Mark 7:24-30

Title: The Gospel to the Gentiles: Part 1

Text: Mark 7.24-30

Introduction: We’re in the midst of a sermon series on Mark: Jesus, the Bread of Life. This section is in Mark 6.30-8.21; it is the extended ministry of Jesus, beyond the Sea of Galilee. Here in chapter 7, Jesus has rebuked the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and their clinging to the traditions of men, above even the Word of God. In that passage, Jesus declared all food clean. And then, he does something amazing: he gets up from there and enters into Gentile territory. Now, the Jews wouldn’t eat or fellowship with Gentiles. If someone went into the home of a Gentile, that person would become unclean. Now, that is nowhere in the Law of God, but it had simply become one of their own traditions or standards.

Listen, setting standards can be a good thing. I think you should set standards for yourself. In order to help you live a holy and godly life, set some standards. But, don’t make those the requirements for getting into heaven! That standard has already been set!

  • Let’s say you decide you’re never going to go out on Saturday nights, but instead, you’ll be home by a certain time and get ready for Sunday. There is nothing wrong with that. However, when you begin to judge others who don’t live the same way – then, you’re wrong.
  • Let’s say you decide you’re always going to look your best on Sunday mornings. You want to present your very best to God. Great. Iron you clothes, polish your shoes, Get your hair cut or done on Saturday. Whatever it takes. But here is where you might mess up: when you judge the brother or sister who isn’t in their suit and tie, or in their nicest dress.

Yes, set standards to help yourself – just don’t make them the requirement for salvation!

Jesus is going to step outside the standards set by the traditions of the elders…again. He just did it in 7.1-23. He’s going to do it again by going into Gentile territory.

And here is where we pick up the storyline in v 24 – I’ve divided this passage into three main parts:

  1. Jesus withdraws from that region into the land of the Gentiles.
  2. A desperate mother discovers his whereabouts and petitions him to save her daughter.
  3. Jesus responds to this mother in a very uncharacteristic way.

Transition: Let’s begin with this 1st point…

I.      Jesus withdraws from that region (24)

exp.: rd v 24; the fact that he didn’t want anyone to know where he was demonstrates for me his desire to be hidden – to get away from people.

Ill.: I’m sure you remember Southwest Airlines commercials from a few years back – back before there was DVR? You want to get away? I love the one where the delivery man is headed back to his truck after dropping something off at this house. The couple who lives there is working in their garden by the driveway. He sees a basketball and decides to be cool and take a shot. The couple watches as he picks up the ball and ‘air balls it’, missing the rim but shooting the ball right through the glass windows on the garage door. The couple looks at him – he looks at the couple: you want to get away?

Well, Jesus wanted to get away and so he gets up and heads northwest toward the region of Tyre and Sidon.  Now, a great question to ask for discussion later would be: why? Why did Jesus need to be hidden or want to be hidden? Maybe he was tired and needed rest? Maybe he wanted to demonstrate further about what is truly clean and unclean?

Transition: It’s the last part of this verse that lets us in on the story – though he wanted to be, Jesus couldn’t be hidden! This desperate momma finds out about him and makes an appearance. So, point #1, there is this need to get away. Point #2 –

II.     A Desperate Mother Discovers His Whereabouts (25-26)

exp.: Now, we know very little about this woman, but look at what Mark does tell us:

  1. Her problem: rd v 25;
    1. A demon possessed daughter; That’s what this means; I think Mark uses this word, unclean because it fits with his theme. What is clean and unclean: what is unclean is the demon inside this little girl – not the girl. So, desperate is she that she comes and falls down at his feet. What humility! Surely she knows he Jewish. Surely she knows he’s a man. Middle eastern behavior would frown upon this. Mark down this character trait: humility. Rd v 26a;
    2. A Woman, not just a woman, but a Gentile woman! And, if this were not enough, she is Syrophoenician by birth! Talk about unclean in the eyes of the Pharisees. When you read this, a certain woman should pop into your minds. Can you name a king who married a Syrophoenician woman? Can you name that evil woman?

Ill.: I read somewhere that the Jewish men pray daily a prayer of thanks – that they weren’t born: Women, slaves, or Gentiles.

That’s just how poor of a view the Jews had toward Gentiles. Maybe they still do – I don’t know.

app.: for some reason, this doesn’t matter to her. She’s desperate. Her daughter needs help and she believes Jesus is the only one who can save her daughter. Now, this really comes out in the last sentence of v 26; here we see…

  1. Her persistence: rd 26b; this word translated begged is really more of an interpretation, I think. You see, the word actually means asked or requested. If you translate it straight out – word for word, you lose something. In the original language here, there are two ways of describing past tense: aorist, is simple past tense (she asked); imperfect tense shows action in the past (she kept on asking); That’s the picture here: she wouldn’t leave him alone.

app.: So there is a persistent request from a desperate mother in spite of the fact that Jesus desires to remain hidden. And, why not? What really does she have to lose? At this point, an odd thing happens…

III.    Jesus responds to this mother in a very uncharacteristic way (27-29)

exp.: Jesus answers her in a way that shocks even the most hard-hearted of people. Rd v 27; this is strange or odd because Jesus uses…

  • A Strange Illustration: Jesus uses what is called the ‘Family Table’ illustration to refuse her request. Now, we could go so many places from here, but I’ll just save that for your Bible Study time. For now, I want you to just note that there is a theme in Mark about eating and eating at the table. There is the idea of fellowship, and more importantly, fellowship with Jesus. In this illustration, Jesus speaks of Children and their eating of bread. It isn’t that the dogs aren’t to be fed, but that the children are to be fed first. It isn’t odd that Jesus uses a ‘Family Dinning Experience’ as an illustration – that’s not odd. The odd part is that…
  • Jesus compares or relates exorcism to the family dining table. Now, that’s just weird. Let that sink in: Jesus, I have a daughter who has a demon in her. Will you cast it out of her, please? How in the world does he get to the dinner table from there?

Remember this trick: when you aren’t sure of what Jesus is doing, try to figure out the easy, obvious answers.

  • Children – The Children of Israel. The OT uses this comparison repeated. I think it is safe to assume these children in his analogy are the Children of Israel; They are fed first; 1st means priority. It doesn’t mean that no one else within or outside of the family won’t eat! It’s just that the children in our illustration have priority. So, 1st answer we have is
  • Fed – lit.: to be satisfied, or to eat their fill; This word appears 2 other times in the Mark; both are when Jesus feeds the 5,000 and the 4,000; The beatitudes: Matt 5.“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. We see this also in the parable of Lazarus, who desired to be filled or satisfied by the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. At this stage, I think it is safe to say that the Gospel is what satisfies and it is to be presented to the Children of Israel first. It’s a matter of timing. This demonstrates the Priority in the Gospel; as Paul writes 3x’s to the Romans: to the Jew first, and then the Gentile. Still, pretty straight forward. Next,
  • Bread – v 27; the children’s bread; here is another example of Bread being used by Mark in these three chapters (6-8); now because of our previous work on this topic, we know that the Bread is Jesus. We will probably see it each week until we reach the halfway point of Mark; in each analogy, we see that Jesus is the Bread of Life (27); To be sure, it is a lot of work to get there, and I’ll refer you to last week’s sermon to study up on the Bread of Life But, there is no doubt that Jesus is the Bread in this illustration: he is the one who fills and satisfies the soul. His priority is 1st to the Children of Israel. Here is where it get’s ugly…rd 27b
  • Dogs – that’s a harsh word. There is no way to clean that up in translation. So, before we talk about this word, can I say a word about my Savior? Again – remember, when you don’t understand something, go with what you know – what are the obvious answers.
    • He is good and merciful. He isn’t mean and hateful. So, I know right away, that he doesn’t mean what I might think it means in the 21st century; this isn’t Jesus being mean and hateful. He is perfect and no sin dwells in him. He isn’t selfish or even rude. He isn’t being ugly to her because she found him when he was trying to remain hidden.
    • 2ndly, He knows everything. He knows what I need before I even do.

ill.: I’ve seen him have someone in another county or another state write a check to cover my needs before I even know I’m going to need it. The need appears and then, so does the check, which was written last week.

This is what I know about Jesus: He knows what this woman needs! And what he says to her is what she needs to hear. It may not be what I’d say. It might not be the thing to say in western culture. But, it is what she needs to hear.

  • The word ‘dog’ or ‘dogs’ appears 9x’s in the NT; Over 40x’s in the Bible; This particular word from the Gk only appears 4 times. That caught my attention. It turns out there is another word translated dog. These two words come from the same root; however, this word here, is slightly different. It means a small dog, a housedog or even a lap dog. This would be common for Gentiles, because Jews would not have dogs. The other word is for big, wild dogs that roam freely. It is a euphemism for the immoral and/or evil people. That word isn’t this word. Jesus uses a word that she is culturally familiar with. I don’t know this, but I’m guessing that Jesus uses a word that is close to her situation – a word that she will take to heart; a word that she will understand and connect with. That changes the meaning for me. I couldn’t find a translation that made this distinction. But it is there – and that changes so much for me. Jesus isn’t using a word to describe the immoral and perverted (cf. Ps 22.16: 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—).

So, here we have this strange confrontation. Jesus answers her repeated request with just what she needs to hear. He’s taking her somewhere in this conversation. There is something he wants to see from her. And, it looks like he gets what he’s looking for in her; rd 28; I love this!

  • A Witty Response: Lord, even the little, house dogs under the table eat from the crumbs of the children.

Take a moment and check out her demeanor: We’ve already seen that she is showing humility in her posture and desperation. Now we see her wit and wisdom in her response. She could have gotten offended and walked away, leaving her daughter to continue suffering. But there is something more. And it is her faith. She wants this bread, and even if it’s just the crumbs from the bread – it is enough.

Wow! Oh, to have this kind of faith in Jesus. So great and mighty is he, that all she needs is just a crumb and it will suffice to save her daughter.

Now, you don’t see this here, but it is clearer in Matthew’s gospel: Jesus is impressed with her.

Ill.: I kind of had this experience once. Kind of… Stephen was 16 years old. He hadn’t had his license for very long and he came and asked if he could drive out into the Bad Lands with his friends and build a bonfire. I didn’t even give him a chance to explain what they were doing, who was going, etc. I just shut him down by saying NO! He didn’t even hesitate. He simply said yes, sir. No sadness, No disappointment, just, simple obedience. Yes, sir. Then he turned to leave.

I said, wait. Aren’t you going to debate this with me? Aren’t you going to argue with me until you get your way? He told me no. He asked and I gave my answer and that was enough. I was blown away. I asked him to tell me more about this bonfire out in the middle of nowhere. Then, I let him go.

Jesus is moved somewhat like that. He’s caught off guard by this woman’s wise and witty response. So impressed with this woman’s humility and faith, that he grants her request for her daughter. Rd v 29;

  • A Timely Grant: On account of the word, depart (imperative); The demon has come out (perfect) of your daughter. Now, you don’t see this in the English translation, but the Gk verb here uses the perfect tense. The perfect tense means a current state, based on a past action: meaning, as Jesus is saying the words, the demon has already gone. The girl is no longer possessed. Rd v 30

Application: So, what will we take home with us today?

  1. Jesus knows just what you need – even if you don’t! I can’t answer for your struggles. I can’t place blame or offer any defense for what Jesus is doing in your life. But this I know: Jesus knows just what you need – even if you don’t!
    1. Can I add to that? He knows what others need, too. You might think you know best for others – no matter what your intentions are – But he still knows what is best for them. It may seem harsh. It may seem unfair, But, he really does know what is best. And, he knows what he’s doing in their life.
  2. God rewards faith and humility demonstrated in him. This Gentile woman is a remarkable model of faith. Knowing God can do something and living your life in response to that knowledge are two different things altogether! It is one thing to say something, but another to live it out. Think of the woman from Zarephath in 1 Kings 17: You have a jar with a little flour left and a jar with a little oil left. But, to make a loaf of bread for your guest and feed him first means so much more than simply acknowledging with your mind and mouth who that person is.
  3. Salvation has now become accessible to all.
    1. Yes, there is a priority to the Gospel. That hasn’t changed. Israel still is God’s chosen people and I am opposed to how our government is now treating Israel. The blessings of Genesis 12 remain as true today as they did when God spoke them to Abraham. With that being said, we also know that the Gospel is universal in scope.
    2. The Gospel is for the entire world. We saw this when Jesus healed the Gadarene Demoniac. Jesus healed him and sent him as an evangelist, as a missionary to the Decapolis. Now, we see it again with this Canaanite Woman.
      1. We’re reminded in 1 Kings 17 that it has always been that way. Somehow, in their Jewish minds, they had thought of themselves as better than others.
      2. God reminded them through prophets like Isaiah who said (49.6): I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. Let us remember this: the poor, the needy, the desperate, the single mom, the foreigner, the sinner – Christ died for the ungodly, to bring the ungodly to God.
  • Listen to Galatians 3.6-9: just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

 

 

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Filed under Discipleship, Evangelism, Israel, Mark, missions, Scripture

Mark 7.1-23

Title: The Traditions of Men

Text: Mark 7.1-23

Introduction: Our text this morning is Mark 7.1-23. As we left off last week, we saw Jesus ministering to the people in the region of the Gennesaret. You see that there in 6.53ff; 6.51-52 give us some context of what’s coming in the next chapter and beyond. 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. It just doesn’t seem to fit does it? They’re astounded and amazed and every time they’re ‘astounded or amazed’ this has been presented as a positive for them. cf.: 1.22, 26; 2.12; 5.20, 42

1.22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And in v 27: 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

2.12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

5.20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. And in v 42; 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

It has been a positive for them, that is, until now. Now we see them… utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. Two negatives: not understanding and hardened hearts.

This should create some problems for us – it should cause us to question:

  1. What is it they do not understand about the loaves?
  2. What does Mark mean when he says their hearts were hardened? Are they in danger of becoming like the Pharisees?

When I hear of hardened hearts, I think of Pharaoh. There were amazing miracles going on before his very eyes and he didn’t understand. His heart was hardened and it led to the exodus. Could this be an allusion to the Exodus? And if so, what is Jesus trying to teach them – or Mark trying to teach us?

But there is more here: pull back from this sentence and look for common themes with me. There in v 52 we see that they didn’t understand about miracle the loaves of bread. Well, that’s a reference to the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Out of curiosity, I searched for bread in Mark. It appears 16x’s in these three chapters (6-8) and it appears only 3x’s in the rest of the book. That’s significant. Why? I think I know and it is something we should take note of: Mark wants us to see this theme of bread – Because Jesus is the Bread of Life.

Now before you say, What? Let me show you what I mean: The 3 references to bread outside of these three chapters (6-8) are in 2.26; 3.20; and 14.22. 3.20 is a reference to the fact that they were so pressed by the people that they couldn’t even sit down and eat bread. 2.26 is in reference to the show bread given to the Lord and reserved for the priest that David ate with his friends. And 14.22 is in reference to the Lord’s Supper. This is my body, which is broken for you.

In the other Gospels the writers are blatant and blunt. I am the bread of Life. But, not with Mark. I think he is saying the same thing, but he is much more subtle at it. It’s like a pearl that’s hidden in a field and we’ve got to search it out.

Walk with me through chapters 6-8 and find the references to Bread; Gk: 6.8, 37, 38, 41, 44, 52; 7.2, 5, 27; 8.4, 5, 6, 14, 16, 17, 19.

But there is more with this… not just the theme of the bread, but the hardening of their hearts, the darkening of their understanding. Mark is especially hard on the Disciples – and remember, he’s written this Gospel from Peter’s stories.

…but their hearts were hardened. We see this back up in 3.5: And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. And v 6 says they went out (the Pharisees) and plotted how to destroy him. That’s where the hardness of their hearts led – to his death.

We see it again in the passage we’re looking at today – where Jesus quotes Isaiah – And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;

This section will culminate in Chapter 8.14-21; where Jesus asks them: Do you not yet understand? The answer is no… we’re not understanding what you’re doing. Here in 8.21, marks the transition to the next section in Mark’s Gospel, where Jesus will set his face toward Jerusalem and his crucifixion. He will tell the disciples all about it, but we’ll see they aren’t getting it.

Let me pause right here and pray for eyes to see and ears to hear what God is teaching us… Pray.

Lord, Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 19 I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! Give me a heart to follow closely after your heart. I pray this prayer, not just for myself, but for those who are listening. Open the eyes of our hearts and let us see the beauty of your ways. Soften these hearts to receive your teaching and then to commit, with all of our heart, to follow you, Lord.

With this thought of the Bread of Life and the disciples missing what Jesus is teaching, Let’s look at today’s passage, 7.1-23; There three separate sections to this little story of the Pharisees and their confrontation with Jesus:

  1. The Pharisees are offended and confront Jesus about his disciples’ lack of discipline when it comes to the traditions of the elders (1-5).
  2. Jesus responds to the Pharisees hypocrisy with Scripture references and examples (6-13).
  3. Jesus uses this confrontation as a teaching moment to show his disciples the principles that characterize the heart of God (14-23).

Transition: let’s begin with this 1st section, the offended Pharisees…

I.      The Pharisees are offended and confront Jesus about his disciples’ lack of discipline when it comes to the traditions of the elders (1-5).

exp.: in v 1 and 2, we see why they’re offend; rd v 1-2; here we have…

  • The Offence: eating bread w/ unwashed, defiled hands. And all of God’s children said – NASTY! Yeah! Any germ-a-phobe like me is going to side with the Pharisees on this one! At first glance, you might say you agree with them. But is that really the problem? We have…
  • The Explanation: rd v 3-4; properly: Gk is unless they wash their hands with a fist. There is a certain way to wash, and the disciples aren’t doing that. When you read this you get the idea that these guys were just eating with dirty hands. I’m with the Pharisees if that’s the case! But a closer look at the Gk tells us that their complaint wasn’t that they didn’t wash their hands; it was that they didn’t wash their hands “with a fist”. They didn’t wash their hands the way the Pharisees do! If it ain’t done like we do it… it ain’t done! So, here’s the deal: Jesus is responsible for his disciples. It might just be his fault as much as it is theirs. So they confront Jesus about his apparent failure to teach the disciples how to wash themselves.
  • The Confrontation: rd v 5; the word translated ‘defiled’ is the word common. Common and Uncommon are words used in the Law to differentiate the clear distinction between the things of God and the things of man. Sometimes you see the words holy and This is the word they’re using here. They eat with common hands or unholy hands. When they say that the disciples are eating bread with unclean hands, they don’t mean they have dirt under their fingernails. Clean and Unclean, Uncommon and Comman, Holy and Unholy – this is the terminology these folks would have been familiar with. You see their thought was that you had to baptize your hands before eating. And not just the hands, but also, the cups and pots and copper vessels and the dining couches and the… You get the idea.

t.s.: These disciples of Jesus aren’t practicing religious requirements like they should…Jesus why do you let that go on?

II.    Jesus Responds to the Pharisees hypocrisy with Scripture references and examples (6-13).

exp.: rd v 6a; And he said to them… I wonder if there was a pause before he spoke. I wonder if he was quiet first. The words he is using seem to me to be something you would say rather quickly and loudly. Rd v 6-7; Jesus quotes from Isaiah.

Just a side note here: Isaiah is quoted more than any other prophet in the OT. Furthermore, we’ll be studying Isaiah in the Fall at WEBS.

I think two points are to be made by Jesus when quoting Isaiah.;

  1. These people were simply giving lip service to God. Their hearts were not in their worship.
  2. They had elevated their traditions to the level of the commands of God. Or worse, above God’s commands.

He tells them straight out in v 8; You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” We’ll see these same two points being made in v9-13; rd 9-13; Here we see the 5th commandment and the punishment for those who do not keep it. However, Jesus blatantly accuses the religious leaders of lining their pockets, so to speak, at the expense of honoring parents. These leaders would ‘nullify’ the Word of God with the hopes of gaining whatever had been dedicated.

app.: talk about hardened hearts! Jesus was revealing the hearts of these Pharisees and Religious leaders. Their hearts were indeed far from God.

Before we leave this section, I’d like to show you something. From where, specifically, is Jesus quoting? Isaiah 29.13; read Isaiah 29.13-16a;

t.s: So these religious leaders have gotten more than they bargained for! They’re offended and so they confront Jesus. Now, Jesus turns to the people and teaches them with a parable.

III.    Jesus uses this confrontation as a teaching moment to show his disciples the principles that characterize the heart of God (14-23).

exp.: rd v 14-15; Ok, so we’ve got a problem now; How can Jesus wipe away the law in just one statement like that? Isn’t he doing the same thing he is accusing the Pharisees of doing? The Disciples must think so because they don’t get it. They’re without understanding. Look at v 17-19; there is a principle here that is being overlooked; common, holy, clean – this is a matter of the heart. The Law taught us these things. God instituted these laws and requirements to distinguish himself as separated from them. And, he did the same for them to distinguish between them (the Jews) and the Gentiles. They were distinguished, different, holy. He made them clean and so different from the unclean – the Gentiles.

Jesus is saying to them that they’ve missed it! rd v 20-23;

app.: I read this part of the story and I wonder how many of these traits or characteristics mark the Pharisees in their actions to line their pockets and rob from the elderly who are now neglected by their own children.

This, of course, is easy to do when applying it to others. But, I think the goal is really to read this and think of myself! – Apply it to myself!

Conclusion:

Ill.: Ticket for not having a plug in my shotgun.

app.: The Truth is: We’re all lawbreakers. And we all need someone to intercede for us. That’s what Jesus did. The penalty for our sin is death – and he paid that debt for us when he died on the cross. Some people trust in their traditions to save them. Jesus is teaching us here that that can never happen.

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Filed under Mark, Sermon

Romans 1.16-17

Title: From Faith for Faith

Text: Romans 1.16-17

Introduction: (Read) 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

In these two verses, the Gospel’s objective is presented in a couple of sentences. The Gospel is God’s power at work bringing salvation to all who puts their faith in Him. Believe what God has done and you’ll be saved. Trust him, that he has done all that he has done through Christ and you’ll have salvation. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. These verses teach us that the only way to attain salvation is to be perfectly righteous. Now, on your own, that is impossible. The Law has demonstrated this for us. We’re all sinners and we can’t obey the Law perfectly. But now, the righteousness of God is revealed to us: how do you become righteous in the eyes of God? By believing the Gospel!

The Gospel is the story of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is basically summed up in 1 Cor 15.3-4: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures – as had been foretold in the Old Testament.

Now, with that in mind, let us look at our passage for today a little closer – read it with me: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Transition: Within this passage we see The Gospel’s Power, The Gospel’s Provision and The Gospel’s Proof. Let’s begin with the first point…

I.     The Gospel’s Power (16)

exp.: The Gospel is God’s power displayed in people’s lives: God’s power saving those who believe; The Gospel’s power is demonstrated through the salvation of people. Paul says here that he isn’t ashamed of the Gospel, because it (The Gospel) is the power of God for salvation – for everyone who believes. There is no power outside of God’s that can bring you salvation. None. You can’t buy it with your money; you can’t earn it with your good works; you can’t steal it; you can’t get lucky somehow on you own; you can’t get there through someone else’s work or charm. Our very best – the most righteous we can be on our own is as filthy rags before God. But, the Gospel is God’s power at work in the lives of people – saving us from our sins. You see that in this rest of this sentence: to everyone who believes. As I stated previously: Believe what God has done and you’ll be saved. Trust that he has placed your sin upon Christ who died for you. Trust him that he has placed all of Christ’s righteousness on you. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. Place your trust in him and you are saved.

t.s.: that’s the Gospel’s power – saving you through faith. 2nd,

II.   The Gospel’s Provision: (17)

exp.: Righteousness through forgiveness: The passage reads: For in it (i.e.: the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed… what that means is that God makes us righteous – that is, His righteousness is credited to us. You see, we’re sinners. We’re conceived in our momma’s wombs that way. And the only way to have a relationship with God is that we must be righteous – we must be forgiven of the sins that separate us from God. A couple of chapters from here, in 3.21-22, Paul explains more about this righteousness. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. You see, what Paul is saying to us is that this righteousness could only be attained through the perfect obedience to the Law. But what the Law did, was show us that we can’t be perfect – we can’t obey the Law perfectly. So, God made a way – apart from the Law – through the Gospel, we can have this righteousness poured out on us. See v 22: The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

t.s: That’s the Gospel’s Provision – making you righteous in God’s eyes – if you’ll trust and believe Him. Finally, we see the Gospel’s Proof through a life lived in faith.

III.    The Gospel’s Proof: (17)

exp.: the Gospel’s proof in a person’s life is simply this: The Righteous Shall Live by Faith. What I love about this quote is that it is from the Old Testament. When NT writers quote OT passages it gives us insight into what those passages mean and what that NT writer was trying to communicate. With Habakkuk’s help, which by the way, he’s quoting God there, we understand that Paul is communicating to us that our lives reflect the decision and commitment we’ve made. A righteous life demonstrates that someone has found the forgiveness of God and is now living according to God’s plan.

ill.: It’s like this – you say, God, I’m tired of living my life the way I want. I’ve made a mess of things. I want to live this life the way you’ve designed. I want to live life according to your plan. Please forgive me of my sins, come into my life and change me.

app.: it’s really that simple. The Gospel is the power of God at work in your life, bring you forgiveness and making you righteous, calling you to live your new life in righteousness – demonstrating your new commitment.

Conclusion: So, what do we do about this?

–  Peter said to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved. This is Wonderful news. The best response you can make is take advantage of this moment and give your life to Christ. I don’t care how old you, where you’re from, or what you’ve done. If you’ve never accepted Christ, let today be the day. The greatest gift you can give your kids is to give them the assurance that they’re momma or daddy is saved.

The Gospel is God’s power for Salvation to everyone who believes.

  • God can save you
  • If you believe (have faith, trust) that what he says to you is true.
  1. You’re a sinner.
  2. The punishment of your sin is death (eternal death).
  3. Jesus paid your penalty when he died on the cross.
  4. Place your faith (trust, belief) in Christ and all of your sin is placed on him and all of his righteousness is placed on you.
    • Then you will be saved.

– Share this good news with others. There are so many out there who don’t know Christ. They’ve never experienced this forgiveness I’m talking about. I was out jogging Friday with Elizabeth. We met a man who took a moment to engage us in conversation and ask me personally if I’ve come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. That was cool. No too many people beat me to the draw, but this man did. I’d like to challenge you to do the same: share this good news with others.

– Live by faith. That’s what the righteous do. The best testimony is the one where a person’s words match his life. Trust Christ – especially when life is hard. Trust that He knows what he’s doing.

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, Evangelism, Faith, Faithfulness, Hebrews, Romans, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 6.1-6

Title: How Do You See Jesus?

Text: Mark 6.1-6

Introduction:             This passage concludes with the 2nd cycle of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. If you’ve been following through Mark geographically, you’ve noticed that Mark stays in the Galilean region. We know he’s been in the area of Jerusalem before. The other gospels give us more on this, but not Mark. For instance, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, not too far from Jericho, where the Israelites crossed the Jordan as they came up out of Egypt. More than that, we know of his confrontation with the religious leaders. Mark, however, moves us directly to the region of the Sea of Galilee for his ministry setting in the beginning of his Gospel. The first cycle, the ‘early Galilean ministry’ concludes in 3.6 with the conspiracy of the religious leaders plot to destroy Jesus. That desire of theirs hasn’t died. Their unbelief and rejection of Christ sets a tone that is weaved in and out of Mark’s gospel. This 2nd cycle listed as his ‘later Galilean ministry’ is concluded with the rejection and unbelief of his own people – the people of Nazareth.

  1. The early Galilean ministry (1.16-3.6)
    1. The 1st Disciples are called
    2. They appear to be the true followers as the religious leaders and his own family reject him – even believe he is out of his mind.
    3. Concludes with Christ being rejected by the religious leaders and their plot with the Herodians to destroy Christ.
  2. The later Galilean ministry (3.7-6.6)
    1. Then, the apostles are selected and called to follow.
    2. But something interesting happens as we make our way through chapter six. His disciples find themselves in a state of disbelief and find their hearts hardened toward the work of Christ.
    3. Concludes with Christ being rejected by his own – the people of Nazareth.
  3. The Expansion of His Ministry (6.7-8.20)
    1. Jesus then commissions his apostles and sends them out to fulfill his ministry purpose through them.
    2. Concludes with his disciples still dull to all that he’s been trying to teach them.
  4. Marks cyclical pattern is evidence of his hard work in writing this Gospel. For the student, this is truly an amazing and wonderful study. We see other patterns:
    1. His work among Gentiles, especially women.
    2. He walks on water more than once
    3. He feeds the 5,000 in one cycle and feeds 4,000 in another.
    4. His work with his disciples – teaching them, sending them out, their state of disbelief.

I’m hoping you’ll see this information as fodder for your personal and group study. This is a great question and task for your classes to dig into. Ask yourselves: Did Mark organize his thoughts or did he simply write out a story?

Today’s focus for us, is to outline chapter six and then, to spend the rest of our time in this final section of the later Galilean ministry – his rejection at Nazareth (6.1-6).

The passage is bookended by the opposing storylines of rejection and reception. Christ is first rejected by his own – the people of Nazareth. At the end of the chapter, He is received by the people of Gennesaret, who run to him and seek even the touching of the fringe of his garment.

The 2nd part, and similar in form, is the sending out of the apostles or the commissioning of the apostles. In verses7-13, Jesus commissions his disciples (Apostles) with the task of preaching his gospel, casting out demons and anointing many with oil that they might be healed. In this experience, they are successful in their quest as they live out their faith and calling. And yet, bookended with this story, on the other end of the chapter, Jesus again sends his disciples. This time he sends them ahead to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. At this point Jesus walks out on the water to them. This section ends as they are utterly astounded at what they’ve witnessed, they don’t understand the loaves (i.e.: the feeding of the five thousand) and their hearts are hardened. They are in danger of becoming just like those who’ve rejected Christ.

 The two middle sections of chapter 6 are two long stories about John the Baptist and the feeding of the 5,000.

In the previous chapter, 5, we observed Christ’s authority over everything. Mark presents these miracles where he demonstrates Christ’s authority over the physical, the spiritual and the natural. And with all of this power (speaking to the wind and the waves; casting out legions of demons – and sending them into 2,000 pigs; healing a woman who has suffered for 12 years, spending every penny she’s had on doctors and to no avail; and raising the 12 year old daughter of Jairus from the dead), with all of that power demonstrated, we now find his own people reject him. In their disbelief, He is left amazed and astounded.

In our discussions during Bible Study, something we’ve not touched on is what the people were raised and healed to… there is the thread of the relationships – after the resurrections or the healings, you see a table and eating together; you see service in the preparation of a meal. But, you won’t see that here in Nazareth. We watch Christ walk away from those who reject him, actually marveling at their lack of faith.

This cycle ends without the fellowship. There is no table; there is no dinner; there is no fellowship. Only sadness.

I think this comes because of one overarching reason – and it is a lesson for us today: they can’t get passed what they think they know.

Are you familiar with the phrase: familiarity breeds contempt? I googled this phrase looking for a place of origin. Who said if first? On the free dictionary site, it gave an explanation of this phrase: people do not respect someone they know well enough to know their faults. Well, Jesus had no faults, but because they think they know him so well, they’ll find they don’t know him at all.

Transition: With that application in mind, I’d like to begin with one simple question this morning:

I.      How do you see Jesus? (1-6)

exp.: we’ve been flying at about 30,000 feet through Mark this morning; I’d like to fly lower and get a closer look. rd v 1; so, he leaves from say, maybe Capernaum and heads some 20 miles or so up the mountain range to his hometown of Nazareth.

  1. I’m reminded of John 1, where Philip found Nathanael and told him that they had found the Messiah, the one Moses had told them about in the Law – Jesus, of Nazareth. Nathanael is like: Nazareth! Can anything good come out of Nazareth? So, as the disciples head that way, I wonder what contempt they hold for that town.
  2. 2nd, this ain’t an easy walk! Show pic; 1,200 ft above sea level; SOG is 700 ft below sea level; in our passage it’s like: Oh, he just came to his hometown. Yeah, I’m sure with their activity everyday, this was typical; however, it ain’t an easy walk! And, it’s some 20 miles!

IMG_6296

So, Jesus does what just what Jesus does wherever he goes when he gets there. He begins in the Synagogue on a Sabbath and he teaches. And just how do these people respond? Rd 2a;

  1. These people are amazed! Astonished! With Luke you get the clear picture that they love him at 1st. They’re proud, because he a hometown boy, grown up and done good. But let me say this English word really lacks the punch the Gk word hits us with. This word is derived from the idea that whatever you’ve experienced, it feels like you’ve been blind-sided. Stricken. You’ve been hit. Punched in the gut. I think of the way we say: knocked for a loop. The idea to strike someone is in this compound word. At first, we don’t know if this is good or if this is bad – if this is positive or negative. But we quickly find out they’re having trouble with what he teaches.
  2. They ask a series of questions:
    1. Where did this man get these things? That is a literal translation: I think the idea is more like: how does this man have the ability to do the things he’s doing? And this comes out in their next two questions.
    2. What is the wisdom given to him? He is so wise – that’s evident. Where did he get this wisdom?
    3. How are such mighty works done by his hands? What Power! Where does this power come from? The Gospel of Luke and his 2nd book Acts, places great emphasis on the power of God at work through Christ. So, they’re seeing these things – But, they’ve got real problems with it because… look at the next few questions…
    4. Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” They know him. They know him as the young man who learned the skill of carpentry from either his father, or from a tradesman (meaning, we don’t know if Joseph was a carpenter and we don’t know when he died.) And, they know his family: his momma, his brothers, his sisters. They know where he was raised. They’re not demeaning him because he works with his hands. The people are not saying, “He’s nothing but a common laborer,” but rather, “He’s no better than anyone of us.” We know him to be just like us. The way he is teaching and the power he demonstrates through healing – amazing as they are – he didn’t get those things there in Nazareth. And they just can’t get past what they think they know…

ill.: There is a story about a man who came into the little Baptist Church, but he couldn’t keep his enthusiasm to himself. As the preacher preached, the man found himself shouting amen and Praise the Lord. One of the well-intentioned deacons felt it was his responsibility to let that man know he was in a Baptist Church and not a Pentecostal one. So, he simply got out of his seat slipped around the back of the seats and whispered to the man to keep it down.

The man did at first, but so excited at the preaching of God’s Word was he, that he found himself shouting Hallelujah. The deacon rushed back there to settle the man down again before things got out of hand.

But, it wasn’t anytime at all before the man was actually standing, shouting all of the above and clapping his hands. That Deacon jumped up and ran back there to that man. What is the matter with you? Haven’t I asked you politely to keep it down?

Yes, responded the man, but I just get so excited and so filled with the Holy Spirit that I can’t help but shout.

The Deacon looked sternly at the man and said, Well, I don’t know where you got it from but you didn’t get it here! So keep it down.

Well, the preaching of Jesus is filled with the Spirit of God. There is authority and power and wisdom displayed in ways they have never seen before. But, it doesn’t match what they think they know about Jesus. So, what is their conclusion? Just how do they see Jesus?

  1. And here is their ultimate response at the end of v3: They’re offended! This is the Gk word for which we get our English word We might envision these people listening and and becoming more and more offended with each part of the lesson – so much so that they would cry out: Scandalous!

There’s something else. We have so much more in Luke. I’d like to share this story from Luke’s perspective. He tells us of a trip to Nazareth. In his story, we have the text Jesus taught from: Isaiah. With Luke, the story goes from their elation of their Jesus – the awesome preacher-teacher – to their frustration with that Jesus. Mark leaves us with, Oh, well – Jesus wasn’t welcome. Luke says: they wanted to kill him.

app.: This application should hit home hard and fast. There are only two ways to see this:

  1. You hear the teaching of Jesus and your offended. Or…
  2. You hear the teaching of Jesus and your convicted.

t.s.: so let me frank with you: which one of these answers clearly applies to you: conviction or offense.

exp.: You see, you can experience miracles, and you can feel the power of his healing hand, but it isn’t enough. You can hear the wisdom in his teaching and you can be astonished and amazed, but it isn’t enough. You can hear him speak peace to the wind and the waves. You can see him cast out demons. You can touch the finge of his garment and even feel the touch of his healing hand. But, unless the power of his Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin, and draws you into a relationship with him, you’re not going to respond the way you should. Instead, you will scream scandalous!

In today’s world, I think people find Jesus attractive in some ways. He’s smart, he’s kind, he’s caring. Look at what he does for the Gadarene Demoniac; look at his response to the wind and the waves; look at his care for the woman stricken with this blood disease for 12 years. And, look at how he cares tenderly for Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter. That’s the sweet Jesus we want.

We love to hear him say, you’re sins are forgiven, but we won’t tolerate – go and sin no more. We adore the Jesus who sits the child upon his lap, but we abhor the Jesus who condemns sinful, harmful behavior.

So, how do you see Jesus? What response does he illicit from you? Are you offended or convicted. (Pause)

Conclusion: When I was in Cotulla, I thought it would be good to teach who Jesus was. As an informal survey, I asked the teens questions about Jesus. We went over these questions one by one, out loud. One simple question was about his nationality – his ethnicity. After some quick, wrong guesses, I said Jesus was Jewish. I’m not making this up, but a girl, a sophomore in age, responded in disgust: Oh my God, we worship a Jew!

Scandalous, isn’t it.

  • Born of a virgin – Scandalous.
  • Crucified on a cross – Scandalous.
  • Buried in a borrowed tomb and raised from the dead three days later – Scandalous
  • A Jewish Carpenter crucified for my sins – Scandalous!

If you’re offended at Jesus and his teaching – well, there are many who’ve felt the same way. Some choose simply to ignore these harder teachings. Look at the people of Nazareth – it was all too much for them to take in. They couldn’t get past what they thought they knew.

But, if you’re convicted of your sin this morning – if the teachings of Jesus cut you down to the core of your soul, let me offer you forgiveness this morning through Christ. There is no reason to wait a second longer – stand right now, right where you are and say, I need that forgiveness. I’ll pair you up with someone who will walk through the Scriptures and explain to you how you can know that you’re forgiven and have the promise of heaven.

Let’s take a quick moment and notice those who missed him:

  • Those who knew him best – missed him.
  • Those who knew his family – missed him.
  • Those who lived close to where he lived – missed him.
  • Those who were of the same nationality – missed him.
  • Those who were common everyday folk, just like him – missed him.

Rd v 4-5; And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.

We often times will wonder at how Jesus is viewed by others. But have you ever considered how Jesus might be looking at you? Rd v 6a: And he marveled because of their unbelief. Wow… what more could be done for these people? You know what, I don’t think it even matters – they still won’t believe.

And then, what does 6b say: he went into counseling because the rejection hurt him too much. Is that what it says?

And Jesus quit the ministry because it just hurt too much that people rejected him. … He never told another soul…

And he went about among the villages teaching. I love this little sentence. Rejection doesn’t mean it is all over.

There is still work to do. Yes, Christ was not received by his own. He came to his own, but his own received him not. Invitation: I want to give you a chance to receive Christ this morning…

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Filed under Faith, Mark, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 6.30-56

Title: Jesus, the Shepherd of His People

Text: Mark 6.31-56

Introduction: One of my favorite Psalms is the 95th Psalm:

95 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;

let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

        Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

        For the Lord is a great God,

and a great King above all gods.

        In his hand are the depths of the earth;

the heights of the mountains are his also.

        The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands formed the dry land.

        Oh come, let us worship and bow down;

let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

        For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture,

and the sheep of his hand.


Where does such praise come from? It comes from a clear understanding of who He is and who we are. When you situate yourself properly in comparison of God, who is perfect in everyway – and you see you are human, desperately flawed in everyway – you can’t help but praise him.

Let me ask you this morning: have you been there? Have you gained a proper perspective of where you are situated in relation to him? Wow! It is so moving! It causes us to worship – even if we remain silent with our mouths, our spirits cry out: Praise the Lord!

I think that is what happens in Mark 6.30: 30 jThe apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. This one verse has to be an incredible time of joy – of thanksgiving. These guys go out to serve – their last experience was watching their master be rejected in Nazareth. They’ve probably now learned of John’s demise. But what they experienced! Whew! That must have been incredible! Can you imagine how it started as they caught up with each other – as each pair started talking about what God did! Would you believe… You’re not going to believe this, but… Man, they’re tired, but still filled with such joy – such contentment.

Jesus calls them away to rest. So busy, they’ve not even been able to eat. (31)

AS you look at 6.30-56, here is the flow of the passage:

  • In v. 30-33, Jesus receives his disciples back from their missionary journey. He then takes them away to retreat from ministry for some rest, renewal and refreshment.
  • In v. 34-44, Jesus feeds the 5,000 men and their families with just 5 loaves of bread and two fish. They’ve gone to a desolate place to get away the people and rest, but the people follow. Jesus, filled with compassion, shepherds these sheep without a shepherd (34). As the hour gets late, the disciples tell Jesus to send the people away so they can get something to eat. But, Jesus tasks his disciples with feeding them; but they don’t really see how that can be done. Then Jesus performs the miracle.
  • In v 45-52, Jesus sends the disciples away; he puts his men on a boat and tells them to go ahead of him to Bethsaida; early that next morning, Jesus comes walking on the water. Another miracle
  • In v 52-56, Mark gives us a summary of Christ’s ministry as he shepherds so many people across the region.

So, with this movement in mind, I’ll use the following outline:

  1. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, feeds the 5,000 men
  2. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares for his disciples
  3. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, ministers to the people of the region

Transition: let’s begin with the feeding of the 5,000.

I.      Jesus, the Good Shepherd, feeds the 5,000 men (34-44)

exp.: we pick up in v 34; rd 34; His concern goes way beyond just feeding them. His 1st action when moved with compassion, because they are like sheep without a shepherd is to teach them. Let that sink in. When we read this story, we usually miss this gem. You see my point written out on the screen. The Compassion of Jesus leads him to feed the 5,000. But that isn’t what the Scripture says, is it. Really, if I were being accurate here, I’d have written out: The Compassion of Jesus leads him to teach the 5,000. It is only after the hour gets late and his disciples tell him to send them away that Jesus performs the miracle.

I don’t know how to say this softly – it sounds so harsh. But, here is what is on my mind. I’m concerned about a ministry that only feeds people or only clothes people or simply meets their needs. Don’t get me wrong – that is important. People won’t listen if their stomachs are rumbling or if they’re cold. But if you feed them, and you don’t teach them – really, what good have you done.

ill.: I served on the Ministerial Alliance in Worland. We did many fine things together – ministry for the community. One of our jobs was feeding the poor at thanksgiving. What we did was to put these baskets together of Turkey, ham, all the trimmings and deserts, so that families would have Thanksgiving dinner. One of our pastors asked if his church could put in New Testaments. He said their congregation would buy them so that it would add no cost to the Association. You’d have thought he wanted to put in pornographic novels! There was this huge outcry. And it wasn’t about the version. There was this sharp disagreement – no Bibles. Most of us were dumbfounded, trying to understand what was wrong with putting in the Scriptures. After much discussion, here’s what I figured out. A few of the pastors were afraid some of their people might get saved. Now, that’s a simplified statement to say that it was offensive to these pastors to see their people, people who were members of their churches, repenting of their sins and making a commitment to follow Jesus. These pastors prevented the rest of us from adding anything other than food. An alternative was suggested – The Jesus video, but not even the Jesus video was allowed. The reason: nothing is more offensive to these pastors than one of their own members getting saved! Let that sink in. Believe it or not, I get it. What does it say of me – a pastor – if one of my people gets saved outside of my congregation? My ego takes a hit! This one pastor, in the heat of discussion said to the rest of us: So we send them food, we feed them. What are fattening them up for – if only to send them to hell!

app.: No, we must teach them. We give, we go, we meet needs, but not for those purposes alone – No, we must tell them about Jesus, the one who sent us. The Compassion of Jesus is demonstrated in how he cares for those he sees as Sheep without a Shepherd. He began to teach them.

ill.: I saw this report in World Magazine: Sleepyhead Shepherd – 1,000 sheep came wondering in to this town in Spain – Huesca, Spain after their shepherd fell asleep. I guess counting sheep does make you sleepy! The report said the police actually had rounded up the entire herd before the shepherd even knew they were gone!

exp.: The disciples then see a need: rd v 35-36; I love the realness about this story. They see the need and they then tell Jesus what he needs to do! Do you ever do that? See a need and then tell Jesus what he needs to do. I wonder if we don’t hear him say to us: You do what you just told me to do! Lord, it would take 7 or 8 months wages to buy them bread to eat. Then, Jesus does what only he can do. “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied.

app.: The Compassion of Jesus is demonstrated in how he cares for those he sees as Sheep without a Shepherd. He began to teach them. And he fed them.

We see something that will begin to repeat itself: The disciples come back from this awesome mission trip, but quickly lose their sense of awe. They’ve done this sort of stuff when they were out on the mission field – as Jesus had sent them. Now, they’re just casual observers.

t.s.: Oh, to be more like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who feeds the hungry and teaches them Truth. and Oh, to be like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who cares… as we see in v 30-34; and 45-52 – who cares for his disciples.

II.     Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares for his disciples (30-34; 45-52)

exp.: He’s tried to get them out to a desolate place where they can rest – but there is no rest for the weary. Now that this is done – and the people are satisfied, Jesus puts his disciples in a boat. He puts his men on a boat and tells them to go ahead of him to Bethsaida (45). Now if you’ve been studying this and find a discrepancy in the gospels – I’d say you’re right. I think there is a simple explanation and this is how I see it.

We can only assume that they were to wait for Jesus who was to meet them there. And, Mark doesn’t tell us this, but Matthew and John help us out here, when Jesus didn’t show up at a certain time, they were to make their way in the other direction to Gennesaret. Well, Jesus doesn’t show up, because he’s gone up on a mountain to pray and be alone with his father. What must happen then is the disciples then make their way back westward, where the run into Jesus walking on the water. And I love Mark’s take here: rd 48; He meant to pass by them!

ill.: you ever been skiing? That’s me, skiing – tearin’ it up! Is there anything more excruciating to endure than skiing your heart out, only to have a senior adult woman – like in her 80’s pass you up? Hey wait, that’s not a senior adult woman – that’s Lisa. Yeah, she passes me up, too. That’s humbling. That’s when she was passing my by and stopped for a picture! Listen, I’ve been passed up by women in their 80’s; I’ve been passed up by kids who aren’t even in school yet – that were so little I don’t think they could walk, but were better skiers than me. Probably the most humbling experience for me, was being passed by a blind man on skis. I’m not kidding. I’m glad we don’t have any pictures of those!

These guys in the boat – they must be having a tough time as they are fighting this headwind. Evidently, it’s easier for Jesus to walk past them, than it is for them to row. Now that has to be embarrassing. Experienced fishermen can’t even row as fast on water as Jesus can walk on by! But that isn’t their problem – no, they’re afraid because they’re thinking they’re seeing a ghost.

But Jesus, says there in v 49-50: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” The Hebrew would be, “Take heart; I am he. Do not be afraid.” I am he translated into Hebrew is ani-hu, Say it: ani-hu; now you know some Hebrew. That’s probably, horribly said with a southern draw. But here is the beauty. This is how God identifies himself. Moses asks, when they ask me who sent you, who do I say you are? What is your name? God says, tell ‘em: “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.


And so it is, Isaiah 41.4

        Who has performed and done this,

calling the generations from the beginning?

I, the Lord, the first,

and with the last; I am he.

Isaiah 43.10:

10         “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,

“and my servant whom I have chosen,

that you may know and believe me

and understand that I am he.

Before me no god was formed,

nor shall there be any after me.

11         I, I am the Lord,

and besides me there is no savior.

12         I declared and saved and proclaimed,

when there was no strange god among you;

and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God.

13         Also henceforth I am he;

there is none who can deliver from my hand;

I work, and who can turn it back?”


Jesus is saying – it’s ok guys, it’s me, God. ani-hu – Don’t be afraid.

Rd 51a;

app.: Jesus is concerned for his disciples as he desires to teach them more about how to function without him. You see this as he teaches them about the loaves and the fish and this comes out in 51b-52; rd 51b-52; Ok. That verse just doesn’t seem to fit. Does it? But I think Mark is just saying that these guys didn’t get that moment and they didn’t get the loaves and the fish and they’re just not getting it – their hearts are becoming harder toward what Christ is doing.

t.s: Finally, #3

III.    Jesus, the Good Shepherd, ministers to the people of the region (53-56)

exp.: rd v 53-56; the Good Shepherd, Jesus – he loves, he cares, he has compassion and tenderness toward those who are lost – like sheep without a shepherd.

app.: His compassion extends throughout the region as many come seeking his help and healing.

Conclusion: You know, there is so much for us to learn from Jesus. We want to be like him, but too often we miss just what he’s trying to teach us. For those of you who follow Christ, I would like to encourage you to follow closely. Note:

  1. The importance of teaching the gospel to people and not just meeting their needs – although that is important, too. Tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  2. And, how about the next time you see a need – how about trying to meet that need instead of telling Jesus what he needs to do to fix that need? Maybe you’ll hear him say – you take care of it!
  3. And about hard hearts…man, I worry about my own understanding of circumstances and situations. I worry that my heart might become hard to his leadership – that I won’t get what he’s doing. Maybe your prayer is like mine: Lord, teach me to Trust in you with all my heart, and to not lean on my own understanding. Help to acknowledge you in all my ways and trust that you’re making my paths straight.
  4. But listen, if you’re not a believer – a follower of Christ – then I encourage you to place your trust in him today. He is the Good Shepherd and he cares for you infinitely more than you can imagine. His compassion toward you this morning is indescribable. Won’t you trust your life to him? I’ll close with the rest of Psalm 95… Today, if you hear his voice,

                        do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,

as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,

                        when your fathers put me to the test

and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

                10         For forty years I loathed that generation

and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,

and they have not known my ways.”

                11         Therefore I swore in my wrath,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

 

Won’t you enter today… let’s pray.

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Filed under Mark, Scripture, Sermon

SENT Conference: David & Goliath

Title: Becoming something greater than yourself!

Text: 1 Samuel 17

CIT: God’s faithfulness to David gave him the faith to stand, fight and defeat Goliath.

CIS: We can place our faith in Christ because he has conquered sin and death.

Introduction: Today’s story is a story you’re probably pretty familiar with. I’m guessing you’ve heard this story dozens and dozens of times. The story is about a kid and a giant. The kid’s name is David. The Giant – Goliath. The story is located in 1 Samuel 17; Turn there with me.

Most days I receive a NYTimes briefing. The idea is that I’ll find stories I wish to follow up on and read them. It works, by the way. At the conclusion of each briefing there is a Back Story. The following story was taken from the briefing.

Cracker Jack… The 87th Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played this week in San Diego. It was nice to see the American League win. I’m hoping it pays dividends when the Texas Rangers make it to the World Series – that is if they can bounce back for their last 13 ugly games. The All-Star game is a fine summer tradition, but here’s one that goes back even further: Eating Cracker Jack at the ballpark. The gooey treat’s origins go back to 1872, when F. W. Rueckheim, a German immigrant, began selling candy and popcorn in Chicago. By the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Rueckheim and his brother, Louis, created a confection of molasses, peanuts and popcorn that millions of fairgoers gobbled up.

They perfected their recipe by 1896 when — legend has it — a salesman tasted a sample and shouted, “That’s crackerjack!” If you google Cracker Jack online, you’ll find the definition: exceptionally good; an exceptionally good person or thing. Translation for this man: it was fantastic. A name and a brand (it’s singular, not plural) were born, and the brothers began packaging and advertising the concoction.

Just to add to the story, the company first issued coupons in the boxes that could be redeemed for household items at a store in Chicago. It switched to “A Prize in Every Box” in 1912. The prizes went digital this spring, after billions of trinkets were distributed.

But I think the coolest part of the story is that Cracker Jack’s timelessness is wrapped up in one of the best-known songs in history:

Take me out to the ball game,

Take me out with the crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,

I don’t care if I never get back,

Let me root, root, root for the home team,

If they don’t win it’s a shame.

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,

At the old ball game.

Now, that’s pretty cool for Frito-Lay, who owns Cracker Jack. There aren’t too many mlb games where that song isn’t heard. That’s free publicity for Cracker Jack. No wonder they’ve been around so long! Now, Cracker Jack is a small thing compared with major league baseball. A really small thing! How cool it must be for them to be a part of something so much larger.

As we look at 1 Samuel 17 and review the story of David and Goliath, I’m hoping you’ll desire to be a part of something so much larger than yourself.

Dr. Viktor Frankl is credited with saying: He who has a why can bear any how. I think what he meant by that statement is that purpose can give someone meaning. A purpose to life can empower someone to face the most difficult of circumstances.

Now, just how do these come together: purpose & meaning? Being a part of something so much greater than your self? We don’t have time read all of the verses in 1 Samuel 17, so with your permission, I’d like to present an outline of the story. It moves as follows:

  1. In v. 1-11, we meet the Philistines. They are Israel’s enemy.
  2. In v. 12-18 we meet David and his family and find out a little of what they do. They are some of the main players in this story.
  3. In v. 19-30, David is tasked by his father with the job of taking food to his brothers at the front where battle lines have been drawn up between the two armies. He is then to return and give a report to his father. So David takes supplies to them. It is here at the front David learns of Goliath, the fear the Israelite men have toward Goliath and the reward for the man who would face and defeat him. David said, “I’ll do it. I’ll take him on.”
  4. Here then, is where we pick up the story (31-50). I’ve entitled this section:

 

I.      David’s Faith: David Intercedes for the Fearful Israelites (31-50)

We note first His Confidence. Rd v 31-32

  • His Confidence: Now where does someone get such confidence? If you break this word down into two parts, you’ve got con – which means “with” and fide, which means “faith”; most literally then it means to have full faith and trust with… someone, something. For David, He tells us clearly where his faith is: rd v 37; 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” – Saul doesn’t say: Go and your faith be with you. Or go in this confidence you have. He says: Go, and the Lord (all caps) be with you. David’s confidence was in the LORD and only in him. Now, why? Why was this so? He tells us in this same verse: “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear; David says: Saul, come here, check this out. Let me show you my game room. Do you know what a game room is? For a hunter, it is the place he displays his trophies.

Ill.: Down south of Austin, my in-laws have a ranch. My father-in-law built a cabin on that ranch. In the cabin is a trophy wall mount of an elk I shot in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Hunters love to tell stories of their trophies. I love to tell the story of how I shot that elk. What it was like field dressing the huge animal. Getting it down the mountain. It was the experience of a lifetime. I love it when someone sees it hanging over the fireplace and asks, “who shot that?” They always want to know more.

App.: David is like: Saul, let me show you my game room. See that lion? That lion came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And when he rose up against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him down and killed him.

Come over here. See that bear? That bear came into camp all hungry and grumpy. He tried to have his way by getting a free meal, but I struck him down. Now, he’s just that sweet throw rug.

Confidence comes in the Lord and in his work in and through you. How are you able to stand? Because I’ve been here before. This ain’t my first rodeo!

T.S.: So, note 1st his confidence in the Lord and what the Lord has done through David. 2ndly, we notice his …

  • His Strategy:

Rd v 38; Saul is thinking to himself that this kid is in deep trouble. Who has better armor than the King? So, let’s get him geared up! Rd v 39; Here is an application that I’m not sure we can teach. David senses that this isn’t going to work. This is called discernment. This armor has served the king well. It is probably the best armor in the kingdom. But, David knows this isn’t for him. Discernment is a gift from the Lord. But I think there is a great application for us here: Go with what you know! That’s what David does; rd v 40;

Transition: So, David gears up and makes his way toward Goliath. This is the third point:

  • His Actions:
  1. You might expect Goliath to laugh, but he doesn’t. Read 41-44; Goliath disdains David and defies God by putting his trust in his gods and in his weapons.; David recognizes his failure and points it out; rd v 45; what a sharp contrast; Goliath in his ‘things’ – even his gods are things;
  2. David, however, puts his faith in God alone for God’s glory alone; rd 46-47; Goliath makes his move toward David, and David doesn’t hesitate; rd v 48;
  3. David runs to the battle line. Rd 49a;

Ill.: I love to run; I carry a ‘fanny pack’; it’s not really that, but it is similar; It has a water carrier and bottle and it has a pouch for my phone and keys; I can carry money. Can I just say it aint easy to run and put your hand into your pouch. 2nd, From time to time, I take off my shirt and swing it around to get rid of some pesky flies that are trying to land on me. I sling it around and around, taking out any bees, wasps, or giant flies that are trying to land on my. I’m thinking that David had done this before. Only because I know this isn’t easy.

  1. But, David hits Goliath with the perfect shot. (49-50) Keep reading; rd v 51;
  2. David took his own sword and cut off the giant’s head. He said he was going to do that when he didn’t even have a sword (cf.: v 46). When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. I have a vivid imagination: I picture the people, especially the Philistines screaming at the top of the lungs: Kill that kid! Hah! Rip his head off! Teach him a lesson! Then, puff, just like that, it is over and their champion lies on the ground. I’ll bet it got quiet real quick like. David runs and stands over the giant – taking his sword and cutting off his head. The roar of the Israelites rises quickly as David picks up the Giant’s head by the hair and shows his people! The Philistines, though, their jaws drop – their eyes just about pop out with disbelief. And then they take off running! When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

Transition: Well, you know the rest of the story. It’s the conclusion to the story: The Collapse of the Philistine Army (51-53)

Conclusion: V. The Collapse of the Philistine Army (51-53)

  1. Israel’s Pursuit of the Philistines (51-52)
  2. Israel Plunders the Philistines (53)
  3. Post Remarks: David’s Victory with the Giant’s head in his hands. (54-58)

Transition: So Fred, how does this apply to missions? I’ve come here to learn about missions!

Yesterday, I stopped in to see a friend. 8 years ago, he and his wife sold everything to return home to missionaries to his family for one year. That was a big deal because he from Austria. Their goal was to spend the year with family, live the Christian life and share Christ with the people they love.

While they were there they searched hard for a church. They found a house church and became a part of it. It wasn’t easy. They made friends, they found jobs – his wife learned the language. But after a year they returned to Tyler and started their lives back up. As far as they could tell, they had made some friends in a house church, but none in his family came to Christ.

Since returning they’ve had two beautiful little girls. The youngest has yet to return to the homeland to meet family. A few weeks ago, my friend got a phone call that his father came home from work and fell over dead. No warning. No sickness. No nothing.

What hurts so bad is that my friend has tickets to return to Austria next week. He had planned a 2 week vacation with the sole purpose that his daddy might see his little girl face to face. They called the airline and tried to get things changed, but the airline would only do it for fee – a fee too large for my friend and his family to pay.

So he bought a ticket home for himself. That’s why I stopped in to see him. Losing your dad at 62 is hard. Losing your dad at any age is hard. I wanted to know how he was doing. Well, it’s been hard. His parents were divorced years ago. There is a will from the 80’s. Other people are a part of the family now. It goes on and on and if you’ve ever dealt with that stuff you know the struggle.

But in this process, He was able to sit down with his mom for a long visit. As he talked she told him he sounded like this guy she met who works with her. Some months ago she started selling Tupperware and met a young man in their group who is a Christian. It just so happens that this man was a friend of my friend. They met in a house church 8 years ago. He told his mom why they sound so much alike – why they sound so positive, even in hard times – He told his mom about Christ. And after presenting the gospel to her – 8 years after living there and not seeing any fruit from his labor, she prayed with him to receive Christ.

Transition: Becoming a part of something so much larger than yourself isn’t quick and easy. It isn’t something you can script. It means surrendering yourself to God’s will, even when you don’t understand it. So let me offer a couple of take-a-ways…

Application:

  1. The author wants to demonstrate the Glory of God over Israel’s enemies by taking what seems like certain defeat and bringing about his victory through the young man, David. Listen up, Missions in your church and in your life is much the same: God wants to demonstrate his glory through you. If the task looks too big for you, it probably is, but it isn’t for God! Your mission endeavor isn’t so much about you and your church. No, not really – It’s about God’s Glory. I feel confident in saying that God’s more concerned about His glory than just about anything else.
  2. Let your faith develop by trusting God in the small matters. Begin your mission work around your house, around your city. David did what he did and he did it the way he knew how because of his success in the smaller things. Grow from where you are. As God builds and strengthens your faith, move out from there. Start with what you know. God will teach you more as he grows you.
  3. We’ve got to stop thinking of the Gospel as transforming lives only through perfect vessels. God uses the weak to confound the wise. Saul’s armor was probably the best in the land, but it wasn’t what David needed nor what God was going to use. Here’s another application that fits with this idea: The sins of our past can be testimonies to the grace and forgiveness of God. That was my friend’s message to his mother. Sinners need to know they can be forgiven. We may not be the best speaker, we may not be the prettiest or the sharpest. But, if we’re a tool in the hands of God, watch out! 2 Corinthians 12.10: 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  4. We can trust God to bring about victory in our mission through Christ who has come to redeem us from our enemy. God accomplished this by sending his Son to die a criminal’s death on a cross – a symbol of weakness. If you’ve never experienced the grace and compassion of God, I offer that Grace and compassion to you right now. Today is the day of Salvation. Today is the day of forgiveness. We’re going to dismiss shortly, but if you want to accept Christ this morning – come find me. I’d like to tell you how.
  5. You can be a part of something larger than you. You can become Cracker Jack missionary. Once you realize that God is working through you to Glorify himself – it becomes so much easier. You’re not worried about you. You’re not worried about your church. Your concern for God’s glory gives you the why – and you can face any how!

 

Let’s pray

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Filed under 1 Samuel, Calling, Faith, missions, Purpose, Scripture, Uncategorized

Mark 6.1-34

Title: What does it mean to follow Christ?

Text: Mark 6.1-34

What does it mean to follow Christ? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Is the call of God different for everyone? Is the call different for anyone? What does Christ mean here: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Most of us read the passage and we identify these remarks as being for someone else: someone who is called to a special ministry. We don’t normally associate these words with becoming a Christian. Do you agree?

Oh wait! We do – like when we witness to someone. But once someone becomes a Christian, we don’t think it really applies anymore. Do we?

Do we? Really?

This morning we’ll take a look at some different ‘ministries’ in Mark. These stories are similar and yet, very different.

  1. We have Jesus – the ultimate authority on ministry – and the rejection of those who knew him as he tried to minister to them.
  2. We’ll look at his disciples who go and expand his ministry.
  3. And we’ll look at John. John demonstrates for us someone who was called and suffered for his ministry.
  4. Finally, we’ll look back at the report of the disciples and the attempt for rest after ministry.

Transition: let’s begin with a quick review of last week’s message.

I.      The Ministry of Jesus (1-6)

exp.: We don’t need to repeat this message, but I wanted to include it here because it seems to clearly fit the emphasis of the cost of discipleship. Even Christ was rejected when he did ministry.

  • The Pharisees rejected him earlier (3.1-6).
  • His family rejected him, too (later in ch. 3).
  • His hometown rejected him, as well.

Isaiah said of him: He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

app.: The summary of his ministry there is found in v 5: And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And, in this we find a warning: no student is above his teacher, no servant above his master. We must remember this as we move into v7.

t.s.: with this experience of rejection fresh in the minds of his disciples, Jesus sends them out…

II.     The Ministry of the Apostles (7-13)

exp.: rd v 7;

  • He summons: called them to him (προσκαλέω; Summoned them, called them to himself)
  • He sends: began to send them out two by two; to send is the Gk word for which we get apostle: it means commissioned or sent with a mission. And this mission comes out in giving them authority.
  • He gave them authority over unclean spirits; You’ll see them exercise this authority when we get down to v 13.
  • He charged them to trust God for their provision: their orders; rd v 8-9;
    • Basic necessities – food, clothes, money.
    • Basic etiquette rd v 10;
    • Knowing when it’s time to go; rd 11

app.: They did what Jesus sent them to do; rd v 12-13; this was the purpose all along: Mk 3.14-15 – 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons.

t.s: Now these twelve have gone out by the authority of Jesus. We come to this interlude and we hear of another ministry.

III.   The Ministry of John (14-29)

exp.: i.e.: John the Baptizer; This story of John is born out of a need for explanation. Herod is questioning who Jesus might be. Maybe this arises from the Apostle’s who’ve been commissioned by Jesus through his authority. Who is this Jesus? Maybe they are asked by what authority they do these things. Their answer of course would be: Jesus. Herod seems to be thinking something similar: Who is this Jesus? Herod thinks he could be John, the baptizer whom he had put to death earlier. This would not make sense to the reader because nothing has been said about John since chapter one. So, Mark educates us with his story:

Now listen carefully, I’m going to make this simple: Verse 16 says Herod had John beheaded. Herod didn’t really want to kill him. He did it at the request of Salome – But she probably didn’t want it either. You see, it was really her mother, Herodias, who was Philip’s wife. Well, she was his wife, but now she was Philip’s brother’s wife. Evidently there was some shady stuff going on there. So, The reason is because his step-daughter, Salome, the daughter of Herodias, his new wife, or she was his niece because she was the daughter of his half brother Philip who was at one time married to Herodias, or maybe we should say Salome was his grandniece because Herodias, his wife, was also his half brother Aristobolus’s daughter. Anyway, that lady, she’s the one who had asked for John’s head on a platter. Clear?

Listen, this is a tangled web of men named Herod. These guys all were all related to each other by their father. Their actions were sinful and John’s call was to call them to repentance. John does just what Jesus has called others to do…he calls Herod and Herodias to repent of their sinful behavior. People don’t like that. People don’t like to have their sin called out.

  • If you are meeting up with a woman who isn’t your wife – that’s adultery!
  • If this person you’re hooking up with is of the same gender – that’s Homosexuality and according to Scripture, it is sinful behavior!
  • If you were born with a certain genitalia, then you’re a man. If not, you’re a woman. If you have trouble with this, get some help. Pretending to be something you’re not is sinful and harmful.
  • If you feel like you are a cat or a dog – that’s not natural. You need help.

When you call people to repentance, it is offensive. People don’t want to repent. Ok, John is standing under their balcony calling them to repent. I’m assuming others can hear this preaching of repentance. If someone is in sin and doesn’t want to repent, he or she will get angry and defensive. That’s exactly what happens to Herodias. And we’re just like she is: We all want others to embrace us in our sin. Tell us it is ok, so we can keep doing it.

John will die because he refuses to back down from the calling of his ministry. He gives us a foretaste of what Jesus will endure because he will not back down from his ministry.

Before we leave John, I’d like to look at some parallels between Jesus and John. In these 1st three points we have the ministries of Jesus, the disciples, and John. John, however, isn’t to be compared with the disciples, but rather with Jesus.

ill.: There are many parallels between Jesus and John.

John is not just a model “follower” of Jesus. He’s different than the disciples who go in Christ’s authority. These are baby steps for the disciples. In a couple of years, the mantle will be laid upon them and they’ll go pro. But, for now, they still have training wheels on. John is in the Big Leagues. Listen to Craig Blomberg, how he parallels the ministry of John w/ Jesus’: John is the forerunner of the Messiah, and his death serves as a foreshadowing and preview of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Both Jesus and John are arrested for challenging the powers that be. Both are put to death by self-seeking rulers who know their victims are innocent but vacillate under pressure and choose expediency over justice. The bodies of both are taken and buried by sympathetic followers. After John’s death, rumors arise that he has risen from the dead. But Jesus actually does rise from the dead!

These implicit parallels between John and Jesus in Mark find similar expression in the other gospels. In Luke, for example, the births of Jesus and John are paralleled, heralded by angelic announcements and miraculous conceptions (Luke 1). Yet in this parallelism, Jesus is shown to be the superior. John’s birth to a barren woman is a miracle (like similar births in the OT), but Jesus’ birth to a virgin is unprecedented. While John is “prophet of the Most High” (Luke 1:76; cf. 1:17), Jesus is the “Son of the Most High” (1:32). John’s role is to prepare the way for the Lord (1:17, 76); Jesus is that Lord—the Savior, who is Messiah and Lord (2:11; cf. 1:43).

This theme is carried forward in John’s public ministry. John says that the one who will come after him is so much greater than he that John is not worthy to unlatch his sandals. While John baptizes with water, Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit (1:7–8). Jesus must increase, while John must decrease (John 3:3). Here we find the true essence of discipleship. It is following Christ’s model, but always in service to him. It is a willingness to give up one’s life, not for our own glory, but for the glory of Christ.

app.: that’s what we se in v 27ff; rd 27-29; as we read v 27-29 we are saddened. Jesus was, too. In each of the Gospels Jesus seeks to get away after the story of John is told. It isn’t as clear in Mark as it is in Matthew and Luke and John.

t.s: But even then, as Jesus tries to get his disciples the rest and refreshing they need, even as he tries to get the rest and refreshing he needs…they keep coming.

IV.    The Call to Ministry Persists (30-34)

exp.: Read v 30-34; His compassion compels him to care for their needs.

app.: Sometimes as a servant, you’re pushed. Maybe I should say often times. You may want to get away, but you can’t. The calendar won’t cooperate. People have things for you to do. They need you. This doesn’t diminish the need for rest and refreshment, but it might need to wait. My guess is the Christ is teaching his disciples of this important part of ministry: retreat, refresh, and repair.

So, what are the applications for us? I have chosen four.

Application:

  1. Summons to Ministry: this is different for each one called. No one is called to sit on the sidelines. If you are a believer, then you’re called to be a witness for Christ. But, your call is different. You must seek out God’s will for your life and follow in obedience. You can’t live out someone else’s call. And, BTW: you can’t just go…you must be sent out in his You don’t just think to yourself: ah, I want to see the world. You must be summoned by Christ and sent out in his authority.
  2. Service in Ministry: Each of us is called to different types of service. No one is called to exactly the same thing. I think of even my wife, whose calling is very similar to mine; however, it differs greatly. As for you, I can’t tell you what that is. I think you discover your area of service by trial and error. You sense a desire to serve here or there and you follow that passion. God opens and closes doors. Consider your unique position. Retired individuals have more time – not being held down by a job. Young people have energy, stamina and health on their side. And, BTW: don’t consider your area of service based on money or supplies. You don’t just think: well, I don’t have the money so I guess I can’t go. The charge is the same: don’t worry about food, clothes or money. God will provide for you as he sees fit. I can’t say this is always the case, but I see God wants you to learn to trust him to provide for you in miraculous ways. That is how you learn to trust him in the ministry.
  3. Sacrifice in Ministry: You can’t surrender to ministry without offering a sacrifice at some level. Some, however, give more than others. John demonstrates for us a willingness to remain faithful to his calling. The spiritual gift of Martyrdom is a one-time gift. The call of God on your life might mean leaving the place you live and work. It might mean leaving your family and friends. The call of God on your life means you must sacrifice your desires and follow His. It might mean being educated. It might mean changing professions. I don’t know what God has in store for you. But, I know from experience: your life is no longer your own. You are bought at a price. You now belong to him – and what he says for your life – that is what you must now do.
  4. Success in Ministry: I hate that we (and I include myself in this) judge people in their ministry as successful or as a failure. We see larger churches, bigger youth ministries, larger and more dynamic worship programs and we measure all others by that standard. I wonder how many ministries we would label as success and try to emulate, when Christ would label that ministry a failure. Was John’s ministry a success? How so? His final place of ministry was a prison cell and from there, he was beheaded. How do you measure success? Is the pastor who works in a small church his whole life unsuccessful? What if he remains bi-vocational his whole ministry? Ultimately, success is measured through obedience.

What is your ministry? What has God called you to do? What does it mean to follow Christ?

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Filed under Church Membership, Mark, missions, Purpose, Scripture, Sermons, Uncategorized

Mark 6.1-7

Title: An Abbreviated History Lesson on Church Structure

Text: Acts 6; 1 Timothy 3

Introduction: Thank you Larry, for reading Scripture today.

I’ll be floating between two passages: Acts 6 and 1 Timothy. So bookmark those two passages. Actually, I’ll start in Acts 6… show some history throughout Acts, Make my way to 1 Timothy and back again.

What a blessing this is! We get to talk politics this morning! I don’t mean the politics of our national government, Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, or anything like that. I mean church politics! Politics is normally a dirty word, but it doesn’t have to be. Google says: Politics are the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power. If that is the definition, no wonder people hate politics. If that is the definition, then there is no place for politics in the church. People hoping to achieve power have no plac in church leadership. Indeed, Christ says that we’re to be like him and he came as one who serves and is the servant of all. Mark Dever says: Politics is the science of organizing life together. That’s pretty straightforward: The science of organizing life together. That works for families, teams, committees and yes, churches.

Church polity is something we should address regularly. You should know how your church functions: what are the rules that govern our assembly and what keeps us unified? What protects our unity and works against schisms and divisions? So, let’s bow our hearts before the Lord and ask for his protection of this body and his blessing over the preaching of His Word. Pray

I want you to know that this isn’t something I dreamed up. This has been a real concern for the church for nearly 2000 years. As a young pastor, I did what the churches and pastors before me did. I saw inconsistencies, and because of my nature, I questioned many of these inconsistencies that I saw. It has only been since coming to Calvary 11 years ago and never – never being a part of a healthy church, that led me on a journey, a quest to discover what makes a healthy church, well – healthy.

The following is some of what I discovered. Some of you may be hearing this for the 1st time. For others, this will be a review. Let’s begin with a brief history lesson from Scripture on church polity.

I.      A History of the Need for Structure (Acts 6)

exp.: Our first experience is found in Acts 6. The Apostles are the leaders. The Lord has put them in place. He commissioned them. But soon, all of these believers begin experiencing problems: problems that threaten their unity. It could be racial, ethnic, social… who knows? But, it threatens their unity. Furthermore, the Apostles are not able to do their work – to accomplish their task. So we learn #1 – that problems expose the need for structure. So, they come up with a solution. Let’s observe the process in Acts 6.1ff; rd 1a; Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number… Let me pause there and ask a question: Does this sound bad or good? Man, I want this problem! Jah hear? Calvary’s having problems! uh-huh, turns out they’re increasing in number, pretty dramatic I hear. So many baptisms the city is threatening to cut off their water. Well, numbers do create problems in that they expose areas of weakness and a need for structure. Rd 6b; a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. That’s complaint #1; there seems to be a problem with languages. Those who speak Hebrew are getting 1st dibs and the Greek-speaking widows are being overlooked. Here’s complaint #2, and it comes from the leaders. But, notice this, they want to make sure everyone knows their complaint. So… rd v 2a: summoned the full # of disciples! When everyone gets there, well then… look what they have to say: It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Let me just say that it’s not right is very similar to the phrase it’s not fair. Now, obviously you are getting my tongue in cheek presentation of this situation.

Here’s our first application of the day: Problems aren’t bad. It’s how you handle the problems you face that can be bad. And these guys handle the problem right. And from the way we observe these guys tackling their problem, we gain some insight into how we should handle our problems. Again, problems are bad, just the way we handle them can be. So, what do we learn from them:

  1. Church polity should be handled in a congregational way. They involve the Congregation. Church, you select 7 men from among you and we’ll appoint them to this duty. The Church selects 7 men and the apostles put them to work. From this we learn that we are congregational. Yes, we have a pastor, but he isn’t the pope. You can amen that if you want, it won’t hurt my feelings. No one man or woman should ever run the church. Ever! Congregational means that we vote on what we do. The church always has the last say. Always. The church votes on a budget in December. That is your approval for teams, committees, and ministries to do what they do. You, the church, also approve those teams. The deacons form ministry teams, the elders pick teachers and you, the church, give your approval of them all. It all launches from the church. We are congregational. As the year progresses, we find ministry opportunities, we find problems that arise and if it isn’t in the budget or the church hasn’t given the assignment to a team or group of people, then we come back to the church and seek your approval. That is how it is supposed to work.
  2. Relationships are vitally important. One group isn’t more important than the others. Listen, Ladies & Gentlemen, This isn’t about the food – it’s about the relationships. In our text, it might just be that those who were doing the work didn’t speak Greek or weren’t as fluent. More than likely, the Greek-speaking widows being overlooked was a symptom of a deeper problem. Who knows? But from this, we learn that nothing is more important than relationships. So, whatever you’re working on as a team – if there is a breakdown – check your relationships – my guess is somebody’s feelings got hurt. Mend the relationship!

Now, there is something important about church history here that I need you to see: Before this moment in Acts 6, the only leaders were the Apostles. One office in the church: Apostles. Now, there is a 2nd office in the church: Deacons.

Rd v 3-4; The offices are getting some structure now. The Apostles say: Here is our job and this is yourn. And, in order to do this job, you should be qualified. So, don’t pick just anyone! The men who are handling this situation are so overwhelmed they can’t do both. They’re qualified, but they need more men. These men don’t need to do their job of preaching and teaching, but they should be godly men nonetheless. So… qualifications must be set. We need qualified men to complete this task.

  1. Men of good reputation
  2. Men full of the Holy Spirit
  3. Men of Wisdom

ill.: I read this week that The Mission of the Church is the Ministry of the Word. I wondered, is this true? Let me repeat it: The Mission of the Church is the Ministry of the Word. That isn’t the purpose. My guess is the purpose of the church is the glory of God. Edmund Clowney says the mission of the church… He then continues with an explanation.

  1. Worship: We sing the Word, We pray the Word, and We preach the Word.
  2. Discipleship – teaching the Word.
  3. Evangelism – reaching the world with the Word.

These Apostles are saying that their mission is being compromised. They are unable to do their work in the Ministry of the Word because they’ve been caught up in ‘waiting tables’. That work, which isn’t being done very well, is making their task of preaching and teaching to suffer. Nothing is getting done very well.

Once a church begins to practice the ministry of the Word, it experiences growth. Growth creates problems. The more people you have, the more problems you have. So, they have to get organized. They need to get some structure here.

Rd v 5-7; please note v 7; what continued to increase? The Word of God! With that, there is an increase in conversions, which of course means they’ll have more problems and they’ll have to work those problems. But they’re good problems, No?

Well, the church grows and more problems occur. We’re not told of all the details, but we learn of the solutions by what we read. Turn to Acts 11.19-30; the church grows and determines to help with a problem down in Jerusalem. V 30 tells us that the church has now added another office: Elders. We can only make assumptions now as to what has happened. We don’t really know. They’ve not appeared before now. But, now, what we have in the early church, at least at this very early stage, is three offices: Apostles, Elders, and Deacons.

Let me quickly give you a time reference. Acts 12 – with the death of Herod and the work of Josephus – allows us to date Acts 12 at about 44 AD. If you take a later date for the crucifixion, we have these offices being used in the church within about 10 years. If you take an earlier date (which I do), then you see the infrastructure of the church being established no later than 13 years of Christ’s Great Commission. I think it would be fair to say that the structure for the church was set within the 1st decade of the Church’s (Capital C) existence.

You’re in 11.30; look at Acts 14.23; rd 15.1-6; Apostles and Elders are taking care of the doctrinal issues of the church. They’re handling the problems that are arising. Together. What we will see as the 1st century moves on and closes out, the apostles will fade from the scene. They will die and they will not be replaced. And, as the apostles fade from the scene, we see three offices narrowed down to two: elders and deacons.

app.: I want to take a moment to say that many Baptists are uncomfortable with elders. I understand this, but this saddens me. Did you know that many Baptist churches in the world had elders until the mid-1800’s. Our 1st two confessions or statement of faith’s had elders and deacons listed as the two main offices. So, historically, Baptist have had two main offices in the church: elders and deacons. What caused the change? My educated guess would be Manifest Destiny and the need for circuit preachers.

Many Baptist churches struggle today because they have an unhealthy church polity. They have become comfortable with tradition, and so, they neglect the Scriptures. In their defense, let me say that many Baptist churches function without elders. These churches have dynamic leaders serving as pastors who use some of the deacons as elders. And truthfully, I’m ok with that. It isn’t what I would choose, but that works for them. However, with that being said, I think many Baptist churches have a system of government that is wicked and evil. It is self-serving. Men are placed in leadership positions that should never be there. Men are made deacons and deacons then begin to run the church in the absence of a pastor or elders. That method, that form of government continues and it becomes cyclical. Pastors rotate in and out as the deacons then rule the church with an iron hand. And these congregations slowly die because these deacons can’t see that they were never intended to lead the church in this fashion.

t.s.: Let me show you the structure as we find it later on – some 20 years or more later. And this is point #2…

II.    The Structure of the Church (1 Tim 3.1-13)

exp.: 1 Timothy is a manual for churches and pastors on structure and polity. Paul’s main concern is the Ministry of the Word. He’s concerned about unhealthy doctrine being taught in the church at Ephesus. Look at chapter 1.3; don’t let certain individuals teach a different doctrine. Rd v 5; our aim here is love. And it pours forth from this beautiful triad: a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. There are those who don’t have a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. These people are rd v 6-7; now hones in on his purpose: rd v 8-11; Sound Doctrine = The Gospel. A Healthy church has sound, healthy doctrine, which is the Gospel of Christ. The Church then is a picture of the Gospel to the world. If you really think about this, this is what Paul is saying to Timothy – and to the believers at Ephesus: The Church is the Gospel made visible. Therefore, protect it. That is why Sound Doctrine is vital.

Paul then presents the Gospel in a short testimony: v 15 is the thesis statement here: 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…

In Chapter two Paul discusses they way believers should act, but look at chapter three. Here, Paul presents the structure that has been established over the next 20-25 years from Acts 12 on… You can see the same thing in Titus.

Chapter three establishes two offices for the church:

  • Elders – Let me introduce them to you, especially for the guests. (Active & Inactive)
  • Deacons – Deacons – (Active and Inactive)

In comparing the two, not just here, but throughout the New Testament, we find one main difference between the two offices. You ready for this? A deacon is to be held to the same basic qualifications as an elder, with the exception of one trait: the elder must be able to teach. Let that sink in for a moment. A deacon is to be held to the same qualifications as an elder, with the exception of one trait: the elder must be able to teach. Why this one difference? Answer: Because of their responsibility. Elders are given charge of Sound Doctrine. They are responsible for the spiritual aspects of the church. They must give great care to their teaching and to those they place in positions of teaching.

Deacons on the other hand are concerned with the physical aspects of the church. Their leadership is to care for the physical. In Acts we see them caring for the widows. They are to be no less godly than the elders. They are to be no less holy. The standard of character is just as high.

In Acts 6 the qualifications are simple:

  1. Men – I mention this because this is the only place I find this; later, we’ll see deacons and deaconesses. I know we don’t have them in the Baptist church, but I suspect that is more from culture than God’s word. Let me say, I’m not advocating for deaconesses today, I’m just saying in Scripture we find deaconesses. Let’s set that aside for a moment and focus on Acts 6. They were to be Men.
  2. A good reputation: which by the way, is with those inside the church and outside the church.
  3. Full of the Holy Spirit – don’t pick lost men. Don’t pick ungodly men.
  4. Wise – men full of wisdom. This means they use their knowledge well.

Already, you’ve limited the amount of men who can serve. But 1 Timothy 3 gives us more. Rd v 8

  1. Dignified: that is, they are worthy men, honored men, respected in the church and in the community.
  2. Not double-tongued: picture a forked tongue, like that of a snake. A tongue that offers curses and blessings. Not like that.
  3. Not addicted to much wine: I think this means not an alcoholic. They are not controlled by alcohol. It isn’t that they won’t have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer after mowing the lawn. It is that alcohol doesn’t consume them.
  4. Not greedy – for dishonest gain. That’s important. Our deacons serve as counters of the offering. They rotate regularly each week. But it is more than that. Your deacons will be responsible for contracts, hiring out work to be completed. You don’t want to pick men that are out to get a kick back.
  5. Solid Believers. They hold to this faith – this mysterious faith of ours with a clear conscience. And that faith is evident in their daily lives.
  6. They’ve been tested. Don’t put an unproven man into this position. The men you pick should be men who’ve proven themselves in these areas already. They have been faithful over time.
  7. Their wives must be qualified. Don’t pick men whose wives are gossips or busy bodies. I have known men who couldn’t serve as deacons because of their wives. Their wives must be like them – dignified, honorable, not diabolos, and faithful in all things.
  8. The deacons should have a stable marriage and home life. Some people take this to mean ‘having been married one time’. They say a divorced man shouldn’t be a deacon. I don’t think that is the definition here. Let me explain. The Gk simply says: a one-woman man. μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρες; That doesn’t help us. No, I don’t think this means one woman at a time. I think there is a principle here – not a letter of the law. The principle is finding men who are faithful and trustworthy. They prove that over time. For a man to be married to the same woman for 20 years can be a sign that he is faithful. That may not be the case, but it is a sign. So, you take all of these character traits, these qualities and you establish a pattern of faithfulness, honesty and integrity.

app.: Please hear me: I’m not saying every man who has been married longer than 20 years is deacon material. I’m saying that is one sign. Their wives must also serve as a sign. Their testing over the years is another sign. Their faithfulness as solid believers is another sign. The fact that they’re not greedy or alcoholics are more signs…and the list goes on.

t.s.: You take all of these quality characteristics and size the man up. And you pick from there.

III.    An Appeal: The Church must pick some men to serve as deacons.

exp.: It is time. In the coming weeks, the deacons will present you with a list of names. They’re going to ask you to:

  • Pray over these men. The list will not be exhaustive. You can pray over each man and his family.
  • Use this passage as a checklist. Mark off men who don’t size up. See which men rise to the top.
  • The deacons are going to ask you to select a number of men to serve with them. I don’t know how many. It could be three. It could be seven. But based on your prayers and your evaluation, select men to serve. The deacons will then assess the men you’ve chosen. They’ll find out who is willing to serve, because you may select some who will say no. They will bring back a final list of those you’ve selected, that they’ve interviewed and determined fit and ready to serve. You’ll then have the final say with a vote.

One final word: don’t assume that men who’ve served before will automatically serve again. If you don’t select them, then they won’t be asked to serve. That is vital. Deacons serve only at the pleasure of the church. Deacons don’t go get deacons. They don’t ask their buddies. They don’t even ask men who’ve served before. They will follow your directions. So, pray, evaluate, and choose – men from among yourselves and we will appoint them to this duty of service.

Conclusion: I mentioned earlier that the church is the gospel made visible. That message is that Christ died for sinners. Paul claims to be the worst of all sinners and even he found forgiveness – his testimony is to the goodness and grace of God. I want to offer you that grace and forgiveness.

 

 

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Filed under 1 Timothy, Acts, Church Polity, Leadership, Mission Statement, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 5.1-20

Title: A Proper Response

Text: Mark 5.1-20

Introduction: Thank you, Stephen for reading Scripture this morning. For Bible study this morning let me give you a couple of aids…

  1. Take Notes
  2. Write down questions you might have to help facilitate the discussion
  3. Think of OT passages that alluded to or are referenced.
  4. The goal is to go deeper.

Let’s begin: We’re in the 2nd miracle in this particular passage on the Authority of Jesus. Last week we saw how Jesus exercised his authority over the natural realm (4.35-41). Today, we’ll see his authority over the Spiritual Realm. In subsequent weeks, we’ll look at his authority over the physical realm, and even death.

            As we begin today, I’d like to offer a quick summary of what has just been read: In today’s passage, the disciples arrive on the other side of the sea with Jesus in tow. Immediately, as he is getting out of the boat, Jesus is confronted by a demon-possessed man. Mark takes time to tell the readers how dangerous this man has become (1-7). The demon identifies Jesus and Jesus then confronts the demon inside the man. It turns out that there are many demons inside this man, for the demon’s name is Legion (8-9). Added to this, it appears the demons understand their fate is sealed and they beg Jesus to not send them out of the country, but rather into a herd of pigs nearby. He grants their plea. Coming out of the man and entering into the herd, about 2,000 pigs rush down the steep hill and drown in the water below (10-13).

            At this point, the herdsmen flee back to their village where they report what has happened. The people come out to personally take in what they’ve heard. When they arrive, they find the man sitting there, clothed and in his right mind. I’m not sure why, whether from fear or anger, but they beg Jesus to leave and he obliges. As he boards the boat, the healed man begs Jesus to allow him to follow along. Jesus, however, refuses the man. And, instead of urging silence, Jesus tells the man to go home and share of the mercy of God in his life. And so he does throughout the whole region of the Decapolis (14-20).

There are certain words that stick out: beg or begged. I find that interesting. For me, this helped shape my message for this morning. Here are my three points:

  1. The Response of the Gadarene Demoniac to Jesus (1-7)
  2. The Response of Jesus to the Gadarene Demoniac (6-10)
  3. The Response of the people to Jesus (14-20)

Transition: let’s begin with this 1st response…

I.      The Response of the Gadarene Demoniac to Jesus (1-7)

exp.: I call him the Gadarene Demoniac, because that is the way I learned it. from the KJV; rd v 2; At 1st glance, it appears this man is responding to the arrival of Jesus; however, a closer look reveals that the response is really the demons within this man; What we see here is that Satan has been at work in the life of the Gadarene Demoniac! We see this:

  • Possessed by an unclean spirit – a demon
  • Living among the dead; this isn’t really a play on words in the original language, as far as I can tell, but it is for us, isn’t it? rd v 3a;
  • Driven away by the town’s people because he was mad, and, he could not be restrained; rd 3b-4
  • Crying out and Cutting himself; v5; this is something we hear about today; people cut themselves because of the pain they’re in. It’s one of the ways they deal w/ their pain;

ill.: I came across this article this past week and it got my attention: Article in NY Times – First Rise in US Death Rate Surprises Experts. The death rate rose in 2005 because of the flu. It rose a decade before that in 1993 because of AIDS and the flu. It’s rise this past year is troublesome because… “We are not accustomed to seeing death rates increase on a national scale,” said Andrew Fenelon, a researcher at the C.D.C. who did not work on the paper. “We’ve seen increases in mortality for some groups, but it is quite rare to see it for the whole population.” And just what is the reasoning behind these deaths? The US has seen a spike in deaths in three categories:

  1. Suicide
  2. Drug Overdose
  3. Alzheimer’s

The article goes on to say that other parts of the world are actually seeing decrees in their death rates, making the US spike even more surprising.

app.: That is what Satan wants: he comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. His purpose and goal remains the same. He was being successful with this man. He seems to be accomplishing his goal in the US, too.

My guess is that this is just where this man is headed, but something happens when he meets Jesus. Look at his next response.

  • He saw, he ran, he fell down before him. This word translated fell down is sometimes translated Like in Mt 2.15; Now, whether this is the man or the demons who are in possession of this man, the response is correct. Jas 2.19

t.s.: So we see 1st, the response of the demon-possessed man. Now, look at the response of Jesus to this man…

II.     The Response of Jesus to the Gadarene Demoniac (6-13)

exp.: the very 1st thing Jesus says to the man is; rd v 8; immediately Jesus recognizes the work of the devil – so Jesus goes to work right away! Really, this is not cumbersome work for God.

  1. Legion vs. Christ; A Heavy Weight Fight like Frazier and Ali; Thousands of demons vs. Christ. But really this is No contest. No battle. Jesus doesn’t even need to break a sweat! Something to note:
    1. Each time we see their encounter in Mark, they accurately identify Christ for who he is.
    2. When they encounter him, they begin begging (10, 12). Jesus hasn’t fully stepped out of the boat yet and they’re screaming Knowing their fate is sealed… they begin to plead for mercy.
  2. Jesus asks the unclean spirit his name. Some say this is how you gain mastery over the demon. I don’t know about that. I fear if I did that, they’d say: Jesus we know, Paul we know, But who are you! This would be a great discussion for your class: Is there a difference between demon possession and mental illness. BTW: Jesus heals them both if he desires. And that is just what he does here…
  3. Christ sets the man free; however, the pigs meet a destructive fate; rd v 12-13;

ill.: This past week there was a story about a little boy who fell into the moat of the Gorilla’s cage. Mr. Maynard, who headed up the emergency response team shot and killed the Gorilla. According to him, he didn’t have a choice. Of course Social Media has got to respond and of course, they’ve condemned the actions of the Zoo. For me, it is simple: animal or child? Child! Scripture is clear on this, too. I know, the kid wasn’t supposed to be down there – he was in the Gorilla’s domain. No, not really. The Gorilla lives in our domain. We’ve been given that responsibility. Some people have condemned the parents. Well, I’m guessing those folks have never been responsible for a three year old! It is amazing how quick a kid can get away from you …

app.: Daniel Akin, president of SEBTS: the event demonstrates that God cares more for man whom He created in His image and recreates in salvation, than he does for animals which do not bear his image. Satan is a murderer of human beings, but Jesus is their Savior.

Before we leave this point, let me say a word about demons:

  1. They are real. And for that reason, they scare me.
  2. A demon can possess a person. Here we see many demons possessing one person. Some have raised the question of whether a Christian can be possessed by a demon. A great question to ask your teacher this morning!
  3. A demon can take control of a person. Here we see them speak; exercise great strength; hurt or injure the possessed and even others.
  4. Demons are spiritual beings – they are fallen angels. Their goals and purpose are the same as those of their leader, Satan: to kill, to steal and to destroy.
  5. Demons can move from one body to another. Here we see their transference from a human to animals. Jesus refers to an unclean spirit being swept out of a body and returning with others added.
  6. Demons resist Christ. In our text, it is immediate. He said come out, but they resist him. He permits them to go into the pigs.
  7. Demons have no power over Christ. All Jesus needs to do is speak. He speaks and the demons obey. Period.

app.: It appears to me in Revelation, that all things end in a moment. There is fighting, battles, killing. The enemy is doing all he can, and then, boom! It all ends. Jesus just speaks.

t.s: Finally, #3

III.    The Response of the People to Jesus (14-20)

exp.: Let’s look at these varied responses:

  1. The Herdsmen; they fled; they told; they announced or proclaimed; this story is pretty much unbelieveable. So, they gotta go see for themselves;
  2. The Townspeople; come to see; 15a; they came to see Jesus; and interestingly enough, they see the ‘demon possessed man’; This is how the text reads – present tense; but he’s not demon possessed anymore! Well, this is how the people knew him; similar in Mt – Elizabeth, the barren one, is now in her 6th month; – the one who had had the legion;
    1. Then they get to hear the story again in v 16; rd v 17; their response: fear! They beg Jesus to leave their region. And, I guess as is his practice when not wanted, he obliges them.
  3. The Man
    1. Sitting there – restrained no more – actually, he wasn’t restrained before, but it was for a lack of trying; now he is captured by the love of Christ;
    2. Clothed – no longer naked; This one surprises me, because we don’t learn from the text that he was naked – that is, until now; Now, we want to focus on Mark, and avoid the other gospels, I was curious to find that Luke does tell us that he wore no clothes in 8.27;

ill.: When I read this, I couldn’t help but think of adam and eve; Gen 3. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. I wonder where they got these clothes? Did the disciples carry them around? Probably. Did they put together something from different sources? But this is the gospel – a changed heart is displayed externally…

  1. Right mind – I suppose this would be in opposition to living among the tombs, cutting himself and screaming.
  2. He begs Jesus to let him stay with Jesus.

ill.: This is for me, the most beautiful part of the story. Maybe because I can relate. Oh, I was never as bad off as that man, but I was bad off. I look at who I was and shudder. And now, I only want to be with him. And this is where it is different for me. Christ has ascended to be with the Father and he has poured out his Spirit into my heart. So, I’m not without him.

app.: And you don’t have to be either.

But there is more here; rd v 19-20

  1. He becomes an evangelist!

Conclusion: Ok, so I’m translating this verse… 19, and it reads this way: and he said to him, ‘Go to your house, to those who are yours… most translations insert friends. There are those who belonged to him. Now, I apply this personally – For me it is my wife, my kids, my grandkids, my mom, mother-in-law; the list goes on.

Who was it for this man? Did he have a wife at home? Children? What about his extended family? What about those who were his friends? What would that reception be like for them – when they thought he was lost forever? And what was it like for him? No longer held captive by Satan, he had been set free. What would he say? Can you imagine the tears of joy for them all?

How? How is this possible? What has happened to you?

I met a man named Jesus. Let me tell you what he has done for me?

Let’s pray…

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Acts 6.1-7/1 Tim 3.8-13

** This sermon Audio is located in the Special Topics Player…

 

Title: An Abbreviated History Lesson on Church Structure

Text: Acts 6; 1 Timothy 3.8-13

Introduction: Thank you Larry, for reading Scripture today.

I’ll be floating between two passages: Acts 6 and 1 Timothy. So bookmark those two passages. Actually, I’ll start in Acts 6… show some history throughout Acts, Make my way to 1 Timothy and back again.

What a blessing this is! We get to talk politics this morning! I don’t mean the politics of our national government, Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, or anything like that. I mean church politics! Politics is normally a dirty word, but it doesn’t have to be. Google says: Politics are the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power. If that is the definition, no wonder people hate politics. If that is the definition, then there is no place for politics in the church. People hoping to achieve power have no plac in church leadership. Indeed, Christ says that we’re to be like him and he came as one who serves and is the servant of all. Mark Dever says: Politics is the science of organizing life together. That’s pretty straightforward: The science of organizing life together. That works for families, teams, committees and yes, churches.

Church polity is something we should address regularly. You should know how your church functions: what are the rules that govern our assembly and what keeps us unified? What protects our unity and works against schisms and divisions?

I want you to know that this isn’t something I dreamed up. This has been a real concern for the church for nearly 2000 years. As a young pastor, I did what the churches and pastors before me did. I saw inconsistencies, and because of my nature, I questioned many of these inconsistencies that I saw. It has only been since coming to Calvary 11 years ago and never – never being a part of a healthy church, that led me on a journey, a quest to discover what makes a healthy church, well – healthy.

The following is some of what I discovered. Some of you may be hearing this for the 1st time. For others, this will be a review. Let’s begin with a brief history lesson from Scripture on church polity.

I.    A History of the Need for Structure (Acts 6)

exp.: Our first experience is found in Acts 6. The Apostles are the leaders. The Lord has put them in place. He commissioned them. But soon, all of these believers begin experiencing problems: problems that threaten their unity. It could be racial, ethnic, social… who knows? But, it threatens their unity. Furthermore, the Apostles are not able to do their work – to accomplish their task.

  • So we learn #1 – that problems expose the need for structure. So, they come up with a solution. Let’s observe the process in Acts 6.1ff; rd 1a; Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number… Let me pause there and ask a question: Does this sound bad or good? Man, I want this problem! Jah hear? Calvary’s having problems! uh-huh, turns out they’re increasing in number, pretty dramatic I hear. So many baptisms the city is threatening to cut off their water. Well, numbers do create problems in that they expose areas of weakness and a need for structure. Rd 6b; a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. That’s complaint #1; there seems to be a problem with languages. Those who speak Hebrew are getting 1st dibs and the Greek-speaking widows are being overlooked. Here’s complaint #2, and it comes from the leaders. But, notice this, they want to make sure everyone knows their complaint. So… rd v 2a: summoned the full # of disciples! When everyone gets there, well then… look what they have to say: It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Let me just say that it’s not right is very similar to the phrase it’s not fair. Now, obviously you are getting my tongue in cheek presentation of this situation.

Here’s our first application of the day: Problems aren’t bad. It’s how you handle the problems you face that can be bad. And these guys handle the problem right. And from the way we observe these guys tackling their problem, we gain some insight into how we should handle our problems. Again, problems are bad, just the way we handle them can be. So, what do we learn from them:

  • Church polity should be handled in a congregational way. They involve the Congregation. Church, you select 7 men from among you and we’ll appoint them to this duty. The Church selects 7 men and the apostles put them to work. From this we learn that we are congregational. Yes, we have a pastor, but he isn’t the pope. You can amen that if you want, it won’t hurt my feelings. No one man or woman should ever run the church. Ever! Congregational means that we vote on what we do. The church always has the last say. Always. The church votes on a budget in December. That is your approval for teams, committees, and ministries to do what they do. You, the church, also approve those teams. The deacons form ministry teams, the elders pick teachers and you, the church, give your approval of them all. It all launches from the church. We are congregational. As the year progresses, we find ministry opportunities, we find problems that arise and if it isn’t in the budget or the church hasn’t given the assignment to a team or group of people, then we come back to the church and seek your approval. That is how it is supposed to work.
  • Relationships are vitally important. One group isn’t more important than the others. Listen, Ladies & Gentlemen, This isn’t about the food – it’s about the relationships. In our text, it might just be that those who were doing the work didn’t speak Greek or weren’t as fluent. More than likely, the Greek-speaking widows being overlooked was a symptom of a deeper problem. Who knows? But from this, we learn that nothing is more important than relationships. So, whatever you’re working on as a team – if there is a breakdown – check your relationships – my guess is somebody’s feelings got hurt. Mend the relationship!

Now, there is something important about church history here that I need you to see: Before this moment in Acts 6, the only leaders were the Apostles. One office in the church: Apostles. Now, there is a 2nd office in the church: Deacons.

Rd v 3-4; The offices are getting some structure now. The Apostles say: Here is our job and this is yourn. And, in order to do this job, you should be qualified. So, don’t pick just anyone! The men who are handling this situation are so overwhelmed they can’t do both. They’re qualified, but they need more men. These men don’t need to do their job of preaching and teaching, but they should be godly men nonetheless. So… qualifications must be set. We need qualified men to complete this task.

  1. Men of good reputation
  2. Men full of the Holy Spirit
  3. Men of Wisdom

ill.: I read this week that The Mission of the Church is the Ministry of the Word. I wondered, is this true? Let me repeat it: The Mission of the Church is the Ministry of the Word. That isn’t the purpose. My guess is the purpose of the church is the glory of God. Edmund Clowney says the mission of the church… He then continues with an explanation.

  1. Worship: We sing the Word, We pray the Word, and We preach the Word.
  2. Discipleship – teaching the Word.
  3. Evangelism – reaching the world with the Word.

These Apostles are saying that their mission is being compromised. They are unable to do their work in the Ministry of the Word because they’ve been caught up in ‘waiting tables’. That work, which isn’t being done very well, is making their task of preaching and teaching to suffer. Nothing is getting done very well.

Once a church begins to practice the ministry of the Word, it experiences growth. Growth creates problems. The more people you have, the more problems you have. So, they have to get organized. They need to get some structure here.

Rd v 5-7; please note v 7; what continued to increase? The Word of God! With that, there is an increase in conversions, which of course means they’ll have more problems and they’ll have to work those problems. But they’re good problems, No?

Well, the church grows and more problems occur. We’re not told of all the details, but we learn of the solutions by what we read. Turn to Acts 11.19-30; the church grows and determines to help with a problem down in Jerusalem. V 30 tells us that the church has now added another office: Elders. We can only make assumptions now as to what has happened. We don’t really know. They’ve not appeared before now. But, now, what we have in the early church, at least at this very early stage, is three offices: Apostles, Elders, and Deacons.

Let me quickly give you a time reference. Acts 12 – with the death of Herod and the work of Josephus – allows us to date Acts 12 at about 44 AD. If you take a later date for the crucifixion, we have these offices being used in the church within about 10 years. If you take an earlier date (which I do), then you see the infrastructure of the church being established no later than 13 years of Christ’s Great Commission. I think it would be fair to say that the structure for the church was set within the 1st decade of the Church’s (Capital C) existence.

You’re in 11.30; look at Acts 14.23; rd 15.1-6; Apostles and Elders are taking care of the doctrinal issues of the church. They’re handling the problems that are arising. Together. What we will see as the 1st century moves on and closes out, the apostles will fade from the scene. They will die and they will not be replaced. And, as the apostles fade from the scene, we see three offices narrowed down to two: elders and deacons.

app.: I want to take a moment to say that many Baptists are uncomfortable with elders. I understand this, but this saddens me. Did you know that many Baptist churches in the world had elders until the mid-1800’s. Our 1st two confessions or statement of faith’s had elders and deacons listed as the two main offices. So, historically, Baptist have had two main offices in the church: elders and deacons. What caused the change? My educated guess would be Manifest Destiny and the need for circuit preachers.

Many Baptist churches struggle today because they have an unhealthy church polity. They have become comfortable with tradition, and so, they neglect the Scriptures. In their defense, let me say that many Baptist churches function without elders. These churches have dynamic leaders serving as pastors who use some of the deacons as elders. And truthfully, I’m ok with that. It isn’t what I would choose, but that works for them. However, with that being said, I think many Baptist churches have a system of government that is wicked and evil. It is self-serving. Men are placed in leadership positions that should never be there. Men are made deacons and deacons then begin to run the church in the absence of a pastor or elders. That method, that form of government continues and it becomes cyclical. Pastors rotate in and out as the deacons then rule the church with an iron hand. And these congregations slowly die because these deacons can’t see that they were never intended to lead the church in this fashion.

t.s.: Let me show you the structure as we find it later on – some 20 years or more later. And this is point #2…

II.   The Structure of the Church (1 Tim 3.1-13)

exp.: 1 Timothy is a manual for churches and pastors on structure and polity. Paul’s main concern is the Ministry of the Word. He’s concerned about unhealthy doctrine being taught in the church at Ephesus. Look at chapter 1.3; don’t let certain individuals teach a different doctrine. Rd v 5; our aim here is love. And it pours forth from this beautiful triad: a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. There are those who don’t have a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. These people are rd v 6-7; now hones in on his purpose: rd v 8-11; Sound Doctrine = The Gospel. A Healthy church has sound, healthy doctrine, which is the Gospel of Christ. The Church then is a picture of the Gospel to the world. If you really think about this, this is what Paul is saying to Timothy – and to the believers at Ephesus: The Church is the Gospel made visible. Therefore, protect it. That is why Sound Doctrine is vital.

Paul then presents the Gospel in a short testimony: v 15 is the thesis statement here: 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…

In Chapter two Paul discusses they way believers should act, but look at chapter three. Here, Paul presents the structure that has been established over the next 20-25 years from Acts 12 on… You can see the same thing in Titus.

Chapter three establishes two offices for the church:

  • Elders – Let me introduce them to you, especially for the guests. (Active & Inactive)
  • Deacons – Deacons – (Active and Inactive)

In comparing the two, not just here, but throughout the New Testament, we find one main difference between the two offices. You ready for this? A deacon is to be held to the same basic qualifications as an elder, with the exception of one trait: the elder must be able to teach. Let that sink in for a moment. A deacon is to be held to the same qualifications as an elder, with the exception of one trait: the elder must be able to teach. Why this one difference? Answer: Because of their responsibility. Elders are given charge of Sound Doctrine. They are responsible for the spiritual aspects of the church. They must give great care to their teaching and to those they place in positions of teaching.

Deacons on the other hand are concerned with the physical aspects of the church. Their leadership is to care for the physical. In Acts we see them caring for the widows. They are to be no less godly than the elders. They are to be no less holy. The standard of character is just as high.

In Acts 6 the qualifications are simple:

  1. Men – I mention this because this is the only place I find this; later, we’ll see deacons and deaconesses. I know we don’t have them in the Baptist church, but I suspect that is more from culture than God’s word. Let me say, I’m not advocating for deaconesses today, I’m just saying in Scripture we find deaconesses. Let’s set that aside for a moment and focus on Acts 6. They were to be Men.
  2. A good reputation: which by the way, is with those inside the church and outside the church.
  3. Full of the Holy Spirit – don’t pick lost men. Don’t pick ungodly men.
  4. Wise – men full of wisdom. This means they use their knowledge well.

Already, you’ve limited the amount of men who can serve. But 1 Timothy 3 gives us more. Rd v 8

  1. Dignified: that is, they are worthy men, honored men, respected in the church and in the community.
  2. Not double-tongued: picture a forked tongue, like that of a snake. A tongue that offers curses and blessings. Not like that.
  3. Not addicted to much wine: I think this means not an alcoholic. They are not controlled by alcohol. It isn’t that they won’t have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer after mowing the lawn. It is that alcohol doesn’t consume them.
  4. Not greedy – for dishonest gain. That’s important. Our deacons serve as counters of the offering. They rotate regularly each week. But it is more than that. Your deacons will be responsible for contracts, hiring out work to be completed. You don’t want to pick men that are out to get a kick back.
  5. Solid Believers. They hold to this faith – this mysterious faith of ours with a clear conscience. And that faith is evident in their daily lives.
  6. They’ve been tested. Don’t put an unproven man into this position. The men you pick should be men who’ve proven themselves in these areas already. They have been faithful over time.
  7. Their wives must be qualified. Don’t pick men whose wives are gossips or busy bodies. I have known men who couldn’t serve as deacons because of their wives. Their wives must be like them – dignified, honorable, not diabolos, and faithful in all things.
  8. The deacons should have a stable marriage and home life. Some people take this to mean ‘having been married one time’. They say a divorced man shouldn’t be a deacon. I don’t think that is the definition here. Let me explain. The Gk simply says: a one-woman man. μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρες; That doesn’t help us. No, I don’t think this means one woman at a time. I think there is a principle here – not a letter of the law. The principle is finding men who are faithful and trustworthy. They prove that over time. For a man to be married to the same woman for 20 years can be a sign that he is faithful. That may not be the case, but it is a sign. So, you take all of these character traits, these qualities and you establish a pattern of faithfulness, honesty and integrity.

app.: Please hear me: I’m not saying every man who has been married longer than 20 years is deacon material. I’m saying that is one sign. Their wives must also serve as a sign. Their testing over the years is another sign. Their faithfulness as solid believers is another sign. The fact that they’re not greedy or alcoholics are more signs…and the list goes on.

t.s.: You take all of these quality characteristics and size the man up. And you pick from there.

III.    An Appeal: The Church must pick some men to serve as deacons.

exp.: It is time. In the coming weeks, the deacons will present you with a list of names. They’re going to ask you to:

  • Pray over these men. The list will not be exhaustive. You can pray over each man and his family.
  • Use this passage as a checklist. Mark off men who don’t size up. See which men rise to the top.
  • The deacons are going to ask you to select a number of men to serve with them. I don’t know how many. It could be three. It could be seven. But based on your prayers and your evaluation, select men to serve. The deacons will then assess the men you’ve chosen. They’ll find out who is willing to serve, because you may select some who will say no. They will bring back a final list of those you’ve selected, that they’ve interviewed and determined fit and ready to serve. You’ll then have the final say with a vote.

One final word: don’t assume that men who’ve served before will automatically serve again. If you don’t select them, then they won’t be asked to serve. That is vital. Deacons serve only at the pleasure of the church. Deacons don’t go get deacons. They don’t ask their buddies. They don’t even ask men who’ve served before. They will follow your directions. So, pray, evaluate, and choose – men from among yourselves and we will appoint them to this duty of service.

Conclusion: I mentioned earlier that the church is the gospel made visible. That message is that Christ died for sinners. Paul claims to be the worst of all sinners and even he found forgiveness – his testimony is to the goodness and grace of God. I want to offer you that grace and forgiveness.

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