Jim Clark was the speaker at both services today. The morning sermon was Three Fundamentals of the Church, from I Timothy 3:14-15. 170521-SA-JimClark
The evening sermon was Questions About the Dead. Scripture began with I Thess 4:13, and continued through Ecclesiastes 9:4-5, Luke 16:22-31, Hebrews 9>27, Revelation 6:9-10, 1 Samuel 28:15. In discussing recognition after death, Jim used 1 Cor 15:35-49, Matthew 17:4, Luke 16:23, 2 Cor 5:1-8. 170521-SP-JimClark
“And the common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37).
The English Standard Version reads “And the great throng heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37). Regardless of the way the sentence is translated, there is no mistake that there was a great following of Jesus at this time. It was only a little time ago from this setting of Mark 12 that Jesus entered triumphantly into the city of Jerusalem. People were drawn to him from every direction and from every background. The appeals of today were not what led multitudes to be attracted to Jesus. Consider three worldly appeals that were not true of Jesus.
Not His Appearance. Isaiah prophesied of Jesus, “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2). While some people recorded in the Bible were attractive in their appearance as babies (cf. Heb. 11:23) or as young adults (cf. 1 Sam. 17:42), Jesus was not of such an appearance. One might think that the Father in heaven would have brought the best looking boy into the world in the person of Jesus. This was not the case. Fleshly means was not the power of the Lord. It was the spiritual side of Jesus that drew people. Such is still true today.
Not His Affluence. Jesus stated of his own possessions, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). The life of Jesus was lived off the generosity of others and his trust in the Father to care for him. While he had the power to perform great miracles, they were not used for personal ends. He who created the universe (cf. Col. 1:16-17) did not come into the world to use the world for his pleasures and the pleasures of his followers. Jesus took the form of a servant or literally a slave (cf. Phil. 2:7). He even taught his own special disciples to trust in the Lord to provide care (cf. Matt. 6:33) and to accept the generosity of those who appreciated the gospel (cf. Matt. 10:9-13). He did not have the appearance of a king but is truly the King of kings (cf. Rev. 19:16). He grew up in the home of a craftsman of wood (cf. Mark 6:3) within a town of no worthy reputation (cf. John 1:46). However, his meekness and lowliness were his strong appeal to people (cf. Matt. 11:28-30). It is still so today.
Not His Associates. Jesus was not in the inner circle of the religious elite of his day (cf. John 1:11; 19:15). He was called a Samaritan having a demon (cf. John 8:48). Those who followed him were people of the common occupations of the land. He knew how to communicate to the poor (cf. Mark 5:25-34) and the rich (cf. Luke 19:1-11). He was capable of helping the educated (cf. John 3:1ff) and the uneducated (cf. Matt. 11:25). His closest disciples were not men of renown with the world as they had rejected such to follow him (cf. Matt. 19:27). Toward the close of his earthly life all would and did forsake him (cf. Mark 14:27, 50). There are people who will join themselves to a group because of the advantage that being in certain circles might provide. Jesus was the only real advantage in the crowd (cf. John 6:66-69). The appeal of Jesus is not appealing on the whole to the wise of the flesh, the mighty or the noble of this world (cf. 1 Cor. 1:26). The appeal is in redemption.
“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Tim. 4:5).
If one reads Paul’s writing to Timothy in this second letter from chapter three verse one to chapter four verse five, one will see that there were some great challenges ahead for Timothy in his work as an evangelist. Great challenges are not unusual when it comes to dealing with converting the hearts of men to Christ. Consider three challenges in evangelism.
Secularism. Atheism, agnosticism, humanism and simple secular materialism abound in various circles of the world. There are even certain political structures that foster these philosophes. It is not uncommon to hear certain people openly profess that they do not believe in any supernatural being or power. Evolution and its effects have deceived people to accept the false conclusion that “this is all that there is in life, so make the most of your life while you can.” Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes, looked at life from the vantage point of living life without God and declared of such a worldview, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2). Peter wrote of the end of the material world, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Peter 3:11-12). Secularism denies the spiritual, eternal side of man and offers no real hope. The good news in the truth of the gospel is a welcomed balm for the wounds and despair of materialistic disappointments.
“Spiritual But Not Religious”. Those who reject any type of organized religious structure but still believe in spiritual things are indeed a challenge in evangelism. While the Bible may be explored by this persuasion, it does not become the exclusive guide for living. Such would be “too narrow-minded” for this way of thinking. Paul knew the importance of divine revelation in contrast to human wisdom, religious or not (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18-2:13). The miraculously revealed and confirmed word of God stands in bold contrast to the mere thinking of “spiritual” thinkers. Peter declared to the saints, “We have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). True, saving faith is through the inspired word of God (cf. Rom. 10:17).
Sectarian But Inclusive. A popular sentiment among some is in the statement, “There are faithful Christians in all denominations, so don’t be concerned about evangelizing those.” Such assumes that joining a human denomination is equal in substance to being added by the Lord (cf. Acts 2:47) to the church Jesus built (cf. Matt. 16:18-19; Eph. 2:19-21). There is to be “no division” among members of a local congregation (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10) much less among people who claim to be in Christ. Denominationalism is foreign to the prayer of Christ (cf. John 17:20-21) and the plan of God (cf. Eph. 1:10; 3:10-11). One is not being contentious or cultic by standing up for “one body” (Eph. 4:4) and “one faith” (Eph. 4:5). Sects are divisive by their nature with historical track records of multiple splintering. Let there be only one gospel (cf. Gal. 1:8-9).