December 28, 2022

December 28, 2022

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
December 28, 2022

“And he opened his mouth, and taught them saying,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they should be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:2-12

When I was first coming here to Grace some 30 years ago, the first series of sermons I preached were from Matthew 5 thru 7, The Sermon on the Mount. Over the years I have found myself going back to Matthew 5, 6, and 7, perhaps more than any other place in my Bible. It's still the most famous sermon ever preached. Think if Jesus preached that sermon today, the downloads of that one sermon. Even today, people are still downloading the Sermon on the Mount and anyone who preaches on it, millions upon millions. It’s just a reminder that the old words are new words and can be fresh and relevant no matter how old they get. But notice how Jesus starts off with the word blessed. I think he uses it 8 or 9 times. It's a word that could be translated happy. Most of the English translations use the word blessed, it's a good Bible word. Some of the English translations actually use the word happy and not in the sense of the way we typically understand happiness, but happiness in the full sense of that word. It's a rich word. The Puritans and Spurgeon, and even men like Jonathan Edwards would use the word happy. They didn't trivialize that word, it had a depth to it. Happiness in the full sense of the word. It means to live a life worthy of God, a life of meaning, a life of significance, fruitfulness, and usefulness. The key to happiness is found in Christ, listening to him and obeying him, and it’s found in these eight Beatitudes. Here's the blessed life. It's sort of like Psalm 1, the blessed man and the blessed life and he hears the blessed life described by way of eight Beatitudes.

This is the last Wednesday of 2022, and that means in a matter of days we cross the threshold into 2023. Every Christian can look back over last year in terms of your experiences, and say it was checkered with trials and blessings, joy and sorrows.

The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “There's a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

The Apostle Paul describes the checkered life, you could say, of every child of God. It's one of sorrowing and rejoicing. 2 Corinthians 6, “For Christians there's an intensification of sorrow and joy.” The second Beatitude of Matthew 5 tells us why. “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” Jesus knows the true child of God will mourn and he primarily has in view here sin. That's not exclusive, there are some other matters that we mourn over. We mourn over the world in which we live, we see tragic situations, but primarily he has in view our sin. We are born sinners, and we die sinners. We never, ever, ever reach a state of perfection. We are sinners the moment we are born, and we will die sinners, even on our best days. On our best days we are plagued with sin, our words, our thoughts and our actions.

And you find that in the Bible, the best of men were men who recognize their sinnerhood. Listen to the groans, the patriarch Job, for example, Job 42:6, “I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Listen to the Apostle Paul in Romans 7, “Oh wretched man that I am.” Listen to the prophet in Isaiah 6, “Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell amongst the people of unclean lips”, and then you have the Psalms. David has several penitential psalms; Psalm 51 perhaps, is the most famous, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”

So yes, sorrow will be a real significant part of Christian life and experience, intense sorrow over our sin. But where is the rejoicing? Well, look here, Jesus doesn't stop with mourning, he doesn't leave us groveling in the dust. No, he sees a happy face here as well, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.”

How are they comforted? Well, they're comforted in only one way, in the gospel of Christ. You're comforted by forgiveness, that's what's in view here. Here's why we can always rejoice. Remember, Paul could say, “Rejoice always, again I say, rejoice!” We can always rejoice in the blood atoning death of Jesus, and the fact that we are forgiven.

Every Christian can sing those words from that very familiar hymn,
       What can washed away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
       What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
       This is all my hope and peace.

That's why the Christian should be the happiest person, the most blessed person on planet earth. We have forgiveness with God. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

I wonder sometimes, how many times do we confess our sin daily? I wonder how many times we are able to rejoice when we don't confess our sins. Is that the key to happiness? I think it's one of the keys. It's the key to holiness and happiness that we confess our sins, and we find rejoicing in the fact that our sins are forgiven.

So it's important, brethren, to be honest and open with God, before God, with our sin. It's not easy, but it's the key to holiness and happiness, and we always have reason to go to the throne of grace and reason to mourn and reason to rejoice.