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Teachings of Jesus

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In the Temple to on the Mountain

In the first six lessons I expressed my opinions (credo) regarding truths that are foundational and universally relevant for understanding ultimate reality.  These truths include the rationales for being a moralist, a theist and a Christian. My main concern was to help all truthseekers understand the divine logic and love that may have created reality and might provide meaning to its history.  I discussed God’s requirement for salvation (GRFS) and the need for perseverance in learning God’s Word (LGW).  I also explained the very important distinction between the kerygma (truth that is required to believe for salvation from evil and death) and the didache (truth that is secondary but necessary to learn and practice for spiritual maturation).  I concluded by sharing my concepts of how souls interact with God and how Believers in God/Messianics/Christians (as opposed to believers in atheism and anti-Christians) may fellowship.

My primary intent in the next three lessons is to compile a comprehensive survey of the teachings of Jesus (TOJ) rather than to conduct an exhaustive discussion of each one.  In fact, I try to be very succinct and abbreviate the verbiage by sometimes citing information in previous lessons.  I begin by following the order of the TOJ in the Gospel of Matthew supplemented by unique (non-parallel) teachings in the other two synoptic (similar) gospels by Mark and Luke.  Typically, the first instance of a TOJ in Matthew is stated simply, and the reference with any parallel verses (denoted by //) is given in the brackets [ ] that immediately follow.  For TOJ which are also taught in the gospel of John or on more than one (non-parallel) occasion in the synoptic gospels, the other passages are cited in rounded brackets { } either at an appropriate place in the discussion or at the conclusion of my comments.  Although I am not very concerned about the order of Jesus’ teachings, apparently Luke’s account contains the earliest and latest (in ACTS 1:8) statements of Jesus, so I begin and conclude with these.  After analyzing the synoptic gospels, I consider teachings that are unique or clearest from John's gospel.

 

The most difficult aspect of the present endeavor is deciding whether a later statement by Jesus should be considered a new teaching or a nuance of a previously cited teaching.  Where the nuance or wording seems significant, I list it separately (e.g., TOJ #10 & #81).  Some of Jesus' statements (such as MT 4:19//MK 1:17, MK 1:41-43//LK 5:13-14, MK 4:35, 5:8-9&30) do not seem to be for the purpose of teaching, so they are not mentioned.  Other statements that do communicate teachings (such as MK 6:8-11, 11:17 & JN 6:70) seem to be meant or applicable only for that specific historical occasion, so they are not included in the enumeration, either.

   

I am aware that some scholars are skeptical that Jesus actually spoke all of the words attributed to Him by the gospel writers.  If there is no God, then it does not really/ultimately matter what Jesus said.   However, if God does exist, then it seems logical that He either caused or permitted the biblical canon (OT & NT) to be compiled in its extant form, since it has been the most influential witness for Deity in history.  Thus, in order to avoid the conclusion that God is tricky, it would seem prudent to accept the Bible’s authenticity until and unless there is very good reason to question a portion, such as Mark 16:9-20, which the NIV and other versions question.  I do not accept the teachings in verses 16-17 as authentic, because two elements are incompatible or unable to be harmonized with the rest of the NT, namely:  water baptism is required to be saved, and the sign/evidence of saving Faith is miracle-working rather than love. (See TOJ #4, #74 & #148.)
 

         Since the NT record of the TOJ does not always communicate clearly, consistently or completely, I humbly offer my commentary, which incorporates common sense and science or logic as well as teachings found elsewhere in the Bible, hoping that it is inspired sufficiently enough to provide helpful solutions rather than contribute to confusion.
  

            TOJ #1:  Jesus is the Son of God.  [LK 2:49]  Jesus’ first pupils were His parents.  By the age of twelve Jesus realized that God was His heavenly Father (in fulfillment of Psalm 2:7).  John 1:14 states that God’s Word/Spirit was incarnate in Jesus.  Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus is God’s Son, “the exact representation of his being.”  Insofar as it is possible for the almighty, immortal and invisible God (1TM 1:17) to reveal Himself in a mortal human (RM 1:3), that person is Jesus (1TM 2:5).  Jesus is the fullest possible revelation of the superhuman God (CL 1:19) in the human dimension (PHP 2:7-8).  And with God all things are possible that do not contradict who He is (MT 19:26, HB 6:18).  The "insofar" of this theophany is sufficient, so that Messiah/Christ may be considered as Immanuel (MT 1:23) or God the Son {JN 5:17-27, 10:25-38, 14:9f., 17:1-5} or the Son of God (MT 3:17, 17:5) or .  This means that God may be understood as a Triunity (Lesson 2).  See TOJ #7, #49, #52 & #178.

Somehow Jesus was a human being like you and me except that in order to fulfill a prophecy (IS 7:14) the Holy Spirit implanted a specially created embryo in the virgin Mary, who had not yet consummated her marriage to the virginal Joseph (MT 1:18&25).  Jesus’ earthly parents did not understand His teaching at first, but at least His birth-mother “treasured all these things in her heart”—as we all should (LK 2:50-52).  Of course, every time Jesus referred to God as Father could be cited as teaching this concept, but I will include only two more passages from John's gospel {JN 6:32-46, 10:25-38}.

 

            TOJ #2:  Obey God’s will. [MT 3:15]  Notice that the accounts of Jesus' baptism in the other gospels (MK 1:9-11, LK 3:21-22, JN 1:31-34) omit this teaching.  However, it is a major theme in John's gospel. {JN 5:17, 17:4}  See TOJ #34 & #153.  By being baptized Jesus taught John and others present that He obeyed God's will for Messiah to identify with sinful humanity.  In John's gospel Jesus called doing his Father's will/work His "food" {JN 4:34}.  It included giving eternal life {JN 5:19-21,36}.  The work of dying Jesus called His "cup" {JN 18:11}, which surely is what was "finished" on the cross {JN 19:30}.

Jesus also spoke of His coming obedience unto death (TOJ #54) as a baptism (Lesson 5). {LK 12:50, MK 10:38-39, 14:36}  Obeying God's will as codified in the Ten Commandments is TOJ #107.  Peter taught this truth via a negative example {in MT 16:23//MK 8:33}.

            TOJ #3:  Learn God’s Word. [MT 4:4//LK 4:4]  This is the first of three truths Jesus tried to teach the devil during a period of testing in the desert (MK 1:12-13).  Satan first tempted Jesus to perform a miracle; just like he tempts us to want to walk by proof rather than by faith (MT 24:24).  However, Jesus indicated that God's Word is the fuel, food {JN 6:26-27} and medicine for souls, so if we do not LGW, then we will run out of gas, fail to grow and be spiritually sick (Lesson 4).  Or, in terms of another passage, our house (life) will be destroyed. {MT 7:24-27//LK 6:47-49}
           This TOJ prompts the question:  what is God's Word?  The NT affirms most of the books in the OT, and most Christians affirm the books in the NT.  Mohammed, Joseph Smith and others have also claimed to write GW.  The next TOJ is the best answer to this question that I have found.  
Some people think God dictated ever word to the biblical writers, but this view is untenable, because a perfect Bible would not require commentary to explain discrepancies, such as one instruction to pray for God’s will to be done (TOJ #34) and another to ask for anything (TOJ #51).  It also would have included teachings to head off future controversies, such as “Thou shalt not murder babies in the womb,” or to answer crucial questions, like “God does not prove His will to humanity because doing so would abrogate volition.”  [See the item on Biblical Inspiration in Lesson 13.]

TOJ #4:  Harmonize all truth. [MT 4:7a]  Jesus implied this important logical principle to apply when seeking the correct understanding of GW by saying, “It is also written”.  If the Spirit of God inspired the biblical writers (2PT 1:20-21) and created the world (GN 1:1-3), then the best interpretation of a TOJ should harmonize the totality of knowledge (Lesson 1).

In his second temptation the devil quoted Scripture (PS 91:11-12) as though he were heeding the TOJ about LGW, but he attempted to deceive Jesus with a false interpretation so He would perform a miracle.  Although Jesus did perform miracles, it was only as necessary in order to establish His church so that Christians could preach salvation via faith in GW.  See TOJ #77 & #78.

 

TOJ #5:  Life is God’s test. [MT 4:7b//LK 4:12b]  The verse of Scripture to which Jesus alluded (DT 6:16) shows that it is human souls who must prove to God whom they will serve (JSH 24:15).

 

TOJ #6:  Worship only God. [MT 4:10//LK 4:8]  The account of the third temptation is slightly fuller in Luke (where it is mentioned second).  What Satan claimed in verses six and seven (in LK) are lies.  God has not given all authority to Satan; Satan tries to usurp it (RM 13:1-5).  The only power Satan and people have is permission to disobey and rebel against God’s authority within limits (GN 2:16-17, 3:22-24, 6:3, 11:6-9, JOB 1:12, 2:6).  (See TOJ #136)

             TOJ #7:  Accept Jesus as the Lord’s Messiah/Christ. [LK 4:18-22, 43]  This event is omitted in Matthew and Mark.  By saying the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-2 (cf. IS 49:5-7, 52:13) was fulfilled, Jesus was teaching that He is God’s Messiah {MT 16:16a//MK 8:29//LK 9:20}, whose mission is the next TOJ. Jesus asserted this teaching directly {in JN 4:25-26}, and it was also taught by the miraculous resurrection of Lazarus. {JN 11:25-44}

Another term for Messiah is Son (TOJ #1), which may be why those who doubted asked, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”  Although Jesus’ role as God’s Messiah is equivalent to His role as God’s Son {MT 16:16-18}, both terms are significant enough to justify listing these teachings separately.  Also see TOJ #49, #52 & #131.

             TOJ #8:  Repent of Sin/Believe GRS. [MT 4:17//MK 1:15 & LK 4:43]  Jesus was sent for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel (good news) about how to be saved from death and hell to eternal life in the kingdom of God/heaven.  The way to be saved is to repent of the sin of unbelief or atheism (2PT 3:10-13), and believe—not merely in God's existence (JM 2:19), but—in the way that satisfies GRS (Lesson 3). 

Repentance/faith was the central theme of Jesus' preaching. {MK 1:38}  Salvation/heaven was signified by freedom from poverty, captivity, infirmity, sins and their just (miserable) consequences {MT 11:4-6//LK 7:22-23}.

Many people scoff at this imperative invitation of Jesus, because “everything goes on as it has since the beginning” (2PT 3:3-4).  Unfortunately for them, the next miraculous proof will be the second coming of Christ in judgment, when it will be too late to repent of sin/evil that results in the opposite of heaven.  See TOJ #195.

            TOJ #9:  Blessed are Believers. [MT 5:3-12]  Believers have the saving faith implied by “because of me” (v.11).  Peter’s confession {MT 16:16-17} showed his faith in Jesus as Messiah/Christ/Son of God.  Although Believers experience many blessings in the midst of earthly troubles, God's ultimate blessing is eternal life in heaven (TOJ #154), which is the proper reason or motivation for obeying God's will, beginning with TOJ #7 & #8 {JN 13:17}.  See TOJ #198. 

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (MT 5-7) begins with a series of blessings called the Beatitudes.  (The verb “beatify” means to bless or make happy.) The Beatitudes might be viewed as one general teaching comprised of eight specific examples of ways all true Believers will be blessed, but we will consider each beatitude separately.
 

TOJ #10:  Believers are humble/teachable. [MT 5:3//LK 6:20]  The term “poor in spirit” is associated with being contrite or repentant (in IS 57:15).  It is the opposite of the sin of pride that precedes a fall from Eden (GN 3:23-24) to destruction (PR 16:18).  It does not refer to physical poverty, because nowhere does the Bible teach that destitution is a virtue.  The equivalence of humility and willingness to learn is indicated later by Jesus (TOJ #81).  Also see TOJ #31.
 

            TOJ #11:  Believers are comforted (by God's Holy Spirit). [MT 5:4//LK 6:21b]  The means of comfort is implied by Jesus' promise to send the "Counselor" (in John 14:26-27).  God's comfort was prophesied in Isaiah 61:2 and Revelation 21:4.  Paul also found comfort in the realization that our grief is brief (1CR 7:29-30)!

The term "mourn" connotes grief in response to the death of a loved one, but Paul connected "comfort" with suffering due to various troubles (in 2CR 1:3-7), and Peter tied the blessing of comfort to suffering for what is right (1PT 3:14) and for the sake of Christ (1PT 4:13-14) as in the eighth beatitude (TOJ #18).  Ultimately, Believers will rejoice in heaven with the beggar, Lazarus {LK 16:25}.

 
             TOJ #12:  Believers are meek. [MT 5:5]  Although the OT passage Jesus seems to have in mind (PS 37:9-34) probably envisioned an earthly fulfillment of this prophecy, the ultimate reward or promised land (NM 14:16) will be heavenly (JN 14:2-3, RV 21:1-3).  (Lesson 2)

Meekness describes a moral quality akin to love rather than a personality type, such as introversion.  It is also related to humility (TOJ #10) and peacemaking (TOJ #16).

TOJ #13:  Believers' craving  for  righteousness  will  be  satisfied. [MT 5:6//LK 6:21a]  Luke's wording appears to refer to physical hunger. They will be filled with “good things” (PS 107:9) or the Holy (Righteous) Spirit {LK 11:13}.  (Lesson 5)  TOJ #15 is a significant restatement of this truth, and a major component of righteousness is the subject of the next beatitude.

            TOJ #14:  Believers manifest Faith by showing mercy. [MT 5:7]  This teaching is stated in other words {in MT 6:14-15, 9:13, MK 11:25, LK 6:36-38, 17:3-4} and negatively in James 2:13.  Jesus illustrated this principle with the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant {MT 18:21-35}, and He exemplified it while on the cross with a prayer for forgiveness {LK 23:34}.

Mercy can be appropriated only by those who repent of their wrong attitudes and actions (MT 18:15-17).  See TOJ #114.  Reflecting God's love is the normative sign of SF (TOJ #148).  The distinction between love and mercy parallels that between Faith and works.  Showing mercy does not mean allowing anarchy (RM 13:4b); there is a time for leniency and a time for logical consequences (ECC 3:3).  See TOJ #30.

 

TOJ #15:  Believers will become pure/righteous. [MT 5:8]  Purity is synonymous with moral perfection, which is a goal not attained in this lifetime (PHP 3:12-16) except positionally by spiritual union with God's perfect Son (HB 2:10, 4:14-15, 5:8-9), whereupon God credits or imputes Believers with Christ's righteousness.  See TOJ #21.  However, those who were with Jesus did see God the Son {JN 14:8-10}.  The process of becoming perfect or like Christ is called sanctification. {JN 17:17}.  In heaven all saints (Lesson 5) will be pure and behold Him in His Shekinah or glorified body (PS 11:7, 15:1-2, 24:3-5, RV 22:3-5). 
 

TOJ #16:  Believers are peacemakers. [MT 5:9a]  All souls should strive for peace (RM 12:16-18) and unity (EPH 4:3).  An application of this teaching is made by Jesus later in His sermon. {MT 5:23-24}  This attribute should not be equated or confused with antinomianism (not having criminal laws) or pacifism (not resisting aggressor nations), but it does correlate with TOJ #14 & #29.  Slogans advocating peace should always include a reference to freedom and justice.  (Also see ECC 3:8 & RV 12:7, 19:11.)  The opposite of this truth is TOJ #157.

TOJ #17:  Believers are spiritual children of God. [MT 5:9b]  Paul (in RM 8:15-17) and John (in 1JN 5:2) called Christians the children of God, and Moses described the Israelites by this phrase (DT 14:1).  The writer of Hebrews said, "Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family." (HB 2:11-14)  (Lesson 5 & 6)
 

            TOJ #18:  Believers may be persecuted. [MT 5:10-12//LK 6:22-23, JN 15:18]  Jesus’ crucifixion is the paradigm (1PT 2:21), but Believers also may be martyred because of their faith.  History teaches that persecution may occur in some nations and eras more than in others. {MT 24:9-10&12//MK 13:9//LK 21:12-13}  It may be in the form of ostracism or excommunication (cf. TOJ #102) by family. {MT 10:35-36//LK 12:52-53, JN 16:2a}  The persecutors may threaten physical harm or death. {MT 10:21//MK 13:12//LK 21:16}  If possible, Believers should “flee”. {MT 10:23}  See TOJ #63.  Of course, Believers should not be intolerant persecutors when they are the majority or in powerful positions.

Although all Believers have the hope of heaven whether or not they suffer persecution, it may be that those who experience greater suffering develop an increased capacity for enjoying the good life both on earth and in heaven.  This would be comparable to the fact that those who have studied a subject such as art or mathematics have a deeper appreciation for artistic or mathematical endeavors than those less experienced or knowledgeable.

           TOJ #19:  Believers teach the value of LGW and obeying GRS to the world. [MT 5:13-16]  Whereas salt seasons and preserves food, Believers (who manifest the beatific attributes) make the world a better place to live and save converts from moral corruption. {MK 9:49-50//LK 14:34-35}  Believers not only are blessed but also are a blessing to others.  However, the possibility of becoming “no longer good for anything” implies the need for perseverance (1TM 1:18-20).  See TOJ #60 (& Lesson 4).

“Light”, which symbolizes God (PS 27:1, 1JN 1:5), is reflected by Jesus (JN 9:5) and Believers (EPH 5:8-9).  Just as the purpose of lighting a lamp is to illuminate a room, so the reason Believers remain in this world is to provide spiritual light {LK 11:33, 12:35}.  This TOJ is almost the same as #65.  The light symbol is found also in TOJ #39 & #171.

          TOJ #20:  Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant. [MT 5:17-18]  This fact was emphasized by Luke. {LK 16:17, 18:31, 22:37, 24:25-27&44-47}  An apparent purpose of the writer of Hebrews was to explain how this fact laid the foundation for the New Covenant (HB 1:1-2, 3:1-6, 7:22, 9:15).  The reason God chose the Jews (OT) was to prepare the way for all people to choose Jesus as Messiah/Lord (NT).  See TOJ #177. (IS 40:3//MT 3:3)

            TOJ #21:  GRS is moral perfection. [MT 5:19-20&48//LK 6:32-34]  And no one is perfect (RM 3:22).  The Pharisees were criticized by Jesus for being self-righteous hypocrites (TOJ #134), who did not practice what they preached, which was a superficial and legalistic understanding of God’s will that stressed traditions and laws over loving relationships (TOJ #87).

The way to achieve perfection or purity (TOJ #15) or the "fullness of Christ" (Lesson 3) is explained in Romans 3:21-5:1.  The key is Faith in Jesus (God as revealed, Lesson 3) or repenting of the Sin of Unbelief, which are opposite sides of the same coin.  See TOJ #8.

            TOJ #22:  Do not rage. [MT 5:21-24]  The TOJ against rage or unrighteous anger combines lessons from the Beatitudes:  the meek allow God’s love to conquer rage, the merciful replace rage with forgiveness, and the peacemakers try to resolve the rage in others.  Jesus taught that rage is as wrong as murder because it leads to murder and is morally equivalent to murder (JM 2:10).  Paul spoke of righteous anger in Ephesians 4:26, and Jesus expressed it in John 2:13-16.

Jesus wants conflicts between Believers resolved before presuming to worship God (ASAP).  The correct way to resolve conflicts is indicated by TOJ #100.

 

TOJ #23:  Avoid lawsuits. [MT 5:25-26//LK 12:58-59]  Paul found the fact that two Believers would go to court to be an extreme embarrassment to the gospel of peace (1CR 6:1-9a), even though the civil legal system should be an extension of the divine moral command to rebuke and isolate sinners.  This is another application of TOJ #16.

           TOJ #24:  Do not desire to fornicate. [MT 5:27-30]  God intends for sexual union to express marital commitment.  Lust is not merely admiring physical beauty.  It is possible to admire a flower without wanting to pick its petals.  Neither is lust being tempted to fornicate or commit adultery.  Jesus Himself may have been tempted in this way (HB 2:18).  Lust is the desire to have extra-marital sexual intercourse, so that you would if you could “get away with it” or not experience negative consequences, such as disease, unwanted pregnancy and divorce.

Pornography is media which encourages, recommends or promotes fornication or lust.  It is immoral because it subverts happy marriages and family values.  Jesus sought to convey the severity of the sin of lust by saying it would be better to lose the offending part of the body.  (See the next TOJ.)  However, many people seem to view masturbation as worse than fornication or even rape.  The misery resulting from sexual immorality includes horrible illnesses, but ungodly people prefer to cure the physical disease rather than their spiritual sickness.

            TOJ #25:  Do not be complacent about sins. [MT 5:29-30, 18:7-9//MK 9:43-48]  A soul who seems apathetic about striving for perfection may be a pseudo-Christian (TOJ #48) or a carnal Christian, who is likely to commit apostasy (TOJ #75). {JN 5:14}  If they do, they will be “cut off” {JN 15:2} and “thrown into the fire” {JN 15:6}.  Actually, they cut off themselves and jump to their eternal death (RM 1:18-32).

Moral character is the crucial aspect of our humanity {LK 13:27}.  It is better to be beautiful morally than physically.  An attractive person with an ugly personality is "like a gold ring in a pig's snout" (PR 11:22).

           TOJ #26:  You should not divorce. [MT 5:31-32a//MK 10:11//LK 16:18a]  Jesus said that the only permissible reason for legal divorce is marital unfaithfulness or when the sin of spiritual divorce signified by adultery has already occurred. {MT 19:6-9//MK 10:6-9}  See TOJ #104 on the meaning of marriage.

The divine viewpoint, which all humans need to acquire, is that sexual intimacy should mean marriage, that divorce is a spiritual disaster before it leads to a legal dissolution, and that neither divorce nor a miserable marriage are moral options.  This leaves only celibacy or a happy marriage as permissible alternatives.

 

TOJ #27:  Do not remarry except for godly reasons. [MT 5:32b//MK 10:12//LK 16:18b]  Jesus probably prohibits remarriage in hope that reconciliation will occur, but understanding this statement as a blanket command that admits no exceptions is very problematic, because it would contradict other biblical teachings.  Discerning whether spiritual remarriage is psychologically possible and legal remarriage morally permissible requires harmonizing several biblical passages:


1.  Divorce and even adultery are not unforgivable (MT 12:31-32),

2. 
Not everyone has the gift of celibacy, the ability to live happily very long without a sexual partner (MT 19:11-12, 1CR 7:9)

3. 
God desires reconciliation (1CR 7:10-11, 2CR 5:18-19),

4. 
Paul indicated (in 1CR 7:15) that it is permissible for a Christian divorcee (unjustly so) to remarry if an unbelieving spouse was the divorcer (and, presumably, if reconciliation attempts have failed, because the "ex" has remarried or committed adultery/fornication).

5. 
Many sins including divorce are committed before a person believes the gospel and becomes a mature Believer by LGW and the TOJ.  When people repent of Sin and confess their sins, then God forgives them (1JN 1:9) and views them as sharing the perfection of Christ (PHP 3:9, cf. Lesson 3).
 

Thus, my conclusion is that this TOJ is not meant to be a blanket prohibition, but rather that a truly repentant divorcer (and even adulterer) whose former spouse has remarried may also remarry after some period (probably at least a year is reasonable) of counseling, celibacy and spiritual maturation, so that a successful (lifelong and happy) second marriage seems very likely.  We must assume God gives the gift of celibacy to such a person long enough to accomplish this goal, because He does not let people be tempted beyond what they can resist (1CR 10:13).  However, if a second try is barely permissible, then serial "marriages" border on legalized lust, which is an abomination that mocks this sacred union.  The serial sinner would do well to obey TOJ #24 & #26 or pray for the gift of permanent celibacy.

 

TOJ #28:  Be trustworthy. [MT 5:33-37]  This TOJ against swearing concerns a person’s reputation for integrity.  Oaths should not be necessary to bind a promise. {MT 23:16-22}

 

TOJ #29:  Do good even to evil-doers. [MT 5:38-42//LK 6:29-30]  The principle Jesus wants to supersede that of limited vengeance or “eye for eye” (EX 21:24, LV 24:20, DT 19:21) is found in Proverbs 25:21-22, which might be called "heap burning coals".  Whenever we are insulted, we should consider the source of lies (EPH 6:12).  We should be more concerned about our good witness than legal rights (2TM 2:23-26).  Paul affirmed this ideal in Romans 12:17-21.  This TOJ is elaborated in the next one.

 
           TOJ #30:  Love and pray for God’s/your enemies. [MT 5:43-47//LK 6:27-28&32-36]  God’s agape/love is unconditional (RM 5:6-8).  We should “hate what is evil” (RM 12:9) while loving people we dislike.  This teaching is akin to TOJ #14, #16 & #29.  However, God's forgiveness of Sin is conditional upon repentance (TOJ #8 & #114).
          
Some people have interpreted Matthew 5:38-48 as teaching pacifism, as though Jesus would say "And if someone murders your spouse, offer them your children".  I believe such a view fails to harmonize with Romans 13:2-4, which teaches that God works through godly governments to execute, if necessary, murderers and other evil aggressors.

Like God's mercy, Believers' forgiveness of other sinners is conditional upon their contrition (MT 18:26&29), or else they would be abetting immoral behavior.  Thus, forgiving apparently remorseful criminals does not mean canceling the appropriate consequence.  The best penal policy would seem to be along the lines of enforcing work and restitution to the victims (cf. LK 19:8), and to incarcerate violent criminals until they have demonstrated the fruit of God's Spirit (MT 18:30-34, GL 5:22-23) long enough to engender confidence in their rehabilitation.  [See the item on Criminal Justice in Lesson 13.]

          TOJ #31:  Have humility. [MT 6:1-8&16-18, 23:5-12]  An OT scripture Jesus might have in mind is Amos 4:4-5.  He is concerned with why we give or pray more than with how much we contribute or talk.  Perhaps the greatest temptation for mature Believers is feeling proud of their moral progress (PR 16:18, 29:23).  The satisfaction of pleasing our Lord should be the only reward we desire as we look forward to heaven (MT 25:21&23).  Jesus illustrated this trait in the Parable of the Two Prayers {LK 18:10-14}.

Jesus cited young children as examples of humility {MT 18:3-4//LK 18:16-17}.  At this time Jesus did not command Believers to give alms or fast or pray, although perhaps He assumed these would be done (MT 9:15).  (Notice in the MT 18 passage that v.3, like TOJ #10, is kerygmatic, whereas v.4 is didachaic.  (See p.27f.)  However, on other occasions Jesus either commanded prayer (MT 26:41, LK 18:1) or modeled the need to pray (MT 14:23, 26:36).  Paul also encouraged Believers to pray (EPH 6:18, 1THS 5:17).

 

TOJ #32:  Pray to God as heavenly Father. [MT 6:9a//LK11:2a].  I find six separate teachings in Jesus’ Sample Prayer (cf. Lesson 5).  First, addressing God as our heavenly Father connotes that we who pray are children of God, reborn of the Spirit (JN 3:3-8) through union by SF with God’s Son (RM 8:9-17, 1JN 5:1-6).  James 2:19 says demons or ungodly souls may believe in God’s existence, so I suppose they might address God in order to curse Him (JOB 2:9). {JN 17:1}

 

TOJ #33:  Reverence the Creator. [MT 6:9b//LK 11:2b]  God's name refers to His being or essence (Lesson 2) rather than to a particular word, whether Yahweh, Jehovah or Allah.  However, among the names for the personifications of God, Paul believes "Jesus" should be given preeminence (PHP 2:9-11).  See TOJ #196.

 

TOJ #34:  Desire God’s will to be done. [MT 6:10//LK 11:2c]  This is a significant restatement of TOJ #2.  “On earth” begins with the prayer’s own life.  Jesus exemplified this teaching when He prayed in Gethsemane before His crucifixion {MT 26:39-42//MK 14:36}.  God is not our genie; we are His ministers, who cooperate with His Holy Spirit (PHP 2:12-13) in doing His work (EPH 2:10).  Thus, there is an implicit condition in "whatever you ask for", i.e., we must ask in accordance with God’s will.  See TOJ #51.

 

TOJ #35: You may request physical as well as spiritual necessities. [MT 6:11//LK 11:3]  God is the ultimate source of material blessings (JM 1:17), and He is concerned about our complete welfare, wanting everyone to be fed, clothed and sheltered {MT 6:32, 25:34-36} as well as saved.

 

TOJ #36:  Admit your faults as you forgive others theirs. [MT 6:12//LK 11:4a]  The second part of this teaching echoes #14.  Genuine saving Faith motivates loving forgiveness.  Confession is the key to having a right relationship with God (1JN 1:9), which is manifested by mercy (TOJ #148). {MK 11:25, MT 18:15-17}.

 

TOJ #37:  Pray for power to resist temptations. [MT 6:13//LK 11:4b]  This also was a major theme of Paul’s instruction about prayer (EPH 1:17-19, PHP 1:9-11, CL 1:10-12) as well as of James' (JM 4:2, 1:5,12-13).  Jesus reiterated this teaching on the Mount of Olives before He was betrayed. {MT 27:41//MK 14:38//LK 22:40&46}  We know that God will always grant this prayer request (1CR 10:13).  This prayer seems equivalent to protection from the evil one {JN 17:15}.

 

TOJ #38:  Store your treasures in heaven. [MT 6:19-21//LK 9:58]  The point of this teaching is not so much the location but the definition of treasure {LK 12:32-34}.  Spiritual truths and moral virtues are more valuable than material possessions (EPH 1:18, 2:7, 3:9&16, CL 1:27, 2:2-3).  See TOJ #118 (& Lesson 4).

TOJ #39:  Be filled with spiritual light/truth. [MT 6:22-23//LK 11:34-36]  This rather parenthetical analogy utilizing the light-darkness dichotomy seems to mean that our eyes are good and our souls enlightened if we see the glory of God and appreciate His truth (PS 119:105, JN 1:4-9&14).  Sharing our light with others was the emphasis in TOJ #19, and #186 teaches that Jesus is the light personified.

 

TOJ #40:  Accept God’s lordship. [MT 6:24//LK 16:13]  Lordship is a 100% loyalty that excludes idolatry (GL 5:20, EPH 5:5) or adoration of anything other than what God approves (RM 12:2).  If we do not decide to love the Lord, we hate Him.  There is no middle or third option.  If we hear the gospel and do not choose to believe in Jesus, then God knows that in our heart we are rejecting Him. {JN 3:18, 8:24}  See TOJ #122. {MT 12:30//LK 11:23}

 

TOJ #41:  Do not worry. [MT 6:25-34//LK 12:22-31]  Worry is wrong.  If we value eternal life highly, we will not worry greatly about troubles in this life.  See TOJ #85.  This truth is expressed in the Serenity Prayer:  “Lord, grant me courage to change what I can, patience to endure what I cannot change, and wisdom to know the difference.”  Note that Jesus did not say “do not work or sow or plan.” {JN 14:1&27}

            TOJ #42:  Temper reproof with love so you will not be judgmental. [MT 7:1-5//LK 6:37, 38b, 41-42]  Jesus condemned hypocrisy (TOJ #134) or having a spiritual superiority complex (TOJ #31) more than any other sin (MT 23).  However, he did not condemn repentant sinners (TOJ #53), and saints/Believers should be very careful that their explanation of divine wrath does not impugn God's love as taught by Paul in Romans 5:5-10.  (Cf. Lesson 2)

Jesus exemplified this teaching when He reproved the adulterous woman {JN 8:11}.  [Note that the NIV questions the reliability of MT 7:53-8:11, but the story certainly seems compatible with the character and TOJ.]  As John 3:17 states, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world.”  Note that this teaching does not mean saints should not be discerning or reproving (JN 7:24, 1CR 12:10, 2CR 13:6).  See TOJ #101.

 

TOJ #43:  Do not fellowship with enemies. [MT 7:6]  Do not dance with demons.  All fields are not ripe for harvest.  In contrast with the situation in Matthew 9:37, some people are demonic and dangerous (MT 10:16-17).  Here such people are called dogs and pigs, and the gospel or TOJ are pearls of wisdom.  Jesus said whenever saints encounter demonic people to “shake the dust off your feet” and leave. {MT 10:14&23}

 
            TOJ #44:  Ask/seek/knock. [MT 7:7-11/LK 11:9-13]  These three synonyms are three, four and five letter words for GRS (Lesson 3).  Ask what is true, seek salvation, and knock on heaven's door.  (See HB 11:6)  The parallel passage in Luke makes this clear, because instead of “good gifts” it says the Holy Spirit will be given to those who ask.  See TOJ #182. 

Thus, sincerely seeking salvation is regarded by God as righteousness (cf. RM 4:3), probably because God knows that were a seeker given the opportunity to hear the gospel, he/she would believe and be saved or sanctified {JN 17:17}.  A soul enters the path of salvation at the moment he/she decides to ask/seek/knock, but all primitive paths eventually converge onto the highway to heaven at the point of accepting Christ (TOJ #49).  James 1:5&17 teaches this truth in terms of wisdom.  Its converse is that those who are not truth-seekers will not LGW/satisfy GRS. {MT 21:24-27//MK11:29-33//LK 20:3-8, MT 22:18//MK 12:15//LK 20:23-24}

            TOJ #45:  Treat others like you want to be treated. [MT 7:12]  This “golden rule” is equivalent to the “law of love” (TOJ #129), but the wording is so famous that I think it should be listed separately. {LK 6:31}  Many atheists affirm this teaching, called the "reciprocity principle", but per their morally relativistic philosophy it only has the force of a "pyrite suggestion".

TOJ #46:  Most people choose to reject GRS. [MT 7:13-14]  One hopes that Jesus was using hyperbole for effect, but the tragic truth is that many people unintentionally choose hell.  Why this is true, God only knows, but surely if it were possible to create souls any better than innocent and volitional, He would have done so.  (Actually, He is in the process of doing so.)  Some passages {MT 22:14, LK 13:23-24, JN 6:44&65} state this teaching in deterministic wording that is not consistent with the clear NT doctrine that all are called (JN 3:16, 1TM 2:3-4, 2PT 3:9), though many choose not to accept God's invitation (LK 13:34) to enter heaven.  The nearly identical twin of this truth is TOJ #67. {MT 24:12}

            TOJ #47:  Beware of false teachers. [MT 7:15-20]  Many people allow themselves to be led astray by “wolves” (EZK 22:27) in sheepskins, who claim to be inspired by God—just as Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2CR 11:14)—because they do not evaluate their behavior {LK 6:43-45}.  Perhaps they are tricked by apparent miracles {MT 24:24} or fail to discern how their doctrine perverts GW. {MT 16:6-11//MK 8:15// LK 12:1}  Whatever the reason, they are blind followers of blind guides {MT 15:13-14}.  See TOJ #138.

Only Jesus is the good shepherd who gives His life to save anyone who wants to be His sheep {JN 10:11-13}.  He is the key to a correct understanding of reality. {LK 11:52}

         TOJ #48:  Not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is one. [MT 7:21-23//LK 6:46]  A person’s words and deeds manifest his/her genuine saving faith or values (2TM 3:5-8, TIT 1:16).  Many so-called Christians seem not to hunger to LGW.  (See TOJ #13.)  One hopes that they have not accepted a pseudo- or semi-gospel and become inoculated against the real thing or full gospel. {MT 12:33-35, LK 13:26-27}

          
At this point Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount with a parable (found also in LK 6:47-49 and already cited) that teaches again the importance of building our lives on God's Word (TOJ #3)..