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The Expert

• Greg Boyd
Guest Panelists: Paul Eddy, Shawna Boren

This sermon introduces the Sermon on the Mount by asking why we should trust the words of Jesus found in Matthew 5-7. Jesus addresses big life questions and if we don’t know why we should trust his answers, then we might place the authority of others on par with that of Jesus. Christ is the expert of all experts, which is the reason his teaching must be heeded.

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Please note: beginning in August, our group and individual study materials will be posted on Mondays.

This is the first sermon in a new series on the Sermon on the Mount. In this message, Greg establishes why anyone should listen to Jesus, the teacher, in the first place, asking why we should trust what Jesus said more than other teachers. The answer is because he’s the only one with the credentials to prove he’s in a position to know what he’s talking about. He is the expert.

In any given area of life, being able to determine who is an expert is crucial. If you don’t know anything about cars, it is important to know who you can trust when something goes wrong with yours. As much as we like to tell ourselves we are independent thinkers, we all depend on outside authorities for most of what we believe and do.

It’s no different when we talk about life’s big issues – we must ask who has the credentials to address them. Jesus claimed to be the expert on big questions, in the unique position to know what he was talking about. In Matthew 11:27-28, he claimed that all things are handed over to him by the Father, and then he says that he is the only one who knows God and can reveal God. He was saying that compared to what he knows and reveals about the Father, it’s as if all previous revelations reveal nothing. It is an outlandish claim. This is not the only time he makes a claim that puts himself at the center, where he puts himself in the place of God or above Old Testament commands.

This pattern is extended beyond the claims of Jesus. The disciples and other writers of the New Testament gave him titles that only belonged to Yahweh and even prayed to Jesus as if he were God. Why did these writers of the New Testament make such radical statements about the expertise of Jesus? There are four basic reasons.

First, Jesus manifested unprecedented authority. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew reported that people recognized the unique authority that Jesus had. They sensed the divine power and wisdom that commanded allegiance.

Second, Jesus had a blameless life. No other leader of a movement has made this claim, much less actually lived a sinless life.

Third, Jesus had the ability to heal and drive out demons. Throughout his ministry, Jesus demonstrated God’s loving character and coming Kingdom by freeing people from spiritual oppression, by healing the blind, the deaf, the mute, lepers, people with deformities, people with hemorrhages, and even by raising several people from the dead.

Finally, Jesus rose from the dead. Despite the authority with which he taught, the life he lived, the miracles he performed and people he set free, the Gospels as well as Paul point to Jesus’ resurrection as the greatest proof that Jesus was simply telling the truth when he claimed to be one with the Father. The credal form of this argument is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.

How do we explain how a bunch of first century monotheistic Jews came to believe that a fellow contemporary Jew who claimed to be God wasn’t delusional but was telling the truth? And how do we explain why they were willing to risk and eventually lose their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world? These four basic reasons justify such radical trust in Jesus.

And for these reasons, we can trust Jesus as the expert concerning life’s ultimate questions. There are a lot of competing voices asking us to believe what they’re saying about life’s ultimate questions. Some undoubtedly have good and true things to say, and there are things we can learn from them. But Paul wrote in Colossians 2 that all we can know and need to know about life’s greatest questions is found in Christ. Christ is THE expert of all experts. With this in mind, we should read the Sermon on the Mount as if our very lives depend upon these words – because they do!

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Topics: Defense of Christian Faith, Faith

Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount, Unexpected


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The MuseCast : July 28


Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 11:27-28

    All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

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2 thoughts on “The Expert

    Matthew says: Tuesday July 28, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    I´ve wondered for the longest time how the earliest followers of Jesus, and then later disciples, and then eventually the creedal church came to understand Jesus of Nazareth, as presented in the Gospel accounts, as God?

    I know many would cite John´s Gospel which has a very high Christology, but can we conclude the same things about Jesus from the synoptics?

    Reply
    Jerry says: Wednesday July 29, 2020 at 8:43 am

    I was listening to Greg and Paul discuss Greg’s book Inspired Imperfection and having just finished reading I think, in light of this sermon series, this book is a must read for everyone.

    I never was quite sure what cruciform meant but Part II Cruciform Inspiration enlightened me.

    Comments on the book:

    From the first half of the book it now dawned to me that all the ANE religious systems had the same penal substitution philosophy. You did some wrong the God or Gods were angry. To appease them you needed to sacrifice something or someone else but heaven forbid NOT you.

    Towards the end of the OT Hosea says, in a passage Jesus will later quote, that Yahweh desires mercy not sacrifices.

    Isiah says: I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. Stop bringing meaningless offerings! They have become a burden to me: I am weary of bearing them.

    In the NT Jesus says: Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Matt 5 23-24)

    And Jesus is just warming up for what is to follow.

    However once the church inherited political power in the fourth and fifth centuries, the resurrection began to be thought of in triumphalist terms that contrasted with the crucifixion. The resurrection came to mean that Jesus suffered so we don’t have to.

    But, according to the NT, the resurrection also confirms that the way of the cross, the way that other-oriented, self-sacrificial love is ultimately victorious and is the way God wants people to live. The cross is held up not only as something Jesus did for us, but also as something we are called and empowered to emulate.

    This is why Jesus told his disciples that you must pick up your cross and follow me.

    Peter says, disciples must be willing to suffer, for Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

    Paul said the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is working in the heart of believers to empower them to be conformed to Christ’s own cruciform character.

    So the “as I have loved you” while you are yet a sinner is a free gift that you can’t earn however there is a second part “you must love one another” and that’s not a free gift you need to “work that out with fear and trembling.”

    Are you saved? https://prescottorthodox.com/videos/are-you-saved/ Matthew 5:25-26

    The second part of the book details cruciform, in the spirit of (1 Corn 13:4-7), as God’s: breathing, power, accommodation and beauty.

    However much the Spirit is successfully influencing a given author in the direction of truth, the point at which a more intense influence would have become coercive is the point at which the Spirit humbly stoops to allow the limited fallen state of the author the Spirit is breathing through to condition what is produced as a result of the breathing.

    On wrath Greg says the exact thing I summarized in Bob Merritt’s book; my last post https://whchurch.org/sermon/the-wheat-and-weeds-creation/#comment-229347 then adds throughout the Bible self-punishment and punishment at God’s hand are not two distinct realities.

    Paul says that Jesus died for all so that they might no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them. Because God is not holding peoples’ sin against them but is accommodating our sin; God creates space for the Spirit to continue working in our fallen hearts to teach us and empower us to no longer live for ourselves but instead to live for the one who died for us.

    The Chicago Statement on Biblical inerrancy affirms progressive revelation happens by God adding more truth to previous true conceptions, but never by God correcting previous misconceptions.

    An indirect revelation takes place whenever the Spirit, after influencing an author in the direction of truth as much as possible, humbly accommodates as much of this author’s fallible, fallen and culturally conditioned heart and mind as necessary.

    GET THE BOOK!

    Greg recently recommended this book “A Peoples History of the United States”

    I stumbled on a copy https://www.historyisaweapon.com/zinnapeopleshistory.html you can read it here online.

    I’m been peeking through it and the end of the book struck me.

    Three years before the terrible events of September 11, 2001, a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Robert Bowman, who had flown 101 combat missions in Vietnam, and then had become a Catholic bishop, commented on the terrorist bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In an article in the National Catholic Reporter he wrote about the roots of terrorism:

    We are not hated because we practice democracy, value freedom, or uphold human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things in Third World countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism … Instead of sending our sons and daughters around the world to kill Arabs so we can have the oil under their sand, we should send them to rebuild their infrastructure, supply clean water, and feed starving children…

    In short, we should do good instead of evil. Who would try to stop us? Who would hate us? Who would want to bomb us? That is the truth the American people need to hear.

    Voices like these were mostly shut out of the major America media after the September 11 attacks. But it was a prophetic voice, and there was at least a possibility that is powerful moral message might spread among the American people, once the futility of meeting violence with violence became clear. Certainly, if historical experience had any meaning, the future of peace and justice in America could not depend on the good will of government.

    The democratic principle, enunciated in the words of the Declaration of Independence, declared that government was secondary, that the people who established it were primary. Thus, the future of democracy depended on the people, and their growing consciousness of what was the decent way to relate to their fellow human beings all over the world

    I then came across this: Christians in Politics Debate – Greg Boyd, Shane Claiborne, and Chuck Colson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ky32FX03GA (5 min) Good Stuff!

    I think the part I underscored above is in essence what Greg and Shane were stating using NT scripture.

    Reply

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