The Mission of the Church: Wrapping Up, Part 8 (Living the Sermon on the Mount in Community, Part 1)

Eucharist-Mission1Unless I change my mind (which the readers often induce me to do), this is the end of the series (but it’ll be in two parts).

To me, the first mission of the church is to live the Sermon on the Mount with each other, for each other, among each other. The Kingdom is where God reigns, where his will is done on earth as it is in heaven. And that has to start among his people, in his Kingdom. I mean, how can we pray the Lord’s Prayer and not then seek to live the Sermon on the Mountain (SOTM)?

I’ve started a series on the SOTM not too long ago. I’m not going to attempt a detailed exposition here. Just a few points, and then we’re done.

1. The Beatitudes are not be-attitudes. They describe people who should celebrate the coming of the Kingdom. The coming of the Kingdom means that, for example, the prophecies that promised the earth to the meek are coming true. Therefore, the Beatitudes are really more about what the Kingdom is going to be than what we need to become. But, of course, if we look at our churches and we aren’t blessing the poor in the spirit, the meek, the mourning, etc., well, we’ve messed up. Our church is not being true to the Kingdom ideals it was founded for.

We should ask ourselves whether we’re a blessing to peacemakers — or whether we get in their way. Do we create an atmosphere where the merciful find themselves — at long last — at home? Do we provide sustenance for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness? Or do we starve such people? Do we interfere with God’s shalom or bring it with us? Do we honor the merciful or treat them as odd ducks who don’t really understand the world?

The New Testament church, the Lord’s church, a sound congregation, would be filled with such people, not because the church taught people to be this way (although they would do that, too), but because Beatitudes people would feel welcome, at home, encouraged, beloved, and affirmed in such a church.

2. Jesus’ famous declaration that we are salt and light is also often abused.

(Matt. 5:13-16 ESV)  13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.  14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

The statement is “you are” not “you need to become.” The church is the light God has chosen to shine on the world. If we don’t shine for him, he has no other salt or light.

He assumes that we do “good works” and then he commands that we do them — these good works we’re already doing — in such a way that those who see our good works will honor God. They won’t know why we’re doing them unless we tell them.

But we have to avoid the temptation to use people as tools of our Jesus-marking campaign. We serve others because we love them — even if they refuse to be converted, even if others aren’t impressed by our goodness. It’s the love that drives our behavior — or else we’re not like Jesus — and that, ironically enough, makes the good works salt and light.

So what are “good works”? Christopher Wright finds guidance in the Lord’s Prayer —

Experience of redemption must generate redemptive living. This is the missional outflow of what God has done for us. The mission of God’s people has such intensely practical dimensions.

It is not that we can earn forgiveness by being forgiving. It is rather that our experience of God’s great mercy should make us merciful people.…

The experience of grace transforms us into gracious people. It is not just about inter-personal conflict. It is about how we treat other people. It is about economic generosity. While God forgives our sins, we forgive our debtors. Luke could have used the word “sin” in both cases, but he chose to highlight the economic implications of Jesus’ words.…

In the Old Testament Year of Jubilee debts were forgiven and slaves were set free as the people celebrated God’s grace to them in providing atonement (see Lev. 25 and Deut. 15). Now the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world has come. In the light of God’s forgiveness, a new era of economic and social relations has begun among those forgiven and set free by Christ’s death. The followers of Jesus are to live as both recipients of, and participants in, a permanent jubilee.

— Tim Chester

The principle of reflecting our experience of God’s redeeming grace in how we live and especially in our treatment of others is found throughout the New Testament.

Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission, Biblical Theology for Life, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 108.

“Good works” refers to living like Jesus, extending to others the grace and mercy we’ve received, yearning for peace and extending the peace that comes from Jesus — and so honoring those who live as peacemakers. Forgiving as we’ve been forgiven. Refusing to instrumentalize (use) others for our ends, even good ends. Refusing to objectivize others. Treating people with the dignity God has given them even they’ve not the same for themselves.

I skip some of my other favorite parts to get to —

(Matt. 5:21-22 ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

Growing up, this meant that if I called my brother “fool!” I got a whipping. So I used “idiot” instead. But that, of course, entirely missed Jesus’ point.

We are not to make people into objects by our language. Women are not sex objects but daughters of God and entitled to the dignity this implies. Children are not annoyances but beloved of Jesus for their very childlikeness.

When we treat our opponents — religious or political — as properly labeled and dismissed, we’ve violated this command. When we dehumanize others through labels, God sees us as murderers. Feminists are not “femi-Nazis.” We may disagree with them, but we can’t dehumanize them — which forces us to listen to them. We don’t have to agree, but we cannot simply label and dismiss.

It’s noteworthy that in times of war, we always make up a name for the enemy. It’s much easier to kill a “raghead” than a “Nestorian Christian unwillingly drafted into the enemy’s army.” And I think this is much of Jesus’ point. And we’re just as wrong when we toss around such epithets as “Anti,” “liberal,” “change agent,” or any other term meant to reduce the dignity and value of the other person.

(Matt. 5:40-42 ESV)  40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

If I’m supposed to do this for my enemy — a Roman soldier, for example — then surely I should do this much for my home congregation. Volunteer. Participate. Give generously of myself.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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21 Responses to The Mission of the Church: Wrapping Up, Part 8 (Living the Sermon on the Mount in Community, Part 1)

  1. Ray Downen says:

    But how hard it is to respect those so ignorant that they say things I know are not true!

  2. Dwight says:

    It is clear that Jesus is talking to the Jews that have been depressed and suppressed by the Roman government and even the Jewish leaders to feel they are less than nothing. IT is within this context to which Jesus is speaking to the people. As you say I do not think he is telling them to become something already are, but then again he is making a general point that if you are not this, then you should become this, because the Kingdom is made up of such. It would have been good for the people to hear they had an advantage to the Kingdom due to their low state.
    The lowly had no one to look down upon.
    The lowly had to make peace for them to function.
    And in a way the lowly were doing as good of works as the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the leaders, etc. but probably had no motivation towards reaching beyond that and them, who were the “Holy” ones.
    Jesus was born into the lowly and remained that way.
    Those that promoted themselves above others had no place in the Kingdom of God.

  3. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay, (part 1)
    If I do not express my concepts here then I will never have them tested by others. So since the discussion is speaking about The Beatitudes and I see them in a very different relationship than you are promoting, I thought it important to explain my concepts. I believe that we should understand exactly to whom they are being addressed and have a proper understanding as to who is blessing. I get the impression from your post that the message was to all the Disciples of Christ and that The Church or God’s people are to be administering these blessings.
    “Therefore, the Beatitudes are really more about what the Kingdom is going to be than what we need to become. But, of course, if we look at our churches and we aren’t blessing the poor in the spirit, the meek, the mourning, etc., well, we’ve messed up. Our church is not being true to the Kingdom ideals it was founded for.”
    We must also understand during what time period these blessings will be received. As I understand, you are telling us The Church, that we will not have the likeness of Jesus if we fail to fulfill these blessings. I also see many commentaries which I believe have distorted Christ’s message.
    Notice, Matthew portrays a concept that Jesus went up into the mountain after seeing the crowd, (the crowd was never identified as his disciples) but, he had just finished picking the Twelve, and we all understand that they were his disciples. Luke, whom we are not sure was there, gives a different concept from his sources of the historic event.
    Luk 1:1-3 ESV
    (1) Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,
    (2) just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us,
    (3) it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
    The two accounts.
    Mat 5:1-2 ESV
    (1) Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
    (2) And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
    Luk 6:17-19 ESV
    (17) And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon,
    (18) who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured.
    (19) And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.
    (20) And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: ***–
    The message of both writers is that he was addressing his disciples. Do we just blend the two messages together to encompass the complete crowd? You can see that those of verses 18 and 19 above could hardly be considered as disciples of Jesus. These would be just like people of the world who solicit blessings from a body of Christians who have no interest in being a disciple and would abandon the blessings if they were to suspect that there were ties attached. The message of Jesus would not be seen as valuable to these. Then verse 20 of Luk also addresses his disciples.

    Mat 5:3-9 ESV
    (3) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    (4) “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
    (5) “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
    (6) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
    (7) “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
    (8) “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
    (9) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
    Luk 6:20- ESV
    (20) ***– “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
    (21) “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

    Mat 5:12-16 ESV
    (10) “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    (11) “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
    (12) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
    Luk 6:20- ESV
    (22) “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
    (23) Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
    All these blessings are in the present tense of time and it would out of context to apply verse 5 to an after death inheritance. Most of us have been misinformed of the meaning of “meek”, meek is defined by dictionaries almost totally different from the use of the word in scriptures. You can google many sites which will discuss the powerful men of the Bible who were identified as meek. As a meek individual these men have an inheritance in the earth during their lifetime and it is the same for men today. At the death of an individual who has inherited the earth, another live individual succeeds him in continuing the use of the earth. Look up (meek) in scripture search ESV = 5 KJV = 16 use a parallel display of translations to see what other words are used in place of (meek) to help identify how the concept is used in scripture. Notice that even Jesus identified himself as (meek). Moses was identified as very (meek).

  4. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay, (part)2

    Continuing into Jesus speech he talks about salt and light. I believe verse 16 contains an important message which is exposing to whom the sermon was delivered. I will explain following the text.

    Mat 5:13-16 ESV
    (13) “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
    (14) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
    (15) Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
    (16) In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
    Jesus portrays that those who see the good works will give glory to The Father for these works. Does he suggest that those doing the good works will have to explain that these works are from God? No, these works will be recognized as from God without any explanation. Now, in our world today would worldly humans recognize any of the works which any Christian does as being from God? I mean carrying out an elderly persons trash, mowing their grass, trimming some trees in their yard, repairing a damaged portion of their house, cleaning or painting the house, changing a flat tire on their car, etc:. Yes, we can claim that God sent us to do this work for them. But, a worldly person who does not believe in or have faith in God would really give God the credit for the work that humans have done? Let me show you what Jesus has said about what others would think about most of these works.

    Luk 6:20- ESV
    (31) And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
    (32) “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
    (33) And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
    (34) And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.
    The point of Jesus is that these things are also performed by sinners. My observation would be, how would the worldly recognize these works were from God? Remember the worldly would not have to be told these works were from God; the work would be of the type that they would recognize a source far beyond man’s capability. Only God could do. So to continue thinking about something which a Christian could display that a worldly individual would recognize and give God credit for, could it, be loving someone who was so ugly as most individuals would exclaim only a mother could love that individual? I am sure that each one of you could add a concept here, so I’ll allow you to explore your own as I continue into an explanation of what catches my attention. As we continue reading in the scriptures I don’t see any of Jesus’ disciples performing work while Jesus is on earth that produces the results that he has set out in Mat 5:13-16 ESV, but after the Day of Pentecost The Apostles words were confirmed by God performing works which were beyond man’s capability, and observers did not hesitate to give Glory to God because of these good works.

    So is there another problem with the seeing of good works producing evidence of God? I don’t remember any scriptures which are guiding unbelievers to believe in Jesus because of his good works. Of course, you understand where I am going with this Jesus was a carpenter, did he serve mankind through the means of his trade? I mean weren’t there homeless people in the earth while he was dwelling here, he had many years prior to his time, that he could have directed unbelievers to God by being a master builder of dwelling places and surely those who he had provided for would have been his most devout followers. But, that was not the plan. The plan was for people to have faith in what people could not see, evidenced by believers in a man who was sent from God whom they knew. I did not see the early followers of Christ setting the world into a concept of noticing Christ from the community of Christ (The Church) attempting to raise the physical living conditions of the society of humans living in their locality. In fact the early Christians placed their priorities into a totally different environment than this physical earth. They believed that Jesus had left this earth into the heavens and had promised that death would not hinder them from receiving a place at his side.
    So to summarize, we are not the salt or the light. We can only proclaim and guide to the salt and the light. We are nothing but messengers of what is our hope and a display of a life that honors the salt and light.

    Notice what Paul was eager to do.
    Rom 1:15-20 ESV So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (19) For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (20) For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
    Was it to do good works to show unbelievers God? Even Paul relied on historic events, the Gospel, not the present living conditions of those he desired to convert to Christ?

  5. Dwight says:

    Larry, I will disagree somewhat. You say, “So to summarize, we are not the salt or the light.”

    But Jesus in Matt.5:13-16 is saying ““You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
    So Jesus is saying to His disciples that they are this and this (salt, light) must be used, because it has purpose and it must be used and not hidden. Both salt and light are used to an effect and are used upon something else….to an effect.
    Salt seasons and light enlightens.
    And all of this was to be done towards the glory of God by the disciples or followers of Christ.
    They were not just supposed to be salt or light, but in use as salt and light.

    Now I do agree, if this is your argument, that often we argue that we must shine so that others may see us, but the reality is we must shine so that others can see God. But when it comes down to it they may not recognized God in our shining and may have no context for God in this.
    In terms of fireworks, we aren’t supposed to be just a sparkler, but we are to be a sparkler that lights other fireworks.
    In I Cor.13 we read “and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor…but have not love it profits me nothing.” The reality is that anybody can feed the poor and even when we do it out of love the poor might not see it as Godly love, but God will. God ultimately know the why and it should matters to us, because it matters to God.

    Ironically when we get to the fruits of the Spirit, we often speak in terms of presenting fruits so that people can know the branches, but that is not the main point. The fruits are produced by the Spirit, despite who recognizes them. And the fruits are to be taken or used for others to God’s glory.
    Now many might see a difference between a saint and a non-saint, but one act will not fulfill this, but rather a life or Godly living will.

    Jay does say, “They won’t know why we’re doing them (good works) unless we tell them.”

    Now I do believe that these characteristics are of those who will or are in the Kingdom. He may be speaking to the disciples at hand, but he is very general in that he doesn’t say “you…”, but “blessed are…” which is broad in application. Many of these were characteristics of the poor and repressed…the people he was addressing. But on the other hand there were many who thought themselves as holy, the Pharisees, Sadducees, Rabbis, etc. who did not fit any of these concepts.

  6. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    I understand your concerns. I was also schooled into a concept which I now see in a different light. But, my point is that those Disciples whom he was speaking to would be the very ones who would be delivering the good works that man could not deny were from God. These men would not be in the forefront, they would never be counted as the originators of the good works which were seen. Today men do not have the same manifestation of God’s power as was available to these Disciples. We today can only guide unbelievers to the historic events of these good works. Yes, Jay does state that we must identify that we are performing these good works because of Jesus, and that is one of the strongest points that identifies our works as not being the works that Jesus was communicating about. The works Jesus was speaking about were “self explanatory”.
    Jesus even communicates that most of the things we would do representing them as good works; even sinners do for each other.

    As to the light that we may shine. There is no man alive who could even come part way to shining the light that Jesus shown. Would you portray that the light that you think you shine would be a good representation of the light that Jesus portrayed? Do this little exercise, plug in to a Bible search engine the word (light) searching the NT notice in the results how often the (light) is connected to only Jesus, not his Disciples or The Church. My point here is that men or churches will never be a bright (light) to display the light which Jesus was, in fact our light as bright as we are able to shine it might not dispel any darkness for an unbeliever, remember the unbeliever is the audience. Not other Christians who have been trained to see the light.
    The light we are to shine is nothing of our own, it is to direct to the light of Jesus. Not covering our light under a bushel would be to properly showing the light of Jesus. To add to that concept some, how many churches spoken of in the NT do you find being commended for the brightness of (their) shinning light? Yet, that seems to be the concept which men want to visualize today.
    Have you ever had the feeling that certain churches believe that they are the door of salvation to sinners and that the only access to Christ is through them?

  7. Dwight says:

    Larry, I think we often confuse the light with the truth, as what we proclaim as the truth as being the truth of God.
    I am not a Calvinist so I believe that we can be good and do good, even though it is not on par with what Jesus did. Jesus said the greatest love was do die for another, but we cannot claim the greatest love, which was what Jesus did in dying for the world. But we can love and do good.
    Just because Jesus is the light, doesn’t mean we can’t be a reflection of the light and thus be a light to the world. And we don’t have to be laden with the spiritual gifts to be able to do this.

    Disciple only means “follower of” and is not limited to apostles, and as we know that Jesus had many disciples beyond his personal entourage of apostles. An apostle was a disciple, but so were many others, but not all disciples were his apostles of which there were twelve.
    So when Jesus is speaking to his disciples in Matt. this was not limited to his only his apostles.
    If not, then why be on a “mount” speaking out which could be and was heard by many people, if only directed to twelve?

    But I do agree that many churches, esp. in the coC, believe that we are the “guardians of the truth” and dispensers of such. In fact I used to think this, but as of now, if I wrote an article, I would never position it under the heading of “truth” or in a bulletin that was called “the Truth”.
    We are not The Light, but we are to be a light. Only God is Good, this is Jesus own words, but that doesn’t mean that Jesus wasn’t good and that we aren’t capable of being good and doing good as we are commanded to do. And we are to do it out of love, but then again “God is love”, but just because God is love, doesn’t exclude us from love or loving.

  8. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    As you mention ,”We are not The Light, but we are to be a light.” I would rather say that we are to live a life that shows that we are being guided by the light. If we are seen as even as a dim light it will distract from the light of Jesus. Too many humans believe that they are self fueling their lights. Those will never a light which will direct the unbelievers to Christ. Unbelievers are much better at identifying impostors than believers. Believers have a tenancy to be far more forgiving of their brothers and sisters in Christ than unbelievers. Therefore, they will identify faults in a Christian more rapidly than Christians will, which will keep a Christians light from being the influence to unbelievers. If we hold up Jesus as the light correctly no one will even be able to notice our dim light.
    So have you experienced or do you know of men who have experienced unbelievers recognizing works that you have done as being from God? If you have could you share the event with us? I guess a part of what is giving me these signals is many people in my life have considered that I have been seen as a good and valuable person in society, but as I attempt to explain the reason I do these things is because of Jesus, I usually get a very odd look. Why, well they would expect more of God than any human could produce. And I can fully relate to that.
    I also believe that the main reason that the world cannot see the value of Jesus in his followers is because they are trying to be seen as Jesus. You know, If we follow Jesus we should become like him. Good thought but we will always be short and unbelievers easily see that. Believers and the church should be seen by unbelievers as sinners very much like them, but portraying the fact they have been forgiven, and that can be extended to them also. Christians tend to look down on unbelievers from their lofty perch, when that is not the picture painted in Christ’s teachings.

  9. Johnny says:

    Larry said “So have you experienced or do you know of men who have experienced unbelievers recognizing works that you have done as being from God”

    Well I cant speak for them recognizing it in me, but I have watched it often being recognized in others. I ride motorcycles, avidly. I interact with people who would never step inside a church, who do not express a faith nor seem to desire one. Yet some of those rough men who live lives that are completely outside any definition of Christianity will speak in glowing terms of men in the Christian Motorcycle Association and other Christian ministries. They will tell you if you need help ask one of them. They will express admiration and respect for those men. They will defend them. They know that those men are different and and have something they do not have. They recognize that those men have something different and that it comes from God.

    That is only one example, I have seen others outside of the motorcycle community, where non Christians will express awe and respect for the love and kindness shown by a christian. It happens, more often than you think.

  10. Dwight says:

    Holiness has to do with approach and not looks, meaning that yes I have had people recognize my doing good as being Godly that I did not know, but they understood those things to be a Godly characteristic. And yes I have had a few people to see what I did and assume it was because that I was a Christian, but this is because I told them that “I was going to church that evening” or “that I didn’t drink”, etc. Not because I helped a person move their furniture.
    We are told to give each other a “holy kiss”, but what does that look like? Well, it doesn’t look any different than a regular kiss, but it is done from a holy perspective. The person getting the “holy kiss” probably will not be able to differentiate it from a “non-holy kiss”, but if they understand the concept they will get it where others won’t.
    The works we do will be holy because we are doing them in the name of God and from a Godly perspective. The person receiving the works may not get it if they only see the work, but another Christian (Baptist, etc.) should be able to see it from that context. But then again even if someone not a saint does something good for us, from a Christian perspective we should count that as a blessing from God.
    The point is we should be looking to see everything within the context of God, whether anyone else does. And while we might not be THE light, we are supposed to reflect that which Jesus is, so to those around us we will look like a light. We should allow this to draw people, while at the same time directing them to Christ.
    I do agree that we have tried to replace maybe not Jesus, but the apostles, as the way to Christ and don’t know how to step back and not be in forefront. We want to like the Pharisees, etc. to be the visage that the people see. Many people go to a church because of the preacher/preaching and not to see Jesus or hear from Jesus.

  11. Alabama John says:

    Johnny,
    You are so right.
    Men in service and men in prison recognize those deeds we do to help them as coming from Christ and God being led by the Holy Spirit. Who they look for and seek out is the ones that show the Christian spirit, especially if they are dying.
    They are not looking for a debater but one who is living as an example.

  12. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry wrote (Part 1),

    Jay, (part 1)
    If I do not express my concepts here then I will never have them tested by others. So since the discussion is speaking about The Beatitudes and I see them in a very different relationship than you are promoting, I thought it important to explain my concepts. I believe that we should understand exactly to whom they are being addressed and have a proper understanding as to who is blessing. I get the impression from your post that the message was to all the Disciples of Christ and that The Church or God’s people are to be administering these blessings.
    “Therefore, the Beatitudes are really more about what the Kingdom is going to be than what we need to become. But, of course, if we look at our churches and we aren’t blessing the poor in the spirit, the meek, the mourning, etc., well, we’ve messed up. Our church is not being true to the Kingdom ideals it was founded for.”
    We must also understand during what time period these blessings will be received. As I understand, you are telling us The Church, that we will not have the likeness of Jesus if we fail to fulfill these blessings. I also see many commentaries which I believe have distorted Christ’s message.
    Notice, Matthew portrays a concept that Jesus went up into the mountain after seeing the crowd, (the crowd was never identified as his disciples) but, he had just finished picking the Twelve, and we all understand that they were his disciples. Luke, whom we are not sure was there, gives a different concept from his sources of the historic event.

    You’re making it too complicated. He was speaking to Israelites, in Israel. The Beatitudes reflect Kingdom promises found in the prophets — written to the Jews. Among these are —

    (Isa. 42:6 ESV) 6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,

    (Isa. 49:5-6 ESV) 5 And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him– for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength– 6 he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

    God had already declared Israel a light for the nations that salvation might reach to the end of the earth. Jesus was reminding them of their God-given role.

    This is very parallel to —

    (Rom. 2:17-20 ESV) 17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth–

    Paul reminds his Jewish readers that the Jews were called to be “a light to those who are in darkness.”

    So Jesus is not teaching those who might become his disciples to be a light to the world. Rather, he’s saying that Israel, as God’s chosen people, as covenant people, are already charged to be a light to the world. (And he accuses them of hiding their light — God’s light — under a basket.)

    Of course, this applies to Christians because Christians are Israel by virtue of the Gentiles being grafted into the Jewish stock. Thus, we “inherit” this role from Israel because we have become the true, spiritual Israel. And so Jesus is speaking to us in the SOTM, not because he is addressing disciples but because he is addressing Israel.

    The mission of Israel included being a light to the world (and there are many other passages along these lines.) Jesus reminds them that God called them to this task. This is not a new command for a new people. It’s an old election arising by virtue of the God’s covenant with Abraham —

    (Gen. 18:17-19 ESV) 17 The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

    So Abraham’s descendants were charged to bless the nations by “doing righteousness and justice” — being like God. Jesus is just reminding Israel of their covenant calling — which we Gentiles have received by becomings “sons of Abraham” (Gal 3:29).

    It all ties together.

    All these blessings are in the present tense of time and it would out of context to apply verse 5 to an after death inheritance. Most of us have been misinformed of the meaning of “meek”, meek is defined by dictionaries almost totally different from the use of the word in scriptures. You can google many sites which will discuss the powerful men of the Bible who were identified as meek. As a meek individual these men have an inheritance in the earth during their lifetime and it is the same for men today. At the death of an individual who has inherited the earth, another live individual succeeds him in continuing the use of the earth. Look up (meek) in scripture search ESV = 5 KJV = 16 use a parallel display of translations to see what other words are used in place of (meek) to help identify how the concept is used in scripture. Notice that even Jesus identified himself as (meek). Moses was identified as very (meek).

    The meek inherit the earth because the earth will be transformed into the New Heavens and New Earth of Isa 65 and 66 and Rev 21-22. The earth will be made new. The earth is the inheritance of all who die in Jesus. And this is part of God’s promise to Abraham, as well.

    So why “the meek”?

    Psa 37:11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

    Isa 29:19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.

    The OT had promised the “land” or “earth” as an inheritance to the meek. But the rabbis (and Jesus) often referred to a passage by quoting a small part of it. They had no chapter and verse numbers. So to reference Psalm 37, Jesus would quote a key verse and expect his audience to know the context — just as I might mention “judge not” and expect you to remember the full context of the command.

    (Ps. 37:1-20 ESV) Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! 2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! 8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. 9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. 10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. 11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. 12 The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, 13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming. 14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright; 15 their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. 16 Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked. 17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous. 18 The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever; 19 they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance. 20 But the wicked will perish; the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish– like smoke they vanish away.

    The theme of Ps 37 is that the wicked will suffer vengeance at God’s hand. They may prosper for a moment, but in the long run, God will reward faithfulness, trust, righteousness, “the little that the righteous has,” the blameless.

    So Jesus is announcing that these promises are beginning to come true. The evildoers will suffer and God will bring justice for those who wait patiently.

    Again, the promise is to Israel – but to the poor and oppressed of Israel. The Kingdom is coming — and those at the bottom of society will find themselves blessed while the first shall be last.

    He is not saying, therefore be oppressed, be poor, be unjustly treated, so God can bless you. Rather, it’s like the announcement of any good news. The circus is coming to town! Blessed are the children who love clowns! Blessed are the teens who love the acrobats! Blessed are the parents who get to take their children to see the elephants and horses!

    In short, the Kingdom coming would be great news for some — and bad news for others. This is not good news for those who took advantage of the weak to enrich themselves, because God’s justice is on the horizon!

    “Meek” translates ‘anav, meaning poor, humble, or meek. As you note, Moses is said to have been “meek” using this word, but different words are used for other heroes of the OT. Outside of the reference to Moses, it’s used almost exclusively for the downtrodden class among the Jews. (It’s a standard term in Psalms for those who are oppressed or without power in society.)

    In the SOTM, Jesus uses the Greek word praus, meaning “pert. to not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, gentle, humble, considerate, meek in the older favorable sense” (BDAG). So it doesn’t refer to having low self-esteem. “Unassuming” would be a good translation in many contexts. “Humble” is good — it’s just that we live in an age that doesn’t see a lot of true humility. It’s not false modesty. It’s not low self-esteem. It’s not being full of oneself.

    But in the larger context from which Jesus spoke, it’s the people who haven’t taken advantage of others. It’s the opposite of Zacchaeus before he met Jesus. It doesn’t mean you’ve had no success, but if you’ve had success, it was by hard work and making an honest living, providing good service. You know the type. It’s sort of man or woman you love see doing well because they worked so hard for it and are being rewarded for their goodness. So Jesus and Moses were among the meek/humble/lowly despite being powerful, forceful personalities. “Humble” would be a better translation than “meek.” I agree with you entirely on that point. In contemporary English, “meek” sounds like timorous, low-self esteem, unwilling to kill a fly — and Jesus and Moses weren’t afraid to confront others — but never for their own sake. They stood powerfully for the sake of God.

  13. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry (Part 2),

    Continuing into Jesus speech he talks about salt and light. I believe verse 16 contains an important message which is exposing to whom the sermon was delivered. I will explain following the text.

    Mat 5:13-16 ESV

    So is there another problem with the seeing of good works producing evidence of God? I don’t remember any scriptures which are guiding unbelievers to believe in Jesus because of his good works. Of course, you understand where I am going with this Jesus was a carpenter, did he serve mankind through the means of his trade? I mean weren’t there homeless people in the earth while he was dwelling here, he had many years prior to his time, that he could have directed unbelievers to God by being a master builder of dwelling places and surely those who he had provided for would have been his most devout followers. But, that was not the plan. The plan was for people to have faith in what people could not see, evidenced by believers in a man who was sent from God whom they knew. I did not see the early followers of Christ setting the world into a concept of noticing Christ from the community of Christ (The Church) attempting to raise the physical living conditions of the society of humans living in their locality. In fact the early Christians placed their priorities into a totally different environment than this physical earth. They believed that Jesus had left this earth into the heavens and had promised that death would not hinder them from receiving a place at his side.
    So to summarize, we are not the salt or the light. We can only proclaim and guide to the salt and the light. We are nothing but messengers of what is our hope and a display of a life that honors the salt and light.

    I really don’t follow you here at all. The text says,

    (Matt. 5:13-16 ESV) 13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

    Israel is said to be the salt of the earth. Israel is the light of the world. He’s not saying merely to point others to Jesus. Rather, Jesus says, “that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father.” So WE are called to do “good works” that bring glory to God. I don’t see how that happens if we don’t do those works in the name of God. If we don’t announce our motivation, how will people know to honor God?

    Notice what Paul was eager to do.
    Rom 1:15-20 ESV So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (19) For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (20) For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
    Was it to do good works to show unbelievers God? Even Paul relied on historic events, the Gospel, not the present living conditions of those he desired to convert to Christ?

    Again, I can’t agree. Yes, God’s invisible attributes are visible to those who would look at the Creation — but Paul doesn’t remotely suggest that this is enough. In fact, he later says,

    (Rom. 10:14-15 ESV) 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

    Paul calls for the sending of missionaries to preach the good news! While we can learn enough about God from the Creation to find ourselves accountable and deserving of death, we can only find salvation in Jesus — and Jesus is only revealed through the gospel. Which is only revealed by preaching the gospel.

    So why good works? Why not just preach? Well, why didn’t Jesus just preach? Why did he also do miracles and heal the blind and the lame? Why did the apostles in Acts do good works, healing the sick? All this was to validate the message — to show that it’s about far more than going to heaven when we die. It’s about that, too, of course, but it’s not JUST going to heaven. It’s about helping each other right now.

    (1 Pet. 2:12 ESV) 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

    Peter, having heard the SOTM, tells us to act honorably so that our “good deeds” cause the damned to instead “glorify God.” He doesn’t say pass out tracts and preach. He says our good deeds should convert the lost to Jesus!

    “Good deeds” in 1 Pet 2:12 is the same Greek as “good works” in Mat 5:15. I believe Peter is taking his lesson from the SOTM.

    But it’s more than doing good so that others will believe and be saved — as important as that is. It’s about being perfect as God is perfect.

    (Matt. 5:44-48 ESV) 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    And this takes us back to Gen 18:19 — where God said he entered into a covenant with Abraham so that his descendants will be righteous and just to bless all nations. Like God himself is. And God makes it rain on the just and the unjust. He does good works for the saved and the lost — because he loves them both.

    (Ps. 145:9-12 ESV) 9 The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. 10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! 11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, 12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

    So we should be like God.

    Or put differently —

    (Eph. 2:8-10 ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    We were saved “for good works.” In fact, God prepared the world for his people to do good works!

    The “prepared beforehand” part of the passage puzzles commentators — understandably. I think the point is to harken back to (you guessed it) God’s covenant with Abraham — where God’s people are called to be a blessing to the nations. God saved Christians — created a renewed Israel — to bring the nature of God himself to his children so that the world would be blessed through them.

    How do we bless the world? By doing good works — to the glory of God. This is quite literally why we are saved, according to this passage. There are other reasons, I’m sure, but we should not belittle this one. It’s the one Paul emphasizes — and it’s not just saved to preach the gospel. It’s saved to do works planned millennia earlier for us to do.

  14. dwight says:

    Jay when you wrote that Israel was to be a light to the nations you quoted this verse ” I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
    The salvation as noted by Jesus in John was Jesus…the Light.
    Israel was never given the task of saving the other nations.
    Jesus came to bring all nations to God, as Israel was.
    It is interesting that Jesus didn’t say, you Israel of the Kingdom, but rather led with characteristics of those who were in the Kingdom…some of the Jews (the repressed) fit the bill, while on the other hand the Pharisees, Sadducees Jewish leaders (who were also Jews) didn’t.
    Thus I don’t think Jesus was arguing for Israel being the light, but rather the people he had just given the beatitudes to. He said “you” and he was addressing his disciples or followers.

    But I do agree that our light, that which is a reflected or light patterned from Christ was to be an influence to those in the world. When Bill Maher, one of the most liberal people out there, is able to go on TV and argue that Islam is nothing like Christianity due to the actions that are inherent in the actions of the followers, we have one who notices the reality, not because he believes in the Bible or God, but because he has seen the works and fruits.
    Part of our problem, as you noted with the “pass out tracts” statement, is that we preach or put on the marquee or in tracts of our holiness, but in reality the truth is seen in the actions and speech.
    The early saints didn’t have the scriptures floating around everywhere, so they were the bearers in word and action.

  15. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay Guin says:
    July 22, 2016 at 11:16 pm
    Larry wrote (Part 1),
    Jay, (part 1)
    If I do not express my concepts here then I will never have them tested by others. So since the discussion is speaking about The Beatitudes and I see them in a very different relationship than you are promoting, I thought it important to explain my concepts. I believe that we should understand exactly to whom they are being addressed and have a proper understanding as to who is blessing. I get the impression from your post that the message was to all the Disciples of Christ and that The Church or God’s people are to be administering these blessings.
    “Therefore, the Beatitudes are really more about what the Kingdom is going to be than what we need to become. But, of course, if we look at our churches and we aren’t blessing the poor in the spirit, the meek, the mourning, etc., well, we’ve messed up. Our church is not being true to the Kingdom ideals it was founded for.”
    We must also understand during what time period these blessings will be received. As I understand, you are telling us The Church, that we will not have the likeness of Jesus if we fail to fulfill these blessings. I also see many commentaries which I believe have distorted Christ’s message.
    Notice, Matthew portrays a concept that Jesus went up into the mountain after seeing the crowd, (the crowd was never identified as his disciples) but, he had just finished picking the Twelve, and we all understand that they were his disciples. Luke, whom we are not sure was there, gives a different concept from his sources of the historic event.
    Jay’s Comments;
    You’re making it too complicated. He was speaking to Israelites, in Israel. The Beatitudes reflect Kingdom promises found in the prophets — written to the Jews. Among these are —

    (Isa. 42:6 ESV) 6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,
    (Isa. 49:5-6 ESV) 5 And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him– for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength– 6 he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

    God had already declared Israel a light for the nations that salvation might reach to the end of the earth. Jesus was reminding them of their God-given role.

    Jay, I must direct your attention again to this text. Specifically, (Isa. 42:6 ESV) “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,”
    Let us read the text surrounding this verse and see what it explains.
    Isa 42:1-9 ESV Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. (2) He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; (3) a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. (4) He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. (5) Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: (6) “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, (7) to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. (8) I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. (9) Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

    As we read the text, Isaiah is talking about a servant whom the Lord has put his Spirit into and this servant is not Israel. The description of this servant could only be Jesus. Verse 9 is explaining that what he is telling is of a future nature, it is not in place or in force in the present time. Now look at the message from verse 6 -7 as a complete sentence.
    (6) “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
    The light here is performing miracles which Jesus performed. No one in Israel had performed these until Christ. Reading the sentence again exposes that the light was given to the people as a covenant. A New Covenant, which was not a part of the one they were in then.

    Now, let’s look at.
    Isa 49:1-7 ESV Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. (2) He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away. (3) And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” (4) But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.” (5) And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him— for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength— (6) he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (7) Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

    Especially, verse 5-6 which you submitted.
    (5) And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him— for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength— (6) he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
    Undoubtedly, this text is a description of Jesus being made “the light for the nations”.

    I cannot accept your conclusion that Israel was, “declared as a light for the nations”.
    Jesus claimed that role for himself.
    Joh 8:12-14 ESV Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (13) So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” (14) Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.
    John the Baptist also testified to that fact.
    Joh 1:6-9 ESV There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. (7) He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. (8) He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. (9) The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

    You also referenced this text to support Israel being given the role of being the light.
    Specifically, (Rom. 2:17-20 ESV) 17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth–
    Paul reminds his Jewish readers that the Jews were called to be “a light to those who are in darkness.”

    Let us read more of the text surrounding the quoted text.
    Rom 2:14-24 ESV For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. (15) They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them (16) on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (17) But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God (18) and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; (19) and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, (20) an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— (21) you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? (22) You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? (23) You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. (24) For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
    Your comment concerning these verses;
    “Paul reminds his Jewish readers that the Jews were called to be “a light to those who are in darkness.” “So Jesus is not teaching those who might become his disciples to be a light to the world. Rather, he’s saying that Israel, as God’s chosen people, as covenant people, are already charged to be a light to the world. (And he accuses them of hiding their light — God’s light — under a basket.)
    Of course, this applies to Christians because Christians are Israel by virtue of the Gentiles being grafted into the Jewish stock. Thus, we “inherit” this role from Israel because we have become the true, spiritual Israel. And so Jesus is speaking to us in the SOTM, not because he is addressing disciples but because he is addressing Israel.”

    My comment;
    I see nothing in here that indicates that Israel had been given the role of being the light. What I see is that Paul is admonishing them for acting like they are more than they are, (if you are sure that you are) is allowing them to testify if they really believe that they are qualified as teachers of Christ’s values.

    Your comment;
    The mission of Israel included being a light to the world (and there are many other passages along these lines.) Jesus reminds them that God called them to this task. This is not a new command for a new people. It’s an old election arising by virtue of the God’s covenant with Abraham —
    (Gen. 18:17-19 ESV) 17 The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
    So Abraham’s descendants were charged to bless the nations by “doing righteousness and justice” — being like God. Jesus is just reminding Israel of their covenant calling — which we Gentiles have received by becomings “sons of Abraham” (Gal 3:29).
    It all ties together.

    My comment;
    I really don’t see how it is proper to rearrange the message and alter the responsibilities which are defined. I can understand how that through Abraham’s promise, Jesus would come to bless the world (all nations). But, what seems very much distorted here into, “Abraham’s descendants were charged to bless the nations by “doing righteousness and justice” — being like God.”
    When we apply a phrase like this (being like God) to the Israelites, we should be able to validate where God applied it to them. Therefore, I searched for a message with that content in the complete Bible. Here are the only results in ESV.

    (Gen 3:5 ESV) For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    (Exo 7:1 ESV) And the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.

    (Deu 33:26 ESV) “There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty.

    (Job 19:22 ESV) Why do you, like God, pursue me? Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?

    (Job 40:9 ESV) Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?

    (Zec 12:8 ESV) On that day the LORD will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD, going before them.

    My comment;
    I do not see an application. Can you supply it?
    I am pleased and thankful that we can agree on the usage of the term (meek) in scriptures.

  16. Larry Cheek says:

    July 22, 2016 at 11:51 pm
    Larry (Part 2),
    My comment;
    Continuing into Jesus speech he talks about salt and light. I believe verse 16 contains an important message which is exposing to whom the sermon was delivered. I will explain following the text.
    Mat 5:13-16 ESV
    (13) “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
    (14) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
    (15) Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
    (16) In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
    Jesus portrays that those who see the good works will give glory to The Father for these works. Does he suggest that those doing the good works will have to explain that these works are from God? No, these works will be recognized as from God without any explanation. Now, in our world today would worldly humans recognize any of the works which any Christian does as being from God? I mean carrying out an elderly persons trash, mowing their grass, trimming some trees in their yard, repairing a damaged portion of their house, cleaning or painting the house, changing a flat tire on their car, etc:. Yes, we can claim that God sent us to do this work for them. But, a worldly person who does not believe in or have faith in God would really give God the credit for the work that humans have done? Let me show you what Jesus has said about what others would think about most of these works.
    Luk 6:20- ESV
    (31) And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
    (32) “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
    (33) And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
    (34) And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.
    The point of Jesus is that these things are also performed by sinners. My observation would be, how would the worldly recognize these works were from God? Remember the worldly would not have to be told these works were from God; the work would be of the type that they would recognize a source far beyond man’s capability. Only God could do. So to continue thinking about something which a Christian could display that a worldly individual would recognize and give God credit for, could it, be loving someone who was so ugly as most individuals would exclaim only a mother could love that individual? I am sure that each one of you could add a concept here, so I’ll allow you to explore your own as I continue into an explanation of what catches my attention. As we continue reading in the scriptures I don’t see any of Jesus’ disciples performing work while Jesus is on earth that produces the results that he has set out in Mat 5:13-16 ESV, but after the Day of Pentecost The Apostles words were confirmed by God performing works which were beyond man’s capability, and observers did not hesitate to give Glory to God because of these good works.

    So is there another problem with the seeing of good works producing evidence of God? I don’t remember any scriptures which are guiding unbelievers to believe in Jesus because of his good works. Of course, you understand where I am going with this Jesus was a carpenter, did he serve mankind through the means of his trade? I mean weren’t there homeless people in the earth while he was dwelling here, he had many years prior to his time, that he could have directed unbelievers to God by being a master builder of dwelling places and surely those who he had provided for would have been his most devout followers. But, that was not the plan. The plan was for people to have faith in what people could not see, evidenced by believers in a man who was sent from God whom they knew. I did not see the early followers of Christ setting the world into a concept of noticing Christ from the community of Christ (The Church) attempting to raise the physical living conditions of the society of humans living in their locality. In fact the early Christians placed their priorities into a totally different environment than this physical earth. They believed that Jesus had left this earth into the heavens and had promised that death would not hinder them from receiving a place at his side.
    So to summarize, we are not the salt or the light. We can only proclaim and guide to the salt and the light. We are nothing but messengers of what is our hope and a display of a life that honors the salt and light.

    Jay’s comment;
    I really don’t follow you here at all. The text says,
    (Matt. 5:13-16 ESV) 13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
    Israel is said to be the salt of the earth. Israel is the light of the world. He’s not saying merely to point others to Jesus. Rather, Jesus says, “that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father.” So WE are called to do “good works” that bring glory to God. I don’t see how that happens if we don’t do those works in the name of God. If we don’t announce our motivation, how will people know to honor God?

    My comment;
    I am sorry I confused you on this point, and I have recently revised my concept of to whom Jesus was delivering the STOM. What had caused me to draw those conclusions was that The Apostles and earliest of followers were performing works that no man can perform; these were easily seen by the world to be of a source greater than mankind. Men today or The Church, followers of Christ have never produced works with the same power. As a result men today produce works which are no different than is capable even by sinners for each other. Jesus mentioned and recognized that also, I had pointed to scriptures which He presented. Therefore, I was led me to believe that the works being produced by only those individuals meant that he was addressing only them. The kicker that caught me was that I had failed to continue to the final verse of the STOM, Mat 7:28-29 ESV And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, (29) for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

    My comment;
    Notice what Paul was eager to do.
    Rom 1:15-20 ESV So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (19) For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (20) For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
    Was it to do good works to show unbelievers God? Even Paul relied on historic events, the Gospel, not the present living conditions of those he desired to convert to Christ?

    Again, I can’t agree. Yes, God’s invisible attributes are visible to those who would look at the Creation — but Paul doesn’t remotely suggest that this is enough. In fact, he later says,
    My comment;
    Neither would I suggest that the attributes are enough. So I submit the balance of your comment to comment concerning it.
    (Rom. 10:14-15 ESV) 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
    Paul calls for the sending of missionaries to preach the good news! While we can learn enough about God from the Creation to find ourselves accountable and deserving of death, we can only find salvation in Jesus — and Jesus is only revealed through the gospel. Which is only revealed by preaching the gospel.
    So why good works? Why not just preach? Well, why didn’t Jesus just preach? Why did he also do miracles and heal the blind and the lame? Why did the apostles in Acts do good works, healing the sick? All this was to validate the message — to show that it’s about far more than going to heaven when we die. It’s about that, too, of course, but it’s not JUST going to heaven. It’s about helping each other right now.
    (1 Pet. 2:12 ESV) 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
    Peter, having heard the SOTM, tells us to act honorably so that our “good deeds” cause the damned to instead “glorify God.” He doesn’t say pass out tracts and preach. He says our good deeds should convert the lost to Jesus!

    “Good deeds” in 1 Pet 2:12 is the same Greek as “good works” in Mat 5:15. I believe Peter is taking his lesson from the SOTM.
    But it’s more than doing good so that others will believe and be saved — as important as that is. It’s about being perfect as God is perfect.
    (Matt. 5:44-48 ESV) 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    And this takes us back to Gen 18:19 — where God said he entered into a covenant with Abraham so that his descendants will be righteous and just to bless all nations. Like God himself is. And God makes it rain on the just and the unjust. He does good works for the saved and the lost — because he loves them both.
    (Ps. 145:9-12 ESV) 9 The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. 10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! 11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, 12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
    So we should be like God.
    Or put differently —
    (Eph. 2:8-10 ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    We were saved “for good works.”
    In fact, God prepared the world for his people to do good works!
    The “prepared beforehand” part of the passage puzzles commentators — understandably. I think the point is to harken back to (you guessed it) God’s covenant with Abraham — where God’s people are called to be a blessing to the nations. God saved Christians — created a renewed Israel — to bring the nature of God himself to his children so that the world would be blessed through them.
    How do we bless the world? By doing good works — to the glory of God. This is quite literally why we are saved, according to this passage. There are other reasons, I’m sure, but we should not belittle this one. It’s the one Paul emphasizes — and it’s not just saved to preach the gospel. It’s saved to do works planned millennia earlier for us to do.

    Your comment;
    (1 Pet. 2:12 ESV) 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
    Peter, having heard the SOTM, tells us to act honorably so that our “good deeds” cause the damned to instead “glorify God.” He doesn’t say pass out tracts and preach. He says our good deeds should convert the lost to Jesus!

    My comment;
    Within the same verse the same individuals who glorify God because of your good works, have spoken against you as evildoers. I see that what they have testified against you will be counteracted by the good works that you have done. Therefore, their accusations will be false.
    “He says our good deeds should convert the lost to Jesus!” Really, upon the day of visitation (sounds to me like when Christ returns) they convert because the good works you have done and they see where you are going, they decide that they are converted today? I believe that Jesus addressed that concept also in a different way.

  17. dwight says:

    Our good works will convert no-one, only the word will, but our influence will aid in our backing of the word which we pass along. If good works do not accommodate our words, then no one will believe us. The same as Jesus was the words, but the works validated him. As Jesus stated, “a house divided cannot stand” and would be counter-productive to Satan’s plans.

  18. Alabama John says:

    I think of the story Jesus told in Luke 10 of the man stripped of all he had and was left wounded and half dead. The scripture lawyer expert, a Pharisee priest no less, and a Levite, both who could quote and had great knowledge of the LAW that passed him by, getting as far away as possible by moving to the other side of the road.
    Then came a lowly, looked down on by the other two as being ignorant of the law, a simple bad, bad Samaritan who out of his goodness helped the hurt man, took him to get help, paid for his care and promised to pay even more if it cost more to get him well.
    Jesus asked who was the better one?
    When the answer was: the lowly ignorant of the law Samaritan that did good instead of quoting scriptures, Jesus, right out of His own mouth told the questioner to go and do likewise.
    That should be a lesson for us as well.

  19. Larry Cheek says:

    Alabama John,
    That is a good story, and it even confirms that in many cases sinners will do good works that may shine brighter than the light that Christians should be shining. I really do hope that no one here has thought that I was trying to put a damper on the responsibilities for Christians to do good works. What I was trying to project is that I really never have seen sinners converted to Christ by viewing Christians doing good works. I am not even sure that the doing of good works has ever been looked upon by sinners as being supplied because of God. Even if we tell them our belief in God is the reason behind our doing these good works, they will not give God the credit (glory).
    As I read the motorcycle stories, I saw that even those cyclists would suggest that if they were in need they could depend upon Christian cyclists to help them, but I did not understand that any one of them were converted to Christ because of the good deeds. Is their state of salvation changed just because they would accept good deeds from Christians? If we do good deeds and neglect to teach the Gospel to guide them to Christ, we may have their blood on our hands, as we could be responsible for their condemnation. Because, we showed them not the way. Another song.

  20. Alabama John says:

    Larry,
    my experience has been to definitely see sinners drawn to those that did good to or for others. They wanted to know what was motivating those that were moved to do the good. Sure provided a good time to tell them about your beliefs and because of your kindnesses or other charitable acts they sure paid attention. Seen several baptized and come to Christ because they liked what they heard.
    Just taking it one step at a time and not rushing anyone to make the decision or be walked away from makes the difference.
    Main thing is we have to be in a position where we can do the good things and where folks can see that being done.
    Sadly, that is not in Sunday School or Church, but out among the sinners where most Christians won’t go.

  21. Larry Cheek says:

    Alabama John,
    Not only will Christians not normally go there, but very seldom will one of those who have received good works go to Church or Sunday School because of the good works. Therefore, those doing good works have to be prepared to deliver the message. If that individual has to rely on the church to do their teaching for them that sends a message to those who are receiving the good works as well.

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