What about telling the truth? According to surveys, Americans lie all the time, often with no apparent reason. But in most other societies, both past and present, telling the truth has always been judged an important personal virtue. What was the problem in Jesus’ day then? It was exactly what we have been seeing all along: the corruption of the heart. Continue reading ““Taking Oaths and Telling the Truth””
What Jesus taught about murder in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) he now teaches in a directly parallel way about adultery. He defines it first, teaching that lust or any other impure sexual thoughts are the equivalent of adultery, just as anger or scornful talk is the equivalent of murder. Then he teaches what can be done about it, saying that whatever causes a person trouble in this area should be dealt with radically.
John H. Gerstner, a former professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, observed on one occasion that modern authors write as if they had never met a righteous man or a virtuous woman. If that is correct, it presents a serious problem for us: What, then, is righteousness? And where can righteousness be found?
Not only do Christians need to believe the Bible and stand on it as a matter of principle, they need to obey it and act on it too, which is the ultimate test of whether any of us actually believe God’s Word or not. This is what Jesus addresses when He says, “Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Jesus establishes the authority of the Old Testament by insisting that not even the smallest part of it (iota, dot) will be lost until it is perfectly fulfilled. Continue reading ““The Authority of the Bible””
The eight beatitudes that begin the Sermon on the Mount are probably its best-known portion, with the possible exception of the Golden Rule found in Matthew 7:12. But in a sense, they are only the introduction, describing the kind of people the rest of the sermon is for. The main body of the sermon actually begins with verse 17 of chapter 5, and it continues to verse 12 of chapter 7, the verses marked off by what scholars call an inclusio, meaning a repetition of words that both begin and end a section, serving a bit like an envelope or a wrap for what comes in between. Continue reading ““Fulfilling OR Abolishing the Law?””