Changing The Scene
The blessed Spirit of God acting on the inerrant, inspired, infallible Word of God can make a change in you.
Hello radio friends! How in the world are you? Doing Alright? Well, I am fine. I haven’t any complaint in the world really. So grateful to be alive and to be able to share with you a cup of coffee that is now empty, sat by me as I began to record today, and my usual, comfortable assortment of junk( laughs) I’ve told you about that from time to time, as clustered about me here in front of me on the desk. The big timer facing me so that I don’t run over, and in my heart a vast, ineffable sense of joy and well-being and gratitude to God for your love and friendship and for His wonderful love and power and peace, as I experience it day by day in Jesus. Praise God from whom all blessings flow, I say.
Well, thank you for being there and we’re going to look now into the Gospel of Mark. We just got started the last time we got together. The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Mark establishes immediately the Deity of our Lord Jesus. I never can understand how some people argue about whether or not the Bible teaches the Deity of Christ. You have to have some mental quirk, it seems to me, to be able to detour around the multitude of expressions, both by our Lord Himself, as well as by those who wrote about Him, that He is indeed very God. Just as much God as God the Father and God the Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And He is of course, as Mark hurries to point out, the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy, “I send my messenger before thy face”-this is about John the Baptist-“which shall prepare thy way before thee, the voice of one crying in the wilderness”, and then John’s activities.
Rejoice believer, over the fact that everything about your blessed Lord is documented ahead of time, in inspired prophecy. The place of His birth, the manner of His life, and ministry, the way He would be received and rejected, His death, His atoning death on the cross, His resurrection and the agonies that He suffered just before He dismissed His spirit as He hung there on the cross, detailed for us, you know, in Psalm 22- all of the things about your Lord Jesus that are important to believe are documented ahead of time by prophecy. He is the fulfillment of God’s prophetic plan of redemption. Started for us in Genesis 3:15, “After sin entered into the world and that scarlet thread of redemption running right straight through both Old and New Testaments, coming then to its conclusion when there’s a new heavens and a new earth, and you and I who have trusted our Lord Jesus as Lord and Savior, are with Him for evermore”.
In that new, wonderful, shining world where we’ll be serving our blessed Lord, “His servants”, it says, “shall serve Him”. There will be a job for you beloved, in Heaven. No unemployment in Heaven. That’s great.
Well, Mark says, “The fulfillment of the prophecy about John the Baptist came as John did baptize in the wilderness and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins”. Now there was John’s baptism, and then there was the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and there is a difference obviously. The baptism of John brought people to repentance, but on Pentecost day when the Holy Spirit of God was bestowed upon the church and upon believers the power of the Spirit of God makes all of life a miracle as you live it for the Lord Jesus Christ, and the wonderful Spirit of God comes to dwell within you, my friend, the moment you believe on Christ. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His”, says Paul. “Your body”, Paul says to the Corinthians, “is the temple of the Holy Ghost which ye have of God and ye are not your own, for you’re bought with a price”.
Then of course you and I have to obey God’s command as found in Ephesians 5, “To be filled with the Spirit”, and that involves the opening of your whole life, mind and soul and body and habits and desires and plans and past and present and future, the opening of your whole life to the Holy Spirit by faith, so that when He fills you that way, your life will be a continuing miracle of the power of God.
Well, John has been baptizing and preaching, and everybody went out to see him, it says. Well, there’s some interesting sidelights that Mark doesn’t give us about John’s baptism. Let me turn to one of them and just share them with you. John’s baptism, oh, they came to see him by the droves you know, and he said, “O generation of vipers” (he needed a course with Dale Carnegie, didn’t he?! He wasn’t very tactful-bunch of snakes, he said.) “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come, bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance. And begin not to say with yourselves, we have Abraham to our father, for I say unto you that God is able of these very stones to raise up children to Abraham, and now also the acts as laid unto the root of the trees. Every tree therefore which bringeth forth not good fruit, is cast, is hewn down and cast into the fire”.
So, the people say, “What do you mean by this? What shall we do?” Well he said, “You’re selfish- he that has two coats, let him impart to him that hath none. He that has food, let him do likewise”. Well, the tax collectors came and they said, “What shall we do?” He said, “Don’t take any more tax than what you want, you know you’ve been getting rich by gouging people, and taking more taxes then the law allows”. The soldier says, “What shall we do? Even the Roman people are coming”. He said, “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely and stop grumbling about your paycheck”.
Isn’t that something? He preached and baptized the idea of repentance from sin and baptized people for the remission of sins, and what that means then, is given to us in this passage I just referred to in Luke. What he says is, coming to me and being baptized doesn’t do a bit of good unless you straighten up your life!
Now, I think that in our day we’re in danger of falling into the same trap or the same fallacy of thinking, that if we go through some religious procedure we’re Alright. No, he says, “Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.”
Now there’s three words in the Greek New Testament that are translated by the English word repent, one means to think differently- metanoeo-that’s to think differently. Another one is to have different feelings- metamelomai- and then the third one means to turn around and go in a different direction, that’s the verb strepho, from which we get our strepto prefixes and some of the names for various bacteria. So, that’s your three words that are translated by the English word repentance, to think differently, to feel differently, and to turn around and go in a different direction, repent. That’s what that means.
So, he says, listen there has to be some result in your lifestyle, if you really repent. “Bring forth fruits”, that’s a result worthy of this word repentance and don’t be satisfied with the fact that you have your ethnic heritage as children of Abraham. God doesn’t need you to raise up children unto Abraham”, said he, “and besides that judgment is coming. The ax is laid under the root of the trees and if don’t bring forth good fruit, you’re going to be hewn down and cast into the fire”.
Well that is tremendous preaching, isn’t it? Well, what you have to do when you preach is be specific, and so when they said, “What shall we do, the common people?” He said, “You’re selfish, learn to give and share”, and the publicans said, “What shall we do?”, he says, “You’re crooked, stop taking what doesn’t belong to you in tax money”, and the soldiers said, “What shall we do”, he said, “You’re cruel and you lie about people and accuse them falsely, and you grumble about your paycheck. Stop that”.
Well now that is pretty plain isn’t it? What is God saying to you and to me about this whole matter of repentance? We are selfish, many of us, every day, aren’t we? We think, first me, then me, after that you, but not for a long time, as the old Lancaster County saying goes. We’re selfish and so what he said to the common people applies to us, learn to share: you got two coats, you got something to eat, share. Don’t be selfish, learn to share, and if you’re in government or in finance, straighten up and stop being crooked. Selfishness there, taking more than belongs to you, and if you’re in government and law enforcement, there again, says you don’t be cruel, and don’t accuse people falsely and stop grumbling about your paycheck. Very pragmatic, down to earth matters aren’t they?
Would you dare, now I don’t know if you do have the courage to do this, but if you do, would you dare to ask God the Holy Spirit who dwells within the believer, to tell you today, what there is about which you need to repent? No, I’m not accusing anybody of being a bad sinner; this is not a broadcast that accuses anyone, because I need the prayers of God’s people just as much as anyone else. I’m a human being, we all need to come to the throne of grace, don’t we?
So, let’s look at this passage and ask in real honesty, “Lord, what is there in my life about which I need to repent, to think differently, to feel differently, and to turn around and go in a different direction by the grace of God? ‘. Well, of course somebody’s saying, “You don’t know, Brother Cook, I just can’t help it, that’s how I am”. Well, I know that’s how you are, but God can help it. He’s in the business of changing people, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new”.
If you’re a chronic backbiter, God can cure that, if you’re chronic worrier, God can take out the worry, if you’re selfish or proud or vain or lustful or unforgiving or all of the above or whatever it may be, God can do something with us. Hallelujah! Oh, yes He can. “We all with open face beholding as in a glass, the Glory of the Lord”, says Paul, “are changed into the same image, from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord”.
The blessed Spirit of God acting on the inerrant, inspired, infallible Word of God can make a change in you and in me, moving us heavenward and Christ-ward as God works in our lives. Well, if there’s something there where I need to repent let me ask the faithful Spirit of God to guide me, and then let me have the courage to say, “Lord, if that’s what you say, I’ll face it and I’ll do it”. Amen?
Dear Father today, help us to have the grace and the good sense of the courage to repent of those things that grieve Thee and grant us the power of the Holy Spirit to do so, I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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