From The Pastor's Study
We live in a Christian atmosphere where the commandments of God are dismissed at the expense of liberty, faithulness to God and truth. Christians respond to the commandments of God in the same way we respond to the posted speed limit. Posted speed limits are suggestions, rather than absolute. In the same way, we view the commandments of God as suggestions in cultivating our relationship with God, rather than essential and necessary in maintaining a healthy relationship with God.
One of the reasons Christians struggle with the commandments of God is we understand their purpose in the same way as the world. Instead of the commandments of God giving us opportunities to show the world how devoted we are to Him and how much we love Jesus, they are a burden. Even though many Christians believe the commandments of God are a burden, they are not. The commandments of God give us opportunities to love God, which is never a burden. John wrote: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).
Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
I have a friend who enjoys bringing up topics for discussion or debate. One of the problems he has is staying on point. Without fully addressing a point of emphasis, he quickly transitions to another point. He transformed the original discussion into chaos, going nowhere. So, I do my best to keep the discussion on the topic at hand, and not moving to other areas until fully exhausting the previous point.
This is what Satan has done with the Gospel. He does not want us to fully explore the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, he transitions the Gospel message into other areas, moving the Gospel into chaos. The problem is everything that we believe in must link back to the cross. Without a clear understanding of the Gospel, nothing else makes sense or matters. Therefore, it is up to us to keep the discussion on the Gospel according to Jesus Christ.
Mark laid down the foundation of the Gospel according to Jesus Christ in the first eight verse of his gospel. This foundation is vastly different than the Gospel that is being preached in many churches today. For us, the importance is not producing a message that is “based upon our enlightenment of culture” but God’s word.
First, the Gospel message is a rejoicing message. In the Roman world of Mark’s day, the Romans often used this word “gospel” as an announcement that the transcendent, great, era changing Caesar was soon arriving in their town. This announcement would produce joy and rejoicing by the inhabitants of the town because this larger than life Caesar is visiting their town. Mark used the word “gospel” to let his, primarily Roman audience know that a larger than life, transcendent, and era changing King has arrived and His name is Jesus. Jesus Christ, not Caesar is the only person who can give people real, meaningful, impactful and eternal hope and life. This announcement should produce joy and rejoicing in our hearts. God has condescended in the person of Jesus Christ to visit us where we are so that we can live eternally with Him, where He is.
The prophet Hosea wrote: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” God did not destroy His people because of a weak military or not having a gold standard to stabilize their economy; instead, God rejected them because of their rejection of Him. Similarly, God does not care about our constitution, gun rights, health care, military, tariffs, taxes, or immigration. None of these are the reasons we experience God’s judgement. God’s judgment upon this nation is squarely centered on our willful rejection of knowing Him. If we want God’s judgement turning into blessings then we must return with zeal in our desire to know God. Knowing God is the chief form of knowledge. As King Solomon wrote: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
Last week my sister and I went to Pensacola, Florida to attend a Principles Clinic hosted by Pensacola Christian College. We left shortly after the Sunday morning service and arrived in Pensacola late Monday afternoon. The drive time was 19 hours, divided over two days. We arrived in Pensacola exhausted. Unfortunately, we were not finished. The clinic ended Wednesday afternoon so we had to make the 19-hour drive back to our homes. Driving 19 hours had a negative effect on my body; especially my lower right back and legs. There was a time when I could drive from Cincinnati to California without any negative impact on my body. Those were the days. The point that I am driving home is I am not young anymore and life is flying by me quicker than I want. Even at the age of 48, I cannot do the same activities I did in my 20’s. I am reminded what Peter wrote regarding this transition: “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away” (1 Peter 1:24). Regardless of how great we are today, there is coming a day in which our greatness will fade away.