East Side Church
(Baptist - Disciples of Christ)
201 Spruce Ave.
Sharon, PA 16146
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January 8, 2017
Spiritual Bankruptcy

Matthew 5:1-3

Intro: Start of Jesus' ministry; crowds. Mr. Popularity! Crisis moment for Jesus: "I don't want anyone jumping on the disciple bandwagon for the wrong reasons! Being a Christian isn't about popularity!" So Jesus teaches what it means to follow Him. Necessary for us; confusion in SV over what it means to be a Christian. Why we're starting a series on the Beatitudes, (intro to Jesus' SOM.)

Blessed! (Read Matthew 5:3.) "Beatitude" comes from the Latin word for "blessed." Jesus begins His sermon w/a character description of His disciples. Not a random list of character traits. Logical order, a progression in the description of Jesus' disciples.

Many Bibles translate "blessed" w/word "happy." Doesn't fully capture the meaning. Familiar w/temporary happiness; many things make us happy. But "blessed" is deeper; it's tied to God's relationship w/a person. God looks on a person w/approval; resulting in a profound, eternal sense of joy! P. Yancey: "The word "blessed" was a short cry of joy: ‘Oh, you lucky person!'" This person is to be admired, congratulated. He has favor w/God, he is blessed.

Bankrupt! (Read Matthew 5:3.) Since Jesus' list of character traits has a definite order, that means that being "poor in spirit" is the starting point for following Jesus. Being "poor in spirit" is the first step on the narrow path to heaven . What does Jesus mean by, "poor in spirit?" Meaning of poor? A person who is destitute, a beggar, who has no resources to rely upon. No money, savings, credit. A person who can't get back on their feet w/o help!

Who are the "poor in spirit ," the " spiritually bankrupt"? People who have nothing to depend upon spiritually. People who have nothing in them to commend themselves to God; these people know that if God loves them, it's not b/c they're worthy of His love! People who know that they are sinners; and they can't hide that fact, even if they wanted to! They are deeply aware of their own shortcomings and sins! They know that they don't measure up to God's law. They have entered God's presence, and in the light of His holiness, they have seen their sin's shadow. The poor in spirit are humbled by the realization that, apart from God's grace, they would stay addicted to their sin. Jesus: "It's not people who have their act together, it's only those who don't have the strength to act anymore, that God blesses. God doesn't help those who help themselves; He helps those who can't help themselves! Blessed are the poor in spirit." Humility is the first step on the narrow path to heaven .

Humility is not our natural state. The Bible teaches that humans aren't born humble! We're born proud and self-centered. We are addicted to appearances; we want to look good in the eyes of others! The pride within us saturates our motives. Jesus' teaching goes against everything the world believes: "You have to put your best foot forward, you have to make a good impression! Communicate confidence, competence! Win friends! Influence people! From a flattering selfie to a firm handshake, we've been taught to communicate that we are managing our lives well. That's why Jesus' words are a hand slap, an alarm clock: The poor in spirit have been crushed by the realization that there is nothing they can do to impress God. We can't put our best foot forward and try to enter heaven! Both of our feet are dirty! We're sinners; there is nothing within us that can earn God's favor. The only way to walk the path to heaven is to take that first step of humility .

Becoming Poor in Spirit ! (Read Matthew 5:3.) Humility is the first step on the narrow path to heaven . How can we take this first step? Humility is birthed when we encounter the Holy God. We must seek God in prayer while studying His Word. Pray and ask God to confront you with His holiness. When you encounter the awesome, righteous God of the universe, when you realize that the sinless God demands an audience with you, when God's holiness shatters your self-righteousness, you will be humbled.

We can cultivate a heart that seeks God's holy presence as we read God's Word, as we listen to His Word explained by godly preachers. You hear that God has created you. You hear God's Law teaching that, although you should love and serve Him, you have not done so, you cannot do so! (Read Romans 3:19-20.) You become aware of God's holiness and your own rebelliousness, pride, impurity, sin. When you are confronted by the demands of God's law, when you realize that there is no way that you can ever measure up, when you are convicted by the Holy Spirit, then you will be humbled by God Almighty. (Read Isaiah 6:1-5.)

You may ask, "How does that leave you ‘blessed'?" In the middle of that terrifying, crushing, encounter, you will realize that God is dealing mercifully with you; God is smiling with favor on you. You are humbled; you are blessed! And at that moment, you've begun the journey to heaven. You will enjoy the kingdom of heaven, not only as a future promise, but also as a present reality! You will enjoy the constant, blessed, humbling presence of God right now, even as you look forward to spending forever in God's presence after you die. Humility is the first step on the narrow path to heaven . Have you taken that first step?

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© East Side Church, 2013