Summary: As Jesus continues his Sermon on the Mount, he reminds us of our purpose as Christians and mentions his mission in coming to earth. Parts: A. Because Christ fulfilled his mission. B. In order to carry out my mission.

Text: Matthew 5:13-20

Theme: Why Am I a Christian?

A. Because Christ fulfilled his mission

B. In order to carry out my mission

Season: Epiphany 5a

Date: February 6, 2011

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which Jesus speaks to us is Matthew 5.

"You're the ones who are the salt of the earth. If the salt becomes dull, how can it be made salty again? It's no longer good for anything except for being thrown out for people to trample on.

"You're the ones who are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and places it under a bowl but on a lampstand. And it shines for all in the house. Let your light so shine before people that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

"Don't think that I've come to do away with the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to do away with them but to fulfill them. For truly I say to you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter or mark will ever pass away from the Law until all has come about. So whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people the same, he will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever does them and teaches them, he will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness overflows more than that of the law-experts and Pharisees, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. " (Matthew 5:13-20)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

Many people have heard of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. His vivid expressions engrave his words on our hearts and minds. He speaks of salt and light today. Later he speaks of birds and lilies, of a narrow gate, trees bearing fruit, wolves in sheep's clothing, a house built on a rock. No wonder people say good things about it.

But Jesus did not speak these words to people in general. In fact, the world loves to take words and expressions from Jesus' message here and use them for other purposes, often in ways that contradict Jesus. They spin his words to advance their own agendas, dressing up their schemes in pious, Christian-looking costumes.

For whom, then, did Jesus speak this sermon? The Bible clearly tells us. At the beginning of Matthew 5 as the Sermon on the Mount starts, Scripture says, "His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying ..." (Matthew 5:1, 2 NIV1984). He's speaking to his disciples, his followers who listen to his voice, learn from him, believe in him, imitate him. He's speaking to you and me, dear Christian.

So the Sermon on the Mount assumes the hearers already know God's plan of salvation and believe in Jesus as their Savior from sin and death. It does not describe God's saving plan or Jesus' mission in any detail, although it does allude to it as we'll see later today. If you want to know the details of that plan, look at Matthew 26-28 or John 19, 20 or Romans 1-5 or Isaiah 53 to list a few. But that's not the purpose of the Sermon on the Mount.

Then what is its purpose? Jesus speaks these words to his disciples in order to describe the life of a disciple, your life as a Christian, a follower of Jesus, an imitator of him, a little Christ, if you will. It answers questions like these: Now that Jesus has saved me from death, how am I to live? Now that he has freed me from slavery to sin, how do I serve him? Now that he has graciously given me God's forgiveness and eternal life, how can I thank him rightly? Answers to these and similar questions fill the Sermon on the Mount, much more than we can cover in a series of four sermons.

But today we want to start with a very basic question for each one of us to ask ourselves: Why am I a Christian? Yes, dear friends, why are you his disciples? Why are we to listen to his words and put them into practice just as his first disciples did? Why am I a Christian?

A. Because Christ fulfilled his mission

1. What's the wrong reason to think you're a Christian?

Now, some people have a hard time turning down a good deal. Buy one jar of jelly and get the second free. Hey, if I buy ten, I get ten free. If I buy twenty, I'll get twenty free. And soon a lifetime supply of jelly fills the pantry.

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