Tags: alliteration, Biblical distractions, commentary on Mark, confession of faith, discipleship, Jesus Christ, Mark 8, Satan, strategies of Satan, Sunday School lessons on Mark
And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?
Most of us are self-conscious enough to think that it would probably sound prideful and arrogant to others if we went around asking, “What are people saying about me?” So we don’t overtly ask it, but the truth is that there are many people who are dying to know what others are saying about them. As parents we tell kids, “It doesn’t matter what people say about you,” and there is some truth to this, but it does matter what we THINK and what we SAY about Jesus.
And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Jesus had summoned the Disciples to tell them secrets.
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
Servants of the King do as they’re told; friends of the King get to know the King’s secrets because they have a PATTERN of doing what they’re told.
And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
The Jewish leaders would not have allowed this confession (“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”) to go unpunished, and it was not yet the appointed time for the Crucifixion. The common people were showing unbelief and false faith, and most of them just wanted to see more miracles. Now the Disciples were confused. Peter believed Jesus was the Son of God, so how could He allow sinful men to crucify Him?
And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.
Peter knew the Truth, but he thought he could question the Truth just a little and still be dealing in “Truth.” That’s not how it works. The minute we question the Truth, we start speaking for Satan. Peter was not possessed by the devil, but his words were the influence of Satanic-type thinking. They were the seeds of lies dressed as doubt. Satan will often disguise a lie as a question (or an excuse, which is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie).
Jesus did not say, “I bind you, Satan. I cast you out of this city. I issue you a warrant of spiritual eviction…” He did not say, “I hate you, Devil. The blood of Jesus is against you, Devil. You can’t have Peter, you old Devil.” No, Jesus dealt in Truth, not diatribes against Satan. He simply told Satan to get behind Him because Satan was causing Peter to talk about the philosophy of man, not the Truth of God.
The Gospel of Mark stresses Jesus in His role as Servant – staying busy – moving forward – no time for a “side battle” with the devil. Many Christians enjoy fighting devils so much that they don’t know how – or don’t want – to go forward in their Christian lives. They turn around and try to fight some demons. They don’t say “get behind me, Satan” because they don’t have enough faith to turn their back on him. Some don’t say “get behind me, Satan” because if they had a victory over Satan, they would have to look inside their own hearts to deal with the sin there.
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Satan promises you glory, but in the end you receive suffering. God promises you suffering, but in the end suffering is transformed into glory.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 7, Biblical marriage, Christ-centered marriage, Christian marriage, commentary on 1 Corinthians, divorce, Gospel marriage, marriage, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians
In a previous post I discussed I Corinthians 7:1-10, and explained that, if you are married, God wants your marriage to be F.I.N.E., meaning that He wants the physical intimacy between you and your spouse to be frequent, inviting, natural, and exciting. He also wants you to know the real reason for your marriage.
But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
I Corinthians 7:11
But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
I Corinthians 7:12
This is something which the Lord Jesus did not say in person during His earthly ministry, but it is just as authoritative since it is being said by the Holy Spirit through Paul. Believers should only marry other believers, but the failure to do so is not a ground for divorce, nor is the salvation of one spouse after the wedding, even when the other spouse refuses to get saved. Furthermore, the hostility of the unbelieving spouse toward the believing spouse because of his/her conversion is not a ground for divorce.
And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
I Corinthians 7:13-14
This does not mean that the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the sense of salvation, but that he is set apart as part of a household with a Holy Spirit influence, and possibly the recipient of special blessings due to one-half of the one-flesh relationship being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Also, a nullification of the marriage would make the children illegitimate in a sense, and would damage the blessing of their exposure to strong Christian influence.
But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
I Corinthians 7:15
This does not authorize divorce for abandonment, as many suppose. It simply prohibits hostile and forceful attempts to prevent physical separation.
For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
I Corinthians 7:16
This is an obvious figure of speech, meaning that a Christ-like testimony in the face of opposition and even persecution within the household can often be instrumental in winning an unbelieving spouse to Christ. Remember, your marriage is not primarily for your happiness, for you, or even for your spouse. It is for God to use as a means to illustrate and preach the Gospel in an unbelieving world, and for means of our sanctification.
The Know-Nots view marriage as an institution of convenience or a societal contract. The Knows know that marriage is a holy covenant relationship ordained by God, and that the love between a husband and wife is supposed to be a picture of the love between Christ and His bride, the Church.
Tags: Bible teachers, children's Bible lessons, children's Bible studies, children's church, emotions, follow your heart, Jeremiah 17, Proverbs 28, Sunday School teachers, trust your heart
Last time, I discussed the problem of teaching Bible stories to children as though they are fables. Now we will see another concern that surfaces in many children’s Bible lessons: the emphasis on feelings.
Bible lessons are not therapy sessions. They are not really supposed to be opportunities for children to explore their emotions or feelings. Often, a children’s Bible lesson will have an “application” section so that the teacher can ask the child, “How do you think Jonah felt when was about to be thrown overboard? How do you think Jesus feels when you disobey?” And so forth.
Our feelings are not trustworthy, and it is better that our children understand, at a very early age, that the Bible is a book of absolute truth, not a sounding board for our opinions or feelings.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
A child should not be encouraged to see himself as the hero in every Bible story. Quite the opposite: he should be encouraged to see himself as the SINNER in every Bible story. Our feelings (just like our wills and our intellects) are fallen. That are bent toward self-glorification, self-justification, and self-interpretation. The hard thing about teaching children is not building up their self-esteem. The hard thing is replacing it (not tearing it down) with esteem for God. Our job as parents, or as children’s Bible teachers, is to utterly convince them that He is absolutely supreme. This task will face its toughest obstacle not in convincing them that He is supreme over the weather, the government, their earthly heroes, us, or even death and the grave. It will be convincing them that He is absolutely supreme over THEM.
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
“Just trust your heart,” says Walt Disney. “Follow your heart,” says Cinderella or the little mermaid. “Listen to your heart,” says Oprah. NO! Trusting and following your heart will make you a fool and may cut you off from God’s help. In grace, you will fail quickly, but in His judgment He may let you have your own way, and you do not want to have your own way over God’s way. Walk wisely and you will figure life out on your own? No. Walk wisely and you will learn from experience? No. Walk wisely and you will be what? DELIVERED, which means rescued by someone more loving, more powerful, more wise, more SUPREME than you.
Let’s teach children Bible truth, not feelings. Then their God-given feelings will focus on Him – where they belong.
Tags: Biblical companionship, Biblical friendship, Biblical Parenting, Christian friendship, Christian parenting, destruction, parenting, peer pressure, Proverbs 13, wisdom
Such are some of the worldly cautions about carefully and wisely choosing your friends. The Bible says it like this:
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
The Lord tells us to “walk with” wise men. This is obviously not a reference to the physical act of putting one foot in front of the other. It is a reference to those with whom we spend time on a daily basis, and with whom we form bonds of friendship. We are to join ourselves to friends who are “wise,” and those who are truly wise are those who follow the teachings of God found in the Bible.
The consequences of ignoring Proverbs 13:20 are dire. Those who fall in with a company of fools are not promised a period of trial-and-error, or even a second chance. The outcome of making a wrong decision about our friends is “destruction,” and destruction, in the Bible, is a thing that may come suddenly, without warning. Destruction speaks of finality and utter obliteration. It is a serious warning.
For those of us with junior high or high school aged children, we need to be especially careful of modern Christendom’s “youth group” or “teen ministry” mentality, which says that children (characterized in the Bible as “simple” or “foolish”) need to find their primary sense of belonging with others of their own age. The children which God has entrusted to our care need to “walk with” and learn from men and women of “wisdom:” those who have reached a level of Christian maturity that causes them to base their attitudes and actions on Scriptural principles and precepts.
Tags: commentary on Mark, doubt, feeding the multitudes, Jesus Christ, leaven, Mark 8, Pharisees, Sunday School lessons on Mark, unbelief
Jesus had twice fed large groups of people by miraculously multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread. After proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that those who followed Him by faith would have their physical needs met according to His will, the Savior was experiencing grief upon being confronted by persistent disbelief.
And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.
The skepticism which caused Him to sigh was par for the course for the Pharisees, but Jesus’s concern was that their attitude would infect His disciples.
And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.
Leaven is a substance which is small and unseen, but which will quickly permeate an entire loaf of bread. Here, Jesus compares it to the false doctrines of the Pharisees and the followers of Herod. But the disciples, who were foolishly worried because somebody had forgotten to bring bread aboard the ship, thought the Lord was making an underhanded comment about their failure to pack food.
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread.
I am not sure I want to describe Jesus’s attitude as that of “frustration” here, because that, in one sense, implies a discouraged surrender to circumstances. When we, as fallen creatures, experience “frustration” because of the failure of others to live up to our expectations, we almost always, if not, in fact, always, commit the sin of unrighteous anger. Jesus never sinned. However, we can surely see His holy grief in His response:
And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?
How quickly we often forget the blessings the Lord has given us, and the miracles He has done in our midst, when we are faced with unexpected inconvenience or the possibility of bearing someone else’s blame! The warning of Christ was right on target, and we must heed it even today. If we are not careful, a little lack of faith will cause the dough of our life to rise into a big loaf of questioning God, and a burnt crusty mess of unbelief. We must beware of a little leavenly bout of heavenly doubt resulting in a satanic rout.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 6, commentary on 1 Corinthians, homosexuality, immorality, Justification, righteousness, sanctification, sexual sin, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians, unrighteousness
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
I Corinthians 6:1
This was another problem in the Corinthian church. The Knows were taking their legal disputes before the Know-Nots instead of resolving them within the church. This is one of the ways in which we can tell that the letter from Paul to the Corinthians that we call “I Corinthians” was not an instance of Paul simply giving out general information. He was responding to specific situations in Corinth. His reasons for rebuking them remind us, that as Knows, we must:
I. Know our future
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
I Corinthians 6:2
If we know our future, we will know our privilege. In the regeneration the “saints” (the Knows) will “rule the world.” Having this tremendous privilege, how unworthy it seems of our calling not to be able to handle such relatively petty squabbles.
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
I Corinthians 6:3
There is some disagreement about the statement that we will “judge angels,” but this is probably referring to ruling over angels, rather than sitting in judgment over the condemnation of the demons. These are eternal responsibilities, but we must demonstrate that we know our responsibility here and now.
If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
I Corinthians 6:4
This may be a somewhat sarcastic statement, because Paul was not saying that those with the least honor ought to be given this responsibility. He was saying that, in light of their boasting over spiritual gifts (highlighted both earlier and later in the letter), even the least of them should be competent to handle earthly matters.
I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
I Corinthians 6:5
Paul was trying to make them feel ashamed of hurting their testimony in front of the Know-Nots (the lost world) around them. They were acting as petty as the world acts, when they were supposed to be the ones with the true wisdom. Such behavior was the opposite of glorifying God – it brought shame to His name.
But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?
I Corinthians 6:6-7
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use the term “utterly” because this was a clear, without-out-a-doubt, extreme fault. It would be better for them to give up their legal rights and to lose worldly possessions and prestige, than to drag their bickering and evidence of their lack of love out before the sight of those who ought to be impressed with Christians because of how different from this world’s system their attitudes are.
Knows, in addition to knowing our future, ought to:
II. Know our past
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
I Corinthians 6:9
The “unrighteous” is a reference to the behavior listed in the preceding verses on lawsuits. The Knows were appealing to an unjust “justice” system and unjust judges by going before the heathen courts. It is also a reference to their own pre-Christian behavior, delineated in the latter part of the verse, which was “unrighteous” in the sense that it is the type of behavior which you would expect to see practiced by the those who are “unjustified,” theologically speaking. These sins prohibit anyone who commits them from inheriting the Kingdom of God unless the guilty sinners are justified by the receipt of a substituted alien righteousness.
As an aside, note that homosexual activity is explicitly condemned in this verse, both the “effeminate” (the person playing the role of the “woman” in a homosexual relationship) and “abusers of themselves with mankind” (the person playing the role of the “man” in a homosexual relationship).
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
I Corinthians 6:10
“Extortioners” included swindlers and coercers by intimidation or influence, as well as by force.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
I Corinthians 6:11
Knows know their past. They know who they were and who they are; they do not kid themselves. They are new creatures with their sins forgiven, no longer condemned by their past deeds, but they are allowed to remember where they were without God, how that was working out for them, and where they were headed before He rescued them. These verses remind true believers of what kind of behavior they should not be doing. In fact, they should hate the sins listed in these verses both when they are tempted to engage in them, and when they stumble and find themselves involved in them again, as they are convicted and chastened by the Holy Spirit. This means that we have legitimate grounds for being suspicious about the sincerity of the professions of those who practice these delineated sinful behaviors without repentance.
III. Know our present
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
I Corinthians 6:12
This indicates that the doctrine of Christian liberty was also an issue in Corinth, or that, possibly, someone had asked a specific question about it. “All things” is an expression referring to non-sinful things. Paul was free in Christ from trying to work for his righteousness, but there were many things which were not at all helpful, convenient, or profitable for him in his walk with Christ, and it is the same for us – especially those things which prove to be addictive or have a propensity to be addictive.
Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
I Corinthians 6:13
“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats” was probably intended as mockery of one of the Corinthians’ common expressions as they used their “freedom” as an excuse for gluttony or hedonism. So, while it is true that food is given by God to feed the body (meats for the belly), and that He has designed our bodies not only to incorporate and use food, but to enjoy food (the belly for meats), it is likewise true that the human body was never intended by God to be used in the worship of any created thing (such as food). In fact, our bodies have both temporal and eternal purposes, so that, while we have some freedom to experience pleasure with them, they must never be used as tools or instruments of sin. See the distinction between flesh-body (“belly”) and the sanctified body (“body”). The Apostle was criticizing and condemning their faulty logic: “If eating is okay, and if eating feels good to the body, then fornication, which also feels good to the body, is likewise permissible.” He reminded them that:
And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
I Corinthians 6:14
God has both temporal and eternal plans and uses for the body. We will receive glorified bodies, but they will be resurrected bodies, so they will be “our” bodies – the same ones we dragged through the physical trials, and, sadly, sins of this world. The Knows must know the present – the present importance of how we are living and how we are using our bodies. We are joined together as the body of Christ – not only with each other – but with Christ Himself.
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
I Corinthians 6:15
When we join our bodies with other human beings in sinful sexual unions we are, in a sense, bringing part of Christ Himself into this union. This is a horrendous, defiling, blasphemous, sacrilegious, abomination before God. “God forbid” is the strongest rebuke and warning – it is like saying this must never happen.
Continuing in that vein of outrage or at least righteous indignation, Paul says:
What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
I Corinthians 6:16
Physical intercourse does not make a marriage, although this is sometimes erroneously taught, but it is true that the physical sexual union is only proper within the “one-flesh” joining-together by God in actual marriage.
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
I Corinthians 6:18
“Flee fornication” describes a desperate flight of avoidance or separation. Sexual sin is a special category of sin in which the sinner sins against God, against one of God’s image-bearers, and even against himself – his own body.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
I Corinthians 6:19-20
We have been purchased – by an Owner and for a purpose. We do not “belong to ourselves.” This is a reminder that our bodies must be clean (kept from defilement as typified by the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple), and must be viewed, in a sense, as the place where God lives as Owner and Ruler. My body is where God is to be served – not where I am to be served. I must not connect it to a pagan temple. I must not let pagans enter in and defile it with sin. The consequences are harsh – God does not lightly allow His temple be defiled with unholiness.
Tags: Bible teachers, Biblical Parenting, children's church, children's ministry, Christian parenting, commentary on Matthew, Jonah, Jonah and the whale, Matthew 12, Sunday School lessons on Matthew
The are various ways to teach Bible stories (which are true, factual, historical events) to children, and various techniques that can be used. This is not going to be a lesson about how to use sock puppets, or how to talk in a funny voice to keep kids’ attention, or how to string out a story over several weeks with carefully designed “cliffhangers,” so they will want to come back each week to find out what happens next. There are people who are far better at those things than I am.
No, this is about the actual teaching of Scripture. Teaching means that you are focusing on what they are actually learning, not just making sure they are having fun or being entertained. Nor am I talking about showing off Bible knowledge, or giving out prizes for participation or accomplishment. I’m talking about actually finding out what God wants us to know about a particular Bible story: Why did God put this in there and command us to read and study it?
Therefore, the first thing to keep in mind when teaching Bible stories to children is: Don’t teach fables. Bible stories are not fables. They are not fairy tales, and their purpose is not always to teach a “moral lesson,” although we usually can glean moral lessons from them.
The problem with avoiding the fable-teaching method in children’s Bible studies is that you will be hard-pressed to find a children’s curriculum or lesson book that DOESN’T use this method. Take the story of Jonah for example.
“Jonah was told by God to go where? Nineveh. But he didn’t want to go there, did he? No. Where did he go instead? To Joppa and then to Tarshish. And when he boarded the ship for Tarshish, what happened? A big storm that resulted in him getting thrown overboard. What do we learn from this? That if you disobey God something bad will happen to you.”
That’s true – as far as it goes – but remember, there are people disobeying God all over the place like crazy, and they seem to be doing fine. Several of them hold the highest government offices in our land! The story of Jonah is not like the boy who cried wolf – he did something bad so he ended up facing the consequences.
Try this instead: “What happened to Jonah when he was thrown overboard? Did he drown? No, God sent a big fish to swallow him up. That’s terrifying, but it turned out to be better than drowning, because he lived in the fish’s belly for how long? Three days… hey, wait a minute… hmmm, that reminds me of someone else who was supposed to be dead, and went down somewhere for three days.”
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
It turns out that the Holy Spirit, when describing what happened to Jonah, was not really primarily teaching a lesson about the consequences of disobeying God, or even about how God can comfort you when you are scared and alone, or even about how God controls His creation (weather and animals). No, what He was primarily teaching is that we all have disobeyed God, and we deserve to be thrown into the sea to die, and we have absolutely no ability to save ourselves, but God can save us, because He Himself went down into the grave (the “belly of the earth”) and rose again in His Own power. Furthermore, just like Jonah’s testimony of coming back from the dead was the sign that supported his preaching, for us, the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is our “proof” that everything that Jesus said about our sin and His salvation is true.
We don’t want our kids to think of a cartoon man and a cartoon whale, and definitely not a cucumber swimming around with a talking tomato.
We want them to think of a real man and a real fish that God used to get people ready to recognize Jesus – the Christ – Who would one day fulfill what Jonah and the whale typified: sin, death, burial, resurrection, and Gospel preaching!
Tags: 2 Timothy 3, Biblical children, Biblical Parenting, Biblical parents, children's church, children's ministry, Christian parenting, Christian parents, The Bible
There is a whole industry out their geared toward the production of material for sale to churches, under the heading, “children’s ministry.” From coloring books, to puzzles, to visual aids, to movies, to action figures, to entire programs with point systems set up to award patches, trophies, candy, and prizes for attaining participation and memorization goals, there is no shortage of items available for those who would like organize, institute, or carry on with, a “children’s program” at his or her church.
The Holy Spirit, however, reminds us that the most important “material” needed in the evangelism, instruction, and training of children is found between the covers of God’s Holy Word: the Bible.
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
II Timothy 3:15
If you are a Christian parent, then I suppose there may be some value in having a shelf filled with work books, color-in-the-lines representations of Noah’s Ark, and attendance awards, or a wall covered with certificates of merit for knowing all the hand motions to “I’m in the Lord’s Army, yes sir!” but do not neglect the most valuable teaching and learning tool ever invented for the edification of little (or future) disciples of Jesus: the Scriptures.
Tags: Biblical warnings, commentary on Mark, Jesus Christ, Jesus's miracles, leaven of the Pharisees, Mark 8, miracles of Jesus, Pharisees, Sufficiency of Scripture, Sunday School lessons on Mark
In Mark Chapter 8 we are warned of four main things that might sidetrack us from obeying the Word of God. When you see one of these: STOP… beware… and go back to your Bible.
S.igns and wonders
And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.
Why couldn’t the Pharisees who were present while Jesus was on the earth have a sign of their own, signifying Who He really was? One reason is that they already had the Old Testament. They were self-appointed experts in the Law of Moses, and the Law of Moses was one giant sign – the biggest sign ever, prior to the Cross – pointing the way to their need for a Savior. Another reason is that they also had the Old Testament prophets, who described Who Jesus would be. In fact, their forbears, whose traditions they honored, had been killing the prophets, and King Herod had just killed John the Baptist, the last and most specific of all the Old Testament prophets. Jesus knew the hearts of these Pharisees, and He knew that their request for a sign came from a place of unbelief. If you ever find yourself tempted to challenge God to let you see signs and wonders as evidence of His reality or goodness, STOP… beware… go back to the Bible. The desire to see a miraculous show is a sign that you are doubting God’s Word. Do not imagine that God is desperate for your approval. He is not impotently wishing people would believe in Him. He has not simply suggested that people should believe “in” Him – He has sovereignly commanded people to BELIEVE HIM. He’s looking for doers – participants – not gawkers and spectators. He doesn’t care how many people mindlessly chant, “Our God is an awesome God.” If you really think He’s the awesome God, you’ll be serving Him, not waiting for Him to entertain you.
S.igns and wonders
If you are antsy about ordinary, day-to-day needs, and feel like you should have to concoct your own schemes to help God meet those needs, or if you are trusting men or the government or a church, instead of God, to meet your needs, then beware: STOP… go back to your Bible.
Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and [of] the leaven of Herod. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, [It is] because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew [it], he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?
Trust God, and He will supply all your needs according to His (not your) riches in glory. He has the ability to feed and clothe you. If you are truly a Christian, then you know that He has saved you from eternal damnation and given you the very righteousness of Christ. Certainly you must also believe that He knows how to best work out where you’re going to live, what you’re going to eat, and what’s going to happen with your job.
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Beware of false teaching and false doctrine. Whenever somebody tries to “add” to the purposes of Jesus – like the Herodians did – or take away from the purposes of Jesus, and say He can’t do what He said He would do – like the Pharisees did – beware… STOP… go back to your Bible. A little false teaching can get in and leaven the whole lump of what you believe. Most heresies didn’t start out with wrong doctrine. Most heresies started when somebody just wanted to add or take away a little bit of what the Bible says.
Jesus healed a blind man gradually in Mark 8. The fact that it happened gradually instead of all at once is unusual, at least in recorded Scripture, but it was not unusual for Him to heal in different ways. Sometimes He healed people in front of crowds, and sometimes outside the city. Sometimes He healed with one touch; sometimes with two. Sometimes He did it just by speaking a Word. We must not always expect God to do things the same way. Jesus brought me to saving faith at the front of a church, during an invitation near the end of a service. That was my precedent, but I must not expect everybody to be saved that way. Some people, at the moment of conversion, cry uncontrollably; some shout for joy. My wife was healed instantly and miraculously of a serious physical infirmity, but many others are healed by God through the use of doctors and medicine. Do not try to put a limit on how God operates, EXCEPT when someone tells you that, or you find yourself wondering if, God will act contrary to Scripture. If you say, “That can’t be right; it violates Scripture,” and someone tells you, “Don’t put God in a box,” STOP… beware… stick with the Bible.
In the Book of Mark, Jesus is portrayed as busy. He goes places “straightway.” We are following Him, so we have to move to keep up. But He’s given us stop signs to let us know when we’re following so fast that we didn’t realize He turned right, and we kept going.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 5, Christian friendship, church discipline, commentary on 1 Corinthians, judgmental people, shunning, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians
Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
I Corinthians 5:6
Leaven works secretly. It spreads through the whole lump. It puffs up. When Knows get puffy (and true Christians DO struggle with pride), they sometimes have to be purged. This is different from how the Know-Nots are to be treated. False professors do not just contain leaven; they themselves ARE leavened.
I Corinthians 5:7
And the only reason the Knows can have it purged is because our Passover was greater than the original Passover (Exodus 12). Our Passover has already been sacrificed, and His sacrifice was spiritual and actual, not partial and figurative.
I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
I Corinthians 5:9
Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
I Corinthians 5:10
This is one of many of the Bible’s admonitions to Christians, telling us to separate ourselves from this world’s system, while remaining actively involved in hands-on ministry IN the world itself.
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
I Corinthians 5:11
To “eat with” someone in Bible times had a connotation of forming a covenant-type relationship of trust, assistance, and approval. Those who openly and unrepentantly practice fornication, covteousness, idolatry, railing, drunkenness, and extortion must not have their behavior condoned by Christians, even if the people doing these things choose to identify themselves as fellow-Christians.
For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
I Corinthians 5:12-13
The Corinthian believers were proud of being “nonjudgmental” when it came to those within their ranks who lived just like the open sinners without, while at the same time enthusiastically judging the Know-Nots who never claimed to be Knows. Such judgment is hypocritical and pointless. Sinners who sin egregiously are just doing their job, in a sense. They are powerless to stop their behavior. God is the One Who will judge them unless they repent and turn to Christ. When it comes to the Knows judging the other Knows within a church body, such judgment is not wrong IF:
1. It is done in love.
2. It is done in the hope of restoration.
3. It is based on the actions of the offenders, not suppositions or conjecture.