Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Sermon on the Mount

I've been preaching through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) on Sunday mornings, and as I near the end of the sermon, I've been especially enjoying a sight of the whole. There is an amazing unity.

Here is how the sermon is structured as I understand it. The entire sermon is about what it means to be in the kingdom of Christ and under His rule. It means kingdom members have Christian hearts. Kingdom members are different from the inside out.

In this sermon, men and women are called to:

1. Have a kingdom heart (5:1-16). In the beatitudes, Christ outlines the heart of a Christian, explaining that those who are born again bear witness to God's love shed abroad in their hearts.

2. Keep the kingdom law (5:17-48). Christ explains that those who are in His kingdom don't just keep God's law externally, but obey it from the heart. Kingdom members aren't simply outwardly righteous, but are righteous from the inside out.

3. Engage in kingdom worship (6:1-18). Those who are in love with the Lord from the heart don't simply perform religious acts to be noticed and approved by others, but they give, fast, and pray in order to honor the Lord from the heart.

4. Seek kingdom treasure (6:19-34). Kingdom members don't worship this world or seek to be satisfied in its treasures; rather, they seek Christ's kingdom first and trust God to take care of their physical needs.

5. Have kingdom relationships (7:1-12). Because kingdom members understand their own sin and God's grace, they treat others the way they would want to be treated and the way that they have been treated in Christ. They don't condemn others, though they practice wise and prayerful discerment.

6. Choose the kingdom way (7:13-29). This is the close of the sermon. It is an appeal to practice and apply what Christ has been teaching up to this point. Christ says that there are two lifestyles. There is the kingdom lifestyle and the doomed lifestyle. Christ urges His hearers to be in the kingdom and never to listen to teachers who teach against the kingdom.