We began this week’s workout with a midterm oral quiz through Matthew chapter 5. Each of the men took turns reciting as much of chapter 5 as they could remember in sequence. For example, one brother started the quiz by reciting the Beatitudes, and then the next person would recite as much as they could remember, and then the next person would pick up the baton and carry on as much as he could, and so on. Although there were a few stumbles, we were able to successfully make our way to the end of Matthew 5 together!
We then entered into a discussion of Matthew 5:38-48.
- “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”
- Some might think that this means Christians ought never to go to court to settle certain matters. But the issue was never about never going to court. There definitely are some circumstances and matters that need to be settled in court (for example, defending the rights to freedom of religious gatherings & free speech).
- The Scribes and Pharisees taught that restitution was just, but Jesus demanded the contrary – do not demand restitution. As Christians, we should be fine being wronged – if it is for the sake of making peace with others.
- “Love your neighbor”
- We know that Scripture says that we must “love your neighbor as yourself” – but this doesn’t mean that we should also hate our enemies!
- The Pharisees taught that neighbors should be loved, but enemies should be hated. However, the Lord tells us the opposite; God wants us to be like Him and love everyone without discrimination. God fills the entire world with His goodness for everyone to benefit. He is gracious without distinction and bestows common grace to all men.
- This teaching doesn’t trump the teaching of Paul to show priority to those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10), but it also doesn’t mean that we can callously let unbelievers crash and burn.
- Loving your neighbor is NOT about doing charitable work in lieu of sharing the message of repentance and salvation through Christ, nor is loving your neighbor only about meeting their physical needs. When we love our neighbor, we ought to love them wholly – we ought to meet physical needs AND spiritual needs.
- “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”
- What does “perfect” mean?
- The translation comes from the Greek word “telos”, which can be understood as “complete”, “mature”, or “fully developed”. Jesus is remarking that we ought to be mature rather than immature – for example, we ought to be like mature adults, rather than like immature children.
- We are to be complete in our love for unbelievers in the same way that God shows His kindness and love for them. This is a call for Jesus’ followers to be complete and comprehensive in their love for everybody – not just toward the brethren or those who reciprocate love. We ought to be gracious to everybody, including unbelievers. As Christians, we must not exercise an “us vs. them” mentality.
- God is not selective or exclusive, but generous toward everybody
- If we take it to mean perfect holiness, then we arrive at some difficulties
- If the word “perfect” were to be interpreted and understood as “flawless” or “without error”, it would mean that none of us could ever reach the absolute perfection and holiness of God, and we therefore would never be able to fulfill Jesus’ direction.
- Also, some things that we must obey in order to be perfectly holy do not really apply to God. For example, if we are to be perfect, we must be free from lust, abstain from divorce & remarriage, etc. But none of these apply to God Himself. There are also authorized acts of God that we cannot perfectly emulate as finite, limited creatures. Therefore, it would be a stretch to consider Jesus’ command to be perfect as a call to emulate God’s nature and behavior exactly in order to meet God’s standard of righteousness.
- The Scriptures still teach that God is holy and we fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23), but this verse in Matthew may not be the most appropriate to use in affirming this truth. We should exercise caution when applying this verse to mean all men are condemned if they cannot attain to the standard of perfect sinlessness in this life. However, we can use this verse to demonstrate to someone that they fall short of the perfect love of God that He has for everybody.
- What does “perfect” mean?
We spent the rest of our time practicing the development of propositions. Pastor Dan selected a chapter in the New Testament, and we spent a few minutes developing propositions independently. Afterward, we shared our propositions with the larger group.
- Jesus has authority to forgive sins
- Jesus rewards those who seek Him in faith
- Jesus knows the thoughts of our hearts
- Jesus is God and has equal authority to perform miracles and forgive sins
- People follow Jesus and want to hear His every word
- The healing of the paralytic was unique and something people had never seen before
- Jesus is God
- Jesus sees faith
1 Corinthians 1
- No man can boast before God in and of himself alone
- God used the unexpected things of the world to nullify the boasting of men before God
- We are enriched in all things through Christ
- Jesus will confirm us as blameless to the end
- God is faithful
- Christians should have no divisions amongst them; instead, they should be of the same mind and judgment
- The word of the cross (the gospel) is the power of God for those who are being saved
- The gospel equalizes all Christians
- The wisdom of God is greater than the wisdom of man
- Christians can boast in the Lord only
- Paul encouraged unity among God’s people
- How do we encourage unity?
- Engage with one another
- Celebrate diversity of viewpoints but have them rooted in Christ
- Have intentional conversations with one another
- How do we encourage unity?