If you desired to extend to someone your good wishes, what would you say to him? Perhaps, “Happy New Year!” “Get well soon,” or even “Have a nice day!” But is this really the best that we can wish a friend or relative? The Lord has much more than that to offer, not for just a year, a period of time, or a day, but for all of human existence.
The “Beatitudes” are more than His greeting card to humanity; they contain the foundation of all blessing and happiness for one’s life here on earth and for the entire future, eternal life! Here, in just a few words, is divine thought that will completely change everything. Blessed are they who take the beatitudes to heart!
“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?” James 2:5.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are children of God because He has chosen us. He has given us the greatest inheritance; and there is no joy greater joy than following Him, our Master and loving Saviour. When He came to this earth and gave the wonderful Sermon on the Mount, He addressed not just the people who had assembled on the hills of Galilee but everyone in every age who will come to that spiritual Rock, Christ Jesus. Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 contain the best possible instruction for those who wish to live the blessed life. Everyone who will incorporate these truths into his thinking and life will see great changes take place.
As we study the Sabbath School Lessons for this quarter, let us look to Jesus, meditating on His love and sacrifice; this will result in great blessing and a wonderful experience. Many inspired messages invite us to make this experience. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrew 12:2.
“ ‘Our conversation is in Heaven,’ said the apostle; ‘from whence also we look for the Saviour.’ While others are dwarfing the intellect, hardening the heart, and robbing their Maker by devoting themselves to the service of the world, the true Christian lifts his soul above the follies and vanities of earth, seeking God for pardon, peace, and righteousness; for glory, immortality, and eternal life. And he seeks not in vain. His fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. Through this close intercourse with God, the soul becomes transformed. By beholding, we are changed into the divine image.” –The Signs of the Times, March 31, 1887.
“We are not only to contemplate the glory of Christ, but also to speak of His excellences. Isaiah not only beheld the glory of Christ, but he also spoke of Him. While David mused, the fire burned; then spoke he with his tongue. While he mused upon the wondrous love of God he could not but speak of that which he saw and felt. Who can by faith behold the wonderful plan of redemption, the glory of the only-begotten Son of God, and not speak of it? Who can contemplate the unfathomable love that was manifested upon the cross of Calvary in the death of Christ, that we might not perish, but have everlasting life–who can behold this and have no words with which to extol the Saviour’s glory?” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 43, 44.
May the Lord touch the heart of every student and grant this experience every day. Then we will not just study the Beatitudes for one quarter but make wonderful experiences now and forever by cherishing and applying them.
–The writer and the brothers and sisters of the General Conference
Sabbath, January 7, 2012
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3.
“Christ’s first words to the people on the mount were words of blessing. Happy are they, He said, who recognize their spiritual poverty, and feel their need of redemption. The gospel is to be preached to the poor. Not to the spiritually proud, those who claim to be rich and in need of nothing, is it revealed, but to those who are humble and contrite. One fountain only has been opened for sin, a fountain for the poor in spirit.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 299, 300.
Recognizing one’s spiritual poverty
1. What characterized the thinking and actions of the religious leaders in the time of Jesus? Can such a spirit exist today?
Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Isaiah 65:5, first part Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in My nose, a fire that burneth all the day.
“In the days of Christ the religious leaders of the people felt that they were rich in spiritual treasure. The prayer of the Pharisee, ‘God, I thank Thee, that I am not as the rest of men’ (Luke 18:11, R.V.), expressed the feeling of his class and, to a great degree, of the whole nation.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 6.
2. How did Peter and the other disciples come to recognize their sinfulness and spiritual poverty?
Luke 5:8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
“… In the throng that surrounded Jesus there were some who had a sense of their spiritual poverty. When in the miraculous draft of fishes the divine power of Christ was revealed, Peter fell at the Saviour’s feet, exclaiming, ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord’ (Luke 5:8); so in the multitude gathered upon the mount there were souls who, in the presence of His purity, felt that they were ‘wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked’ (Revelation 3:17); and they longed for ‘the grace of God that bringeth salvation’ (Titus 2:11). In these souls, Christ’s words of greeting awakened hope; they saw that their lives were under the benediction of God.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 6, 7.
Self-righteousness is not humility
3. How does the Bible present the condition of those who refuse to recognize their real spiritual condition? How do they relate to Jesus?
Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
“He who feels whole, who thinks that he is reasonably good, and is contented with his condition, does not seek to become a partaker of the grace and righteousness of Christ. Pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give. There is no room for Jesus in the heart of such a person. Those who are rich and honorable in their own eyes do not ask in faith, and receive the blessing of God. They feel that they are full, therefore they go away empty.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 7.
4. What precedes full forgiveness and blessing from the Lord?
Luke 18:13, 14 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
“Those who know that they cannot possibly save themselves, or of themselves do any righteous action, are the ones who appreciate the help that Christ can bestow. They are the poor in spirit, whom He declares to be blessed….
“They see that all they have ever done is mingled with self and sin. Like the poor publican, they stand afar off, not daring to lift up so much as their eyes to heaven, and cry, ‘God, be merciful to me the sinner.’ Luke 18:13, R.V., margin. And they are blessed. There is forgiveness for the penitent; for Christ is ‘the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ John 1:29.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 7, 8.
“The sense of need, the recognition of our poverty and sin, is the very first condition of acceptance with God. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew 5:3.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 152.
Regeneration and glory
5. If our desire is genuine, what steps will we take to obtain regeneration? What part does human effort have in accomplishing this?
Ezekiel 36:26, 27 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Jeremiah 24:7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.
John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.
“But we must have a knowledge of ourselves, a knowledge that will result in contrition, before we can find pardon and peace. The Pharisee felt no conviction of sin. The Holy Spirit could not work with him…. We must know our real condition, or we shall not feel our need of Christ’s help. We must understand our danger, or we shall not flee to the refuge. We must feel the pain of our wounds, or we should not desire healing.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 158.
“Whom Christ pardons, He first makes penitent, and it is the office of the Holy Spirit to convince of sin. Those whose hearts have been moved by the convicting spirit of God see that there is nothing good in themselves…. ‘A new heart also will I give you…. And I will put My spirit within you.’ Isaiah 1:18; Ezekiel 36:26, 27.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 7, 8.
6. Where do sinners find cleansing from the filth and ravages of sin and receive His pure robe of righteousness?
Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 45:24 Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.
“There is fullness of grace in God, and we may have His spirit and power in large measure. Do not feed on the husks of self-righteousness, but go to the Lord. He has the best robe to put upon you, and His arms are open to receive. Christ will say, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him, and clothe him with a change of raiment.’” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 328.
“Whatever may have been your past experience, however discouraging your present circumstances, if you will come to Jesus just as you are, weak, helpless, and despairing, our compassionate Saviour will meet you a great way off, and will throw about you His arms of love and His robe of righteousness. He presents us to the Father clothed in the white raiment of His own character. He pleads before God in our behalf, saying: I have taken the sinner’s place. Look not upon this wayward child, but look on Me…. The blood of Christ pleads with greater power.
“‘Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength…. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.’ Isaiah 45:24, 25.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 8, 9.
Exchanging poverty for riches
7. What glorious promise is given to the poor in spirit?
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Of the poor in spirit Jesus says, ‘Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ This kingdom is not, as Christ’s hearers had hoped, a temporal and earthly dominion. Christ was opening to men the spiritual kingdom of His love, His grace, His righteousness. The ensign of the Messiah’s reign is distinguished by the likeness of the Son of man. His subjects are the poor in spirit, the meek, the persecuted for righteousness’ sake. The kingdom of heaven is theirs. Though not yet fully accomplished, the work is begun in them which will make them ‘meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.’ Colossians 1:12.
“All who have a sense of their deep soul poverty, who feel that they have nothing good in themselves, may find righteousness and strength by looking unto Jesus. He says, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden.’ Matthew 11:28. He bids you exchange your poverty for the riches of His grace. We are not worthy of God’s love, but Christ, our surety, is worthy, and is abundantly able to save all who shall come unto Him.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 8, 9.
“He is the only one that can implant in the heart enmity against sin. Every desire for truth and purity, every conviction of our own sinfulness, is an evidence that His spirit is moving upon our hearts.” –Steps to Christ, p. 26.
“The only reason why we do not have remission of sins that are past is that we are not willing to humble our hearts and comply with the conditions of the word of truth. Explicit instruction is given concerning this matter. Confession of sin, whether public or private, should be heartfelt and freely expressed. It is not to be urged from the sinner. It is not to be made in a flippant and careless way, or forced from those who have no realizing sense of the abhorrent character of sin. The confession that is the outpouring of the inmost soul finds its way to the God of infinite pity. The psalmist says, ‘The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.’ Psalm 34:18.” –Steps to Christ, p. 38.