G Campbell Morgan
This is a passage in G Campbell Morgan’s commentary on “the Gospel according to Mark”. He covers the attitude of the people at Nazareth to Christ’s return visit. The locals knew Jesus of Nazareth so well, they knew his family, his personal history as the local carpenter and they were astonished at the power they had heard of and at the wisdom of the ‘local boy’. In fact the passage records two different kinds of astonishment.
Mark 6:2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!
Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. Mark 6:5–6 NKJV.
The people at Nazareth were astonished and so was Christ.
Campbell Morgan uses a surprising phrase to describe the second instance. He calls it the ‘paralysis of omnipotence’. It is a shocking phrase and something of an oxymoron. How can anything hinder omnipotence?
And yet clearly it did.
the frustrations of Christ
It is a sobering passage of Scripture. Christ comes, apparently with the desire in his heart to accomplish the will of the Father and his intentions are frustrated. I am choosing my words carefully here. I am not saying he ‘felt’ frustrated but that his intentions were frustrated. He knew the will of His Father. He was anointed with ‘power and the Holy Spirit’. He came to ‘do’ that will and yet He was ‘not able’ do what he wanted to do. As the passage declares, he was ‘not able to do a work of power there’, other than to lay his hands on a few sick folk and heal them.
And the thing which caused the paralysis of omnipotence was ‘unbelief’. Is ‘unbelief’ more powerful than omnipotence? We are touching this amazing mystery again that God, although omnipotent, will not use his omnipotence to force human beings to do things which they do not desire. It seems that in that crowd there were some who did respond to him and to those ‘who received him he gave the right to become…’. Perhaps it is the same in almost every gathering of people. There will be those who shut out the word of Christ and shrink away from his outstretched hand. He can do no work of power for such. But there are those who receive his word and long for his touch.
the power of unbelief
Christ marvelled at the ‘unbelief’ of those who rejected him. Has God given any greater power that the power to say ‘No’ to God? Will he ‘marvel’ at our reluctance to hear what he says to us, or will there be rejoicing in his presence as we voice our ‘Yes, Lord’?
In George Orwell’s devastating critique of totalitarianism, “1984”, one of the party workers has been given the job of culling the dictionary. The strategy is to make ‘thoughtcrime’ impossible by the removal of words that describe things forbidden by the party. Words like ‘freedom’ and ‘rebellion’. If there are no words then there will be no thoughts, or so the theory goes. As he removes the words the party worker says the words at the head of this blog.
“It’s a beautiful things, the destruction of words.”
There is another famous quotation from the same book which declares “but if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”. Together the two quotations describe a brilliant propaganda strategy. Either remove the words altogether or, as an alternative, continue to use the word but redefine them. What does this have to do with us? Much, in every way.
Let’s remove some words, shall we?. Sin? an old fashioned concept surely. Judgment? Not a word we hear much in the normal course of our lives is it? Adultery? Covetousness? Holiness? “it’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words”. Remarkably ‘freeing’. Of course we shall need to redefine the word ‘free’. But that’s not difficult and when we have corrupted the word we have corrupted thoughts and made communication all but impossible. What a strategy. Corrupt the language, corrupt the thinking processes. Break up the whole communication process. What a strategy.
It’s not only in evangelism that we are struggling. Word’s are dropping out of our Bibles too; concepts are vanishing. “the old man” has disappeared from almost all modern versions. New words are being introduced instead with entirely different meanings e.g. “the self”; a Freudian psychology concept. When is a Bible no longer a Bible?
There is a battle waging
There is a battle on, brothers and sisters. Time to wake up and enlist.
In desperation the psalmist asked a question;
If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do? Psa 11:3 NKJV.
A word of assurance came to his heart…
The LORD is in His holy temple,
The LORD’S throne is in heaven; Psa 11:4 NKJV.
(first posted on our old Blog in June 2014)
the wartime slogan
This wartime slogan has gone through thousands of permutations in the last couple of years. You will find the general idea of the slogan on T-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, fridge magnets. It would be hard to go out in public in the UK and not see some reference to the idea. There is one place however where you will not find it… heaven. Only people who can’t see the throne need this kind of advice and the presence of the Throne is fundamental to our revelation of heaven. ‘The Throne’ appears 33 times in the book of the Revelation. It is one of the central revelations of the Revelation.
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. Rev 4:2 NKJV.
in the midst of chaos, the Throne
John’s world was falling apart. Jerusalem, the city he had known so well in his youth was destroyed. The temple and the priesthood were gone. All his brother-apostles were gone; he is the last swallow of the summer. The local churches that he knows best are in disarray; leadership is degenerating into control. Then to top it all he is exiled to a island and most likely put under house arrest. But comfort does not come from a poster or fridge-magnet bearing the words “keep calm and don’t panic” but from a revelation of things as they are to the eye opened by the Spirit. He beholds, amidst all the shambles of his earthly experience, a throne set in heaven, and it is occupied;
One sat on the throne.
As long as that throne is occupied by its rightful owner we have no need of worldly epigrams. Campbell Morgan called it ‘the throne that never trembles’.
We don’t need to be in heaven to see the Throne. Christ saw it after a busy day of teaching as he lay asleep with his head on a cushion in the stern of a small boat on the Galilean sea.
And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? Mark 4:37–40 NKJV.
They mistook his faith for complacency and passivity; true faith is neither.
An old hymn captures the truth…
Give to me a vision
Reaching to the throne.
Let me see earth’s problems
In that light alone:
‘Tis Thy Word assures me
All shall work for good,
Things that long have baffled
Soon be understood.
(first posted on 1st April 2013 on our old Blog Site.)
Just trying to touch all the bases and ensure that everyone hears this who ought to…
In February we conducted our first ‘focus event’ in Bracknell, Berkshire, England and many said how much they appreciated it and were blessed. Me too! Thank you for being part of it in prayer, support, presence! Now we want to ensure that others are blessed too so we are heading for Scotland. I’m sharing the coordination of the Scotland Focus Event with Ian Macmillan, and old and faithful friend. (not so old!)
A weekend conference in a Scottish castle.
Our venue will be a castle! Tulliallen Castle in Fife. We have accommodation for all who want to join us. You can come for the whole weekend with full bed and board, as we say in the UK. (bedrooms with en-suite, and full meals). There will be no formal charge but opportunity will be given for any to make a contribution to the costs of the weekend. We want to be sure that no one is missing due to lack of funds, so we look forward to seeing you all. More details on the website.
New Covenant Priesthood: His and Ours
Our topic for the ‘focus’ this time will be “New Covenant Priesthood: His and Ours.” And our speakers will include Ron Bailey and Robert Wurtz II from the Delaware Christian Fellowship in Independence, Missouri. Robert is another old and faithful friend (not so old!) who has been a constant support and encouragement to the work of biblebase for many years. Robert has authored several books and is a regular blogger and YouTube presence and well as being a contributor to various biblebase forums.
Come and join us… and book in today.
Over many years we have been blessed with visits to England from various brothers in Scotland. Their faithful presence at meetings in the ‘deep south’ (of England) have been a challenge and encouragement to many. Now we have an opportunity to ‘return the blessing’, so read the full details of the weekend under the Scotland Focus Event on the website and please sign up as soon as you can. We need to know numbers, particularly for catering, as soon as possible.
The purpose of the weekend is prayer, fellowship and an opportunity to give some time to appreciate our wonderful inheritance in the Better Covenant!
If you need more information please contact me. Looking forward to seeing you there.
The Lord bless you
Let’s continue a little on the theme of God’s promise of blessing for and through Abraham.
We use it so often don’t we? The word ‘bless’? As a testimony; “The Lord blessed the meeting”, “I was really blessed”. Or an exclamation of gratitude; “Bless the Lord O my soul”. Or a prayer; “Lord, bless this marriage”. “God bless America”. Have I ever stopped to ask, “what do I expect God to do in answer to this prayer?” Someone prayed for me, (by email!), just this morning; “Lord, Bless my friend Ron…” What am I asking for? If I don’t know what I am asking for, how will I recognise the answer when it comes? (more…)