GodSpeak for the Week of October 28
“Fulfilled, Not Abolished – The Reformation & the Christian Church”
This Wednesday is Reformation Day (October 31); THE day, back in 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany.
One of the greatest gifts the Reformers emphasized was the proper balance between Law and Gospel; between God’s Commandments and His righteous judgement of our failure to uphold them, paired against His unmerited grace offered solely through Jesus Christ.
For this Reformation week, we consider this right balance between Law and Gospel through the lens of the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5.
Day 1…To start this week, please read Matthew 4:18-25
- Consider this – Matthew is very succinct in his description of Jesus’ actions during the early days of His ministry.
- Answer this – make of list of every, single thing Jesus says or does during these eight verses.
- Answer this – how much is going on around Jesus at this time?
- What kind of impression of Jesus might people be making, because of all the things He’s doing?
Day 2…Read Matthew 5:1
- Consider this – Matthew tells us that Jesus began to “teach” them. The Greek word for this gives the impression that He’s telling them what He wants them to REMEMBER (i.e., not just “instructing” them, per se).
- Consider this – Matthew also notes that it was to His DISCIPLES that Jesus was directing His teaching (although, He goes up on the mountainside to do so).
- Answer this – what does this tell us about the method Jesus used to teach?
- Why direct His teaching to the disciples (specifically), while doing so in a forum where He could use His “outside voice” and reach many others?
Day 3…Read Matthew 5:3-10
- Consider this – in these verses are the famous “Beatitudes.”
- Consider this – Jesus offers what are considered (by worldly standards) eight NEGATIVES (e.g.: “poor in spirit,” “mourn,” et. al.)
- Consider this – to be “blessed” in this context (i.e., according to the Greek word Jesus uses, here) is to be blessed BECAUSE a person is “poor in spirit,” “mourning,” etc.
- Answer this – why would Jesus declare folks blessed, BECAUSE of these states of being?
- What do these states of being cause a person to do…rely upon?
- Consider this – after most of the “Blessed are…,” Jesus notes things like: “…they will be comforted,” “…they will inherit” – the connotation is that the byproduct comes from OUTSIDE of the person!
Day 4…Read Matthew 5:13
- Answer this – what does salt DO in our lives these days? What are all the different reasons we use salt?
- Answer this – so how is Christ calling us to be like “salt” in the world?
Day 5…Read Matthew 5:14-16
- Answer this – what does Jesus mean, when He says: “A town built on a hill cannot be hidden”?
- Given His teaching about “light” in the world, what is this supposed to mean?
- Answer this – when Jesus talks about letting our “light shine” so people can see our “good deeds” and glorify God, what kind of deeds is He talking about?
- Are they ANY kind of good deed? Are they intended to be good deeds, which specifically point back to Him/God?
Day 6…Read Matthew 5:17-20…the foundation verses of our proper balance between Law and Gospel
- Consider this – the Greek word Jesus uses for “abolish” carries as one of its definitions the notion of “depriving of force.”
- As Christians, one of the classic definitions of the Law’s purpose – even today – is the Law forces us to recognize our failure to do what God calls and wills. It drives us to the ground in recognition that, when left to our own power and will, we fail – constantly – to do what God requires.
- Answer this – why is it important, then, that Jesus tells us He hasn’t come to “abolish” the Law, but to “fulfill” it?
- What does He mean, when He says that?
And, how adamant IS Jesus in keeping balance between the Law and Gospel?
- Consider this – in v. 18, Jesus notes that not even the “smallest letter,” not even the “least stroke of a pen” will disappear from the Law until ALL OF IT is upheld!
- That is, it ALL remains IN EFFECT – with ALL of its CONSEQUENCES!
- Answer this – so, what does it mean that Jesus “fulfilled” every jot and scratch of the Law?
- Why does this matter, especially in our day-and-age?
- How can you bring and share this life-giving message with others?