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?””
The fifth, sixth, and seventh of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, beginning with “blessed are the merciful,” describe the inner character of the Christian. He is merciful, pure in heart, and always ready and anxious to make peace. Continue reading ““Salt and Light In the World””
The standards set in the opening verses of the Sermon on the Mount are unlike anything that is known or can even be dreamed of by the old humanity. Left to ourselves, our natural beatitudes would go something like this: Blessed are the rich, for they have it all and have it all now; blessed are the happy, for they are content with themselves and don’t need others; blessed are the arrogant, for people defer to them; blessed are those who fight for the good things in life, for they will get them; blessed are the sophisticated, for they will have a good time. Continue reading ““What Does ‘Blessed’ Mean?””