What In The World Is Going On?

What in the world is going on?

We are halfway through the year and already 2020 is one for the history books. In the past six months, our country has dealt with the tragic death of a sports star, a worldwide pandemic, economic upheaval, massive protests and civil unrest. And to make it even more interesting, over the next several months, we will observe and participate in a contentious presidential election.

Adding to this chaos, on a couple of occasions over the past few months, news broke that can literally be categorized as ‘otherworldly.’ First of all, on April 29th the Pentagon released videos of apparent UFOs (“Pentagon officially releases UFO videos”). This further supported what some already claim to be true – the existence of alien lifeforms. And then, a few weeks later, news headlines noted that scientists detected an alternative parallel universe (“Scientists may have spotted signs of a parallel universe where time runs backward.”).

So, what in the world is going on? And – just perhaps – there is more to this world than what meets the eye!

While many may doubt the validity of these particular reports, the Bible does affirm the reality of what some refer to as ‘the paranormal.’ All throughout the Scriptures, the existence of a spiritual dimension with spiritual entities is assumed. And as physicists utilize the string theory in attempt to detect and describe these hidden dimensions, the Bible has already declared several truths about the spiritual world that exists alongside our physical world.

1. IT IS REAL. The spiritual dimension truly exists. It exists, because God willed it into existence. Colossians 1:16 specifically identifies Jesus as its Creator, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” This verse tells us that Jesus created the invisible world and all the entities – every angelic being, both good and evil – that exists within it.

Ever since the creation of Creation, the spiritual realm has existed in the midst of the rest of the world. And, even though tangible evidence is impossible to attain, the Bible contains many eyewitness reports of its reality. In 2 Kings 6, the prophet Elisha found himself surrounded by his enemy’s army, chariots, and horses. Upon the prophet’s servant seeing the forces that had gathered to confront his master, the text states that “Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17). Elisha’s servant was privileged that day to observe what was going on simultaneously in the spiritual dimension. And what he witnessed – a massive angelic army – gave him great encouragement and comfort in an otherwise troubling time.

The spiritual world is just as real today in 2020. Now, while it cannot be observed on demand, it needs to be recognized as a highly active dimension of reality. And as the physical world appears to be spinning out of control, one wonders what is occurring right now in the invisible realm. If God were to grant us spiritual eyes to see, I believe we – just like Elisha’s servant – would be blown away.

2. IT IS A BATTLEFIELD. While we cannot ‘see’ what is happening in this dimension, the Bible depicts the spiritual world as a place of conflict. At the beginning of Daniel 10, the Old Testament saint, Daniel, found himself deeply troubled upon receiving a prophetic vision. After three weeks of seeking the vision’s meaning through fasting and prayer, Daniel was visited by a glorious heavenly figure who comforted and assisted him in understanding its significance. And, while speaking to Daniel, this majestic being also revealed that his arrival would have come sooner, however, “the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood (him) twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help (him)” (Daniel 10:13). His delay was not caused by a human monarch. Instead, this verse indicates that Daniel’s heavenly visitor was temporarily blocked by an evil angel – a powerful demon – and only with the assistance of God’s archangel Michael was he able to reach Daniel and minister to him.

The Apostle Paul was well aware of the spiritual world’s combative nature. And, in Ephesians 6:12, he informed his Christian readers that they too were engaged in its battle, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” This knowledge reoriented his reader’s mindset. No longer were they to be completely consumed with the physical world and its happenings. Now they were to give greater consideration to the spiritual realities that existed in the midst of and oftentimes deeply influenced and interfered with their world.

The same spiritual war spoken of throughout the Bible continues on today in 2020. In the remainder of Ephesians 6, Christians are instructed to put on spiritual armor that will protect them from their dark and evil enemies. What is interesting, however, is that in verse 17, Paul identifies the believer’s only offensive weapon as “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The only tool able to attack and make progress in this ongoing spiritual war are the Scriptures. Therefore, facemasks, pithy tweets, political power, and other worldly devices not based upon the Bible are rendered useless in this battle. It is only when Christians proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and present – with both their words and deeds – the Truth of the Scriptures, will they be able to “destroy strongholds…(and) arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

3. IT IS RULED BY JESUS. The Bible is emphatic about the authority of Jesus Christ. And, specifically, it declares that not only is Jesus the Creator of the spiritual realm, but that he is also its Lord. Matthew 28:18 affirms this truth when it quotes Jesus telling his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” With this merism, “heaven and earth,” Jesus declared that his authority is absolute. There is not a square inch of creation nor a dimension that string theorists have uncovered (or even yet to discover!) that escapes his complete reign and rule. As the psalmist acknowledges in Psalm 103:19, “The LORD has establish his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.”

Jesus’ absolute authority is clearly and continually attested to throughout the Gospels. In Mark 1:21-28, Jesus found himself teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath. And as he proclaimed and presented ‘the sword of the Spirit’, Jesus became engaged in a spiritual battle. As he preached the Bible, the text states that “a man with an unclean spirit…cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:23-24). This demon, who resided within this Synagogue attendee, obviously became disturbed by the presence and preaching of Jesus. It recognized Jesus’ authority and feared for its ‘well-being.’ And then, in a move even more astonishing, Jesus exercised his power over the evil spirit by simply ordering it to leave, “But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him” (vv. 25-26). With a word, the Bible says Jesus created the spiritual realm. And, with his word, this passage shows that Jesus completely rules over it as well.

As we observe our chaotic world and wonder, “what is going on?!?”, we need to recognize that there truly is more to it than what meets the eye. There is a spiritual dimension that influences and interferes with what we can see. There is a spiritual realm where spiritual entities battle over good and evil. And there is a spiritual reality that is engaged every time we proclaim and present the Truth of God’s Word.

So, as we enter into the second half of 2020, it is all too important to know and keep in mind that ultimately Jesus is in absolute control. His powerful rule and permanent reign will continue to extend over every aspect of creation, over every created thing, over every dimension of reality, over every alternative parallel universe, and even over every alien… Well, that is, if they truly exist!

“How Long, O LORD?”

Empty Church

This past weekend, several churches in Metro Detroit and Michigan ‘reopened’ in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Their reemergence after two months of quarantine, however, occurred in the midst of legal ambiguity. Section 2 of the governor’s recent executive order requires Michiganders to remain at home. Section 16 of the same order states that places of worship and worshipers who engage in formal services will not be penalized. So, while mandating church-goers to stay home, the executive order also states that they will not be fined for going to church. Those local churches forging ahead with in-person gatherings advance a set of questions that the rest of the Christian community in Michigan have been struggling to answer. In particular, when are churches biblically permitted to reopen? Should they take advantage of this vague allowance and immediately resume their ministries or continue to patiently wait for the quarantine to be clearly lifted?

In 1 Samuel 13, the first king of Israel, Saul, found his nation on the brink of war with the Philistines. In verse eight, the text indicates that earlier Samuel, a prophet of God, instructed King Saul to wait seven days for his arrival before taking any action against his enemy.  Samuel planned on leading Israel in a time of worship – to offer a burnt sacrifice – before their battle.  After seven days, however, Samuel remained away and the king found his peoples’ fears rising.  Then, in verse nine, King Saul’s patience ran out when he took matters into his own hands and performed the sacrifice without Samuel.  As the offering concluded, Samuel suddenly returned and confronted the king.  King Saul justified his presumptuous actions by explaining that, after the allotted time and noticing his people’s escalated fears, he had to do something!  The king’s explanation did not satisfy the prophet.  In verses 13 and 14, Samuel chastised King Saul for being impatient by saying, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue…”  King Saul’s impatience and preemptive sacrifice was not a simple slight against Samuel, but an egregious sin against God. And it ended up costing Saul his right to the throne.

Not just in times of peace, but also in the midst of pandemics, the Bible instructs Christians to respect, pray for, and listen to their civil leaders (except when civil obedience violates biblical obedience). Specifically, the Apostle Paul instructed his readers in Romans 13:1 to “be subject to the governing authorities.”  This command was originally issued to the Christians living in Rome around A.D. 57.  They found themselves living under the rule and authority of the notorious Emperor Nero, who later initiated a great persecution of them.  Paul’s command is also directed at Christians currently living in Michigan.  They find themselves living under the rule and authority of the governor, Gretchen Whitmer, who issued the Executive Order mentioned above.  In obedience to Romans 13:1, Michigan Christians find themselves compelled to submit to her mandate to stay home.

After two months of quarantine many Christians and churches in Michigan are running out of patience.  More than a reasonable amount of time has passed and people are becoming increasingly anxious not just about the economy but also their constitutional rights.  And, just like King Saul, many within the Christian community are feeling the need to rise up and do something!  Other than exercising their civil rights by respectfully expressing their beliefs and feelings to their leaders through letters, peaceful protests, and other legal means, perhaps the best thing for Michigan Christians and churches to do right now is continue to be patient and obey.  This is what they have been called by God ‘to do.’  By continuing to wait and obey the Bible, Michigan Christians and churches have an opportunity to express their trust – not in their political leaders – but ultimately in God! 

Several times throughout the Bible, the writers of Scripture cry out, “How long, O LORD?” (see Psalm 13:1; Habakkuk 1:2; and Revelation 6:10).  Many Michiganders right now are asking God that same question.  His answer so far is “not yet.”  In the meantime, however, God is not letting this pandemic go to waste.  He is clearly cultivating the spiritual fruit of patience within His people, as well as, perhaps testing their faithfulness to His Word. 

One day (and hopefully soon!), the quarantine will be lifted and churches across Michigan will reopen and resume their ministries.  But that day is not the day that Christians and churches ought to be ultimately looking forward to.  One day, Jesus Christ will descend from heaven and gather unto himself all of God’s people so that they “will always be with the Lord” forevermore (1 Thessalonians 4:17).  That day is the day that every Christian’s heart truly longs for.  And until that day, God’s Word commands Christians and churches everywhere to simply be patient and obey.

The Gospel’s Scope


Around 401 A.D. a 16 year old young man was taken captive by barbarian pirates and carried off to Ireland.  There he was forced to work on a farm as a day laborer and a shepherd.  About six years after being kidnapped, the young man escaped and return home.  Upon his return, however, he became burdened to go back to Ireland.  He desired to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with his captors.  This young man, who later on in history came to be known as Saint Patrick, then traveled back to Ireland, told his former enemies about the person and work of Jesus Christ, and in the process played a major role in the transformation of that particular society.

The Gospel’s scope is very particular.  It is intended for and directed at a very specific person.  Mark 2:13-17 identifies who that person is.  This account begins with Jesus and a crowd of his followers taking a stroll along the Sea of Galilee’s shoreline.  Verse 14 reports that during their walk they came upon “Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth.”  Levi would have been immediately known to the crowd that was following Jesus.  First of all, in being a tax collector, Levi was a known traitor.  He was employed by Israel’s foreign overlords, the Roman Empire.  It was his job to collect taxes from his countrymen and send them to Caesar.  Secondly, Levi was known as an extortionist.  In collecting taxes, he also had to make a living.  Any additional finances that he was able to secure from his fellow Israelites turned into his income.  This was Levi’s reputation.  He was a known sinner.  And in verse 15 Jesus surprised the crowd by doing the unthinkable.  He invited this known sinner to be one of his disciples.  The text reports that Levi took advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity and immediately accepted Jesus’ personal invitation.

This is the scope of the Gospel.  The Gospel is for known sinners.  It is intended for people who the Bible identifies as God’s “enemies” and “children of wrath” (Rom. 5:10; Eph. 2:3).  This truth compelled Patrick to return to Ireland in order to tell the Good News to sinners who he personally knew – his former captors.  This truth inspires missionaries around the world who desire to see known sinners transformed by the person and work of Jesus Christ.  This truth also ought to motivate Christians to walk across the street and share the Gospel with their neighbors.

Levi was blown away by Jesus’ invitation.  Out of a deep sense of gratitude, he threw a huge party in Jesus’ honor.  At this party, Jesus befriended Levi’s colleagues and friends – other known sinners.  To say the least, the religious leaders took exception to Jesus’ attendance and involvement at party.  Upon learning of their disgust, Jesus poignantly responded in verse 17 by saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  In the first part of his reply, Jesus stated the obvious.  Only those who are sick go to the doctor.  It is then in the second half of his response that Jesus used this logic to identify himself and his mission.  Just as the sick are in need of a doctor, sinners are in need of a savior.  With this reasoning, Jesus identified himself as the savior of sinners and, hence, justified his participation at Levi’s party.

Jesus came to save sinners.  That was the scope of his mission.  But even more specifically, Jesus came to save those who recognize their own sinfulness.  Everyone at Levi’s party was well aware of their own reputation.  Jesus was well aware of their reputation too.  That is why he was there.  He was there to save them.  Levi’s house that night resembled a hospital, where the sick had come to see the doctor.  Jesus arrived that night with the intention to heal them.

This Gospel is for known sinners.  But even more specifically, the Gospel is for those who recognize their own sinfulness.  Only when an individual comes to terms with his depravity can the Gospel truly begin to take root and exert its influence.  Throughout history, God has utilized people who recognized that they are nothing more than sinners who are in desperate need of a savior. The Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15 affirmed his depravity and Jesus’ deliverance when he said, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”  Saint Patrick too expressed an identical mindset.  The first line of his autobiography reads, “I am Patrick, a sinner, most uncultivated and least of all the faithful and despised in the eyes of many.”  This is the beginning of the Gospel.  With this perspective in place, God is able to transform sinners into saints and, perhaps even, whole societies too while He’s at it!

The Transforming Gospel


The late Charles Colson was notorious for being President Nixon’s “hatchet man,” “a dirty tricks artist,” and for his involvement in the Watergate scandal.  But later on in life, he became primarily known for founding Prison Fellowship, an outreach to inmates, as well as, Breakpoint ministries, a popular weekly radio broadcast.  What caused this radical transformation in Colson’s life was the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel is a powerful and transforming reality.  When an individual hears and embraces the Good News about Jesus Christ, their life is immediately and eternally changed.  This Truth is apparent in Mark 2:1-12.  Through Jesus’ interaction with a paralytic, this man’s life was spiritually and physically transformed.

Mark 2 begins with Jesus preaching to a mass of people that swarmed upon the disciple’s house where he was staying.  At this same time verse 3 reports that a group of men carried a paralytic to this house with the hopes of Jesus healing their friend.  Unfortunately, due to the crowd, they were prohibited from getting inside.  Determined to reach Jesus, they made their way to the roof.  There a hole was created big enough for the four men to lower the paralytic down into the house and into the immediate presence of Jesus.  It is at this moment in the paralytic’s life when he was powerfully transformed.

Upon seeing the situation unfold in front of him and being impressed by the men’s faith, verse 5 records that Jesus simply turned to the paralytic and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  With this straightforward comment, this cripple’s life was transformed spiritually.  In that exact moment he went from being a sinner, who was a child of wrath, into a forgiven saint, who is a child of God.

God’s transformation originates in the spiritual realm. Specifically, in order for true personal transformation to occur, sin needs to be eliminated.  This can only occur through a individual’s faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to “take away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29).  The Scriptures declare that those who believe in this Gospel are indeed “a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

After spiritually transforming the paralytic, Jesus sensed the religious leaders criticizing the legitimacy of his actions.  In order to verify his claims, Jesus responded in verses 10 and 11 by countering, “‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ – he said to the paralytic – ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.'”  With this straightforward comment, the paralytic was transformed physically.  In that exact moment he went from being a cripple, who was dependent upon others, into a healthy and active individual, who could take care of himself and even others.

Spiritual transformation always manifests itself.  Those individuals who hear and embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ; their lives – in some way, shape, or form – will come to express their faith.  This is trajectory of every believer.  Christians will be transformed physically.  Romans 8:29 states that Christians are currently being “conformed to the image” of Jesus Christ.  As sin is identified and removed, new Christlike traits are applied and cultivated in believers’ lives.  The following verse, Romans 8:30, furthers this Truth and states that Christians are destined for glory.  All believers will be resurrected from the dead in the future.  And just like the paralytic, all evidences of sin will be removed at this time and their physical bodies will be transformed and made imperishable, glorious, and powerful (See 1 Cor. 15:42-29).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful and transforming.  It transforms individuals both spiritually and physically.  As the Gospel removes sin and molds people’s lives into the image of Jesus Christ, others will take notice.  And as with the paralytic, people will notice their transformation, be amazed, and say “we never saw anything like this” (v. 12).


The Gospel Demonstrated


Many people are oblivious to the Gospel.  They are not knowledgeable of the Good New’s content nor are they aware of its relevancy.  As a result, the Gospel is absent in many forums and, even when present, it is often misunderstood or goes unnoticed.

In Mark 1:40-45 a report is given detailing Jesus’ healing of a leper.  Through their interaction, the Gospel is applied to this outcast’s situation and demonstrated in a very powerful way.

The Gospel presentation begins in verse 40 with the leper’s request to Jesus, “If you will, you can make me clean.”  This desperate appeal is based upon two realities.  First of all, the leper affirmed his sorry state.  He recognized that he was ‘unclean’ and could not remedy his own situation.  The second reality that the leper recognized was that Jesus was capable of saving him from his horrendous condition.  With these two matters in mind, the leper humbly approached Jesus with his bold request.

The leper’s request demonstrates the beginning of the Gospel.  The Gospel begins to take root in the life of the person who recognizes that he is a sinner and in desperate need of a savior.  In some ways it could be said that the Good News actually begins with bad news for mankind.  As Romans 3:23-24 affirms, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  The person who accepts the reality of his own sinful depravity and Jesus’ redemption is primed for the Gospel.

The Gospel was further demonstrated in Jesus’ powerful response to the leper’s request.  In verse 41 Jesus’ love was put on full display when he reached out, touched the outcast’s unclean skin, and healed him.  With this shocking gesture, Jesus sacrificed his status of being ‘clean’ in order to cure this desperate man kneeling before him.

Jesus’ response to the leper’s request reveals the heart of the Gospel.  Jesus’ love for God’s people was demonstrated perfectly when he assumed their depravity and died on the cross for all of their sins.  As 1 Peter 2:24 declares, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed.” At the core of the Gospel is Jesus’ sacrificial love.  Through his death, God’s people have been saved from their sinfulness and made clean.

Instead of obeying Jesus’ instruction in verse 43 to remain quiet, the healed man disobeyed by telling everyone what happened to him.  His excitement drew so much attention that Jesus was forced out of the towns he desired to ministered in.  This final remark states that Jesus and the leper had literally switched places.  Jesus, who was ministering in towns and villages, was cast out to the “desolate places” (v. 45).  And the leper, who was an outcast, was healed and welcomed back into society.

The conclusion of Jesus’ interaction with the leper beautifully demonstrates the result of the Gospel.  Jesus and God’s people have switched places.  Jesus left God his Father, lived a life of perfect righteousness, yet died a sinners death.  On the other hand, God’s people were depraved sinners, yet made righteous and reconciled to God through Jesus’ substitutionary atonement on the cross.  This is the Truth that 2 Corinthians 5:21 proclaims, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

The Good News is apparent in this account.  Through Jesus’ interaction with the leper, the Gospel was demonstrated in a very powerful way.  One cannot read this report and overlook the message that it proclaims.  Through Jesus death, sinners are forgiven and made righteous.

Jesus’ Resolve

32f2a485c5ea6ba4e7ab9747b8e20dd6Many people lack resolve.  Their lives fail to demonstrate a sustained sense of ambition or direction.  When difficulties arise, they readily succumb to the hardship standing in their way.  And when distractions pop up, they are all too easily amused and diverted from accomplishing their goals.  As a result, their lives quickly pass them by and are essentially wasted.

In Mark 1:38, Jesus demonstrated great resolve.  In this verse, Jesus makes clear to the disciples his determination to proclaim the Gospel, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mark 1:38).  This statement more than likely caught Jesus’ followers off guard.  The previous evening Jesus had an incredible night of ministry exorcising demons from the oppressed and healing the sick.  Jesus’ disciples more than likely believed he was ready and primed to do it again the next day.  He was not.  As his statement in verse 38 reveals, Jesus had in mind other things that he needed to accomplish.  He needed to preach the Gospel.

Jesus’ resolve stemmed from the time that he regularly spent with God his Father.  Earlier that day, verse 35 reports that Jesus got up “early in the morning…went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”  Through his intimate conversation with God, Jesus was able to remain focused on the mission that his Father had given him to complete.  Jesus’ resolve to do God’s will and speak His word is also revealed in John 12:49 when he said, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak.”  As the Gospels make clear, this commandment directed every aspect of Jesus’ life and ministry.

People who regularly spend time with God do not lack resolve.  They are well aware of what God has called them to do with their lives and how they are to spend the time that He has given them here on earth.  Individuals who do lack resolve, however, need to do what Jesus did.  They must spend time with God by talking to Him and reading His word (i.e. The Bible).  Through this communication, God will reveal the first few steps of faith that He desires them to take.  And as their interaction with Him increases, a greater sense of resolve will be cultivated in their life.

The Bible is full of people who are instilled with God-given resolve.  In the Old Testament there is Moses who encountered God in the Burning Bush.  Through this interaction, Moses is tasked with delivering God’s people from Egypt and leading them into the Promised Land.  In the New Testament there are the Apostles.  After spending three years with Jesus, they are assigned to be his “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  The ultimate example, however, is Jesus Christ.  Through Jesus’ determination to do nothing but his Father’s will, God saved sinners from Satan, sin, and eternal death.

People who maintain and demonstrate resolve are practically unstoppable.  Although they may stumble, they eventually persevere through whatever difficulties may come their way.  To say the least, their lives are not wasted.  God is able to work through them to accomplish His awesome will.  And in a world filled with many who lack ambition and determination, their resolve is inspiring and powerful.

The Doctor of doctors

ERThis past week, I had the flu and was kind and generous enough to give it to the rest of my family.  Let’s just say, it was a long week in my household.  On Friday of this past week, Mr. Mike Ilitch, a local legend and owner of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers, passed away.  It proved to be a tough weekend in the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit.

The Bible makes it clear that sickness and death are the result of sin.  Romans 5:12 states, “Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”  God never designed nor desired death and sickness to be a part of His Creation.  Since their entrance into the world, God has been working towards eliminating them and remodeling Earth.  In fact, the Bible describes God’s New Earth in eternity as a place where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).  Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?!?

In Mark 1:29, Jesus arrived at Simon and Andrew’s house after worshiping in the local synagogue.  Shortly after entering their home, Jesus was informed that Simon’s mother-in-law was lying in bed with a terrible fever too sick to even get up.  Mark then reports in verse 31 that Jesus, “came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her.”  And just like that, with a simple touch and caring gesture, the fever was instantly removed and her health was completely restored.

Jesus is the Doctor of doctors.  The Bible teaches that God is working through Jesus to remove death and sickness from Creation.  The Gospels contain numerous records of Jesus healing the sick and curing the diseased (see Mark 1:34).  There are also several reports that detail how Jesus brought the dead back to life (see Mark 5:35-43 and John 11:38-44).  All of these cases demonstrate that Jesus is truly the source, sustainer, and redeemer of life.

God is not only working through Jesus to heal those in Creation, but He is also working through Jesus to restore Creation to its original design.  Jesus spoke of his cosmic calling in Revelation 21:5, “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.'”  In renewing the world and everything in it, Jesus is focused on eliminating the root cause of sickness and death.  He is zeroed in on eradicating sin.  The Bible declares that when Jesus died on the cross and victoriously came back to life, a fatal blow was delivered to this archenemy.  In Romans 8:20-21, Paul uses an anthropomorphism to talk about how Creation anticipates sin’s final eviction, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the the children of God.”       

Before the world’s final destiny arrives, the Bible states that those individuals who come to view Jesus as the Doctor of doctors and submit to his care will begin to experience this ultimate reality beforehand.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).  This verse does not teach that Jesus’ believers are instantly immune from sickness and death, but that Jesus has immediately freed them from the death grip that sin had on their life.  This passage also points to the Truth that believers are now exposed to this new life and will ultimately experience it completely when they too – just like Jesus – are resurrected from their graves.  “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who give us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:56-57).

In a world that is marked by death, sickness, and even the flu, this is truly Good News.  People need to know that Jesus is the Doctor of doctors.  Only he can truly provide the remedy for their real sickness.  Only he can heal them and the world from sin.  As Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

The Exorcist of exorcists

The Roman Catholic Church is in need of more exorcists.  In an article posted on catholic.org, their want is due to a recent rise in documented cases of demonic possessions.  This situation that the Catholic Church finds itself in corresponds to the biblical belief in the existence and activity of Satan, demons, and evil.  As the later half of 1 John 5:19 declares, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

In Mark 1:23-28, Jesduccio-descentus is confronted by a man who was possessed by a demon.  What is truly remarkable is how Jesus rid this man of his spiritual oppressor.  He did not recite a specific prayer or creed.  He did not invoke a higher power.  He did not act out a ritual.  Jesus simply spoke, “Be silent, and come out of him!” (v. 25).  And with these words, Jesus commanded the demon to leave and the demon could not do anything else but simply obey!

Jesus’ words are incredibly powerful.  Earlier on in Mark 1:17, he commanded four fishermen “follow me” and in response they abandoned everything and followed him.  Later on in Mark 4:39, he commanded a stormy sea “Peace! Be still!” and in response the storm immediately stopped and the sea instantly calmed.  Jesus’ words are so powerful that the writer of Hebrews says that “he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (v. 3a).  It should not be surprising then that when Jesus commanded a demon to take a hike, the demon packed up his bags and hit the road.

The reason why Jesus’ words are so powerful is because they are in fact the very words of God the Father.  Jesus spoke about the Divine origin of his words in John 12:49, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak.”  When Jesus spoke, God the Father spoke.  And through Jesus’ words, the full weight of God the Father’s authority and power is expressed.

The Bible is clear in its teaching concerning the ongoing spiritual war that begun in the Garden of Eden.  Right now, the forces of evil are on the attack.  In this war, one of the best weapons that an individual can arm him or herself with is Jesus’ word – the Word of God.  Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12 both describe the Bible as a “sword.”  This sword is incredibly powerful.  And when unsheathed, God’s authority and power is revealed.

In the midst of the spiritual war that the world is hosting, God’s people must arm themselves with Jesus’ word – the Word of God.  They need to read, memorize, and meditate upon it.  But God’s people also need to make sure that they obey the Scriptures and do what the Bible says.  In submitting themselves to Jesus’ word, they will be unsheathing God’s power in and through their lives.  And just like the demon who was exorcised by Jesus, when confronted with God’s word, evil will cower and flee before God’s people.

The Teacher of teachers

norman_rockwell_school_teacher_classroomGrowing up, we all had them.  Some were better than others.  A couple probably terrified us.  And a few maybe perhaps even had a profound and powerful influence on our lives.  I am talking about teachers.

Simply put, a teacher is a person who imparts knowledge or a skill set onto others.  And if we stop to think about it, there are all different kinds of teachers.  Not only are there grade school teachers, but there is also your kid’s piano teacher, your older friend who gives you advice based off of his 50 years of marriage, the political talk show host who tells you who is a detriment to society, and don’t forget about your yoga instructor.  We all have teachers in our lives and these individuals, in one way or another, are passing along information or an ability onto us.

Mark 1:21 reports how Jesus, while in Capernaum on the Sabbath, “entered the synagogue and was teaching.”  This verse simply portrays Jesus as a teacher.  A quick survey of the Gospels depicts Jesus teaching on numerous occasions and in various environments; for instance, Jesus taught on a mountain (Matt. 5:2), on a boat (Mark 4:1-2), in a friend’s home (Luke 10:38-39), and in the Jerusalem Temple (John 7:28).  It is apparent that Jesus loved to teach and took any and every opportunity to impart Truth onto others.

The readers of Mark’s Gospel are not told what Jesus specifically taught in the synagogue, but verse 21 does states that his listeners were “astonished” by his teaching.  In the Greek, this term literally means, “to strike out, expel by a blow, drive out or away.”  Those Jewish worshippers were rocked to their very core by whatever it was that Jesus said on that day.  And specifically, the text states that what caught their attention the most was the “authority” with which Jesus taught (v. 21).  They had never heard anyone before teach with such conviction and power.  Jesus’ teaching proved to be second to none.

Jesus is not just a teacher among teachers, but the Teacher of teachers.  His words carried some serious weight.  In speaking with his students, Jesus declares in John 14:10b, “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his work.”  The authority associated with Jesus’ teaching emanated from the One True God.  Through his teaching, Jesus was revealing Divine Truth and exposing others to the transformative power of God’s Word.

Jesus’s teaching is eye-opening and life-changing.  His words are “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).  As an individual becomes Jesus’ student that person’s world is rocked by the Truth.  And through his teaching, a renewed perspective on life is passed along and instilled.

All of us are students.  We are all learning something from someone.  Who is teaching you?  Jesus desires to be our teacher.  He desires to teach us the Truth, the way to live our lives, and who God is.  Will you learn from him?  Are you willing to be Jesus’ student?  If so, then you need to pick up the Scriptures, hear his words, and prepare to be truly astonished!

“The Jesus Era has Begun”


CNN’s homepage announced in big, bold letters on the morning of January 20th, 2017: “The Trump Era Begins.”  This Inauguration Day announcement declared to its viewers the commencement of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.

In Mark 1:15 Jesus is seen declaring an even bigger and more shocking announcement: “The kingdom of God is at hand!”  With this statement, Jesus was proclaiming the good news that God’s absolute rule has been established and is expanding across a world that for far too long has been dominated by Satan, sin, and death.

Now, the key component of every kingdom is its king.  This figure is the head and focal point of his domain.  And God’s kingdom is no different.  At the center of the Kingdom of God is Jesus Christ and the Bible clearly identifies him as its King.  This reality is seen in 1 Timothy 6:15 where Jesus is described as “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Jesus is the King of God’s kingdom!  This good news is a central feature of the Gospel.  As this message is proclaimed and people begin to embrace Jesus’ royal identity, evil will begin to lose its foothold in this world.  Ultimately, however, Jesus gained victory over Satan, sin, and death at the cross and through his resurrection.  Hebrews 2:14b-15 declares “(Jesus) himself likewise partook of the same things, that though death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

Christians are called to be Jesus’ ambassadors (See 2 Cor. 5:20).  In fulfilling this role, they too need to announce the arrival of God’s kingdom and the victory that has been gained through their King’s death and resurrection.  As they tell others this good news, they will experience and witness firsthand the emergence of a new power in their world – The Kingdom of God!