Grace and peace to you Beloved in the name of Jesus Christ. What a great God our God is. What a joy it is to serve Him! What a privilege to worship the God of heaven and earth. (Ps.110:2-4, Dt.28:47, Ps.30:5, Rom.5:1-5, Jn.16:22, 15:11, I Pt.1:8-9, Ps.5:11, Ps.16:11, Heb.12:28)
Please open up your Bible to Mark chapter sixteen. Today is our final sermon in the book of Mark; seventy-three sermons in all. We began Sunday November 11, 2018. So, one year and ten months, something like that. What a wonderful book about our wonderful Savior. Hear the perfect word of our perfect God.
The appearance of Christ. Mark 16:14. Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen.
The commission of Christ. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 17 “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
The ascension of Christ. 19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.
The assistance of Christ. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. [And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. (Mt.16:14-18, Mk.16:14, Lk.24:36-49, Jn.20:19-23)
Please join me in prayer as we ask the Lord to bless our worship in His word today. My intention is to unpack the truth of V.15. Pray.
Beloved, I wonder what we think about our life? Why we have life? Why we were born? And especially why we were born again to Christ or in Christ? And I wonder what we think about the world? What is it? What about the people? Who are they? What are they? And where are they going?
Oh beloved, our passage answers all of these questions. The Lord of the harvest has called us to Himself. And now He has sent His workers out into His field. He will reap a wonderful harvest of souls one day. And He will use us to do it. All to His glory. And to our joy in His glory. (WSC 1, Mt.9:38, Lk.12:2, Rev.4:10, Jn.3:29)
Before we get to the sower or the field, let me start with the seed.
Jesus says, V.15. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
Divine religion. We sow the word of God.
We are to sow the word of God. We proclaim both the law of God and the gospel of God, the whole counsel of God. The faith that we share is a divine faith. It is from God. It is from the word of God, inspired by God the Holy Spirit.
Our holy religion is a propositional religion. Divine truths in words. In the preached word. Or in the written word. God reveals Himself to us savingly in His word. True Christianity is opposed to all forms of mysticism, some direct experience of God separated from the word of God. (Jn.17:1-17, Rom.10:1-17)
I want you to think of this.
The Christianity of the Bible is a historical faith, exclusive and unique. I do not merely mean that it has its roots in human history, that it is an ancient religion. Of course, it is. But other religions can also claim the same thing. Hinduism is an ancient religion. Islam is an ancient religion. If we go back into the annals of history, we can find countless men and women worshiping the sun, the moon, the stars, animals, bugs, and men. Paganism is an ancient religion. (Rom.1:18-32)
But unlike every other religion, the Bible claims exclusive rights to True Religion. The Bible says that only the God of the Bible is God. The Bible charges all other gods and all other religions are false and therefore offensive to the true God. (Isa.44:6-8, 45:5, Exod.20:1-20, 34:14, 2 Kg.19:15, Ps.86:10, Neh.9:6, I Cor.8:4, Jn.5:44, I Tim.1:17)
The Bible says that this one true and living God is Triune having three divine Persons in divine unity. God says that His Bible is His very word. (2 Tim.3:14-17) In His Bible God reveals what He requires us to believe about Him and what duty He requires of us. God reveals in His word the way in which He requires us to worship Him. (WCF 2.1-3, WCF 21.1-8)
Biblical Christianity is based on the truth of God’s word. Everything in the Bible is true. Beloved we are to sow the word of God. Spoken. And written. And which we adorn by our obedience to His word, living lives worthy of the gospel. (Mt.7:12-29, James 1:22-25, Titus 2:10, I Pt.3:3-4)
Gracious religion. We sow the Christ of God.
And the main message of the Bible is that God is sending His Son-Savior into the world to save sinners out of their sin and to be God’s beloved holy children as Christ refers to in V.15. (Gen.3:15, Jn.3:16, WSC 20, Col.1:13, Jn.1:10-13)
You remember the Risen Christ said this to the two dejected disciples on the Emmaus Road…
Luke 24:25. And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. (Jn.5:37-47)
God the Holy Spirit through the apostle Peter writes this…
I Peter 1: 10. As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven– things into which angels long to look. 13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Every other truth in the Bible in some way or another supports that message. So, a real Savior Christ. A real birth at Bethlehem. A real death at Calvary. A real resurrection in the garden tomb. A real ascension at the Mount of Olives. (Acts 1:9-12) Sinners that really come to believe in this Christ, we are really saved, made holy, adopted by God, and loved by God and we in turn love God. (I Jn.4:19, Rom.5:1-10, Eph.2:1-9) Truth. Facts.
Again, as Christ says in V.15 the main message we proclaim is the Good News of Christ crucified. (Acts 20:24-27, Mt.5:15-16, Rom.1:16, Ps.105:1, I Pt.3:15, I Cor.15:1-6, Lk.4:18, 2 Thess.2:14, Mk.8:35, Isa.12:4, Mt.4:17)
You see God’s Good News provides for Man’s bad news. That men are sinners and under the wrath and the curse of God. And that the wages of our sin is eternal death. This is what makes the good news so good. Christ takes the curse of God that we deserve upon the Cross of Calvary. He becomes accursed so that we might be forgiven and loved.
Psalm 32:1. A Psalm of David. A Maskil. How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, (Rom.4:7)
2 Corinthians 5:19. namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
There are other truths in the Bible. And we proclaim them. But we keep them in their right place. We keep the fundamentals of Christ and His cross fundamental. And we keep the secondary things secondary. Or at least we should.
Paul says, Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the Gospel, which is the message of the Cross. Christ saves sinners by His blood. (I Cor.1:17) Paul says that he glories only in the Cross. (Gal.6:11-18) And by faith in Him we are saved. (I Cor.15:1-6)
You see beloved it is a silly thing to fight with Christians over non-essentials of the faith. It is a waste of time. It does not build up. And it provokes us and them to sin. And it is silly and sinful to talk about non-essential things with unbelievers. It leaves them in their sin. It gives them the false view that the non-essential thing is the main thing. May Christ and His Cross be often on our lips.
Truth of Christ proved.
The historicity or the truthfulness of what we proclaim about Christ is seen in our text with the appearance of Christ, the commission of Christ, the ascension of Christ, and the ongoing internal spiritual assistance of Christ.
Think of what we have already been told.
The Bible says an important matter must be proved by two or three eyewitnesses. The Bible says over 500 people saw Christ rise from the dead. The Bible says the eleven apostles heard Christ give this great commission. These men watched Christ ascend into heaven in the clouds. They heard the angel say, Christ would come back the very same way. These men turned the whole world upside down by the preaching of Christ as He daily spiritually yet truly blessed their gospel work. Thousands were added to the church through their preaching. (I Cor.15:1-9, Acts 1:1-11, 17:6, 2:41, 4:4)
Beloved, we sow a true Christ and true gospel of salvation.
Now let’s address the people that Christ is calling to sow His gospel seed.
Of course, we know that Natural Man cannot receive the truth of God’s word. Natural man is dead in his sins and trespasses and at enmity with God. (Rom.8:7, I Cor.2:10-16, 2 Cor.2:14-17, Eph.2:1-9) So man left to himself does not believe in the true God or in His word or in His Christ.
But when we are born again by the Holy Spirit giving the gift of faith in Jesus, our eyes and mind and heart are open to the truth of Christ and we believe. The truth of God has set us free. (Jn.8:31-32, 3:16, 17:1-17, Rom.10:1-17, James 1:18, I Pt.1:20-25)
So true Believers sow the truth of Christ. A truth of Christ which only true Believers have. A truth of Christ that all unbelievers must have, or they will perish.
In the context of this passage this is His eleven apostle-disciples. So, all preacher-teachers are sowers of His word.
But we see that the women also sow the word. By way of application of this, all disciples of Christ are sowers of Christ.
Remember the holy angel, the holy messenger sent from God gave these women disciples of Jesus Christ an errand, a task to fulfill, go tell Christ’s disciples, His apostles, especially Peter, that Christ has risen from the dead just as He said that He would rise from the dead.
And that last part is very important. God wants His apostle-disciple-preachers, to believe that Jesus did exactly as Jesus said He would do. Christ’s word is always true because He is Truth Personified. (Mk.16:7)
V.14. Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen.
The Bible records that the apostles did not believe the eye-witness testimony of the women.
Believers that believe – to encourage the lowly.
A few things here. Holy angels are ministering spirits sent to render service to those who inherit salvation in Christ. (Heb.1:14) I wonder how many of us, in the path of Christian service have entertained angels without knowing it? (Heb.13:2-4, Jg.13:1-8)
What an amazing privilege to be a disciple of Christ and a servant of God. In Christ we belong to a great cloud of witnesses, angelic and human, that love and serve the Lord of Glory. (Heb.12:1, Heb.11:1-40, Rev.1:9, 6:11, 19:10, 22:9) Oh beloved, as Believers all of our lives have such purpose.
Who is to say in what ways the Lord uses you to build His kingdom? I am convinced we are mostly unaware of the deeds of love we do for Christ which please Him. On the Last Day, Jesus will say to you, well done My good and faithful servant, you gave Me a cup of cold water, you visited Me, you gave Me a kind word. And the righteous will say, when did we do these things Lord? He will say, whatever you said and did for My servants, you said and did for Me!
Oh beloved, we do not know. But Christ knows. And He is pleased with every token of faith and love that we extend to our fellow Believers in Jesus, for Jesus sake, even to those unbelievers that He will make Believers. (I Cor.15:58, Mt.25:14-46, Jn.13:34-35)
Christ equips all of His disciples to serve Him in whatever He has called us to, in extraordinary ways and in ordinary ways. Our God governs all His creatures and all their actions for His glory and for the good of His elect. (Titus 1:1)
The women disciples did believe that Jesus was raised from the dead because they saw the empty tomb and they heard and believed the testimony of the angel. The second thing we learn is that the women obeyed God’s servant. They did as they were told.
Oh beloved, I am convinced that the weaker and the lower ones of this world are often far more faithful to Christ and to God’s word than the ones with the higher calling and standing. (I Cor.1:20-31)
Let me clarify something. These women are not ordained commissioned preachers of the gospel. Christ only sends appointed men in the leadership teaching ministry of His church. But clearly Jesus uses these women believers as witnesses for Him. In a way, this was forecasted by God in the Psalms, believing women testifying of the One they loved.
Psalm 68:11. The Lord gives the command; The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host:
The same truth is seen with Miriam the sister of Moses. She along with the other believing women sang of the saving mercies and powers of God liberating God’s people from slavery. (Exod.15:20-22, I Pt.3:7)
Believers that did not believe – to correct the fleshly .
Christ’s appointed apostles did not believe He rose from the dead, even though He told them He would. And now even though an angel told these women He did. And that Christ specially wanted them to believe the testimony of the women.
Stop and think about that for a moment. We sometimes think the closer we are to an event the more likely something is to be true and therefore the more likely we would believe in that event. For example, if our father or grandfather saw John Wilkes Booth assassinate President Lincoln, we would believe them because we heard from a genuine eyewitness.
But spiritual things can only be received by spiritual men. And by spiritual men as they are walking by faith at that. The apostles were walking by sight at this time. Christ will correct them.
Christ then appears to His men Himself. These men, now, will also be eyewitnesses of the risen Christ. But we see that Jesus does rebuke them for their unbelief and hardness of heart. The fear of man choked out the fear of God. The fear of man choked out the fruits of their faith.
The notion is that they should have believed the word of God. And lived upon It. (Mt.4:4)
Here are the teachers and preachers of God’s word and we are told that at times they themselves did not believe; their faith failed them at times. Oh beloved, what lessons for all preachers and all Christian people. Sometimes real believers in Jesus do not put their faith in Jesus.
Sometimes real believers did not believe the word of God. I do not mean we lose our saving faith in the Savior. We do not. We cannot. But I do mean that sometimes we are like the father in Mark chapter nine when we are faced with overwhelming things, we can say, Lord I believe, help Thou my unbelief.
Ministers of God’s word and of Christ’s gospel especially need to learn this lesson for themselves. We need to learn that we often do not believe and obey God’s word so that when we teach others to believe and obey God’s word and they do not, that we have a common sympathy with them and understand their remaining weaknesses and sins. And we pray for ourselves and for them. And then press on in the work.
Experimental religion. We sow a personal faith.
Oh Beloved, I am not arguing that every Christian is an evangelist or a preacher-minister.
But every Christian is a witness. Every Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Every Christian knows Christ. Every Christian loves Christ as He is presented to us in the gospel. Every Believer is a little “t” teacher. We are all little “e” evangelists. We are the aroma of Christ. The believing grandmother and mother gave the gospel of Christ to their grandson and son Timothy, he in turn gives it to others. (2 Tim.1:5, 3:14-17)
We sow a personal faith. Here what the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to write…
2 Timothy 1:12. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
Christ in us comes out of us by our new words. We profess love to the One we once hated. Christ in us comes out of us in our new actions. Before we knew Christ, we lived in the dark tombs of our sins and raved and raged against God in our sin. Now in Christ, we are calm, clothed in our right mind, and we sit at the feet of Jesus wearing His yoke and learning of Him. (Mt.11:25-30, Mk.5:15-18)
Oh Beloved, we are new creatures in Christ. (2 Cor.5:17-21, I Cor.6:9-11) Christ coming to us in His gospel has changed us. In Christ we are no longer what we once were, liars, idolaters, unclean, immoral. Christ has washed us by His blood. (Rev.1:5-6, Rev.7:14, Heb.9:12-22, I Jn.1:7, Mt.26:28, Exod.12:13, Heb.13:20, I Pt.1:2, 19)
We are new in Him. Glory to God in the highest. Oh, how I want to shout, Hallelujah! This is the graced reflex or the response to saving faith in Jesus. We cannot help ourselves.
We are like Andrew, we run to our brother Simon and say, we have found the Christ! (Jn.1:41) Or should we say, Christ has found us. (Jn.4:21-26, Acts 9:15-17)
The same thing happened when Philip met Christ, afterwards he went running to his friend Nathanael and said, We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote– Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. (Jn.1:45)
As a mentioned the other day the early Puritans were also called “gospelers”, those who share the Good News of Jesus Christ with other people. God gives us, gifts us, the truth of Christ for us. And for us to give away. (I Cor.4:7) Christ Himself says to us, freely we have received, freely give away. (Mt.10:8)
The world is the field into which Jesus Christ sends us. All of the people of all of the world are our field. Look at what Christ says in our passage, verse 15, to all creation, to every creature, meaning all people. We are not to discriminate who we give the word of God and the gospel of Christ to. Now someone may say to me, well I thought you believed in predestination and election, so why do you not only witness to the elect? Well I do believe election. The Bible teaches it. But, I do not know who the elect are, so everyone gets the gospel! 🙂
We minister Christ to everyone, everyone, everyone. (Mt.28:19-20, Acts 13:47, Rev.5:9, Gen.22:18, Mt.24:14) Listen to how Paul states this.
I Corinthians 9:18. What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. 19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
Evangelical religion. We sow a ubiquitous faith.
The God who has set us free by His truth sends us out into the world to scatter the gospel seed of Christ wherever we go. As the word of Christ was given to us, we now in turn give it to others.
The Biblical Christian faith is an evangelical religion.
Some people say, well the apostle Peter says we are to tell people about Jesus IF they ask us about Jesus. (I Pt.3:15-17) YES! But they go on to say, well that means we should not tell them about Jesus unless and until they ask us. NO!
Peter is saying be prepared to minister the gospel of Jesus, be ready. He is not nullifying the great commission. Christ gives a command, go make disciples of the nations. (Mt.28:18-20) This is proactive. Tell people about Jesus when they ask. Tell people about Jesus when they don’t ask.
If you had the cure for cancer you would not be mute until someone asked you. Did you wait until your children asked you about Jesus before you told them about Jesus? Of course not. Plus, we tell people things all day every day before they ask us. That’s the beauty of the internet! 🙂
God has not given us His beloved Son that we would hide Him under a basket. (Mt.5:13-16) Beloved remember the man that buried the gospel talent in the ground and did not use if for God. (Lk.19:20-27, Mt.25:14-30) Remember the warning of Jesus that if we are ashamed to confess Him before men then He will be ashamed to confess us before the Father. (Mt.10:32-33)
Jesus commands us…
Matthew 10:26. Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.
Once a man or a woman receives the Light and the Life and the Love of Christ, we cannot keep Him to ourselves. Christ in us comes out of us. (Gal.2:20)
Every human being has an eternal soul. They will spend eternity in one of two places. Either suffering under God’s offended justice as God’s enemies. Or rejoicing in the love and friendship of God as His beloved children reconciled in Christ. And the difference occurs as they either reject or receive the gospel of Christ, the gospel that we give them. (Jn.3:16, 36)
And that is our blessed work Beloved, to tell people about the love and mercy and forgiveness of God found in Christ.
And we are aware that Christ has sent us out into a present evil age, a world under the sway of the prince of darkness, to a people that are not willing to hear the message of our Christ. (Gal.1:4, I Jn.5:19, Eph.2:13)
But our God can make them willing. And He does. God the Holy Spirit accompanies our gospel work to the salvation of souls. (WCF 10.1-4)
What glorious work beloved telling fellow sinners and saints about Christ.
- Why do we as Believers get joy out of God getting glory? What are some ways that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is honored in the world for which you rejoice? (WSC 1, Mt.9:38, Lk.12:2, Rev.4:10, Jn.3:29)
- We sow the word of God in the world, in spoken and written words. How does Christianity of divine propositional truth differ from paganism or mysticism? (Jn.17:1-17, Rom.10:1-17, 2 Tim.3:14-17, Col.2:6-23, Rom.1:18-32)
- We sow an exclusive religion about an exclusive God. What does God teach about Himself by this? What does God teach about other gods and other religions by this? (Isa.44:6-8, 45:5, Exod.20:1-20, 34:14, 2 Kg.19:15, Ps.86:10, Neh.9:6, I Cor.8:4, Jn.5:44, I Tim.1:17)
- In your own words, what is the gospel? The gospel is the main message of the Bible, how does this inform the ministry of preacher-teachers? What are some secondary truths in the Bible? How can we sometimes minimize the major message of the Bible and maximize the secondary things of the Bible? With Believers? With unbelievers? (Gen.3:15, Jn.3:16, WSC 20, Acts 1:9-12, I Jn.4:19, Rom.5:1-10, Eph.2:1-9Acts 20:24-27, Mt.5:15-16, Rom.1:16, Ps.105:1, I Pt.3:15, I Cor.15:1-6, Lk.4:18, 2 Thess.2:14, Mk.8:35, Isa.12:4, Mt.4:17, I Cor.1:17, Gal.6:11-18, I Cor.15:1-6)
- Who are the people that sow God’s word and Christ’s gospel? Do unbelievers? Why? Why not? Do all Believers? Or only some Believers? Why? Why not? (Rom.8:7, I Cor.2:10-16, 2 Cor.2:14-17, Eph.2:1-9, Jn.8:31-32, 3:16, 17:1-17, Rom.10:1-17, James 1:18, I Pt.1:20-25)
- What is the ministry of holy angels? What do we learn by this? What do we learn by their ministry to the women disciples of Jesus at the empty tomb of Jesus? And giving the directive to the women? (Heb.1:14, Heb.13:2-4, Jg.13:1-8, Mk.16:1-13, Heb.12:1, Heb.11:1-40, Rev.1:9, 6:11, 19:10, 22:9, Ps.68:11, Exod.15:20-22, I Pt.3:7)
- What lessons do we learn by the eleven apostles not believing the words of the women? (Mk.16:14)
- In what way is sowing our faith in Christ sowing an intensely personal faith? What must it be personal first before it can be sown? (2 Tim.1:5, 3:14-17, 2 Tim.1:12, Mt.11:25-30, Mk.5:15-18, Jn.1:41, Jn.1:45, I Cor.4:7, Mt.10:8, I Cir.6:9-11)
- What does it mean that Biblical Christianity is an evangelical religion?
- Are there some people that we should not give the gospel to? Why? Why not? Should we give the gospel to everyone? Why? Why not? (Mt.5:13-16, Gal.2:20, Rom.3:9-18, Rom.6:23,Jn.3:16, 36, Rom.10:1-17, Mt.28:19-20, Acts 13:47, Rev.5:9, Gen.22:18, Mt.24:14).
- Interact with I Corinthians 9:18-23.