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 2, 2 Peter 1, Bible catechism, dictation, inerrancy, infallibility of the Bible, inspiration, Luke 24, Sufficiency of Scripture, superintendence
Question 11: How did the Holy Spirit write the Bible?
Answer: He wrote the Bible by using people.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.
II Peter 1:21
The view of inspiration that is considered most orthodox is called the “superintending method theory,” which holds that the Holy Spirit spoke through the human instruments that He used to write the Bible without violating their distinctive viewpoints, personalities, writing styles, etc. I would not disagree with this, to a point, but neither would I overrule what is sometimes called the “dictation method theory.” I do not mean that the human instruments which the Holy Spirit used typically went into a trance-like state of “automatic writing,” such as the kind of thing that sometimes can attend various states of hypnosis or catatonia. But I do think there may have been times when a human instrument was aware that He was spelling out Holy Scripture, and other times when he might have thought he was writing down his own personal thoughts, unaware of just how closely he was being “superintended” by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, the “superintendence vs. dictation” distinction is a distinction without much difference as long as we understand that no human error made its way into the pages of God’s Word, and that the Holy Spirit perfectly guarded, guided, and controlled the absolute inerrancy, infallibility, sufficiency, and inspiration of the Bible. All liberal theories that make the Bible a combination of holy revelation and human opinion, along with those that skeptically pronounce, “the Bible was written by men,” without proper clarification, must be rejected.
Other verses to consider:
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
I Corinthians 2:13
Tags: 2 Peter 1, 2 Timothy 3, inspiration, Sola Scriptura, Sufficiency of Scripture, The Bible, Word of God
The Bible is 66 books combined into one big book. Its Author is God in the Person of the Holy Spirit, but He used about 40 different human instruments over a time period of about 1600 years across three continents to write it. It is inerrant, which means it is perfect. There are no mistakes in it. It is infallible, which means it is not possible for it to be wrong. And it is inspired, which means that it is supernatural – divinely given by God.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
II Peter 1:21
This verse seems, at first blush, in our modern vernacular, to mean that the Bible is new: The prophecy “came not in old time.” However, the emphasis that matches the “came not” is on the “will of man,” not the “old time.” The prophecy was, in fact, given long ago, but it did not come by the “will of man.” It came instead by the “inspiration” of the Holy Ghost. He picked up certain men (like you or I would pick up an ink pen) and used them by “breathing” His Holy living words through them. He did this either by dictation or superintendence. In other words, they either knew they were writing Holy Scripture or they didn’t, but God made sure that they were. As stated above, the Bible is inerrant, infallible, and inspired. It is also sufficient.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
II Timothy 3:16
The doctrine of “the sufficiency of Scripture” holds that all of the Bible is inspired by God, and that it is profitable for all the things listed in that verse, so that we need no other words from God. We do not need any “fresh revelations” or new “words of knowledge” or privately-given “words of prophecy.” Therefore, when you hear someone say, “God told me to tell you this” or “I have a word from God for you” or “the Lord spoke to my heart,” you may reject these expressions or at the very least test them against Scripture.
And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
II Peter 1:18-19
God has deigned to speak to us, yet we often neglect His Word. We find our eyes locked onto our phones, our televisions, our laptops, even the information printed on a cereal box, while the precious and powerful Word of God lies nearby, unread and, in many homes, covered with dust. Part of the problem comes from a misconception about how interesting, accessible, and inspiring the Bible actually is. We need to realize the excitement in it. The Bible is not boring, and, if you think it is, you may have gotten this idea from getting stuck in a section of genealogies or some the instructions for building the Temple. Or you may have fallen asleep in the minor prophets because you didn’t understand who was being addressed or why. But the Bible is not boring. There are wars and battles, love stories and intrigue, monsters and dragons, kings and rebels, superheroes and super villains – even talking animals! Hollywood offers up some big attractions, but they have nothing on the Bible – and the exciting stories in the Bible really happened!
In part 2 I will highlight three categories of excitement found in the Bible.