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Living the Kingdom

The Gospel of Matthew has many chapters which contain Jesus’ teachings – the most well-known being the “Sermon on the Mount” recorded in chapters 5-7. This teaching is an elaboration of what it means to love God with all our hearts and minds, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.

As we study it, we will do well to remember the following:

  1. We need to recognise that although Jesus is describing life in His Kingdom and what He wants His followers to be, we are still a flawed and fallen people who all fail to consistently live up to the standard described here.
  2. The gospel message is that we are forgiven and accepted by God because of Jesus’ death for us, and not because we manage to obey His teaching perfectly. This is not to “lower the bar” but to acknowledge that we are saved by God’s grace alone. It is the Holy Spirit living in every believer who helps us want to live according to Jesus’ teaching; and who enables us increasingly to do so.
  3. Living out this sermon will mean blessing in our lives. “Blessed are you when ….”. In our contemporary experience-oriented and emotionoriented culture, we need to look again at what brings genuine joy. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

The Word at Work

Thessalonica was a wealthy and influential city in Macedonia. Paul visited it in AD 50-51, on his second missionary journey. His preaching resulted in both Jews and Greeks being converted and a church planted (See Acts 17: 1-9).

After about 3 weeks, Paul was forced out of the city by a mob, whipped up by the Jews who were jealous of Paul’s influence. The new converts were inevitably exposed to persecution, for which they were imperfectly prepared, as Paul had not had the time to give them all the basic teaching which he thought they required.

At the earliest opportunity, Paul (in Corinth, Acts 18:5) sent Timothy back to see how these new Christians were getting on. Overjoyed on hearing a good report from Timothy, he wrote this letter to them to explain his abrupt departure and to further instruct them in their faith. He particularly wanted to see them grow in faith, love, holiness and hope.

Passion

Our 2017 series for Lent, following the Easter story.