Monday, February 12, 2018

Keys to the Kingdom – The Sermon on the Mount - 01 INTRODUCTION

What a contrast there is between the Pyeongchang mountain cluster in South Korea - site of the 2018 Winter Olympics - and the Galilean hillside where Jesus taught His disciples. In South Korea, millions of dollars, millions of hours, millions of practices, and millions of people. Bright lights, elaborate light shows, amazing choreography, dazzling displays. A different culture. A different language. A different passion. Where Jesus taught there was just the simple, beautiful background of the Sea of Galilee.

On the other hand, think of the similarities. A decision to leave the common, everyday life and climb the mountain. An appetite for something more than the mundane, everyday world. A dream. A goal. A commitment.
A different culture. A different language. A different passion. Not just in South Korea, but on that mountain in Galilee.

Reading: Matt 5:1-2
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This is an exciting time to be studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. We live in an age of disillusionment, in which it is apparent that the world’s answers do not work. What our generation seeks – happiness, security, integrity, transparency, and fulfillment – our culture does not and cannot provide.
Does true happiness result from health, wealth, and prosperity? Does fulfillment depend on popularity and possessions? While the world says, “Blessed are the proud, the pushy, and the powerful,” Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted.” Ironically, Jesus is right!
This is also a challenging time to be studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It calls us to be counter-cultural, to be different from, even opposite to, the watching world. If those around us see us in the church as basically going with the culture, compromising and complacent, more similar to than different from themselves, they will be turned off. Much that is offered by religion today is a Joel-Osteen-type prosperity gospel of health and wealth.
Stott: For the essential theme of the whole Bible from beginning to end is that God’s historical purpose is to call out a people for himself; that this people is a ‘holy’ people, set apart from the world to belong to him and to obey him; and that its vocation is to be true to its identity, that is, to be ‘holy’ or ‘different’ in all its outlook and behavior.
Stott: The Sermon on the Mount, then, is to be seen in this context. It portrays the repentance (metanoia, the complete change of mind) and the righteousness which belong to the kingdom. That is, it describes what human life and human community look like when they come under the gracious rule of God.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is His inaugural address, in which He introduces the Kingdom of God to His hearers. It is His discipleship manual for all who would follow Him and therefore our job description. It runs counter to the world’s value system, yet every paradox in it is true. It defines us, directs us, comforts us, challenges us, and motivates us. Let’s discover and use the “Keys to the Kingdom” found in it!
When Jesus’ disciples came to Him on the mountain, He gave them the primary qualities they would need in order to follow Him. We will call them “Keys to the Kingdom” as we consider the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount.
By “keys to the kingdom” we do not mean that we can earn our place in the presence of God. However, Christ makes it clear that only those who strive for these keys will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Stott: The Sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though arguably it is the least understood, and certainly it is the least obeyed. It is the nearest thing to a manifesto that he ever uttered, for it is his own description of what he wanted his followers to be and to do. To my mind no two words sum up its intention better, or indicate more clearly its challenge to the modern world, than the expression ‘Christian counter-culture’.
Boice: The world of the Sermon on the Mount is a real and sinful world—a world of tax collectors, unjust officials, hypocrites, thieves, of those who are weak or poor, and false prophets. It is a statement of how those who are born again by faith in Christ are to live in spite of it.
The Promise
The Climate
The Prelude
The Crowd
The Setting
The Rabbi
The Purpose
The Message
Jews under Roman oppression. Enslaved. Disillusioned. Looking for hope, for life, for joy. Sick and tired of being sick and tired!
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” ― Emma Lazarus
They do not need a new self-help book, a set of legalistic rules that they can never adequately fulfill. They need a new life! So do we! So does our world!
Then – and Now
             Keys to the Kingdom
             Life, Purpose, Meaning
             Happiness, Contentment
             Marriage, Relationships
             Success, No Regrets
Here are the 15 Keys.
Character – 5:1-12
Influence – 5:13-16
Self-Control – 5:17-30
Faithfulness – 5:31-37
Response – 5:38-42
Love – 5:43-48
Generosity – 6:1-4
Prayer – 6:5-15
Self-Denial – 6:16-18
Investment – 6:19-24
Preoccupation – 6:25-34
Discernment – 7:1-12
Direction – 7:13-14
Obedience – 7:15-23
Action – 7:24-27
Keys to the Kingdom
Mt 5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
What’s the first key to accessing all the others?
Mt 5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
The crowds … His disciples. Are they the same?
Did all ascend the mountain and come to Him?
Before the sermon ever began,
Some were already His disciples.
Committed. Eager. Determined.
That changes everything.

What about you?

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