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Kingdom People | Matthew 5-7

As preached by Zach Thompson.

"Righteousness is not the path to the cross; it's the path from the cross."

Kingdom people:

1) Will receive the kingdom by the grace of God (5:2-16).

2) Live according to the kingdom ethic by seeking:

-True obedience to God, not merely external obedience (5:13-48).

-To please God rather than man (6:1-8).

-External treasure rather than temporary treasure (6:19-34).

-The genuine good of others (7:1-12).

3) Can be known by us and are known by God.

Matthew 5-7

Good morning Christ Fellowship!

If you have your Bibles, we will be continuing our series through Matthew today. We’ll pick up in Matthew chapter 5 and go through the end of verse 7.

This is known as the sermon on the mount, and I want to make it clear before we even read our text that the irony isn’t lost on me. I am preaching a sermon about Jesus’ sermon.

And we won’t read Jesus’ entire sermon today. Assuredly, his sermon is better. But I hope that you will read that this week if you haven’t already before now.

My goal today is simple. If you are a follower of Jesus, I hope to survey the truths from his sermon with the goal that you would clearly see some way or ways that God would have you focus your efforts in confession, repentance, and learning for the sake of your being made more like Christ.

If you are not a follower of Jesus today, I want you to hear from Jesus that you can turn to him today and find a life of confident hope rather than fearful expectation.

For our public reading today, we will read 5:1-12.

If you are able, would you please stand in honor of the reading of God’s word?

Matthew 5:1-12

“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Let’s Pray.

We will attempt to cover all of Matthew 5-7 today. The Sermon on the Mount.

Books upon books and sermons and articles. We could spend a year of Sundays walking through all of the dense teaching and implications that these verses could have for us.

And here we are–with one Sunday to cover it.

So let’s take a step back and set some context here. Look in verse 1. “Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.”

Last time we were in Matthew, Jesus began his ministry, and he was proclaiming repentance as he healed people of lifelong afflictions and cast out demons. Naturally, this drew a crowd. And naturally, not all of them actually wanted to follow Jesus. Verse 1 tells us that Jesus saw the crowds, and he wanted some more intimate time with his disciples, so he goes up on the mountain.

Now, we live close to mountains, so hopefully, that will help you envision this. Jesus isn’t just walking up a hill so he will have a better platform to speak from. He is literally trying to get away from these people. Going up a mountainside takes quite a bit of time. He went on a hike to try and find a secluded place where he could teach those who were closer followers. Introverts can probably take some notes on this.

And he starts the sermon on the mount. If we read straight through it, this would take 10-15 minutes to read. And we know that this is probably a summary of a much longer time where he was teaching. There are at least a couple of reasons that we know this. First, it’s incredibly short and dense. You don’t walk two hours to give a 10-minute monologue. It would have been natural for this to have been an extended time of teaching that happened over the course of hours or even days. But take a second to look at the end of chapter 7.

7:28-29, “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”

Jesus has been preaching a message of repentance because the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the sermon on the mount gives more extended content to that same message.

Jesus is teaching about the kingdom of heaven. And as we seek to digest his teaching today, I think it will be helpful to frame this around the inhabitants of that kingdom.

Kingdom People:

  1. Will receive the kingdom by the grace of God (5:2-12).

We just read the Beatitudes for our public reading.

This isn’t a list of spiritual gifts. You can’t just choose one of these and say that you specialize in that thing. Well, I’m definitely persecuted, but I’m not that great at being a peacemaker. If you read this that way, then you will totally miss the point.

This list is about the character of the Kingdom. It’s meant to be a unit.

That’s why it starts and ends with the same thing. It’s called an inclusio. An author will repeat the same phrase at the beginning and end of a unit to signal to the reader that this is meant to be taken as a single unit–a single idea.

Look in 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Now look down in verse 10, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus is making it clear that this list characterizes the people who will receive the kingdom of heaven!

He is answering two questions with this list. What are the characteristics of kingdom people? And what does it mean to receive the kingdom?

Kingdom people are poor in spirit and they mourn, meek, they hunger for righteousness. They are merciful. Pure in heart. Peacemakers. Persecuted for righteousness sake.

And what does it mean to receive the kingdom? It means being comforted by God. It means inheriting the earth. It means being satisfied with righteousness. It means receiving mercy. It means seeing god–being called sons of God.

All of this comes together to paint a picture of spiritual need and eternal value and deep mercy and satisfaction. It’s something to meditate on and soak it in. If you are in Christ, then these are promises for you.

There is more in these verses than I could possibly address this morning, but there is something here that absolutely needs our attention before we can move on.

Who gives the blessings here?

Who gives the kingdom of heaven? Who gives the comfort? Who gives the earth? Who gives satisfaction? The mercy? The sight of God? The likeness with God?

All of these can only be given by one entity in the universe. They all come from God. If we run through these beatitudes and rush into the next section, then we won’t see what we need to see.

You are not the source of this blessing. You can’t contrive it. You can’t earn it. You can’t make it happen.

This is the reason that Jesus starts the way he does in 5:3. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

Kingdom people are a people who recognize that they don’t deserve a single spiritual blessing.

They are spiritually bankrupt. They are like the tax collector. Remember that story from Luke 18? Jesus tells a parable of a tax collector and a pharisee who both prayed before God. The pharisee said, “Thank you God that I’m not like this man. I fast and I pray and I tithe.” But the tax collector said, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.”

Which man is justified before God? It’s the one who recognizes his spiritual bankruptcy.

I grew up in a Dave Ramsey household. We had envelopes. We ate spaghetti. And credit cards were something akin to satan worship.

We can talk about finances another time. But do you know why Dave Ramsey will tell you that you should cut up your credit card? Because they can trick you.

You can go to the store and run up that credit card when you have zero dollars in your bank account. You can act like you have cash when you have nothing at all. And the sad reality is that the bill always comes due. That credit will only last so long.

In the moment, you can live large. You can buy the hot tub and the big tv and all of the subscriptions and everything you want, but eventually, the creditor will knock on your door. Every penny will be accounted for.

Being one of the kingdom people who will receive the kingdom of heaven starts with this reality.

I am needy. I have no spiritual credit before God.

If we don’t start here, then we will miss it. We don’t live as kingdom people to earn grace. We live as kingdom people because of grace.

Righteousness isn’t a path to the cross. Righteousness is the path from the cross.

Christian, when you think about God’s grace. Do you secretly think that God was lucky to snag you? You are such a catch for his kingdom. We live in an age of participation trophies and self-esteem-boosting grading curves. We think we are entitled to everything.

Without the grace of God given to us through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are living on pure borrowed credit. And the bill would come due. As followers of Jesus, there is never a time when we graduate from our need. There is never a time when we can rightly act as if we have earned any spiritual blessing. We will come into the kingdom of God by grace and grace alone.

But don’t mishear me on this. Righteousness is still a vital part of the Christian life. That’s most of what Jesus corrects in this sermon. And that is our next point.

  1. Live according to the kingdom ethic by seeking:

In this next section, there are four different ways that we see this.

  1. True obedience to God, not merely external obedience (5:13-48).

So often, in ethical discussions, the driving idea is, “What can I get away with?” But there is no room for this in the Christian life. Kingdom people seek true, heart-directed obedience to God.

That’s what Jesus begins to address in 5:13-16.

Salt should give flavor, and if it doesn’t, then what good is it? Light is meant to be seen, so why would it be hidden?

Kingdom people are identifiable because they are obedient to Jesus.

That’s why Jesus wants to make it clear that he hasn’t come to abolish the Law.

Look at 5:17. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

In Matthew, when something is fulfilled, it almost always carries the overtone of prophetic fulfillment. Jesus is saying that the law and the prophets all pointed to him and that he is here to make good on their promises. He is the reality behind all of the shadows.

As followers of Jesus, we are free from the Mosaic law, but we are bound to a new law–the law of liberty–the law of Christ (James 1:25; Romans 6:20-23).

We are obedient to Jesus because Jesus is the true law. He is the fulfillment of all of the law and the prophets.

And in 5:13-48, Jesus begins to lay out the kingdom ethic.

I wish we had a bit more time this morning to really meditate on each one of these here, but let me encourage you to spend some time this week really seeking to dwell on each of these. In our weekly email, I’ll be sure to include some questions that will guide that.

Jesus covers anger, lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation, and love. In every case, he says, “You have heard that it was said…” Then, in each case, raises the standard beyond mere compliance to an external requirement. He raises it to live within the actual spirit of the law.

And this is what we need to see in all of these. God doesn’t see us the way that other people see us. God sees our hearts.

I have heard a lot of people use this as a justification for sin. Someone will say, “Yeah, I know I sinned when I did that, but God knows my heart. He knows I had good intentions.”

No! That’s not what this means. God knows our hearts in a way that is more incisive and clear than even we do.

God sees every sin that we keep in our inner being. He sees the inner sin that always precedes the outer sin. These are the types of things that Jesus addresses in these verses.

Let’s run through them really quickly.

5:21-26, If you are angry with a brother, then you have committed murder in your heart.

5:27-30, If you lust with eyes, then you have committed adultery in your heart.

5:31-32, A piece of paper doesn’t make divorce okay. According to Jesus, adultery is involved with the breaking of any marriage covenant that isn’t broken by death.

5:33-37, You can’t legitimately make an oath because you don’t actually have control over anything outside of your own actions, so let your yes be yes, and your no be no.

5:38-42, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth was a regulation for vengeance, not something that was meant to encourage vengeance. If someone does evil to you, turn the other cheek; and if someone unjustly requires something from you, then give them more than they ask for.

5:43-47, Kingdom people don’t hate their enemies, they love their enemies and seek their eternal good. Because they are like God, “who sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

And Jesus finishes this portion of his sermon with a summary statement in 5:48. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Does this sentence make you nervous? This isn’t meant to make you despair. It’s meant to give you direction.

Is God wickedly angry? Never.

Is God faithless to covenants? Never.

Does he ignore his promises or rashly give an oath? Never.

Jesus isn’t saying this as a preliminary requirement for you to be saved. He is giving us an easily remembered, guiding principle for how we should live. Seek godliness, and look to God for what that means.

But at the same time, there is some clarity here for us. Isn’t there? Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. Jesus isn’t seeking to make us despair with this, but if we were to spend more time on these and really meditate on them, then I think we would see that we fail on all accounts. Anger, faithfulness, honesty, love. We fail constantly. If we didn’t already feel spiritually bankrupt at the beginning of the sermon, then we should now.

So ask yourself, “Do you look like one of these kingdom people?” There isn’t any point in mincing the truth on this. God sees our hearts. He knows the depths of your heart that even you are scared to delve.

Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. In these verses, Jesus has given us specific ways we can correct our thinking on this. But he also gives us other principles to follow. Those are the next three subpoints.

And these next ones will definitely be quicker.

  1. To please God rather than men (6:1-18).

Look at the warning in 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

You might hear this and think that there is a contradiction between this and 5:16 where it says “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

The difference is intent. Are you seen doing the work of the kingdom? Or are you doing the work of the kingdom in order to be seen?

I’ll ask that again. Are you seen doing the work of the kingdom? Or are you doing the work of the kingdom in order to be seen?

The first command (5:16) is saying that you shouldn’t be a disciple of Jesus who looks like the world. This later command (6:1) is saying that you shouldn’t be a worldly person who simply looks like a disciple of Jesus.

Let me share a temptation I have undergone that may shed light on this. I can relate with both sides here. I try to pray before meals. And when I eat lunch with someone who doesn’t follow Jesus, I always feel tempted to not pray before those meals. I could give various justifications here, but the reality is that when I don’t do this, I’m suppressing a part of who God has convicted me to be. In those moments, I’m a Christian who is acting like someone in the world.

On the other hand, there have been days when I have hardly prayed, but I come to the dinner table with my family, and I know that I’m supposed to lead my family in prayer. There are other things mixed in with this, but the same reality is there. Even if I have the right heart when I’m praying, in that moment, I’m praying because I’m in front of people when I have neglected private prayer.

Are you seeking to please God? Or are you seeking to convince everyone around you that you are a good person?

This is Jesus’ main point in this section.

He walks through generosity, prayer, and fasting. And in each one, he gives examples of how it is so easy and common for us to do these things in order to be seen.

Our all-knowing God sees the things that no one else sees.

Ask yourself. Do you live in righteousness simply so that others would see you doing it? You can even just use these categories here. Jesus talks about them as if he just assumes that his disciples will do them.

When you give or pray or fast, do you make sure to hint about it so someone will ask you about it and you can get an ego boost?

Who are you seeking to please? God or other people?

If you want a quick thermometer on this, it might be helpful to ask this question. Do you get angry when people don’t recognize you for something? God sees. Are you satisfied with that?

God doesn’t just see things done in secret. He promises reward. “Your father who sees in secret will reward you."

The next point is really closely tied to this.

  1. Eternal treasure rather than temporary treasure (6:19-34).

This is in 6:19-34.

Jesus shoots pretty straight on this. Look at verse 19. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The economy of God’s kingdom is an eternal economy. But stop and think about this for a moment. Everything you own is the stuff of landfills and garbage heaps. Given enough time, literally everything you own will degrade and be trash. Even your house will eventually fall.

Down toward Fairview, UT, there is a house that makes me think of this every time I pass it. It’s a cute little farmhouse, where I picture a mom making biscuits in the same room where she knits. Maybe there was a private bedroom for the parents, but it was small enough that everyone may have shared a room. I imagine a rocking chair and a modest table. That house is in the middle of a pond– literally. You can see the top portion of the wall and the roof. It was obviously sturdy, because it’s still there, covered with water, every time I pass it. It’s a matter of time before it falls and becomes driftwood.

The Tesla you dream about. The home you live in. The cash in your bank account.

What are your eyes set on? Where is your focus? What master are you really serving?

Stop for a second. God promises reward. It’s so clear in these verses. He doesn’t outline exactly what it is, but it’d eternal and it’s better than any material wealth that is going to pass away with this world.

Seek credit in the everlasting kingdom, and as you seek that kingdom, walk in trust.

Obedience to the things Jesus is teaching here will require trust in the sovereignty of God.

That’s why he commands us to not be anxious. Because trust is the answer to anxiety. What is anxiety except the lack of trust in God’s sovereign goodness?

That’s why he says in 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Kingdom people seek true obedience in the sight of God with eternal treasure in mind. There is one more piece here.

They seek:

  1. The genuine good of others (7:1-12).

Jesus knows that when someone is pursuing these things, it would be really tempting to lean into self-righteousness. And in our self-righteousness, we can judge people wrongly.

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” A professor of mine claimed that this has replaced John 3:16 as the most quoted verse in the Bible. But sadly it’s almost always misquoted.

Jesus isn’t saying that you shouldn’t make any judgments at all. He is saying that you should judge with humility and self-awareness. Don’t be the hypocrite who makes judgments while swimming in the same sin!

But also don’t be naive and treat everyone as if they will hear it the same way. That’s why Jesus said what he does in 7:6-7. “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”

Don’t judge in self-righteous hypocrisy, but also don’t refuse to make any judgments at all.

Mankind is wretched, and there are times when you must make judgments, lest you set yourself up to be attacked as Jesus says here.

Maybe you hear this, and you think, how can I do this? I don’t want to be a self-righteous hypocrite, but I also don’t want to throw myself in the pigsty and get trampled.

I think that this is exactly why Jesus follows this with a call to prayer.

God, how can I avoid the pitfalls of hypocrisy and naivety? Pray.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

God gives good gifts when his children ask.

And as we seek to shape our entire way of life around who God is, Jesus gives us a principle to help us understand how to love people well.

Look in 7:12. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the Prophets.”

When you consider how to love people and how to judge rightly, you may not know how God would righteously judge in a situation or exactly what to do, but you always know how you would hope to be treated in a similar situation.

Stop. take a moment to review these because we have had to move fast through this second main point.

Kingdom people live according to the kingdom ethic by seeking:

  • True obedience to God, not merely external obedience (5:13-48).

  • To please God rather than men (6:1-18).

  • Eternal treasure rather than temporary treasure (6:19-34)

  • The genuine good of others (7:1-12)

Take a moment to consider these things. Is this consistent with your life? All of these points have promises connected to them. Did you see those as we ran through it?

For his people, God promises satisfaction and reward and comfort and relationship and eternal life. These promises are for us.

We have to move on. Our final point is that Kingdom people.

  1. Can be known by us and are known by God (7:13-27).

Jesus closes the sermon on the mount with 4 warnings. These come together for us to see these two things. There are ways for us to test whether someone is truly a citizen of the kingdom. And regardless of our own judgments, God knows exactly who is his and who isn’t.

Remember, as Jesus has been preaching crowds have gathered, and now he isn’t just speaking to his disciples. This is a broader audience.

So he starts his conclusion in 7:13. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

He lays out two paths. A narrow way to life and a broad way to death. There is no third path.

Have you talked to someone recently who said that every religion contributes to truth?

Jesus doesn’t agree with this. There is a path to life and a path to death.

At the recent LDS general conference, Dallin Oaks said that in the afterlife, everyone will live in a kingdom where the laws are such that they can abide comfortably for all eternity.

Jesus doesn’t agree with this. There is a path to life and a path to death.

There is no third path. And the path to life is narrow.

The people of the kingdom are recognizable because you see them walking on the narrow path.

But beware of false prophets who would lead you down the way of death. And you can recognize false prophets by their fruit. Look at 7:15. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits.”

Teaching that blatantly and stubbornly disagrees with Jesus is bad fruit. Unrepentant sin of any kind is bad fruit.

But even with all of this, mankind is filled with deception. Some wolves and goats may look like sheep to the very end, and Jesus isn’t shy about this.

On the day of Judgment, God won’t judge by appearances. He will judge truly and rightly because he knows our heart.

Look in verse 21. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven., but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you works of lawlessness.”

These are some of the most terrifying verses in the Bible because these people seem to have genuinely deluded themselves. It makes me think of Hiroo Onoda.

Hiroo Onoda was a Japanese soldier. He was indisputably among the more committed and devoted committed and devoted soldiers in history. At 18 years old, Hiroo joined the Japanese military, and while he was 23, he was sent on a special mission when he was separated from most of the soldiers in his unit. He was driven into the jungle with 3 other men. He never reconnected with his unit. His commitment to the cause and his determination to follow orders kept him fighting for decades, and 29 years later, he walked out of that Jungle as the last man left from those 4 who went in 29 years before.

It’s an inspiring story–filled with determination and grit. That is until you find out that he was soldier in WWII, and the year he entered that jungle was the year that the war ended. This man spent 30 years of his life miserable in the jungle fighting for a dead cause. The determination and grit meant nothing because he ignored the surrender.

The men were warned. They saw Japanese search teams looking for them. They read pamphlets that were dropped from planes. And they ignored all of it because they were certain surrender was never an option.

But 29 years later, he walked out of the jungle to see the desperate futility of three decades and the needless death of dozens over those years.

Those who cry “Lord, Lord” are like this man. Effort doesn’t make someone a child of God.

We just spent a significant amount of time talking about how Jesus calls his people to live, and here Jesus says, you might have everyone around you convinced that you have done everything right because you work so hard. You serve so much. You take dinners to people. The people in his example would prophesy and cast out demons in the name of Jesus, and still Jesus says, “Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

Listen, this is for us! God didn’t hear this sermon on the mount and say, “Oh, that’s how I know they are my children!” No. This is for every man, woman, and child who will hear it.

We are supposed to hear this and be shaken. Does this describe me?

Am I living as someone who will receive the kingdom? Am I honest about my spiritual need? Do I seek to please God rather than men? Do I pursue eternal treasure rather than material treasure? Do I genuinely seek the good of others?

I’m not telling you to answer out loud right now, but look in your heart and be honest.

And remember. The teachings in this sermon aren’t preliminary requirements for salvation. They are fruit. They are the result of salvation, not a prerequisite.

And consider the final words of Jesus from our text. Look in verse 24.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

This isn’t a hopeless proclamation of judgment. This is an invitation to repent. The storm hasn’t come yet. So dig down and put your foundation on the rock.

Maybe God has convinced you that your house is on sand. Don’t stay there. Don’t stay in that house. Get out and build on the rock. There is no way to know when the day of the storm will come, so now is the time to declare spiritual bankruptcy and begin to live in the righteousness that Jesus supplies.

And if you survey this text and you are reminded of the grace of God that is already yours, praise the Lord for his forgiveness, and consider how God would sanctify you by dwelling on these words of Jesus.

Kingdom people receive the kingdom by grace, they live like kingdom people, and they are known by God.

Let’s pray.


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