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[Yet you desired faithfulness [truth] even in the womb (inward parts, i.e. the heart and mind); you taught me wisdom in that secret place (my thoughts). Psalm 51:6]
This one verse should have been expanded—if not already—into countless sermons on salvation as well as texts on counseling. David arrives here after a winding journey through self-justification to self-condemnation to blaming his mother for giving him birth. Off the record, I little doubt, he could have rationalized a way of blaming even Uriah; for, had he not neglected his wife that fateful night, David wouldn’t be in this state of mind now. Perhaps, some time elapsed while he tried in his own way to assuage the pain, to sleep through the nightmare. To be factual: the Ammonites killed Uriah.
This is an all to familiar dialog between counselor and counselee. Blaming everyone else first seems to be a recognizable mile marker on the road to recovery for us in finding our way back to the right path.
God is not listening yet, when we are not honest within ourselves. Maybe we do not really know ourselves well enough, we don’t know why we did what we did. Maybe we are unprepared to give an account of our behavior. Nonetheless, without truthfulness, there is nothing here of any therapeutic value. There is no opportunity for God to restore David’s joy or heal his conscience because he has not yet decided to be truthful in prayer. David murdered an innocent man in order to be legally free to covet his wife, just because she was too beautiful to resist. Self-deception has a name and it is “David.”
David’s humanity cannot absorb murder and keep its identity. So David needs God desperately to touch his life and get him back to a time before this indefensible act of a numbed conscience. He would not be the young David again, whose innocence sought the Lord’s prayerful presence, until he confessed. Confession meant—and always means—admitting truthfully the sin that separated him from God.
Here is the preacher’s sermon on salvation or repentance or revival or whatever topic he wishes. Here is the message of the Cross. You shall confess the truth and it will set you free!1
“The Lord taught Me Wisdom,” David testified, “in secret.” The secret place he spoke of, the heart physically hidden from literal sight, was an analogy of the soul or the seat of deep feelings and thoughts where what we do and say originates. These feelings and thoughts might be deeply buried under the debris of years of fun and amusement designed to cover over painful experiences. We may have been living a lie, an intentional neglect of what discipline once tried to drum into us, and now whatever we once heard or knew as wisdom is not wisdom anymore to us.
David was tortured by the memory of his crime against God in committing murder and adultery. God had to send Nathan, though, to entrap him and push him forward into reconsidering what he had done. How much time had gone by might be estimated by how long the joy of his salvation was not part of his experience. Kings go to war each Spring and David was in the habit of getting God’s counsel.2 It might have been a while since this was true.3 His Psalms are a diary of his prayer life which must have been on pause.
Yet, David’s heart was still a heart after God’s own heart. This had not changed, but his sin contradicted this truth and disrupted the relationship. Here is where David discovered something kind about the God he served: “In my guiltiness, You taught me, Lord, to be truthful to myself. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts [heart], And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.4
C. H. Spurgeon interprets, “God is teaching him truth concerning his nature, which he had not before perceived.”5
If I may: God reads the heart,6 not the outward perception of things. Truthfulness pleases Him; so, an honest prayer of repentance, a prayer for God’s mercy, waits on the breakthrough when all self-justification ceases. While we fault others on our knees, expect God to use the time—as Spurgeon correctly interpreted this verse—to “teach … [us] truth concerning …[our true] nature, which …[we] had not before perceived.”5 Blaming a spouse or a friend or a congregation or the world has no therapeutic value if we ultimately want God to restore our joy.
Faithfulness, Lord, you desire in the heart7 … In the closed chamber of the heart.”8
Who would have guessed that one benefit of true confession before God is a lesson in Truth!?
The language of Scripture is full of passion and inspiration.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. [Thou art pure in Thy judging. YLT] Psalm 51:4
This is the true definition of confession; it is agreeing with God! All self-justification, all rationalization, has ceased. When David confessed that he knew his transgressions, it wasn’t just admitting what he did—and he probably couldn’t say why—it was a confession of his wrong against God.
“What I have done,” David admitted, “was evil.” The word evil has an emphasis on the consequence1 of David’s unconscionable act.
The world might not agree. Cultural evolution is slowly eroding any bible-based foundation of morality discarding any definition of “sin”, redefining the nuclear family unit in terms of any and all social contracts, explaining away conviction as a self-inflicted guilt, and arguing against the reality of a God of mercy which makes everything else seem reasonable. Today’s world might contend that: this psalm is merely the unfortunate state of a man whose conscience misdirected him into thinking he needed to make amends.
But David knew God and knew God to be consistently wise, truthful, and merciful. In God’s eyes, in His judgment, what David did was evil! After a year went by (according to one scholar) and after Nathan cornered him, David, finally, agreed. The misery he felt may have helped drive him there.
If God punishes him, David feels that, it is earned. He doesn’t appear, though, to be particularly anxious about this possibility.2 Judgments is what judges make; so, God might intend at this point in relationship with David to make this a lesson in the painful consequence of doing evil.3 (Thus the use of the word “so.”)
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. [A man dare not turn his nose up at God!] A man reaps what he sows.4
David emotionally exposes his own back to the lash because he knows he is in the wrong but he also knows the love of God.
God is in the right whatever His judgment! …to quote Abraham, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?5 ”God’s judgment is pure, clean. (“Beyond all controversy.”)6 If I may say it: unlike us, God’s decisions, conclusions, evaluations, judgments, perspective—call it what you will—is never based on a bias toward us much less a hidden, self-seeking motive, as if greedy for power. God’s judgment is based on covenant and the one we are under now was written in the Savior’s blood on Calvary.
If I were teaching an advanced course in the Classical Hebrew, the language of our Old Testament (The Jews call it “The Bible”), I would ask the students to translate Psalm 51. The language is not the poetic verbiage we have come to expect in poetic script. Psalm 51 is straight forward and simple words but selected by an inspired pen. The four words used for sin selected from among seven (I know of) are filled with meaning, spiritual and psychological—and they are correctly placed in David’s confession, in the narrative of his heart, that speaks not only to David’s adultery but all sin.
Scholars like to see this as a message of the Cross, a salvation call for the sinner to come to Christ for forgiveness. It most certainly is! But it is also written to Christians who need to find their way back to the Cross and reclaim what they may have left there, experiencing the forgiveness of Calvary. A closer look at the words of David’s prayer—words David knew well—is a revelation of God’s great heart and His desire toward His people. A cry for forgiveness is often accompanied with a remorse that reminds us how often we are prone to slip backward into sin, but may it never be because we mistakenly assume God’s heart of mercy is exhausted with us.
Beware, also, theological distancing. I refer to the ability to interpret David’s words academically but avoid any emotional contact or personal application of its inspiring message. Theological distancing is the art of extracting the theology from the text without owning its truth as a life-changing force, without discovering how the words apply to our faith. Theological distancing is an intellectual exercise which might allow us to pass a written seminary exam but fail at faithful living for Christ.
When David repented of His night of pleasure, he renewed His friendship with a God Who never really left him. David was, even with his human frailty and occasional waywardness, “a man after God’s own heart.”
God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22
There is more to this Psalm than a record of remorse. This Psalm reveals the secret to enjoying a friendship with God. This Psalm is in essence the revival of the soul, a restoration of faithful beginnings in service to God, a clear confirmation of real faith.
[Taken from “Inheriting the Kingdom of Light:Essays on Heaven“]
I like to imagine a heaven similar to my Bible school experience: lots of Bible study, fellowship and evening worship. Oh, and I met my wife there. Maybe there’s the drawback: current human relationships. There is no marriage in heaven. My wife of 52 plus years (at the time of this writing) will be an “ordinary” and “other” child of God in His kingdom. The marriage, the special love relation we shared, is not anticipated there. She will be like all the other “women.” No! No women ….all the other children of God. I am already missing her!
now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.1
Romance has been an integral part of my adult life. Heck! My interest in girls goes back to 5th grade and my first kiss. And now a major part of my emotional life no longer has relevance in heaven or will we, as the Bride of Christ, have a new collective passion for, a love relationship with, Christ alone?
There have been a couple special relationships in my earthly sojourn that I already miss. Will there be no opportunity to renew these in glory? In heaven, will these relations no longer be a part of who we are!?
I had only four loves in my adult experience and one of these still lingers in the heart. From time to time over the decades, she has unannounced intruded on my memory. I took opportunity to pray for her well-being. I would pause in deep thought to wonder how life was working out for her. It all became a pleasant recollection mingled gently with a longing to find her in heaven’s crowd—if just for a moment. But now I am thinking this is all unimportant in a heaven where the focus is understandably on God.
Throughout this work we have maintained that a bodily resurrection keeps alive the persons (personalities, personhood) we have become in Christ during this life. But does this mean that heaven will necessitate drastic and new relational changes? My passionate love relation with my wife—very much a part of me—will no longer exist!? Or might it be transformed into another and deeper level of closeness? I will have 2 arms? So, I will give my love of over half-a-century a christian hug but not a romantic one?
Our personalities are defined in part by memories, good and bad. These memories represent who we have become, the person our life’s experiences helped form. The only plus for a believer is that God is the Potter. So, what about memories? Might heaven provide me with a quickened memory, a complete memory, of all the good things God did for me, all the moments in life when He graciously intervened to keep me on track for His will in my life. Will I be able to look back on this life and make sense out of circumstances that now seem spiritually irrelevant or worse—out of His will! And can I share those memories in fellowship with the woman who experienced much of them with me while she does the same in return! In a word: will heaven provide opportunity to all God’s children to share the rich testimony of the Lord’s involvement in our lives during our pilgrimage here?
God will wipe away all tears but what about tears of joy? Tears of joy have played an important role in an emotional release when we were overjoyed or we were surprised with something we thought would never be. Heaven is a different place; so, our glorified body might not have this feature. We only know that in the Bible “tears” are tears of sorrow and grief—and these are wiped away! But discussing tears leads me to think that our new body will come with a panoply of new feelings—and intense ones—which we could not have handled in this life.
The question I ask is: What happens to the “old” feelings? I already mentioned ”romance.” Someone once listed 104 great feelings2 that support our interests in this life. Our new body might come with thousands! We don’t know. Perhaps, the new emotions—and all the sights and sounds of heaven— will cause me to forget about my old life that I currently ponder.
I want to return to my school days and relive memories of indulging in all things Bible. I had no television set. The radio I brought with me in my sophomore year was never turned on. [I don’t recall where I left it.]
Prayer was always a welcomed opportunity to let the Lord know how my day was going. I enjoyed talking to Him.
Men students used to discuss theology into the night draped like so many lifeless forms about the chairs and couches in the dorm lounge. [Some, I was told, welcomed the morning sun.] Across the dinner table, after a meal, discussions continued—sometimes with a comedic twist because teachers often strolled by.
And then there was the spontaneous worship, the a cappella harmony, among the kitchen staff that silenced an entire dining room of students. I also recall the exceptional Friday night missions services where we learned God’s Spirit from time to time takes worship in a different direction—and faculty leaders needed to discern the change and encourage us, as students, to submit to whatever the Lord had in mind. How real God was to us!!
These spiritual experiences took place in a quiet, partly hidden, glade which opened up to us only after walking the lane through the trees that lined it. Will the Lord return us to campus but in a more exciting experience in heaven? Or does another life await us?
My wife, Joyce, and I took a walk out the lane that circles our condo. Upon hearing the birds chirping in the nearby trees and smelling the fragrances we past, I thought to engage her in conversation about heaven. “Will there be birds in heaven? “ I asked. And what about the fragrances that in this life excite fond memories.
She shut me down in her classical woman-of-a-few-words way, “Hon, everything will be new!”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”3
New! There are 2 words for new: something new in time or recently having been made or born, like a “newborn.” >New also in quality. New wine [in time] is a new batch. New wine in quality might be a sweet after dinner red compared to the usual white wine.
The new you and new me are both:4 We are born again, newborn in Christ [new in time at salvation] and we are new inside, [new in quality] new in nature, not a repeat of the person we were but a brand new “creature” or life in Christ.
“All things new” regarding heaven means all things new in quality. A brand new earth speaks of an earth [not newly created, though God might]. This speaks of an earth not yet experienced. It is not a replay of this life. A new earth means a new experience! This we have been saying throughout this work.
I still do not know about the birds on my walk, though.
I can hardly wait to find out!
There is a level of unity anticipated in Pauline theology that is unheard of in human society. It is the unity which characterizes our coming relations in heaven. The secret to that unity is oneness and the result is peace. A study of heaven, therefore, must include a study of a united sainthood which should enthuse even the most complacent of believers.
We live in a divided world—a reality that is indisputable—and believers should find this condition painfully unharmonious, even within our own relationships. Families are fractured; political parties explode with opposition and the world seems always on the verge of the next global conflagration.
In contrast, the unity of heaven should be the desire of every child of God. We should begin in this life to allow peace to reign in our hearts.1 The bond of peace, which is the result of christian unity, is Paul’s interpretation of Jesus’s promise that “Peacemakers … shall be called the Children of God.”2
Paul envisioned 7 levels of oneness that characterize a unity that guarantees the bond of peace.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.3
Why shouldn’t God wait until we reach His kingdom to unite us. Why the hurry to provide for us a new life we can and should walk together?4
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?5
The simple answer is to bring us to a unity that empowers our witness to our world. A divided church promotes an ineffective message or no message at all!6
that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.7
The world likes to label us “hypocrites” and, sadly, not without cause. We might imagine—and not without reason—that Satan has attacked the church’s unity by offering us a sense of oneness based only on the inner circle of friends we tend to frequent. One clergyman boasted that his church was united because he booted out all the dissenters. This mindset is all too easy for us to find reasonable but a heavenly unity is discarded in the process. Any child of God is my brother or sister in Christ. Absolutely! Doctrinal differences notwithstanding. Style of worship notwithstanding. Political leanings a none issue. God has no favorites and neither aught we. How sad if we wait until heaven to embrace our brothers and sisters in Christ that were unwelcome in this life in our inner circle of fellowship. The scripture is more emphatic on this point than we tend to think:
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.8 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.9 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.10 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.11 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.12
Earthly governments are led by men which represent a morally weak and self-interested humanity. During the Gilded Age of the American industrial revolution, there was very little government control imposed on the unchecked ambitions of a few industrial giants. This bread a spirit of anarchism which fought the wealthy industrialists the only way they could, with bombs and guns. Two presidents, Garfield and McKinley, were assassinated. Industry needed government control, but how much?
At best, the people can expect a perennial tension between industry, now known as a free market society or capitalism, and those who promote a more dominant government involvement which some see as a form of democratic socialism. Either side ruling without the pushback of the other side would be at liberty to imposed unlimited restrictions on personal freedoms—greed unleashed on the right or a power hungry left.
In the USA there is even the ongoing debate over the constitution. Should it be interpreted as it was originally understood—almost like a national bible—or can we be more active and see the need to change or expand it without necessarily amending it. The 10th Amendment recognizes those powers enumerated in the constitution for the Federal government and, retains all other powers to the states. This is affectionately known as a federation of states or federalism. But the U.S. federal government has been growing by adding “agencies” empowered to write and enforce laws in place of congressional legislation (EPA, IRS, FDA, DEA etc.), something never thought of by the founding fathers.
And little is said about the internet by which private industry has been financially enriched. It was in its beginnings a government project since the research and development expense was beyond the humble resources of individual entrepreneurs. The same is true of GPS! In such government projects, the federal government went way beyond any constitutional prerogative or sanction.
The question being asked in the USA is: are personal freedoms better guaranteed and administrated by a democracy like in Athens of old invested in the people’s “popular” vote for a central government or by a federalist form of government using the electoral college to level the playing field among the states (more power to the states)?
I know: Over half the world is under a communistic rule putting the USA in the envious place here, in their minds, of simply reaching for the stars. Whatever we choose we are better off?
There is also a necessary tension between nationalism and globalization. Nationalism, a form of populism, is embraced by a people who want to favor their own well being, their own social progress and economic prosperity, without prioritizing an interest in any other nation. Two world wars were begun with the American people wanting to stay neutral—stay out of them. Both Presidents Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt needed to find a political way around this national attitude in order to help Great Britain and enter the war on the side of the allies. An extreme nationalism is fascism but short of an authoritarian form of government nationalism only puts one’s own country first or foremost.
Globalization was an ideology in modern times (since the end of the Vietnam war or President Carter’s Administration in America)1 to address global poverty and human rights globally. Trade agreements in modern times were set up to benefit underdeveloped countries. America went into debt encouraging economic growth around the globe.
But international trade goes back to the First Presidency. Then the interest was national. We needed to sell to other nations to build up a national treasury against national financial interests—like war. Charity, too, is clearly, another thing. Fighting epidemics in Africa or feeding starving children around the world must be carried on regardless the ideology a true democracy adopts for global social reform.
The purpose behind globalization is to lift another country economically out of poverty. Globalization isn’t targeting the individual need but the national need of an impoverished nation. Globalization pushes a democratic form of government, overturning dictators, and pushing for equality for all peoples. Supporting global women’s rights has been part of this movement.
To effectively encourage such a united effort on the part of participating countries certain governing rights were relinquished, empowering another world-wide organization to govern that effort. The World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization and the Paris Accords are three such organizations to which the USA signed off on—giving up its right to each organization to decide globally for us how best to address the global need the said organization was targeting. A growing nationalism now regrets this.
No nation is an island. Globalization as a tool against global poverty deserves a voice. When Jesus observed, “You will always have the poor among you”2 He was not resigned in disinterest to walk on by. Especially a nation claiming to be christian must continue to care in substantial and practical ways.
For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’3
But globalism must never speak out so loudly that it drowns out the voice of member nations. It must not demand so much of the resources of member nations to drive them into deep national debt. Strong and healthy nations, economically, are the only nations that have the means to address global poverty. I suppose it should be said somewhere that taxing an individual nation in the name of global reform should never be a blank check. Governmental redistribution of funds will never grow a healthy economy.
Whether as a nation (nationalism) or as a world in need (globalism) humankind is seeking a better form of government, a level of freedom, and ultimately a social utopia, but why does it still elude us?
I am writing this during a pandemic in which government involvement and medical necessity get all tangled up in political objectives which stresses even more the point that God needs to be in charge if we are to live in a utopian world. Evolutionary theory, so popular in our time, looks toward that manmade progress when through science they will see an end to injustice and poverty toward an economic and socially healthy world. But this is falsely imagined without God!
A glance at our own world should convince us that evolutionary social theory is an unreachable dream. If biblical prophecy is correct, we are actually heading toward dystopia and ultimately the apocalypse of Scripture before God ushers in His new world, God’s Kingdom, which believers should anticipate joyfully.
A utopian dream is nothing believers need to concern themselves with. Meanwhile, whatever government we find ourselves in, we need to accept— as Paul admonished.
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would – Hebrews 13:17
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. – 1 Peter 2:13-16
None of this is forever. Take heart; for, we look forward to inheriting the kingdom of light.4
C.S. Lewis on prayer once explained, though cryptically,
“Almost certainly God is not in time. His life does not consist of moments one following another… Ten– thirty – – and every other moment from the beginning of the world– – is always present for Him. If you like to put it this way, He has all eternity in which to listen to the split second off [a] prayer.”
The true context of Scripture is not the cultural milieu of the writer who penned its inspired message. It is the mind of God who, as C. S. Lewis correctly noted, “is not in time.” Calvary did not become just an historical event. Jesus’s death became the fulcrum for all history, before and after. Nothing else of any real importance has ever happened because this single event, the Cross, eclipses all events backward and forward in time and defines their significance to mankind.
Calvary, to be sure, is an eternal plan overlaid upon the timeline of history. Calvary is a work of an eternal God in His eternity which means it applied as much to the Patriarchs and the prophets as to us. Calvary reaches back (in temporal terms) as well as forward. In Glory we might all agree that Jesus died on the Cross while we looked on in our sin and spiritual need. In God’s eyes, can we not say: we stood next to the centurion that looked on while Jesus was dying?
Calvary speaks, among other truths, to divine forgiveness.1 Dare we say that while Jesus was dying at Calvary God forgave us every sin? God’s forgiveness reached back to the Ancients who served and worshipped Him and forward to our time and beyond. It was and is an eternal act of God. Was not His forgiveness complete and final through Jesus’s death on Calvary?
He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.2
All that remains is that we appropriate His divine provision. All that God’s forgiveness entails is ours through accepting Christ as Savior and letting God engender faith in our hearts to embrace it.
It is understandable that believers are often imagining what living with God (in Heaven) might be like. But we tend to focus on our surroundings, on an environment we can imagine: streets of gold1 and mansions.2 [In modern terms. a mansion is a large and impressive house. Even if heaven provides us with lean-tos, we’ll be impressed!!!] As exciting as such thoughts might be, these are isolated references that do not begin to give us a reasonable picture of what we have to look forward to. What would be the special value to us of mansions rather than simple dwelling places or if the streets are gold or some heretofore unknown element?
There are other aspects of heaven that have no clear biblical explanation. If someone cuts a rose from a bush, does it die? There is no death in heaven. [Maybe there’s no scissors.] Will there even be roses there? I think so because God returns to the “Tree of Life” introduced to Adam and Eve in the beginning.3
We also envision ourselves in our early 20’s, men having washboard abs and women with graceful forms, even though gender has no meaning in Heaven.4 Perhaps, we might be shocked to discover once there that God’s favorite bodily form is obesity!5
It’s fun to talk about such things and I would encourage us to do so but—really now—these possible external considerations, if they are verities, are still beyond the scope of our temporal imagination. Don’t you think!
Discussing what our heavenly surroundings might be inspires hope—as it should. Imagining anything of what awaits us there is exciting converse—but the overarching Biblical message found throughout Scripture is the relationship we will then enjoy with Christ. In both the Old and the New Testaments the desire of God toward His people,6 Israel and the Church, is so prevalent as to suggest a theological emphasis in Scripture in which the Kingdom of heaven is centric.7 This will later bring the message of the Beatitudes to the forefront in our studies. The overarching message in both testaments is that He is coming back for us8 and He will establish His kingdom9 with those who have been His faithful followers. It is absurd to read the Scripture any other way. A Holy God wants a holy kingdom peopled by holy followers. Instead of talking mansions, perhaps, we should be talking “relationship.”Our study needs to focus on who we are in God’s kingdom in relationship with God and each other. This takes up far more space in Scripture and should be of far greater interest to us as we converse over our eternal future.
Privileged to conduct bi-monthly services at a local resident home for the elderly we decided to share thoughts on the 8 Beatitudes in Matthew 5, Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount.” Our original interest was how these 8 blessings impacted our service to the Lord in the face of ridicule, mockery and other forms of persecution. Our research labored under the theory that these 8 Beatitudes, from”Poverty of Spirit” to “Peacemaking” were somehow linked in the spiritual development of a follower of Christ. We concluded in addition that the order of the Beatitudes is not incidental but an undeniable example of the divine genius in preparing each believer for divine service. Research into the various words used in Matthew’s recollection support this approach.
What didn’t seem as obvious at first was how these 8 Beatitudes (8 beautiful attitudes) represented the heart of a servant of God and in the process prepared them and qualified them for the kingdom of heaven—referenced twice in these few verses. God’s grace, according to this text—is the claim here—is at work in the life of every believer preparing them to “inherit the earth., see God, and be called the children of God.” In another, Pauline, sense we are being prepared for citizenship in heaven1 and as the Bride of Christ.2
Terms like meekness, mourning, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and the hapax legomenos3 peacemakers require a close—not casual—look if this prima-facie idea is correct. Ronnie McBrayer made the point: “The Beatitudes are … a spiritual .. list of the qualities God brings to bear in the people who follow Jesus.”4 It only remains to make the logical link between now and when, between the work God is perfecting in us in this life5 and how it relates to the life to come.6
Lastly here: this work becomes a study of words based on the strong fundamental belief that every word is inspired. Yet scholarship has long recognized the limitation on some biblical terms to do justice to what God was introducing to us.7 Professor R. C. Trench, lecturing on the importance of the study of language in the history of thought, remarked,
“…words often contain a witness for great moral truths—God having impressed such a seal of truth upon language, that men are continually uttering deeper things than they know…”8
So we begin first with a look at some biblical terms before we tell our story, “Inheriting The Kingdom of Heaven.”
to be continued…..