"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" The Preaching Of John The Baptist (1:1-8) by Mark Copeland


                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

               The Preaching Of John The Baptist (1:1-8)


1. The Gospel Of Mark begins with the work of John the Baptist...
   a. Which was foretold by Old Testament prophets - Mk 1:2-3
   b. Which proved to be very successful - Mk 1:5
   c. Which was cut short by his imprisonment - Mk 1:14

2. Though John's work was short-lived, it was clearly important...
   a. Each of the four gospels preface Jesus' ministry with that of John's
   b. Mark described it as "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ..." - Mk 1:1

[To understand the message and ministry of Jesus Christ, we must start
with the one sent to "prepare the way of the Lord".  In this study we
shall begin by observing what we can regarding...]


      1. To fulfill the prophecy of Malachi - Mk 1:2
         a. As the Lord's messenger to prepare His way - Mal 3:1a
         b. Also concerning the sending of Elijah - cf. Mal 4:5-6; Mt 17:10-13
      2. To fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah - Mk 1:3
         a. Which was to "prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight" - Isa 40:3
         b. I.e., to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah
      -- John's purpose was to "make ready a people prepared for the Lord"

      1. He came baptizing in the wilderness - Mk 1:4
         a. The wilderness of Judea - Mt 3:1
         b. Baptizing in the Jordan River - Mt 3:6
         c. In Bethabara (Bethany) on the east side of the Jordan - Jn 1:28
         d. Later, in Aenon near Salim (west side of Jordan), where
            there was much water - Jn 3:23
      2. He preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins - Mk 1:4
         a. A baptism of repentance, literally "a change of mind"
            1) Prompted by godly sorrow - 2 Co 7:10
            2) Followed by a zealous desire to do right - cf. 2 Co 7:11
         b. A baptism for the remission of sins
            1) That sins might be forgiven (ultimately through Christ's death - He 9:15)
            2) Similar to what Christ and His apostles taught - Mk 16:15-16; Ac 2:38; 22:16
      -- John's message called for repentance and baptism for the remission of sins

      1. All of Judea, Jerusalem, etc., went to him - Mk 1:5a
      2. They were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins - Mk 1:5b
      -- John's success may have also included the thief on the cross - cf. Lk 23:39-43

      1. Clothed with camel's hair and a leather belt - Mk 1:6a
      2. Diet of locusts and wild honey - Mk 1:6b
      3. John came "in the spirit and power of Elijah" - cf. 2 Kin 1:8; Lk 1:17
      -- John's lifestyle reflected the seriousness and sternness of his message (Erdman)

      1. One mightier than he is coming - Mk 1:7
         a. Whose sandal strap he was not worthy to stoop down and loose
         b. Note John's humility and attitude of servitude
      2. Who will baptize them with the Holy Spirit - Mk 1:8
         a. Yes, John did indeed baptize with water with repentance
         b. But one (Jesus) was coming to baptize with the Holy Spirit!
      3. This refers to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
         a. Promised also by Jesus; fulfilled at Pentecost - cf. Ac 1:4-5; 2:1-4,16-17,33
         b. With lasting effects for all who come to Christ - cf. Ti 3:4-6; 1 Co 12:13
      -- John's promise bespoke of greater blessings to come!

[The preaching of John the Baptist was well received by those in Judea
and Jerusalem.  Those who received his message were well prepared for
the coming of the Lord.  But I have often wondered...]


      1. Required people to go into the wilderness to hear him? - Mk 1:4-5
      2. Dressed and ate like an eccentric hermit ("he has a demon!")? - Mk 1:6; cf. Mt 11:18
      3.  Called religious people coming to be baptized a "brood of vipers"? - cf. Mt 3:7
      -- Would we have given heed to such a "harsh hermit"?

      1. We balk at traveling some distance to study God's Word!
         a. As when we live far from the church building
         b. Or making the effort to attend both services on Sunday, plus the midweek study
         c. Or going to gospel meetings at other congregations
         d. What will the Queen of Sheba say of us? - cf. Mt 12:42
      2. We tend to judge people by the clothes they wear!
         a. Both young and old are quick to judge by one's appearance
         b. We need to remember God's perspective - 1 Sa 16:7
         c. Partiality based on appearance makes one a judge with evil thoughts - Ja 2:1-4
      3. We get upset or offended when a preacher points out our faults!
         a. Some would have preachers to never preach negative sermons
         b. But Jesus demonstrated that occasions sometimes call it - cf. Mt 23:13-15
      -- If these things are true of us today, would we have heeded John


1. The preaching of John the Baptist had an important purpose...
   a. To "prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight"
   b. This he did by emphasizing repentance and baptism

2. Because of John, people were more likely to heed the call of Jesus...
   a. To repent of their sins - cf. Mk 1:15
   b. To believe the gospel and be baptized - cf. Mk 16:15-16

3. John's manner of life and style of preaching should not be forgotten...
   a. For many turn the message of Jesus Christ into a form of "easy-believism"
   b. John reminds us of the need to bear fruits in keeping with true repentance

As Jesus would say later, "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do
not do the things which I say?" (Lk 6:46).   Are we showing true
acceptance of Jesus as Lord by doing the things He says...?  
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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What Did God Create On the First Day of Creation? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.



What Did God Create On the First Day of Creation?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.


What did God create on the first day of Creation?


Oftentimes, when a person is asked what God made on day one of the Creation week, he responds by saying simply, “God made light.” When young people sing the “Days of Creation” song (where each verse in the song corresponds with what God did during each day of the Creation week), the first verse they sing is: “Day one, day one, God made light when there was none.” Both of these statements are true. Genesis 1:3-5 states: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.” But was light the only thing that God created on the first day of Creation?

The work of day one may appear at first to include only the creation of light. However, it was not the only thing God made on day one. If light were the only thing created on day one, then one must ask whence the water came that already was in existence on day two. For on the second day of Creation, God made an expanse to divide “the waters from the waters” (Genesis 1:6). Apparently, these “waters” already were present on day two when the expanse (atmosphere) was made. In fact, that is exactly what Genesis 1:1-2 teaches: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (emp. added). The initial creation of the earth (on day one) consisted of a watery, unformed-and-unfilled substance over which the Spirit hovered. (Remember: it was not until day three that God made an Earth composed of land, sea, and vegetation.) Thus, God not only created light on day one (vss. 3-5), but also made “the heavens and the earth” (vss. 1-2).

Contrary to what some may think, on day one God created the heavens, the earth, and light. Although it is correct to sing and teach that God made light on day one of Creation, we also must not forget that on the same day God created the “heavens and the earth.”

What About "Out-of-Body Experiences"? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.



What About "Out-of-Body Experiences"?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

As American civilization has been detached from its Christian moorings, a host of offbeat, confused, and superstitious ideas have infiltrated society. Especially with the resurgence of the occult in the last 50 years and Hollywood’s efforts to create credibility for “ghosts,” exorcism, and astrology, more Americans than ever before have come to believe in such hocus-pocus. One result has been the widespread belief in “out-of-body experiences.” Even among otherwise straight thinking Christians, many have come to believe that a person can “die,” as evidenced by “flatlining,” that his or her spirit momentarily leaves the body, and then returns to the body, enabling the person to regain consciousness and live to tell about the experience. Stories often include reports of tunnels with bright light at the end, feelings of warmth and reassurance, a sense of hovering above and looking down upon the operating room personnel, etc. Are such experiences proofs that individuals are, in fact, dying and exiting their bodies, and then returning again?

A brief perusal of the history of medical science reveals that, at one time, conventional wisdom held that a person was dead when breathing ceased. It was thought that the “breath of life” had departed from the individual, leaving him “dead.” As medical science advanced, it was determined that a person’s heart could still be beating though the person had stopped breathing. He had not actually died, and hence, “mouth-to-mouth” resuscitation enabled a person to start breathing again. At that point of medical understanding, it was thought that when the heart stopped beating (determined by placing one’s ear to the chest of the person), the individual had died. However, with additional advancements and understanding, it was determined that it was possible to restart the heart, through cardio-vascular resuscitation, compressions of the chest cavity, injection of powerful drugs directly into the heart, massaging the heart directly, and eventually defibrillation, in which an electrical shock is delivered to the heart with a defibrillator. The current definition of “dead” is associated more with the cessation of brain activity.  A typical definition of “flatline” is “to die or be so near death that the display of one’s vital signs on medical monitoring equipment shows a flat line rather than peaks and troughs” (Farlex, n.d.). “Flatlining” can refer either to heart or brain activity or both, depending on who is using the term.

Does the inerrant Word of God have any insight into this question? Yes, it does. The Bible teaches that God places within each prenatal person at conception a spirit that makes each individual a unique personality that will survive physical death, living on immortally throughout eternity (Zechariah 12:1). At death, the spirit separates from the body and exists in a conscious condition in the spirit realm (1 Samuel 28:15; Luke 16:19-31). James 2:26 provides a precise, technical definition of death: “[F]or as the body without the spirit is dead….” In other words, the separation of one’s spirit from one’s body results in physical death, i.e., the death of the body, not the spirit. Thus the Bible defines physical “death” as separation—not “extinction” or “annihilation” (Thayer, 1901, p. 282; Vine, 1940, p. 276). Once the spirit of a person exits the body, he or she is “dead” (Genesis 35:18; 1 Kings 17:21-22). Science will undoubtedly never develop a test for ascertaining when the spirit exits the body. After all, “a spirit does not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39).

In order for a person’s dead body to come to life again, the spirit would have to reenter it. The term that the Bible uses to refer to such an occurrence is “resurrection.” The only way resurrection can occur is by means of supernatural intervention by an individual who possesses authority and power from God to miraculously cause the spirit to return to the body. Instances of deceased people in Bible history whose spirits returned to their dead bodies include the following:

  1. When the widow of Zaraphath’s son became sick and died, the prophet Elijah asked God to “let this child’s soul come back to him” (1 Kings 17:21). God granted the request and the child’s soul returned to his body.
  2. Elisha restored the life of a Shunammite woman’s son who had died after complaining of severe head pain—perhaps a brain hemorrhage (2 Kings 4).
  3. When Lazarus died, his body was in an advanced state of decay by the time Jesus arrived on the scene four days later to raise him from the dead. He brought back Lazarus’ spirit into his body with the words, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43).
  4. Among the supernatural events that accompanied the death of Christ on the cross, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:51-53). Only God could have brought the spirits of these individuals back from the hadean realm and reinserted them into their buried bodies.
  5. When Tabitha/Dorcas became sick and died in the town of Joppa, her body was washed and laid in an upper room. The apostle Peter was in Lydda at the time, so urgent word was sent to him to come to Joppa. Clearing the room of the mourners upon his arrival, he “knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up” (Acts 9:40).

Such occurrences were rare, and always meant that the resurrected individual later died again (Jesus excepted—Acts 13:34; Romans 6:9; cf. Enoch [Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5] and Elijah [2 Kings 2:11] who never died). In every case, a miracle was necessary to restore the separated spirit of the individual to the body. Miracles served a very specific purpose in Bible times—a purpose no longer needed (Miller, 2003). Since God has chosen not to work miracles today (1 Corinthians 13:8-11; Ephesians 4:8-13), and no resurrections will occur until the general resurrection (John 5:25-29; Luke 14:14; 1 Corinthians 15:12ff.), there is no such thing as an “out-of-body experience.”

But then how does one account for the numerous reports of tunnels, lights, and feelings of warmth? The mind is an incredible, divinely designed wonder capable of far more than we know or comprehend. When anesthesia is applied to the respiratory system and bloodstream in order to prevent awareness of pain, causing a patient to become unconscious, the parts of the body that perceive (i.e., seeing, hearing, etc.) continue to function. The mind is still hearing what is being said in the operating room, whether or not the person is able later to recall the conversation. Temperature and other bodily sensors are still operative. Additionally, the mind’s ability to dream realistic dreams is surely a factor to consider. These and other features of the mind and body adequately account for the unsubstantiated allegations of “out-of-body experiences.”

One final thought: if “near death” and “out-of-body” experiences are authentic, where are the comparable reports of those who encounter the scorching, threatening fires of hell or hades (cf. Luke 16:23ff.)? Where are the accounts of individuals being warned to correct their behavior and live godly lives—as Paul admonished Titus: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12)? For those acquainted with the stabilizing influence of the Bible, all such experiences are meaningless and provide no assistance for ascertaining the meaning and purpose of life—in view of eternity. The inspired writer of Hebrews succinctly summarized the point: "[I]t is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (9:27).

[NOTE: For an audio sermon on the topic of afterlife, click here.]


Farlex (no date), The Free Dictionary, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/flatlining.

Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation—EXTENDED VERSION,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1399&topic=293.

Miller, Dave (2005), “Afterlife and the Bible,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1478.

Thayer, J.H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).

Vine, W.E. (1966 reprint), An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell).

Were the Popes Really Celibate? by Moisés Pinedo



Were the Popes Really Celibate?

by  Moisés Pinedo

Although the Bible clearly does not support the doctrine of celibacy as a requisite to any office of the church (see Pinedo, 2008), the Catholic Church has established celibacy as a distinctive mark of the papacy and other Catholic offices. In fact, the current pope, Benedict XVI, affirmed that celibacy (imposed by Pope Gregory VII in the Council of Rome in 1074) “is really a special way of conforming oneself to Christ’s own way of life” (“Pope Pens...,” 2007). Therefore, whoever wants to serve as a priest, and finally as the Universal Bishop of the Catholic Church (the pope), must be celibate.

According to Catholic doctrine, Peter was the “first pope.” And, since popes are considered to be Peter’s successors and keepers of Petrine tradition, one would expect them to follow Peter’s example in every aspect—including the acceptance or rejection of celibacy. Matthew 8:14-15 records that Jesus healed one of Peter’s relatives. This relative was none other than his mother-in-law. The text states, “Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever” (emp. added). Some have tried to argue that this lady was the mother-in-law of another disciple—not Peter. However, the grammar of the text in Matthew (and in the parallel records of Mark and Luke) is very clear when it says that Jesus came to Peter’s house and saw his mother-in-law (cf. Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38). The only conclusion from a straightforward reading of the text is that if Jesus saw Peter’s mother-in-law, then Peter had a wife!

The apostle Paul also confirmed that Peter was married when he wrote, “Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?” (1 Corinthians 9:5, emp. added). Paul identified Peter (also called Cephas; cf. John 1:42; 1 Corinthians 1:12) as someone who already had taken advantage of his right to be married. Additionally, in the first epistle that bears his name, the apostle Peter identified himself as an elder of the church (cf. 1 Peter 5:1). And, as the New Testament teaches, one of the qualifications of elders of the church is to be “the husband of one wife, having faithful children” (Titus 1:5-6). Every piece of biblical evidence on this subject points to the fact that Peter was a married man.

While Catholics appeal to Peter for support of the papacy, ironically, they will not appeal to Peter to argue in favor of papal celibacy for one important reason: Peter was not celibate! Here Catholics exalt Paul, who opted to be celibate. But if popes are the alleged successors of Peter (not Paul), should they not follow Peter’s example?

Like many other teachings of the Catholic Church, celibacy is a man-made doctrine. Though many consider it as a sign of purity, celibacy, imposed on those who aspire to ecclesiastical office, is simply a sign of apostasy (1 Timothy 4:1-3). Consider, for example, the immoral things many “celibate” popes did during their papacies.

Pope Sergius III served as pope from A.D. 904 to 911. History records that he began a “shameful succession” of immoral popes (Schaff, 1910, 4:285). He “owed his elevation [to the papacy—MP] to the influence of the shameless Theodora [a Roman noblewoman—MP] and her no less shameless daughters Marozia and Theodora.... He was grossly immoral, and lived in licentious relations with Marozia, who bore him several children, among them the future pope John XI” (McClintock and Strong, 1867-1880, 9:570).

Pope John XII served as pope from A.D. 955 to 963. He is considered “one of the most scandalous popes of history” (“John XII,” 1997). Philip Schaff noted that “[h]e was one of the most immoral and wicked popes, ranking with Benedict IX., John XXIII., and Alexander VI. He was charged by a Roman Synod, no one contradicting, with almost every crime of which...human nature is capable, and deposed as a monster of iniquity” (1910, 4:287). Writing around A.D. 1000, a Catholic monk recorded that “John XII loved hunting, had vain thoughts, liked women reunions more than liturgical and ecclesiastical assemblies, was pleased by tumultuous insolences of young people and, concerning lasciviousness and audacity, he surpassed even the pagans” (quoted in Hernández, n.d.). It is recorded that he died “of a stroke while in bed with a married woman” (Walsh, 2001, p. 663).

Pope John XXIII served as pope from A.D. 1410 to 1415. It is said that “he was destitute of every moral virtue, and capable of every vice” (Schaff, 1910, 6:145). He was accused “on seventy charges, which included almost every crime known to man. He had been unchaste from his youth,...committed adultery with his brother’s wife, violated nuns and other virgins, was guilty of sodomy and other nameless vices” (Schaff, 6:158). Finally, he was removed from office by the Council of Constance and erased from the official list of the papacy.

Pope Innocent VIII served as pope from A.D. 1484 to 1492. “His conduct was disgracefully irregular: he had seven illegitimate children by different women, and was, besides, married when he took orders” (McClintock and Strong, 1867-1880, 4:593). It is said that his children numbered “16, all of them children by married women” (Schaff, 1910, 6:438). It also is said that “the success of Innocent VIII in increasing the population of Rome was a favorite topic with the wits of the day” (McClintock and Strong, 4:594).

Pope Alexander VI served as pope from A.D. 1492 to 1503. In their Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, McClintock and Strong point out that Alexander is considered “the most depraved of all the popes” (1867-1880, 4:594). They explained: “His youth was a very dissolute one; and he early formed a criminal connection with a Roman lady living in Spain with her two daughters. He soon seduced the daughters also; and one of them, Rosa Vanozza, became his life-long mistress.... His pontificate of eleven years was a stormy one, as he made every thing subordinate to the purpose of raising his bastard children above the heads of the oldest princely houses of Italy” (1:145-146). A Roman Catholic historian says that he was “one of the greatest and most horrible monsters in nature that could scandalize the holy chair. His beastly morals, his immense ambition, his insatiable avarice, his detestable cruelty, his furious lusts, and monstrous incest with his daughter Lucretia, are, at large, described by Guicciardini Ciaconius, and other authentic papal historians” (as quoted in Barnes, 2005b, p. 82). The following words summarize Pope Alexander’s life: “To Alexander nothing was sacred,—office, virtue, marriage, or life” (Schaff, 1910, 6:462).

Pope Paul III served as pope from A.D. 1534 to 1549. Before his pontificate, he had four children—Pier Luigi, Paolo, Ranuccio, and Costanza—by a Roman mistress (see “Paul III,” 1997, 9:205). History summarizes his life as “largely given up to pleasure and frivolity. He kept low company, supported mistresses, became a father, and in many ways gained an unenviable notoriety” (McClintock and Strong, 1867-1880, 7:831).

More examples could be given, since papal history is characterized more by its sins than by its “holiness.” But the examples listed above clearly prove that many “celibate” popes were anything but celibate, and moreover, anything but chaste.

When men departed further from the truth of God’s Word, they deified themselves, choosing an earthly representative (the pope) to usurp the place of God. Many immoral men, thirsty for glory and power, desired the human office (i.e., the papacy) that apostasy promoted. These men fought for this office, hating each other and killing their fellow man. And, in their zeal, they pretended to fulfill the demand for celibacy imposed by human tradition, while giving free rein to their carnal passions.

What sacrifice did these “selfless” popes endure by being “celibate” (i.e., unmarried) if they had the lovers they desired? What altruism did these popes exhibit by disallowing themselves to have only one wife, yet diving into indescribable immoralities with many lovers, including relatives, nuns, prostitutes, and other men’s wives during nights of “celibate solitude”? The truth is, this kind of “celibacy” has produced many illegitimate children in the history of Catholic religion!

The Catholic who points to 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 in order to provide biblical support to papal celibacy, should read the advice of Paul in the following verse in order to see that celibacy is not demanded, nor should it be sought in order to institute a certain ecclesiastical order: “[B]ut if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:9, emp. added). Many popes, as well as many local bishops, priests, monks, nuns, etc., have burned with passion for centuries, and many are adding logs to the fire today. The Bible warns: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8, emp. added).


Barnes, Albert (2005), Notes on the New Testament: 1 Thessalonians to Philemon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Hernández, Jesús (no date), “A Shameful Pontificate” [“Un Pontificado Vergonzoso”], [On-line], URL: http://www.luxdomini.com/JuanXII.htm.

“John XII” [“Juan XII”] (1997), Espasa Universal Chronology [Cronología Universal Espasa] (Espasa Calpe, S.A.: Microsoft Corporation).

McClintock, John and James Strong (1867-1880), Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), 1968-1970 reprint.

“Pope Pens Exhortation on the Eucharist” (2007), Zenit, March 13, [On-line], URL: http://www.zenit.org/article-19138?l=english.

“Paul III” (1997), Encyclopaedia Britannica (London: Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Pinedo, Moisés (2008), “Should the Pope Be Celibate?,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/3852.

Schaff, Philip (1910), History of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Walsh, Michael, ed. (2001), Dictionary of Christian Biography (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press).

“Facing the Music” When I Don’t Like the Song by Ken Weliever, The Preacherman



“Facing the Music” When I Don’t Like the Song


(Note: This post was the sixth most read of 2013)

David Cawston, in a sermon entitled “Ready to Face the Music,” began with this riddle. Can you guess the answer?

“There is a preacher of the old school, but he speaks as boldly as ever. He is not popular though the world is his parish, and he travels every part of the globe and speaks in every language. He visits the poor, calls upon the rich, preaches to people of every religion and no religion, and the subject of his sermon is always the same. He is an eloquent preacher, often stirring feelings which no other preacher could in bringing tears to eyes that never weep. His arguments none are able to refute, nor is there any heart that has remained unmoved by the force of his appeals. He shatters life with his message. Most people hate him; everyone fears him.”

“His name?”


“Every tombstone is his pulpit. Every newspaper prints his text, and someday every one of you will be his sermon.”

We know this is true intellectually.  But we forget it emotionally.  Until it hits close to home. In our family or circle of friends.  Yesterday it hit close to home. Again.

I was eating lunch at Applebee’s.  Checking my facebook messages.  And suddenly a message appeared from Nathan Ward.  It said that Marty Pickup had collapsed while playing tennis.  Went into cardiac arrest.  And died.

What?  I must have read this wrong.  It wasn’t Marty.  Nathan must had made a mistake.  Left a name out of the message.  Or received some incorrect information.  Over the next few minutes I realized it was so.

I was stunned. Shocked. Dazed.  While sitting there in a very public place, reading from a very public medium, I was in my own private world, almost in a stupor.  I thought of the many times I sat and listened to Marty preach. And teach Bible classes.  He did so with such clarity.  Kindness.  And concern for properly presenting Truth to 

the hearers. He was MartyPickupalways well prepared and he delivered his lessons with power, but in a true spirit of love.

My Mom and Dad attended the Valrico church where he ministered.  Later when her health declined Mom moved her membership to a closer congregation.  I remember how good Marty and Aimee treated Mom.  Their genuine concern.  Their gentleness.  And compassion.

Marty preached for five years at the Hickman Mills church where I now minister.  He is greatly loved and highly respected here in Kansas City.  And the news of his passing is shocking to our members as well.

His death is difficult to accept.  He has left us too soon.  Far too soon.  And yet we know the words of the Hebrew writer, “It is appointed once to man to die” (Heb. 9:27).

Indeed death is a sobering word.  A cold word.  A frightening word.  We don’t even like to say it.  We prefer euphemisms.  We say, “he passed away.’  “He expired.” “He’s gone.”  In a lighter vein we speak of someone “pushing up daisies’, or “kicking the bucket,” Or being “six feet under.”

Our joking, however, has a tinge of nervousness attached to it.  We don’t like death.  We don’t like to think about death.  And we don’t want to lose our loved ones to death.  From a human viewpoint death seems incomprehensible.  Albert Einstein once said, “What is incomprehensible is beyond the realm of science.  It is in the realm of God.”  Death?  It’s in the realm of God.

Thankfully, God gives us some insight into His realm.  The Bible provides us a different perspective than my human eyes allow.  A better perspective.  A clearer view. An eternal outlook.  And that is all made possible because of Jesus.  Who he was.  And what he did. And how he did it. Yes, He arose!  His victory over sin, Satan and the sepulcher, gives me hope.  (And it gave Marty hope.)  They remove death’s foreboding feeling and its solemn prospects.

We share the sorrow of Marty’s untimely passing with his wife, Aimee, their children, his parents as well as family, friends and brethren.  But  as we are once again reminded of death’s unpleasant intrusion in our lives,  we can be strengthened by these words from Paul:

 “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory… thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:54,57)

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman





Are all sins equal in God's eyes?

Matthew 9:19 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery. (NKJV)

Sexual immorality is the only valid reason that God gives for divorce and remarriage.

1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.(NKJV)

Sexual immorality is the only sin against your own body.

1 Corinthians 10:8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell.(NKJV)

God destroys sexually immoral people.

Jude 1:7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.(NKJV)

Sexual immoral people were destroyed by fire.

All sins are not the same, however, all unforgiven sinners will meet the same fate as the sexually immoral. All who reject Jesus are unforgiven.

2 Peter 2:6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly;(NKJV)

There are Christians who live ungodly lives and there are others who have rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior, who live ungodly lives.

2 Peter 2:9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punish for the day of judgment,(NKJV)

 All Christians live ungodly lives by choice. Repentance is not optional. Non-Christians reject the forgiveness through Jesus Christ and live ungodly lives.

Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, and sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (NKJV) 


Suffering by J.C. Bailey




In a recent issue of the Latin American Crier my name was mentioned as one that suffered for Christ. I WONDER. There is a passage that when I read it I always have an uneasy feeling. Here is the passage: "After these things I saw, and behold a great multitude which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and tongues, standing before the throne, and before the Lamb with palms in their hands...and one of the elders answered, saying unto me, These that are arrayed in white robes, who are they, and whence came they? And I say unto him, My Lord, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they that come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:9-14). Can I say that I have come out of the great tribulation? Yes, I may have suffered a LITTLE, but this says that those who stand before God have come out of the GREAT TRIBULATION.

True, as a young preacher in Montana more than 60 years ago some men told me that if I baptized a certain woman that I would never get out of the water alive. Yes, I was scared but I told them that if she desired to be baptized that I would baptize her and told them the place where she would be baptized. The poor woman, they frightened her to the place that she said to me that she would be baptized later. Long since she has gone to her reward. She never obeyed the gospel. So SAD. Then there was one time that on a bitter day in the winter I took five young men with me and went to Lambton for the Sunday service. It was so stormy most of the brethren did not get there. The Collection was 40 cents. On the way home the gas line froze up. We shoved the car the last mile. Holding my hands against the back of that car in that cold cut off the circulation and when I got into the heat the pain in my hands was almost unbearable.

We might tell a few more things in America but we shall turn to India. I went to Mondapeta from Kakinada. It was 33 hours from the time I left Kakinada until I was back in Kakinada. In that time I had preached 9 sermons. There had been 101 baptized. I came home at 2 a.m. I was so tired that I could hardly crawl into bed. A few hours of sleep did not seem to rest me. I told the sister in the morning when I came downstairs, I think I am going to die. Then there was the time that I said that if we could get the Indians to meet on time that we could have five meetings in a day. A brother assured me that we could have SIX meetings. We came in at ten in the evening. I don't know how he did it but this brother got the people to assemble in six villages for services that day. We rode in the jeep. It was hot and it was dusty. I WAS SO TIRED that I never suggested to this brother that he arrange that many meetings in one day again.

Let me tell you about the time when I probably suffered more than any one time. A brother told me that a certain Hindu village wanted to become Christians and wanted me to accompany him to this village. I told him that I would be very glad to do this. It was a hot day. We drove as far as the hard-top lasted. We drove as far as the gravel lasted. Then we came to a dirt road. I do not need to tell you that I had driven tens of thousands of miles on dirt roads in the early days in Saskatchewan. There was a problem though. It had rained for hours just before we got to this road. It was impossible even for an ox cart. WE WALKED for eight miles. These villagers had painted a crude cross on a piece of cloth and put it on the longest pole they could find and erected it in the village to advertise that they were going to become Christians. I preached a sermon. There were some 22 or 23 people that expressed a desire to be baptized. They were baptized.

Then, as it was Sunday, we had the Lord's Supper. Then they suggested that we have some food. We ate and then just as we started out the sun went down. It is one thing to walk in the mud in daylight. It was another thing to walk in the dark. I had gone about one mile when I had trouble with one leg. In the dark we met a shepherd with his goats. We bought his shepherd's staff. I used that for a cane and while I was in pain we continued our journey. About one mile from our destination, my other leg became very painful. DID YOU EVER TRY LIMPING ON BOTH LEGS AT ONE TIME? I remembered that Paul said that we were to REJOICE in our sufferings (Col. 1:24). I remembered that Job said one time that he would like to argue with God, I can bear this, but was it not too much for you to say I should REJOICE in it?

I can rejoice in it now. When that tidal wave struck in India in 1977, that village was in the path of that terrible destructive force. It is a wonder that a few lived and not that many perished that were members of the body. I visited there after the disaster and thanked God I had taken the gospel to that village.

I know that Paul said that we as evangelists were to suffer hardships (II Tim. 4:5). Will what I have suffered compare with the three preachers in the Phillipines who went on preaching all during World War II? They knew that any morning they could have been shot as American spies. Not only think of these men but think of their wives. When they went out to preach, the wives never knew if they would come back. When they came back, the wives never knew at what hour of the night the military police might come and take them away. I have never suffered as they suffered.

Let us turn to India: a young couple were married in India. Shortly after they were married and she became a Christian, her husband was furious. First he tried to coax her to come back to Hinduism. This did not work. Then he threatened her. When she still would not renounce her faith in Christ Jesus, he poured kerosene over her and burned her to death. Then there is the story that reads like a story. It is a story but a TRUE one. When this woman obeyed the gospel her husband tried to burn her to death. He did not succeed but she has terrible scars. He was converted to Christ the next year and then shortly after that he died in Christ.

We have heard a great deal about the Sikhs in India these days, but there was one Sikh that obeyed the gospel. His own brother beat him cruelly but he refused to renounce his faith in Christ. He is faithfully preaching the gospel in North India today.

I shall tell of the young preacher in Africa who was captured by so-called Freedom Fighters. They told him that he had to take a drink of liquor. He told them he was a Christian, and that he did not drink. They told him that if he did not take a drink, they would shoot him. He refused to take the drink and THEY SHOT HIM.

I could turn back to what is personal again. I left for a meeting after I had filled up my gas tank with gas that was charged. I had two dollars. I left my wife home with seven children and half of the money. During this trip some young people were baptized who are faithful members of the church today.

I preached all during the Thirties. The children never went to bed hungry nor did they ever miss school for lack of clothes. They had a good bed to sleep on. My wife made mattresses. She made shoes. Part of the time we milked our own cow. We grew our own potatoes, etc. I have tried to remember and believe I Timothy 6:7,8. "For we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out; but having food and covering we shall be therewith content." I have four tailor made suits. Indian brethren had three of them made for me. I have a good car but one of my sons gave it to me.

We have lived below what the government says is the Poverty Line most of our lives. We have had no money for tobacco, liquor, movies or extended holidays but what the Lord has promised He has provided. I might add my wife has never used any money for MAKE-UP either. I still feel short of the requirements of the GREAT TRIBULATION. I have the assurance that His grace will be sufficient. May I with Paul say: "for which cause I suffer these things, yet I am not ashamed, for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Tim. 1:12).

J.C. Bailey (1985, Bengough, Saskatchewan)

Published in The Old Paths Archive

Bible Reading for October 26 and 27 by Gary Rose


Bible Reading for October 26 and 27

World  English  Bible

Oct. 26

Song of Solomon 7, 8

Son 7:1 How beautiful are your feet in sandals, prince's daughter! Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a skillful workman.

Son 7:2 Your body is like a round goblet, no mixed wine is wanting. Your waist is like a heap of wheat, set about with lilies.

Son 7:3 Your two breasts are like two fawns, that are twins of a roe.

Son 7:4 Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bathrabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus.

Son 7:5 Your head on you is like Carmel. The hair of your head like purple. The king is held captive in its tresses.

Son 7:6 How beautiful and how pleasant you are, love, for delights!

Son 7:7 This, your stature, is like a palm tree, your breasts like its fruit.

Son 7:8 I said, "I will climb up into the palm tree. I will take hold of its fruit." Let your breasts be like clusters of the vine, the smell of your breath like apples, Beloved

Son 7:9 Your mouth like the best wine, that goes down smoothly for my beloved, gliding through the lips of those who are asleep.

Son 7:10 I am my beloved's. His desire is toward me.

Son 7:11 Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field. Let us lodge in the villages.

Son 7:12 Let's go early up to the vineyards. Let's see whether the vine has budded, its blossom is open, and the pomegranates are in flower. There I will give you my love.

Son 7:13 The mandrakes give forth fragrance. At our doors are all kinds of precious fruits, new and old, which I have stored up for you, my beloved.

Son 8:1 Oh that you were like my brother, who sucked the breasts of my mother! If I found you outside, I would kiss you; yes, and no one would despise me.

Son 8:2 I would lead you, bringing you into my mother's house, who would instruct me. I would have you drink spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate.

Son 8:3 His left hand would be under my head. His right hand would embrace me.

Son 8:4 I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up, nor awaken love, until it so desires. Friends

Son 8:5 Who is this who comes up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved? Under the apple tree I aroused you. There your mother conceived you. There she was in labor and bore you.

Son 8:6 Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm; for love is strong as death. Jealousy is as cruel as Sheol. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a very flame of Yahweh.

Son 8:7 Many waters can't quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man would give all the wealth of his house for love, he would be utterly scorned. Friends

Son 8:8 We have a little sister. She has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister in the day when she is to be spoken for?

Son 8:9 If she is a wall, we will build on her a turret of silver. if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar. Beloved

Son 8:10 I am a wall, and my breasts like towers, then I was in his eyes like one who found peace.

Son 8:11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal Hamon. He leased out the vineyard to keepers. Each was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit.

Son 8:12 My own vineyard is before me. The thousand are for you, Solomon; two hundred for those who tend its fruit. Lover

Son 8:13 You who dwell in the gardens, with friends in attendance, let me hear your voice! Beloved

Son 8:14 Come away, my beloved! Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices!

Oct. 27

Isaiah 1-4

Isa 1:1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Isa 1:2 Hear, heavens, and listen, earth; for Yahweh has spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.

Isa 1:3 The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master's crib; but Israel doesn't know, my people don't consider.

Isa 1:4 Ah sinful nation, a people loaded with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken Yahweh. They have despised the Holy One of Israel. They are estranged and backward.

Isa 1:5 Why should you be beaten more, that you revolt more and more? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

Isa 1:6 From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness in it: wounds, welts, and open sores. They haven't been closed, neither bandaged, neither soothed with oil.

Isa 1:7 Your country is desolate. Your cities are burned with fire. Strangers devour your land in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

Isa 1:8 The daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a field of melons, like a besieged city.

Isa 1:9 Unless Yahweh of Armies had left to us a very small remnant, we would have been as Sodom; we would have been like Gomorrah.

Isa 1:10 Hear the word of Yahweh, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!

Isa 1:11 "What are the multitude of your sacrifices to me?," says Yahweh. "I have had enough of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed animals. I don't delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of male goats.

Isa 1:12 When you come to appear before me, who has required this at your hand, to trample my courts?

Isa 1:13 Bring no more vain offerings. Incense is an abomination to me; new moons, Sabbaths, and convocations: I can't bear with evil assemblies.

Isa 1:14 My soul hates your New Moons and your appointed feasts. They are a burden to me. I am weary of bearing them.

Isa 1:15 When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you. Yes, when you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.

Isa 1:16 Wash yourselves, make yourself clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil.

Isa 1:17 Learn to do well. Seek justice. Relieve the oppressed. Judge the fatherless. Plead for the widow."

Isa 1:18 "Come now, and let us reason together," says Yahweh: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isa 1:19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;

Isa 1:20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken it."

Isa 1:21 How the faithful city has become a prostitute! She was full of justice; righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.

Isa 1:22 Your silver has become dross, your wine mixed with water.

Isa 1:23 Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves. Everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards. They don't judge the fatherless, neither does the cause of the widow come to them.

Isa 1:24 Therefore the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, the Mighty One of Israel, says: "Ah, I will get relief from my adversaries, and avenge myself of my enemies;

Isa 1:25 and I will turn my hand on you, thoroughly purge away your dross, and will take away all your tin.

Isa 1:26 I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called 'The city of righteousness, a faithful town.'

Isa 1:27 Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her converts with righteousness.

Isa 1:28 But the destruction of transgressors and sinners shall be together, and those who forsake Yahweh shall be consumed.

Isa 1:29 For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which you have desired, and you shall be confounded for the gardens that you have chosen.

Isa 1:30 For you shall be as an oak whose leaf fades, and as a garden that has no water.

Isa 1:31 The strong will be like tinder, and his work like a spark. They will both burn together, and no one will quench them."

Isa 2:1 This is what Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

Isa 2:2 It shall happen in the latter days, that the mountain of Yahweh's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.

Isa 2:3 Many peoples shall go and say, "Come, let's go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths." For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem.

Isa 2:4 He will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Isa 2:5 House of Jacob, come, and let us walk in the light of Yahweh.

Isa 2:6 For you have forsaken your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled from the east, with those who practice divination like the Philistines, and they clasp hands with the children of foreigners. 


Oct. 26

1 Thessalonians 3

1Th 3:1 Therefore, when we couldn't stand it any longer, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone,

1Th 3:2 and sent Timothy, our brother and God's servant in the Good News of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith;

1Th 3:3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you know that we are appointed to this task.

1Th 3:4 For most certainly, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction, even as it happened, and you know.

1Th 3:5 For this cause I also, when I couldn't stand it any longer, sent that I might know your faith, for fear that by any means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor would have been in vain.

1Th 3:6 But when Timothy came just now to us from you, and brought us glad news of your faith and love, and that you have good memories of us always, longing to see us, even as we also long to see you;

1Th 3:7 for this cause, brothers, we were comforted over you in all our distress and affliction through your faith.

1Th 3:8 For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.

1Th 3:9 For what thanksgiving can we render again to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sakes before our God;

1Th 3:10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

1Th 3:11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you;

1Th 3:12 and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you,

1Th 3:13 to the end he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Oct. 27

1 Thessalonians 4

1Th 4:1 Finally then, brothers, we beg and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, that you abound more and more.

1Th 4:2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

1Th 4:3 For this is the will of God: your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality,

1Th 4:4 that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor,

1Th 4:5 not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who don't know God;

1Th 4:6 that no one should take advantage of and wrong a brother or sister in this matter; because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified.

1Th 4:7 For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification.

1Th 4:8 Therefore he who rejects this doesn't reject man, but God, who has also given his Holy Spirit to you.

1Th 4:9 But concerning brotherly love, you have no need that one write to you. For you yourselves are taught by God to love one another,

1Th 4:10 for indeed you do it toward all the brothers who are in all Macedonia. But we exhort you, brothers, that you abound more and more;

1Th 4:11 and that you make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, even as we instructed you;

1Th 4:12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and may have need of nothing.

1Th 4:13 But we don't want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you don't grieve like the rest, who have no hope.

1Th 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

1Th 4:15 For this we tell you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left to the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep.

1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God's trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first,

1Th 4:17 then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever.

1Th 4:18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.