Mark Fox March 25, 2024

The elephant in the room is Jesus

I attended a panel discussion several years back that was advertised with the title, “Good without God.” Knowing that one of the largest growing groups in the country is the “nones,” those who answer surveys that ask for a religious affiliation that they have none, I wanted to hear what five from academia would say about their own spiritual journeys. I also was intrigued by the idea that there are those who have spent part of their lives seeking to disprove or at least to dismiss the “God idea,” as one of them described what many of you and I embrace.

Let me first say that I respect the panelists and their courage to speak out about what they believe, or don’t believe. I also thank God that we live in a country where that is still permitted. Like the founders, I believe that one of the truths that is self-evident is that human rights come from our Creator, not from government or any other institution of man. May God help us when those rights come under attack.

Second, I was also intrigued by any idea that good can exist outside of God, or that we can call something good or bad without appealing to an objective standard of morality.  If we do not have an objective moral standard, then how do we determine whether Samaritans Purse is good or the Third Reich was bad? If we do not have an objective moral standard, how can we ask others to believe that our beliefs are good? If we don’t have an objective moral standard, and don’t care if anyone else on the planet believes the way we do, then of what value is our belief?

Third, the elephant in the room that evening was Jesus. His name never came up, and yet Jesus is the only founder of a “world religion” who claimed to be God. Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster, and Muhammad came not claiming to be God but to be a way to God. Jesus alone said, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” One of the panelist said that the whole “God idea” only dates back to Abraham, but that people were good for tens of thousands of years without God. Really? Tell that to the people who lived and died in Noah’s day. God destroyed the earth with a flood because he saw the “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Laying aside the argument over creation or Noah and the flood, Jesus plainly says he existed before Abraham, even though when he made this claim, Jesus was only 33 years old. 

The problem with Christianity has never been Jesus, but it has always been us. We Christians sometimes give it a bad name because of our pride, our prejudice, or our ignorance. But make no mistake. It is to Jesus we must look to validate Christianity. If Jesus is found to be a fraud, or a lunatic, or self-deceived,  Christianity crumbles. If Jesus did not rise from the dead after three days in a tomb, then all we who put our hope in him are fools at best.

So, here is the challenge. If you would see yourself with feet firmly planted with the nones, would you at least be willing to attack the resurrection of Jesus with every molecule in your body? Do what Lord George Lyttleton, Frank Morison, C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, and many others have done.  Each of these former atheists were scholars, college professor, journalists, or members of Parliament. Each of them sought to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each of them came to believe in Jesus after carefully examining the evidence with a desire to know the truth. Be careful. The elephant in the room loves when people seek the truth.

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Mark Fox March 25, 2024
Mark Fox March 18, 2024

I Want to Know Him

It is an amazing thing to me that 30 years after Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, he expresses the cry of his heart in a letter to one of the churches he planted: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” What does that statement by Paul teach us about Christ, except that yes, we are able to know him! Even as a 15-year-old, this verse captured me the first time I read it. Maybe I saw then with immature faith that this was the greatest cry of Paul’s heart. He had forsaken the pursuit of fame and fortune as a Pharisee and had given himself fully to the pursuit of Christ. Could there be anybody in the first century who knew Christ better than Paul? And yet, here is Paul crying out from a Roman prison that more than anything, he wanted to know the Lord.

It has been a 51-year pursuit for me, longer for some of you, shorter for others. I know that I will finally fully know Jesus when I meet him face to face, but I want to know him on this side of heaven. I want to grow more like him. The big theological term that describes what I desire more of, is sanctification.

Sanctification is the process by which we grow in our relationship with Jesus. It is progressive and continuous until the day we die. And though God takes the initiative, sanctification requires our participation. Therefore, it looks different in different people because of the amount of participation by the individual. The disobedient Christian grows much more slowly than the obedient one. You know this is a law of physics: Speed x Time = Distance. If you drive at 60mph for one hour, you will have driven 60 miles. It is also a spiritual law. Persistent obedience over time leads to maturity. Sanctification happens as we take a “long walk of obedience” with the Lord, cooperating with the Spirit of God in the plan He has chosen for us.

How do we do it, then? How do we grow in our relationship with the Lord, to truly get to know Jesus? Let’s acknowledge that part of our growth comes from just doing the work: reading and studying the Bible, learning to pray, obeying the main things and the plain things of Scripture. But our spiritual maturity is also affected by our relationships. If we spend time with people who know Jesus better than we do, we will likely grow in our relationship with Jesus ourselves.

Ask yourself this question: “Who knows Jesus better than I do that I am close to?” I am fortunate to live with someone who knows Jesus better than I, my wife! She is not only my best friend and closest companion, she has been my example and teacher in many ways over these 41 years of marriage. I also have friends who are more mature than I in their relationship with the Lord, and I learn by being with them. I would suggest you ask someone who is close to the Lord to have coffee with you. Ask them how they know him like they do. Listen carefully, and begin to follow their walk, until it becomes your own. Be forewarned that those who draw near to Jesus will be changed. He will ask you to stop some things that are important to you and start others that have been neglected. The long walk of obedience will be worth it.

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Mark Fox March 18, 2024
Mark Fox March 11, 2024

There Will Be False Teachers and Prophets!



R.C. Sproul wrote, “I doubt if there has ever been a time in church history when professing Christians have been less concerned about doctrine than they are in our day. We hear almost daily that doctrine does not matter, that Christianity is a relationship, not a creed.” And yes, we are in a relationship with Christ, but you cannot read Scripture, which is our guidebook for life in Christ, without seeing the importance given to doctrine, sound teaching, understanding truth and recognizing error. Peter wrote in his second letter, just look at the false prophets who lived among the people of God in ancient times! In the same way that false prophets infiltrated the people of God then, false teachers do the same today. Again, Sproul says, “The most destructive threat to the people of God in the Old Testament was not the armies of the Philistines, the Assyrians, or the Amalekites, but the false prophets within their gates.” Peter mentioned godly prophets, men who spoke from God, or through whom God spoke. But false prophets and teachers speak on their own and claim they have heard from God.

Some of you have heard me tell the story of Miriam, the lady in white, who paid Antioch a visit in the very early days of the church. When she showed up in a flowy white dress, I thought that was a little odd, but whatever, I am certainly not a fashion icon or expert. But when I welcomed her and she told me she was the “Bride of Christ,” that’s when things started going sideways. I said, “I’m sorry, but you may be part of the Bride of Christ, the church, but, you are not the Bride of Christ!” She smiled at me like a kindergarten teacher would smile at a 4 year old who just said 2+2 equals 5. After we sang a few worship songs, I asked if anyone had a testimony. A few people shared and then I saw the Bride stand up and say in a loud voice, “The time of the Gentiles is over!” All heads swiveled as one as every person in the congregation turned to look. “God has closed the door on the Gentiles, and they will no longer be allowed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Yea, I am returning to My people now,” she spoke prophetically.She continued, “Israel will come back to the fold. But the day of the Gentiles is over.” She took a breath, and I was hoping along with everyone else that she was finished, but no, she had one more shocker. “Not only that,” she said, “The Lord says there will be a plague of ants on the earth.”

There goes our church picnic at the park next week, I thought.

The Lord reminded me that day of the importance of elders, and I asked if any of them would like to reply. One of them shot to his feet and said that her prophecy did not line up with Scripture and quoted several places to show why. And, he said, there is no indication of a plague of ants happening right now or any time in the Bible.

God said to Jeremiah, “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” God brought judgment on the shepherds who were not only not feeding their people, but who scattered the flock and poisoned them with false teaching. God said he would bring his sheep back to the fold, and said, “I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing.”

We hear it often today, and I repeat what I have written before. The people of God, many of them, have been scattered by no teaching or wrong teaching, and by no leadership or abusive leadership, and many have wandered for years and some have given up on the church altogether. That is not the answer. God did not tell his people in Jeremiah’s days that it was ok for them to be scattered and no longer cared for and no longer under authority. Neither does He say that today.

There are healthy churches that are led by healthy elders and populated with people who are growing in their love for God, for His Word, and for each other. Find those churches and become a member there. Submit to the elders and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And study the Word of God, which is true, so you will be able to identity error when a false teacher or prophet comes along.



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Mark Fox March 11, 2024
Mark Fox March 4, 2024

Paul the Apostle…and You

It has been stated by many that the two greatest proofs for the Christian faith are the resurrection of Christ and the conversion of Saul. You just cannot explain away the resurrection. Millions have tried, and no one has succeeded. You also cannot explain away the absolute about-face in the life of Saul. It is the most famous conversion story in church history, and the Apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, is the most influential person in church history, with the obvious exception of Jesus.

Saul’s conversion is also the most unique in history. Think about the story in Acts 9 and what happened that day with Saul. What do we know for sure that does not have to happen in order for people to be saved? A blinding light from heaven. Falling on the ground. Hearing your name spoken from heaven, out loud. Having the resurrected Jesus appear to you. Being commissioned as an apostle. Being blinded for three days. Further in the text: scales falling from your eyes when someone sent from God lays hands on you and prays. If that were the litmus test for salvation, or if any of those were required for salvation, I daresay that none of us would be eligible for heaven.


What are the common elements that we all share with Paul in his conversion?

First, you must have had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Salvation is not mediated through a priest, or a parent. You may have heard it said that God has no grandchildren, only children.


Second, you have surrendered to him, through repentance and faith, which is a gift of God.


Third, we have received His “summons to serve,” to use John Stott’s phrase. No one who is saved is merely an acquaintance of Jesus. “Jesus? Oh, yes, I know Him. I mean, I met Him once. Wonderful man. Great words. Love that Sermon on the Mount!”

No! Rather it’s like, “Jesus? He is my Savior and Lord. He bought me with a price. I loved him because he first loved me. I am his. Wherever he sends, I will go. Whatever he says, I will do.” That was Paul’s heart attitude after his encounter with Jesus.

Why was Saul persecuting the church? Why was he breathing murderous threats? Was it because the church sang awesome songs, listened to interesting talks, and got together to think about how to improve themselves and help others? No. Saul knew the church perhaps better than we do. He knew that if they were right, and that Jesus really was the Messiah and that salvation comes not through works of righteousness but by grace through faith, then his whole life was a pile of rubbish! That’s what he said in Philippians 3. He said that he had more reason before he met Christ to boast in the flesh than any man. But after Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus, Paul sang a different tune: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…”

You and I can meet the light of the world anytime, in the Bible. And in the lives of people who truly know him. When we do, then our lives become further proof for the Christian faith.

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Mark Fox March 4, 2024