Blessed are the Pure in Heart
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 27 April 2002
"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Eloah)" (Matt.5:8, KJV).
I wonder how many countless sermons have been preached over the ages on one or more of the Beatitudes? I know that this is not the first time I have. And I wonder how many countless billions of times they have been read by people of all Christian and Messianic denominations who have really believed them? For as you read this, the loftiest sermon of Christ and perhaps the loftiest sermon ever given to mankind, the observant person is at once struck by the fact that they contain some astonishing promises. Now I don't know about you but when the Creator makes promises I am inclinded to believe that they have substance and are not just pretty words rolled off the divine tongue in order to impress poets or lovers of prose. For, masterful prose though the Beatitudes are, that is not why they were given to us. They assume that we all desire to be blessed, and that thus filled with this resolve, we will do all that is within our power to inherit these blessings.
Yah'shua (Christ) describes nine states of blessedness and gives nine promises or rewards to those who attain them. Straight afterwards He reminds us that we are to be visible lights of witness to the world and that we have a responsibility to share all that we know and have been taught by Yahweh. And then, in those two verses so hated by huge segments of Christendom, and which they have usually excluded from their discussions of the Beatitudes, is the reminder from the Son of God (Eloah) that He has not come to abolish Torah (the Law) but to fill it up, bringing it to its final complete form (Mt.5:17-20), to be followed immediate afterwards by those well-known Torah-modifications to go beyond what was revealed to Moses (Moshe) about not killing, and to insist that it is enough to kill someone spiritually by being angry with them, warning that even calling someone a fool is to place one's soul in eternal jeapardy! (vv.21-22) And thus all the wonderful callings and promises of the Beatitudes are put into perspective by reminding us that purity is not just some sort of jurisdictional salvation we obtain from Christ by trusting in Him, but something much, much more. In fact, if you examine it carefully, you will discover - perhaps shockingly for some - that salvation and sanctification are inextricably intertwined. For if someone is in danger of hell-fire for calling their brother "Raca" or "You fool!", aren't they by definition in danger of losing their salvation too if they let what may appear to be an innocuous remark to someone pass by without repentance?
I am a great believer in putting scripture in context. For centuries Christians have been dissecting the Bible and placing its gems in golden frames. And it is true, the Beatitudes are a treasure beyond price and should have a spotlight cast on them, as has been done for generations. The great error, however, is to remove them from the context in which they were given, and that context is unapologetically Torah-observance, and is accomanpied with dire warnings from Christ - far more serious and sobering that any warnings given in the Old Testament! For He has extended the boundaries of the Torah beyond mere action and taken them into the heart of the human soul itself. In short, He is saying that we are going to be judged by our mind- and heart-attitudes as well as our deeds.
The more I probe into the context of those passages of Scripture which we as believers hold so dear, the more I am persuaded that many people are not only playing with Yahweh's Word but that they don't actually believe in it at all. At the back of most of our minds, it seems to me, is that infectious spirit of doubt which says, "Nah, He can't really mean it like that!" And the moment we think in such a manner, we are unconsciously applying the editor's pen to the Word of God and excising huge chunks which don't appeal to the mood of the moment. And when we do that, we are, again perhaps without realising it, signing our spiritual death warrant.
As human beings we have the tendency to look at the promises of Yahweh and gloss over the warnings. There are probably many reasons for this. Disbelief is, of course, the major one. But I suspect that one of the major tripwires in our souls when it comes to such things is the fruit of bad theology. Men, well- and ill-intentioned, have weaved their own philosophies out of God's Word -- philosophies built out of speculation, ommission, carelessness, and sometimes open rebellion. The denominational division of Christians can only be explained by one or more of these conditions. Christians pay lip-service to the unity of the faith but by their actions prove that they are not really committed to it. Instead they seek for the unity of man, a fatal ecumenical spirit, that waters down the Gospel to such a degree that it becomes tasteless and useless, fit only to be thrown away, something that Yah'shua (Jesus) again warned of in this same Beattitudes chapter with His parable of the salt (v.13). Salt crystals may be nice to look at, but if they have no flavour, then who will buy it? We must similarly be sure that the Gospel of Christ loses none of its potency through the carelessness of man.
I believe that the Body of Christ has been suffering so terribly in recent times because Yahweh is trying to draw our attention to these things. All the prophetic dreams and visions that I have been having in recent months are of this one singular theme - the blessedness and vitality of purity. People wonder why they cannot "see" God, why they have so little contact with Him, why He seems locked up in Scripture but never seemingly available to meet on-hand needs which are often desperate. They rationalise that that He is near but we just can't see Him, and that we must simply muddle on in faith. Yes, it is true, that He is near, and, yes,we are to continue exercising faith, but it is not true that He is supposed to be invisible from our spiritual sight. He Himself has said, through His Son, that "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Eloah)".
Now the Beattitudes do not mean that we are blessed if we happen to stumble by chance on purity, or if Yahweh suddenly intervenes to "give" it to us. They are not worded in that way. To be in a state of blessedness is an imperative, not an invitation. How could they possibly be an option or choice if by neglecting them we then find ourselves committing such sins as getting angry and calling our brother "Raca" and thus placing ourselves in danger of hell-fire!? The juxtaposing of this warning, right after the Nine Beattitudes, and in the same sermon, is to tell us in no uncertain terms that if we do not attain this ninefold state of blessedness that we are placing our souls in danger of hell, because we will begin to start thinking, feeling and behaving in a way that will break the sacred vows of holiness we took upon entering the waters of baptism - an ordinance signifying the complete and total washing away by complete immersion of all that is of the world. Why, oh why, do you imagine, that Christ singled out these two sins to start with in particular - anger and insult - when He could have listed any of hundreds of others first? He compares them to murder and places them before adultery, divorce, oath-breaking, and so forth. They're equated with the "Thou shalt not kill" statute in the Ten Commandments! There they are, spotlighted as prime illustrations in the Sermon of all sermons.
I think that for the last two weeks almost every dream and vision I have been shown by Yahweh has been to tell me that I have not yet attained the level of purity required either for my office or indeed for the omega of my salvation! In short, the fruits are simply not adequate for the state of blessedness which the Master wants me to be in. And as I have been brought to an ever more heightened awareness of what yet needs doing in my life, so I have witnessed various theological speculations, which have been shelved over the years because I could find no harmony with them in Scripture, quietly dropping into the mental fireplace to be consumed. Amongst this assortment of man-made doctrines are "once saved, always saved" (which always struck me as preposterous even logically) and those which try to separate final (as opposed to initial) salvation from sanctification and holiness. They have confirmed what the Word has revealed to me gradually over the years by bringing into sharp focus the truth that salvation is never secure unless we are on the Way and not stagnating on it, and until mortality is over and we have made our calling and election sure. In short, there is no room for complacency, and no luxurious "exception" clauses for those too lazy to be obedient to the Master. There is only one way of salvation, and it is described in the ninefold Beattitudes. Let's now read them together and see what they say:
- 1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- 2. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
- 3. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
- 4. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
- 5. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
- 6. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
- 7. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
- 8. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- 9. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (Matt.5:3-11, KJV)
1. To be poor in spirit is the opposite of being proud. It is the condition of always being in a servant attitude and the opposite of the big "I" or "Me", no matter whether that "I" or "Me" is right or wrong, good or bad. We are to boast only of Christ (Gal.6:14). The Kingdom of Heaven, as we have heard in past sermons, is the inner condition of being in Christ, as it is not presently of this world. In short, our spirit is either in the world and its lusts, or in heaven.
2. There are many who bottle their feelings up inside either because they think that is the brave thing to do or because they are afraid - afraid that people will laugh at them or afraid that they will suffer a loss of status, or have sins exposed. Specifically, we are blessed when we confess our sorrows and inner hurts, and the promise is given that we will be comforted, no matter what our past sins my be, if we repent.
3. To be meek here refers to an attitude of humility towards Yahweh and not men. Again, a servant spirit is called for in our dealings with heaven, with the promise that we will inherit the earth, presumably in the Millennial times. We do not dictate to God.
4. To have an empty stomach is not a nice thing, and seeing hunger and starvation in the world is distressing indeed. But to have an empty, hollow spirit is in some ways even worse. Only when we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, which is truth, holiness, purity and all that is right in Yahweh's eyes, are we then promised spiritual completion. We shall be filled, just as Yah'shua came to fill Torah.
5. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy, reminds us of what Yah'shua (Jesus) said in the Lord's Prayer, namely that we can receive no pardon or forgiveness from Yahweh until we have freely pardoned and forgiven everyone who has ever wronged us (Mt.6:12; Lk.11:4). To then be blessed with Yahweh's mercy means to be able to rest in a condition of salvation.
6. To be pure in heart means not only the emotions in Hebrew but in our whole being, including the mind and will. The blessed state of being able to see and therefore commune with Yahweh is dependent upon being clean in thought, feeling, motives and action.
7. To be a peacemaker does not mean resolving quarrels or disputes in the world, though this is certainly a ramification, but in essence means revealing the peace of Yahweh to unsaved souls. For when a soul can make peace with God through repentance and faith, followed by obedience to Torah, that soul can finally enjoy the blessed state of being numbered with the children of God, the redeemed, the saved.
8 & 9. The last two beatitudes promise persecution and hatred from the unsaved, assuring us that persecution will increase in proportion to our righteous conduct. Like the first beatitude, those who are persecuted because they are righteous (and not because they have done something evil which can also provoke persecution) are promised the Kingdom of Heaven - peace of soul even if around them all is turmoil. Interestingly, two beatitudes are given for persecution, signalling that when this happens it actually works for our good, pressing us ever closer into the heavenly way of being.
It's well worth your while sometime sitting down with pencil and paper and, when you have read through the beatitudes several times, and then the rest of the Sermon on the Mount which extends through chapters 5 to 7 in Matthew, to write a character sketch of such a blessed person. What is he or she like? How would he or she be in any number of different circumstances? In short, try to picture in your mind, using the scriptural keys that you have, what kind of person Christ is challenging you to be, considering also the attractiveness of being such a person.
Some days ago I had in interesting and, for me, instructive prophetic dream. I was carrying a little girl on my back, taking her wherever I went, rather as mothers do in the Orient and in Africa when they are working in the fields. For the most part it was a joy but I remember getting impatient and irritated with the child on one occasion because she soiled my fine jacket. I was in London, the British metropolis, going around the shops with the little girl, but at length grew tired of the emptiness of the whole commercial and materialistic scene. My one desire was to get to Victoria Railway Station. I ended up in the countryside, quite lost, and amongst a large crowd of hostile and unfriendly people who jeered and mocked me. Presently I sighted an old steam train which had stopped on an escarpment, the only way up being by a steep cliff which, though not very high, was still a difficult climb. By this time the little girl had changed into a white egg and I was anxious that it should not be crushed as I scaled the cliff. I called up to the engine driver and asked if he was bound for Victoria Station. He replied that he was and that I could ride with him, and helped me up the final part of the ascent. He took me to the engine and to his very plain and rough compartment and invited me to ride the journey out there at no cost. I took the egg from the pocket, felt it was cool, and wrapped it up in a blue silk handkerchief to warm it up, as I knew it was alive. As the train set off for Victoria, I awoke.
To understand dream symbolism, you have to know what the various symbols mean to you personally. Some are pretty common to the human experience. The key was understanding Victoria Station, for I had recently completed a study of the Kings and Queens of England and had been particularly impressed by Queen Victoria who stood out from all the rest as a woman of virtue and purity with a genuine heart for her people. Thus it was I understood Victoria Station to represent the destination called Purity, the train an interrupted but now continuing journey, and the egg a spiritual rebirth-to-come. Even in the midst of our materialistic and spiritually dead world, represented by London, there is a place, Victoria, where purity and victory is to be found.
Who here could possibly not want the blessedness of the kingdom of heaven, comfort, seeing Yahweh, inheriting the millennial earth, being filled to complete satisfaction, being forgiven for wrong-doing, having a clear conscience, and becoming a child of God? Who in their right mind would not want these things? Within this formula is the complete equation for peace and happiness. The price is not so great: a servant attitude towards others, transparency and honesty when we are hurt, humility towards God, an appetite for righteousness, free and full forgiveness of others for the wrongs they do us, purity and cleanliness in heart, bringing the peace of Yahweh to the unsaved, and understanding that the persecution which comes from all of these is a sign of favour, not abandonment, by Yah'shua (Jesus).
Whatever happens, we have to keep spiritually moving. Our trials and tribulations in the world are to encourage us to seek for spiritual solutions and not carnal ones. It is all too easy to flounder spiritually and just wait passively for God to intervene. And though we may have little power over physical circumstances sometimes, we do have the option of seeking the blessed state through daily repentance. So let us press ahead with the Beattitudes and their wonderful promises clearly in focus and in due course reap the good rewards of final redemption. Amen.
This page was created on 29 March 2002
Last updated on 29 March 2002
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