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Matthew 7 - Part 7 - Three Lessons As We Leave the Mount

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

There has been so much fantastic theology and teachings contained within this look at the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus seemingly has covered it all and this is just the opening of His ministry. Now we will see Him start to go from town to town preaching repentance, forgiveness of sin and the reconciliation of men back to their God. Before we leave the Mount however, the Gospel writer Matthew makes an excellent observation for us here in the key verses today. There are three lessons to glean here before moving on and the first lesson is the sense of astonishment we ought to feel when we truly hear the Gospel.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. - Romans 1: 16 (ESV)

We hear the word gospel so often I think we can lose the sense of awe we ought to have. The Gospel is pure power beloved. It alone has the power of salvation to everyone who will believe in it. That is why doctrine is so vitally important. That is why the Bible admonishes us to never change it; not even to add a single word to it. Why? Because it does not need to be change. It does not need anything added unto it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has survived over 2000 years without alteration or contradiction. It has set the captives free from every cultural and historical age. It is transcendent. The same Gospel that saved a 5th century serf in China saved the 17th century renaissance man in France and will be the same Gospel that will save the 21st century Iraqi militant. If however it is unaltered. That is why the false teachings of today are so dangerous and lead to so many false conversions. When you think you have to make the Gospel more seeker friendly then you strip out the power of salvation in it. When you think you can preach the portions that make people feel good about themselves and never preach the portions that lead them to repentance then you have stripped out the power of salvation in it. Someone once said, "If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself."

Those who had heard the true teachings of Christ were astonished according to the key verses. The dictionary defines astonished as greatly surprised, impressed or amazed. That is how we ought to feel when we hear the Word of the living God who created us. Surprised that we are as loved as we are in rebellion. Impressed with the sacrifice of Calvary and what it means for our eternal hope. Amazed and in awe of such a loving God. If we recount all of the teachings from the Sermon on the Mount I am sure there were some that stung us a little bit. Some that hit a little too close to home. That does not make them less astonishing for us. When we are saved and go to church it is to hear the Gospel, not some marketing push for people who are unsaved to join a church. It is by hearing the Gospel with the indwelt Holy Spirit that we are continually led into deeper and deeper truths of God. It is how we grow as believers. How we move from milk to spiritual meat. How we grow in discernment. It is the power of God unto the salvation of men!

The second lesson here is the reason "why." Why is it that we should be left so awe inspired and astonished. Why it is that the Gospel can always feed the hungry soul? Because it is not a vacuous teaching. It is not some philosophical pontification of man. It is backed by the full authority of God Himself because God Himself wrote it! In a world of murkiness the Gospel is clarity. In a world of duplicity the Gospel is certainty. In a world of darkness the Gospel is light. If you really think about it, life is often the pursuit of authority. Who will we let run our lives? Many join the military for that discipline. Many seek marriage for that direction. Many seek the approval of higher education or advanced careers for it. Many seek it through fame and fortune. Many simply seek to be their own authority. To be their own God. That is the definition of humanism. The atheist can convince themselves that they are free from authoritative reign but all they have done is usurp the throne of God. They have become their own authority. The same desire Lucifer wanted when God cast him from heaven. There is nothing new under the sun. there is nothing however like realizing you are under the right authority. The Creator of the universe. When these people left the mount they knew they had heard someone finally who had the authority to teach.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. - 2Timothy 3: 16-17 (ESV)

The words of Jesus are breathed out by God Himself. Every writer was under divine inspiration. People ask me all the time about the fact that the canon of Scripture was not selected until the Council of Nicea and thus how can anyone trust it. As if we serve some restricted God! As if He was not at Nicea! As if He could divinely inspire the 66 books but had no authority to ensure they were the ones selected! That is not the God I serve. I serve an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God. I serve a God who has all authority!

The final lesson for today is to not put our trust and faith into anything but the genuine article. Matthew makes it a point to not only say that Jesus spoke with authority but that this was contrasted with the Scribes who did not speak with any authority. Well, who were the Scribes? Simply put the Scribes were those religious leaders who were tasked with the preservation of Scripture and translation. While these things were good and commendable, the Scribes went beyond their authority and added their own personal, man-made traditions to the Word of God. They were in fact who Jesus spoke of when He said they strained out a gnat but swallowed a camel. They were adept at quoting the law without discerning the true spirit of it. In short, they mixed what was holy with what was profane. They taught enough correct doctrine but mixed it in with their own traditions and elevated them to be equal or part of the Scripture. Sound familiar?

We see this everyday today. Preachers who present enough of the Bible to sound right but then they add to it teachings that are so off base. The prosperity gospel takes the goodness and provision of God and corrupts it into a Jesus ATM for our wishes. The word faith gospel takes powers that belong to God and ascribes them to man. The hyper-grace movement perverts the grace of God to remove the word "sin" from the vernacular of a Christian. The sin itself is always there but the word is no longer considered. The false signs and lying wonders movement present just enough Scripture about the Holy Spirit to sound pious but it is mixed with such obvious mysticism and new age nonsense that they end up no better than the Scribes of Jesus' day.

So our journey with Jesus through the Sermon on the Mount comes to an end. There were so many truths imparted and lessons to take to heart. Now He begins His earthly ministry from town to town. These teachings were so radical to the status quo that in just three short years they would crucify Him. His teachings would live on though and continue to astonish generations of people desperately seeking God. His authority would transcend all generations and cultures to save people wherever and whenever they were at. Those that stand opposed are mere Scribes in history, standing on the wrong side of the mount.

Rev. Anthony.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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