Reflection composition is necessary in that it enables the learner to recollect and to recall the experiences experienced with reference to materials learned in the course. It challenges and compels the learner to go back into the textbook to reread in order to recollect and to recall the materials learned in the course. Reflective composition poses challenges to the learner when the learner has refused to study the materials in order to internalize them. Failure to study the materials and to internalize them can lead to poor reflection; fortunately, reflective composition is not objective when it comes to responses; therefore, the learner is at liberty to choose or to write or reflect on the materials understood in the course or what he or she found interesting in the course that has cognitively impacted his or her study.
In previous years in school during the course of my studies in the bachelor and master degree programs, I had taken courses in Hermeneutics and Homiletics. In these courses one of the things studied is called the tools of the trade. Tools of the trade refer to commentaries, bible dictionaries, concordances, the Hebrew and Greek tools etc. I talked about them during the course of studies in the former degree earned; however, I did not learn how I could adopt these tools of the trade to enrich my bible or pastoral studies until during this course when I was obligated to buy textbooks of these tools of the trade (Commentaries). As I spent time reading the textbooks on the New American Commentary, the Holman Apologetic Commentary, and the Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, I came to realize the significance of these tools of the trade. As I read these textbooks, I discovered the significance and the use of these tools of the trade in Bible studies with reference to exegesis of the biblical text. I came to the realization that these commentaries are tools of the trade that can be used to develop teaching materials on various doctrines of the Bible. Not only developing teaching materials, but the commentary aids the Bible student to execute in-depth studies of some passages in the Bible that appear complicated; fortunately, the commentator has answered these controversial theological issues using apologetic approaches to the scriptural passages using various sources backed by evidence to give answers to these issues in scriptures that critics have mentioned in their criticisms as inaccurate or lack inerrancy. Like the Holman Apologetic Commentary has selected passages in the Bible and expounded on them using exegetical approaches to explain, to interpret, and to arrive with sound biblical answer to the question raised in the passage. The Holman Apologetic Commentary is purposely written to give answer to controversial passages in the Bible that appear ambiguous and frustrating to the Bible student. The reading of the this text did inform me how I should approach the scripture when it comes to preparing biblical study materials during Bible study, Sunday School, Bible seminar, biblical interpretation, and sermon delivery. The Holman Apologetic Commentary as so called, it is written to defend the inerrancy and reliability of scriptures as the inspired word of God that is accurate and without any mistakes. The reading of the textbook made me grow apologetically. The Holman Apologetic Commentary is the good resource for Pastors and serious Bible students who want to dive into in-depth studies of the scriptures.
The Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew has been written to explore the historical contextualization of the Bible with reference to the questions of interpretation using form criticism, redaction criticism, literary criticism, and contemporary literary criticism to interpret the scriptures taking into account the historical-sociological context of scriptures. This commentary enables the Bible student to dig into the history of the biblical passage leading to the complete examination of the biblical text in order to arrive to the text interpretation biblically. This commentary challenges and gives me the desire to adopt in-depth studies of the scriptures as the Bible student. It opens for me a new horizon of biblical studies and the desire to spend adequate time with the scriptures. Keener’s production into Matthew’s Gospel is extensive since he covered the historical sociological contextualization of the Gospel using various methodological criticisms. His production worth reading; however, it takes carful, keenness and attention to detail in order to grasp the concept of his presentations. It is advisable that the biblical students or pastors have an opened notebook to write down important information one desires to capitalize on during the study of specific topics in the Bible with relative to biblical or theological matters the Bible students or pastors want to address that is controversial to the Christian doctrine and the faith community.
The third commentary explored during the study is the New American Commentary. The New American Commentary is strictly written to cover the major parts of each chapter of the Matthew’s Gospel. It is thematically written in the form of the theological exposition explaining the text of the Matthew’s Gospel with the writer’s injections into the passage. As I read through the commentary with notes taking, I was able to learn the story of Jesus as narrated by Matthew. If I were to teach the book of Matthew, it would be easy to dissect the chapters thematically.
The professor’s exposition on Matthew’s Gospel during class with reference to the beatitudes opened my understanding on Jesus’ teaching on the Mount. The professor spent sometimes on the beatitudes that gave me the edge and interest to develop the eight series lessons on the beatitudes with notes on each lesson. While working on the beatitudes, I discovered the various principles Jesus was teaching the crowds and his disciples. The eight series lessons or the Sermon on the Mount, each verse teaches a theological principle that the church should adopt. They include: (1) Dependence on God, (2) God is the comforter, (3) Humility is the bedrock for success, (4) Determination is the gateway for growth, (5) True religion is tied to giving to the needy, (6) No one can see God without holiness, (7) True religion is peaceful, (8) and the cost of discipleship. The above mentioned principles are subsequently delineated on the following pages of this reflective composition indicating how significant and reflective these principles are being taught by Jesus.
THE JESUS TAUGHT PRINCIPLES
Dependence On God
Success in God is pre-determined by faithfulness and dependence on God; therefore, God has not called you to be successful rather he has called you to be faithful. Success in God is the product of your faithfulness before God. If you desire to succeed in your endeavor, make God the center of your project and he will direct your path and make your path to shine to the perfect day. The reason why you ought not to seek after success is that success is already available and God has called and incorporated you into success as the package of your rewards; however, you should depend on God to have everything. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for there is the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:3). The kingdom of God is God’s sovereign rule, his influence, or authority over creation. Jesus said, if we can depend on him; then, God’s influence belongs to us. It means what we say is what happens by virtue of being God’s mouthpiece. This is the number one spiritual principle Jesus taught in his message on the Sermon on the Mount.
God Is The Comforter
This principle has a law called the Law of Reciprocity and also teaches that God is the only Comforter or the Counselor; though, God may send human counselor to talk to humanity during traumas, he is the true Counselor. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Mourners in the Bible are considered to be people who show concern to people’s well-being. If we sow good seed by helping those who are in needs, God will eventually send someone to us in like manner to make our needs met. This is the reason I called this principle the Law of Reciprocity. What you do to others, God will make it happens to you. You were placed on planet earth for someone’s success; therefore, avail yourselves as instrument to be used. Being miser to others is directly proportional to your failure. Do not advocate the down fall of anyone or else you will become God’s enemy.
Humility Is The Bedrock
Jesus’ disciples interrogated him in Matthew 18 regarding greatness in the kingdom of God. He used the little child as the graphical illustration to teach them that greatness in this life depends on the exercise of genuine humility in deeds and in truth. God will resist the pride person, but will give grace to the humble individual. We cannot serve God in our own strength or ingenuity, but it is through his grace we continue to live this Christian life. Sin is a demonic force that Satan uses during temptations to bring the believer down spiritually. The reason why the believer defeats sin and the devil during temptations is the result of God’s grace. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth is the third principle Jesus Taught.
Determination Is The Gateway
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. When I became a believer 35 years ago, I was very hungry and thirst for Bible studies, prayer meetings, and the desire to live for God. One of the topics in biblical doctrine that I spent time studying was eschatology. It always registered at the back of my mind that Jesus could come at any moment. To enable me resist temptation, the Holy Spirit gave me the desire to hunger and to thirst for righteousness or else it would be impossible to serve God at the young age because I encountered voices on the daily basis telling me to do the wrong things. To get on course, I needed to hunger and to thirst for righteousness. It will be impossible to walk in obedience if we desire not to walk after righteousness. Righteousness has been given to the believer; however, the believer must choose to walk in it in order to bring glory to God.
True Religions Is Tied To Giving To The Needy
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. The Law of Sowing and Reaping and the Law of Reciprocity are emphasized in this passage. These are principles layout that should govern human behavior. The Great Teacher, the Creator, disguised in human personality walked the planet earth and spoke the truth to his creations; unfortunately, the creation refused to listen to his wordings. As I have explored the teaching in Matthew after having listened to the professor moved me to develop eight series of teaching lessons on the Beatitudes. The teaching of Jesus is profound and they serve as guidance to the human race for her betterment. My interaction with the scriptural passage in Matthew 5:1–12 had made me grow to another level regarding what Jesus meant when he taught the multitudes including his disciples on the Mount.
No Man Can See God Without Holiness
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they will see God. Jesus taught on the identity of the believer and said that being holy is the pre-requisite to see God. To see God is to experience God relationally and personally; therefore, the variability to know God by divine revelation is equated to holiness without which no man can enter the heaven. He taught believers’ entrance into heaven eventually is tied to their relationship with God. He used the world “Blessed.” If you are blessed now by virtue of your obedience to the scripture; then, you are a candidate for heaven according to the scriptures. That is being said, holiness plus you equals revelation. Revelation plus you equals heaven. Paul said in the Scripture that by revelation he was translated into heaven (2 Cor 12:2–4). Jesus taught this principle of holiness which is still being ignored by many churches in our time. Many have said during Bible studies or Christian gatherings that no man can live holy life. Are they calling Jesus liar or they are liars. Indeed, they are the liars.
True Religion Is Peaceful
Blessed are the peacemakers, for the will be called children of God. The world would have perfect peace if all people in the world were Christians. This statement is opinionated and does not have underlying premises to prove the generalization; however, I use the statement to describe practically the Christian faith. The Christian faith is not characterized by violence as seem in other religions of the world. This is proven in its historicity from the onset of its foundation.
It is scripturally justifiable that believers become peacemakers when they preach the Gospel message to sinners enabling the sinners to turn to God (Romans 10:15). This births sonship by adoption between the Creator and sinners. If God becomes the Father of everyone including murderers, adulterers, etc; then, will God change them to become good people in society? If this was possible; then, will we have perfect peace on earth? Becoming peacemakers qualifies and justifies us to be children of God. How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace (Romans 10:15). Paul declared in Romans 1:16–17 that he is not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. The Gospel that reveals righteousness after exposing sin; then, the Gospel has power to bring salvation thereby establishing peace between God and the fallen humanity.
The Cost Of Discipleship
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for there is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:10). Becoming disciple of Christ requires paying the price. The price paid is persecution. God allows persecution so that believers can exercise their spiritual muscles in order to build spiritual stamina. Persecution tests the faithfulness, the integrity, the credibility, the patience, and the faith of believers. To follow Jesus, one must be willing to suffer and even die. Jesus taught this principle; therefore, persecution is prophetic and unavoidable because it forms part of the discipleship package.