A Brief Break from the Gospel Series

This coming week June 20-27, our Youth Fellowship will be going to Soldiers Grove Wisconsin for our work mission trip. Needless to say this will probably be my last blog post until I get back. We are going to be in a pretty rural setting so the odds of us having WIFI is probably slim, but I am not sure. Even if we do have a connection the odds of me having time to post anything is about 1:100. So, farewell for a week or so! What I want to share in this post is what is going to be taught during our evening programs all week so you can get an idea of what our heart is in this.

Saturday night we will be speaking about ‘What is salvation’ and the entire focus of this message and discussion will be to destroy 4 false notions about salvation. First, that salvation is a result of doing good works or that it can be earned. Second, that salvation is all about heaven and hell. Third, that salvation is about you. The fourth is that salvation is only for the future, are a mere event in the past.

Sunday morning I am preaching at two churches out there and the message will be a very basic gospel presentation, using the invitation of Isaiah 55. We will lay out a foundation of God’s character contrast it with our character, then reconcile God’s character with our character in Christ on the Cross.

Sunday night we will look at past tense salvation, Justification or salvation from the penalty of sins past. We will look at the fact that sin must be punished and that Christ Himself drank down the wrath of God on our behalf. One of our secondary functions of this night will be to make it clear our need of salvation, the primary function will be to elevate the love of Christ by showcasing the magnitude of what He has done on our behalf!

Monday night we will look at the future tense of salvation, glorification, or salvation from the presence of sin in an eternal heaven. The focus of this will be to showcase that heaven is heavenly because God is there, and that heaven is not a fantasy land where you do whatever you want whenever you want. We will discuss how heaven really is not a place an unbeliever would want to go if they actually knew what it was, but that it is the most wonderful place for the true believer who will have their desire to be near to the Lord actually fulfilled in eternity.

Tuesday night we will look at present tense salvation, sanctification, or salvation from the power of sin. This is not a lesson on sinless perfection, but it is a lesson on God working in us to overcome sin today... not just forgiveness, but a practical fruitful living out of faith. In my eyes this is the climax of the weeks teaching, the place where the rubber effectively meets the road. The problem with having a view of salvation that primarily focuses on heaven, or on forgiveness, is that salvation becomes almost theoretical, something fun to talk about, but ineffective. Salvation in the present tense is equally important to discuss. It is such a gracious act that God would effectively and practically work in us today, right now, and that is what present tense salvation is all about.

Wednesday night we all the same question the writer of the Hebrews asked, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation. We will ask it with regards to Justification... how can we escape if we neglect forgiveness and freedom from guilt... We will ask it with regards to Glorification... how can we escape if we neglect hope for a complete freedom from the presence of sin... We will ask it with regards to Sanctification... how can we escape if we neglect the power God gives us over sin today. Of course it is a rhetorical question, and the answer is that you cannot escape if you neglect so great salvation. Again this is not all about heaven and hell, this is about hope, victory, and forgiveness.

Thursday night we will speak on assurance of salvation. How do I know I have believed? How can I know that I am saved? The scriptures are clear, not just in the words of Christ, but throughout the entire cannon, that you will know them by their fruits. Assurance comes from seeing the evidence of Christ working in your life as a believer. The call is to examine yourselves, test yourselves...

Friday night we will speak on working out your salvation with fear and trembling. This is not going to be a fire and brimstone type thing. Recall that we have spent the entire week speaking on salvation and there will be enough fire in that, as well as much grace, but the primary function for Friday night will be a commissioning and an encouragement.

Of course we would appreciate your prayer with regards to this week, it is a little too late for your suggestions. If you would pray that God indeed would move upon us and through us this week we would greatly appreciate it, and be honored. Realize that when we ask for prayer it is not a trite question. We indeed are asking you to go before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords on our behalf, that is no small request.

Thank you brothers and sisters

In Christ,

Jay Miklovic


#32 – What the Gospels Teach – Exceeding the Law Concerning Vows – Matthew 5:33-37

"Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.' "But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. "Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. "But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil.  (Matthew 5:33-37 NASB)

I would recommend reading posts #28-#31 before proceeding to read this post.  It would be beneficial to your understanding of where I am coming from.

As was stated in previous posts this section of the Sermon on the Mount follows a specific pattern.  We already studied that pattern as it pertains to, murder, adultery, and divorce, and in 

this post we will view this pattern in light of keeping vows.  As in the previous posts concerning this portion of the sermon on the mount we will see that Jesus states a law, then reveals the intent, and then explains how to exceed the righteousness of the Law.  Recall also from Matthew 5:20 that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven the Law must be exceeded, because ‘unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Regarding Matthew 5:33-37

Jesus states the law – “You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.”

Jesus states the intent – “But I say to you, make no oath at all...”

Jesus states how to exceed the law – “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’, or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.”

While this seems to be a simple teaching, the implications of this teaching are enormous.  In light of the rest of the scripture it is known that Liars will not enter the kingdom... You shall not bear false witness... the words that come out of you defile you... the tongue is a monster that sets the world on fire...  So many things are said in the scripture about what comes out of the mouth of a person.  Jesus says in order to exceed the Law let your statement be ‘yes, yes’ or ‘no, no’.  We must understand that our character lies in our words, and the things we say are evidence of who we are.  What we profess in the quote ‘religious setting’ when we make vows and so on is meaningless if it is not coincident with what our mouth utters in even the most private conversations.  Your yes must be nothing other than yes, and your no can mean nothing other than no.

The only time we even need to vow is when our character is in doubt!  Yet if our character is not in doubt, and there is no reason to disbelieve our word, there is no need to bring a vow into play.  Jesus is clear that we are to be of a character in which no vow is necessary.


#31 – What the Gospels Teach – Exceeding the Law with Regard to Divorce – Matthew 5:31-32

"It was said, 'WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE'; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.  (Matthew 5:31-32 NASB)

In the past few posts the structure of Matthew 5:21-47 has been looked at, and this post will continue in the same vein.  Recall, that Matthew 5:17-20, introduces this whole section as Jesus teaches that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees you will in no case enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus then proceeds to teach how to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees in a very structured teaching.  He takes a number of different laws and breaks them down.  First He addresses the command, then explains its intent, then offers how to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees with that command.  The last couple looked like this:

Command – Shall not commit murder,  Intent – do not foster anger towards a brother, How

 to exceed the Law – Do not even make an offering before reconciling with your brother, and seek reconciliation with enemies without going to court.

Command – Shall not commit adultery, intent – do not even lust after someone, How to exceed the Law – Cut off any thing that causes you to lust.

The laws concerning Adultery and Murder were detailed in the previous two posts, and this post will address the next command in this section of the Sermon on the Mount.  “Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce...”

At the outset let’s realize that this is a very difficult section of scripture in light of society today,

 and the commonality of divorce in our society.  A face value reading of this scripture will cause pain for a great number of people.  Moreover, we all know a number of people, many who are fundamental in their belief who have violated the precepts in this scripture and struggle to this day with understanding it.  Nonetheless, it says exactly what it says, and it really is not a difficult passage to understand, if you allow yourself to understand it without writing it off because of how far our society has fallen with regard to marriage.

This passage like the previous two laws can be broken down in the same way.

First is the statement of the Law itself. Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce... This is very easy to understand.  When you divorce, you must give a divorce certificate.  That is the letter of the law, and is not so difficult to obey, but remember that at the outset of this section of scripture Jesus made it clear that simple Pharisee like

 obedience must be exceeded in order to enter the Kingdom.

Jesus goes on to give the intent of the law... “but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery”  The intent of that law was that no one would commit adultery.  And whoever divorces causes their ex-wife to commit adultery.  This is confusing to some, but it really is not that confusing.  If a woman commits fornication, she commits adultery on her own accord.  If a man divorces her and she moves on, then the man becomes the cause of her adultery, thus he bears the guilt.  The scriptures are clear that causing someone else to sin is far worse than committing sin yourself.

Now Jesus goes on to give the practical way to exceed the righteousness of the Law and that is to

 not even marry her who is divorced, because he who marries her that is divorced commits adultery.  Now this is the part of the command that seems to get people bent out of shape because of our low regard for marriage, and the actual reality of two people becoming one at marriage, and that is unfortunate.  When a woman and man get married there is a degree of permanence to it in the eyes of God, and Jesus makes that clear.  Notice that He speaks of ramifications of guilt even after the divorce certificate is given.  Because a man and woman go through a court process to abort their marriage does not change the standing of that marriage in the sight of God, thus when a person remarries, or enters into another relationship the Lord calls that adultery, regardless of what the courts say.

Surely I understand the implications of this, but that is the plain reading of this text, and we ought not gloss over it, in fact we would do well to preach this text and put marriage back on the right track in our society.  If you notice to exceed righteousness is to recognize not only the marriage certificate, but to recognize the permanence of the marriage vows.


#30 – What the Gospels Teach – Exceeding the Law with regard to Adultery – Matthew 5:27-30

"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. "If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.  (Matthew 5:27-30 NASB)

In the last post the structure of this section of the Sermon on the Mount was discussed, and that structure will be looked at again in this post.  Recall in Matthew 5:17-20 that this section (5:21-47) was introduced, and that Jesus affirmed that without a righteousness that exceeded the scribes and Pharisees it would be impossible to enter the kingdom of heaven.  He then goes on to mention Laws which the Pharisees kept, but proceeds to speak the true intent of those laws, and ultimately how to practically exceed the righteousness those laws command.  In the last post we looked at the command not to murder, and this was the structure we say:

Jesus states the Law – You shall not murder

Jesus states the intent – You should not have anger towards a brother that would cause you to degrade them.

Jesus states how to exceed the law – Do not even offer sacrifices without reconciling differences first, and seek reconciliation with enemies before you go to a higher authority (court).

In the passage above that will be addressed in this post the command is “You shall not commit adultery.”  Again, like murder, for most of us, we have a Pharisees-like righteousness with regard to this law.  I have never cheated on my wife, therefore I have never committed adultery according to the letter of the law.  Hopefully most people can say the same thing, though it seems that less and less people are able to make that claim.  However recall that Jesus did not say you must keep the Law to enter heaven... the Pharisees did that... He said your righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees.  Which means not only must the letter of the law be obeyed, but the intent as 

well.  In this passage Christ clearly lays out the intent of the Law, saying basically that you are not to lust at all.  It is lust that produces fornication and adultery, and the intent of the law is to eliminate lusting altogether.  Now, after Jesus lays out the intent of the Law he once again give practical advice on how to exceed the Law, and that is to cut off your members which cause you to sin.  This is severe, but it is no more severe than the vileness which we expose ourselves to everyday.  If you TV causes sin, get rid of it, turn it off and leave it off.  If your computer causes sin, never use it alone, or get rid of it all together.  To exceed the righteousness of the Law you are not to just be stronger than temptation, you are to get rid of anything that causes temptation to lust!

Now here is the structure:

Jesus States the Law- You shall not commit adultery

Jesus States the Intent- You must not even lust after a woman

Jesus States how to exceed the Law- Remove your members which cause you to lust.


While this is uncomfortable to bring up, as it seems to dirty to place on a space like this, it is appropriate considering the text.  As a youth leader you get questions from boys about masturbation, and the question is always “Is it a sin?”  So many people have answered this in so many ways, but look at this passage about lust.  “If you look at a woman lustfully... you have committed adultery” now that should be enough to say it is a sin, considering the mental images people put through their heads.  However if that was not enough Jesus goes on to say... “If your right eye cause you to sin... gouge it out” and “if your right hand causes you to sin cut it off.”  I would say the scriptures are clear on this issue, and Jesus is pretty clear so as to not leave any room for question.  Does this mean it is not difficult?  Well, which of Christ’s commands are easy?  They all require a work of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God in order for us to obey, and this is no different.



#29 What the Gospels Teach – Exceeding the Law concerning Murder – Matthew 5:21-26

In Matthew 5:17-20 we read an introduction to a series of teachings that start with Matthew 5:21-26.  Jesus stated in Matt 5:17-20 that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.  In the following teachings Jesus practically lays out how to exceed the perfect law of God, and He does it very systematically.  Again I remind you the structure of the Sermon on the Mount is important.   Read the following passage, and pay attention to how it logically flows in light of the fact that Jesus just finished the warning that our righteousness must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees:

"You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. "Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. "Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. "Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.   (Matthew 5:21-26 NASB)

Here is the format:

Jesus starts by stating the Law:  You shall not commit murder

Jesus explains the Law’s intent:  Everyone who is angry enough to call his brother a fool is guilty

Jesus explains how to act in light of the Law’s intent (thus exceeding the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees): Don’t make offerings without first seeking reconciliation, and make friends with your opponents before going to court with them.

You will see Jesus repeat this format for a number of different laws in this section of scripture, and you will see them in the upcoming posts.  Also realize that this format can be used for any number of old testament laws, not just the ones Christ quotes here.  The fact that He does this so methodically shows us that He is not only teaching us concerning these specific laws, but that He is giving us precepts that can be applied to the entire law.  If Jesus addressed every law in the Sermon on the Mount, it would be longer than the bible itself.

So start with the Law: You Shall not commit murder, this is an easy law to keep, but the question is not whether this law has been kept or not, the question is has your righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.  Everyone who says ‘you fool’ is in danger of hell: Now we see that the intent of this Law is not that we should not murder... murder was only the symptom the law addressed of a greater sin problem which was anger and hatred.  So we see the Law itself, and then learn from the Christ the intent of that Law, now the question is what do we do in light of the actual intent of the Law in order that our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees.  The answer is this:

"Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. "Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way”

Do you see the structure.  Jesus is letting us know that it really matters very little that you have not murdered, but that the intent of the law is what is important.  However he does not leave us hanging and hopeless.  He gives us a couple practical examples with regard to sacrifice and court of how to exceed the Law.  I hope that was all clear.  I will give you a little heads up on the next post:

Command: Do not commit adultery

Intent: Do not lust

What to do: Cut off the sources of offense (eyes and hands)

And you will see quickly that the ‘command, intent, what to do’ sequence repeats itself for the rest of the chapter.

That was all written very quickly so I apologize for any typos.


#28 – What the Gospels Teach – Law Fulfilled – Matthew 5:17-20

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20 NASB)

Typically you will see this passage lumped together with the preceding passages about salt and light, and that is unfortunate.  The salt and light teachings should either be considered as stand alone, or as I would contend, should actually be seen as the conclusion drawn logically from the beatitudes.  The structure of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is important to its understanding, and we must not simply trust chapter and verse divisions or subheadings in our bibles as proper divisions of thoughts or concepts.  They are there to help, but often fall short.

Matthew 5:17-20 serves as the introduction to the teachings that will follow in Matthew 5:21-47, and the ultimate conclusion of those teachings will be seen in Matthew 5:48.  "Therefore you 

are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  (Matthew 5:48 NASB)  Now put it together, and you see Jesus stating that He is the fulfillment of the Law, and that the Law itself stands, every single pen stroke, in fact if your righteousness does not exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees (who were regarded as those who attempted faithfully to obey the Law) then you will not enter heaven... therefore you are to be perfect!

Now what stands between verses 20 and 48 are a number of explanations of why, and how your righteousness is to exceed that of the Pharisees.  So here is the structure of this sub-section of the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:17-20 – Introduction

·         Jesus comes to fulfill the law not destroy, and we as believers are to live out that fulfillment, in fact, if our righteousness does not exceed that of simple law abiding (ie Pharisees) we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 5:21-47 - Body

·         Jesus uses a number of commonly understood commandments, then explains the very fulfillment of those commands, showing how true righteousness and fulfillment of the Law actually exceeds the letter of the law.

Matthew 5:48 – Conclusion

·         In light of the fulfillment of the Law, be perfect by living out not the letter but fulfillment of that law.

Now the reason I went through the whole exercise is because verses 17-20 are actually explained by the following verses, and in the coming posts concerning verses 21-47 the meaning of 17-20 will be exposed.  I hope that makes sense.

One thing I would like to point out concerning Matthew 17-20 before I conclude is that you must be very careful not to end at the simple fact that Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.  Too often we look at this in spiritual realm without recognizing the praxis.  The spiritual and the practical must never be divorced.  Jesus came to fulfill the law... using His body the church.  There is a solemn warning ‘unless YOUR righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.’  Jesus crushes this notion that his life and 

death produced a mere spiritual transaction that gives you a mere righteous standing.  Jesus’ life death and resurrection did indeed produce a spiritual transaction that gives you a righteous standing... but that righteousness is not only a spiritual standing, but will always produce actual righteous spiritual living which is tangible and visible.  Justification produces regeneration which is evidenced by Sanctification... which is a work of the Holy Spirit producing works of righteousness in the believer that actually exceeds the righteous acts of the scribes and Pharisees.

We are not allowed to live to a standard lower than the law because of grace.  However we are empowered by grace to live to a standard that exceeds the law not by our own works, but by the power of God manifesting itself by producing His works in and through us... tangibly.

I hope this post made sense, if it didn’t comment as to why it didn’t.  These are important matters and worth discussion.