The Rumble in the Theological World
Automatically Generated Transcript
We've been going through the Beatitudes, those blessed statements. I'm not swearing, but those blessed statements, blessed are the poor in spirit, etc. And we're down to number three. And it occurred to me that really there's an awful lot of explanation about the Sermon on the Mount, which is sometimes what it's also called, and an understanding that I haven't actually covered. And so I'm putting a little bit of background in as well as doing the third one of the Beatitudes. And the thing that you've got to understand about the Beatitudes is they're not really just one single sermon that only occurs in one spot in the Bible. I think there was an original sermon that Jesus gave at the top of a big hill. It wasn't really much of a mountain. And yes, there was one sermon, but it also represents all the teaching that Jesus gave, especially to his disciples.
And bits of that Sermon on the Mount appear in the Gospel of Luke. We'll put up on the screen just a table of how that is the case. You'll see if you read down to verse 13 in Matthew, you'll find the same thing said in Luke. And each of those occasions there, there's five of them where there is a parallel statement in the Gospel of Luke. And that is very much the same. In fact, there's I think 29 verses of Matthew, including these as well, that occur also in Luke. But the interesting thing is, is that what's in Matthew might be just one statement of the Beatitudes altogether. But where they appear in Luke is in all sorts of other connections and geographical scenarios that you can't really make it just one sermon at the Mount alone. Because it appears to be that Jesus, and I understand this well, because as someone who's accustomed to being an itinerant speaker, you go around and a lot of your sermons, pieces of them turn up in other sermons. You can't help it. There's sometimes you just see a connection when you're in a church. I had two different methods of doing sermons, one for when I was travelling around.
And that method was that I treated my sermons as arrows in my quiver. And so if I had an appointment to go and speak at a youth camp or something, I'd go along and look at them, or actually sit on the bus and listen into the conversations. And when I got up to speak, I'd pull out the arrow that suited the targets in front of me. And so I didn't necessarily know what I was going to speak on. Or sometimes you'd graft together two old sermons and piece them together because it suited just what was in front of you. But when you come to preaching in a church, as we have here, week by week, then you'll speak a little bit more regular, although that's not my natural ability to do quite what a lot of other pastors do in terms of regularly going through very methodologically. But that is a different method because when you're an itinerant, you often repeat yourself or you have themes. And so the better way to understand the Sermon on the Mount is yes, both, that there is one sermon that happened and it was as Matthew describes, but that Jesus, as an itinerant, often repeated himself in different contexts. And when you read how those repeats turn up, they sometimes have a different slant put to a different end.
And sometimes there are statements in the Beatitudes which are to people who are in trouble and need to know that God is with them. And a bit like Karen had in the announcements about the fact of God wanting us to know that he's not going to kick you out because you haven't performed properly or whatever. And if you've been away from him, he's always going to long to take you back. And Jesus' parables reflected that. And I was thinking about tonight's message to bring together some parable of Jesus that you'll be very familiar with, but which actually are a bit of a statement the same as the Sermon on the Mount. And so to have that understanding, you don't have to choose and say there never was a Sermon on the Mount like some of the more liberal students of the word do. They just say it's Matthew sort of made up this set of things or drew from Jesus, but there never was a moment. I think there was. And the reason why I believe that simply is because Matthew 5 that we're looking at tells us Jesus went up the mountain, people followed him there. When he sat down, his disciples came to him and he taught them saying, now if you don't believe the scriptures then you're free to think that it never happened in one spot.
And I think that the fact that we have the word of God, and I'm now really quoting Jesus' understanding of the word of God as being true in how it's expressed in the language, doesn't mean that every word is chosen with best good grammar. The Gospel of Mark, for example, has got a lot of grammar, not mistakes, but easy ways of saying that it might not be that grammatical. But the truth that's carried, you call that the proposition, is guaranteed by the inspiration of the scriptures to be trustworthy. And you call that the inerrancy of the Bible, that is accurately putting across the truths, the propositions have been come by God and guaranteed by the inspiration of the scriptures. It's very interesting that when Jesus was talking, he would sometimes say something and he'd refer to it one way, whereas in another gospel he'll refer to it another way. And the Bible Society often gave teaching about the scriptures that it was the Old Testament part that Moses gave us as Moses' writings, and you know that Jesus referred to Moses' writings. But on other occasions of the same verse he would say the word of God.
And Jesus recognised that there is a word of man and there's the word of God, and the Bible Society put out a little statement that the scriptures are both the word of God and the word of man. Now you'll find in Christian circles there are some people who want to treat it just as the word of God and don't want to even think about the human authors. But that's not how the Sermon on the Mount will actually teach you, because it will bring out that the sermon that we have, the Sermon on the Mount, has been quoted by Jesus in other different contexts or a different slant, but yet it still is the same truths. And I think there are 29 verses, I think it's 29 or 19, which are in both, there's a block, there's a block in Matthew and a block in Luke, and other plot spots, the Sermon on the Mount is quoted by Luke in different places, which is what this is about. And there are spots where Matthew's Sermon on the Mount is quoted in Luke, and look at down the right hand side, chapter 14, chapter 8, chapter 16, chapter 6, chapter 11. Another little fact about the way Luke carries the Sermon on the Mount is that some of the theologians have called it Luke's version of the Sermon on the Plain, because it wasn't just, he doesn't describe it as Jesus going up the mountain, but he's describing it as happening not up on the mountain, but it's the same material.
And there are these verses where you can find what's the Sermon on the Mount and what is the Sermon on the Plain, but they are some of those ones where it's the same material. And we very foolish, we think we know, we get a Bible and we know how to interpret it, without ever having looked at the facts. I'll give you another one, another fact to take into account for this business of, was it just one sermon, or was it just the general way Jesus spoke, sort of concentrated down and put in Matthew's Gospel, that we might know the heart of what Jesus taught, but it didn't actually happen. Like some more, you call them liberal, but they're not politically liberals, but they're people who disbelieve the Bible to some degree or other. And they would say, no, there never really was a moment when Jesus was up a mountain and saying these things. And that's as big a failure as it is to be a person who doesn't listen to what are the facts in front of you.
And if you do, I have to confess, I always thought it was just one sermon that Matthew recorded and that was that. But when you look through, you discover a number of little things. One is that if you put all the material of the Sermon on the Mount, and if you also put the material of the Sermon on the Plain together, it's way, way too much for anybody to be listening. Three, four, five hours, how long can you listen? Sometimes I test you out on that. No, it doesn't make sense if it's just one sermon. And then also is the fact that there are some spots where Jesus actually says things, or at least the Gospel records things, which have no apparent connection to what the Gospel had just beforehand. Particularly in Luke, he seems to scatter the material all through different spots. How could that be if it's not the case that it's both was a sermon and also it is a concentrated summary of all the things that Jesus was used to teaching? Now, if we go to the beginning, Matthew 5, 1-5, the verses that we had as a Bible reading, that first introduction there in verse 1 actually gives us some clues. And when you're studying the Scriptures to get their meaning, it's enormously important to soak up all the clues that are there right in the text in front of you. You know how I go around to all the different home groups.
I often hear that it's fairly usual practice for when the Bible is read and then the people around the room say their opinions, that I can hear that a lot of what they're saying is they're seeing in the Scriptures. It's actually just them saying their own opinion. And they read their opinion into the Scriptures. It's actually a developed art to learn to read the Scriptures with an open mind so that they're speaking to you, not you putting your opinion on them. And we all in our humanity, I'm not picking on anybody in particular, we're all so capable of reading from the Scriptures what we want to be true, or what we've always been taught, or this is what your church always teaches. And in actual fact, it's a shock to realise how much that happens in even a good church like ours. And it's just a practised art to learn to open up the Scriptures and really see what is there. And I want to do that for you in this verse one. Seeing the crowds, he went up onto a mountain. Now if you believe in the inspiration of Scriptures, that happened.
The wording of mountain in the Greek may be more used, as often used for what was available as mountains in Israel. There was no Mount Everest, right? And he went up in a high spot. Then it says, when he sat down, his disciples came to him. Now you know this business, when he, why do they come to him when he sat down? Well, it actually was a custom of the Jewish rabbis that when they taught, they used to sit down. And it was the posture of somebody who's got something very definite to say. In actual fact, we recognize that in our British culture. Have you ever heard about the universities where there's a chair in psychology and there's a chair in physics? There's probably a lot more different chairs these days than when I first went to university. But the chair meant a certain degree of expertise in a person who had authority by their expertise.
It wasn't only the universities, the whole Catholic religion has in its understanding that every now and then the Pope says something ex cathedra. Do you know what the word cathedra means? It's when he's sitting on the chair of authority. And so it is also the case in the scriptures that the rabbis had a role of teaching. And when it was really authoritative, important teaching, they'd sit down. If they were being teaching around the reaches and doing, being a bit of an itinerant, then the way that the teachers work was that they would teach while they walked. And the disciples had to keep up so they could hear. And walking and talking, they spoke, they taught. There was only one other scene where there might be a bit of difference between the standing up and sitting down, and that was in the temple. There was a moment in Acts and chapter 5, I think verse 35, where Peter and the others of the, some of the apostles were in jail. And they'd been doing the miracles and they'd been teaching the people and the authorities were angry at them and threw them into jail. The angel came along and let them out. I love this story because it is about God intervening. We all think we run our human affairs.
Suddenly God does something and throws it all in disarray because he's God over everything. And you have to learn how to be humble and let God step in over your plans. And that's what actually happened. And all those authorities on the Sanhedrin thought they had those pesky little disciples in jail. They send along some of their representatives to bring them out so they can interrogate them more and tell them off more. But they come back and say, well, we found it all locked up and the people standing outside in garb, but no one was inside because an angel had come and let them out. And the angel had said to them, this is Peter and some others, go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life. The words of this life is the life that Jesus has and the life that Jesus gives to us when we put our trust in him and we come to him. That life that is the offer of which is the core of the gospel. Stand in the temple. And the reason why they stand, if an angel has taken the time to come and let you out of jail and tell you to get back to your original mission, I think you better go and do it with a bit of dash and daring, don't you? Go and stand in the temple.
So it was a bit of, it also turned out to be a bit of a custom that when people went there, they're all individuals, they're all free. They didn't have a lot of orchestration of what you did down the temple aside from the sacrificial system, but so anybody could go there. But if you're going to the right part of it, I mean, that is, but when you went to the temple, if you've been sent by an angel and you've been told to speak all the words of this life, you've got to stand up. You've got to stand up and have something to say because an angel lets you be free. In the case of us, Jesus by how he died for us on the cross has brought the freedom of forgiveness of sins. He's brought the opportunity for you to have something to say. So don't be chicken all the time and try and do it in a nicey-nicey way. Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.
So that's standing. So we've got sitting, we've got walking, but we've also got the standing. And they're the ways the Bible describes. But it's a fact of Jesus sitting, ex-cathedral if you like, he's sitting down at the top of the mountain and the disciples see him so doing. And I believe it's teaching us that when Jesus, we're told earlier in Matthew's gospel, we went over this another Sunday, that there came a time for him to get around teaching and healing. And this is how he dealt with the crowds. He gave the message of the call to God, the gospel message of what God was doing. But he was healing and teaching. But I think the scriptures also witness to us through the Beatitudes that Jesus took special time, we're even told that he tried to get alone with them where they're away from the crowds. Tried to go up a mountain and go out in the desert or whatever. So he could train those disciples. And in the order of events that Matthew follows, the first thing that happens is that he gets called, he gets equipped of God. He's being baptised and by John the Baptist and the spirit coming on him, he gets tempted in the wilderness.
And then he moves to a place to begin his ministry, which was from Capernaum and around in Galilee. And at that moment, he collects up his team and he begins to spend time teaching them. And it's a bit of an example in Jesus' methodology of discipleship, that he does call people who are going to be his leaders. And those leaders are going to be the apostles. In Mark chapter 3, looking up at home and see how Jesus called to him the ones that he had chosen. And he ordained them that they should be apostles. And when Jesus chooses a team of people to lead his church, he wants them to train them. And he gave them a training through the Sermon on the Mount. And through the teaching that we're meant to understand that he did from occasion to occasion with those people, big deep teaching. So much is this the case that the language in verse 1, as I'll now explain to you, brings that to a point. His disciples came to him. And now look at verse 2, and he opened his mouth. Now, I didn't know that that was a bit of a technical thing to say, until doing a bit of a survey through the scriptures to where that phrase is used.
I'll give you another one. It is when Philip is being led of the Holy Spirit to leave the ministry, his itinerant ministry up there in Samaria, to go down into this road, this desert road. Acts chapter 8, the second half of it, is the episode of him meeting the Ethiopian eunuch who's been up to Jerusalem, is now returning home. He's sitting in his chariot. He's reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit says to Philip, go and draw alongside him. And Philip runs, draws alongside, and he hears what the man's reading. And he calls out, do you understand what you're reading? The man says, how can I unless someone helps me? Yeah, you got the passage. Well done. And the eunuch said to Philip, about whom I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or someone else? Then Philip opened his mouth. Now, I usually, in expositing this passage, because I've got a sermon on that, I normally make a joke at that point. I usually say something stupid, like it's one way you get to talk, you know, or something, you know.
Because I didn't know why did the scriptures have in it, he opened his mouth. Isn't it also rather obvious that if he said the following things, that he had to open his mouth. And then I'd realise, I've discovered only recently, that's a bit of a technical statement, that someone's going to say something serious, worth listening to. He opened his mouth. And beginning with this scripture, he told him the good news about Jesus. And the serious thing that we the church have to say that out trumps every other thing that we might be heard saying, is a gospel. That's why our church is a gospel-centred church. It's in our constitution, that what we're here for is to tell people the good news. Evangelism Explosion, which is a method of training people, has this, I've told us this before, but I think most of you won't remember, that on the big workbooks they give you out to be trained in Evangelism Explosion, it's got on the cover a discipleship program. And I used to scratch my head, I thought I registered to learn this evangelism method.
They got the wrong name, they put discipleship on it. That was one of the steps in my discovering that the way you disciple someone is you teach them the gospel. It's the gospel as a message that turns you into a disciple. And what does Jesus do on the Sermon on the Mount is that he gets his disciples, he sits down. I think that's a natural thing to do if you walked up the top of a mountain. He sits down, but it says his disciples came to him, and he goes through a number of things as I've been explaining them to you, which really are deeper than just socially helping people or being someone with Christian love. It's actually a deeper message than just the fact of, if anybody's mourning, then they'll be comforted. It's actually the message that when you get the point of the Old Testament, when you follow through the old covenant and all the sacrificial system, the result it brings out in you is to realise how you can't make it, to realise your hopelessness, to be like the Apostle Paul when he's speaking about his own development.
He says, a wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death? And that was because when they threw them into prison, they used to strip off their clothes and put them back to with a dead corpse, and all the rotten flesh would infect that poor criminal's flesh, and the worms would eat their way through to fresh eatings. Horrible thought, but Paul uses a picture of our experience as a Christian when we become a new man in Christ, but we still have the flesh. And every one of you, without exception, I know has your problems with the flesh. Whether it be that you're just cranky, or whether it be that you've got criticisms, or whether it be you're not loving, or whether it be that the lusts of the flesh grip you and you don't know how to win, and you, like the Apostle Paul, cry out the same, and you mourn. And so last week I was talking about, blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. It's actually, of course it's applied to natural things where people are in trouble, and we, their fellow brothers and sisters, get alongside them and help them realise it isn't that bad.
There's a natural comforting that we do to each other as being family. But there's a deeper meaning. The deeper meaning is that when we face, as the Apostle Paul did, that he's not much of a successful Christian. And he cries out to God, and it's followed up by the next chapter, chapter eight I think it is, where he says what's comforting him is the promise of the Holy Spirit taking over. And so nobody gets to be a deep Christian without, first of all, being someone who's really had a realisation of their failure. And that's why they mourn. And if you're someone who can brush it off and say, well, we're all human, then you're not mourning enough yet. But when you realise just where the Old Testament, with all its stress on the truths of God's standards, in the prayer meeting beforehand, we had a bit of an exposition of Psalm 119. Look it up when you get home, because it says blessed. Follow through the blessed things in Psalm 119.
But when you go through the Old Testament, you'll end up being one of two things. Someone who thinks you've done pretty well, and those other people haven't. But you haven't done pretty well. You'll find if you're really truthful, and you really study the Old Testament, it will bring you to see your sin, which is what the New Testament Paul tells us the law was to do, to achieve. But having seen your sin, don't brush it under the carpet, but mourn. Cry out to God like Paul did, and let the Lord lead you for that rest in the Holy Spirit, that acceptance of your justification. That sense that even though you fail, he still loves you, and he still wants you, and he still has plans for you. I made a bit of a list of some of the people that I really admire, and have blessed me. There's a lot of books you can get, biographies of different ones, and I actually started writing them down. I'm getting my sermon out of order here, but let's not worry about that, because I'm going to have to go shorter than what this would require anyway.
Let me read you some of these people. G. Campbell Morgan, you've heard me talk about him before. What's more, you've heard several of his sermons through my mouth, or pieces thereof. But G. Campbell Morgan couldn't face the intellectual challenge of his generation, because liberalism, not believing the Bible, and all the ideas of ... But we in Australia experienced this in the 1960s, if you can remember the 1960s. I don't know how many people that is, but I was a young person, like this young man in the 1960s. Sorry, but I was. Normie Rowe came on the radio. It ain't necessarily so. The things of the Bible are not so reliable. It ain't necessarily so. The whole generation, but we're believing that about morals. I remember picking up a hitchhiker once, and I started witnessing to him when he found out I was a Christian. He said, oh, everybody's doing it. I don't know what. I did know what, but he hadn't said what he's talking about. Everybody's doing it. He got pricked in his conscience, because the whole generation changed their morals.
Prior to that, in the 50s, you're expected to be a moral person, or have a good try. But then in these days ... Now, there's Karen telling us how wonderful it is for the Matilda, and I don't want to pour cold water on it, but there are some very big moral issues for pretty well all of our women's teams, to different degrees. I won't go into the details. You can find that out for yourself. But old Christian morality doesn't do too well in this present age, but it began for us in the 60s. I talked to other people, parents, and other people who will remember. Well, that's something that happened, and we as a nation are sliding downhill, and the amount of happiness and the amount of ... is lessening, and the amount of sorrow and anxiety and mental issues that people can't handle because of being set up by our culture. Anyway, I'll get off the track if I follow that too far, but Campbell Morgan, he lived at a time when these ideas of, it ain't necessarily so, were really attacking the Christian church, and he had friends who'd followed those trends, and he didn't know how to answer them. He believed the Bible. He was a very excellent preacher of it, but he was getting rattled by those questions, and he went and bought a hold of books and apologetics so he could answer them, but they were set at an educational level that was above his head.
He wasn't really able to follow them too well, so he put all the books in the cupboard. I've told us before this, this is a favourite illustration of mine, but he put all those books in the cupboard and shut the door. He went out to the Bible Society and bought another Bible, just to have a fresh one, and he decided he was going to read through the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and ask the Lord, if this is really true, speak to me. If this is really your word, speak to me, and he gave himself, I think it was two years. I'm not sure of the details here, but to read through Matthew to John and start again. He just read the Scriptures with the prayer. Lord, if this is really true, speak to me, and God did, and he became a preacher, particularly potent in preaching on the Gospels, with the fruit of how they had spoken to him. I've got a lot of his books in my library. I often cruise through them and get blessed. Do you know that during the week, I get blessed better than anybody does, through reading some of these sermons by people like Campbell Morgan, and he's just one. You can talk about Billy Graham. The biggest moment that he took off all around the world, famous, was the 1949 Los Angeles Crusade, where a lot of media people came to Christ, and where people puffed up his crusade, and he became an international figure.
But there was a conference just before that crusade, where he also faced the issue. He had a friend who was a fellow preacher, who told him he was old-fashioned, and who didn't know the latest stuff sort of business, and he was rattled by it too, and he couldn't answer the questions. One time in the conference, he went for a walk and found in the forest a little clearing with a moonlight where shining on a stump, so he put his Bible there where he could see it, and he ended up saying, Lord, I'm going to take your word to be truth. It was a step of faith, and with that secure, he went into the crusade that made him famous around the world. I can go on and talk. I've just listened to a few, Major Ian Thomas. I've never worked out why they called him Major, whether he was in the Salvation Army or whether he was a soldier, but he's a very bright young man at university, and he's one of those ones, every now and then, at the uni, you meet some people who are stars at everything.
They can make you sick. I shouldn't say that, but there are people who, he was one, and if they needed anybody to run anything, give it to him, and he would do it famously, but he came to a crash where somehow, just like the Apostle Paul, where his success in other people's eyes was just really a sham, and he cried out to God, Blessed is the person who mourns, for they will be comforted. It's God's answer when you come to the end of yourself and you've got nothing left to give. Well, that's how these Beatitudes are going. I found what interesting is that some of the commentaries actually say a number of names that they give the Beatitudes. One of them says it's really theological training, theological training for people who are going to go into the ministry, and that it was Jesus' method, excuse me, it was Jesus' method to get together his team that are going to be the ones that lead his church, the Apostles, and to give them intensive training on the Gospel, which is what Beatitudes are.
His disciples came to him and he gave them an intense course, and some of the commentaries I've got to read on the Beatitudes, these commentaries say it was the theological college training for people going into the ministry, or the equivalent thereof in Jesus' scenario. And what it's illustrating for us is that God doesn't want, and this was my theme yesterday, a few Sundays ago, God doesn't want people thinking they're disciples, if they're, no, thinking that they're busy doing ministry if they haven't let Jesus disciple them at depth. You get the point? That Jesus took time out to train his disciples, and Major Ian Thomas became a person who so was able to open the Scriptures in teaching, and he was a teaching itinerant, not necessarily an evangelistic itinerant, but a teaching itinerant with very easily understood messages, and started the Cape Amrey Missionary Fellowship, which is about being such a teacher, with other very famous itinerants going around the world like ... anyway, a list of them. And that was a result of him having been brought to the end of himself, and having to go deeper.
I believe that if God wants to really use you in teaching others, that you should get trained, and stop giving them just your opinion, but do the training at depth. Some of the people I went to college with were not ... study is easy to me, I have to ... I'm not boasting, it just is. But I had some compatriots in college who found that art. Some of them gave up, and some of them said, God's called me, I'm going to continue, I'm going to continue. And they are today still in the ministry. Well, I'm assuming that because of ... if they were my age, they might not ... might have retired by now. But God can use you, but he needs you to let Jesus give you your personal Sermon on the Mount. Don't just go off and then do what you're good at doing, which will be some summation of your personality abilities. One of the problems of foreign missions, people who go overseas as missionaries, is the missionaries, who think they know everything. It's one of the things that we're going to have to deal with in our number, number ... verse five, which means the third beatitude. Look at it on the board, it is there here.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Now, the word meek is not understood, perhaps, is I think the Greek word. But philosophers and theologians have struggled to bring out a better way to understand what it is to be meek. Aristotle, who was a philosopher, had a pretty good idea, and he informed much of the philosophy of the church across the ages. And Aristotle said that what meekness is, is the median between two extremes in different areas. One extreme might be someone who's always getting angry. The other extreme on that behaviour is someone who never gets angry. They're too weak, and they let anything happen. Too angry, never angry. But being meek is the median in between. Or if there's a person who is very ... you can pick another virtue, whatever you want to, someone who's very interested in their appearance. You can get so people who are forever looking in the mirror, always delighted in their appearance physically, when really that's not the totality of your person.
And then you've got people who are so untrained, and to be honest, I probably want more like this, that was unaware, especially in clothing, and being totally colorblind, I often wear most unusual clothes that had people giggling, you know. And I told you before, once down in Sydney, Michelle went away to a conference, and on the Sunday I turned up to preach, and the whole congregation laughed. It was very embarrassing, because I'm totally colorblind, and the mixture of colours told the story, because Michelle wasn't there to tell me what to wear. And there's a median in between. I think it's good for young people to seek to look nice. I'm undressing some of them now. There's nothing wrong with wanting, and I think we have a natural thing in us, there's a median about our appearance. You can go wrong by always looking at yourself and worrying about it, but you can go wrong by not doing the best you can with what you've got, if I could put it that way. And so Aristotle had the idea of defining this word meek as in the middle. It's not just only about little things like your appearance. It's also about your assertion of self.
And similarly, there's a sense in which being meek is a person that doesn't have to always win the competition. We watch in youth work, young people have all sorts of things. If there's a table tennis table, it doesn't have to be the official thing of the night. But you always get, every now and then, those people who have to thrash everybody, all right? And let them know they lost! Ha ha ha ha! I beat ya! And they do it all the time. Or there's people who want to present themselves as the person who's always seen. Meekness is not their characteristic. Meekness is somewhat connected to humility, and humility that you don't have to be the person that's on the stage. You don't have to be the person who makes the decision. You can be, are prepared to let someone else have a turn in the limelight. Meekness is something that also means that you're a person who is able to accept information, and never be, not to have to always be the person who knows the answer, but can let other people teach you. And there's a humility about being a meek. The trouble with some people is that they're so un-meek that they can never learn anything. They don't, they're not available to be taught.
When you've been a teacher, or when you've been a theological teacher, you meet such persons who come to college, and I always wonder why they ever came. Because they don't want to ever admit that they could learn. And there's nothing they can learn because they've already, they already know everything. And so meekness has got to do with humility as well. It actually applies to the way the ancients talked about their animals. And the word, this word for meekness was used also about animals that had become what we would call domestic, domesticated. Now we have a cat in our house, who's a very clever little cat, and he's a bit like this. He's someone who has his will to do, and because he's had a broken leg, we don't let him out at the moment. And so he camps by the door, waiting for someone to come in and not be quick enough to shut the door again. Out he goes, and those poor birds outside, he's going to catch one. And well, we have got our house set up so that there's a garage, and there's a door, a major door between the normal part of the house and the garage. And he likes to camp by that door.
And inevitably, some time or other, someone's not quick enough to close it, going out to the laundry or something. And through the door he goes, and he gets underneath Michelle's car. And I'm too old to bother getting down and crawling underneath to get him out. And he's a very, very willful cat. But I've been working on him, and now I don't have to worry about that door, because if it's left open and he gets in there, I don't even have to bother chasing him. I just walk in there, say, Puddy, come here. And he now obeys me. And I open the door and say, go through. And he walks through. And I think, I don't know how many of the other members of the family does he obey like that, but he has been to a degree domesticated. But the ancients would use the same Greek word that we have as meek. Now has God, listen to me, has God succeeded in domesticating you? Or are you still doing the things that actually make it hard for him to use you? I've met people in churches where they don't fit in. The reason why they don't fit in is because they always want to do what they want to do. And you can't fit in anywhere if you're not prepared to give a little bit. And there are people who are like that.
They'll go from one church to another, but the same thing will happen again. You have to be prepared to let God domesticate you and show you the areas where you're not like you think you are. And that's a sanctification that brings about a meekness. Now do you know who in the Bible was described as meek? Jesus. He was said to have a spirit of meekness. And it's one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, that when you're filled with the Spirit, it enables you to be what that word meek means. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. And the truth that's in that verse five, this third characteristic, is that if you learn to let God domesticate you, that you become meek, in this life here and now, there'll be a fruit of that. And you can sometimes meet up with people who are like that. I have another one on the list of my people who are like this, and it was E. Stanley Jones, who I read up of him recently, and he was a Methodist missionary who had a nervous breakdown in India because it just wasn't working for him.
And the people he was with, his denomination, I don't know the details, or the organisation of missions, sent him home to recover. And when he recovered enough, they sent him back out to the mission, but he still hadn't learned the lesson. And God dealt with him to spiritually domesticate him, that's my description, so that he gave over to God in every area of his life, where I presume he wasn't given over. And he became one of the most successful missionaries to India. There were a lot of different missionaries to India, but he was one whose enormous success has set up a whole movement and a set of books you can read. And it is because he became worked on by God. Now please answer me the question. I actually put a title to this sermon, and the title is The Theological, let me get it right, I wrote it down. I thought I was very cute doing this. It's The Rumble in the Theological World. The Rumble in the Theological World. And what the rumble is all about is learning to be meek in some area of your life that you may not be. And my final example, I'm going to finish here, it's only 11 o'clock, so I won't take very long.
But do you know anything about the World Boxing Championship for the heavy guys? And who won? Do you know any of the boxers who won that championship twice or more? Put your hand up if you know any boxers. Michelle does. Yeah, well, she's a sport person. Well, who is someone that you know is who's the greatest boxer of all time? And he would tell you so himself. Muhammad Ali, now, he's always been saying, I am the greatest. And I thought of him as someone who's the exact opposite of anybody who's meek. I am the greatest, he's always been saying, right? He turned out to be the greatest in boxing world anyway. But in actual fact, how did he become, on the second time that he became the world champion heavyweight boxer, was when he faced George Foreman. And George Foreman was known, he, of becoming the world champion because in the first couple of rounds, he'd knock out the opponent. He did it to all the people, he beat pretty well most of them. And when Ali, Muhammad Ali, that's Cassius Clay and the other name he chose to call himself, Muhammad Ali, was to fight him, George Foreman just assumed he'd knock Muhammad Ali out in the first few rounds, and he didn't train very much. And Muhammad Ali watched him and knew that, and he trained.
And his actual plan for the fight was to tire out George Foreman. And he'd keep on poking him, and then he used to rest on the ropes, just out of reach of the blows coming the other guy. But he tied him out, the other guy was trying to punch his way through and do what he'd always promised he'd do, knock him out quick, and got to round eight before he was tired. And then Muhammad Ali knocked him over. I don't know that he had to knock him out, but he knocked him to the ground and won the match. But he was patient, and he was a form for boxers. I'm not trying to promote boxers, it's a pretty brutal sort of sport. Gruesome. But he was patient, and he won the match by his patience. And it's true in theological things. I've seen students who come to college and fail. I'll tell you one who had to learn patience, I don't mind saying this, but Joey's dad, he was hopeless at first. He was in my church in Adelaide, and I used to try and get him to preach and he was always so important and personality man. He still is a good personality, but it was unbroken. And God domesticated him by speaking to him about it.
What's stopping you from being that? Is there someone here today who should go to college even though you think you know it all already? Should you not submit to Jesus to give you a long course of teaching and say you don't know it all, and your ability, whatever it might be, you might be very good at this or very good at that, don't rest on your abilities, but ask the Lord to, what I've been using the wording, domesticate you by making you meek. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth in the long run. You become the winner in God's strength. Put the apostle Paul, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And when you get the through Christ, is where the strength comes from, through Christ is where the strength comes from, is when you get to be victorious. And God is saying that to people today, saying it to our church. If we stick to our guns, like Muhammad Ali was, I think in his own way, in that sport, he was being quite meek, knowing that he had to rely on patience. He never let Foreman fight him again because he knew if once Foreman realised what had happened the other time, he'd probably get slaughtered. And there's a sense of humility in really knowing that of yourself, even though he was very boastful in what he used to say, but that was a lot of promotion really. Well, they're the examples to give. I've finished my time, it's 11.05, so I'll have a word of prayer.
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the lessons of life. I thank you for your ability to turn even our failures into lessons of life. I think the apostle Paul was one of these people, a bit like Major and Thomas, who always started everything. And you had to speak to him about his actual failure over sin in his life. Lord, I pray for people here who you need to domesticate spiritually, that they might be the people that can win and win with your power. Lord, it's not Muhammad Ali resting on the ropes, it's us Christians resting in Jesus. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, said Paul. I pray that you'll teach us how that applies in our own individual lives, I ask in Jesus' name. Amen.