Don’t Look Away From the Son of God Part 1

October 22, 2017

Don’t Look Away From the Son of God Part 1

Mark 15:16-20

Don’t look away is a strange title for this message but it’s something that must be talked about. We are in the midst of Jesus’ passion (His suffering, death and crucifixion) and we are reading about the details of everything that He went through for us. This is difficult, and painful to hear, especially when we know the details of the scourging (whipping) and the mocking that our Lord went through for us. We are inclined to look away from something that is so painful, we don’t want to look at scenes like these; there is something so terrible, so frightening that we don’t want to look at Jesus during this time, it is the price, the high price paid for our own sins that really disturbs us.

Mark’s gospel gives us a “matter of fact” reading of the passion of Jesus, there are no gory details, there is no visuals like the “Passion” movie by Mel Gibson, there is just a narrative of Jesus going through what had to be horrific to watch. What is more important here is the way that Jesus goes through each stage of suffering, each stage of his suffering becomes more and more intense, and each stage has to deal with a different people group. There are the Jewish leaders who spit and condemn him in a mock trial at night, there is the Roman Governor Pilate, who doesn’t quite understand Jesus, but understands fully how his needs are to survive long enough to get out of this horrible country; and finally, there are the Roman soldiers executing what is for them just another Jew who is to be killed. The Roman soldiers have all been through this before, they are used to death on a daily, often hourly basis, life is cheap here in ancient Palestine and these soldiers won’t look away today, they will see this execution through to its logical end, but in the end, they will know that this was no ordinary Jew, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54c).

We cannot look away from this God-man Jesus Christ. We must see the streams of blood we have to feel the agony and we must see and feel something much more important this morning, we have to see ourselves saved through this amazing sacrificial act which has never been done before for us and never will be done again. Jesus Christ, the Son of God is going to pay the debt of sin this morning, He will be separated from His Father, communication will cease with God for you. For you, For me, For us. Don’t look away this morning, look deeper than you ever have before, see the awesome grace of God given to you because of nothing you have done, unmerited grace because of an undying love for you, for me, for us.

The World vs the Son of God

October 8, 2017

The World vs. The Son of God

Mark 15:1-5

In our text last week, we saw Peter denying Jesus at the same time that Jesus was being beaten by the Jewish leaders. Peter was denying the Lord after getting questioned by a “servant girl”. Jesus was being mocked and beaten by Jewish Men who led the illegal trial of Jesus in the dark of the night. In today’s reading, Jesus has been brought to the Roman rulers by the Jewish leaders who previously were spitting and beating him. When we look at the three weeks where we have been in Chapter fourteen and today Chapter fifteen; we see something incredible! We see the leaders of God’s chosen people (the Jews) refusing to acknowledge Jesus as God’s Son, we see next common people (servant girl) refusing to acknowledge Jesus and seek to have Peter arrested, and finally today we see the Conquerors of Israel (the Romans) unable to see Jesus as God. The Roman, Pilate, actually says he is amazed at Jesus’ answer to him.

So, the entire world, the Jews, the Jewish poor (Peter and the rest of the disciples) slaves and servants, and the Romans (world conquerors) all reject Jesus. The Lord Jesus is rejected by all different types of people in the entire world. The Psalmist speaks of this-Psalm 2:2-3

“ The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers take counsel together,

against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,

“Let us burst their bonds apart

and cast away their cords from us.”

The world is against Jesus in the first century A.D.; the world is against Jesus in 2017. Nothing has changed, there are people who say they are in Christ today but reject God’s Word, billions of poor people around the world cry out for righteousness but reject the Lord of righteousness, the powerful of the world reject Jesus but love their money and power. This week evil came through a Hotel in Las Vegas Nevada. The world is stunned by the terrible deaths of so many people, the world seems surprised about this evil, but we know that this world has been, and will be, against God until our Lord Jesus comes again. We await that day, and we say Maranatha Lord Jesus! Come quickly!

“Bad Motives, Good Motives, Glory Theft and an Eclipse of the Sun”

Image.pngBlog Post 8/21/17
Mark 14:1-11
“Bad Motives, Good Motives, Glory theft and an Eclipse of the Sun”

Today , I looked at the Sun, or at least part of it. I made the same viewer I had made some forty years ago from an old shoe box and saw the Moon gradually obscure the Sun up to about eighty percent, as much as we could here in New Jersey. about twenty-five hundred years ago a Solar Eclipse was recorded on Cuneiform tablets in ancient Babylon what did **they** think was doing this to the Sun? We know that a myth was made up that a hungry animal was devouring the Sun, and so ultimately this animal was made into a god. It seems that when we cannot come up with a explanation for something strange, then it becomes something supernatural, and that takes care of the explanation. From the Christian Worldview there is always a different explanation, a logical cause and effect that takes place and a God that rules over any natural phenomena.

Natural phenomena have no reasons or motives for doing what they do, all of it’s actions and reactions are controlled ultimately by God. Our motives control how we think, how we interact with others and how we see ourselves in the light of Jesus Christ. The motives that impacted ancient civilizations into thinking a hungry animal was eating the Sun, were the same motives that caused them to think that a god they created with their imagination and their hands is the same one that controlled giant celestial bodies millions of miles away from Earth in Space. Our God speaks to the wonder of His creation, and He speaks to the foolishness of a world that clings to their idols that do not speak or hear or feel: Psalm 115:2-7 ESV

“Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.”

The motives of modern man and the motives of man from thousands of years ago are still the same today; the both have the motive to live in a world without God, without a Creator. In Verse Eight from Psalm 115, we can learn what happens to these motivated people who worship gods with no hands and feet,

“Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them”

So the motives that caused ancient societies to put one of their man-made gods at the center of any natural phenomena were brought about mainly by fear.
The familiar sounds of wonder and awe are mixed with dread and fear, how can this be? How can the Sun be eaten away? Fear and dread that their lives can be so interrupted would drive men to create gods that give these events some meaning; because if there is no meaning to it, no purpose in it, then it becomes more frightening to them. Purpose and meaning without God leaves us with no purpose or meaning at all.

Today modern man thinks that he is far above ancient man, he believes he knows his purpose and tries to inject his meaning into life, everything is wrapped up in personal truth, ultimate truth is not found anywhere in secular man. The idols of self worship and pleasure propel postmodern man, they look at ancient man and point to her far they have come through innovation and science. But, modern man fixates on the same idols, the same discussions that ancient man had, only now there is the god of science that controls every natural event. Science is the god that has a mouth but cannot speak, science is the god that has ears but cannot hear, and science is the god that has been made with man’s hands to support anything that can’t be explained. God is the God of all creation, and He is the God of Science and the unexplainable. Science has it’s place in the world that God created, but it is subservient to God always looking towards the Creator in everything it does, giving glory to the one true God. God, who set the world in motion most certainly knows about a Solar Eclipse. It came as no surprise to God one day when the Moon blocked the Sun’s rays, it was all Divinely prepared and set in order eons before Science described it. God uses Science to show His glory. The motive of God in all Creation is to receive glory from His creation, the Solar Eclipse is no exception.

Glory is what God deserves, it is what He is due, glory from the creation, and glory from the created, us. The glory of the Solar Eclipse is something that must be ascribed to God, but sadly during this time of intense participation in this event, there has been little glory given to the one who set this beautiful natural phenomena in motion. The glory of the Sun being exposed for all to see belongs to God and to no on else.

In our messages from Mark’s gospel we heard about a “glory thief” this Lord’s Day, we heard about the priests and the scribes seeking glory for themselves and wanting to kill Jesus. Judas in Mark 14 is finally introduced as part of Mark’s literary sandwich, with the priests and scribes at the start of Chapter 14, and Judas in verse 11. In between we have the beautiful account of the woman anointing Jesus. Judas is intent on stealing Jesus’ glory, and like Satan, his desires and his motives are to have what he cannot have, to be what he cannot be. The motives of the priests and scribes are concealed in their false love for God and for the people of God. The motives of the woman are clear and distinct, there is no mistaking them, she understands who God is. This woman gives everything she had, like the widow in Chapter 12, to God. This woman gives to Jesus all the glory she can give, she gives him the glory he is due in this anointing of his body before burial.
The two accounts that make part of this “sandwich” in Mark 14 (1-2; 10-11) are part of the glory thieves, they all plan on stealing glory from the Son of God, but Jesus will not allow his glory to be given to another (Is. 42:8). He is quite aware of the looming cross and His death upon it. All the glory that has been stolen will be returned to the Son, His sacrifice will shut the mouths of the glory thieves, all the unjust motives will be exposed in the light of this amazing love (Rev. 21:23-27). The Son will not be eclipsed as the creation was, no, the Son’s light will continue to burn brighter and brighter as more and more motives are made right and more and more glory is returned to it’s rightful owner.

It’s Not About How Wealthy You Are…




It’s not all about how wealthy the young ruler was…

In Mark 10:17-31, we come across a man who has everything he wants. This young man as we are told in other gospel accounts, (Matt. 19; Luke 18) is running up to Jesus, kneeling down in front of him and asking the most important question; “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v.18). Now on the face of this we can say that this man had everything that he wanted, but what he needed was an answer to the question that had been burning inside of him, the question that everyone on this planet wants to know, how do I get eternal life?

Christians in our culture today must know the answer to this question, there shouldn’t be an equivocation when they are asked this question, the answer of course is Jesus Christ, but our culture demands not a singular response, but a response where all answers to this question are considered valid. If the Christian answers the question in a single truthful response with Christ alone, then the Christian is considered arrogant and hateful. The Rich Young Ruler that we see in Mark is a mirror of our society today. This young man has everything that the world says he should have, but he is still searching for an answer to his deepest desire. Nothing is more important to him that fleshing out this question about eternal life, he runs to Jesus and kneels before him, showing due respect and honor. Jesus is the only one to whom this man can go to for eternal life. Jesus has the answer and this man knows it. John Bunyan places this quest for eternal life squarely in the hands of Christian in Pilgrims Progress; Christian runs away from the unbelieving world shouting “Eternal Life! Eternal Life!”, he plugs his ears not hearing the call of the world for him to come back, but nothing could cause Christian to look back on all the worldly goods he was leaving, his desire for eternal life had become the desire of his soul. The Rich Young Ruler’s desire was also for eternal life but something blocked his attaining it.

The stumbling block for most of us is the things of this world, we look at these things and have no idea that they might one day take over our lives and our worship of God. Quietly they persist in the background, only asking for recognition here and there. These things attract our attention, and like moths to a flame, and dogs to squirrels, we succumb and everything is upside down; nothing makes sense anymore and we can’t wait to get back to the things, instead of loving God, we are now loving things. The Rich Young Ruler had things on his mind that day when he ran up to Jesus. The things in his mind were occupying the same space where God was, but yet these things surpassed God, and the things became god. Jesus surprises the young man, as he usually does and as he does with us, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”(v.18) Jesus embraces his deity, and informs everyone that he is the only Good one here. Keeping the Commandments isn’t going to help this young man get his desired outcome, Jesus reasserts that in verse 18. Jesus can see what is blocking this man’s view of God, he knows it is the condition of sin in a corrupted world. Just as Jesus weeps over his beloved friend Lazarus (John 11:35 ), this young man is also loved.

Jesus requires the young man to “…sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”(v.21) This mention of a treasure in heaven doesn’t move the man to relinquish his things, but it acts by placing a tighter hold on those things. It is as if the things know they are going to be replaced and are holding on to their position of worship for the Rich Young Ruler. Nothing seems to shake the cemented position of the man’s things to his worship, he loves things more than he could love God. The things seem to have a great hold on this Rich Young Ruler he sees life without them as not worth living and he is saddened because he cannot have both, God will not allow it, “You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13c) The point here is not that Jesus is saying that we need to be impoverished, no, but sometimes it’s only when we are in the midst of poverty (physical and spiritual), when we truly rely upon God. Our sufferings and trials in this world help us grow closer to God. When our next meal is uncertain, when we are unaware of where we will be living, then there is recognition of our priorities, and a true understanding of who God is. His love is laser-focused upon this young man and his misplaced worship.

Jesus love and grace comes through loud and clear for the Rich Young Ruler. The man refuses to place his worship in the proper order, and yet Jesus “loved him” this is a great act of love in Mark’s gospel, even in the midst of loving things more than God, Jesus has compassion, Jesus has mercy, Jesus “loved him”. In the middle of our worship of things, Jesus loves us, the Holy Spirit convicts us of this elevation of the world over God. In our sanctification we, unlike the Rich Young Ruler, cannot turn away from Christ, we have been justified, made new through the atoning work of Jesus alone and we are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) declared to be righteous by God because of Christ alone. Nothing that we have done ever comes within a million miles of changing our hearts. This realization of the Rich Young Ruler causes him severe distress, he sees his chains, and he recognizes his own prison. Like a man who has been sentenced to life in prison, he is acutely aware of his turning down eternity with God.

As a Pastor and Biblical Counselor I see many people who are convicted of their addictions, of their sins and yet fail to give up these things. The addictions started out as something casual with a rationalization that there would be forgiveness. Their tears flood the floor and they speak about leaving the things behind and coming fully to Christ, they swear they will be clean; and yet some go away saddened realizing that their love of things is more than their love of God. But this is not the end for those who think there is no help, those who think the darkness is something that they must get used to. This account from Mark has important considerations for those who are embroiled in addictions, for those whose love of things have eclipsed their love of God, Jesus loves you! In the midst of the pain and in the midst of the suffering, Jesus, the picture of perfect love declares that he loves you. The Cross of Christ is the ultimate picture of love, and that love doesn’t end when you are beset by addiction, or your worship of God is corrupted. If the things of life have left you saddened and you feel helpless, know that the love of Christ awaits you. It’s time to see these things for what they are, worship thieves, and put them in their place before it is too late.

Read this Scripture over again and again and allow God to take you through the account of a desperate young man who needed to divest himself from worldly things so that he could put all of his worship towards the one true God. Let your worship be directed towards the Creator and the Perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ Almighty.

The Truth and Obstacles to hearing it

Redeemer Presbyterian Church South River NJ

The Truth and Obstacles to hearing it.

kierkegaard quote.jpeg

February 11, 2017

So many times we have gone through life hearing things from different people. We have heard things about how to make your ketchup last longer, how to make beef jerky, how to behave when you are pulled over by a policeman. We take all these things as truth without any hesitation, but when we hear God speak in His Word, there is a disconnect, there is a moment of hesitation where we think this can’t be the truth, there has to be another truth. Another truth? Can this be possible? Logic demands that we see the fallacy of this argument; there cannot be two truths, there can only be one truth. The truth of God has been the truth before this world existed, before the universe came into being, before, well, my brain can’t think of a time before there was time. The truth of God is knowing that He has no end, that God is always and forever will be. We readily accept truth from sources that don’t mean very much, but accepting truth from the most important source, we have an issue with that. Today, maybe we can go through the Truth of God in His Word and see how Jesus asked for the truth, and how the disciples responded.

In Mark 8:27-30 we have an interesting moment that occurs also in Matthew 16:13-17 and in Luke 9:18-20; Jesus asks the disciples for the truth, basically asking them, Who does the world say I am? and Who do you say I am? Jesus knows the answer to the questions because truth rests in him, he is the God man there is no deceit, no sin within him. The truth comes through as Peter resoundingly tells Jesus, “You are the Christ.” (v.29). Peter seems to know the mystery that has been “kept secret for long ages” (Rom. 16:25), but does he really see the truth or just a small tiny piece of truth? Peter certainly cannot see the entire spectrum of who Jesus really is, just as Martha doesn’t really believe that Jesus can bring her brother Lazarus back from the dead (John 11:25-27), they both hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.1 There is a rejection of the truth here from both of these people, but there is also a realization of a partial truth, a truth that brings them to a place where the real truth can be found, but in the end the truth they are speaking never can bring them to the truth of God. The truth these two speak should bring a reminder to how we hear the truth of the gospel today. Are we hearing the entire truth? Can we see Jesus as he really is? Or do we settle for just knowing a part, a small tiny piece of God’s truth, an aspect of the truth that doesn’t resolve any of our nagging desires for a Savior?

The truth must be seen in the wholeness of it, if we see the truth just partially then we can miss the greatness of it. The gospel truth cannot be separated from Jesus Christ, just as the gospel truth cannot be separated from the crucifixion and the resurrection. The gospel truth can not be just repentance and Godly sorrow for our sins, it must be clothed together with all the richness and finery of all the other essential parts. Peter and Martha knew just pieces of the truth, they would certainly see the truth in full bloom when our Lord rose from the dead, and of course as they sat with the other saints in the Upper Room and experienced the Holy Spirit. But here in context with the Scriptures there is an important lesson here for all of us, do we see the truth in gospel completeness? Or are we just seeing pieces of the truth?

The truth experienced in whole is the truth in Christ and three aspects of that are important for us to look at. The first is, the truth of God against the fiction of the world, or the truth spoken to the world. The second is, the truth of who Jesus is, or the truth spoken about Jesus. The third is, the truth of Christ in us, or the truth we speak to ourselves . The third aspect always hits me right between the eyes, that is because we (ourselves) are the biggest talkers to us, we constantly talk to ourselves hopefully not in public. Paul Tripp2 uses this analogy as he relates how we need to preach the gospel to ourselves everyday. This gospel has to be preached to us in the fullness of what it is intended to be, truth, total and without equal. The truth that we speak against the world’s lies must have the entire gospel in it, without it there is no hope for the unrepentant. The truth we speak about who Jesus is has to be said in relation to a sinless God man, dying on a cross, giving his life for many, without this the truth has no bite, the truth is toothless. The truth we speak to ourselves must be focused on who Christ is in me, how he constantly convicts me of sin and how he has promised eternity to all who believe in him.

The truth comes at us in many different forms. Knowing how to discern the truth requires us to be faithful believers, always going back to God’s Word to see the truth. The revelation of truth in the pages of Scripture is our bedrock, our foundation for the hope of a new life, an eternity with God; a moment here on earth.

  1. Simon and Garfunkel The Boxer 1969

The Coming of the King

Four part sermon series for Redeemer Church

December 4 through December 25

Last week we heard about the Promise of the King and this week we will be looking at the light of the King, I was reminded of a blog post by one of my favorite Christian bloggers Tim Challies. Tim wrote this post back in 2010 about the claims earthly kings pursue. The claims of the earthly kings cannot compare to the righteous sinless King, Jesus Christ.

Christmas for Christians demands that we see the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus as an unbelievable gift to a world drowning in sin.

Tim Challies captures what we should be seeing as we await our Savior coming to rescue a world in full rebellion. I have copied it for you all to see below.

Merry Christmas!!

He Has No Claim

December 7, 2010

Studying European history can be both fascinating and frustrating. Understanding the intricacies of all of those nations, borders and rulers could very easily be a life-long pursuit. The history of the continent is filled with claims, and counterclaims as one person after another sought to prove himself the legitimate heir to one of its many kingdoms. There were many who sought to claim thrones and these claims had to be settled through lengthy and detailed examination. Generations, kingdoms, marriages, and thrones had to be examined to understand who had the rightful claim to a throne.

I once found a similar concept of “claiming” in the Bible and it struck me as one of the most terrifying passages of Scripture. I remember as a child finding Revelation a dark and scary book. Visions of beasts and persecution, wrath and disaster played out in my mind as I tried to sleep. But I don’t think that’s any scarier than the implications of what I found in a particular verse.

It comes as Jesus is preparing to leave his disciples for the last time. They are in the upper room together celebrating the last Passover and the first Lord’s Supper. Jesus is giving his disciples their final instructions, telling them that all he has taught them is about to be fulfilled. He is gentle with them, knowing that they are blinded to the reality of what is about to happen. He is kind to promise that he will send His Spirit to indwell and guide and teach them. And then he tells them that it is time for him to leave.

“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me…” Jesus knew that Satan was about to unleash his full fury upon him. And far, far worse, he knew that Satan’s wrath was as nothing compared to the wrath of God that he would soon have to face. Satan, the ruler of this world, was coming. He was going to drag Jesus, like a helpless, hopeless lamb, through the streets, through the courts, and to the cross where he would be tortured and nailed and pierced in utter agony. Satan was going to do his worst. But Satan would not accomplish what he had hoped. In fact, he would accomplish the very opposite of what he had intended. By inciting the masses to drag Jesus to that tree, Satan would make sure his own doom and ensure the salvation of multitudes of God’s people. Satan could do nothing to Jesus beyond the physical, for he had no claim on him. He had no claim on the Son of God.

The Bible calls Satan the accuser because that is exactly how he does his work. In Revelation 12 we read of a voice that cries out, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” Satan delights in accusing God’s children of sin. Before the throne of God he tells of our sin and our failure. He tells of his reign in the hearts of all who have sinned. He tells of his rightful claim to the souls of all who have sinned against the Creator.

But he had no claim on Jesus. Satan could not whisper in Jesus’ ear that he was unloving or unworthy or sinful. He could not remind Jesus of sins he had committed, people he had shunned or offenses against God. He could not remind Jesus of impure motives or impure thoughts. Satan was powerless to accuse Jesus. He had no claim against him. In John 8:46 Jesus asked the Pharisees a rhetorical question after they accused him of being in league with Satan. “Which one of you convicts me of sin?,” he asked them. And none of them could answer. They were silent. Satan is likewise unable to convict Jesus of sin. He has no claim. He must stand in silence before the perfection of Jesus.

But not so with us. Satan has a legitimate claim to my soul and yours. Satan can recount endless lists of offenses against God. You and I have committed grevious offenses against God. We have done so joyfully, willingly, deliberately. We have done so as a show of our rebellion against God. We have enjoyed being sinful. We have enjoyed giving Satan a claim on our souls. In a time of judgment there is no doubt that Satan can produce a list of offenses more than sufficient to prove his claim on us. It is a legitimate claim. He has ruled us and we have allowed ourselves to be ruled by him.

Terror should fill the hearts of all who ponder Satan’s claims on their souls. And how could it not? Satan, the accuser, the evil one, wants my soul as his own possession. He has a claim on it. He has a claim on you. How can you not fear as you read those words?

But I thank God that there is more. When Satan flung Jesus upon that cross, he was unwittingly bringing about his own destruction. When Jesus’ time on the cross was complete, he cried out, “It is finished!” It was a cry of triumph–a cry whose fullest meaning we can never know. It was a cry that pierced history–it divided the history of humanity. It was the greatest, purest, most meaningful utterance the world can know. In his death Christ took our sin upon himself. He took the upon himself. He took the accusations of Satan and bore them on our behalf. As God turned his back on Jesus, while at the same time pouring out his wrath upon him, Jesus atoned for our sins. He entered a claim of his own in the lives of his children. My sin became his and his righteousness became mine.

The accuser lost his claim. When Satan accuses me I am now able to know, to believe, to trust and to affirm that his claim is null and void. I am clothed in Christ’s righteousness. My sin has been removed. My guilt has been taken away. I have been redeemed. And, as the triumphant climber leaves a flag at the peak of a mountain, Jesus Christ has sent his Spirit to live within me and to mark me as his own possession.

Satan may still accuse me. He may still seek to convince me that I am his. But he has lost his claim. Jesus has washed me with his blood. He has set his Spirit within me. Jesus Christ has claimed me as his own. Satan has no claim on me. And that is a glorious, wonderful thing.


Tim Challies is an author, blogger and Christian book reviewer his web site is


Call…Send… Do…

Mark 6:7-13

This past Sunday at Redeemer the message was centered upon the calling, the sending, the doing of the disciples as Jesus sent them into the towns and villages. Jesus calls and sends the disciples almost simultaneously, then he instructs them on what to take, not to take, and finally what to do when they get to where they are going. There is a great simplicity to the way Jesus sends, instructs and tells the disciples. The simplicity provides a way for us to see how our own lives were changed by the command of Christ, when, just like the disciples we were not prepared for it. The authority of Christ is what prepares the disciples, it’s this authority that gives them power over “unclean spirits”(v.7). In the same way we have no power by ourselves to come to Christ, it’s only through the regenerative power of Jesus that our hearts are changed and we enter into the family of God. Simply, it is this authoritative power that is given by The Son of God to his disciples that prepares them, and it is the power of the blood of Jesus on the cross that prepares and changes us.

The instructions that Jesus gives to his disciples (v.8-11) along with his authority, put the disciples on a narrow path where they must trust in Jesus for their everyday needs. These men can’t take any of the things that you might take on an extended journey, no food, no money and no extra clothing. They must rely on the people they meet to supply their needs, but more importantly they have to place all their trust in Jesus. Although they can’t take the things they are used to taking on a trip Jesus allows them to wear sandals to protect their feet on the stoney roads. Jesus knows their needs before they do and he takes care of their needs, the need for sandals on a hard road, and the need for increased faith. We all need our faith to be strengthened and we all need our basic everyday needs to be taken care of and God does both. Christ challenges us to increase our faith by challenging us to look to him for “every good gift and every perfect gift…” (James 1:16).

So just as Jesus knows our needs before we do, so we should be seeing the times we are in as challenges that God has placed before us to strengthen our faith and renew our love of Jesus Christ. Just as these disciples were sent out, we are sent out into the world with all we will ever need, true faith and total reliance upon God.

As this week ends many of you have seen things that may shake your confidence in this country, but remember this is not our home, we are “sojourners and exiles…” (1Peter 2:11). We have been born again with a new faith and a new desire not to serve man but to serve God. We are told by the Apostle Peter to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the might hand of God…” so that we can put “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”(1Peter 5:6-7). Nothing in our lives is not seen and known by Almighty God, as Peter tells us, he cares for us. Everything in this world is groaning, and falling apart, as evil masquerades as good, and evil tries to push aside the light of Christ, we know that in the end Jesus wins.

The disciples knew something about Jesus, they knew he was different then anyone they had seen before, no Rabbi ever acted like Jesus. Jesus gave them authority, his authority over demons and they were able to heal many people. Today we have the authority of Jesus living inside of us and our faith should be renewed and increased despite anything we see in this world. Christ’s authority gives us all the assurance we will ever need to go through this world and bring others the good news of the gospel. There will be times ahead that we will become anxious or afraid, but through it all we have been given the same reassurance that was given to the disciples, we have been called, sent and given authority to do. Let Christ reign in your hearts throughout the weeks ahead and see the magnificent love of Christ Jesus pour out of you into others. Moses tells the people of Israel not to be afraid after they came out of slavery in Egypt and were facing the Red Sea, “…Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14). This is the God we serve and this is who reigns over us.

Looking For The Light

Looking For The Light



This past Sunday at Redeemer in South River New Jersey we looked at Mark chapter four verses twenty-one through twenty-five. The parable that Jesus speaks to his followers and those gathered along the Sea of Galilee is the “parable of the lamp”,

“ And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?  For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.”

What is this light that Christ tells us about? How is this light brought into our daily lives and how is this light to be used by followers of Jesus? These three ideas will be the focus of the post today.

What is the light? The light that Jesus is referring to is really two different things. For those who are hearing the parable and not allowing the deeper truth of God to rest in their hearts, the light Jesus speaks of is the light coming from the small terra cotta lamps that were filled with usually olive oil or some other oil that was flammable, these small lamps gave light to the dark nights in Israel and most of the world at this time. These lamps were the only source of light when the Sun went down, they allowed people to do things during times of darkness and they were mobile, you could take them from place to place.

Secondly, if your heart was open and being led by The Holy Spirit, then these words of Christ were going deeper then just a physical rendering of light; then you saw the light as something much different then your friends saw, you saw this light reflecting the truth, the truth of God coming from The Son of God. This light was not going to be contained in some man made vessel. This light could never be constrained inside boundaries made by man. This light was eternally present, before creation in eternity past, and now this light bridges the gap between the Scriptures of the Old Testament which promise the Messiah throughout it’s inspired pages, and the new covenant which shows the promise in Christ Jesus.

The light this person sees is not breakable like the lamp. This light is unbreakable and cannot be broken by anything this world does. The light that Jesus reveals to us in this parable is a light that destroys darkness, it doesn’t just light it up for a while like our terra cotta lamp, but it utterly and completely destroys darkness wherever this light goes.

So we are pushed into a new focus here, the light goes forth destroying darkness as it goes.

Our second focus question today is about the method of this light and how it is used by us the followers of Jesus Christ. We are helpless in our own attempts to gather this light and therein lies the rub, the more we work for the light, the further the light gets away from us. This light of Christ, his holiness, his underserved love, makes it’s way to us because of nothing that we do, but only through the amazing love of God, and that should make us see the light for what it is; a gift that has been given to us freely without any deserving work, simply because in God’s mysterious awesome love, he chose to give it to us.

Now, don’t get bogged down in the weeds, see the big picture, just look at how much God loves you, so much so that he gave you the gift of salvation. Hope is yours because of the awesome love of God through Jesus Christ; our future is secured because of this tremendous gift of light.

The gift desires to be used, the gift of this wonderful light cannot be sitting on the shelf like the emergency flashlight in your closet. We all know how reliable that flashlight is, when we go for it, the light is dim and the batteries have rusted. No, this light must be used by the followers of Christ, it is meant to be used, if it is not used it is not the light that you think it is, it is an imposter light. The real light of Christ moves us to use it, to send the light forth regardless of the pressures, the time or the finances. This light runs on faith, “The righteous live by faith” (Romans 1:17)

Faith brings us to our third focus question today, how do the followers of Christ use this light of Christ? Since this light of the Holy Spirit dwells within us because we have been reborn as true believers of Jesus, the light we have is not our own; it is The Holy Spirit that moves the light within us. The use of the light therefore is not something that we move in our own power, we are constantly relying upon Christ to use us to bring the light to places where God chooses. Since we are totally reliant upon God to use the light within us we have to be in constant contact with him. There will be times that God wills to send the light in us to places where we would never choose if we were in control of the light, good thing we are not 🙂 So, humility and repentance figure into using this beautiful light of Jesus Christ. Humility, because we have to have an attitude of knowing that we are sinners saved by grace. We have to see others as people in desperate need of a Savior, we have to see ourselves as once lost but now found. We have to see others as Jesus does.

Repentance because we are still in the grip of our sinful fleshly bodies, every day experiencing thoughts of sin, our repentance requires us to go before God and ask for forgiveness. This repentance is the constant contact with our Creator we spoke of before. These twin light movers, humility and repentance allow us to be the people God wants us to be, people that are able to receive the light of Christ and people that are equipped to pass on the light of Christ.

So we have seen three answers to some focus questions about the Light of The Son of God. How you use the light of Christ in your life rests on seeing the light as not your own, the light is Christ in you working in all the everyday things we do in life. Wherever you go the light of Christ goes with you and the glory of God shines.

No Tongue Can Bid Me Thence Depart

“No Tongue can Bid Me Thence Depart”

How a 19th century Hymn (Before The Throne of God Above) enforces our understanding of Mark’s Gospel


The song, “Before The Throne of God Above” is a great hymn written in 1863 by Charitie Lees Bancroft–originally entitled the hymn “Advocate”.   Charitie was the child of an Irish minister, born in county Dublin in 1841, the hymn had various musical tunes but was given the music now known as Sovereign Grace Music in 1997. Why is this important as we go through Mark’s gospel? I think this hymn especially, gives us a perspective on who Jesus is and why Mark has as an overriding theme, Jesus, The Son Of God.

Lets look at the first stanza:

Before the throne of God above

I have a strong and perfect plea:

A great High Priest, whose name is Love,

Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands,

My name is written on His heart;

I know that while in heaven He stands

No tongue can bid me thence depart

No tongue can bid me thence depart.

In our messages on Mark we have seen Jesus as The Son of God, reaching out to the people of Israel healing and restoring them. In the Old Testament the people of Israel came to the High priest for a blessing in the Temple (Numbers 6:22-24). Today the Jewish people are preparing for the return of the Temple at Jerusalem and are preparing people to become “priests”1. All of these functions for a priest or a high priest will prepare that person to be a “conduit for God’s blessing”.

In the hymn “Before the Throne of God Above” the stanza before us reads :

A great High Priest, whose name is Love,

Who ever lives and pleads for me.

In Mark we see Jesus tearing away at the way the Law has burdened the people, a law that has been a chore instead of a joy. Jesus does not do away with the law, no he has not come to do that, he has come to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17-20). The law that the Pharisees are heaping upon the people is not the same law that God handed down to Moses, it is a man-made law placed upon God’s law. It is because this “keeping” of the law has become so burdensome, Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God you can’t keep the law, you must rely totally upon God for His saving grace and mercy. Our Hymn reminds us of that, telling us of the great love of God in giving us a “High Priest” who is there all the time for us. What a great act of love for God to give to us his “…only Son” so that we can be forgiven through him and not forgiven through another sinful human being.

We continue with our hymn onto another part of the song, “My name is written on his hand, My name is graven on his heart”. All of us whether we are saved through Christ or outside of that, are still known to God. God has complete control over everyone whether they are Christian or not, he is in control and he will judge everyone. Those of us who have been given the gift of understanding how sinful we are and then coming to faith; our names are written in the book of life and our names are known to Jesus. This is the amazing work of Christ, that as he suffered and died, he knew who he was dying for; the entire world, and he knew who would come to him through this sacrificial act (John 17:20-21; Ephesian 1:3-14).

The hymn continues to state that “…while in heaven he stands no tongue can bid me thence depart…” Jesus is our mediator, the holy one who receives our prayers and is our redeemer before the Father. Our needs and our earthly desires go to Christ as well as our repentance and our asking for forgiveness. Forgiving one another for their sins against us and asking God to forgive us is accomplished through the finality of the crucifixion. “It is finished” (John 19:30); Jesus speaks to all that will hear gathered around the Cross, that the work the Father gave him is now completed. Our sins have been forgiven, there is no other work for us to do, except come before Christ and acknowledge our sinfulness with a heart that is repentant. Jesus has completed the task, if we reject that forgiveness we reject the Cross and reject the Father. “No tongue can bid me thence depart”, there is no human being that can move us from our stand for Christ (Romans 8:1). The world may wag its finger at us, it may condemn us, even imprison us, maim us or kill us but we have been forgiven; and what a glorious way to say it, “No tongue can bid me thence depart”

  1. “The Temple Institute” 20160908

Together in the Gospel of Mark

Going through Mark’s Gospel at Redeemer 2016

Yes, we are going through the entire gospel of Mark here at Redeemer. We started the gospel in May and as of this writing we are in Chapter Three, preparing the Lord’s Day message on the fourteenth of August. Being a Pastor of a church means being responsible for many things chief among them is having the great privilege of preaching the Word, “in season and out of season…” ( 2 Timothy 4:2). It is a glorious pleasure to be able to stay in one gospel looking at the original meaning and what God is saying through His Word to us today.

Every week I am sitting with the sermon for next week, and truthfully I am thoroughly amazed at how God is speaking through the pages of Mark’s gospel. Jesus is plainly seen walking on the road to the Cross in this fast paced narrative. Everything that the Lord does in this gospel is reflected from the “Big Picture View” of the sacrificial act of crucifixion which is sufficient for the entire world to be saved. This aspect is crystal clear from the first verse of Mark, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” to every verse in this inspired account of the life of our Lord. Our theme as we go through Mark’s account is then appropriately titled “Jesus Christ The Son of God”.

This is a quick study of Jesus, Mark gives us a different look into the life of Christ. Mark along with the gospel of John, doesn’t give us a study into Jesus’ birth, but we start out with a strong statement that cannot be denied in verse one that Jesus is, The Son of God.

Many people will deny that Jesus is God, many religions deny that Jesus was God, but Mark tackles that issue head on with this undeniable statement. In the first century this would have been very controversial to say the least, the Romans worshipped Caesar as God and the Romans were in charge.

This is the atmosphere that Mark wrote his Holy Spirit inspired narrative. The actual date of the writing of Mark is not known, scholars have used other means to identify the period in which it was written, so there is a span of about five or six years for the writing. James Edwards in his excellent commentary on Mark writes:

In summary, although none of the foregoing arguments and evidence is conclusive in itself, a combination of external and internal data appears to point to a composition of the Gospel of Mark in Rome between the great fire in 64 and the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70, that is, about the year 65.161

So here we are in the beginning of the gospel of Mark going through the pages of the Bible together as a church. Every week on the Lord’s day we have the opportunity to hear the Word of God preached in Portuguese or English, but every sermon is geared towards our theme for Redeemer Church (Redentor Igreja) this year that God has given to believers, gifts of the the Spirit. Through Christ, God has given to us certain gifts to share and build up other believers. The gifts of the Spirit can be seen in all the pages of Scripture and now we can see them as we go through Mark. Let us see our Redeemer Christ Jesus revealed each week and let us hold on to that gift as we begin our week, strong and anchored in the grace, love and mercy of Jesus.

  1. Edwards, James R. The Gospel according to Mark. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002 .9.