We are called to follow Christ's instructions for our lives
Recently I listened to a TED Talk on YouTube in which the speaker spoke of a “qualification bias.” This bias suggests that only a few people are well enough educated to be able to have a viewpoint that accurately interprets or understands a topic.
When Jesus began his instruction to his disciples Matthew wrote, “Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying …”
What follows are the eight beatitudes or blessed attitudes that Jesus used to explain and teach how to draw near to God and how to interact with our fellow man.
These were not spoken to academics but to his disciples and those who heard his instruction.
The first four beatitudes “poor in spirit’ [deeply humble], “those who mourn” [sorrowful for the sins they committed], “the meek” [submissive to God like Moses and Jesus], and those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” are understandable to all economic levels of society.
Jesus teaching was superior to the scribes and teachers of the Law. Matthew recorded in his gospel 7:28, “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”
How do we approach God? The Jews taught in John 9:31, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.”
Is that instruction valid today? Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.”
The Hebrew author recorded in Hebrews 7:18, “The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.”
Then he wrote in Hebrews 10:8, “First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). 9 Then he said, ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
And in Hebrews 10:22, “... let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We know we cannot merit or earn salvation. We know that it is by God’s grace that salvation is even possible. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Is obedience to Christ’s commands even necessary?
After Jesus’ resurrection as recorded in Matthew 28:16, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
Like Satan said to Eve in Genesis 3:1c, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” Satan’s angels of light ask us “Did God really say, ‘You must be obedient to My Son?’”
Jim Squires preaches at the Church of Christ in Glendive.