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The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of a Disciple Paperback – December 1, 2006
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"Here is a thoughtful, probing, down-to-earth, up-to-date exploration of Christ's ideal of kingdom life for his disciples. Preachers and teachers will find it a fruitful resource." J. I. Packer
"Doriani approaches the sermon in such a winsome and helpful way that we are both motivated and challenged to live out our Lord's teaching in our everyday lives. This book will prove valuable to both new and mature believers."--Jerry Bridges
"Dan Doriani's rich exposition invites us to see the world as Jesus does--with all the beauty of the earth, the majesty of the law, and the need of grace that the Savior shows his people. A delightful read from a first-class scholar and an experienced pastor." --Bryan Chapell
"Doriani brings both academic and pastoral concerns and skills to this volume. He is a fine biblical scholar who excellently applies the text to the needs of contemporary readers. Having read portions of this book both devotionally and to help me understand some of the difficult passages in Jesus' sermon, I recommend the book with enthusiasm." --John M. Frame
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"At one level, worry is simply a human folly, roughly on the order of eating or drinking in excess, or staying up too late at night. Like overindulgence, worry is a self-destructive state we think we should be able to control. After all, we know that worry is pointless--no one can add even an hour to his life by worrying (v. 27). It `accomplishes nothing except to put God out of the picture.' But at another level, worry, like sensual indulgence, can be a symptom of allegiance to false gods. Self-indulgence may reveal a commitment to sensual pleasures. And worry can reveal a commitment to our personal security. That is, we may wish to ensure our personal security for ourselves, instead of trusting God." (pp. 170).
Later he concludes: "Pagans logically toil and chase after material things, since they have little else to do with their lives. But when we know the King as our Father, who knows our needs and works to meet them, we can lead an anxiety-free life. Trust in God always casts out worry. One can always imagine the future and find a reason to fret. Or we can ponder God's protection of his birds and flowers and find peace. The carefree believer is not reckless. But we are calm as we look at the near horizon, our daily food, and look ahead to the distant horizon, the eternal kingdom." (pp. 178).
Dan Doriani is a pastor and has been a seminary professor, and this work combines the two strands into one wonderful book! He is also an enjoyable writer, who blends real life illustrations into his teaching. I heard several of these chapters in sermon form back when I was in seminary, and they continue to be an encouragement and a challenge to me. I highly recommend Dr. Doriani's book to anyone who wants a pastoral, understandable and enjoyable book on the Sermon on the Mount and how it guides our Christian walks as we seek, by Christ's enabling, to be conformed to His image.
Doriani's book emphasizes how the Sermon serves as a description of the disciple's character. The chapters read like short sermons, complete with helpful illustrations and exhortation to Christian living. Doriani expounds the meaning of each text and then offers sound, biblical advice on how we should put the text into application.
At times, I disagreed with Doriani's exposition. He tends to see the Sermon through a Pauline lens at times when such interpretation is unnecessary. However, the good outweighs the bad. Whether you're looking for a book that will help you understand the more difficult parts of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount or a book that will serve as a devotional guide as you work your way through the Sermon, you won't be disappointed by Doriani's work. The Character of a Disciple is one of the better books on the Sermon to appear in recent years.
'The miracles made Jesus popular. But Jesus wanted disciples, not crowds, so He called a few men to Himself. To do so, He separated them from the crowds, for the crowds did not necessarily follow Him for the best reasons.' p 13
When Jesus started to teach neither men nor women could grasp the extent of His reach, lest He draw them intimately and teach them singularly. All that time they saw God-in-the-flesh. All that time they heard Jesus teach and saw Him do many signs, wonders and miracles. Still many remained blind. The multitudes' disbelief was evidence that they are not among those given to Christ by the Father. "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws Him." John 6:43
The significance of the personal instruction given the apostles made their callings unique. The first two metaphors of the sermon, the salt of the earth, and the light of the world, gave them courage to witness. Before salt was ever used as seasoning, it was used as a preservative. As the light they were to illumine the lives of those whom they taught. In conclusion, the righteousness required is none less than "Be ye perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt 5:48) Daniel Doriani compares that perfection as understood, and as Christ for us perfectly is, with those who do not make the grade - the church in general, and the disciples in particular. As to our status, Doriani agrees: 'what theologians call alien righteousness. That is the righteousness of Christ, bestowed on us when we believe in Him. The Bible calls it justification.' p 22
As to our character, and as pertaining to this study, Doriani states: 'there is personal righteousness...this hunger leads us to uproot our sin and become more like Jesus. It leads us to pray that God's Spirit will make us more holy. The Bible calls this sanctification.' p 22
And so, with Dr Doriani we enter what must be the 'self-examination' that the Messiah taught first-hand His disciples, the Bible speaks of to us, and what Charles Spurgeon so eloquently preached on in 'The Scales of Judgment'. Doriani puts the Sermon on the Mount in a context that it may become clear that we, once regenerated by the Holy Spirit, have a higher calling to live by. The application of the beatitudes is for us today, though we are well reminded that it is not the full revelation of God in the gospel: "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." John 16:12 In short, it is very difficult to live a life in accordance to these righteous requirements - Christ actually shows us that we stand in need of His forgiveness and grace every day.
'Jesus commands us to pray for forgiveness every day. This is proper, for we know that we sin every day.' p 138