Author Topic: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount  (Read 8214 times)

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JimB

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The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« on: February 19, 2016, 04:51:52 AM »
Chapter 31—The Sermon on the Mount
This chapter is based on Matthew 5; Matthew 6; Matthew 7.


Listen to   The Sermon on the Mount



         


Christ seldom gathered His disciples alone to receive His words. He did not choose for His audience those only who knew the way of life. It was His work to reach the multitudes who were in ignorance and error. He gave His lessons of truth where they could reach the darkened understanding. He Himself was the Truth, standing with girded loins and hands ever outstretched to bless, and in words of warning, entreaty, and encouragement, seeking to uplift all who would come unto Him. {DA 298.1}
The Sermon on the Mount, though given especially to the disciples, was spoken in the hearing of the multitude. After the ordination of the apostles, Jesus went with them to the seaside. Here in the early morning the people had begun to assemble. Besides the usual crowds from the Galilean towns, there were people from Judea, and even from Jerusalem itself; from Perea, from Decapolis, from Idumea, away to the south of Judea; and from Tyre and Sidon, the Phoenician cities on the shore of the Mediterranean. “When they had heard what great things He did,” they “came to hear Him, and to be healed of their diseases: ... there went virtue out of Him, and healed them all.” Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17-19. {DA 298.2}
The narrow beach did not afford even standing room within reach of His voice for all who desired to hear Him, and Jesus led the way back to the mountainside. Reaching a level space that offered a pleasant gathering place for the vast assembly, He seated Himself on the grass, and the disciples and the multitude followed His example. {DA 298.3}
The disciples’ place was always next to Jesus. The people constantly pressed upon Him, yet the disciples understood that they were not to be crowded away from His presence. They sat close beside Him, that they might not lose a word of His instruction. They were attentive listeners, eager to understand the truths they were to make known to all lands and all ages. {DA 299.1}
With a feeling that something more than usual might be expected, they now pressed about their Master. They believed that the kingdom was soon to be established, and from the events of the morning they gathered assurance that some announcement concerning it was about to be made. A feeling of expectancy pervaded the multitude also, and eager faces gave evidence of the deep interest. As the people sat upon the green hillside, awaiting the words of the divine Teacher, their hearts were filled with thoughts of future glory. There were scribes and Pharisees who looked forward to the day when they should have dominion over the hated Romans, and possess the riches and splendor of the world’s great empire. The poor peasants and fishermen hoped to hear the assurance that their wretched hovels, the scanty food, the life of toil, and fear of want were to be exchanged for mansions of plenty and days of ease. In place of the one coarse garment which was their covering by day, and their blanket at night, they hoped that Christ would give them the rich and costly robes of their conquerors. All hearts thrilled with the proud hope that Israel was soon to be honored before the nations as the chosen of the Lord, and Jerusalem exalted as the head of a universal kingdom. {DA 299.2}
Christ disappointed the hope of worldly greatness. In the Sermon on the Mount He sought to undo the work that had been wrought by false education, and to give His hearers a right conception of His kingdom and of His own character. Yet He did not make a direct attack on the errors of the people. He saw the misery of the world on account of sin, yet He did not present before them a vivid delineation of their wretchedness. He taught them of something infinitely better than they had known. Without combating their ideas of the kingdom of God, He told them the conditions of entrance therein, leaving them to draw their own conclusions as to its nature. The truths He taught are no less important to us than to the multitude that followed Him. We no less than they need to learn the foundation principles of the kingdom of God. {DA 299.3}
Christ’s first words to the people on the mount were words of blessing. Happy are they, He said, who recognize their spiritual poverty, and feel their need of redemption. The gospel is to be preached to the poor. Not to the spiritually proud, those who claim to be rich and in need of nothing, is it revealed, but to those who are humble and contrite. One fountain only has been opened for sin, a fountain for the poor in spirit. {DA 299.4}
The proud heart strives to earn salvation; but both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ. The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields himself to the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is waiting to bestow. From the soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom all fullness dwells. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15. {DA 300.1}
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” By these words Christ does not teach that mourning in itself has power to remove the guilt of sin. He gives no sanction to pretense or to voluntary humility. The mourning of which He speaks does not consist in melancholy and lamentation. While we sorrow on account of sin, we are to rejoice in the precious privilege of being children of God. {DA 300.2}
We often sorrow because our evil deeds bring unpleasant consequences to ourselves; but this is not repentance. Real sorrow for sin is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reveals the ingratitude of the heart that has slighted and grieved the Saviour, and brings us in contrition to the foot of the cross. By every sin Jesus is wounded afresh; and as we look upon Him whom we have pierced, we mourn for the sins that have brought anguish upon Him. Such mourning will lead to the renunciation of sin. {DA 300.3}
The worldling may pronounce this sorrow a weakness; but it is the strength which binds the penitent to the Infinite One with links that cannot be broken. It shows that the angels of God are bringing back to the soul the graces that were lost through hardness of heart and transgression. The tears of the penitent are only the raindrops that precede the sunshine of holiness. This sorrow heralds a joy which will be a living fountain in the soul. “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God;” “and I will not cause Mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 3:13, 12. “Unto them that mourn in Zion,” He has appointed to give “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Isaiah 61:3. {DA 300.4}
And for those also who mourn in trial and sorrow there is comfort. The bitterness of grief and humiliation is better than the indulgences of sin. Through affliction God reveals to us the plague spots in our characters, that by His grace we may overcome our faults. Unknown chapters in regard to ourselves are opened to us, and the test comes, whether we will accept the reproof and the counsel of God. When brought into trial, we are not to fret and complain. We should not rebel, or worry ourselves out of the hand of Christ. We are to humble the soul before God. The ways of the Lord are obscure to him who desires to see things in a light pleasing to himself. They appear dark and joyless to our human nature. But God’s ways are ways of mercy and the end is salvation. Elijah knew not what he was doing when in the desert he said that he had had enough of life, and prayed that he might die. The Lord in His mercy did not take him at his word. There was yet a great work for Elijah to do; and when his work was done, he was not to perish in discouragement and solitude in the wilderness. Not for him the descent into the dust of death, but the ascent in glory, with the convoy of celestial chariots, to the throne on high. {DA 301.1}
God’s word for the sorrowing is, “I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.” “I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.” Isaiah 57:18; Jeremiah 31:13. {DA 301.2}
“Blessed are the meek.” The difficulties we have to encounter may be very much lessened by that meekness which hides itself in Christ. If we possess the humility of our Master, we shall rise above the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances, to which we are daily exposed, and they will cease to cast a gloom over the spirit. The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who under abuse or cruelty fails to maintain a calm and trustful spirit robs God of His right to reveal in him His own perfection of character. Lowliness of heart is the strength that gives victory to the followers of Christ; it is the token of their connection with the courts above. {DA 301.3}
“Though the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly.” Psalm 138:6. Those who reveal the meek and lowly spirit of Christ are tenderly regarded by God. They may be looked upon with scorn by the world, but they are of great value in His sight. Not only the wise, the great, the beneficent, will gain a passport to the heavenly courts; not only the busy worker, full of zeal and restless activity. No; the poor in spirit, who crave the presence of an abiding Christ, the humble in heart, whose highest ambition is to do God’s will,—these will gain an abundant entrance. They will be among that number who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.” Revelation 7:15. {DA 301.4}
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.” The sense of unworthiness will lead the heart to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and this desire will not be disappointed. Those who make room in their hearts for Jesus will realize His love. All who long to bear the likeness of the character of God shall be satisfied. The Holy Spirit never leaves unassisted the soul who is looking unto Jesus. He takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto him. If the eye is kept fixed on Christ, the work of the Spirit ceases not until the soul is conformed to His image. The pure element of love will expand the soul, giving it a capacity for higher attainments, for increased knowledge of heavenly things, so that it will not rest short of the fullness. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” {DA 302.1}
The merciful shall find mercy, and the pure in heart shall see God. Every impure thought defiles the soul, impairs the moral sense, and tends to obliterate the impressions of the Holy Spirit. It dims the spiritual vision, so that men cannot behold God. The Lord may and does forgive the repenting sinner; but though forgiven, the soul is marred. All impurity of speech or of thought must be shunned by him who would have clear discernment of spiritual truth. {DA 302.2}
But the words of Christ cover more than freedom from sensual impurity, more than freedom from that ceremonial defilement which the Jews so rigorously shunned. Selfishness prevents us from beholding God. The self-seeking spirit judges of God as altogether such a one as itself. Until we have renounced this, we cannot understand Him who is love. Only the unselfish heart, the humble and trustful spirit, shall see God as “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” Exodus 34:6. {DA 302.3}
“Blessed are the peacemakers.” The peace of Christ is born of truth. It is harmony with God. The world is at enmity with the law of God; sinners are at enmity with their Maker; and as a result they are at enmity with one another. But the psalmist declares, “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119:165. Men cannot manufacture peace. Human plans for the purification and uplifting of individuals or of society will fail of producing peace, because they do not reach the heart. The only power that can create or perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension. “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;” and life’s desert “shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” Isaiah 55:13; 35:1. {DA 302.4}
The multitudes were amazed at this teaching, which was so at variance with the precepts and example of the Pharisees. The people had come to think that happiness consisted in the possession of the things of this world, and that fame and the honor of men were much to be coveted. It was very pleasing to be called “Rabbi,” and to be extolled as wise and religious, having their virtues paraded before the public. This was regarded as the crown of happiness. But in the presence of that vast throng, Jesus declared that earthly gain and honor were all the reward such persons would ever receive. He spoke with certainty, and a convincing power attended His words. The people were silenced, and a feeling of fear crept over them. They looked at one another doubtfully. Who of them would be saved if this Man’s teachings were true? Many were convicted that this remarkable Teacher was actuated by the Spirit of God, and that the sentiments He uttered were divine. {DA 305.1}
After explaining what constitutes true happiness, and how it may be obtained, Jesus more definitely pointed out the duty of His disciples, as teachers chosen of God to lead others into the path of righteousness and eternal life. He knew that they would often suffer from disappointment and discouragement, that they would meet with decided opposition, that they would be insulted, and their testimony rejected. Well He knew that in the fulfillment of their mission, the humble men who listened so attentively to His words were to bear calumny, torture, imprisonment, and death, and He continued: {DA 305.2}
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” {DA 305.3}
The world loves sin, and hates righteousness, and this was the cause of its hostility to Jesus. All who refuse His infinite love will find Christianity a disturbing element. The light of Christ sweeps away the darkness that covers their sins, and the need of reform is made manifest. While those who yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit begin war with themselves, those who cling to sin war against the truth and its representatives. {DA 306.1}
Thus strife is created, and Christ’s followers are accused as troublers of the people. But it is fellowship with God that brings them the world’s enmity. They are bearing the reproach of Christ. They are treading the path that has been trodden by the noblest of the earth. Not with sorrow, but with rejoicing, should they meet persecution. Each fiery trial is God’s agent for their refining. Each is fitting them for their work as colaborers with Him. Each conflict has its place in the great battle for righteousness, and each will add to the joy of their final triumph. Having this in view, the test of their faith and patience will be cheerfully accepted rather than dreaded and avoided. Anxious to fulfill their obligation to the world, fixing their desire upon the approval of God, His servants are to fulfill every duty, irrespective of the fear or the favor of men. {DA 306.2}
“Ye are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said. Do not withdraw yourselves from the world in order to escape persecution. You are to abide among men, that the savor of the divine love may be as salt to preserve the world from corruption. {DA 306.3}
Hearts that respond to the influence of the Holy Spirit are the channels through which God’s blessing flows. Were those who serve God removed from the earth, and His Spirit withdrawn from among men, this world would be left to desolation and destruction, the fruit of Satan’s dominion. Though the wicked know it not, they owe even the blessings of this life to the presence, in the world, of God’s people whom they despise and oppress. But if Christians are such in name only, they are like the salt that has lost its savor. They have no influence for good in the world. Through their misrepresentation of God they are worse than unbelievers. {DA 306.4}
“Ye are the light of the world.” The Jews thought to confine the benefits of salvation to their own nation; but Christ showed them that salvation is like the sunshine. It belongs to the whole world. The religion of the Bible is not to be confined between the covers of a book, nor within the walls of a church. It is not to be brought out occasionally for our own benefit, and then to be carefully laid aside again. It is to sanctify the daily life, to manifest itself in every business transaction and in all our social relations. {DA 306.5}
True character is not shaped from without, and put on; it radiates from within. If we wish to direct others in the path of righteousness, the principles of righteousness must be enshrined in our own hearts. Our profession of faith may proclaim the theory of religion, but it is our practical piety that holds forth the word of truth. The consistent life, the holy conversation, the unswerving integrity, the active, benevolent spirit, the godly example,—these are the mediums through which light is conveyed to the world. {DA 307.1}
Jesus had not dwelt on the specifications of the law, but He did not leave His hearers to conclude that He had come to set aside its requirements. He knew that spies stood ready to seize upon every word that might be wrested to serve their purpose. He knew the prejudice that existed in the minds of many of His hearers, and He said nothing to unsettle their faith in the religion and institutions that had been committed to them through Moses. Christ Himself had given both the moral and the ceremonial law. He did not come to destroy confidence in His own instruction. It was because of His great reverence for the law and the prophets that He sought to break through the wall of traditional requirements which hemmed in the Jews. While He set aside their false interpretations of the law, He carefully guarded His disciples against yielding up the vital truths committed to the Hebrews. {DA 307.2}
The Pharisees prided themselves on their obedience to the law; yet they knew so little of its principles through everyday practice that to them the Saviour’s words sounded like heresy. As He swept away the rubbish under which the truth had been buried, they thought He was sweeping away the truth itself. They whispered to one another that He was making light of the law. He read their thoughts, and answered them, saying,— {DA 307.3}
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Here Jesus refutes the charge of the Pharisees. His mission to the world is to vindicate the sacred claims of that law which they charge Him with breaking. If the law of God could have been changed or abrogated, then Christ need not have suffered the consequences of our transgression. He came to explain the relation of the law to man, and to illustrate its precepts by His own life of obedience. {DA 307.4}
God has given us His holy precepts, because He loves mankind. To shield us from the results of transgression, He reveals the principles of righteousness. The law is an expression of the thought of God; when received in Christ, it becomes our thought. It lifts us above the power of natural desires and tendencies, above temptations that lead to sin. God desires us to be happy, and He gave us the precepts of the law that in obeying them we might have joy. When at Jesus’ birth the angels sang,— {DA 308.1}
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14),
they were declaring the principles of the law which He had come to magnify and make honorable.
When the law was proclaimed from Sinai, God made known to men the holiness of His character, that by contrast they might see the sinfulness of their own. The law was given to convict them of sin, and reveal their need of a Saviour. It would do this as its principles were applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit. This work it is still to do. In the life of Christ the principles of the law are made plain; and as the Holy Spirit of God touches the heart, as the light of Christ reveals to men their need of His cleansing blood and His justifying righteousness, the law is still an agent in bringing us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Psalm 19:7. {DA 308.2}
“Till heaven and earth pass,” said Jesus, “one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” The sun shining in the heavens, the solid earth upon which you dwell, are God’s witnesses that His law is changeless and eternal. Though they may pass away, the divine precepts shall endure. “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” Luke 16:17. The system of types that pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God was to be abolished at His death; but the precepts of the Decalogue are as immutable as the throne of God. {DA 308.3}
Since “the law of the Lord is perfect,” every variation from it must be evil. Those who disobey the commandments of God, and teach others to do so, are condemned by Christ. The Saviour’s life of obedience maintained the claims of the law; it proved that the law could be kept in humanity, and showed the excellence of character that obedience would develop. All who obey as He did are likewise declaring that the law is “holy, and just, and good.” Romans 7:12. On the other hand, all who break God’s commandments are sustaining Satan’s claim that the law is unjust, and cannot be obeyed. Thus they second the deceptions of the great adversary, and cast dishonor upon God. They are the children of the wicked one, who was the first rebel against God’s law. To admit them into heaven would again bring in the elements of discord and rebellion, and imperil the well-being of the universe. No man who willfully disregards one principle of the law shall enter the kingdom of heaven. {DA 308.4}
The rabbis counted their righteousness a passport to heaven; but Jesus declared it to be insufficient and unworthy. External ceremonies and a theoretical knowledge of truth constituted Pharisaical righteousness. The rabbis claimed to be holy through their own efforts in keeping the law; but their works had divorced righteousness from religion. While they were punctilious in ritual observances, their lives were immoral and debased. Their so-called righteousness could never enter the kingdom of heaven. {DA 309.1}
The greatest deception of the human mind in Christ’s day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. In all human experience a theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be insufficient for the saving of the soul. It does not bring forth the fruits of righteousness. A jealous regard for what is termed theological truth often accompanies a hatred of genuine truth as made manifest in life. The darkest chapters of history are burdened with the record of crimes committed by bigoted religionists. The Pharisees claimed to be children of Abraham, and boasted of their possession of the oracles of God; yet these advantages did not preserve them from selfishness, malignity, greed for gain, and the basest hypocrisy. They thought themselves the greatest religionists of the world, but their so-called orthodoxy led them to crucify the Lord of glory. {DA 309.2}
The same danger still exists. Many take it for granted that they are Christians, simply because they subscribe to certain theological tenets. But they have not brought the truth into practical life. They have not believed and loved it, therefore they have not received the power and grace that come through sanctification of the truth. Men may profess faith in the truth; but if it does not make them sincere, kind, patient, forbearing, heavenly-minded, it is a curse to its possessors, and through their influence it is a curse to the world. {DA 309.3}
The righteousness which Christ taught is conformity of heart and life to the revealed will of God. Sinful men can become righteous only as they have faith in God and maintain a vital connection with Him. Then true godliness will elevate the thoughts and ennoble the life. Then the external forms of religion accord with the Christian’s internal purity. Then the ceremonies required in the service of God are not meaningless rites, like those of the hypocritical Pharisees. {DA 310.1}
Jesus takes up the commandments separately, and explains the depth and breadth of their requirement. Instead of removing one jot of their force, He shows how far-reaching their principles are, and exposes the fatal mistake of the Jews in their outward show of obedience. He declares that by the evil thought or the lustful look the law of God is transgressed. One who becomes a party to the least injustice is breaking the law and degrading his own moral nature. Murder first exists in the mind. He who gives hatred a place in his heart is setting his feet in the path of the murderer, and his offerings are abhorrent to God. {DA 310.2}
The Jews cultivated a spirit of retaliation. In their hatred of the Romans they gave utterance to hard denunciations, and pleased the wicked one by manifesting his attributes. Thus they were training themselves to do the terrible deeds to which he led them on. In the religious life of the Pharisees there was nothing to recommend piety to the Gentiles. Jesus bade them not to deceive themselves with the thought that they could in heart rise up against their oppressors, and cherish the longing to avenge their wrongs. {DA 310.3}
It is true there is an indignation that is justifiable, even in the followers of Christ. When they see that God is dishonored, and His service brought into disrepute, when they see the innocent oppressed, a righteous indignation stirs the soul. Such anger, born of sensitive morals, is not a sin. But those who at any supposed provocation feel at liberty to indulge anger or resentment are opening the heart to Satan. Bitterness and animosity must be banished from the soul if we would be in harmony with heaven. {DA 310.4}
The Saviour goes farther than this. He says, “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Many are zealous in religious services, while between them and their brethren are unhappy differences which they might reconcile. God requires them to do all in their power to restore harmony. Until they do this, He cannot accept their services. The Christian’s duty in this matter is clearly pointed out. {DA 310.5}
God pours His blessings upon all. “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” He is “kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Luke 6:35. He bids us to be like Him. “Bless them that curse you,” said Jesus; “do good to them that hate you, ... that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” These are the principles of the law, and they are the wellsprings of life. {DA 311.1}
God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning. {DA 311.2}
The tempter’s agency is not to be accounted an excuse for one wrong act. Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed followers of Christ making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses that lead to sin. There is no excuse for sinning. A holy temper, a Christlike life, is accessible to every repenting, believing child of God. {DA 311.3}
The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. As the Son of man was perfect in His life, so His followers are to be perfect in their life. Jesus was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became flesh, even as we are. He was hungry and thirsty and weary. He was sustained by food and refreshed by sleep. He shared the lot of man; yet He was the blameless Son of God. He was God in the flesh. His character is to be ours. The Lord says of those who believe in Him, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16. {DA 311.4}
Christ is the ladder that Jacob saw, the base resting on the earth, and the topmost round reaching to the gate of heaven, to the very threshold of glory. If that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are. He took our nature and overcame, that we through taking His nature might overcome. Made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3), He lived a sinless life. Now by His divinity He lays hold upon the throne of heaven, while by His humanity He reaches us. He bids us by faith in Him attain to the glory of the character of God. Therefore are we to be perfect, even as our “Father which is in heaven is perfect.” {DA 311.5}
Jesus had shown in what righteousness consists, and had pointed to God as its source. Now He turned to practical duties. In almsgiving, in prayer, in fasting, He said, let nothing be done to attract attention or win praise to self. Give in sincerity, for the benefit of the suffering poor. In prayer, let the soul commune with God. In fasting, go not with the head bowed down, and heart filled with thoughts of self. The heart of the Pharisee is a barren and profitless soil, in which no seeds of divine life can flourish. It is he who yields himself most unreservedly to God that will render Him the most acceptable service. For through fellowship with God men become workers together with Him in presenting His character in humanity. {DA 312.1}
The service rendered in sincerity of heart has great recompense. “Thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly.” By the life we live through the grace of Christ the character is formed. The original loveliness begins to be restored to the soul. The attributes of the character of Christ are imparted, and the image of the Divine begins to shine forth. The faces of men and women who walk and work with God express the peace of heaven. They are surrounded with the atmosphere of heaven. For these souls the kingdom of God has begun. They have Christ’s joy, the joy of being a blessing to humanity. They have the honor of being accepted for the Master’s use; they are trusted to do His work in His name. {DA 312.2}
“No man can serve two masters.” We cannot serve God with a divided heart. Bible religion is not one influence among many others; its influence is to be supreme, pervading and controlling every other. It is not to be like a dash of color brushed here and there upon the canvas, but it is to pervade the whole life, as if the canvas were dipped into the color, until every thread of the fabric were dyed a deep, unfading hue. {DA 312.3}
“If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.” Purity and steadfastness of purpose are the conditions of receiving light from God. He who desires to know the truth must be willing to accept all that it reveals. He can make no compromise with error. To be wavering and halfhearted in allegiance to truth is to choose the darkness of error and satanic delusion. {DA 312.4}
Worldly policy and the undeviating principles of righteousness do not blend into each other imperceptibly, like the colors of the rainbow. Between the two a broad, clear line is drawn by the eternal God. The likeness of Christ stands out as distinct from that of Satan as midday in contrast with midnight. And only those who live the life of Christ are His co-workers. If one sin is cherished in the soul, or one wrong practice retained in the life, the whole being is contaminated. The man becomes an instrument of unrighteousness. {DA 313.1}
All who have chosen God’s service are to rest in His care. Christ pointed to the birds flying in the heavens, to the flowers of the field, and bade His hearers consider these objects of God’s creation. “Are not ye of much more value than they?” He said. Matthew 6:26, R. V. The measure of divine attention bestowed on any object is proportionate to its rank in the scale of being. The little brown sparrow is watched over by Providence. The flowers of the field, the grass that carpets the earth, share the notice and care of our heavenly Father. The great Master Artist has taken thought for the lilies, making them so beautiful that they outshine the glory of Solomon. How much more does He care for man, who is the image and glory of God. He longs to see His children reveal a character after His similitude. As the sunbeam imparts to the flowers their varied and delicate tints, so does God impart to the soul the beauty of His own character. {DA 313.2}
All who choose Christ’s kingdom of love and righteousness and peace, making its interest paramount to all other, are linked to the world above, and every blessing needed for this life is theirs. In the book of God’s providence, the volume of life, we are each given a page. That page contains every particular of our history; even the hairs of the head are numbered. God’s children are never absent from His mind. {DA 313.3}
“Be not therefore anxious for the morrow.” Matthew 6:34, R. V. We are to follow Christ day by day. God does not bestow help for tomorrow. He does not give His children all the directions for their life journey at once, lest they should become confused. He tells them just as much as they can remember and perform. The strength and wisdom imparted are for the present emergency. “If any of you lack wisdom,”—for today,—“let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5. {DA 313.4}
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Do not think yourself better than other men, and set yourself up as their judge. Since you cannot discern motive, you are incapable of judging another. In criticizing him, you are passing sentence upon yourself; for you show that you are a participant with Satan, the accuser of the brethren. The Lord says, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” This is our work. “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Corinthians 11:31. {DA 314.1}
The good tree will produce good fruit. If the fruit is unpalatable and worthless, the tree is evil. So the fruit borne in the life testifies as to the condition of the heart and the excellence of the character. Good works can never purchase salvation, but they are an evidence of the faith that acts by love and purifies the soul. And though the eternal reward is not bestowed because of our merit, yet it will be in proportion to the work that has been done through the grace of Christ. {DA 314.2}
Thus Christ set forth the principles of His kingdom, and showed them to be the great rule of life. To impress the lesson He adds an illustration. It is not enough, He says, for you to hear My words. By obedience you must make them the foundation of your character. Self is but shifting sand. If you build upon human theories and inventions, your house will fall. By the winds of temptation, the tempests of trial, it will be swept away. But these principles that I have given will endure. Receive Me; build on My words. {DA 314.3}
“Everyone therefore which heareth these words of Mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, which built his house upon the rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon the rock.” Matthew 7:24, 25, R.V. {DA 314.4}
By communion with God in nature, the mind is uplifted, and the heart finds rest.  {DA 291.1}

JimB

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2016, 05:57:28 PM »
He did not choose for His audience those only who knew the way of life. It was His work to reach the multitudes who were in ignorance and error. He gave His lessons of truth where they could reach the darkened understanding. He Himself was the Truth, standing with girded loins and hands ever outstretched to bless, and in words of warning, entreaty, and encouragement, seeking to uplift all who would come unto Him.

The longer I spend on this old sin sick world the more I hate the devil and his ways. In the chapter titled "The Victory" I called satan a tyrant and a thug. He kicks people when they are at their lowest hoping to finish them off and remove hope from them. Jesus is so unimaginably better. His ways are diametrically opposed to satans. Jesus came to this world not to condemn but to heal and to save people from their sins. He sought to uplift all who would come to Him. In chapter 25 it says something very similar... "It is Satan's work to discourage the soul; it is Christ's work to inspire with faith and hope."

By communion with God in nature, the mind is uplifted, and the heart finds rest.  {DA 291.1}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2016, 09:46:42 PM »
Amen, Jim. The sermon delivered on the mount revealed Israel's deception about salvation. But, Jesus did not leave them without hope. His message, as you see, was a message of encouragement. We cannot move forward until we see our need. Jesus shows both our need and His desire to help us fill that need. What a Savior!!
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

JimB

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2016, 06:13:08 AM »
We cannot move forward until we see our need. Jesus shows both our need and His desire to help us fill that need. What a Savior!!

I will second that Amen. Look at this from a little further into the chapter.


The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields himself to the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is waiting to bestow. From the soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom all fullness dwells. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15. {DA 300.1}

Sometimes but not always  in order for us to see this need we have to go through a very painful process. But the Lord chastens those He loves!
By communion with God in nature, the mind is uplifted, and the heart finds rest.  {DA 291.1}

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2016, 07:46:39 AM »
I appreciate what both of you--Richard and Jim--have brought out. We can be thankful for Jesus who shows us our need and supplies the what we so desperately need--a new heart, a new Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). But given our blindness (see Revelation 3:14-21), we will not see our need unless the Holy Spirit reveals to us the holy character of God and His law (the loveliness of Jesus as revealed in the law), and thus our unlikeness to God. Then, seeing our subsequent need, the Holy Spirit can renew our hearts as we behold the Lamb of God who takes away our sin, fear, and shame. How thankful we can be for Jesus!

As I was reading this chapter this morning, I was encouraged by how persecution and trials are great blessings from God in the work of character building. Notice the promises herein:

The world loves sin, and hates righteousness, and this was the cause of its hostility to Jesus. All who refuse His infinite love will find Christianity a disturbing element. The light of Christ sweeps away the darkness that covers their sins, and the need of reform is made manifest. While those who yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit begin war with themselves, those who cling to sin war against the truth and its representatives. {DA 306.1}
Thus strife is created, and Christ’s followers are accused as troublers of the people. But it is fellowship with God that brings them the world’s enmity. They are bearing the reproach of Christ. They are treading the path that has been trodden by the noblest of the earth. Not with sorrow, but with rejoicing, should they meet persecution. Each fiery trial is God’s agent for their refining. Each is fitting them for their work as colaborers with Him. Each conflict has its place in the great battle for righteousness, and each will add to the joy of their final triumph. Having this in view, the test of their faith and patience will be cheerfully accepted rather than dreaded and avoided. Anxious to fulfill their obligation to the world, fixing their desire upon the approval of God, His servants are to fulfill every duty, irrespective of the fear or the favor of men. {DA 306.2}


May we rejoice in trial and conflict, truly believing that "each fiery trial is God's agent" for our refining and preparation for our home in heaven. And as we begin warfare with ourselves by the work of the Holy Spirit (for the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in the life of one surrendered to Christ--not one will be missing), this will put us in opposition to the sinful nature that constantly protests up to the coming of Christ for us to go in the way of inclination and selfishness. Let us be glad that when Jesus promised, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34). This sword, the word of God (Hebrews 4:12) reveals to us where we need to grow and change, cutting away self, and inviting us to greater efficiency in the Lord's service. The amazing thing is that as He cuts and fashions us amid trial and tribulation, the spontaneous result of union and communion with Christ IS PEACE! But let us remember that the sword is to go down to remove sin in our lives, and that all true reform must begin with us. This was a lesson that unfortunately was lost sight of during the time of the reformation, after God had used Martin Luther to do much good, the devil raised up his agents who neglected to first begin a warfare with themselves:

Thomas Munzer, the most active of the fanatics, was a man of considerable ability, which, rightly directed, would have enabled him to do good; but he had not learned the first principles of true religion. “He was possessed with a desire of reforming the world, and forgot, as all enthusiasts do, that the reformation should begin with himself.”—Ibid., b. 9, ch. 8. He was ambitious to obtain position and influence, and was unwilling to be second, even to Luther. {GC 191.1}

In the Sermon on the Mount, the most powerful lesson I learn is the need for personal transformation of character. We need to pray for revival and reformation in the Seventh-day Adventist Church--but let us allow Christ to bring that experience into our daily lives first. As a result of living by faith upon Christ as our Savior, all the fruits of the Spirit are manifested in our lives by an abiding connection with Christ (not one is missing), and others will be enabled to see that His presence--the heavenly atmosphere of light and peace have changed us. Then as we pass through trials, others will see that by trusting His promise to keep us from sin amid temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), there is never a need to fall out of an abiding connection with Jesus.

“Blessed are the meek.” The difficulties we have to encounter may be very much lessened by that meekness which hides itself in Christ. If we possess the humility of our Master, we shall rise above the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances, to which we are daily exposed, and they will cease to cast a gloom over the spirit. The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who under abuse or cruelty fails to maintain a calm and trustful spirit robs God of His right to reveal in him His own perfection of character. Lowliness of heart is the strength that gives victory to the followers of Christ; it is the token of their connection with the courts above. {DA 301.3}

Praise the Lord for the innumerable lessons that can be gained from this precious chapter!
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2016, 08:38:03 AM »
As I prayerfully contemplate God's leading in my life, I am encouraged to know that He has my life written in His book of providence. I desire to be about His business today, and each day.

All who choose Christ’s kingdom of love and righteousness and peace, making its interest paramount to all other, are linked to the world above, and every blessing needed for this life is theirs. In the book of God’s providence, the volume of life, we are each given a page. That page contains every particular of our history; even the hairs of the head are numbered. God’s children are never absent from His mind. {DA 313.3}

What marvelous love!! Praise the Lord!
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2016, 06:05:09 AM »
The greatest sermon ever preached is the subject of today's reading. All may understand the requirements for heaven when reading these chapters in Scripture. If there is any confusion on the important matters, it ought to be addressed in today's reading.

Here is something that corrects what many have been deceived on:

The good tree will produce good fruit. If the fruit is unpalatable and worthless, the tree is evil. So the fruit borne in the life testifies as to the condition of the heart and the excellence of the character. Good works can never purchase salvation, but they are an evidence of the faith that acts by love and purifies the soul. And though the eternal reward is not bestowed because of our merit, yet it will be in proportion to the work that has been done through the grace of Christ.
Thus Christ set forth the principles of His kingdom, and showed them to be the great rule of life. To impress the lesson He adds an illustration. It is not enough, He says, for you to hear My words. By obedience you must make them the foundation of your character. Self is but shifting sand. If you build upon human theories and inventions, your house will fall. By the winds of temptation, the tempests of trial, it will be swept away. But these principles that I have given will endure. Receive Me; build on My words.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2016, 09:43:53 AM »
Amen, Richard! We need to receive Christ into the soul by feeding upon, meditating upon, and obeying HIs words. Truly, by beholding we are changed, and as we see Jesus in His loveliness, the heart and mind can be fully cleansed, and we can be trees in the garden of the Lord that produce good fruit--the fruits of the Spirit without one missing. Such is the evidence of our connection to Him, and apart from Him there can be no fruit that is good.

The righteousness which Christ taught is conformity of heart and life to the revealed will of God. Sinful men can become righteous only as they have faith in God and maintain a vital connection with Him. Then true godliness will elevate the thoughts and ennoble the life. Then the external forms of religion accord with the Christian’s internal purity. Then the ceremonies required in the service of God are not meaningless rites, like those of the hypocritical Pharisees. {DA 310.1}


It is this vital connection with Christ that we need. The moment I unplug my lamp, it has no light shining from it. The moment we let our minds wander away from Jesus, and become absorbed in worldly cares so that we have no time or thought for Him in whom our hope of eternal life is centered, we separate from Jesus, and we can do no good thing without Him. Oh, how we need the deep indwelling of His presence by the Holy Spirit, that we may pray without ceasing, and continually behold Him by faith in all that we do, seeking His divine will constantly, and trusting that He who has promised to lead and guide us surely will!

"And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:21).

And in His guidance of our thoughts, we may have true peace through a continual reception of His grace in the life:

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee" (Isaiah 26:3).
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2017, 03:58:06 AM »
What a sermon! And, it was preached to a Laodicean church that had no idea their Messiah must suffer and die. Such a deception. Jesus attempted to show them that many were "whited sepulchers."  They were shiny clean on the outside, but putrid and rotten on the inside (heart). Nicodemus is a good example. Until born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, man is evil by nature.

     The good tree will produce good fruit. If the fruit is unpalatable and worthless, the tree is evil. So the fruit borne in the life testifies as to the condition of the heart and the excellence of the character. Good works can never purchase salvation, but they are an evidence of the faith that acts by love and purifies the soul. And though the eternal reward is not bestowed because of our merit, yet it will be in proportion to the work that has been done through the grace of Christ.
     Thus Christ set forth the principles of His kingdom, and showed them to be the great rule of life. To impress the lesson He adds an illustration. It is not enough, He says, for you to hear My words. By obedience you must make them the foundation of your character. Self is but shifting sand. If you build upon human theories and inventions, your house will fall. By the winds of temptation, the tempests of trial, it will be swept away. But these principles that I have given will endure. Receive Me; build on My words.


Such simple truth, but so far removed from the teachings in the church. What is the "fruit" Jesus is speaking of which will be seen in the life that "testifies as to the condition of the heart and the excellence of the character"?

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

JimB

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2017, 05:09:23 AM »
What is the "fruit" Jesus is speaking of which will be seen in the life that "testifies as to the condition of the heart and the excellence of the character"?

Galatians 5:22-23 KJV
(22)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
(23)  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.


As the years go by I understand more the truth of either good fruit or bad fruit. You can't produce both at the same time. I look back of years gone by and I remember reading the words "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other;" but they did not at the time sink in like they should. There is no neutral ground onto which to rest. It is a high calling but with Christ all things are possible.

Mat_19:26  But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Mar_9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

By communion with God in nature, the mind is uplifted, and the heart finds rest.  {DA 291.1}

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2017, 06:46:35 AM »
Amen, Jim!! We will have ALL the fruits of the Spirit--or otherwise we will bear the works of the flesh. We need Jesus continually! Let us behold Him in our trials!!

"Blessed are the meek.” The difficulties we have to encounter may be very much lessened by that meekness which hides itself in Christ. If we possess the humility of our Master, we shall rise above the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances, to which we are daily exposed, and they will cease to cast a gloom over the spirit. The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who under abuse or cruelty fails to maintain a calm and trustful spirit robs God of His right to reveal in him His own perfection of character. Lowliness of heart is the strength that gives victory to the followers of Christ; it is the token of their connection with the courts above. {DA 301.3}
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2017, 06:31:22 AM »
What a blessing to be in both unity of Spirit and unity of doctrine! Again, my mind was impressed that this truth is what we need to better understand. Grace has power. What does it mean to be converted? How do we know when we are converted or unconverted? When Jesus takes possession of the heart, the character is transformed.

When we behold the suffering of Jesus, it brings forth a sorrow that leads to repentance and hatefulness of sin.


“Blessed are the meek.” The difficulties we have to encounter may be very much lessened by that meekness which hides itself in Christ. If we possess the humility of our Master, we shall rise above the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances, to which we are daily exposed, and they will cease to cast a gloom over the spirit. The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who under abuse or cruelty fails to maintain a calm and trustful spirit robs God of His right to reveal in him His own perfection of character. Lowliness of heart is the strength that gives victory to the followers of Christ; it is the token of their connection with the courts above.


The only power that can create or perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension. “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;” and life’s desert “shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” Isaiah 55:13; 35:1.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2017, 06:35:40 AM »
Amen, Richard! Conversion is the result of a long protracted process of wooing by the Holy Spirit, and takes place when the soul gladly surrenders fully to Jesus so He can recreate the heart and mind after the divine nature, infilled with the Holy Spirit who reveals Himself with all of the fruits of the Spirit so that not one is missing! When we have Jesus in the heart, the principles of the kingdom of God as brought out in our chapter will be our study, delight, and ever-deepening experience! Hallelujah!!!

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.” The sense of unworthiness will lead the heart to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and this desire will not be disappointed. Those who make room in their hearts for Jesus will realize His love. All who long to bear the likeness of the character of God shall be satisfied. The Holy Spirit never leaves unassisted the soul who is looking unto Jesus. He takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto him. If the eye is kept fixed on Christ, the work of the Spirit ceases not until the soul is conformed to His image. The pure element of love will expand the soul, giving it a capacity for higher attainments, for increased knowledge of heavenly things, so that it will not rest short of the fullness. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” {DA 302.1}

This is SUCH A PHENOMENAL PROMISE!! WHAT A SAVIOR!!
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

JimB

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2017, 05:30:13 AM »
Christ is the ladder that Jacob saw, the base resting on the earth, and the topmost round reaching to the gate of heaven, to the very threshold of glory. If that ladder had failed by a single step of reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are. He took our nature and overcame, that we through taking His nature might overcome. Made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3), He lived a sinless life. Now by His divinity He lays hold upon the throne of heaven, while by His humanity He reaches us. He bids us by faith in Him attain to the glory of the character of God. Therefore are we to be perfect, even as our “Father which is in heaven is perfect.” {DA 311.5}

I know we've talked about this before but can you imagine. Our perfect holy Savior taking on our nature which is fallen and living a perfect life as an example to us. Then He provides us a way to take on His nature! Perfect and holy. Reminds me of these verses from Peter...

2 Peter 1:3-4 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (4) Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
By communion with God in nature, the mind is uplifted, and the heart finds rest.  {DA 291.1}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2017, 05:33:40 AM »
Amen, Jim.  When we are partakers of God's divine nature, we are empowered to keep the flesh under control. It is then that we are "perfect" even as our Father in heaven is perfect. Our heart has been cleansed of sin and our motives are pure and holy. It is the heart that Christ wants, the whole heart.

Amen, Pastor Sean!  It is God's love for us while we were sinners that caused us to love Him supremely. The greatest form of love is this grace. We do not deserve His love. Yet He loves us so very much that He allowed His innocent Son to come to this dark spot in the universe to suffer and die that we might live.

But, Satan has intercepted the truth that God's love transforms the character today, not just at the end of time or when Jesus returns. If we love God with the whole heart, then we will have power to keep His law to the degree with understand it. and, when filled with the Holy Spirit (at conversion), we will manifest all of the fruits of His Spirit, not one will be missing.

     The greatest deception of the human mind in Christ’s day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. In all human experience a theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be insufficient for the saving of the soul. It does not bring forth the fruits of righteousness. A jealous regard for what is termed theological truth often accompanies a hatred of genuine truth as made manifest in life. The darkest chapters of history are burdened with the record of crimes committed by bigoted religionists. The Pharisees claimed to be children of Abraham, and boasted of their possession of the oracles of God; yet these advantages did not preserve them from selfishness, malignity, greed for gain, and the basest hypocrisy. They thought themselves the greatest religionists of the world, but their so-called orthodoxy led them to crucify the Lord of glory.

     The same danger still exists. Many take it for granted that they are Christians, simply because they subscribe to certain theological tenets. But they have not brought the truth into practical life. They have not believed and loved it, therefore they have not received the power and grace that come through sanctification of the truth. Men may profess faith in the truth; but if it does not make them sincere, kind, patient, forbearing, heavenly-minded, it is a curse to its possessors, and through their influence it is a curse to the world.

      The righteousness which Christ taught is conformity of heart and life to the revealed will of God. Sinful men can become righteous only as they have faith in God and maintain a vital connection with Him. Then true godliness will elevate the thoughts and ennoble the life. Then the external forms of religion accord with the Christian’s internal purity.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Dorine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2017, 06:47:29 AM »
My heart is full of happiness this morning as I meditate on this chapter. Christ died for ME; He loves ME; but not just me....

...."In the book of God's providence, the volumne of life, we are each given a page. That page contains every particular of our history; even the hairs of the head are numbered. God's children are never absent from His mind."

I like to underline points that jump out at me. This chapter has very little that is not underlined. Another quote of promise I hang on to is....

"We are to follow Christ day by day. God does not bestow help for tomorrow. He does not give His children all the directions for their life journey at once, lest they should become confused. He tells them just as much as they can remember and perform. The strength and wisdom imparted are for the present emergency. "If any of you lack  wisdom," -for today- "let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5

When we see Christs' requirements in a positive light as for our happiness and protecting us against sin, instead of a negative judgemental view we will rejoice and be lifted high above the annoyances and temptations of the day. Then if we do fall we will be quick to run to our Father for forgiveness knowing His eye is on us and has not forsaken us.

I have another little story to share. This happened in our backyard a couple of weeks ago. A Mother duck brought her 5 little fluffy yellow ducklings to our pond. They happily made themselves at home. We began to feed them and enjoy their antics. 4 of them were very obedient and stayed very close to their mother. But one little adventurer would be seen a great distance away swimming happily in and out of the bulrushes. The Mother was constantly keeping her eye on them and if she sensed danger she would communicate to them and they would rush to her or into the bulrushes and hide.

One day something startled her and she gave the danger signal and 4 of them did exactly as she commanded but the 5th one was having such a great time it didn't listen. She rushed over to it (while the others hid in the rushes) and with a very loud "quack" scolded the little one and it instantly darted into the bulrushes at the other end of the pond. A few days later I went out in the morning to throw some corn to them and to my dismay there were only 4 left.  I bet I know which one was missing.

This may sound like an illustration just for children but as an adult I got the lesson loud and clear.
But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press  toward the mark. Phil. 3:13,14

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2017, 06:59:08 AM »
Amen!  We live in a world full of danger. Satan has woven a net that all will end up in if they do not allow Christ control of the life. The law is for our good. As you say dear sister, we may rejoice over the freedom we have when set free from the bondage of sin. The law is only negative for those who are still in bondage. It reveals condemnation to the unrepentant sinner. But, to the converted Christian, it is a revelation of the character of Christ and the righteousness He will give to all who come to Him just as they are and ask for forgiveness and power to be transformed.

This is quite a chapter, the greatest sermon ever preached. It is a revelation to a Laodicean people of what it means to be a Christian. Things are not much different today than they were 2,000 years ago when Jesus sat on the mountain teaching the Jews what is required to enter heaven.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2017, 07:21:03 AM »
Amen, sister Dorine and brother Richard! We are so blessed to be able to behold this marvelous revelation of the loveliness of Jesus in His words that He spoke as One who lived all He taught. It was this that gave power to His healing, teaching, and all the interactions He had with souls. So it is with us. It is who we ARE in Christ that speaks more than what we just say. But we are to speak. We are to tell our own testimony of what God has done to save US from sin, and His power through grace to transform our hearts from being sinful and selfish to being filled with His Spirit so that all of the fruits of the Spirit are seen and not one is missing! I love the power of the character of God received into the life of the repentant child of God!

The merciful shall find mercy, and the pure in heart shall see God. Every impure thought defiles the soul, impairs the moral sense, and tends to obliterate the impressions of the Holy Spirit. It dims the spiritual vision, so that men cannot behold God. The Lord may and does forgive the repenting sinner; but though forgiven, the soul is marred. All impurity of speech or of thought must be shunned by him who would have clear discernment of spiritual truth. {DA 302.2}
But the words of Christ cover more than freedom from sensual impurity, more than freedom from that ceremonial defilement which the Jews so rigorously shunned. Selfishness prevents us from beholding God. The self-seeking spirit judges of God as altogether such a one as itself. Until we have renounced this, we cannot understand Him who is love. Only the unselfish heart, the humble and trustful spirit, shall see God as “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” Exodus 34:6. {DA 302.3}


Some want to teach that we retain selfishness in our hearts at conversion--that we are still prideful and self-seeking when Jesus has our hearts. But the truths presented here in the sermon on the mount disprove all this. It is before Christ has the whole heart that we will not be able to see God and love Him and our neighbor as ourselves. We may attend church, and even think we are going to heaven, but until Christ has the WHOLE heart, and we are filled with His motive power--selflessness--we are not yet partakers of the divine nature and we are not ready for heaven--no matter how much we may know of theology. We need Christ as a continual abiding guest in the soul to keep us from the selfishness that remains in the fallen nature (which we retain until glorification, but we need not ever yield to it because Christ has the power to keep us from falling!). Praise God for the beautiful truth presented in our reading today--truth that will change hearts that are given ENTIRELY to Him!
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2017, 04:12:56 AM »
“Blessed are the peacemakers.” The peace of Christ is born of truth. It is harmony with God. The world is at enmity with the law of God; sinners are at enmity with their Maker; and as a result they are at enmity with one another. But the psalmist declares, “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119:165. Men cannot manufacture peace. Human plans for the purification and uplifting of individuals or of society will fail of producing peace, because they do not reach the heart. The only power that can create or perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension. “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;” and life’s desert “shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” Isaiah 55:13; 35:1.

A sinner is saved  by grace. But, that grace which is so freely given, must be taken into the heart. Then the covenant promise will be granted, enmity towards God will be removed and the law of God will  be written upon the heart. The repentant sinner will be at enmity with Satan and sin. This is what it means to be reconciled with God, to be in harmony with God.

While the Sabbath School lesson teaches that we cannot obtain righteousness, Jesus says otherwise.

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.” The sense of unworthiness will lead the heart to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and this desire will not be disappointed. Those who make room in their hearts for Jesus will realize His love. All who long to bear the likeness of the character of God shall be satisfied. The Holy Spirit never leaves unassisted the soul who is looking unto Jesus. He takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto him. If the eye is kept fixed on Christ, the work of the Spirit ceases not until the soul is conformed to His image. The pure element of love will expand the soul, giving it a capacity for higher attainments, for increased knowledge of heavenly things, so that it will not rest short of the fullness. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.”
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--31--The Sermon on the Mount
« Reply #19 on: October 23, 2017, 05:30:07 AM »
Amen, Richard! Jesus promises to be able to reveal His character in all who will come to behold Him and abide in Him by a full-heart surrender. The miracle of His grace is powerful enough to keep a repentant sinner from sinning a known sin, to enable the heart to continually reveal the fruits of the Spirit without one missing because of Christ's abiding presence in the soul. If we fail to manifest His character, we are robbing God of His glory. We are His witnesses, and what a privilege it is to be able to reflect Christ as we behold Him and allow Him to work in and through us!

It has been a blessing to reflect on the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5, 6, and 7. So many precious gems of thought to fill memory's hall to encourage us heavenward! We need not fill our thoughts with the things of discouragement and darkness, but the light of the divine by beholding God's promises and trusting in Him moment-by-moment!

“Blessed are the meek.” The difficulties we have to encounter may be very much lessened by that meekness which hides itself in Christ. If we possess the humility of our Master, we shall rise above the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances, to which we are daily exposed, and they will cease to cast a gloom over the spirit. The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who under abuse or cruelty fails to maintain a calm and trustful spirit robs God of His right to reveal in him His own perfection of character. Lowliness of heart is the strength that gives victory to the followers of Christ; it is the token of their connection with the courts above. {The Desire of Ages, page 301, paragraph 3}
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}