Showing posts from November, 2016

Become Angry and Flee | Psalm 4:4–5

4            Be angry, and do not sin;             ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah 5            Offer right sacrifices,             and put your trust in the Lord. Be angry!  When agitated with anger, the body shakes.  That is the expression David uses here—be agitated, be shaken in anger, yet without sin .  Paul borrows the expression in Ephesians 4:26 in a similar way to speak about how Christians must treat their neighbors.  To be properly angry, one must ponder in the evening hours. We must remember own sins.  We must learn that the “fear of the Lord is hatred of evil” (Pv 8:13).  Perhaps you’ve even heard that you can be righteously indignant or angry over sin (e.g., Mk 3:5), but we forget ourselves, growing sinfully angry and committing murder of the heart (Mt 5:21–26).  Sadly, you can judge others unrighteously by ignoring your own sin (Mt 7:1–5), which David did when confronted by Nathan the prophet (2 Sm 12:1–7).  Become first agita

Set Apart for God | Psalm 4:2–3

2            O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?             How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah 3            But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;             the Lord hears when I call to him. We can’t allow the court of public opinion sway our commitment to God and to Scripture.  It may even be that those who seem godly turn aside.  Despite the pressure, how much those around us press, we stand in full confidence in the Lord. We are all “sons of men,” naturally sinful.  Yet, the heart of sin manifests in various ways, and those standing against God’s king need to remember that they are but men.  They try to turn what is good about the king into a reproach or shame.  It’s a whole lot of empty talk, accepting lies for truth.  It’s laughingly unwise to challenge the Lord and His anointed (speaking ultimately of Christ), and they aren’t going to overturn God’s order or God’s people. Remember that God has

The Great Help We Need | Psalm 4:1

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David. 1            Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!             You have given me relief when I was in distress.             Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! We start a new psalm this week, but with some of the same themes from Psalm 3.  In fact, the occasion may be the same, with David either on the run from Saul or Absalom.  In any event, this psalm is meant to give us peace during the troubles of life.  We begin to see that here. When facing trouble, remember what the Lord has done in the past.  In this first verse, David begins with a plea common to the Book of Psalms—“Answer me when I call.”  This isn’t a call of vain desperation, because he looks back and sees that the Lord has given him relief in the past.  Literally, he says, “You made room for me.”  David has been in tight spots in the past and the Lord granted him breathing space.  When facing trouble, remember also who the Lor

Why Do the Nations Rage? | Psalm 2

Psalm 2 | Cornerstone Church of Savannah | Shaun Marksbury | 20 November, 2016 Good morning, church! We're going to be in Psalm 2 this morning. What we see in this psalm is that the nations of this world falsely believe that they can live free from the Lord. They have a choice to make as a result. I. The Defiance of the Nations (vv. 1–3) II. The Derision of the Nations (vv. 4–6) III. The Dedication of the Nations (vv. 7–9) IV. The Decision of the Nations (vv. 10–12) Hope to see you there at 10:30! May the Lord bless His service. Video: Audio:

Salvation Belongs to the Lord | Psalm 3:7–8

7            Arise, O Lord!             Save me, O my God!             For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;             you break the teeth of the wicked. 8            Salvation belongs to the Lord;             your blessing be on your people! Selah We should appreciate David’s dual desire—victory over his enemies, but also their good.  That’s because, in this case, his enemies are his kinsmen.  Just as Paul faced persecution from his fellow Jews but also desired their salvation (cf. Rm 9:3), David here seeks the Lord’s blessing for His people.  Always remember that salvation belongs to the Lord.  In David’s case, this in part means physical salvation.  He calls on the Lord to arise over His enemies (cf. Nm 10:35), seeking the very help his enemies declare he lacks (v. 2).  David hopes to defeat Absalom, put down the rebellion, and return to his rightful throne.  He knows that the Lord has and will knock them in the jaw, breaking their teeth—a humiliating, pai

The Blessing of Sleep | Psalm 3:5–6

5            I lay down and slept;             I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. 6            I will not be afraid of many thousands of people             who have set themselves against me all around. Having focused first on his enemies (vv. 1–2) and then the protection of the Lord (vv. 3–4), David now turns to his personal experience.  His peace comes through knowing that God’s a shield encompassing him (v. 3)—ironically, even though “many thousands of people” try to encircle and ensnare the king (cf. 2 Sm 17:1–4). A good night’s sleep is a blessing that comes through faith.  The Lord protected David through the night, but just as importantly, David trusted Him to do so.  In Psalm 4:8, we read, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  Jesus modeled this in that He could sleep through the storm (Mk 4:35–41).  Peter likewise slept while unjustly imprisoned (Acts 12:6). Why do we lose sleep?  It may be a defici

Some Masterful Music

Happy Thanksgiving!   This is a uniquely Christian day as we give thanks to the Lord for all of His provisions.  With that in mind, you may be looking for some masterful music to add to your holiday.  Well, the Master's Chorale of the Master's University visited the Master's Seminary , and you'll want to hear the result. The Master's Chorale - TMS ASB Chapel (11/17/2016) from The Master's Seminary on Vimeo . And yes, the pun was intended. God bless!

Times of Trouble and the Lord | Psalm 3:3–4

3       But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,       my glory, and the lifter of my head. 4       I cried aloud to the LORD,       and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah Despite what others believe about David, he knows God had not abandoned him.  Emphatically shifting his pronouns, David turns His attention to the Lord.  In fact, he invokes the covenant Name, Yahweh .  Now facing unprecedented trouble, but knowing God keeps His Word, David turns to his comfort, that trustworthy protector, the only One deserving of praise. The covenant-keeping God revealed Himself to Abraham as a shield (Gn 15:1).  When Moses gave his final blessing over Israel, he turned them to “the LORD, the shield of your help” (Dt 33:29).  David will continue to use it of the Lord (Pss 7:10; 18:2; 28:7), knowing that the protection of the Lord encompasses him as well as Israel. In times of trouble, our trust must be in the Lord, not in what we can accomplish.  David didn’t even take the a

Forgiveness and Consequences | Psalm 3:1–2

1            O Lord, how many are my foes!             Many are rising against me; 2            many are saying of my soul,             “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah You might feel like you face many enemies, but the king of Israel was a prime target.  He repeats the word “many” three times to describe their number.  Sadly, they were even residing in his own household.    What’s going on here?  David wrote this psalm while fleeing from his son, Absalom.  In 2 Samuel 15:12–13, we read that he conspired with David’s own advisors until all the hearts of Israel went after him.  David had to flee the city at night to allude capture. David might even have felt a bit of what Uriah felt.  Remember that, in 2 Samuel 11:15, David instructed Joab to allow the enemy to kill Uriah.  Now, everyone’s withdrawing from David.  God told David through Nathan the prophet that, because he “struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword” and took his wife, “the sword shall n

The Decision of the Nations | Psalm 2:10–12

10           Now therefore, O kings, be wise;             be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11            Serve the Lord with fear,             and rejoice with trembling. 12           Kiss the Son,             lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,             for his wrath is quickly kindled.                         Blessed are all who take refuge in him. If this psalm ended at verse nine, the world would only be in for bad news.  The world bears responsibility for its actions.  The nations have plotted in vain, and the Lord is sending His King with a rod of iron to dash them to pieces.  However, God extends an opportunity for repentance, and here He issues five commands—be wise (v. 10), be warned (v. 10), serve the Lord (v. 11), rejoice with trembling (v. 11), and kiss the Son (v. 12).  The psalmist pleads with the world, and God provides a voice to His message.  It is the message of the Holy Spirit to the lost world, convicting it of sin. First, wise up

Who Rules this World | Psalm 2:7–9

7            I will tell of the decree:                         The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;                         today I have begotten you. 8            Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,                         and the ends of the earth your possession. 9            You shall break them with a rod of iron                         and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” As we shift focus to the Son in this psalm, we see Who owns the nations of the world.  While man plans, the fate of the nations is actually in the hands of the Lord.  Why?  For one, the Son here loves the Word of the Father and recounts it (cf. Hb 1:1–2).  For another, the relationship the Son and the Father enjoys here. It may seem that this means that the Son came into existence.  However, it refers to Christ’s resurrection, not His birth (Acts 13:33; Rm 1:4).  He’s blessed here because of Who He is —the very image of God (vv. 3–4), being in the beginning wi

Psalms for Thanksgiving Week

We're pausing on our walk through the Book of Mark to catch up on the Book of Psalms.  It's a good book to be in for Thanksgiving week! Be safe as you eat some turkey and get on the road.  Try not to do it at the same time.  I suspect that it makes the steering wheel greasy.

"Why the Word?" | Psalm 1

"Why the Word?" | Psalm 1 Cornerstone Church of Savannah | November 13, 2016 This morning, the sermon will be a bit different, but not that much. Hopefully, it will serve to not only explain why we are so committed to Scripture, but why you should be as well. We will see today that you can either be rooted in the Word or not, but only the first path leads to blessing. I.  The Righteous are Rooted Upon the Word (vv. 1–3)   A.  The righteous avoids thinking not from the Word (v. 1)   B.  The righteous delights in the Word (v. 2)   C.  The righteous is given life through the Word (v. 3) II.  The Unrighteous Have No Rooting (vv. 4–6)   A.  The unrighteous are driven by the wind (vv. 4–5)   B.  The unrighteous lack life (v. 6) May the Lord bless you this morning in His service. Video: Audio:

The Derision of the Father | Psalm 2:4–6

“4       He who sits in the heavens laughs;       the Lord holds them in derision. 5       Then he will speak to them in his wrath,       and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6       ‘As for me, I have set my King       on Zion, my holy hill.’ ”  Plots and schemes of men move forward (vv. 1–3), but the Father now responds.  He meets them not with mirth but with scornful laughter; He “holds them in derision.”   Ps 37:13 says that “the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.”  Despite the machinations of man, God remains seated and meets His enemies with sarcasm.     When the Lord finishes laughing, He speaks, and a holy wrath behind His words terrifies all mankind.  God doesn’t ignore iniquity in His laughter; He doesn’t wink at sin.  However, though He’s angry with the wicked (Ps 7:11), He never loses control.  They rage, but He speaks.   He contradicts the sinners of v. 3 by saying “I have set my King.”  They want to break free

Coming to the Sufficient Christ | Mark 1:32–34

“That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33  And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34  And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.” Our new day starts at midnight, but the Jewish culture marked it at sunset.  In this case, the evening marks the end of this long Sabbath day, but there’s still no rest for the Lord.  The news of the healing had went through the area (v. 28), so now that the Sabbath had ended, the people now come carrying their infirmed. Maybe coming in intervals, “the whole city was gathered.”  This means that Jesus eliminated sickness in Capernaum that night!  If someone truly healed like Jesus today, he would empty hospitals.  It’s amazing to see the Great Physician destroying every kind of disease, especially knowing He can do the same with sin and death. It’s also amazing to think so many J

Jesus’s Authority over Disease | Mark 1:29–32

“And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30  Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31  And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.” We’re tracking Jesus and His disciples on this long Sabbath day, and here we learn about Peter and Andrew’s home life.  This has been their dwelling since they followed Jesus north to Capernaum (cf. John 1:44).  Peter’s mother-in-law also lives with them, which means that Peter was married, and possibly also Andrew (cf. 1 Cor 9:5).  As an aside, a fifth-century church was constructed over the supposed residence of Peter, based on second-century graffiti, and excavations have uncovered a residence there.  She was bed-ridden, so it appears that the condition was serious.  Luke the physician notes that she had a “high fever” (Lk 4:38), so they informed Jesus.  They had just s

Jesus’s Authority over the Spiritual Realm | Mark 1:23–27

“ 23  And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24  ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.’ 25  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ 26  And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27  And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ 28  And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.” Mark’s Gospel is shorter, but it doesn’t lack in supernatural accounts.  This section demonstrates the truth we highlighted yesterday—Jesus is authoritative, and Mark records Jesus's first miracle as authority over demonic forces.  The Romans knew of demonism, and Jesus wields command over the spiritual realm.  Before goin

The Authority of Jesus’s Teaching | Mark 1:21–22

“ 21  And they went into Capernaum,  and immediately on the Sabbath  he entered the synagogue and was teaching.  22  And they were astonished at his teaching,  for he taught them as one who had authority,  and not as the scribes.” Though Jesus was raised in Nazareth, He travels northwest to Capernaum.  It’s along a major road, it’s larger, and it’s home to a Roman garrison, perfect for what will essentially become Christ’s base of operations in Galilee.  The location is optimal for the propagation of the gospel. People taught on the Sabbath in synagogue services, but the scribes typically did so by intellectually standing on the shoulders of rabbis and the corpus of tradition.  While deferring to experts may hint at humility, it is not so here.  They seek attention, even using it to take advantage of others.  Later, Jesus will warn, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39  and have the best seats in the

Email Subscription Service Fixed

There was a problem with the subscription service brought to my attention that has been corrected.  If you haven't signed up by email and want to, you can do so with this link .  God bless!

The Call and Commitment of the Disciples | Mark 1:16–20

“ 16  Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17  And Jesus said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.'  18  And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19  And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20  And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.” In v. 14, Jesus returns north to Galilee preaching repentance and faith in the gospel.  While He had been south in Judea, he called for these men to follow Him (John 1:35-51), and so they followed Him and established themselves in Galilee.  Now that they’ve spent time with Him, He’s calling them to ministry (in Mark 3, He’ll commission them as His apostles).  He says, “I will make you become fishers of men” (v. 17).  Their primary duty as di

Sunday Sermon: "Grow in Grace and Knowledge to the Glory of God" from 2 Peter 3:18

(In lieu of a Sunday devotional, each week I'll be posting my sermons from the previous Sunday.  May you be blessed in the reading and study of God's Word!) A sermon by Shaun Marksbury at  Cornerstone Church of Savannah , preached November 6, 2016. Video: Audio:

People Plotting Pointlessly | Psalm 2:1–3

“Why do the nations rage  and the peoples plot in vain? 2  The kings of the earth set themselves,  and the rulers take counsel together,  against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3  ‘Let us burst their bonds apart  and cast away their cords from us.’” This world continues sliding in an increasingly secular direction.  It evidences a growing divide between church and culture, from the highest officials to the rioter on the street.  Whether in the arts, academia, business, entertainment, or politics, a biblical worldview is rejected for anything else.  So far removed are we from any connection to the Creator that we deny simple gender identity.  This is to say nothing of countries with real persecution, where simply being a Christian can cost you more than your job.  Ultimately, all of it is a rejection of God, and it’s not new.  Here, at the time of King David’s coronation in Jerusalem, the surrounding kingdoms hated the fact that the Lord was alr

The Kingdom of God | Mark 1:15

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;  repent and believe in the gospel.” There have been a few misconceptions about the kingdom of God over the years.  One key one is that it is the church.  As the Roman Catholic Church wielded power over the known world, it was easy to see it as the kingdom come to earth.  Some Protestants still retain the tradition of viewing the church as some iteration of the kingdom of God.  However, Jesus said that it is near, not that it had arrived, so this isn’t quite right. There are both spiritual and physical aspects to the kingdom of God.  The primary spiritual concern for the kingdom of God is this: How will you deal with Jesus Christ?   When Jesus told them that the kingdom was near, He meant the King was near to them (cf. Lk 17:21; Mt 12:28).  But, it wasn’t just being physically near Him; it is about His commands here— repent and believe in the gospel .  If you are a Christian, then you are not only a citizen, but a son

It’s Time to Repent and Believe | Mark 1:14–15

14  Now after John was arrested,  Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,  15  and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;  repent and believe in the gospel.” Whenever a preacher gets to application, he can sometimes find himself trouble.  This was the case with John the Baptist, who was arrested after calling on Herod Antipas to repent of his marriage illicit marriage (cf. 6:17–19).   Nonetheless, John the Baptist was resolute: people need repentance and Christ. This was also Jesus’s message, for “repent and believe” are the first two commands that Mark records Him saying.  The imperatives here are plural, extended to everyone; we could say today that Christ’s commands are y’all repent and y’all believe.  All those with sin-stained souls, turn in your hearts from your sins to God and believe in the good news of Christ.  These acts of faith are essential to everyone’s salvation.  As Isaiah 55:7 says, “[L]et the wicked forsak

Jesus Tempted | Mark 1:12–13

“ 12  The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.  13  And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.  And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.” Sometimes we mistakenly believe that if we do everything “right,” we’ll face no trouble.  Indeed, we avoid the consequences of our personal sins, but that doesn’t mean that God may not still allow trials.  Jesus warned, “In the world you will have tribulation,” continuing with this promise, “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).  The Man of Sorrows here endures forty days in the desert with wild animals and Satan, the real adversary of all our souls, tempting Him that entire time.  What is striking, though, is that the Holy Spirit compelled Him to be out there.  Why? The temptation account here recalls two Old Testament images.  First, the inclusion here of “wild beasts” contrasts another man dwelling with beasts, Adam.  Since the Messiah would

Jesus Baptized, Part 2 | Mark 1:10–11

" 10  And when he came up out of the water,  immediately he saw the heavens being torn open  and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  11  And a voice came from heaven,  ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” John was certainly a Baptist, for He immerses Jesus—no sprinkling would do!  Yesterday, we noted that Christ identifies with sinners in His baptism.  He himself knew no sin, so He takes the place of those as a perfect sacrifice for those who have known sin.  He is the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! In the text this morning, we see Heaven’s affirmation of His work.  First, Christ witnesses the heavens split open.  The next time we read of a splitting is toward the end of Mark in chapter fifteen, where the temple curtain is torn top to bottom (15:38).  At the end of His work on the cross, God needs no more sacrifice upon the altar. Here, a startling reality forms.  The Holy Spirit like a dove alights upon Chr

Jesus Baptized | Mark 1:9

“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee  and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” Have you ever wondered why Jesus was baptized?  John the Baptist was baptizing those repenting of their sins.  Scripture, however, presents Jesus as the sinless Son of God.  John proclaims Jesus to be the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29).  So we can understand that, in Mt 3:14, John resists the notion of baptizing Christ—“I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  John wondered, too. Jesus said that it is necessary (Mt 3:15).  Why?  For at least two reasons.  First, through His baptism, Jesus identifies with those who were repenting and truly seeking the Lord.  Those who were coming to John to be baptized were responding to the call of repentance.  Jesus, though Himself not requiring repentance, puts Himself in the place of sinners.  He will be their required righteousness when the time is right. Second, baptism paints an image of the end of Chr

The End of Standing, Sitting, and Walking | Psalm 1:5–6

“Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,  nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;  6  for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,  but the way of the wicked will perish.” The righteous may grow tall as the tree (v. 3), but the wicked will not stand nor thrive.  Verse 1 says the blessed man won’t stand in the way of the wicked, but this verses says that the wicked will not stand in the judgment.    Note that in verse five, sinners won’t remain in the congregation of the righteous.  Any unrepentant sinners in the midst of God’s people will not remain.  Either they will remove themselves in disgust, or they will be disciplined out the door, or the Lord will remove them.  The wheat and tares may remain together for a time, but Jesus warned, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up” (Mt 15:13). Why is it the blessed man avoids the fate of the unrighteous?   First, because He has been transplanted beside the stream of w

Stability and Vitality in the Word | Psalm 1:3–4

3  He is like a tree  planted by streams of water  that yields its fruit in its season,  and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.  4  The wicked are not so,  but are like chaff that the wind drives away. The stress and urgency of life pushes us in different directions.  Here, though, we see a stout life in the man eschewing worldly wisdom and meditating upon God’s Word.  What can we glean from the contrast of these two verses? The text gives us a sense of immobility in verse three—the righteous is not becoming like a well-established tree but presently is one.  The righteous didn’t start off being by the streams, but the Lord planted him there.  These waters are God’s Word, and they give the righteous life.  Consider Jer 17:7–8, which similarly describes “the man who trusts in the Lord” as “a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in

Baptism in the Holy Spirit | Mark 1:8

“I have baptized you with water,  but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” It may surprise you to think that John’s baptisms changed nothing spiritually within a person.  It’s true that they represented repentance, but they didn’t wash away sins and make people new.  John points us to the true, saving baptism—the one we must be plunged into—the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The followers of Jesus waited the length of Jesus’ ministry for this to be fulfilled.  Nearing Pentecost after His resurrection, He told His disciples that they would soon “be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5).  After Acts 2, the term “church” appears to describe believers.  Pentecost is thus remembered as the time when the church began. Some can claim membership in the church and not be baptized in the Spirit.  In Acts 8:16, we see that that someone can only be “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” without the baptism of the Spirit.  Only a true believer has the Holy Spirit indwelling

Preaching Christ, the Goal of Ministry | Mark 1:6–7

“Now John was clothed with camel’s hair  and wore a leather belt around his waist  and ate locusts and wild honey.  7  And he preached, saying,  ‘After me comes he who is mightier than I,  the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.’” Those wanting to grow their churches may want to cover their eyes.  John the Baptist didn’t wear stylish clothing, he didn’t follow advice from church-planting gurus, and he didn’t keep his message light and “inspirational.”  Even so, masses of people streamed into the middle of the wilderness (vv. 4–5) to hear this roughly dressed man preaching sin and repentance.  John the Baptist was a Levite and should have followed his father into temple service.  However, God had other plans.  Gabriel told his parents that John would go before the Messiah “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Lk 1:17).  John would be the forerunner, the voice in the wilderness (Isa 40:1–11).  Malachi, the last prophet before John, proclaimed

The Atheist Delusion Movie

Ray Comfort's videos are always worth a watch and encouraging for your own evangelistic endeavors.  Visit the link to order DVDs, or watch the movie below:

Confession, Repentance, and John’s Baptism | Mark 1:4–5

“John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness  and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  5  And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him  and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan,  confessing their sins.” Like any good Baptist, John came preaching and baptizing.  And what a humbling response we see from God’s people!  Typically, Gentiles wishing to become Jews would be dipped in the ritualistic waters to symbolize the washing of their sins and immersion into the covenant community.  Those under the Mosaic Covenant who had become unclean would also be baptized—clothes and all (Lv 17:15; 22:4–6; Nm 19:11–12).  So, for all who came to John and were baptized were confessing and repenting of sin in a visible and humiliating display. Contrast this to Matthew 3, where we read of “many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism (v. 7).  John calls them to repent (vv. 7–8), warning them not to presume their s

According to the Scripture | Mark 1:2–3

“As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,  ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,  who will prepare your way,  3  the voice of one crying in the wilderness:  “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,” ’ ” A popular pastor recently plunged himself into controversy for saying that Christianity is not built on the back of the Bible.  He also said that the Bible is not relevant in today’s unbelieving world— Christians can read the Bible, but the secular unbelievers of our culture need something more than, “The Bible says.”  He also said that we may need to apologize to the Jews for make their Scriptures part of our own. Mark, writing to a Roman audience completely divorced from Jewish Scriptures, opens with the words, “As it is written.”  This phrase is used by New Testament writers when they cite Scripture, and demonstrates an attitude 180 degrees from what that pastor said.  The tense of the verb indicates something completely written in the past w