The Lord’s Message:  Stay-Tuned

The Lord’s Message:  Stay-Tuned
Date:  December 10, 2023
Where:  Tilghman Methodist Church
Scripture Reference:  Mark 1:1-8

            How many of you remember the old TV sets that had a knob for fine tuning to a particular frequency of the TV stations that you wanted to watch?  The reason that you did that was to tune to the strongest signal and to cut down on interference.  The same can be true with our walk with the Lord.  We need to be careful to keep our walk with the Lord tuned in and not allow interference to degrade our relationship with God.

            Let us pray.

            Please open your Pew Bible to page 1551.   While you are looking for the page, I would like to provide you with information on the Book of Mark, since after the first of the new year until Easter, we are going to be studying this book. 

            The Book of Mark was the first of the Gospels, Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John are what most theologians consider as the order of the Gospels.  The Gospels are recordings of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The Gospels are the Good News for all believers in Christ.  The Gospels were written after the Pauline letters.  Even though there is not direct evidence that John Mark wrote this Gospel, there is historical church evidence.  Around AD 140, documentations written by Papias quotes an earlier source as saying, “Mark was a close associate of Peter, from whom he received the tradition of things said and done by the Lord.”  The preachings and teachings of the Apostle Peter provided the source for John Mark to write this Gospel.  From the New Testament in the Book of Acts, Acts 12:12, we learned that his mother is hosting a home church.  After Paul and Barnabas returned from Jerusalem and are about to embark on their first missionary journey, they ask John Mark to go with them.  John Mark makes it as far as Perga in Pamphylia and then gets homesick and returns home.  On the second missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas split over taking John Mark along with them.  Paul does not want to have John Mark on this journey, because he left them on the first missionary journey.  Barnabas wants to take his cousin, John Mark, with them.  The result is that Paul selects Silas to go with him in one direction and Barnabas takes John Mark and goes in the other direction.  Paul and John Mark do make up at some later time.  Paul writes in Colossians 4:10, “My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas.  (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)”

            Dating the Gospels is difficult, but most theologians have concluded that the Gospel of Mark was written before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.  This occurred in AD 70.  It was mostly likely written in Italy to the churches there.  So, this Gospel was written for the Romans.  The Gospel of Luke was written for the Gentiles.  The Gospel of Matthew was written for the Jews.  The Gospel of John was written for everybody.

            It is interesting that the Gospel of Mark simply begins with “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Luke begins with the birth of John the Baptist followed by the birth of Jesus.  Matthew begins with the genealogy starting with Abraham and ending with Jesus.  John begins with a similar beginning as the book of Genesis, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  Mark simply gets right to the point.  This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

In verses 2 & 3, Mark begins with quotations from the prophet Malachi and Isaiah.   The complete quotes are Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. In both of these prophecies, they speak of one person coming to prepare the way for God or the Messiah.  Marks identifies this person in verse 4 as John the Baptist.  The way that John goes about preparing the way for the people to receive God is “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin.” 

John did not preach a baptism of salvation. Jesus at this point had not yet died on the cross and God had not placed our sins on His only Son, Jesus.  John is preaching a message of repentance.  God has sent John to prepare people’s hearts to receive His Son, Jesus. 

John is outside of the mainstream.  He is the cousin of Jesus, born just a few months before Him.  He is living in the desert on locusts and wild honey.  He wears clothing made of camel hair and a leather belt around his waist.  The area that he is living in is near the Jordan River.  His lifestyle is so bizarre and his message is so powerful that he is attracting all kinds of people. 

It is interesting that all four Gospels talk about John the Baptist being the prophet Elijah to prepare people for the coming of the Lord.  In other words, John the Baptist is telling the people to tune your life to the Lord.  In what way is John the Baptist telling us how we should do that?  “Repent for the kingdom of God is near.”  The act of repentance is one of recognizing sin and turning away from it.  If we have sinned, we should ask God to forgive us of the sin and give us the power to turn away. 

Sin is the greatest barrier to our walk with the Lord.  Not recognizing sin in our life causes us to become greatly out of tune with God. 

You have probably heard that all sins can be forgiven.  Do you know that there is one sin that cannot be forgiven?  In Mark 3:28-29, Jesus tells us that the sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven, because it is an eternal sin.  To explain this further let us look at the purpose of the Holy Spirit in John 16:8. The reason why God sent the gift of the Holy Spirit is to reveal our sin.  So that we can deal with the sin and repent of the sin, so that we will not face judgement for the sin.

What I see going on today is what Isaiah 5:20-21 warned us about.  It is what the Apostle Paul warned Timothy about in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.  This is also what Peter warns us about in 2 Peter 3:10-16. 

When a person becomes a Christian, they first open their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ.  Jesus comes in their life and starts to change them through the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit starts to reveal to them the sin that is in their life.  As you overcome that sin, the Holy Spirit starts to reveal another sin for you to work on.  This continues throughout our lives.  John Wesley called this going towards perfection.  Now, if we tell the Holy Spirit that we are okay with that sin, the Holy Spirit may for a time continue to convince us to deal with that sin but will never force us.  We have to do this willingly.  When we do not, we allow this sin to be a barrier in our life and we blaspheme the Holy Spirit.  So, we should allow the Holy Spirit to continue to work in our lives, convince us of the sin, so that we can be forgiven and repent of the sin. 

The more that we accept this barrier in our walk with the Lord, then the more that we accept other barriers of more sin.  When we say I will not cross that line and we do cross that line, then we are able to cross other lines until there are no more lines to cross and we find ourselves so far away from God. 

The Good News is that we can ask God for forgiveness and repent of the sin and return back to God through Jesus.  We can then allow the Holy Spirit to get back to work in convincing us of the sin that we need to deal with.  We can tune ourselves back in.  The better route is to stay tuned to God and never go through the heartache and pain.

This Advent Season, if we are like the Prodigal son or daughter, we can return to the Father by asking for Jesus to forgive us of our sin.  We can allow the Holy Spirit to begin the work of convincing us of sin.  The better way is to stay tuned in with God.  “Repent for the kingdom of God is near.” Amen.

December 12, 2023 12:19 pm