Let Us Not Presume

Recently, I listened as a young seminary student from Westminster Seminary in CA taught about a passage in Mark 5:1-20. I’ve read this passage many times, but this young man was able to give an exposition of this passage that was so wonderfully rich in content and full of truth that I literally almost wept.

For years now, I have personally been discouraged with the level of teaching coming forth from the pulpits of churches we have personally visited.  The words of wisdom that came from this young man gave me renewed hope that God’s gospel is still safely entrusted to those He has chosen; those who are faithful to His Word.  It gives me hope for future generations that the gospel message will still be available to our grandchildren, although they will more than likely have to seek even harder than I have to find it, for in today’s world, the gospel message is often veiled and hidden — even in our churches.

It is rare today to find a church that desires to teach the things of God deeply and accurately.   It is rare to find a church that desires to help its constituents grow in the knowledge of the Lord, realizing that education within community is more desirable than being a self-feeder.  It is safer.  It is uncommon to find a church that truthfully understands and implements what worship really means.  I’ve searched for them and have more often than not come up empty-handed.  It is even more uncommon to find a church that accurately teaches the truths of the entire gospel message.  I would venture to say that most church-goers today don’t even know what the gospel message of Christ is.

Until Mark 5, Jesus has been teaching about the Kingdom in Israel.  For the first time in Mark, Jesus is entering another land:  the Gentile land of the Gerasenes.  This is remarkable when you think about it.   In a way it is a landmark in that Jesus is now reaching out to the Gentiles, not the chosen Israelites.  The first person Jesus encounters is a person with unclean spirits living within him named Legion.  The demons recognized Christ immediately as God.  The other people in this land are living in an utter denial of God.  They think they are free, but they are not free.  They choose to reject him.  Imagine having that kind of revelatory experience!  To recognize God and refuse Him, knowing that you are doing so purposely.

Sea of Galilee

Yet, God loved these people so He came. They did not come to Him.  Romans 3 says that no one seeks after God.  It takes the love of a Father who is greater than we are to seek us and save us.  It is interesting that Legion is not interested in knowing Jesus.  Legion merely wanted to escape, so Jesus granted the request of Legion to go into the pigs.  Further, the people in the town took the side of Legion!  They were foolish and told Jesus to go away.  Can you imagine telling Jesus to go away after He had sought you?

Jesus did heal the man with demons.  He was the only one left on the shore.  The others had purposely departed.  Note that Jesus didn’t heal them.  He only healed one – the man with demons.  The man asked to follow him, thus was converted.

This particular message reminds me that the Good News of Jesus Christ remains breath-taking, especially today when it feels the most absent.  We wonder, because we can’t see God working as He did in the times of Mark, why we perceive that Jesus is weak today.  We wonder about the reality of His Kingdom and how it applies to us.  The church seems frail and we speculate about where this great Kingdom of God can be found.

But the answer is:  Jesus has already conquered Satan and evil.   The victory of God’s Kingdom is already won.  We may see demons and evil get their way, yet those who know God  see Him working through mercy and judgment because He comes to save sinners.  We…..are sinners.  Notice both elements:  mercy and judgment.

A thought to take away from this passage:   Do not presume on the riches of God’s kindness.  Judgment will come if you are not on Christ’s side.

Here is the kicker in this passage, as exegeted by this young man.

Let us not presume to rely so heavily on the kindness of God that we fail to understand —-one day,  His wrath will be unveiled.

And that’s a post for another day.  I want to give credit to this young man for an extraordinary sermon well taught.  You can hear it here.   Have you heard a sermon like this recently in your church?

When you are done, read this.

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