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Summary: An introductory sermon to a series exploring "The Sermon on the Mount." This message lays out the importance of this passage, and provides a challenge to go deeper in God’s Word.

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www.sermoncentral.com. The largest, best, and most popular preaching research and resource site in the world…if they do say so themselves. Or I should say, ourselves? Because there are more than 80,000 totally free sermons, illustrations, and dramas, including more than 100 from yours truly. There are 300 new sermons added each week, and more than 200,000 users a week.

And yet, many a person within the church cringes at the thought of their pastor preaching someone else’s sermon. Though I suppose there might even be a few churches that wish their pastor would preach someone else’s sermon.

But it is actually not a new phenomenon. For decades, even centuries preachers have taken the works of other preachers and boldly declared God’s Word. Sometimes adding their own personality or flavor. And sometimes even reading them verbatim as they were originally written. John Wesley’s 52 Standard Sermons have been preached by many Methodist ministers through the years. Long before the internet, or sermoncentral.com.

What an odd opening to a message you might think. Whose sermon is he about to preach you might ask. Well, let me tell you why this is relevant to our life today at SWC. Throughout 2008, and I’m guessing even well into 2009, I am going to be taking us through the Sermon on the Mount. While I have preached straight through other books of the Bible during my time here, I’m anticipating that the Sermon on the Mount will cover more weeks, and a larger calendar period than any other expository preaching I have done in my life.

And I want you to know up front that there are going to be five primary inspirations to our time in these three chapters over the next year or two. And the reason for this will make a little more sense in a few minutes.

First, and foremost, will be the sermon itself. The Word of God. Hopefully the beginning and ending inspiration of just about any sermon that is preached. In fact, I so desire that it be the foundation of our study together that I have set a personal goal of committing to memory the Sermon on the Mount as I preach it.

Let me encourage you to not be intimidated by such a task, but to join me in it. Over the life of a year or two, it will come out to just a verse or two a week. Pretty manageable. In fact, on the back of your outline you will see that between now and the beginning of May, just 6 verses. And many of the verses you are already familiar with.

But aside from the Word of God, there are going to be two sermon series, two historical, pre-sermon central databases that will be lighting our study along the way. The first is by a man named D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. You may have never heard of him, because he died before many of us were even born and he spent his ministry career in London, England.

In the late 1950s he preached for 60 successive weeks at Westminster Chapel on the Sermon on the Mount. In March of 1959, almost 50 years ago, those sermons were published, and have already come to be known as a spiritual classic in many circles.

Preaching magazine named D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones as one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century. So for those of you who want to dig deeper, or want to take what we look at on Sunday’s and reinforce the teachings from God’s Word Monday through Saturday, pick-up a copy of “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount” by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It will give you some great devotional reading and help you get even more from this series.

The second sermon series you might be more familiar with. It comes from a man named John Wesley. The John Wesley. In the midst of Wesley’s 52 Standard Sermons, there are actually 13 that work their way through, in an expository fashion, the Sermon on the Mount. Think about that. A founding father of our denomination. The very namesake of our denomination gave 13 out of 52, 25% of his foundational teaching sermons to the Sermon on the Mount.

So we’ll start from the foundation of the Gospel of Matthew. A first hand account of the Sermon on the Mount from the 1st Century. We’ll look to the wisdom and study of a direct church father to our tradition in John Wesley from the 18th century. We’ll gain 20th century insight from the sermons and studies of Lloyd-Jones.

And we’ll add another 20th century man’s reflections to the mix. Deitrich Boenhoffer’s book “The Cost of Discipleship” deals very directly with the Sermon on the Mount in the life of a person desiring to live as a disciple of Christ. It is another spiritual classic, and would be a source of some great devotional reading throughout this series.

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