#56 The Poor are Happy

22 September 1999

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"-Matthew 5:3 Jesus begins His great sermon on the mount with eight pronouncements of blessings. These describe and identify His followers in every age. They are many times referred to as the "Beatitudes". He begins each of His "Beatitudes" with the word "Blessed" which means "fortunate or happy". Surely, the followers of Christ have always been the happiest people. In each of His "Beatitudes" we find a pattern: (1) The pronouncement of a present blessing; (2) Each blessing will present its own special paradox; (3) The paradox explained; (4) Each successive "Beatitude" describes a greater level of maturity. Consider with me "The Happiest People". THE BLESSING Jesus has declared that the "poor in spirit" to be happy. Can such a thing be? How can poor people be happy? Though we know that money can not buy happiness, this kind of poor has nothing to do with money or wealth, but rather a need. It is our first experience with God when He shows gives us a good look at what we really are without Him. All of our good works become filthy rags as we hold them up to God to pay for our sin. We realize we have nothing in our possession to pay for one single sin. As the song writer has declared, "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross is cling". Bankrupt and guilty are words that express the feeling. Surely, this is not a description of the world. It is a description of a people who live in the world but are not of the world. The old prophet described these people long ago, "I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord"-Zeph. 3:12. One must first be afflicted before they recognize they are poor. Only God can open our eyes and show us our sin. This brings affliction. This inward affliction causes His people to look beyond self; beyond preachers; beyond the church; far beyond the transitory things of this world to the only One who has power to cancel sin. His name is Jesus, the balm of Gilead. Therefore, His kingdom involves more than giving assent to a particular doctrine or going though formalities. It is an experience of the heart. THE PARADOX Our paradox is this: How can poor people be happy? The world will never explain such an experience. That is why it is a paradox. It seems to contradict, but yet it is true. Jesus has declared it to be so. Only those who have experienced this grace may understand the meaning of the paradox. THE PARADOX EXPLAINED The poor are happy because they have a kingdom. It is in the world but not of the world. And they have a special King: King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His name is Jesus. This is a kingdom that Caesar can not destroy nor take from them . Here they find their comforts and securities for this King will never leave them nor forsake them. And unlike the rulers of great kingdoms, this king may be approached by His people in any hour of need with the feeling of their infirmities. The mention of His name brings comfort to the afflicted soul because it means "Savior". This is comfort to the afflicted. Here they find their trust. Have you been afflicted because of your sin? Then you have received an abundant entrance into His grace. You are "Blessed" indeed. 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