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                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                      The Beatitudes - I (5:3-12)

INTRODUCTION

1. As we begin to take a closer look at "The Sermon On The Mount," we
   notice first that section known as "The Beatitudes" - Mt 3:3-12
   a. The word "beatitude" means "supreme blessedness or happiness"
   b. We find Jesus discussing the blessedness of those who possess
      certain qualities

2. It is as though Jesus was answering two questions people might have
   been asking:
   a. Who will be the citizens of "the kingdom of heaven"?
   b. What benefits do they receive?

3. My treatment of this passage will be somewhat different than normal
   a. Most examine each beatitude in detail before going on to the next
   b. But I will look at the entire section in an overall fashion twice
      1) Looking at it from two different perspectives
      2) Taking two lessons to do so

4. In this lesson, let's consider "The Beatitudes" from the viewpoint
   of the question:

                  "Who will be the citizens of the kingdom?"

[In other words, what is the character required of the citizens of the
kingdom?]

I. THEIR CHARACTER INVOLVES INTER-RELATED QUALITIES

   A. THEY WILL POSSESS ALL OF THESE GRACES...
      1. Only those who have all of the qualities described will truly
         be citizens of the kingdom
      2. For it should be evident that some may be...
         a. "Poor in spirit," but do not "hunger and thirst after 
            righteousness"
         b. "Mournful," but are not "pure in heart"
         c. "Meek," but are not "peacemakers"
         d. "Persecuted," but not "for righteousness' sake"

   B. THESE GRACES ARE INTER-RELATED...
      1. It takes all of these qualities, working in conjunction with
         one another
      2. In this the passage is similar to 2Pe 1:5-11
         a. Where various qualities are also listed
         b. Where each are needed in conjunction to one another ("add
            to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge...")
      3. Only then can one have "an entrance will be supplied to you
         abundantly into the everlasting kingdom"

[How the qualities are inter-related becomes apparent as we consider 
that...]

II. THEIR CHARACTER INCLUDES EIGHT QUALITIES

   A. THEY ARE "POOR IN SPIRIT"...
      1. "To be poor in spirit is to have a humble opinion of
         ourselves; to be sensible that we are sinners, and have no
         righteousness of our own; to be willing to be saved only by
         the rich grace and mercy of God" (Barnes)
      2. I.e., convicted of one's own spiritual poverty
         a. Exemplified by the tax collector in Lk 18:13
         b. Such people God will accept into His good favor - Isa 57:
            15; 66:1-2
      3. The opposite of "poor in spirit" would be "proud of heart,"
         and those who are such are more like:
         a. The Pharisee in Lk 18:9-14
         b. The Laodiceans in Re 3:17-19

   B. THEY "MOURN"...
      1. But do so in a specific sense:  over one's own spiritual 
         poverty, one' sinfulness
      2. Like David did after his adultery with Bathsheba - Ps 51:3-4
      3. Note the relationship between these first two characteristics
         a. Unless one is first "poor in spirit"
         b. They will not "mourn" over their spiritual poverty

   C. THEY ARE "MEEK"...
      1. This means gentle, easy to be entreated
         a. They would rather suffer injury than inflict it
         b. Not out of weakness, but out of humility, realizing one's
            own poverty of spirit, one's own sinfulness
      2. A good example of meekness is Moses
         a. He was certainly not a weak or timid man - Exo 32:19-20;
            30-34
         b. But when personally attacked, he was very humble - Num
            12:1-3

   D. THEY "HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS"...
      1. They look for the righteousness which will meet:
         a. Their spiritual poverty
         b. Their mourning over the same
      2. To "hunger and thirst" suggests not a half-hearted search, but
         one exemplified by:
         a. David in Ps 42:1-2; 19:12-14
         b. Paul in Php 3:7-15a

   E. THEY ARE "MERCIFUL"...
      1. Loving towards those in misery (e.g., the "Good Samaritan")
      2. Possessing a forgiving spirit toward those who sin against
         them (Hendricksen)
         a. As Jesus had toward those crucifying Him - Lk 23:34
         b. As Stephen had toward those stoning him - Ac 7:60
      3. Jesus stressed this characteristic on several occasions...
         a. Later in this sermon, in teaching on prayer - Mt 6:14-15
         b. In His parable of "The Unforgiving Servant" - Mt 18:21-35
      4. This virtue grows "out of our personal experience of the mercy
         of God." (Lenski)

   F. THEY ARE "PURE IN HEART"...
      1. Defined as "singleness of heart, the honesty which has no
         hidden motive, no selfish interest, and is true and open in
         all things." (Lenski)
      2. Refers to one who is sincere, honest, without hypocrisy
      3. That such a quality is necessary to see God, see Ps 24:3-4

   G. THEY ARE "PEACEMAKERS"...
      1. They devote their lives to making peace by following the
         Prince of Peace
         a. Making effort to be at peace with all men - Ro 12:18-21
         b. Helping others to be at peace with God by proclaiming the
            gospel of peace - cf. Ro 5:1; Ep 6:15
      2. "At peace with God and thus themselves filled with sweet
         peace, they live in peace, if possible, with all men and work
         to keep and to make peace where peace is threatened or lost.
         Theirs is the work of true Christians who follow in the
         footsteps of the Prince of Peace." (Lenski)

   H. THEY ARE "PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE"...
      1. "The tense and voice of the verb (passive perfect) may be
         regarded as permissive:
         a. "Who have allowed themselves to be persecuted, or have
            endured persecution"
         b. "The idea is that they did not flee from it but willingly
            submitted to when it came to them." (LENSKI)
      2. In what way, is explained in verse 11, and includes being:
         a. Reviled or reproached
         b. Persecuted
         c. Slandered falsely
            -- All for Jesus' sake
      3. That such persecution would often afflict those who are
         citizens of the kingdom, see Ac 14:21-22; Php 1:29-30; 2Ti 
         3:12

CONCLUSION

1. Such are the characteristics of those who will be citizens of the
   kingdom of heaven:
   a. They are poor in spirit (realizing their sinfulness)
   b. Thus they mourn (for their sins)
   c. Thus they are meek (gentle toward God and others)
   d. Thus they hunger and thirst for righteousness (which they 
      desperately need)
   e. Thus they are merciful (for they know they need mercy)
   f. Thus they are pure in heart (seeking to please God with 
      singleness of heart)
   g. Thus they are peacemakers (making peace with others, having found
      peace with God)
   h. Thus they are persecuted for the kingdom of heaven (misunderstood
      by the proud and arrogant who are still in their sins)
   -- Eight graces, all inter-related and working together to produce
      the right kind of character

2. Such is the character of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven...
   a. Involving eight graces, all inter-related
   b. Working together to produce the right kind of character

3. Is the kingdom of heaven worth whatever effort might be involved in
   developing this kind of  character?
   a. We shall see the answer to this question in our next study.
   b. As we view "The Beatitudes" from the viewpoint of another
      question:

         "What benefits do the citizens of the kingdom receive?"

But if you are poor in spirit, mourning for your sins, hungering for
the righteousness that God provides only in Christ, what are you 
waiting for?  As Ananias told Saul of Tarsus:

     "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash
     away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Ac 22:16)
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