This week I begin an online class focused on the Gospel of Mark. Head, heart, hands. Lessons to be learned, emotions to be explored, applications that require action. I hope you can be present. If not, I hope you will view the video studies.
A primary concern in Mark's gospel is faith. Mark addresses the tension between fear and faith. We have not read carefully; we have read so quickly and so often that we do not notice. "Repent and believe." Our order is not normal. What can we learn? Mark shows that faith is required for discipleship. Disciples know who Jesus is. Disciples develop faith -- not just believing that God exists, but understanding who God is. Not just accepting the story of Jesus, but life changing faith. Confidence and conviction. What is unseen, what is hoped for. A foundational point for beginning a study of Mark is to consider the nature of biblical faith.
Do you ever have trouble believing? Do you ever doubt? Some would affirm that genuine questioning or doubt is the beginning of faith. Some affirm that no faith is possible without first going through the process of questioning, asking, inquiring. How can one develop faith without going through the faith development process? How is faith developed? What does mature faith look like? Important questions.
But the ultimate question of Mark's gospel, as of all of the gospels, is this: Do you believe?
I would be the first to admit that belief is not easy in our world. When things seem to get worse and worse...when Christian values are threatened...efforts continue to remove religion from the public conversation...Christian faith moved to the private arena, thus made subjective and relative.
This is a sermon about faith. I want to introduce you to the Gospel of Mark -- a gospel of faith. The ministry of Jesus in Mark can be outlined in three acts -- the foundation of faith (who Jesus is, Chapters 1-4), beginning steps of faith (who can be a disciple of Jesus, 5:1-8:21), and faith of discipleship (who can see, 8:22-10:52).
I could choose any one of several amazing stories in the first four chapters, or of the developing discipleship stories in the next four chapters. I have chosen a text in Mark 5 about a woman of faith and a little girl who died.
We must learn the alphabet of faith.
What is faith?
Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it (Heb. 11:1). Confidence and conviction, about what we hope for and about what we cannot see. God is, God rewards diligent seekers (Heb. 11:6).
Faith is more than believing. Faith is more than mental assent. Faith is not just believing in the power, faith is hooking up to the power. Faith hooks up. Faith has confidence suffient to put down full weight.
Faith is not just affirming that God exists. "I believe in God." This has become an impotent phrase in our society. I believe in God. What does that mean? What does that mean to you? Do you believe? What is the faith required for discipleship?
I. Do you believe that Jesus can ACCEPT you?
II. Do you believe that Jesus wants to BLESS you?
III. Do you believe that Jesus can CHANGE you?
IV. Do you believe Jesus can DELIVER you?
V. Do you believe Jesus can ESTABLISH you firm in faith?
VI. Do you believe that Jesus can FORGIVE you?
Jesus is our own hope. Let us accept his blessing, be changed. Let us believe his deliverance to establish us firm. Above all, let us believe his forgiveness so that we grow up in him. The faith that characterizes a disciple.
Is this your faith? Discipleship -- baptizing and teaching to obey.
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