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Thread: Sermon on the Mount - Intro

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    Sermon on the Mount - Intro

    Sermon on the Mount, A Study by John Stott drawn from his book The Message of the Sermon on the Mount.

    Getting the most out of the Sermon on the Mount

    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. The Sermon is found in Matthew's Gospel toward the beginning of Jesus' public ministry.

    Immediately after His baptism and temptation Jesus had begun to announce the good news that the kingdom of God, long promised in the OT era, was now on the threshold. He Himself had come to inaugurate it. With Him, the new age had dawned, and the rule of God broken into history. "Repent", He cried, "for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt 4:17). Indeed, "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom" (Matt 4:23).

    The Sermon on the Mount, then is to be seen in this context. It portrays the repentance (the Greek meaning is "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. And what do they look like? Different! Jesus emphasized that His true followers, the citizens of God's kingdom, were to be entirely different from others. They were not to take their cue from people around them, but from Him, and so prove to be genuine children of their heavenly Father. To me the key text of the Sermon on the Mount is Matt 6:8: "Do not be like them." It is immediately reminiscent of God's word to Israel in Lev. 18:3: "You must not do as they do." It is the same call to be different. And right through the Sermon on the Mount this theme is elaborated.

    Their character (the Beatitudes) was to be completely distinct from that admired by the world. They were to shine like lights in the prevailing darkness. Their righteousness was to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, both in ethical behavior and in religious devotion, while their love was to be greater and their ambition nobler than those of their pagan neighbors.

    There is no single paragraph of the Sermon on the Mount where this contrast between Christian and non-Christian standards is not drawn. It is the underlying and uniting theme of the Sermon; everything else is a variation of it. Sometimes it is the Gentiles or pagan nations with which Jesus contrasts His followers. At other times He contrasts them with Jews. At all times Jesus teaches His followers to be different -- different from both the nominal church and the secular world, different from both the religious and the irreligious.

    The Sermon on the Mount is the most complete description anywhere in the NT of the Christian counterculture. Here is a Christian value system, ethical standard, religious devotion, attitude to money, ambition, lifestyle and network of relationship -- all of which are the total opposite of the non-Christian world. The Sermon presents life in the kingdom of God, a fully human life indeed but lived out under divine rule.

    Perhaps a majority of readers and commentators, looking the reality of human perversity in the face, have declared the standards of the Sermon on the Mount to be unattainable. Its ideals are noble but unpractical, they say, attractive to imagine but impossible to fulfill. At the other extreme are those superficial souls who glibly assert that the Sermon expresses ethical standards that are self-evidently true, common to all religions and easy to follow. "I live by the Sermon on the Mount", they say. The truth lies in neither extreme position. For the standards of the Sermon are neither readily attainable by everyone nor totally unattainable by anyone. To put them beyond anybody's reach is to ignore the purpose of Christ's Sermon; to put them within everybody's reach is to ignore the reality of our sin.

    They are attainable all right, but only by those who have experienced the new birth that Jesus told Nicodermus was the indispensable condition of seeing and entering God's kingdom. For the righteouness He described in the Sermon is an inner righteousness. Although it manifests itself outwardly and visibly in words, deeds and relationships, it remains essentially a righteousness of the heart. Only a belief in the necessity and the possibility of a new birth can keep us from reading the Sermon on the Mount with either foolish optimism or hopeless despair. Jesus spoke the Sermon to those who were already His disciples and thereby also the citizens of God's kingdom and children of God's family. The high standards He set are appropriate on to such. We do not, indeed could not, achieve this privileged status by attaining Christ's standards. Rather by attaining His standards, or least approximating them, we give evidence of what by God's free grace and gift we already are.

    Those who first heard the Sermon on the Mount were astonished. I pray that you too will be astonished and challenged by the greatest sermon ever preached.


    There's 12 sections of the study:

    1. Unexpected Blessings
    2. God's Way to Make a Difference
    3. The Importance of Obeying God's Law
    4. What's Wrong with Private Sins?
    5. Faithfulness in Marriage & Speech
    6. How to Really Love Your Enemies
    7. How Not to be Religious
    8. A Pattern for Dynamic Prayer
    9. What God Thinks of My Ambitions
    10. Relationships That Encourage
    11. Detecting the Lies of Our World
    12. Making the Choice of a Lifetime

    Join Misty and me in this personal study, we hope to start Monday, if not sooner.

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    Cloudwalker, reporting in. I have been thinking much lately about my "old" TOM friends. Glad to see this starting. As normal, I don't have the book. I didn't even know you were thinking of starting a new study until I got your message. And yes I do miss your tangents. They are always constructive. And so, without further adue, I'll jump right in.

    Perhaps a majority of readers and commentators, looking the reality of human perversity in the face, have declared the standards of the Sermon on the Mount to be unattainable. Its ideals are noble but unpractical, they say, attractive to imagine but impossible to fulfill.
    That is just the point. The standards set forth in the Sermon on the Mount ARE unattainable, in our own strength. The whole Christian life cannot possibly be lived, as we are supposed to live it, if we try to do it on our own. Only when we learn to live our lives in the strength of Christ and His resurection moment by moment can we possibly hope to come even close to living our lives as Christ would want us to. It is only in relying on Christs strength each and every moment, as each moment comes to us can we have success. Can it be done? I am convinced it can. Have I done it? No!!! Have I ever known someone who has successfully done it? Again, no! Will I continue to strive to do it? To that I shout a resounding YES!!!!!

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    Thanks Tim.

    9 verses, blessed are ...

    Matt 5:1When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.

    2He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
    3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
    5"Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
    6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
    7"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
    8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
    9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
    10"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    11"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12"Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    And so much more. Scripture is Matt 5:1 to 7:29, and many more.

    The salt and the light, fulfilling the Law, anger, lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation, loving your enemy, giving, the Lord's prayer, fasting, heavenly treasure, anxiety, judging others, asking and getting, the golden rule, our fruit, rejection, house on a rock and His authority.

    Lord, we prayerfully enter Your Word, and we ask for teachable hearts and humble attitudes. Help us examine our hearts, convict us and cleanse us and show us our errors. We pray for honesty, if not with each other, with You alone. We pray our learning glorify You that we may serve You and be pleasing to You. Help us be the shining city on a hill. We thank You Lord for Your Word, and His incarnation.

    For Jesus' fame, Amen

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloudwalker View Post
    Cloudwalker, reporting in. I have been thinking much lately about my "old" TOM friends. Glad to see this starting. As normal, I don't have the book. I didn't even know you were thinking of starting a new study until I got your message. And yes I do miss your tangents. They are always constructive. And so, without further adue, I'll jump right in.



    That is just the point. The standards set forth in the Sermon on the Mount ARE unattainable, in our own strength. The whole Christian life cannot possibly be lived, as we are supposed to live it, if we try to do it on our own. Only when we learn to live our lives in the strength of Christ and His resurection moment by moment can we possibly hope to come even close to living our lives as Christ would want us to. It is only in relying on Christs strength each and every moment, as each moment comes to us can we have success. Can it be done? I am convinced it can. Have I done it? No!!! Have I ever known someone who has successfully done it? Again, no! Will I continue to strive to do it? To that I shout a resounding YES!!!!!
    AMEN!!!!

    Hi David! Do you know Stott? He's amazing! An inspired and inspiring teacher, but he wants to simply be your guide.

    Lol, you have the book! I bought the study over a year ago and its been languishing. Stott prompts, and I'll bet you're going to get weary of my tangents.

    This study is waaay different from TOM. We gonna piece our hearts.

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    I would like to be apart of this study. This sermon is easy to talk and tough to walk. I want this to more than some great teaching or an intellectual transfer of information. I want it to produce the the life that it takes to live it.
    Jesus in us...the hope of glory. This is one of those places in the bible where you see that ,in the flesh, you have no hope of being obedient too. It brings you to a very real place where you find you must crucify your fleshly emotions and opinions about justice and let the love of Jesus flow. Has anyone been very successful form that vantage point? If so give me a hand here

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    Quote Originally Posted by shepherdsword View Post
    I would like to be apart of this study. This sermon is easy to talk and tough to walk. I want this to more than some great teaching or an intellectual transfer of information. I want it to produce the the life that it takes to live it.
    Jesus in us...the hope of glory. This is one of those places in the bible where you see that ,in the flesh, you have no hope of being obedient too. It brings you to a very real place where you find you must crucify your fleshly emotions and opinions about justice and let the love of Jesus flow. Has anyone been very successful form that vantage point? If so give me a hand here
    Hey SW! Welcome! What you want is what Dr. Stott is guiding us to, although his third person is my first person . (You'll see what I mean by that.) But like all studies, its a give and take. And its not like we're all in the same room and can hold each others hands. At least not physically.

    By default, since I have the guide, I'll be posting the questions. Does that make me the leader? Nah. Not really, people come and go and others faithfully participate, but schedules get in the way.

    This might be a scary study, since I've read ahead. Dr. Stott starts off mildly, but its looks as though the self-examination, whether we share or not, makes the study.

    And IMO, hooray! Some of the questions aren't to be answered in the group but to be prayerfully pondered. Not that its discouraged, ut it really is between each of us and God.

    I pray that we all develop the trust in each other to hep each other muddle through. We're not in this alone. By His divine disign.

    And what David said:

    Can it be done? I am convinced it can. Have I done it? No!!! Have I ever known someone who has successfully done it? Again, no! Will I continue to strive to do it? To that I shout a resounding YES!!!!!
    We learn from the Word, the Spirit, and each other by the Spirit. It makes for interesting dialogues.

    Looking forward to getting to know you!

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    Ok, going to read the intro...sounds exciting!!
    Psalm 118:8 - "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man."

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    Quote Originally Posted by jesuslover1968 View Post
    Ok, going to read the intro...sounds exciting!!
    Mornin' Misty!

    Might as well start! At the start of each section, Stott sets the theme to help guide us when we answer the questions that come later. Lol, he didn't anticipate this being an online study so the first group discussion would be fun, but doesn't work. I'll just type it out as written.

    Section 1 - Unexpected Blessings - Matt 5:1-12

    1When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.

    2He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
    3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
    5"Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
    6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
    7"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
    8"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
    9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
    10"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    11"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12"Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


    A hymn by William Cowper reminds us to look for blessings in unexpected places.

    You fearful saints, fresh courage take;
    The clouds you so much dread
    Are big with mercy, and shall break
    In blessings on your head.

    Group Discussion. How would you define the word "blessed"? [Ask each member of the group to write their definition on a piece of paper. Collect and read each definition, letting the group guess who wrote each one.] What do the responses reveal about their authors?

    Personal Reflection. Who do you normally consider to be blessed or fortunate?

    In the Beatitudes we find a simplicity of word and profundity of thought that has attracted each fresh generation of Christians and many others besides. The more we explore their implications, the more seems to remain unexplored. Their wealth is inexhaustible. Truly, "we are near heaven here."

    And we're off ...

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    How would you define the word "blessed"?

    It translates from the Greek as "happy", but I think in our fleshly selves, we wouldn't perceive every blessing making us happy. God will move in a way to draw us closer to Himself. We may not appreciate Him moving that way since it may take us to a place that's uncomfortable and hard. Its still being blessed.

    Blessed is being the recipient of a gift and wasn't earned or deserved. We are blessed with a saving faith and knowledge of and a relationship with God through Christ and the indwelt Spirit.

    Who do you normally consider to be blessed or fortunate?

    This is the Christian counterculture Dr. S refers to in the intro ... the world sees the opposite. Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who are gentle/meek ... none of those things are desired by the world. The world wants their egos stroked, to have every desire filled and power. Bill Gates is blessed because he's rich beyond measure by his own strength and cunning. A person whose house burns down waits for the insurance check and hopes to build a bigger house with the money. A kid who is bullied for her faith refuses to fight back and is seen as a bigger wimp and weaker than she ever was and the bully gleefully ramps up the attack and harassment and finds favor from her peers.

    Blessed are those who know who God is, and love Him, and pray to Him, and serve Him, and need Him, and trust Him, and will spend eternity worshipping Him.

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    While I know that there is at least 1 "translation" that uses "happy" in the place of blessed to my way of thinking that word doesn't carry enough weight. I think that may be because of how the world sees "happy." I am happy if I get a raise. I am happy if I get a new car. I am happy if . . . Happy, to the world is a conditional thing. Look at the things that Christ says make us blessed in this passage. We are blessed by conditions that are not what the world would say would make us happy. But let's look at these passages in another way.

    3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Why? Because they know they are poor in spirit and are willing to turn to Christ.
    4"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
    Again, why? I think the answer may rest in why they mourn. They mourn because of their sin and are comforted because they turn to Christ and have their sin forgiven.

    5"Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
    Why? They inherit the earth because they are saved.
    6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
    Why are they satisfied? Because their righteousness doesn't count on themselves and their own righteousness but on Christs.

    I could go on but I think you may see where I am going. We are blessed, not because of these things, but because these things push us to rely more and more on Christ.

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    If they used the greek word for blessed that we find in Ephesians it would make sense in some places. That word is "eulogos" from which we get our word "eulogy" or good word. It would then translate something like "well spoken of are the poor in Spirit" That sort of makes sense to the natural mind. However as both you and cloudwalker have pointed out they use "makarios". How can I be happy in such circumstances that are described here? I'm happy when I'm broken? I'm happy when I evil spoken of? This doesn't make sense to the natural mind. It violates our carnal natures critera for what it means to be "blessed" The natural mind can't recieve this blessing anymore than flesh and blood can inherit the kingdom of God. This reminds me of the verse in Romans that says" To be carnally minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" I think that is the key to recieving the blessing here. To be spirtually minded. The carnal mind is constantly judging God's Love and intentions based on the circumstances it finds itself in. If things go right then God loves me,if they don't go right then God doesn't love me. The spiritual mind says " I know that Jesus died on the cross for me and that is the only token of Love that I need. I am always assured of God's love no what the circumstances are."
    In fact the spirtual mind understands that suffering and persecution are it's lot and looks to find it's life and happiness only in Jesus. I think this is the key to understanding "blessing" in this context.

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    "Happy", its our limited language. Godly sorrow doesn't make me "happy", but it makes me blessed that He loves me and cares enough to chastise me. I remember when we talked about "love" ... I love Jesus, my dog, car, job, husband, football. The Greek has distinct words for different love, so maybe for "happy" too?

    Hey, I just realized you answered the next 5 or 6 questions. Showoff.

    The contrast to the world is plain, just as it is in 1 John.

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    Hey SW! We kind of posted at the same time, but I got distracted by a misbehaving cat.

    Thank you for the Greek meanings, its does very much help in understanding the context.

    Just beginning to touch on the beatitudes brings all His parables and the followers who fell away flooding back in my head. Gives me a new perspective of why His first teaching started with the Beatitudes, part one of His ministry.

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    I saw this poster once of a profile of Jesus. It was make up entirely of the sermon on the mount verses. I have seriously considered getting it tattooed on my forearm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shepherdsword View Post
    I saw this poster once of a profile of Jesus. It was make up entirely of the sermon on the mount verses. I have seriously considered getting it tattooed on my forearm.
    Can you find a .gif of it? I'd love to see it!

    Oh, just so you know, we've been known to go seriously O/T in our study threads. We're not just studying, we're fellowshipping!

    Wait ... the entire Sermon or just the Beatitudes? Ha, a member of my church has been voted a number of times "Best Tattoo Artist in Seattle". I'll never find out, needles skeer me and besides, my skin isn't as toned as it used to be.

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