God creates every person with opportunities to earn independent blessing by completing responsibilities as his representative in human interactions; based on conditional promise proclaimed in the Beatitudes and explained through parables. Additionally, a person can receive dependent blessing through prayers by others, inherit blessing from previous family generations, or be blessed in other ways as God chooses. Every blessing accumulates and will be fulfilled at its time. Furthermore, blessing and punishment can coexist as parallel promises of God and do not trade-off against each other.
Every person will have opportunities to receive independent blessing based on God’s conditional promise, dependent blessing that God grants to a person in response to prayers by others, inherited blessing from previous family generations, or other blessing that God grants as he chooses.
Every blessing is a promise to be fulfilled at its time, for the person directly or through offspring generations (e.g., “but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” [Exodus 20:6]). As we discuss previously under Parallel Promises—in David-Bathsheba Relationship, blessing and punishment can coexist as parallel promises of God. They do not trade-off against each other. Each will be fulfilled separately when God chooses. A person that previously earned blessing could incur punishment. Also, a person can earn blessing even with a promise of punishment hanging on him or her.
For example, the Moabites displeased God by presenting themselves as a source of temptation for alternative worship among descendants of Israel. Furthermore, they presented enmity when their prior relationships with Israel called on them to be friendly (see more under Enduring Blessing—Lessons from Israelite-Moabite Interactions). God frowned on their behavior and prohibited descendants of Israel from intermingling with Moabites. Yet he chose Ruth, a Moabite daughter, as a parental link in the lineage of the Messiah.
We discuss the various opportunities to earn and accumulate blessing. Also, we discuss an example from David to illustrate coexistence and fulfillment of blessing and punishment as parallel promises of God.
The Sermon on the Mount provides guiding principles (The Beatitudes) and explains the essence of Living in the Image of God. The first three Beatitudes describe commitment to following God’s direction through humility and repentance in order to perform the responsibilities of representing him in human interactions. The third through eighth describe the value of humility, care and sensitivity to the needs of others, motivation for being good, and individual responsibilities in the pursuit of peace and righteousness. Further, Christ explains in the second part of the sermon that God creates every person with an intrinsic capability to be good to others and motivate and preserve their goodness. Similar to the intrinsic quality of salt to enhance and preserve the goodness of food. He expects every person to radiate positive impact in human interactions, similar to a light source radiating light, so that people may benefit and glorify God for each other.
The Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5–7] was Christ’s formal teaching to explain God’s purpose for human interactions. He declared the guiding principles in The Beatitudes; described the essence of God’s purpose for human interactions using the Salt of the Earth imagery; and discussed several examples to explain God’s expectations in interactions among people.
As we discuss previously in Part 1 of this study (Following God Schedule by Living in His Image 1of2), God creates every person to represent him in interactions with others: to convey his presence and impact as if he was there physically in human form. Through formal teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and parables, physical examples, and interactions with his disciples and others during his human ministry, Christ provides guiding principles and describes the essence of Living in the Image of God—to fulfill God’s purpose for every person to be his representative (aka ambassador) in interactions with others. Those that live according to the principles will follow God’s Schedule and receive fulfillment of his promise. In contrast, those that depart from the principles will depart from the schedule.
We discuss the Sermon on the Mount to understand Living in the Image of God based on Christ teaching of the guiding principles in The Beatitudes and the essence in the Salt of the Earth teaching.
Christ uses parables to describe separation of people into two categories based on living in the image of God: the righteous and the wicked.
The righteous are people that live in the image of God, whereby each person is a channel for God’s compassion and conveyor of his image. As a channel for God’s compassion (i.e., God’s provider assistant), a person recognizes needs placed in their path, commits to providing for the need, and perseveres until they succeed: much like the Samaritan in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Being a conveyor of God’s image means providing reasonable opportunity for people to feel the hand of God through your interactions with them. In contrast, the category of the wicked consists of people that decline God’s call to compassion by denying services placed in their path: much like the chief priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Christ describes the categorization through the parables of the weeds [Matthew 13:24–29 and 37–43], the net [Matthew 13:47–50] and the sheep and the goats [Matthew 25:31–46].
ETERNAL LIFE FOR THE RIGHTEOUS He explained through the parables that the righteous will inherit eternal life in the kingdom of God. The wicked, in contrast, will be condemned to eternal punishment in a fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Also, he explained through the parable of the weeds that God offers every person a persistent opportunity to repent from a life of wickedness to a life of righteousness. The opportunity persists until death or final judgment, whichever comes first [Matthew 13:40]. We examine the three parables in this study and use information contained in them and other related teachings of Christ to discuss the meaning of righteousness.