Thursday, August 6, 2020

58. Mark

Mark. (Thru the Bible #36) J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Gospel of Mark is chronologically the first gospel that was written. It was actually one of the first books written in the New Testament—not the first, but one of the first. It was probably written from Rome prior to A.D. 63.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read twelve or so of his commentaries. (Most recently his volume on Matthew 1-13). Overall, I like his laidback, casual, straightforward, tell it like it is approach to teaching Scripture. There is something so grounded and down to earth about him. Each reader is "his" friend. It's hard not to feel like he is a friend too.

One of the things that I love about McGee's commentaries is that he just speaks timeless truths. 

Mark isn't necessarily one of my favorite gospels. But reading McGee helped me appreciate it more. 
There probably is more content in this first chapter of Mark than any other chapter in the Bible (with the exception of Gen. 1). It covers the ministry of John the Baptist, after going back to the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi.
There are three beginnings recorded in Scripture. Let us put them down in chronological order: 1. “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1). This goes back to a dateless beginning, a beginning before all time. Here the human mind can only grope. It is logical rather than chronological because in my thinking, I must put my peg somewhere in the past in order to take off. If I see an airplane in the air, I assume there is an airport somewhere. I may not know where it is, but I know the plane took off from some place. So when I look around at the universe, I know that it took off from somewhere and that somewhere there is a God. But I don’t know anything about that beginning. God comes out of eternity to meet us. I just have to put down the peg at the point where He does meet us, back as far as I can thinkJ and realize He was there before that. 2. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). This is where we move out of eternity into time. However, although many people have been attempting to date this universe, no man so far knows. Man’s guesses have ranged from six thousand to three billions of years. We know so little but, when we come into His presence and begin to know even as we are known, then we will realize how we saw through a glass darkly. I’m sure we will marvel at our stupidity and our ignorance. Our God is a great God. He has plenty of time. 3. “The beginning of the gospel …” (v. 1) is the same as “That which was from the beginning …” (1 John 1:1). This is dated. It goes back to Jesus Christ at the precise moment He took upon Himself human flesh. Jesus Christ is the gospel! 
What we need in the church today is stretcher-bearers—men and women with that kind of faith to go out and bring in the unsaved so they can hear the gospel. There are many people today who are paralyzed with a palsy of sin, a palsy of indifference, or a palsy of prejudice. A great many people are not going to come into church where the gospel is preached unless you take a corner of the stretcher and bring them in. That’s what these men did. They had the faith to bring this poor man to hear the Lord Jesus deal with him personally and say, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”
Whether we like it or not, He does the choosing. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16). It is not irreverent to say that since He chose them and they did not choose Him, He’s responsible for them. That’s a real comfort to know. God has saved you, begun a good work in you, and He’s going to stick right with you, friend. He’s going to see you through. That is what this means. And when the Lord Jesus calls, they respond.
It is impossible to commit an unpardonable sin today—if by that you mean one can commit a sin today, come under conviction because of it tomorrow, come to God in repentance, and He would not forgive you. You see, Christ died for all sin, not just some sin. He didn’t die for all sin but one, the unpardonable sin. There is no such thing as being able to commit a sin today that He will not forgive. The attitude and state of the unbeliever is unpardonable—not the act. When a man blasphemes with his mouth, that is not the thing that condemns him; it is the attitude of his heart, which is a permanent condition—unless he stops resisting.
And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear [Mark 4:9]. He puts up a danger signal. It’s like the “Stop—Look—Listen” sign at a railroad crossing.
We sometimes use the expression—I know I say it rather carelessly—that you’ll be lost if you do not accept Christ as your Savior. That is not really the truth, friend. The truth is that you are already lost. The point that should be accurately stated is that you will continue to be lost if you do not receive Christ as your Savior.
Every chapter is the most important chapter when you are studying it! But this one is important because the Gospel of Mark is a gospel of action. There are more of the miracles given in this gospel than in any other, and in this chapter there are three outstanding miracles related. They could be performed only by the hand of Omnipotence. That is why I think this is a remarkable chapter.
The Word of God is the Bread of Life because the Word of God reveals Him. We are to feed on the Bible and to beware of false teaching. I think that ought to be clear to us here in the teaching that He gives.
By the way, that “Jesus Only” is a marvelous headline, is it not? “Jesus Only” is not only a headline in Mark’s gospel, but it ought to be a headline in the lives of believers today. In a brief way he states such great and weighty words—Jesus Only!
And the tragic thing about this hour is that the church is helpless in the presence of the world’s need. Right now, the organized church in desperation is reaching out, protesting and marching and getting involved in all kinds of things, and the world is actually criticizing the church because they feel it should get even more involved. But social matters are not our business! We ought to be able to help a poor demon-possessed boy today by presenting a Savior to him who will make him rational and who will bring him into a right relationship with God. Unfortunately, the same thing has to be said of the church, “They could not.” The disciples could not and we cannot.
Bring him unto Me! We are attempting to do everything except bring lost men to Jesus Christ.
Do you realize who it is here that is talking about hell? There are those today who say that He is the gentle Jesus. Friend, He is the only One who talked about hell. Paul never talked about it, but Jesus did. And since He did, it would be well for us to listen to Him.
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment [Mark 12:30]. By the way, do you keep this commandment, my friend? If you say that you don’t need Christ as a Savior, that you obey God, then I ask you this question, “Do you love God with all your heart and mind and soul?” If you don’t, then you are breaking His commandment and you need a Savior. I know I need a Savior. I don’t measure up here. I wish I did. I love Him but not as I should.
We find this is a constant warning—a warning against false Christs. Some may think that this is not a danger today. I think it is very pertinent right now. For example, the Christ of liberalism is an antichrist—he is not the real Christ! Some of you may think that they preach the Christ of the Bible. They do not.
My friend, may I say to you, none of us knows the depths of the human heart. Only the Word of God can let us see what sinners we are.
If we take the emphasis away from the Word of God, we can find that people get one problem solved with the help of the psychologist and come away with two more problems. Then the last estate of the man is worse than the first. Let’s be very clear. The only solution to a problem is the Lord. You don’t solve the problem so that you are enabled to go to the Lord. No, you go to the Lord and He is the chief and the great Physician. By the way, He is the great Psychologist and He alone knows us. In the final analysis, He is the only One.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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