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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at Life BPC 8am & 11am service, 2017-08-13

Text: Matthew 5:9-12

This is the fourth sermon on the Beatitudes which Jesus taught the multitudes in His Sermon on the Mount. We began with the first two beatitudes which teach us about the Right Attitudes that a Christian should have (Poverty of spirit and a Godly sorrow for sin). We went on to the next two beatitudes that teach us about the Right Character a Christian should cultivate a character which shows meekness and godliness. From the next two beatitudes we learned about the Right Conduct (mercy and holiness).

 

In this sermon we come to the 7th and 8th beatitudes from which we will learn about living with the Right Purpose. This morning we look at Matthew 5:9-12 which mention two goals that we should pursue in order to live a purposeful life: The first is to be an instrument of peace by reconciling men to God, and the second is to be loyal to Christ at all cost, even if it means suffering for it.

 

As usual, we will begin by considering a Bible character that exemplifies the lesson. And in my opinion, there is no better example of a person in the Bible other than our Lord Jesus Christ, who lived with the right purpose, than the apostle Paul. Paul lived with the two goals I just mentioned. He was sent to bring God’s message of reconciliation and peace to the Gentiles, and he did this well on three missionary journeys. Hence he was a peacemaker. Paul’s message reconciled Gentiles with God, and that also enabled Gentiles to be reconciled with one another.

 

There is a very touching story of how Paul made peace between a runaway slave and his master. At the Colossian church there was a Christian by the name of Philemon, whom Paul had converted. Philemon had a slave named Onesimus, and had treated him well. But Onesimus took advantage of his master’s kindness and ran away, robbing Philemon’s house before he left. His travels somehow brought him to Rome where, in God’s providence, he came in contact with Paul. Through this contact Paul led Onesimus to Christ. He repented of his sins and was saved. Then Onesimus became very useful to Paul.

 

But Paul realized that Onesimus had a responsibility to Philemon and should go back and make restitution for what he had stolen. Thus Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon with the letter that now bears his name in the New Testment. In this beautiful letter Paul explained his situation and appealed to Philemon to treat Onesimus not as a runaway slave and a thief anymore, but now as a beloved brother in Christ.

 

We can imagine how Onesimus, now changed by the power Christ, returned to his master feeling very sorry for what he had done to him. We can also imagine how Philemon lovingly forgave him and rejoiced that he was now saved. What a wonderful peace they now enjoyed together. And they both had the apostle Paul to thank for that.

 

Now besides being a peacemaker, Paul was also persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Persecution seemed to be a major theme in Paul’s life. Before he became a Christian, he was persecuting Christians, hunting them down from house to house and throwing them into prison. But God turned Paul the great persecutor into Paul the great “persecutee.” After he was saved on the road to Damascus he went all out to preach the Gospel. Many responded with faith, but some reacted with persecution. In the book of Acts and in his epistles, we learn of how he was stoned almost to death at a place called Lystra and beaten with rods 3 times by Gentile persecutors. Five times he received 39 lashes from Jewish persecutors, many times he was arrested and put on trial for preaching the gospel. Until, in the end, he was beheaded by the Roman emperor Nero for the sake of Jesus Christ.

 

The life of Paul as a peacem– “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” From these verses we want to define two worthy goals we should pursue in order to have a purposeful life. The first goal is…

1.  To Be Instruments of Peace:


Verse 9 begins: “Blessed are the peacemakers…” The quest for peace in this world never ends. Since time immemorial there has hardly been much peace. Nations go to war against other nations and conflicts arise out of big issues and small issues. Tensions have been running very high within the past two months. Three weeks ago, Jerusalem was put in the spotlight when violence erupted over metal detectors and cameras placed at the Temple Mount. Just two weeks ago North Korea demonstrated that it could launch a nuclear strike on any part of the US. The people of Guam are now being prepared for any eventual strike. Eleven days ago the US President signed a bill to impose new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. Russia and Iran have already announced measures to retaliate, like expelling US diplomats. The big question now is, “When will North Korea retaliate against the US?”

 

Many people are longing for the time when all this will come to an end, and they would express their desire for peace on earth– like the 50,000 people who protested for world peace at the G20 summit last month. But despite all these heartfelt efforts for peace, we do not seem to be any nearer to that ideal than we ever were. What can we learn from the Word of God about peacemaking? How can we really help to bring peace into this troubled world? The first step is to:

a. Recognise the Cause of the Lack of Peace

And that cause is Sin. If you look at the verse that comes just before v.9, you will notice that it mentions purity of the heart which we studied three weeks ago. And here we can see how v.9 logically follows v.8, because it is the impure, sinful heart of man that that has caused all the pride, hatred, anger, jealousy, rage and strife in this world. As long as sin dominates the hearts of men how can there be peace on earth? We are told about man’s sinful condition in Romans 3:10-17– “There is none righteous, no not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God…Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known.”  

 

God originally made His creation in a state of perfect peace and order. But this was disrupted by sin. Let us be convinced that the real cause of the lack of peace in this world is Sin! Sin that reigns in the heart of every man, woman and child, of whatever race or place they come from. The only way in which we can work for peace then, is to remove sin. If only we can find some way to remove sin, then peace will be easy to find. And this leads us to the next step in peace-making:

b. Remove Sin with the Gospel of Peace

What is the Gospel of Peace? It is none other than the glorious plan of salvation that God has accomplished for us through Christ’s death on the cross. It is the good news that sinners can finally have all their sins removed, and their hearts cleansed by trusting fully in the complete sacrifice that Jesus has made at Calvary. And when you hear this Gospel of Peace and you are saved as a result of that, you will begin to experience a new sense of peace within yourself. All the guilt, conflict and turmoil inside your heart that comes from sin, goes away and is replaced with this inner sense of peace.

 

This is the peace that only Jesus can give, as He said in John 14:27  – “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” This wonderful peace He gives is the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

 

If you want to be a peace-maker and bring this peace of God into the lives of others, then you must be willing to share this good news with them. Romans 10:15 says: “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Now, the next step that comes after individuals are saved through the Gospel of Peace, is to:

c. Restore all Relationships through the Prince of Peace.

Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6. Colossians 1:19,20 tells us, “For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” It is through Christ, and Christ alone that reconciliation becomes possible for every relationship in this universe. The first and most important relationship that needs to be restored through Christ is our relationship with God. Through Christ we have:

 

i. Peace with God. As Romans 5:1 tells us – “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” Do you know that if you do not have peace with God, you will be in a worse situation than those who live in fear of terrorist attacks? Matthew 10:28 says, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” God is a worse enemy for sinners to face than all the terrorists of the world combined. No one should trifle with God’s wrath. This is why you must first make peace with God, by turning to Jesus Christ, and making Him your Lord and Saviour. When you have peace with God, then you will be able to have:

 

ii. Peace with others. Before Jesus came to live on earth 2,000 years ago, there was no peace between the Jews and Gentiles. Gentiles from almost every ancient civilisation hated the Jews and despised their customs and beliefs. Now, the Jews were God’s people because of the covenant God had made with them. Gentiles had no part in God’s covenant at all, and so the Jews also despised them.

 

But when both Jews and Gentiles came to believe in Jesus Christ, this enmity came to an end. Ephesians 2:13,14 tells us: “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” All distinctions that divide people from one another are wonderfully dissolved when they come to know the Lord. In Galatians 3:28, God’s Word tells us: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

 

It is really exciting to see people who would normally hate or despise each other because of differences in race, culture, nationality or social status, now becoming the best of friends because they love and serve the same Lord Jesus Christ! Christ is the ultimate peacemaker. He reconciles man to God, and also man to man. And this not unusual for Him to do, because He is after all, the only begotten Son of God. Look at Matthew 5:9 again and you would notice that it says, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Can you see how this points to Christ who is the Son of God? Can you then see how our efforts to reconcile men to God with the Gospel of peace makes us true disciples of Christ?

 

We have seen that our work in making peace involves the three steps of: Recognising that sin is the cause of the lack of peace, Removing sin with the Gospel of Peace and then Restoring relationships with God and relationships with man, through Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace.

 

And this work of peace-making carries a commendation: “…for they shall be called the children of God.” The word for “children” here means mature, grown-up adult children of legal age who are able, in some sense, to represent their father and even to act on his behalf. When we help others to find the peace of God through Christ, we reflect something of the character of our heavenly Father in our lives. Let us therefore pursue this worthy goal of becoming peace-makers, bringing people to Christ, who is the supreme Peacemaker and Prince of Peace.

 

In times of conflict however, many things are often beyond our control. And sometimes we have to suffer, even though we have done nothing wrong. We may be treated unfairly and persecuted because of what we are or what we believe. This brings us now to consider another worthy goal that we should have in life:

2. To Be Loyal to Christ at all Costs

There are two things that loyalty to Christ requires from you. The first is that you should not hide your Christian identity. The easiest way to avoid any form of persecution is not to let anyone know that you are a Christian. But doing this will not only compromise your loyalty to Christ, it will also keep you from ever knowing the blessedness of being persecuted for His sake. Therefore you must not be afraid to let others know that you belong to Him. If people ask you what your religion is, tell them honestly, “I am a Christian.” 

 

The second thing that loyalty to Christ requires from you is a willingness to bear suffering and persecution for being a Christian. If you ever have to face this, remember the words that Jesus spoke in Matthew 5:10– “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…”

 

One of the hardest places to live the Christian life is in an army camp. Because Christians there usually find themselves alone among non-Christians, and feel tremendous pressure to do everything they do. This is one place where you might find yourself persecuted for being a Christian. I remember the time when I was in NS, and during a break time in between training I was talking with a few platoon mates about Christ. Suddenly our platoon sergeant showed up and heard what I was saying. He immediately pointed a threatening finger at me and said, “Eh, in this place, ah, you are not allowed to talk such things.” You know, it’s no fun to be marked by a sergeant who does not like Christians.

 

But if that ever happens to you, please do not be discouraged. You are not alone. You are standing together with the many others who are suffering for the name of Christ. There are brothers and sisters in Christ in places like Iraq, Syria, North Korea and Somalia have to suffer a lot more. It is reported that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world today. In 2016, the Open Doors ministry estimated that more than 100 million Christians today are facing persecution, and one Christian is being killed for his or her faith every five minutes.

 

As Jesus said in John 15:18-20 “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…”

 

Let us not assume that we can all go through life without ever facing any persecution from the world. It is true of course that here in Singapore we will not be arrested and jailed like Christians in some countries. But as long as we live in a non-Christian world, we are bound to face some degree of hostility. In 2 Timothy 3:12, we are told, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” So let us now learn a few things about persecution from these verses. Verse 11 tells us that

b. Persecution comes in many forms

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” Not all believers will have to die or be imprisoned for believing in Christ. Sometimes persecution may come in the form of:

 

i. Verbal abuse: This happens when others make fun of you with names like “Holy Joe” or “padre” just because you are a Christian. When people do that to you, please don’t get upset with them or call them by equally awful names in return. According to 1 Peter 2:21-23 “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again….” Another form of persecution is:

 

ii. Harassment: This happens when people treat you unfairly, or discriminate against you, because you are a follower of Christ. The apostle Paul wrote about the harass,emt he received in  1 Corinthians 4:11-13 – “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.”If you ever feel that you are being treated unfairly because of your faith in Christ, remember that this was the way they treated Paul and even our Lord Jesus Christ. And like them, we must respond to the evil done against us by doing good to those who persecute us. A third form of persecution is:

 

iii. Slander: This happens when people say horrible things about you or blame you unjustly for all the bad things that happen to them. During the times of intense persecution in the Roman Empire, Christians were blamed for all the worst crimes and disasters. The Emperor Nero blamed them for the fire that almost destroyed the city of Rome. Under communist regimes Christians were labelled as counter-revolutionaries and were falsely accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

 

If you ever become the subject of such evil speaking because of your faith in Christ, there is no need to fight back or clear your name. In time it will become clear to all that these accusations and charges against you are false. Now that we have seen how persecution comes in a variety of forms, we must go to the next point about persecution which is very important:

c. If you are Persecuted let it be for the right reason.

The reasons given in the text are “…for righteousness’ sake” (v.10) and “…for My sake” (v.11) Some of the things we suffer are things that we bring on ourselves. If we make a mistake and have to suffer for it, we cannot say that we are suffering for righteousness’ sake. At other times suffering is just part of life in a fallen world. A person may fall sick and suffer a lot, but this is not suffering for righteousness sake. Perhaps you may have a colleague or classmate who irritates you a lot and you have to patiently endure him. Please do not say, “I am suffering for righteousness sake, and so I certainly deserve to be rewarded for putting up with all this.”

 

The only suffering we will be rewarded for is suffering for the sake of righteousness and for the cause of Christ. Listen to what God’s Word says in 1 Peter 4:14-16 – “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

Let us go on now to look at one last thing that is mentioned in these verses about persecution:

c. A heavenly reward is promised for patiently bearing Persecution.

Loyalty to Christ will be greatly rewarded. There is a glorious prize awaiting those who are persecuted, as v.12 says: “Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad; for great is your reward in heaven.” Please take note that the reward is in heaven. Everyone who looks for a reward for their sufferings in this present life will be disappointed. Sometimes we read about how Daniel was miraculously delivered from suffering and death in the lion’s den because he was loyal to God, and we think that God will do the same for us. But this does not always happen.

 

We may have to continue to bear mistreatment, insult and persecution all our lives, without ever seeing any deliverance or immediate reward. Our reward will definitely come, but it will be in heaven. When persecution comes, let us remember that whatever it may cost us in this life, God will repay us a thousand times more in His Kingdom. Therefore, like Paul, let us “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

 

Let us commit ourselves to bear suffering for His sake. Let us also commit ourselves to be peace-makers by bringing the Gospel of Christ to everyone who needs it

 
 
 

 

 
 

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11