Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sermon On The Mount - Session 3 - Persecution And Influence

The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is conducting an exhaustive study of Jesus Sermon on the Mount, Matthew Chapters 5, 6, and 7.  These are the Leader's notes to the study.  The notes include the full text of the important scriptures of the study.  Join us here  and study along with us. The Sermon on the Mount is the Manifesto of the Kingdom of Heaven.   In Session 3 Jesus tells the multitude, and Christians that they will be persecuted because of their relationship with Him and their righteousness.  Those with a relationship with Christ have influence and because of it they must be like salt and light.

Persecution For Righteousness Sake

Matthew 5:10-12 NKJV Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The Lord is upfront in telling us that we will suffer and that the world will not react in love and kindness towards us
Matthew 10:16-26 (NKJV)16  "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.17  But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.18  You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.19  But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;20  for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.21  Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.22  And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.23  When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.24  A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.25  It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!26  Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.
To be righteous is to be Christlike. We'll be blessed for being persecuted because we're righteous, not because we're fanatical or stupid
Luke 6:26 (NKJV)26  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets. 
2 Timothy 4:3-5 (NKJV) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
The doctrine stating that Christians only go through suffering and afflictions if they don't have enough faith is inconsistent with Scripture..
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJV) And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The religious people were the ones who persecuted Jesus, because they were challenged by Him. Sometimes persecution comes from religious circles.
As Christians we should face persecution:
(1) by not retaliating against our persecutors
Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)44  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
Luke 23:34 (NKJV)34  Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots.
Acts 7:54-60 (NKJV)54  When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.55  But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,56  and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"57  Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;58  and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.59  And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."60  Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
(2) by not holding resentment against them;
(3) by rejoicing in the fact that this proves that we are God's children and have a great reward in heaven
Acts 5:40-41 (NKJV)40  And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.41  So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
Because we're His children, our position in His kingdom is secure. We need to remember that we're His ambassadors on earth, and we represent Christ. We need to remember where we're going
2 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV) Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
The prophets were persecuted
Acts 7:52 (NKJV)52  Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers,
All of the apostles were persecuted for Jesus' sake. They persecuted Jesus Christ. Persecution has strengthened the Church
Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV) And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Do we celebrate every situation as victor? When pressed with trials, do our thoughts and emotions honor Christ? Are we passionate enough about reconciling ourselves and others with God to joyfully pay the price?

How do we feel deep inside when hurt by those we have helped? Are we truly able to “let go and let God”? Can we rejoice and keep on rejoicing in every situation? If not that is a goal we can strive for.

Salt and Light

Christ asserts that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As salt we preserve and flavor a rotting and insipid world. As light we are to lift the brightness of Christ up with confidence and allow him to shine through us to reveal the darkness of our world. Jesus reveals to us that the ultimate purpose of our influence is to be distinct to the people around us so that they would encounter the love of Christ and give glory to God.

Now that we are what we are, we should be these things.
● Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. To do this Jesus the King must first be salt and light in our lives. How do you see Jesus preserving and flavoring your life? How do you see Jesus shining into your life exposing darkness and revealing sin, hurts and hang ups that prevent you from fully following Him?
● Read Matthew 5:13
Matthew 5:13 CEV You are the salt for everyone on earth. But if salt no longer tastes like salt, how can it make food salty? All it is good for is to be thrown out and walked on.
 Salt has several capacities.
(1) At the time of Christ, salt was used as a preservative to kill bacteria and retard spoilage. The Christian should have a preserving type of influence.
(2) Salt is used to add flavor. Christians are to add life and flavor to people's lives. We're to make every experience "taste" better because of our presence.
(3) Salt creates thirst. Christians should create a thirst within others to know Jesus Christ.
(4) Salt prevents infections from setting in. Christians are to have an antiseptic effect on the open sores of the world.
If we're not having a savory effect on this earth, we're good for nothing.
Salt that is cast on the ground destroys vegetation. Jesus here is giving the ultimatum. Be either a purifying influence or you'll find yourself under the weight of a fallen society
1 Timothy 4:16 CEV Be careful about the way you live and about what you teach. Keep on doing this, and you will save not only yourself, but the people who hear you.
We discussed two functions of salt in the ancient world. Salt was first a preservative intended to stop the decaying process and then as flavor agent further enhancing the good that is already present. Where do you see the need for preservation and flavoring in your families, neighborhoods, workplace, and community? How do you feel Jesus is calling you to engage and influence these areas for His glory?
● Read Matthew 5:14-15
Matthew 5:14-15 CEV You are the light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one lights a lamp and puts it under a clay pot. Instead, it is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house.
The "you" is emphatic in the Greek text, so that we might translate it "You, and you alone are the light of the world.".
"The light of Jesus Christ is to be reflected in our lives
John 8:12 CEV Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said, “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won't be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.”

  Light has several functions.
(1) Light dispels darkness. Our lives should have such an influence that wherever we are, we dispel darkness.
Matthew 4:12-16 CEV When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he went to Galilee. But instead of staying in Nazareth, Jesus moved to Capernaum. This town was beside Lake Galilee in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.  So God's promise came true, just as the prophet Isaiah had said,   “Listen, lands of Zebulun and Naphtali, lands along the road to the sea and across the Jordan. Listen Galilee, land of the Gentiles!  Although your people live in darkness, they will see a bright light. Although they live in the shadow of death, a light will shine on them.”

(2) Light reveals. The light of Jesus Christ reveals the darkness that is in others.
John 3:17-18 CEV God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! No one who has faith in God's Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn't have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God's only Son.

(3) Light shows the way out of darkness. We should be leading men out of darkness through that work of God's love and Spirit in our lives.
1 John 1:6-7 CEV If we say we share in life with God and keep on living in the dark, we are lying and are not living by the truth. But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away.

People are going to notice if we are children of God.
We should not try to hide our relationship with God.
Here we see our influence described as light. Light reveals and exposes darkness most effectively if it is elevated and put on display were people are able to see it. How do you elevate the light of Christ shining in and through you in your life? What are the things that might act as baskets that cover or obscure the light, inhibiting Jesus from shining through you?
● Read Matthew 5:16
Matthew 5:16 CEV Make your light shine, so others will see the good you do and will praise your Father in heaven.

These good works should draw attention to Christ.
Jesus teaches that the purpose of our influence is to expose others to the love of Jesus so that they would give glory to God. How do you see Jesus using you to show God to the people in your life? What areas of your life are distinct and different from the world around you? Where in your life is it challenging to be distinct and different?

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