Interview With John Stapleton

John Stapleton

Today’s interview is with John Stapleton. John Stapleton is a YouTuber, Apple Podcaster and is a blogger on ChristianWritersBookstore. It was a privilege to listen to John and hear more of his church upbringing and testimony.

Sadly, due to poor internet connection, the interview was cut short. We look forward to John sharing more on his books and other projects he has in the future.

If you are interested in the books John mentioned, they are available below.

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The Resurrection by John Stapleton

YouTuber John Stapleton takes a break from his regular show to talk about The Resurrection of Easter.

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The Resurrection

Happy Easter

We will never get over Jesus because he is our life (Colossians 3:4)! Jesus has fixed our greatest issue, which is sin that separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). If you have not given your sin to Jesus, God is still angry with you. God really does “hate all evildoers” (Psalm 5:5). God hates sin and it can be nowhere near him because he is holy. But the blood of Jesus has paid for this massive sin problem we have and now, by trusting in Jesus alone, we can “come to the Father” (John 14:6, NLT).

Today we examine the resurrection.

Paul boldly claims that Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Jesus died for our sins and then he rose from the dead to give us his righteousness. If Jesus stayed dead, there would be no proof that our sins have been paid for and there is no grace for us, only mercy. That will only sustain us for a while.

The good news, however, is that Jesus rose from the dead and “consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). In another place, it is written that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). I can’t stress it enough: it is extremely important that he is alive and reigning today.

In Luke’s Gospel

There are a few interesting events that aren’t recorded anywhere else. The scene opens with some of Jesus’ most devoted disciples going to the tomb to embalm Jesus. The women see a very peculiar sight – the guards are gone and the entrance to the tomb is wide open.

A voice cuts through their confusion: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise” (Luke 24:5-7). At that moment, it clicks for the women. They go and tell the men, the eleven disciples, “but they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 24:11).

Jesus’ Sense of Humor

Later, Jesus spends the afternoon with two people traveling for more than seven miles. Jesus disguises himself and seems to be in a humorous mood. They are bummed out over the events of the crucifixion and Jesus pretends like he needs to be updated on the past events. Tell me Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor!

Then Jesus gets serious, rebuking them for their unbelief. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

I would love to have been a part of that Bible study, but my imagination and knowledge of the Bible will suffice until glory. I imagine that Jesus cherry-picked stories, systematically working through the Old Testament from Abraham, to Moses, to David, to the prophets; they all were pointing to Jesus!

Jesus unpacks this again for his disciples later

“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things’” (Luke 24:44-48).

Speaking of witnesses, the Apostle Paul has some thoughts found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, and this is what I want to think about after reading this. First, the most important thing is that Jesus died for sin and rose to give us grace. Secondly, everything happened according to God’s predetermined plan. Third, he appeared to over 500 people! Back then, eyewitness testimony was the most compelling evidence available. And he also appeared to his disciples who turned from cowards to courageous men who subjected themselves to horrible executions because they believed that Jesus is the life-giver who will raise them back from the dead.

Will you put your trust in Jesus?

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What Do You Want?- S1E9- Mark 10 by John Stapleton

YouTuber John Stapleton continues with the Gospel of Mark 10- What Do You Want?

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What do you want from Jesus?

In Mark 10, we see various individuals coming to Jesus with requests and questions. The gospel writer has shifted his focus from the large crowds to individuals who have different reasons for coming to Jesus. Let’s see how this unfolds.

The Pharisees came to Jesus to test him (verse 2). Parents bring their children to Jesus to bless them (verse 13). A rich man wants to inherit eternal life from Jesus (10:17). James and John (the two brats from earlier) want the seats of honor next to Jesus in glory (10:37). Last of all, there is Bartimaeus who is blind and wants Jesus to restore his sight.

What’s interesting is that Jesus responds to everyone (except the disciples who rebuked the parents) with a question. These questions guide the conversation to where Jesus wants it to go and it reveals more about the person asking it then how Jesus is going to answer them.

The Pharisees

The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus and they wanted him to agree with their harsh treatment of their wives, so they asked him if its legal to divorce their wife for any reason. Jesus asked them to recall the law of Moses and then he explains that yes, it is legal, but this was not God’s intention when he instituted the marriage union.

The Children

The parents wanted Jesus to bless their children (who wouldn’t?). But the disciples rebuke them and Jesus, in turn, rebukes the disciples. We learn here that Jesus values children because of their faith (and really, that’s been predictable throughout this gospel). “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (verse 15). This is not childish faith, exhibited in James and John, but childlike faith that believes God without restriction.

The Rich Young Man

The rich young man comes to Jesus because there is a hole in his soul. He has a lot of possessions but is in spiritual poverty.

(This is a good place to be, by the way, because Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:3].)

I believe this is why “Jesus, looking at him, loved him” (verse 20). He first asks the man why he calls him a “good teacher.”

People that have called Jesus a teacher (though he is) don’t believe anything Jesus says; they have covert motives. But this man is interesting because he is the only person that puts “good” in front of that title. Whether this man was insincere or misguided, Jesus rejects this greeting for a few reasons.

  • First, this man shouldn’t call Jesus good without calling him God.
  • Second, Jesus’ reply is going to come straight from God because “no one is good except God alone” (verse 18).
  • Thirdly, Jesus is about to guide the man’s attention away from his works to his heart by giving him something to do that will reveal to the man the condition of his heart; and the man can’t walk away from his wealth because he’s attached to it. He doesn’t have wealth; wealth has him. What’s Jesus’ conclusion? “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (verse 23).

But then Peter reminds Jesus that “we have left everything and followed you” (verse 28). This is no small thing. Peter left a wife and possibly kids (1:30). He left a business (1:16). He left his house (2:1-4). Peter (in Matthew’s gospel) asks the question we all would ask: “What then will we have?” (Matthew 19:27).  Jesus’ reply gives them hope for the future. Essentially, whatever we gave up for God is small compared to what we will gain in the next life (verses 29-31).

Next up we have James and John.

Do you remember why Jesus called them the “Sons of Thunder” (3:17)? It’s because they wanted to torch the towns that rejected Jesus (Luke 9:51-56). Shortly before this, John tried to stop someone who was casting out a demon because “he was not following us” (Mark 9:38). Does he need an exclusive membership to exorcise demons? John and James were not always the mature older men we are used to when reading their epistles. They started out as hotheaded young men who benefit from the gentle correction of Jesus.

“James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you’” (Mark 10:35). Couple things: They call him teacher, not Lord; this reveals their motive which is more fully expressed in their question. This is clearly a trap, the kind of trap that little kids use to ensnare their parents. Jesus is patient and asks them, “What do you want me to do for you?” (verse 36). They want the best seats in glory next to Jesus and Jesus tells them, “You don’t know what you are asking” (verse 38). They aren’t ready to suffer and greatness looks to them a lot different than Jesus’ vision of greatness.

The last example in this chapter is Bartimaeus.

He is blind and he cries out to Jesus as the Son of David. There’s a lot to unpack in this story and we might need to revisit this at a later time, but the thing that is impressive about him is that he is persistent even though people are against him (verse 48). Then the funny part is that people actually change their mind about him when Jesus expresses interest in the man (verse 49). The man expresses pure faith and Jesus asks him the same question he asked James and John.

“What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:50-52). Bartimaeus is named because he is more than likely an eyewitness. In stark contrast to the rich young man, Bartimaeus follows Jesus “on the way” (verse 52) which is significant because this is the first way of describing the Christian faith. Jesus not only described himself as “the way” (John 14:6), but in context, this is also the way up to Jerusalem where he is about “to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many” (10:45).

What are you coming to Jesus for?

Q&A

1). In Romans 9:24-25, Paul totally rapes Hosea 2:25 in applying it to Gentiles and lying about the meaning and context of Hosea all the way back to Hosea 1:1. Why should we believe anything that Paul claims about Jewish scripture?

I believe you have more work than I do in supporting your brazen assumptions about Paul’s interpretation. It’s not a far reach at all what he’s doing. He makes the connection by showing us how God treats people who reject him. Israel rejected God and so does everyone else because “no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:11). It would also benefit you to keep reading Romans 9.

Paul anticipates your question when he says, “What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works” (Romans 9:30–31).

You have to keep the overall storyline of the Bible in view. God always intended on saving Jew and Gentile alike!

2). Why did Matthew write about Jesus?

Matthew was hated by his fellow Jews (understandably so) because he was a tax collector. But Jesus invited him to follow him and he did! Jesus totally changed his life and now he wants his fellow Jews to see that Jesus is really the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. That’s why his gospel is laced with quotes, references, and allusions to the Old Testament. His goal is evident in the opening line of his gospel, that Jesus really is the descendant of David and Abraham (Matthew 1:1).

3). My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19) Was John the Apostle and brother Peter slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to anger? Why?

You are thinking of James, not Peter; they both have a similar story, however. Peter, James, and John were impulsive young men with serious anger issues. James and John thought that they were better than everyone else (Mark 10:35–37). Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder” because they wanted to blow up a town that rejected him (Mark 3:17; Luke 9:54).

You’ve probably heard of Peter as well – bold and stupid a lot of the times. By default, he would speak before he thought (Luke 9:33). He was violent and impulsive (John 18:10).

After being with Jesus, they matured. You’re right to observe that the way they sound in their letters is not how they sound in the gospels.

4). Is it possible that the Qumran and the Bible were once the same or part of the same book?

Not a chance. Humanly speaking, the Bible was written by at least 40 different people and the Qumran was only written by Muhammad. The Qumran was written 500 years after the completion of the New Testament. They also cannot be the same book because they teach opposite things in many places such as the character of God, the identity of Jesus, the status of Abraham’s sons, the way biblical events take place are different, and biggest disagreement is whether or not Jesus died on the cross. No, not the same book at all.

5). How many years ago was the Bible written?

My answer is going to be layered. The New Testament was written over 2,000 years ago; the rest of the Bible is over three to four thousand roughly (about 3400 years), and the Bible itself records 1,500 years of history.

6). Why does the gospel tell us that we must endure trials with joy in James 1:2?

Because life is a trial. What I mean is that good and bad things happen simultaneously and continually. I always go back to what Jesus said about worry in Matthew 6. Why worry about the things you can’t control? It’s only going to ruin your health, your quality of life.

James here is explaining what Jesus taught. If we aren’t going to worry, our other option is to have joy. If you don’t, you’ll never enjoy the good things in your life. Wedding and funerals happen all the time, but are we going to avoid the joy of weddings because people are always dying? Of course not!

Pain in life is very real and the Bible isn’t minimizing that. But as Solomon said, there’s “a time to weep, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). It’s healthy to allow yourself time to process grief, but its not healthy to stay there. We are always toggling back and forth between the spectrum of our emotions and this is how we can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). We can grieve, but not as people that have lost everything, because our hope is ultimately in God and not in our situation.

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Religion & Jesus- S1E8- Mark 7 by John Stapleton

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.

Q&A

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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Missions & Martyrdom- S1E7: Mark 6-10 by John Stapleton

YouTuber John Stapleton continues with the Gospel of Mark 6-10 – Missions and Martyrdom.

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Discipleship

BIG IDEA: Jesus’ followers are on a mission for Jesus which sometimes results in martyrdom and suffering. Based on Mark 6-10.

Chapter 6:7-30 is a Markan sandwich that begins with A). Jesus sent the disciples out on a mission, followed by B). a flashback to the murder of John the Baptist, ending with A). the disciple’s return.

1. Mission: They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. (6:12-13)

Their message of repentance echoes that of John the Baptist and Jesus (1:4, 15). Repentance is a change of mind and life back to God. Israel had gotten off course and so the second thing Mark wanted us to see at the beginning of his gospel is the need for repentance, which indicates an understanding of how bad sin is. 

2. Martyrdom: Pondering the Baptist, discovering the Messiah. 

Speaking of repentance, people absolutely hate this message. This is what ultimately got John arrested and killed. “John had been saying to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him” (6:18-19).

As far as the disciples, they are still following Jesus trying to figure out everything.

In the next major section, we will look at chapters 8-10. These chapters form another inclusion:

A). Jesus predicts his death,

B). Jesus is transfigured,

A). Jesus keeps predicting his death.

This arrangement shows us that Jesus’ identity as the Son of God is entangled in his pending suffering. That is how he shows himself to be the Messiah. 

After Jesus demonstrates his authority as God through various acts of compassion, Peter confesses him to be the Messiah. Following this, Jesus predicts his death for the first time. tHen, he instructs his followers to pick up their own crosses and follow him. 

The account of the transfiguration follows these instructions. Jesus is clearly revealed in heavenly glory along with Moses and Elijah – the law and the prophets (the Old Testament). Only 3 disciples get to see this and Jesus instructs them when the vision is over, to tell nobody about this vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead. 

The dots are starting to connect for the disciples. 

They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant. And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”  Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.” (9:10-13)

They saw Elijah and remembered John the Baptist. Jesus confirms that they are interpreting the Bible correctly.

Jesus still continues to exercise his authority by healing as they road trip up to Jerusalem where he will be murdered. He predicts his death 2 more times and the closer to the city they get, the more scared the disciples become. 

CONCLUSION: People who follow Jesus shouldn’t be surprised when their life is as difficult as Jesus’ life was. 

March 15, Q&A

1). What are the most useless Bible verses?

The Bible says that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful” (2 Timothy 3:16). That tells me that God never speaks just to hear himself talk. Everything he says is deliberately intentional. He’s words are not only useful, “they are full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63). The Bible is not simply a manual to moral living, it is life!

That is why we keep going back to it. It is all very useful, so keep prayerfully reading through it.

2). According to the Bible (and not Dante), what is Hell like? All this brimstone and torture sounds non-biblical.

I’ll let God speak:

  • Mk 9:43 | If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.
  • Mk 9:48 | …where ‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’
  • Mt 10:28 | Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
  • Jud 7 | In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
  • Rev 20:11 | The devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

My point is simply that the Bible clearly teaches about hell. This is not Dante’s idea, this is God’s idea. Hell is indescribable so the Bible gives us imagery to give us an idea. We should all agree that however horrible the symbolism is, the actual reality of hell is worse. From the verses I’ve selected, hell has worms that don’t die and fire that is never quenched. In addition, its the place that has God’s rule without God’s grace.

3). If Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible why didn’t he write about the pyramids since he knew the Pharaohs who would have been buried there, especially Joseph who lived hundreds of years before?

There are many things that the Bible could talk about, but doesn’t. That’s because the biblical writers cared about theology above anything else. Theology is more important than the things that spark our curiosity. In Genesis, the theology that we are to follow is God blessing Abraham and the nations through his family line. That’s the point.

4). Do you believe in the 10 commandments? Which do you find the hardest to follow?

Yes, I believe in the 10 Commandments, not as a list of morality to master, but as a mirror that reflects how I fall short. Paul reflects on this reality this way: “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting” (Romans 7:7–8). The 10 Commandments exist to remind us that we are not good people. We hear it and become aware of all the ways we’ve rebelled against God. That doesn’t stroke our ego, but it’s not supposed to. After the people heard the commandments, “they trembled with fear” (Exodus 20:18). Isn’t it our default to assume we are good people who do bad things?

The hardest ones to follow are the first two which tell us to worship God, and to worship him the right way. If you keep the first two commands, you won’t break the others. That means every time you lie about someone, you don’t love God. Every time you covet, you accuse God of not being good to you. I could go on.

5). How come I want to become closer with God, but I find prayer tedious?

I would point you to Ephesians 6. Paul in this passage is giving us imagery that typifies spiritual warfare. After he talks about all the things we need to attack and defend ourselves spiritually, he tells us why: “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18, NIV).

Prayer is not simply talking to God; it’s how we fight spiritually. That’s why it is so hard. The devil does not want us communicating with our heavenly Father, and so you could insert every excuse to not pray – everything from not wanting to, to having more important things to do.

6). Is the Book of Psalms the devotional heart of the Bible?

The Book of Psalms are easy to jump into when doing your devotions, but the entire Bible is devotional material!

You can learn from people’s stories through the narratives in the Bible. You have a pastor in the challenges and encouragements of Paul’s letters. Who wouldn’t want Jesus to speak to them in the morning through the gospels? My point is, feel free to enjoy the Psalms, as it is the natural “prayer book” of God’s people, but don’t let that be your prison – enjoy the volume of God’s Word devotionally!

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Belief- S1E5: Mark 5- by John Stapleton

Belief- S1E5 by John Stapleton’s Weekly Bible Lab. Be sure to subscribe to John Stapleton’s channel by clicking on the icon on the YouTube video below. Also, if you’re on the go or in the car, click on the podcast play button to listen to the audio just below the YouTube video.

Belief

BIG IDEA: We fight fear with faith. Based on Mark 5. 

1. The Story

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. (5:21-29)

2. Comparison of Jairus and the Woman 

3. Responses to Jesus: Fear and Faith.

Jesus switches the two, raising the status of the woman by making her the one to emulate. The woman was afraid, but she professed her faith. “Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just believe.’” (5:36).

Jesus goes and raises the girl and the witnesses still don’t believe. “They were completely astonished.” (5:42). The root of unbelief is fear. Fear is a lack of faith and this is a theme that serves as an undercurrent of this gospel. 

  • The disciples were afraid when Jesus calmed the sea (4:40). 
  • The townspeople were afraid when they saw the demoniac healed (5:15).
  • Peter was afraid at the transfiguration (9:6).
  • The disciples were afraid of thinking about Jesus dying (9:32).
  • The disciples were afraid of going up to Jerusalem (10:32).
  • The women were afraid at the tomb (16:8)

CONCLUSION: “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” (5:36)

March 1, Q&A

1). Is it possible to witness the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation slowly coming to fruition in the modern world?

Prophecy tends to have a “near and far” application. The near application is how the text applied to the original hearers. The far application is how that text ripples out to future generations.

John 17 is a good example of this; Jesus starts praying for his followers and then for future believers (verse 20). Matthew 24 is another example. The near fulfillment was 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple. It was the end of the world to a Jew as it would be difficult to imagine life relating to God without a temple. The far application is the return of Christ at the final chapter of human history.

I say that to say this: Daniel and Revelation (to some point) has already been fulfilled. However, since the Bible speaks to the deepest needs of humanity, the struggles and such that is the human experience will repeat from generation to generation. So maybe we aren’t dealing with the beast empires of Daniel or Rome in Paul’s day, but we know what it is like to be a marginalized group under a godless government – like Paul and Daniel.

2). Which character of the Bible has the most personal relationship with God?

It is hard to pick just one person because the Bible is intentional about reminding us of many men and women who were close to God. However, if I had to pick one person, it would be Abraham. He is called “God’s friend” in James 2:23).

I love how the Bible reminds all of us that we can be friends of God too if we place our trust in God, taking him at his word.

3). Is the Book of Daniel a book of folk tales?

The short answer is no. Daniel is essentially 2 genres in one book. The first 6 chapters are historical and the last 6 are apocalyptic. The book of Daniel tracks the life of a teenage Israeli captive that got taken to Babylon and he is a ripe old age by the end of chapter 6.

Daniel is a great example of how to live faithfully to God while serving a pagan government. He outlives the reign of 3 Babylonian kings and has unwavering faith in God.

Apocalypse serves the purpose of peeling back the curtain to see the spiritual realities and how they affect physically present situations; this includes foresight into the future. This is the intent behind all the weirdness in the book of Daniel.

4). What is the meaning of ‘one day’s burden is not enough for one day’ that’s been mentioned in the Bible?

That’s not in the Bible. However, Jesus did say that “each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:44, NIV).

In the passage, Jesus was preaching on why we shouldn’t live our lives worrying about things we cannot control. Why carry the burden of worry when we cannot control the outcome? Why worry if it doesn’t make us any healthier or live longer?

By now we should be on the same page, right? If I’m not able to change this situation and I’m in the middle of it, I’m going to trust God as I keep going. Worry is not an option because it is too expensive, yielding negative results on our body and soul.

5). Why does the Bible say that nobody is beyond the grace of God but in another part it says that God will harden people’s hearts?

From the start, I admit that I don’t have a concrete answer, but I’ll give the best answer I presently have.

First, we need to know the heart of God. He is not playing games with people’s lives, playing a divine game of Duck, Duck, Damn. God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4, NIV).

Second, the Bible doesn’t directly say that nobody is beyond the grace of God, but that’s the conclusion we draw after reading about the character of God. There are two main passages of Scripture that I would like to draw from; the story of Pharaoh in Exodus 5–12 and Romans 9–11.

What’s curious about Pharaoh is that he hardens his heart and then it later says that God hardened his heart. I believe this is the same thing. Since God gives us the ability to choose or reject him, we have the ability to harden our hearts against God; we can be stubborn. The other side of the coin is that God’s hands aren’t tied; nothing happens without God allowing it to happen.

That’s the mystery of free will and God’s treatment of our rebellion.

6). What are your favorite things to read in the Bible?

I love the gospels! I don’t have a favorite because they are all so wonderfully unique.

I also love the book of Romans as it the place to go for deep theology. The Proverbs are useful for practical living. I guess I have a lot of favorites; it depends on what I need at a given time.

The more I read it, the harder it is to have a favorite part.

7). Do you think Leviticus 20:15 is considered ‘too harsh’ or would you consider it to be fair?

It’s not my call to judge how ‘harsh’ this law is. All I know is God calls it perversion and as the Creator of the universe, he gets the right to make whatever laws he wants over his creation.

Matthew Henry says this about the verse: “What praises we owe to God that he has taught the evil of sin, and the sure way of deliverance from it! May we have grace to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things; may we have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness, but reprove them.”

Instead of critiquing God’s law, we need to let it critique us. The standard is God’s holiness. He commanded us in the previous chapter to “be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2 NIV). Even in the chapter above that, we see that God wants his people to be different (which means holy) from their neighbors that did deplorable things like burning children as sacrifices to demon gods.

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 18:1–5 NIV).

In closing, we need to thank God for his high standard of living, because when people follow God’s laws, society flourishes.

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The Weekly Bible Lab: S1E4- The Parables- with John Stapleton

YouTuber John Stapleton continues with the Gospel of Mark 5- The Parables. Be sure to subscribe.

Also, if you’re on the go or in the car, click on the podcast play button to listen to the audio just below the YouTube video.

The Parables
Get it on Apple Books

BIG IDEA

We fight fear with faith. Based on Mark 5.

1. The Story

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered
around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and
when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying.
Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to
bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had
spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from
her suffering. (5:21-29) 1

2. Comparison of Jairus and the Woman

1 Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and
“New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica,
Inc.™

3. Responses to Jesus: Fear and Faith

Jesus switches the two, raising the status of the woman by making her the one to emulate. The
woman was afraid, but she professed her faith. “Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just believe.’”
(5:36).

Jesus goes and raises the girl and the witnesses still don’t believe. “They were completely astonished.”
(5:42). The root of unbelief is fear. Fear is a lack of faith and this is a theme that serves as an
undercurrent of this gospel.

The disciples were afraid when Jesus calmed the sea (4:40).

  • The townspeople were afraid when they saw the demoniac healed (5:15).
  • Peter was afraid at the transfiguration (9:6).
  • The disciples were afraid of thinking about Jesus dying (9:32).
  • The disciples were afraid going up to Jerusalem (10:32).
  • The women were afraid at the tomb (16:8).

CONCLUSION: “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” (5:36)

Q&A

1). Why did the Biblical God give humanity the option not to follow God?

Because love would not be freely given if it is forced. The ability to choose love
over hate; to choose who we will love, is what makes love so genuine. But if God
pre-programmed humans to love him, that wouldn’t be love from the will; it
would be instinct. If love is free, it is possible that some people won’t choose to
follow God.

2). I’m getting better at knowing how to read the Bible and understanding it.
Why is that?

I don’t know you personally, so I can’t tell you specifically what is working, but
my guess is you have devoted a lot of time to learning it.

It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. Your commitment to the
day in, day out, rhythms of daily devotions, Bible reading, and Bible study has
certainly paid off!

The Bible has been described as pond that an infant can splash in, as well as an
ocean that the biggest of elephants can wade in. Perhaps you want to start
learning the original languages to know the precision of the text better. Maybe
you want to read commentaries. I just want to challenge you, as I also encourage
you, to keep up the good work as you grow deeper in love and understanding (as
you always can)!

3). What is the most relevant to modern life, the Old or New Testament?

The New Testament is more applicable to Christianity, since the New
Testament is the words of the New Covenant that was inaugurated by the blood
of Jesus

However, the question is about modern life. Well, the Bible is an ancient book
that records ancient history and people; the Bible however is timeless, so it’s able
to speak to any people at any time. We are not that different from them.

The book of Proverbs (in the Old Testament) is a great practical book that is
modern people could stand to benefit from. It has a wealth of information about
living well – from money to relationships! I think we rob ourselves when we pick
and choose of gleaning from all of the Bible.

4). Will this current generation live to witness the rapture and Christ’s return?

No generation can confidently affirm that they will see Christ return. Howbeit,
we are one generation closer to his return than before.

It’s tempting for every generation to look at the brokenness of the world in their
given era of history and assume that they are the last generation, but we would be
false prophets if we make that claim.

When I consider what Jesus taught about this, I conclude that he wants us to
know about the day of his return (it won’t surprise us like it will surprise the
world) but we won’t know the precise time of the event itself, and that is how
God wanted it because only he knows. Our ignorance of when Jesus is coming
back encourages us to live faithfully and expectantly, like the Old Covenant Jews
waited for the Messiah. Faithfulness is our only option, not predicting dates.

5). What does “for the time is at hand” mean in Revelations 1:3?

John means that the time is near. This creates more questions though, like, “The
time for what?” and, “How soon is soon?”

When John says that the time is at hand, he’s saying it’s time for Jesus to be
revealed and for the curtain to be pulled back that divides life on earth from
spiritual realities. The book of Revelation wasn’t given to us so that we can know
the future timeline of world events; it was given to see Jesus’ authority over all
time and space.

What does ‘soon’ mean? I’ve done a word study on it and it simply means… soon.
One thing to keep in mind when reading the Bible is it is a mix of God’s
perspective and ours. What does ‘soon’ mean to God who is not confined by
time? It will mean something different than how we consider soon. It’s almost
comparable to how long you thought an hour was when you were a kid versus
now; an hour felt like forever and now it’s a small window of time.

6). How do you pronounce ‘Selah’ in the Bible?

“Say-law”

Selah is a Hebrew word that appears many times throughout the Psalms and
means something like an interlude. It is an invitation for the hearer or reader to
stop and reflect on what was just said.

In general, Selah is a constant reminder in the Bible to not just read it, but
meditate on it, mull it over, keep chewing, keep pondering; have the scriptures on
playback in your mind.

7). What does it mean in the Bible, “godliness with contentment” in 1 Timothy
6:6?

In order to understand godliness, we need to understand what wickedness is.
Earlier in this passage, Paul gives us a definition:

“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our
Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand
nothing” (1 Timothy 6:3-4 NIV).

If wickedness is against biblical teaching, godliness is what lines up with what
God’s revealed will is in the Bible.

Contentment is not complacency. It is being satisfied with your situation while
planning for the future. It’s not a constant grabbing for more; not a constant
ache for the next stage of life.

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The Weekly Bible Lab: S1E3 -Proximity Of Jesus- with John Stapleton

YouTuber John Stapleton shares with us more on the Proximity of Jesus with a deeper look into the Gospel of Mark 3:7-35. Be sure to subscribe to his channel by clicking on the icon on the top of his video screen below.

Also, if you’re on the go or in the car, click on the podcast play button to listen to the audio just below the YouTube video.

3 | Proximity To Jesus

BIG IDEA

Many people wanted to be with Jesus, but Jesus only selected a few to
be with him.

Mark 3:7-21, 31-35 (Markan sandwich)
● The Crowds
○ The Apostles
● The Family of Jesus

1). Jesus Withdrew from Crowds

Mark 3:7-12
The first two words we see in our passage today is that “Jesus withdrew”
(verse 7). In fact, every section we are looking at today begins with this
idea:

“Jesus withdrew with his disciples” (verse 7).
● “He went up a mountain and called to him those whom he desired”
(verse 13).
● “Then he went home” (verse 20).

In correlation to this, look at the reaction of the crowds:

“Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd
followed” (verse 7).
● “When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to
him” (verse 8).
● “Then he went home and the crowd gathered again” (verse 20).
● “His mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent
to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him” (verses
31-32).

This is very clear from the passage: Jesus is highly sought out because he
is a miracle-worker (verse 8-10).

2). Jesus Selected Those He Wanted

Mark 3:13-19
The passage starts off with Jesus separating himself from the crowds,
then he “called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him”
(verse 13). Jesus intentionally puts distance between himself and the
crowds, and he calls his disciples to do the same. This harkens back to the
Old Testament when God reveals himself as a holy God, which means he
is separate from sin and sinners (Leviticus 19:2; Hebrews 7:26).

Now, it is interesting to notice “those whom he desired” (verse 13). It is an
eclectic mix of dysfunction; they were also unimpressive. They were
blue-collar guys who would have been rejected from rabbi school. The
only thing that is consistent about this bunch is that they are slow and
unbelieving throughout this gospel account. One of them “betrayed him”
(verse 19). Peter was a hot-head, usually acting or reacting before
thinking. Matthew collected taxes for Rome and Simon was a freedom
fighter who would have despised Matthew (who probably slept with one
eye open). James and John were immature (Matthew 20:20-24 ;Mark
9:38-39; Luke 9:54). The rest of disciples are so common that they aren’t
mentioned in many places.

These were the guys that Jesus picked.

3). Jesus Redefines Family

Mark 3:20-21, 31-35
This last section brings our sandwich to a close. In contrast to the apostles
(the sent ones), Jesus’ family shows up to get him because they think he’s
lost his mind. Can you blame them? Jesus is so familiar to them that it is
weird that he now has a ministry. Why is he preaching and healing? Why
is he casting out demons? This is likely the kind of thoughts they had
(Mark 6:2-3).

The other interesting factor is that the religious leaders show up in the
section above this one, basically accusing Jesus of being empowered by
demons. Already, his family thinks he’s crazy and the Pharisees think he’s
empowered by Satan.

Q&A

1). When you read Matthew 23:1-12, what is the most important thing
that you can gather and really remember for the rest of your life?

If you are religious, don’t live your life in such a way that shames
God and misrepresents Jesus. Don’t make Christianity look bad.

That’s the lesson. Jesus started off the entire chapter by telling us to
do what they say (because they teach the Bible) but don’t live like
them.

2). How can one say that they take the Bible literally when it is full of
so many contradictions? Surely one would have to be highly selective
when picking their poison or their cherries.

You assume a lot when you claim the Bible is full of contradictions.
In fact, the burden of proof is on you to back up your statement.
Serious study will clear up these so-called “contradictions.”

The other thing to know is the Bible is actually a library of 66 books
that comprise various genre’s of writing. That means that you won’t
read Revelation the same way you read Leviticus. The Psalms are
different than the gospels. The logical arguments in Paul’s letters
are not the same as the Job. Anyone that reads literature as
literature would get this concept.

3). Which character of the Bible had problems with impulse control?

Jephthah, hands down. My other example is Peter.

4). How long will Christianity last?

It is helpful to distinguish between Christianity and Christendom.
Christianity is following the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.
Christendom is the Western experiment birthed from the freedom of
religion, to have a culture that is broadly Christian.

What we have seen most explicitly in the last twenty years has been
the decline of Christendom. Christian culture is not cool anymore. It
is no longer a benefit to tell people that you are a Christian
business owner, or that you go to church, or that you are a minister.
That is like social suicide

The benefit of this is that we get a more accurate picture of what
the church really is, who really follows Jesus, and what things in
Christian culture are holy and pure. A lot of ridiculous things have
been burned away.

In response, Christianity is not dying and will not end. Historically,
the church always has an ebb and flow. There are revivals and there
are lean times. We are seeing nothing new.

5). Why shouldn’t you just read the Bible once?

Because the Bible is more than a book that we read; it’s a book that
reads us. You can read a news article once because it is merely an
exchange of information. The Bible however is a book of
transformation. Another reason we read it is because God uses his
written Word to feed our souls. As the body digests food, the mind
and heart is encouraged by and internalizes the Word.

Those are two good reasons to keep reading it.

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The Weekly Bible Lab: S1E2- The Son of Man (Mark 2:1-12)- with John Stapleton

YouTuber John Stapleton shares on The Son of Man from the Gospel of Mark. (Notes Below)

2 | The Son of Man

BIG IDEA

Jesus proves his claim to be God by healing a paralyzed man to show that he has forgiven the man’s sins.

CONTEXT

Mark 1 was all about introducing Jesus Christ, second person of the trinity,
who demonstrated his authority as God by exercising his rule over demons
and sickness. As you could imagine, this captivates the appeal of large
throngs of people who then begin to follow Jesus around. This brings us to
chapter 2.

THE STORY

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, and by now Jesus is
residing in Capernaum. Jesus has been traveling from town to town
throughout the Galilean region preaching. Now that Jesus has returned
home, he still “was preaching the word to them” (Mark 2:2). If you are
wondering what he may had been saying, I would look at Mark 1:15: “Jesus
came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is
fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the
gospel.’” Jesus had one message: Repentance and kingdom allegiance.

As Jesus was preaching in (what some scholars think to be Peter’s house),
many people gathered to hear him and then five men are introduced into
the narrative. “When they could not get near him because of the crowd,
they removed the roof above him” (Mark 2:4). Jesus saw their faith by
them thinking outside the box to get to Jesus. We also don’t if the
paralytic himself had any faith, but his friends did, and that was enough
for Jesus. He directs his attention to the man and forgives his sins. Some
religious people were present judging Jesus: “Why does this man speak
like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark
2:7).

But Jesus is already God!

“Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves…”
(Mark 2:8).

Only God can read people’s thoughts. It’s interesting whenever this word
“questioned” comes up, it often has negative contexts. Let’s look at other
occurrences in Mark’s gospel:

  • Mark 8:16-17 | They began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
  • Mark 11:31-33 | They discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Their mind would have gone back to this story in the Old Testament:
  • Leviticus 24:10-16 | 10 Now an Israelite woman’s son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel. And the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel fought in the camp, 11 and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. Then they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. 12 And they put him in custody, till the will of the Lord should be clear to them.
    13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 14 “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. 16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.
I love Jesus’ response:
  • Mark 2:9 | Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’?

I always missed what Jesus meant by saying this, but I’ve recently
discovered that it would be easier to say that the man’s sins are forgiven
because there is no tangible way to prove that. It’s harder to tell the man
to walk, because if he doesn’t walk, nobody will believe anything Jesus is
teaching.

  • Mark 2:10-12 | But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Jesus possesses the authority that he claims; he successfully backed his
claim to be God and forgive sin. This is an unmistakable miracle that
everyone became witnesses to and they “glorified God” (verse 12). People
are still curious about Jesus as he is the great miracle worker. As we get
deeper into Mark’s gospel, we will see two groups of people: People who
follow Jesus because of the miracles and others who follow Jesus because
they love him. In other parts of Mark, when people are “amazed,” that
usually indicates unbelief.

Ask yourself: Why do I follow Jesus? Do I believe what Jesus said about
himself? Why or why not?

Q&A

1). Is it true that the Bible has become a god to many who idolize it?
Can the Bible actually become a God to people and keep them from
knowing the true God himself? – Samuel Jones

While Christians don’t worship the Bible, we can never stress how
important it is because it points us to the God we worship. Without
the Bible, we will never would know God’s character, or God’s will, or
let alone how we are to interpret the world around us.

It would be really hard to worship the Bible because it points
outside of itself. The only times the Bible points to itself is when it
reminds us that these are the words of God.

2). Which character of the Bible displays great persistence? – Laurel
Anderson

Hebrews 11 give us many examples of persistence or faith, but 2
characters in particular come to mind for me:

The first is the fictitious widow in Luke 18, who keeps hounding a
careless judge for justice. The second is Job. He is a weird example
because as I read through Job, he isn’t all that patient. He whines
throughout the book. Yet James, a New Testament writer
encourages us to consider “the steadfastness of Job” (James 5:11).

Maybe the Bible is telling us in this example that it is okay to
grieve, even question God, but still be patient.

3). Is it possible that Isaiah 5:20 is occurring currently in society? –
Mark Bloemers

This is definitely happening today. We are always redefining things
to sound less bad. We don’t like to call infidelity adultery; instead it
is an affair. We don’t like to call abortions murder; it is a mother’s
choice… to murder. The examples I could mention are numerous.

If we can redefine terms, this directly effects how the next
generation thinks about morality. I firmly believe that the most
sinful thing we can do with our speech is not cussing (though I don’t
condone free use of profanity) but it is dishonesty. Calling good
things bad and bad good is dishonest.

No it was not God’s will. A closer look at 1 Kings 11:1–4 reveals that
these wives turned Solomon’s heart away from God. It also mentions
that God commanded not to marry foreign women from other
religions because that’s what will happen – the husband will be
influenced away from the Lord. So it is important to realize that
Solomon broke God’s law (see Deuteronomy 17:17).

Later, after the reign of Solomon, we get the reflection of
Nehemiah concerning this situation in Nehemiah 13:23-27.

Long story short, it was never God’s will for Solomon to have many
wives.

4). Is the Great Tribulation prophesied to be the same as the time
before Noah’s flood? – Stef Lynn

I would encourage you to look at Luke 17:26–27. Jesus compares the
flood and the Great Tribulation because of 4 basic realities: 1). The
world was sinful, 2). Life went on as usual, 3). God’s judgment took
everyone by surprise, 4). Except for God’s chosen people.

These events are very unique from each other. The first judgment
was a flood; the last judgment is fire (2 Peter 3:7). Moreover, Jesus
said that no other events ever have or ever will match or exceed this
event (Matthew 24:21). So according to Jesus, this is not the same
event. Jesus was using the flood as a point of reference.

5). Why is Paul’s name not mentioned in Revelation 21:14 where the
twelve apostles of the Lamb are listed?

The main thing to focus on is the symbolism of the number 12. The
reason I take this angle is because I can’t say with confidence who
the twelfth apostle is. Remember, Judas committed suicide. The
apostles then cast lots to decide who will officially be the twelfth
apostle “and the lot fell on Matthias” (Acts 1:23). Later, Saul gets
saved and becomes Paul.

Paul also saw himself as the outsider (2 Corinthians 12:11). That’s just
how it was. The twelve apostles are a class to themselves because
they walked with Jesus. “He appointed twelve (whom he also named
apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them
out to preach and have authority to cast out demons” (Mark
3:14–15). While Jesus picked his disciples, Paul was being a Pharisee.
He just didn’t pick Paul and after he got saved, he felt like he had a
lot to prove.

The big idea behind the symbolism in Revelation 21 is that the
twelve foundations and names reflect the twelve tribes of Israel. It’s
a symbol for Israel and spiritually, God’s people.

6). Which character of the Bible is overly trusting?

The person that comes to mind for me is Hezekiah. Isaiah 39:1–6
recalls the king showing envoys from Babylon everything in his
house. The prophet Isaiah came back to Hezekiah that he shouldn’t
have been so proud and gullible by showing everything off. He
predicted that everything would be stolen by them.

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MARK- Part 1- Son of God (S1E1) by John Stapleton

John Stapleton The Bible Lab

BIG IDEA

Jesus proves that he is the Son of God by exercising his authority. Based on Mark 1. (Notes Provided Below)


INTRODUCTION

Mark got his collection of Jesus stories from Peter but arranged them himself to display his own theology. Mark likes to show instead of telling. He does this through “Markan
Sandwiches” – stories that are interrupted by another story that contrasts with elements from the first story. I’ve built our study around these and added a few more installments to emphasize our lesson today, the parables, and the resurrection.

Mark was the first gospel written and the other synoptic gospels use Mark’s account as a
launchpad for their accounts. For the most part, they keep the Markan sandwiches, but they often condense the facts or rearrange the order completely. Mark is not just a ‘shorter version of Matthew’s gospel,’ but it is unique in its order and purpose. It’s closer in purpose to John’s gospel who writes so “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Like John, Mark wants to show us that Jesus is the Son of God. The other main purpose of this gospel is discipleship. We will look at key elements of following Jesus such as faith, fear, suffering, and more.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 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.’ ” (Mark 1:1-3)

EXEGESIS

I. The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This means that this gospel account represents the gospel message that Jesus proclaimed. “Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God… ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14, 15). This is also the gospel about Jesus. There is a lot of speculation about who Jesus was, but this gospel will tell you exactly who he is.

II. Christ, the Son of God.

Jesus is God and Messiah. This is the first thing that Mark wants us to know. This is the purpose of his book (Mark 1:1). Jesus is both God and the Messiah.

This echoes Peter’s words from his Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:36). The Messiah (the Jewish
title and Christ is Greek), is the anointed or chosen one, chosen by God to save us from the curse of sin brought on everyone in Genesis 3.

III. As it Is Written.

God has spoken through written words, the Bible. The point here is that everything happens according to what was written. The prophets spoke for God and predicted the coming of Jesus. Every move of God begins with a move back to the Bible.

IV. Messenger.

This word (Gk. angelos) is translated in other places as “angel.” The idea here is that God speaks through people. His voice could thunder from heaven, but he prefers to entrust his message to people.

V. The Wilderness.

The desert has always been a symbol of death. Nothing grows out in the wilderness. Yet, God often draws his people out into the wilderness so that they may grow.

This reminds us of when God delivered his people out of Egypt and brought them into
the wilderness. John the Baptist (mentioned in verse 4) is calling people to a spiritual
renewal with the themes of the desert and baptism.

VI. Prepare The Way

1). Jesus DEMONSTRATES His Authority

As God Jesus is God and he shows us that in a variety of ways. He has power over nature; his disciples remarked that “even the wind and the waves obey him!” (4:41, NIV). He has power over disease; “Jesus healed many who were sick with various diseases” (1:34). He has power over demons; “he also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was” (1:34, NIV). They knew he was God. Curiously, the demons are the only people in this gospel who recognize that Jesus is God. (I know Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah, but he later gets called Satan, so I don’t count that.) We will discuss how people respond to Jesus when we cover the parables.

Mark spends the opening chapters of his gospel with these kinds of stories back to back to
show us that Jesus is God.

2). Jesus is VERBALLY AFFIRMED as God

There is plenty of verbal affirmation that Jesus is God. Some people claim that Jesus never
said he was God. This couldn’t be the furthest from the truth. I mentioned how Mark leaves out the nativity scene; he also leaves out most of Jesus’ teaching, except for key parables, and anything about the identity of Jesus. Before we hear from Jesus, we hear the voice of God booming from heaven (Mark 1:11). This phrase serves as a bookend to the first half of this gospel account because later at the Transfiguration, we hear a similar endearment from the Father (Mark 9:7).

Jesus is more powerful because he is God. Speaking of voices, John the Baptist was a voice
(Mark 1:3). Later on after the transfiguration, the disciples were reminded of John the Baptist when they heard the voice of God from heaven (Mark 9:11-13). After this Old Testament quote that informs that the Messiah will have a forerunner, we read (Mark 1:4, 7-9). Jesus later picks up where John left off preaching (Mark 1:15).

CONCLUSION

Everything that Jesus does backs up his claims to be God.
Next time, we will further explore this idea as he is revealed as the Son of Man.

Q&A

1. Is it true that the rapture is not considered the great and terrible day of the Lord which is to come? – Marc Bloemers

Those who believe in a physical rapture see it as a separate event from Judgment Day. One event has to do with God collecting his people. The other event has to do with God judging those who are not his people.

Also, there is a difference between “the last days” and “the last Day.” The last
days refer to the time between the first and second coming of Christ. The last
Day is the day when God judges to world.
• The Last Days (Acts 2:17; 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:1-2)
• The Last Day (John 6:40; 12:48; Acts 2:20)

In other words, the rapture marks the end of the last days with Judgment Day
to follow. So no, it is not the same day.

2. Is it true that the Bible provides many examples which refer to the rapture, it
just doesn’t say the actual word like in Luke 21:36? – Marc Bloemers

In order to understand Luke 21:36, we must look at verses 25-28. This is a complicated passage because it has near and far application. The near application is the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. The far application is the Last Day that the Bible speaks of regularly.

In this passage, Jesus talks about signs in the sky. This is all figurative language from the prophets (Joel 2:1-2; Isaiah 13:9-11).

Perhaps the closest clue to a rapture is the word escape. This word ekphygein is consistently translated as, “escape,” or, “fleeing.” It simply means, “to run away” (Acts 16:27; Romans 2:3).

As far as the rapture in particular, this passage doesn’t mention it, but Matthew 24:31 talks about us being “gathered” together from the earth. This could be the Bible’s way of describing a rapture. Moreover, Paul talks about being “caught up” to be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17). This idea of being snatched up or carried away could be the biblical idea of the rapture.

3. Is it wrong to speculate or be curious about certain biblical passages if the
apostle John warns in Revelations not to add or take away? – Stef Lynn

The passage you’re thinking of is Revelation 22:18-19. When John said, “this book,” he’s talking about the volume of Revelation itself, not the entire Bible. This doesn’t give us permission to change other parts of the Bible either; it is simply a warning to not add or take away from the book of Revelation, which is a summary and retelling of the entire Bible.

Speculation is okay if it doesn’t replace the Bible. Before we can know what the Bible means, we first need to learn what it actually says. Speculation is without question in the category of “what does this mean?” One preacher I listen to calls it your “santified imagination.” It is certainly never wrong to be curious either. That’s how a lot of great Bible studies start.

4. Would Daniel be thought of as the forerunner to John the apostle in terms of
their perspective end times prophecy? – Stef Lynn

I would say he is not the forerunner. Prophecy involves a lot of cross-reference between the prophets so I would avoid trying to pair up the biblical writers. To be honest, the other gospel writers quote Daniel and John never does not.

5. Is it possible that Adam would have helped build the Ark since he would
have still been alive during Noah’s day? – Stef Lynn

The simply answer is that Adam lived to 930 years and then died shortly before Noah was born. He could not have possibly helped with building the ark.

6. Is it possible to serve God without the Bible?

No it is not. The Bible is how we get to know what God is like, as well as what he wants.

Say for instance, you’ve never met me but wanted to do something nice for me. Your only option is to surprise me with something, because you don’t know what I like and don’t like; same thing with God. How we please him if we have no way to know exactly what he wants, let alone finding him from the pantheon of over gods and religions.

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