Theology

What Is Pentecost?

Acts 2 Pentecost.png

Introduction

1456053183_thumb.pngA very happy Pentecost Sunday to you! Today is Pentecost Sunday and Christians around the globe will be celebrating this event. Why is the Day of Pentecost so important in the life of the church?

Pentecost is the message that God has a promise for you! Long ago, God made a promise that was so wonderful that the Israelites were to celebrate it on a certain Sunday every year until the promise was fulfilled. This promise was rooted in the yearly Feast of Pentecost, also called the Feast of Weeks, one of the great celebrations in the Old Testament. It was harvest time! It was a time of rejoicing at what God had provided for his people. It was a time to celebrate the blessing of the God who provides. It was also an anticipation looking forward to the fulfillment of God’s marvelous promise that is for you and for everyone who asks for this promise, this gift of God our heavenly Father.

The Feast of Pentecost was established in the Law of Moses. 1,445 before Christ, the Law stipulated that Pentecost was to be celebrated every year until it was fulfilled.

The word Pentecost comes from the Greek word pentêkostos (πεντηκοστός) which means “fiftieth.” So the Feast of Pentecost took place on the 50th day after the offering of the firstfruits during Passover week. That was seven full weeks after the offering of the firstfruits. In fact, the Feast of Pentecost is called the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament. It took place the day after the completion of seven weeks following the offering of the firstfruits. Seven weeks of seven days is 49 days. The next day is the 50th day. So this feast has two names: the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Pentecost.

We see that the ideas of the fiftieth day (for Pentecost) and the period of seven weeks (for the Feast of Weeks), these two ideas come together when God instituted Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks in Leviticus 23. God had said,

Lev. 23:15-16 ESV You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. 16 You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD.

These two celebrations, the offering of the firstfruits and the Feast of Pentecost, took place the day after the Sabbath. In other words, these two celebrations took place on a Sunday. The offering of the firstfruits and the Feast of Pentecost both took place on a Sunday every year from the giving of the Law of Moses until the fulfillment of the Law in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Right in the very Law of Moses, God had indicated that he was going to do something marvelous for his people. The offering of the firstfruits the first Sunday after Passover pointed to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible says that Christ is the firstfruits of the resurrection. Just as the firstfruits were the promise of the coming harvest, so the resurrection of Christ is the promise of our future resurrection.

But 50 days later came the harvest. Pentecost. The Feast of Weeks. Count seven full weeks from the offering of the firstfruits to the day after the seventh Sabbath. On that Sunday, 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the promise of the Father was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.

On that very Sunday, the promise was fulfilled and the Apostle Peter preached,

Acts 2:39 ESV For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

That means that the Day of Pentecost, the day that we are celebrating today, is a reminder that God has made a promise that is for you.

So just what is this promise?

1.        Pentecost Is a Fulfillment of the Father’s Promise

Jesus refers to the giving of the Holy Spirit as the promise of the Father. You will remember that Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover. He was raised from the dead on the third day and appeared to his disciples for 40 days, teaching them many things about the kingdom of God. Then, shortly before ascending to the right hand of God, he reminded the disciples about the promise of the Father.

At the end of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus told his disciples,

Luke 24:49 ESV And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Again, we find the promise in the very first chapter of the Book of Acts:

Acts 1:4-5 ESV And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Now this is most interesting. Jesus reminded the disciples, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Jesus makes a distinction between being baptized with water and being baptized with the Holy Spirit. Being baptized with water is not the same thing as being baptized with the Holy Spirit.

This is the same thing that John the Baptist had said:

Mark 1:8 ESV I have baptized you with water, but [Jesus] he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Now, 40 days after his resurrection, as Jesus is preparing to ascend to the Father’s right hand, he tells the disciples,

Luke 24:49 ESV And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

This promise of the Father, this gift that would be given the Day of Pentecost, has something to do with the Holy Spirit, and it has something to do with power for service. This is what Jesus told the disciples just before ascending into heaven:

Acts 1:8 ESV But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Why is this the promise of the Father? Why does Jesus refer to the giving of the Holy Spirit and the empowering for service, why does he call this the promise of the Father?

This is the promise of the Father because in the Old Testament, God the Father had promised that the time when come when he would give the Holy Spirit to his people.

Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the promise of the Father. On Ascension Day, which we celebrated just 10 days ago, before their very eyes, Jesus was taken up bodily into heaven. The disciples then returned to Jerusalem. They entered into the upper room where they were staying. About 120 disciples gathered in that upper room and devoted themselves to prayer. For 10 days they prayed, waiting for the promise of the Father.

Then we read in Acts 2,

Acts 2:1-4 ESV When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

It was the Day of Pentecost. Jews from all over the world had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the event, but nothing like this had ever happened before! Jews from all over the world, who spoke many different languages, were now hearing Jews from Galilee, the disciples of Jesus, speaking in these different languages.

Acts 2:6-12 NLT When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. 7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee,… And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.

The Jews had been celebrating the Day of Pentecost for nearly 1,500 years, but this was a Day of Pentecost like no other. This was the fulfillment of the promise of the Father. “What can this mean?” the people asked. “What is this all about?”

It was then that the Apostle Peter preached the first Christian sermon. There, on that Sunday, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter explained that God had fulfilled his promise by pouring out his Holy Spirit on them.

Acts 2:16-18 NLT …what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.

This was the promise of the Father! He would pour out his Spirit on all people. He does not mean that everyone would receive the Spirit, but that the gift of the Holy Spirit would be for everyone who called upon the name of the Lord. God would pour his Spirit on them and they would prophesy.

In the Old Testament, the anointing of the Holy Spirit was generally limited to three classes of people. The Spirit’s anointing was for prophets, for priests, and for kings. But God had promised that the day would come when he would pour out his Spirit on all people. The gift would not be limited by gender, by age, or by social class:

  1. The gift of the Spirit would not be limited by gender; God would give his Spirit to men and women: “Your sons and your daughters will prophesy.”
  2. The gift of the Spirit would be not be limited by age; it would be for the young and the old: “Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
  3. The gift of the Spirit would not be limited by class or level of society: “I will pour out my Spirit on my male servants and female servants.”

The gift of the Spirit would be available for all who called upon the name of the Lord to be saved. This was the new life of living by the Spirit instead of living by the Law.

Before Christ came, people tried to please God by following the Law. It was a list of rules that they tried to obey. It was all on the outside. The people tried to change their lives from the outside in. The outside-in approach started with the list of rules, some 613 laws, that people tried to observe, trying to change their hearts from the outside.

But God had promised that a new day was coming, a time when he would change people not from the outside in, but from the inside out. God would change people not by telling them to obey a written code of laws, but by empowering them by the Holy Spirit who would change them — and us — from the inside out.

Yes, there would be an outward change, but the change begins on the inside, not on the outside. This is the promise of the Father:

This is that promise in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 31:31-33 NLT “The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD. 33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

God had promised through the prophet Ezekiel,

Ezekiel 36:25-27 NLT “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

So Pentecost reminds us that the Christian life is not following a list of rules and laws. The true Christian is one who is born of the Spirit of God.

2.        Pentecost Is the Power to Serve

Pentecost is also the power to serve. Jesus had promised the disciples,

Acts 1:8 ESV But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The disciples needed the power of the Holy Spirit to be effective in ministry. You and I need the power of the Holy Spirit to be effective for Christ. “You will receive power,” Jesus said, “and you will be my witnesses…” We receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be Jesus’ witnesses. We are witnesses to Jesus Christ. We preach Christ.

This power of the Holy Spirit is seen in the boldness that the disciples had in witnessing for Christ. Over and over again, we read about the Holy Spirit coming upon the believers and how they spoke about Christ with great boldness.

On that great Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers, Peter preached with great boldness. He confronted the Jews with their sin:

Acts 2:23 ESV this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

But God had reversed the decrees of men and had raised Jesus from the dead:

Acts 2:32 ESV This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.

There in the very city where Jesus had been crucified and buried, Peter declared with boldness that God had raised him up. Furthermore, Peter said, “of that we all are witnesses.” Christianity is not some philosophy or some interpretation of life. Christianity is history. The gospel did not begin somewhere else. It began in Jerusalem where Jesus died and was raised from the dead and appeared to hundreds showing himself to be alive by many proofs (Acts 1:1-3).

Jesus died. He was buried. He was raised from the dead. And after 40 days, he ascended to the right hand of God. Then Peter declared,

Acts 2:32-33 ESV Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

The gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was a result of the finished work of Jesus Christ. Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God. He received the promise of the Father as a result of his finished work of salvation. And he poured out the Holy Spirit on the 120 disciples in the upper room.

But was the gift just for those early disciples?

3.        Pentecost Is a Message that the Gift of the Holy Spirit Is for All Peoples Everywhere

On that Day of Pentecost, Peter was preaching to thousands of people who were gathered in Jerusalem. They had seen the effect of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They had heard as Peter preached to them the gospel.

Acts 2:36-37 ESV Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

They have been convicted of their sin against God. “What shall we do?” they asked. Yes, there is something to do. Salvation is not automatic. It is not the result of being born in a Christian nation or of being born of Christian parents or of going to church.

Acts 2:38 ESV And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Peter said that the first thing that we must do is to repent. These people were “cut to the heart.” They felt the guilt of their sin. Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit would convict people of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.

We need that work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Until we see and feel the depth of our sin against God, we can never be saved. If we think that we are pretty good compared to others, then we are like the Pharisees who were self-righteousness. If we justify ourselves, we will never by justified by God. But if we see and feel that all our righteousness is as filthy rags before God, if we feel our uncleanness, if we feel our guilt before a holy God, then the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts producing conviction of sin and godly sorrow.

2 Corinthians 7:10 NIVO Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Repentance involves confession of sin, admitting before God that we are guilty. It is a change of mind. We no longer want to do the things that we used to do. We are now ashamed of the things that we did (Romans 6:21)! So repentance means turning away from our sin. It is an about-face. It is walking the other way.

“Repent,” Peter said, “and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”

Baptism means that we have a change of loyalty. We are now baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ means that we are baptized in the authority of Christ. We are baptized as Christ told us to be baptized. And he told us in Matthew 28:19 that we are to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Christ is our Lord and Master. By baptism, we identify with him in his death, his burial, and his resurrection. We are raised with him to walk in the newness of life (Romans 6:1-3).

Now Peter says, “Repent and be baptized and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” We have already seen that water baptism is not the same as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. And yet, it is normal for Christians to be baptized into the Holy Spirit for this promise was not just for the 120 disciples. This promise is for us:

Acts 2:39 ESV For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

The promise of the Spirit was not limited to the 120 disciples. It was not just for the age of the apostles. The gift did not die out at the end of the first century. Peter clearly says that the promise of the Spirit is for all of us, for all whom the Lord our God will call.

4.        Pentecost Is a Celebration of the Birthday of the Church

Acts 2:40-42 ESV And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Peter and the disciples had been baptized with the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus had said. They had received power to be his witnesses. With great power and boldness, Peter bore witness to Jesus and the gospel of Christ. The Holy Spirit moved upon the crowd with conviction of sin and three thousand souls were added to the church.

On that Sunday, that Day of Pentecost,

  • The Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers,
  • The first Christian sermon was preached,
  • Three thousand people were added to the Church

On that Sunday, the Church was born. And one this Sunday, we celebrate the birthday of the Church and the fact that Jesus Christ is building his Church.

5.        Pentecost Is a Reminder that Christ Will Continue to Build His Church

In his book Witness Essentials, Dan Meyer lists some encouraging statistics about the growth of the church around the world:[1]

  • In 1900 Korea had no Protestant church. Today, there are over 7,000 churches in just the city of Seoul, South Korea.
  • At the end of the 19th century, the southern portion of Africa was only 3 percent Christian. Today, 63 percent of the population is Christian, while membership in the churches in Africa is increasing by 34,000 people per day.
  • In India, 14 million of the 140 million members of the “untouchable” caste have become Christians.
  • More people in the Islamic world have come to Christ in the last 25 years than in the entire history of Christian missions.
  • In Islamic Indonesia, the percentage of Christians is now so high (around 15 percent) that the Muslim government will no longer print statistics.
  • In China, it is estimated that there are now more self-avowed disciples of Jesus than members of the Communist party. Even the most conservative estimates suggest that China will soon have more Christians than any country.
  • Across the planet, followers of Jesus are increasing by more than eighty thousand per day.
  • 510 new churches form every day.

Conclusion

On this Day of Pentecost, we remember

  1. The Father has fulfilled his promise by the Holy Spirit to those who ask.
  2. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to be effective witnesses of Jesus Christ.
  3. The message of Pentecost is for all believers everywhere.
  4. We celebrate today the birthday of the Church.
  5. Christ will continue to build his Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

 

[1] Daniel Meyer, Witness Essentials (InterVarsity Press, 2012), pp. 32-33

See also “Gospel of Mark”:

 

 

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Mark 06v06-13 The Global Mission of the Church

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The world is a dangerous place. This past Thursday there was an Islamic State attack on a Starbuck’s café in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing seven people and wounding 26 others.[1] On Friday night, on the other side of the world, 23 people were killed in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (West Africa) when a group of attackers raided the Splendid Hotel. An al Qaeda-linked terrorist group claimed responsibility.[2]

Many worldviews and religions are competing for the hearts and minds of people everywhere. Christians are also to spread the Good News about Jesus Christ. How are we to respond to those who reject him?

Introduction

Christ has commissioned all believers to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. How are we to respond when people reject the message of the gospel?

Today I want to consider a passage in Mark 6 where Jesus sends out his disciples and tells them how to respond to those who accept and to those who reject the gospel. I want to consider the global mission of the Church, the foundations of that mission, and Jesus’ specific instructions about the message and how people respond to it.

First, let’s read from Mark 6:6-13.

Mark 6:6-13 NLT …Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people. 7  And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits. 8 He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick– no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. 9 He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes. 10 “Wherever you go,” he said, “stay in the same house until you leave town. 11 But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.” 12 So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. 13 And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.

When we think of Jesus’ ministry, we tend to think of his compassion, and how he healed the sick, healing — for example, in Mark 5 we read how Jesus healed the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years, and how he raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead. Healing was an important part of Jesus’ ministry, but the defining element of his ministry was his teaching.

In the Gospel of Mark alone, Jesus is called the Teacher twelve times.

  • We read that he taught in the synagogues (1:21; 6:2).
  • He taught beside the sea (4:1).
  • He taught in the temple (12:35).
  • He taught many things in parables (4:2).
  • He taught with authority (1:27).

The first 14 chapters of Mark refer to Jesus’s ministry of teaching more than 30 times. Everywhere Jesus went, he was teaching.

It is one thing to see a miracle. It is another thing to understand what the miracle teaches us about the miracle worker. It was through his teaching that Jesus opened the window so we could see who he was and what he came to do. Jesus tells us exactly why he came in Mark 10:45.

Mark 10:45 ESV For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

A Global Mission

The reason that Jesus chose disciples and sent them out was that he had and has a global mission. Jesus did not come just for the nation of Israel. The Bible says that he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He is “the Savior of the world” (John 4:42). Jesus was training disciples to take the Good News to the ends of the earth.

It became apparent early on in his ministry, that Jesus had a global mission. This goes all the way back to the call of Abraham. God had told Abraham that through his offspring, that is through Jesus Christ, all the peoples of the world would be blessed.

Genesis 22:18 ESV and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Who is Abraham’s offspring? The Apostle Paul explains that Jesus Christ is Abraham’s offspring. All the nations of the earth would be blessed in Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3:16 ESV Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

Throughout the Old Testament, we read that the nations and the peoples of the world would bless the Lord and be blessed in him (Psalm 72:17-19; etc.).

God intended that Vanuatu would be blessed through his Son Jesus Christ.

Now in the Gospel of Mark, the Lord has come. He begins his ministry in Capernaum, but his ministry would not be limited to one town or region or country. Although everyone in Capernaum was looking for him, Jesus told his disciples,

Mark 1:38 ESV … “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

Already in Mark 3,

Mark 3:14-15 ESV And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons.

Now in Mark 6,

Mark 6:7 ESV And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.

This was just the beginning. Jesus did not come simply to bring the Good News of salvation to Israel; he was making fishers of men, disciples who would make disciples of people of all nations. The last chapter of this Gospel of Mark has this Great Commission:

Mark 16:15-16 ESV And [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

This is the global, worldwide mission of the Church: to proclaim to the entire world salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Listen to it again:

Mark 16:15-16 ESV And [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

There you have the scandal of Christianity. Jesus comes into the world, sent by God the Father, sent to save sinners. This is scandalous to some because they want to make their own way to heaven. They want there to be many ways to heaven. They want to believe that any religion or any god will do just fine, but that is not what the Bible teaches.

The teaching of the Bible is consistent throughout. There is only one true God, and there is only one way to the one true God, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how Jesus prayed the night before he gave his life as a ransom for many:

John 17:3 ESV And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

There is only one true God and there is only one way to that God.

1 Timothy 2:5 ESV For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Foundation One: One True God

So foundational to the global mission of the church is first of all the fact that there is only one true God.

This fact is established over and over again in the Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 6:4 ESV  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

But the Israelites abandoned the one true God. They began to believe that there were other gods. They worshipped the gods of the peoples around them.

One of the so-called Christian cults from America working in Vanuatu today teaches that there are other gods in different universes. That is why you need to find a Bible-believing church that uses no other book but the Bible.

This is what the God of the Bible says,

Deuteronomy 4:39 ESV know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.

Deuteronomy 32:39 ESV “‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

Isaiah 43:10 ESV …Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.

Isaiah 43:11 ESV I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.

Isaiah 44:6 ESV Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.

Isaiah 44:8 ESV … Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

Isaiah 45:5 ESV I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God…

Isaiah 45:6 ESV …from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.

Isaiah 45:18 ESV For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD, and there is no other.

Isaiah 45:21 ESV …And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.

Isaiah 45:22 ESV “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

***Isaiah 46:9 ESV remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,

Foundation Two: One Mediator Between God and Man

The Bible, the Word of God, is very clear. There is only one true God and there is only one way to the one true God. Again, Jesus prayed,

John 17:3 ESV And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

There is one true God and he has provided one way of salvation, and that way of salvation is through his Son Jesus Christ.

The two million gods of Hinduism cannot save you, but the one true God who sent his Son to die on the cross — he alone can make you right with God.

John 14:6 ESV Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

No one. The only way to be reconciled to God is through his Son Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter said it like this:

Acts 4:12 NLT There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

Why do you need salvation?

At the end of month you get paid. You get your salary. You are paid what you have earned.

At the end of your life, you get your payoff, your salary, your wages. But here’s the bad news:

Romans 6:23 ESV For the wages of sin is death,

That’s not just death in the grave; that’s eternal separation from God, being cast into outer darkness. Hell.

That is why we need salvation. All of us.

Romans 3:23 ESV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 6:23 ESV For the wages of sin is death, [but here’s the Good News] but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Eternal life in Christ Jesus is a free gift from God. It’s free but someone paid for it. Who paid for your free gift? Jesus Christ paid for your eternal life. No one else could take away our sins.

Romans 5:6-9 ESV  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

So Jesus commanded

Luke 24:47 ESV … that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

This Good News of what God has done in his Son Jesus Christ is to be preached in all nations:

  • America and Australia
  • Belgium and Bhutan
  • Canada and China
  • Fiji and France
  • Syria and the Solomon Islands
  • Vietnam and Vanuatu

Specific Instructions

Jesus Gives Authority

It all begins right here in Mark 6.

Mark 6:7 NLT  And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits.

This section closes with the report:

Mark 6:13 NLT And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.

The Twelve were “not sent to do a new work but to continue and extend the work begun by Jesus (1:34; 3:11-12; 5:8).”[3]

The disciples are sent to do what Jesus has been doing. Jesus has given them authority to do what he was doing. He does not have to pray for God to give them this authority. He simply shares his authority with the Twelve and they go and preach and heal the sick and cast out evil spirits in his name.

Jesus Gives Instructions Concerning Travel – What to Take

Mark 6:8-9 NLT He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick– no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. 9 He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes.

Jesus sends them out with basically nothing but his authority. They are to trust in God to provide for their needs. They are not traveling first class! They are not prosperity preachers! They go with a walking stick, the sandals on their feet, and the clothes on their back. The ministry is not a means for getting more stuff. “They are to stay mean and lean.”[4]

According to James Edwards, “True service of Jesus is characterized by dependence on Jesus, and dependence on Jesus is signified by going where Jesus sends despite material shortfalls and unanswered questions. . . .They must trust him alone who sends them” (Edwards, Mark, 181). Little provisions require big faith in God to meet your needs (cf. Phil 4: 19)![5]

Jesus Gives Instructions Concerning Staying in Homes — How to Act

Mark 6:10-11 NLT “Wherever you go,” he said, “stay in the same house until you leave town. 11 But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”

Now this is most interesting in the world in which we live today. Jesus has given the church the responsibility of taking the Good News to all peoples everywhere. We are to proclaim Jesus. His final words before returning to heaven were these:

Acts 1:8 NLT But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere– in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The Message

The focus of our preaching and teaching is Jesus Christ himself. He has commissioned us to be his witnesses. We are witnesses of Jesus Christ. We are Jesus’s witnesses.

Throughout the entire New Testament, the message is what God has done in Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

2 Corinthians 4:5 ESV For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Throughout the epistles, the Apostle Paul is constantly exalting Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:9-11 NLT Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

We could go through the New Testament, book after book, to see that the focus is on Jesus Christ. He is Lord and he has commissioned us to announce to all people everywhere that there is salvation in Christ alone. And we will preach the Good News of Jesus Christ until he comes. Jesus declared in…

Matthew 24:14 ESV And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The Response

Love came down when God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

But let us note carefully that Jesus did not expect everyone to believe the gospel. Through the Gospel of Mark opposition to Jesus is rising. The scribes and Pharisees oppose him. The following verses of this chapter tells how John the Baptist is beheaded. As Jesus gives instructions to his disciples about their ministry, he prepares them for rejection. In fact, that is probably why he took them to Capernaum where he was rejected by his own hometown.

Jesus instructs his disciples to go and stay with whoever received them, but he told them that some places would not welcome them. Some people would not listen to them. They would experience rejection.

What do we do as ambassadors of Jesus Christ when we are not welcomed, when our message is not received?

This is where Christianity differs radically from some other religions. Christianity is not a religion of intimidation. It is not a religion of fear and oppression. Christianity never forces anyone to become a Christian. Christianity is a religion of the heart. We are saved by grace through faith.

Well-known atheist Richard Dawkins made an interesting comment about Christianity.

“There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings,” Dawkins said. “I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death.”[6]

Christ invites you to come to him. He never forces you. The last verses of the Bible include this invitation:

Revelation 22:17 NLT  The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.

So we are to share the gospel freely with all who will listen.

But what about those who do not listen? Jesus said that we are to simply “shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”

The New Living Translation renders Mark 6:11,

Mark 6:11 NLT But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”

We leave those who resist the gospel in the hands of God. Perhaps he will yet grant them repentance.

The Need for Repentance

Mark 6:12 NLT So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God.

John the Baptist preached repentance:

Matthew 3:2 ESV “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Jesus preached repentance:

Matthew 4:17 ESV From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

The apostles preached repentance:

Acts 2:38 ESV And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Since John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles preached repentance, it must be important. But what is it?

Repentance has six elements:[7]

  1. Sight of sin. A person sees that he is a sinner and that his lifestyle is sinful. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15:17, he finally comes to his senses and sees that he has sinned against God.
  2. Sorrow for sin. “…I am sorry for my sin” (Psalm 38:18 ESV). There is godly grief, “genuine, anguishing sorrow over the offense itself and not just its consequences.” “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV).
  3. Confession of sin. The humble sinner voluntarily passes judgment on himself. He confesses his sins, not just generally, but specifically. Confession is a deep work in the heart and it cannot be accomplished simply by admitting that we are sinners. We need to humbly confess how we have sinned against God. In the Scriptures, we find at least seven benefits to confession:
    1.   Confession of sin gives glory to God (Josh 7: 19).
    2. Confession of sin is a means to humble the soul (2 Chr 26: 19).
    3. Confession of sin gives release to a troubled heart (Ps 51: 11-12).
    4. Confession of sin purges out sin (Neh 3: 13). Augustine called it “the expeller of vice.”
    5. Confession of sin endears Christ to the soul that needs atoning (Rom 7: 25).
    6. Confession of sin makes way for forgiveness (2 Sam 12: 13; 1 John 1: 9).
    7. Confession of sin makes way for mercy (Prov 28: 13).
  4. Shame for sin. Ezra prayed, “O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens” (Ezra 9:6 NLT). The prodigal son said to his father, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son” (Luke 15:21 NLT).
  5. Hatred of sin. The more we love Jesus, the more we will hate sin for our sins nailed Jesus to the cross.
  6. Turning from sin and returning to the Lord.
    Repentance means turning away from our sin. It means getting the sin out of our lives.

Ezekiel 14:6 NLT  “Therefore, tell the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent and turn away from your idols, and stop all your detestable sins.

Repentance is not only turning from sin, it is turning to the Lord.

Psalm 119:9-11 ESV How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Conclusion

The message of the Bible is that

Acts 17:30-31 NLT “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

No one will force you to follow Christ. We are simply Christ’s ambassadors…

2 Corinthians 5:20 NLT …God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

[1] http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/police-warned-about/2430438.html

[2] http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/16/africa/burkina-faso-hotel-terrorist-attack/

[3] Edwards Jr., James R. (2009-10-05). The Gospel according to Mark (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Kindle Locations 3487-3490). Eerdmans Publishing Co – A. Kindle Edition.

[4] Akin, Daniel L. (2014-06-01). Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (p. 124). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[5] Akin, Daniel L. (2014-06-01). Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (pp. 124-125). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[6] http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/01/12/professional-atheist-dawkins-says-christianity-bulwark-against-something-worse/

[7] Akin, Daniel L. (2014-06-01). Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) (p. 126). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

See also “Gospel of Mark”: