YouTuber John Stapleton continues with the Gospel of Mark 7- Religion & Jesus.

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Religion and Jesus

Religion focuses on appearances but God focuses on the heart. The religion is our attempt to ascend to God. Jesus is God’s way of bringing us to him.

Mark 7 is all about religion and why it doesn’t work. Religion is our attempt to get closer to God when all it really does is create barriers between us and him.

Remember the Pharisees? They were good guys turned bad. Their zeal to obey God drove them to create laws around God’s 613 laws in the Torah. God’s laws are all direct expressions of how to love our God and our neighbors. But by the time Jesus arrived, they had written so much legislation around this that they roadblocked people from even getting close to God (Matthew 23:4).

Religion is terrible! Religion attempts to replace God’s law. It makes people who are natural rule-keepers proud (and God opposes proud people). Not only that, it also condemns people that Jesus has compassion for. It simply creates hateful people who oppose Jesus and the religious people in Mark’s gospel want to kill him.

Now I do want to clarify that there is what the Bible calls “pure and faultless” religion. (James 1:27).

Luke at Mark 7:20-23. Many people have asked why God allows evil and suffering. But if evil isn’t some wicked force out there in society, that means evil is a problem inside of us; after all, we collectively make up society! Society is a reflection of us.

If we are the problem, we need God to save us from ourselves. We are not the solution. We need to submit to God by repenting, changing our minds, and consequently, our course of action (Colossians 3:5-8).

The opposite of tolerance is repentance! If we don’t repent, we are rejecting God’s offer of salvation from spiritual death to life.


1). Which English version of the Bible has the best translation of the original text?

I love this question! Every translation is a trade-off between translating words and meaning. We have a lot of great Bible versions! Translations also fall short because of their strengths.

There are basically 4 kinds of Bibles: Formal, dynamic, paraphrase, and corruption.

Some emphasize translation of the words of the original. (These versions are the NKJV, NASB, and ESV.) Some emphasize the meaning of the biblical words. (These versions are the CSB, NIV, NLT, NCV, and a few others.) Then you have paraphrases. These versions function like cliff notes, rewording a chunk of text to make the main idea clear, as the paraphraser sees it. (The Message and the Living Bible function like this.) Corruptions are Bibles that deliberately mistranslated in order to deceive. The New World Translation for example, is guilty of mishandling John 1:1. Jesus is not “a god” but “God.” (That’s one of a few examples.)

The question shouldn’t be which of these is the best translation because there is no such thing as cream of the crop. But there are types of translations that are better than others. You should avoid the corruptions. A paraphrase can be helpful if a passage is overly familiar to you and you want to hear it a fresh way. I personally feel “at home” with the formal translations, in particular, the ESV because I’m the kind of Bible reader that wants to see the words of the original reflected in my English text, regardless of how it sounds in English.

I also appreciate that it is a traditional sounding Bible version. Others might consider this a weakness as it sounds “archaic” to people that prefer a translation that puts more emphasis on meaning, making it easier to read in English, while it at times, obscures the underlying Greek and Hebrew texts. So my second favorite Bible translation is the NIV. It is the best translation in its group of dynamic translations. A third favorite is the NLT. Between these 3 translations, I feel like I have the best of each philosophy.

The reason why I feel that the formal philosophy is better is because it is more important what they said than how we would say it. So I’m okay with a translation that sounds like bad English if it is closer to what’s in the original.

2). What percent of the global population do you envision will submit to the Mark of the Beast?

With all due respect, that is the wrong question. Rule #1 when you’re reading the Revelation is that it can’t mean to us what it didn’t mean to the original hearers.

The first thing you need to know is that the mark of the beast was taken by the people in John’s day, and what’s in question is how did they take it? Remember that God seals his people (Rev 7:4), the devil copies that with his mark of the beast.

So the mark of the beast is generally the antithesis of God marking his own people. In Revelation 13:18 where we read that the mark of the beast is “the number of a man,” it can also be translated as the “the number of humanity.” The mark of the beast symbolizes living life in opposition to God’s authority.

3). Will the Ark of the Covenant have a place in the Millennial Temple during Christ’s reign?

The short answer is no. The ark of the covenant is no longer around for all I know and there is no future temple (according to my understanding of eschatology). I have to admit though, it would be awesome to see them!

4). Why did you decide to read the Bible? What did you get out of reading it? What relevance does it have in 2021?

I still read it because God isn’t done speaking to me. He reminds, encourages, challenges, rebukes, and informs me, all in the same place. Just as the body needs foods to be healthy, the soul needs God’s Word as contained in the Bible. That’s why I keep going back to it. I’ve read it cover to cover 4 times and God still uses it to speak to me. The Lord is doing this year what he has done every year, that is, building our relationship – him speaking to me in the Scriptures and me responding through prayer.

5). Were the Old Testament saints limited only to the Israelites according to the Bible or were any gentile nations included in the contract with God?

Good question. The Old Testament mainly focuses on God’s kindness to a family – Abraham’s family, but the offer of salvation is still available to people from other nation. This is clearly seen in Exodus. As God is plaguing Egypt, even Pharaoh’s servants who thought of the Pharaoh as a god himself, suggested submitting to the more powerful God (Exodus 10:7).

It is not lost to me that God has the foreigner in mind when he passes laws like this one: “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you” (Exodus 12:48–49, NIV).

Later, it is probably these same servants who joined Israel as they left Egypt. “The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds” (Exodus 12:37–38, NIV).

When you read the Psalms, there is the constant refrain of “let the nations be glad; let the peoples rejoice.” The prophets all prophesy to not only Israel, but the Gentiles as well. Even Jesus (the authority of the Old Testament) says that the Gentiles are included in the plan of salvation, but the Jews come first (Matthew 15:24).

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By Michael Furlonger

I am an author and the founder of CWB is designed to help and showcase the work of Christian authors and bloggers and podcasters.

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