September 4 - Message Update

The Good News About Jesus Christ – Mark 1:1-8 – Pastor Brian

What is the good news about Jesus Christ?


Today we begin our new series, “Come and Follow Me,” from the gospel of Mark.  Truth gives us confidence to believe in something.  When truth is questioned it’s difficult to trust and believe in anything. Questions arise because it’s hard to decide to know who or what to trust. How do you determine what is truth? 


For those who seek truth, where and who you get information from is researched to help determine its credibility.  The same can be said about the Bible, how do you know it can be trusted and is true?  If you were to make the effort and take the time to delve into the credibility of the Bible, you would be convinced of its reliability. You would discover that there is an abundance of historical facts that validates its authenticity, written by over 40 different authors with the same message, over a span of more than a thousand years.  This knowledge would convince you of its truth.  Once knowing the Bible is genuine, wouldn’t it make sense that its teachings could be trusted?  A teaching like this, which implies that the coming of Jesus Christ confirms the truth of the gospel


Mark 1:1-8, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As it is written in Isaiah, the prophet, “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.’”  John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. “Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.  And he preached, saying, ‘After me comes He who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.  I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’”


Regarding its accuracy, the gospel of Mark was written within one or two generations of Jesus’ lifetime in a Christian community committed to preserving the truth about Jesus.  It is worth noting that oral tradition was regarded in the ancient world as a reliable way of preserving information and teaching.  This was particularly true in the Jewish world. Rabbinic scholars developed a very accurate system of memorization, which they valued more highly than written records, and which was capable of passing on vast bodies of material unchanged from one generation to another.   Because of this carefully preserved and controlled system, there is little reason to doubt Mark’s, or any other biblical account about Jesus.


Because of the intended audience, Mark’s emphasis was more upon what Jesus did, not what He said.  A book of Jesus’ action rather than His teachings.  Very fast paced and the shortest of the other gospels Matthew, Luke and John.  Reading through Mark, notice the more than 40 times “immediately” or “at once" is used.


The rapid-fire pace of Mark is seen in chapter one as it very briefly touches upon John the Baptist, Jesus’ baptism and temptation, the calling of His disciples, healing a man with unclean spirits, preaching in Galilee, and healing of a leper.  These remarkable events help us to quickly experience Jesus as more than a man of great influence but in fact the one and only Son of God.


The first sentence of this morning’s passage reveals a lot about the purpose of Mark.  “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The Greek word for Gospel: Evangelism, which means, ‘to spread, declare or proclaim good news.’ The foundation of Mark emphasizes, “The good news about Jesus Christ,” who is the Son of God.


Even when we believe the Bible is a trusted source, it’s okay to ask, “How do we know that the coming of Jesus Christ confirms the truth of the gospel?” 


1. The truth of the gospel was confirmed by the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy.  The good news about Jesus is that He is the Messiah God had promised. The truth of the gospel is confirmed by His arrival.  The truth of the gospel was confirmed by the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy. The coming of Jesus is the end result of Old Testament prophecy.  More than 700 years previously, God promised Jesus, the Messiah, through the prophet Isaiah that Jesus would come to Israel.  (vv.1-3) “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.’”


As mentioned, Mark is a very fast paced account of Jesus’ actions.  So, it might be easy to miss that in these first eight verses, Mark is referring to a man identified as John who baptizes people, known to us as John the Baptist.  John is the one Isaiah calls, “the messenger who prepares or makes ready the way of the Lord.”


John was assigned to declare that Jesus is the Messiah, who God promised would save His people. The one whom the prophets spoke of centuries before.  In this regard, John the Baptist was the last Old Testament prophet. John “prepared the way” for Jesus as he preached the need for repentance that would lead to the forgiveness of sins by God. This message of repentance and forgiveness was familiar to the prophets of Israel. What was even more remarkable was that though this message was for Israel, it now included the Gentiles.  From this point forward, repentance leading to God’s forgiveness was beyond the nation of Israel. The good news about Jesus is that because He came, the truth of the gospel, was confirmed, by the fulfillment, of Old Testament prophesy, not only for Israel, but for the entire world.


The arrival of Jesus impacted and altered the course of the world for eternity.  God kept His greatest promise when Jesus showed up.  If God would do this, why should we doubt His other promises?  Why question that God will always do what He says He will do?


For followers of Jesus Christ, we are assured knowing without a doubt, that in this troubled world of shootings, murder and racial hate on the rise, that God’s word stands firm to bring comfort during scary times. Psalm 46:1-3, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” God promises to be our refuge and strength!


What does God promise when feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or alone?  How about this promise from Isaiah 41:10, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."


The truth of the Gospel was confirmed when Old Testament prophecy fulfilled God’s greatest promise of Jesus.  Therefore, we can be assured that all of God’s promises will be completed and He will always do what He says! Beyond that, the good news about Jesus is that because of His arrival, personal testimony further validates the gospel message.


2. The truth of the gospel is confirmed through personal testimony. Through lives of people, the gospel message of Jesus Christ is made real.  Because of personal stories with and about Jesus, the gospel is firmly rooted.  (vv.4-7)


Through John’s story, the gospel message of Jesus is told and heard.  God used John to spread “the good news about Jesus.”  What did John mean when he announced, “After me comes He who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie?”  By John's proclamation, he was letting those who were being baptized know that Jesus, the Messiah, has arrived.  You can imagine after hearing over hundreds of years about the coming Messiah, there was some disbelief and doubt about what John said.  It seemed too good to be true that Messiah Jesus had finally come.


Plus, John presented Jesus in a way that was radically different than the ways of the Pharisees.  The truth of the gospel is that Jesus sets people free from the rules of religion.  Religious ways keep people under the control of regulations that teach if you do this or that, then God will love and accept you as His.  


Whereas with Jesus, there is only one requirement to be fully loved and accepted into God’s family, the receiving and believing in Jesus as the Son of God who died for our wrongs, raised three nights and days later from death, to free us from the chains of sin.  This stated truth is understood by most, if not all of you who are listening this morning.  But isn’t the truth of the gospel even more impactful when you hear a personal testimony about how Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, moved in their life?  


When people are willing to share their lives with me, I find it interesting and fascinating learning how they grew up and where they are now.  Especially when it involves their journey with Jesus.  There are those who began their life with Jesus as young children at home.  Some have met Jesus through a radio broadcast or in jail.  Others received and believed in Jesus through dreams, because they lived in places so desolate there was no access to Bibles, small groups, or churches.  Everyone has a story.  


How has God, through the Holy Spirit, changed you?  Don’t think your story is not interesting or that it will not have a lasting impact upon someone.  With God, nothing will be impossible especially in your story about Jesus.  Be strong and courageous, share your story because it brings credibility to the story of Jesus and the truth of the gospel.


So far, we have learned that gospel truth is confirmed by the completion of OT prophecy and personal testimony.


3. The gospel truth is confirmed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The work of Jesus is being carried on by the Holy Spirit.  (v.8) “I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”


John could only baptize with water which demonstrated an outward and symbolic washing of sin in the heart.  But only Jesus had the authority to forgive and cancel the debt of sin, through the inward and true washing of hearts by the Holy Spirit.  John the Baptist administered the outward sign of forgiveness of sin by water baptism; but Jesus, the Son of God, administered the inward sign of forgiveness by Holy Spirit baptism.


That is what set apart the work of Jesus from the work of John.  John prepared the way for Jesus to baptize with the Holy Spirit who is the life-giving spirit within every believer.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit happens at the moment a person believes in and receives Jesus as Lord and Savior.  When we acknowledge our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness through Jesus, the Holy Spirit enters our lives.  He gives us the power to continue the work of Jesus in living out the gospel truth of God’s judgment, mercy, and forgiveness.  God pours out His Spirit to give us a new and changed heart.


Ezekiel 36:26–27 “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules.” 


John 7:38 “Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this He said about the Spirit.”


You might be wondering but how do I know this? How can I know the Holy Spirit is in me?


Last week pastor Josh gave a message entitled, “Present Matters.”  How we treat others is one way our lives matter for eternity.  How we can know the Holy Spirt is in us can be found in the way we are led to helping others.  Or maybe you have sensed an urge that felt strange and out of the ordinary, to contact someone you haven’t seen or heard from in a while. Conversations that have occurred while shopping, getting gas, on walks, on an airplane, could be Holy Spirit led. 


Remember how the word “evangelize” comes from the Greek word for the gospel?  The Holy Spirit continues the gospel work of Jesus through people like you and me.  As we learn to hear and respond to His urge or as some call it, His unction, in our daily lives at home, work, and play, there are countless opportunities for Holy Spirit to confirm the truth of the gospel through us.  



Truth gives us the confidence to believe in something. I attended Bay Cities Bible College over a period of ten years and through the course work, I became utterly convinced that the Bible’s authenticity is more reliable and truer than any other book I’ve ever read. 


For others, the credibility of His word might come through the power of prayer.  If that is you, this is a book, Pray the Bible, I would recommend as a guide to deepen your faith and trust in God through the Bible.  The premise of this book is to help keep our prayer life alive and meaningful.  When you pray the Bible, you are relying on the power of His Spirit to use the power of His living Word to live according to His will.  The more you rely on the Spirit to bring life to His Word, the more credible and alive the Bible becomes. 


Regardless of how you come to realize the credibility of the Bible and the truth of the gospel, know this, the purpose of Mark is captured in the first statement. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The good news IS about Jesus, confirmed by prophecy, people and the Holy Spirit.


Praise Songs: The Lion and the Lamb, Be Thou My Vision, Psalm 90, Our God, Doxology