This morning we continue with a new series we started last week. We're going to spend the rest of the summer studying Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Last week we looked at the salt and light passage, but this week we are going back to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Now let's put this in context. This is the very beginning of Jesus's teaching in the book of Matthew. Before this Jesus gets baptized, he is tempted in the desert, and after John the Baptist is arrested, Jesus continues to proclaim John's message: Repent for the Kingdom of the heavens is at hand.
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This week we begin a new series that will carry us through the rest of the summer. We're going back to the book of Matthew to take a couple of months and focus on the Sermon on the Mount. This is Jesus' core teaching in Matthew, the summary of how he invites his people to live in the world, the vision for what a community of Christ-followers would look like. We're coming to it after our series on Romans, because we have to remember this way of living is the result of following Jesus, not the requirements for following Jesus. Jesus doesn't save us because we live by the Sermon on the Mount.
This is our final week in our mini-series on the book of Romans. The book continues for another 8 chapters after this, and I'm sure someday we will come back to it. But for the rest of the summer, we are going to switch gears and study Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. The reason we did Romans first is because I wanted us all to be confident in our theology before we start talking about ethics. Theology then ethics. We must know deep in our bones that we are saved by grace through faith regardless of works before we start talking about the works.
We are almost at the end of our Romans series; next week is the final week, so this week we are going to hear some of chapters 7 and 8. Before we hear the text this morning, I want to say a couple things about definitions. Remember how I have told you in the past that every translation of the Bible does interpretation simply through the words the translators choose? That's VERY true in this passage. Now sometimes what we need is some good interpretive translation.
Guest Preacher: Rev. Dave Long-Higgins, Transitional Conference Minister for the United Church of Christ in Ohio, West Virginia and Northern Kentucky
This morning we are going to hear two separate passages of Scripture, because I want you to hear how they tie together. The first is the Pentecost story, which many of you have probably heard before. And the second is the same text that we heard last week, selections from Romans 5. Pentecost is the birthday of the church. It's the moment when the followers of Jesus were filled with the same boldness and inclusiveness that Jesus embodied during his life on earth. Now this morning I'm not going to preach about speaking in tongues although I think that is central to the Pentecost experience.
This morning as we continue our study in the book of Romans, we are going to read some very familiar phrases from chapter 5. In fact, a lot of Romans is familiar if you spent any time in church. It is one of the most loved, most used, and I think, most mis-used books in the whole Bible. When we read it, we are often not just reading the words on the page, but what everyone else has ever told us about these words. One of the hardest things for us to do is to come to something familiar with fresh eyes and open minds, but that's what I'd like for us to try to do this morning.
This morning we are continuing in our six week series on the book of Romans. Last week we look at parts of chapter 1 and 2 in which we learn that nobody is righteous. I told you that one way I think we can understand the beginning of Romans is that Paul is trying to explain the theology that goes with the experience of being converted. The basic Christian experience of having a transcendent experience of the Risen Jesus, whatever that is for each of us, in that experience we realize that we are not righteous and we are totally righteous at the same time.
This morning we begin a six-week series on the book of Romans. Perhaps no book in the whole Bible has been as influential and as controversial as Romans. And the same goes for its author, the Apostle Paul. Most people either love him or hate him. Guess what? As always, black and white answers are too easy. First of all the apostle Paul was a human being just like all of us. He is not just one thing. He has strengths and he has flaws. His theology, especially his expectation of Christ's return, evolves throughout his writing.
The season of Easter lasts for 50 days, which means we have six Sundays between Easter and Pentecost. But our New Testament does not really have six Sundays worth of stories about what happens between Easter and Pentecost, and so we are fast-forwarding a bit. This morning's story also comes from the book of Acts, after the Holy Spirit has come upon the early church and the message is starting to spread.
This morning we continue with a new series we started last week. We're going to spend the rest of the summer studying Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Last week we looked at the salt and light passage, but this week we are going back to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Now let's put this in context. This is the very beginning of Jesus's teaching in the book of Matthew. Before this Jesus gets baptized, he is tempted in the desert, and after John the Baptist is arrested, Jesus continues to proclaim John's message: Repent for the Kingdom of the heavens is at hand. But we don't yet hear any of his preaching: Matthew just says that's what Jesus is saying. Next he calls the disciples and then the gospel tells us that he begins teaching in the Jewish synagogues, which means he would have been interpreting the Old Testament, also preaching the good news of the Kingdom, and healing people. And this begins to catch people's attention.