Prayer and Communication With God.

There seems to be some confusion among Christians as to how God speaks to us. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Christians claim that God has spoken to them during prayer. Some of them, like “Deleted so as not to upset the applecart”, and “Deleted so as not to upset the applecart”, actually proclaim that, not only did God speak to them, but He told them to write what He said down, and tell everyone what He said. This puts their personal revelation in the same field as the divine revelation of the men used to write God’s word. So do we look to modern day Christians like these, as writing new books of the Bible? If not, why don’t we? After all, they claim to have been divinely inspired by saying that God spoke to them and told them to write it down and proclaim it to people. Does this bother you? Are you upset because you see me challenging a very popular lady who you like? What is it about what I am saying that is bothering you? I challenge you to ask yourself these questions and then compare your thoughts and feelings to God’s authoritative word. I exhort you, bring your thoughts and feelings into submissive subjection to God’s word.

Can you name for me people in the Bible who were spoken to by God directly who weren’t Adam and Eve, Patriarchs, Prophets Major/Minor, Jesus (God 2nd Personage of the Trinity,God incarnate) or the Apostles/Disciples of the foundational Church commissioned by Christ personally in that time? I just want you to think of what the normative and regulative principles are here. Seriously, take a moment and think about it. I’ll wait right here… … … … OK you’re back, great! So, what did you come up with? (leave comments)

The regulative principle would say that here and now we hear from God by reading His word, and His Holy Spirit indwelling us illumines it to our understanding, and we in our new life obey it. We trust His providence and we don’t presume to say, “Thus sayeth the Lord” and then proceed to claim a bunch of things in God’s name. That would be wrong.

The normative principle would imply that because we don’t see a prohibition to teaching that we can, “hear God” in our prayers, means that we can teach people to listen for God speaking to them in their prayers. What this looks like varies from group to group. Most would say that they get a thought in their mind and believe that it is from God. Then, they test it against scripture and see if it really is from God. I’ve seen some charismatic groups that take this to the extreme. They look for any scripture to twist and make fit. Then there are the false prophets of Mormonism, Islam, and Jehovah’s Witnesses that all claim personal extra-biblical revelation from God.

I would rather err on the side of faithfulness than selfishness or man-centeredness. I believe that I have had some of the sweetest times of communion with God while studying His word. I also believe that about times when I’ve prayed to God. There is a difference though. When I think that God has told me something, it is something I read in His word. When He hears from me is when I pray to Him. I know that He knows me and all of my thoughts before they happen. I know He knows me in perfect truth. I know He doesn’t need me to pray to Him for Him to know anything about me. I also know that He has told us to pray. He has told us how to pray. As we pray in obedience and in the Spirit, we align with God’s will and it sanctifies us. We also know that it is efficacious. We know that it accomplishes what God has ordained it to accomplish. We know then it is glorifying to God.

The danger with just considering the regulative principle is that we can become cold and ritualistic in prayer. We might end up just repeating very simple prayers because we believe that God knows it all anyway. This can become ritualized, but so can the other ditch we fall in. I’ve heard some wild charismatic prayers that are composed of Christianese modules strung together that frankly don’t mean much to anyone. This is one of the rituals in err on the other side. Another risk is to read too much into your prayer. I know you will all get bent out of shape for the mention of your favorite false teachers earlier but, the truth is that they have claimed extra-biblical revelation and have not recanted. They are plainly stating that they have personally heard God say to them, “X” and He told them to write it down and tell everyone else. He apparently has also told one of them, that He has given them the proper understanding of His word and everyone (the orthodox) else is wrong. Let’s be better at discerning the truth, by reading the truth, and knowing the truth. That way when these false teachers come along, I won’t have to delete their names so all the Christians on broth won’t get bent and make personal attacks on me for allegedly bashing their favorite flavor of false teachings this month.

Why can’t they marry? The Bible says they should be able to.

Ever wonder why the Roman Catholic Church disregards the Bible and refuses to allow their priests to marry?  In light of (1 Corinthians 9:3-5 NASB) “(3) My defense to those who examine me is this: (4) Do we not have a right to eat and drink? (5) Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?”  and (1 Timothy 3:1-4 NASB) “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. (2) An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (3) not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. (4) He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity” as well as, (1 Timothy 3:12-13 NASB) “Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. (13) For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”  It seems pretty clear that marriage is the normative for the leadership of the Church.  Not only does it make sense that way, but it also displays the gospel for everyone to see in the Husband and Wife relationship.  Even God incarnate, Jesus Christ quoted His own word by referring to Genesis 2:24 in (Matthew 19:1-5 NASB) When Jesus had finished these words, He departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; (2) and large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there. (3) Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” (4) And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, (5) and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’?”  It seems to me that marriage is a good thing and prescribed in the Bible for men and women.  Perhaps the Roman Catholic Church just likes to make up their own doctrines and disregard the Bible?  Just saying…

1 Corinthians is about food sacrificed to idols, but I think it can also speak to eccumenism.

1 Corinthians 8:1-13 NASB (1) Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. (2) If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; (3) but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. (4) Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. (5) For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, (6) yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. (7) However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. (8) But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. (9) But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. (10) For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? (11) For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. (12) And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. (13) Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

We as Christians have the liberty to go to a group of lost people, like say the Roman Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, LDS/Mormons, SDA Seventh Day Adventists, or Muslims, to sit and share the gospel with them.  We just have to be careful to differentiate between their faiths and ours.  We have to do it without offending them more than is necessary and it has to be clear to everyone else who is watching including believers and unbelievers.  If we don’t make certain to point out our differences it looks to the spectators as if we are acquiescing or giving assent to the aberrant beliefs of the lost.  We don’t want people coming away thinking that there is no difference.  We don’t want other believers to come away thinking that we agree with the false teachings of these other groups.  We also don’t want weaker brothers to start adopting false doctrines because of that misconception.  I get it, this does not seem to be speaking to eccumenism, but I think the underlying principle of abusing liberty at the detriment to the weak can apply to eccumenism as well.

A Review of the Study Bible for Women by Holman Personal Size Edition.

DSCN4542
Let’s look at the, “Study Bible for Women” in the HCSB translation, personal size edition, from Holman. It comes in a quality leathertouch, (synthetic leather) teal and brown cover . It was a very pleasant surprise to see some actual study aids as opposed to junk food. There is academic quality here. There are some notes on hermeneutics, theology, some original language notes and transliteration help. Most women’s Bibles are pink and have a bunch of Osteen-esque, self help, self-esteem, feel good, prattle in them with little in the way of useful exegesis of scripture or how to apply it today. This study Bible has significant work in it from two established Christian women. Here are short biographies from Holman’s site,

“Dorothy Kelley Patterson is Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. She is a homemaker, popular speaker, and successful writer, editor, and compiler of numerous books including A Handbook for Ministers’ Wives, The Family, BeAttitudes for Women, and Touched by Greatness: Women in the Life of Moses. She is co-editor of the two volume Women’s Evangelical Commentary:Old Testament and New Testament. Her husband Paige is President of Southwester Baptist Theological Seminary.”

and,

“Rhonda Harrington Kelley is President’s wife and Adjunct Professor of Women’s Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a frequent speaker for women as well as an author of books including Divine Disciple, Life Lessons for Women of the Bible, and Personal Holiness: A Biblical Study for Developing a Holy Lifestyle. She is co-editor of the three volume Women’s Evangelical Library including Women’s Evangelical Commentary: Old Testament, New Testament, and The Study Bible for Women. Her husband Chuck Kelley is President of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.”

There is some of the fluff, don’t get me wrong. It is just kept in its proper place and proportion. I think that women should find this very helpful. However, I am not a woman and am just commenting because I want one like this for men.

Here is what the Publisher has to say about this Bible,

“Publisher’s Description
The Study Bible for Women will equip you to reach deep into God’s Word. Perhaps the single most powerful aspect of this Bible are the “threads” of specialized study thoughtfully woven throughout, pointing you to God’s larger story and allowing the Holy Spirit to write His revealed truths on your heart.

In The Study Bible for Women, personal size edition you’ll join a host of other women, all academically trained in the original languages of the Bible and passionate about God’s Word, for an intimately deep dive into Scripture that will equip you to unlock the riches and majesty of His Word, and ignite a passion to mentor others in your life to do the same. The Study Bible for Women includes the full text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, a clear, contemporary English translation that’s faithful to the original languages of the Bible.

Features include extensive commentary notes, word studies, answers to hard questions, doctrinal notes, Biblical womanhood articles, character profiles, Written on My Heart applications, extensive book introductions, presentation pages, in-text maps, charts & time-lines, full-color maps section and concordance.”

The Bible was shipped in a cardboard box with paper packing material. The Bible was inside a two piece retail box. It arrived undamaged and in good condition. I can’t stress enough that this is not some cheap synthetic leather, nor is it some hard, shiny, pigskin leather you would find on other Bibles in this price range. This is a good quality synthetic cover.

DSCN4554

The spine is hot stamped with, “HCSB” at the top, “The Study Bible for Women” orientated horizontally along the spine in the middle, and at the bottom is the Holman logo. The page edges are silver. The pages are white with a faded blue color that becomes more solid as you approach the page edges and perimeter of the page.

DSCN4549

The paper is 30 g.s.m. making it pretty opaque. Lighter paper would not have been good. With this weight of paper you don’t have much in the way of ghosting (seeing the text on the backside of the page show through) There are numerous decorative designs throughout. I don’t know what your opinion is of that, but I could do without them. The font used for the main text is 8.5 point in ITC Clearface Standard. (Open-type) This makes it easy on they eyes unless you have bad eyesight. The coloring of the page perimeters could cut down on the contrast of the text to the paper. The paper could be a little brighter white where the text is, but then the perimeter effect would be lost. The text is laid out in a double column, paragraph format with the cross-references on the outside of the page instead of at the bottom or in a center column. Interspersed throughout are other features.

DSCN4589

The inside cover is made of paper of the same color and glued down. They did a good job with the corners. There is one ribbon marker and it is matching in color as well. The binding on this Bible is a South Korean, sewn binding. They have been doing a lot of Holman’s bindings and are holding up quite well. This also makes them flexible on top of being durable. Way better than a glued binding.

DSCN4551
Even though this is a study Bible, I don’t want you to be afraid that it is a behemoth. (funny right?) For a study Bible this thing is very manageable. In the personal size edition it is even more manageable than its full sized sister. It is just the right size for ladies who don’t want to use a hand-truck to carry their study Bibles to Wednesday night Bible Study. I think it is a very good investment if you are looking for a women’s study Bible that has good content instead of the motivational junk you get pushed on you nowadays.
Make sure to check out all of the pictures I took of this Bible here. There are lots of close-ups.
ISBN-13: 9781433607608

Shemitahs, blood moons, and apocalypse oh my.

Shemitahs, blood moons, and apocalypse oh my.

I know some of our more charismatic friends and television sensationalists like John Hagee and Perry Stone have gone coo coo  for blood moons.  Waiting for the Shemitah to come and go can be nerve wrecking.  If the end doesn’t come they will have to make a list of all the big bad scary things that happen during the year to prove their point.  It will be the same with the blood moon.  The lack of an apocalypse will have to be explained away again.  That is the thing with making predictions and going further than what the text of the Bible actually says, you end up explaining things away out of necessity, or run the risk of having your followers leave you for the next doomsayer to fuel their fantasies.  I encourage you all to not get, “caught up” in all of the scares.  Don’t sell your house and buy a purple sweat suite with nikes and pudding just yet.  Let’s just go as far as the Bible says and not make it say things it doesn’t say, mmmkay?  There is a reason most credible theologians don’t write tons of commentary on Revelation, or other unfulfilled apocalyptic, prophetic, writings in the Bible.  It is one thing to theorize or speculate, it is another to actually teach people that God has given you some personal revelation that makes you the false-prophet du jour.  So for the love of God and His word please stop making false claims, stop getting people all upset and scared for no reason other than to profit from their fear.

My Commentary on Mark 1-4:20

Mark 1:1-20

(1) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (2) As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; (3) THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.'” (4) John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (5) And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. (6) John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. (7) And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. (8) “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (9) In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. (10) Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; (11) and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” (12) Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. (13) And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him. (14) Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, (15) and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (16) As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. (17) And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (18) Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. (19) Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. (20) Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him. (Mark 1:1-20 NASB)

In the beginning of Mark we see the inauguration of the New Covenant being announced and the demarcation of the end to the Old Covenant.  This derives from the beginning of Christ’s ministry.  John, like other forerunners of kings was to go ahead of our King and prepare the way for Him, just as Malachi and Isaiah are quoted as saying.  John went preaching a one time repentance from dead works and sinful self-righteousness, to faith in the one true God.  Jesus was heralded as the fulfillment of these prophecies.  The prophecy in Isaiah 40:3 is interesting to me.  The one preparing the way will be in the wilderness, or desert, and the way is prepared from there.  John is dressed as a man who lives in the wilderness.  The wilderness of that region is desert.  He is the one preaching the baptism of repentance from sin and a faith in the coming Messiah, Christ Jesus.  I also found it interesting that it was just the people of Jerusalem and not Israel that were coming to him for baptism.  John also points out that Christ is the one to look to, not himself.

This is exemplified by the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon Christ and the Father’s audible proclamation.  We then see God in the person of Christ, according to His sovereign will calling Simon and Andrew to follow Him, which they immediately obeyed.  Jesus told them He would make them fishers of men instead of their former vocation as fishermen.  This implies a new vocation for these men that was ordained by God for His glory.  The conversion of sinners by the preaching of the gospel will now be their vocation and they will be the incarnate God’s disciples, while making disciples.  The same can be said of James and John who were called next.

Mark 1:21-45

(21) They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. (22) They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (23) Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, (24) saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!” (25) And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” (26) Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. (27) They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” (28) Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee. (29) And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. (30) Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. (31) And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. (32) When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. (33) And the whole city had gathered at the door. (34) And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. (35) In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. (36) Simon and his companions searched for Him; (37) they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” (38) He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” (39) And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons. (40) And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” (41) Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” (42) Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. (43) And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, (44) and He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (45) But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere. (Mark 1:21-45 NASB)

Jesus taught with authority because He is the incarnate word of God.  He is the word made flesh.  He perfectly understood the intent of the author, because He is the author.  When one perfectly understands the intent of the communication they can teach it from the authority of the position of its author.  This was very different than what the people were accustomed to with the scribes and the pharisees.  They taught as men who had been taught by other men.  They cited other teachings of men as their support.  

The confrontation of the demon possessed man is an instance of a demonic spirit knowing who Jesus is, evidenced by it saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!” and Christ having pity on the afflicted person who was possessed.  Christ came to set captives free.  This was a very real bondage the person was in and Jesus freed him from it.  This bondage was a result of the curse of the fall, as is physical infirmity.  It was the direct result of Adam’s sin.  Simon’s Mother-in-Law was sick with fever.  Jesus healed her as well.  We wonder why these healings were mentioned.  We think to ourselves that it is a miracle meant to make us believe in Christ, and it does help us, but it is also a physical type of the gospel that we finally see worked out by Jesus on the cross.  We see in the leper the effects of sin and Christ’s mercy yet again in the healing of the leper.  Christ actually reaches out to the corrupted, or unclean person, who desires to be clean.  This is also a picture of the gospel as was the last encounter.  Jesus frees the man by cleansing him of his sin and the leprosy.  Often we see the healed and cleansed becoming proclaimers of Christ making more people come to Him.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I am not talking about a different gospel of life enhancement or health and wealth.  These types of passages are often used by people to support the false health type gospel, but this is work that Christ was doing is to point us to the ultimate mediation of Christ on our behalf, that then calls us much like He called the Apostles.  He makes us able to respond and makes us respond.  We leave everything behind and die to ourselves to follow Him and preach His gospel to all creation.

Mark 2:1-17

(1) When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. (2) And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. (3) And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. (4) Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. (5) And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (6) But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, (7) “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” (8) Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? (9) “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? (10) “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–He said to the paralytic, (11) “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” (12) And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.” (13) And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them. (14) As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. (15) And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. (16) When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” (17) And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:1-17 NASB)

The paralytic man could not come of his own accord and had to be brought by people who believed Jesus could help him.  He could not help himself.  Because they came in faith, Jesus granted him forgiveness of sin.  The pharisees and scribes thought this was blasphemy because they still didn’t recognize Him for who He was.  They still thought He was just a man.  Because of their unbelief Jesus also healed the paralytic and told him to pick up his mat and go home, and he did.  Then the Bible says, (Mark 2:12 NASB)  “And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.””

Let me repeat, “so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God”  that included the pharisees and scribes who were there.  

Jesus tells Levi to follow Him and he does.  Jesus eats with the tax collectors and the pharisees and scribes have a problem with this.  Jesus explains His purpose to them.  The self-righteous even when confronted with the righteousness of God don’t see their need.  The unrighteous when confronted with the righteousness of God saw their need.  

Mark 2:18-28

(18) John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to Him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” (19) And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. (20) “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. (21) “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. (22) “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” (23) And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. (24) The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” (25) And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; (26) how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” (27) Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. (28) “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:18-28 NASB)

John’s disciples and the Pharisees were observing a religious fast.  The fact that the disciples of Christ were not, probably aggravated them.  In their obedience to the letter of the law, conducting their work of fasting, they self-righteously were condemning the disciples of Christ, and doing so without understanding.  They come to Jesus with their question or accusation and want an explanation of Him.  In His explanation He reveals more about who He is and His purpose, although it wouldn’t be understood until His crucifixion.  It is also interesting that He says they will fast on that day instead of in those days.  The singular day of His death or more likely his ascension is what is intended.  I believe we see dead ritualism contrasted with living and joyful faith in this passage as  well.  It is also a look forward to Colossians 2 where our rest is in Christ for always. Christ is teaching against the separation of the intent of God and what He plainly states.  The self-righteous make the obedience and practice of things into a means of righteousness when in fact the practices were intended for good, but perverted by our self-righteous sinful natures.  

Mark 3:1-19

(1) He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. (2) They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. (3) He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” (4) And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. (5) After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (6) The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. (7) Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, (8) and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. (9) And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him; (10) for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him. (11) Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!” (12) And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was. (13) And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. (14) And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, (15) and to have authority to cast out the demons. (16) And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), (17) and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”); (18) and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; (19) and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him. (Mark 3:1-19 NASB)

  1. 1-6 are a continuation of the teachings from day 4
  2. is about a practical step that was being taken because of the notoriety that Jesus was experiencing due to the many miracles He had been working.  We also see the confession of demons as to the identity of Jesus as the Son of God.  It is important to note that this title refers not to the actual sonship as a created offspring, which Jesus was not, but rather to His positional title within the triune godhead.
  3.  13-19 Jesus is calling and appointing the 12 disciples “so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons.”  

Mark 3:20-35

(20) And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. (21) When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” (22) The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” (23) And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? (24) “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. (25) “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. (26) “If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! (27) “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house. (28) “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; (29) but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– (30) because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” (31) Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. (32) A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.” (33) Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” (34) Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! (35) “For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:20-35 NASB)

  1. 20-27 show Jesus being accused of casting out demons by the power of satan.  Jesus of course teaches the people that it would be an impractical approach to do what they are accusing Him of.  I think that due to the next vv 28-30 we can see that Jesus was doing the miracles like casting out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit and that by attributing the works of the Holy Spirit, the third personage of the Trinity, to satan, that it is a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and that blasphemy will not be forgiven.  I believe this point is made obvious by vs. 30 “because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” “  Saying that Jesus was possessed by satan or a demon and that is how he was casting out demons was essentially calling the Holy Spirit a satanic spirit.

in vv. 31-35 we see Christ teaching that those who do the will of God are His family.  We know that elsewhere in God’s word that those who obey God’s word and love God are the truly converted and as born again believers we are adopted sons and daughters of God

Mark 4:1-20

(1) He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land. (2) And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, (3) “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; (4) as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. (5) “Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. (6) “And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. (7) “Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. (8) “Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (9) And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (10) As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. (11) And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, (12) so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.” (13) And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? (14) “The sower sows the word. (15) “These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. (16) “In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; (17) and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. (18) “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, (19) but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (20) “And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:1-20 NASB)

  1.  1-12 are the parable of the seed sown on the different types of ground.  After Christ gives the parable we then see in vv 9-12 “He says, “And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

    As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.”

The statement in vs 9 of, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” is one that should get us thinking about the next couple vs.  We know that the disciples were privileged according to God’s will to know the mystery of the kingdom of God.  We also know that the people outside of that group were mixed.  Some were elect and others were not.  The ones who would believe are the ones who had ears to hear.  They were enabled by God.  He granted them the faith to believe and the ability to understand what was being taught.  The intent of Christ was obvious from vs 10 that not all people were elected unto salvation, “otherwise they might return and be forgiven.”  

  1. 13-20 is an explanation of the parable to His disciples so that they would understand.  In vv. 13-14 we are told that the sower is the one who sows the word, or spreads the gospel of Christ.  in vs. 15 we encounter the people who don’t respond or who respond negatively to the gospel.  In vs. 16-17 is the person who likes the idea of the gospel and responds positively, but it is an intellectual assent, without true conversion, that does not bring regeneration of the sinner.  When hard times come because of their profession of faith, the disavow it.   in vv. 18-19 we see the type of people that make up a majority of the Churches today.  They are only christian on Sunday.  There are too many other things to be concerned about in life.  They may or may not be true converts.  My belief is that they are not true converts because the scripture says they do not bear fruit.  A person who is truly saved bears fruit in keeping with the spirit of salvation.  vs. 20 we see the true convert.  They not only have become converted, but also they become the sower, and the increase is worked by the power of the Holy Spirit according to the sovereign will of God the Father in Christ’s atoning work on the cross.  The gospel is preached by them and their converts and their converts and so on.  The fruit is evidence of their conversion.

A Necessary Book for your Christian Library, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs from Hendrickson’s Classics.

DSCN4714
 
Most of you are familiar with this title. It is an edifying record of several martyrs from the early Church. Every Christian should own a copy of this book, and read it for their growth. We need to know what happened and the culture in which it happened. We need to understand that it could happen again in our own country, and that it is happening now all over the world. If you don’t have a hard copy of this book and only have a digital copy, I suggest you get this one. It is affordable, well done, and printed in the U.S.A.
 
DSCN4719
 
DSCN4721
 
DSCN4716
 
DSCN4715
 
DSCN4720
 
Digital copies are fine, but what happens when tech doesn’t work? What happens if a ruling class decides to issue an electronic update and your devices all rewrite your Christian books? Hard copies, put away in a library are insurance against that. I know, they take up a lot of room, and cost money, and can burn up in a fire, but they are important for archiving valuable information. This book contains content that would help us to act appropriately, in future situations that could be similar or the same. Reading about Christians who were pursued, persecuted, and killed for their faith, should help us understand that their convictions were strong. Stronger than their fear of death. We should all hope that if we, by God’s providence are to be martyred, that He would grant us the grace that these precious ones of His received.

We can read about the Apostles, and men like Polycarp who knew John. Here is an excerpt from the book,
“Polycarp, the venerable bishop of Smyrna, hearing that persons were seeking for him, escaped, but was discovered by a child. After feasting the guards who apprehended him, he desired an hour in prayer, which being allowed, he prayed with such fervency, that his guards repented that they had been instrumental in taking him. He was, however, carried before the proconsul, condemned, and burnt in the market place.
The proconsul then urged him, saying, “Swear, and I will release thee;–reproach Christ.”
Polycarp answered, “Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, Who hath saved me?” At the stake to which he was only tied, but not nailed as usual, as he assured them he should stand immovable, the flames, on their kindling the fagots, encircled his body, like an arch, without touching him; and the executioner, on seeing this, was ordered to pierce him with a sword, when so great a quantity of blood flowed out as extinguished the fire. But his body, at the instigation of the enemies of the Gospel, especially Jews, was ordered to be consumed in the pile, and the request of his friends, who wished to give it Christian burial, rejected. They nevertheless collected his bones and as much of his remains as possible, and caused them to be decently interred.”

We can also read about men from the Reformation like, John Wickliffe, John Huss, and Martin Luther. What these people did to preserve and spread God’s word, so that we could have it today, should make us appreciate their dedication and spur us on to remain faithful during persecution.