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Tuesday
Apr232013

Theological Term of the Week

Beatitudes
The “blessed are” pronouncements made by Jesus at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount.

  • From scripture:

    And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

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

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

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

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

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

    “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

    “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, fortheirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    “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, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:2-12, ESV)

  • From the MacArthur Study Bible notes on Matthew 5:3:
    The word [blessed] lit., means “happy, fortunate, blissful.” Here it speaks of more than a surface emotion. Jesus was describing the divinely bestowed well-being that belongs only to the faithful. The Beatitudes demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is antithetical to the worldly path normally followed in pursuit of happiness. The worldly idea is that happiness is found in riches, merriment, abundance, leisure, and such things. The real truth is the very opposite. The Beatitudes give Jesus’ description of the character of true faith.

    The context makes it clear that Jesus is describing what happens in a person’s life when they come to understand God’s grace in the gospel (see Matthew 4:23).

    • God’s grace in the gospel shows you your moral and spiritual bankruptcy. You must be spirit-poor if the cross is what it took to rescue you.
    • God’s grace in the gospel makes you mourn. To know that your sin nailed Jesus to the cross breaks your heart.
    • God’s grace in the gospel makes you meek. How can you be touchy and defensive now that you’ve seen Jesus dying for you? There’s nothing in you worth defending.
    • God’s grace in the gospel lets you see how hungry and thirsty you are for a righteousness that will open the door to God’s acceptance. Jesus is that righteousness given to you freely as a gift.
    • God’s grace in the gospel makes you merciful. How can you choke your neighbor over what they owe you when both hands are already occupied receiving the mercy of Jesus Christ?
    • God’s grace in the gospel makes you pure in heart. Knowing that God has accepted you on the basis of Jesus’s blood and righteousness frees you to live honestly before God and people, admitting who you really are and how desperate you are for Christ.
    • God’s grace in the gospel leads you to be a peacemaker. Your experience of God’s grace puts so much joy in your heart that you cannot help but tell others how they can be at peace with God.
    • And finally, your experience of God’s grace in the gospel will get you persecuted. There is something simultaneously beautiful and repulsive about a gospel-centered life. In the fallen human heart, there is a deep aversion to salvation not based on our own resume — if we didn’t have to earn a seat at the table, it’s not worth much. So when non-Christians hear that all their efforts to make themselves acceptable to God are a galactic waste of time, they’re going to get angry, and we will be the object of that anger.
Learn more:
  1. Got Questions.org: What are the Beatitudes?
  2. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Beatitudes
  3. Arthur W. Pink: The Beatitudes
  4. John MacArthur: The Beatitudes (audio series)
  5. R. W. Glenn: The Beatitudes (audio)

Related term:

Filed under Person, Work, and Teaching of Christ

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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