Is the Sermon on the Mt. Law or Gospel? I Say Law. by Pr. Rossow

I ask for your patience and understanding for the lack of posts in the last few days. There as been a confluence of circumstances leading to this. First, I have had a very busy travel schedule recently with my trip to St. Louis, the speaking engagement at the Minnesota North Confessional Lutherans’ conference and some personal travel. This has led me to spend the last few days focusing on parish matters. Also, Klemet Preus had been busy travelling and is no longer able to serve as one of our Brothers’ Cafe bloggers. We thank Klemet for giving us a wonderful two years of blog posts. We are in the process of looking for a substitute. Mollie has also been busy lately with her political work. Last I heard she was seen out in Nevada paying close attention to some little congressional race out there.

Because I have been more focused on congregational administrative matters n the last few days, I have not been in the ether zone of inspiration until a few moments ago as I was preparing for a Bible class to be taught tonight on Matthew. In my preparations I was once again alerted to the age old question of the sermon on the mount: is it Law or Gospel? I have not engaged this matter on the highest academic level but have engaged it as a pastor, preacher and Bible teacher. Here is my take after twenty five years of preaching and teaching on the words of Matthew.

I know there are some respected LCMS theologians who staunchly choose the side of the Gospel in this debate. (Let’s be clear that any extended section of Scripture such as the Sermon on the Mount will have both Law and Gospel. We are asking an academic question here but like most such questions, it can be useful for leading us into a deeper understanding of God’s word.) The new Lutheran Study Bible seems to take the Gospel side (p. 1577). I look forward to your comments below, those of you who defend the “Gospel” side of the equation but I am thoroughly convinced that the Sermon on the Mount ought to be characterized in general, as the Law of God, and in particular the second use or mirror. Here is why I assert this.

  1. A few verses before the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). He then follows it up with the words Law calling people to repentance.
  2. It makes sense from a theological and systematics standpoint that the Law would come first. That is the typical order (Law then Gospel) and so the beginning of the ministry of Jesus would be characterized by the Law.
  3. The beatitudes certainly could be describing those already converted but at this point in the Gospel Jesus has yet to have done any preaching to convert anyone and so as I read them, they convict me. I am not meek. I am not merciful. How much mercy do I need to show before I am blessed for my acts of mercy, etc..
  4. Jesus words in Matt 5:20 – “For I tell you unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
  5. Then follows all of Jesus tightening of the law in Matt 5:21 – 47 (e.g. “You have heard it said you shall not murder…I tell you everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”)
  6. Matt 6:31 – “O you of little faith…”
  7. Matt 7:6 – “Do not give dogs what is holy…” I am the chief of dogs and so stand convicted by this verse.
  8. In Matt 7:23 Jesus says about some who considers themselves his ardent folowers – “I never knew you; depart from me you workers of lawlessness.”
  9. The clearest and harshest words of the second use of the law that I know of are in the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5:48 – “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

This list seems sufficient to defend the proposition that the Sermon on the Mount is primarily the Law of God. This is to me the straight-forward, common sense approach to this section of Scripture. Seeing this as primarily Gospel would take a few extra steps of rationalization and thus move us beyond the common sense understanding. I could be wrong. I put this out there for discussion and learning. Have at it BJS’ers.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

Is the Sermon on the Mt. Law or Gospel? I Say Law. by Pr. Rossow — 37 Comments

  1. Pastor Rossow,
    Ooooo, this is going to be good + I’m going to be learning alot!!!
    I’ve never heard this mentioned before and it’s a might long sermon.

    In Matthew 7:28-29, “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His Teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the Law.” The Pharisees taught as outward appearances, w/arrogance, as in whited sepulchres. So, from the get go it would have been different. The Law, was & is not just outward deeds & words, but THOUGHTS. Christ took the Law above & beyond what was taught, by the Pharisees. But, I always thought, this is the first glimpses of the Gospel, beginning in Matthew 7:7-27, for instance. I hestitate to ask this stuff, but I do want to learn. Be gentle, if meek is out, merciful will do just fine. lol

    Question for ya, how would Matthew 5:13-16, Matthew 6:5-15, and Matthew 7:7-23, fit w/this being Law, rather than Gospel?

  2. I am convinced that it is law with a clear path to Jesus. This is God’s law for everyone and Jesus owns it. He is not being hypocritical like the teachers of the law, but is authoritative. Just afterwards in chapter 8 there is some nice Gospel stuff; man with leprosy, faith of the centurion, healing of many then right back to law and Gospel. It is great stuff.
    I have always liked this discourse in Matthew because it really illustrates the impossibility of following God’s law without Jesus. Our efforts to be righteous without Him is of no comfort, but with Him there is comfort that while we are condemned by that law we are saved by God’s own Son who lived, preached and fulfilled that law perfectly.

    *as a side note I looked it up on the LCMS website to see what was there after I typed above and found this http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2503 after I finished typing and laughed out loud when I read the last sentence. Look at the last line Pastor Rossow you may giggle a little based on an earlier posting on a different thread. 🙂

  3. Andrew,

    Yes, that is pretty funny!

    By the way, the last part of that LCMS answer is lame (and I am not referring to the use of the “r” word). Luther teaches we are simultaneously sinner and saint, so in what capacity could I ever take these words as not law?

    TR

  4. @Dutch #2
    Dutch,
    Hyperbole is quite possibly the greatest thing in universe!

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #5

    Like you say…
    Without Jesus the law condemns us. Lord have mercy! I am not sure how you could not take it as law except that Jesus is preaching them who fulfills the law and points it to Him therefore Gospel in that way. His words are law though.

  5. Andrew,
    Too true, like the most awesome thing, like ever…there was no way, I was touchin’ the other with a ten foot pole. lol

  6. I’m not sure you actually have engaged the text though. I cannot see in any way you can legitimately turn the word Makarios into a command. Furthermore, Scripture is chalk full of examples of preachers (including Christ) ignoring Walther’s Law then Gospel sermon structure (Ezekiel 34 comes to mind, especially as it appears in our lectionary system…).

    At the same time, I sometimes think the question “Is this sentence Law or Gospel?” is the wrong question, and not one Walther intended us to ask… or at least, that’s stopping the question too soon. For example, the sentence: “Jesus died on the cross for your sins.” Is that Law or Gospel? Depends! A parent chastising their child who is making light of their sin can say that sentence and it will be heard as crushing (hopefully) Law. The same parent can then console their child by saying “Jesus died on the cross for your sins” and speak Gospel.

  7. @Dutch #7
    My favorite is “My backpack is so heavy my arm will fall off!”

    Interesting note about the Beatitudes- I met a Palestinian priest in Israel who translates the Blessed are- whatever the Greek is for that into Aramaic and come up with get up go and do/be.

  8. I’m not theologian enough to argue this one, but there’s bound to be some pretty serious dissent.

    Can’t wait to follow this one. Let the games begin! Gentlemen (and ladies), start your engines! Incoming! Incoming!

    Johannes

  9. It seems to me that the problem I often encounter with people interpreting it as “Law” is that they are turning it into a “C’mon, have fun, let’s do this!” type of Law.

    I think it’s very clear in the beatitudes that Jesus is cutting off any possible foundation for hope in ourselves in order that he may become our foundation.

  10. A number of years ago Dr. Scaer came out with a book maintaining that the Sermon on the Mount is basically gospel. His position was that the Sermon is the essential summery of the teachings of Christ, which were passed down by word of mouth to the pre- Pauline church. In other words, the Sermon is the kind of Jesus we have. So significant is this Sermon to who Jesus is that I would say the Sermon is gospel. Did the gospel only come about with Paul, etc. Paul only teaches what Jesus taught! Fascinating read.

  11. Rev. Matthew Lorfeld :
    I’m not sure you actually have engaged the text though. I cannot see in any way you can legitimately turn the word Makarios into a command. Furthermore, Scripture is chalk full of examples of preachers (including Christ) ignoring Walther’s Law then Gospel sermon structure (Ezekiel 34 comes to mind, especially as it appears in our lectionary system…).
    At the same time, I sometimes think the question “Is this sentence Law or Gospel?” is the wrong question, and not one Walther intended us to ask… or at least, that’s stopping the question too soon. For example, the sentence: “Jesus died on the cross for your sins.” Is that Law or Gospel? Depends! A parent chastising their child who is making light of their sin can say that sentence and it will be heard as crushing (hopefully) Law. The same parent can then console their child by saying “Jesus died on the cross for your sins” and speak Gospel.

    In reading earlier posts Pr Lorfelf I was struck with this same assessment. It’s both Law and Gospel, or at least that is what I get from the beatitudes. Then when you made your post I felt vilified. I’m not a theologian either but just a simple layman so I’m glad when a real theologian voices similar thoughts.

  12. I tend to see the Beatitudes as promises. Jesus was speaking to a large group of people who were there to learn from Him. Verse 11 indicates that they were already either believers, or would become believers in Him. They were not there to scoff or challenge Him.
    These people were the poor in spirit, the gentle, those hungering to be right with God, understanding that they were sinners who could not meet the Pharisees’ demands of purity.
    Law and gospel are forever entwined in Scripture, but the people who first heard these words from Jesus, I believe, saw them as assurances that He was what they hoped Him to be–the One who would make things right and teach them the reality of the true kingdom of grace rather than the Pharisaic kingdom of law.

  13. This was one of the questions in my theological interview upon leaving St. Louis! They asked me if the beatitudes were Law or Gospel. I said I thought they were descriptive rather than prescriptive and therefore Gospel. They did not disagree. I was allowed out of the seminary.

    I’m guessing it is the reformed who like to think of them as Law. Just another way to insert human effort into the salvation equation.

  14. I like what Sue has to say in #16. I have been taught that we have one of two reactions when confronted with the law – either to self-righteousness, or to despair. Certainly, I find this to be true in my own life as a good marker to guard against my natural, sinful inclination toward self-righteousness.

    Beginning in Matt 5, Jesus appears to be addressing those who have already been driven to despair by the preaching of the law as the dominant theme of that day, and therefore are ripe for the Gospel. They have taken the law to heart and are therefore poor in spirit, mournful, and meek. Because they know their sin and are in despair because of it, they are open to the Gospel and are therefore blessed to now be in a position to receive it. And Jesus gives them that hope. What follows this is teaching about “what should we now do”, as people touched by the Gospel and now disciples of Jesus Christ, out of gratitude and response for His great blessing to us.

  15. I say Gospel. Since Pastor Rossow was kind enough to initiate this post, I am obligated to respond to the points he made. My prayer is we have sufficient effort to examine each part of the Sermon on the Mount in the context of Law and Gospel.

    1. The life of a christian is one of repentance (I heard this teaching somewhere recently.) For Jesus to preach “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” is more than an understatement. Our very King and Lord issues the proclamation; where He is we find the Kingdom. (I do not fully comprehend the second sentence; perhaps further elaboration would facilitate discussion.) How could we not interpret the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven back on earth as less than good news? The cry of “how long, oh Lord, how long?” has been answered.

    2. I’m not sure Jesus learned systematics at Fort Wayne, but I am sure He preached both Law and Gospel. If your assertion of Matt 4:17 being solely law is granted, I would quickly point to Matt 4:23-25 which clearly states Jesus “proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom” throughout Galilee and beyond so that His “fame spread throughout all Syria.”

    3. Please reread #2 for evidence of preaching (and its effectualness) prior to the Sermon on the Mount. I can not accept “Jesus has yet to have done any preaching to convert anyone” portion of the first sentence. It is this very assertion which determines how we approach the beautitudes and what we hear in this sermon. I assert the hearing of Law in the beautitudes is conditioned by moral righteousness; this would be what the pharisees heard (they could increase their code from 613 to 620.) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Gal 5:22-23

    4. Matt 5:20 was not good news for the pharisees and scribes. But I’ve never acquired the taste for cafeteria christianity. Verse 20 is the conclusion of the paragraph beginning in verse 17, “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” What our first Adam could not do the second Adam stands on the Mount and proclaims victory over the Law! Jesus begins with Gospel (I will fulfill them) and ends this section with Law (the righteousness of scribes and pharisees will not earn heaven.) His teaching removes the veil of Moses covering the nation of Israel and focuses their eyes and ears on His teachings of repentance and good news against the works righteousness of the pharisees.

    5. Did Jesus “tighten” the Law or unleash the fullness of the Law. The pharisitic code had squeezed God’s Holy Law into such narrow confines where they believed it no longer affected their daily lives. They believed the Law was something they could do. It became a do-do law (think in Luther terminology). I’m convinced most preachers realize every now and then the congregation should be told their sinners. So far, Jesus has openned with the Gospel of the beautitudes; proclaimed Himself as the fulfillment of the Law and now He instructs all present in the fulness of the Law ; He has laid the foundation for chapter six where we learn prayer, fasting and trust in the Lord.

    6. My favorite prayer is Mark 9:24, “I believe, help my unbelief.” I suppose I should just conceed I am of little faith; I certainly have not moved any mountains lately. I’ve been too busy trying to get a new fellowship hall with classrooms built in our church. If this be Law, I am convicted. For this I ask forgiveness from the Lord.

    7. I’ve often wondered why so many Lutheran pastors prefer dogs? Least I be accused of setting up a straw dog – to the point, if one arrives at chapter seven and has not realized righteousness of their own is canine in origin, return to chapter five and read again – and pray.

    8. Just in case you missed it, see post #4 above.

    9. It is written; “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Lev 19:2 To fully appreciate this command, please listen to this episode of Issues.Etc with Dr. Kleinig.
    http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/issuesetc.org/podcast/582092110H1.mp3
    Ask yourself again, “Is Matthew 5:48 law and/or gospel? The taste you bring to the table will affect the choice of food selected.

    Peace,
    Dennis

  16. It’s interesting, when looking at Matthew 5:1-48. It in a way, is similar to Exodus, when the Commandments are given. The Commandments, tell us what not to do/be. Christ, in Matthew, tells us what to do/be. Then, in vs. 13-16, He tells us who/what we are, as God told the children of Israel in Exodus. Now, in 17-20, we are told of the Fulfillment of the Law, kind of like in Exodus, when the Israelites are told what will happen if they depart from the Law. One difference, Christ knew, what some thought, as He says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.(17) Christ give great detail in 18-19, exactly the importance, weight, and depth of the Law. He erases any thought, of Him being a “false deliverer”, or King in the wordly sense. Then, in vs.20, He drives that point home, without doubt for the hearer.
    As the Law, is not only outward but also inward & counts when hidden from man’s eyes, Christ takes the Law, takes it to a level, that the people knew, no hope existed for them or for the teachers of the Law, none could possibly keep them. Note the topics Christ speaks on. Murder, Adultery, Divorce, Oaths, Revenge, Love for Enemies, Giving, Prayer, Fasting, Treasures of the earth & Heaven, Judging. Most, can be found in the Ten Commandments.
    Hmmm…and then we see it. God gives the children of Israel great Promises & Blessings, if they hold fast to what they had been commanded. Christ does the same, we see it’s beginnings in Matt. 6:25. Would wouldn’t be in a desperate state of worry, by this point? But, He says, do not worry. Judging is again spoken of, but in the context of worrying about others error, & not seeing our own. That is worry. Then the Promises & Blessings come! Matt. 7: 7-12, what a blessing & promise these are, He tells us why we need not worry, yet again, we are known Above, in all ways. Christ then tells us, what others in the “land” will do, think, & say to this & us because of it. He warns us, as God did the Israelites, what they would face when entering the Promised Land.
    As in the OT, we see Christ give us a parable, of two men. One builds on rock, one on sand. Just like those who dwelled in the Promised land. Hmmmm….looks like both, not just both, but the Gospel complete, and not in a nutshell. Both those sitting at His feet then, as Jews, and us today, we both understand what was, is, painfully impossible, without our Heavenly Father, and Christ, they are One in the Same. I think, it’s a great statement of –
    “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever more.”
    But…I’m no theologian, I’m far less, I’m a sheep. I come here to learn.
    As I said, if meek isn’t on the table, I’ll be happy to take mercy.

  17. It sounds like law to me, but then there is Jesus, the Man of the cross, right there in the flesh proclaiming it. What He takes away by showing man’s utter uselessness and helplessness, He replaces by being the Perfect Sacrifice for them. He empties the listeners of themselves, and is right there ready to replace what they are missing with Himself.

  18. I appreciate the presence of a theological discussion. Thanks.

    I think all the varying answers point to the wrong question being asked. Rather than ask, “Is it Law or Gospel?” ask: “Is this Theology of the Cross or Theology of Glory?”. This is the question that reveals the preacher’s foundation for the sermon.

    The sermon on the Mount consists of a series of paradoxes. “Blessed”, in other words, given good things, is someone who is “poor in spirit”. But this is the opposite of the view of the world. Being happy, on top of everything is the goal of the self-confident worldly person. Thus we have here a classic picture of “Theology of the Cross”. We see God in our troubles not in our successes. This is the pattern not only in the first few verses but all the way through. “Blessed” when persecuted, etc. Definitely not “Glory”.

    Thus I would say that this whole passage is an excellent picture of a proper “Theology of the Cross” sermon. What else would you expect from our Savior!?

  19. @Rev. Mike Trask #17
    Lieber Trask. Strasvutsia. Kak bema dela?

    The comment is sometimes made, “Well… most of the words of Jesus are law anyway.” Definetly Reformed thinking. I also agree with the other comment, “You have to engage the text.” Scaer does this on a very high level and I think is quite credible in seeing his words as gospel.

  20. @Dennis Peskey #19
    I certainly have not moved any mountains lately. I’ve been too busy trying to get a new fellowship hall with classrooms built in our church.

    Pastor Peskey,
    I watched my son working to get building projects done in two congregations. (Just about everyone knew they were needed but resisted getting underway for one reason or another.)
    I disagree: I think you are “moving mountains” and I hope all are pleased with the result.
    [Make that “most”; it’s impossible to please everyone!]

  21. I’m with revfisk… Gospel… esp “Blessed are you ….
    Law to the extent that we can’t do any of it right, but there sits Jesus, Who did!

    [Sometimes (most times?) I have to listen to revfisk twice.] 🙂

  22. Rev Fisk’s Greek Teusday, of this is fantastic. I do love Greek Teusday’s, makes ya wish ya had a Greek keyboard.

  23. My intial thoughts concerning this is that it’s the same question when pondering the cross. Was the Crucifixion Law or Gospel? Well, it’s both. It’s the same with the Sermon on the Mount. Also take in consideration the purpose for which Matthew wrote the Gospel. I’m am in full agreement with those who state Matthew wrote his Gospel for the purpose of teaching or catechisis. The structure itself points to this, Luke’s Gospel, for instance shows the true chronological order of our Lord’s teaching. Where as Matthew gathers them together, for what many believe for the catechising of the early christians. Let’s look at the points you made. By the way, good stuff.

    Concerning your 1st point, as I’ve already stated, Matthew’s main purpose was not to present an exact chronological acount of our Lord’s ministry, which Luke does, but to show the early christians that this is the true seed promised to Abraham. The genealogy and the first 4 chapters point this out. So I see issues with using chronology to make this point.

    2nd point. I agree from a theological and systematics standpoint that this makes since, but ultimatly it’s this is the work of the Holy Spirit that will dictate whether this is Law or Promise. I believe the 3rd point would fall under this as well.

    4th point. The TLSB follows the interpretations of earlier exegetes concerning this passage. That is first of all, the Righteousness of Christ is needed, then what is the true and proper motivation for doing good works. That is not doing them to merit salvation.

    5th and 6th points. I need to think some more on these.

    7th point. I still haven’t come down yet as to what is the correct interpretation. You state the traditional view, the alternate view is the church is not to hypocritcaly or prematurly cast out a fellow a fellow believer from fellowship. That is, christians are the pearls and the dogs are the unbelievers. Which goes nicely with Matt. 13:44-46, that is if you take these as parables of Atonement.

    8th point. Jesus is addressing those who lay there works before God to merrit there salvation. So yes, I can see this as Law, but I’m sure there more to it.

    9th point. Again, the TLSB follows the older exegetes concerning this passage. That is, Jesus is comanding his disciples to follow the Father’s example, which Paul also does in some of his epistles. I need to think about this one some more also.

    Great stuff Pastor Rossow, this is one of my favorite sections of scripture. Everyone, feel free to tear it apart.

  24. Dear Pastor Rossow,

    Thanks for this excellent post! My Sunday Bible class has been studying Matthew and we are currently in chapter five, at verse 26. So this is still fresh in my mind.

    In order to guide my teaching, I have read Luther’s commentary on the Sermon on the Mount (American Edition 21, pp. 1-294) while preparing my class notes. It was translated by Jaroslav Pelikan, and is very helpful in answering your questions.

    With regard to the Sermon on the Mount in general, Luther says:
    “Christ here deliberately wanted to oppose all false teaching and to open up the true meaning of God’s commandments as He emphasizes when He says (Mt 5:17) “I have not come to abolish the Law.” . . .[Christ threatens] that no one will enter heaven who abolishes even one of the least of these commandments (Mt 5:19); and He explicitly calls them ‘commandments’.” (AE 21:3).

    So, in general, this sermon of Jesus discusses the Law, and corrects or finishes the Law (Mt 5:17).

    But with regard to the Beautitudes, Luther says:
    “I have said before that all these items and promises must be understood by faith in reference to things that are neither seen nor heard and that they are not talking about outward appearances. . . . Therefore whoever wants to have the blessedness and the possessions that Christ is talking about here, must lift up his heart far above all senses and reason. He must not evaluate himself on the basis of his feelings, but he must argue this way: “If I am poor, then I am not poor. I am poor outwardly, according to the flesh; but before God, in faith, I am rich. . . . I feel sorrow, misery, and sadness of heart; but still I am blessed, happy, and settled on the basis of the Word of God.” (AE 21:44)

    For Luther, faith is defined as “trust in the promises of the Gospel, whose fulfillment is neither seen nor heard in this life.” Therefore the Beautitudes are a description of faith, not in the abstract, but as it is really lived out in life. Each Beautitude is structured in this way: IF this is your situation, THEN this is the Gospel promise that applies to you. I use the term “Gospel” here in a wider sense to include all promises of Christ, not just the specific matter of the forgiveness of sins.

    That is Luther’s position, and I agree with him.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  25. Yeah, the Beatitudes make me kind of nervous for many of the reasons mentioned above. As a visitor, I once heard a Baptist pastor preach a sermon on the Beatitudes almost entirely as thought they were Law. “IF you’re not meek, then you OUGHT to examine your attitude (implication: you’re not being blessed); IF you’re not humble then you OUGHT look at your works (implication: you’re not being blessed); etc., etc. I came away feeling like I had just heard a message on some OT passage.

    Seems to me like the Beatitudes are “passive,” not active in the text. If that is the case, then those have some of these characteristics are being blessed, whether they realize it or not. I don’t see this as being out of line with Luther’s teaching on the matter, either. And certainly they are a description of faith, but is this not also received as a gift, not as something we earn? Therefore, I’d say Gospel.

  26. A lot of the Sermon is law, or about law, but the beatitudes are about Christ, and Christians. There are no threats in the beatitudes.

    First, they describe Christ, peacemaker, persecuted, etc. As Christians who are baptized into Christ, they also describe how God sees us, and the blessings we receive as Christians: comfort, mercy, kingdom of heaven, etc. Verse 11 connects them to us, and not as a command, but on what will happen to us as persecuted Christians: we get a great reward in heaven.

    Those promises are pure Gospel.

  27. Ya know, the Mosaic Law, is an interesting topic. We are freed from it’s weight, accountablitlity, for abandoning & bear it’s consequence, but when you really read & look at it, alot of it makes sense. For physical health, not simply in terms of just Eternal. He has always said, He wish it go well with us, and the Mosaic Law, sometimes cause the physical health to be so. Wait, just wait & ck this out.

    I’ve heard, quite often, science negates Scripture. It’s a false arguement & is a false statement. Most don’t know, really, what is all contained in the Law. My personal favorite is the “mold” issue, Leviticus 14:33-53,(I’m allergic as is #1 son, to mold).
    Our Father, always was/is very specific, in this & all things, really. The “mold verses” it, what colour is it, if it is this or this, it must be inspected, it must be shut up, w/all people out. Does it spread or not, then goes into detail, as to how it must be managed, right down to the clothing those in the house own. Let’s look now at present building inspection, mold detection, and disposal purposes. Hmmmm….medical science, always proves His Word, Sola Scriptura, though many adhere to the opposite. The Law is a great place to look for those! Do we, not so much, that is a shame in a way, man thinks he is Above the Creator, as man has always done. (See Tower of Babel.)
    If you have ever had or known anyone, who had red/black mold, in a home, look at the hoops, they must jump through. Why?! IT IS TOXIC, not just to those who are allergic, it is highly toxic to humans & animals. How is it to managed or handled in both Scripture & present day? Quite similar to the Law. The Jews of that time, believed the Law to be Life. And so it was/is, both eternal & physical, in some aspects, both then & now. Mold, shellfish (if ya ever had a bad one, ya know why, bottom feeding, garbage eating creature, great smoked & cooked). We still do have much, even today to LEARN from the Law, but we are freed from it, in the sense of it’s damnation & condemnation for abandoning it. Don’t skip over it, just because we are no longer under it, Christ said in Matthew, not on letter is changed. Just lookin’ at the mold topic, says quite a bit for that.
    We know, God created all things, and all things are under Him. Even that which may kill. We know His Word is true in this age, as what others hold up above It, as to relative truth. What they forget, is God said it, millennium ago…and we prove not ourselves right, but Him & His Word right, just as He said it would. And that affords great promise for us.

    So are the Beatitudes proven, Gospel or Law? How can we truly separate? They are both Command & Promise, and in many ways, so is the Law. Yet still impossible, to obey, in deed, word and thought. Impossible yes w/o & apart from Christ…and yet not, as the Sermon on the Mount states to them then & us today.
    Next time, you encounter those, who place man’s knowledge, science, & talents above His Word, try the ‘physical life/ Mold’ in Leviticus.

  28. Good discussion.

    I’m not going in depth on this at all. I think the Sermon on the Mount is both Law and Gospel. There are certainly law passages (such as the explanations to the 5th, 6th, 7th commandments in Mt. 5). There are also Gospel passages and promises, such as Jesus’ declaration that He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets in Mt. 5:17; the 5th petition of the Lord’s prayer in Mt. 6:12, or the house built on the rock in Mt. 7:24-25.

    The location of the mountain has a special Old Testament significance. When God revealed Himself to the people, He did so on mountains (Sinai in Ex. 19-20; Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings. 18; Horeb in 1 Kings 19:9; Mt. Zion where the sacrifices were offered at the Jerusalem temple, all throughout). So since God chose to reveal Himself on mountains in the Old Testament, and He did so for both Law and Gospel, it would make sense that Jesus would reveal His Divine teaching on a mountain (implying both Law and Gospel).

    $.02.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Fullerton, NE

  29. Okay, so in my post #2, I had a question or two. I come here firstly, to learn. Which I have in spades & am most thankful, grateful, and encouraged by.
    But, my post in #2, really were actually questions, can anyone give an answer for me? This is important to me, individually & what I say/explain/confess/share, to/with others.

    This coming holiday, I may, I pray, have 1-3 people here, who are are varied beliefs (Lutheran/Jewish). This is going to come up, and it would help us here, to have at least an answer that is mostly agreed upon.

  30. Below is a link to a book by a Lutheran theologian, Scheaffer, as to the gospel orientation of the Sermon on the Mount, as the first Gospel Sermon of Christ to the church.

    He was a member of the General Synod along with Krauth et al, and has some good thoughts on this subject.

    Annotations on the Gospel of St Matthew.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=XDMLui2OQ5AC&printsec=frontcover&dq=annotations+on+the+gospel+of+matthew&hl=en&ei=Pk3fTKiMNMudnwedkPGsDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved.

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