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Sermon On The Mount

by George Knepper

By Brother George. D. Knepper

June 22, 1958

Preached at Big Creek Church of Christ in Louisiana

(This is the second in a series of articles by Bro. Knepper from the Sermon on the Mount)

 

Now, tonight, we are going to start, at least, in this second of the great Beatitudes. Now, get this:  those beatitudes come in the only order that you can put them, logically.  They are not just a conglomerate mass, Jesus didn’t just toss them together, and say this one and that one and the next one just as though it didn’t matter what particular order the came. Never! Those come in the only order that they can come logically.

I have studied them over and over again, and I say to you that I marvel at the Christ and his insight into the message that he was delivering.  It wasn’t like some sermons I’ve heard that ran all around, like a fellow that somebody asked him after he’d listened to the sermon, somebody asked him about it and he said, “Well, the preacher took a text and he departed there from, and never got back to it.”  That’s the way with a lot of our preaching is I think.  But Christ is developing this great Sermon on the Mount, as far as the Beatitudes are concerned, in the only way – and each one comes in it’s logical place, and you have to have it before you can have the next. And so tonight we are thinking about:

                         “BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN, FOR THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED”.

Now I want you to turn to the 13th chapter of Matthew, verses 20 & 21.

Matt 13:20-21 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

What happens to that fellow where the word is sown on the thin soil?  When tribulation or persecution arises, what happens to him?  He stumbles!  And folks, suffering and persecution is going to arise to every one, for everyone that really lives a godly life in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. We need to be taught that.  I guess I’ve said it a few times already, and I intend to keep on saying it over and over to you because I think it is fundamental.  In the fact that the church has largely fallen away tonight, it is so complacent.  (I think that was what was the matter with those churches in the second and third chapters of the Revelation – largely.)  You recognize the fact that you are going to suffer, because mourning always implies suffering.  Where ever there is mourning it implies suffering.    Now you’ve started to travel which one of those roads?  The high road!  You have started to travel that.  You have been translated or transformed, or lifted out of what kingdom?  The animal kingdom into the kingdom of heaven, and now you are going to function in what kingdom? – Kingdom of Heaven – and as you function in that kingdom, you are going to suffer. As a citizen of that kingdom, you are going to be tortured by the devil to the utmost that God will permit.  And everyone that is without persecution or suffering, he is still not functioning in the kingdom of heaven and he might just as well make up his mind to it.  He doesn’t need to pretend that he is, because he isn’t.  Everyone – Jesus didn’t set aside anyone – everyone that will live a godly life in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  And so Jesus in this second one of the great Beatitudes is getting his disciples ready to understand suffering.  And he says that those that mourn will what?  – BE COMFORTED!  Now that doesn’t mean in heaven.  If that is the way you have read that you can quit reading it that way.  I’m going to read to you some scriptures pretty soon that tell you where you’ll be comforted.  But unless you realize that along with your suffering and your persecution that you have to take because you stand up of the name of Jesus Christ, because in this world you stand out against the devil, because you are going to have to suffer that – and Jesus knew it- and knew that unless you did stand out, you’d be like those people where it’s sown on the thin soil – what did they do when suffering and persecution came?  Fell away!  To prevent you from doing things like that, to help you stand firm, help you stand, whatever, comes, Jesus said that those who mourn shall be comforted. In other words, if you stick to it, beyond the suffering, or in it, you will be comforted.  Now there use to be a fellow who wrote under the pseudonym of Mr. Doolie, and one of the things that Mr. Doolie said was this: “My business in life is to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable.”  Now Jesus didn’t die to make people comfortable.  And you can just get that right out of your mind right now.  You would think when you read about the church at Laodicea that the church existed for what purpose to those people? – to make them comfortable.  God hasn’t selected you to serve in his kingdom so as to make you comfortable, but you will be comforted. Do I make myself clear?

Now is it clear to you why this one must come first after the fact that you have risen into the kingdom of heaven? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Now then you are in the kingdom of heaven, and Jesus wants those disciples to know that they are going to meet with tremendous temptations – they are going to have to go through suffering, they are going to have to go through persecution, and so he is getting them ready for that, with that great promise:

“BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN FOR THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED.”

Now, folks, Jesus isn’t talking about mourning on the level of this world at all.  Mourning because you can’t dress as well as the family next to you, or because you can’t live on the level of the “Joneses,  or because you can’t have a Cadillac – you don’t mourn because of  things of the world.  You don’t mourn, because, like Christ, you have to go through suffering and temptation and that, you don’t mourn of the level of that.  You are mourning on the level of the kingdom of heaven, you are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, you have risen out of the animal kingdom, and your mourning is on that level now.  And those will be comforted.

QUESTION:  The fellow that received the word, and it was taken away, is he saved – unless he makes another start?

ANSWER:  Turn to the 6th chapter of Matthew starting with verse 4, reading from the Phillips translation.  “When you find men who have been enlightened, who have experienced salvation” – that isn’t quite the way yours reads, but that is the way Phillips translates it and I think he‘s got the correct translation – “have experienced salvation, and received the Holy spirit, who have known the wholesome nourishment of the word of God, and touched the spiritual resources of the eternal world, and who then fell away, it proves impossible to repent as they did at first.”  I don’t know Bro. Bollie  but my fear is that if I’d ever fall away like that, I couldn’t come back, I wouldn’t repent – that would be the only way in the world – I’d have to start over again, as sure as the world.  But they don’t do it.  That’s the reason I am pleading with you people – don’t fall away, don’t let the Devil get you in a position where you neglect Christ and where you let the world take over in you.  Don’t do it, I plead with you in the name of Christ himself.  Don’t do it.  Those are the people that it is impossible to renew again – unto repentance.

The Bible says that with God all things are possible.  But that’s one of the things that the Bible says is impossible – because God won’t force a man, – you can go out that door tonight and go into sin and forget God and walk away from God, and God won’t take you by the shoulders and shake you and bring you back and put you inside that door. He will not do it. And you would resent it if you did.  You are a human being with the power of that choice – that is so tremendously important, folks, that’s the reason, before you go to bed at night, you pray to God, “God, don’t let me fall away.  Don’t let me neglect – don’t let me become careless.” That is the devil trying to get in that straight and narrow way and trying to get you going at a tangent to that straight and narrow way.  And if you go at a tangent to it, where will you go? Up or down? Into which road?

QUESTION:  What about people who don’t receive the word the first time they hear it? Do they get a second chance?

ANSWER: You’ve got a thousand chances.  You can’t fall away from something you never had.  Could I fall away from a million dollars? I haven’t got it.  How could I fall away from a million dollars? I never had a million dollars

I’m not finding fault with the man who can read into the Bible that “once saved, always saved.”  I’m not finding fault with him. If he can find it there, fine, that’s his business.  I can’t.  “I watch” – Paul said that –“lest I preached to others I myself might become a castaway.”  Well do you think that you could fall away, then, do you think Paul was saved, or don’t you?  Paul had to watch. Paul, who had given his life – who had seen heaven, and had seen Christ standing at the right hand of God, and yet Paul said, “I buffet my body and bring it under subjection, lest after I have preached to others, I myself might become a castaway.”  Do you think I take it for granted that just because I preach, or do you think that John takes it for granted that just because he preaches, that God’s going to make a pet out of him, that he can do anything he pleases, and it will be all right – do you think he can?  No, neither do I.

Turn to the letter of Jude, verse 24. “Now to him who is able to (Phillips translation) keep you from falling.” –stumbling –  do you think that Jude was just joking there?  You read the rest of Jude’s letter and see whether you thing he was or not.  Jude said, “I started out to write this letter about our common salvation, but I have been compelled by God himself to write to you about these people that are upsetting your religious convictions.”  Turn to the third verse.  “I fully intended, dear friends, to write to you about our common salvation (first principles – the things that you’ve heard over and over and over again)–  “but I feel compelled  to make my letter to you an appeal to put up a real fight for the faith.” Well, if there wasn’t any danger of losing your faith, what would be the sense?  If you have to put up a fight for it who is trying to get it? – the Devil!  He is trying to take it away from you.  By ‘faith’ there we don’t mean “our” belief.  (If anybody tells you that the Church of Christ doesn’t have a creed, you just tell them they don’t know what they are talking about.  You just transgress some of the things that the “big-shots” in the brotherhood teach and see whether we’ve got a creed or not.  We are as creed-bound as any of the denominations,  we might as well face the fact.  Why do we kid ourselves, and make ourselves think that we are different. – this wasn’t in the lesson at all tonight.)

Let’s go on.  “Put up a real fight for the faith which has been once for all committed to those who belong to Christ.”  He talking to people who belong to Christ and telling them that they have got to put up a fight for  the faith.  “For there are men who have surreptitiously entered the Church, but who have long time been heading straight for the condemnation that I shall plainly give them.  They have no real reverence for God.” – that’s the way you know them, “they have no real reverence  for God.”   “And they abuse his grace as an opportunity to immorality.  And they will not recognize the only master, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (But I’ll tell you right now, Bro Cootie, I can fall away.  You tell me that I haven’t  been saved  well, I feel like – There was a fellow talking to another man, and he said, “Mister, there’s only one thing that prevents you from being a bare-faced liar.” The man said, “Oh, what is that?”  He said , “The whiskers you’ve got on your face.” )

COMMENT: A man can choose the right way, and after a while get on the wrong way.

REPLY: Oh, absolutely.  What is the use of the devil trying to tempt you if you can’t be tempted.

Now then.  You are now in the kingdom of heaven.  You’re in it, now, and it is in you.  You are going to meet suffering and persecution, but you are aiming for what? – what is your goal now?  (Not to get to heaven, don’t anybody tell me that.  If that’s all you’re heading for – I don’t know whether you’ll get there or not.)  But your goal is Matthew 5:48 – being perfect as God is perfect.  That is your goal.  That is the goal that you are reaching for, that you are trying to achieve – that you may be perfect as God is perfect.  Jesus telling you how you are going to accomplish that goal in the rest of these great beatitudes.  And the first one is that you are going to reach that goal through suffering, and persecution, but the Devil isn’t going to let you achieve the perfection without making it  just as difficult as he possible can for you.  So Jesus starts of with “Blessed are they that mourn.”  Mourning always carries with it suffering.  And blessed are they that mourn – in the kingdom of heaven, you understand – your suffering must be a grief – not a grievance  (sometimes that will break in on you) – not some little grievance:  “Oh, God you didn’t give me this..” – that is not mourning.  Mourning is a grief, not a grievance.  Down on this level in the world it is a grievance.  But real grief, the kind of grief that tore the heart of Christ when looking down upon the city of Jerusalem, he said, “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killeth the prophets and stonest them that come unto you, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her little ones under her wings (and now the broken-hearted words) and ye would not.” Now that’s grief, real grief on the level of the Kingdom of heaven.  What did Paul say about his countrymen?  “I could wish myself accursed – anathema –  if that would save my brethren..” – that is mourning if you please. If I could honestly say that to God tonight – that I would be willing to spend eternity in Hell if it would save one of my children – that would be mourning for you.  Could Paul be himself accursed to save his brethren?  No. I cannot answer for my children.  They are all adult.  And they will have to answer for themselves.  Now folks, I’ll have to answer for myself, and for the way I presented Christ to my children in my life.  I will have to answer for that.

SIDELIGHT:  Obituary seen at Marion, Ohio.  A man lived in the country until he had amassed quite a bit of money on the farm and then moved into town.  This was his obituary: “When he lived in the country he went to church.  But after he moved to town he permitted his wife to go to church.”

We are headed for perfection and we are going to suffer in our seeking perfection.  Hebrews 2:10 “Christ was made perfect through the things that he suffered.”  And you will reach that perfection through the things that you suffer, though not on the same scale as Jesus, suffered them.  And because you are going to have to suffer, because that implies mourning, grief, you need this great second one of these might beatitudes:  You are going to be comforted.  I need that.  I need to know that as I am passing through those terrific trials, those sufferings, those times when I’m tempted to desert God, and when I’m tempted to do like Job’s wife said to him, “Curse God and die” – when I’m tempted like that I need to know that somewhere, just out there is a little ways, there is comfort for me, if I stick to it.  And so Jesus put that in there first, so that they wouldn’t do like those people (where the word was sown on thin soil)  who  as soon as persecution  and suffering arises, would fall away.  So they wouldn’t do like those there in the 6th chapter of Hebrews v. 6.

Now remember this; Jesus didn’t suffer for anything that he had done wrong.  I’m not talking about that.  If I go out from here and do something wrong, something evil, and I have to suffer for it, that isn’t that Jesus is talking about at all. He is talking about when I do what God wants me to do, when I’m in the place that God wants me to be.  And let me tell you folks, some of these days, you young men and young women are going to be asked to stand up for God and if you do, it may cost you your life.  Let us not fool ourselves, it is coming.  No world can travel the path way that it is traveling tonight, and not eventually come to the point where the one who serves God, is taking his life into his hands.  Over there in Revelation you will find that there is coming a time when a mighty man, the anti-Christ- the one over to whom the devil turn his power  to exercise on earth, when he is going to demand  that you have a mark.  And it will be a mark that people can see, it won’t be any joke.  You will have to step up  and have that mark on your forehead and your hand as that mark will be clear and plain for to everybody – you will either have that  or you can’t buy and sell in the marketplace,  and if you can’t buy – what about you?  You are going to suffer.  You will either serve the anti-Christ or suffer, and if you serve him, where will you spend eternity?   Whose emissary is this fellow?  You will spend eternity with the Devil.  So take this to heart.

Now today the suffering that we do, perhaps isn’t so great.  The suffering, as I’d like to show it to you, the greatest suffering as far as I’m concerned, is the suffering that I feel for the people who don’t accept Christ, people that I love.  People to whom I’d like to get across fact that they can have the happiness, the security, the satisfaction, that I’ve got, and I can’t do it. That hurts.  That cuts.  Don’t tell me the wife who goes to church and leaves the husband at home time after time after time – don’t tell me that she doesn’t break her heart over it.   Don’t tell me that there isn’t mourning there.  This isn’t just crying, folks, this is mourning.  There may be no tears in mourning.  You can mourn when there are no tears.  You can mourn when the tears won’t come.

The farther you go into the kingdom of heaven, the deeper it gets into you, the more you are going to mourn for those that you can’t reach.  First, those that are right close to you – your loved ones – and the reaching out to your neighbors, and reaching out to the ends of the earth – those are the ones that are going to cause your mourning.

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;  Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

If Christ had to do that, we are going to have to.  We can’t follow him with out passing through those experiences.  Not the depth that he passed through – no living man could- Paul came the nearest to it – but you will pass through those experiences.  Do you thing that hurt?  How did he offer up those prayers? With what? – strong crying and tears.  Phillips translates it: “Christ, in the days when he was a man (on earth) appealed to the one who could save him from death in desperate prayer and the agony of tears.” “Crying out to God in desperate prayer and the agony of tears” – that is mourning.  There is no use in my thinking that I can get by without going through something like that.

Now down here in this lower kingdom, men are seeking God’s blessings – without the suffering.  That’s what they are trying to do.  They are seeking god’s blessing without sufferings. When they come to one of those obstacles, what do they do?  They go around it because it’s a broad way, and they can shy around it.  They want God to bless them the same as he’s blessing you. – I don’t mean financially – some of you folks may feel that God has forgotten you – He hasn’t.   If he doesn’t give you financial status, if he doesn’t give you a great deal of this world’s goods – maybe you ought to thank him for it. I think I ought to.  If God had given me a good deal of this world’s goods back yonder in the years gone by, perhaps tonight I would be like a lot of other people, somewhere on a joy-ride of some kind. I don’t know that I could have taken it.  As we were raising our family, we had sickness after sickness – it seemed that somebody was sick all the time..  Doctor bill, doctor bills – I was struggling trying to get a little bit more  education so I could hold my job as a school teacher.  Well it was pretty hard to thank God for that, don’t you believe?   Well, I can now!  I can thank God for it now.  We came through it. We lived through it.  As we look back now, we wonder how in the world we ever did it. I’m trying to help you folks understand these things that come to you that you are not to blame for, that you did not do anything  wrong for, – oh! As soon as something strikes in life of some fellow that is a real Christian, as soon as some trouble comes up, they are like those three friends of Job “Yeah you did something wrong..”  No, you didn’t do something wrong.  God is simply conditioning you for the road down ahead.  Getting you ready for what you are going to have to meet down there somewhere – and so he lets you have this suffering now.  And so Jesus has told us:  “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

I found this little statement: “Christ came to make me really good, not just feel good.”  You know there is a lot of difference there, if you can get it.  Christ didn’t come to make you feel good, he came to make you good, from the very heart out.  You should feel good of course, but that isn’t why Christ came – just to make you feel good.  That is the trouble with some of us preachers, we want to make our audience feel good – we neglect to tell them that they have to live a Christian life.

Those who mourn, on the plane of the kingdom of heaven, become better, not bitter.  Will you remember that one?  That’s what it does to you, – if you mourn on the plane of the kingdom, it make you better not bitter.  What does it do to that fellow down there in the world – just walking that broad way, when he has to go through trials?  I told you about that man and wife that had no children that used to put their Christmas tree out in their yard and would not even let a child step on the lawn to look at that tree. They made it as attractive as they could.  Her mourning for husband after he died made her bitter.  That man in Toledo, Ohio,  that rich  man whose beautiful  young wife was taken away from him at the birth of their child, would never look upon that child, went on  in sin, drinking and carousing and finally killed himself.  It made him bitter, not better.  But if your suffering is making you better, not bitter, then you thank God for it, because you are suffering as a citizen of the kingdom, not lon the level of the world.  Just thank God for it.  Don’t let it make you bitter. Let I make you better.

Here are some scriptures to read for the next lesson. II Corinthians 7:5-11; I Corinthians 1:3-7.

Study carefully, especially noting the word “comfort” – “Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted.  See how and why Paul is being comforted, how he comforts others, then because of that, how he is comforted.  There is a wonderful passage.  It lets you know you are going to be comforted here.   I don’t mean, folks, that we won’t be comforted in the hereafter.  What’s God doing do you suppose, when he wipes away those tears, “over there?”  Is he comforting?  Well, what do you think that’s going to mean when he is going to wipe the tears away from the eyes of those who have mourned here.  Don’t let anybody tell you there won’t be tears in heaven.  There will be tears spilled on the floor of heaven, but God will wipe away all tears.  (Rev 7:17, 21:4)  But he will also see that you are comforted here.

 




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4