People of The Living God

Hebrews 11

 

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THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

INTRODUCTION

        God, our heavenly Father, delivered His most important message to the human race through the lips of His Son, in this sermon given on a mountain near Capernaum.  With these words our Saviour laid the foundation for the building known as “the Church of Jesus Christ.”  If all of the apostolic Christians of the first century had followed the instructions of this message explicitly there would never have been that long period of spiritual dearth known as “the Dark Ages.”

        The Church of Christ, like Israel of old, failed to obey the voice from the mount, and, substituting human inventions and innovations for the words of the Master, they soon fell victim to their own carnal desires.

        The author of the book of Hebrews had faithfully warned New Testament saints: “See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh.  For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth (Moses), much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven” (Heb. 12:25).  But down through the ages, yes, and even to this present day, the great majority of professing Christians are REFUSING TO OBEY THE VOICE FROM THE MOUNT.

        Popular present-day “Christendom” is built upon “sand,” and the words of the Founder of Christianity have been set aside by “the treacherous dealers” (Isa. 24:16).  It is time for every professing Christian to “DIG DEEP” and examine his FOUNDATION.

        Before one can build upon “THE ROCK” he must first know what the rock is; and he should also know what “the Rock” is not.  Abstract words and phrases are not rock.  The words, “Christian” and “Church,” can save no soul.  There is no saving value in reiterating the phrases: “I am a Christian,” “I believe in Christ.”

        The “seven women” of Isaiah 4:1 claimed His Name; as a matter of fact, all they wanted was HIS NAME.  They specifically stated that they did not want anything but the NAME.  There is no efficacy in merely using the name of Jesus Christ: “… thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Rev. 3:1).

        Read these words which the apostle wrote to the Corinthian church: “Henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more” (2 Cor. 5:16).  Here, the apostle seems to be separating THE MAN from THE MESSAGE.  But such a separation is an impossibility.  Christ and His message are ONE.  Christ apart from His words would simply be another MAN.  Many would try to present Christ as an example of a good man, a fellow creature worthy of imitating.  But the Corinthian church was instructed to “KNOW HIM NO MORE” as a man “after the flesh.” 

He, Jesus, was the embodiment of THE WILL OF GOD.  He so personified the Father’s will that He is called “THE WORD.”  To try to separate Jesus Christ from the will of His Father is a complete denial of all that He said. Since the will of the Father was expressed through His Son, we can safely conclude that the TESTIMONY of the Son is more important than His PERSON.  The Christian ideal should not merely be the PERSON whom the Father sent, but the MESSAGE that He gave us through the PERSON.

        Those who accept the person of Jesus Christ must also accept His message; those who deny His message also deny Him. This is a plain New Testament doctrine: “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?  Whosoever cometh to Me, and heareth My SAYINGS and DOETH THEM, I will shew you to whom he is like: he is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a ROCK” (Luke 6:46-48).

        Obedience to the “sayings” of Christ constitutes a ROCK foundation.  It is well to observe that in this parable of the Saviour’s there are pictured two classes of builders: (1) The one who heard, and digged deep to lay the foundation of his house; and (2) The other man who “heareth” but “DOETH NOT” (VERSE 49), and “without a foundation” builds “an house upon the earth.”

        The Calvinists have taught that merely an abstract BELIEF in Christ will save men; but neither Christ nor any of the apostles ever taught such doctrine.  Consider this: The NAME, “Christ,” is an abstraction; hypocrites are satisfied with only the possession of His name.  But His NAME is not THE ROCK.  His “sayings,” His message, His testimony are THE ROCK: “… they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ”  (I Cor. 10:4).  It was not the PERSON of Christ that “followed them,” it was the “TESTIMONY.”  Jesus Christ IS THE FATHER’S TESTIMONY.

        It is the Father’s message through His Son that is “living bread” to the eater.  No man could partake of the corporeal, or physical body of Christ; yet He said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever --- Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:51-53).  Little wonder that the Jews stumbled over this saying!  They said, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” (verse 60).  These statements plainly teach us that every believer must EAT THE WORDS OF CHRIST.  The teachings of this chapter from John’s Gospel make it evident that all of the words that Jesus spoke comprise HIS FLESH and HIS BLOOD – spiritually speaking:  “… the flesh profiteth nothing: the WORDS that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

        Almost all evangelical Christians are familiar with the words of this old song: “On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand,” yet few seem to realize what is implied by STANDING UPON THE ROCK.  In the parable that Christ gave us of the two house builders, He said, concerning the man who built upon the rock, that he “digged deep.”  Here we have a depiction of WORKS.  We also have an example of faith that is manifest by obedience.  He HEARD the “sayings” of the Lord, and he DID THEM.  An element of time is here involved.  No person can “dig deep” in a matter of days or hours: not if they are to locate the rock foundation.

        It is clearly evident that the mass of professing Christians have found it so much easier not to dig at all – they do not trouble to find the rock nor the foundation; they just presumptuously build “upon the earth.”  We are told that such people are like the man “… that heareth and doeth not” (Luke 6:49).

        We now have a very plain picture of the two classes of professing Christians: (1) The doers, and (2) The “doers not.”  There are no promises of eternal life for second-class Christians: however, these “unfruitful branches” are pictured many places in the Scriptures.  These are the dry sticks which are “cut off” (Rom. 11:22) from the living vine.  Because they did not “ABIDE” in the words of Christ they became “withered” (John 15:6), and not knowing the leading of the Lord any longer, they were soon “gathered” with the other worldlings and bound together into bundles prepared for the burning (Matt. 13:30).

        The “doers not” are pictured in the parables as “tares,” “goats,” “foolish virgins,” “trees without fruit, twice dead.”  These are the folks who have entered through the “wide gate” and walk the “broad way.”  This is the class of professing Christians who “will not endure sound doctrine,” for “they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2-Tim. 4:3,4).  These are the religious parasites whom the fortune-hunting BIG evangelist makes his victims.  An adulterer knows no satisfaction, he is always on the prowl for a new conquest; so also are multitudes of backslidden professing Christians ever seeking a new thrill – a bigger and better evangelist or an outstanding, dynamic speaker of one brand or another.

        Let us not get the idea that all “doers not” are completely void of good works. Consider these words: “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done MANY WONDERFUL WORKS?”  This certainly sounds productive; these folks are certainly busy.  Surely all must agree that there is no end of religious activity all about us: the political, mercantile and religious worlds are dominated by so-called Christian influence.  But note the answer of the Master to these “wonder-workers”: “Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22,23).

        The “doer-not,” Cain, believed in God.  He served the Lord in his own way.  This fellow had a godly brother to show him the right way, but he preferred his own ideas concerning his service to God.  His rejection of the true service to God was his first sin.  His presumption and self-will prompted him to attempt to serve God UNLAWFULLY.  The exercising of his own will in these self-centered drives was his second sin.  In making his sacrifice he intermingled a little truth with his error: “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord” (Gen. 4:3).  God expects fruit – but not of the ground.  Cain substituted his own idea of a sacrifice for the sacrifice that God required.

        Cain’s brother, Abel, offered the LEGAL sacrifice: a lamb.  There should be little doubt in anyone’s mind that both of these men knew what the LAW OF SACRIFICE required.  Abel did not just happen to guess the right things to do; here is proof that he was a “hearer” of the “word,” and also a “doer”: BY FAITH Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain”  (Heb. 11:4).  Now “FAITH cometh by hearing, and hearing by the WORD of God” (Rom. 10:17).  The basis of faith is not presumption: faith must first HEAR GOD’S WORD and then act upon it.  Faith is never an operation of blind impulse, nor of ignorance.

        Both of these brothers are examples unto us.  This account of their attitudes and their conduct very graphically portrays the behaviour of the doers and the “doers not,” and shows what kind of effects their actions will produce.  The LAW is the revelation of the WILL of the Father; these are inseparable.  His LAW is not the expression of an arbitrary decision of His will.  All of God’s laws are based upon moral principles.  They are righteous and just.  They are specifically designed to further the cause of right.  They contain remedies for the conversion of the souls of men; and all of them are compatible with the nature, environment and circumstances of man.  Not one of the Father’s laws is a curse: “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12).

        Every Cainite has an aversion to the law and commandments.  He will try in every possible fashion to serve God in his own way, but he stubbornly rebels at the divine ORDERS.  So deceiving is “the mystery of iniquity” that few rebels are actually aware that they have set themselves against the will of God.  Many a professing Christian would have a stroke if he were suddenly to see the true condition of his heart before God.  So deceitful is the natural heart of man that he deliberately deceives himself concerning his true status.  The Psalmist said, “Who can understand his errors?”  Then he prayed to the Lord: “cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Psa. 19:12).

        There is only one safe way for a soul to make the passage through this life: Follow Jesus Christ by KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS.  Jesus declared, “… he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).  A follower of Christ is a “doer” of the things the Master has ordered.  These very things are the MEANS of deliverance from the darkness of the soul of man.

        The “Sermon on the Mount” is no ordinary discourse.  It is not a mere statement of policy, a recommendation for all “do-good-ers.”  It is not advice, nor wishful thinking for a better world, upon the part of the Creator.  This message is the DIVINE MANIFESTO, the HOLY CONSTITUTION of God’s government: it contains a summary of the just laws of the kingdom of heaven.  If any man ignorantly, or knowingly, disregards these words from the mount, he will suffer eternal loss.  On the other hand, those who hear and obey these HEAVEN-SENT ORDERS will discover that they are on the road that leads to life everlasting.  Life and death lie within the scope of this message: Life to the doer and death to those who refuse to yield to its demands.

SIMPLICITY OF DESIGN

          The most profound message that ever flowed from the lips of man has been given to us in the words of our Saviour, spoken upon the mount.  Down through the ages, men of learning have again and again made attempts to plumb the depths of its wisdom.  Countless numbers of books and articles have been written concerning this Sermon on the Mount in human attempt to unlock its secrets and release greater light on the subject for those who love the Lord.  Yet, with all of its profundity, the prime purpose of this discourse is not lost upon even the least child of faith; for there is a surface simplicity in its design which makes it so plain that the “wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”

        Only the great King of the infinite could have created a composition which would stand alone as a crowning JEWEL, head and shoulders above all other literary works that have endured the tests of time.  This masterpiece is so designed that the lights from its many gleaming facets reach out alike to young and old, rich and poor, the strong and the weak, the wise and the foolish.  The dust of the ages has never been able to obscure or outdate it, for its appeal to men of every era has remained always the same.  It wields a positive and phenomenal influence upon the minds and hearts of all who sincerely explore its substance; and no man ever seems quite the same again after he has thoughtfully considered its content.

          Even some of the youngest among the babes in Christ have been known to grow in moral stature as they have followed and obeyed the commands of this Holy Writ.

        For example, there was a young Chinese living in the Back Country of that great pagan nation, who accepted these Plain teachings of Jesus, and believed, in his naivete, that they meant exactly what they said, and that they were intended to be obeyed.  This man became the founder and leader of a movement of true apostolic Christianity in China; and until the time that the Russian communists took over there, the results of this Brother’s efforts could have served as a working model of Christ’s words in action to Christian people anywhere in the world.

        Again, on the island of Okinawa, one of the native school teachers was given a copy of the Bible, by a passing missionary.  He, also, read and believed and accepted at face value those same inspiring words from the Lord’s sermon.  Before long this teacher was able to convert the mayor of his village; and then together, the two of them worked until they had converted all of their fellow townsmen.  The Sermon on the Mount became their constitution, and these divine utterances from the Master were, to these simple-hearted people, THE WAY OF LIFE.

        And not only were the lives of these unsophisticated Okinawans completely transformed – even the homes in their village underwent a drastic change, and the entire community seemed to blossom forth into the very embodiment of peace and order.  The inner condition of hope and love which sprang up among these trusting island folk soon began to express itself in many material ways: Living conditions were made more cheerful -–sanitation replaced filth and squalor – gardens and flowers appeared where once there had been nothing but the disorder of trash piles and unsightly places.  Through the humble childlike faith of these honest hearts, the Sermon on the Mount actually became a means of changing the face of the earth in one small corner of this faraway island.

        Illiteracy and ignorance certainly are not the prime requisites for understanding the import of these mighty words of Christ.  The door to the comprehension of the divine is open to the minds of the most brilliant of men; but it is likewise accessible to the most lowly dullard – provided he is not a hypocrite.  Honesty of heart is THE ESSENTIAL IF ONE IS TO KNOW God.  However, the value of a good mind and a superior mentality is in no way to be depreciated.  The human mind is simply an implement: a tool which is subject to the will of the individual.  A good job is rarely accomplished with poor tools.  A brilliant mind, when submitted to the Spirit of God, becomes an instrument of power for the glory of the Lord.

        “The poor in spirit,” of whom Christ said, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” are often “unlearned and ignorant” like the Galilee fishermen: but lack of knowledge was not the thing that qualified those fishermen to be disciples of Christ.  They were HONEST OF HEART.  “An honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15) responds favorably to the call of God through His Word.  Not all ignorant men have honest hearts; not all highly intelligent men have hard hearts.  Doctor Luke, who wrote the third Gospel and the book of Acts, was certainly not an “ignorant and unlearned” man; but his learning had not corrupted his heart: he was humble, meek, dependent, teachable, “POOR IN SPIRIT.”

        The possession of things, or a well-developed mentality will many times corrupt the spirit (heart) of man to such a degree that he feels himself independent: self-sustaining, self-sufficient.  Abraham had great wealth, and so also did Job, but these men’s hearts were not corrupted by their possessions.  Solomon was gifted with great wisdom and wealth, but these things proved to be too much for his fickle spirit “…because his heart was turned from the Lord God” (I Kings 11:9).  Solomon, by his carnal indulgence, lost his fear (reverence) of God; and without that holy fear his sense of spiritual values deteriorated and his heart became calloused against heaven’s sweet influence.  In his later years he no longer heard the “still small voice.” 

        “The FEAR of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7), this king once wrote.  Again, his pen stated: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:6).  This man once knew the Lord, but the glitter and glamour of financial power, personal influence, and a brilliant mind swept his soul along the path of destruction.  Few people can bear the responsibility of great prosperity; we say of such people that prosperity has gone to their heads.  But actually it has possessed their hearts (a fossilized condition of the spirit of man).

        The “meek” – those who “fear the Lord” – are broken of spirit.  To such people the Sermon on the Mount is a beacon on life’s troubled sea.  To folk of this type, these three chapters from Matthew’s Gospel become a guide to a new way of life.  Again and again they will set their compass bearings by an exact reading of this chart which leads to the life everlasting.  Many times in the midst of turbulent storms within and without, the only indications they may have that they are on the right course will be the words from The Book.

        In relation to their faith, God-fearing persons are stubborn and unreasonable.  They are stubborn in that they refuse to be moved by “every wind of doctrine,” and they are unreasonable in that they refuse to be dislodged from complete faith in the plain commands of their Lord by a lot of philosophical reasonings.  Stubbornness and unreasonableness can be abominable traits in a person, but when aligned against the forces of evil these things become sterling qualities of character.  Our heavenly Father is pleased when these are in evidence; and His Word is a means to develop earth men into a heavenly nobility.

        Let us not conclude that every saint faces the DIVINE ORDERS from the mount with great pleasure – NOT SO!  Every man instinctively shields his eyes from the blaze of light that strikes him in so many places all at once.  Our flesh cringes as we are exposed to each new truth. A happy wedding with the Word of the Lord is not found in this discourse.  We approach it as we have approached the cross: first, we are stunned as we gaze; our minds simply cannot seem to comprehend its scope, its import, its central message.  Like lambs before the shearers, we are dumb.  Then gradually, piece by piece, here a little and there a little, then line upon line, and finally, precept upon precept, the truth begins to penetrate our souls.

        Thank God for the great patience of His Holy Spirit.  If He were to let the full impact of this message fall upon us all at once we might be swept away as by a flood.  Could this be “THE FLOOD” that will sweep away the many “houses” which are now built upon “sand”?  The “light” is becoming more brilliant, and “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”  Many times our Saviour has admonished us to PREPARE our hearts for the evil day – His watch-word is “BE READY.”

        Before all of the COMMANDS from the mount are fully accepted and assimilated, the saint has died many deaths.  Complete obedience to these words of the Saviour applies “the cross” by which we are to “die daily.”Only those who truly fear the Lord will ever yield to the demands of this Sermon on the Mount.

        You may often have wondered how the Lord of heaven protects His interests from the plundering hands of impostors.  Many wicked men would like to make merchandise of the heavenly gifts and supernatural powers: men like Simon, the sorcerer of Samaria, who wanted to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit, and “offered them money” for it (Acts 8:18).  How does the Lord protect Himself from such characters as this? God, Himself, has stated that “pearls” are not to be “cast before swine.”  In what way, then, are the “swine” kept from the “pearls”?  Now, the answer to this question is very plain: THE “SWINE” REFUSE TO PAY THE COST OF THE PEARLS.

        Every promise of personal blessing recorded in the Scripture is CONDITIONAL.  There is a PRICE TAG on each and every good gift of God.  The Powers of Heaven will accept a “DOWN PAYMENT” on the purchase of many items of heavenly nature, but in the process of time men are required to PAY THE COST.  He who promises payment, and after using the goods decides not to pay, soon loses what he has received, for heaven repossesses that which is held fraudulently: “…from him shall be taken away even that he hath” (Matt. 13:12).  Some people may contest these statements.  It may be thought that the two words “gift” and “cost” are contradictory: seemingly, yes; but when one considers that the “COST” of a God-given “GIFT” is not worthy to compare with the true value of it, then he might conclude that possibly there is a REASON for a cost price on His gifts.

        It is the cost of the gifts that protects the resources of heaven from being plundered by the “swine.” The “tree” of Matthew 13:32 is a parabolic picture of the professing church of Jesus Christ: it sprang up from the pure “mustard” seed (the kingdom of heaven message) and eventually became a tree whose branches were befouled by the “birds of the air.”  A roost of “ …every unclean and hateful bird” (Rev. 18:2).  The “tree” grew in spite of the birds, but all of its branches were foul with corruption.  However, a “tree” stands out in all kinds of weather; both light and darkness fall upon it; it must provide its own shelter from the heat and rain; it has no defense against the “birds” which the Lord has permitted to sit in its branches.  But a “tree” is an earthly affair.  Things which are OF and IN the heavenly kingdom have much better protection: “A flaming sword” protects “the tree of life”  (Gen. 3:24).

        “The SWORD of the Spirit … is the WORD of God” (Eph. 6:17).  The “sword” of the Lord is all the protection needed to keep triflers out of the kingdom.  The impostors have no comfort under the light of the COMMANDMENTS.  Such are “the raging waves of the sea” who run about in BIG campaigns, “foaming out their own shame” (Jude 13).  Only the hypocrites try to dodge divine ORDERS.  They love the name of Christ, but they refuse to OBEY HIS COMMANDS!

        As a matter of fact, it is impossible for a hypocrite, an impostor, or a rebel to meet the COST of securing all the promises presented to humanity in the Sermon on the Mount.

        When a rebel comes up against a command and yields to it, he is materially changed; something happens within his nature.  The apostle to the Gentiles said, “The things I once hated, I now love.”  What caused this change?  The “things” had not changed; he had changed.  His attitude was different.  How had his attitude changed?  Let the apostle answer: “I was NOT DISOBEDIENT unto the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19).  Rebels become changed through obedience to DIVINE LAW.  In other words, divine law is a means of converting rebels: “The law of the Lord is perfect, CONVERTING THE SOUL.”  (Psa. 19:7).

One of the greatest tragedies of this latter day is man’s disrespect for law and commandments.  This might apply to all of the laws that govern humanity.  The cigarette smoker knows that smoking hurts him, but he defies the law of his nature, he smokes anyway.  An exposé of the evils of the use of tobacco falls upon deaf ears; men do that which they want to do, regardless of the consequences.  Let us not forget that sin is “the TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW,” and this can be physical, oral, or spiritual law.

        Indifference to moral obligation or neglect of the observance of divine commandments is sin: “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3); “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.  For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven” (Heb. 12:25). The entire human race is under OBLIGATION TO TAKE HOLD OF THE MEANS TO SAVE THEMSELVES.

        God will save no man who refuses to apply himself to the means of salvation.  Consider these verses of Scripture: Jesus Christ by the grace of God did “…taste death for EVERY MAN(Heb. 2:9); He was called “The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of THE WORLD (John 1:29); “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of THE WHOLE WORLD.”  Here, it is said that Jesus DIED FOR ALL(2-Cor. 5:14); and we find an even stronger statement: “God was in Christ, reconciling THE WORLD unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2-Cor. 5:19).  If these verses stood alone in the matter of salvation, then men might conclude that the whole world is ALREADY SAVED.

        Before the Saviour died He said: “It is finished.”  If He meant that He had met every condition required for the salvation of man, then all men are NOW SAVED.  Modern Calvinism teaches that all men are saved if they will only acknowledge it.  In other words – believe this story and you are saved.  According to these teachers this one act of “ACCEPTING JESUS CHRIST AS A PERSONAL SAVIOUR” is the one and only requirement of salvation.  But are these conclusions supported by “EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDETH OUT OF THE MOUTH OF THE LORD”?  Man is saved not by SOME of the Lord’s Words, but by ALL that He has said.

        We offer the following Scriptures as proof that the believer is morally responsible, and is under obligation to apply himself to the labor of saving his own soul: “Wash you, make you clean” (Isa. 1:16); “Make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die?”  (Ezek. 18:31); “Wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16); “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness” (2-Cor. 7:1); “Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit” (1-Peter 1:22); “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (1-John 3:3); “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified” (2-Tim. 2:21); “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8); “Wherefore, my beloved … WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING” (Phil. 2:12).

        The grace of God has provided a MEANS for our salvation.  The obligation now rests upon men to take hold of this MEANS and apply it to the saving of their own souls.  The instrument which the Master has used for seedtime and harvest is His WORD.  The two-edged sword perfects those who desire to be sons of God; it also separates the goats from among the sheep.  The marvel of it all is that through God’s simple methods every man is given the power of choice: thus, each individual chooses his own destiny.

HOMILETICAL  CONTENT

        Homiletics is the art of preaching; and the most potent, life-changing material for any homily can be found in this Sermon on the Mount.  The sum and substance of God’s message to man is contained in these words from the mountain near Capernaum; it is a concentrate of that which the Creator wishes to impart to His creatures.  Rarely has man seen a piece of literature worthy to compare with this counsel and admonishment given by our Saviour.  No other artisan or master craftsman of letters has ever produced a work with such a combination of the simple and the profound.

        The great Designer of the universe has left the imprint of His divine hands upon this work in more ways than one.  The symmetry of its outline is exquisitely wrought; yet the impact of its message is terrific.  It shocks, shakes and tumbles all opposition in the dust.  “The blessed state” is tantalizingly displayed before the eyes of all men like a banquet table loaded with good things.  But as one gazes at all of these bounties, he realizes that there are obstructions, or barriers, between him and the table.  It is as though he were looking at this glorious offering through a window, or through a glass door.  Instinctively, he knows that real effort is required on his part if he is to partake of these good things.  He must strive to open the door and force his way in.  It is no easy task to surmount the obstacles which obstruct his passage and impede his progress.  As he struggles to overcome the difficulties and hindrances, he suddenly feels afraid.  He begins to tremble with fear.  His heart palpitates, and his quaking, feeble knees refuse to hold him upright.  But this is only the beginning of his torment – now he hears the drums of doom.  His eyes have seen – he has gazed where none can ever look, then walk away and remain the same.  There is no turning back.  He can almost hear the mighty rumble of those floods that carry away the crushed houses which were built upon sand.  He shudders at the sepulchral words, “I never knew you.”  He realizes that never again can he complacently travel that broad way that leadeth to destruction.

        The first and the eighth Beatitudes are statements of blessed conditions that now exist for the “poor in spirit,” and for those who are “persecuted for righteousness” sake.”  The first condition is an “end” to be acquired; the second condition is a result of acquiring the “end.”  No one is born “poor in spirit.”  Neither is this condition of spirit given unto men, as it is a thing acquired.  It is very much like an education in worldly wisdom: no one is born educated.  As a matter of fact, the “poor-in-spirit” are folk who have acquired the most difficult education that a man can possess.  The finest art in the universe is divine knowledge.

        “Whom shall He teach knowledge?  And whom shall He make to understand doctrine?  them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” (Isa. 29:9).  Divine knowledge is not acquired by unweaned infants; neither is an understanding of true doctrine received in ministerial colleges or schools of higher learning.

        There are multitudes of people who THINK they KNOW God, but the evidence of their lives discredits their claims.  A great many people are satisfied with only a “born-again” experience.  They “taste of the powers of the world to come” and then settle down to what is commonly called a Christian life; but such people do not really know God.  Hear the words of the prophet: “Then shall we KNOW, IF we follow on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3).  The condition that we must meet in order to know the Lord is that we FOLLOW ON.

        Neither Christ nor the apostles ever told any man that all he needed to do to be saved was to be inoculated with a belief in Christ as his Saviour.  The Scriptures teach over and over again that man is under obligation to “work out his own salvation with FEAR and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).  To FOLLOW Christ requires more than just a belief in the Bible and its teachings.  Countless numbers of people allege that they believe the Bible, and they further claim that Christ is their Saviour – BUT “This people draweth nigh unto Me with their MOUTH, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me” (Matt. 15:8).  And note what Brother Paul has said concerning these who travel the “broad way”: “They profess that they know God; but in WORKS they deny Him” (Titus 1:16). 

        The parable recorded in Matthew, chapter twenty-five, concerning the “sheep” and the “goats,” plainly teaches that the true followers of Christ (the “sheep”) are WORKERS.  But the “goats” are religious parasites; they are a disgrace and a reproach to the cause of Christ.  It would have been better for these characters if they had never been born.  These are the smug, self-satisfied bench warmers, whose very presence brings dearth of spirit to any assembly of saints.  Jude calls such people: “--- spots in your feasts of charity” (Verse 12).

        Jesus Christ made this statement concerning His “sheep”: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  To have life is to be PRODUCTIVE; to have abundant life is to be very fruitful.  The “Husbandman” has a perfect right to expect FRUIT from that which He has planted, and those who refuse to bear fruit will be cut off just as John the Baptist stated:  “---the ax is laid unto the root of the trees” (Matt. 3:10).

        Not all men are called to be preachers; not all are Bible teachers; not all are fitted for the official duties of the church; but ALL ARE CALLED TO WORK FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD.  Most of the ministers of this latter day have failed to preach the truth concerning Christian OBLIGATION.  A great many clergymen have built up a sort of dues-paying religious clientele that supports ecclesiastical, philosophical, and psychiatric lore.  This is a tragic condition.  Those who know God hang their heads and weep over such abominations. 

        The modern world has perfected a most satisfying religion: it is used as an addition to the old way of life, a sort of hypnotic to rely on when something goes wrong; a mental opiate for those who can’t stand the pace; a comforting potion in times of distress.  It also supplies a certain amount of social satisfaction which in no way interferes with other activities; and the cost, financially speaking, is minimal: only ten percent (very modest in comparison to taxes).  This new religion is called Christianity.  But friends, do not be fooled by the label – “BY THEIR FRUITS ye shall know them.”

Every follower of Christ is a saint, or a potential saint.  He lives like a child of God, and he acts like one: “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.  He that committeth sin is of the devil” (I John 3:7-8).

        Righteousness is not an attribute of saints – IT IS A PRODUCT of the saints’ works: “--- the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Rev. 19:8).

        Those who learn to KNOW the Lord are the folk who practice godliness daily.  They work at godly living from the hour they awaken until the very hour that they lie down to sleep.  Such folk are saintly parents, marvelous friends, lovely neighbors, staunch citizens, and an honor to God and man.  They cheerfully bear the cross of Christ, and without complaining, they “die daily” to all carnal ways.

        It is people such as these who demonstrate that in every trial of faith the saint comes through victoriously; and their lives show that in all of the trials of living they have only gained in stature and in character, and their state of righteousness has become deeper and more secure.  This sort of thing is not accomplished by “dead works” such as are portrayed by the “many wonderful works” of Matthew 7:22.

        True works of righteousness are those that are done in obedience to the voice of the Son.  He who follows Christ is led to places where he can express himself to the glory of God; doors of opportunity are constantly being opened to the saints, for the angel of the Lord is with them, and he makes favorable occasions for the activities of the children of God.  Nothing just happens to the person whose “steps --- are ordered by the Lord.”

        Again we are reminded of this proverb: “In ALL thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:6).  It is always well to remember that the “chief Shepherd” is a leader, and a leader is one who goes places.  The heavenly Leader has a place in view, and His task now is “---bringing many sons unto glory”(Heb. 2:10). The object of earth’s work is the perfection of God’s sons, and this is the day when the Master, through the means of His Word, will finish His work among men.

        Today, now, we are entering into the time of “the consummation” (Dan. 9:27): the summing up and completing of the object of creation.  Radical changes in civilization are manifest on every hand and spiritual eyesight is not necessary in order to see that momentous things are forming in our earth.  Cataclysmic events are scheduled for this present hour; the Lord of creation has determined that a mighty demonstration of theocratic authority be manifest all over the earth: the “meek” shall demonstrate the force of their inheritance.

        If you, reader, are a satisfied, bench-warming, professing Christian, we warn you to BEWARE.  God has determined to shake both heaven and earth, and all who refuse to surrender fully to His will shall be cast into the burning fires of tribulation.  On the other hand, to the saint, this is the most glorious day in the history of time.  “Look up, for your redemption draweth nigh.”  Saints, submit to the curative substance of the words of your Lord and Master.  He, Jesus Christ, as THE voice of the Father, will make you PERFECT here and now, at this time – IF YOU WILL OBEY HIS REMEDY.

        The human race is sick.  We have all been tainted with carnality.  We fall far short of the state of perfection.  All manner of fears have bound us to the traditions and superstitions of men.  The “tomorrow” is a shadowy specter peering out of the gloomy vault of another day.  Without thinking, we plan and prepare for “the morrow” of which we have been COMMANDED, “take --- no thought” (Matt. 6:34).

        All the benefits derived from obedience to this specific command are personal.  This particular divine ORDER is what we might call a CURATIVE type of command.  It is essentially medicinal.  The whole purpose of commanding the saints to observe these words is that they might receive deliverance from the bondage of things, environment, and circumstances.  He who is bound in servitude to the things of this present world is subject to the sins related to such things.  Jesus Christ did not come to save us IN our sins; He saves us “FROM our sins” (Matt. 1:21).

        God never designed that His people should be slaves subject to the “elements” (the vagaries of the “cosmos”).  The enemy of the human race has gradually enslaved men to the point where they feel that all of their hopes rest in their ability to support themselves.  But Jesus Christ is the Liberator of all who will trust Him, OBEDIENCE to His commands is the means of freeing the slaves of the world system.  Thus, he who refuses to obey is rejecting the very means of His deliverance.

The divine medicine is very bitter; but the malady also is extremely serious.  Men are truly in a desperate state; all will be lost, eternally, unless they EAT HIS FLESH AND DRINK HIS BLOOD.  We again remind the reader of the import of this verse of Scripture: “The law of the Lord is perfect, CONVERTING the soul”  (Psa. 19:7.  Men’s souls must be “converted.”  The means of converting the soul is THE LAW OF THE LORD.

Obedience to the COMMANDMENTS OF CHRIST will revolutionize any saint’s life.  Consider this stumbling block from Luke 12:33, “Sell that ye have, and give alms.”  Here is an order to liquidate our possessions!  Here, also, we are told what to do with them after they are liquidated: GIVE!

Friends, these are not suggestions, or recommendations – they are heaven-sent ORDERS.  The Son of God sealed these commands with His own blood.  Personal poverty is a prime requisite for all who desire to be saints.  Apparently there will be no rich saints: “Woe unto you that are rich!  for ye have received your consolation” (Luke 6:24).  Jesus said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!  For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24,25).

It is not impossible for a saint who is “poor in spirit” to be a good custodian of wealth.  But the riches that such a man possesses will not be held as his own.  He will act as a controller, or banker, of the Lord’s funds; and he will wisely invest the Lord’s money, as the Spirit leads.  Such people are very rare, indeed: they are jewels from which the marks of earth have been ground away.  Their love is for Christ alone, and they look forward to the day when He shall gather them as “jewels for His crown.”

Most people must be reduced to poverty of spirit the hard way.  Belief in the doctrines of Christ separates them from many old acquaintances; even friends depart from them as they walk on to know the Lord.  If it is deemed necessary their health may fail, their finances come to a tragic end, and then, broken in spirit, they will turn to Him who remains very close to all who walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  The REDUCTION PROCESS is a most bitter medicine.  Always remember that it was the “bitter herbs” that were used to apply the blood of the Passover lamb to the door posts of the houses of the believers in Egypt.  The BLOOD of the true Lamb of God saved us, but that blood is only applied with THE BITTER HERBS OF HIS WORD.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11).  Overcoming is done by TWO THINGS: “the blood” and “the word of their (the believer’s ) testimony.”  Overcoming is not accomplished by the believer’s testimony alone; but neither is it accomplished without it.  The believer’s testimony is not just an oral statement; it is the evidence manifest in his LIFE.

Again we remind the reader that sainthood is the apex of moral perfection; it is the peak of saintly accomplishment.  But let no man think that this state of being is arrived at in an easy and simple manner.  The humiliation of the soul, the liquidation of the ego, the dissolution of all earthly hopes, plans and ambitions, and finally, the utter abandonment of spirit to the will of God is a terrific schedule.  Little wonder that the prophet Isaiah said: “them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” shall be taught knowledge”(Isa. 28:9).

One can now understand how few out of the multitudes of professing Christians will endure the processing of spirit that is brought about by compliance with His words  “A consumption is determined upon the face of the whole earth” (Isa. 28:22), “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left ---“ and “he that remaineth” and those that “are escaped” “---shall be called holy” (Isa. 4:2,3).  These words should leave little doubt that God’s holy people will be few in number.  The bare, unvarnished Word of God is too strong for the mad masses who gaily caper down the broad road that leads to destruction.

The parable which the Saviour gave us concerning “A certain man” who invited many to come and partake of his supper is illustrative of the invitation which God has given to all men to become saints.  It seems that the multitudes, according to the parable, made one excuse after another for not accepting the invitation.  Then it was that the Master sent his servants out into the hedges and highways, and the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind were compelled to come to the feast.  Now take note of this statement made by the Master: “For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of My supper” (Luke 14:24).

The “poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind” referred to here in Luke are not the physically incapacitated.  These are the misfits, the eccentrics, the irrational, balmy characters whom the world has despised and rejected.  In the last hour of earth’s history, when the “foolish virgins” are busy trying to buy “oil” for their lamps, the TRUE SERVANTS OF GOD will be endued with the power of God to compel the “odd” folks, the psychopaths and the emotionally crippled folks to come into the supper chamber.

We can now make a roster of the “who’s who” that will attend this feast of a heavenly nature: (1) The cripples.  (2) The servants of Christ.  And friends, that is the total; for “NONE OF THOSE MEN WHICH WERE BIDDEN SHALL TASTE OF MY SUPPER”; so states the Word of the Lord.

Those who are cripples: maimed, halt, blind – the neurotics and the misfits – have a good chance of becoming guests at the last supper.  All others had better immediately qualify as SERVANTS of Christ.

PSYCHOLOGICAL STRUCTURE

        This article deals with reason, which is an attribute of every normal person.  God gave us a brain, the use of which should be the final authority in determining our actions.  Blind impulse and emotional drives should never be the guides of rational men.  We do not discount the value of these subconscious forces, but they have their place, UNDER PROPER CONTROL.

        The Creator contends that the mass of humanity has cast reason to the winds, and madness has taken possession of the greater part of the human race: “Babylon --- made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad” (Jer. 51:7).  National insanity is heaven’s accusation, and this state is not confined to one lone country: God has declared that this condition exists among “the multitude of nations” (Isa. 29:7).  Here the prophet says, “Stay yourselves (take hold of a pillar, steady the bleary eyes), and wonder”; then the Lord says to the prophet, “Cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.  For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath He covered” (Isa. 29:9,10).

Isaiah states that the prophets, the rulers and the seers of this latter day are as drunken as the rest of humanity: “They also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of THE WAY; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine --- they err in vision, they stumble in judgment” (Isa. 28:7).  The “wine” and “strong drink” of the liquor industry are relative only in the sense of the EFFECT that intoxicants have upon those who indulge in drunkenness.

        The human ego becomes intoxicated with its own importance when it dares to withstand and defy the will of God.  “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim” refers to those who profess to be the people of God.  The “crown” signifies authority, a sovereign, a ruler.  Here, pride is the ruler.  Drunken hearts have exalted themselves against the will of their Maker.  This is a most horrible condition.

        Stubbornness is something all saints discover in their natures at one time or another.  Those who love the Lord will purge themselves of this by obedience to His Word.  The rebels will let stubbornness take control, and it is then that they “CLOSE THEIR EYES.”  The most painless way for them to refuse to obey the Lord is to close their eyes, just make-believe that they do not see, excuse themselves that they do not fully understand.  When this practice is continued, “deep sleep” takes over, and then fantastic dreams take the place of the bread of life.

        Latter-day “fables” are the tranquilizing trivia that keep the nations of professing Christians in the land of dreams.  Religious “moonshine” is a product of someone who has had a round of spiritualistic delirium tremens.  Doctrines of demons are nebulous concoctions that form in the depraved minds of the captives of spirit stupefaction.

        The drunken priests, seers, prophets and rulers now set over professing Christendom teach abstract doctrines that have no power to change the lives of their constituency.  How different are the words of Christ.  Compliance with His words will REVOLUTIONIZE any man’s life.

        Reason tells us that the Creator has man’s personal interests at heart; it also informs us that His will concerning us is based upon the soundest judgment.  We all know that He could not be God unless His knowledge and judgment were infinite.  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is YOUR REASONABLE  SERVICE” (Rom. 12:1).  Subjection to Him and His desires is certainly a most reasonable thing.  Surely it is the height of folly to oppose His express will, and to deliberately disregard His command is an act of madness.

        We live in a time of intellectual enlightenment.  Knowledge has increased and the greater part of humanity now can avail themselves of an understanding of His will.  As the light of truth shines brighter, men become more obligated to obey His commands.  Comparatively few believers will fully accept the will of the Father: it is so much easier simply to close one’s eyes and slip on into the dream world of religious stupefaction.  The present madness of the nations is proof that the mass of humanity has chosen the “wide gate” and the “broad way” that “leadeth to destruction.”

Saints forget it not – we live in a time of great peril.  A drunken man is completely irresponsible, and constitutes a menace to himself as well as to everyone else; how much more dangerous it is to live in a nation of moral inebriates!  Spiritual mania is infectious: highly contagious.  It is so easy to let down just a little here and a little there.  Our sense of tolerance often invites us to temper the “hard sayings” of the Word.  When we see the trembling knees of those who are weak, we just naturally want to water down those things which they find hard to swallow.  Human mercy (which, in actuality, is often simply ignorance) many times tries to outdo the mercy of God.  It is “the goodness of God that leadeth thee to repentance”; and never forget that repentance is a bitter experience.

        In dealing with madness, misdirected human kindness can do much harm, and absolutely no good.  In years gone by it was the custom, to incarcerate demented people in semi-prisons.  This prevented them from injuring other people; but in most cases it was no cure for the mentally ill persons themselves.  Today a new method is often employed in treating those who are insane; it is known as shock therapy.  Drugs or electrical treatments are administered to the patient and he is violently jolted out of his dream world into the world of stark reality.  After this is done a number of times, the patient frequently begins to orient himself to the reality of his surroundings rather than continue to suffer the pain and discomfort of the violent shocks.  As he gets his feet on the ground of reality, he begins to bend his efforts toward a return to normal life.  Now all of the above is every bit as applicable to the symbolic dipsomania spoken of by the prophets, as it is to literal insanity.

        The Sermon on the Mount almost always is a psychological shock treatment to all who have become infected with religious dementia.  This superbly effective instrument of the divine will is especially designed, with deliberate intent, to search out the deepest recesses of the human heart and expose its true condition.  No corps of human critics could so expose the secrets of the soul as these words of the Master’s do.  The practice of full compliance to the letter and to the spirit of this message will cleanse the soul of any person and cause him to be perfect before God.

        One of the strongest quirks of human nature is the ability of man’s soul to escape reality by subconsciously resorting to madness.  Refusing to face the unpleasant conditions of life, he often deliberately casts reason to the winds and sinks his powers of comprehension into the mists of fantastic dreams.  Such is madness; be it of the physical or the spiritual side of man’s nature, the result is the same: existence without reason.

        Now we will quote from one of the notes written by a man who is no friend of the Lord’s: the author of Scofield Reference Bible.  On page one thousand, this man makes the following statement: “The Sermon on the Mount is pure law.”  We agree with Dr. Scofield that these words of our Lord’s are PURE LAW; but we do not agree with his conclusions concerning this “pure law.”  On the same page he further states, “The Sermon on the Mount in its primary application gives neither the privilege nor the duty of the church.  These are to be found in the epistles.”  Thus, with a stroke of the pen, this man of letters has swept away the core, the essence, and the substance of the Father’s message to the church of Christ.

        Even from the opposition, however, we can learn a certain amount of truth.  Dr. Scofield has confirmed the fact that this entire discourse is PURE LAW.  Matthew not only recorded it as “pure law,” but the internal evidence of the textual material itself proves it to be MAGNIFIED LAW: “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20).  Then he shows that the Old Testament law judged only the DEED; but this is now superseded by the New Testament law which judges even the THOUGHT: “Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:27,28).  The magnified law of Christ is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 42:21: “The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He shall MAGNIFY THE LAW, and make it honourable.”

We affirm that this sermon of Christ’s is law magnified.  We further state that Jesus made a difference between “the law and the prophets” and the law of His own commandments: “If ye keep My COMMANDMENTS, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My FATHER’S  COMMANDMENTS, and abide in His love” (John 15:10).  Let us not conclude from these words that the Saviour’s commandments have superceded or disannulled those of the Father.  The Lord has settled this question for us by saying, “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law”  (“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31)).  “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill (keep, preserve).  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass (and this has not yet happened), one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17, 18).

The LAW magnified is not the law made void, as many people try to tell us.  Instead of the work of Christ having swept away the Ten Commandments, it has amplified their importance and increased the legal demands which they make obligatory upon the believer.  His work has made His Father’s commands “honourable” (Isa. 42:21).

Under the old covenant, obedience to the LETTER of the law was all that the commandments required.  As a matter of fact, that is all any legislation can require.  But under the new covenant man’s heart and emotions are enlisted to urge and to spur him on to keep not only the LETTER of the law, but also the SPIRIT of it.

Ministers of the Gospel, listen most carefully to these words: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments (What commandments? Old or New Testament? Is He not speaking of the Old and not the New Testament law?  Then He must here be referring to the commandments of His Father), and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them -- shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19).  Every minister’s relationship to the kingdom rests upon his choice of doing and teaching the commandments.  A commandment keeping and teaching minister is great in the eyes of heaven – “choose you this day whom ye will serve.”

The many apostate ministers of these last days have founded their doctrinal structures on the novel idea that Jesus Christ abolished the demands of every law, and instituted an era of lawlessness, which they term “GRACE.”  Brother Peter spoke of these characters in this fashion: “---them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government” (2-Pet. 2:10).  There can be no government without law.  Laws are nothing more than rules of proper conduct supported by sanctions (penalties) that act as restraints upon rebels.

Heaven will not be a place without law.  God’s throne is founded upon the most stringent and absolute laws in the universe.  The death of God’s Son on the cross is evidence of the absolute quality of divine law.  It is also proof that the Father honors His law above all else.  It is hard to understand how nations of professing Christians could possibly accept the present-day doctrines of grace (so-called) that DESPISE GOVERNMENT.  How gullible can religious people become?

It is true that Moses gave the law to Israel; but it is also true that Jesus Christ gave commandments to the church.  Now, where is the difference between law and commandments?  These terms are used interchangeably in both the Old and the New Testaments.  Under the law of Moses “--- every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord?” (Heb. 2:2,3).

The commandments of Christ which were “first --- spoken by the Lord” are actually to be the means of our salvation.  We are going to be saved by COMMANDMENT KEEPING.

Let us not forget that the honor of the King is involved where His law is concerned.  He who despises the King’s law is also despising the King.  Notice the King’s attitude with regard to His Word: “Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name” (Psa. 138:2).

We offer a number of Scriptures as proof that professing Christians who rebel against, or even simply neglect, His commandments, can have no hope of salvation:  “He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings” (John 14:24).  “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is  a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4).

It is high time for every Christian to recognize Jesus Christ as a COMMANDER: “Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people, a LEADER and COMMANDER to the people” (Isa.55:4).  If any man doubts this authority of Christ’s let him read of the five-star general who is to lead the armies of heaven in the last conflict that will subdue all nations: “I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True --- His name is called The Word of God --- the armies which were in heaven followed Him” (Rev. 19:11-14).

        Let us consider the testimony of Moses: “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.  And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:22,23).

        And now let us take cognizance of the testimony of the actual oral voice of the Father as He spoke of His Son: “ --- behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; HEAR YE HIM (Matt. 17:5).

        Last, but not lease, we have the final commission which Christ gave to His church: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations --- to observe ALL THINGS whatsoever I have COMMANDED you” (Matt. 28:19,20).

        Friends, it is imperative that we obey the commands of the Lord Jesus.  The basis for our friendship with Him rests upon our obedience to His words, “Ye are My friends, If ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14).  The evidence of the believer’s love is described in these words: “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me” (John 14:21).  However, in the first epistle of John we are told that keeping the commandments is the love of God!  Is not this an astounding definition of our love for God?  Yet is it not completely consistent with all of the other Scriptures which are related to this subject?  A commandment keeper is a lover of God; and all lovers of God are commandment keepers.  Here we have a definite mark, or label, which identifies the true remnant church: “ --- the remnant --- which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17).  These folk are identified as holy people – saints: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12).

        It would be advisable for all who are interested in the future state to make a thorough investigation to ascertain exactly what requirements must be met in order to insure admittance through the gates into the glorious city of God.  The “foolish virgins” will not get in; the wonder-workers of Matthew 7:22 will be rejected; the man who buried his talent certainly has no hope; and those who have refused to come to His feast have forfeited all of their rights of access to the City.  But there are some people who have secured their passes – their identifying certificates – which will assure their entry, and here are their qualifications: “Blessed are they that DO HIS COMMANDMENTS, that they may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14).

Christian friends, “the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously” (Isa. 24:16), in robbing the church of Christ of its respect for the law of its Saviour.  With the loss of respect, the church lost the very means of her salvation.  The Sermon on the Mount is LAW magnified; and it is the instrument that the Father is using in purging His people from all of their evil ways.  No “goat” or rebel can simulate obedience to this message.  If anyone were to try such a thing, his efforts would begin to purge him and he would revolt.  A true “sheep” is often stubborn and contrary, but as he complies with the requirements made plain in this sermon of sermons, his nature is brought into conformity with the will of his Maker.

In view of the above Scriptures, it is reasonable to arrive at the conclusion that all Christians are obligated to obey the words of Christ.

We now would like to present a picture of the chain reaction which occurs in the nature of the believer when he comes into collision with the Master’s commands.  The account of the rich young ruler is an excellent illustration of an emotional explosion which resulted in collision with the will of God.  There should be little doubt in anyone’s mind that this man had been carefully reared under the influence of those who feared the Lord.  According to world standards he would have been considered a model of good conduct.  He stated that he had kept the commandments from his youth up – at least, he was under the impression that he had fully observed God’s law.  This man was no hypocrite; he was perfectly honest and straightforward in seeking help from the Master. “What lack I yet?” was the sincere question which he asked the Lord.  “Then Jesus beholding him loved him (the wretched condition of this man of such sterling worth touched the heart of Jesus), and said unto him, One thing thou lackest.”  Think of the tragedy of it – only ONE THING stood between this fine man’s soul and the kingdom of God!  However, that one thing was THE thing that had to be removed.  Here was a man completely enslaved by subconscious devotion to his wealth.  From his youth up he had kept the commandments of the old covenant; and not until he met Christ had he ever admitted his lack.  Now, for the first time in his life the secrets of his heart were about to be exposed to his full realization and consciousness by the voicing of THE MASTER’S COMMAND: “Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor --- come, take up the cross, and follow Me” (Mark 10:17-21).

Idolatry has many forms; the devotion of man’s heart to things is one of the most common sins.  There is only one remedy for such a condition; it is quick and positive: get rid of things.  This man’s bitterness and grief, as he contemplated the loss of his possessions, was greater than his desire for the thing he knew that he lacked.  “He was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions” (verse 22).  The utterances of Christ brought this man to a place of decision.  He was shown his idols by the Word of the Lord, and he was forced to choose between the will of God and his own will.  Only a short time before, this poor man had come running, hopefully, to the Saviour.  Now his head was bent, and in great sorrow of heart he was slowly walking away.  After watching him sadly for a moment, Jesus turned to His disciples and said, “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!”

Idolatry is a gross sin.  It is an affront to the Creator, for it is an open denial that He IS.  The possession of wealth gives man a feeling of security that is absolutely false.  Apart from God no man is secure.  Security in its truest sense is only in Him.

The rich young ruler’s sin was not in his possession of wealth.  Abraham and Job were both very wealthy men; but they did not TRUST in their riches.  Pride and pleasure in the possession of things had twisted  his soul; the only remedy in his case was to effect a complete disposal of all that he had.

The Sermon on the Mount searches out many warped heart conditions.  Have you ever weighed the import of this one command which is repeated three times in the space of ten verses of Scripture: “TAKE NO THOUGHT FOR THE MORROW” (Matt. 6:25,31,34)?  If you are a normal person you will immediately put up your defenses.  It is perfectly natural for any man faced with such an ORDER to ask to be excused.  Let us face the truth: these commandments of Christ clash with the way of life in our present civilization.  What is wrong?  Is our way of life incompatible with God’s Word?  Or are the commands of Christ outdated, and not applicable to this present generation?

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away,” Jesus declared (Matt. 24:35).  The idea that His Word might be outdated is certainly knocked out of the picture by this statement.  We must therefore be forced to the conclusion that if we are actually to put His words into practice it will be necessary for us to make some painfully drastic changes in our way of living.  It can be done – but at a considerable cost.  Our families will probably protest; our relatives will undoubtedly be angry; our friends will fear for our sanity; and many of our neighbors will actually become strangers.

“Oh!  But surely,” some will say, “the Lord would not make such extreme demands of those who desire to be saints.”  Listen to this: “Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.  And Jesus answered, and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time” (Mark 10:28-30).  There are those who must “suffer the loss of all things.”

Complete and strict OBEDIENCE to the commandments of Christ will break the spirit of any man.  My fellow brethren, this is one of the bitterest of cups, but it must be drunk if we are to “win Christ”.  The object of these divine mandates is not to bring the church into a state of poverty.  These orders were not invented to divest us of things.  Undoubtedly, a prayerful perusal of all of the pertinent commands spoken from the mount during the particular session which we are now considering, must evoke a broken spirit and a state of meekness in each and every soul who is willing to obey and to comply with the necessary requirements.

        Jesus Christ, Himself, “learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”  This sermon was designed to bring affliction to man’s carnal nature.  Those who desire to reap its benefits will suffer humiliation, deflation of the ego, and buffeting on every side.  Certain of these experiences will stir the sufferer to indignation; others will induce extreme frustration – but all of them have been devised with this end in view: the bringing about of the complete submission of the spirit of man to the will of God.  This is THE METHOD of “converting the soul.”

        Consider the “trial” of the faith of the patriarch Joseph: his own brethren sold him into slavery.  Later, when he refused to yield to carnality he was cast into prison where long hours of privation and solitude could burn the dross from his soul.  “Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord TRIED him” (Psa. 105:17-19).  This brother suffered physically as well as mentally as the dross was being removed.  Here again we see moral character developed under duress; the same old process that worked four thousand years ago is equally effective today: the heart of the saint obeys the Word of God, and then suffers loss because of its obedience.  Here in the fire of painful, conflicting emotions, it is purified.  Here is an example of one of our Lord’s frustration-type commandments: “If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also” (Matt. 5:40).

        To those who are in the throes of distress, this commandment probably appears to discriminate against the believer, for no matter how unjust are the claims of the person who has decided to sue him, he is instructed to double whatever amount has been stipulated!  “Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain” (verse 41).  The rights of the saint are not allowed to enter into the matter at all.  The man who compels him to go a mile may, or may not, have a just claim.  Nevertheless, the saint is to go, not only the specified mile, he must go along another mile, as well!

        Bear in mind that the object of this command is not to dispense justice and equality to those who make unjust demands upon saints; the sole purpose of this cleverly designed order is to PROVOKE and SHAKE the rubbish from the hearts of saints.

        It is most humiliating to be ordered to surrender when we know that our cause is just, and whenever law is partial to those whose cause is unjust, our natural reaction is resentment.  Then it is that the saint is tempted to struggle with the question of obeying or disobeying.  Jesus faced a test of His will in the garden of Gethsemane, and after sweating drops of blood, He said, “Not My will, but Thine, be done.”

Surely no man can conclude from the above that our heavenly Father favors the claims of the ungodly above those of His saints.  Remember we are making a study of soul medicine.  We have warned you that the mountain-top message contained many bitter pills.  Some of its doses are so drastic that they seem almost impossible to swallow.  However, there is no denying the fact that these homely remedies prescribed by the “Great Physician,” when taken properly, bring forth a complete cure.

        The “extra mile” and the “extra cloke” certainly deflate the ego; we are humbled, belittled, broken, but our spirits have been made pliable to the will of our Father.  This is a moral accomplishment, an addition to spiritual stature.

        It is a long road that leads man to the place of complete surrender of his will to the Lord.  Progress in the development of saintly character is hindered by many obstacles and odd quirks of human nature.  But the Sermon on the Mount, when explicitly followed, guarantees a complete and permanent cure from every ill. Let no man think that he can settle his case by taking only the sugar-coated pills – brother, take each dose as you are able, but never stop until you have taken all of it.

        “Today if ye will HEAR His voice” (Heb. 3:7,15;  4:7).  Think of it; God pleads with man to HEAR.  Three times within the space of twenty verses of Holy Writ, our Father calls to His people to listen to Him.  “Why will ye die?” is a question that must perplex all heaven.  Nearsighted, foolish man scratching out a way of life in the dust has neither eyes nor ears for the voice that says, “Shake thyself from the dust --- loose thyself from the bands of thy neck” (Isa. 52:2).  O saints of God, hear the voice of our Saviour: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).  Wonderful words of promise.

        “Learn of Me” is the charge of the Master.  And what do we learn? – MEEKNESS.  Look this word “meekness” over carefully; it does not mean what is commonly supposed.  A mild, spiritless individual is not necessarily a meek person;  neither are coolheaded, sedate folks necessarily meek.  To have one’s passions under control is an excellent accomplishment, but it can be acquired by persons who have anything but a meek nature.

        The meekness we learn of Christ is that state of surrender to the will of God: true humility.  By constant practice of complete obedience to the Father’s commands, the spirit of the believer is humbled, and all of his natural drives are reduced to ashes; he has come to the end of self. It is here that our heavenly Father has made a definite APPOINTMENT: “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them BEAUTY for ashes” (Isa. 61:3).  Here at the end of the SELF road, the saint suddenly finds complete release from the bondage of environment, circumstances, conditions and things.  Here it is that the prisoners burst from the prison house – IN TEARS: “them that mourn in Zion.”

        Self-preservation is considered a rule of human nature.  Man instinctively seeks to “save his life” by all manner of methods of conservation.  All the various insurance policies, investments, and bank accounts are results of following the natural instinct of self-preservation.  This sort of thing comprises the “way that seemeth right unto a man.”  Of this man the Lord has said, he that “shall seek to save his life shall lose it.”  If humanity is to be saved, this basic drive of his nature must be CRUCIFIED – only the meek “shall inherit the earth.”

        Read between the lines of this verse of Scripture and see how completely the “two-edged sword” acts as a scalpel to remove the malignant growth of self-defense: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth --- but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt.6:19,20).  Here is the end of the retirement fund, the end of payments on the mortgage; after all, are not these investments in the earthly future?  Stocks, bonds and bank accounts are canceled out.  Hoarding of coin or other valuables must end.  Surely this spells death to many an earthly dream.

        Many people would not mind laying up treasure in heaven provided they were allowed to lay up a formidable sum also on earth.  But the Lord has dealt this idea a death blow: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye CANNOT serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24).  He who learns the meekness of Christ will hate the old self-life and fall in love with his new Master.  He who holds to the old way of life in an attempt to save himself is despising the order of the Commander.  It is absolutely impossible to walk the broad way and the narrow way at the same time.  SELF cannot be put to the cross and yet live.  The state of life and the state of death can never be companions.

        This PILL (and we say it reverently) from Matthew 6:24, is a specific heart medicine.  In this capsule form its one purpose is to cure believers of the dreadful heart malady known as the acquisition of things: “For where your treasure is, there will you heart be also” (Matt. 6:21).  The Lord does not covet man’s treasures; He wants his heart.  Any man whose heart is not completely dedicated to God is not safe with treasures.  Possessions give him a false sense of security, and with this sense of security he makes himself independent of God.

        It would not be wise to expose our readers to the shocking effects of all of the medicinal purposes of the sermon of Christ in this one article.  So, we now pass on to an examination of the various steps in the development of the chain reaction set off by this whole epistle.  It is easy to see that he who fully obeys these words of our Lord will suffer a terrific shock; everything about him must pass through a period of change.  For a time, he will flounder like a ship at sea without a rudder.  It is quite a hair-raising thing to pass through an experience of being divested of all earthly possessions.  One feels so helpless as he appears to drift with an irresistible tide.

        It is a fact, that before God can become our “hope and stay” we must be set adrift from self.  When we have been reduced to helplessness, when all that represents material succor and support has been swept away, then it is that our hearts turn to the invisible God.  It is in desperation and agony that most men find God.  In Him, their feeble hearts begin to trust.  Here, out of misery of spirit, the Father-son relationship buds, blossoms and blooms.

Human greatness and mightiness are spiritual liabilities, and few people care to be divested of these things: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called --- God hath chosen the weak things of the world---That no flesh should glory in His presence” (I Cor. 1:26-29).  Very few people of wealth and power ever hear the voice that calls all men to repentance.  The rich young ruler of Mark ten is one of the few exceptions, and if the reader will bear with the author he will present certain facts that indicate that this man might have been saved.  After Jesus had said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” the disciples questioned among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”  He said, “With MEN it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).

We now have the plain statement of Jesus that God CAN save a rich man.  The next question which comes to mind is, DID the Lord save him?  Knowing the mercy of our Lord, we look for a key in these words of Jesus: “Then Jesus beholding him LOVED him” (Mark 10:21).  Christ loved the man because the man was lovely. He had many good points in his favor: he had kept the commandments from his youth.  Our labor in the Lord is not in vain, and we are told that we shall reap in due season if we faint not.  Heaven was in debt to this rich man, and the Master loved him.  In this case the powers of heaven were justified in putting forth special and unusual effort to salvage this soul.  However, if the man was to be saved there was no alternative regarding his wealth – it had to go, and the most effective method would have been to sweep it away swiftly, to let the man see his golden gods disintegrate into useless rubble.  And following this, if need be, his health could have been made to fail, and if he still did not surrender, then his friends might have forsaken him.  He had to be completely broken.  It may be that in his sorrow he might have surrendered and been saved.  Yes, it is possible that the rich young ruler might have made it into the kingdom – BUT NOT WITH HIS RICHES.

“Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” (Heb. 12:6).  Few people will follow the Lord without a severe beating.  It would be so much easier for believers to just surrender to the demands of His Word and take the lesser soul afflictions.  However, many that are called are made to walk through the corridor of horrors, “the valley of the shadow of death,” that they might be freed of earthly encumbrances.  Others suffer on beds of affliction where they are given time to think and pray, and there find a sweetness of spirit impossible to secure under normal circumstances.  Flat on their backs, many a saint has arrived at the place of complete trust in God.

Remember that “trust” and our hearts are related.  Whatever we trust, we soon learn to love.  We finally have arrived at the END, the reason for the Sermon on the Mount.  We have studied the steps of the creation of divine love.  May we now better understand these Scriptures from Brother John’s pen: “But whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is THE LOVE OF GOD perfected” (I-John 2:5).

It may be that some people fall in love with God at first sight, but the lives of infidelity of many who claim such a experience with the Lord certainly deny genuine devotion.  Infatuation is often misconstrued for love, but like many shallow emotions this one does not wear well.  When the “heat” is turned on, this imitation love withers away.  True love is eternal, and it is made pure and more fervent by heat and storm.  The Scriptures do not picture man falling in love with God; however, they do state that as man learns to know God his love for Him increases.  Love for God is a construction in the nature of the soul.  Piece by piece it is added to, as other things are removed.

The love for God in the heart of man may be likened to a wheel and its relationship to the axle upon which the wheel turns: His commandments are represented by the axle.  On this polished shaft, the hub of obedience revolves, the spokes of meekness reach out and support the rim of faith, and the combination of all of these features constitutes the wheel of love.

Without the commandments there would be no knowledge of God, for He is revealed to the heart BY HIS WORD, and His Word is His law.  Let us get this straight: His WILL, His WORD and His LAW are one.  We can put it this way: The law (commandments) of God is the expression of His will through His Word.  Man learns to KNOW THE LORD as he puts into practice the Lord’s commandments: “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (I-John 2:3).  Only the commandment keeper can rightfully claim to know the Lord; he is actually the only one that can dogmatically state the he KNOWS THAT HE KNOWS.

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).