Salvation explained in Mat 5
Understanding salvation and how to lead someone to Christ is a challenge for many people, but a desire of all true Christians. The greatest obstacle is knowing how God is speaking to a person and articulating the expressions accurately. In accepting this concept, the use of the scripture when leading someone to salvation is paramount.
We must understand, first of all, that salvation is “by faith, through grace” (Eph 2:8,9) alone! Second, we must understand how faith is generated: “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17) With these two principles established, we just need a plan to use God’s word to lead someone to faith, through grace; that is where Matthew chapter 5 comes in very handy.
Lets look first at Mat 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To be clear, “blessed” does not mean “happy” but rather “advantaged” is probably a better descriptor in these verses. However, in this verse the key phrase is “poor in spirit.” Jesus is describing a feeling in a person’s soul. So when we are presenting the gospel of salvation, there is feeling that a person must be having; this feeling of “poor in spirit” is a must, according to Jesus.
Breaking this initial phrase apart will aid in understanding it. What does it mean to be “poor?” Well, if you think about what a poor person can do for themselves, you understand that he is very limited, that is why we call him “poor.” He cannot afford a place to live, buy food, supply really any basic needs for himself: “Poor: destitute, helpless, powerless to accomplish on your own, lacking” as describes by blueletterbible.com. He has to rely on the compassion of others to fill his needs. Basically, his survival is in the hands of others, and he knows it. Jesus says, here in this passage that if someone is going to be saved, he must be “poor in spirit.” This means something very similar to the physical needs of a poor person, in that, the spirit of the person realizes that they cannot of his own accord sustain himself, and is completely reliant on the compassion of Creator God!
When a person has this feeling, that means God is drawing him to Himself; just as the scripture says, “If I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men to me.” (Jn 12:32) That is now the Christian’s clue that the kingdom of God is being offered to this person. However, realize this, the person God is talking to, probably, will not understand this feeling as spiritual. He most likely will recognize that it is a relationship deficiency, but can easily misinterpret it. That is why we must lead him through this process. If someone has grown up under sound teaching, he actually may lead himself, but this is rare, and we must be ready as Peter teaches in Pet 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Our goal at this juncture is to help him have the “childlike” attitude that Jesus describes as a necessity for salvation in Matthew 18:3, “Except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Once this person properly understands his feelings and spiritual depravity, the witness can proceed to verse 4 from Matthew 5, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” The word “mourn” is our key from this passage. This is a good place to ask him, not “what it means,” but why would Jesus, the one who so many preach wants us to be “happy” tell us to “mourn?” This will make him think even deeper about the feelings and desire he is experiencing at the moment. Make him think about a funeral of someone close to them, a deceased pet depending on the age anyway, or even something that he did that really hurt someone else. What type of mourning is happening? “grief,” “feeling or act, in which, he wishes did not happen,” he would “take it back if possible” to prevent it. This is a very “repentant attitude” described by Jesus in Luke 13:3,5, “I tell you, Nay, but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Jesus wants the witness to realize that the “Comforter” is available, and is speaking to this person.
This is why the verse mentions “for they shall be comforted.” This means: “called for, summoned, consoled, encouraged, instructed.” (blueletterbible.com) The way he will understand the Comforter is speaking to him is through the witness, now this is where you listen to how He is speaking to him, so, you can properly encourage and instruct. Ask, “why are you are feeling this way,” “what are you thinking about,” “is there anything that you would like to tell me.” Keep in mind that this feeling may last the whole time you are witnessing and you must listen and respond appropriately, refrain from any expressing shock or hint of judgment or you will cause hlm to shutdown and this opportunity will be over.
Also, know that he probably will not understand this grief that he is experiencing either. It is here that most lost people begin to have a “flight or fight” emotion. Again, that is why you must comfort him, not judge him. You may talk about sin here if he brings it up, but if you can wait; and, rather tell him about Jesus dying on the cross for the “sins of the world” (1 Jn 2:2) Describe and quote John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever, believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” He needs to know that he is not alone, reassurance that you are a friend and Jesus loves him, are what he is needing! Psalms 34:18 will say it like this, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart: and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
After the “grief” is understood, move on to verse 5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Properly understanding what “meek” means is very important. Meek does not mean weak! “Meekness” is power under control. If one considers the power that they actually possess, it is his power of choice, or rather of the “will/volition.” If he will be “meek” he is rejecting his own power, and, willing to agree with God by refusing any personal agenda and accepting God’s will for his life. Matthew 16:24 says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
This attitude is very difficult for many people, because they have their own ambitions and goals. They may even realize that some of the things they are involved with are actually idols, false gods that claim priority in their life; and, accepting Christ means that these things will have to go away: activities, friends, possibly certain family members. They, also, realize that they may be the only one within their circle that will now be a follower, and they do not want to be alone. Lots of things can be going through this person’s mind; our job is to help get them past this. They may need to be reassured that they will have a friend in you and in Christ after this conversation. This will help them be “meek” and turn over their life to Jesus. The next part of this verse is the reassurance part that will aid in this salvation step.
This second part of the passage presents an “inheritance.” Listen to Matthew 25:34, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” This is more than just, “going to heaven,” but a kingdom; in which, according to Revelation 1:6, God “hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.” Romans 8:17 presents us as God’s “children, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ!” However, this only comes when one is “meek” before almighty God. Not only new friends, but a new family. Proverbs 18:24, “we have a friend who is closer than a brother.” His name is Jesus!
Once these attitudes are determined, verse 6, reveals an attribute of his mindset. It reads, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” The key words here are “hunger and thirst.” These are things required for survival, “cravings, eager desire,” according to blueletterbible.com. These are things that people must have every day. If God has truly called to him and the Holy Spirit is working, he will want to know more; and, is intently desiring to know his creator and His soul saving power. It is something that he is “starving” for because of the work of the Holy Spirit.
The witness must understand how God works at this juncture to cause him to desire God’s righteousness. Psalms 5:8a says, “lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness.” Basically, it is Jesus’ “drawing” of the person. The Holy Spirit is moving and is trying to unite with his spirit and working to conform it to the image of Christ, (Rom 8:29). It is not complete yet, for he must make Jesus LORD of his life; however, “the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor 2:10b) The Holy Spirit is causing his spirit to desire this righteousness, but he has most likely never felt this feeling as strongly before. The conversion is not complete, and this is where a good witness, who understands what is happening needs to be on scene and guide them to God, using the scriptures. If he is left to himself to figure things out, he is likely to fill this “hunger and thirst” desire with something else. Just like children who think candy is better then a nutritious meal, he could do the same, spiritually, by substituting a physical relationship (new girlfriend), buying things, real food, etc.
As a witness, we do not want to stop at this point, do not be afraid to present the scriptures. This requires a good, adequate witness to have some good verses memorized and be able to use any version of the Bible, and lead them to God’s “bread.” Jesus would say it like this in Matthew 4:4, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” He is “hungry and thirsty” for righteousness, so use scripture, not philosophy or opinion at this opportunity! He “shall be filled!” and will accept you presenting the Word to him, know he is desiring to know the truth, even though he may not know why. This window is short lived, be ready! Understand also, this applies throughout the whole conversation, not just beginning at this point. God is making them pliable from the start.
After you have explained to him the desire that is within him, ask him, “would you like to know more?” This pointed question will clue you in further that he is liking the presentation of the gospel to him. This will lead you to the next verse.
Verse 7 reads, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” This verse will prepare him to deal with his sin. Begin by asking, “what does it mean to be merciful?” Make sure that he understands forgiveness and even illustrate it by asking him if he has ever had mercy on someone before, why he had mercy. You may have to have a personal illustration yourself, just to make sure that he understands mercy. God is working through the witness to soften the person, so: he will have mercy on himself, allow himself to be forgiven, and willing to forgive others.
This part about being willing to forgive others, may not make complete sense at first, but Jesus said in Matthew 6:14, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” It is very likely, he is carrying baggage and grudges from his past that will come out as you are talking to him. If he will be softened to forgive others, he will be softened to allow God to forgive him and forgive himself. That is the case with many people, and the older they are the more this is an issue. For him to forgive himself we see a formula from Isaiah 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” This is where the witness wants him to be, “forsaking his way and unrighteous thoughts,” to allow God to “have mercy and abundantly pardon.” The witness does not have to explain all this, but it helps to understand it so he does not fall short of God’s glory, by not understanding forgiveness and how important it is to forgive others. The witness probably will not spend a lot of time here, the goal is to help him understand “mercy.” God desires to have mercy!
As the witness approaches verse 8, he must have this knowledge from Romans 10:13, “for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” This knowledge is the over-arching goal of this passage from Matthew 5, but verse 8 will reveal a major step in this conversation. It says, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
The key phrase is “pure in heart.” Begin by asking what “pure” means? According to blueletterbible.com, it means: “clean, blameless, innocent.” Then ask him, “how does one become pure in heart?” He probably does not know or will not say what he thinks. This is where the witness talks about sin. Present Romans 3:10 & 23, “all have sinned” & “none is righteous.” Ask him if he has ever sinned, explain, that this is not a confession of your worst sin, but that you just want to know that he understands what sin is. Most of the time the one you are witnessing to knows sins are “bad” but does not really understand them or why. Sins are those things that displease God, and they displease God, because they cause a barrier between relationships, both God and people. Sins, additionally, hurt the person who commits them mentally and physically. Explain also, that the Bible teaches in Romans 6:23, “that the wages of sin is death!” It may be necessary to explain “wages” and “death.”
Wages are what you earned and death is eternal separation from God. The story Jesus tells in Luke 16 may need to be summarized. As the story goes, there were two guys, one rich, one poor. The poor guy named Lazarus sat at the gate of the rich guy and ate crumbs that the rich guy gave him. However, there came a day that both died, the rich guy went to torments (hell) and Lazarus went to paradise (or heaven for ease of explanation purposes, if you use Abraham’s bosom you may have to explain both of these words and the place). Continuing on, the rich guy begged for Lazarus to dip his finger in water and touch his tongue because he was so thirsty; however, he was denied because there is a great gulf fixed that no one can enter and no one can leave. Do not leave out the fact that the rich man knew why he was there and that he deserved it!
It is a good idea to use the Ten Commandments as a checklist, just to clarify that you both are on the same track in what sins are and make it personal. Using the “Way of the Master’s” technique, ask, “have you ever told a lie?” “Yes.” “What does that make you?” “A liar.” “Have you ever stolen something, even like a pen?” “Yes.” “What does that make you?” “A thief.” “Have you ever looked upon someone with lust?” Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “that whoever looks upon someone with lust has committed adultery in their heart.” “Yes.” “That makes you an adulterer at heart.” “Have you ever taken God’s name in vain?” “Yes.” “What does that make you?” (you may have to tell him) “Blasphemer.” “So, by your own admission you are a “lying, thieving, adulterous, blasphemer at heart! So if your were to stand before God on judgment day with this on your record, where would you go, heaven or hell?”
To be honest he could say either, heaven because he may believe that God is too “loving” to send people to hell. Illustrate someone going before a judge because of a crime, and have him explain how a good, honest, loving judge can just write off someone’s crime, especially, if it is against him? He will begin to think differently. If he understands that he deserves the punishment of hell and eternal separation from God, he is ready to know the remedy – “he shall see God” (Mat 5:8b) and know “the gift of God!” (Rom 5:15-16)
Romans 5:15 & 16, explains that this gift is free to us, but cost Jesus His life on the cross. Help him to understand that someone has to pay the fine/debt. The price is “blood” according to Hebrews 9:22, “without the shedding of blood is no remission of sin.” That is what the cross was about, Jesus, who was “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim 3:16) was the only one who could pay that price, and He freely gave it. (Jn 10:18) That is why Titus 3:5 declares that we are saved, “not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
Explain that God is calling him to salvation, reasoning with him according to Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Verify that he understands that God loves him so much, that is why He sent Jesus. Ask him, “would you like to be saved?” When he says “yes,” take him to the next verse, verse 9.
When you get to Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God,” you find that this is the final step/attitude of a person that is experiencing the call to God’s salvation. This verse keys in on “peacemakers.” This is where you ask him, “what is a peacemaker?” Once they fully understand what this should look like within a person, explain, that he must make “peace with his maker.” Ask him, “have you ever done this? Do you know how?” If he says yes, ask him to share what happened. (Note: also, he may think that he has because of what he believes are “good” things, be ready to explain that his “goodness” is as a “filthy rag to God,” Is 64:6) If he says no, refer to Romans 10:9-10, “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.”
He must understand what this verse is telling him! Begin by breaking the passage apart focusing first on “that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus.” The witness needs to try and get him to explain this. This is more that just Jesus birth, death, and resurrection, but making Him “Lord” of his life. Remind him of the feudal society when there were lords and surfs. (If he does not understand this the witness will need to share a history lesson for it to make sense.) Lords were the ones in charge and provided care for the surfs they were over, he owned all the land, tools, and provided protection that the surfs needed. They in turn served him and relied on the lord fully for these things. There was nothing they could do about this during these times. It just was the way things were. Here in Romans 10, the author informs him that if he is to make “make peace with his maker” he must make Jesus, “Lord” of his life! He must “confess Jesus as Lord!”
The second part of verse 9, details that to do this, he must believe the gospel. The gospel is best presented in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” Make sure he understands the gospel, that “Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, born of a virgin, freely gave Himself to die on the cross, rose again the third day, and coming again.” Probably, by this point you will have already explained these so the effort will be minimal.
When verse 9 ends, it says, “thou shalt be saved.” Ask him, “would you like to be saved?” If he says “no,” then you should ask, “why not?” and try to deal with these reasons. He may not be ready, sometimes that happens. Do not take it personal, Jesus saves, not the witness! When he answers “yes,” ask him, “do you know how?” He probably will not, so then take him to Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Explain that he must pray and talk to Jesus, you cannot do it for him. You can pray with him, but you cannot do it for him. Many witness have been taught to lead a “sinners prayer;” which, is not taught in the scriptures and, especially, here in Romans 10. As a witness, you may remind him of the things that you have discussed: “he should know that he is helpless to save himself and Jesus must do it, he should know that God has been missing from his life, how he must surrender his freewill to God, he should be desiring to know God and His power of salvation, he should have mercy and ask for forgiveness, he should repent of all his sins by turning from them and allowing God to cleanse his heart, and accept Jesus as Lord of his entire life.”
All of this conversation between him and the witness has been to prepare his heart for this moment. God was using the witness and the discussion to grow the faith he would require to believe unto salvation, and be able to pray and know what to pray. Ask him now to pray and talk to God about these things, and if he will out loud, if he will. This is not necessary; but, if the witness is the one who prays, pray in a way to remind of the things to pray for, do not say “repeat after me.”
It may be that he would like to go to a private place alone. That is okay too, let God do what He does best. However, if you can follow-up, (do not let this be the only time you act like they matter , if you can help it.) Ask him what he prayed. How he is feeling and what he is thinking.
Last of all, give words of encouragement, assurance, and acceptance. Romans 8:35-39, is an awesome place in the scripture to do this. A good firm handshake and a hug is okay. Just bear in mind gender appropriateness. Get his number and every now and then send a message and call, sincerely caring for him and praying for him. The witness should have him sign one of the blank pages in the back of his Bible. Inform him to write down his date of salvation in his own Bible, and maybe some other thoughts to remind him later of when he accepted Jesus as Lord. Then the witness should end with a prayer for him.