15 October 1999

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."-Mat 5:6 In the first three Beatitudes we are called upon to witness the heart exercises of those who have been awakened by the Spirit of God. First, there is a sense of need, a realization of sin and emptiness. Second, there is a judging of self, a consciousness of guilt and sorrow over sin. Third, a change begins to take place as the soul becomes teachable. And here, in the fourth, there is a longing, an intense hunger and thirst, for something that can not be found in self; in friends; nor in all the world. The eye of the soul is turned away from self to Another who has fulfilled all righteousness: Jesus Christ. THE BLESSING While the pangs of hunger and thirst for nature's nutrients are symptoms of a healthy body, a spiritual hunger and thirst for righteousness are like symptoms of a healthy soul. To know more about Him; to live closer to Him; to be more like Him are vital signs of spiritual health. Surely, the fulfilling of these desires will produce a blessing in one's life. Eating and drinking proper nutrients produce maturity and growth. While there are many carnal desires that will lead to death, these spiritual cravingss lead to life and Godliness. This is righteousness. Jesus has pronounced such as "Blessed". These people must be blessed because they did not place themselves in a such a position of need ... .nor would they have. They are hungry and thirsty because God made them that way. It was by design, His choice and not their own. He loved them; marked them out; placed His Spirit within them; revealed their condition to them; and made them hungry and thirsty. Then, and only then, will the sinner seek Christ. God comes first in the experience. They have become hungry and thirsty for righteousness because they have been created anew, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new"- II Cor. 5:17. The word "creature" means creation, therefore the blessing did not come about by a process of religious evolution. As the infant cries for his mother's milk when he is born, so the spiritual creature cries for the sincere milk of the word when they are born. Birth first, then the desire. The Pharisees could not understand this craving. When Jesus said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you" they said, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"(John 6:52-54). They were void of His spirit. This desire was not found in them. But for those who have seen His blood as their redemption and His body as their sacrifice, they have indeed been fed by His body and blood. This is the look away from self, the fulfillment of the hunger and thirst. This is the blessing. This spiritual craving may become intense: "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God"- Psalm 42:1. It has a priority, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you"-Matthew 6:33. It is a genuine experience of grace. THE PARADOX How can one be blessed, or happy, who is in a constant state of hunger and thirst for something that they can not find in self? Surely, this is a paradox to the world. No wonder the Jews murmured and many disciples went back and walked no more with him, when Jesus declared His flesh and His blood to be meat and drink (John 6). Our explanation is once again found in the promised blessing. THE PARADOX EXPLAINED When God creates a hunger and thirst in the soul, it is for a purpose: that He may satisfy it, "They shall be filled." When the poor sinner is made to feel his need for Christ, it is that he may be drawn to and led to embrace Him. I believe they shall be filled with peace; praise; thanksgiving; goodness; and mercy of God; till their cup runneth over when they genuinely seek Him. And here is divine consolation for those who might question their election and calling. When one hungers and thirsts for this righteousness, divine grace is at work within. They must be spiritually alive. Christ Himself has pronounced them as "blessed". Lord, feed us that we may grow! Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 each Sunday morning. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor