Dishman Baptist Church
Mark 13:1-2 - Stream
  • Reformation Song
  • My Worth Is Not In What I Own (At The Cross)
  • Come Behold The Wondrous Mystery
      • 2 Timothy 3:1–9CSB

  • Introduction

    Good morning and welcome to Dishman Baptist Church. Please take your Bibles and open them to Mark 13, Mark 13. It is a blessing to be with you this morning and to worship our sovereign and majestic Lord together. If this is your first time here we would encourage you to fill out a contact card located in the seat back in front of you. It is our desire here to help you as you seek to mature as a Christian.
    And this isn’t just about you. I was reminded this week during a meeting that sometimes we have a habit of limiting our view too narrow when it comes to our maturity - as if it’s only about us. It is our desire here to present every believer mature in Christ and one primary way that we do that is through expositional preaching. But we should also take a longer view - that what we are doing here is really providing for multi-generational maturity. I was reminded of what Psalm 78 says.
    Psalm 78:5–6 CSB
    He established a testimony in Jacob and set up a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children so that a future generation— children yet to be born—might know. They were to rise and tell their children
    And so we take the texts of the Bible one section at a time seeking to understand what they meant to the original audience and what they mean for us today. We come today to the start of one of the hardest chapters in the New Testament to understand and to teach. This is the second extended portion of Christ’s teaching that Mark records for us. In chapter 4 Jesus was didactic in His teaching yet this passage is not didactic in nature. It seems to be part prophetic and part apocalyptic. It also provides more questions than answers.
    Men have been seeking to predict the time of Christ’s second coming from the very moment that He ascended into Heaven. The idea that the church has been living in the last days was a prominent feature throughout the Epistles and every generation of church history has had the opinion that Jesus return was imminent. As enigmatic as this passage is there is much that pertains to us today and warnings that we should take from these sacred texts. Let’s read through our passage for today and I’ll explain. We’re looking at Mark 13:1-2.
    Mark 13:1–2 CSB
    As he was going out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Teacher, look! What massive stones! What impressive buildings!” Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another—all will be thrown down.”
    As I have studied through this passage this week the question that keeps resounding through my head is “Why?” I mean this is the Temple mount. This is the home that was built for God, where He had placed His name. This was a grand edifice. The disciple commenting to Jesus was right in his assessment of the grandeur of the Temple complex. I don’t know that there is a complex that could match the Temple mount in opulence or grandeur even in these modern times. This comment wasn’t the comment of a crude tourist who was seeing the temple mount for the first time. Rather, I think, it was one of immense pride and hope as this disciple looked at the Temple and, trusting that Jesus was the Messiah and that his expectations of the Messiah were about to be fulfilled, this disciple may have looked at the temple and envisioned a future of peace, prosperity and beauty as Jesus cast out the Romans and set up court within the Temple as the center of His new government and religious practices.
    And he would have had good reason for this hope. As I’ve said the Temple really was without comparison in the ancient world. It was built atop the Kidron plateau in Jerusalem with massive white walls. The entire eastern wall was covered in gold. The Jewish historian Josephus writes “Now the outward face of the temple in its front wanted nothing that was likely to surprise either men’s minds or their eyes, for it was covered all over with plates of gold of great weight, and, at the first rising of the sun, reflected back a very fiery splendor, and made those who forced themselves to look upon it to turn their eyes away, just as they would have done at the sun’s own rays. (223) But this temple appeared to strangers, when they were at a distance, like a mountain covered with snow; for, as to those parts of it that were not gilt, they were exceeding white.”
    What better place for the Son of God to set up His new Kingdom. It was an impregnable fortress. The disciple was correct, if a bit understated, in his assessment of the stones that made up the buildings. Josephus again records that some of the stones of the temple were 45x5x6 cubits - that’s 60 feet by 7 1/2 feet by 9 feet in dimension. One stone on the second tier of the western wall has been discovered that is 42 ft x 14 ft wide x 11 ft tall. This stone weighs in at an estimated 600 tons. And for those of you who aren’t math whizzes (like me) a ton being two thousand pounds these stones weighed more than 1 million pounds. An estimated 1.2 million to be exact.
    And yet Jesus says that every stone will be thrown down. The entire temple would be demolished - both thrown down and burned with fire - when the Romans came in 70AD.
    Again the question is why? Now I do need to say here, before anyone starts questioning my fitness to be standing up here, I recognize that with Christ’s death on the cross the need for the religious practices under the law ceased because the true and better way to salvation had been provided. Yet I can’t help but wonder if there were some characteristics of the Jewish religion practiced within the Temple that contributed to and in many cases necessitated God’s judgement on that place. And this really is what Jesus is doing - He is pronouncing a final judgement on the Temple.
    What were some of the characteristics, some of the factors that led to this taking place? And more importantly is are those same factors present in our modern day religious practice? Do we stand even now as the church in America under the judgement of God because we have failed in our calling? No the church will not be replaced - Christ will not come and die again but just as the Jewish people failed in the mission they were delivered by God, so we can fall short in our responsibilities and mission given to us. God never has a plan B, events always unfold according to His sovereign design but there are times when those who could’ve been so useful are passed over because of their unwillingness to see. The religious establishment in Jerusalem had three characteristics that I fear translate over to the church today in the 21st Century. These were apostate leaders, apostate religion, and apostate followers.

    Apostate Leaders

    In the 401st episode of the Muppets there was a skit that gives us a good example of both the Jewish religious leadership as well as some who are in church leadership positions today. It used the song “The Happy Wanderer”, a German song written in the early 19th century, with lyrics that went like this “I love to go a wandering, along the mountain track, and as I go I love to sing, my knapsack on my back”. Now before you ask, for those of you who know my love for hiking - no I have never sung this song on a trail. The muppets skit though has three pigs climbing a mountain and as they sing the chorus each one gets carried away and falls off the mountain. The first one falls and the other two warn one another to watch their step and then continue to climb and sing. Then the second one falls away and the last remaining one moves a little further up the mountain. He finds a good handhold and sings only to lift his hands off the hand hold and be knocked off the mountain.
    Now why am I taking some of you on this trip down childhood memory lane - because the religious leadership of Israel had gone a-wandering and had fallen from what they had been called to be and do. If you remember the verse that I read in the introduction they were to pass on the Law of God so that subsequent generations would know and follow that law. They were also to be witnesses to the Gentiles to the goodness, the love and the provision of God. And yet to reach back to last week the Mishnah, the written chronicle of the oral traditions, said that it was more egregious to transgress the words of a scribe than to transgress the words of the Torah.
    Throughout His teaching, Jesus has repeatedly warned against the practices of the Pharisees and scribes. Just before leaving the Temple on this day He provides seven condemnations of the Pharisees and scribes chronicled by Matthew in Matthew 23. Jesus condemns the Pharisees and scribes for the roadblocks they put in front of those seeking to enter Heaven, for their efforts to convert people to their misguided sense of religion, for teaching false truths that take people’s eyes off of God, for majoring in the minors while failing to recognize the more important matters of the faith, for being more concerned about appearances rather than truth, and for refusing to learn from the errors of the past but instead repeating them.
    The first condemnation is that not only were the Pharisees refusing to follow the law - remember the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength fulfilling the vertical component of the ten commandments and then to love your neighbor as yourself fulfilling the horizontal tier. The Pharisees were zealous for keeping the law. So zealous in fact that they had broadened out the original Torah to 613 commandments. There were so many that even the Pharisees spent time debating which ones were most important to keep and which ones had loopholes. This was the impetus for the scribe’s question to Christ regarding which command was most important of all.
    By altering the tenor of the faith from one of devoted love to God to rigid rule keeping the Pharisees had effectively fenced off Heaven and prevented the Jewish people from entering in. Even as Christ came and taught refuting much of their rigid beliefs by His teaching and demonstrations in both miracles and overall tone of His ministry the Pharisees and scribes still refused to recognize Him for who He was, even charging that He performed His miracles by the power of demons, and in so doing not only hardened their own hearts but also drove others away from Christ.
    It has become almost common place in our day for pastors to announce that they have had a change of heart and renounced their faith. Some high profile speakers over the last few years, maybe the last decade or so, would be such notable figures as Rob Bell and Joshua Harris. Harris renounced his faith just last summer in an instagram post stating “The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”
    These men are not the first. Another notable speaker who “fell away” was a man by the name of Charles Templeton. A contemporary of Billy Graham’s, the two were friends and by all accounts Templeton was the better preacher, but declared himself an agnostic.
    Men such as these may not seem the same as the Pharisees but their emphasis on loving borders on the level of legalistic when they fail to provide the reasons why we are to love. Their personal compromises and now very vocal testimonies to their choices have placed stumbling blocks in front of thousands who followed their public ministries and effectively fenced off heaven for those who are being misled by them now. That is not to say that their influence will be an acceptable excuse for men or women on the day they stand before God but they are now as negatively impacting those who listen to them as a faithful witness is able to positively impact those with whom they share the Gospel.
    Next He condemns them for exporting their false religious views saying they will travel over land and sea to make one convert and leave them twice as much a child of hell as they are. Modern ministry, especially in this COVID age, is quickly global through the wonder of the internet. Even here at Dishman our Facebook page has fans from all over the nation - people I’ve never met or heard of have access to our teaching and we’re a small fish. Larger ministries - particularly those of the New Apostolic Reformation movement from places like Bethel church in Redding California and the Hillsong network of churches have a global reach for their false gospel of health, wealth and prosperity.
    And this brand of Christianity is the fastest growing form of Christianity in places like Africa and South America because they have exported their beliefs effectively. The challenge is not in converting the leaders, it is converting those who have fallen victim, who have been inoculated by these false truths against the true Gospel. I t is in this way that people are twice the sons of Hell - because they are so hard to convert out of a false brand of Christianity to the truth. There is just enough truth in what they teach to make it seem right.
    Which is the next condemnation of Christ’s for the Pharisees of His day and for the false teachers of ours is that they teach just enough truth to be plausible and yet are not completely true. In the Pharisee’s case it was false oaths and what those swearing the oaths put their hope in. That if they swore by the temple they could break the oath because it meant nothing - sanctioning lying - while if they swore by the gold in the temple that they were bound by their oath. It could seem reasonable to swear an oath by the gold in the temple as it is a valuable part of the temple system. But the issue of worship in the temple is the heart of the individual and what the object of their devotion is. If it is to God then the gold of the temple is nothing.
    The truths that mislead people in our day are those of social justice, of how we should respond to the culture around us and the impingements of that culture into the church with respect to gender relations among other social issues. There is just enough truth taught to mislead and misconstrue the Gospel as being something that it either is not or to place it in such a light as the Gospel is not enough or somehow about something other than the forgiveness of our sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. It is these truths that are misleading the church leaders to alter the message and to fail in their duties to represent God to man instead they are seeking to represent man to man neglecting the weightier matters that we should be concerned with.
    We are so concerned with the second commandment - loving others the way we love ourselves - that we have neglected the weightier commandment to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds and all our strength. This is both in the way that we worship (even before the discussions over Covid and whether or not we should sing or wear masks) and where our focus is. When we fail to preach about sin, fail to teach the truths of Scripture as hard as they may be, we are straining out a gnat while swallowing (or forcing fellow Christians) to swallow a camel. Watered down messages, a tweet I saw recently proposed that sermons should be no longer than 30 minutes, 20 minutes is best, and should always include a personal story, little more than self-help messages that are more about our life now than preparing us for the life to come leaving out the greater points of Scripture are creating an environment where people are walking around as little more than washed cups or whitewashed tombs.
    There is no life in them. It is only about their outward appearance rather than inward transformation. There is no effort like Paul highlights in Romans 12
    Romans 12:1–2 CSB
    Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
    The renewal is in our actions - making people more moral in this life does not provide salvation in the next life. We can end wars, end racism, end hunger, end poverty, end abortion, end sickness, end inequality. Our kids can all be polite. People can follow all the laws. Roe vs. Wade can be overturned. Obergefell can be overturned. The marijuana shops, sex shops and bikini coffee shops can all be closed. And if people still don’t believe the Gospel, they still go to hell.
    We build on and long for what used to be. We’ve learned nothing from the compromises and disillusionment of the cultural christianity that was demonstrated in our nation for much of the last half of the last century. We have more Bibles than ever before but they still aren’t read. We show up for church on Sunday but not any other day of the week.
    And all of this falls on the leadership of the church - when the leaders apostatize there is nothing left but for the people and the church to apostatize.

    Apostate Churches

    It wasn’t just the leaders who would be judged. It was the entire system that the Temple stood for. The center of Jewish life, the pinnacle of their national pride, the Temple would be judged and found lacking. We’ve already seen the way that the religious practices had been commercialized in Annas’s Bazaar, the selling of livestock and changing of money in the Gentile’s Court, preventing any real religious practice from taking place there. Just as Jesus condemns the religious leadership, He also gives us a picture of the progression of churches that fall away. And I would contend that every aspect of this progression could be found within the earlier Temple system as much as it is in the churches of Revelation 2 and 3.
    John writes down seven letters to churches from Christ Himself and as you look at these letters there is a progression to the qualities that Christ holds against them. To the church at Ephesus He says that they have lost their first love. Then to Pergamum (after the positive letter to Smyrna) He says that they have given over to false or aberrant doctrine. Thyatira compromised in who they were willing to listen to and allowing worldly practices to enter the church. Sardis has a reputation of being alive but their lack of works show they are actually dead. Finally Laodicea (again after the positive letter to Philadelphia) is lukewarm, completely ineffective and in danger of being spit out. The progression we see here is losing a focus on God, loss of true teaching (orthodoxy), compromise with the world, loss of true works and church practice (orthopraxy), and finally a lukewarm, feckless group incapable of fulfilling the mission which Christ has set before it.
    Sometime in the late 80’s and early 90’s there was a monumental shift in focus of church away toward what the consumer might find attractive in church in an effort to draw unbelievers into the building. This led to a movement known as the seeker sensitive movement and then even the reaction to that in the emergent church. What both of these movements left out was the idea that church is about knowing God through teaching of His Word. What has happened in the intervening years is there has been a rise in man-centered worship and practices that lead to things like sermon series based on pop culture movies, salacious and sensational worship practices (even a church using ACDC’s song Highway to Hell as the introduction for their Easter service) and a move toward self-help, pop psychological preaching rather than a man standing up behind a pulpit with the Word of God and teaching from it.
    As the focus for the church has shifted from God to man the necessity for teaching from the Word of God has gone with it and instead what has happened is a rise in the teaching of man’s ideas rather than God’s truths. Just as the Pharisees used the law and oral traditions to brow beat people into obedience and a moral life, the goal of some pulpits is to provide the motivation to live your best life now, to get you to adhere to some form of moral standard (even the command to love your neighbor as yourself is nothing more than a moral standard without the command that supersedes it).
    As churches move away from true doctrine and Biblical teaching it is easy to compromise with the world. And in many cases it is not compromise it is outright capitulation - giving in completely to the worldly influences of the revolutions taking place in our society right now whether it is with respect to roles of men and women in the church, allowing openly sinful lifestyles to continue unchecked or giving in to the cultural ideas of race and the efforts to view and segregate life based on the idea that everything should be equal - which is an impossible paradox. Such a church becomes impotent leading to the image of work taking place but in actuality, with respect to the Gospel, nothing is happening.
    Inevitably a church that glides down this slippery slope becomes lukewarm - thinking they are rich and successful and an image of all they could be when in reality they are poor and weak, fops and milksops to quote Spurgeon.

    What Can We Do?

    What are we to do in such an environment - because I don’t believe we are a church that is in this condition. We hold the truths of the Word pretty high around here and we structure all that we do to bring the glory to God and not to ourselves or to make ourselves feel better. But we all know people who are struggling under the burdens of churches such as I’ve discussed here. I was called by a friend earlier this week looking for advice about a project she’d been invited to participate in. She said she was seeking advice from a few pastors that she trusted and so I gave her my best advice. But at the end of our conversation I said she should seek the advice of her pastor because he was Christ’s appointed shepherd over her and if she were unwilling to follow his advice that should be a concern.
    The first thing we should do is always self-evaluate. Where are we? In our personal lives are we compromising our faith and are we placing ourselves in God’s judgement - not that we can lose our salvation or be sent to hell if we’ve placed our faith in Christ but that we might be found to be delinquent in the work that God had intended for us.
    Then we as a church should commit ourselves to action. We know what must be done. When the church was arguably at its lowest point a single monk, a university professor in Germany nailed 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg sparking the Protestant Reformation. We must once again stand on those principles regardless of what comes against us - Sola Scriptura, Scripture alone is our guide to faith and practice, Sola Fide, Faith alone is our path to Christ through Sola Gratia, Grace alone - we cannot earn our way to Heaven on our own, Sola Christus - Christ alone, not the church, not the world, not Christ plus something else is our only hope of salvation and it is all Soli Deo Gloria - for God’s glory alone.
    It is fitting that we have the kids in here today, that we are commissioning a new pulpit today, that we are taking communion today as we are committed to our future - to generations yet to be born - hearing the Word of God preached from the pulpit, shared in our homes and in the highways and byways of Spokane Valley and beyond. We are going to take communion in just a moment. It is for each of us today a moment of remembrance and a moment of commitment. It is a moment for us to commemorate the death of Christ, that He took the bread and wine on the night before He died and passed it around to His disciples telling them that the bread was symbolic of His body that would be broken for them and us, and the wine was symbolic of His blood that would be shed to cover the sins of those who would believe. Whenever we take this sacred meal it is in remembrance of what Christ has done in and for us. It is also an opportunity to commit ourselves to not be swept away, to not compromise or give in to the waves of change that seek to influence the church to take us away from our message and methods and to place us under the judgement of God for our ineptness and ineffectiveness.
    If you are here and you are a believer we welcome you to our table to share in this communion meal with us. If you are not a believer we would implore you to surrender to Christ today. It is only through His blood shed for you that your sins can be forgiven. It is only through His Spirit working in your heart that you can become aware of your need for a savior. If you are feeling that impetus right now move to the back and talk with Kyle or Steve or one of the other men of the church and surrender your life to Christ today - then please come share this meal with us. If you are not in a position to surrender to Christ today we would humbly ask that you refrain from this table this day as this is a solemn and significant moment in our lives as Christians.
      • Mark 13:1–2CSB

      • Romans 12:1–2CSB

      • Amos 8:11CSB

  • God My Rock

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