THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT vs. NEW TESTAMENT SALVATION

By Pastor Al Hughes

  A few years ago, a pastor in the Seattle area advertised in the newspaper that on the next Sunday he was going to preach "the greatest sermon that has ever been preached." Quite a bold statement. Many came on Sunday to hear this "greatest sermon." What the pastor "preached" that Sunday was simply a memorized verbatim recitation of Matthew 5-7, commonly called "The Sermon on the Mount."
  I commend this pastor for memorizing Matthew 5-7. I do not wish to argue that Christ's sermon on the mount was not a great sermon. Everything Christ did was great (Mark 7:37). Even Paul admonished the church to give consent to "the words of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim. 6:3). 
  The Sermon on the Mount appeals to modernistic churches who proclaim a "social gospel" of humanistic peace on earth, human rights, self-improvement, the redistribution of wealth and working your way to heaven. One man I visited who attended the church where the pastor recited Christ's famous sermon, told me how impressed he was at the message. He said to me, "We need to get back to the sermon on the mount!" This illustrates a common false assumption that generally pervades modern Christianity, namely the Sermon on the Mount is doctrinally binding on the church today. This article will prove that such assertions are contrary to what the Bible provably teaches. 
  Someone may be thinking at this point, "Pastor Hughes, don't you think that this world would be a happier place if we would live by the Sermon on the Mount?" Of course it would. The same could be said about living according to the Ten Commandments. The problem is, NO ONE CAN LIVE ACCORDING TO THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OR SERMON ON THE MOUNT TODAY! (cf. 5:20, 27-30, 42, 48; 7:21-23). However, there is coming a glorious day when everyone will live according the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount. That day will be when Jesus Christ returns to set up His kingdom on earth. The prophet Ezekiel spoke to Israel of that day when God will put His Spirit within them, and cause them to walk in His statutes (Ezek. 36:27-28). 

THE CONTEXT

  To properly understand the Sermon on the Mount, we must keep it in it's context. The context is Matthew 5-7 (cf. Luke 6:20-49). Please notice Jesus is "preaching the gospel of the kingdom" (Mt. 4:23). This is not the same "gospel" that Paul preached. Paul preached "the gospel of the grace of God" which is defined in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 as, "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." There is no mention of Christ dying for sins, or His resurrection in the Sermon on the Mount!
  The Sermon on the Mount was delivered under the dispensation of LAW! The application is clearly addressed to those entering "the kingdom of heaven" (5:3, 10, 19, 20; 7:21). The "kingdom of heaven" is NOT the same as "the kingdom of God."  Heaven is not God and God is not heaven. The "kingdom of heaven" is a literal, physical, kingdom. We must not think of heaven as a non-literal place. Heaven is a literal, physical place wherein dwells a Man with a literal body that bears literal scars.  The "kingdom of God" is spiritual because "God is a spirit" (John 4:24 cf. Luke 17:20-21; Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 15:50). 
  We could call the Sermon on the Mount "the constitution of the kingdom of heaven." "The kingdom of heaven" will be set up on earth when the King (Jesus) returns to put down all His foes (Rev. 19). Then those on earth who enter His kingdom will receive His Spirit and be made capable of keeping His Law (Ezek. 36:27-28).

THE CONFLICTS

  Salvation under the Sermon on the Mount is not the same as salvation according to the Apostle Paul. Paul says that salvation is by grace through faith. It is a gift of God and not of works (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Rom. 4:3-5; 10:4 etc.). However, everything in the Sermon on the Mount involves WORKS. The only mention of faith is Matthew 6:30 and it is not about salvation!
  According to the Sermon on the Mount, entrance into "the kingdom of heaven" is dependent on a person:

  If you think you can work your way to heaven, the Sermon on the Mount is a good place to start! Can you do it? I DON'T THINK SO!  There has only been ONE person who has ever lived according to the Sermon on the Mount and that is the One who preached it?THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Unlike too many preachers, He practiced what He preached!

THE CROSS

  The Sermon on the Mount was preached before the cross of Christ. We live on the other side of the cross of Christ. Therefore, if we would be saved today, we must find the message of God on this side of the cross. It is simply this: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:9-13).
  You are either trusting your ability to live by the Sermon on the Mount, or you are trusting Christ who already kept the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil" (Mt. 5:17). Dear friend, Christ fulfilled the demands of the Sermon on the Mount. He died on the cross for all our sins against those demands. All you must do is accept Him as your substitute! Will you trust Christ today as your Savior?