Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mark 6:30-33 commentary: rest a while

30 ¶ And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. 33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.

Jesus Christ mandates rest, not pushing yourself to death. There are people who think they can substitute obedience with causing themselves unnecessary personal suffering as a sign of spirituality.

Pastors need a balance. Christians need a balance. God didn’t call us to go without sleep or to not eat right under ordinary circumstances. It proves nothing. There were medieval Catholic monks who whipped themselves and performed all sorts of disciplines that ravaged the body and mind in an effort to prove that they were pious and spiritual. None of this means anything. It is the worship of the will, masochism, and self-hate.

We’ll see in a couple of chapters that Jesus lays down as one condition of following Him is to deny yourself.

Mark 8:34 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.

But this is not about causing yourself suffering or denying your basic needs of nourishment and rest. Self-abuse is not a sign of obedience to Christ.

Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

See here while Paul acknowledges that denying yourself in this way does deny the flesh, it is a form of worship of your own will and only a show of wisdom, a pretense. People who cause themselves pain and anguish supposedly for Christ are only drawing attention to themselves. We are to be pointing to Christ not to ourselves.

Jesus told the disciples to come apart and rest. There are times when you need to separate yourselves from your responsibilities to pray, reflect, and recover. Do not mistake your martyr complex for spirituality. It is mere self-promotion and pride.

One of the great things about uniting with a small church body on Sunday mornings is taking yourself out of the world and the cares of the world to worship and sing and rejoice with like-minded fellow believers. It is a coming apart from the world, a refreshing, and very important for the Christian. The church meeting shouldn’t be a place where you hide in a crowd, sing half-heartedly, pray reluctantly, and give a few unenthusiastic hellos because some self-righteous person has made you feel that it’s your duty to be there. It should be a place of refreshment and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Take this verse out of its context in Nehemiah and reflect on what they did then, thinking about your worship.

Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength

Another set of verses that would do us well in the church age are in Psalms.

Psalm 100:1 ¶ «A Psalm of praise.» Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

The people in this passage would not be denied, though.

Modern Bible versions have changed this passage to reflect only the desperate people’s knowledge and need for the disciples and not Jesus alone. It was Jesus they wanted, needed, and longed for and the modern versions often deny that fact in this passage.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mark 6:21-29 commentary: the head of John the Baptist

21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; 22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. 24 And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. 25 And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. 26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. 29 And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.

Herod at the great feast was afraid of looking weak. He was afraid of his wife and of his companions so he murdered a great man of God. He is representative of the typical high official of today, always checking to see which way the popular wind was blowing, afraid to cut off the money spigot from his lobbyist friends, or to hinder the possibility of lucrative speaking engagements after he leaves office. There’s no telling what he and his companions were thinking as they watched that young girl dance and its probably best not to know. But, what we do know is that like most politicians he was a spineless wimp.

The kingdoms of this world, at present, are under the operative control of Satan.

2Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

…until Christ returns physically to take over control…

Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

So, the political state of these worldly kingdoms will always be one of wickedness and evil doings. They are rotten from top to bottom no matter how much beautiful architecture, art, music, and education they contain.

One author has spoke of the condition of the poorest of people of today in our cities quite truthfully;

“The United States, the greatest accumulation of wealth and power the planet has ever known… Now has pockets of degeneracy as horrible as anything found in the poorest nations of the world. From the interstices of our twenty-first-century cities there oozes a hideous misery.”

(Jared Taylor in “Paved With Good Intentions”, page 326)

And from the top levels of our country another type of degeneracy;

“…it becomes painfully clear that we no longer have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Rather, the system of government under which we labor today is a government of the elites, by the bureaucrats and for the corporations. This political enterprise that passes itself off as a democracy is in reality little more than a “pay to play” banana republic, a plutocracy run by a powerful and corrupt oligarchy from the corporate, military and political sectors.”

(John W. Whitehead, “The Corporate Takeover of America—A Government of the Elites, by the Bureaucrats and for the Corporations” July 9, 2012, The Rutherford Institute. )

Any modern day John the Baptist speaking the truth about these people at the uppermost levels of our country will be chastised, marginalized, set aside, ignored, imprisoned, have his taxes audited, have child porn downloaded to his computer through some program like Citrix “Go to My PC” program, or perhaps be found dead having been shot several times only to have a coroner declare him a suicide. As a result I am highly suspicious when a whistleblower is found dead, usually of a suicide, because he “couldn’t take the pressure” like British Scientist, David Kelly or something illegal is “found” on a someone’s computer before they are murdered like Dr. Thomas Manton. It may be just a modern day Herod taking care of business.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mark 6:14-20 commentary: criticizing the top dog

14 ¶ And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. 17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

Here is the power of a bad conscience.

Acts 24:25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Leviticus 26:36 And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth.

Modern versions remove “risen from the dead” in verse 16 based mainly on Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. This “risen from the dead” lays out literally that there was indeed a general belief in a physical resurrection, not merely a spiritual one, although likely the wording was changed for the purpose of obtaining a copyright rather than an attack on doctrine.

Verse 18 showed that John had been preaching against Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife.This simple truth profoundly affected King Herod. This is the power of the word of God and of preaching it in the streets.

Herodias would have killed John as Jezebel would have killed Elijah in 1 Kings 19:2. While Elijah had overseen the execution, though, of many of Baal’s priests in the previous chapter, John the Baptist had simply called Herodias on her sin. It was enough to warrant death. Aren’t you glad you live in a country where criticizing your leaders’ behavior doesn’t result in execution, unless of course you’re one of the many people who have shot themselves in the head, twice, like Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb who exposed President Reagan’s Contra project’s relationship with the influx of crack cocaine to the country in the 80’s, or any number of associates of Bill Clinton who were murdered or committed “suicide.” Then you might not feel so glad.

Pointing out a powerful or important person’s wickedness can put an end to a career. Usually, the pointing is done by a person with as much a load of guilt as the one being called out, at least in today’s politics. Newt Gingrich pointing out Clinton’s infidelities is akin to Stalin calling Hitler a dictator. In the scene here in Mark it is a true man of God, said to be just and Holy. He was also someone that Herod wanted to hear and wanted to follow but he was just too spineless in his sin.

You will see the occasional person in a wicked and sinful lifestyle or job come to church regularly and soaking in the sermons and teaching. But that person will be too afraid of his friends, business associates, wife, and family to leave the sinful lifestyle he’s in. It may cost him money, position, and contacts. He’ll get “it” alright. He just won’t have the guts to do anything about “it”.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mark 6:7-13 commentary: two by two

7 ¶ And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; 8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: 9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.

Here’s a sending off of the twelve to Israel with signs for the Jews.

Matthew 10:5 ¶ These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. 9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, 10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. 11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. 12 And when ye come into an house, salute it. 13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. 15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

16 ¶ Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. 21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. 23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. 24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? 26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. 40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

The Anabaptist group, the Vaudois, from the Cottian Alps in Northern Italy went out two by two to witness all over Europe during the Medieval period, preparing the road for the Reformation to come. (From Muston’s “Israel of the Alps”).

Mark 6:10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. 11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

The last part of this verse is missing in modern versions from “Verily” on. That’s 23 words based on the authority of our two bad guys, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, and three lesser manuscripts out of thousands. Apparently, someone doesn’t want you to know that it will be better for Sodom and Gomorrah, homosexual gang-rape and all, than for a place that will not hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sodom and Gomorrah were judged for several sins, of which the attempted assault on Lot’s guests, something which was repeated in Jerusalem later in Judges but did not result in fire and brimstone, was the last part.

Exodus 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

This is one evidence of levels of punishment in Hell. The perverts in Sodom will not be as miserable as those Jews who heard the preaching of Jesus’ disciples and rejected it.

Mark 6:12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent. 13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

Repent is to change your mind, to do a 180 from where you were headed. We repent of our sins. We repent of being a sinner. We repent of what we have been holding onto in order to justify us or get us to Heaven.

Remember, to translate the word as demon links it to the Greek idea that demons could be good. No, they are never good. They are devils. This is the reason that transliterating Daemon is not a good thing. It can give the wrong impression. Devils are evil, always, regardless of whether or not a Greek philosopher claimed there were good ones.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mark 6:6 commentary: unbelief

6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

Unbelief limits God by His own rules. If you refuse to believe He will not honor unbelief.

Psalm 78:40 ¶ How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! 41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

Mark 5:36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.

I would imagine that God does marvel at mankind’s unbelief. There are an infinite number of reasons to see His hand in all of creation. It is a mathematical impossibility that life could have happened by chance on earth which even unbeliever Francis Crick, one of the co-founders of the DNA helix admits in his book “Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature”. He explains that life could not have originated on earth by random chance and believes the cop-out like militant atheist Richard Dawkins that life was “seeded” here from somewhere else in a process called Panspermia, perhaps with a seed of life carried on the “solar winds”.

However, paleontologist Peter Ward and astronomer Donald Brownlee, in their book “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe” point out that life probably couldn’t have randomly occurred anywhere but earth because of conditions so unique here. So, there you go. It couldn’t happen here without God and it probably couldn’t happen anywhere else so what are we left with?

Can you just see God marveling at unbelief?

Andrew Newberg, Eugene D’Aquili, and Vince Rause point out in “Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief” that a belief in God seems to be “hard-wired” into the human consciousness. They then go on to guess why that would be from an evolutionary, atheistic perspective.


Underscoring the doctrine found in the first three chapters of Genesis without meaning to do so, William R. Clark in his “Sex and the Origins of Death” tries vainly to understand why there is death as he admits that death is not by necessity a part of the definition of biological life. Can you picture God marveling at Clark’s unbelief when God explained why the very foreign idea of death came into the world in the first three chapters of Genesis?

What’s it going to take for these people to see the truth found in the Bible? Perhaps the “White Throne Judgment” and a lake of unquenchable fire?

Skeptics and scoffers, there is no point in arguing with me. I have these books. I’ve read them. I know what they say. Save it for someone who is impressed with your pseudo-intellectual view of the meaningless of life and the randomness of existence. I’m not buying what you’re selling. It’s just sad that children in public school and young people in college have to have their senses assaulted with this non-scientific nonsense paid for by government confiscatory taxation. It’s not amazing that teenagers kill themselves or go on killing rampages or suffer depression and mental illness. It’s amazing that more of them don’t with this garbage crammed into their heads, that they are nothing but mere, random accidents of nature, events in space-time with no more meaning or purpose than a rock.

God is marveling at mankind’s unbelief. So am I.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mark 6:5 commentary: examine your unbelief

5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.

It is important to note that when something should not be done or if it would not be appropriate to do it God has it written in a way that implies He was unable to do it. So, for the lazy Bible student this can be very confusing but it indicates a plan, forethought, and a way that God has in mind how things are to be done. See the following verses, as John Gill pointed out;

Genesis 19:22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

Jeremiah 44:22 So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day.

God’s response is already figured out. He’s not reacting to events. He knows events beforehand and knows how He will see His will be done.

In the following verse it is not to be imagined that Joseph’s brothers were physically prevented from speaking peaceably to him but that their response to their father’s favoritism influenced their behavior.

Genesis 37:4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

See here a parallel verse to Mark 6:5;

Matthew 13:58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

There are times, though, when Jesus worked when the people’s faith wasn’t an issue. This is reported to prove a point to us. We complain that God isn’t doing enough for us and we don’t examine our unbelief. It is one thing to receive a negative response to our prayers because God’s will is on a different tack. It is another entirely not to receive a positive response to our prayers to God because we really don’t believe. Many Christians have more faith in their faith than they do in God. We often hear about the power of prayer when what is really only relevant is the power of the one to whom we pray.

Mark 9: 23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Always praying in His will, according to the Bible, keeping the idea of eternity in our hearts;

1 John 5:14 ¶ And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

I think we can safely assume that a new Mercedes convertible if you can only afford a Nissan Centra or that your 95 year old body will start working like a 20 year old’s is not part of God’s plan. Sometimes unbelief is based on pure selfishness and unreasonable expectations. In that case God can’t help because it would go against His eternal purpose, His will for your life, or death, whatever the case may be. Does what you want line up with what God wants for you?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mark 6:4 commentary: Is Christ honored in His house?

4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

With regard to John the Baptist whom they thought might be that Prophet and asked him;

John 1:21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

Country would be a place but the last two words Christ uses, kin and house, describe family. Kin we know but house refers to a family or a dynasty in ruling terms.

Exodus 1:21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

1King 12:19 So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.

It is interesting to note that in the Old Testament the house of God is a place while under grace the house of God is a group of people, a family.

Genesis 28:17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

1Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

It is common for us fundamentalists to refer to the church building as the house of God. But, it confuses our doctrine to say that and lends a carnal, temporal touch to our belief much like asking the Holy Spirit to come down on a meeting that, if the Holy Spirit isn’t already there then no one in the meeting is saved. A new Christian or an unsaved person can leave such a meeting not understanding that the believers they were with are the house of God, the body of Christ, and the Holy Spirit was there and is always present within each of us. It’s one of those things that those of us who left them held over from the Roman Catholic Church which was an organization not an organism.

This idea was based on the structure of the pagan Roman Empire and everything had to be interpreted in the very concrete and earthly dimensions of the Roman mind which could only conceive of being inheritors of and carrying on the physical Hebrew theocracy of David’s kingdom. It’s very comforting but erroneous. There are no sacred spaces in Christianity except in the believer’s heart. The Christianity that has sacred places, sacred relics, sacred groves, sacred temples, sacred altars is not the Christianity of the Bible but merely another pagan religion. The church that belongs to Christ is His body on earth. It is a living organism, a living body with its head in Heaven, not simply an organization.

There is an important parallel here for the Christian. Your family and friends, with whom you grew up, will be less likely to accept the change that comes over you when you got saved.

With regard to Christ Himself;

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Is Christ held in low regard in His own house, in the body of Christ, His own church? How much is Christ elevated in your church body? Are Christ’s moral teachings more important to you than who He is, God in the flesh? Is the Sermon on the Mount more real to you than the Resurrection? Is the Golden Rule more important to you than the Translation of the church? Is being a positive force in the community or in politics of more value to you than worshipping a Risen Saviour? Is your so-called service for the Lord more important than sitting at His feet and letting Him speak to you through His words in the Bible?

There are at least two types of Christianity. The Christianity of the Founders of our country was one of honoring the moral values of the New Testament, not the deity of the one who gave those moral values. The Christianity called for in the Bible includes the moral values, but elevates Christ as being the central focus of the religion not the moral values He imparted without His elevation.

Then within the second Christianity there are two sides. The one says the Christian must examine the moral values that Christ manifests and choose to follow them. That is Humanism, pure and simple. It assumes power on your part you really don’t have to change yourself without uplifting your will in God’s place. It makes the Bible a manual of training rather than a Living Book that speaks to your heart.

The truly Biblical Christianity acknowledges that the believer submits to Christ and Christ makes all the changes through His word; written, spoken, and preached. You choose whom you will follow but you have no control over where they will lead. If you honor Christ you will surrender your will to His, not to your good intentions.

It is interesting to note that with regard to Jesus’ earthly family his brother, James, eventually became a follower.

Galatians 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

On the cross, Jesus assigned the care of His mother to the Apostle, John.

John 19:26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mark 6:3 commentary: is not this the carpenter?

3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

See here, how the Roman Catholic Church is wrong, and Jesus Christ has half-brothers and half-sisters, and that Mary had many other children than Jesus. She had at least six children other than Jesus. This and other verses show that the Vatican doctrine is incorrect. Things like the Assumption of Mary, she was a perpetual virgin, and the like have no Biblical basis.

Matthew 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Saying that they were cousins or Joseph’s children from a first marriage has no basis in the Scripture. We can’t get together with the Catholics if they reject God’s word. It is impossible to pursue righteousness when you are zealously clinging to error.

On a side note wouldn’t you like to see some of the furniture or farm implements Jesus made during his work as a carpenter? I’m surprised that the Roman Catholics or Greek Orthodox haven’t claimed to own a chair or a table that Jesus made or perhaps a plow. Now, that would be quite a relic, wouldn’t it?

Back to the verse; the people who just marveled at His wisdom and mighty works are now offended by the fact that they think they know Him as simply a humble carpenter. They can’t reconcile who they think He is with what He has done, much like the modernist or adherent of another religion who regard Him as a great teacher and nothing else, like Thomas Jefferson or the Dalai Lama, have to discount and deny His miracles because they can’t reconcile His teachings with His claim of deity and being the only way to be saved.

There are even foolish so-called Christians, such as many of our nation’s founders, who believe that to be a Christian one might hold to some of the moral values of the Bible without confirming the deity of Christ and the supernatural events such as the resurrection of the body and the translation of the church. This is simply a waste of time. If Jesus isn’t God you might as well be home watching the news on Sunday morning and living like a maniac, burning out your body with sin and depravity and going into a silent eternity with a worn out body and a giant drunken blur for a memory. Because, you’re going to spend a long time not existing if you were correct in your assumptions.

But, we don’t believe that a person is merely an event in space-time that is here, then gone forever. We believe by faith in eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord, or eternal anguish as a worm in a lake of unquenchable fire. You choose. The price has already been paid. The free gift is there. You have to accept it, to receive it, for it to be of any value to you.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mark 6:1,2 commentary: the mark of a believer

We’ve had a miracle over nature, a miracle over the Devil, a miracle over disease, and a miracle over death. Christ has shown His power over all four.

1 ¶ And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

The world looks at you that unless you have the world’s learning and education you can’t amount to much.

John 7:15 And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?

But, education will not save you in eternity or from sin and its consequences in this life.

1 Corinthians 3:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 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.

You cannot know God or have a relationship with Jesus Christ from a textbook. It is His Bible that will set you apart for His service. A book on engineering is not going to save you from Hell or make you useful to God.

The Bible is not like Emily Post’s Book on Etiquette where you read a little dribble here and there and then you try to follow its “advice.” The Bible is God’s word, a picture, if you can take it, of the Lord Jesus Christ in written form. It will change you. You have to read it from cover to cover, over and over. It has power.

Deuteronomy 17:19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:

Psalm 119:9 BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

1Timothy 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

Fundamentalists, whom Dr. Ruckman refers to as ‘funnymentalists’ sometimes, say they believe the Bible literally. But, do they really? You must read the Bible, maintaining a dialogue with the author of it, hearing Him speak through it and you speaking to Him in prayer. He will change your heart about sin, taking things out of you that He wants gone from your life so that you won’t even be interested in them anymore.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The mark of a Christian, a Bible believing Christian, is one who knows that God will use His printed , preached, and spoken words to change the soul of a believer. It is not for nothing that the Vaudois, those ancient Christians of the Cottian Alps said, “The Holy Scriptures alone are sufficient to sanctify the believer.” The mark of a Christian is one who believes and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ through good times and impossible times. He also has a testimony before the world, being filled and overflowing with the fruit of, the evidence of the Spirit expressed in Galatians 5:22, 23.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

A Christian keeps His word even if it causes him difficulty. A Christian is honest even if it causes him hurt. A Christian works hard but is not too proud to admit he needs help. A Christian doesn’t hold people to a different standard than he holds himself. A Christian will repeatedly forgive even if he doesn’t foolishly restore the person who hurt him to a position where they can do further harm. A Christian wants to help others who are less fortunate than he is. A Christian isn’t like a Stoic Philosopher of Ancient Rome. He does not do right because doing right is the right thing to do. He does right because he loves the author of righteousness and cares for the person to whom the right thing is being done.

You can’t get these traits from a college education, a textbook, or a motivational seminar. They are implanted deep within you by a righteous God using the Bible He has given to you. You can’t pretend to have these traits by squinting your eyes and making a fist and wanting it to be so. You’ll fall down, no matter how good your intentions are. You get these traits by letting the words of the Bible cleanse your heart every single day and by walking with God through that Book every single day, not just on Sunday morning and Wednesday night.

Let people be astonished by you. Let them say emphatically, “from where does this man (or woman) get these things?” “What wisdom is this that is given to him (or her)?” Let them say about Christ when you should be crushed, broken, and beaten but are not because you trust Him, “such mighty works are wrought by His hands.”

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mark 38-43 commentary: body and soul

38 And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. 39 And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. 40 And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. 41 And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. 42 And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. 43 And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

As I understand it there were traditionally professional mourners.

I wonder if the laughers ever believed on Him?

In the New Testament, sleeping referring to death, always refers to the body but not the soul. Notice how the soul came back into the dead body in the Old Testament. The soul is never spoken of as being asleep.

Genesis 35:18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

1Kings 17:21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.

The soul leaves the body at death.

2Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

The body of your loved one at death does not contain their identity, their soul. What you saw at the funeral was an empty vessel, for which you had great affection because that is what you saw and touched and held. But, that person has left and gone away, either to a blessed state with the Lord God or to Hell to suffer the natural fate of those in rebellion against God.

Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

The rich man’s corpse is in the ground but he is in Hell.

As a picture of our salvation, here is a young child immediately being able to get up and follow Christ. In a different episode Lazarus has to be unbound. We were all dead in trespasses and sins, but in my case, it took sixteen years, after being saved, to be unbound, to be able to respond to Christ.

I hope I’ve shown you how these passages are pictures of salvation and faith. The last part is a type of the fact that as a new Christian the first thing we need to have done is to be fed. That is accomplished with the word of God. Without an immediate immersion in the word of God the new Christian will die on the vine. The numbers game of 1-2-3 repeat after me and then abandoning the new convert is wickedness. The first thing that a new Christian needs after being brought to life, is to be spiritually fed.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mark 5:37 commentary: three witnesses

37 And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.

In Matthew 10:2 these are the first three apostles named. They are to the history of the church as representative of Christ’s sojourn on earth and His physical relationship with His people as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are to the Jews and God’s personal dealing with them.

They represent the Twelve Apostles as witnesses to specific miracles. In Matthew 17:1, in one fulfillment of the preceding verse, Matthew 16:28, they are led up the the Mount of Transfiguration to see the Lord in His glory. This is revealed later in Mark, as well, and beginning in Luke 9:28.

Later in Mark we will see that these three disciples ask him privately about the end of the age as they sit on the Mount of Olives looking in the direction of the temple. He also separates them from the others in the Garden of Gethsemane and takes them with him a little closer to the place where he prays the night before His execution.

There are many people who follow Christ. Some of them are very, very busy for Him, doing all sorts of works they feel called to do. A small few, though, He takes with Him and shows them things the others are too busy to take the time to see. I guess the question you might ask is are you one of those He takes with Him or are you part of the group that is so busy working for Him, trying to earn your salvation, which is an impossibility, that you miss things He wants to show you.

We must always remember, as the great Chinese Christian, Watchman Nee, said in “Two Creations”, that it is not about us. It is about Him. We should not be seeking our own spirituality, our own righteousness, or our own works but His, in all things. Do you desire to see God’s way as a righteous Christian does or do you desire to see God’s way as Christ did? There is a difference.

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mark 5:35, 36 commentary: Be not afraid, only believe.

35 ¶ While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? 36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.

Many modern versions omit “As soon as” and “heard” from the Bible based on the authority of our two least favorite corrupt Roman Catholic manuscripts and a couple of less important ones. Jesus did not ignore or pretend not to hear the messengers. But, the verse says that as soon as He heard their statements He told Jairus to believe and not to fear.

Here is a clear expression for us to understand, that while the woman received an immediate answer to her desire to be healed, Jairus was told to not be afraid, only believe, and then he would see the answer later. This account is also found in Matthew 9. If the answer to your prayer is not immediate, if your child is still headed in the wrong direction, and if your situation seems hopeless but you are praying and submitting to Christ, walking along the road with Him, the answer He gives is “Be not afraid, only believe.”

In every thing trust in Christ, even unto death. No answer that makes you happy may come in this life. When the three young Hebrew men were threatened with death in a fiery furnace if they did not bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s statue and were asked what God could possibly save them from it they said,

Daniel 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Job said that even though God would slay him that he would still trust in God in Job 13:15.

Paul’s eyesight never cleared up in spite of his prayers but he never stopped being faithful and trusting in Christ. David grew old and died after watching his own family ripped apart because of his sin. Faithful Jeremiah never got one person to believe his warnings from God. Daniel died a prisoner, never seeing his beloved Jerusalem again, as far as we know. Nehemiah and Ezra worked the rest of their lives on rebuilding the Jerusalem but it is certain they never saw Israel or Judah’s glory again on earth. John the Baptist was beheaded for his troubles. All of these people, including Nebuchadnezzar who was converted at the end after losing his mind for a season, we will meet in the heavenly city. But keep praying and depending on Christ and remember, be not afraid, only believe.