The Teachings of Jesus: Blessed are…(Part 1)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 ESV)

Those with the greater spiritual need are more likely to perceive their need and depend on God alone and not their own goodness. (R. C. Sproul, General Editor, The Reformation Study Bible ESV [Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005], 1367.)

The first Beattitude which described the happiness of the citizen of the kingdom declares: “How blest are those who know their need of God; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” The sense of need expressed in this statement is what is meant by the more familiar “poor in spirit.”…They are the humble as opposed to the proud; those with a deep sense of inadequacy rather than the self-suffecient…The honest and humble acknowledgment of one’s spiritual poverty opens the way for the reception of God’s blessings. It is when a man sees his own emptiness that God can give out of his own fullness. The kingdom belongs to those who realize their dependence upon the love, mercy, and power of the heavenly Father. The self-satisfied and the self-suffecient lack the first requisite to receiving God’s salvation. (William F. Bromley, Biblical Christianity [Jackson, KY: 1987], 406-407. Emphasis mine)

This particular verse from Matthew 5 is one that is heavily talked about but not so heavily applied. We tell people that they need God, but we don’t show them what they must do to receive God. The extent of our teaching of lost people regarding salvation is that they were born sinners, Jesus came to redeem sinners, Jesus died on a cross to pay for sins, and that we must have faith in Jesus Christ in order to be saved. Sadly, there is more to it than that.

A self-suffecient Christian is an oxymoron. How can someone be dependent on their own strengths and gifts when God is the one who provided them the gifts that they have to be able to stand on their own in the first place?

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:16-18 ESV)

Blessed are the poor in Spirit…

Jesus words still ring true today despite all the good that our society has done. Just because we can force people to stay alive by shoving tubes and machines into their bodies does not mean that we no longer need God. Just because we can walk down an aisle and save ourselves just by reading a cheesy little prayer off a little card does not mean that we don’t need the work of the Holy Spirit going before us drawing us.

It is the poor in spirit who are blessed. Those who have no need of healing don’t need to be healed.

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12b-13 ESV)

Jesus did not come to draw people who were already saved and righteous to Himself, but He came to attract those who know full well that they need God.

The kingdom of heaven belongs to them…

Those who know that they need God and acknowledge their need are the ones who receive the kingdom of heaven. “It is when a man sees his own emptiness that God can give out of his own fullness.”

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. (Romans 14:17-18 ESV)

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