The King’s Righteousness for the Nations

Steve Viars February 27, 2016 Matthew 5:

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Genesis 22:18 - In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.

Genesis 3:15 - And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.

Isaiah 60:1-3 - Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Matthew 3:2 - Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 3:7-8 - But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance…”

Matthew 3:15 - But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.

Matthew 4:16-17 - The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned. From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

3 appropriate responses to the light of the King’s righteousness

I. Rejoice Because the King’s Righteousness is Proven

A. By the preparatory work of John – chapter 3

1. The nearness of the kingdom

3:2 – …the kingdom of heaven is at hand…

2. The need for repentance

3:2 – Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…

3:8 – …bear fruit in keeping with repentance…

3:11 – As for me I baptize you with water for repentance…

3. Jesus’ affirmation of John’s message

Matthew 3:15 - But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.

B. Through Christ’s victory over temptation – chapter 4

1. Our adversary’s offers

Matthew 4:9 - …and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”

2. Our Lord’s response

v. 4 – It is written, v. 7 – It is written, v. 10 – It is written

Christ proved His righteousness by His obedience to the Father’s Word

3. Qualifying Him as the Light of the World

Matthew 4:16 - The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned.

4. Accompanied by deeds of compassion – v. 24 – “proclaiming…and healing…”

II. Repent Because the King’s Righteousness is Powerful

Matthew 7:28-29 - When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

A. Powerful in its content

1. True righteousness

Matthew 5:20 - For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

2. Requiring a new birth

Matthew 5:48 - Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

John 1:7 - He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.

John 12:36 - While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.

John 12:46 - I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.

B. Powerful in its effect

Matthew 5:3 – Blessed

C. Powerful in its impact

John 12:36 - While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.

Matthew 5:16 - Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

III. React Because the King’s Righteousness is Practical

Matthew 7:24-27 - Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.

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A couple of weeks ago we had a whole series of meetings with different people for different reasons scheduled at Faith West. There was a break between our time with one group and another that allowed me to scoot over into the fitness center at Faith West and spend a little time with the treadmill, or as my dear son, The Bear, calls it. the dreadmill, or sometimes even the evil dreadmill, if he's having a bad day.

When I finished up there, Pastor Greiner came over and told me that the class of students with special needs from one of our local public high schools was there at Faith West. We've had a relationship with that class since they began. It's been a marvelous relationship. They contacted us to see if there was some kind of a community service project that we could design for them. They wanted a safe place, a friendly place, where they could do it. They've been coming over every week or so and just washing windows or just whatever they wanted to do, or we needed them to do. Our desire was to just build friendships with them and get to know them any way we possibly could.

Josh said, "Hey, the class is here." I went over and said, "Hello," to them. I even recognized one of the students named Billy, because Billy was in my son, Bear's, class at Harrison High School when Drew was a student there, and also because they played on the same softball team. They were both on Tippy Stars together. It was great just catching up with Billy a little bit and with the other people in the class.

Then later on, as I'm sitting around in meetings the rest of the day just thinking about how thankful I am for people like Pastor Greiner, and Pastor Lees, and all the interns and their wives over there, and then all of the volunteers who serve in that ministry in the community center there, and on the east side, and just the welcoming place they try to make that, even for folks who might have some sort of a physical limitation. They're compassion really exemplifies the very reason we started ministries like that.

Well, that scene came back to my mind last weekend when I heard the sad news that Billy had contracted some sort of an infection and he suddenly died of a heart attack last weekend. I thought about the compassion of our community center staff and volunteers. I thought about the light that they try to be in our town, and it just impressed upon me again how you just never know. In these just kind of daily interactions you just never know if that might be your last opportunity to be a light of grace and mercy to that particular person.

I was also just thankful for the transforming power of Christ that makes shining that kind of a light possible. Well, with that in mind, I want you to open your Bible now to Matthew, chapter 5. Matthew, chapter 5. If you don't have a Bible with you, just pull out that one from under the chair in front of you and turn to the back section to the New Testament. The pages start over in the New Testament. If you go to page 3, you'll actually find yourself on Matthew, chapter 5. Matthew 5, or page 3 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you.

Last Sunday we began a brand-new series that's going to take us through Easter entitled Jesus and The Nations. We're thinking about how the life and teachings of Christ, as presented in the gospel of Matthew, help us more fully understand our church's annual theme of Loving Our World. Loving our world. Jesus and The Nations. Now, if you were with us last week you saw this, that that emphasis of Jesus Christ's relationship to The Nations, it actually comes out even in the very first book of the gospel, of the very first verse of chapter 1, because Matthew mentions Abraham, and Jesus' relationship to Abraham, whom God had made a covenant with 2000 years before the birth of Christ.

Even before Abraham and Sarah even had one child, God said this to them, "And your seed ..." Interesting when you're talking about a couple that has no children at that point. "And your seed, all the nations," not just Israel, but all the nations, "of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed my voice." That issue of the seed even hearkens back to the Garden of Eden where God said, in the presence of the first Adam who had just proved his lack of reliable righteousness by failing our enemy's temptation. In that setting, in Genesis 3 God said, "I will put enmity between you, Satan, and the woman, and between your seed and her seed, Jesus. He shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise him on the heel." Well, now a covenant is being established where through a descendant of Abraham, through a descendant, his seed, all the nations will be blessed.

Well, the rest of the Old Testament makes it abundantly clear that that promise was certainly not speaking about the nation of Israel, because of their repeated failures, because of their lack of practical righteousness. Instead, as we see the process, the progress of Revelation, we see that the promise was pointing to a Messiah, to a king, and places like Isaiah 60 speak about what that king was going to be like. "Arise, shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you, for behold darkness will cover the Earth and deep darkness the people's, but the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you." Now here it is, "Nations will come to your light." That's true of Abraham's seed. That's true of the Messiah. "Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising." God's love for The Nations is shown abundantly by Him sending His righteous Son to be their light. That was the point.

Matthew's message is, "The light has come. Good news, the light has come." While people like the scribes and the religious leaders responded to that with indifference, we saw that last week, and people like Herod responded with hostility, thankfully there were some ... What kind of men? Wise men. From where? From The Nations. From the gentile nations who responded to the bright light with worship, and adoration, and joy.

We encouraged ourselves last week to look for opportunities to be like the wise men, to respond to the good news of the light of Christ with worship, and adoration, and joy. Now, for purposes this morning we're going to be looking at chapter 5, the king's first sermon, and then we're going to celebrate the Lord's table together. What I want to ask you to do before I even read from some verses in chapter 5, just allow your eyes to kind of go over chapters 3 and 4. We ended at the end of chapter 2 last week. I want to be sure we're setting the context, so let me just pick out a few highlights. We saw the four fulfilled prophecies listed in Matthew, chapter 2. We mentioned there's actually a total of 330 different Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled in the birth, the life, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. More than enough evidence, huh, for men and women to trust Christ as their king. Let's face it, that's a lot of light. That's a lot of light.

Then, in chapter 3, what do we have? Well, we have the ministry of John The Baptist, and what was his message? According to verse 2, "Repent for ...," here it is, "... the kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Then he even confronts the religious leaders a few verses later when he says, "You brood of vipers ..." He's kind of direct. "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come; therefore, bear fruit in keeping with repentance." In other words this, man-made righteousness is not nearly enough to earn entrance to God's kingdom.

Well, then whether there was any question at all on anyone's mind whether Jesus Himself actually agreed with John The Baptist's message, what happens next in the chapter? It's Jesus' baptism, not to wash away His original sin like some religions might suggest. That would be contrary to the point of the virgin birth affirmed in chapter 1. Jesus explains why He wanted John to baptize Him. He said, "Permit it at this time for in this way it's fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. That's what my kingdom is going to be all about." It's fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.

Then chapter 4, the temptation of Christ. The proof that where the first Adam failed, the last Adam was completely victorious, which was why after Jesus demonstrated His righteousness by being tempted in all points yet without sin, what does Matthew go back to? The issue of the light, the people who are sitting. Do you see how you can connect these dots from the Old Testament to the New. The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, and those who were sitting in the land in shadow of death, upon them a light dawned. There He is. From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

Now, it's in that context that we read the Sermon on the Mount. If you follow those little videos we send out to help prepare our church family for Sunday, I encourage you to read the entire sermon. It's chapters 5, 6, and 7. It's a delightful passage. I know many of you did that. For sake of time today, we're just going to concentrate on the first 16 verses of chapter 5. Think about that context that we just saw, the king, the righteous king, given as a light to The Nations.

Now, what's His kingdom like? Matthew 5:1. When Jesus saw the crowds He went up on the mountain and after He sat down His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and He began to teach them saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, ..."

By the way, you might want to contrast this king and this kingdom to some of the background noise in our culture right now. We have a presidential election going on right now. Did you know that? Just think about that hot mess and then just think about this king and the nature of His kingdom. I like this king, don't you?

Verse 5, "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." Blessed, do you see the repeated use of that word? "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you when people insult you, and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Now, follow this, and think about how this all fits together. "You're the salt of the Earth, but if the salt has become tasteless how can it be made salty again? It's no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the ..." The what? "You're the light of the world." Think about Pastor Greiner, Pastor Lees, their whole team. Think about Billy. Think about why Jesus was given. Think about what it means to be a follower of Christ. "You're the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hid, nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket but on the lamp stand and it gives light to all who are in the house."

Now, here's the bottom line. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven." We're talking this morning about the king's righteousness for the nations. With the time we have remaining before we celebrate the Lord's table together, let's think about three appropriate responses to the light of the king's righteousness. What am I to do with a king who is so righteous? How are we to respond to a kingdom that meets these characteristics?

Three appropriate responses to the light of the king's righteousness. First of all this. Rejoice.

I. Rejoice Because the King’s Righteousness is Proven

I hope when you read that you say, "That's the kind of king I want to have. I'm so glad that He is contrary to the culture in which we live." This is a profound reason for rejoicing, in part because His righteousness is proven. No question about the nature of this light that the Messiah was shining. The emphasis here clearly throughout the text is righteousness but by divine standards. By divine standards, proven in part by the preparatory work of John. John talks about the nearness of the king. He says, "The kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

Now, you might say, "Wait, how in the world was that so, the kingdom of Heaven was at hand?" Well, in the sense that the king was among them, and that it was possible to be personally related to Him, if one was willing to repent. Did you see that? In other words, turn around, acknowledge something to be true of yourself that you may not have believed before. "Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Verse 8, "Bear fruit in keeping with repentance," or verse 11, "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance." No way of entering this kingdom without repentance, acknowledging my need.

I've made a habit over the years to never discuss counseling situations with my family. My wife or kids have never asked about it, but I just think because of confidentiality it would always be wrong, so my family never knows who I'm counseling or ever what we would be talking about, blah, blah, blah.

This past Monday after serving in our counseling center I went home and my son, The Bear, and Kris, my wife, had been over in Ohio for a meeting with one of his specialists, and so they were just coming back and I was coming from the counseling center, so I asked them that evening how his day went, and he told me a little bit about that. Then he said, "Hey, Dad, how'd your day go?" I said, "Well, um, honestly, Drew, just a lot of problems. I've been counseling today. A lot of problems." Then he says, "Well, why are there so many problems," he said. Then he had me. I guess I had to answer that honestly, so I said, "Well, son, because, well, people sin. People sin," and then he went into his philosopher voice.

If you've ever talked with him you know he's got a philosopher voice, and when he goes into that get ready. He says, "Well, Mate," that's what he calls me, Mate, after Mator in the Cars movie. That's a different story, but he says, "Well, Mate, just tell them to stop sinning and repent." Kris and I looked at each other and we said, "You know, he just nailed it." I mean he just summarized life, right there, "Just stop sinning and repent." It's amazing how many opportunities I've had to use that with my staff since he said that, or maybe it was me. I can't remember how it went.

Now, understand, this baptism of John, that's not Christian baptism, not that at all. It's just an acknowledgement or agreement with John's message that the Messiah's kingdom required a kind of righteousness not attainable by human beings alone, which is why John had said to the religious leaders previously, "Who warned you guys? Why are you here, because you think you're righteous enough on your own?" Until you're willing to mourn over your sinful condition, remember that's what the sermon started with. Until you're genuinely willing to mourn over your sinful condition, you'll never repent and look to the rightful king for a kind of righteousness or holiness that can only come from Him.

Then, amazingly, there's the affirmation of John's message by Jesus being baptized. You might say, "Well, why in the world was He baptized?" John had that exact same question, and Jesus said, "It's fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." No wonder the king had to be born of a virgin so His seed would not be tainted by Adam's sin so it could be a kingdom of righteousness, which is how chapter 4 fits into all of this. Prior to the Sermon on the Mount, Christ had to demonstrate victory over temptation.

Time doesn't allow us to look at every one of our adversary's temptations in depth, other than to say that Satan wanted Christ to fall into the same trap that Adam and Eve did and the same traps that the nation of Israel had, culminating ultimately in false worship. That's why all the final temptation was, "All these things I will give you if you fall down and worship me," because it's always ultimately about who or what you're worshiping in your heart and how did our righteous king respond? Every case referring to the sufficient Word of God He said in verse 4, "It is written." In verse 7, "It is written." In verse 10, "It is written." In other words, Christ proved His righteousness by His obedience to the Father's Word. That's what qualified Him to be the light of the nations.

Isaiah had said God would send a light to the nations. Matthew's message is, "The light has come, and His righteousness is completely proven," which is why he then followed that up in Matthew 4:16. The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light. True that, huh? We're talking about a light that had been born of a virgin, and we're talking about a light who affirmed John's preparatory message that repentance was necessary and then who proved that He had perfect righteousness by having victory over the greatest temptation. Tempted in all points yet without sin. Those who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, and those who were sitting in the land, shadow of death, upon them a light dawned.

Now, one more thing about the context before we look at the sermon for a minute. Look right at the end of chapter 4. Remember, Jesus is going to tell us to be doing good works. Say, "Like what?" Well, look at the end of chapter 4. What do we see Jesus doing? The answer is, deeds of compassion. By the way, in your handout it probably says verse 24. That's because I messed up, so could you correct that in case you're going to look at that later. You say, "Well, maybe you need to stop sinning and repent." I know, but it's verse 23, but just to be sure that we recognize that Jesus gave this Sermon on the Mount in the context of deeds of marvelous compassion. See His is a kingdom of righteousness. That's the point of all that.

I was over at Meijer the other night, just had to get some salad dressing, I think. I ran into a friend from another church who wanted to talk with me, well a lot about what's going on with the election. From the front door to the salad dressing isle I got a whole earful about all the candidates and all the campaigns and all that sort of craziness, which is fine. It's fine. It's Meijer talk. I mean, that's fine. Then, he finally said, kind of in exasperation, "This world is upside down. This world is upside down." Well, it's pretty hard to argue with that, huh? Pretty hard to argue with that. That's often the case in the kingdom of man.

The kingdom of God is characterized by proven righteousness. I hope all the background noise doesn't drive us crazy. It ought to drive us to the Cross in great rejoicing for the character of our king, the lights to The Nations. Rejoice in that.

II. Repent Because the King’s Righteousness is Powerful

We should also repent, because the king's righteousness is powerful. You see, up till chapter 5, we just have a few words that Jesus spoke, but now we have the first of five complete sermons throughout the gospel of Matthew. I encourage you, if you watch that little video to read the whole thing in chapter 5, 6, and 7. It's incredibly powerful. In fact, honestly, we could take years just studying the sermon on the mount to our great profit.

No question it's powerful, because of even the way a person's responded at the end. When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching for he was teaching them as one having authority and not as their scribes. You say, well how was it powerful? Well, it's surely powerful in its content. Jesus gives us what true righteousness is. He speaks about those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, not people who think they can earn their way to God by their own deeds, but those who are woefully aware of how our sin has separated us from a holy God.

Then, he speaks about those who are gentle, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who are merciful, those who are pure in heart. I mean, refrain after refrain reminds us of how far short we fall when compared to the perfect character of our king. Unless you would say, "Oh, oh, I think maybe God grades on a curve, and so maybe I'm going to be righteous enough on my own. Well, here's a verse for you. Matthew 5:20, "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees ..." Does yours? On your own? No, no. "I say to you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven."

In other words, we don't need just a king. We need what? We need a Savior. We need a righteous Son of God who is in a position to not only forgive our sin, but when we repent to place His righteousness on our account so when God, the holy Father, looks at us He doesn't see us in light of our failures, or our successes, He sees us clothed in the righteousness of His Son. I'm talking with you about the doctrine of justification, the doctrine of imputation, what occurs the moment a person repents of his or her sin and places their faith and trust in Christ. Scripture says that, "The righteousness of Christ is placed on our account." We don't just need a king. We need a Savior, requiring a new birth.

If you say, "I'm not sure it requires perfection." Here you go, Matthew 5:48. "Therefore, you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." Anybody here want to say, "I still measure up on my own merit?" Some of you sitting right by your spouses, for crying out loud. You were grumping 30 minutes ago. "Therefore, you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect," which is why the apostle John affirmed this about John The Baptist. He said, "He came as a witness to testify about the light," Why, so that we could achieve the light of our own merit? No, so that you might believe. You might believe in Him.

Later John 12:36, "While you have the light, believe in the light," not in yourself. In fact, this particular verse threads the Sermon on the Mount altogether. "While you have the light ..." Jesus is here. "... make a decision, repent, and believe in the light, and when you do you can become the sons of light," or a few verses later. "I've come as light into the world so that everyone who believes in me," Jesus said, "will not remain in darkness."

The only way that people like you and me could possibly enter the kingdom of Heaven and begin to live in a way that is growing in the practical righteousness discussed in this text, kingdom living here and now, is through trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross. That's why I would just say to you that, "If you've never placed your faith and trust in Christ before, if you thought, 'Well, I'm gonna earn my way to Heaven on my own merit,' are you letting the Word of God have the impact on you that it would desire, because what God would call upon you to do is to look at your righteousness and say, 'you know what, like the best I've got to offer is like filthy rags compared to His holiness, and so I want to empty my hands of anything I thought I might bring to the equation, and I want to run, not walk, to the cross.'" Turn around, run to the cross of Calvary where He shed His precious blood and receive, by faith, the gift of forgiveness of your sin and the imputed righteousness of Christ placed on your account.

Now, what happens if we do that? According to this passage it's also powerful in it's effect. What is the word that stands at the beginning of every beatitude? Blessed. Blessed. What does that mean? Satisfied, happy, peaceful, joyful, content? Joyful in the knowledge that you're subduing your world in submission to your great king. Joyful that now you have your king, your righteous king, living inside of you, and it's now possible for you to begin growing in mercifulness. It's possible for you to begin growing and becoming a peacemaker. It's possible for you to start having kingdom conditions here and now. "I'm crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me, because of his imputed righteousness I can begin living that out practically in a way that is consistent with the characteristics of His kingdom."

I can think of all sorts of people in our church family who have trusted Christ and are now allowing the Lord to progressively develop in them these same kind of characteristics. As a result, their life is a lot different than this upside down world. Here's also what they would say, "There's a kind of blessedness that comes from that. The more I work at being a peacemaker," even that might be counter-cultural but, "The more I allow the king to help me be a peacemaker, there's blessedness that comes from that." When I mourn over my sin instead of blame it on somebody else, when I own it and ask forgiveness there's blessedness, Shalom that comes to my life and my house. When I'm trying to grow and being pure in heart there's blessedness. See, Jesus promised that, and Jesus delivers on that.

Perhaps the greatest power is demonstrated in what's next. It's powerful in it's impact. Citizens of the kingdom are called to spread the light, right? You might say, "Hey, I thought Jesus was the light of the nations." He is, but what did John 12:36 say to us, "While you have the light," He's here, "believe in the light so that you may become the sons of light." That's an essential aspect of your identity. Why did God save you if, in fact, you've trusted Him as Savior and Lord?" The answer is to be a light to the nations. Let your light shine before men in such a way ...

Think about your past week. You were before a lot of men, huh? Yep, lot of women. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven." What that means is when Josh, and Nick, and the rest of the staff, and volunteers over at Faith West, they just chose to show love and grace to Billy and to the other class members from that school, what were they doing? They were being a light to the nations. Do you see that? They were letting Christ help them be a light to the nations.

By the way, my wife and I know quite a few of the families in our town who have young people with special needs, who are now adults with special needs, and I'm happy to tell you a number of them are followers of Christ, and what that means is those young people, or those adults, are responding to whatever challenges they have in a way that honors the king, so they're being a light, too. It's a marvelous thing when all God's people in a particular situation are trying to live in a way that is consistent with their design. If you've ever gone to a Tippy Stars softball game it is blessedness all over the place. There's a kind of joyfulness that comes from living for the king. "Let your light so shine among men."

Week before last a group of us went down to Wheeler Mission. You ever seen that? It's right off of Monument Square in downtown Indianapolis. I can be dense, because there have been a number of people from Wheeler Mission that have come through our Biblical counseling training program over the years. I never put it together of where that place was. I knew that some of our community center people wanted to go visit them, because we're, Lord willing, going to be starting a men's ministry out at Bethany Farms. Right now, we're just benchmarking, so we're trying to visit as many best practice models as we can just to learn everything we possibly can.

They said, "We want to go to Wheeler Mission." It didn't dawn on me till we got in the door and they brought out some of the books they use, and they were books by people who are our friends in the Biblical Counseling Movement. Then is when it finally dawned on me. These folks are our friends. They have a marvelous ministry to homeless men right there in downtown Indianapolis. This time of year they serve somewhere between 350 and 400 men every night.

They started talking to us about what they do. They showed us around the various facilities and allowed us to interact with the men that they were serving. Fascinating program. They offer 10 nights per month to homeless men in Indy, and the reason they do it that way is because they're saying, "Listen, we're not just going to be a hotel for people who want to continue in their addictions. We're not going to enable people in their addictions, but we do want to serve you. We want to be gracious to you, and then they offer other programming if a person really wants to change, so those men can move into a program in another place in their facility, if they really want to start working on heart issues that lead to addictive behavior. If they really want to go deep in this, they have a couple hundred acres down around Bloomington, and they actually will allow those men to live down there, receive intensive counseling, and they also learn job skills in a pallet factory they have on that property.

It was great just to talk with those guys. It was great that they were so gospel centered. In fact, if you've been there you know. The sign they have out front says, "Jesus saves." It's one of those old-time gospel mission-type signs you see maybe in Chicago at Pacific Garden Mission. They've been there 120 years and they still have that sign, "Jesus saves," because they want everybody to understand, "We're all about the gospel here."

They received a different building a couple of blocks away because of a different mission that no longer is functioning, so they were asked to take that over. What they did, they took a picture of the Jesus saves sign and they made a mural of it and put it as wallpaper right on the front wall of that building, because they want everybody to understand, "Listen, we want to love people who are homeless, but we're trying to be a light. We're trying to point them to the changed life that is available through the shed blood of Jesus Christ."

What I really enjoyed, because we got to be right there with the men, and those men, admittedly, as they started telling their stories, they had some rough addictions that they were struggling with. You bring 350-400 guys under the same roof like that, that's a very interesting situation. What I loved was watching the staff interact with these men. There was a gentleness to it. There was a mercifulness to it. It was the Sermon on the Mount fleshed out right in front of us. It was the king and His righteousness fleshed out in front.

In fact, I said to the staff at one point, I said, "You know, how do you avoid just becoming cynical," because there's a lot of tough stuff here? "How do you avoid become cynical? They said, "Well, it's Christ working in and through us." Christ has been merciful to us; therefore, we want to be merciful to these men. See, "Let your light so shine among men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Whether you're being a bright light to a group of young people in a special needs class, whether you're being a bright light to individuals who are homeless.

We saw the same thing happen a few weeks ago right here. You might recognize those two men. I assume you recognize the one guy, but the other two men are pastors from Cuba. Roberto and his son, Leslie, both pastors in Old Havana in Cuba. They were here a couple of weeks ago. We had a great time serving them and being with them. We said to Leslie, because they've had very little access to education in that country, so we said to Leslie as a young pastor, "If you would like to come and study at our seminary for three years with your wife, we'd be delighted to have you come.

Pastor [Aucoin 00:35:29] had the idea, because Leslie is still working on his English, of having Leslie stay with his wife in Cuba a couple more years, because our seminary that door only opens once every three years for the Master of Divinity program. "Stay a couple more years in Cuba, work on your English, come back a year before the next cohort starts, assimilate yourself to our culture and then spend three years with us and we'll try to do everything we can to provide an excellent education so you can go back to Cuba and be a leader in that country."

I got an email from him this week. They want to take us up on that. Lord willing we're going to have the opportunity to have a young man and his wife from Cuba as part of our cohort, and then be able to partner with them in the future. In fact, they have some short-term trips they want us to do in training even before Leslie gets here, etc. etc. You say, "Why would these men from Cuba be willing to trust us?" You know why? Some of you know why. It's because of everything you did for them while they were here. We provided all sorts of clothing sizes for a hundred and fifty people in Cuba, and you went out and bought all of that. We were able to provide computers, laptops, and all that sort of them for them for their Bible study. I'll tell you, they were blown away.

They were totally blown away. They said, "How in the world do people who don't even know us showing this kind of love, mercy, grace, and now that provides us an opportunity to have a deeper relationship with them. "Let your light so shine among men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven," whether it's at a community center or whether it's at a homeless shelter, or whether it's with people in a different part of the world. That's what it means to be a bright light to the nations.

What do we do with all of this? Well, the answer is you have to react, because the king's righteousness is practical.

III. React Because the King’s Righteousness is Practical

You may remember the way this sermon ends. It's actually with a comparison of people who build their house on the sand, remember that, and others who build their house on the what? On the rock. In fact, I could break out into a children's song right now about that if you wanted me to, and I assume you don't, but here's my question. What is the point of comparison between people who build their house on the sand, you don't want to do that do you, or those who build their house on the rock? Do you remember?

Here's what it is. It's Matthew 7. Watch it. "Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them," boom, "may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock, and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house and yet it did not fall for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and ..." What? "... does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand." Here's my question for all of us. What's the next action step for you in light of the king's righteousness for the nations? What's the next action step? I'm sure for some who will hear this message today the answer is to come to the light. I know it's hard for us as proud Americans to acknowledge that there's something wrong with us, and that we can't fix it on our own, and that we actually need a person, a Savior, a king and his righteousness in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven.

Friend, listen if you're trying to have a relationship with God based on your own deeds alone, I need to love you enough as a pastor. I'm not going to go as far as John The Baptist, but I am going to tell you this, "You are a foolish person," and the reason you're a foolish person is because you're building your house on what? On the sand. I would encourage you. I would urge you. I might even beg you to repent, to turn around, and to run to the cross and place your faith and trust in what Christ did on the cross as your only hope of achieving perfect righteousness positionally, and practical righteousness in the here and now.

Christian friend, let me ask you this. What is the next step for you in accepting the responsibility of being a light? Think about the interactions you've had over the past week, over the past month, and what would be the next step for you? I mean, there's a zillion possible answers to that. For some it means becoming part of a church family that's trying to be a light in this community. That's why if you're not a member of this church I would encourage you to join here or join somewhere and let the giftedness that God has given you contribute to them being a bright light. That's why we're having this intro to faith class starting Wednesday night for four consecutive nights. It's an opportunity for those who are new to ask any question they have about the Bible, about Christianity, about anything. Can I encourage you, because, again, you don't want to build your life on the sand.

People who build their life on the rock are people who act on the Word of God, or you might want to take that brochure that you have. It's got all sorts of classes. I would encourage you. Be a light. Put that in the hands of one of your friends or your coworkers and say, "Hey, hey, is there a class that you'd like to take because if there is I'd be happy to go with you. Then just watch your friend kind of take their finger around and go like this and go like this, then boink, and put it right on the class that you've already taken 13 times, and guess what, there's an opportunity for you to get happy about taking it a 14th time, because of the opportunity to be a ... Listen, don't squander opportunities to be a light. Can I also suggest this. Can we all be very, very thankful for the righteousness of our king, for the unique characteristic of his kingdom, and for the incredible privilege it is to be a light to the nations.

Would you stand with me for prayer. Father in Heaven, we thank you for the gift of the king. Lord, we thank you for the nature of His kingdom. Father I pray for anyone who's not yet received His righteousness by faith. I pray that they would do that today. Lord, I pray that those of us who would say that we have, I pray that we would be working at the practical implications of kingdom living here and now, as exemplified in the sermon. Lord, I also pray that on the basis of that change and changing life that we would be looking for opportunities and thankful to have them, to be a light to the nations. We pray this in Christ's name, amen. would be working at the practical implications of kingdom living here and now, as exemplified in the sermon. Lord, I also pray that on the basis of that change and changing life that we would be looking for opportunities and thankful to have them, to be a light to the nations. We pray this in Christ's name, amen. would be working at the practical implications of kingdom living here and now, as exemplified in the sermon. Lord, I also pray that on the basis of that change and changing life that we would be looking for opportunities and thankful to have them, to be a light to the nations. We pray this in Christ's name, amen.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video