The Gospel of St. Matthew has a segment of Scripture comprising the most important teachings of Jesus in a continuous dialogue. It is called, “The Sermon On The Mount.” It begins in chapter five and continues through chapter seven. Those who heard it were, “astonished.” If, in our information age, we could turn off the many distractions for a few minutes to read, reflect, and meditate on these incredible words we will be astonished also.
The opening verses are called the beatitudes and teach that the key to human happiness is moral character. The 11 traits listed are almost nonexistent in ordinary human behavior in this fallen world. They clearly imply the pure and perfect nature of God. These traits all begin with the word, “Blessed” which means happy. The first one on the list says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Ch.5, Vs.3) In other words, happy are those who acknowledge their own many moral deficiencies and spiritual poverty. In verse eight we read, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” This verse reaffirms a fundamental Gospel principle that moral goodness begins in the heart and inner life. It is not something that can be enforced from without even with the likely possibility of severe penalty. Any hope of a morality that meets the Creator’s standard lies in the proper restoration of the inner and spiritual life that was severely impaired as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin. .
Long ago God spoke these words through the prophet Jeremiah concerning those in the gospel age that would believe and trust in Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Savior. “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts,” Jeremiah.31:33. The fulfilling of this promise is the only hope for the human race to rise above the morally corrupt tendencies we experience in our own lives and see in our fellow men.
The restoration and renewal of our spiritual heart begins when the simple terms of the gospel are met. The apostle Paul probably expresses two of those terms clearly in two passages. The first in Ephesians 2:8-9, where he writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest man should boast.” The second passage is in his Epistle to the Romans, chapter 10 verses 8 and 10, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
A third important condition of Gospel terms is that men must do their part by the exercise of self-control, self-restraint, and self-discipline. They must grieve for the low or nonexistent moral standards that have been unconsciously adopted by so many around them. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Matthew 5:6.
Pastor Gene Holman of Living Word Fellowship in Gardnerville is a member of Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.