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Q&A: Mark 1

Questions and Answers on Mark 1

Bruce Stanley

February 5, 2023

On your Mark...

Mark 1 - a new series!

Here are some brief answers to our questions from our Sunday evening service. If you would like to discuss more, please call me or email:

1. John preached a baptism of repentance, were there other types of baptism happening? Was baptism a common thing of the times?

Maybe and maybe not.

it seems probable that Baptism was a practice for Gentiles joining the Jewish faith, perhaps even before Jesus' time. So John's Baptism was very different, as he was baptising Gentiles AND Jews. For a Jew to be baptised - for repentance and forgiveness - this was certainly a new thing. And they were not being baptised by John into the "Jewish faith" - this was certainly something different.

2. How do we know we have truly converted away from the world and into the kingdom of God?

Have you prayed and given your life to Jesus? Have you made the decision to call him King of your life? If so, then he has given you th3 gift of His Holy Spirit who is at work in you. This means we have engaged in battle! We are people of the kingdom of God living in the kingdom of the world. And so we will not finish struggling until we reach heaven. To live with both feet in the kingdom of heaven means to continue to struggle aginst the kingdom of the world. If you have "truly converted", it means you have joined the struggle. If you're still struggling against the world, that's a good sign that you are living with both feet in the kingdom!

3. Where are all the demon possessed today?

Everywhere! In many places. Perhaps it is not something many of us might see or experience, but Satan still does work in this way to hold people captive. And although I have seen and heard of this many times in Australia, it perhaps is not as common because we in the western world are more held captive by the gods of money and power and appearance. So what need does Satan have for demon possession? We are already a society held captive by these false gods.

Demon possession is a considerable spiritual area for discussion and should be discussed thoughtfully and carefully. Too often people have been labelled as "demon-possessed" by those who do not understand other medical conditions. But yes, demon possession does happen. Perhaps not so much in our western world circles.

4. Does God Ever Change His Mind?

Thanks for allowing me to defer this question to the written answers. It's a different topic from Mark 1, but also an important question.

I have provided a link below which is more thorough in the treatment of this important question. However, as a way of giving a very simple answer: God brings mercy and judgment. This is conditional. As sinful people, we are marked for destruction because of our sin. However, in God's kindness, IF we turn to him, God will show us mercy and rescue us. He will "change his mind" for our salvation according to our response to him. But this is in line with his character. This is not a human-like "I can't decide" change of mind. As James says:

James 1:17

17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

God "changes his mind" in line with his promises. In a way, we could say that God promises to "change his mind" on certain things. But he does not change his character and he is not "unpredictable".

Here is the article - it is very helpful and uses God's mercy on Ninevah (book of Jonah) as an example:

Got Questions link here

5. reMARKable Sermon Bruce!

Touche! I've marked that one down. <insert funny gif here>

6. 'find your satisfaction in God and His kingdom' - what does that look like if you're in an all consuming job - eg. Doctor.

I think a helpful way to think about this is in terms of your contentment. Contentment brings satisfaction in God. Paul writes in Philippians 4:12-13

Philippians 4:12-13

12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Contentment is the recognition that you do not need any more than what God has provided you. If we are always seeking to climb the ladder or make more money, or be more influential or powerful, we should ask ourselves "Why am I not content with where God has placed me?" Paul found that by being content with his God-given situation, no matter what happened he was satisfied. And because of that, God was able to use him in even more powerful and amazing ways. Any job can be consuming. But God's desire is for us to be consumed with him and his will for our life. Do you recognise that God has placed you where you are for a reason?

7. Mark 1:2 “as it is written in Isaiah” but then quotes Malachi 3:1 before Isaiah 40:3 - I’m not sure which book was first, but did they reference each other?

I agree with Paul Barnett on this - in his commentary, he suggests that Isaiah was noted (and not Malachi) as Isaiah was the "bigger" prophet - the one everyone would have recognised quite easily (Jews at least). As Barnett says "Isaiah came first, is much longer and was more famous" (page 22 of Barnett's "Mark, the Servant King" 2011 edition). Isaiah would have been well known to later prophets such as Malachi.

8. Jesus’ blood covers our sin. For those who were born before he came, can they be covered by his blood?

Yes. And in fact they are. Even those who put their trust in the one true God, Yahweh, the Lord God, those who lived by the sacrificial system... they are still forgiven and have their sins covered by the blood of Jesus.
Hebrews 10 is helpful to read. In brief:

Hebrews 10:10

10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

This means that all those who followed the Old Testament (Old Covenant) faith and lived by the law and sacrificial system - all those sacrifices are a shadow of the sacrifice of Jesus. They pointed towards Jesus. So Jesus; sacrifice "fulfilled" the law.

This is why Hebrews 12 calls Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith:

Hebrews 12:2

2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

In other words, Jesus is the one who fulfils all the sacrificial transactions of the Old Covenant. The law was a promise that one day an actual worthy sacrifice would actually pay for all their sins. In the same way, today, those of us who live AFTER Jesus have had our sins already paid for by Him on the cross. The cross of Jesus was the pivot point in history where the transaction for sins took place, once and for all.

9. What shampoo does Bruce use

Pantene. thanks for asking!

10. Can I bring Snack Sunday stuff in next week?

Not really. But it's OK - nothign to fear! Snack Sunday happens on the first Sunday of every month! And a big thanks to all who brought in snacks for the weeks ahead!

11. Did the fishermen know of Jesus's reputation before they decided to follow him?

I think they did. Jesus was John the Baptist's second cousin. They knew each other. Same age. And probably had a lot of friends and followers in common. I imagine Jesus was quite well-known to many. But it wasn't until John was imprisoned that Jesus' official ministry began. Hence he then called around to the disciples he had been planning to recruit for these 3 years of ministry.

12. Wondering if the practice of baptism was newly introduced by John to Israelis who had ever not done that?

Please see the question and answer for #1 - basically, Gentiles seem to have been baptised into the Jewish faith, possibly before Jesus' time. But Jews (from the tribe of Judah in Israel) would not have been baptised. This baptism of John's was new to them. It was also a baptism of repentance for forgiveness.

13. 'two feet in the kingdom of God' - I justify one foot in the world by wanting to be understood in order to be 'winsome'... 'in the world, not of it." Help?

Yes - I know what you mean. The question is, where is our heart? Do we need to LOVE wealth so we can talk to the wealthy? Do we need to LOVE power to talk to people of power? Things like wealth and power - the idols of this world - should be our slaves and not our masters if we are "kingdom of heaven" people. With both feet in the kingdom, we can still relate to the world. Jesus showed us that. The worry is when we justify our love of the worldly kingdom for the purpose of winning others. Living in the kingdom of the world with both feet planted in the kingdom of heaven is not easy. We must always watch where our real focus lies.

This warning from Jesus reminds us that it really depends on what we LOVE, not what we HAVE:

Matthew 6:24

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

What do you love?

(Thanks for this very honest question - it is and should be a struggle to balance this if we are serious about reaching the world for Jesus)

Click here to watch the questions answered during our live Q&A after the sermon at night church last Sunday.

Q & A is from 1:13:20

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