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January 06, 2012
Here is a great, challenging quote from Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It is drawn from his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount and it does away with that false notion that the heights of Christian experience are reserved for the few and exceptional Christians who take on Christian work as their vocation.
Read the Beatitudes, and there you have a description of what every Christian is meant to be. It is not merely the description of some exceptional Christians.
I pause with that for just a moment, and emphasize it, because I think we must all agree that the fatal tendency introduced by the Roman Catholic Church, and indeed by every branch of the Church that likes to use the term ‘Catholic,’ is the fatal tendency to divide Christians into two groups—the religious and the laity, exceptional Christians and ordinary Christians, the one who makes a vocation of the Christian life and the man who is engaged in secular affairs.
That tendency is not only utterly and completely unscriptural; it is destructive ultimately of true piety, and is in many ways a negation of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no such distinction in the Bible. There are distinctions in offices—apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors, evangelists, and so on. But these Beatitudes are not a description of offices; they are a description of character. And from the standpoint of character, and of what we are meant to be, there is no difference between one Christian and another.
Let me put it like this. It is the Roman Catholic Church that canonizes certain people, not the New Testament. Read the introduction to almost any New Testament Epistle and you will find all believers addressed as in the Epistle to the Church at Corinth, ‘called to be saints.’ All are ‘canonized,’ if you want to use the term, not some Christians only. The idea that this height of the Christian life is meant only for a chosen few, and that the rest of us are meant to live on the dull plains, is an entire denial of the Sermon on the Mount, and of the Beatitudes in particular.
We are all meant to exemplify everything that is contained here in these Beatitudes. Therefore let us once and for ever get rid of that false notion. This is not merely a description of the Hudson Taylors or George Mullers or the Whitefields or Wesleys of this world; it is a description of every Christian. We are all of us meant to conform to its pattern and to rise to its standard.