THE PRAISE OF THE CITIZENS IN THE KINGDOM by Bishop Dr. J. Akin Atere

 

SERMON PREACHED AT THE 2021 MAUNDY THURSDAY AT THE CATHEDRAL OF ST JAMES. IPATE OYINBO ON THURSDAY 1ST APRIL, 2021 AT 10AM

THEME: THE PRAISE OF THE CITIZENS IN THE KINGDOM.
TEXT: (Matt. 5:3-12)

INTRODUCTION 1. As we begin to take a closer look at The Sermon On The Mount, we notice first that section referred to as The Beatitudes…
In verses 3-12, Jesus describes the blessedness of those who possess certain qualities.
It is as though Jesus was answering two questions the people may have been asking: (1) Who are the citizens of this “kingdom of heaven”? (2) What benefits do they receive?
Many studies has examined each of the beatitude in detail before moving on to the next . But i will survey the entire section twice, from two different perspectives [First, let’s look at The Beatitudes from the viewpoint of the question: “Who are the citizens of the kingdom?” In other words…] I. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTER REQUIRED OF THE CITIZENS OF THE KINGDOM? I NOTICED THAT IT INVOLVES SEVERAL INTERRELATED QUALITIES… BUT Only those who possess all of these qualities are truly citizens of the kingdom 2. For it is evident that some… May be “poor in spirit,” but do not “hunger and thirst after righteousness” some May “mourn,” but are not “pure in heart” ,some May be “meek,” but are not “peacemakers”, some May be “persecuted,” but not “for righteousness’ sake” 3. It takes all of these qualities, and in this sense the passage is similar to 2 Pet. 1:5-11 Where various qualities are also listed, Where each of them are needed in conjunction to assure that “an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom”
B. CHARACTERISTICS OF CITIZENS OF THE KINGDOM… 1.
1.Poor in spirit a. “To be poor in spirit is to have a humble opinion of ourselves; to be sensible that we are sinners, and have no righteousness of our own; to be willing to be saved only by the rich grace and mercy of God” – I.e., convicted of one’s own spiritual poverty 1) Exemplified by the tax collector in Lk 18:13 “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’”) Such people God will accept into His good favour – Isa 57:15; For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones
66:1-2 (read) c. The opposite of “poor in spirit” would be “proud of heart,” and those who are such are more like: 1) The Pharisee in (Lk 18:9-14)
The Laodiceans in (Rev. 3:17-19)
2.Mourning here is over one’s own spiritual poverty, one’ sinfulness,when you know you have sinned. Like David did after his adultery with Bathsheba – Psa 51:3-4
“One point is clear, and that,Unless one is first “poor in spirit” ,he/she will not “mourn” over their spiritual poverty”
3.Meekness means, gentle, easy to be entreated he/she Would rather suffer injury than inflict it, Not out of weakness, but out of humility, realizing one’s own poverty of spirit, one’s own sinfulness
A good example of meekness is Moses .He was certainly not a weak or timid man – Exo 32:19-20; 30-34 2) But when personally attacked, he was very humble – Num 12:1-3(read and apply)
4. Hunger and thirst for righteousness ie- looking for the righteousness which will meet Their spiritual poverty .To “hunger and thirst” suggests not a halfhearted search, but one exemplified by David in Psa 42:1-3;

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me,”
“Where is your God?” 19:12-14 2) Paul in Philp 3:7-15a
5. Merciful – Loving towards those in misery,in pain, suffering (e.g., the “Good Samaritan”), Possessing a forgiving spirit toward those who sin against them – Hendricksen 1) E.g., Jesus in Lk 23:34″Father forgive them,for they know not what they are doing” . The same with Stephen in Act 7:60 “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”c. Jesus stressed this characteristic on several occasions…,Later in His sermon, on prayer – (Mt 6:14-15.)”If yee forgive men,their trespasses, your heavenly fsther will also forgive you,but if yee forgive not men their trespasses neither will your father forgive your trespasses ”
In His parable of “The Unforgiving Servant” – Mt 18:21-35.
6. A pure in heart a. “singleness of heart,honesty which has no hidden motive, no selfish interest, and is true and open in all things.” Refers to one who is sincere, honest, without hypocrisy ,That such a quality is necessary to see God, Psa 24:3-4

“Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.”
7. Peacemakers a. Those who devote their lives to making peace by following the Prince of Peace . They are those who make every effort to be at peace with all men – Rom. 12:18-21(read).These are the people Involves in helping others to be at peace with God by proclaiming the gospel of peace- cf. Rom 5:1″Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ “and Ep 6:15. “A
8. Persecuted for righteousness’sake “The idea is that they did not flee from it but willingly submitted to when it came to them.” In what way, is explained in verse 11, and includes being: (1) Reviled or reproached (2) Persecuted (3) Slandered falsely–All for Jesus’ sake That such persecution would often afflict those who are citizens of the kingdom, see Act 14:21-22; Ph 1:29-30; 2 Ti 3:12 [Such are the characteristics of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
WHAT THEN IS THEIR PRAISE? (THE BLESSEDNESS )
THEIR CONDITION CAN BE SUMMED UP IN ONE WORD: “BLESSED”…
The word stands at the beginning of the sermon, and is used nine times in nine verses 2. It can literally mean, “how very happy” to praise God?
We can infer from verse twelve that “blessed” involves great joy and gladness (“rejoice and be exceedingly glad”) BECAUSE, They are under the kingly rule of God, They are in a spiritual kingdom, Which today involves being in the “church,” the present manifestation of the “kingdom of heaven” ,Which will involve the “new heavens and new earth” , we shall observe that the blessings described involve both the present and future .They shall be comforted .This is in reference to those who mourn over their sins and spiritual poverty .They are comforted even now – 2 Co 1:3-5 ,They shall be comforted in the future – Rev. 21:1-4.,They shall inherit the earth a. In one sense, they inherit it now .As a result of putting the kingdom of God first – Mk 6:33; Mk 10:29-30 Though they may have less than some who are wicked, God still enables them to enjoy it more! – Ecc 5:19-6:2 3) Their praises Received in fullness when adorned in the white linen of righteousness in preparation for the marriage of the Lamb – Rev. 19:5-9 They shall obtain mercy, They enjoy forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ blood – Rev. 1:5-6 . They shall see God .They shall be called sons of God.

CONCLUSION:

Perhaps we can better understand why citizens in the kingdom are truly Blessed. Certainly the benefits of the kingdom outweigh anything this world has to offer, or any persecution it might inflict! The blessedness of the citizens is only for those who have the characteristics of the citizens in ever-increasing measure. Do we? Are you in the kingdom now? If you are then blessed are you,therefore praise him as one in the kingdom.