Grace and peace to you Beloved in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you again for joining us for our mid-week Bible study. Today we are beginning a new series on the Beatitudes. There are eight Beatitudes, but we will have twelve studies. Two introductory studies, then the Beatitudes, and then we will also include what is known as the Similitudes. Christians are like salt and light.
I am calling this study “The Blessed Life in Christ”. In fact, today will be an overview of that very thing. That having Christ is the greatest blessing in all the world.
Let’s open in prayer and ask God to bless our time in His word.
Beatitudes means the blessedness of being in Christ. (Mt.5:1-12) As Believers in Jesus we are blessed by God beyond all imagination. (Ps.1:1, Rom.4:7-8) Only in Glory will we grasp the wonders that belong to us in Jesus. (I Cor.2:9, 13:12, I Jn.3:2)
In a world filled with thorns and thistles it is good to remind ourselves of all of the benefits that we enjoy being found in the beloved Son of God. (Col.3:1-3, Phil.4:8)
Beloved, it is my prayer that this brief study in the Beatitudes will convince and comfort you that in Christ all is well with your soul, and that in Christ your life has fallen to you in beautiful places and that in Christ God plans eternal good for you. (Ps.16:6, Jer.29:11)
This is God’s ballast for us to keep us in the storms of life. These truths cheer us in the sorrows of life. We can live and die happily because we have Christ. We are blessed!
Let me give us a pastoral exhortation to help us glean the wonder form this passage. Pray before you read. Pray after your read for the Holy Spirit to give you insight. And pray believing each word is God’s true word to you in Christ. This will make this study effective to your comfort and growth in Christ. (I Thess.2:13, Isa.66:5, Jas.1:6, Jn.14:26, see WSC 90)
Read Matthew 5: 1-16.
The Beatitudes are found within the context of the sermon of Christ that we call The Sermon on the Mount. The sermon on the mount is found in Matthew chapters five through seven. Obviously, this section is placed within the book of Matthew.
Matthew opens with the genealogy of Jesus proving He is legally, rightfully, the Promised Messiah. And then we have Christ’s virgin birth; fulfilling prophecy and proving Christ was true man so He could be capable of dying in our place. (Mt.1-2, Heb.10:1-14, Gal.4:4, Gen.3:15)
Christ is then baptized, officially and publicly commissioned for His work as Mediator-Savior. (Mt.3:13-17) In Matthew chapter four Christ does combat with the devil as the Second Adam beginning His work in destroying the works of Satan. (Mt.4:1-11, Gen.3:15, I Jn.3:1-8, Heb.2:14-15, I Cor.15:45)
And then we come here to Matthew chapter five.
This is part of what is known as the Galilean ministry of Christ. (Mt.4:12-17) This is to distinguish Christ’s public ministry in Judea which is referred to as His Judean ministry. So, in the Beatitudes Christ is in the land of Galilee. Here He is fulfilling the prophecy found in Isaiah.
Isaiah 9:1. But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. 2 The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. (John 1:1-4, Jn.14:1-10)
Christ will bless all of the families of the earth. (Gen.12:1-3, Gen. 28:14, Rev.5:9, Gal.3:16-29)
Jesus goes up on a mountain to something of a natural amphitheater in order to deliver this sermon.
Often Christ on this mountain is compared and contrasted with Moses on Mount Sinai. (Exod.19:17-25) Moses commands the people to stay away. Christ bids them to come near. Moses receives the codified moral law, with the roar of thunder and the flash of lightning signifying the gravity of breaking the law. Whereas the tenor of Christ’s sermon is gracious and inviting. (Jn.1:17) Christ is gentle, meek, mild, loving and having all blessings.
When Christ looks at the people and He sees their condition He is filled with compassion for them. (Mt.9:36, 14:14, 15:32, Mk.6:34, 8:2, Lk.9:13) And great multitudes flock to Jesus.
Christ’s public ministry opens here with His preaching. This is an aspect of Christ’s office of prophet as our Mediator-Savior. This is Christ fulling prophecy given to Moses.
Deuteronomy 18:15. The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 “This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ 17 “The LORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well. 18 ‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
This is how our secondary standards summarize our primary standard regarding Christ’s offices:
WSC 23 What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?
- Christ, as our Redeemer, executes the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation. (Acts 3:21,22; Heb. 12:25 with 2 Cor. 13:3; Heb. 5:5,6,7; Heb. 7:25; Isa. 9:6,7; Matt. 21:5; Ps. 2:8-11)
WSC 24 How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?
- Christ executes the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation? (John 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; John 15:15; John 20:31)
The preacher is God in the Flesh which is itself a fulfillment of prophecy.
Isaiah 54:13 All your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great.
Isaiah 50:4. The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. 5 The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not disobedient Nor did I turn back. 6 I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
Christ also reveals His high priestly ministry by pronouncing a blessing upon His people. (see: Num.6:22-27, WSC 25, Heb.2:17, 3:1, 4:14-15, 5:1-10, 9:1-25)
The gospel – faith.
The beatitudes logically come after Christ’s “first sermon”, as it were, which was the Gospel of Salvation.
Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 4:23. Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.
The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul tells us that the gospel of salvation is the message of the Cross referring to the atoning sacrifice of Christ. (I Cor. 15:1-4)
I Corinthians 1:17. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (Eph.2:16, Col.1:20, 2:14)
By believing the gospel of Christ we are saved.
I Corinthians 15:1. Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (Jn.3:16, Rom.10:1-17, Jn.17:1-17)
The law – faithfulness.
The scheme then is, first believe in Jesus unto salvation then obey Jesus as the proper response to your salvation. Faith. Then faithfulness.
I Peter 2:24. and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
There are three uses of the moral law of God. The law declares the holy standard of God and constrains the sinner by the threats of the law. (see WLC 93-97) The law acts as a tutor to show people their need of Christ in the gospel. (Gal.3:24)
And the moral law is useful to believers to show us our duty in Christ, which is our privilege and pleasure. (see WCF 19.6, WLC 97, Ps.119:97, I Jn.5:1-3, Jn.14:15,21) This is the way that we use the Beatitudes to our benefit.
The beatitudes are an expression of our duty unto God. It pleases God when we are humble, it pleases God when we are gentle, it pleases God when we are merciful. And therefore, we want to live this way.
To repeat, Christ is not teaching “if” you are peacemakers “then” you will merit salvation. Salvation is all of God’s grace or gift.
Ephesians 2: 3. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
But saving faith in Christ always produces good works which are the fruit of faith. You will know true Christian by their Christlike fruit. By fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Each beatitude consists of three parts:
- An ascription of blessedness or happiness. (makarios)
- A description of the person to whom this ascription applies. (condition – poor, etc.)
- A statement for the reason of their blessedness. (their reward is in heaven, etc.)
Christ attaches a blessing to an expression of faithfulness. For our assurance of God’s love. For our assurance of being in an estate of grace and salvation.
The blessing and the obedience to Christ are meant to encourage our faith in Jesus, which is to say, to assure us that we are in an estate of grace or salvation. Our true faith in Christ is proved by our living for Christ. For example, true believers in Jesus manifest their true faith by hungering for righteousness and by being peacemakers. (Mt.5:3-9)
Look at the usefulness of good works or obedience to God’s word.
WCF 16.2 These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith:(1) and by them believers manifest their thankfulness,(2) strengthen their assurance,(3) edify their brethren,(4) adorn the profession of the Gospel,(5) stop the mouths of the adversaries,(6) and glorify God,(7) whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto;(8) that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end eternal life.(9)
(1) James 2:18,22. (2) Ps. 116:12,13; 1 Pet. 2:9. (3) 1 John 2:3,5; 2 Pet. 1:5-10.
(4) 2 Cor. 9:2; Matt. 5:16. (5) Tit. 2:5,9,10,11,12; 1 Tim. 6:1. (6) 1 Pet. 2:15.
(7) 1 Pet. 2:12; Phil. 1:11; John 15:8. (8) Eph. 2:10. (9) Eph. 6:22. (WCF 18.2)
The beatitudes are not the content of the gospel of the Cross, they are the blessedness of those that live transformed lives because of the Cross.
True followers of Jesus are to live radically different than the unbeliever. (Mt.5:21-48, 6:1-18) We are to live holy like Christ because of what Christ has done for us. Listen to God’s word.
Matthew 6:8 So do not be like them. (Mt.5:44-47, 6:7-13, 6:32-33)
Luke 6:32. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
Titus 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness.
Christ constructs each of the beatitudes in a paradoxical fashion. This is something which on the surface seems absurd; blessed to suffer. But in fact, Christ is teaching a reversal of human estimations or evaluations.
God’s evaluation of blessedness is not man’s evaluation of blessedness.
(Isa.55:9, 1 Cor.1:17-31) Remember Christ is declaring the character of His disciples, what is a normative life for a true Christian. The world may look at you as a Christian and think you are wretched, but God says, you are blessed.
Here is the Christian-value-system which is totally at odds with the carnal world. Jesus shows us our blessedness does not come by our outward environment, it comes by our union and communion with God in Christ.
Beloved believer in Christ, walk by faith in Christ and not by sight. Consider your estate from the word of God. Christ says you are blessed in Him. He cannot lie. He is truth personified. You are blessed. Believe your Lord and Savior. Rejoice! (Rom.1:17, 9:30-33, 2 Cor.5:7, Gal.2:20, Heb.11:1-33)
- What do the Beatitudes refer to? What do they mean for Believers? (Mt.5:1-12, Ps.1:1, Rom.4:7-8, I Cor.2:9, 13:12, I Jn.3:2, Ps.16:6, Jer.29:11)
- What should we do to glean the most benefit from the Beatitudes contained in Scripture? (Ps.1:2, 2 Tim.3:14-17, Mt. 5: 1-16, I Thess.2:13, Isa.66:5, Jas.1:6, Jn.14:26, see WSC 90)
- The Beatitudes are preached in the Land of Galilee, what does this teach us? (Isa.9:1-2, Gen.12:1-3, Gen. 28:14, Rev.5:9, Gal.3:16-29)
- Who is the preacher of the Beatitudes? Describe His person and His offices? How does this affect the content of His sermon? How does His person and offices affect the recipients of His sermon? (Mt.1-2, Heb.10:1-14, Gal.4:4, Gen.3:15, Mt.4:1-11, Gen.3:15, I Jn.3:8, Heb.2:14-15, I Cor.15:45, Dt.18:15)
- Describe the gospel of salvation. Use Scripture. (Mt.4:17-23, I Cor. 15:1-4, I Cor.1:17-28, Eph.2:16, Col.1:20, 2:14, Jn.3:16)
- Describe why acceptance of the gospel must logically precede our obedience to the moral admonitions found in the Beatitudes. (Eph.2:1-10, Heb. 11:6, Rom.3:10-18)
- What are the three uses of the moral law of God? As Believers how ought we to consider the moral duties found in the Beatitudes? (see WLC 93-97, Gal.3:24, WCF 19.6, WLC 97, Ps.119:97, I Jn.5:1-3, Jn.14:15,21)
- What good things does the blessing and the obedience to Christ as expressed in the Beatitudes produce? (Mt.5:3-9, WCF 16.2, James 2:18-22, Ps. 116:12-13; 1 Pet. 2:9, 1 John 2:3,5; 2 Pet. 1:5-10, 2 Cor. 9:2; Matt. 5:16, Tit. 2:5,9,10,11,12; 1 Tim. 6:1, 1 Pet. 2:15, 1 Pet. 2:12; Phil. 1:11; John 15:8, Eph. 2:10, Eph. 6:22, WCF 18.2)
- Describe the paradoxical nature of the Beatitudes. What lessons do we learn by this?
- Describe the relationship of faith with the Beatitudes. (Rom.1:17, 9:30-33, 2 Cor.5:7, Gal.2:20, Heb.11:1-33)