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THE TRUTH OF THE BOOK
John Ortberg states
"It’s a strange thing: the book has never been so accessible. According to Guinness Book of Records, L. Ron Hubbard’s writings of scientology have been translated into 65 languages; the Koran is supposed to be read in Arabic so it hasn’t been translated as much; the Book of Mormon is in about 100 languages. But 2,656 languages have all or some of the Bible. Some 65 million copies of the Bible are brought or distributed in the U.S. every year--nothing else is a close second. The average house has at least three. People cheer the Bible, buy the Bible, give the Bible, own the Bible-they just don’t actually read the Bible. According to George Gallup: One Third of those surveyed know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Fewer than half can name the first book of the Bible; 80 percent of born-again Christians believe the phrase Go helps those who help themselves is in the Bible (it’s Ben Franklin, if you’re curious). So I’m thinking a lot these days about how to help the people that God brings my way to know and love the book" (Article People of The Book, pages 37-40 from Leadership Edition Winter 2008).
In Canada it is possible to go camping hundreds of miles away from any city or town. If it is a cloudy night, and there is no phosphorus in the area, the blackness is total. A hand held three inches from your face cannot be seen. But if there is a city nearby, perhaps a hundred miles away, the darkness is relieved. The light from the city is reflected off the clouds, and the night, once perfectly black, is no longer quite so desolate. Likewise Christians who let their light shine before men cannot be hidden; and the good light they shed around attenuates the blackness which would otherwise be absolute.
D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World (Grand Rapids: Global Christian Pub., 1999), 32
Philip Yancey relates how a professor Virginia Stem Owens assigned the Sermon on the Mount to her composition class at Texas A&M University. She asked her students to write a short essay on this passage of Scripture. Here is what one student wrote: “The things asked in this sermon are absurd. To look at a woman is adultery. That is the most extreme, stupid, unhuman statement that I have ever heard.” (The Jesus I Never Knew, p. 130).
Professor Owens reflected: “There is something exquisitely innocent about not realizing you shouldn’t call Jesus stupid…I find it strangely heartening that the Bible remains offensive to honest, ignorant ears, just as it was in the first century.” (Ibid.)
THE GENTLE GAIN
“In our rough-and-rugged individualism, we think of gentleness as weakness, being soft, and virtually spineless. Not so! ... Gentleness includes such enviable qualities as having strength under control, being calm and peaceful when surrounded by a heated atmosphere, emitting a soothing effect on those who may be angry or otherwise beside themselves, and possessing tact and gracious courtesy that causes others to retain their self-esteem and dignity.... Instead of losing, the gentle gain. Instead of being ripped of...
We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.
The appeal to God’s sovereignty is not to foster hope that we will be spared all difficulty, but to foster confidence that when those difficulties come we are not abandoned. Things have not fallen out of hand. We can still rely on the God who has permitted us to face these things to supply us with the grace and help we need to be faithful under such circumstances”.
(D.A. Carson: Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. 1999 Global Christian Publishers. p. 273)
A Gallup poll conducted some years ago revealed that 60 percent of Americans did not know what "the Holy Trinity" was. Sixty-six percent couldn’t say who delivered the Sermon on the Mount, and 79 percent were unable to name a single Old Testament prophet.
How is your Bible knowledge? Do you benefit from your understanding of the Bible? The Bible says that we can be blessed by knowing and practicing God’s word. You can benefit from the Bible!
Addressing a national seminar of Southern Baptist leaders, George Gallup said, "We find there is very little difference in ethical behavior between churchgoers and those who are not active religiously...The levels of lying, cheating, and stealing are remarkable similar in both groups. Eight out of ten Americans consider themselves Christians, Gallup said, yet only about half of them could identify the person who gave the Sermon on the Mount, and fewer still could reca...
"Our lives should always be the first things to speak; and if our lips speak more than our lives, it will avail very little. So often the tragedy has been that people proclaim the gospel in words, but their whole life and demeanor has been a denial of it. The world does not pay much attention to them. …We are something before we begin to act as something."
Source: Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971],P. 143.
JOHN STOTT ON TEMPTATION
"The command to get rid of troublesome eyes, hands and feet
is an example of our Lord’s use of dramatic figures of speech. What he was advocating was not a literal physical self-maiming, but a ruthless moral self-denial...to reject sinful practices so resolutely that we die to them or put them to death.
"What does this involve in practice?" asks Stott. "Let me elaborate and so interpret Jesus' teaching: If your eye causes you to sin because temptation comes to you through your eyes (objects you see), then pluck out your eyes. That is, don’t look! Behave as if you had actually plucked out your eyes and flung them away, and were blind and so could not see the objects which previously caused you to sin.
"Again, if your hand or foot causes you to sin, because temptation comes to you through your hands (things you do) or your feet (places you visit), then cut them off. That is: don’t do it! Don’t go! Behave as if you had actually cut off your hands and feet, and had flung them away, and were now crippled and so could not do the things or visit the places which previously caused you to sin.'"
--John Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, The Bible Speaks Today, p. 89.