Not Far from the Kingdom
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Not Far from the Kingdom

Mark 12:28–34  (ID: 2845)

When Jesus answered the sincere question of a scribe, the scribe seemed impressed and affirmed Jesus’ reply. Why, then, would Jesus describe him as still being “not far from the kingdom of God”? Alistair Begg explains that honoring Jesus as a teacher while not acknowledging our need for Him as Savior is not sufficient for salvation. How many today are similarly close to God’s kingdom, agreeing in word but not actually submitting to Christ?

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Mark, Volume 6

Jesus vs. the Religious Leaders Mark 11:12–12:44 Series ID: 14106

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to turn with me to the Gospel of Mark and to chapter 12, and reading the section that begins at verse 28 and goes through to verse 34. Mark 12:28:

“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, ‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ And the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.”


Well, let’s ask God to help us as we look at this section:

Make the Book live to me, O Lord,
Show me yourself within your Word,
Show me myself and show me my Savior,
And make the Book live to me.[1]

For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

The Cavaliers had a 100–99 lead against the Bulls, with three seconds left. It was game five of the Eastern Conference first round, in the Coliseum at Richfield. Jordan was double-teamed by Ehlo and by Larry Nance. He evaded both of them and hit what has now been known ever since as “The Shot.” And I was one, and you were perhaps one, of the twenty-thousand-plus sitting in stunned silence as once again the story of Cleveland sports became “close, but not close enough.” The Shot is one of the many dramatic sports moments that have come at the expense of a Cleveland team. I don’t want to dishearten you on such a happy weekend, but to The Shot we can add Red Right 88, The Catch, The Drive, The Fumble, The Move, and, of course, the 1997 World Series.

Why would I even mention these things to begin? Well, because there is one phrase that stands out in our reading, isn’t there, that is so striking: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And as I was studying that this week, I was thinking about all the ways in which you can get very close to something and yet not experience the something. It’s possible to get the ball on the one-yard line but not in the end zone. It’s possible to become very close to an individual and yet for that friendship never to be consummated in marriage. We understand the phraseology “close, but not close enough.” And at this most significant level, this individual is described by Jesus in this way. We need to discover what it is he means by that, and also, I suggest to you, that we need to discover why it would possibly matter to any of us this morning, so long removed and so far away from this particular incident as it took place in the precincts of Jerusalem.

But I think some of you have already guessed. You know. Because the phrase struck you. And that is that this phrase is an apt description of some of our lives this morning—that we actually fit this designation, inasmuch as, like this man, we are “not far from the kingdom of God.” Close, but not close enough. By the time we end this morning, we’re going to sing a song that is an old song, an old hymn, which is a hymn of invitation that will invite us to call upon Jesus to be the very Savior that we need. And you might want to be thinking along those lines, even as we study this passage together.

For those of us who’ve been working our way through Mark, we know that the good news has begun with the establishing of Jesus telling everybody that the time is fulfilled and that the kingdom of God is near.[2] What he meant by that was not geographical or spatial, but rather that the kingdom of God was now present in himself, Jesus the King. And on account of that, he asked his listeners to do two things: one, to repent—to turn away from their own agenda in life and their desire to please themselves and go their own way, and to turn away from that—and secondly, faith—to place their faith unreservedly in the living God, in Jesus himself.

And the reason that the Gospels—Mark, Matthew, Luke, John—then contain all these events and encounters, all these miracles, is because Jesus is establishing in the hearts and minds of the people he meets the reality of the fact that he is actually the King. That he is the Lord of creation; that’s why he is able to preside over the winds and the waves; that is why he is able to heal the sick. That he is the Lord over all of the powers of the ages, and that is why he is able to silence the demons. These things are not just random incidents thrown in there as filler, but each of the Gospel writers is providing us with the evidence of the fact that Jesus is the King, and that he has come to gather people into his kingdom. That’s what he’s doing. He’s calling individuals.

And he’s still calling individuals. And he’s saying, “Hey, I’m the King. Here’s my kingdom. I invite you to come and be part of my kingdom. You don’t slide in on your own basis. You don’t get in on the strength of religious endeavor.” But the entryway he made clear from the very beginning: repentance and faith. He’s like no other king. He’s already ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey—very unkinglike. He is about to receive a crown, but this crown will be a crown of thorns. What king wears a crown of thorns, except a king that has now come to suffer and die for people’s sins?

All of this by way of background to the dialogue that we have here.

As we work our way through this brief section, I want us to consider, first of all, the question that this man poses to Jesus, then the affirmation that he makes to the answer provided by Jesus, and then this man’s condition as described by Jesus.

The Question Posed

Now, if you have the text before you, you will see that in verse 28 one of the scribes—presumably, part of the group, or at least the fringe group, who has observed the previous dispute with the Sadducees concerning the question of the resurrection—has been impressed with the way in which Jesus had answered these individuals. And so now he comes with a question of his own—his question posed to Jesus. The previous question was convoluted; if you don’t remember, you can reread it. This present question is clear. It’s there in a sentence: “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

Jesus is establishing in the hearts and minds of the people he meets the reality that he is actually the King, the Lord of creation, the Lord over all of the powers of the ages.

Now, for the lawyers here, you understand that legal boffins are routinely interested in matters of legal precedent, so that, on the basis of legal precedent, then cases may be tried and retried. In the instance of this man, who is a scribe or a lawyer, he has a question concerning the priority of the laws of God, and he wants to know, “Is there a big one, is there a first one, is there an outstanding one, which is the commandment of all commandments? Which is the one?” he says. And it may well be that he wants to know this so that he can assess himself against that standard.

So, unlike the previous question, this one is clear. And, also unlike the previous question, this one is sincere. The previous people who had come to Jesus, you will remember, were trying to trap him by his talk. They were trying to trip him up. They came by way of confrontation; this man comes seeking clarification. And you remember that there is such a difference between those two, isn’t there? All the difference in the world between coming to listen to the Bible being taught because you want to be confrontational, because you want to be argumentative, and coming listening to the Bible being taught because you want things clarified in your mind.

I had a letter this week from somebody who actually said in the letter—it wasn’t a letter; it was a card, or it was a letter written on a card, I suppose—anyway, the lady wrote to say that she came initially to Parkside so that she could get fuel for the fire of her animosity and her antagonism. Even as I tell you this, you think, “You must make one of these up a week, because last week you told us that you had a letter from a radio listener.” You don’t think that I would make these things up; I hope you don’t. I did. And this week I had a letter from somebody local. Somebody here. Said the very same thing, perhaps because she was listening last week, and she wanted me to know that this was not an unusual occurrence—that individuals will come under the sound of the Bible just so they can find out what it is that is totally bogus so that they can explain to their friends it was a complete waste of time to come. I love that! If you’re here like that, I’m glad you’re here! I’m absolutely thrilled! Because we’re beginning to build a track record of people who come just like that and go away radically different. Strange how it happens, isn’t it?

No, this man’s question was clear, his question was sincere, and the answer that Jesus gave was absolutely wonderful. You will notice it there. We won’t spend long on it; it’s familiar to us. Jesus answers with great clarity, “Well, let me tell you what the most important is.” And then he begins with Deuteronomy 6—familiar words to every Jewish man, to every Jewish boy and girl. He quotes immediately from the basic and essential Jewish creed, the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one,”[3] and then he goes on to explain from there. This is the material that is taught to every Jewish child, even today. And this is the phraseology that begins every Orthodox Jewish service, right up until today. And Jesus says, “Let me answer the question about the commandment by referring you to material that you know.”

Now, I want you to notice the alls, four of them: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart … all your soul … all your mind and … all your strength.” That’s pretty demanding, isn’t it? It’s not, “If you have a superficial interest in the things of God, why don’t you just come and join me in my kingdom?” No! He says, “If you want to know about the commandments of God, the first one is this.”

William Barclay says that the love that is conveyed in this command is a love which does three things. You might want to note these d’s down, if you take notes: it is “a love,” says Barclay, “which dominates our emotions … which directs our thoughts, and … which is the dynamic of all our actions.”[4] In other words, it is volitional. It is not simply a feeling in the tummy. It is not the registering of some kind of spiritual desire or designs. But it actually involves total devotion to God. It isn’t possible to say, “Well, actually, I just obey the first and greatest commandment, but I don’t deal with any of the other eight or nine.” No, for a person to say, “I am totally committed to God, body, soul, and mind,” means that they are totally committed to what he says about not telling lies; that they are totally committed to what it says about marital fidelity, that they are totally committed to not coveting one another’s product, and so on. In other words, that the outworking of this one great commandment—and its corollary, as we will see—is not set apart from the commands of God but is worked out in the fulfilling of the commands of God.

And Jesus, you will notice, adds the second string to his bow, or the second wing to the plane, as he quotes from Leviticus 19, and he says, “And the second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There’s no commandment greater than these.”[5]

Well, that’s a pretty straight question and a pretty obvious answer, isn’t it? What is the greatest commandment? “Here it is: all, all, all, all, all, and your neighbor as well.” Not always easy to love your neighbor, is it? There’s no substantiation in this phraseology, either, for self-love. That’s been taught over the last two and a half decades: “You see, you’re supposed to love yourself, and then if you love yourself…” and so on, as if, somehow or another, that’s the real problem—the absence of self-love. The biggest problem I have is the presence of self-love.

But why would we love our neighbors? Well, we love our neighbors because they’re made in God’s image, not because they’re necessarily the loveliest neighbors. We’re not necessarily the loveliest neighbors either. The image of God is distorted in people’s lives. We look at the lives of people, and we see that they’re so far removed, it would seem, from the plans and purposes and designs of God. Well, what are we then to do? Just disregard them? To pass them by? No, the story of the Good Samaritan answers that once and for all, doesn’t it? “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was.”[6] It’s challenging, isn’t it? Like two wings of a plane, the two commands are both necessary and inseparable.

The Affirmation Made

Well, that’s the question. Secondly, the affirmation. The affirmation. “And the scribe”— verse 32—“and the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher.’” I don’t know whether there’s a hint of condescension in this or not. We can’t tell, because, obviously, we can’t hear the tone of voice. But it may well be that he’s saying, “Well, I’m glad to let you know that you’ve answered very, very well. I mean, I’m a scribe; I know all these things. And you are an uncredentialed rabbi from somewhere in the backwaters, and you’ve given a very good answer, I must say. Hear, hear! Well done, Jesus. Excellent work, Teacher. You have truly said this.”

Now, you will notice that he restates what Jesus says, in large measure—verse 33: “to love him with all the heart” (the definite article is in here now) “and with all the understanding…” It’s interesting that it’s a different word that he uses there in Greek. Jesus uses the word for mind; he uses the word for understanding. It doesn’t matter; it doesn’t change the meaning at all. But it is translated in that way because of the distinction. “…with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.” But you will notice that he both precedes that and he follows that by an emphasis that he draws out from the opening phrase of the Shema, which is quoted there at the end of verse 29.

So, he’s not only affirming the universal obligation of devotion to God—one that is comprehensive, one that is undiluted, one that involves placing our entire personality in God’s service—as well as affirming that obligation, you will notice that he does two things. One, he affirms the uniqueness of God. Notice that? “You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.” He understands, you see, that the expression at the beginning of the Shema, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord [your] God, the Lord is one”—and then it goes from there—is akin to the beginning of the Ten Commandments: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. You are to this, you must not do that.”[7]

In other words, there is a distinct logic that emerges from the identity of the God who speaks. And what the man is affirming is the fact that God is not like the gods of the idols; he’s not like the gods of the heathen. And all the way through the Old Testament—indeed, all the way through the story of life—the reality of the uniqueness of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, revealed as God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit—three in one, one in three, mysterious; at best what we have is an extrapolation or a formulation of the truth, not an explanation of the truth—but all the way through history, right up until the present day, that God who has revealed himself in the world that he has made, in the conscience of men and women with a sense of oughtness, in the Bible that he has given and preserved for us, and finally and savingly in the person of his Son—this God is the God who then obligates us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, strength, and so on.

Now, if you think about that, that makes sense. Why would you be obligated to a god of your own making? If you made your god—if you dredged your god, little g, up from somewhere—you are not subservient to this god. This god exists to serve you. This god exists like something you would put on a mantle shelf and go to and ask for its help every so often. But if you think about it for long enough, you go, “Why would I even ask this thing for anything? What could this thing do? Blind, deaf, and dumb piece of junk! There’s nothing that this thing can do!”

We love our neighbors because they’re made in God’s image, not because they’re necessarily the loveliest neighbors. We’re not necessarily the loveliest neighbors either.

No, you see, this is what the prophet was dealing with six hundred years before Christ. Listen to Isaiah 45: “There is no other god besides me, a righteous God and … Savior; there is none besides me.”[8] Now, we’re not here to camp on this this morning, but let us notice in passing that the exclusive reality of God was as offensive six hundred years before the arrival of Jesus as it is twenty-one hundred years after the arrival of Jesus. And it’s one of the great challenges that a Bible-believing Christian faces in articulating our faith in our day. God says, “I am God, and there is no other god.” He’s not saying, “I’m a cosmic principle.” He’s not saying that “I am a dimension within you that you must go into yourself and try and discover.” Rather, he is affirming that before there was time and before there was anything, there was God. “In the beginning, God…”[9] What is the greatest commandment? You love this God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, all your strength.

The man says, “You know, you’re right in saying that there is only one God.” And notice, secondly, he says, “And also, it is important,” he points out, “that we recognize that this undiluted love for God is actually more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” It’s almost as if he keeps the word “all” in there to make the point. It’s been “all, all, all, all.” He says, “And in actual fact, this kind of love for God and one’s neighbor is more important than the sacrifices.”

Now, he is not saying here that the sacrifices are irrelevant. They’re clearly not; they were established by God. But he is acknowledging this: that the routine of the sacrificial system, minus an obedient heart, is irrelevant to God. The process of doing what God has asked us to do that is divorced from the reality of heart and mind and soul and strength and obedience is like going through the external routines of a bona fide, orthodox, manageable marriage out of which the love has long since drained. All the hellos are there, all the goodbyes are there, all the yes-thank-yous are there, but it is obvious that the love is gone. And so he says, “Jesus, obedience actually matters more than that.”

Well, of course, Jesus might have said to him the same thing: “Hear, hear, scribe! You have done well.” Because what he is doing is, he’s actually simply quoting from the Old Testament. He’s acknowledging what it said. First Samuel 15, question: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?” Does he have as much delight in the sacrifices as in obedience? “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.”[10]

The Condition Jesus Describes

Now, that brings us to our third and final point. Notice what Mark tells us. Verse 34: “And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely,” or he answered discreetly… Let’s just remind ourselves that the question that he has posed to Jesus has been clear and it has been sincere. His affirmation to the answer given by Jesus has been both wise and scriptural. No evasion on his part, no self-justification. The man is clearly knowledgeable, and he is at the same time teachable. That’s what makes this final point—his condition as described by Jesus—so striking: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” “You’re right there on the border,” says Jesus. “You’re on the one-yard line, but you’re not in the end zone.”

Now, the observer finds themselves saying, if they’re at all interested in religious things, “This can’t possibly be.” Remember, this had already happened, and the disciples had been the ones who said, “Who then can be saved?” You can read this in chapter 10, on the story of the rich young man, who, remember, went away sad. He said he’d kept all the commandments since he was a boy, and Jesus says, “Well, let me tell you what’s really in this deal here.” And he put his finger on the fact that the man did not obey this first and greatest commandment: he didn’t love the Lord God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. He loved his money more than that. Therefore, money was his idol. Therefore, the idol would have to go if he was going to go into the kingdom. He understood that; he went away sad because he wanted his money and he didn’t want the kingdom.[11]

And the disciples on that occasion said, “Well, who in the world can get saved? I mean, if you’ve got a guy like this and he can’t be in the kingdom, who gets in the kingdom?” It’s a good question! And Jesus says, “You see, what is impossible with men is possible with God.” You come to this story, and you say, “If this fellow’s not in the kingdom, then who gets in? After all, he’s religious. He’s relatively self-effacing. He’s concerned about pleasing God. Isn’t this just the ideal person that Jesus is looking for for his kingdom? I mean, I think that’s the word out on the east side of Cleveland: Jesus is just looking for some nice people who are quite humble to ask some questions about spiritual things, and they’re religious and interested in making sure that they know what is number one on the commandment list.”

Is that what Jesus is doing? If that’s what Jesus is doing, then he’s making a dreadful mess of it. Because again and again, people like this find themselves rebutted, find themselves distanced from the kingdom. You have to go way back to chapter 2 and remember that when Jesus begins to add to his disciple band, he picks up a fellow called Matthew, or Levi, who is a tax collector. The Jews hated tax collectors because of the way they went about their business. They were dishonest. And people said, “Well, look. If you’re going to start having people like this as your disciple, we don’t want anything to do with you. We’re religious people. We’re commandment people. We do everything right. We are the people! If you really were the Messiah, you wouldn’t be having that party, you wouldn’t be going to that party over at Levi’s house. Do you realize some of the people that are in there, Jesus? It’s not only tax collectors. There’s sinners, there’s all manner of people in there.” And Jesus says, “Guys, I don’t think you’ve got the picture. It’s not the healthy that need a physician. I didn’t come to call the righteous. I came to call sinners to repentance.”[12] To repentance!

Do you remember what we said at the beginning? Jesus stands on the stage of human history, and he says, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is near; repent and believe.” “I didn’t come to call righteous people,” he said. “I came to call sinners.” But do you see what happens when we’re religious people? Unless our religion shows us our need of God, our religion will actually keep us from God. And you see, that’s what had happened to this man. This man wanted to know what the number one was so that he could try his best to make sure that he did it. So in other words, he speaks rightly when he addresses Jesus and he calls him “Teacher.” He says, “Well said, Teacher. You’re right. You’ve truly said what is right.” What’s the missing link? The missing link is clear: he did not understand that Jesus Christ had not come ultimately to teach him but to save him. To save him!

We’re only weeks away now—days away now, really—from Christmas. The carols are already out in the malls. They’re everywhere! It’s a great opportunity, incidentally, just to speak about the Christian faith. Christmas carols seem to get underneath the radar of political correctness in a way that nothing else actually does. It’s a terrific couple of weeks of opportunity. They started at least yesterday or the day before, didn’t they? You can speak to them. You can tell them, you say, “What does that mean?” And the message of the angels was clear: “You shouldn’t be afraid. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a teacher.” Is that what it says? “For unto you is born this day in the city of David an example. Christ is both teacher and example.” No! “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”[13] “And you will call his name Jesus”—Yeshua, the Savior—“because he will save people.”[14]

He didn’t come to judge the world,
He didn’t come to blame,
He didn’t only come to seek,
It was to save he came.
And so, when we call him Savior,
Then we call him by his name.[15]

But you see what happens? If the law as expressed here in “love God and love your neighbor”— we could collapse it to kinda like the Golden Rule, you know—if the Golden Rule does not show up how needy we are, then it will become for us a barrier against ever entering the kingdom of God.

“Well, I’m a pretty good person. I love God as best I can—I mean, not ‘all, all, all, all,’ but, you know, at least ‘some, some, some, some.’ And, you know, I got a few neighbors that I’m not dealing with, but the rest I’m giving a good stab at it.” No, I went to check, because I said, “I bet that Zen Buddhism has got something on this that encourages those who are into Zen”—and far more are into Zen than realize they’re into Zen; it’s come at us from fifty different ways in the last two or three decades, in magazines and every other place. It’s quite customary for us to say, “This is a great basketball coach; you know, he’s very Zen. This is a wonderful actress; she’s very Zen.” You don’t really know what it means. But I went to look and see, “What does Zen Buddhism do with this notion of, like, loving God and treating your neighbor as yourself and so on?” This is what it says: doing this “will … be good for the people you help and are kind to.” Obviously! It’s good. Then it says, “Beyond that, … you will find a growing satisfaction in yourself, a belief in yourself, a knowledge that you are a good person and a trust in yourself.”[16] In yourself, in yourself, in yourself, in yourself. What does it do? It says, “You have it in yourself. Do this and you will be accepted.” Christianity says, “You don’t have it in yourself. Accept this.” Accept what? Accept the call of the kingdom. Which is what? To repent and to believe the good news. To recognize that when I look at “all, all, all, all,” it condemns me.

If that is the standard of acceptance with God—if total perfection, the fulfillment of the first and second commands, if that’s how you get into the kingdom of God—none of us are going in. Let’s just flat out acknowledge it. No matter how good you feel about yourself! You haven’t lived a day of your life when you’ve loved God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And neither have I. If perfection is the standard for entry, how is anybody going in?

Unless our religion shows us our need of God, our religion will actually keep us from God.

That’s where the gospel comes. This shows us that we can’t do it. The gospel says, “But another has come who has done it, who has kept the law in its absolute perfection, who has fulfilled it in its totality, and who furthermore has not only kept all of that but has paid the penalty necessary for the fact that we haven’t kept all of that.” And the one who has effected this on our behalf is none other than the King who says to us, “Abandon all your efforts to rule your own life, abandon all your attempts to establish your own kingdom, and enter my kingdom.”

Well, our time is done. We’re going to sing that hymn in just a moment, but if you’re like me and you don’t know the story, you’re into chapter 13, 14, 15, and 16, trying to find this man—trying to find out what happened to this man, trying to find out if he ever got into the end zone. And you can read all the way through to the end, and there’s no indication of it. We don’t know.

Well, let me ask you: What about you? What about you? Is someone gonna conduct your funeral service and say, “She was close, but not close enough”? Is somebody gonna stand here as we usher your corpse out into the waiting hearse and say, “You know, he spent his whole life on the one-yard line, but he never entered the end zone. He could give you the information as good as anybody. He understood about the teaching of Jesus. He understood the nature of the priority of the commandments. He had it all down pat. But when the Savior passed by, saying, ‘Whoever comes to me, I won’t cast out,’[17] he never called out to him.” Can I ask you, have you ever called out to him? Have you ever called out to him and said, “Jesus, be my Savior. I need a Savior! Be my Savior.”

If you do, he will. How do I know? ’Cause he said so. Can’t be that easy, can it? That easy—and that difficult. Because everything in you says, “You don’t have to do that. You’re a good soul. You know the commandments. You’re self-effacing. You’re righteous.” See what it is that keeps you from Christ as a Savior? It’s not bad stuff; it’s good stuff. It’s not ’cause you think you stink so badly that he would never save you. It’s because you think you’re so good that he doesn’t need to save you. But if he doesn’t need to save you, who does he need to save? For whom did he come?

Father, thank you for the Bible. Thank you that we can read it; thank you that we can go home and read it. Thank you that your Word is fixed in the heavens.[18] Thank you that it is good news—not the good news of self-effort but the good news that when, with the trembling lip of childlike faith, we reach out a hand that contains nothing except the openness that receives from you as a gift the wonder of your grace and your mercy, we enter into the reality of your kingly rule. O God, I pray for each of us that you will clarify the issues in our minds, because this really matters. It matters. We need to know what it means, and we need to know why it matters, and then we need your grace to call out to you. Enable us to do so, we pray. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[1] R. Hudson Pope, “Make the Book Live to Me” (1943). Lyrics lightly altered.

[2] See Mark 1:15.

[3] Deuteronomy 6:4 (ESV).

[4] William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, The New Daily Study Bible (1957; repr., Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 2:324.

[5] See Leviticus 19:18.

[6] Luke 10:30 (paraphrased).

[7] Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6 (paraphrased).

[8] Isaiah 45:21 (ESV).

[9] Genesis 1:1 (ESV).

[10] 1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV).

[11] See Mark 10:17–27.

[12] See Mark 2:13–17.

[13] Luke 2:11 (ESV).

[14] Matthew 1:21 (paraphrased).

[15] Dora Greenwell, “A Good Confession,” in Songs of Salvation (London, 1874), 27. Paraphrased.

[16] Leo Babauta, “18 Practical Tips for Living the Golden Rule,” Zen Habits,

[17] John 6:37 (paraphrased).

[18] See Psalm 119:89.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.