Gamma 15 – Sermon on the Mount (Study 4)

BEATITUDES PART 4

PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE

GAMMA FACILITATORS

John Goh012 207 6125jgoh2004@yahoo.com
Dr Lee Fook Sin019 230 9492lfooksin@gmail.com
Moh Ee Lin019 273 2468moheelin@gmail.com
Kong Yew012-2902389kongyew.my26@gmail.com
Michael Tan017-3770008michaeltanttc@gmail.com
Ng Cho Hoo012 878 2128ch88.ng@gmail.com
Patrick Khoo019-2516889patrick_khoo@yahoo.com
Cathrine Ng012-2128086catherine.ngsk@gmail.com
Susanah Ng012 3088670susanah84@gmail.com

Kindly contact any of these Gamma Facilitators. They will be hosting Zoom meetings for Discussions every Wednesday starting from April 1, 2020.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS – STUDY 4

Instructions
Please look at the questions and discuss the answers. The case histories are designed to let you apply what theoretical knowledge you have gleaned from the study. There are intentionally many more questions and case histories than you can manage in one session but this is designed to
cover the many and varied needs of the individuals in the church hence please pick and choose which ones to discuss as long as it gets people sharing and applying the Word to real life situations. Never feel obligated to finish all the questions. The answers will be posted on the web the next day

What aspects of the Disciples life are portrayed by use of the metaphor of salt and light. What is the relationship between the Beatitude and our call to be salt and light of society? Why is the effectiveness of one dependant on the other? Discuss the practical ways in which you can all be helping each other to be the salt and light in your family and community and how we as a believing community can minister to the city during this Covid 19 crisis.

ANSWER
The metaphor of salt works to emphasise the preserving function of society. Sin will cause social injustice and misery in the world and as morals lurch from bad to worse they will require the salty presence of godly believers who will do the right thing and stem the rot and pain society will undergo. We can think if consequential Christians like William Wilberforce whose 40 year old crusade in England eventually lead to the complete ban on slavery. We can appreciate Dr Martin Luther Kings fight for equality for the black Americans and crusade against racism. The metaphor of light emphasises the portrayal of godly values in society which will shine through like a city set on the hill. In amongst the darkness of the surrounding countryside a single city on a hill will be unmistakable in its impact. Hence believers who live as people who strive for social justice, who are humble who are peacemakers and all the characterisitics of the beautified will be seen by all to be a beacon of human flourishing for others to emulate and be inspired by even though many may not become believers but this influence is God’s grace towards the world keeping the lid on evil and preserving order allowing many more to come to faith before the end. We can think about Mahatma Ghandi who was influenced by the Jesus and was inspired to peaceful non violent resistance that saw the independence of India although he never himself became a believer.

The most important ingredient of our witness in the world is the gospel as the world will see our spiritual poverty , mourning over our sins and our meekness as it is the manifestation of the effects of the gospel. We will need to share the gospel as the salt and light as the gospel is the basis our our behaviour our genuine transformation.

The beatitudes describe genuine disciples and the extent that they are reflected in the lives of disciples will be the extent to which the gospel will be adorned. The more brightly these characteristics are displayed the stronger the light the more potent the salt in preserving and guiding the society in which we live towards the kingdom of God.

Hence missions is gospel living as well as gospel sharing. In times of pandemics in the past the church has always been the ones to have stayed behind in the city and ministered to the inhabitants at great risks to themselves and each pandemic was accompanied by a surge in people coming to faith because of the lives and love of His true disciples. How can FBC and the Gamma community do the same and come to the aid of our neighbours? How can we be merciful to the people who are suffering no matter if they deserve it or not.
Let members each discuss what they can do in their own area and what we can do together in this.

Following Jesus explanation on righteousness as portrayed by the beatitudes. He then applies this teaching to a variety of circumstances. How is anger equivalent to murder? How is lust equivalent to adultery? What were the prevailing misunderstandings about the Law at that time?

ANSWER
The law reflected the character of God and there is the letter of the law which is do not murder and then there is the underlying spirit of the law which is the reasoning behind the law which is the guiding principle. The character of God is loving and caring and the law reflects that stand by prohibiting murder as if one is caring and loving one will not kill one’s neighbour. The aim of the law is that we are like God and love our neighbour.

Anger, hatred and contempt for our neighbour are just the antecedent emotions that trigger violence. The intent of the law is for us to love each other and the prohibition of murder is set the boundaries in general. If one does not murder but hates and has contempt for ones neighbour it is a sin because the other person is made in the image of God and any ill intent towards that person is the kind of behaviour which is no commensurate with his position as a human made in the image of God with all the potential and wonder that God’s image confers. The same goes for lust which is the antecedent emotion which in its fullest form will evolve into adultery. It is a sinful desire.

The prevailing misunderstanding was to just confine one’s obedience to just the letter of the law ignoring the intent of the law that is to love one’s neighbour. This bred hypocrisy and this was not the intent of the law. The law intended for us to respect our neighbour and love him by not only committing adultery with his wife and thus defrauding him bust also not to lust after his wife which equally is not loving him.

The Pharisees and all of us will find it much easier to just confine ourselves to the narrow border of the letter of the law and look for loop holes in life to circumvent the law and get away with sin. This is not very much different from a tax accountant helping us to think of clever ways not to pay the tax but sticking firmly to the letter of the law. The law only paints in broad strokes the principles of loving ones neighbour but in life there are so many different circumstances and situations that it would be impossible to codify behaviour in every situation.

What does it mean when Jesus said that He is the fulfillment of the Law (Mosaic Law). There is an apparent contradiction about the Mosaic law. On one hand we are now freed from it as we are now under grace and not the law and yet not free because we still can’t go around stealing or murdering, the things stipulated in the 10 commandments and Jesus said that not one iota of the law could be relaxed. How do we resolve this tension?

ANSWER
God’s law is eternal and it does not change, there is no plan B because plan A did not work out. God does not relax any part of the law to make it easier for humans. The law must be kept and fulfilled. This was kept and fulfilled by Jesus when he was here on earth. He kept both the letter and spirit of the law, the whole law in his righteous living. He paid for the penalty of the law that is required of us as transgressors of the law. Hence it is true that the law did not pass away or got relaxed it was just fulfilled in its entirety and comprehensively by Jesus. The demands for sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins as foreshadowed by the many animal sacrifices were also satisfied by the crucifixion of Jesus who took our punishment. So in the sense Christ is the end of the law in the sense He is the goal of the Law only He and He alone fulfilled it entirely. Only he is the perfect image of God. So the integrity of the law was upheld. The law was not cast aside. On the other hand we fulfill the law too in its entirety through our spiritual union with Jesus upon whom the penalty of and compliance of the law also fell. It is His righteousness that satisfied God. It was His compliance with it. Our union with Jesus results in God looking at us through His Son.

In turn, we respond to Jesus who saved us by grace which means no merit of effort on our part to earn it but we reciprocate HIS LOVE by our obedience to Him. The Law then becomes relevant to us in terms of its guiding principles which is really summed up by Jesus when He said we are to love God and neighbour. Hence now the 10 commandments provides the broad principles which guide our obedience to Jesus and obedience to Him is motivated by love as a response to His grace to us in salvation. There is no more need to sacrifice animals nor keep certain festivals nor follow the civil laws of Israel that for example mandated farmers not harvest their fields completely but leave the edges for the poor to glean something to survive. However leaving the edges of your crop to the poor is an act of live and charity and this will be the guiding principle and today we give to the poor because He gave to us. There is no longer a need for a rigid 10% tithe as we don’t live in a theocracy where church and state are one and same. The church is scattered over all nations. We still set aside a portion of our money to give to the kingdom work but done out of love and cheerfully.

We do not abstain from unclean foods anymore as there is no more Jerusalem temple worship and we are not Israel who had to demonstrate their distinctiveness and holiness by food restrictions. We can eat anything but there are times we abstain from this freedom for the sake of our brothers with a weaker conscience or if we are sitting with a Muslim for example who has such scruples but we no longer keep these restrictions due to our need to keep the law but we refrain or restrict our freedom out of love for the others. We no longer have to sacrifice animals for the remission of sins as Jesus has paid all our sins but we confess our sins to Him and we repent and we offer instead of animals we offer our whole lives as living sacrifices.

Look at Paul’s attitude in 1 Cor 9:19

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

The law of Christ is to love God and each other.

Martin Luther wrote in his commentary on Galatians of how legalism and the dependance on our personal performance keeps climbing up into his conscience and dominating it instead of our reliance of the finished work of Christ the work of grace. This affects how we think and feel and behave Look at the following behaviours and respond to whether it be motivated by legalism or by grace and discuss each one if we have ever been in that situation and how we can respond better.

A. Kevin wakes up in the morning and has a good bible study and prayer time and goes towork very confident that God has got his back and when a difficult deal came up in the office, he took the risk and took on the project because he was sure God was behind him and he would gain success so he stepped out and exercised faith.

B. Tina made a mistake at work that cost the company valuable time and money and her tenure at the company was at risk. A friend of hers at work Alison was also involved in the project and was in danger of loosing her job too and was simply distraught. Tina tried to comfort her when suddenly Alison brought up the comment that if there was a God, He must surely hate her because of all this bad luck she had been having. Tina had an opportunity to share the gospel but she held back. She was such a bad witness at work, she made the mess. She would not be fit to share the gospel.

C. Charlene was one of the ladies doing teaching the children in her church in their Sunday school. She had been in charge of this ministry for many years. After the class she would often sit with her friends and they would talk about the difficult parents who came to church and were so fussy and demanding whilst displaying no gratitude for the work of the teachers. There were also uncooperative teachers whom she had to work with that caused her quite a lot of grief. The head of the Sunday school ministry rarely had a good word for her too she complained. Pretty soon the number of people volunteering for this ministry quickly dried up as the negative impression spread.

D. Jason was a preacher in the church and one Sunday he lamented on how lukewarm the people were and challenged them to take up their cross and pay the price of discipleship and join him in the mid week bible study and get stuck into the Word of God. He even said God has no time for people with such low energy and always full of excuses.

E. Jack had a recent falling out with another younger leader called Jonathan in the church. They had disagreed over how to manage the church finances. The disagreement was so bad that it polarised the church board into two camps each aligned to the particular leader. Jack was a corporate CEO of one of the big 4 accounting firms in KL and highly successful and aggressive. Jonathan was just a canteen owner of a small set up and he wanted to move the church in the direction of reaching out to the poor in the community providing food and clothing and probably win an opportunity to share the gospel. Jack was totally against this and wanted the church to spend the money instead on better infrastructure, bigger building and performance programs to bring in more corporate type people to the gospel. Jack had been in the church board for 20 years and Jonathan only 2 years. Jack was a charismatic preacher and wealthy and influential whilst Jonathan was the opposite.

F. Molly was been serving as an officer at the Boys Brigade in church teaching children of the age of 8-12 for the past 5 years. Her class had been steadily declining in numbers whilst the class opposite to hers by another lady called Clarissa was actually growing in size as the children tended to want to go there instead. Molly would often criticise Clarissa to other officers on how she was using IPads to teach and special soft ware programs to engage the kids. She suspected Clarissa was teaching the prosperity gospel that’s why kids liked her class. Clarissa came over one day and gave some feed back to Molly and even offered to lend her some of her material and IPads for her class to improve the learning process. Molly was furious , how dare this woman come and interfere in her class! Clarissa too was upset by the reaction she got from Molly as she was genuinely motivated to help a failing Molly she thought was too stuck in her old fashioned ways to minister to the kids. Molly immediately complained to the BB captain who tried to broker peace between the two women but to no avail. In the end both women left BB.

G. Teddy was in charge of audio visual ministry in church and was pushed very hard due to the increasing activities of the church. Due to the excellence of their ministry they got a lot of praise from the congregation. As a result Teddy pushed his team harder and harder to do even better. Soon the workers started to move out to other ministries. The work load still remained the same and soon Teddy was burnt out but refused to tell his elders that they should cut back.

Answers are available too.

Please feel free to post your comments in the comments section.

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