In January, I started studying and writing on the Sermon on the Mount. A family wide bout of Covid-19 delayed my study for a little bit. But alas, God has allowed me to return to it! This week I want to share something I read from Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the Sermon. I am summarizing his comments under the title, “Four Reasons the Sermon on the Mount is Relevant Today.” Here they are:
1. Jesus died to enable us to live the Sermon on the Mount.
As I argued in my previous blog, the Sermon on the Mount is a description of the Christian life. Thus, Jesus died for us to be able to live out the principles of the Sermon. He died to “purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). The principles contained in the Sermon are a part of these “good works.” In fact, God has planned from eternity past for us to walk in them (Eph 2:10). Because of Jesus’ death and the new life it has brought us, we can be zealous for doing the good works He expounds in the Sermon
2. The Sermon shows us our absolute need of new birth and the Holy Spirit to work within us.
Lloyd- Jones comments, “These Beatitudes [Matt 5:1-12] crush me to the ground. They show me my utter helplessness. Were it not for the new birth, I am undone.” As we read the Sermon and compare ourselves to it, we will be driven to see our dire need of being re-born by God’s Spirit. We will also see our need for the daily, sanctifying, gracious operation of the Holy Spirit. We cannot live the Sermon in our old nature or in our own strength.
3. The more we live and practice the Sermon, the more we shall experience blessing.
Lloyd-Jones says, “If you want to have power in your life and be blessed, go straight to the Sermon on the Mount. Live and practice it and give yourself to it, and as you do so the promised blessings will come.” This is neither prosperity theology nor works-based salvation. It is a simple recognition of Jesus’ words that those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” will be blessed (Matt 5:6). What is that blessing? Satisfaction in God (5:6), seeing God (5:8), being called sons of God (5:9), and having a reward in heaven (5:12).
4. The Sermon is a means of evangelism.
“The world today is looking for, and desperately needs, true Christians. I am never tired of saying that what the Church needs to do is not to organize evangelistic campaigns to attract outside people, but to begin herself to live the Christian life. If she did that, men and women would be crowding into our buildings. They would say, ‘What is the secret of this?’”
Lloyd-Jones argues that if all of us were living the Sermon on the Mount, people would know that there is power in the gospel. They would know that Christianity is a living thing. They would know that Christians are supremely different than the rest of the world. Our lives would be a testimony to the reality of the gospel and God’s transforming work in our lives. Jesus agrees. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works (there’s that word again!) and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16).
Lloyd-Jones concludes, “God give us grace to face the Sermon on the Mount seriously and honestly and prayerfully until we become living examples of it, and exemplifiers of its glorious teaching.”