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Benefitting From the Beatitudes

Tom Pennington • Matthew 5:3-12

  • 2011-11-20 AM
  • The Sermon on the Mount
  • Sermons


This morning I want us to turn back to Matthew 5 as we continue our study of the Sermon on the Mount. But I want to step away from our detailed study of each beatitude and sort of take an overview this morning in preparation for communion.

We live in a very litigious culture, and so the products that we buy come to us literally covered with warning labels. Have you notice this? I mean you buy something and you spend the first 30 minutes after you get it home cleaning off all those sticky labels that warn you not to do this or not to that with them. And some of them are frankly incomprehensible. I'm still trying to figure out why it is that I can't take that tag off my mattress. Sometimes those warning labels are humorous, because it's clear that whoever wrote them didn't speak English as a first language. For example, I read a couple this week–one found on a Japanese food processor, that says "not to be used for the other use." That brings a lot of crazy thoughts to my own mind, as far as what that other use might be. Or on a Korean kitchen knife, "keep out of children." But most of the warning labels that we find on various products are really simply an attempt by the company to protect itself from the liability that comes when people misuse their product. And a number of these you read, and they make no sense. And you think, someone must have attempted this, or at least some attorney thought someone might attempt this. For example, on a Sears hair dryer, "do not use while sleeping." A picture comes into my mind that's not a pretty one. Or on packaging for a Rowenta iron. "Do not iron clothes while they're on your body." I'm not going to ask for a show of hands for how many of you have actually done that. Or on children's cough medicine—"Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication." You know, it occurred to me that our world would be a much safer place if we could keep five year olds from operating heavy machinery and driving a car after they take cough syrup. But my personal favorite is on a child's Superman costume. "Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly." Really! Sadly, it's probably not impossible that people have actually tried to do those things, and that is what has prompted some of those warning labels. Someone badly misused the product, and then tried to hold the company responsible. I thought this week, you know it can be humorous when people misuse human products. But it's not so funny when people or even Christians misuse the only product that God gave us, and that is as Paul says in 2 Timothy 3: the product of the very breath of God, His word.

And unfortunately, people do misuse the Bible, and even Christians often misuse the Bible. We can do that in many different ways. For example, we can misuse the Bible by sort of importing new revelation into it. That came to my mind this week because a couple of weeks ago I was told about a book that was published about a year ago, but has continued to be on the best-seller lists. And now it's making the rounds, particularly among Christians. Perhaps you've read it. It's a book called Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo It's about the trip a four-year old boy supposedly took to heaven. And it's a warm sort of heart stirring read. But folks, we cannot, we must not accept information from outside the Bible as God's truth about anything. It's, I think, highly unlikely that that boy went to heaven. He didn't die. But even if he did, we have absolutely no way to know for sure that he did, or that what he's telling us is the truth about heaven. God has spoken to us in one book, and that's where He tells us everything about heaven that He wanted us to know. Everything else is conjecture at best, and at worst, error.

But another way we abuse the Scripture, and this is where I want us to think for a moment this morning. Another place we abuse the Scripture is by simply not using it. I mean when we simply sit in the congregation, or we hear the word taught and we just accumulate information. You come to a service like this, you hear the Bible taught, and you just accumulate more stuff for your brain. And you never do anything with it. I don't want that to happen with our study of the beatitudes, and so, in preparation for communion this morning, I want us to step away from our detailed study of each beatitude. And I want us to, instead, make sure we know how to use them. What should you do with the beatitudes we've been studying together? How should you put them into practice. You can't just come, none of us can come, myself included, and look at our reflection in the mirror of God's word and then walk away and forget everything we saw, as James says. It's supposed to be useful in our lives; so what are the legitimate uses? Let me read for you again the beatitudes, just to put them in context. Look at Matthew 5:1. This is how the Sermon on the Mount begins.

"When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you".

Now there are in that passage I just read to you eight statements of blessings–eight declarations of spiritual well-being or health. The first seven of them that we've already studied together describe who we are, how we respond to God, and how we respond to sin, and how we respond to the people around us. The eighth and final beatitude is how unbelievers respond to us. I'll be away next Sunday, Lord willing, taking a little vacation with my family, so two weeks from today we'll study the eighth and final beatitude. But in the brief time that we have together this morning, I want us to consider what to do with the seven beatitudes we've already studied. And, by the way, if you weren't here for those, I'm going to assume some of the information I shared there, so if you want proof for the interpretation I give, you can go back online and listen to those.

But I want us, instead, to say what do we do? What are the legitimate uses of the beatitudes? I want you to consider four of them with me this morning. Here's how to use these amazing statements of our Lord. First of all, the first legitimate use of them is as a tutor to Christ. Obviously, if you're familiar with the Bible at all, you know I'm borrowing that language from the book of Galatians 3:24. There Paul says that the moral law of God that He revealed at Sinai and encapsulated in the Ten Commandments has become our tutor to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. What does Paul mean? He means that the law showed us our sin by showing us how high God's standard is. And when we saw how high God's standard is, we came to understand that there was no way we could ever meet that standard. If I have to reach God's standard in order to be in Jesus' spiritual kingdom, to be eventually in heaven, then it's hopeless. So the high standard the law set then became a tutor to drive us to Christ.

I think that's exactly the same purpose the beatitudes accomplish as well. You see, if you think that you can make yourself acceptable to God, if you think that by your own good deeds, by your good life you can earn God's favor; then let me encourage you to meditate on these beatitudes I just read, because they set an impossible standard. There are those who think that in the beatitudes, in the entire Sermon on the Mount, Jesus just gave us some very practical ways to live, some ethical standards that we all can meet and should meet. And if we will just meet those standards, if we will do our best to follow the standard Jesus sets here; our sincere efforts will show God that we're essentially good people. And He will accept our best efforts as good enough. Do you know that's what most Americans believe about how they're going to get into heaven? If you ask the average person; when you stand before God and God says why should I let you into my heaven, what will you say? What's the standard answer? It's some variation of "well, you know, I've tried to be the best person I can. I've done as many good things as I can, tried to help people. I've lived a good life. I'm basically a good person. Sure, I have some weaknesses. I have some struggles. Maybe they would even say I have some sins. But I'm really not a bad person." What we discover from the Sermon on the Mount, and specifically from the beatitudes is that almost–almost perfect–almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Almost doesn't cut it with God. God does not grade on a curve, and His standard of righteousness is impossibly high.

If you doubt that, just consider some of the beatitudes we just read. Look for example at verse 5. We are to be gentle. The word is meek. We are to be meek people. But we are by nature not meek. And we don't consistently manifest meekness. To be meek means to submit to God's word, submit to God's will. And it means to treat other people with gentleness and graciousness, even when they sin against us. That's a standard that's hard to meet. Verse 6. We are to long for real personal righteousness like a starving man craves food and like a man dying of thirst longs for water. Verse 7. We are to extend mercy to all those people around us, like God extends mercy to us. Verse 8. We are to be morally clean in our entire inner person. That one alone makes reaching heaven by our own efforts impossible, because not a single one of us meets that standard. Verse 9. We're supposed to pursue peace with God and to make peace with others. We are supposed to do everything we can to avoid conflict and to solve conflict actively in our lives. But notice, we aren't supposed to just do these things. If we want God to receive us on the basis of our own efforts, on the basis of our own performance, we must be these things and do these things perfectly, because Jesus says blessed are those who are known as these things. Not just that we occasionally practice them. This is who we are. That's an impossible standard.

The rest of the sermon makes this clear as well. Look down in verse 20. We'll get to this verse, but Jesus says, "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, (and they were the most righteous people externally on earth at the time) you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." You're not getting in unless your righteousness is better than theirs. Now, obviously, He's contrasting the internal heart righteousness that He's requiring versus the external conformity that was characteristic of the scribes and Pharisees. But Jesus is saying more, as we'll see when we get there. Jesus is, here in this verse, denying all works salvation. He's saying you will never make it if you think you can get there based on something you do. It's not going to happen. In fact, the standard is so high—look at the last verse of chapter 5. Here's the real standard, verse 48. "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Now there's a high standard, and not a single one of us meets it.

God's standard is absolute perfection. It is unattainable. That underscores the need for the gospel—the need for the life and death of Jesus Christ. If we want God to receive us on the basis of our own efforts, it's hopeless, because we can never adequately meet God's standard, which is absolute perfection. And what does that standard do? When you see that standard, when you understand how high the standard is, what does it do? It drives you to Jesus Christ. It drives you to Christ as a beggar to throw yourself on His mercy. That's why the beatitudes begin (notice verse 3) blessed are the poor in spirit. (the beggars in spirit) That's where we start. So the beatitudes then act as a tutor to lead us to Christ.

Many of those who listened to Jesus that day were part of the large crowds that followed Him in His Galilean ministry. Many of them were not His true followers. The gospel accounts make that clear. Jesus wanted them to see, He wants us to see, that we can never earn our way into His spiritual kingdom. We will never meet His standard. For those people who think the Sermon on the Mount is achievable, that we just need to live by Jesus' ethics, Jesus set the standard so high because He wanted us to see that would never happen. In fact, in these beatitudes, and I think you've seen this as we worked our way through them, the gospel is clearly contained. How do you respond to the good news of Jesus Christ? You respond, throughout the scriptures, we learned, by repentance and faith. Well, both of those are here in these beatitudes. Notice first of all repentance. To get into Christ's kingdom we have to repent. Notice the second one in Matthew 5:4. Blessed are those who mourn over their sin. But they're not content simply to mourn over their sin that they've already committed. Notice verse 6. They hunger and thirst for righteousness that they don't have. It's not enough just to regret your sin, to mourn over your sin. You've got to long to be right, to be right with God. That's repentance. But there's also faith in the beatitudes. Because the only way to enter Jesus' kingdom is by faith, and it's pictured in the first beatitude. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who come to God begging. That is a graphic picture of faith. Why do you go to someone and beg for them to intervene? Because you believe they can. Because you believe they really can help you. That's an expression of faith. We have faith that in Christ, God is gracious, and so we go to Him begging. And so, entering Jesus' kingdom is only possible where there's repentance and faith, and if God responds to that repentance and faith with forgiveness. And how can He do that? How can a righteous God respond to us who are sinners, who have broken His law, with forgiveness. Well, later Matthew explains what makes it possible. Turn over to Matthew 20. Look at verse 28. This is the word of our Lord speaking of Himself. He says "just as the son of man did not come to be served but (what?) to serve, (and here's how He came to serve) to give His life a ransom for many" or in the place of many. He came to die, to offer His life as a ransom to God for those who would believe in Him. He had to buy us. That word redeemed, ransom, has to do with buying someone. It has to do with buying us out of the death God's justice demanded of us, by dying as our substitute. That's how it's possible. So understand then, the beatitudes really act as a tutor to drive us to Christ. They show us, even here, that God's standard is an impossible standard that we can never meet. And our only hope is to come to God in repentance and faith, offering Him nothing, having nothing to offer Him. So the first legitimate use of the beatitudes is as a tutor to Christ.

There's a second use and it's as a test of saving faith. In the first beatitude, notice in verse 3, (the second half of the verse,) and again in the last beatitude, verse 10 (the second half of verse 10,) Jesus says that these qualities belong to all of those who are in His kingdom. Notice verse 3. For theirs is, right now, the kingdom of heaven. You are in My spiritual kingdom, Jesus says, if these qualities describe you. Well, as we have also learned, the opposite of these eight qualities describe those who are in Satan's kingdom. We saw that from Luke's account. Luke records the Sermon on the Mount as well, and when he records the beatitudes, he only records four of the eight Matthew records. But he does something interesting. In addition to those four beatitudes, Luke adds four woes that correspond to the four blessings. What does that tell us? It means that when Jesus preached this sermon, for every one of the positive descriptions for those who were in His kingdom, he listed the opposite description of those who are not. His point was that there are only two kingdoms in the world. There's My kingdom, Jesus says, and then there's Satan's kingdom. That's it. Every single person sitting here this morning, according to Jesus Christ, belongs to one or the other of those kingdoms. There's no middle ground. There's no neutral zone. There's Jesus' kingdom and there's Satan's kingdom. And the beatitudes allow us to test ourselves to see which kingdom we belong to. If the qualities in the beatitudes describe you, Jesus says you belong in His spiritual kingdom. You already are there. You're already a part of it. If, on the other hand, they don't describe you, but rather the opposite describes you, then Jesus says you are still in Satan's kingdom.

So, let me give you the test, as I've taken the test. Let me encourage you, don't assume you're a Christian. Instead, sincerely take this test that our Lord has provided us. In the words of the apostle Paul, examine yourselves to see if you're in the faith. Which best describes you? Let me just march through them quickly. Listen. Which best describes you? Look at the first beatitude. A Christian sees himself as an absolute spiritual beggar. If you are painfully aware of your utter spiritual bankruptcy, if you know you have nothing to offer God to make Him accept you, if you have come to Him as a beggar pleading for His mercy, for His grace, then you are in Jesus' spiritual kingdom. If, on the other hand, you're a person who assumes that you have no spiritual bankruptcy, but instead you cling to the idea that you have some personal spiritual merit, some goodness that God would accept, then you're not in Jesus' kingdom. The second beatitude tells us that a true Christian weeps and mourns over his sin. An unbeliever doesn't. Instead, Jesus tells us in Luke's account that an unbeliever will either ignore his sin or downplay his sin or as Jesus says in Luke 6, even laugh at sin—his own and the sin of others. And the bottom line is, believers take their sin very seriously. They mourn over it. They weep over it. Unbelievers take their sin lightly. The third beatitude tells us the true Christian is meek. That's the best translation of that word. It means he submits himself to God and to God's will and God's word, and on the other hand he is gentle and gracious with people because he knows he's a beggar. He knows he doesn't stand above everyone else, and so he's gentle with others. On the other hand, a person who is in Satan's kingdom is not humble, is not meek, but instead delights in being proud and self-assertive. The fourth beatitude says that a Christian longs for true holiness and righteousness in his or her life. They long to be like Jesus Christ. This doesn't mean they long to be rid of one troublesome sin. Even unbelievers long for that. They long instead for true comprehensive righteousness. Unbelievers don't. Instead, unbelievers either don't care about righteousness at all; it's not even on their radar screen. Or they see themselves as already full of righteousness. The fifth beatitude tells us that a Christian actively expresses mercy toward others. But a person who's not a true Christian doesn't show mercy. Instead they tend to be hard-hearted, brutal, unforgiving, both in how they think and in how they act. And if you doubt this is true with the world at large, go read some of the comments under various articles on the internet, and see how vicious people can be. But that's not how believers are. The sixth beatitude says a person who belongs to Jesus' spiritual kingdom is morally clean in their entire inner person. Because he was bathed at the moment of salvation, and he continues daily to repent of sin and confess sin and to experience that continual cleansing. That's not how unbelievers respond to their sin. They're not pure in heart. Their hearts are dirty and filthy and they don't take any effort, day to day, to see them cleansed. The seventh beatitude says that a true Christian consistently works to make peace, to bring the end of conflict in all of their relationships. Unbelievers are not peacemakers. Instead, sometimes they enjoy conflict. But certainly they create conflict or they tolerate arguments and strife and turmoil and conflict in their relationships. The eighth beatitude says that a true Christian is often insulted and ridiculed either to his face or behind his back because of what he believes and how he lives. And sometimes, he's actively persecuted. An unbeliever's not like that. In fact, he's so much like the people around him that he's not persecuted for righteousness. Instead, unbelievers like him. He fits in so well, that unbelievers don't see any difference. That's the test. So based on our Lord's test (that's not my test, that's our Lord's test) which kingdom do you belong to? Jesus says those who manifest these qualities are in My spiritual kingdom, and those who don't still belong to Satan's kingdom, and on them Jesus pronounced a woe, not a blessing. So the beatitudes then are a test of true saving faith.

Thirdly, the beatitudes serve as a textbook for kingdom living. Jesus addressed these beatitudes directly to those who were already His disciples—to the twelve that he had chosen just that morning, as well as to the large crowd of His true followers that Luke mentions. In other words, Jesus had addressed these beatitudes to those who had already entered His kingdom by grace alone. And He intended, that for them, and for us who are believers, these beatitudes teach us how we should live now that we're in His kingdom. This is what our lives should look like. He was explaining how we as Christians should live right now. The Sermon on the Mount, by the way, is not as classic dispensationalists like Scofield (remember the Scofield Bible) taught. That is, solely for the future millennial kingdom. Because then, we would be perfect. We would already have been made perfect, so we wouldn't need to be told, as we are told in this sermon, not to commit adultery or not to lust. We won't need to be told to guard our speech or to control our anger. We won't be tempted to break our vows or shade the truth, all of which are addressed in this sermon. No, this sermon is for right now. It's for those whom God has forgiven, whom He has reconciled to Himself through the death of His Son, and who have repented of their sins, who've believed in Christ, and put their full confidence in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although every Christian displays all of these qualities to some degree, this is the description of a Christian.

There is, at the same time, in our Lord's words here, a note of exhortation, an implied command. These things are already true of you to some degree because you're in My kingdom; that shows that you've already entered My kingdom. But I want you to excel in these things. I want you to continue to grow in these things. This is how you should live in everyday life. So notice how He tells us to live. We must consistently live as the poor in spirit, a constant awareness of our spiritual poverty. That means not only are we spiritually bankrupt, but we know we're spiritually bankrupt, and we beg God to show us grace. And that doesn't just happen when we come into the kingdom. That's to be the regular expression of our lives. We are and always will be beggars before God. We will never deserve anything from Him. Verse 4 says we should be those who mourn. Our lives are to be characterized by mourning over our own personal sin and over the sin throughout the world. We came into Jesus' kingdom mourning our sin, and in this life that has to continue to be our regular constant practice. It's not just feeling bad about your sin. Instead, the word mourn has the idea that we are to weep over our sin like normal people mourn over the death of someone they love. That's the word. Mourn over your sin as if a close family member died. That's to be the regular practice of our lives while we're here. That's the kingdom living here and now. Verse 5 says we are to be gentle. As I've told you, that word's better translated meek. It's really telling us to do two things, one on a vertical level toward God, and the other on a horizontal level toward others. Toward God we are to submit to His word and His will. We are to have a humble spirit that says yes sir to God. What we learn, we seek to obey. Toward people it manifests itself as gentleness, graciousness, even when they sin against us. That's to be how we are to live. Verse 6 says we're to constantly hunger and thirst for righteousness. We are to be marked by a concentrated desire for righteousness, by right standing with God–a desire for right standing with God by grace alone; and also to have a righteous character and a righteous life that conforms to what God has commanded. Verse 7, we're to be merciful. We are to respond to the sin of others against us by extending them the mercy of forgiveness. We're also to respond to the misery of need and poverty and suffering with practical help. We're to try to help people who find themselves in those miserable conditions. Verse 8, we're to be pure in heart. This is how we're to live right now. You see at the moment of salvation, God completely cleansed our hearts. In the words of Jesus, He gave us a bath. But now, we are to respond to our sin with ongoing confession and repentance. We are to be constantly confessing and repenting of our sins. And we are to be putting aside that sin in our life. We are to be in the practice of cleansing our own hearts from the patterns of sin. In the words of Paul, we're to put off sin, or we're to put it to death, and pursue personal holiness. Verse 9 adds that we are to live in this kingdom we're in, as peacemakers, pursuing peace between sinners and God by praying for them and sharing the gospel with them, telling them they can have peace with God through Jesus Christ. But also pursuing peace when there's conflict between us and others, and even when there's conflict not with us, but between others in our lives, trying to bring peace to those situations. So, because we've already entered Jesus' spiritual kingdom by grace alone, the beatitudes and the rest of this sermon serves as a textbook for kingdom living, right here, right now.

There's one final legitimate use of the beatitudes. And that is: they are a testament to our future. You see, the beatitudes acknowledge that by God's grace you and I can begin living like kingdom citizens right now, but not perfectly. Because of sin, because we're still not made perfect, we will never manifest these beatitudes in their fullness until we're in Christ's presence. We're still not all our Lord died to make us. We have not spiritually arrived. In this life we are spiritual beggars. We mourn over our sin. We hunger and thirst for a righteousness that we do not have. Our purity is often stained with sin. So, for our encouragement, along with each beatitude, Jesus makes us some truly amazing promises. And from these promises He intends that you and I will draw hope and encouragement. Look at them. Verse 3. " theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Jesus says, if these qualities I'm talking about here describe you, not in perfection, but in the direction of your life, then be encouraged. Be encouraged. My spiritual kingdom belongs to you today. You're in. And someday, you will belong to My future literal kingdom, both the millennial kingdom–the thousand years when Christ reigns on this earth renewed–and for eternity in what Revelation 21 and 22 describes as a new heaven and a new earth, in which righteousness are at home. In other words, Jesus is saying, you can be assured that you really belong to Me right now if these things describe you. Verse 4, He says we'll be comforted. Listen, if you're a Christian you mourn over your sin, you're broken over your sin, and Christ says not only have you enjoyed comfort in salvation—the comfort of forgiveness in the past—but right now you're enjoying the ongoing comfort of forgiveness as you confess and repent of your sins. But here's the big deal. In the future He will perfectly comfort you forever. Someday there will be no more mourning over your sin because it will all be gone. Verse 5 says we will inherit the earth. Jesus is saying someday you will inherit a place in My physical kingdom. Right now you're in My spiritual kingdom. You're one of the hearts I reign over as Lord but someday I'm going to establish a real kingdom and in that kingdom you will live. I think it refers here not to the millennial kingdom, but to that new earth that Revelation promises Christ Himself will make, after He destroys this one. Notice verse 6. You'll be satisfied. In the future, Jesus says, your desire for righteousness will be perfectly satisfied, and He uses a word which implies being completely satiated with food. You'll appreciate that on Thursday. On Thursday we celebrate Thanksgiving, and if your house is like mine, you'll have a feast. And you will get up from the table thoroughly and completely satiated. What Jesus is saying here is that someday our souls will experience that same fullness of righteousness that our bodies will experience this Thursday. You will be just as righteous as Jesus Himself. Verse 7 says we'll receive mercy. Again, now, remember, these promises are made to all of those who are Christians, because all of these qualities describe all of us who are believers. So, each one of these promises is to each of us who are in Christ. He says we'll receive mercy. Not only will we continue to receive God's mercy throughout this life, but the point Jesus is making here is, when we stand before God at the judgment, you and I will not feel the weight of God's justice, but instead, He'll treat us with mercy. Because Jesus got the justice we deserved, at the cross. Verse 8 says we'll see God. With our own eyes, we will see either the human form of Jesus Christ, or we'll see a physical manifestation of God, perhaps like the blazing light He often appears in. But regardless, what theologians call the beatific vision of God will forever captivate us and enrapture us, thrill us, change us. Verse 9, He says, if you're in My kingdom you'll be called sons of God. this is an amazing truth to me. When we stand before God, it's as if God Himself will come over and put His great arm around us, and He will say to all of the angels and to all of the sea of humanity that's gathered there in that day, I adopted this one. This is My son. This is My daughter.

Christians, this week as you celebrate Thanksgiving, it's right that you thank God for the temporal blessings of this life, but here is a list for your thanksgiving. You belong to Jesus' kingdom. He will wipe away all of your tears over sin. You will have an inheritance in the new heavens and the new earth. You will one day enjoy perfect comprehensive righteousness. In the judgment you will not receive justice but mercy. You will see God with your own eyes. And God Himself will call you His son or His daughter. That's something to be thankful for. And all those promises are only ours because of the death of Jesus Christ in our place. In the Lord's Table we give thanks to God for that death—the death of Jesus, and all the blessings that are ours because of Him.

Let's pray together. Our Father, we are overwhelmed by the truth of what we've studied together this morning. Lord, I pray that You would help us not to simply hear Your word but to use it, and to use it accurately. Father, I pray you would help the beatitudes that we've studied together to be a tutor to direct us to Christ. Lord if there's someone here who thinks, by his or her own goodness, they can meet Your standard, Father I pray that they would look at themselves honestly in the light of what Jesus shared, and see that the standard is impossible to make, and that they would run to Christ, place their faith in Him, repent of their sins, and find Him open to receive them and forgive them. Father I pray that you would help it to be a test, the beatitudes would be a test of our true saving faith. Father, most everyone in this room this morning, perhaps everyone, claims to be in Christ. Lord help us to take the test, and see which kingdom we really belong to. Father, I pray for those of us who are in Christ, that You would help us to see these beatitudes as a textbook for how we are to live today, this week, as we interact with You and with others. And Father, we thank You that these wonderful beatitudes can be a testimony to our future. Encourage our hearts that while we're not even close to what we ought to be here, someday we will be, in Your presence, when we see our Lord and are made like Him. Father, we thank You for the gospel, for the fact that there is hope for us who are sinners. Thank You for the good news. Thank You for the promises that we're reminded of this morning. And Father, as we go forth from this place this Thanksgiving week, I pray that You would help our hearts to turn not only toward giving You thanks for the temporal blessings of this life, but for the amazing promises that you have made us even in the beatitudes, for the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ Jesus, that are ours because we don't stand before You on our own, but we stand clothed in His perfect life. We thank you O God for the good news of the gospel in Jesus Christ, in whose Name we pray. Amen.

The Sermon on the Mount