August 2013

Righteous Rags

The Sermon on the Mount brought all this to an end. Christ effectively blocked every detour and brought men back to the standards of God’s holiness. …He(Christ sic) demonstrated that defilement lay in the heart. Now He uttered the words that brought these men under God’s light and also under the gaze of the people: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I say unto you,"—and this is the Lord Jesus Christ speaking, "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:19-20).

Image previewRighteous Rags

“…all our righteousness is like filthy rags…” ( Isa.64:6)

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Changed Law... Salved Consciences

They (His listeners) knew their hearts well enough to wince at the words… the climax was reached when He named them, and in naming them destroyed the standards which they had so carefully erected. They had taken the law and whittled it down throughout the centuries. In place of the simple commandments that cannot be misunderstood, they had substituted a complex commentary that enabled them to disobey the law as God gave it and yet salve their own consciences.

Image previewChanged Law... Salved Consciences

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

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Meekness... not Weakness

MEEKNESS..NOT WEAKNESS
TEXT: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).

Again the whip lashed. The meek shall inherit the earth? What nonsense! These Pharisees knew that they had taken possession of the earth, but they also knew that they had not received it through meekness. The only humility which they knew was that which served as a cloak for their grasping thievery.
Now, the Lord is announcing the righteous principle. Later, He will strip the mask from these alleged holy men and leave them no basis for their hollow pretence. He will say to them, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation" (Matthew 23:14). But in the Sermon on the Mount, the Kingdom offer is being made. He is announcing that in the Kingdom when He shall reign upon the earth, possession will be vested in those who are meek.
We are not to think of this word in any unfavorable sense. Meekness is not fawning servility. It is that quality in a man which proves him to be patient under injuries, not vain or haughty or resentful; forbearing, kind. In truth, it is the gift of God and is a part of the new life that is given to us at the new birth when we have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our own personal Savior. All that an unsaved man may ever know of meekness is the humility, like that of Dickens’ interesting character, Uriah Heep, whose sniveling mockery lasted as long as there was a shred to his mask. Any meekness that the world can know will differ from this only in degree, but it will always be of this kind, for true meekness is the fruit of the indwelling life of the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 5:22).
Dr. Barnhouse’s exhortation must be heeded by the Church today. We should neither be arrogant and haughty nor fawning and servile under pressure. Stand firm in truth and love, seeking to win our persecutors to Christ. We should all let God’s grace work within us this necessary fruit of he Spirit.

Source: He Came Unto His Own ,Donald Barnhouse

Further Reading: Matt. 11:25-30

Image previewMeekness... not Weakness

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

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The Challenge to Be Humble

These words must have cut like a whip across the minds of the unregenerate listeners. If there is anything that a man cannot know by himself, it is that he must take a place of humility before God. There is a natural repulsion against the idea of being poor in spirit. Man is rich in pride and he wants to shield himself from any thought of poverty of resources, whether of strength, of morals, or of intellect. This is the direct statement of the Lord Jesus that there must be a miraculous change in the lives of men if they are to participate with Him in His Kingdom glory. How can a man see himself properly in the sight of God? It is only when we have understood the great truths of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of sin that we are forced to flee from ourselves, pleading that we have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We then ask God to effect within us the miracle of grace which He now promises to perform on the basis of the death of Jesus Christ, the Substitute who died in our place.

Image previewThe Challenge to Be Humble

"The multitudes followed Jesus Christ; and as He sat on the brow of a hill with the crowd about Him, eagerly awaiting His message,  He opened His mouth and taught them, saying, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.'" (Matthew 5:2-3)

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Caution and Counterfeits

We must realize that the Lord Jesus Christ was a Jew, and that He came unto His own as the Jewish Messiah. Why, then, did His own not receive Him?

Image previewCaution and Counterfeits

"Art you the Christ? Art you Elijah? Art you that prophet?"  (John 1:21)

We must realize that the Lord Jesus Christ was a Jew, and that He came unto His own as the Jewish Messiah.  Why, then, did His own not receive Him?

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The Great Differences

When the leaders of Israel came to John and asked him if he were the Messiah, "he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ" (John 1:20). All he would claim to be was a voice, crying in the wilderness. There is a great difference between the voice and the Word: Christ was the eternal Word, come to perform the work of redemption. But since God’s plan includes not merely the offer of the Gospel to all the race but also the specific fulfilling in detail of all His promises to the Jews, it was necessary that the forerunner announce the Lord as the Messiah of Israel, and that Christ should come, first of all, unto His own.

Image previewThe Great Differences

"After that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel" (Mark 1:14-15).

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John’s Symbols of Christ

When John the Baptist came to announce the Messiah, upon which set of prophecies did he draw for his preaching? A careful analysis of all the passages of John’s ministry up to the time he baptized Jesus Christ reveals the following facts: His quotations from the Old Testament are all prophecies of what we call the second coming of Christ, even though he came before the first coming of Christ. John spoke of Christ as Saviour only in one passage, and that on the day of the baptism of the Lord; and most significantly it is only in the fourth Gospel that this is recorded. "… he cried, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1: 29).

Image previewJohn’s Symbols of Christ

"Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world" (John 1: 29)

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The Two Messages

There is a great contrast between the early message of Jesus which was the same as John’s message of repentance and His later message which prepares the way for the great doctrinal utterances to be found in the epistles of Paul. There is a great difference between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of grace. The Gospel of the Kingdom is a threat because of approaching judgment, men are warned to repent because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. John’s ethical message was based on the nearness of the wrath to come. Men were warned to bring forth fruits meet for repentance. Those who had abundance of goods were to divide with those who had none. Petty officials were warned against betraying the public trust, soldiers were told that they were not to pillage, but to be content with their wages. This was not unlike the early ministry of the Lord Jesus. It was primarily an ethical message - "After that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel" (Mark 1:14-15).

Image previewThe Two Messages

“He came unto His own but His own did not receive Him“. John 1:11

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The Fall: It's Immediate and Continued Effects

What a wonderful sound! And yet they were terrified because sin separates. Here we see the pursuing love of God - He would not leave them in their misery and nakedness, he would speak to them. But when man is running away from God the voice of tenderness takes on tones of awe. “He uttered his voice, the earth melted” (Psalm 46:6). That is the way the voice of the Lord must have come to their fleeing hearts, in spite of the fact that all the tones of tenderness and mercy were there. And, worst of all, they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. This is the worst of all sins. A sin against one’s own heart and life is bad, very bad. A sin that involves the soul of another is worse, much worse. But a sin that is an affront against the majesty and holiness of God is worst of all. That is why David, after he had committed such a series of sins—adultery, murder—and had betrayed his kingship by failing to lead the people and by sending his subjects to their death in battle—cried out, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4). It was, of course, futile to attempt to hide from God, but sin will try any folly. “If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there!” (Psalm 139:8).

Image previewThe Fall: It’s Immediate and Continued Effects

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in cool of the day and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.“ Genesis 3:8

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Lies and Lying Eyes

Satan says that God’s Word is not true, however the wreckage of earth and a million billion graves attest that God is true and Satan is the liar. He still clings to his lie, and it comes today in various forms. He denies the eternity of the lake of fire. He teaches the doctrines of soul–sleeping and annihilation. He preaches the doctrine of a second chance of salvation after death. Over against this, Christ said, “You will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he ...” “You will...die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come” (John 8:24, 21 RSV). The choice today is the same as it was for Eve—the Word of God or the denial of Satan.

Image previewLies and Lying Eyes

"But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.   For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like

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