“On Your Mark”
Equipped for the Job (Chapter 9 Verses 14-32)
The required faith Jesus speaks of, is that faith that every Christian person has (vv28-32). Or is there a charismatic gift involved here (1Corinthians 13.2; 12.9)? A special endowment, for a special purpose, or ministry? We must not ever forget that the New Testament Church is essentially a charismatic Church, yes the word has been high-jacked I know, but, the reality is that the Church cannot survive without the Spirit’s gifting. Please do remember many people believed that these gifts were extant, long before the Pentecostal or Charismatic movements arose. And believing, refusing to explain away this aspect of the Bible’s teaching does not necessarily mean a person belongs to or agrees with those movements. I think it was Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who said, it is far better to be credulous than to have a grudging, critical spirit, which quenches the Holy Ghost. However, the Church is sustained by charismatic gifts, preaching and teaching are charismatic gifts. They are certainly not to be equated with secular teaching gifts. I have seen school teachers in a pulpit who ought never to have been there, because they have not had an ounce of spiritual gift in them for that task. But to come back to the context here, are the forces of evil any less active in our day, are men and women any less susceptible to evil powers today? When I think about the way people open their minds to the powers of darkness through the use of drugs, of the increasing dabbling in occultism, the minds of young people horrendously bombarded with messages of evil through the medium of music, films, television. I think Satan is as busy today as ever. So if Jesus is speaking about a particular gifting, the availability of a dimension of faith, in order to deal with a particular area of ministry, then we need it, today, as then? But any spiritual gift used without Christian discipline, i.e., prayer, fasting, love, would have little effect.
The Lord slips away with his disciples once more in order to teach them more about his redemptive purposes (vv30-32). Can you see what a priority this is, and your own need constantly to be taught Christian truth? For the first time Jesus makes it known he will be delivered into the hands of his killers, who have already been named (Mark 8.31), the Jewish religious authority. The one who is the Son of Man, Son of God, God’s very own Son (Mark 9.7), will be handed over (Judas) to murdering religious unbelief, and God will not lift one little finger to intervene. Because it must be this way (Mark 8.31; Acts 2.23). They did not grasp it, nor did they want to. But there is nothing for us to fear with regards to Jesus’ Cross. As you think of that cross today, there magnificently displayed before you, and the whole world, is the goodness, the sublime love of God, it is from that Cross that springs the fruit of salvation for the world, transforming, redeeming love (John 12.24; 1John 2.1-2). Do you often think about it?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)