In Case You Were Wondering

Should Christians Participate in Halloween? 7 Scriptures to Consider

Originally published October 24, 201410394788_860513210656281_4509180524943822101_n

Should Christians participate in Halloween? 

Since there is no specific Bible verse that says, “Thou shalt/shalt not participate in Halloween and its related activities,” this is an area of Christian liberty that must be decided by each individual or couple on the basis of scriptural principles and prayer. If there are Halloween activities available to you that do not violate scriptural principles or your conscience or cause you to become a stumbling block to someone weaker in the faith (which may even be your spouse or child), you are free to participate in those aspects of Halloween.

Here are some Scriptures and principles that may be of help as you make your decision:

1 Corinthians 10:23:
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

Is it helpful? Does it build you/your family up?

1 Corinthians 10:24-30:
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

Who is watching what your family does? Are you serving your neighbor and drawing him closer to Christ by the activities you participate in?  

1 Corinthians 10:31:
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Are you glorifying God by participating in the activity you’re considering?

Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Does the activity exemplify and cause you to think about things that are pure, lovely, etc.?

Ephesians 5:11-12-
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

Is the activity spiritually unfruitful, a work of darkness, shameful? Are you taking part in evil or exposing it?

Isaiah 5:20:
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Does the activity celebrate, honor, or make light of sin, evil, and darkness?

1 Corinthians 15:54b-55:
Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

Christ died to put death to death. Does the activity you’re considering glorify death?

 

For Further Reading:

Cancel Halloween Unless You Can Do These 5 Things by Aaron Armstrong

Halloween History and the Bible from Answers in Genesis

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween from Got Questions

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Should churches use praise teams?

 

I question the use of praise teams. I have noticed the singers chosen are always very attractive as well as being very talented. I also notice they seem to be performers instead of leaders of worship. It seems the majority of churches that use praise teams are in the process of transitioning into the emergent church movement. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Okie dokie, let’s start off with some definitions and caveats. In the interest of full disclosure, my husband is a minister of music. We have usually served at smaller traditional churches (100-120ish in attendance on Sundays), some with only choirs, some with only praise teams, and some with both. I have always sung in those choirs and praise teams.

If you’re not familiar with praise teams, a praise team is a group of about four to eight singers – usually headed up by a worship leader or minister of music – that stand toward the front of the stage and do what choirs used to do: lead (by example) the congregation in singing. Some churches (usually the more traditional ones) use a choir and praise team. Some (the more contemporary ones, or small traditional churches that can’t support a full choir) use only a praise team. In more contemporary churches, the praise team, worship leader, guitar, drums and other instruments are often lumped together as a single entity – the worship “band”.

When pastors, elders, ministers of music, and others in church leadership are trying to decide what should or should not be included in the worship service, the first place they need to go is the Bible. If the practice in question is either specifically commanded or prohibited by Scripture, it’s quick and easy to make a decision. We do the things required by Scripture (such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper) and we don’t do the things prohibited by Scripture (such as women preaching or the worship of other gods). (If your church isn’t doing the “do’s” or is doing the “don’ts,” it isn’t a church. You need to find a real church – a biblical one – pronto.)

Your pastor and other leaders should also examine their motives for wanting to implement (or do away with) a particular practice. In the case of starting a praise team: Are we doing this because we want to look cool and attractional to the outside world? Is it a wiser stewardship of our music budget to switch to a small praise team instead of a large choir? How will a praise team make our worship service more God-glorifying? Not only should the practice itself line up with Scripture, but the leaders’ motives for implementing the practice should line up with Scripture.

As church members, when we take a look at what’s going on in the worship service at our church, we also need to make the Bible our first stop. First we need to examine whether or not the practice in question is biblical. If the practice in question is biblical (or at least isn’t unbiblical), we need to look at another passage of Scripture:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Hebrews 13:17

I think a lot of Christians forget this principle of authority in the church. Church isn’t Burger King where you can “have it your way” and you get to gripe all over the place when you don’t like something. If your pastor and other leadership are godly, biblically trustworthy men and they implement something that’s in line with scriptural principles, but rubs your personal tastes and preferences the wrong way, trust them, support them, submit to them, and give it a chance without complaining.

There’s nothing in the Bible that either prohibits or commands praise teams, so if your church leadership implements one, and their reasons line up with Scripture, that’s not ungodly or sinful in and of itself. It’s a decision each individual pastor has to prayerfully make as he seeks to do what is best, wisest, and most godly for his particular church.

That being said, let’s take a look at some of your more specific concerns:

“I have noticed the singers chosen are always very attractive…”
This may be the case in your church or churches you have watched on TV, but I can assure you it’s not the case in every church that uses a praise team. My own church “beta tested” a praise team in our traditional (choir and hymns) service several months ago. Because most of the people who attend that service (including the choir from which the praise team was chosen) are older, the praise team was of the middle aged to senior citizen demographic. I didn’t think any of them were unattractive because they’re my church family and I love them, but they weren’t 18 year old supermodels either. And I’ve seen plenty of other praise teams made up of people who are average looking, older, overweight, disabled, etc.

“…as well as being very talented.”
Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you mean here, but I’m not seeing the problem, either biblically or logically, with people who are talented in a certain area serving the church in that area. If you were going to put together a rotation of people to cook the fellowship meal prior to your midweek service, would you recruit the people in your church who are known to be good cooks or the ones whose casseroles everyone avoids at the monthly potluck? Do you ask people who can’t balance their own checkbooks to serve on the finance committee? If you’re putting together a music team, you want people who are talented and skilled in music, not the ones who are tone deaf, have no rhythm, and can’t read music. There’s biblical precedent for using people with certain talents to serve in certain capacities in God’s house.

“I also notice they seem to be performers instead of leaders of worship.”
I appreciate your use of the phrase “seem to be.” It’s extremely subjective and unfair to make a judgment call on whether a person is “worshiping” or “performing” based solely on his appearance, facial expression, and singing style during his time on the stage. The minister of music needs to be pastoring the praise team (this is why we need to have pastoral ministers of music instead of lay “worship leaders”) toward spiritual maturity in selecting, rehearsing, and ministering to them. He needs to ensure that the people on his team are genuinely regenerated Believers who exemplify humility and the desire to serve Christ and His church, not people who see singing on the praise team as merely a stepping stone to an appearance on The Voice.

“It seems the majority of churches that use praise teams are in the process of transitioning into the emergent church movement.”
That has not been my experience, but I don’t doubt that that’s true for some churches that use praise teams. But praise teams are not the linchpin on which churches turn to apostasy. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of perfectly doctrinally sound churches that use praise teams and have no intention of going emergent. And, there are doctrinally unsound “churches” heading toward becoming emergent that also happen to use praise teams. It’s the doctrine and theology of the church, and its view of and fidelity to Scripture, that causes a church to either strive toward being a biblical church or becoming apostate, not whether or not it uses a praise team.

In summary, there is nothing patently unbiblical about praise teams themselves. The fact that some doctrinally unsound churches use them should no more preclude doctrinally sound churches from using them than doctrinally unsound churches having small groups should preclude doctrinally sound churches from having small groups. Personality, spiritual, and doctrinal issues affecting a praise team should be dealt with biblically in the same way these issues are dealt with in other groups in the church. Whether or not to have a praise team is an issue the pastor of each church must study Scripture and pray about and decide for himself. It’s not something we can biblically make a blanket statement for or against.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Christian women, Church, Uncategorized

8 Theses for Women of the Modern Day Reformation

October 31, 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, and because I’m all theme-y and whatnot, I’m in the midst of a fantastic book called Reformation Women by Rebecca VanDoodewaard who I dearly wish were on social media so I could shamelessly fangirl her and make a general nuisance of myself by asking too many questions. Normally, I would actually finish a book before slobberingly commending it to you, but in case you like being all theme-y and whatnot too, and because time is of the essence, I’m throwing caution to the wind and telling you:

Get this book. Now. You’re welcome.

Normally, when we read about the Reformation, we’re reading about great preachers and leaders like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Hus, but preaching was not the only work of the Reformation. And that’s one of the things that has captivated me about Rebecca’s book. All of the women included therein were strikingly courageous, tireless laborers, who contributed greatly  to the success of the Reformation, and they did it all while coloring inside the lines of biblical womanhood – doing vital work godly women are uniquely equipped by Christ to do. They opened their homes as a refuge to scores of Protestants (often including those aforementioned notable preachers and other integral leaders) fleeing for their lives from Catholic marauders. They set up prison ministries and fed and clothed the poor. They nursed their communities through the Plague. Those who were queens and princesses used their power to protect Reformers and change persecutory laws. Those who were married to pastors and leaders helped in their ministries and edited their books and papers. And they wrote. Poetry. Position papers. Booklets. Letters. What a happy discovery (for me, anyway) to find sisters of the quill from so long ago.

But these great ladies were not our only foremothers in the faith. For as long as God’s people have been God’s people, God’s people have rebelled and needed to be reformed. In fact, that’s the entire, overarching theme of the Old Testament- the need for Israel to reform from its idolatry. And all along the way we see faithful women like Deborah, Jael, Esther, Jehosheba, Jedidah, Huldah, Samson’s mother, and others willing to buck the trend of sin and rebellion and point the way back to God and holy living by their deeds and the example of their lives.

The New Testament gives us extraordinary examples such as the women who ministered to Jesus during His earthly ministry, stood by Him at the cross, and were the first ones at His tomb. Priscilla, Lydia, Dorcas, Eunice, Lois, Phoebe and other believing women soon followed, all lending their aid in their own unique ways to reforming dead, legalistic Judaism into biblical Christianity.

All of these great women of God, serving Him through thousands of years as only godly women can, laying the foundation with their blood, sweat, and tears, for the church we know today.

But have we “arrived”? Is the need for women to work for reform in the church a fast fading dot in the rear-view mirror of modern day evangelicalism? Judging from the articles I read and the e-mails I receive about the problems in the church, the answer to that question would be a big, fat “no.”

Perhaps armies of the Catholic “church” no longer hunt down fleeing Protestants. And, maybe Nero isn’t using Christians as torches for his garden parties any more (although there are certainly areas of the world where our brothers and sisters in Christ face similar threats every day). But the stealth, guerrilla warfare Satan has been waging against the Western church in recent decades might be even more damaging. Certainly, it’s more diffuse and wider spread. Instead of raping the bride of Christ, Satan has chosen instead to seduce her. Why forge an enemy when you can woo a lover?

False teachers. Word of Faith heresy. The New Apostolic Reformation. Abuse in the church. Biblical illiteracy. “Lone Ranger” Christians. Idolatry. Irreverence in the sanctuary.

For doctrinally sound Christians, it’s like being in that giant trash-masher with Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie – surrounded by slime and garbage on all sides with the walls closing in, and, seemingly, no way out.

It is easy to see why the heart of the Protestant Reformation was Semper Reformanda– “always reforming.” The work of fighting for sound doctrine, biblical worship, and pure hearts and hands never, never, never ends.

So what does it look like to be a woman of the modern day Reformation? What can we church ladies do to help turn the tide of apostasy in Christendom? Permit me to nail eight theses to the door of your church.

1.
Realize You Can’t Change the World

None of the women named earlier in this article changed the world or the entire church. Not a single one of them. In fact some of them brought about great changes in their locales that were overturned in the years after their deaths.

The problems facing the church today are overwhelming. You’re one person. You can’t fix everything (and God doesn’t expect you to). Maybe you can’t even fix everything in your own church. But what you can do is determine to be faithful to Christ and His Word in your sphere of influence. Bloom where you’re planted. “Brighten the corner where you are“, as the old gospel song says. You can’t do everything, but what’s something you can do?

2.
Color Inside the Lines

One of the major problems plaguing the church today is Christian women who rebel against God’s word by stepping outside the boundaries God has drawn for women in the family and the church. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by following suit in your zeal to reform. There’s plenty of work to be done by godly women – work that we’re better equipped for than men – without violating Scripture.

3.
Mind Your Demeanor

No, we shouldn’t be wishy washy milksops or mealy-mouthed shrinking violets. But we also shouldn’t be loud-mouthed harpies, brashly marching into hell with a water pistol (just trust my own failures on this one). We need to be velvet-covered bricks: soft on the outside, firm on the inside. We should attain to all the Christlike virtues of demeanor: patience, kindness, compassion, mercy, and grace mingled with an unyielding stand on Scripture and an uncompromising commitment to Christ. For some of us, the former comes easier. For some of us, the latter. But we must seek that godly balance as we go about the work of the Kingdom.

4.
Serve the Local Church

If you have rejected the mere idea of local church membership and think you’re going to bring about change from the outside as an unchurched (or functionally unchurched) writer, speaker, or Christian celebrity, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution. The church is God’s plan for Christianity, not evangelical gurus. Do whatever you have to do to find a doctrinally sound one, join it, and get to work serving.


5.
Pray

When it comes to the church, fixing what’s broken doesn’t rest on your shoulders. Spiritual problems require spiritual solutions, and only God can bring those about. You can defend Scripture til you’re blue in the face or explain all day long why someone is a false teacher, but only God can lift the veil and enlighten the eyes of the heart. Be faithful in your efforts, but be more faithful in prayer. Like the persistent widow, grab hold of the Lord on behalf of the church and don’t let go.


6.
Teach Other Women

In my experience, the number one way false doctrine enters the church is through women’s ministry and women’s “Bible” study. You want to work for reform in the church? Work on reforming your church’s women’s ministry. Explain to your sisters why that divangelista is a false teacher. Request Bible study classes that study the actual Bible. Volunteer to organize the next women’s conference or retreat and schedule doctrinally sound speakers. Teach a women’s or girls’ Sunday School class. Transform the church by transforming the hearts and minds of women.


7.
Help

The book of Exodus tells the story of Israel’s battle with Amalek. When Moses held up his arms, Israel prevailed. When he let down his arms, Amalek prevailed. Eventually, Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses and held up his arms for him so that Israel could win the battle. Who was more important to Israel’s victory in this story- Moses or Aaron and Hur? If you answered “both,” you’re correct. Israel couldn’t have won without Moses holding up his hands, but Moses couldn’t have held up his hands without Aaron and Hur. Most of the women of the Old Testament, New Testament, and Protestant Reformation who effected godly change among God’s people were not Moseses. They were Aarons and Hurs. What can you do to hold up the arms of your pastor, your elders, your husband, your church?


8.
Stand

Make sure you know your Bible backwards, forwards, and upside down in context. Know right from wrong, the biblical from the unbiblical. Learn what God’s word says, and stand. Don’t back down. Do it with a godly demeanor, but do it. Refusing to budge from the truth of Scripture might cost you your “church”. It might cost you your family and friends. It might cost you your job, your reputation, and your finances (as we’ve seen in recent years with Christians in the business world who have refused to cave to the homosexual agenda). But as our brothers and sisters who went to the fiery stake, the dank prison cell, and the gallows would tell you, fidelity to God’s Word is worth it. Loyalty to Christ is worth anything it might cost you. Stand.


Whether your women’s ministry is using a book by a false teacher, there’s a faction of backbiters in the church that needs to be quelled, or your pastor is overwhelmed and needs some help, there’s something in your church that you can pray about, help with, or work on to help it move toward spiritual health. The church needs discerning, biblically knowledgeable, mature Christian women to step up and fight ungodliness whenever and wherever we’re able. Will you be a courageous laborer in the modern day Reformation?

Christian women, Complementarianism, Rock Your Role

Throwback Thursday ~ Are Female Bloggers Violating Scripture by “Teaching” Men?

Originally published October 23, 2015female bloggers

“You say that women shouldn’t teach men (1 Timothy 2:12),
but what about men who read your book or blog?
Aren’t you teaching them?”

Complementarian women bloggers and authors are frequently asked this question. Often it’s asked by dissenters looking for a “gotcha” moment. Other times it’s a genuine concern for Christian women who want to write but still be in obedience to God’s word as it speaks to the role of women. But, whatever the motivation for asking, it’s a great question that needs to be answered.

It is true that God has ordained different roles for Christian men and women. Both roles are needed and important, but different. Part of the role for women is outlined in 1 Timothy 2:11-14. Women are not to preach to or teach men in the gathering of the church or hold other positions of authority over men in the church. (If you’d like to read more about the Bible passages pertaining to women’s roles in the church, check out my Rock Your Role series.) But notice that key phrase “in the church.” The context of all of the passages dealing with women refraining from teaching men refers to the teaching of God’s word in the gathering of the body of believers.

That’s not the same thing as blogging in the public square. Yet, most of the godly women I know who blog still seek to be obedient to the spirit of the command even if the letter doesn’t technically apply. I admire their character and their faithfulness to God’s word, so I asked each of them how they would answer this often-asked question. Here’s what they said:

Erin Benzinger of Do Not Be Surprised and Equipping Eve

Equipping Eve-05“A semi-formal ministry such as a blog, book, or podcast must be approached with the biblical mindset of seeking to teach and equip fellow women as per Titus 2. At the same time, a woman blogger cannot know who is reading her blog. Nor can an author control who reads her book, or a podcaster supervise who hits “play.” Might the woman see it as necessary to make clear that she is, in fact, a woman and that her ministry is directed toward fellow sisters in Christ? Of course, this seems a logical and simple safeguard and is in fact my own approach.” (I had to edit Erin’s fantastic comment for length, but you can read it in its entirety in the comments section of the original article.)

Pamela Couvrette of Guarding the Deposit

“As a woman blogger, my intention is to write to women, however, I cannot control who reads my blog posts. I was concerned for a while about teaching to men, however, after a conversation with a few trusted Christians, my concerns were alleviated. The point was made that I was not teaching in an official church capacity; if I am offering the Word of God to show men their error, I am not claiming to be over them in authority, but instead, beside them as a sister in Christ. Additionally, if women are not supposed to teach men anything, how far does this mandate reach into our everyday lives?”

DebbieLynne Kespert of The Ouspoken Tulip

“In honor of Christ, I want to avoid teaching men through this blog without avoiding my responsibility to substantiate my assertions (or, when necessary, recant them) with Scripture. Sometimes, I may cross the line, in which case I’ll eagerly repent. If I had a way to guarantee an all-female readership, believe me, I’d be teaching a lot more boldly! Alas, I can’t control who reads this blog. I will, to the best of my ability, state my beliefs with appeals to Scripture, and will provide links to in-depth teaching by respected men.” (This is an excerpt from a great article at DebbieLynne’s blog.)

Christine Pack formerly of Sola Sisters

“My bottom line is that (1) I’m not expositing scripture, and (2) the book of Jude (about contending for truth and doctrinal purity) was written to all believers, not just men.”

Elizabeth Prata of The End Time

11695005_969809886414876_853379219293858257_n“As for women writing books, blogging, discipling, or speaking of theological things in the public square, I follow Philip’s daughters, (Acts 21:9), Eunice and Lois, (2 Timothy 1:5), Lydia, (Acts 16:14),  Dorcas (Acts 9:36) and other women who restrict their ministry to women, submit to the men in their lives, but unashamedly proclaim the glories of this wonderful Jesus whom we share and whom the dying world needs to know.” (This is an excerpt from an excellent article Elizabeth wrote at her own blog. In it, she links to several great resources.)

Beth Seifert formerly of the Naomi’s Table Radio Show/Podcast

“In the forum that we were in with Naomi’s Table, it was made clear that this was intended for women not men. Could I stop a man from listening on the radio? No. But, especially when teaching anything that directly related to men (i.e. husbands love your wives…) I put so many disclaimers around anything I said, pointing any men listening back to Scripture, re-stating that I was not trying to teach them, that they should not be using me as their teacher, etc. At the end of the day, I couldn’t stop them from downloading the studies or notes, but there was no ‘muddiness’ about who I was teaching.” Beth also has her own blog, Daily Dose of Truth.

Sunny Shell of Abandoned to Christ

“Since [my blog is] on the internet, I’m not purposefully putting myself in any way as authority over men. If I had a blog that was just for men and I was doing the same thing, that would be sinful. But whether or not men read my blog and glean something from it, that is between them and God as many women have wisdom that helps men and women (cf. Priscilla and Aquila)… there is a difference between having a generic blog (like mine) and one that is purposed to reach both men and women in a teaching manner.” (Read Sunny’s awesome article on women’s roles here.)

Lori Williams of Falsified Ministries

falsified book coverFrom the Falsified Ministries web site: “Vince is the leader of this ministry and Lori serves in a supportive role helping with the administrative aspects of organization of materials, responding to women who email the ministry, supportive research, working resource tables/booths and any other help-mate role that Vince needs in fulfilling other aspects of the ministry. Lori will never be speaking in front of a group that consists of a mixed audience of both male and females. We choose to obey the Biblical command in1 Timothy 2:12…Since the verse refers to a corporate setting of the church in any assembly, we always want to adhere to that.” (Like Beth, Lori is also a former Bible study teacher at Naomi’s Table.)

 

As you can see, all of these women are keenly aware of their biblical role and strive to obey Scripture by setting up various reasonable safeguards and parameters for their blogs, ministries, and podcasts, most of which are aimed specifically at women. I believe they all do an excellent job of adhering to the spirit of 1 Timothy 2:12.

I have, however, seen blogs by other Christian women which I believe cross the line and actually violate this passage, even though the woman was blogging rather than teaching in the church setting. This article, written in the wake of the Ashley Madison scandal, is the most clear cut example I’ve run across. As you can see, the article, by a pastor’s wife, is written directly to men in a corrective, instructive, rebuking, warning, and even threatening tone. It certainly does not exemplify the “gentle, quiet spirit, which, in God’s sight is very precious,” and, at the very least, is most unbecoming of a pastor’s wife and a woman who bears the name of Christ. This is a great example of what not to do for female bloggers who desire to be obedient to Scripture.

Christian men should also desire to be obedient to 1 Timothy 2:12 by not seeking out female bloggers for biblical instruction for themselves. I mentioned that sometimes people inquiring about the biblical appropriateness of women bloggers do so for a “gotcha” effect. Sometimes men with ulterior motives of “nailing” complementarianism visit my blog, claim to have learned something, and then turn around and attack me as a hypocrite for “teaching” them. This is akin to a man listening at the door of a women’s Sunday school class, then bursting in and saying, “Aha! You taught a man.” To those men, I would ask a simple question- If a female blogger puts a fence around her blog and you jump over it and trespass on her property, how is she the one at fault?

And me? Like my godly sisters featured above, I have also set up parameters for both my blog and my book to do everything I can to place myself under the umbrella of 1 Timothy 2:12. My book (when it was in print) was always labeled and marketed as a women’s Bible study. If you’ll take a look at the “Welcome” tab at the top of this page, you’ll see I explicitly say that this blog is for Christian women and that I’m a complementarian. When I address the readers of this blog and my Facebook page, I nearly always address them as “ladies,” both because this is a blog for women and also to remind the handful of men who follow me that they are not my audience; they are, in a sense, “eavesdropping.”

While I welcome male readers, I do not want men seeking me out for biblical instruction for themselves. All of my readers should look to the doctrinally sound teaching of their pastors and elders for biblical instruction. For women, my blog should only be a leisure time supplement to their sermons and classes at church.

 

Being a godly female blogger can be a tightrope walk. All of us have fallen off from time to time, and in those cases we ask that you extend us grace and forgiveness, knowing that we didn’t do it intentionally or rebelliously. Praise God for the “net” of God’s mercy and cleansing that catches us and puts us right back up on that tightrope so we can encourage and build up the lovely Christian ladies in our audience. You mean so much to each of us. We love you and want you to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why we do what we do.

Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 23

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

Mark 15

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

21 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead.45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. Study verses 1-5. Who was Pilate, and what was his position? What crime had the Sanhedrin decided Jesus was guilty of in Mark 14:64, and what sentence was to be carried out as His punishment? What did Levitical law say about this crime, its sentence, and how that sentence was to be carried out? Did the Sanhedrin follow this law? If the Sanhedrin was so concerned about Jesus breaking God’s law, why did they break God’s law by failing to carry out the death sentence according to the law? Why did they take Jesus to Pilate to enforce the death penalty instead?

2. Describe the scene in verses 6-15 in your own words. What motivated Pilate, the chief priests, and the crowd to do and say the things they did and said? What can you surmise about the personal character of Pilate, the chief priests, and the crowd? What part did power and position play in this part of the story? What part did both Jews and Gentiles play in this part of the story? What was Pilate’s perception of Jesus in verses 1-15? Where were the disciples during all of this?

3. Examine verses 16-20. Take a look at the footnote on verse 16. How many soldiers gathered around Jesus? Why were they mocking Him, and what did the mocking center around? Who created the thorn bush (17), the reed (18), the spit (18), and the soldiers themselves? When was the last time you used something for sinful purposes that God created for good?

4. In Gethsemane, Jesus rebuked Peter for fighting back against the arrest mob, saying, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” At any step along the way – in Gethsemane, in His mock trial before the Sanhedrin, when judged by Pilate, when abused by the soldiers – Jesus had the power, and plenty of justification – as Creator of the universe and of the people mistreating Him – to turn Jerusalem into a crater. Why didn’t Jesus fight back or defend Himself? What does this teach us as Christians about laying aside our own rights, when necessary, for the sake of the gospel?

5. What impact did Christ’s crucifixion have on Rufus, and later, his mother (21)? The centurion? (39) Did everyone who witnessed the crucifixion become a Christian? Why or why not? Would the chief priests have believed Jesus was the Messiah and become His followers if he had come down off the cross? (31-32) Compare Rufus’ and the centurion’s belief in Christ with the mockers’ and chief priests’ disbelief. (21, 39, 29-32)

6. The mixture of wine and myrrh (23) was meant to be an anesthesia. What are some of the side effects of anesthesia? Why did Jesus refuse it?

7. What was the official charge against Jesus? (26) In what ways was this true? (2) In what ways was this false?

8. What were the mockers referring to in verse 29? What was the irony of their statement? (29-30)

9. What was the “curtain of the temple“? (38) What was the significance of its being torn, and its being torn from top to bottom?

10. Compare the scattering of the disciples with the gathering of the women (40-41) at the cross. How might their staying with Jesus through the crucifixion have been a comfort and encouragement to Him? How might witnessing the crucifixion have been a blessing to the women and emboldened their witness for Christ in the coming years? How can these women’s faithfulness to Christ serve as an example to us as Christian women today?

11. What position did Joseph of Arimathea hold? (43) Why would Joseph have needed to “take courage” with regard to approaching Pilate? (43) With regard to his place and reputation in the Sanhedrin? Why would it have been dangerous or detrimental to be seen as an associate or ally of Jesus?

12. Among those who deny that Christ’s resurrection actually happened are people who argue that on Easter morning, the women who found Jesus’ tomb empty had actually gone to the wrong tomb. How does verse 47 refute this theory?


Homework

Explain the events of Mark 15 in your own words as you would explain them to someone who has never heard the story of Christ’s crucifixion. Ask a lost friend or loved one to let you “practice” on her, if possible. As we saw in question 5, among those who were eyewitnesses to the crucifixion, some believed in Christ, and some did not. It is the same when we share the gospel today. Why do some believe the gospel and some don’t? List three ways grasping this truth can help as you share the gospel.


Suggested Memory Verse

And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Mark 15:2