The Apostle Paul is in heaven, in the great cloud of witnesses, what do you think he thinks of the condition of the American church today? Would he call it Christianity, would he recognize it as the Christianity he taught?
Kingdom Christianity is Christianity that is formed by the Word and Spirit. American Christianity tends to reject a lot of Christianity that conflicts with our culture, capitalism, and American values.
The Holy Spirit is bringing up a prophetic call to empower us to walk in the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit and experience Kingdom Intimacy and Kingdom power by living a Kingdom lifestyle.
So very many commentaries interpret the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7), in a very wrong way. Because they have unbelief in the reality of the Holy Spirit, they say the sermon on the mount is to be lived after Jesus comes back, or that Jesus lived it so that we don’t have to. The reality is that Jesus said the following, about the lifestyle and core baseline values of His very first sermon:
Matt 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
and He said this after He finished the sermon:
Matt 7:24 Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 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 a rock. 26 And every one that hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
When Jesus returns He will look at who did the SotM lifestyle of praying fasting, giving/serving and meekness, ‘the most,’ and put them in the highest places of leadership.
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. He will fulfill them in His followers, you and me, and he will fulfill by empowering us with the Holy Spirit. The real definition of grace is being able to ‘push delete’ after we stumble and be empowered by God not to stumble and say ‘yes’ to obedience.
48You shall be perfect [walk in all the light you receive] as your Father…is perfect. (Mt. 5:48)
In this sermon, Jesus calls His people to perfect obedience and to make this their primary goal in life. We do this by seeking to walk in all the light that the Spirit gives us. Pursuing obedience is not the same as attaining it.
Jesus calls us to live out the eight beatitudes (5:3-12) as we pursue 100-fold obedience (5:48).
The 8 beatitudes are being poor in spirit, spiritual mourning, walking in meekness, hungering for righteousness, showing mercy, embracing purity, being a peacemaker, and enduring persecution.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to live out the 8 beatitudes (5:3-12) as we pursue 100-fold obedience (5:48), as we resist 6 temptations (5:21-48), and pursue 5 kingdom activities (6:1-18) that position our hearts to freely receive more grace. We do all this with confidence in His rewards (eternal/temporal 6:19-24) and His provision (6:24-33). We do this without criticism of others who pursue God with less intensity or who oppose us (7:1-6) while we seek Jesus to intervene in our relationships (7:7-12), yet without drawing back from our wholehearted pursuit of God (7:13-14) as we discern false grace messages (7:15-20). We do all of this knowing that our obedience will be tested (7:21-27). By walking in these truths, Jesus said that we will impact society (5:13-16) and will be great in His eyes (5:19), receive treasures in heaven (6:19–20) and will live in this age with our hearts exhilarated in His grace (6:22-23).
1. The 6 temptations of natural lust: anger, immorality, disregarding the marriage covenant, making false commitments, demanding personal rights, and living with a spirit of retaliation (5:21-48).
2. The 5 kingdom activities: prayer, fasting, giving, serving, and blessing enemies (6:1-18) are spiritual disciplines that position our heart before God to freely receive more grace.
THE EIGHT BEATITUDES: BRIEF DEFINITIONS (MT. 5:3-12)
A. Being poor in spirit (“theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Mt. 5:3) is to acknowledge that we are in great need of help to sustain our wholeheartedness. We are to understand that we are in a serious dilemma and need a breakthrough in our heart and ministry and in the Church and society.
B. Mourning for breakthrough (“for they shall be comforted,” Mt. 5:4) is to be desperate enough to be extreme in pursuing a breakthrough for our heart, ministry, church, or for justice in society.
C. Walking in meekness (“shall inherit the earth,” Mt. 5:5) is to walk in the fasted lifestyle, or to have a servant spirit in the use of our natural strengths or resources (time, money, reputation, etc.). Meekness or humility speaks of using our resources or authority with a servant spirit in serving others without regard for receiving any gain from them.
D. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness (“for they shall be filled,” Mt. 5:6) is to have sustained faithfulness in seeking God with a whole heart for the breakthrough of His kingdom in our lives and in others. It speaks of being consistent through the changing seasons, without drawing back in disappointment or in being offended at the way people treat us or respond to us.
E. Relating to others with mercy (“for they shall obtain mercy,” Mt. 5:7) is to treat others with a tender spirit when they fail spiritually or attack, resist, or disappoint us. We are to show them mercy, just as we receive God’s mercy in our many shortcomings (Ps. 130:3-4). It also speaks of being compassionate and seeking to help people who suffer injustice.
F. Being pure in heart (“they shall see God,” Mt. 5:8) is to seek to walk in purity in our thoughts (no bitterness or immorality, etc.) and in our motives (helping people truly for their benefit).
G. Becoming a peacemaker (“called sons of God,” Mt. 5:9) speaks of the grace to bring peace or healing to broken relationships in the home, marketplace, Church, or in society, etc.
H. Enduring persecution (“theirs is the kingdom,” Mt. 5:10-12) is to bear the counterattack for plundering Satan’s kingdom because we operate in power and/or stand for righteousness.
These are the heart virtues that will be the primary measure of reward at the Judgment Seat!!
God started with a blank slate here, He could have chosen anything, but this is what Jesus said the Father is working on in the Bride. These are the fullest expressions of our maturity. This is what the Holy Spirit is fighting to bring forth in us. These are some of the good gifts the Father wants to give to His children
1. Jesus revealed these 8 beatitudes or 8 attitudes that release blessedness on our lives. To be blessed is to experience abundant life which is the happiness, greatness and freedom that God created us for. The beatitudes are like 8 beautiful flowers in the “garden in our heart” that God wants to fully blossom. They define love, godliness and spiritual maturity and describe life in the Spirit (true discipleship and/or spiritual maturity). They also describe how God wants to bless us and what He wants to duplicate in disciples through ministry.
2. These 8 flowers need to be carefully and continually cultivated as we “weed our garden” by resisting the 6 negative influences (toxins/poisons) related to our natural lusts (Mt. 5:21-48) [listed next] and as we “water our garden” by pursuing the 5 positive nutrients (prayer, fasting, giving, serving and blessing enemies, Mt. 6:1-18) that position us to receive a greater impartation of grace.
3. Jesus gave six practical areas in which we must wage war against lust (1 Pet. 2:11): anger (spirit of murder, Mt. 5:21-26), adultery (spirit of immorality, Mt. 5:27-30), disregarding the marriage covenant (spirit of treachery, Mal. 2:13-17 that breaks covenant for selfish pursuits, Mt. 5:31-32), false commitments (spirit of manipulation that seeks to promote ourselves, Mt. 5:33-37), demanding justice (spirit of pride or bitterness that insists on personal rights, Mt. 5:38-41) and retaliation (spirit of revenge/animosity in relationships, Mt. 5:42-47).
Whoever hears these sayings of Mine (Sermon on the Mount), and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall… (Mt. 7:24-25)
A wise man builds his “house” (life and ministry) on the “rock” which refers to relating to Jesus according to the Sermon on the Mount. This lifestyle is doable for every believer and is the only way to experience God’s Kingdom. To neglect this lifestyle is to neglect and miss the Kingdom.
5 foundational Kingdom activities of the Sermon on the Mount Mt. 6:1-18.
1. First and second, do charitable deeds by serving people and giving money (Mt. 6:1-4).
When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that…your Father who sees in secret will reward you…openly. (Mt. 6:3-4)
2. Third, pray to engage with God through His Word instead of to please men (Mt. 6:5-13).
You shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray…that they may be seen by men…7 When you pray, do not use vain repetitions… (Mt. 6:5-7)
3. Fourth, forgive and bless those in an adversarial relationship with us (Mt. 6:14-15; 5:44).
If you do not forgive men…neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Mt. 6:15) 44 Bless those who curse you…pray for those who spitefully use you… (Mt. 5:44)
4. Fifth, fast food (Mt. 6:17-18).
When you fast, anoint your head… (Mt. 6:17)
Spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting, meditation, etc) are ordained by God as a necessary way to posture our heart to freely receive more grace. These activities do not earn us God’s favor but give us the opportunity to express the value we have for our relationship with Jesus. God gives more to those who are hungry for relationship with Him. Our hunger for Him is an expression of our love for Him. God gives more to our heart but does not love us more when we live in spiritual disciplines. Analogy: we put our cold heart before the bonfire of God’s presence. The power is in the “bonfire of God’s presence” not in the “cold flesh” positioned in front of it.
Greatness when Jesus returns
Jesus invites “whoever,” i.e. everyone, to be great in His kingdom by walking in the Beatitudes.
19Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments…shall be called least in the kingdom…whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom. (Mt. 5:19)
Walking in Light
Anyone with a good eye will have a vibrant heart that is full of light. The lamp of the body, that brings light to our inner man, is the eye of our heart. “The body” means our whole person.
22The lamp of the body is the eye [of the heart]. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Mt. 6:22-23)