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October 14, 2007 PM

MK 8:22-26

INTRO: Remember that the disciples and Jesus are crossing to "the other side" of the Sea of Galilee (8:13). As they were traveling, Jesus spoke to them about "the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod" (8:15). The apparent objective of this journey was Caesarea Philippi. But the little expedition landed at a place called Bethsaida. However, this Bethsaida is probably not the one which is believed to have been nearer Capernaum and the home of Peter, Andrew and Philip. This Bethsaida is located on the upper northeast side of the Sea of Galilee and is often called Bethsaida Julias. While it became a fairly large city under the rulership of Philip the tetrarch, it apparently retained its description as a "village".

    1. A blind man is brought to Jesus - 8:22
      1. the reputation of Jesus seems to have spread widely
      2. He is recognized as the person Who has been healing so many
      3. the interesting thing for me is the interest this man's friends have in him
      4. in their concern for him the brought him to Jesus - in scripture are found some wonderful demonstrations of "friendship"
    2. Their request ... "touch him"
      1. they possessed a marvelous, simple confidence - "just touch him"
      2. "touching" is a human need ... one which identifies one with another
      3. "touching" is a means of expressing concern, interest
      4. and Jesus did often include a touch with healing - in the case of this blind man touch would mean so much
    3. What kind of friends are we?
      1. their concern was for a friend physically blind
      2. but do we have friends who are spiritually blind? (2 Cor 4:3,4)
      3. only Jesus is the remedy for their "blindness"
      4. and can share that information with them ... but do we?
    1. First, Jesus brought the man out of the town - 8:23
      1. my guess is that Jesus did not want this to be seen by a crowd of people
      2. He does not, however, hesitate to become involved with this blind man
      3. I wonder if the incident just described (note v. 18) might have made this opportunity very appealing to Jesus as an "object lesson"
    2. He put saliva on his eyes and put his hands on him
      1. from time to time Jesus did use some physical "medium" in healing
      2. and, in honesty, I'm not certain why ... did people need such things to reinforce their faith? did this set him apart from the "magicians" of that day?
      3. the power to heal was in His being Deity - not in spit or clay
    3. A unique miracle in that it is in two stages - only in Mark's gospel
      1. "can you see anything?"
      2. he saw imperfectly ... "men as trees, walking" (may not, then, have been born blind) - 8:24
      3. does this represent the inability of the disciples to "see" spiritual truths clearly? some have suggested the "parabolic" nature of this miracle
    4. He put his hands on his eyes the second time - 8:25
      1. this time Mark tells us "he was restored ... saw every man clearly"
  1. no miracle of Jesus was "imperfect" - the man could now see and apparently he had once been able to see
  2. Mt 11:2-5 with Isa 39:3-6 - a visible confirmation that He is Messiah!
  1. The "progression" of faith?
    1. as I have mentioned, some suggest "spiritual lessons" here
    2. spiritual understanding is most assuredly "incremental" - inability to "see" clearly does not need to be a permanent condition - we can grow, little by little, to greater comprehension and understanding
    3. seeing clearly depends on continued relationship with Jesus and His word - the apostles continued that relationship and grew beyond thinking only of physical things
    4. it is, I believe, too true that many contemporary disciples are caught up in the material things of life ... and spiritual things are viewed through very physical eyes
    5. "open my eyes that I may see...."

CLOSE: The man was sent home ... not to the village. These are becoming hazardous times for Jesus, and He did not want to precipitate a crisis before it was the proper time. Still, His compassion did not yield to the extent that He could not stop along the way to care for people in need!

Cecil A. Hutson

14 October 2007

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)