning, the tears, have all turned to Joy, overwhelming Joy with the renewing of life, the discovery of the narrow path, the eternal Heaven beautiful beyond description.
And now we experience Unio Mystica (sounds like: ooh know mysta ca)
The mystery of the union Between God and Man.
Very often the path to God, to salvation begins with suffering, of the body, or the spirit, and suffering as all is lost, death to the spirit, to our relationship, then we find our Savior… waiting at the door… We at this point answer, and invite Him in and we arrive at the second pillar of our journey.
PILLAR TWO: 2. Obtaining Salvation as prescribed in Scripture;
We open the door to Christ, Learn by hearing(Romans 10:17) , accepting Christ as our savior, believing in Him (Matthew 16:16; Mark 16:16 ), confessing we are sinners and repenting those sins (Acts 17:30-31), Confessing He is the Christ (Matthew 16:18; Acts 4:11-12; 1 Corinthians 3:11), we then are baptized (Mark 16:16; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12), added to the Church (following baptism) and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) and begin the journey, the journey of maturing, growing in Christ, and bringing others along with us as we can.
Just a quick review, we suffered, and from the suffering sought relief, finding it in the knowledge of God, (we learned by hearing) and were added to the church and now, it’s time to grow.
PILLAR THREE: 3. The walk that leads to perfection;
Now, let’s look at the third pillar of our framework by going to 2 Peter 1: 3-10
3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,
6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,
7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Now it’s time to return to the beatitudes, the 4th pillar of our framework.
PILLAR FOUR: 4. The arrival.
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
We have hungered, and thirsted for His righteousness, we have been filled, we have been healed, we have been added to the body of Christ and now as we grow: and we become merciful, in Greek that is; eleḗmōn, (el-eh-ay’-mone); merciful, compassionate , actively compassionate, not merely unhappy for the ills of others, but desirous of relieving them of their pain; not merely pity, but offering a beneficial aid and promptly applied.
To get a deeper sense of this just think of the person you love most, or better yet, first think of yourselves…. If you were seriously and painfully hurt in an accident how much would you desire to be quickly relieved of your pain? And, many of you would feel even more so if it was your wife, husband or child that was in serious pain….
Now apply that feeling to a lost and dying world … those trapped in evil life styles, living in luxury in a gilded cage…. now you understand the kind of mercy we are talking about here an overwhelming passionate desire for relief of their suffering…. we should be just as desperate for them to find salvation, the true healing. And, we are happy, because we shall obtain mercy and we find great joy in not only our own salvation but in the others as well.
Matthew 5: 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
PURE: in Greek is katharos (Kath er ross) ; clean, clear, pure.
physically: purified by fire, in a similarity, like a vine cleansed by pruning and so fitted to bear fruit, free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt: free from what is false, sincere, genuine; blameless, innocent, pure and unstained with the guilt of, anything.
And Pure in Heart: the inner man καρδία (kardia, 2588),
Pure in heart denotes this purity in the heart which is the seat and center of all physical and spiritual life; the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavors of things done from the heart with perfect purity to good-will and love: that our joy and pleasure is something God delights in.
Somehow this doesn’t seem possible, and in this life, it’s not, we journey to the perfect level, with a burning desire to have the filthy rags of sin removed from us, for they are a physical thing we feel, and we hate this sin, and we will finally reach the perfection of a sinless life the purest of hearts when we enter eternity, where we will be found innocent of all crime, cleansed by the blood of Christ.
I think now we can understand that Happiness we saw in verse 3, 4 and on…. Because it leads to unimaginable joy through eternity.
The difficulties we endure for our faith.
Matthew 5: 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
Peace Maker: eirēnopoios (ah rain ah po aus )
Peace (i-ray’-nay) a state of tranquility exemption from the rage and havoc of war, peace between individuals, harmony, safety, of the Messiah’s peace the way that leads to peace (salvation) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.
As we can see as we have grown through the previous versus, we will not wage war on anyone, it is simply not part of the Christian Heart, and we will see a beautiful example of that in a moment.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Persecuted: diōkō (dē-ō’-kō)
to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away to pursue (in a hostile manner). in any way whatever to harass, trouble, molest one; to persecute, to be maltreated, suffer persecution on account of something
Righteousness: dikaiosynē (dē-kī-o-sü’-nā)
in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting
in a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due
As we preserver in our faith, we are observed, and we are the Salt and light of the world.
One of the delusions of a politically correct world is the idea of courage is being tough, a fighter, willing to go to battle with anyone…. Yet strength in its purest form is being able and willing to turn the other cheek, to resist the battle, but not by running, by standing your ground without violence.
A few weeks ago Mitch Wilburn spoke of a young soldier in World War II and I want to share that story with you, and this will be our closing story…
It is a story of a wonderful example of letting one’s light shine for the others to follow, a story of faith under fire, of great courage. A story of whom I personally consider America’s greatest war hero, and I am sure one of the great heroes of heaven as well.
He was persecuted for his beliefs, yet, he stood his ground meekly, and humbly.
And you can be certain he went through the growth steps of Matthew 5: 1 -11.
the most perfect humanly example I can think of is Desmond Doss.
Allow me to share a short story about Desmond:
Desmond Thomas Doss (February 7, 1919 – March 23, 2006) was a United States Army corporal who served as a combat medic with an infantry company in World War II. After distinguishing himself in the Battle of Okinawa, he became the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for actions above and beyond the call of duty. He is also the only conscientious objector to receive the medal during World War II. And he never carried a weapon, never shot a gun, never took a life, but saved many.
He took a lot of abuse for his nonviolent position from his fellow soldiers, and yet never responded to their abuse, yet accepted it quietly and meekly.
You old guys will remember an early TV story called “This is Your Life”. I recently watched an episode of this program about Desmond from around 1958 while he was still a young man. He gave the appearance of anything but a courageous hero, in fact he was a very small, frail, quiet man. Yet, he went to war, without a weapon. He never carried a weapon, and yet won the medal of honor. When the rest of his squadron retreated, under such heavy fire they had to leave the dead and wounded behind, Desmond refused to leave, going back again and again, retrieving one soldier at a time, 75 in all, lowering them over a cliff, one at a time all under heavy fire from the Japanese. All the time praying, Lord let me have one more, one more…. He would barely speak, let alone brag, he let his light shine through his courageous life consumed by his faith in God which was the driving force behind his actions.
I want to repeat, he had but one prayer; Lord let me have just one more, and as we fight in this spiritual battle, shouldn’t that be our prayer? Lord, just let me have one more….
I pray for all of us, that each person here, will have a burning passion to grow into the man/ woman described in the beautiful beatitudes.
That you will seek the righteousness of God with all your heart, mind, body, soul, and strength, leaving no room for anything else in your lives.
I pray that each and every one of us here will have mercy for the lost, and a passion for seeking them out.
Thank you for your time, and the lesson is yours.