3 Chapters, 111 verses, and 2,405 words. This is Christ's Sermon on the Mount as recorded in chapters 5, 6, and 7 of the Gospel of Matthew in the New International Version of the Bible. In it you will find 9 blessings (8 in the Beatitudes, and one immediately following); an admonishment to be salt and light; and a stern warning that Christ did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it with a bold declaration with regards to the consequences of either not following the least of His commands and the teaching of others contrary to them. Following which are 15 do not's and 14 do's that run all through chapters 5, 6, and 7 culminating in a warning with regards to true and false prophets (teachers) and a description of true and false disciples that leads into an analogy to wise and foolish builders: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matt 7:24-27) Interesting? Isn't the Sermon on the Mount acclaimed as some of Christ's pinnacle teachings? Yes? If this is so, why do we continue to hear so many teachers of the faith declare so unequivocally that being a Christian is not about do's and do not's? Why? The uncomfortable and unpopular answer is that we want an easy faith much like the easy get rich quick, get slim easily, success with no effort, bills of goods we see all over the advertisements in popular media and culture. We have confused Salvation by Grace and Righteousness by Imputation with what it means to be a Christian - a Christ follower. A follower follows! This means to walk in the footsteps of the one whom we follow. The Christian saved by Grace, WORKS because the acceptance and declaration of the Lordship of Christ is not just the mere declaration of the lips or agreement of the mind, but a total surrender of all to that Lordship (Romans 12:2). The testimony of the veracity or truth of our verbal and mental accent is born out in action, lifestyle, and choices that coincide. The contrary is hypocrisy, but hypocrisy, terrible as it may be, pales in comparison to the greater tragedy of lives lived without ever really knowing the true power and joy that only comes when we "taste and know that God is good" (Psalm 34:8) or realizing the true liberty that is promised by the abolishment of the first (The Law of Moses that condemns) and the establishment of the second (The Law of Grace that commends). The Christ follower who follows works, not out of fear of punishment nor desire for reward. Both have been dealt with by the finished work of Christ upon the cross in His death and resurrection. The Christ follower discovers the true joy of living without the stain of selfish motivation and enters finally into the Law of Love. We "do" and "do not" no longer out of fear of condemnation nor out of selfish desire for heaven but out of pure love for God and for our neighbours. The shackles of obligation are torn asunder and "have to" becomes "want to" and that difference is like soothing balm to the troubled soul. But there is more, there is power, true power because in working, the Christ follower soon discovers the inevitable frailty of his or her own flesh and the impossibility to please God by the efforts of that flesh. He or she comes at last in broken humility to the foot of the cross to find the Holy Spirit that upholds and empowers. The Christ follower discovers to his or her great joy that the power of the Grace that Saves does not stop at the grave but extends into the joy of living, bursting forth in glory. The Christ follower discovers that in the working, the meaning of Scripture when it declares, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isa 40:29-31) The Christ follower realizes that the do's and do not's are not just formulas for righteousness but gateways to humble dependence upon the God who saves. Out of this delightful discovery is the power that comes from the deeper understanding of Christ's declaration when He said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matt 19:26). Out of the realization of this dependence come true humility and the soul cries out, "Yet not I but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). Such a faith excludes self-righteousness, puts judgmentalism to death, and abolishes legalism. It leads the Christ follower into holiness through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. It brings to closeness, the follower to the One followed, and lends credence to the declaration of Scripture that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). It puts an end to religiosity and reveals the truth in the meaning to Scripture's teaching that indeed, He is the "author and finisher of our faith" (Heb 12:2) and that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil 1:6). This is the true and complete Gospel, the Good News. Do not settle for anything less and do not teach anything less. Some will call what I have just articulated as legalism, it is the standard rebuttal to an uncomfortable confrontation of Truth. I will let you make that judgment yourself. In His Name, Arisen
[quote]Some will call what I have just articulated as legalism[/quote]
I call it well said. We are His disciples and desire to be like Him because we love Him, not because we fear judgment, condemnation, damnation, wrath, or hell.
Jesus came not to judge the world but to save the world and that is exactly what He accomplished as the Sacrificial Lamb crucified on the Cross of Calvary.
None who believe and receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior will ever be judged, condemned, or suffer damnation, wrath, or abide in hell. We will all stand before Him and make an account of all we have done and said since the moment of our salvation however this is related to receiving or losing eternal rewards in heaven, not our salvation. The moment we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior we receive eternal life. We are in Him, He is in us, and there is nothing created which can snatch us out of Him. The life we live is hidden in Him.
There is no legalism in your message. It becomes legalism when one begins judging and threatening God's Children who may be stumbling and struggling in their walk. It becomes legalism when someone attempts to place fear in the heart of a child of God through warnings of condemnation, damnation, wrath, or hellfire less they come into obedience. You have done none of this.
Your message is a message of love and encouragement as contrasted to a legalistic message of threats filled with dictatorial overtone.
Brother, every word Jesus spoke is eternal. Every word He spoke is applicable to us today. The Sermon on the Mount demands strict obedience from those who are under law. This same sermon elicits faithful loving compliance from those who are under grace. Jesus taught both, the letter of the law and the spirit of the law making His words applicable to all generations and all ages.
You have taught the Sermon on the Mount message the way God desires it to be taught during this Church Age and the Dispensation of Grace.
Continue preaching and teaching brother.
Where do I begin?
[quote]The Christ follower discovers the true joy of living without the stain of selfish motivation and enters finally into the Law of Love. We "do" and "do not" no longer out of fear of condemnation nor out of selfish desire for heaven but out of pure love for God and for our neighbours. The shackles of obligation are torn asunder and "have to" becomes "want to" and that difference is like soothing balm to the troubled soul.[/quote]
Joyful obedience to God is the direct product of a heart transformed by God. In the natural we desire to act in such a manner that brings pleasure to our beloved and it hurts us when we bring them grief. Is it so strange that if we truly love God we desire to bring Him pleasure and we desire to avoid bringing Him grief? I don't think so!
Thank you for sharing this wonderful blog!
The words from scripture itself is called legalism from these licentious people. Just as they would label Jesus, Peter, Paul, James, John, Jude, and the rest, today, too. We are to be doers, and that statement from scripture is used to label one who says the same all the usual labels. Such have came up with even more labels.
Jesus Himself was labeled and treated much worse. As well as the others were.
God Bless. HE alone is the One to fear. billy