Wednesday, November 14, 2018

By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
    “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 
    "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt. 5: 3-11)
   The word beatitude means blessedness, benediction and grace. The Gospel of Jesus Christ found in St. Mathew repeatedly declares Jesus of Nazareth the Jewish Messiah, which had been foretold in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ, True God from eternity and True man by His virgin birth, laid out His plan and purpose of liberating His people from the power of darkness and receiving us into The Kingdom of God!
   The Beatitudes confirm the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and the Golden Rule. They also make us realize that Jesus fills believers with His Holy Spirit and gives evidence that our Lord will return one day to receive us to Himself. (John 14:3)
    Mathew's Gospel has long been regarded as reaching out to the Jews of which there were four groups; Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots. It also teaches us all a number of great truths. The Ten Commandments given by Moses with all the commands of 'Thou shalt not' stands in stark contrast to Jesus' Beatitudes which teaches the works of Jesus within believers by the work of the Holy Spirit! The Beatitudes promise solutions to problems through the Life of the resurrected Saviour:

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven:
    Poor in spirit here means to be humble. Humility is possibly the most spiritual quality we should desire. It means an emptiness of self, devoid of Pride. Humility allows the Spirit of God to enter the seeking soul leading that person into a true conversion experience. Dr. Martin Luther stated,“God cannot save a proud person.”

2. Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted:
   The Bible says: “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” (Rom.2: 4). To have found the grace to honestly repent of sin is because of God's mercy. Christ's vicarious death for us all has provided forgiveness through His shed Blood on the Cross.
    Repentance of all unrighteousness and faith in His precious blood is the first step into the Kingdom of God. Mourning for our sins is a joyous sight in the eyes of God. The Holy Spirit brings us to repentance and also comforts us in our repenting!

3. Blessed are the meek for they shalt inherit the earth:
    Jesus said: “Come unto Me all ye that labour and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11: 28-30).
    Human nature has a tendency to puff oneself up and let pride enter. Jesus warned: “It is enough for the disciple to be as his master, and the servant as his Lord. If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household.” (Matt. 10:25)
    In the Bible, only Jesus and Moses were declared as being meek: “Now the man Moses was meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Num. 12: 30). Perhaps, that is why God called Moses to bring the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Was it because of his meekness? He was a great leader and he was obedient. He would never seek the glory for himself!

4. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness:
     The Bible states: “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” (1 Cor.1:30). We should always seek to live righteous lives and that seems like a huge mountain to climb unless we realize that God has already declared us righteous in Christ.
    Through His redemptive work for us on the cross, we are made righteous, our sins forgiven and we were made just through His resurrection: “Who was delivered for our offences (sins), and was raised again for our justification.” (Rom. 4:25)
    In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, we can see the 'Gifts of the Spirit' in fulfillment of the Beatitudes. May we all press in to receive all that God has for us through the teachings of Jesus and the mighty workings of the Holy Spirit in His Church today!

5. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy:
    “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father in Heaven is merciful.” (Luke 6: 36). I shudder at the thought of what it would be like for us all, if God was not merciful. I am ever so glad for the mercy of God toward us! His mercy has opened the door of repentance to receive his awesome love and grace, instead of His anger and fury because of our sinfulness!
    The least we can do is to respond to His mercy toward us by being merciful to others. It is also a known fact that the one who has been forgiven much will respond in kind to others needing forgiveness. (Luke 7: 36-50)
    Let us not forget these words of the Lord's Prayer: “For if we forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses. (Luke 6:14, 15). To me, that is very strong and no one should think that they will get off lightly by breaking Christ's commandment here!

6. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God:
    To be pure in heart means that we have forsaken all unrighteousness and sin by His grace alone and that we sincerely and truthfully seek God for the strength of the Holy Spirit in Jesus' holy and matchless name! It means that we have been washed in the precious blood of Christ for cleansing and that we are aware that Christ is constantly praying for us.
    The Bible says: “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7: 25). The Bible promises His protection against the Evil One who goes about to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10: 10): “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful. Who will not suffer you to bear it.” (1 Cor.10: 13)
    We are well protected against sin and impurity by the Word of God: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war in the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10: 3-5)
     “And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Tim. 3: 16)

7. Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the children of God:
     Jesus said: “Peace I give unto you; My peace I leave unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14: 27); “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Is. 9: 6)
    Our Lord said: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14: 6). St. Paul uses the word reconciliation to express the coming together of man and God. To be reconciled with God means all the disputes and obstacles that kept us apart have been settled!
     “Much more then, being now justified through His blood we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”(Rom. 5: 9, 10)
     “But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our PEACE, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 
     "Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, for to make in Himself one NEW man, making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby. And came and preached peace to you which were afar off and to them that were by.
     “For through Him (Christ) we both (Gentiles and Jews) have access by one Spirit (Holy Spirit) unto the Father,” (Eph. 2: 13-18). The partition between God and humanity, has been broken down and we have been brought together in joyful embrace! How did this happen?
    The Bible says: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a RANSOM for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2: 5,6). When we are reconciled to God, it makes it easy to be peace makers among one another. Amen.