The Sermon on the Mount
by E.H. Jack Sequeira
Here Christ points out what is the main characteristic of a true disciple. The Christian, because he is controlled by the love of God, is a peacemaker. Look at Matthew 5:9:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
In England I dont know whether you have it here we have an expression. When we see kids behaving like one of their parents, we say, They are a chip off the old block. And Christians should behave like God, because we are His children. We have become children through Christ.
It is in this area that God wants us, as His people, to shine. He wants us to be peacemakers and the reason for that is because God Himself is a God of love and a God of peace. So the first thing I want to do is to point you to some texts, and I am going to use the Bible quite a bit in this lesson so you better oil your fingers. I am going to show you several texts. First of all, I want to show you that God is a God of peace. That is one of the titles that Paul gives primary to God. Then I want to show you a group of texts that shows that Christ is Gods means of our peace. And of course, we will then go to the application to our own lives.
Lets start with the God of peace. The reason I am doing this is because peacemaking is the evidence that agape is controlling you. In contrast, you have jealousy, strife, and envy. This is evidence that self is controlling you. Turn to Romans 15:33. You will notice that Paul quite often will end his epistles with a salutation and one of the statements he normally makes is about the God of peace.
The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Please notice Paul calls God the God of peace. Then, in Chapter 16:20:
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
If you are having problems, dont worry. The God of peace will curse or bruise the Serpent, Satan shortly. Do you know that God is going to give us victory over Satan?
Turn now to 2 Corinthians 13:11. Notice how Paul puts it here:
Finally, brothers, good-bye. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Live in love and peace because the God of love and peace is our God.
Now a few pages to Philippians 4:9. And this is a good text:
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Isnt that a wonderful promise? The God of peace will be with you.
In this world you will have strife, you will have problems. But the God of peace will be with you. I remember when we were being deported from Uganda. We were not allowed to take anything. We could not take our bank accounts (they were frozen), our property, our goods were not allowed to be taken. The plane was absolutely full. Every seat was taken and everyone of those people were deported; I was not the only one. Eighty thousand people were deported, so our plane was full. People were in tears because some of them had lost all of their life savings and they were going now as refugees. Some of them were quite wealthy but now they were refugees. The lady who was sitting behind us turned to Jean and me and said, How come you are not crying? Havent you lost anything? And I said to her, No, we havent lost anything. How come? she asked. I said, Because everthing we own is in the hands of God. We are in His control. And she responded, I wish I had your peace. The peace of God was with us.
Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Please notice what Paul is saying in this one:
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Please notice that the God of peace wants to bring peace in the church. Let me give you one more on this. Hebrews 13:20-21:
May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Please notice that Paul refers to God as the God of peace. The word peace or peacemaker means one who makes reconciliation between two people or between two groups that are in opposition to each other. And man in his fallen condition is in rebellion with God and he is at war with each other. We are living in a world that is torn by strife, with disagreements. Vertically and horizontally, we have no peace. This is one of the results of sin. Sin has not only deprived mankind of heaven, but it has robbed man of agape and peace. And it is the work of the gospel to restore that. Peace with God and peace with our fellowman is one of the fruits of the gospel.
Now I want to turn to Christ, Who is Gods means of bringing peace. Satan has given the world the impression that God is an angry Judge and is waiting to punish you. God did not send Christ to condemn us but to restore peace between earth and also to restore peace between each other. Ill give you a couple of texts, first of all, from the Old Testament because they are important. In Isaiah, the gospel book of the Old Testament, we will look at two chapters. First, Isaiah 9:6. This is one of the titles that was to be given to the Messiah when He came. Its a very famous Christmas text.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God [the creator of heaven and earth], Everlasting Father [He will never disown you], Prince of Peace [How did He bring this peace?].
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
He restored our peace through His death on the cross, because, at the cross, we were reconciled. With this in mind, let us turn to the New Testament. First of all, I want to turn to the words of Jesus Christ Himself. John 14:27, a very familiar text:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Christians should have peace because Christ has left us with peace. Turn to Chapter 16:33. Jesus realizes that He has to go back to His Father; He realizes that His disciples will be discouraged; and so He says (John 16:33):
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Notice the In-Christ Motif: in Christ we have peace. We dont have peace in ourselves, but in Christ. Romans 5:1:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ....
The world will mistreat you, the world may abuse you, the world may do many hard things to you, but, please remember, it is only temporary. You have peace and one day you will experience it.
Now turn to Acts 10:36. This is Peters sermon to the Gentiles. He explains how the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit, and then he says:
You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
He is extending the peace that Christ brought to the Jews to the gentiles He is the Lord of all, the Jews and Gentiles between mankind and God.
Turn to Ephesians 2:14 and Paul tells us of this peace that Christ brought:
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace....
Between Jew and Gentile there should be no distinction anymore. He is our peace.
That is why, when we have divisions in the church, it is a contradiction of the gospel. There should be no divisions in the church. Turn now to Philippians 4:7. Notice how Paul puts it:
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The worldly people cant understand it. Why do you have peace? You are having a hard time, you lost your job, and you are still having peace. That is because we have understood the gospel. One more text: Colossians 1:19-20. I want you to know how much it cost God and Christ to give us that peace.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
It was through the cross of Christ that the barrier between a Holy God and sinful man was removed. So far, we have looked at God as a God of peace and Christ as a means of peace. But now, what the beatitude is saying, Blessed are the peacemakers God wants us to be His ambassadors of peace. Christians are to be ambassadors of peace in two directions: vertically and horizontally. Vertically, because men who do not know the gospel need to be reconciled to God. Please notice what I said. On the cross, God reconciled Himself to who? To man. And, through faith, man is reconciled to God. It is a two-way thing because it is a relationship.
First, I want to start with Luke 2:14. How do we Christians become ambassadors of peace vertically? Between man and God? We do it only through the gospel message. The first time Christ was born, please notice what the angels said. These are the angels that appeared to the shepherds and they bring them good news of great joy that will be for all the people (verse 10), but now look at verse 14. This is what the angels sang:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.
Notice it is Gods good will towards man.
God sent His son to bring us peace. When Adam sinned and God came to visit Adam and Eve, Adam and Eve thought that God was coming to punish them. But why did God come? To bring them peace, to bring them reconciliation. The gospel is a message of peace. Because of that, we Christians who have accepted and understood the gospel are given the commission. And here it is in 2 Corinthians 5:18:
All this is from God [He is the source of everything], who reconciled [past tense] us to himself through Christ [God has already reconciled us to Himself through Christ] and gave us the ministry of reconciliation....
I have to repeat this story. I had a meeting at the college in Nairobi, where parking is a big headache. The rest of country has offices and no cars, but there, everybody had cars (lots of foreigners) and I couldnt find a parking place. I looked, and I looked, and I looked. Finally I found a place that said, No Parking, but a car was parked there with a special number plate. Regular plates were black and white but this one was red and white; that meant it was an embassy car. And embassy people in the Third World have what we call diplomatic immunity. That means they can park in a No Parking place and the policeman cannot give them a ticket. So I said to myself, I am an ambassador, too.
So I parked my car there and I went to my meeting and when I came back an hour later there was a policeman sitting on my hood waiting for me. Its quite a hassle in Africa, so I waited a bit hoping he would leave. But he wouldnt. He had all the time in the world; I didnt, so I thought I had better face the music. I came up to the car and when he saw me with the keys he said, Is this your car? I said, Yes, and he said, You have broken the law. I said, So has this car, and I pointed to the embassy car. And he said, No, this car has diplomatic immunity. I asked why and he said it was because it was an embassy car. And I said, But I am an ambassador, too. He asked why I didnt have a different number plate, an embassy number plate. I said, The problem is that my embassy is not of this world.
He saw the Bible in my hand and said, I see you are a minister. Then he paused and said, I am a Roman Catholic. I will make a deal with you. I have done something terrible and I am ashamed to go and tell my priest, but I need confession. Otherwise I will not get to heaven. Since you are a minister, if you will ask God to forgive me, in exchange, I will forgive you. I told him I was afraid that I didnt have that prerogative. He asked how come the Catholic priest could do it and I told him that the priest didnt have that prerogative either. But I told him that I would give him some good news. I sat down and I introduced him to the gospel. I gave him a Bible study; I spent about an hour with him.
Soon he began to smile and said, You mean there is hope for me? When I told him, Yes! He told me, This is good news. He said, As long as I am in charge of this area, you can park your car here anytime. I had give him the peace of God by preaching to him the gospel. Not by asking God to forgive him. I dont have that prerogative. God has already forgiven the human race in Christ. I wanted him to understand that. So we are ambassadors. I gave him two texts: one was Romans 5:10:
For if, when we were Gods enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
But I also gave him 2 Corinthians 5:20:
We are therefore Christs ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christs behalf: Be reconciled to God.
Our job is to say, Please, dont run away from God. He has already reconciled Himself to you through the death of His Son. Wont you please say, Thank you, God and be reconciled to Him? He is waiting with open arms. The policeman was amazed that God was so wonderful.
But God doesnt want us only to be ambassadors of peace between man and God; He also wants us to be ambassadors between man and man. He wants us to be ambassadors both in the church and in the world. I want first to say something that is very important. You cannot be an ambassador of peace by your human effort. Peacemaking is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The first text I want to give you is Galatians 5:22-23.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Peace is one fruit of the Spirit. Another text that supports this is 1 Corinthians 14:33a. The Corinthian Church was divided into all kinds of factions. There was jealousy, there was strife; in Chapter 3, Paul mentions that. But in Chapter 14 I want to remind you that the context is spiritual gifts.
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
There must be no divisions in the church. If God is in control, there wont be. Because of this, Paul counsels the Christians that this peace is the greatest evidence that we are children of God, that we are His disciples.
I want to give you several texts in regarding this admonition. 2 Corinthians 13:11. See the admonition Paul gives after declaring to them that one of the fruits of spiritual gifts is peace.
Finally, brothers, good-bye. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
And then in Ephesians 4:3-6:
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. [Then he explains why.] There is one body and one Spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
In other words, there is only one God. He is controlling all of us and God is not divided, so we should not be divided; we should have peace. Turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. Here Paul is admonishing the Thessalonians the same thing.
Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.
In other words, behave like Christians; dont behave like worldly people. The same thing Paul said to the Corinthians in Chapter 3. One more text, this to young Timothy. 2 Timothy 2:22. Here is Paul giving this young man some advice:
Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Now, I want to turn to a very important area, that is: the cost of being a peacemaker. It is not cheap; it is costly. I am afraid it is very costly to be a peacemaker. In other words, to be a peacemaker involves the cross. In Luke 9:23, Jesus says,
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Now turn to 1 Peter 2:20-21. When you become a peacemaker, you will have to suffer. Your motives will be sometimes misunderstood or misjudged. Your acts will not be appreciated and you will feel like saying, Whats the use? Please remember when you read what Peter says about it. 1 Peter 2:20-21:
But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
If you have done something wrong and you are punished for it, there is no glory in that; you deserve what you are getting. But if you are trying to make peace and suffer for it, and take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
When you try to make peace, sometimes people will misunderstand you. They think that you are causing trouble and they will turn against you, but please remember, that is one reason it is so costly. What does it mean, what does it involve? I have already mentioned that it involves dying to self. To be a peacemaker also involves bridling your tongue and that is a hard thing, very painful. Turn to James 1:19:
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,...
All of these three things require the grace of God. You cannot do it. And in verse 20:
...for mans anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
In other words, mans anger is not revealing Gods righteousness. It is contradicting Gods righteousness. Then turn to James 3:2:
We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
May I make it clear that it takes the grace of God to do this. Without the grace of God, your mouth will open automatically, I can guarantee you that. And that is why it is only the fruit of the Spirit. One of the things the Spirit gives us is the ability to hold our tongues.
The next thing I want to say is that, to be a peacemaker, you must be able to swallow your pride; it is part of self-denial. I want to give you a couple of texts. Matthew 5:43-44 (well cover this in more detail). Verse 43 [the first sentence below] is what the Pharisees were teaching, which contradicts what Christ is teaching [the second sentence].
You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. [You dont need to swallow your pride for that.] But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you....
Now that is against our human grace. Here is someone who has mistreated you and no longer is talking to you and later that person loses his job and you hear that he is having a hard struggle to keep body and soul together and you go to the supermarket and buy him a whole box of food and you take it to that person. That is a peacemaker.
But Ill tell you what will happen when you do that. Turn to Romans 12:18-20. What does it mean, what effect will that peacemaking have? You swallow your pride, you say, He doesnt deserve this; he deserves to starve to death (thats how you will feel). But the grace of God says, No, he is a sinner like you and a victim of the devil and God loved me when I was a sinner, so I should love him. What happens when you do that? Romans 12:18-20:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for Gods wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.
They will feel very dirty and ask why they mistreated that person. And it will bring peace back.
In concluding, I want to look at the second half of the beatitude in Matthew 5:9. The word blessed means happy.
Happy are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Now, I used the expression chip off the old block; I would like to change that to chip off the new block. That is what we should be. The word called in the Greek means owned, to be owned by somebody. Remember, we have been bought. We belong to who? Christ. And what Christ is saying here is that those who are peacemakers are revealing that they are Gods property.
It is my prayer that we remind ourselves daily who we belong to. We have been bought with a price; we are not our own. Let us, therefore, glorify God in our words, in our actions, and in our behavior. We must be peacemakers. Jesus said in John 13:35:
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Please remember that peace is the outworking of love, when you have peace one with another. This is what God wants for us.
I was preaching at a campmeeting for the Pentecostal Church and it was quite an experience. This was over in Ethiopia. The young people had heard me and they put in my name to be a speaker at their campmeeting. The leaders of the Church were horrified that the young people had asked a Seventh-day Adventist preacher to be their speaker at campmeeting (this was for the youth department).
There was a little bit of discussion and then the leaders said, Why dont we let God solve the outcome? So they agreed to have three days of fasting and prayer. On the third day, while they were praying together, the leader (we would call them our Conference President) said, The Lord has impressed me that the answer should be yes. So they called me and I gave a series on the cross and then some of these young people, mainly university students, began coming to our Church. And some of the leaders began coming, and then the Pastor of Church where we had the campmeeting (with a membership of over 800) began coming. In fact, the whole church began keeping the Sabbath and called themselves Seventh-day Pentecostals.
The Sabbath School Secretary of the Union saw this Pastor coming out of the church and he said to me, Why dont you try to bring these people into our church? And I said, Why dont you ask him? (He had already told me why they wouldnt join our church.)
So the Pentecostal Pastor said to me, Now you are putting me on the spot. I said, No, I want [the Adventist Pastor] to hear from your own lips why you are not joining our church. He said, When you Adventists learn to love each other, (like the Pentecostals love each other) well join your church. Those were his words.
You know our church was divided into factions tribal and nationals. And he saw all that. That is why he said, When you Adventists learn to love each other, we will join your church. And poor Sabbath School Secretary had no answer to give him.
When the world sees that we have love for each other, then they will know we are His disciples. As long as I am pointing my finger at somebody else, I have not learned to deny self. The issue is not who you are. The issue is that it takes two to cause trouble. And if one person is always loving, the other one will stop; he will be silenced. But even if he isnt, we must be willing to suffer like Christ suffered. He left us an example. That is what Peter says, that we must suffer as Christ suffered.
It is my prayer that we will truly behave like children of God. We will be peacemakers. It will be costly, as I mentioned, and we will deal with that in more detail. Next study we are going to deal with verses 10, 11, and 12 three verses. The outcome of being a disciple of Christ is persecution and that is what we will cover next time. I will tell you it is worth it because we are representing Christ when we are willing to suffer for Christs sake.
Did the disciples, before the cross, have peace with each other or were they fighting like cats and dogs? Why? Because they were trapped into Judaism which is legalistic. But after the cross, when self was crucified and the Holy Spirit was poured out two months, thats all. At the Lords Supper, they were all fighting among themselves but two months later they were all of one heart, one mind, and they witnessed with power. Now, if God can do it in two months with the disciples, He can do it with us today.
From a human point of view, I know what you are saying to yourselves, Impossible! With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. It is the truth that will do it. Not promotional programs. It is not telling people, Let us love each other.
It is like telling the members, Please, let us fly together to the moon. To have peace with one another, the way God wants us to have peace, is the fruit of the Spirit. We cannot produce it by trying. Jesus said, You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Free to love each other, free to help each other, free to make peace, free from anxiety, free from everything. That is why my concern is to preach the gospel and leave the gospel to do its work.
God says in His Word, My Word will not return unto me void. It may take time for the seed to germinate and Jesus was with His disciples for three years. Were they any better at the end of three years? It didnt look like it. Once He had to rebuke them. Even you dont understand what I am preaching. We say that Jesus was the greatest speaker and He was, but it takes the Holy Spirit to illuminate what He teaches. And they didnt understand Him.
But afterward, when they were broken down and their egocentric desires were crushed and they realized on the cross that it was not just someone dying a physical death. Because they were Jews they looked at the cross as the curse of God against sin. But now, they saw Him dying the second death for them. They were transformed and then the Holy Spirit was poured out on them and the Word was not void. They turned the world upside down with their message.
We have to do the same thing. It takes time sometimes because we are not able to bear all things. Please remember that God is able to bring His Church into oneness. Our main work is to make ourselves available to Him. We must constantly say, Not I, but Christ. And then God will take over. This is what happened at Pentecost. The disciples no longer depended on themselves. They were of one heart, one mind. And if you read Acts 4:33 onwards, you will notice that all the multitude of believers were of one heart, one mind, they shared everything they had together. Those who were rich sold their land and possessions and they gave all to the church: not 10%, all of it. Acts 4:33-35:
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.