When someone is confronted with truth that challenges them to change what they believe or how they act, they often fake ignorance to avoid the reality facing them. Or they claim, “I can’t” when what they really mean is “I won’t”. That was the response of the religious leaders in Mark 11:27-33.
When Jesus gave them just two options “a” or “b” to answer his question, they chose “c”…the cowardly, “We don’t know.” Why? What do we learn from Jesus about how to deal with insincere questions and unwillingness to really change? What do we do with that in others? What do we do with that in our own hearts?
Listen to Faking Ignorance to Avoid Reality, from the series Jesus the Servant King from the Gospel of Mark.
Okay…that probably breaks all kinds of rules about acceptable length of blog titles!
Here is another nugget that didn’t make it into last Sunday’s sermon from Mark 11:12-25, this time dealing with the misuse of Jesus’ statements on prayer (vv.23-24), and is again from R.C. Sproul’s commentary on the Gospel of Mark.
The force that is at the bottom of New Age thinking is really magic, and the basis of the word of faith movement is not very different. It seizes on this statement by Jesus to assert, “Whatever you believe, if you believe it truly, you will have it.”…What’s wrong with this picture? The Bible gives us a wealth of instruction about prayer, repeatedly stressing the importance of trusting God for the answers to our prayers. Therefore, an aphoristic statement like this has to be understood in the light of all of that teaching, especially the New Testament qualifications about how God answers our prayers. Something like the word of faith movement results when we lift a verse like this out of its particular context and ignore the rest of the teaching of Scripture.
I joked yesterday that, in my preparatory study for the sermon on Mark 11:12-25, I had learned more about fig trees that I ever thought possible! Jesus uses this very common, very important tree in Jewish life to both give a warning, and make a great promise. Listen to Where False Faith Fails, True Faith Soars! from the Jesus the Servant King series.
In Mark 11:25 Jesus makes the statement: “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
That statement can raise a whole lot of questions! I did not address these in length in the sermon Sunday, so thought I’d share a great quote from R.C. Sproul that I found helpful…
…there is an analogy between our forgiveness of others’ sins and God’s forgiveness of our sins. God does not forgive us unilaterally; He requires repentance. But when we repent, He does forgive. We must do the same. If someone injures us or offends us, but then he apologizes, confesses his sin, and asks for our forgiveness, we cannot hold a grudge. If we do, we can expect the same from God. Jesus’ point is that every Christian is to be standing ready at any moment to forgive any offense if the offending person repents.
Link to the message from Mark 11:12-25, Where False Faith Fails, True Faith Soars.
It was J.C. Ryle, in a previous generation, who wrote, “The man who boasts of having a saving interest in Christ, while he does not follow Christ in his life, is a miserable self-deceiver, and is ruining his own soul.” That was one of the primary applications for us from Mark 10:46-52, where I asked the question: “What will you do when Jesus calls?” The nature of a true believer in Jesus is to cry out for his mercy, believe in him, and then to follow him!
Listen to: What Will You Do When Jesus Calls? from the Gospel of Mark Series, Jesus the Servant King.
Remember…we will be meeting for the first time at our new location this Sunday, March 15th at the Charles R. Beggs Recreation Center (Winfield Park District building). Worship @ 10am. Our passage will be Mark 11:12-25 and is titled, “Where False Faith Fails, True Faith Soars!”
We are so glad that at just a year old, God has given us the opportunity to partner with New Century Church in Los Banos, Philippines. Our team of Robb Davidson, April Dippy, and Craig Sturm leave for the Philippines on Monday! As the time for their departure draws near, here are a couple of important reminders…
- Please be praying for their final preparations: sermons and lessons are being prepared; a workshop is being finalized; packing is happening. Be praying for health and safe travels. April has put together an entry on the project blog that highlights key events during the project that you can be praying for – at the time they are happening! Check into that often!
- The team is still receiving donations of phones, digital cameras, and laptops. Please get those to the team by Sunday at the worship service. There is a need as well for donations to help offset the costs involved in the project. Those can be given on any Sunday or mailed (29W538 James Avenue, West Chicago, IL 60185). Please make checks out to Mercy Hill Church with “Philippine Project 2015″ in the memo line. You can give that at any time, even after the team has left. Any funds left over will be used for future ministry partnership projects with New Century.
Sunday, we explored Jesus’ interaction with the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27. This quote from Tim Keller was so helpful in seeing the central theme in the text:
Anyone who counts on what they are doing to get eternal life will find that, in spite of everything that they’ve accomplished, there’s an emptiness, an insecurity, a doubt. Something is bound to be missing. How can anyone ever know if they are good enough? (from King’s Cross)
After exposing the hopelessness of the man’s scenario, and indeed the hopeless for all of us, Jesus soars in verse 27…”With God all things are possible.” The Gospel makes the impossible possible!
Listen to the sermon: Making the Impossible Possible.
What makes sin sin is not first that it hurts people, but that it blasphemes God. This is the ultimate evil and the ultimate outrage in the universe.
- The glory of God is not honored.
- The holiness of God is not reverenced.
- The greatness of God is not admired.
- The power of God is not praised.
- The truth of God is not sought.
- The wisdom of God is not esteemed.
- The beauty of God is not treasured.
- The goodness of God is not savored.
- The faithfulness of God is not trusted.
- The promises of God are not relied upon.
- The commandments of God are not obeyed.
- The justice of God is not respected.
- The wrath of God is not feared.
- The grace of God is not cherished.
- The presence of God is not prized.
- The person of God is not loved.
The infinite, all-glorious Creator of the universe, by whom and for whom all things exist (Rom. 11:36)–who holds every person’s life in being at every moment (Acts 17:25)–is disregarded, disbelieved, disobeyed, and dishonored by everybody in the world. That is the ultimate outrage of the universe.
(From: What is Sin? The Essence and Root of All Sinning, by John Piper)
This past Sunday found us back in the book of Mark – chapter 10, verses 1-12. It is clear that the greater emphasis of Jesus in this passage is to show us the dignity, beauty, and importance of marriage. He raises the discussion on to a different plane altogether. The Pharisees want to talk about divorce; Jesus demands talking about marriage. Their primary interest was to see how far they could go in the realm of divorce and remarriage and still remain within the letter of the law. Jesus’ primary interest was in restoring men and women to the lifestyle for which they had been made. It is so hard for us to see this because, like the Pharisees, we want so much to have a detailed answer on the explosive issues of divorce and remarriage that we just blow by the essential nature of the purposes for marriage. But if we don’t get this, we won’t rightly get divorce and remarriage. Jesus knows this, and so drives the discussion back to its fundamental origin – God’s purposes in marriage.
Listen to the message, Marriage According to Jesus. Part of the series, Jesus the Servant King.