The Gospel for the Weary

Over on Mike Leake’s blog “Borrowed Light,” I’ve written a guest post about how the weary need the gospel.

Excerpt:

As you run, you will notice footprints along the way. This direction is one which Abel, Enoch, and Noah traveled (Heb 11:4-7). Abraham and Sarah walked it (11:8-19). It was the route Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph took (11:20-22). Moses and Rahab preferred it, no matter the cost (11:23-31). Countless others staked their lives on this promised road, leaving their example of faith and devotion (11:32-40). Their stories are their footprints. Their lives comprise a cloud, and you are surrounded by it.

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The Sermon on the Mount – In 22 Sermons

Today at Kosmosdale Baptist Church, we completed our journey through the Sermon on the Mount. We spent 22 messages unpacking the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5–7. Here they are, all in one place:

“Kingdom Manifesto: An Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount” (Matt 5:1–7:29)

“Blessed Now and Later: Living on the Promises of God” (Matt 5:1-10)

“A Life of Faithful Flavor and Light: Discipleship That Salts and Shines for the Glory of God (Matt 5:11-16)

“Not to Abolish but to Fulfill: The Importance of Every Jot and Tittle in the Law” (Matt 5:17-20)

“The Danger of Anger: Why You Might Have the Heart of a Murderer” (Matt 5:21-26)

“Better to Lose an Eye or a Hand: Why You Must Fight Against Lust or Go to Hell” (Matt 5:27-30)

“Let None Tear Asunder: Rethinking the Practice of Easy Divorce and Remarriage” (Matt 5:31-32)

“Simply Yes or No: The Pursuit of Being a Trustworthy Disciple” (Matt 5:33-37)

“Shock Value: The Disciple’s Unexpected Responses to Evildoers” (Matt 5:38-42)

“That You May Be Sons of God: Love Your Enemies and Pray for Your Persecutors (Matt 5:43-48)

“Not In Order to be Seen: Secret Giving and the Promise of Heavenly Reward” (Matt 6:1-4)

“How Not to Pray: Trying to Impress Others and Manipulate God” (Matt 6:5-8)

“Our Father in Heaven: The Majesty and Model of the Lord’s Prayer” (Matt 6:9-15)

“A Hunger for God: You Shall Not Live by Bread Alone” (Matt 6:16-18)

“Either God or Money: Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve” (Matt 6:19-24)

“Worth More Than Birds or Flowers: Learning Not to Worry About Your Life” (Matt 6:25-34)

“The Disciple’s Eye Exam: Specks, Planks, and Hypocritical Judgment” (Matt 7:1-5)

“Ask, Seek, and Knock: The Need for Wisdom in Handling Gospel Truth” (Matt 7:6-11)

“The Golden Rule: This Is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12)

“Few Will Find It: The Hard Way to the Narrow Gate That Leads to Life” (Matt 7:13-14)

“Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: Not Everyone Will Enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt 7:15-23)

“A Life on the Rock: Building Wisely for the Final Judgment” (Matt 7:24-29)

 

 

The Wide and Narrow Gates

Matthew 7:13-14 introduces a series of contrasts: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Those words of Jesus contain four pairs:

  1. Narrow Gate or Wide Gate
  2. Hard Way or Easy Way
  3. Life or Destruction
  4. Few or Many

The thesis is in the opening words: “Enter by the narrow gate.” The rest of 7:13-14 gives two reasons why.

  1. Enter by the narrow gate, because the wide gate, though associated with an easy path, leads to destruction.
  2. Enter by the narrow gate, because the narrow gate, though associated with a hard path, leads to life.

As Eugene Peterson once titled a book, the Christian life is “a long obedience in the same direction,” along a hard path that ends in life.

Six Sermons on Matthew 5:21-48

At Kosmosdale Baptist Church, I just completed a major section in the Sermon on the Mount on Sunday mornings. In Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus addresses six subjects as a way of expounding his claim that his disciples must have a “righteousness” that “exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees” (5:20). Clicking the highlighted portion will take you to the sermon’s audio.

(1) Matthew 5:21-26: “The Danger of Anger: Why You Might Have the Heart of a Murderer”

(2) Matthew 5:27-30: “Better to Lose an Eye or Hand: Why You Must Fight Against Lust or Go to Hell”

(3) Matthew 5:31-32: “Let None Tear Asunder: Rethinking the Practice of Easy Divorce and Remarriage”

(4) Matthew 5:33-37: “Simply Yes or No: The Pursuit of Being a Trustworthy Disciple”

(5) Matthew 5:38-42: “Shock Value: The Disciple’s Unexpected Responses to Evildoers”

(6) Matthew 5:43-48: “That You May Be Sons of God: Love Your Enemies and Pray for Your Persecutors”

Enoch and the Shortest Long but Loyal Life in Genesis 5

Genesis 5 records ten generations of descendants through Adam’s son Seth, and seventh in the list is this guy named Enoch (Gen 5:21-24).  His story stands out for at least four reasons:

  • (1) The people listed before and after him all die, but he does not.  The narrator says “God took him,” and this was not a “taking” in physical death.  Hebrews 11:5 tells us Enoch never saw the earthly end of his mortality. 
  • (2) Those in Genesis 5 lived extraordinarily long lives, but among the whole lot Enoch’s life is the shortest. Granted, his 365 years (5:23) is still a long time, but not compared to his son Methuselah who lived 969 years (5:27)!
  • (3) We’re told Enoch “walked with God,” which doesn’t mean no one else in Genesis 5 did, only that Enoch’s devotion stood out.  The writer of Hebrews says, “Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God” (11:5b).
  • (4) Enoch, being seventh from Adam through Seth, contrasts with Lamech who is seventh from Adam through Cain (Gen 4:17-24). Lamech boasts in his wickedness, but Enoch is known as the man who walked with God.

Enoch’s story is remarkable not only for the quality of his devotion which the biblical text highlights and underlines, but also for its duration. The Lord took him at age 365 (Gen 5:23-24). Enoch didn’t walk with God for mere months, a few years, or several decades. He walked with God for hundreds of years.

Year in and year out, Enoch walked with God. Decades turned into centuries, and he walked with God with relentless devotion, commended for faith that pleased the Lord (Heb 11:5). What loyalty and love! A man after God’s own heart, Enoch followed his Maker until one day “he was not” (Gen 5:24). Suddenly at a precise latitude and longitude, God suspended the law of gravity, and just like that, Enoch was gone.