“The Peace of God from The God of Peace”, from Precept Austin (Faith, Reconciled to God, Walking in the Spirit)

The Peace of God, From The God of Peace”, from Precept Austin

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Peace is a condition of freedom from disturbance, whether outwardly, as of a nation from war or enemies or inwardly, as in the current context, within the soul.

The peace of God which replaces anxiety in the life of the prayerful believer is impossible to experience unless one already is at peace with God through faith in Christ. The peace of God is the ANTIDOTE for ANXIETY. 

The peace of God – This is not the absence of problems but a reflection of the presence of divine sufficiency in the midst of problems.

(Isa 26:4Php 4:13notePhp 4:19note)

George Morrison said “Peace is the possession of adequate resources” and those resources come from the Lord when you yield heart and mind to Him.

Every believer has come into an eternal peace with God for Paul writes that

having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Comment: See notes on Romans 5:1 for more discussion of the distinction between the peace of God and peace with God

However, not every believer necessarily experiences the peace of God which Paul describes in this passage. This peace is a promise which is the result of the practice of thankful prayer to God. As Vincent puts it “Peace (of God) is the fruit of believing prayer.” Stated another way, one may have peace with God without having the peace of God. Peace with God is dependent upon faith, and peace of God is dependent upon faithful prayer. Peace with God describes the state between God and the Christian, and the peace of God describes the condition within the Christian.

Barnhouse comments that the truth of Romans 5:1 means for believers that…

Peace with God was already theirs, as it is already the portion of all who are placed in Christ. But the peace of God comes afterwards to those who are willing to accept the paradox of unconditional surrender. How many unsaved people there are today who are in misery because they will not accept the peace (“peace with God”) that God made at the cross when He declared that the war was over and that sin was dealt with. And how many Christians are going to Heaven miserably because they are not willing to accept the riches of His grace and the wonders of His peace that He is so willing to give if we will only acknowledge Him as our Lord as well as our Saviour… Day by day, we are the objects of that love and grace, and, when we are surrendered to it, we shall be at peace.

Calvin writes that

It is on good ground that he calls it the peace of God, inasmuch as it does not depend on the present aspect of things, and does not bend itself to the various shiftings of the world, but is founded on the firm and immutable word of God.

Peace of God (God’s peace, the dispeller of anxiety and worry) is the peace which God alone possesses (He is often referred to as the “God of peace“) and which He gives to His children.

Peace in the present context is a state without anxiety and worry about how and when our needs (physical or emotional) will be supplied. This peace is the result of going to Him and confidently committing everything into His trustworthy hands.

Although the context is different, the principle in Isaiah is applicable that

“The steadfast of mind (the mind that has confidence in God shall not be agitated by the trials to which it shall be subject; by persecution, poverty, sickness, want, or bereavement) Thou will keep (guard, preserve) in perfect peace (Hebrew literally is ‘Peace, peace;’ repetition denoting emphasis = inward peace, outward peace, peace with God, peace of conscience, peace at all times, under all events), because he trusts in Thee.” (Isa 26:3)

Henry describes the peace of God as

the comfortable sense of our reconciliation to God and interest in his favour, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, and enjoyment of God hereafter.

Before God saves us, we are ”at war” with the Almighty and our peace with Him is ”disturbed”. When we are justified by faith and reconciled to our Creator by the blood of Christ, we are made positionally at peace with God (see exposition of “peace with God” in Ro 5:1note) and are “set at one again” so to speak like Adam and Eve were in Eden before sin entered the world. Paul in this section is describing the “peace of God” which can be a believer’s experience (experiential peace) as he or she surrenders their will to His will, submits to His authority and walks in Spirit empowered obedience to His good and acceptable and perfect will. Specifically in the present context this peace is the Spirit borne fruit of thankful prayer. It’s logical isn’t it? If we can truly thank Him for every circumstance, good or bad, the result is His peace, the peace He gives.

Dwight Edwards on the peace of God – Of God” is probably a genitive of source. Thus God is the source of this peace, not the conditions around us. This peace is beyond our comprehension, for we cannot fully understand it; yet it is not beyond our experience, for we can fully experience it in the present. “Will guard” is graphic, denoting a garrison, or one standing sentry. The peace of God will watch over and warn us against any intruders. If the peace of God is not ruling or standing sentry over our inward man, then an unwanted intruder has already entered. Here we see a distinction between “heart” and “mind.” It would seem that they are referring to our emotional and intellectual facilities. Not only are we to be characterized by joy, we also are to be under the control of God’s supernatural peace.

Barnes on the peace of God – The peace which God gives. The peace here particularly referred to is that which is felt when we have no anxious care about the supply of our needs, and when we go confidently and commit everything into the hands of God. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee;” Isa 26:3; see the notes at Joh 14:27.

Wiersbe – The peace of God” is one test of whether or not we are in the will of God. “Let the peace that Christ can give keep on acting as umpire in your hearts” (Col 3:15note, wms). If we are walking with the Lord (Ed: yielding to the Spirit), then the peace of God and the God of peace exercise their influence over our hearts. Whenever we disobey, we lose that peace and we know we have done something wrong. God’s peace is the “umpire” that calls us “out”! – Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series)

The peace of God – That harmonizing of all passions and appetites which is produced by the Holy Spirit, and arises from a sense of pardon and the favor of God. (Adam Clarke)

Fierce passions discompose the mind,
As tempests vex the sea;
But calm content and peace we find,
When, Lord, we turn to Thee
.
– William Cowper

Eadie eloquently explains the experiential “peace of God” writing that…

The Greek Fathers, followed by Erasmus, Estius, Crocius, and Matthies, understand the phrase of reconciliation:— “Peace,” said Chrysostom, “that is, the reconciliation, the love of God”. No doubt this peace is the result of reconciliation or peace before God . But this peace flowing from pardon and acceptance was already possessed by them—they had been reconciled; and what the apostle refers to is a state of mind which has this reconciliation for its basis. The former peace has a special relation to God (Ed note: “peace with God”), the controversy between Him and the soul being terminated—the latter (Ed note: “peace of God”) is more personal and absolute. This peace is but another name for happiness, for it is beyond the reach of disturbance. Come what will, it cannot injure—come when it likes, it is welcome—and come as it may, it is blessing in disguise (Ed note: equates with supernatural “fruit” borne by the indwelling Spirit). It (Ed note: “It” refers to whatever circumstance or person might disturb one’s peace) can neither dissolve union to Christ, nor cloud the sense of God’s forgiving love, nor exclude the prospect of heavenly glory. It is not indigenous: it is the “peace of God.” Man may train himself to apathy, or nerve himself into hardihood—the one an effort to sink below nature, and the other to rise above it. But this divine gift (“fruit”)—the image of God’s own tranquility—is produced by close relationship to Himself, is the realization of that legacy which the Elder Brother (Jesus) has bequeathed.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

To know that it is well with me now, and that it shall be so forever—to feel that God is my Guide and Protector, while His Son pleads for me and His Spirit dwells within me as His shrine—to feel that I am moving onward along a path divinely prescribed and guarded, to join the eternal banquet in the company of all I love and all I live for—the emotion produced by such strong conviction is peace, ay, the “peace of God.”

The secret of peace – He who climbs above the cares of the world and turns his face to his God, has found the sunny side of life. The world’s side of the hill is chill and freezing to a spiritual mind, but the Lord’s presence gives a warmth of joy which turns winter into summer. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

John Philips –  What can disturb God’s peace? Could some happening in a remote part of the galaxy disturb His peace? Of course not. He is omnipresent, always on the spot. Nothing can take place behind His back. He is right there, no matter where, all the time. Could some diabolical thought of Satan disturb God’s peace? Could some mystery, some obscure idea, some crafty twist of error, or some plot hatched in the demented soul of Lucifer to thwart God’s beneficent purposes and bring new forms of suffering into the universe disturb God’s peace? Of course not. God is omniscient. He knows all the wiles of the evil one and in His infallible wisdom has anticipated and annulled every one of them. Satan’s deep counsels are just so much gibberish to God, however clever and sophisticated they may seem to us. Can all the might of the gates of Hell (Matthew 16:18) disturb God’s peace? Of course not. He is omnipotent.

God is Omnipotent

He can command galaxies and create atoms. He can toss stars into space and hold satellites whirling at inconceivable velocities on their orbits. There is no physical, moral, or spiritual power that He does not rule with consummate skill and tireless ease—not in Heaven or earth or Hell, not now or ever. Nothing can ruffle the peace of God. It is a calm beyond all storms, a rest beyond all strife, a haven beyond all tempestuous seas. The peace of God is majestic and sublime.

Did Soviet atheism and militarism disturb God’s peace? Was He intimidated by the size of the Russian army, by the success of Soviet propaganda, or by the worldwide presence of the KGB? Of course not. Long ago He wrote Russia’s doom into His Book. In Paul’s day, was God upset by Nero? When that evil man burned Rome, blamed the Christians, and began a persecution rarely surpassed in history, did he take God by surprise? Did God hastily cut short the day of grace and summon Michael to usher in Armageddon then and there?

No. His peace was undisturbed. All was foreknown. We do not know why God held back His hand then or why He holds it back now, but “we’ll understand it better by and by.” The unfathomable peace of the God who controls the universe and pursues a faultless purpose, is the peace that Paul commended to his Philippian friends. Their arguing should vanish in the infinite calm of God’s peace. (Exploring Philippians: An Expository Commentary)

Rod Mattoon – Peace possessed by one who has health, wealth, friends, and loved ones is understandable, but the peace of God in the midst of trials and tribulation is different. The peace of God that passeth understanding is peace so precious, that man’s mind, with his skill and knowledge, can never produce it. It can never be of man’s contriving. It is only of God’s giving. This world demands a price for peace but it cannot deliver the goods after the price has been paid. The price for the peace of God has been paid for us, for the Lord Jesus Christ made peace through the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20). (Mattoon’s Treasures – Treasures from Philippians)

Pulpit Commentary – God’s Peace

I. What it is. God’s own peace; that which he himself possesses. It is the peace which our Lord had and which he promised to his disciples: “My peace I give unto you.” It is, therefore, no mere superficial freedom from external troubles, but a deep-seated harmony with God the Source of all peace. Thus it transcends human understanding and human expression.

II. What prevents our possessing it? Over-anxiety and worry. These are a kind of practical atheism, since they prevent us from leaving all things to Him Who is supreme over all circumstances.

III. How to obtain it. By prayer, which rests upon Him for all things; by supplication, which brings our own special causes for anxiety into His presence; by thanksgiving, which recognizes that His will must be full of blessing. By thus turning our cares into prayers we throw them upon him who gives us in return His peace.

IV. What it does for us. It keeps our hearts and minds, preserving them from undue anxiety, and making them realize the strength of the peace which Christ bestows. How do these words come home with sublime force at the end of our Communion Service! Having received him who is our Peace (Eph 2:14), we have entered into and taken possession of the peace of God which passeth all understanding.—V. W. H.

The peace of God is a sense of holy repose and complacency which floods the soul of the believer when he is leaning hard upon God. Frances Ridley Havergal conveyed this truth beautifully in the words of the hymn Like a River Glorious

Like a River Glorious
Stayed upon Jehovah,
Hearts are fully blessed;
Finding, as He promised,
Perfect peace and rest.

Source: Precept >Austin.org

“Praying The Lord’s Prayer,” from Tim Keller’s book on Prayer (Prayer & Worship Resources, God’s Mission)

Tim Keller’s notable book on Prayer, experiencing awe and intimacy with God offers the following treasured notes on praying the Lord’s Prayer explaining that…

  1. None of our three master teachers of prayer, Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, developed their instruction primarily based on their own experiences. In each case, what they believed and practiced regarding prayer grew mainly out of their understanding of the ultimate master class in prayer—the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9–13, in the heart of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
  2. The Lord’s Prayer may be the single set of words spoken more often than any other in the history of the world. Jesus Christ gave it to us as the key to unlock all the riches of prayer. Yet it is an untapped resource, partially because it is so very familiar.
  3.  Jesus is saying, as it were, “Wouldn’t you like to be able to come face-to-face with the Father and King of the universe every day, to pour out your heart to him, and to sense him listening to and loving you?” We say, of course, yes. Jesus responds, “It’s all in the Lord’s Prayer.”
  4. How do we overcome the deadly peril of familiarity? One of the best ways is to listen to these three great mentors, who plumbed the depths of the prayer through years of reflection and practice.

“Our Father Who Art in Heaven”

  • Calvin explains that to call God “Father” is to pray in Jesus’ name. “Who would break forth into such rashness as to claim for himself the honor of a son of God unless we had been adopted as children of grace in Christ?”
  • Luther also believed the address was a call to not plunge right into talking to God but to first recollect our situation and realize our standing in Christ before we proceed into prayer.
  • Calvin agrees that “by the great sweetness of this name [Father] he frees us from all distrust.”

“Hallowed Be Thy Name”

  • A seeming problem of logic, expressed by Luther. “What are we praying for when we ask that His name become holy?
  • Luther, who joins Augustine when he says it is a prayer that God “be glorified among all nations as you are glorified among us.”
  • To “hallow” God’s name is not merely to live righteous lives but to have a heart of grateful joy toward God—and even more, a wondrous sense of his beauty. We do not revere his name unless he “captivate[s] us with wonderment for him.”

“Thy Kingdom Come”

  • This is the cause of all our human problems, since we were created to serve him, and when we serve other things in God’s place, all spiritual, psychological, cultural, and even material problems ensue. Therefore, we need his kingdom to “come.” Calvin believed there were two ways God’s kingdom comes—through the Spirit, who “corrects our desires,” and through the Word of God, which “shapes our thoughts.”
  • This, then, is a “Lordship” petition: It is asking God to extend his royal power over every part of our lives—emotions, desires, thoughts, and commitments.
  • We are asking God to so fully rule us that we want to obey him with all our hearts and with joy.
  • To pray “thy kingdom come” is to “yearn for that future life” of justice and peace.

“Thy Will Be Done”

  • Unless we are profoundly certain God is our Father, we will never be able to say “Thy will be done.”
  • Only if we trust God as Father can we ask for grace to bear our troubles with patience and grace.
  • This is the one part of the Lord’s Prayer Jesus himself prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, under circumstances far more crushing than any of us will ever face. He submitted to his Father’s will rather than following his own desires, and it saved us. That’s why we can trust him.
  • Calvin adds that to pray “thy will be done” is to submit not only our wills to God but even our feelings, so that we do not become despondent, bitter, and hardened by the things that befall us.
  • The beginning of prayer is all about God. We are not to let our own needs and issues dominate prayer; rather, we are to give pride of place to praising and honoring him, to yearning to see his greatness and to see it acknowledged everywhere, and to aspiring to full love and obedience.
  • First, because it heals the heart of its self-centeredness.

“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

  • Augustine reminds us that “daily bread” is a metaphor for necessities rather than luxuries.
  • For Luther, then, to pray for our daily bread is to pray for a prosperous and just social order.

“Forgive Us Our Debts as We Forgive Our Debtors”

  • The fifth petition concerns our relationships, both with God and others.
  • In the presence of God everyone must duck his head and come into the joy of forgiveness only through the low door of humility.
  • If regular confession does not produce an increased confidence and joy in your life, then you do not understand the salvation by grace, the essence of the faith.
  • Jesus tightly links our relationship with God to our relationship with others.
  • Unresolved bitterness is a sign that we are not right with God.
  • It also means that if we are holding a grudge, we should see the hypocrisy of seeking forgiveness from God for sins of our own.

“Lead Us Not into Temptation”

  • Temptation in the sense of being tried and tested is not only inevitable but desirable. The Bible talks of suffering and difficulty as a furnace in which many impurities of soul are “burned off” and we come to greater self-knowledge, humility, durability, faith, and love. However, to “enter into temptation,” as Jesus termed it (Matt 26:41), is to entertain and consider the prospect of giving in to sin.

“Deliver Us from Evil”

  • Calvin combined this phrase with “lead us not into temptation” and called it the sixth and last petition. Augustine and Luther, however, viewed “deliver us from evil” as a separate, seventh petition.
  • This seventh petition is for protection from evil outside us, from malignant forces in the world, especially our enemies who wish to do us harm.

“For Thine Is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory Forever”

  • Augustine does not mention it because it was not in most earlier manuscripts of the Bible or in the Latin Vulgate. Luther does not treat it.
  • Calvin, while noting that “this is not extant in the Latin versions,” believes that “it is so appropriate to this place that it ought not to be omitted.”
  • After descending into our needs, troubles, and limitations, we return to the truth of God’s complete sufficiency.

Like Luther in A Simple Way to Pray, Calvin insists that the Lord’s Prayer does not bind us to its particular form of words but rather to its content and basic pattern.

The Lord’s Prayer is a summary of all other prayers, providing essential guidance on emphasis and topics, on purpose and even spirit.

Prayer is therefore not a strictly private thing. As much as we can, we should pray with others both formally in gathered worship and informally. Why? If the substance of prayer is to continue a conversation with God, and if the purpose of it is to know God better, then this can happen best in community. By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived.

–Tim Keller

Martin Luther said, “”To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”  

Live Prayer, Love God’s Mission

Friends, please enjoy the links below that I have added! L.Willows

Prayer, Music and Worship Podcasts

Confessions of St Augustine audio podcast

Prayer Pod, Prayer and poetry with music

The Moms in Prayer Podcast

Pray as You Go Podcast

Pray the Word with David Platt

The Daily Still Podcast, Guided Christian Meditations and Devotions

Worship Interludes; Piano Instrumentals for Meditation, Prayer and Devotion

Ancient and Contemporary with Liturgy; a beautiful Candlelit Service

Prayers from Taize, a Community in France

What a beautiful Name it is; top worship Songs from hillside (2021)

Share the Gospel; Live Prayer, Love God’s Mission.

The Jesus Film Project

Every Home for Christ

Mission to the World

Perspectives.org

“The Beatitudes and The Gospel of The Kingdom” by John Piper (God’s Heart, Transformation, Power of God)

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The Beatitudes and the Gospel of the Kingdom

Sermon from DR. JOHN Piper theologioan / wikipedia

Scripture: Matthew 5:1–12 The Sermon on the Mount 5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

The Beatitudes
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Sermon…”We begin today an eight-week series on the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3–12. We will devote almost a week to each one. But our focus today has to be on the group as a whole in the wider context of Jesus’s ministry. We have to answer the questions, what are these beatitudes? Do they spell out conditions we must meet in order to inherit eternal life? Do they celebrate the power of God in the life of the disciples? Could it be both? How do we know?

Let’s begin today with our lens open more widely than just the Beatitudes. Then we will narrow it down to the Beatitudes themselves.

The Structure of Matthew

Notice Matthew 4:23. It is a summary statement of Jesus’s earthly ministry, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” One way to restate that verse would be to say that Jesus made it his ministry to preach the coming of the kingdom, teach the way of the kingdom, and demonstrate the purpose and power of the kingdom by healing the sick. Preaching, teaching, and healing.

Now turn to Matthew 9:35. Almost verbatim we find the same summary, “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.”

Then, when we look to see what is sandwiched between these two summary descriptions of Jesus’s ministry, what we see are two major sections: chapters 5–7 are a collection of Jesus’s teaching called the Sermon on the Mount; and chapters 8–9 are a collection of stories mainly about his healing ministry. So, what it appears we have is a five-chapter unit designed by Matthew to present us first with some typical teaching of the Lord concerning the way of the kingdom, and second with some typical healings and miracles to demonstrate the power of the kingdom.

The value of seeing this is that it warns us against treating any little piece of this section in isolation. Matthew is the writer here, and he is putting his material together in a particular way. He is the inspired apostle, and we should care about how he chose to put things together. That is the way he gets across his meaning.

The Jesus Who Teaches and Heals

For example, one thing we can say right off the bat is that you can’t have the Jesus of the Sermon of the Mount without the Jesus who cleansed the leper, and healed the centurion’s servant, and stilled the storm, and cast out demons. The writer who gives us the one, gives us the other, and it is arbitrary to do what some modern folk try to do; namely, say that they admire the ethical teacher of the Sermon on the Mount but they don’t want to get involved with the spooky supernatural Person who stills storms and casts out demons.

Or, for some, the opposite temptation may overcome them. They may have a charismatic fascination with the miracles of Jesus, but when it comes to reckoning with the One who said, “Don’t call your brother a fool, don’t lust, don’t get divorced, don’t swear, don’t return evil for evil, love your enemy” — well, they like the miracle worker who heals their diseases, but this radical intruder into their personal lifestyle, they are not so interested in him.

Matthew’s point is that the Lord who teaches like this in the Sermon on the Mount is the same Lord who calls us to follow him through life and depend upon his power. His personal work and power are inseparable from his teaching. In fact, we will see right away that this is clear even in the Beatitudes.

The Crowds and the Disciples

So, let’s go to Matthew 5:12.

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying . . .”
The audience is probably two concentric circles: the inner circle of the disciples, and the outer circle of the “crowds.” It says in verse 1 that he taught his disciples. But look at the end of the sermon in Matthew 7:28–29,

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. So, it is clear that the crowds were listening, and that Jesus wanted them to listen even though the sermon is primarily addressed to professing disciples. Let me mention here that this is the way our Sunday services at Bethlehem are conceived.

Primarily, the word is prepared to feed and strengthen and inspire the worship and life of God’s people. But we pray that more and more there will be the curious, the onlookers, the skeptical, the searchers, the doubters who come to Bethlehem the way the crowds gathered in behind the disciples on the mount.

We believe that the Spirit-anointed, authoritative preaching of the word of God has a peculiar power to awaken unbelievers to the truth and beauty of Christ — even when it is addressed primarily to disciples. So, I would urge you to feel free to invite anyone and everyone to our Sunday services at Bethlehem. It is precisely the things our Lord has to say to us that can awaken desire in others to come to Christ.

The Sermon Begins

So, the sermon begins with the disciples gathered at the feet of Jesus and with the crowds listening in.

How will the Lord begin? He begins by pronouncing a certain kind of person fortunate. We call these pronouncements “beatitudes,” from the Latin word for happiness or blessedness. Let’s see how the whole group is put together.

Eight Beatitudes, One Unit

There are eight beatitudes worded in the same way. Verse 11 could be viewed as a ninth one, but it is really an expansion of verse 10 and is worded differently from the others. It says, “Blessed are you when others revile you.” None of the others say, “Blessed are you.” It is probably an expansion of verse 10, which says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” The reviling in verse 11 is a specific instance of the persecution in verse 10.

You can see that the eight beatitudes of verses 3–10 are a unit when you look at the first and the eighth. Notice the promise of the first beatitude in verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

And notice the promise of the eighth beatitude in verse 10, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Both of them have the identical promise, “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

But the other six beatitudes sandwiched between these two are all different. Verse 4: “For they shall be comforted.” Verse 5: “For they shall inherit the earth.” Verse 6: “For they shall be satisfied.” Verse 7: “For they shall receive mercy.” Verse 8: “For they shall see God.” Verse 9: “For they shall be called sons of God.”

Future Promises Sandwiched by Present Assurance

Notice that all of these are promises for the future. “They shall be comforted. . .. They shall inherit the earth. . .. They shall be satisfied” and so on.

But the promise of the first and last beatitude in verses 3 and 10 seems to relate to the present: the disciples are assured that “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Now, what is the meaning of this pattern? I think there are at least two implications.

The Blessings of the Kingdom

First, by sandwiching six promises in between two assurances that such people have the kingdom of heaven, I think Jesus means to tell us that these six promises are blessings of the kingdom.

In other words, these six things are what you can count on when you are a part of God’s kingdom. This is what the kingdom brings: comfort, earth ownership, satisfied righteousness, mercy, a vision of God, and the awesome title, son of God. You don’t have to pick and choose among these promises. They all belong to the kingdom.

That is the first implication I see in the fact that Jesus begins with the assurance, “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and ends with the assurance, “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” with six promises sandwiched in between.

A Present Yet Future Kingdom

The other implication of this pattern comes from the fact that the first and last assurances are present tense, and the six in the middle are future. “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” in verses 3 and 10 — but, “They shall be comforted. . . . They shall inherit the earth” and so on in verses 4–9.

I think this is Jesus’s way of saying that, in some sense, the kingdom of heaven is present with the disciples now (“Theirs is the kingdom of heaven”), but that the full blessings of the kingdom will have to wait for the age to come (“They shall inherit the earth”).

Another way to put it is that Jesus has brought the kingdom of heaven to earth in his own kingly power and fellowship, and we can enjoy foretastes of it here and now; but the full experience of the life of the kingdom will have to wait for the age to come.

You can see exactly what this means right here in the Beatitudes.

Being Comforted

Take several examples. Verse 4 says that those who mourn will one day be comforted. As Revelation 21:4 says, “[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore.”

But look at verses 11–12, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” In other words, even though the final reward of comfort is kept for us in heaven, we can now rejoice even in the midst of suffering. And is not this joy a foretaste of the promised comfort? There is no joy without some element of comfort.

Obtaining Mercy

Or consider verse 7. It promises, “They shall receive mercy.” But in the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:23–35, the king says to the wicked servant, “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”

(Matthew 18:33). In other words, Jesus teaches that we do not merely wait for the age to come to receive mercy. It has come in Jesus. We taste it here and now in forgiveness of sins and innumerable blessings of this life.

Being Called Sons of God

Or consider verse 9. It promises, “They shall be called sons of God.” As Romans 8:23 says, “We . . . groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” So, the full benefits of being sons of God await the resurrection.

But look at Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” God is already our Father! We are already sons! That is, we have a foretaste of sonship now.

The point of these three examples is that the kingdom of heaven is both present and future. We have foretastes of the reign of God now, but we will experience vastly more in the future. I think this is why verses 3 and 10 assure us that “theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” but verses 4–9 promise that the kingdom blessings are still in the future. It is both.

One of the Most Important Lessons

And this is one of the most important things you can learn about the Christian faith. Without this insight, the Sermon on the Mount simply cannot be understood. For example, what will you make of Matthew 5:7 without this insight that the kingdom blessings of God’s mercy are both present and future?

It says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Does this mean that God withholds his mercy until the future day of reckoning and waits to see if we will be merciful enough to earn his mercy? That is what it looks like it says.

But if you know the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23; 24:14), that is, if you know the good news that the kingdom has already come and is now at work like a dragnet gathering in a people for the kingdom (13:47–50) — if you know that the power of the kingdom is already present as well as future, then you will know that our becoming merciful is (right now!) a work of God’s kingly mercy.

That is the point of Matthew 18:33. The king said, “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” God’s prior mercy enables us to be merciful. The powerful mercy of the kingdom has already come in Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

God is not just waiting like a Judge at the end of the age to see whether or not we will be able to earn his mercy then by showing mercy now.

God is not merely waiting; he is casting the net of mercy into the sea of the world and dragging people to life and hope and joy and mercy (Matthew 13:47–50). “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,” Jesus said (John 6:44). “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65).

The Mercy of the Kingdom Already in the World

The mercy of the kingdom is in the world drawing people to Christ. The mercy of the kingdom is in the world opening people’s eyes to Christ. Do you remember what Jesus said to Peter when Peter confessed him to be the Messiah? “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). God is not waiting to see if Peter will recognize Jesus as the Messiah. He opened his eyes. Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, Simon! God has!

You did not choose him first; he chose you (John 15:16). You did not come to him first; he drew you (John 6:44). You did not recognize Christ first; God opened your eyes (Matthew 16:17). And all this is mercy, mercy, mercy! “It depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Romans 9:16).

Try to grasp this and make it part of your very being. Many passages of Scripture teach that God will show mercy on us in the future if we live a certain way now. Many other passages of Scripture teach that God has already shown us mercy, enabling us to live in a certain way now. These are not inconsistent. This is the very fabric of biblical life.

We are born anew by the mercy of God. We are sanctified by the mercy of God. And when we get to the judgment seat of God, he will say, “You are still a sinner. But I see in your life the distinguishing fruit of my Son’s mercy. Your mercy on others is the evidence of his mercy in you. And for his sake, I now show you mercy again. Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Seeing the Beatitudes for What They Are

Unless you see the Beatitudes as part of this biblical fabric, you will not be able to understand them for what they are. They are an announcement of how fortunate people are who already possess, as it were, the power of the kingdom. You might say, “Blessed! Blessed! And fortunate are you who have the kingdom power at work within you, for you will inherit the kingdom with all its infinite pleasures forever and ever.” The Beatitudes are announcements that people like this are very blessed — very fortunate.

But that is not all. The Beatitudes also contain an implicit invitation to become this kind of person. The disciples sit at Jesus’s feet and hear his words as congratulations. “Oh, how fortunate you are, my dear brothers! Oh, how fortunate you are to be chosen of God, to have your eyes opened, to be drawn to the Savior, to be poor and mourning and meek and hungry and merciful and pure and peaceable! Rejoice! Rejoice and give thanks, my beloved disciples, that you are this kind of person, for it is not your own doing! It is the reign of God in your life.” So, the disciples hear the Beatitudes as words of celebration about the work of God in their lives.

But what about the crowds standing behind the disciples? How do they hear these words of congratulations? How should they hear them, if they are not poor in spirit, if they are not mourning or meek or hungry for righteousness or merciful or pure or peaceable? What do these words mean for them? They are certainly not congratulations. You can’t congratulate a guest on his wedding garment if he doesn’t have it on (Matthew 22:11–14).

What then? If you see people being welcomed to a feast with a certain garment on, don’t the words of welcome stir you up to go get a garment like that? And if you see people being promised the blessings of eternal life because they are poor in spirit and mourning and meek and hungry for righteousness and merciful and pure and peaceable, don’t those words of promise beckon you to become that kind of person? Indeed, don’t they beget in you the seeds of those very flowers? Perhaps not. But for some, they do. And if they don’t in you, oh, how you should pray that God would not leave you in such a hard and impenitent condition.

So, the Beatitudes are words of celebration for disciples — people who have been awakened by the present power of the age to come. And they are words of invitation for the crowds — the people who come to worship out of tradition or curiosity or skepticism. And for some, they are words of transformation — by the power and mercy of God.