On January 12, 2023, maybe you’re familiar with the singer Miley Cyrus released her song titled “Flowers.” And this song may have been the anthem of those people who were single during Valentine’s Day or those who recently broke up during Valentine’s or before Valentine’s Day but some call it the perfect self-love anthem of 2023 as the singer shares all things she can do better by herself.
“I can buy myself flowers,
I write my name in the sand, Talk to myself for hours,
Say things you don’t understand. I can take myself dancing
And I can hold my hand my own hand
Yeah I can love me better, love me better than you can.”
A life of Independence is what the world strives for. And although we enjoy a certain degree of independence like we can eat by our own self, we can take it back by our own self. We can do things on our own but such a life of independence does not fit the one who follows Christ. One cannot possess God’s kingdom by his own strength or merits, nor live the christian life on his own for such is a work of grace from beginning to end. If one could edit the chorus, it would be like this:
“We can’t buy our own salvation,
Can’t write our own name in The Book of Life, Can’t desire to talk to God for hours,
Share things only He can understand, Can’t make ourselves holy and happy. We need to be upheld by His right hand.
No we can’t love ourselves better only through God we can.”
Turn with me to our passage this morning Matthew chapter 5 verses one two three but I’ll be reading Matthew chapter 5 verse 1 to
12. The sermon is focused on verses one two three. Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. The Beatitudes And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see
God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. May the Lord blessing to the reading of His word.
And throughout the biblical narrative, we are presented with two major problems – our guilt because of our sin and our slavery to the enemy the devil. And to redeem us from this two major problem is the purpose or the very purpose of Christ’s life, suffering, death and resurrection. In chapter 3, we read of the King’s anointing that is of Christ’s baptism. The heavens, we read it was opened up and John saw the Spirit descended upon Christ in a sense anointing Him. Then a voice from heavens affirmed him as the beloved Son an echo to Isaac. One can say that this is a symbolic baptism wherein Christ was baptized into the sin of His people, those people whom He will redeem. Foreshadowing that what he’ll do on the cross an echo to Isaac, a redemption by substitution. And in chapter 4, we read about the King’s conquest. Christ represents His people as the new Adam and like the first Adam he didn’t give in to the temptations of the devil.
And how did He overcome it? He overcame it by standing on God’s word. And here, Christ binds the strong man and after that, ransacks his posession. In a way, those are the people who are enslaved by the devil. That is why we have read that Christ began to proclaim: Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! The following verses that was last week, verses 18 to 25, demonstrates His authority both in calling His disciples, and in healing those who are sick and demon-possessed as He proclaims the gospel of the Kingdom throughout Galilee. And here in chapters 5 throughout seven, we are given the king’s manifesto. If you’re not familiar, a manifesto is a public declaration, declaration of principles, of policies or intentions. And in this case it is of Christ the King. It, it informs those who are in the kingdom and outside the kingdom of what the kingdom stands for and what it stands against. So He begins this sermon with what are commonly known as the Beatitudes. And the word in Greek is µακάριος (makarios) which meant happy or blessed. However this happiness does not depend on outward temporal things, but in the inward, eternal joy that only God brings. And viewed in the light of the Kingdom, sabi ni Christ, the kingdom of God is at hand. The sinners lack the righteousness to enter it. And to be truly blessed meant to enjoy God’s favour and fellowship instead of its wrath and His judgment. This Beatitudes can be seen in two ways – one can read it in a sequential sense as if it is the, it is like a Lego block building on top of another as uh building a tower consisting of the whole personality of a christian. Only the poor in spirit can mourn only those who are poor in spirit, can be mourning and it can be truly meek, and so on and so forth. Another is to split it into two: some say that there are eight and some say there are nine Beatitudes. We, we could split it into four, the first four and the last four I consider the last one an expounding of the last beatitude. And to read it is to put the first four in parallel, and in parallel of the latter four, meaning uh only those who are put in spirit can be merciful. So those four Beatitudes are expect, are expressed in paradoxes focusing on the internal qualities of the heart. Which builds on the foundation for the next four which deals with how God’s people relates to the world. So those who are poor in spirit can only be merciful and so on and so forth. And in our passage today, we read that Christ goes up a mountain to set Himself apart from the great crowd that was following Him so that He can teach His disciples. And since Christ is addressing His disciples here, you must take note that the objective here is not evangelism but discipleship. Christ is telling us to, Christ is not telling us not to do this and then you will become a christian. Rather, we are told that because you are christians, because you are are my followers, you are to live like this. Ultimately, the King speaks to His people urging us to follow Him, for the Beatitudes finds its only fulfilment in none other than the truly blessed one, the truly “makarios,” Jesus Christ.
And this morning, we will tackle the first beatitude and the
message that I would like to deliver is this – SPIRITUAL NEEDINESS PRIMARILY MARKS THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST’S KINGDOM. Ang Kadahupang Espiritwal Ay Pangunahing Tanda Ng Mga Nasa Kaharian ni Kristo. And to expound this message, you will have two points the first point POOR BEGGARS or dukhang pulubi and the second point, KINGDOM HEIRS, Tagapagmana Ng Kaharian.
Let’s consider the first point POOR BEGGARS. We can observe that Christ here declares blessedness to those who are poor in spirit.
Hinahayag ni Kristo ang pagpapala sa mga taong poor in spirit. Now, who are those, who are those people that are poor in spirit? To be poor in spirit does not mean to enter a vow of voluntary poverty, living in seclusion in monasteries as one would consider. It does not mean to be poor spirited, that is to be a coward or timid, someone who is duwag or mahiyain. It is not the state of the sinner which does not enjoy the favour and fellowship of God making him spiritually poor. Rather, as Calvin puts it, not Calvin (pointing at Pastor Xley’s son, Calvin) the poor in spirit are those who see nothing in themselves but fly to mercy for sanctuary. It is those who see their spiritual bankruptcy before the holy God, and in light of the coming of the Kingdom, they recognize that they are helpless and hopeless because they lack the righteousness and needed to enter it because of their sin. So they run to God’s provision for salvation and that is Jesus Christ, treasuring Him trusting Him for salvation as they cry out for His grace and recognize God’s willingness to forgive. It meant that the death of all pride in us and seeking refuge in the mercy of God. Augustus Toplady describes it in his hymn, the Rock of Ages, says there in the second stanza or third stanza
Not the labors of my hands
can fulfil thy law’s demands; could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.
And simply put, those who are who are in spirit recognise their need and dependence on God’s mercy and grace. Ang mga poor in spirit ay kinikilala ang pangangailangan at pag-asa sa awa ng Diyos. The Filipino translation for this is Mga Walang Inaasahan Kundi Ang Diyos.
The picture here is that of a beggar, isang pulubi, one who is a destitute, one who lacks the basic necessities of life and relies upon charity to survive. And in ancient times, beggars are commonly physically challenged. They cannot earn a living so they rely upon others to carry them to a place where they can ask for alms. They can ask for money seeking the, seeking the pity of other people in order that they may survive. This attitude is evident in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the ones we, the one that we read earlier. While the Pharisee relishes in his self-righteousness, ninanamnam niya yung self-righteousness niya, taking God that he is not like the others, the tax collector on the other hand, cannot even lift his head upon heaven and he keeps beating his chest and he pleads God. God have mercy on me, a sinner. It is a cry for the mercy of God knowing that in light of God’s righteousness, he deserves punishment. He is unworthy to even lift up his eyes and see God in heaven or to say things to God in heaven because commonly, they pray and they raise their hand and lift up their heads. But now, no, not the tax collector.
He is so convicted by his sin that he asks for God’s mercy. Christ then
declares the tax collector as the one who was justified. Being in, being poor in spirit also is the cause of humility. In order to be humble, one must become full in spirit, recognising our need of God’s grace and mercy humbles us, humbles the repentant sinner and this causes him to part with himself that he, that is, he denies his own, own cognition or own understanding of his own righteousness to lay hold or to have Christ. Thomas Watson puts it in this way when he compares self- denial and poverty of spirit, na parang magka-, parang magkasing- kahulugan lang sila. The poor in spirit sees himself as nothing without Christ. The self-denier will leave himself nothing for Christ. One finds his worth in Christ and the other abandons everything in order to have Christ. It is in this state that the man is emptied of any pride in himself and then filled with righteousness that is in Christ Jesus. And without this very attitude, we cannot receive grace from God, nor can we ever treasure Christ. We know that this is not our own doing for the only thing that we can do is to sin. In fact, we, when we are, we when we haven’t known the gospel, the only thing that we love is sin. We can’t love God for we love ourselves more. And in fact, we hate God, we hate Him for we see Him as a judge, someone who will bring punishment to us. And God must work in us to renew us and in light of the coming judgment, you say again that we are helpless and hopeless. We are doomed to suffer the eternal punishment in hell. But God sent His Son His Only Begotten Son, who took the form of a man lived a life we cannot live that is a sinless life and died on behalf of sinners so that who those who would repent and believe in this person and work of Christ will have eternal life. And this my friends, this is the gospel.
And if you are not in Christ, God speaks to you today the decalogue
that you have read earlier shows to you that you need God. In fact you cannot accomplish those Ten Commandments and this gospel that Christ has come to redeem sinners is presented again to you this very day. I ask that you may see yourself in God’s eyes and recognise your need of Him. You may run to Him right now for mercy, right. Run to Him right now for mercy and grace, for He will not cast you out. And if you’re in Christ, be reminded that when God worked in you through His preached word and spirit, He renewed you from within and caused you to repent and believe in the gospel. This is not of your own doing.
When we repent then and believe in the gospel we are justified before God’s eyes. We, God looks at us and he sees not our sinfulness but the righteousness of Christ. And in this very state, also, we are enabled to to do what is good. Meaning sin has no dominion or control over us.
Yet, that is, this is where the christian life begins. We’re not beamed up to heaven when we repented and believed. Rather we live as pilgrims on earth. So to live in dependence upon God’s mercy and grace continues. It is not a one-time thing, but an on-going attitude throughout the life of a believer. Because sanctification demands that we put sin to death.
The same faith which pleads upon God’s mercy and grace in our justification continues to plead upon God’s mercy and grace in our sanctification. And if Christ is without sin, how can He be poor in spirit? If Christ has all the righteousness needed, how can He be the fulfilment of this certain beatitude? The simple answer is that Christ demonstrated this very attitude perfectly as He depended upon God for everything as He lived here on earth. Unlike Adam, He didn’t give in to the temptations of the devil, but instead he relied upon God’s word to overcome each temptation. And like David after his anointing, he, he faced he goes to the wilderness and then he overcomes his arch- enemy, the devil. However, after that, after overcoming that, in case of David & Goliath, he is forced to depend upon God to survive due to the threats of the pretending rulers of the time, and that time was King Herod was the ruler. And this is also evident in His baptism where Christ associates with sinners as their representative. So to be baptized with a baptism of repentance, meant that Christ would be treated as if He is a sinner as well. This is the reason why John the Baptist rebuked him and told him that Christ should be the one baptising him. But Christ identified with His people and committed to obeying the Father’s will that He meant, He must, He must go through, that He went through that baptism of repentance. And if there is any exception in the duty of prayer, it would be Christ yet no one was ever more zealous and dedicated in praying other than Christ. Often He got up early to pray, at times, the book of Mark tells us that He slips away to pray despite the business of His ministry in the milestones or major milestones of this ministry. He prayed. He prayed when He chose the twelve, He prayed at Transfiguration. He prayed also even before the events of the cross that is in the Garden of Gethsemane. But this very attitude was most magnified in the cross. He could have stopped the crucifixion calling legions of angels, rejected the pain and shame of dying on behalf of unworthy sinners. Yet, here we see that Christ was willing to die. Why? Because the Father chose to save for Himself a people which could only be accomplished. How? Through the sacrificial and substitutionary death of His son. Ponder for a moment how our most high King, the greatest King of kings and Lord of lords is also poor in spirit. If our King walked this way, do we have any reason not to follow His example? Because of that, this is the challenge for us that we may Live A Life Of Worship Expressed Through A Life Of Total Surrender To God. Patuloy Na Mamuhay Nang Buong Pag-suko Sa Diyos.
Are we depending upon God? If He would answer this question with
a resounding yes, then let us examine our private time spent with His word and prayer. This prayer and study of God’s word treated as essential and it’s the central focus of our life. Or is it secondary? How about when we experience trials? Are we trying to cut corners seeking for quick solutions to resolve our problems and then often get frustrated because still not going away? Rather than pleading with God to use all those trials to sanctify us and to draw us closer to Him?
Question, another question is, is there a self-emptying attitude in us like our King that we are willing to be servant of all for the sake of the Gospel? Do you have favourite people to serve or people who we deem undeserving to be served? Is there any task that we deem too small, or too humiliating that we don’t want to do it because it wouldn’t get any praise or admiration?
In church history, John Calvin is a pastor whom God used to expand the reformed Faith across Europe from Scotland to the Netherlands.
And because of how great his contribution is to the Reformation, he is considered among the greatest christian one of the greatest christian men of all time. Yet B.B. Warfield recognised that Calvin’s greatness was not in his service to himself but in his surrender to God. B.B. Warfield writes “Here we have the secret of Calvin’s greatness and the source of his strength unveiled to us. No man ever had a more profound sense of God than he; no man ever more unreservedly surrendered himself to the Divine direction.” Yet his life’s prayer can be summarised in one sentence I offer to you my heart I offer My Heart To You O Lord promptly and sincerely. This was his unwavering declaration of surrender to the Lord whom he sought to love with his, with all of his heart with all of his soul, with all of his mind, with all of his strength. Kahit na alam ni Calvin na ang puso ng tao ay factory of idols, na ang isip natin ay gumagawa ng mga idolong ito. At ang mga kamay natin ang siyang nag-sisilang dito pag ginawa natin ito. Gayun din ang ating mga puso ay mandaraya, deceitful. Ang kaya lang niyang gawin ay I-offer ang kaniyang puso at buong sarili sa Diyos. However, great Calvin, however great Calvin is, it can only be attributed to His dependence upon Christ. Like us, he was saved, enabled and sustained in Christ and blessed only through following the example of the King.
Now that we have learned what being Poor Spirit meant, let us tackle the reward promised. Let’s tackle the second point, Kingdom Heirs. Here we see in our passage that Christ declares that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are poor in spirit. Inihahayag ni Kristo na ang Kaharian Ng Langit ay Pag-aari ng Mga Taong Walang Inaasahan Kundi Ang Diyos. We should take note that the tense here is a present tense.The same way that the eighth beatitude ends. The first is given to emphasize the foundation of a repentant sinner’s relationship with God while the latter, the eight presents it as our comfort in persecution that is the foundation for Christian perseverance.
Again, Matthew has the Jews in mind in here when he is saying the Kingdom of Heaven because he doesn’t want to say the word God. The Jews at that time have a misconception about the kingdom and how to be a part of this Kingdom. They believe that the kingdom is a physical and political and one is a member of this Kingdom by virtue of their birth. If one is a Jew by birth, then he is already part of the Kingdom. That’s how the understood it. However, Christ’s kingdom is not an earthly kingdom but a heavenly kingdom, a kingdom not of this world. It is a spiritual Kingdom which is given, given to unworthy repentant sinners by grace through faith. This points out that the Heavenly kingdom is a believer’s present possession. Ang Kaharian ng langit ay kasalukuyang pag-aari ng isang taga-sunod ni Kristo. What we have received is not because of our merits, but because of the merits of Christ. In a sense, it is not a reward given because we deserved it. It is a gift by virtue of God’s mercy and grace. In their their passage, we can observe that through the actions of Christ performed in His ministry namely healing, pagpapagaling, (restoration to wholeness), exorcism (conquering the forces of darkness), and proclamation, that is (ordering present reality according to God’s Word). Christ was giving signs that the kingdom is dawning. It is near. And we, who have read the New Testament know that this Kingdom has been established already at the cross event. But will be fully realised when Christ returns. So the heavenly kingdom is already present but not yet fully realised. In other words, the believer presently enjoys the privileges of the kingdom, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit enables us to experience a foretaste of the blessings to come. We are unable to have faith, we are unable to repent, we’re enabled to have hope in Christ and to increase in graces and love for Him. And at the same time, we look forward to the realisation of the heavenly kingdom on earth where there is no more sin and death and God has renewed everything better than the beginning and now He is ruling over all things.
One can see it like this – in Jewish costumes, there is no
engagement there’s only marriage and this marriage has two stages. It’s the betrothal and the betrothal which is in their word it’s kiddushin.
Literally meaning sanctification and nisuin or the levelling up of the relationship, the consummation of the marriage or literally elevation. And if you’re going to think about it, there’s parallel with christian life. And in this custom of marriage, when they are betrothed to one another, they are considered married in legal terms. But without the mutual obligations, they are not living together, they, they cannot do the, the consummation of the marriage and most of the time this is like one year apart from uh..Betrothal takes one year, betrothal, then one year, then Nisuin, elevation. So the woman then cannot marry any other man and the same applies to the man. However, um the marital obligations takes effect when the Nisuin is completed. This is the time we’re in the marriage process, the marriage process is finalised. The husband brings the wife into his home where they began their, where they begin their married life together. And in this very composition as well, we can, it tells us that the kingdom belongs to those who are poor in spirit. And it is not those poor in spirit belongs to the kingdom of God; it’s not the other way around. This implies that those who are poor in spirit are not merely kingdom subjects but also participate in the Messiah’s reign as His representative. If you are paying attention to the sermons in second Timothy, it says there that if we persevere, we will reign with Him. In Heidelberg Catechism question 32 summarises this in a form of question and answer. Sabi don why are you called a Christian? The answer because I am a member of Christ by faith and thus share in His anointing so that I may as prophet confess his name, as priest present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to him, and as a king fight with a free and good conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and hereafter reign with him eternally over all creatures.
In the present age or in the present, we act as kings when we
reign over our sinful passion, bringing our minds wills and affections into submission to Jesus, by the power of the Spirit through His word having hope that in the future we will reign with Christ eternally. And for this reason, we need to continually work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Since God has given us the kingdom in Christ He has given us a gift by virtue of His mercy and grace. Let’s use that as a motivation to yearn for more grace as we utilise the ordained means of grace in the way to the kingdom. Hangarin na yumabong sa grasya habang ginagamit ang mga inordinang daluyan ng grasya habang ika’y patungo sa kaharian ng Dios.
There is a constant yearning and a constant pleading to God for growth and grace but godliness is not achieved merely by pleading and desiring. There is also exerting of effort, a training for godliness to persevere and to lay hold of the kingdom. Sabi ni Thomas Watson sa kanyang libro, Heaven Taken By Storm. In this exposition, Watson argues that a christian should pursue salvation with holy violence by utilising the ordained means of grace. So, our pursuit of salvation will be like a violent person. It is like someone who is being stopped by something but he keeps on trying and trying and trying that it may look violent. Sabi ni Watson doon, Bakit kailangang gawin iyon? Because we are prone to regress. Watson writes there must be, there must be offering violence in regard of that aptness, that suitability, and proneness, that possibility in the best to grow careless in religion.
When they have been quickened in duty, they are apt to grow dead
again when they have been heated at the fire of an ordinance they are apt to freeze again. Therefore they must be still offering violence the heart like the watch, like the watch that stops at times. The watch will be apt to go down. There must be at another time be wound up by prayer and meditation. Simply put, the fire of devotion will soon go out if it be not blown up. They’re christian. The kingdom indeed is our present possession. But we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. Sabi yun sa Acts 14 22. Left alone to ourselves, we cannot accomplish any of these. But Christ supplies His enabling grace both to will and to do our duty as we depend upon Him. Question is, how can we yearn if all we feel ourselves our worldly desires? How can we plead when we do not know what to ask because we do not examine ourselves or keep watch? When we have prayed against sin, do we watch against temptation? Is there an active pursuit to grow in grace? Let us examine ourselves how should we begin exercising holy violence today. How can we be violent in prayer? Not just praying, like praying for a meal. But to be fervent in prayer. How can we read and hear God’s word not just merely hearing or reading but to provoke ourselves for devotion in reading, in hearing seeking to apply this word? How can we exercise violence in meditation to schedule certain, certain times to think about our state? to examine our state? and to see, to see ourselves in light of God’s word? How can we exercise holy violence when we observe the Lord’s Day? In fact when we observe the Lord’s day, do we do we prepare the day before? Do we remember that this is the only holiday or only holy day that we could celebrate and are we excited to even go and have this time to hear upon God’s word, to sing praises to Him, to be reminded of the gospel and to increase in love and Zeal for Christ? How can we exercise holy violence when we partake of the Lord’s Supper? That when you look at that very bread broken into pieces, you’re reminded of Christ’s body being broken for you? That when you, the wine is poured out in that in that cup that is the blood of Christ being poured out for you? And when people are distributing it and then you eat of it, and they say let us partake of the bread, and you look at each and every people that has been redeemed of God’s grace, and you say God’s kingdom it’s really here. And when you drink of the wine you say these people are the same people whom Christ has shed His blood for. How does this motivate you to love them? How does this motivate you to serve them? How does this motivate you to enjoy this presence of God’s people?
In conclusion, KINGDOM HEIRS remain as spiritual beggars seeing themselves as nothing without Christ and continuously pleading with God for mercy and grace throughout their earthly life.
Let’s pray. Our gracious God and Father, we thank You Lord God that You have given us a provision for our salvation. That is Christ Jesus. Without Him, Lord, we can never be humbled. We can never be poor in spirit and in fact can never be saved. Lord, we thank you that by Christ’s personal work, You are able to be truly blessed. Lord in light of this first beatitude, we ask that may You work in us, that we may really exercise dependence upon You to pray, to seek, to serve. Help us Lord God to do everything for Your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen