Friday, September 22, 2017

61 - What to do When ...

... You Give To Charity


"Take care not to be doing your charitable giving before men, so as to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have not a reward from your Father in heaven.

Whenever therefore you do charitable giving, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by men. Assuredly I say to you, they receive their reward in full.

But when you do charitable giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your charitable giving may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will Himself reward you openly. Mat. 6:1-4 EMTV



Some commentaries insist that there is a big difference between charitable giving in verse 1 and the charitable giving in verse 2.  Notice: When you do good deeds (verse 1) and When you give to the poor (verse 2). CEV.


The reason this is important is that with this difference emphasized it becomes clear that verse one, When you do good deeds, is the caption for the various righteous things that Christ will be speaking of in this sermon.  

1. When you give to the poor do it for the poor and do not sound a trumpet.  It does not appear that any such practice was literally performed, as blowing a trumpet before them, when they gave their alms. Gill   Sounding the trumpet was Christ's way of emphasizing the feeling that He got when He noticed how ostensibly hypocrites do give.  

They sound a trumpet in the synagogues and in the streets.  Both in church and in business locations.  How often we have all seen this:  

- In churches at the end of the pew, or at the entrance to the church library is a little, sometimes not so little, plaque with words that might say "humbly gifted by John Smith" on it.  I can assure you that they already have their reward. CEV

- men, women or businesses give huge donations to charity and so often it is done with a lot of fanfare with thousands, or more, people watching. I can assure you that they already have their reward. CEV

-  A number of years ago there was a fund raising auction sale.  The first thing to be auctioned was an imaginary loaf of bread.  The money raised by that loaf of bread was destined to feed the hungry.  This is a great purpose but the man who bid $500.00 for it made sure we all heard and saw him.  He wanted all of us to think that he was a very benevolent man.  I can assure you that he already has his reward. CEV. 

They, the hypocrites, give so that they may be praised by men.  If you do it so that you're giving to be praised by humans than that praise is all you will get.  The grammar of the ancient Greek here is emphatic. When Jesus says they have their reward, the word have can be understood as “paid in full.” Guzik

However when you do charitable giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (this, again, is a hyperbole by Christ) so that your charitable giving may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will Himself reward you openly.

... You Pray


And whenever you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and on the street corners, so that they may be seen by men. Assuredly I say to you, that they receive their reward in full.

But you, whenever you pray, enter into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you openly.

But when you pray, do not babble like the heathen, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him.
Mat. 6:5-8 EMTV

2. you shall not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing:  Of course, if you're standing you are easier to see.

in the synagogues: this makes you look holy. 

on the street corners: more people will see you at the corner of the street than halfway down the block.  If being thought of as holy is what they want I can assure you that they already have their reward. CEV

Unless praying in public is part of your job description pray to your Father who is in secret.  

When you pray, do not babble like the heathen, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  I suppose that almost all of us who attend church have heard someone "pray" and we were convinced that they prayed so long just because they loved to hear themselves talk.

... You Fast


Moreover, when you fast, do not become gloomy, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting.  If you are fasting so that others will know that you are fasting Assuredly I say to you, you have received your reward in full.  

But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face (look normal) so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. Mat. 6:16-18 

3. The Mosaic law ... never enjoins fasting. Fausset.  Surely there are times when it is right, even necessary, to put aside the necessities of life so that we can focus on repentance and/or prayer.  These times might come many times, or maybe only a few times.  When they do come we must make sure that we do not push them aside!  However, let's not relegate those times to certain days or events; if we do, the whole effort tends to become ritualistic and meaningless. 

Rather than going without food or sleep or other pleasures for no apparent reasons we might choose to follow Jehovah's guidelines.  He says:

Nay, in the days of your fasts ye find your pleasures, and all them that are under your power ye wound.

I have not chosen such a fast, saith the Lord;
- but do thou loose every burden of iniquity,
this is believed, by some, to mean (do your best to overturn any unjust court case).

- do thou untie the knots of hard bargains, If you forced someone into a business deal because you had him "over the barrel"; undo it.

- set the bruised free, Jewish law stated that if a slave owner purposely damaged a slave in certain ways that slave was to be set free.  Some slave owners did not do that.

- and cancel every unjust account.  How could you even think of "seeking God's face" if you are guilty of swindling anyone?

- Break thy bread to the hungry, share your food with the hungry.

- and lead the unsheltered poor to thy house: share the comforts of your home with the needy.

- if thou seest one naked, clothe him, buy the needy some clothing.

- and thou shalt not disregard the relations of thine own seed. Don't turn your back on your own kin even if they are hard to get along with.

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily spring forth: and thy righteousness shall go before thee, and the glory of God shall compass thee. 
Isaiah 58:3+6-8 Brenton Version

Or, as Christ said, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you openly.

Friday, September 15, 2017

60 - Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 

But I say to you, that whoever looks at a woman in order to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is better for you that one of your members be lost, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is better for you that one of your members be lost, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a divorce certificate.'

But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for a matter of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.
 Mat. 5:27-32 


Adultery


You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'.  For centuries already the law has been repeated and you know it well.  But your interpretation of this law does not affect the heart.

Many and severe are the prohibitions of the Jews, concerning looking upon a woman, which they aggravate as a very great sin: they say: 
- it is not lawful to look upon a beautiful woman, though unmarried;  
- nor upon a woman's coloured garments: 
- they forbid looking on a woman's little finger, 
- and say that he that tells (counts) money to a woman, out of his hand into her's, that he may look upon her (this sounds like prostitution) ... shall not escape the damnation of hell: 
- they affirm that he that looks upon a woman's heel, his children shall not be virtuous; 
- and that a man may not go after (walk behind) a woman in the way, no, not after (behind) his wife, he must take her to the side of him, (the idea seems to be that he might see her heel, or worse yet, he might notice her waistline; so he must walk beside her so that he cannot see her) 
- they forbid a man looking on the beauty of his own wife.  

Now these things were said by them ... because they would be thought to be very chaste; when they were, as Christ calls them, an "adulterous generation" in a literal sense: they usually did what our Lord observes, "strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel". Gill.  This means that they were extremely picky about the minutest details and at the same time miss the whole point.

So the men in such a society insist that the women wear overbearingly hot clothing all summer long just so that everyone will think of those same men, that make those rules, are above ever thinking of committing adultery.

Christ continues, So I am saying to you whoever looks at a woman in order to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

On the other side of the globe, in North America, many women walk the city streets wearing almost nothing.  Don't they realize that a woman in a pretty dress is much more beautiful than an under dressed woman is?  But, enough of that.

Men walking the same streets will, of course, see the women, but that does not mean that they are even considering committing adultery.   The sin is not in seeing, it is in lusting; it is a matter of the heart.  Some Bible teachers explain it like this: if you would do it if you thought you could get away with it than you are already guilty of doing it.

Speaking in hyperboles, to emphasize the truth, Christ said, if you cannot look at a woman without having impure thoughts about her, gouge out your offending eye.


We, Christians, are so prone to think glibly of Jehovah's attitude towards sin.  If you do not always treat a woman in a gentlemanly manner cut off your offending hand.  If you do not do that, you might do something which will incur Jehovah's damnation.

Divorce


Christ continues, Not only that but it has been said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a divorce certificate.  Under Jewish law, a man can divorce a woman for any reason or no reason. The Talmud specifically says that a man can divorce a woman because she spoiled his dinner or simply because he finds another woman more attractive, and the woman's consent to the divorce is not required. Judaism 101.

The Pharisees asked Christ Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?  If Christ would have said "yes" there would have been a lot less friction between Him and the Pharisees.  

Instead of agreeing He said, a man ... shall be joined to his wife ... So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. This was Jehovah's original plan. But because of the hardness of your hearts, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives. Mat. 19:5-6.

Christ's standards are higher than those of the Pharisees.  He said, whoever divorces his wife, except for a matter of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery;  Unless your wife is already guilty of sexual immorality if you divorce her you are the one that is guilty of causing her to commit adultery.

The idea seems to be that a woman should not be expected to live unmarried the rest of her life just because her husband discarded her.  The problem is that she becomes the wife of another man while her first husband is still alive.  Her first husband is responsible for her situation because he divorced her without just cause.

whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.  Not only is the wife, who was forced to get divorced, guilty of adultery but the man who marries her is also guilty of adultery because, in Jehovah's eyes, that woman is still part of her first husband ever since the two became one.

What seems so absurd is that many people in various Christian denominations love to claim "all" the words of Christ as infallible; all, that is, except this statement by Christ whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.  

This statement is so completely disregarded by many denominations.  Is it because the preacher does not want to lose any church members?  Is it because churches always tend to go with the flow of society, ignoring what the Bible actually teaches?  Christian churches are to be the moral leaders in any society, not the followers.

Here we are not even considering the idea of living together without being married.  If divorce and remarriage were not so easy in our society, and especially in the Christian churches, perhaps couples would try harder to be easier to get along with.    After all, living alone is not much fun.

Even though this post is written with males in mind, if the necessary changes are made, it also applies to females.  They also cannot do whatever they may feel like doing and still remain pure!

Friday, September 8, 2017

59 - Thou Shalt Not Murder

"You have heard that it was said to the ancients, 'You shall not kill,' and whoever kills will be liable to the judgment. 

But I say to you that whoever gets angry with his brother without cause will be liable to the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Empty-head!' will be liable to the council. But whoever says, ' fool!' will be liable to the fiery hell. 

Therefore if you offer your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you,  

leave your gift there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  

Make friends with your adversary quickly, while you are on the road with him, lest your adversary hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be cast into prison. 

Assuredly I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. 
Mat 5:21-26 EMTV


That is No Little Sin


We noticed in the last post that Jesus Christ did not agree with the Roman Catholic church that there are mortal and venial sins.  James wrote, For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he has become guilty of all. James 2:10.  All sin is sin! 

Let us not flatter ourselves into thinking that those things we call "little sins" will be overlooked by The Just Judge.  They must be accounted for and Paul wrote, the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 6:23. 

Life after sin is possible but it cannot be achieved by hours of penance, self-torture, or paying indulgences.  It is available to us only because Christ Jesus died and rose again and we must be willing to accept that as the only payment for our sins.

Christ continues with the topic of "big sins" versus "little sins".  You have heard whoever kills (commits premeditated murder) will be liable to the judgment. (such an one must be put to death ... "by the house of judgment", the country's highest court system.) Gill.

Note that this word kill does not include a soldier's actions in a war.  I have more about this in: https://wwwthinkagai.blogspot.com/2012/07/is-pacifism-biblical.html


Anger



Christ continues, But I say to you that whoever gets angry with his brother (fellow human) without cause will be liable to the judgment.  Certainly, Christians are allowed to be angry when there is a reason for it, but not without cause.

Road rage is a good example of this.  Someone pulls in front of us, into the space which we rightfully thought was ours, and immediately we seeth.  This is anger without cause.  It might have been the other driver's innocent mistake, but even if it wasn't, so what if he is ahead of us rather than behind us.  No big deal!  Keep your cool.

It seems strange that Christ said that we will be brought to court for being angry about something.  The idea could be that we won't be taken to court for being angry but because of how we act in our anger and, in the example above, attack the other driver with a tire iron, or worse, and so we end up in court on a murder charge. 


Slander


It sounds as if Christ is speaking of slander because He says whoever says to his brother, 'Empty-head!' will be liable to the council (in Christ's day this meant the Jewish Sanhedrim. Strong G4892.)   The Supreme Council of the land. 

Instead of Empty-head the KJV uses the word Raca and some Bible commentators say that this word represents the worst that any person could call another person.

Judgement


But whoever says, 'fool!' will be liable to the fiery hell.  The word fool, in this case, designates a person as morally worthless and an apostate.  If a person takes it upon himself to judge another's character that way, he, himself, should receive a punishment fit for a rebel against God, that is, everlasting destruction. NW Com.  We may judge another person's actions but we may never judge another person's character!

Therefore,  (because, if the previous statement is true), if you offer your gift on the altar, (or your tithe in the offering plate) and there you remember that your brother has something against you, (this is important because your eternal welfare depends on this) leave your gift there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Mat. 5:23-24. 

All of a sudden, during the church service, you remember that a fellow human being is upset with you so don't put off making things right with him/her.  If necessary leave the church service right then, as soon as you think of the problem, and be reconciled with your brother.  Later you come back and worship the Lord, with a clean slate.

I am sure that almost every one of us knows someone who refuses to seek reconciliation with some one else.  To them, Saint John writes Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15 NW.


Going to Court


If someone is threatening to take you to court do your level best to placate him.  Make friends with your adversary quickly; if you don't, the judge may find you guilty and you end up in jail and there you will stay until the whole debt has been paid.  You are much further ahead to just swallow your pride, try to avoid a court case, and not spend your income earning years in prison.

As far as a Christian taking a fellow Christian to a non-Christian court, St. Paul made it very clear that such a thing is not allowed.  Does any of you, having a matter against another, dare go to court before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 

So is there not among you a wise man, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brother and another?  Rather than taking a Christian to a civil court, find a wise man, in your church and accept his decision.  But brother goes to court against brother, and this before unbelievers (to a civil court)

First of all, it is actually a defeat for you that you have lawsuits against one another (a Christian against a Christian).
Secondly, Why not rather accept wrong? Why not rather accept being defrauded? 
Thirdly, you wrong and defraud, and these things to your brothers! 1 Cor. 6:1-8.  It completely destroys a church's testimony when non-Christians hear about Christians cheating Christians and then taking the poor defrauded brother to court.

Friday, September 1, 2017

58 - True Righteousness


Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish, but to fulfil. 

For assuredly I say to you, until heaven and earth may pass away, one iota or one tittle shall by no means pass away from the law until all things are fulfilled. 

Whoever therefore shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men thus, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Mat 5:17-20 emtv. 


Validity of the Old Testament



Before this, Christ had several negative run-ins with the Pharisees and, to avert any false accusations about Him trying to turn the teachings of Moses on their head, He said do not be so rash as to think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets.


When the Jews spoke of The Law they were not referring only to the "Thou Shalt's" and "Thou Shalt Not's", they meant all The Pentateuch (the first five books of our Bible).  Likewise, the phrase, the prophets, meant all the writings of the prophets of our Old Testament, not just some favourite predictions of the future.  From His statement, it seems reasonable to assume that He might have meant everything between the first section and the last section which He named.

I did not come to abolish
(to set aside), but to fulfil (one of the meanings is to finish a task. Strong).

The Book of Hebrews goes into, step by step, detail to show us that The Law did not fulfil all the requirements but that Christ did finish the task of making reconciliation with God possible.  

For the law having a shadow of the good things to come ... can never with the same sacrifices, ... make those approaching perfect. Heb.10:1  

For the law made nothing perfect; but there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. Heb.7:19  


assuredly I say to you - I tell you, you can count on this

until heaven and earth may pass awayas long as time exists 

one iota or one tittle - the smallest parts of the Hebrew Alphabet as found in sacred text

shall by no means pass away -

until all things are fulfilled - the words of Jehovah will not pass away until His plan on earth is finished.


Least in the Kingdom of Heaven


Whoever therefore shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men thus, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.  Are there lesser and greater laws.  It seems that Christ is here calling out the Pharisees and their obsession with bigger sins and lesser sins. The Pharisees were remarkable for making a distinction between weightier and lighter matters in the law, and between what has been called, in a corrupt part of the Christian Church, mortal and venial sins. Clarke.


By having religious leaders teach that there are mortal and venial sins the general public has come to accept that committing "small sins" is irrelevant.  OK, we all agree that we should not murder or steal but surely, lying is a small sin and God won't mind so much.


Christ has a different approach to that idea, He said, Whoever ... shall break even one of the things you call little commandments and teach that it was just a little sin ... will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.


whoever does them 
(keeps even the little laws which you say are not important) and teaches (others to also keep) them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Regarding the phrase, kingdom of heaven, Barnes has this to say, The meaning of this passage seems to be this: in the kingdom of heaven, that is, in the kingdom of the Messiah, or in the church which he is about to establish.

unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  This is setting the standard very high.  They were well known and highly regarded for keeping their version of the law.  Christ says, That is not nearly good enough! You must be more righteous than that.

The Pharisees wore their righteousness on their sleeves; Christ continuously taught that true righteousness starts in the heart, not in outward appearances. Going to church on Sunday to fool your neighbours just does not cut it.

Because Christianity starts on the inside and works its way out it is real.  When Christ enters a person's life He changes the person's heart - "basic inclinations". Facade and pretended righteousness must fall by the wayside.

Friday, August 25, 2017

57 - Salt and Light

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt becomes tasteless, with what shall it be salted? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and to be trampled underfoot by men. Mat 5:13 emtv

The Preserving Salt


In our minds, it is much too easy to separate the Beatitudes from the rest of the Sermon on the Mount.  There is nothing that indicates that while Christ was preaching there was a break between so they persecuted the prophets who were before you and You are the salt of the earth.

You are the salt of the earth.  Christ said this to His followers; it was true then and it is just as true today. Of course, this does not include everyone that attends a Christian church nor does it include everyone that is fluent in Bible talk.  This statement is reserved for those who, in all earnestness, attempt to follow the mandates of the Beatitudes.

but if the salt becomes tasteless, with what shall it be salted? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and to be trampled underfoot by men. Here is an interesting bit of information about salt mining in The Levant. 

Along, on one side of the valley, ... there is a small precipice ... occasioned by the continual taking away of the salt. I broke a piece of it, of which that part that was exposed to the rain, sun, and air, though it had the sparks and particles of salt, Yet It Had Perfectly Lost Its Savour: the inner part, which was connected to the rock, retained its savour. Clarke quoting Mr Maundrell.

It seems somewhat superfluous to say that if a Christian intends to be a preserving influence in society that Christian must stay connected to the rock.  When Christians lose their "saltiness", as preserving agents, they are good for nothing except to be used as gravel on a sidewalk.


The Revealing Light




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 shines on everything in the house. 

Thus let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works, and they may glorify your Father who is in heaven. Mat 5:14-16 emtv

Not far from what is known as The Mount of Beatitudes is the city Saphet, ... upon a very eminent and conspicuous mountain, and is Seen Far and Near. May we not suppose that Christ alludes to this city, in these words of his, A city set on a hill cannot be hid? Clarke

At the time Christ was living on earth many cities were built on top of hills for the sake of protection.  Any army that would attack the city would be hampered by the incline but, not only that, the attacking soldiers would be visible long before they were at the city gates.

Christ said, A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden and if you are serious about me neither can you hide the fact that you are my follower.  The Christian life is something very high and sublime, to which we cannot arrive without pains: while it withdraws us from the earth, and carries us nearer heaven, it places us in view, and as a mark, to the malice of carnal men.” Clarke.   Do your co-workers know that you are a Christian?  Are you honest in your business dealings?  You bow your head for a table grace before a meal at home; do you also do that in a cafe or are you ashamed of being a Christian?  When Christ said, A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden He may have meant, There is no such thing as a secret Christian.

Christ did not say to His followers, "You are supposed to be the light of the world"; He said, You are the light of the world.  Christ did not implant the light of the world into us so that we could hide it under an upside down basket.

Christ has set us on a lampstand so that His light shining through us will show up whatever is in the rest of our surroundings.  The reason for this is so that they may see your good works, and they may glorify your Father who is in heaven.

As the light of Christ in the lives of Christians grows dim the powers of darkness increase.  This simple fact is clearly seen in the lifestyle of the people of Canada and the United States.  

The USA is proud to speak of Honest Abe, the man who freed the slaves.  However, to find him they must look back 150 years.   

Canada also once had an honest leader, Joe Clark, of him it was said that he did not win the second term because "he was too honest" and to that, I might add, his moral standards were too high to be the leader of a country whose morals were quickly spiralling downwards.

In my opinion, this decline in morality, in North America, is due to our fixation on television and theatres.   Perhaps this is inevitable because it is a sign of the times; an inevitable step to the moral and spiritual darkness that will enshroud the world before the return of Christ

Friday, August 18, 2017

56 - You Will Be Fortunate if You ...

According to the Book of Matthew, this is where the well-known Sermon on the Mount starts.  In Matthew it is three chapters long and we will be with it for awhile.


It is important to remember that in all His preaching Christ was preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom; His coming Kingdom. Mat. 4:23.  He is telling us how we must live if we expect ourselves to be fit to enter that Kingdom.

But lay up treasures in Heaven for yourselves. Mat 6:20  



The gist of the Beatitudes is: You must decide whether you want to live 80 (or so) years in comfort, destroying the lives of others, if you must, to gain what you want or deny yourselves some of the enjoyment of life so that others may have the comforts they deserve and in that way lay up treasures for yourself in heaven.

The Beatitudes


1.  Blessed (fortunate; well off) are the poor (a beggar; cringing) in spirit (mental disposition), for theirs is the kingdom (realm) of heaven (by implication happiness). Mat 5:3


Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20

But woe (grief) to you who are rich (wealthy - the meaning of this word is very affluent.  It means having more than enough to live comfortably), because you have received your consolation (solace, comfort). Luke 6:24.

The way some Christians horde wealth and toys or squander their incomes pursuing pleasures one would think they have never heard this beatitude.  

The same idea comes through when one sees the over ornate, money wasting Sunday morning buildings of many groups that call themselves Christian.

2.  Blessed are those who hunger (severe cravingand thirst after righteousness (in character and action), for they shall be filled (to gorge; be fully satisfied). Mat. 5:6 

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. Luke 6:21

Woe to you who have been filled, for you shall be hungry. Luke 6:25

Do any of us have a severe craving to be righteous?  We don't mind being righteous as long as it does not inconvenience us.

It is so easy to pray for the destitute people of the world but doing something practical to help relieve their hunger pangs is a totally different matter, isn't it?

From the other point of view: it is fantastic to see that organisations such as World Vision, The Red Cross, and many others can keep on fulfilling their mission because so many people keep on giving to the needy.

3.  Blessed are those who mourn (wail), for they will be comforted (to call near; to invite). Mat. 5:4 

Blessed are you who weep (cry; wail aloudnow, for you shall laugh. Luke 6:21

Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Luke 6:25

You may laugh at the unfortunate now but someday such coldness will be taken into account when your heavenly ledger is opened.

4.  Blessed are those who have been persecuted (to pursuefor righteousness' sake (on account of), for theirs is the kingdom (realmof heaven (by implication happiness).  
   Blessed are you whenever they revile (defame; taunt) you, and they persecute you, and they say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 
      Rejoice (be full of cheerand be exceedingly glad (jump for joy; exult), for great (much; many; largelyis your reward (pay for servicesin heaven (happiness, eternity), for so they persecuted (pursuedthe prophets who were before you. Mat. 5:10-12 

   Blessed are you when men (humans) shall hate (detest) you, and when they shall exclude you, and shall revile (defame; tauntyou, and cast out your name as evil (morally diseased), because of the Son of Man. 
   Rejoice in that day (can mean the judgement dayand leap for joy! For behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets. Luke 6:22-23 

Woe to you when men (humansspeak well (usually morally) of you, for in like manner their fathers (literally or figurativelywould do to the false prophets (pretended foreteller). Luke 6:26 

5.  Blessed are the peacemakers (peaceable), for they shall be called sons of God. Mat. 5:9 

bless (speak well of; invoke a benedictionthose who curse (execrate; to pronounce doomyou; pray for those who mistreat (insult; slander) you. Luke 6:28

It really would be a lot easier to hope that something bad would happen to them!

6.  Blessed are the merciful (compassionate), for they shall obtain mercy. Mat. 5:7 

Love (in a social or moral sense) your enemies (odious; hostile), do good to those who hate (detestyou. Luke 6:27

7.  To him who strikes (to pummel with a stickyou on the one cheek, offer (present) the other also. And from him who takes your outer garment (winter coat), do not forbid the tunic either (a hip-length or longer blouse or jacket. Merriam-Webster). Luke 6:29

    Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your belongings, do not ask for them back. Luke 6:30.
   Do not beg them off. This probably refers to the way in which the tax-gatherers and Roman soldiers used to spoil the people. “When such harpies as these come upon your goods, suffer the injury quietly, leaving yourselves in the hand of God, rather than attempt even to beg off what belongs to you, lest on their part they be provoked to seize or spoil more.  Clarke

Here Christ is not saying that, in a normal situation, we do not have a right to protect our property.  He is saying that when a corrupt government official takes more than is justly his you will be further ahead just to "let it go".  You can not win against the officials anyway.

8.  Blessed are the meek (humble, mild), for they shall inherit (obtainthe earth (a region or the solid part of the whole ... globe). Mat. 5:5

9.  Therefore all things, whatever you desire that men should do to you, do even so to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets. Mat. 7:12  The Law (the Books of Moses) and the preachings of the prophets stand on this principle.

And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. Luke 6:31.

This "Golden rule" is one step up from the pre-Christian "do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you".  It should not bother a Christian to be the first one, in any given situation, to do a good deed.

Blessed are the pure in heart (thoughts or feelings), for they shall see (to gaze with wide open eyesGod. Mat. 5:8

What a wonderful promise our Redeemer has given us: we will gaze with wide open eyes at our loving God.  What an incentive this is to keep our thoughts and feelings pure!

All definitions, unless otherwise noted, are from James Strong's dictionary of Greek words. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

55 - Choosing The Foundation Stones of the Holy City

The wall of the city also had twelve foundation stones, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  Rev. 21:14

12 In the progress of these days he went out into the mountain to pray, and he continued the whole night in prayer to God. 
13  And when it was day, He called His disciples. Luke 6:12-13 MKJV

13 He ascended a mountain and summoned those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 
14 And he formed a group of 12, whom he also named apostles, those who were to accompany him and whom he would send out to preach
15 and to have authority to expel demons.
16 And the group of 12 that he formed were Simon, to whom he also gave the name Peter, 
17 James the son of Zebʹe·dee and John the brother of James (he also gave these the name Bo·a·nerʹges, which means “Sons of Thunder”),
18 Andrew, Philip, Bar·tholʹo·mew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Al·phaeʹus, Thad·daeʹus, Simon the Ca·na·naeʹan, 
19 and Judas Is·carʹi·ot, who later betrayed him. Mark 3:13-19 NW

Twelve Apostles


In his Biography of Christ, Matthew has nothing to say about the choice of the seven last apostles, but Mark and Luke both do. Luke starts with two very important notes which Mark does not include.

1. Christ had some tough decisions to make the next day so He spent the whole night in prayer to God.  This sounds so much more profitable than staying up all night fretting and trying to figure out what tomorrow's decisions should be.

2. And when it was day, He called His disciples. By this time many common folks were following Jesus and they are here called His disciples.  The word disciple means a learner; pupil. Strong G3129.  It was from among all those people that he formed a group of 12, whom he also named apostles. These twelve would go with Him and he would send them out to preach and to have authority to expel demons.

From our studies, we recall that before now He had already chosen Peter and His brother Andrew; James and his brother John and Matthew the tax collector. He needed to add only seven more to have a group of twelve.

These were His twelve chosen disciples:


1. Simon Peter; The name Peter comes from the Greek Petros and it means “a mass of rock detached from the living rock."
2. James; son of Zebedee and his brother
3. John; Jesus gave these two the nickname Boanerges which means "Sons of Thunder".  Some Bible scholars suggest that this happened because James and John said, Lord, do You desire that we command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did?
Luke 9:54
4. Andrew; Brother of Peter.
5. Philip; lover of horses.

6. Bartholomew; In the Gospel of John he is known as Nathanael.  Jesus said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile! John 1:47
7. Matthew; The son of Alphaeus and the writer of the Gospel of Matthew.
8. Thomas; was his Hebrew name and Didymus, the name used by Luke, was his Greek name; it means twin. Then Thomas (he being called Twin). John 11:16. It is believed that he was the twin brother of Matthew or James and that all three of these were brothers.  Because Thomas, at first, did not believe that Christ had risen from the dead that we now have that famous line "a doubting Thomas".
9. James; the son of Al·phaeʹus, just like Matthew.
10. Thaddeus; Mark uses the surname, Thaddeus, but Luke uses his given name, Judas.  However, this Judas must not be confused with Judas Iscariot.  We know this Judas better by the name Jude, the writer of the second last book in the Bible.
11. Simon; The Canaanite
12. Judas; who later betrayed him. Easton Bible Dictionary

A man once asked a theologian, “Why did Jesus choose Judas Iscariot to be his disciple?” The teacher replied, “I don’t know, but I have an even harder question: Why did Jesus choose me?” Guzik


The Sermon on the Mount



And he came down (from the mountain; 6:13with them and took his station on a level place. Luke 6:17.

When he saw the crowds he went up into the mountain. Mat. 5:1.  

This seeming contradiction needs a solution.
  
It is probably not right to assume that Christ preached all of "the sermon on the mount" in one setting.  Matthew's paraphrase of it is much longer than Luke's is so it is logical that Matthew gathered more material from Christ's various sermons, than Luke did, and laced them together into what appears to be one continuous lecture.

Christ was an itinerant preacher and He preached wherever He went and no doubt He repeated the same thoughts many times because He continuously had a new audience. 

As we have already noticed, the three synoptic Gospel writers did not record all the events in the same sequence.  Some scholars say that since Luke does not say that the sermon was preached immediately after choosing the twelve disciples the location given for the sermon is irrelevant.

Since Bible students suggest that neither Luke's or Matthew's version of the sermon is an actual "copy" of any one sermon it was reasonable for each of them to place Christ at a different location for recording the preaching of the sermon.  

Starting with the next post we will look at some of the highlights of The Sermon on the Mount, although just about every phrase is a highlight.