GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 29
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2011|
|Do you have a proper understanding of sin and suffering in relation to the Christian life?|
Pride and Prejudice Part 2
The title of the message is Pride and Prejudice, and this morning my proposition is simply this: I want you to have a proper understanding of others, of sin, and suffering so that you will understand clearly what the mission that God has called each and every one of us to. If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Mark 9:38.
“John said to him [that’s Jesus], ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because[here it is] he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.’”
Last week—this is a pick-up of last week, we’re kind of picking up—we started in verse 30. And Jesus said to the disciples, “In order for you to understand who you are, you need to understand who I am.” And we saw how Jesus gave them a correct view of the Savior. And then we made our way to the second part, which was a correct view of self. Thirdly, I want to show you where we’re going this morning. Jesus continues the lesson of pride and prejudice and he says, “I want you to have a correct view [get this] of others.” John says, “Jesus, I don’t know if you realize this, but there’s a guy in town who’s casting out demons and he’s not one of the 12 apostles.”
Now, jealously in the first century was not exclusive to that time. This type of jealousy even happened all the way back in the Old Testament and the Numbers passage is strikingly similar. Turn with me to Numbers 11:24. I want to show you the similarity in the text: “So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD. And he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders.”
So God shares the Spirit with the people: “they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it. Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them [as well].” Now here’s the problem. “They were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, ‘My lord Moses, stop them.’”
They’re not the group God picked. They’re not the specific group of elders and so someone else is prophesying. “Moses, stop them.” Notice what Moses says: “‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!’ And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.”
Well, this doesn’t just happen in the Old Testament. It happens in the New Testament; John 3. Jesus is coming on the scene with his ministry and the disciples of John the Baptist see Jesus on the scene and they’re actually questioning the ministry of Jesus. Listen to John 3:26. “They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look [at him now!] he is baptizing, and all are going to [be with] him.’” John says, “You missed the point. He must increase and I must what? Decrease.”
I want to submit to you this morning that these disciples felt as if they had a monopoly on ministry. Go back to Mark. Notice the terminology here. Can you sense the tone that John is asking? Now what’s interesting about John is this is the only time in the gospel of Mark where John actually speaks. John is referred to and talked about but this is the only time where John actually speaks and notice what he says, “Teacher, stop them because they are not following—underline it—us.” He doesn’t say, “Jesus, stop them. They’re not following you.” Notice what they say. They’re not following who? Us. And out of their heart came jealously because it came out of their mouth. You know what it shows me? That if you and I do not watch jealously, it can creep up into our own lives, right? Why is that guy’s business growing and mine’s not? Why do they have a new car and we don’t? What did they do to deserve that house? Or why are their kids going to that school and not the school that our kids are going to?
Chuck Swindoll, talking of jealousy, says this, “It is a curious fact that jealousy is a tension often found among professionals. [I love this.] It’s found among the gifted, among the highly competent, doctors, singers, artists, lawyers, businessmen, women, authors, entertainers, preachers, educators, politicians, and public figures. Strange, isn’t it, that such folk find it nearly impossible to applaud others in their field who excel a shade or two better than they do.”
Is that you? You know, jealously doesn’t creep in the world. It creeps into the church. Why is their church growing and ours is not? They’re not a part of our denomination. They didn’t go to one of our Southern Baptist seminaries. They don’t go to our church, right, so they’re not a part of us. What about this one: he doesn’t look like us. But aren’t you glad Jesus is not that way? If anything, Jesus is always fellowshipping with the ones no one fellowshipped with. Jesus is always going after the ones that no one wants to go after. Jesus says, “Listen, guys, don’t stop this man. Because in order for this man to have the power of god to cast out demons, he is not against us, he is what? For us. If this man is casting out in my name, it shows us that God has commissioned this man for ministry.” First Corinthians 12:3. Write it down; great cross reference. “Therefore,” Paul says, “I want you to understand that no one can speak in the Spirit of God to say ‘Jesus is accursed or Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” This is what he’s saying, “The only way you can say that or speak for me is if God has commissioned you or empowered you.”
Notice what Jesus says at the end in chapter 9, verse 41: “For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.” That’s kind of confusing. But you have to understand, Jesus is not talking about an earthly reward here. He’s talking about an eternal reward. He’s saying when someone does something to you they’re actually doing something to who? To me. He’s talking about the eternal reward of being with him in heaven and actually, when people serve believers, they’re actually serving Christ. It’s puts a new spin on service among the body, right? When you serve one another, you’re actually serving Christ. That’s the correct view of others.
Let me show you the second one, the correct view of sin. We see that we should have a correct view of others, which is service to one another. But the correct view of sin is humility and the correct view of sin is to remove it. Look at the first part: the outside. First, Jesus says, “Let me tell you about people outside and then I’ll tell you what you need to do.” This is kind of a reminder on the mission. Understand this. When you go into the mission, I will do this part, you will do the next part. Look at verse 4: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” [Wow. Jesus, tell us what you really mean there, right] And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off [sever it]. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.”
Listen to the vivid terminology Jesus uses here: “And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’”
The little ones Jesus is talking about here are not little kids. Remember, he has a child on his lap here. And he’s referring to this child not as a little kid. He’s referring to the little ones as the disciples, namely the believers of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, these little ones, if someone causes them—watch the key word there—to stumble, now that’s interesting, or sin, as the ESV translates it. Now that word sin is interesting. Normally, in the language of the New Testament, the word sin is hamartia. It’s the normal word for sin, which means to miss the mark. But in this case, the translators have decided to translate the word scandalezen, which is normally the word for to stumble or to be scandalous as sin. It’s an interesting word. It’s the word that means to cause someone to stumble. It means to put a roadblock in front of them. And what Jesus is saying is something amazing here. He’s saying anyone in this world who causes a believer to stumble, there will be severe punishment for that person.
R. Kent Hughes says this, “It’s a double punishment.” See, the Jewish people not only were scared of going and dying in the water, they were scared of the water. The water was considered the abyss. Why do you think Jesus cast the demon into the pigs and then the pigs ran into the water? Double Jeopardy. It was a double punishment. R. Kent Hughes says this, “The apostles knew exactly what Jesus was talking about, and in their imagination could see the drowned bodies of the victims tethering to the great millstones as they swayed to and forth in the current. There is something particularly horrifying about this image being dropped down, dropped into the darkness, struggling and then hanging motionless in the darkness hidden from life and the world.”
Can you imagine the dreadful terror that awaits such con artists as Jim Jones, who convinced 913 people to drink poisonous Kool-Aid and take their life to free themselves from this world in order to get to the next world? Or men like David Koresh, high school dropout, rock musician and polygamist who created this polygamist community. He built his church on the name saying, “If the Bible is right, then I’m Christ.” And he convinced 74 men, women, mostly children too, to be burned in that inferno in Waco, TX. Or the Heavens Gate group—you remember them—from San Diego, CA. On March 26, 1997 started by Marshall Applewhite and Bernie Nettles, these two started this group and they believed as the Hal- Bopp Comet came across and was shining the brightest, we would kill ourselves, commit suicide to catch on to the end of the comet in order to go into paradise. Thirty-nine people of that group committed suicide.
Jesus is saying for the hundreds who have been deceived by the deceivers, there will be eternal punishment for these men. And Jesus is saying anybody who causes you to sin will have a severe punishment. “Now, Jesus, we understand that great mandate. We understand that when people attack us, there’s a punishment for them. But what are we to do?” If Jesus is going to punish people for doing that to us, what are we to do as a response to as our response to Jesus? So we see the outside.
Write down this: what do we do on the inside? Look what he says. If your hand causes you to sin, what? Cut it off. Leg causes you to sin, cut it off. Eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. Jesus is using hyperbole here. He is going to the extreme to show the seriousness of sin in the view of God. Jesus is showing that nothing in this world—church, come in close—should stand in the way of eternal life and serving God, not even your limbs or eyes. Now, some people have gone to the extreme and actually taken this verse literally. Jesus is not talking literally here.
Friends, he’s not talking about cutting off his hand, because this is the point. You can cut off your hand, you can cut off your leg, you can gouge out your eye and you can be the most immoral, selfish, prideful person in town. That’s not what he’s talking about. This is what he’s saying. He’s saying you need to look at the landscape of your life and determine if the things you do, if the places you go, or the things you watch are causing you to sin. Because if they are straying you away from the kingdom of heaven, you need to get rid of them. Why? Notice what he says, the kingdom of heaven is diametrically opposed to going to hell where the worm never dies and the fire is not quenched. “Jesus, that’s pretty harsh terminology.”
That word hell is the Greek word gehenna. It’s the region of the Hinnom Valley where they would sacrifice people unto the lord, they would massacre people there under Ahaz and Manasseh. It was actually banned in the first century. It was like a garbage dump at the time and it was one of the most unsanitary and miserable places of all. It was considered a place of torment, a place of darkness, a place of pain. And Jesus intensifies this by using this phrase from Isaiah. Listen to what he says. Isaiah 66:24: Hell is a place where “the worm does not die and the fire is never quenched.” He’s saying this is an unending torment.
Now, there’s some people believe in what’s called annihilationalism. Have you ever heard of that before? Annihilationalism is the idea that you came from dust and you will return to dust and you will not suffer fire, you will not be eternally punished, you will not be tormented. You will just cease to exist. So if you don’t choose Jesus, who cares? You’re just going to die one day and you cease to exist. That cannot be the case from this passage, right? Because Jesus says—you don’t need a seminary degree to figure it out—where the worm never what? Dies—that means live forever—and the fire never ceases. What Jesus is saying is this: there will be eternal punishment for the lost.
I’ll give you another one. Matthew 25:46. Go there real quick. Jesus is talking about the difference between the goats and the sheep. ““And these will go away [talking about the goats] into eternal punishment [what does the word eternal mean? Forever], but the [redeemed or] righteous into eternal life.”
Can you sense the horror of this scene? “Jesus, don’t you realize that you have a kid on your lap? Why are you talking this way?” Friends, that’s how much God hates sin, especially in the life of the believer. Sin is to miss the mark. It’s God’s holy and righteous standard and when we miss the mark, we sin. See, there’s two types of theologies in the life of the believer. There is positional righteousness and conditional fellowship, right? Let me explain it. Positional righteousness is this: when you came to Christ, you were positioned as righteous because of the Son of God dying on the cross, being raised from the dead. You are only righteous in the eyes of God not based on your righteousness but based on whose? Christ. That means you can’t lose your salvation if you’re truly saved. That means no matter what you do in the eyes of God, He loves you endlessly, unconditionally because of Christ.
Now, once you come to Christ, you have to live your life and as you live for the Lord, that is conditional fellowship, meaning this: because of your actions, you can either be in fellowship with God or out of fellowship with God. Here’s the question. How do you get out of fellowship with God? Sin. You are misaligned with the intimacy and the relationship, personal intimate relationship with God because of sin. God, because of His nature, cannot come in contact with sin. And that’s what He’s saying here. If you are in sin, cut it off, gouge it out.
When I was at the lowest point in my life, when I was at the end of the rope with my addiction, I decided to go to my dad’s wallet when he wasn’t looking and I took out his credit card number that he used for the business and I memorized the card number and charged, over three months, $15,000. I would buy things off the internet and I would turn around and sell them for drug money. I’ll never forget the phone call when my dad called me. It was heartbreaking for my father. You have to understand. I had worked for my dad off and on at that point for 10 years. My dad was my best friend. My dad was the person I went with and hung out with all the time and so you can imagine how heartbroken he was when he found this out. In fact, he couldn’t even call. He asked my mom to call.
My mom called. I’ll never forget the phone call. She said, “Robby, your father is furious with you and I’m disappointed. Don’t ever come to this house again.” And I said, “You know what? I don’t need you people. I didn’t need you to begin with. I can do this on my own.” And I took the little bit of money and I spent the rest of it. Just a side note here, my parents cutting me off from the enabling that they were giving me, from enabling me, was the very means I believe that caused me and allowed me to live. If you’re dealing with an addiction or a person in your life that is addicted to something, there’s always one enabler in the family. And you’re thinking that you’re helping them by enabling them. But friends, you’re actually sending them to the grave. It was the cutting off and the realizing that mom and dad couldn’t save me.
The problem is this: if you’re an enabler and you continue to save that person, that person will never get to a place where they realize they need a true savior, which is Christ. And I got to the place where I couldn’t turn to anyone but the Lord. And I’d gotten so low. I had no electricity. We had no gas in the house. We had no cell phone, no phone in the house. And so I decided to do the only thing I knew how. I went back home to my parent’s house and as this tough, prideful man, I sat in their living room and first time, I shed a tear and I said, “Mom, I can’t do it on my own. I need you to help me.” And as I wept in their living room, they took me back in. It was unthinkable. They showed me mercy. I didn’t deserve to be taken back in. I deserved to be put out of the house. I deserved to be shunned. I deserved to be kicked out but mom and dad took me back in. They said, “We’re going to welcome you back in. We’re going to give you a second chance.” What an incredible picture of mercy. Mercy is not doing to someone what they rightfully deserve.
Just another side note – we have a ministry called Celebrate Recovery. If you’re struggling with any addiction, you can get plugged in to that ministry here. I didn’t have Celebrate Recovery back then. So I went to my mom and dad. They took me back in and they cleaned me up. They took me back in and they said, “We’re not going to punish you for the things you’ve done in the past.” Well, that’s the same way God does. When you recognize your sinfulness before the Lord, He doesn’t hold your past against you.
And I want to ask you to look at your life this morning. Is there something that needs to be cut off? Is there something that needs to be turned off? Is there something that needs to be gouged out? Is there something that you need to get rid of? The only time in the Bible where God is in a hurry to do anything is when the prodigal son turns around and realizes he sinned and then you see the father running to the son. It’s the only time he’s ever in a hurry. And the same would happen with you this morning if you realize, “I’ve sinned against a holy God and I need to come back.”
In sermon by Joe Biley called “Is Holiness Possible?” he talks about this idea. He says, “What are you reading, my friends? Do you have books and magazines that you want no one else to see? What are you renting at the local video store? How many hours do you spend watching TV? How many murders do you see? How many chapters of the Bible did you read last week? Where do our minds go when we have no duties to perform? An answer to this question, it always leaves us guilty. Jesus says we must go to the extreme to rid ourselves of any offending member and that only we ourselves can do that.”
That’s the view of outsiders. Jesus says you need to have a correct of others. You need to have a correct view of sin. But finally, notice this. You need to have a correct view of suffering. Look at what He says as he ends in Mark 9: “For everyone will be salted with fire. [Now this is very confusing.] Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Write down first, the reality. The reality is everyone will be salted with fire—very confusing phrase here. But in order to understand the phrase, we have to go back to the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, when they would sacrifice an animal unto the Lord, they would throw salt on the animal. The sacrifice was mixed with salt and fire. You can go back and look at Leviticus 2 or Ezekiel 43. I think what Jesus is saying here is this: He’s saying for the believer, you will go through trials and difficulties in order to accomplish discipleship. “Being a disciple of me, you should not expect to be seated at my right hand or my left hand. You need to expect suffering and difficulty.”
It doesn’t just mean that the disciple will go through trials. This is what Jesus is saying. You have to willingly go through trials. You not only need to understand it, you need to embrace it. You need to anticipate it. You need to run into it. It’s what Paul says in Romans 12:1. He says, “I beseech you by the mercies of God to [what?] present your bodies as a living sacrifice unto him.” It’s the idea that we willingly and submissively give ourselves over to God even if it means that we will suffer. “Whoa, Jesus. I thought we were just talking about who’s the greatest. I thought we were just pinning ribbons on one another. I thought we were just giving name tags out and now you’re going to talk about suffering through salt and fire. Jesus, what are you talking about?” See what Jesus is trying to do is correct their view of ministry and He’s saying, “Guys, it’s not going to be easy. In fact, it’s going to be difficult for you.”
Dietrich Bonheoffer, the great German preacher who was stuck in the concentration camp for many years, got out, went back into the concentration camp to save men and women in there being punished by Hitler and the German regime and gave his life as a sacrifice to save many. Listen to what he says about suffering, a man who knows it well, “Suffering is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master, Jesus. That is why Martin Luther reckoned suffering among the greatest marks of a true church. Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ and it is, therefore, not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer. In fact, it is a joy and a token of God’s grace to suffer.”
The disciples don’t understand it now but they will because every one of them but John will die as a martyr for their faith. Did you know that? James, the brother of John, will be beheaded. He’s in the audience. Andrew, the brother of Peter, will be crucified on an X-shaped cross for the Lord. Bartholomew will be beaten and crucified. Thomas will be tortured. A spear will be jabbed in his side; he will be thrown into a furnace and be burned to a crisp for the Lord. Peter will be crucified upside down because he doesn’t deserve, he said, to be crucified the same way his Lord was. Matthew will be pinned to the ground and beheaded. And the writer of the gospel we’re reading, Mark, will be tied to the back of horses and be drug through the city until he has been drug to death. All these men know that suffering would be a part of their life.
Let me ask you. Do you embrace suffering? So you suffer for the gospel or do you run from it? Because not only is that the reality of discipleship, notice secondly, the response of discipleship. “Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
What is salt good for? Think about it. Salt flavors. Salt does what? Preserves. Salt purifies. Salt stings when you put it in a wound. Salt creates thirst. When you eat a lot of salt, you get thirsty. I think what Jesus is here is this: salt is contrasted with sin and corruption. When you’re salty, it’s your character and attitude to an unbelieving world and, basically, salt is in contrast to sin. Pride—humility; servanthood—dictatorship; selfishness—selflessness. There’s this dichotomy against one another. We are salt when we are holy to the Lord in our personal life, in our vocational life, in our parental life, and in our social life.
Let me ask you a couple of questions. Because people are watching you now, are you drawing people to the Lord or are you leading people away from the Lord by your actions at work? William Barclay told about how, in the first century in the synagogue among the Jews, there was a certain custom that if a Jew became an apostate and left the church and then returned to the faith, before he was received back into the synagogue, he must in penitence lie across the synagogue and invite people to trample on him when they walked in. Talk about a new meaning to repentance, right? In certain places, the Christian church took over this custom and, as a Christian who had been ejected by discipline from the church, was compelled to come back, before he came back into the church, he was to lie at the door of the church and invite people to trample on him and he would say these words, “Trample upon me who am the salt which has lost its savor.”
Jesus said you are the salt of the earth. And I want to ask you how effective are you being in this world for Christ. I want you to look at the landscape of your life this morning and I want you to shine a searchlight on your heart. I want you to ask yourself the question, “Is there something in my life that needs to be cut off? Is there something in my life that I need to get rid of? Are there things in my life that I’m looking at that I shouldn’t?” John Owen, the great Puritan said, “Your state is not at all to be measured by the opposition that sin makes to you but by the opposition you make to sin.” You can’t help the things that happen to you. You can help in how you respond to sin. As you look at your heart this morning, what is controlling you? Have you given up some territory to the enemy that you need to gain back? Have you relaxed your guard on certain things? Have you become so calloused to sin that you allow it to happen? The correct view of self is humility. The correct view of others is servitude. The correct view of sin is to remove it and the correct view of suffering is to embrace it.