Author Archives: andyrupert

Chris Anderson

This an ongoing list of articles and videos about Chris Anderson.

Dave Doran interviews Chris Anderson about Church Works Media (3/31/2016) – Chris cooperated with Paul Thompson of Chuck Swindoll’s church to arrange the hymns in four-part harmony and orchestra.

Steve Green held a benefit concert at Killian Hill Christian School (2/10/2018)

Welcome – Chris Anderson joins the leadership team of Biblical Ministries Worldwide (12/1/2021)

Worship & Witness at Lebanon Baptist Church of Roswell GA – “I feel such a kinship with Lebanon Baptist Church and with your pastoral staff and church family. It feels like home. It’s good to be with you. I enjoyed singing with you. I’m especially grateful for the work the musicians put in to leading us so well so intentionally.” (11/26/2023)

Tim Keller

This is an ongoing list of articles about Tim Keller and his teaching.

Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople – In this lengthy article, Keller argues that Christians can believe in evolution because Genesis 1 was poetry/prose not to be taken literally.

Christians can believe in Evolution? – a video of Keller acknowledging several orthodox views that accept evolution as true

Do you believe there’s only one way to God? – Tim Keller’s answer during an interview with Martin Bashir. His answer uses arguments but no Scripture and leaves the door open for a theological trap door. (2008)

Tim Keller’s False Gospel – In this article, the author quotes Tim Keller in an interview and his publications. From my first reading, it seems that Keller is interested in making the gospel palatable to the culture so as to win them over. From the little I have read of him, he seems to rely on arguments more than the Bible. The article also gives a quote from someone who left his church after twenty years because he finally recognized the bad theology being taught.

Did God create evil?

There are times when we look at the Bible and read statements that at first seem to paint God in a bad light. Some of those statements almost seem to say that God is the author of evil. How could this be? When faced with hard times, an Old Testament prophet wondered about this. He asked how God could even look at evil (Hab. 1:13). And in the New Testament, we are told that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). How should we look at our sovereign God and His relationship to the evil we see in the world? Did He create it? Is He involved with it somehow? What does the Bible say?

  1. Does John 1:3 teach that God created evil?

    The explicit teaching of this verse is that the Word of God created everything. Some have drawn an inference that since Jesus created everything then He must have created evil as well. But is this what the Bible actually teaches or is it just a logical assumption?

    What does it say? (John 1:1-4).

    In the beginning, the Word existed, was with God, and was God. When everything began, He was with God. Everything was created through Him and nothing was created without Him. He had life within Himself and that light was the light of men. When that light shined in the darkness, it didn’t comprehend what it was.

    What does it mean?

    As you read through the rest of the passage, John makes it clear that he is talking about Jesus who was God, who became flesh, lived among men (John 1:14) and who revealed God to them (John 1:18). At the beginning of the chapter, John is explaining that Jesus was no ordinary man but was and is God. He states clearly that Jesus existed with God in the beginning when everything was created and that He is God. As God He was the agent by which everything was created. Verse 10 continues that thought by explaining that Jesus created the world and those in it. The fact that He made everything proves that He was no ordinary man and that He is God. When we look at the physical world and the people in it, we should recognize who made it. Sadly, the world that was created by Him did not recognize the One who had made them (John 1:10).

    How does it apply?

    We must recognize who Jesus is and respond correctly to Him. The fact that Jesus is our God and Creator is something that we cannot overlook. It is remarkable that God Himself came to earth and became a human to interact with us and to shine a light in the darkness of our sinfulness. Why would God do that? He did that because He loved us and wanted to reveal to His creation what was good and right versus the darkness we had embraced. Thankfully, those who receive Him and believe in His name become children of God through the new birth (John 1:12-13). In this case, God made us and the world but not evil.

  2. Does Proverbs 16:4 teach that God created evil?

    Depending on which translation you use, this proverb may use the word evil to describe God’s making of the wicked. Some would say that since God made the wicked for evil purposes, He must be the author of evil. Does that sound like something the holy God of the Bible would do?

    What does it say?

    “The Lord has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.” (NKJV)

    The Interlinear Study Bible translates it as follows:

    “All has made the Lord for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.”

    What does it mean?

    Without any context, this verse stands alone and its meaning should be considered with special carefulness. While this proverb is inspired by God, it should be recognized as a proverb–a short, pithy statement written to make us think. Let us consider several questions about the proverb.

    What does made mean? The Hebrew word translated as “made” is not the normal word for create. Instead, it is a Hebrew word that refers to someone “performing an action or activity.”1 In other words, it is an action which causes a result. Several definitions include “to do or make (systematically and habitually), especially to practice; commit, (evil-) do(-er), make(-r), ordain, work(-er).” Notice that all of the definitions point to an action with a purpose. Here Solomon tells us that God has a purpose in what He does.

    What does all refer to? Sometimes all means just that. When combined with the verb, it means that God has a purpose for all things. And if contrasted with the second phrase of the proverb, all here would naturally apply to all people. God has a purpose for all people including those spoken about in the next part.

    Who does the wicked refer to? The Hebrew word used here refers to people who are “wicked, criminal 1a) guilty one, one guilty of crime (subst) 1b) wicked (hostile to God) 1c) wicked, guilty of sin (against God or man).”1 They are “morally wrong; concretely, an (actively) bad person; [phrase] condemned, guilty, ungodly, wicked (man), that did wrong.”1 The meaning is clear. The wicked are those who have rebelled against God and who have themselves chosen to be ungodly.

    What is the day of doom (or evil)? The Hebrew word used here refers to something that is a “bad … adversity, affliction … calamity.” While the KJV translates this word as “evil,” it does not mean moral evil but something bad that happens. It seems better to go with the NKJV’s “doom,” the ESV’s “trouble,” or the NIV’s “disaster.” With the definition above in mind, the day of doom is a day when bad things happen.

    When you put all of this together, Solomon is telling us that God has a purpose that He accomplishes with all people including using ungodly people during a day when people are afflicted by a calamity. This verse does not teach that God creates evil; it teaches that God has a purpose in His actions including what happens to wicked people.

    How does it apply?

    When bad things happen, it is easy to think that God is not in control. Do you remember how Habakkuk looked at the sinfulness of the society he lived in? He asked the Lord why so much injustice, destruction, and violence was happening? (Hab. 1:2-4) God’s reply was to reveal His plan to use the ruthless Babylonians to administer His judgment on the sinning Hebrew people (Hab. 1:5-11). The prophet understood that God had ordained them for judgment (Hab. 1:12), but couldn’t understand how He could use wicked people who would continue the rampage God had initiated (Hab. 1:15-17).

    This is a good way to apply Solomon’s proverb. God was in control of Habakkuk’s situation and was intentionally doing what was best with the means He had chosen to accomplish His purpose. In this case, He made a wicked nation become His vessel of judgment on another wicked nation. How do we respond to this? God tells us in the next chapter.

    Habakkuk 2:4 – “Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.”

    When we don’t understand what God is doing and it seems that He is using the wicked as part of His plan, we need to look to Him in faith. God knows what is best and is doing what is best. Will you trust Him?

  3. Does Isaiah 45:7 teach that God creates evil?

    In Isaiah 45, Isaiah records a prophetic statement made by God to a future king. Depending on which translation you are reading from, the verse may seem to say that God actively creates evil. This would be a terrible thing, but is it what the Bible teaches?

    What does it say?

    The Lord said that He is the One who creates light and darkness. He is also the One who causes peace or disaster. He is the One who did all of these things.

    What does it mean?

    If you start at the beginning of the chapter, you will see that Isaiah 45:1-7 is a prophetic address to the future King Cyrus who would eventually conquer Babylon. In context, God was telling the future king that he was being used by God to subdue nations. His victories would be like marching through open gates because God’s plan was to show Him (and the Israelites) who the true God of Israel was. He told Cyrus that there was no other god beside Him. He was the One who created both light and darkness, peace and disaster.

    Here the word translated as “evil” (KJV), “calamity” (NKJV, ESV), and “disaster” (NIV) is from the same Hebrew root word used in Proverbs 16:4. According to the Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Lexicon, this word means “bad, evil … disagreeable … unpleasant, giving pain, unhappiness, misery … hurtful … distress, misery, injury, calamity.”3 It also can be used to describe something that is “ethically bad, evil, wicked” people, thoughts, or actions.3 In this case, the context will determine which definition fits best. In the context of what Cyrus was called to do, God was saying that He was the author of the day of pain brought about by the future king. With this in mind, the Lord was not saying that He creates evil. Instead, He creates the calamitous days as well as the peaceful ones. So this verse does not teach that God creates moral evil.

    How does it apply?

    In God’s perfect plan, He has incorporated peace and pain to accomplish His purposes. When a king like Cyrus was later able to subdue all of the nations around him, God did not want him to become proud as if his might or wisdom caused it all to happen. He was to remind himself that he was merely a tool in the hand of God to accomplish His will. Think about that for a moment. God can use anyone to accomplish His plan. Sometimes His plan includes peace. And how we long for that during today’s turmoil! But there are other times when God is the author of pain which affects the lives of many people. But you can be assured that God has a purpose for that. In fact, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28). When we learn to see God’s hand in everything and submit to His purposes, we will have peace even during times of pain because we are trusting in His infinite wisdom to do what He deems best.

Conclusion

After studying through these passages, do you think that God is the author of sin? I do not believe that these verses teach that He is. Instead, God is perfect and sinless and, as the Bible reveals in other places, those who have been in His presence have quickly recognized their own sinfulness (see Isa. 6:1-5). God is also loving and good. But there are times when in His perfect wisdom, He chooses to use people that surprise us. Do you remember the Egyptian Pharaoh during the Exodus? He was a wicked man who refused to yield to God. But God raised him up to do His bidding (Ex. 9:16). Do you remember King Nebuchadnezzar? He was a proud, sinful king whom God used to destroy Jerusalem and take many people captive. While God did use him to judge the people, He later interacted with him and brought him to the place where he realized who the real King was (Dan. 4:34-37). Perhaps that is the biggest lesson here. We need to remember who really is in control.

Footnotes

1 https://www.aionianbible.org/Bibles/English—Berean-Standard/Proverbs/16/4
2 https://www.studylight.org/interlinear-study-bible/hebrew/isaiah/45-7.html
3 רַע in Brown, Driver and Briggs, as viewed at https://biblehub.com/hebrew/7451.htm on 3/24/2024.

Greek Manuscript – 1 Timothy 3:16

God – Probably there is no passage in the New Testament which has excited so much discussion among critics as this, and none in reference to which it is so difficult to determine the true reading. It is the only one, it is believed, in which the microscope has been employed to determine the lines of the letters used in a manuscript; and, after all that has been done to ascertain the exact truth in regard to it, still the question remains undecided. It is not the object of these notes to enter into the examination of questions of this nature. A full investigation may be found in Wetstein. The question which has excited so much controversy is, whether the original Greek word was Θεὸς Theos, “God,” or whether it was ὅς hos, “who,” or ὁ ho, “which.” The controversy has turned, to a considerable degree, on the reading in the “Codex Alexandrinus;” and a remark or two on the method in which the manuscripts in the New Testament were written, will show the true nature of the controversy.

Greek manuscripts were formerly written entirely in capital letters, and without breaks or intervals between the words, and without accents; see a full description of the methods of writing the New Testament, in an article by Prof. Stuart in Dr. Robinson’s Biblotheca Sacra, No. 2, pp. 254ff The small, cursive Greek letters which are now used, were not commonly employed in transcribing the New Testament, if at all, until the ninth or tenth centuries. It was a common thing to abridge or contract words in the manuscript. Thus, πρ would be used for πατερ pater, “father;” κς for κυριος kurios, “Lord;” Θς for Θεος Theos, “God,” etc. The words thus contracted were designated by a faint line or dash over them. In this place, therefore, if the original uncials (capitals) were ΘC, standing for Θεὸς Theos, “God,” and the line in the Θ, and the faint line over it, were obliterated from any cause, it would easily be mistaken for OC – ὅς hos – “who.”

To ascertain which of these is the true reading, has been the great question; and it is with reference to this that the microscope has been resorted to in the examination of the Alexandrian manuscript. It is now generally admitted that the faint line “over” the word has been added by some later hand, though not improbably by one who found that the line was nearly obliterated, and who meant merely to restore it. Whether the letter O was originally written with a line within it, making the reading “God,” it is now said to be impossible to determine, in consequence of the manuscript at this place having become so much worn by frequent examination. The Vulgate and the Syriac read it: “who,” or “which.” The Vulgate is, “Great is the sacrament of piety which was manifested in the flesh.” The Syriac, “Great is the mystery of godliness, that he was manifested in the flesh.” The “probability” in regard to the correct reading here, as it seems to me, is, that the word, as originally written, was Θεός Theos – “God.” At the same time, however, the evidence is not so clear that it can be properly used in an argument. But the passage is not “necessary” to prove the doctrine which is affirmed, on the supposition that that is the correct reading. The same truth is abundantly taught elsewhere; compare Mt 1:23Jn 1:14.”

Albert Barnes

Well meant but wrong

How many times have you heard someone excuse bad behavior because the person had good motivation or a good heart. Do good motives and heart excuse bad behavior? Jesus didn’t think so. In Mark 8:31-33, He announced to His disciples His coming suffering, rejection, death, and resurrection. Peter was appalled at these statements and was quick to pull Jesus aside and rebuke Him for saying such things. Did Jesus calmly note Peter’s good intentions? No, Jesus would have none of it. He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan!” So much for good intentions.

“Peter did it all with the best intentions! He meant well. His motives were pure. But zeal and earnestness are no excuse for error.”

J. C. Ryle1

The next time I hear someone use the excuse of good intentions, I will try to be gracious. But I will also remember how Jesus’ responded to Peter. Good motives are no excuse for sinful behavior.

1 Ryle, J. C. , Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume One, Matthew — Mark, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977, 167-68.

Allistair Begg & Transgender Weddings

There are times when you may be unsure what to do in a certain situation. A grandmother was unsure what to do when her grandson decided to marry a transgender person. She had already voiced her displeasure to her grandson. But now that she had decided to go through with the wedding anyway, what was the grandmother to do? Should she go to the wedding or show her opposition by staying home? She eventually asked Pastor Allistair Begg of Parkside Church if she should go to the wedding or not. The following is his response:

“I asked the grandmother, does your grandson understand your belief in Jesus? Yes. Does your grandson understand that your belief in Jesus makes it such that you can’t countenance in any affirming way the choices that he has made in life? Yes. I said then, okay, as long as he knows that then I suggest that you do go to the ceremony and I suggest that you buy them a gift. Oh, she said, what? She was caught off guard. I said, Well here’s the thing. Your love for them may catch them off guard, but your absence will simply reinforce the fact that they said these people are what I always thought—judgmental, critical, unprepared to countenance anything. … But I think we’re going to take that risk a lot more if we want to build bridges into the hearts and lives of those who don’t understand Jesus.”1

From what I have read, his advice was given to this grandmother during the summer of 2023 and it has recently been found out and responded to by many Christian leaders. While Allistair Begg does not condone sexual perversion, his advice seems to lead this grandmother to condone the wedding by her presence. Others have this same opinion of his comments. The American Family Radio network has dropped his Truth for Life broadcast on their stations.2 Pastor John MacArthur has disinvited Pastor Begg from his church’s Shepherd’s Conference.3 There are probably more responses that I have not had time to research. But all of this leads us to an important question: What should a Christian do when faced with such a situation? As always, we must look to the Bible for the answers.

  1. What does the Bible say about sexual perversion?

    While there are many other passages that speak about God’s opposition to sexual perversion of any kind, the following are two very clear statements of His opinion.

    It is rebellion against God (Rom. 1:24-32).

    In Romans 1, Paul contrasts the wonderful gospel of Jesus with the rebellion of mankind. Although the gospel is the power of God to salvation, many have rejected it and rebelled against God’s ways. In verses 24-32, Paul shows how rejecting God’s truth led men and women to become involved with vile passions including homosexuality. God judged these people with a debased mind that kept getting worse. And the people involved in these sins know God’s righteous judgment against them but also approve of such sinful lifestyles.

    It brings God’s wrath on those who do it (Eph. 5:3-7).

    In Ephesians 5, Paul lists fornication (sexual activity outside of a heterosexual marriage) as something that should never be characteristic of Christians. Those who practice such activity will not inherit God’s kingdom and are under God’s wrath. It is clear that such activity is something that God hates. And since God’s wrath will fall on those who practice it, we cannot condone it. Being involved with them would cause us to be partakers with them of God’s wrath.

    In both cases, the Bible tells us that sexual perversion of any kind is something God will judge. Although He lovingly calls people to repent of their sin and be saved through faith in Jesus, He also warns that such sin will result in God’s judgment. There is not way to explain away sexual perversion as something that God approves. These passages are clear evidence that God hates this kind of sin.

  2. What does the Bible say about a Christian’s relationship to sinners?

    We need to remember where we came from (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

    In this passage, Paul reminds us of where we came from. While all of the sins listed here may not apply to you, some of them might. Notice that some of the Corinthians were perverted people before they were saved. But they were washed from their sin, sanctified to God, and justified by Jesus. This is a good reminder to us when we interact with those who are still practicing these sins. We were that way before God saved us from that sinful lifestyle. Remembering our own sinfulness may not be a pleasant memory, but it will keep us from acting as if we are better than others by our own doing. Always remember that Jesus changed you and it wasn’t a result of your own doing.

    We should not have fellowship with the works of darkness (Eph. 5:8-12).

    In this passage, Paul once again reminds us of our dark past but then follows up with our bright new life. Instead of continuing in our past sinfulness, we are to live our lives differently. This should lead us to seek what is acceptable to the Lord. We should also not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. This is another way of saying that sin never accomplishes anything good. It is unfruitful in producing anything that is acceptable to God. But once we know what is right, how should we respond? We should expose the sin for what it is – shameful rebellion against God.

    While we remember where we came from and what God has done in our lives, we mustn’t forget that we are now God’s children. Being part of God’s family involves speaking up for what God says and wants us to do. If we are to be faithful to the Lord, we mustn’t celebrate what God hates. We must speak out against it. Yes, we need to temper this speech with love and humility, but there is no way to sugar coat God’s opinion about sexual perversion.

  3. What results could come from celebrating an unholy marriage?

    Coming back to the current controversy, how do these biblical facts help us to make a decision about whether to attend the wedding ceremony of someone who is clearly rebelling against God’s commands? In particular, should a Christian attend the wedding ceremony of someone marrying a transgender person?

    Some think that attending would show love for the sinful couple.

    Those who want to create a bridge into the lives of the sinful couple, think that attending the ceremony would keep the relationship open. By attending the ceremony, they would be showing love for them and would keep from unnecessarily alienating them. Some would say that this is what Jesus did. If Jesus ate with sinners, shouldn’t we do the same? Remember how Jesus ate at the homes of Levi and Zacchaeus? In both cases, his time at their homes resulted in their lives. Zacchaeus, in particular, repented of his sin and was a changed man. Jesus’ love for these sinners overcame any hesitance to visit them because of his goal to see their lives changed. In both cases, there were good results.

    But was Jesus’ time at these men’s homes just a show of love. Was he there to just show them love or was he seeking to lead them to repentance? I think it was both. His love led him to confront them about their sin (which they left). He was not ignoring their sin but lovingly confronting them about it. Jesus went to his house with the idea of bringing each to repentance but not to affirm him in his sin. It is possible to show love to someone without affirming their sinful lifestyle. And this leads us to the next point.

    Some think that attending would celebrate the sinful couple’s choices.

    Several online comments make this position clear:

    “When we are at a wedding, we are there to give a blessing. The guests are witnesses and give approval. Make no mistake about it. This is why we have the phrase – ‘Does anyone object to this union?’ … As you said, the question is asked whether anyone opposes the marriage. Do you keep your mouth shut? Doesn’t staying quiet indicate approval? If you speak up, isn’t that more ‘offensive’ than simply not attending? Likewise with smiling, clapping, even standing when the ‘bride’ enters.”1

    While it would be difficult to turn down such an invitation, there would also be negative repercussions from affirming a sinful marriage. By attending the wedding, you would be giving tacit approval of the marriage to all that attended. It wouldn’t matter if the couple already knew your position on the matter. The others at the wedding would see your attendance as affirmation of what was taking place. At this point, it would not be loving them toward repentance. Instead, it would be leading them to continue in their sin with your presence showing them it was okay.

Conclusion

Decisions often affect our relationships with other people. And some of these decisions may make it more difficult for us to interact with when they see our opposition to their sin. But there is another relationship that we need to think about at the same time. That is our relationship to the Lord. When Jehoshaphat returned from helping evil King Ahab in a battle, the prophet Jehu, confronted him with a question: Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?” (2 Chron. 19:2). He noted that helping this wicked king was offensive to the Lord and was equal to hating God.

We should have a desire to love and befriend sinners. Jesus did this. And we should note that without love, our gospel message will not be well received. But at the same time, we must remember that God has called us to be His children first. We must love Him and follow His commands even when doing so seems to diminish our opportunities to reach the lost. God’s way is best. And doing things God’s way means that we must be careful to accurately represent both the love of God and His holiness. If we value the one over the other, we will have problems. Instead, we should strive to do both.

Footnotes

1“Should Christians attend…”
2 “Radio ministry drops…”
3 “John MacArthur’s Shepherd’s Conference removes…”

Bibliography

“Alistair Begg clarifies his answer on gay weddings” as viewed at https://www.reddit.com/r/Reformed/comments/1aee0nv/alistair_begg_clarifies_his_answer_on_gay_weddings/?rdt=43811 on 2/11/2024.

“Compassion vs Condemnation” as viewed at https://www.parksidechurch.com/learn/resources/media-center/sermon/compassion-or-condemnation on 2/11/2024.

“John MacArthur’s Shepherd’s Conference removes Alistair Begg from speakers’ lineup” as viewed at https://www.christianpost.com/news/john-macarthurs-shepherds-conference-removes-alistair-begg.html on 2/12/2024.

“Radio ministry drops pastor over same-sex wedding comments” as viewed at https://afn.net/culture/2024/01/24/radio-ministry-drops-pastor-over-same-sex-wedding-comments on 2/09/2024.

“Should Christians attend LGBTQ weddings? | Alistair Begg vs. Voddie Baucham” as viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiCHcxTQelY&ab_channel=WrathandGrace on 2/11/2024.

Matthew 11:28 – I Will Give You Rest

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

What does it say?

Jesus spoke to people who were laboring and who had heavy loads and told them to come to Him and He would give them rest.

What does it mean?

The hard work and heavy burdens Jesus spoke about were not physical work or heavy packages to carry. He was talking about the false ideas that the religious leaders burdened people with. For example, Jesus stated that the Pharisees “bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (Matt. 23:4). These burdens were in addition to the good Law that God gave to the Israelites in the Bible. God’s laws were designed to keep them from evil and to help them do what was right. Sadly, the Pharisees and other religious people had added to God’s law many extra traditions and rules that had become more than anyone could bear.

The Pharisees, who were the most stringent of the religious groups, required many things of the people. And if someone didn’t follow their rules, they were considered to be sinners. Do a quick search of the word “Pharisee” in the New Testament and you will find these things.

1. You can’t eat with sinful people.
2. You have to fast a lot.
3. You can’t do much on the Sabbath day.
4. You have to wash your hands before eating.
5. You have to tithe everything including spices.
6. You have to be circumcised and obey the Law.

Besides what is mentioned in the Bible, “it has been said … that the Pharisees had added over 600 regulations regarding what qualified as ‘working’ on the Sabbath. That is a heavy burden!”1 With all that the religious leaders required, the people were spiritually burdened with requirements that they would never be able to accomplish.

Jesus told these burdened people to come to Him to find rest. This was much different than what they had been taught. They were under great pressure to perform great acts of righteousness to show how good they were. But Jesus doesn’t say that. He says, come to Me and I will give you rest. Rest is the opposite of working to please God. Someone might ask how God can be pleased if we just rest. Ah… but that is not what Jesus says. He says come to… Me. It is not the lack of work that gives rest; it is the coming to Jesus. He is the One who gives the much-needed rest. And this rest can only come from Him.

How does it apply?

The same problem exists today. Religious groups all over the world teach that you have to do something to gain God’s favor. Those who follow these religions are heavily burdened with the requirements given to them.

1. The Roman Catholic believes that “as long as you remain in a state of grace, you’ll go to heaven.”2

2. The Muslim believes that he must follow the five pillars of Islam.

3. The Sikh believes that he must “serve humanity without expecting reward or recognition.”3

4. The Buddhist believes that he must practice the 5 precepts.4

The common teaching of religion is that you have to do something in order to be right with God. But this is different than what Jesus says here. He says that we must come to Him and that He will give us rest. We don’t need to do good things to become good enough. Instead, He is enough and provides what we need to be made right with God. This is different than most people think. But it makes sense when you read what the rest of the Bible says.

1. We all are sinners who deserve God’s judgment (Rom. 3:10; 6:23).

2. None of us can be good enough to make things right with God (Isa. 64:6).

3. Jesus left heaven and came to earth to die in our place (1 Pet. 3:18).

4. He could die in our place because He is God and is perfectly sinless (2 Cor. 5:21).

5. He died on the cross to pay for our sins (1 John 2:2).

6. God the Father accepted His death for our sins (Matt. 27:51).

7. God the Father requires repentance from sin and faith in Jesus (Acts 20:21).

Notice that instead of telling us what to do, Jesus did it all for us. “Christ is the end of the law to those who believe. He removes the sin and the guilt, he does the saving.”5 If you have been trying to gain God’s favor by doing a bunch of things, you are still under the burden that Jesus was talking about. Instead of trying to do enough good deeds in hope of gaining God’s favor, come to Jesus and find the rest that only He offers.

Romans 4:5 – “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”

Footnotes

1 “What does it mean when Jesus says…”
2 “How to Go to Heaven”
3 “Core Beliefs and Practices of Sikhism”
4 “Five Precepts of Buddhism Explained”
5 Lenski 457.

Bibliography

“Core Beliefs and Practices of Sikhism” as viewed at https://dvnetwork.org/…/core-beliefs-and-practices-of… as viewed on 2/8/2024.

“Five Precepts of Buddhism Explained” as viewed at https://tricycle.org/magazine/the-five-precepts on 2/8/2024.

“How to Go to Heaven” as viewed at https://www.catholic.com/…/online…/how-to-go-to-heaven on 2/8/2024.

Lenski, R. C. H., Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1943.

Plummer, Alfred, Matthew, Minneapolis: James Family, n.d.

“What does it mean when Jesus says, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light’ (Matthew 11:30)?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=2173 on 2/5/2024.

Mark 6:14-29 – The Cost of Confronting Sin

Today, there are certain names that are known in every community. It might be a political leader, athlete, or entertainer. But no matter where you go, most people know who that person is because his or her fame has kept them in the news. Their reputation precedes them. In this chapter, we are introduced to a person that everyone at the time would have known. It was King Herod. Who exactly was this man? “Herod Antipas [was] the son of Herod the Great and Malthace, a Samaritan.”4 He “was tetrarch (ruler of a fourth part of his father’s kingdom) of Galilee and Perea under the aegis of Rome from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39 (cf. Matt. 14:1; Luke 3:19; 9:7). Officially he was not a king but Mark’s use of the title probably reflected local custom in view of Herod’s covetous ambitions.”1 (Read Luke 3:1-2 for a list of the other tetrarchs at this time.) What this tells us is that Herod Antipas was the ruler over the area in which Jesus had been ministering. And what we learn about him in today’s study will reveal what he thought about Jesus and how he responded to God’s message.

  1. What Herod thought about Jesus (Mark 6:14-16)

    What does it say?

    As Jesus ministered in various areas, His name became well known to everyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if the formerly demon-possessed man from Gadera was still telling his story on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. But the same could be said about the people who knew about Jairus’ daughter being raised back to life, the woman in the crowd who had been healed by Jesus, or the man healed of a withered hand. These miracles had gotten the attention of the entire area. Jesus did what nobody else could because of who He is.

    But what did people think about Jesus? King Herod had heard about Jesus and believed that He was John the Baptist raised back to life. While that story will be told a bit later, this shows us that “the murder of John had taken place previous to this point in the ministry of Jesus.”3 “Others thought He must be the promised Elijah, who, according to Malachi, was to come to call Israel to repentance before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”8 Others thought that Jesus was “the Prophet” or at least that he was similar to one of the old prophets. Moses had prophesied that the Lord would raise up a prophet like him that they would listen to in the future (Deut. 18:15). Perhaps the people thought that Jesus was this prophet. But Herod was adamant that Jesus was John the Baptist whom he had beheaded. He believed that John had somehow come back to life.

    What does it mean?

    This part of the passage shows us that people are often ignorant of who Jesus is. As you read through the different responses to Jesus, it is clear that the people were not aware of who Jesus really was. They thought He was John the Baptist, Elijah, or a prophet. In each case, these were speculations that were never confirmed but were talked about nonetheless. How many of these people went to Jesus and asked Him who He was? How many took the time to listen to Him or to consider Who He was? It seems that none of them did. They were content to live with their ignorance about Him.

    How does it apply?

    Things haven’t changed much today. People are still content with their pre-conceived notions about Jesus without spending a whole lot of time investigating His identity for themselves. They look at what the Bible says about Him and find it interesting but not important. He said and did some great things, but none of that really makes a difference in their day-to-day lives.

    What about you? Have you had the same response to Jesus? Have you just considered Him to be another great teacher from the past? Or have you been convinced that He is the Son of God, God who became a man, and the great Savior of mankind? Let me encourage you to continue studying the Bible. Read ahead in the Gospel of Mark and ask God to show you who Jesus really is. What you will find about Jesus (if you trust in Him) will change your life.

  2. What Herod thought about John (Mark 6:17-20)

    What does it say?

    Before Jesus had become well known, John the Baptist was the preacher most talked about in the Jordan area. But his ministry had been curtailed by his arrest and imprisonment. Herod had imprisoned him for the sake of his wife whose name was Herodias. Why did he do this? He did it because John had confronted him about him marrying his brother’s wife. Herod had been married to a Nabataean princess5 but “he became enamored with his half-niece Herodias (daughter of his half-brother, Aristobulus) who was married to Herod’s half-brother … Philip (her half-uncle; cf. Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 18. 5. 1-2). They [Philip and Herodias] had a daughter Salome. Herod divorced his wife in order to marry Herodias who had divorced Philip.”2 What a mess! When his first wife of many years realized that she was being abandoned for another woman, she fled back to her father. With all that had gone on, is there any wonder why John the Baptist had confronted Herod about his relationship to Herodias?

    But this didn’t go over well with Herod’s new wife. Herodias held a grudge against John the Baptist for what he had said to Herod. She was so angry that she wanted to murder him. “The parallel to the Old Testament story of Jezebel is obvious.”6 But Herodias was not able to do anything because of Herod’s respect for John. He realized that John was just and holy and chose to protect him rather than doing his wife’s bidding. The strange thing is that Herod, despite his sinful relationship with Herodias, gladly listened to John the Baptist for some reason. Perhaps he was being convinced of his sin and need to repent.

    What does it mean?

    This part of the passage shows us that people need to be confronted about their sin. Mark recorded these events to show us how believers should interact with people about their sins against God. John the Baptist confronted Herod (and Herodias) about their adulterous relationship. He told Herod that it was unlawful to have his brother’s wife. This conversation must have been difficult, but it was God’s way of providing sinful Herod and Herodias the opportunity to know the truth and then repent of it. The ultimate goal is for people to know God’s perspective about their sin. When they know about their sin and how it keeps them from having a right relationship with God, they are given the opportunity to change and to be reconciled to Him.

    How does it apply?

    When we talk to people about the Bible, about Jesus, and about faith, we may be tempted to make things easier for them. We could say something like, “Ask Jesus into your life and He will make things so much better.” But is this the message that John the Baptist preached? Is this the message that Jesus preached? Is this the message that the early Christians preached? No, it is not. If we want to be faithful in giving out God’s truth, we must follow in the steps of people like John the Baptist who addressed the sin issue before pointing people to the forgiveness found in Jesus.

    Do you understand that? Here is the problem. Each of us has offended God by our sinfulness. When we lie, steal, lust, hate, and covet, we are going against God’s ways. He hates our sin so much that He will eventually condemn sinners to eternity in the lake of fire. If you don’t address your sin problem, that is where you will eventually end up. And that is why you need to be confronted about your sin. But this is also why you need to learn about Jesus, because He is the only One who can take care of your sins, forgive you, and make you right with God. If you haven’t done so yet, repent of your sins and place your faith in Jesus while you can. The Bible is filled with examples of terribly sinful people who have been reconciled to God when they repented of their sin and put their faith in Jesus. “And such were some of you…” (1 Cor. 6:11).

  3. What Herod did to John (Mark 6:21-29)

    What does it say?

    But there came a day when Herodias had the opportunity to take her revenge against John the Baptist. On his birthday, Herod held a feast for his nobles, upper-level military officers, and the chief men of Galilee. The daughter of Herodias performed a dance in front of these men. Grassmick thinks that her dance was “provocative.”2 Hiebert agrees as “such solo dances were grossly suggestive … comparable to a striptease act in a modern nightclub. They were regularly performed by professional entertainers of low moral character, and it was an almost unprecedented thing for Salome to perform such a dance before Herod’s guests.”7 While this seems shocking to us, we have to remember who Herod Antipas was. He was an adulterous man who had left his wife for another woman. With this in mind, this dance from his step-daughter should not surprise us. Herod and his guests enjoyed the girl’s dance.

    Herod responded to her by offering her anything she wanted up to half his kingdom. Not knowing what to ask for, the daughter consulted with her mother who instructed her to ask for the head of John the Baptist. In other words, she told her daughter to ask for Herod to execute John. The daughter went back to the banquet hall and asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. The fact that she asked for his head on a platter seems to indicate that she was as vile a person as her mother was. After hearing her request, King Herod was struck with the foolishness of his offer. He was sorry that he had made her the offer, but because he had sworn to give her whatever she asked and because of the peer-pressure from the people who were sitting around him, he gave in. He sent the executioner to John’s prison cell and had him beheaded. The severed head was then placed on a platter and given to the girl who then gave it to her mother. “One can imagine how Herodias gloated over the gruesome object as she realized those cold lips would never again charge her with adultery or other sins.”9 While Herodias was celebrating her victory over John the Baptist, his disciples came and took away his body and buried it in a tomb.

    What does it mean?

    This part of the passage shows us that people will do anything to cover their sins. Despite his willingness to listen to John, Herod put him in prison because of his adulterous relationship with Herodias. Herodias wanted John the Baptist dead because she loved her sin more than God. Salome, Herodias’ daughter, was willing to follow her mother’s murderous plot because she loved her sinful lifestyle. In each case, the person was willing to do whatever it took to continue their sinful way of life despite the atrocities that needed to be committed. This is ample evidence of what the Bible says elsewhere.

    John 3:19 – “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

    How does it apply?

    What about you? Are you so much better than these people? I don’t mean to infer that you would commit murder to cover your sins. However, there have many people over the years that have gone to great lengths to cover their sins and appease their conscience. Think of King David who tried to cover his adultery and Bathsheba’s pregnancy by bringing her husband home from the war. But when he refused to go home for the night, David decided to plan his death during the next conflict. This terrible story is covered in 2 Samuel 11.

    Have you been attempting to cover your own sin? If so, please note that David was unable to keep God from knowing what had happened. He was later confronted by Nathan the prophet and was judged by God for his sins. You can’t escape God’s judgment by hiding your sin. So don’t even try. Instead, take a moment to allow God to convict you about your sin. As He convicts your conscience, repent of that sin and turn from it to God. This is the only way that you can have God’s forgiveness.

Conclusion

The death of John the Baptist is not an enjoyable story to read. It is gruesome and full of sinful people who were enemies of all that God wanted to do at the time. While their actions removed the person who had confronted them about their sin, their actions did not remove the problem itself. Their sin and its results still remained. Sin is something that has affected many lives over the years. Sins such as adultery, fornication, and drunkenness have torn apart families. But these are not the only ones. Lies, covetousness, theft, hatred, and many more have ruined the lives of many people we know. And these sins still affect people today.

I want to ask you a question. Do you know people who are affected by the sinful choices they are making? If so, do you want them to continue to be hurt by their sins? Do you want them to find God’s forgiveness? Do you want them to know about Jesus and the new life they could have when they repent and believe Him? Then you must be faced with a serious truth. At some point, you need to tell them the sobering truth and confront them about their sin. Their only hope to escape condemnation is knowing the truth. And if you don’t tell them, who will?

Footnotes

1 Grassmick 128.
2 Grassmick 129.
3 McGee 186.
4 Hiebert 162.
5 Hiebert 166.
6 Hiebert 167.
7 Hiebert 168-69.
8 Ironside 92.
9 Ironside 94.

Bibliography

Grassmick, John D., “Mark” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983.

Hiebert, D. Edmond, The Gospel of Mark, Greenville: Bob Jones University Press, 1994.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. IV, Matthew through Romans, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983.

Ironside, H. A., Mark, Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1969.

Mark 6:1-13 – The Key Components of Jesus’ Message

During my lifetime, there have been evangelistic efforts aimed at proclaiming the good news of Jesus. The goal has often been good but the method not so much. For instance, I recently heard Franklin Graham give a quick gospel presentation on the radio which ended with “Pray this prayer with me.” The problem with this is that the Bible doesn’t put the focus on praying a prayer but on faith in Jesus. Sadly, such presentations give the idea that repeating the words of a prayer will somehow make them right with God. Another group has started a television/radio campaign called “He Gets Us” which gives the idea that Jesus was once considered a rebel. In their commercials, they give the idea that because Jesus was considered a rebel, He understands what we are currently going through. Is this what the Bible teaches? Such presentations are trendy ways of presenting a somewhat Christian message but they actually distort who Jesus was and what He did in an effort to get people’s attention. This is not a good thing.

If these popular evangelistic ideas are not good, where can we find the truth? The Bible always has the answers to our questions. And in today’s passage, we will see the two key components to Jesus’ gospel message according to the Bible. The key components are faith and repentance. As we read this portion of the Gospel of Mark, consider what Jesus says about both faith and repentance and then consider how you should respond. And if you are a Christian, consider how you can accurately and biblically present the good news of Jesus the way that the Bible does.

  1. The Need for Faith (Mark 6:1-6)

    What does it say?

    After being with Jairus and his family, Jesus chose to return to Nazareth, the place where He had grown up. This was about “twenty miles southwest”1 of Capernaum. His disciples also went with Him. What must his friends have thought as they saw their former neighbor arriving with twelve disciples? On the Sabbath day, Jewish believers met at the synagogue to be taught. Apparently, “the inhabitants of Nazareth did not flock to Him as soon as He arrived.”3 But Jesus still took the opportunity to teach those who did come. But note that it says he began to teach. He started teaching but “the reaction of the audience did not encourage Him to continue.”3 The people were surprised by His teaching. Some asked where His teaching, wisdom, and power to heal came from. From their perspective, He was just one of them, not a prophet that could preach to them about God. Who did He think He was? Wasn’t He just the carpenter who was Mary’s son? Some think that them calling Him Mary’s son was a subtle jab at Him being an illegitimate child “since a man was not described as his mother’s son in Jewish usage even if she was a widow, except by insult.”1 And wasn’t He just one of the people related to Mary’s sons and daughters? They seemed to be asking these questions because they were offended by something He said while He was teaching.

    You would think that these people would have judged Jesus by the content of His teaching rather than who they remembered Him to be. But their response led Jesus to say that a prophet is usually honored except by those who are closest to him. In other words, people don’t usually respect someone they grew up with even when he is a prophet. As a result of their response, Jesus’ ministry was limited in that area. “He felt it morally impossible to exercise His … power in their behalf in the face of their unbelief.”4 As you may recall, Jesus had just done a great miracle for Jairus’ family. He had resurrected their twelve-year-old daughter who had died. But He was unable to do a great miracle there except for healing a few sick people. Their lack of belief was astonishing to Jesus. It had happened earlier in Gadera but this was on the Jewish side of the country. Why did they not believe? Because of their response it is probable that “He never returned to Nazareth.”2 And these hard-hearted people missed out on what Jesus had to offer. But He still set up a circuit of places to teach in the surrounding villages.

    What does it mean?

    This passage teaches us that without faith, people will not receive Jesus. Jesus taught God’s truth with great wisdom and later verified His message by performing some miracles. But without faith, they were offended at His teaching. They were content to ignore what He said because they were familiar with His family. I wonder if Jesus spoke about their need for repentance. The fact that they were offended by Him indicates that they not only didn’t believe Him but didn’t think He had any standing to tell them what to do.

    All of this would have changed if they had begun with faith. They would have believed Him and listened to what He taught them. They would have believed Him and praised God that one of their own was being used by God so mightily. They would have believed Him and honored Him as God’s Servant. They would have believed Him and seen more evidence of God’s power through miracles. Sadly, none of that happened because they did not believe.

    How does it apply?

    As you consider the unbelieving response of these offended neighbors, there are two applications. The first involves your own unbelief. If you have heard the messages from the first five chapters of Mark, you are well aware of who Jesus is and what He has done. He is God who became a man. He proved that by His words and His miracles. He taught the truth as only God could and He cast out demons, healed the sick, and raised the dead with the power that only God has. But has knowledge caused you to believe Him? Or are you continuing in your unbelief? God wants you to respond to all that Jesus is and has done with faith.

    The second application involves a Christian’s response to the unbelief of others. When we were still unbelievers, we were blind and didn’t understand the truth. But there came a day when God opened our eyes and caused us to see the truth about Jesus. That was a wonderful day. He gave us the faith to believe; otherwise, we never would have responded. Now as believers we must be patient and work with unbelievers. We may be astonished at their unbelief as Jesus was, but we must continue to teach and preach the truth so that unbelievers will become believers. Remember that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). So keep speaking.

    We should follow the example of Jesus who marveled at their unbelief but then kept teaching in the surrounding villages. When one person responds poorly to the truth about Jesus, it is sad. But not all will respond that way. When the person at one door rejects you, go to the next. And keep your faith in the power of God to use the Bible to convince others of the truth. As you preach the gospel to others, have faith in God’s ability to open the eyes of those who are blind and to grant them faith to believe.

  2. The Need for Repentance (Mark 6:7-13)

    What does it say?

    Jesus summoned the twelve disciples and then sent them out in pairs. He gave them power over demons. This “would authenticate their preaching”2 just as the miracles performed in the Book of Acts confirmed the gospel preached by the early Christians. All they were to take with them was a staff and a pair of sandals. They were not to take a bag, bread, money, or extra clothes. Note that “Jesus’ unusual instructions pertained only to that particular mission.”2 But this was a good time to practice trusting in God to provide for their needs. This makes me think of what Jesus said at another time.

    Matthew 6:33-34 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

    As they traveled from place to place, they were to stay in the same house they were offered until they moved on. “It was the accepted duty and practice to offer hospitality to strangers arriving in a village.”5 So it was probable that some kind-hearted person would offer them a place to stay while they were in town. And if someone was unwilling to receive them or listen to their message, they were to shake off the dust from their feet in their presence. This was a way of showing that they wanted nothing to do with even the dirt associated with such ungodly people. Jesus promised that anyone who rejected them or their message would receive more of God’s judgment than Sodom and Gomorrah. Knowing what those cities were like, this was a very serious thing to say. So… when the disciples shook the dust from their sandals, this would give the rejecting people a serious reminder to consider the message they had heard from the disciples.

    What exactly was the message preached by the disciples? After receiving their instructions, the disciples went out in twos and preached repentance to the people they met. It was probably a good thing to have the disciples in pairs for companionship, encouragement, and effectiveness. But they didn’t just preach; they also cast out demons and healed sick people. This must have been an exhilarating time for each of them as God used them to reach more and more people with God’s message.

    What does it mean?

    This paragraph teaches at least two thoughts. First, there was a great need for the preaching of repentance. This is made clear by the fact that this was the message given to the disciples to preach. If we were to rewind to the first chapter of Mark, we would see that this was God’s message through John the Baptist (Mark 1:4-5), through Jesus (Mark 1:14-15), and now through the disciples (Mark 6:12). This message was so important that Jesus gave the disciples the power to verify their message by casting out demons, doing miracles, and healing the sick.

    Second, there was no need to worry about their needs when doing God’s work. Jesus was teaching the disciples to trust God to meet their needs. As they traveled, God would put it in the heart of some kind-hearted person to feed, clothe, and house them. But their first thought should not be how their needs would be met but on the message they had been called to preach.

    How does it apply?

    The application here has to do with repentance. That same message needs to be preached today. God’s initial message is not one of comfort for sinners but of what their response should be toward God. Do you understand that your sin is a terrible offense to God? Your sins are what keeps you from a relationship with God. And if you do not turn from your sin to God, you will never have a restored relationship with Him. Your sin has to be addressed before anything else.

    Have you repented of your sin and turned to God? If not, this is the time to respond correctly to God. Think of your sinfulness and understand that God doesn’t want you to continue in it. Turn from your sin while God is speaking to your heart. Then and only then will you be ready to take the next step of faith.

Conclusion

You may have noticed that the main points of this message were familiar terms: faith and repentance. We first looked at the need for faith. Secondly, we looked at the need for repentance. Perhaps it would be best to look at them in reverse order. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a turning away from sin. When you see yourself as a sinner from God’s perspective, the only right response is to reject your sin and turn away from it. This is what God wants you to do. But this is only half of what God requires.

After repenting of your sin, God wants you to trust in Jesus. This is what the Bible calls faith. It is a complete trust in who Jesus is (He is God who became a man) and what He has done (He lived a perfect life, died on the cross for your sins, and then rose to life on the third day). While much of this is discussed later in the Gospel of Mark, it is good to think about now as well. When you turn from your sins, you have to turn to something else. That something else is Jesus. When you turn to Him and put your faith in Him, God will forgive your sins, make you a new person, and give you eternal life. This is the message that Jesus preached and it is still true today.

But as you may recall, some people didn’t respond with faith and repentance during Jesus’ time on earth. Some of his own friends and neighbors were offended by His message and responded with unbelief. Don’t follow their example. As God works in your heart, repent of your sin and place your trust in Jesus. Then join the many others who gratefully call themselves Christians because of what Christ Jesus did for them.

Footnotes

1 Grassmick 126.
2 Grassmick 127.
3 Hiebert 152.
4 Hiebert 156.
5 Hiebert 160.

Bibliography

Grassmick, John D., “Mark” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983.

Hiebert, D. Edmond, The Gospel of Mark, Greenville: Bob Jones University Press, 1994.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. IV, Matthew through Romans, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983.

Ryle, J. C., Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume One, Matthew–Mark, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977.