Gems from the Sermon on the Mount

Part 1     (Introduction)

By Oswald Chambers




Note: This book is now in the "public domain" and available online. Since the copyright has expired, we plan to post all our favorite parts  in the weeks ahead.

1. Matthew 5:1-12

Our Lord began His discourse by saying "Blessed are...." and His hearers must have been staggered by what followed. According to Jesus, they were to be blessed in every condition which from earliest childhood they had been taught to regard as a curse. Our Lord was talking to Jews, and they believed that the sign of the blessing of God was material prosperity in every shape and form, and yet Jesus says Blessed are you for exactly the opposite:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit."

"Blessed are they that mourn."

The Beatitudes, for instance, seem merely mild and beautiful precepts for unworldly people but of very little use for the stern world in which we live. We soon find, however, that they contain the dynamite of the Holy Ghost, they explode like a spiritual "mine" when the circumstances of our life require them to do so, and rip and tear and revolutionize all our conceptions.

The test of a disciple is obedience to the light when these things come to the conscious mind. It is not that I hunt through the Bible for some precept to obey. Jesus Christ's teaching never leads me to take myself as a moral prig, but that I live so in touch with God that the Holy Spirit can continually bring some word of His and apply it to the circumstances I am in....

The motive at the back of the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount is love for God. Read the Beatitudes with your mind fixed on God, and you will realize their neglected side. Their meaning in relationship to men is so obvious that it scarcely needs stating, but the Godward aspect is not so obvious.

1. "Blessed are the poor in spirit" towards God. Am I a pauper towards God ? Do I know I cannot prevail in prayer; I cannot blot out the sins of the past; I cannot alter my disposition; I cannot lift myself nearer God ? Then I am in the very place where I am able to receive the Holy Spirit. No man can receive Holy Spirit who is not convinced he is a pauper spiritually."

2. "Blessed are the meek" towards God's dispensations.

3. "Blessed are the merciful" to God's reputation. Do I awaken sympathy for myself when I am in trouble ? Then I am slandering God because the reflex thought in people's minds is How hard God is with that man. It is easy to slander God's character because He never attempts to vindicate Himself. [Misplaced sympathy is not Biblical mercy and does not honor God, but God will use us to demonstrate His wonderful mercy in ways that turn their hearts to Him.]

3. "Blessed are the pure in heart" that is obviously Godward.

4. "Blessed are the peace makers" between God and man, the note that was struck at the birth of Jesus.

...The motive of a disciple is to be well-pleasing to God. The true blessedness of the saint is in determinedly making and keeping God first. Herein lies the disproportion [discrepancy] between Jesus Christ's principles and all other moral teaching: Jesus bases everything on God-realization [expressed through continual trust and thanks to Him], while other teachers base everything on self-realization [self-focused aim to fulfill my personal goals for me!]...

Discipleship is based not on devotion to abstract ideals, but on devotion to a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, consequently the whole of the Christian life is stamped by originality. Whenever the Holy Spirit sees a chance of glorifying Jesus, He will take your whole personality, and simply make it blaze and glow with personal passionate devotion to the Lord Jesus. You are no longer devoted to a cause nor the devotee of a principle, but the devoted love slave of the Lord Jesus.

No man on earth has that love unless the Holy Ghost has imparted it to him. Men may admire Him and respect Him and reverence Him, but no man can love God until the Holy Ghost has shed abroad that love in his heart (see Romans V. 5.)...

5. "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake."

It is not suffering for conscience sake, or for convictions sake, or because of the ordinary troubles of life, but some thing other than all that For My sake.

6. "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake." Jesus did not say Rejoice when men separate you from their company because of your own crotchety notions but when they reproach you for My sake.

When you begin to deport yourself among men as a saint, they will leave you absolutely alone, you will be reviled and persecuted. No man can stand that unless he is in love with Jesus Christ, he cannot do it for a conviction or for a creed, but he can do it for a Being whom he loves. Devotion to a Person is the only thing that tells; devotion to death to a Person, not devotion to a creed or a doctrine.

"O God, You are my God; early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You....
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me." Psalm 63:1-3, 7-8

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