Opposition to Jesus – Part 2 (Mark 3:20-35)

Sunday, August 19th, 2012
Sermon Series: Mark

The Gospel of MarkDownload Sermon Outline

Sermon Manuscript . . .

Opposition to Jesus

and Standing against opposition for the Christian, part 2

Mark 3:20 to 35 part two, 23-27


This is outrageous–did you hear about the guy named Jim who wanted to reach the lost?  Jim had a passion for God, a love for people, and a burden to share the message of God’s forgiveness with people who had not heard.  The big question for Jim was, “How can I get unsaved people who are so different from me to see how much they need Christ alone to be saved–to believe Christ died on the cross for their sins, and rose from the dead according to the Scriptures?”

Well, he decided to take some risks and do all he could.  First, he shaved his head right down to the skin–all except for one little patch of hair, which he grew out long.  He started wearing it in a pigtail, and even dyed it a different color, trying to fit in with the customs of the people he was trying to reach.  Jim changed the way he dressed, what he ate, and even the way he talked so he could communicate the Gospel to these folks.  He read the books they read, and did everything he could do to establish common ground with them. In fact he even moved into the same neighborhood, and tried making friends with them.

Unfortunately, Jim faced outright rejection from the very people he cared so much about–and not only from them, but also from his own church family.  Instead of getting behind him, they actually started saying bad things about him.  Only a few close friends stuck with him and supported his efforts.

Jim wanted to do all he could do without compromise of the Word of God to reach them for Christ.  Just as Jesus came into this world and became one of us in order to show us who God is, and share with us the Gospel message, so Jim tried to do the same.  He faced loneliness, weariness, and discouragement, but he remained faithful to do what God had called him to do.

If you’ve ever read about James Hudson Taylor, who ministered in China over a century ago, then you know the kind of criticism and opposition Jim faced.  Yet as a result of Hudson Taylor’s ministry (and the establishing of the China Inland Mission), thousands of Chinese came to know Christ.  Some of the greatest missionary efforts for the Gospel, and movements of the Spirit turning people to God’s Word were not only opposed by the lost world, but sadly, also by the Church of Christ, by Christians like you and me.

Don’t ever forget, God guarantees you will be opposed.  It may be from the world, or it may even be from Christians.  So 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  Philippians 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

Any time you are filled with the Spirit and living for the glory of God, you will feel opposition.  Whatever you do in God’s strength and for God’s character is going to be opposed.  Choose to appear like a Christian, but not depend on the Spirit or the Word of God, and life will be easy, fun, and cool–no worries.  But by an act of your will, depend upon the Holy Spirit and walk obediently to the Word of God, then life will heat up and you’ll be resisted.

It is so much easier to coast, to just get by, relax, don’t sweat serving, giving, shepherding, discipling, depending, studying the Word or the toughest work of all, pray—just coast.  No worries–and life will become easier.  But fire up for Christ in dependence upon the Spirit, seek to walk obediently to the Word of God, and life will get hot.  Heat may come from the world, but often in our culture, resistance, criticism, pressure and displeasure come from believers.  How do you react when those on your team score for the other side.  Shepherd, how do you respond when the sheep bite back?

Open to Mark 3 and take the outline found in your bulletin.  Starting in Mark 3:20, the apostle of action, writing his go gospel, is describing how Jesus is opposed.  The big bummer of these verses for the Lord is not merely the attack of His enemies, but resistance from His family.  He’s maligned by His foes, but misunderstood by His friends.

Verse 21 describes Jesus’s friends.  Look at these well-meaning buddies, “When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, ‘He has lost His senses.’”  In verse 22 the Lord’s foes seek to discredit Jesus with evil slander, “The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and ‘He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.’”

Then look at verse 31–even Jesus’s own family doesn’t understand His mission, why He works so hard.  “Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him.”  This entire passage, verses 20 to 35, describes how Jesus dealt with opposition, giving us a model to imitate while living on this hostile planet.  Jesus just picked His twelve men in verses 16 to 19, and now, at the height of His popularity, He is hit hard by friend and foe, starting with . . .

#1  The opposition of Friends  Verses 20 to 21

Read verses 20 and 21, “And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. 21 When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, ‘He has lost His senses.’”

Probably his brothers and his buddies from Nazareth came to Capernaum to snatch and grab Jesus.  They want to take Him into custody.  Jesus just returned from traveling and teaching.  He needed rest . . . He needed “me time” . . . He at least needed a good meal.  No He didn’t.  He needed to do the work of God.

Jesus ministers to people like a fireman rescuing people from fire, like a soldier moving a civilian out of danger from a firefight.  Why?  Because that is exactly what people are–they’re in danger of eternal hell forever, unless they turn to Christ.  Even believers face a miserable life, unless they live every moment dependent on God’s Spirit and by God’s Word.

So what do those close to Jesus say?  He’s lost His senses–really?  That’s the judgment of those closest to Him?  They think Jesus is out of His mind, so let’s de-program Him?  His own friends and family misunderstood Him.  Can any of you relate to Jesus here?  Are any of you misunderstood by your family, or maligned by your closest kin?  Well if you are, you’re in good company.  There will always be some who’ll not understand your commitment to Christ.  He gave Himself away in ministry to people, because they are spiritually suffocating to death, and Jesus has the only oxygen.  It’s tough being opposed by misguided family, but that’s nothing compared to being attacked by malicious opponents.

#2  The opposition of Foes  Verses 22 to 30

The religious leaders want to stop Christ.  They don’t want the crowds to follow Him nor think He is the Messiah.  In the other gospels, they tell us that is just what the crowd was beginning to think–could Jesus be the Son of David?  They want to kill Christ, but until they do, they’re going to discredit Him.  So look at verse 22, “The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and ‘He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.’”  This expresses . . .

First  The Rejection of Christ  Verse 22

They attack Christ’s person–“He is possessed by Beelzebul”, then attack Christ’s work.  He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.  The scribes are the bigwigs of the religious elite, coming from faith central—Jerusalem, which means this is serious.  So these so-called godly men begin a slander campaign.  When it says “were saying”, it means continuously slandering Christ over and over until people would believe it and reject Him.

They continually suggested that Jesus does these miracles because He is demon-possessed–how brutal.  No one can deny what the Lord did was supernatural.  It was obviously supernatural.  But the scribes were saying He can only do these supernatural, amazing exorcisms because He’s empowered by, and possessed with, a demon or the ruler of demons.

Beelzebub could mean “Lord of the Flies”, but it is most likely the “Lord of the Dwelling”, referring to the master of the house, the one who controls all the demons in his house.  They are suggesting to all who will listen that Jesus is empowered by Satan himself, or a powerful demon who allows Him to cast out demons and do miracles.

They also want to slander His message, the Gospel truth, that God must save you and you can’t save yourself.  They believed they already have salvation because they were Jews who supposedly kept the Law.  They would not repent of sin, nor turn to Christ in faith.  So in order to explain Jesus and stop Him, they accuse Him of being empowered by demons.

This was not a new tactic–they had done this before to Christ–do you remember?  John 7:19 to 20, “’Did not Moses give you the Law, yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?’ The crowd answered, ‘You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?’”  And John 8:47 to 48, “‘He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.’ The Jews answered and said to Him, ‘Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?’”  Then John 8:52, “The Jews said to Him, ‘Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, “If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.”‘”  And John 10:20, “Many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?’”

Instead of being gracious men, they were harsh and hateful.  They slander Christ by declaring His power is Satanic.  But this is Christ, the only one who is the perfection of holiness–possessed?!  These men are wicked!  They slander Christ’s person and work in a vicious slander attack, seeking to discredit Him.

How would you respond if you were attacked like this?  To be like Christ we can remain silent, not defend ourselves, and entrust ourselves to God.  Usually when slander is all about you, that’s a Christ-like approach–be silent and wait on God to defend you.  But you can also be like Christ when silence might keep others from the Gospel.  When silence might keep others from salvation, Christ spoke–He explained, gave reasons and shared a brilliant apologetic as to the truth of who He really was here.  He exposed the darkness of their lies with the light of God’s Word.  After first, the rejection of Christ, Mark records . . .

Second  The Rebuttal by Christ  Verses 23 to 30

Jesus was not silent, and you should not always be silent.  When people attack Christ, believers speak the truth in love.  When the attack distorts the truth of the Gospel, correct it.  Just as Jesus totally wipes out their slanderous attack through . . .

1.  Christ’s undisputed wisdom  Verses 23 to 27

Do you believe that Christ is all wise?  You can see God’s wisdom in creation, from the smallest insect to the gigantic blue whale.  Or with the oceans’ tides linked to the orbit of the moon, you can observe His wisdom under the microscope and be blown away by His wisdom looking through the telescope–only God can make it all work together.

But God’s wisdom goes beyond creation to your daily routine–the details of your life this week are dramatically affected by Christ’s wisdom.  AW Tozer says, “For divine wisdom is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means.  Wisdom sees the end from the beginning so there can be no need to guess or conjecture.  Wisdom sees everything in focus, each in proper relation to all and is thus able to work toward predestined goals with flawless precision.”

God is in control and works all things for good in your life.  Do you believe that your Savior is all wise over your life, 24/7?  Jesus shows us just how wise He is in His amazing rebuke, which begins with . . .

a.  Christ’s driving question  Verse 23

Mark 3:23, “And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan?’”  I love this scene as Jesus shuts the door on this preposterous notion that He serves Satan.  They attack Christ behind His back–they were cowards.  They knew they couldn’t win an argument against Christ.  They could only slander Him from a distance.

So look at verse 23, “He calls them to Himself”–up close.  These scribes were the nation’s intelligentsia, the influential, educated men who were the moral leaders of Israel.  But sadly, their comments didn’t arise from moral conviction nor an intelligent mind–no, this attack came from their darkened hearts.  Their unbelief was deliberate.  They had no excuse, especially given the Lord’s countless, compassionate, undeniable miracles.

So Mark tells us Jesus Himself (middle voice) called them to stand before Him.  They attack Christ from a distance, but He answers them up close.  And what does Jesus say?  He chews them out, “How dare you say?”  No . . . maybe you or me, but not Christ.  No, Jesus calls them close and they stood before Him–picture it.  Christ dressed in his homespun clothes, and they in their costly robes.  Christ from despised Nazareth, they from the proud capital, Jerusalem.  Christ was young, they were old.  Christ self-trained, they in formal schools and seminaries.  Christ who taught God’s truth, they only quoted tradition.  Christ who is righteous, they who were self-righteous.  Christ loves the religious leaders, but the leaders loathe Christ.

So now Christ prepares His rebuttal and rebuke–He shares His wisdom, then gives them a serious warning.  How did He show His wisdom?  Verse 23, “And began speaking to them in parables.”  The Lord answered them in His picturesque and proverb-like manner, using principles of likeness, comparing well-known and embraced facts with the very truth He wants to drive home.

Jesus goes for the throat, and shuts the door on their preposterous attack, that He’s empowered by or works for Satan, by asking this question in verse 23, “How can Satan cast out Satan?”  Wham, slam, boo-ya, bye now!  Na-na-na-na, hey hey-a, goodbye!  You mean to tell me that Satan is working against Satan?  That the evil one is actually trying to defeat himself?  What you men are saying is this–I am working for or possessed by Satan, yet at the same time, I’m casting out innumerable demons.  Mmm?

Jesus makes it clear here they were accusing Him of being Satan, or in league with Satan.  Don’t miss the obvious truth that Jesus Christ totally affirms the existence, the evil and effort of the fallen angel Satan and His demonic minions.  They are real, and they are at work for evil.  Also implied in this text is the scribes’ admission and affirmation that Jesus Christ Himself is supernatural–He is beyond human.  Even His enemies recognize that Christ is more than a man.

The Lord points out how absurd it is to suggest that Satan would pursue the suicidal action of casting himself out.  And the Lord is appealing to their reason.  He asks them to prove He’s in league with the enemy, pressing them with the ridiculous assertion–how can Satan cast out Satan?  Why would Satan decide to work against himself?  So with forceful logic, Jesus proves his point now with three parable-type illustrations–three comparisons prove their accusations are wrong.

One  from the secular world  Verse 24

Mark 3:24, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”  A nation fighting against itself will never last.  A civil war can destroy a nation.  A kingdom divided against itself will fall.  This kind of action is self-destructive–it is implosive.  This type of action literally keeps a nation from being able to remain.  Jesus says, if I’m Satan or on his team, I’ve cast out so many demons it means Satan is intentionally destroying his own army.  You’re crazy to think that.

Two  from the social world  Verse 25

Mark 3:25, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”  No family will endure, who turns against itself.  We’ve all seen families that destroy themselves.  What chance do children have in a home where the parents are constantly at each other’s throats?  What hope do parents have of support and security in old age, if they have selfish children?  What bond remains for mutual help if brother hates brother?  Such a family soon descends into chaos.

No demon ever once withstood against Christ, and Christ delivered all the possessed He met.  Of course the slander of the scribes about Christ was wrong.  By His actions, Christ proved He was not possessed, controlled, or in the service of Satan or any of his family in any way because He fought against all who were part of it.  If Jesus is working for Satan, He is destroying His own family.  And a house divided will fall.  Finally, Jesus gives an illustration . . .

Three  from the spirit world  Verse 26

Not to be condescending, but Jesus knows more about the spirit world than His critics.  Christ was there.  Christ created Lucifer; the highest, most beautiful, powerful and gifted of all created beings.  Ezekiel 28 tells the story.

Ezekiel 28:13 to 15, “’You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz and the diamond; . . . on the day that you were created they were prepared. 14 You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.’”

Once Satan fell, the first step he took, was to persuade one-third of the holy angels to rebel with him against God, told in Revelation 12:4a, “And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.”  These fallen angels became demons, who now together oppose God, righteousness and truth.  Then Satan immediately sought to corrupt the human race by tempting Eve and Adam in the garden in Genesis 3.

So now Jesus asks these slanderous scribes in verse 26, “If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished.”  This is the climax of Christ refuting the evil accusations of these hardhearted scribes.  Two verbs stand out in verse 26—“risen up” and “divided”.  Both point to past realities.

Jesus says, if I’m Satan’s servant and I have risen up and divided my master’s evil efforts by delivering innumerable people from demon possession, freeing them from enslavement to Satan, then Satan is literally unable to stand–His kingdom is over.  He can no longer be the head of the kingdom of evil.  And Mark uniquely adds in verse 26 (only in this gospel), “IF it’s true, then Satan is finished, done, over as the prince of evil.”  Satan would never oppose himself–therefore Christ is not working for Satan . . . just the opposite.  In fact, let me tell you Who I Am.

b.  Christ’s discerning proof  Verse 27

Mark 3:27, “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.”  The scribes are standing there in front of Christ and taking this.  Oh how sweet this is.  You got enemies?  They can’t defeat Christ!  Christ defeats them with irrefutable wisdom and discerning proof.

Now using the illustration of a burglar, Christ says, “No robber ever gets help from those he robs.”  A burglar does not receive a willing hand from the owner of the house he steals from.  Rather, to gain his desired end, a burglar ties up the owner, and only then does he plunder the house.  Do you get it?

In this verse, the strong man is Satan.  The house or property is Satan’s subjects—people who are in bondage through sin, or bondage by demon possession.  The burglar is Jesus Christ.  So look at verse 27, “But no one can enter the strong man’s house (Satan) and plunder his property (the children of the devil, lost people and possessed people) unless he first binds the strong man (Satan), and then he (Jesus) will plunder his house.”

Jesus is saying–have I not demonstrated that, far from being possessed by Satan, I have shown my authority over Satan.  I have taken away sin, cast out demons, silenced demons, and shown authority over sin and death.  Jesus humiliated the enemy, tied him up, and took his possessions.  Mark has already shown us this truth, right?

Mark 1:24 to 25, “’What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us?  I know who You are–the Holy One of God!’  And Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’”  Mark 1:34, “Healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.”  Mark 3:11, “Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down … and shout, ‘You are the Son of God!’”

Luke also affirms the truth that Jesus is not only NOT Satan or working for Satan, but actually the Lord of all, true authority.  Luke 11:17 to 22, “‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.’”

Who but God could enter the strong man’s house (Satan) and plunder his property (the children of the devil, lost people) unless He (Christ) first binds the strong man (Satan)?  And 1 John makes it really clear in 3:8, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”

Look at Mark 3:27–it starts with a strongest single word contrast in Greek here, “BUT,” against the absurdity of the claim Jesus is working for and not against Satan, in contrast to that claim.  Picture Satan as a powerful pirate captain, who has filled his hideout with plunder, which happens to be people he’s captured and made into slaves.  He is a strong man who rules over his evil kingdom with pirate demons to do his bidding.

His property is the Greek word “vessel”–these are the hapless human victims whom Satan holds in his direct power through demonic agents who fully control them.  Only one who is stronger than the evil Captain Satan, only one who can tie him up, can actually free those enslaved and those possessed.  Only someone stronger can deliver his slaves from his grasp and set them free.  Only one who is more powerful, greater and unstoppable can bind such a great foe.

And this is what Christ has done and continues to do.  Proving He is not only more powerful, but in opposition to Satan, and in no way cooperating or being controlled by him.  Jesus has proven he has entered Satan’s house and overpowered him, bound him, tied him up, and freed his slaves.  In Christ, the master of the demons has found his master.

You noticed, I’m sure, the Greek word “property” means vessel, which can be used in the New Testament to describe people–which is what it means here.  When a human vessel contains a demon, that is demon possession.  When a human vessel contains the Holy Spirit, that is a Christian.  All people are containers–now not all lost people are unwillingly controlled or possessed by demons, but Satan still owns the vessel.

All Christians are containers too, but purchased by, and therefore owned by Christ.  In the process of salvation, they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, whom they willingly depend upon and obey.  The big question is, who is your owner?  And the next question is, who works through you?

Mark says Jesus will plunder Satan’s house–He wrecks it, throws things around, and can’t be stopped–plunder!  Jesus hates evil and makes a mess of the enemy’s work.  The Lord established mastery over the devil by His victory over Satan in the wilderness temptation.  But the future tense of the verb in verse 27, “will plunder”, looks forward to the coming full overthrow of Satan and his kingdom.  Satan is a defeated foe, but his final immobilization awaits the coming thousand-year kingdom rule after Christ’s return.

Revelation 20:2, “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”  The enemy is briefly released before time is terminated, but his end is certain–it is coming, his days are numbered.  Christ is not working for Satan, He is the greater, stronger–He is God, the Creator, King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords.

MacArthur stated it succinctly–“Jesus’ point was this: ‘Haven’t I demonstrated before you and all of Israel My power over Satan and his kingdom of evil, darkness, and destruction? Haven’t I demonstrated beyond all doubt that My authority is higher than Satan’s? Haven’t I cleansed people of every kind of disease and freed them from every kind of demonic control and oppression? Haven’t I demonstrated My authority over both sin and death? Haven’t I rescued souls from hell? Who could have such power and authority but God Himself? Who but God could enter the very house of Satan and successfully bind him and carry off his property? I have shown you that I can defeat Satan and a legion of his demonic hosts at will. How could I be any other than your divine Messiah?”

So if Satan has not cast out Satan, then one greater than Satan is present.  The only One greater than Satan is God.  Jesus is God.  Who is stronger?  May I strongly encourage you today, that our enemy has already been defeated!  Amen?  Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.  He’s defeated, and one day he will be powerless, finished, done.  The strong man has already been subjected, the battle has already been won–we are now simply mopping up!

Christ was plundering the strong man’s house.  He’s cleaning house, taking over.  He bound the forces of darkness with His power, and is cleaning out hearts, from the inside out.  Satan would never humiliate himself, yet Christ’s ministry included wholesale humiliation of Satan and His demons.  Christ’s ministry proved Satan to be powerless compared to Him–and without Christ ourselves, we are helpless against the enemy.  But in Christ, we can’t be touched without Christ’s permission.

Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.  The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”  Hebrews 2:14 and 15, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”  What are some life questions that come from this text?

1  Are you focused on the priority of sharing the Gospel?

What is the point of these verses?  Jesus Christ was completely focused on the task of redemption.  He would miss meals, experience hardship and ministered at a torrid pace, with no thought to personal comfort.  How did people perceive His fanatical commitment?  They said that He was either deranged or of the devil.

You see, the gospel of Mark asks us the same question every week:  “Do you want to be like Jesus?”  This is the joy of studying the life of Christ.  The gospel accounts are not moral fables, or lists of miraculous deeds.  The gospel accounts are not fanciful notions to bat around in our heads theologically.  The example of Christ has hourly moral implications on our lives.  When we see Jesus clearly, we must ask ourselves–do we still want to be like Him?

They maligned Jesus, because they did not understand Him.  His only concern was the call of ministry on His life for the glory of God and the blessing of man.  He came exclusively to perform the will of God, and to discharge the work of redemption, even as it cost Him His life.  Christ was passionate about saving souls–are we?  We’re called to do that by being a church family which displays the Gospel corporately, and to be filled with believers who leave this corporate gathering to share the Gospel of Christ to lost individuals in this world.

Just like a football game has a lot of huddles, so does the Church–it is good to huddle, we need it.  But we’re to break from this huddle today, in order to get on the playing field of this world, and score touchdowns for Christ–which is to share the message, which frees God’s enemies from slavery, and turns them into God’s friends.

2  Are you given to ministry as a way of life?

Alright, this may hurt a little, but it is something that we have to deal with.  The consistent example of Christ is serving, teaching, disciplemaking.  He was so committed to serving, some thought Jesus was insane.  He was tired, couldn’t eat, but kept on ministering.  Plus, the consistent image of the Christian in the New Testament is one of active ministry–discipleship and serving others.

Sadly, the picture of the average American churchgoer is one who is half-hearted, lukewarm, materialistic, spiritually lazy, and selfish.  So you be the judge–which one do you want to be?  I praise God for our church, because it is filled with ordinary Christians of the New Testament type.  I thank the Lord for your faithfulness to biblical truth, not cultural norms.  Your lives are filled with costly ministry, and because of that, God is gaining Gospel progress.  But why is it so difficult to convince Christians that every believer is called to a life of active ministry?  If we say we want to be like Jesus, then let’s be like Jesus and live, breathe and eat ministry.

My next statement is so plain, I cannot imagine any debate on the point.  A genuine love for the person of Jesus must include a deep passion for His cause.  Are you focused on the ministry that Christ has for you?  He has gifted you to serve in a unique way.  May everything pale in comparison to the good works that God has put before you!  May all things serve the One thing–magnifying Christ through ministry!  God is working, Christ is working, the Holy Spirit is working, so count us in.  Since we have this ministry, let us live as ambassadors for Christ.

3  Are you aware of the pull toward evil?

Icebergs are incredible chunks of ice that behave in dangerous ways.  The wind can actually be blowing against them 100 miles an hour south, and yet they will travel north against the wind.  This is because there is more to the iceberg than you see.  You only see a tenth of it, and nine-tenths is underwater, being pushed along by currents that are stronger than the wind.

Are you aware of the currents of the enemy who wants you to doubt, delays you to obey, discourages you in your faith, and wants you to live defeated?  Are you aware of the currents of the world which wants you to love things more than Christ, to love people more than Christ, to love your family more than Christ?  And are you aware of the pull of the current of your own flesh that seeks to fulfill what you want, over what God says?

The more you drift alone, the more you will feel the pull.  But depend on the Spirit of God, the Word of God, and the people of God in consistent relationship and ministry, and you will resist the pull of evil on this planet.  Listen, if you are not swimming upstream toward Christlikeness against the current, then you are floating downstream into the cesspool of sin, in the flesh.

4  Are you passionate about knowing Christ?

The scribes didn’t know Christ at all, but true believers do.  The scribes were more religious than you, made huge sacrifices, were often big givers, they knew what to say that sounded holy, but they were totally lost and didn’t know God at all.  But every genuine Christian in this room knows Jesus Christ.

John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  Do you have eternal life–you do experientially know Christ?

5  How do you see Christ–as mad, bad or rad?

The scribes saw Christ as bad, the Lord’s friends saw Christ as mad, but genuine believers see Him as rad–the best, the One, True God, only Savior, Master and the only way of salvation.  Radical means the source.  Christ is the Creator, Redeemer and the friend of those who turn to Him in repentance and faith.

Some of you have prayed a prayer, walked an aisle in the past, and others of you signed cards, and even served for a season.  But friends, unless Christ is in you, working through you, and is your all, greater than family, friends, possessions or dreams, then you don’t know Christ and need to cry out for salvation.  Do it today.

6  Are you ready to listen to Christ’s deadly warning?

There is a sin that cannot be forgiven–a sin which condemns you to hell forever.  One of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted passages in the entire Bible–what is it?  For the answer to that, you have to come back next week.  Let’s pray.



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Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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