The Beatitudes

Here are a few of my thoughts on the Beatitudes as we study our SS lesson this week on “The Wisdom of His Teachings.”

 

 

 

Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:3

 

Here Jesus is talking about a people who have no pride in spirit, but instead sense their need of a Savior. Notice it is at that time that we receive eternal life. Sure the conversion is still to be completed and spiritual victories are yet to be won. Yet Jesus clearly says that for the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Not will be but is, now.

 

Throughout the conversion process and even when it is completed we are poor in spirit. We realized our righteousness is not our own, it is God’s. Our good deeds are actually the fruits of the spirit, not our works of the flesh.

 

For example, several years ago I was watching the Cosby Show. Vanessa was complaining to her dad, Bill Cosby that kids were calling her a snob because they had so much money. “Dad”, she sighed, ‘Why do we have to be so rich?” Bill Cosby replied as only he can, “Wait a minute Vanessa, your mother and I are rich. You have nothing!” Good point. The nice fancy home Vanessa lived in was her parents not hers. The healthy food she ate came from her folks. The expensive clothes she wore had been all paid by her mother and father as well. Her parents were rich. She had nothing. At least on her own she had nothing but by being in a relationship with her parents she was made rich. Likewise on our own we are spiritually broke. Everything good about us comes from the goodness of God living in us.

 

 

Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.  Matthew 5:4

 

The second step to a complete conversion is a true sorrow for sin. A truly converted person does not brag about all the money she swindled or men that she has been with. A truly converted person mourns because of what their sin has done to Christ and His cause and not what the sin had done to them personally. In Psalms 51 David says, “Against you and you only have I sinned.” What David is saying, is I have hurt You God. That is why I am sorry.

 

Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.  Matthew 5:5

 

Meek people are teachable. Jesus does not require us to be perfect on day one of our conversion. Jesus accepts us just the way we are. If we are poor in spirit and mourn for our sins, then Jesus finds us teachable. Jesus spent His time on earth with druggies and perverts. They seemed to be losers in society except for one attribute which kept them from maturing into complete losers. They were teachable.

 

 Jesus was a patient teacher. Jesus did not try to be patient nor did he pretend to be patient. He was patient.  Jesus did not use the failures of others as opportunities to censor. He used them for an opportunity for Him to teach. He taught by example and often the same lesson over and over. He never censored the publicans and prostitutes as long as they were teachable. He did censor the self righteous Pharisees for not being teachable.

 

Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.  Matthew 5:6

 

Converted people don’t reach for the lowest standards. They reach for the righteousness of Christ. While many debate as to just how far sanctification can take us, Jesus promises to fill us with His righteousness. Ephesians 3:19 tells us we can be filled with all the fullness of God. Romans 8:4 tells us the righteousness of the law will be fulfilled in us, not just for us. For that to happen we must sense our need for it. We must hunger and thirst for the living water. Poor people in third world countries are not the only ones starving to death. Millionaires in California and Texas have starved to death as well, because some of them had a disease that took away their appetite and they didn’t eat. They ended up starving to death simply because they were not hungry. God can save us if we will just allow Him to make us hungry enough to eat the living bread.

 

So far as the conversion has progressed, God has not asked us to be self righteous, He has asked us to be poor in spirit. He has not asked us to be perfect but teachable. He has not demanded for us to know it all but to hunger and thirst for it all. He will teach. He will fill us. He will make us righteous. Jesus is truly patient because all He is truly wanting are opportunities to teach people who really want to learn. Patient is the teacher who sees the best in the student while seeking better ways and opportunities to teach.

 

Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.  Matthew5:7

 

Notice after being filled with righteousness, the next step is not self righteousness but being merciful. A converted person always expects less from others and more from himself. A converted person knows that not only was Jesus treated the way I should be treated so I can be treated the way Jesus should be treated, but I can also treat my enemy just like I would treat Christ Himself, because Christ was treated just like my enemy should have been treated.

 

 

 

 

Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.  Matthew 5:8

 

The purity in heart is the purity of our heavenly Teacher. Look at this passage in Ezekiel 36: 24-29 and see how it is accomplished in the student not just for the student. At the same time it is all accomplished by the Teacher not the student. “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them]. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.  I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.” 

 

 

Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.  Matthew 5:9

 

Jesus’ conversion process has us ending up with His character. He is the great Prince of Peace and He will teach us to be peacemakers. Converted people don’t break up families and homes or churches.

 

Peace does not mean calm and quiet. Peace means unity. Peace does not mean there is no storm. It just means there is a unity with God in the storm. Peace does not come from being proud and self righteous but by being poor in spirit, knowing you need to be in unity with God. Peace does not come from knowing it all but by being teachable. Peace comes from hungering and thirsting for God and His righteousness instead of hungering and thirsting for worldly accomplishments and worldly greatness.

 

True peace and contentment does not come from unity with your spouse. It comes from being in unity with God.

 

Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.  Matthew 5:10-12

 

Notice that now that the conversion is complete, now the persecution has come. Why? Because we have raised the standard. When I was in 9th grade algebra our teacher graded on the curve and counted the highest score as 100%. So if the highest grade was 85 and mine was 60 then my percentage was 60 out of 85 instead of 60 out of 100. We only had one problem. A girl in our class kept getting 100 out of 100 and so the standard was never lowered. She was not popular on the days we got out tests back because she would not lower the standard for the rest of us. Likewise when we have been converted and we raise the standard above the worldly standard the world will persecute us. The church will never see persecution as long as it watches the same movies the world watches, dresses the same way the world dresses and eats the same way the world eats. Persecution will never come as long as we don’t make the world look any less holy than it is. In the book of Revelation the persecution comes after God’s people have been sealed with His character. A character far above the world. The same is seen here in the Beatitudes. Once the conversion is complete, here comes the persecution. And Jesus says “Rejoice!” The kingdom is at hand and it is yours!

 

Check out more studies on my personal website at http://www.InLightOfTheCross.com

 

The Reality of His Humanity

thur-nov-13-08-001I am writing from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Since this week’s SS lesson takes a look at Christ’s human nature, I thought I would share a Desire of Ages study on this topic that is also posted on my personal website. I have shared this more than once over the years, but every time I do, people tell me they have found it to be very helpful and inspiring, so here it is on my blog.

 

When thinking of Christ and Him being 100% God and still 100% man, I am reminded of a country gospel song I heard a while back. In the song Jesus is 12 years old in the temple and the teachers ask Him how old He is. In the song he answers, “On my mother’s side I am 12. On my Father’s side I am the alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” I always thought that was pretty neat.

 

                                      The Likeness of Men

 

Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God.” Heb. 10:5-7. In these words is announced the fulfillment of the purpose that had been hidden from eternal ages. Christ was about to visit our world, and to become incarnate. He says, “A body hast Thou prepared Me.” Had He appeared with the glory that was His with the Father before the world was, we could not have endured the light of His presence. That we might behold it and not be destroyed, the manifestation of His glory was shrouded. His divinity was veiled with humanity,–the invisible glory in the visible human form.  {DA 23.2}

                         

                                       Jesus Took Our Nature

 

Satan represents God’s law of love as a law of selfishness. He declares that it is impossible for us to obey its precepts. The fall of our first parents, with all the woe that has resulted, he charges upon the Creator, leading men to look upon God as the author of sin, and suffering, and death. Jesus was to unveil this deception. As one of us He was to give an example of obedience. For this He took upon Himself our nature, and passed through our experiences. “In all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren.” Heb. 2:17. If we had to bear anything which Jesus did not endure, then upon this point Satan would represent the power of God as insufficient for us. Therefore Jesus was “in all points tempted like as we are.” Heb. 4:15. He endured every trial to which we are subject. And He exercised in His own behalf no power that is not freely offered to us. As man, He met temptation, and overcame in the strength given Him from God. He says, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Ps. 40:8. As He went about doing good, and healing all who were afflicted by Satan, He made plain to men the character of God’s law and the nature of His service. His life testifies that it is possible for us also to obey the law of God.  {DA 24.2}

 

By His life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan’s purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking our nature, the Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.” John 3:16. He gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only-begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature.{DA  25.3}

 

            After 4,000 Years of Sin. Subject to the Law of Heredity

 

It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life. Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of God. He hated Him the more when he himself was dethroned. He hated Him who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life’s peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss.  {DA 49.1}

 

                               He Gained Knowledge as we May do

 

 

The question asked during the Saviour’s ministry, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” does not indicate that Jesus was unable to read, but merely that He had not received a rabbinical education. John 7:15. Since He gained knowledge as we may do, His intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures shows how diligently His early years were given to the study of God’s word. And spread out before Him was the great library of God’s created works. He who had made all things studied the lessons which His own hand had written in earth and sea and sky. Apart from the unholy ways of the world, He gathered stores of scientific knowledge from nature. He studied the life of plants and animals, and the life of man. From His earliest years He was possessed of one purpose; He lived to bless others. For this He found resources in nature; new ideas of ways and means flashed into His mind as He studied plant life and animal life. Continually He was seeking to draw from things seen illustrations by which to present the living oracles of God. The parables by which, during His ministry, He loved to teach His lessons of truth show how open His spirit was to the influences of nature, and how He had gathered the spiritual teaching from the surroundings of His daily life.  {DA 70.2}

 

                        

                                         Our Fallen Nature                  

 

These words of confirmation were given to inspire faith in those who witnessed the scene, and to strengthen the Saviour for His mission. Notwithstanding that the sins of a guilty world were laid upon Christ, notwithstanding the humiliation of taking upon Himself our fallen nature, the voice from heaven declared Him to be the Son of the Eternal. {112.3}

 

 

                                         Likeness of Sinful Flesh

 

 At the Saviour’s baptism, Satan was among the witnesses. He saw the Father’s glory overshadowing His Son. He heard the voice of Jehovah testifying to the divinity of Jesus. Ever since Adam’s sin, the human race had been cut off from direct communion with God; the intercourse between heaven and earth had been through Christ; but now that Jesus had come “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3), the Father Himself spoke. He had before communicated with humanity through Christ; now He communicated with humanity in Christ. Satan had hoped that God’s abhorrence of evil would bring an eternal separation between heaven and earth. But now it was manifest that the connection between God and man had been restored.  {DA 116.2}

 

 

                                       Effected by 4,000 Years of Sin               

 

Satan had pointed to Adam’s sin as proof that God’s law was unjust, and could not be obeyed. In our humanity, Christ was to redeem Adam’s failure. But when Adam was assailed by the tempter, none of the effects of sin were upon him. He stood in the strength of perfect manhood, possessing the full vigor of mind and body. He was surrounded with the glories of Eden, and was in daily communion with heavenly beings. It was not thus with Jesus when He entered the wilderness to cope with Satan. For four thousand years the race had been decreasing in physical strength, in mental power, and in moral worth; and Christ took upon Him the infirmities of degenerate humanity. Only thus could He rescue man from the lowest depths of his degradation.  {DA 117.1}

  

                                 Unites  Interests With Fallen Mankind                              

 

  Many claim that it was impossible for Christ to be overcome by temptation. Then He could not have been placed in Adam’s position; He could not have gained the victory that Adam failed to gain. If we have in any sense a more trying conflict than had Christ, then He would not be able to succor us. But our Saviour took humanity, with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man, with the possibility of yielding to temptation. We have nothing to bear which He has not endured.

 

The angels of God are ever passing from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth. The miracles of Christ for the afflicted and suffering were wrought by the power of God through the ministration of the angels. And it is through Christ, by the ministration of His heavenly messengers, that every blessing comes from God to us. In taking upon Himself humanity, our Saviour unites His interests with those of the fallen sons and daughters of Adam, while through His divinity He grasps the throne of God. And thus Christ is the medium of communication of men with God, and of God with men.  {DA 143.1}

 

                                Dependent Upon His Father’s Power                   

 

Jesus repelled the charge of blasphemy. My authority, He said, for doing the work of which you accuse Me, is that I am the Son of God, one with Him in nature, in will, and in purpose. In all His works of creation and providence, I co-operate with God. “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do.” The priests and rabbis were taking the Son of God to task for the very work He had been sent into the world to do. By their sins they had separated themselves from God, and in their pride were moving independently of Him. They felt sufficient in themselves for all things, and realized no need of a higher wisdom to direct their acts. But the Son of God was surrendered to the Father’s will, and dependent upon His power. So utterly was Christ emptied of self that He made no plans for Himself. He accepted God’s plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will.  {DA 208.2}

 

                                            He Took Our nature                     

 

Christ is the ladder that Jacob saw, the base resting on the earth, and the topmost round reaching to the gate of heaven, to the very threshold of glory. If that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are. He took our nature and overcame, that we through taking His nature might overcome. Made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3), He lived a sinless life. Now by His divinity He lays hold upon the throne of heaven, while by His humanity He reaches us. He bids us by faith in Him attain to the glory of the character of God. Therefore are we to be perfect, even as our “Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  {DA 311.5}

 

             Laid Down Almighty Power And Trusted in Father’s Might

 

When Jesus was awakened to meet the storm, He was in perfect peace. There was no trace of fear in word or look, for no fear was in His heart. But He rested not in the possession of almighty power. It was not as the “Master of earth and sea and sky” that He reposed in quiet. That power He had laid down, and He says, “I can of Mine own self do nothing.” John 5:30. He trusted in the Father’s might. It was in faith–faith in God’s love and care–that Jesus rested, and the power of that word which stilled the storm was the power of God.  {DA 336.1}

 

               

                                          His Experience is to be Ours

 

In Christ the cry of humanity reached the Father of infinite pity. As a man He supplicated the throne of God till His humanity was charged with a heavenly current that should connect humanity with divinity. Through continual communion He received life from God, that He might impart life to the world. His experience is to be ours.  {DA 363.1}

 

                                   Lived by Faith in The Father

 

But even these figures fail to present the privilege of the believer’s relation to Christ. Jesus said, “As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.” As the Son of God lived by faith in the Father, so are we to live by faith in Christ. So fully was Jesus surrendered to the will of God that the Father alone appeared in His life. Although tempted in all points like as we are, He stood before the world untainted by the evil that surrounded Him. Thus we also are to overcome as Christ overcame.  {DA 389.4}

 

                                        Prayed For Strength

 

Presently Christ tells them that they are now to go no farther. Stepping a little aside from them, the Man of Sorrows pours out His supplications with strong crying and tears. He prays for strength to endure the test in behalf of humanity. He must Himself gain a fresh hold on Omnipotence, for only thus can He contemplate the future. And He pours out His heart longings for His disciples, that in the hour of the power of darkness their faith may not fail. The dew is heavy upon His bowed form, but He heeds it not. The shadows of night gather thickly about Him, but He regards not their gloom. So the hours pass slowly by. At first the disciples unite their prayers with His in sincere devotion; but after a time they are overcome with weariness, and, even while trying to retain their interest in the scene, they fall asleep. Jesus has told them of His sufferings; He has taken them with Him that they might unite with Him in prayer; even now He is praying for them. The Saviour has seen the gloom of His disciples, and has longed to lighten their grief by an assurance that their faith has not been in vain. Not all, even of the twelve, can receive the revelation He desires to give. Only the three who are to witness His anguish in Gethsemane have been chosen to be with Him on the mount. Now the burden of His prayer is that they may be given a manifestation  of the glory He had with the Father before the world was, that His kingdom may be revealed to human eyes, and that His disciples may be strengthened to behold it. He pleads that they may witness a manifestation of His divinity that will comfort them in the hour of His supreme agony with the knowledge that He is of a surety the Son of God and that His shameful death is a part of the plan of redemption.  {DA 419.4}

 

 

                            Miracles Done by Faith and Prayer

 

In all that He did, Christ was co-operating with His Father. Ever He had been careful to make it evident that He did not work independently; it was by faith and prayer that He wrought His miracles. Christ desired all to know His relationship with His Father. “Father,” He said, “I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me.” Here the disciples and the people were to be given the most convincing evidence in regard to the relationship existing between Christ and God. They were to be shown that Christ’s claim was not a deception.  {DA 536.1}

 

 

                     Never Ceased to Be God While Taking Fallen Nature                 

 

Amazed at his dullness of comprehension, Christ asked with pained surprise, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip?” Is it possible that you do not see the Father in the works He does through Me? Do you not believe that I came to testify of the Father? “How sayest thou then, Show us the Father?” “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” Christ had not ceased to be God when He became man. Though He had humbled Himself to humanity, the Godhead was still His own. Christ alone could represent the Father to humanity, and this representation the disciples had been privileged to behold for over three years.  {DA 663.5}

 

 

                                  Had no Power That we May Not have

 

“Verily, verily, I say unto you,” Christ continued, “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also.” The Saviour was deeply anxious for His disciples to understand for what purpose His divinity was united to humanity. He came to the world to display the glory of God, that man might be uplifted by its restoring power. God was manifested in Him that He might be manifested in them. Jesus revealed no qualities, and exercised no powers, that men may not have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was.  {DA 664.4}

 

 

                           He Was Dependent Upon Father’s Power

 

“I am the true Vine,” He says. Instead of choosing the graceful palm, the lofty cedar, or the strong oak, Jesus takes the vine with its clinging tendrils to represent Himself. The palm tree, the cedar, and the oak stand alone. They require no support. But the vine entwines about the trellis, and thus climbs heavenward. So Christ in His humanity was dependent upon divine power. “I can of Mine own self do nothing,” He declared. John 5:30.  {DA 674.3}

 

 

                             He Could Not See Beyond The Tomb

 

Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.  {DA 753.2}

 

 

                                              Overcame by Faith

 

Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him. He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor.  {DA 756.3}

The Messiah

As we contemplate in this week’s SS Lesson about who Jesus really is, here is a helpful study.

This study will take the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah and

show the New Testament fulfillment of these in the life and death of

Jesus.

 

The place of His birth ————————— Micah 5:2; Luke 2:4-7

His virgin birth ——————————- Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:26-31

The slaughter of the children —– Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18

His flight into Egypt ——————– Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:14, 15

The time of His baptism ————- Daniel 9:24, 25; Luke 3:1, 21, 22

His rejection by the people ———————- Isaiah 53:3; John 1:11

His entrance into Jerusalem ———- Zechariah 9:9; Luke 19:29-38

His betrayal by a friend ——————- Psalm 41:9; Luke 22:47, 48

The price of His betrayal ———– Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15

Spat upon and beaten ——————— Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67

Crucified between two thieves ———- Isaiah 53:12; Mark 15:27, 28

The wounds in His body ——— Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34; 20:27

His words on the cross ———————— Psalm 22:1; Mark 15:34

Given vinegar and gall to drink ——– Psalm 69:21; Matthew 27:34

Gambling for His clothes ——- Psalm 22:17, 18; Matthew 27:35, 36

None of His bones were to be broken — Psalm 34:20; John 19:32, 33

To be buried with the rich ———— Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60

His resurrection ——————————- Psalm 16:10; Luke 24:1-7