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Flag Day and the Church

In the United States yesterday was Flag Day and many places that do not routinely fly the American flag flew it.  However, flying the Star Spangled Banner is not as popular as it once was.  Some churches are countering this trend with having the flag in the sanctuary.  I, however, do not agree with this viewpoint.  While our country is perhaps the best nation in the world, and while we have acted more justly than many other nations, yet our true and highest allegiance is to God, not to this great country.  I am a patriot - I have served 22 years in the navy and am proud of our country, yet God is Lord of my life; my country is not my Lord.  There is a division between the church and the state, and the state should not, make that must not, dictate to the church what she can say.  The church must maintain her independence from the state.  Thus, King Uzziah, who tried to usurp the role of the priests by offering sacrifices, was stricken with leprosy (II Chronicles 26:16-26).  So I will proudly Pledge Allegiance to the United States of America, but in church, we must not have competing influences.  We are first and foremost citizens of heaven.  Neither the American nor French nor Mexican flag should be in the church.

Is preaching important?

     Good preaching is a joy to listen to. And, more importantly, it is also quite Biblical.  Unfortunately there is also a lot of bad preaching, which has given preaching a bad name.  Just like teaching history.  History is exciting, but a bad teacher can make an exciting subject b o r i n g, so boring you fall asleep in the class and don't ever want to come back.  But good preaching is pure joy.
      Preaching is biblical.  Let us look at the book of St. Mark.  St. Mark is an action writer and he records 18 of the 35 miracles Jesus did.  In comparison, St. John records only nine of 35 miracles.  St. Mark is action writer in that his account is almost breathless.  In the King James version St. Mark uses immediately seventeen times and straightaway (old English for immediately) nineteen times.
      What is also remarkable is that while St. Mark is all about action, he is also all about Jesus teaching and preaching.  St. Mark, the action writer, records nineteen times Jesus talks about preaching and teaching plus there are eight references to Jesus as teacher.  This is expounding the Word of God.  This is the prophet thundering:  "Thus saith the Lord."  Teaching is the primary purpose, the central part of the worship service.  Preaching is absolutely essential for believers so that they may grow in the grace and Knowledge of Christ our Savior. 
     If you are in the Hampton Roads area, we invite you to visit our church and listen to Rev. Roest.  We have services at 11 AM and 6 PM.  If you already attend church, we invite you to listen to him preach on the radio, Sundays at 9 AM on 1010 AM.  If you are not in Hampton Road area, you can download sermons from our website.  Rev. Roest is obviously not as good as Jesus Christ, but he preaches faithfully the Word of God, and we like him.  No, I am not paid to say this.

All the references in St. Mark are listed below, but allow me discuss some of the more important references first. 

Mark 1:21:  "They went into Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.  The people were amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as one who had authority, no as the teachers of the law."
Comment:  good preaching is not normal.

Mark 1:38:  "Jesus replied, 'Let us go somewhere else-to nearby villages-so I can preach there also.  That is why I have come.  So he traveled throughout Galilee preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons."
Comment:  Take-away is that preaching was the reason why Christ came

Mark 3:14:  "He appointed twelve-designating them apostles-that they might be with him and that He might send them out to preach."
Comment:  Preaching is not just what Christ did, but something the apostles were commissioned to do.

Mark 6:34.  "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  So he began teaching them many things."
Comment:  This is perhaps the most interesting quote in Mark.  Christ had compassion, therefore he preached to them.  The Pharisees were apparently not good teachers, and thus, the common people were shepherdless.  Their greatest need was not food and drink, not physical healing, but preaching to repentance.

And now for the rest of the passages:

Mark 2:2:  "So many gather that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the Word to them."

Mark 2:13:  "A large crowd came to him and He began to teach them."
Comment:  Take-away is that Christ preaching drew crowds.

Mark 4:1:  "On another occasion Jesus began to teach by the lake.  The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge.  He taught them many things by parables., and in his teaching . . . "

Mark 6:2:  "When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard it were amazed.

Mark 6:6:  "Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village."

Mark 6:12:  "They [the 12 apostles] went out and preached that the people should repent.
Two points:  1)  The apostles are preaching based on what they learned from Jesus Christ.  2.) Preaching should bring people to repentance.

Mark 6:30:  "The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.

Mark 8:31:  "He began to teach them."

Mark 9:31:  "He was teaching them."

Mark 10:1:  "Again crowds of people came to Him, and as was His custom, He taught them."
It was customary for Jesus Christ to teach.  That was his purpose for coming.

Mark 11:18:  "The chief priests and the teachers of the law hard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared Him, because the whole crowd was amazed at His teaching."
Two points:  1.)  Jesus Christ's teaching was so powerful that it affected people's lives.  Their lives were being changed, and therefore the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Him.  2.)  Good preaching should affect peoples lives.

Mark 12:37-38:  "The large crowd listened to Him with delight.  As He taught, Jesus said, Watch out for the teachers of the law."
Two points:  1.)  It is pure delight to listen to good preaching.  2.)  There are many who preach incorrectly, thus Jesus's warning.

Mark 13:10:  "And the Gospel must first be preached to all nations."
One point:  This is the first time preaching is mentioned with respect to the unbelievers.  Preaching is for the believers too so that they will grow in the grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Mark 14:9:  "Wherever the gospel is preached."

Mark 14:14:  Jesus claims for Himself the title "Teacher."  He is also addressed as Teacher in the following passages:
    Mark 9:38
    Mark 10:17, 20, 35
    Mark 12:14, 19
    Mark 13:1

Mark 14:49:  "Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts."

Elder Glenn Palmer

Captured and Captivated