SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (EGW)

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Chapter 5

1-12. Sufficient to Prevent Bewilderment—A study of Christ's wonderful sermon on the mount will teach the believer what must be the characteristics of those whom the Lord calls “Blessed.” [Matthew 5:1-12 quoted.] ... 5BC 1083.9

I thank the Lord that such plain directions are given to believers. If we had no other instruction than is contained in these few words, here is sufficient, so that none need become bewildered. But we have a whole Bible full of precious instruction. None need be in darkness and uncertainty. Those who will seek by faith and prayer and earnest study of the Scriptures to obtain the virtues here brought to view, will easily be distinguished from those who walk not in the light. Those who refuse to follow a “Thus saith the Lord” will have no excuse to render for their persistent resistance of the Word of God (Letter 258, 1907). 5BC 1083.10

Words of a Different Character—As if enshrouded in a cloud of heavenly brightness, Christ pronounced from the mount of beatitudes His benedictions. The words spoken by Him were of an entirely different character from those which had fallen from the lips of the scribes and Pharisees. The ones whom He pronounced blessed were the very ones they would have denounced as cursed of God. To that large concourse of people He declared that He could dispense the treasures of eternity to whomsoever He willed. Although His divinity was clothed with humanity, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God. In this public manner He described the attributes of those who were to share the eternal rewards. He pointed out in particular those who would suffer persecution for His name's sake. They were to be richly blessed, becoming heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. Great would be their reward in heaven (Manuscript 72, 1901). 5BC 1084.1

A Treasury of Goodness—Christ longed to fill the world with a peace and joy that would be a similitude of that found in the heavenly world. [Matthew 5:1-12 quoted.] ... 5BC 1084.2

With clearness and power He spoke the words that were to come down to our time as a treasure of goodness. What precious words they were, and how full of encouragement. From His divine lips there fell with fullness and abundant assurance the benedictions that showed Him to be the fountain of all goodness, and that it was His prerogative to bless and impress the minds of all present. He was engaged in His peculiar, sacred province, and the treasures of eternity were at His command. In the disposal of them He knew no control. It was no robbery with Him to act in the office of God. In His blessings He embraced those who were to compose His kingdom in this world. He had brought into the world every blessing essential to the happiness and joy of every soul, and before that vast assembly He presented the riches of the grace of heaven, the accumulated treasures of the eternal, everlasting Father. 5BC 1084.3

Here He specified who should be the subjects of His heavenly kingdom. He did not speak one word to flatter the men of the highest authority, the worldly dignitaries. But He presents before all the traits of character which must be possessed by the peculiar people who will compose the royal family in the kingdom of heaven. He specifies those who shall become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Himself. He proclaims publicly His choice of subjects, and assigns them their place in His service as united with Himself. Those who possess the character specified, will share with Him in the blessing and the glory and the honor that will ever come to Him. 5BC 1084.4

Those who are thus distinguished and blessed will be a peculiar people, trading upon the Lord's gifts. He speaks of those who shall suffer for His name's sake as receiving a great reward in the kingdom of heaven. He spoke with the dignity of One who had unlimited authority, One who had all heavenly advantages to bestow upon those who would receive Him as their Saviour. 5BC 1084.5

Men may usurp the authority of greatness in this world; but Christ does not recognize them; they are usurpers. 5BC 1084.6

There were occasions when Christ spoke with an authority that sent His words home with irresistible force, with an overwhelming sense of the greatness of the speaker, and the human agencies shrunk into nothingness in comparison with the One before them. They were deeply moved; their minds were impressed that He was repeating the command from the most excellent glory. As He summoned the world to listen, they were spellbound and entranced and conviction came to their minds. Every word made for itself a place, and the hearers believed and received the words that they had no power to resist. Every word He uttered seemed to the hearers as the life of God. He was giving evidence that He was the light of the world and the authority of the church, claiming pre-eminence over them all (Manuscript 118, 1905). 5BC 1084.7

13, 14 (chs. 15:9; 22:29). Humble Men Are Salt of Earth—In His teachings, Christ likened His disciples to objects most familiar to them. He compared them to salt and to light. “Ye are the salt of the earth,” He said; “ye are the light of the world.” These words were spoken to a few poor, humble fishermen. Priests and rabbis were in that congregation of hearers, but these were not the ones addressed. With all their learning, with all their supposed instruction in the mysteries of the law, with all their claims of knowing God, they revealed that they knew Him not. To these leading men had been committed the oracles of God, but Christ declared them to be unsafe teachers. He said to them, Ye teach for doctrine the commandments of men. “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” Turning from these men to the humble fishermen, He said, “Ye are the salt of the earth” (The Review and Herald, August 22, 1899). 5BC 1085.1

No Self-originated Light—The light that shines from those who receive Jesus Christ is not self-originated. It is all from the Light and Life of the world. He kindles this light, even as He kindles the fire that all must use in doing His service. Christ is the light, the life, the holiness, the sanctification of all who believe, and His light is to be received and imparted in all good works. In many different ways His grace is also acting as the salt of the earth; whithersoever this salt finds its way, to homes or communities, it becomes a preserving power to save all that is good, and to destroy all that is evil (The Review and Herald, August 22, 1899). 5BC 1085.2

17-19. Least Among Human Agencies—[Matthew 5:17-19 quoted.] This is the judgment pronounced in the kingdom of heaven. Some have thought that the commandment breaker will be there, but will occupy the lowest place. This is a mistake. Sinners will never enter the abode of bliss. The commandment breaker, and all who unite with him in teaching that it makes no difference whether men break or observe the divine law, will by the universe of heaven be called least among the human agencies. For not only have they been disloyal themselves, but they have taught others to break the law of God. Christ pronounces judgment upon those who claim to have a knowledge of the law, but who, by precept and example, lead souls into confusion and darkness (The Review and Herald, November 15, 1898). 5BC 1085.3

21, 22, 27, 28 (Revelation 20:12). Features of Character in Books of Heaven—God's law reaches the feelings and motives, as well as the outward acts. It reveals the secrets of the heart, flashing light upon things before buried in darkness. God knows every thought, every purpose, every plan, every motive. The books of heaven record the sins that would have been committed had there been opportunity. God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing. By His law He measures the character of every man. As the artist transfers to the canvas the features of the face, so the features of each individual character are transferred to the books of heaven. God has a perfect photograph of every man's character, and this photograph He compares with His law. He reveals to man the defects that mar his life, and calls upon him to repent and turn from sin (The Signs of the Times, July 31, 1901). 5BC 1085.4

48. Perfection in Character-building—The Lord requires perfection from His redeemed family. He calls for perfection in character-building. Fathers and mothers especially need to understand the best methods of training children, that they may cooperate with God. Men and women, children and youth, are measured in the scales of heaven in accordance with that which they reveal in their home life. A Christian in the home is a Christian everywhere. Religion brought into the home exerts an influence that cannot be measured (Manuscript 34, 1899). 5BC 1085.5

The Life of a Perfect Man—Our Saviour took up the true relationship of a human being as the Son of God. We are sons and daughters of God. In order to know how to behave ourselves circumspectly, we must follow where Christ leads the way. For thirty years He lived the life of a perfect man, meeting the highest standard of perfection (Letter 69, 1897). 5BC 1085.6