The Sermon on the Mount: A Kingdom Ethic for A Kingdom People

The Sermon on the Mount remains one of the most unique texts in the Bible. Though Jesus’s sermon simmers with deep theological truth that militates against the secular conscience, those living well outside the confines of the established church still find the treatise to be a wonderful source of inspiration and insight. After all, most souls who have languished under bad bosses, corrupt political systems, and cruel neighbors long for a world defined by love, peace, and justice. For example, both those who pray for hours in a state of heightened spirituality and those who stumble about the streets for hours in a state of inebriation can resonate with the golden rule found in Matthew 12:7: “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”

The fact that both atheists such as Richard Dawkins and that pastors such as John Stott can find much to praise in the Sermon on the Mount raises an important question: “Who is the Sermon on the Mount for?” In other words, can atheist live out Jesus’s message or is it a unique message for Jesus’s followers?

A Kingdom Ethic For A Kingdom People

According to Jesus and to the New Testament authors, the Sermon on the Mount is a Kingdom ethic for a Kingdom people.  Both Matthew 5 and its sister passage in Luke 6 affirm that the Sermon was delivered to by Jesus to his disciples. Jesus’s message is not for the crowds of this world. It is for those who are willing to sit at the feet of Jesus to hear his words. To achieve the ethic of the kingdom, men and women must willingly submit to the full teaching of Jesus which stretches across all 66 books of the Bible. Jesus came to fulfill the law.

Listen to the Law

The Law, the spoken words of God, prove essential to our understanding of the kingdom of God. Humanity’s failure to heed God’s teaching necessitated Jesus’s famed sermon. He preaches it and seeks to reconstitute the kingdom of God because Adam and Eve had destroyed the kingdom of God thousands of years ago. In Genesis 3:1-7, the first royal couple eats the fruit of the tree “that is in the midst of the garden (3).” The first expression of pride comes about because Adam ceased to listen to the words of God, preferring the insights of his bride Eve to the wisdom from above. The failure to heed the voice of God led to humanities expulsion from the kingdom of God. To regain the kingdom of God, men and women must once again heed the voice of God. Jesus explicitly states this idea in Matthew 5:19: “Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Kingdom power resides in the words of God.

Jesus Says, “You Can’t Do It Alone”

Those who reject Jesus’s words cannot hope to live out the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus does not applaud us for maintaining the generic level of goodness that society can attain at times. For example, in Matthew 7:27-30, Jesus does not pat husbands on the back because they had the self-control not to sleep with their secretary or a prostitute. The Son of God looks past external goodness. He says the law must control the hidden depths of the heart. “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Instead of applauding the man for keeping his pants on, Jesus takes issues with all the times the man has looked at a woman other than his wife and thought about bedding her. As a coworker once noted, this standard of goodness is “impossible.” The liberal theologian Richard Niebuhr concurs writing that Jesus, “does not direct attention away from this world to another but from all worlds…to the one who creates all worlds, who is the other of all worlds (29).”  No man or women in his or her own strength can live out the Sermon on the Mount. No one can reach the ethic of the kingdom apart for the ruler of that God for it is other worldly.  The kingdom ethic is for a kingdom people.

The Hope

Though humanity’s inability to live out the kingdom ethic should cast a shadow of despair over those who have refused to sit down with Jesus’s disciples atop the mountain, hope has not been vanquished. The path to hope runs through that despair. When men and women give up their aspirations of bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth through human effort, then and only then will they be able to finally see the beauty of the cross and the empty tomb. They can finally realize that Jesus has done for them what they could never do for themselves. This poverty of spirit and mourning over sin leads the soul into the kingdom of heaven and to everlasting comfort. The kingdom ethic is for a kingdom people, a people who value the words of God. Stop working. Come sit at the feet of Jesus.

Memo: April’s No Good, Very Bad Week – May 2021.2

To borrow from one of April’s favorite children’s books, this last week has been a series of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. On Mother’s day evening, April’s pain and nausea which had receded the week before stormed back with a vengeance. She found herself once again bedridden, surviving off a diet of prescription pain pills and nausea pills. With her symptoms growing in intensity, her Inova team in cooperation with April’s UVA team concluded that April should no longer wait for the experimental LY drug to tackle her breast cancer tumors. On Tuesday May 4, 2021, April exited the EMBER study to begin phase 3 treatments at UVA. Sadly, the first round of chemotherapy went poorly. As the first drops of the Taxol drug touched April’s blood stream, she shot up in her chair with an allergic reaction that warranted the attention of her oncologist, a pharmacist, and four nurses. With her heart calmed and her breathing restored, April returned home Thursday night to once again battle nausea and pain. Her latest trip to the large orange chair situated between IV polls and blood pressure cuffs went much better. April assumed the second chemotherapy drug, Abraxane, without a major incident. However, she still had a significant battle with pain. Seemingly, the weekend has been content to stop at horrible, dispensing with the need for the other adjectives.

This week has borne an eerie resemblance to one of those adventure films where the heroine finds herself in a rickety, old minecart careening down the track towards a washed-out bridge. Though April has tried pretty much everything one could think of, enduring a lifetime of pokes, pricks, and side effects, the wobbly minecart has continued to move with such speed that the switch tracks, rail bumpers, and emergency breaks of the medical world have failed. She has flown through most of phase 2 treatment options and some of her phase 3 treatment options in the span of five days. By comparison, her phase 1 treatment plan lasted 22 months. Thankfully, the Abraxane promises to lock the wheels of this horrid minecart, sparking some flames of hope.

What’s Next

Over the next three weeks, the Abraxane chemotherapy drug should bring April’s free-falling descent to a stop. She should then be able to start inching her way back towards health over the next six to nine months. If all goes extremely well, she may even be able to reintegrate some of the phase 2 treatments options back into her regime. Though the outcome of this treatment will not be known for weeks, its side effects which include hair loss, a racing heart rate, and more nausea and fatigue have already begun to make themselves known. Until she starts that climb back to health, we will need round-the-clock help.

Though this week has been hard and more hard days lie ahead, we still remain hopeful that April’s treatment plan will once again offer us some nice, pleasant, quite good, and very excellent days.

How Are We Doing?

As April and I have rumbled through the last few days, we have shed many tears, grieving everything from the threat of hair loss to her increasing pain levels to the uncertainty of tomorrow. The days have been long and cruel. But our hope remains for our God remains on high.

Though we do not know why our sweet April suffers, we know these storms of affliction do not prove God’s displeasure or weakness. If anything, they prove the opposite. Steven, one of the original deacons, was stoned to death. The apostle Paul suffered through stonings, shipwreck, and imprisonment before being executed in Rome. The apostle Peter was crucified upside down. Thousands of early Christians were burned as garden torches and fed to lions in the Coliseum. Blessed are those who suffer for righteousness sake.

While April will not know the dangers of typhoid fever nor the threats of cannibalistic tribes, her sufferings still make up what is lacking in Christ’s affliction (Col. 1:24). She battles breast cancer today for the purpose of evangelizing and training her children, encouraging her husband, and building up her earthly and local church families. Though she is confined to the ordinary grass lots of suburbia, she is still very much fulfilling the extraordinary calling of being a wife, mother, and sister in Christ. She has endured a lifetime of a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad days for Christ.

Though we wish April’s cancer gone 1000 times over and still plead with God for such an outcome, we know her pain and our pains have a divine purpose and legacy. It is this: “that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing (James 1:4).” Jesus overcame sin and death through suffering. Hardships do not disprove God’s love for us but rather reveal us to be at the center of it. Through sorrow, we find the joy of salvation and dispensations of even greater grace, love, and mercy. In time, these horrible, terrible, no good very bad days will reveal paths of gold. God has deemed us worthy to suffer. Oh, how precious is my dear, beloved April.

Thank You!

Thank you for the constant outpouring of prayer and support. We long ago lost track of all the well-deserved thank you notes that should have been sent. Thank you for extending us grace. We are forever thankful for our family, ABC church family, and friends.

Prayer Request

Please continue to pray for us and our family. Though God has been faithful this last week, we have been ever so weak.

Pray that God will bless this new line of treatment. Pray for God to alleviate April’s pain and nausea. Pray for me and April as we continue to assess and think through medical, parenting, and lifestyle options. Pray for God to use our suffering to advance our faith, to save our children, to care for our families, and to advance our Amissville Baptist Church family. Pray for all of us to know the comfort of our heavenly Father. Pray that we may be perfect and complete and lacking in nothing. Pray.

Contact Info:

EMAIL US AT: BIBLEFIGHTER@GMAIL.COM 

SNAIL-MAIL: P.O. BOX 637/ AMISSVILLE, VA 20106

CALL US AT: 540-937-6159.

SUPPORT US AT GOFUNDME.COM: APRIL WITKOWSKI MEDICAL FUND

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SCHEDULE A TIME TO HELP: BIBLEFIGHTER@GMAIL.COM

Memo: Quick Breast Cancer Update – May 2021

(As of 5/11/21, this post no longer accurately reflects April’s health. We will post another update by this weekend.)

Dear friends, thank you for faithfully praying for April this past week! God has been gracious to our family! April no longer is suffering the debilitating pain and nausea that made bed rest a necessity for several days. Her new treatment plan has also stabilized her liver enzymes. God has heard our prayers and has guided April away from the edge of disaster back towards the pastures health as this week progressed. Though she is moving in a far more promising direction, April has yet to arrive at the stable ground which is decorated with the flowers of normalcy. Today’s path still consists of many malformed bumps and rocks that take the form of mild liver pain, frequent nausea, and noticeable fatigue. She also stumbled into a rut with her new treatment plan that has resulted in a rash. Her medical team will be tweaking her treatments over the next few weeks to reduce the negative side effects associated with one of April’s pills in hopes of creating a treatment regime that will still effectively whack her cancer without wrecking the rest of her body. Though April is not well, she is much better today than she was last week. We hope this good turn of events points to a future filled with many even brighter and more peaceful days. In short, we (with you) called out to God in our distress and can confidently say that our God has heard our cries for help (Psalm 18:1-6)!

Thank you for partnering with us through prayer! We also want to thank our medical teams and the many, many family members, ABC church members, and friends who have helped us manage last several weeks meeting needs we could have never anticipated. God has been good to us and has shown us his love through you! Thank you!


Please continue to pray for April. Pray that the nausea, pain, and fatigue will retreat to the point that she can once again home school our kids and manage the home. Pray for God to sustain over the next several weeks as the days have been long and filled with never ending general sense of unwellness. Pray that God will bless us with a great relationship with our new medical team at INOVA. And pray that God will give us wisdom as we seek to parent our children through this season.

Contact Info:

EMAIL US AT: BIBLEFIGHTER@GMAIL.COM 

SNAIL-MAIL AT : P.O. BOX 637/ AMISSVILLE, VA 20106

CALL US AT: 540-937-6159.

SUPPORT US AT: APRIL WITKOWSKI MEDICAL FUND (GOFUNDME.COM)