Episode 119

Disciple Up #119 Show Notes
What’s So Important About the Cross?
By Louie Marsh, 7-31-2019

Introduction: The only way to comment publicly on the podcast is at the FaceBook page, facebook.com/discipleup.  You can e-mail me at louie@discipleup.org.

Request for an upcoming episode I’m researching now.

Most of the information on today’s episode is taken from John Stott’s masterful book, “The Cross of Christ.” Link below.

The Centrality of the Cross

What part does the cross of Christ play in our Christian faith? Why did Jesus have to die on the cross, and why has the cross remained the central symbol of the Christian faith for over 2,000 years?

Christians agree that it was on the cross that Christ died to save our souls. But is it really central to our faith? Here’s what Paul said, For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News—and not with clever speeches and high-sounding ideas, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power. I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. 1 Cor. 1:17-18 (NLT) [See also Gal. 5:11; 6:12,14; Phil. 2:8]

To Paul there is more to the cross than it’s use by God in redeeming mankind. He makes it central to his message and his life. As we begin our look at the cross of Christ we must start with attempting to discover why it is placed squarely at the center of our faith.

The Cross as a Sign and a Symbol

Every major group, movement, nation and religion has a visual symbol. Buddhism has the lotus flower and Islam the crescent. Ancient Judaism avoided a symbol for fear of making an idol, but modern Judaism has two symbols, the Star of David and the Menorah.

Secular states have symbols also. The Nazi’s had the swastika, the Soviet Union had the hammer and sickle and the New Age Movement today uses the rainbow. Today almost every business or group has its own symbol (called a logo usually). This includes Christ’s Church on the River!

In the early church the Christian symbol wasn’t the cross. The earliest symbol was the peacock, which symbolized immortality. The first Christians also used a dove, the athlete’s victory palm and of course the fish. Yet gradually the cross replaced all these. (It also precluded others from rising such as the manger, the empty tomb, etc.)

Instead the cross was chosen. It’s two bars were already a cosmic symbol from antiquity of the axis between heaven and earth. When the church chose the central truth of the faith to commemorate they chose neither Christ’s miracles nor teachings, they didn’t even choose His resurrection! Instead they chose the cross. (By the way, just in case you’re wondering, the crucifix doesn’t seem to have been used before the 6th century AD.)

How they used the Cross

 From the second century onward early Christians made the sign of the cross on themselves and others. Early Church Father Tertullian (A.D. 200) wrote this,

“At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of life, we trace upon the forehead the sign.”

 Hyppolytus wrote The Apostolic Tradition (215 A.D.) about the traditional rites of the church. He recommended in private prayer to, “imitate him always, by signing the forehead sincerely; for this is the sign of his passion.”

It seems clear then that the sign of the cross was intended to identify and sanctify each act belonging to Christ. In the early church the cross of Christ was ever present in the life of the believer.

The Surprise of the Cross

It is surprising that the church chose the cross as their symbol when we remember the horror it was regarded with in the ancient world.

Cicero wrote, “To bind a Roman citizen is a crime, to flog him is an abomination, to kill him is almost an act of murder; to crucify him is – what? There is no fitting word that can possibly describe too horrible a deed…the very cross should be far removed not only from the person of a Roman citizen, but from his thoughts, his eyes, his ears.”

The first surviving picture of the crucifixion of Jesus is a caricature found on Palatine Hill in Rome, in a school for Imperial Pages. A crude drawing shows stretched on a cross a man with the head of a donkey. To the left stands another man with one arm raised in worship. Scribbled underneath are the words, “Alexamenos worships his God.”

In the light of all this why did the church choose the cross for its main symbol? Only one answer can suffice – that the centrality of the cross originated from the Lord Jesus Himself.

Scripture and the Cross

 The centrality of the cross began early in Christ’s ministry.  He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. (Mark 8:31-32)  The word plainly means “with freedom of speech or openly.” In a parallel passage (Matthew 16:21-23) the cross was so important that Jesus called Peter “Satan” when he urged Jesus to avoid it!

Jesus repeats himself in Mark 10:32-34. By saying the Son of Man will suffer and die Jesus daringly combined the two images of the Messiah in the Old Testament; the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 and the Reigning Son of Man of Daniel 7. Jesus said that He is both and will die before He reigns.

Jesus emphasis on the cross is also reflected in the amount of space the Gospels give to their accounts of His passion. It takes up between one-third and one-fourth of the Synoptic Gospels, and almost one-half of John!

The Apostles View of the Cross

How the Apostles viewed the cross can be discovered in their use of the word “tree.” Peter used it in Acts 5:30 and Paul used it in Acts 13:29.

Why is this so important? Because of what the book of Deuteronomy says, If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. Deut. 21:22-23

The Apostles deliberately drew to people’s attention that Jesus died under a curse! Why on earth would they do that?

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

These Scriptures show that the ancient people guessed right about the cross. The cross of Christ indeed became the nexus of heaven and earth! For on the cross God met and dealt with man’s central problem – sin!  Jesus did this by bearing our sins in His body!

Why Did Christ Die?

The standard Christian answer to this question is four fold: 1) He died for us (Rom. 5:8). Professor Martin Hengel has shown that the concept of a person dying voluntarily for his city, family, friends, the truth or to pacify the gods was wide spread in the Roman world. They even had a special word for it. That’s one reason they so quickly understood the Gospel.

2) He died to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). 3) Christ died to forgive our sins (1 Cor. 15:3). 4) Christ died our death, (Rom. 6:23) He died so that we might live.

All this means that the simple statement Christ died for our sins says a lot more that it appears to on the surface. It says that Jesus, though sinless and not needing to die, did die the death we deserve to die for our sins.

Do these answers fit the facts, as we know them from the Gospels? Or are they something cooked up later to explain what happened to Jesus? To find out let’s look at two events beginning with Maundy Thursday and the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Last Supper

When I read about the Last Supper the first thing that stands out to me is that Jesus doesn’t spend the evening sadly looking back over His life and lamenting the fact He is going to die so young. Instead He look forward to His death as something that must happen and must be remembered!

Here in the only regular commemorative act ever authorized by the Lord Jesus, He is concerned not about His birth, miracles or teachings, but His death. Jesus is saying to us that above all else we must not forget His death and what it means!

According to Matthew and Paul Jesus said that His death and the shedding of His blood would forgive sins and bring about a new covenant (relationship) between God and man.

The Old Covenant was brought about by blood.  Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.”  Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” ( Exodus 24:7-8)

Later the Prophet Jeremiah foretold a New Covenant,  “The time is coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. Jeremiah 31:31 (See Jer. 1-34 for the whole picture) Six centuries after this prophecy Jesus said that His blood must be shed to bring this New Covenant into being.

The Lord’s Supper was an advance dramatization of Christ’s death. It is designed in such a way that everyone in the room is a participant! No one is a spectator – everyone must get involved. To take part in it you must personally take inside of yourself the bread and the cup. This symbolizes the necessity of personally making a choice about Christ.

 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. (John 6:53-55)

The Garden

The Gospel accounts of Jesus in the Garden use some very forceful words to describe what happened there. Luke says Jesus was in “anguish,” the Greek word means “Appalled reluctance.” Matthew and Mark use the word “troubled,” which means a “loathing aversion.”

Jesus said He was “overwhelmed” with “sorrow.” Mark says He was “deeply distressed,” a phrase that literally means “horror struck!”

What caused these very strong reactions? The Cup. What was The Cup? Some say that it was Christ’s fear of physical death. To that I say – No way Jose!! Christ who knew that there life after death, who had brought people back from death itself, could not have feared it.

So what caused this reaction? In the Old Testament The Cup was a phrase often used to refer to God’s wrath. As a nation or people sinned the cup would get fuller and fuller until at last it was filled up. Then God in His righteous wrath would pour out His judgment until the cup was empty and justice was satisfied.

Jesus knew that He was going to take upon and within Himself all His Father’s wrath for all the sins of the world! This knowledge that He – a sinless being – would experience all sin – caused Him such horror.  He foresaw that this would separate Him from His Father for a moment – and that in Paul’s words,  “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:21, NLT)

Yes The Cup had to be drunk. People often say that God can do anything – but that’s not true. According to the Bible He cannot lie, cheat or fail to fulfill His Word. He also could not avoid the need for a sacrifice for our sins. His love drove Him to make the greatest sacrifice of all – Jesus dying on the cross for your sins and mine!

Why the Cross?

There are many theories about why God chose to use the cross to forgive us. Was it to satisfy the devil, as the early Greek Fathers (church leaders) thought? Was it to satisfy the Law as the early Latin Fathers thought? Or did God’s sense of honor and justice as Anselm taught in the 11th century?

While there is some truth in each of these ideas, the plain fact is that the cross is necessary because it arises from within the nature of God Himself. So how and why does God react to sin? The Bible uses several words that will help us understand this question.

The first one is “provoked”. In Judges 2:12-13; 1 Kings 15:30, 21:22 among others places we see this word used. It expresses the inevitable reaction of God’s perfect nature to evil. He is never provoked without reason and must react this way or He would cease to be God!

The second word is “burning.” It’s used in Joshua 7:1, 23:16; Judges 3:7-8 & Hosea 8:5 and many other places. It’s when God is provoked to anger that He is said to burn with anger. (See 2 Kings 22:17)

So there is something in God’s essential moral being which is provoked by evil, which is ignited by it and that burns until the evil is consumed.

Our third and final word is “satisfaction.” The Hebrew word means “to be complete, at an end, finished, accomplished, spent.” It’s found in Ez. 7:8 and Lam 4:11 where God is described as about to “pour out” and “spend” His wrath. Notice that pouring out and spending go together. That which is poured out can’t be gathered again, that which is spent is finished.

So, to sum this up, God is provoked to anger over sin, once kindled His anger burns and is not easily quenched. At last He unleashes it, pours out the cup, and spends it.

But this isn’t a complete picture because it leaves out the background of God’s wrath. What’s that?  Believe it or not it’s God’s love!

 Love and Wrath

In this section I’ll be using human figures of speech here, because I don’t have any others to use! Does the Almighty really have problems? Not from His perspective I’m sure, but from ours He’s does! So I’m talking this way so that it will, hopefully, make sense to us mortals!

God’s problem in dealing with humanity is described in Hosea 11:

     “When Israel was a child, I loved him,

        and out of Egypt I called my son.

    But the more I called Israel,

        the further they went from me.

    They sacrificed to the Baals

        and they burned incense to images.

    It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,

        taking them by the arms;

    but they did not realize

        it was I who healed them.

    I led them with cords of human kindness,

        with ties of love;

    I lifted the yoke from their neck

        and bent down to feed them.

     “Will they not return to Egypt

        and will not Assyria rule over them

        because they refuse to repent?

    Swords will flash in their cities,

        will destroy the bars of their gates

        and put an end to their plans.

    My people are determined to turn from me.

        Even if they call to the Most High,

        he will by no means exalt them.

     “How can I give you up, Ephraim?

        How can I hand you over, Israel?

    How can I treat you like Admah?

        How can I make you like Zeboiim?

    My heart is changed within me;

        all my compassion is aroused.

    I will not carry out my fierce anger,

        nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.

    For I am God, and not man–

        the Holy One among you.

        I will not come in wrath. Hosea 11:1-9

 Paul expresses this dual nature of God, “he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26) This dilemma between justice and grace is always worked out in a way that is in perfect accord with both love and holiness.

The cross then is the event in which God reveals His holiness and love simultaneously. The cross is the only place where we can see that God’s holiness and love are equally infinite. Emil Brunner wrote this daring sentence, “The wrath of God is the love of God.”

It might help us understand this if we think about why we discipline our children. We do it out of love – but they don’t see it that way do they? Have you ever looked at God’s wrath like a child?

Well you don’t have to any longer because God’s wrath against your sin was poured out, and spent on, the cross of Christ! There isn’t any left to pour on you – it’s was spent on the cross! That’s what the whole New Testament means as Paul points out in Romans, “But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight—not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.”

“For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26)

The Achievement of the Cross

What did Christ’s death on the cross achieve? To really answer that question we’ll need to look at the four main images that the New Testament uses of Salvation. They are drawn from four different places: the shrine, the market place, a court of law, and the home.


I know, I know, this sounds more like a disease than anything else doesn’t it? Well it’s isn’t! It comes from the ancient temples and shrines. It means to appease or to pacify anger. Is God an angry God who demands bribes and gifts to forgive us? No!

Propitiation is necessary because as we’ve seen sin arouses God’s wrath. Pagan religion, and in some ways legalistic Christianity, say that we must provide propitiation for our sins. But the Bible doesn’t say that! In fact it says the exact opposite!

In the Old Testament God provided the Law – “for the life of any creature is in its blood. I have given you the blood so you can make atonement for your sins. It is the blood, representing life, that brings you atonement.” (Leviticus 17:11, NLT)

In the New Testament God presented Jesus to save us as we saw in Romans 3:25.

Dr. David Wells wrote, “man is alienated from God by sin and God is alienated from man by wrath. It is in the substitutionary death of Christ that sin is overcome and wrath averted, so God can look on man without displeasure and man can look on God without fear.”


Our next word comes from the ancient market place. The word literally means, “a ransom or price of release,” and was used of buying or setting free slaves.

Just was have we been redeemed from?  “He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right.” (Titus 2:14, NLT) Moral slavery, guilt, God’s wrath etc.

We must never forget the great price Christ paid to redeem us. What was that price? First his incarnation (when he became a man, Phil. 2:5-7). Secondly his shed blood on the cross (I Peter 1:18-19).

We’re looking at these things in a logical manner. Propitiation inevitably comes first, because until the wrath of God is appeased (that is until His love has found a way to avert his anger) there can be no salvation for us. Next, when we are ready to understand the meaning of salvation we begin negatively with redemption. Which is our rescue, at the high price of Christ’s blood, from sin and death.


This third word is taken from the law court. Justification is the opposite of condemnation, and both are verdicts of a judge. Justification is the positive counterpart of redemption. It bestows on us a righteous standing before God. J.J. Packer wrote: “Justification by faith appears to be the heart of God’s saving grace…like Atlas, it bears a world on its shoulders.”

The Source of our Justification according to Romans 3:24 is God’s grace. “…and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)

Grace means something freely given that brings about well being. Therefore self-justification is impossible (Rom. 3:20) and so God does it for us (Rom. 3:21-25). This is grace, a free gift that brings good.

The Ground of our Justification. We are justified by Christ’s blood,

“And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ,” (Romans 5:9, NLT). The blood shed on the cross allows God to make us right with him. Therefore justification isn’t amnesty or an overlooking of guilt, or a pardon without principle. It’s not some plea bargain with God. Justification is an act of justice, a gracious justice, but justice nonetheless.

The Means of our Justification, is faith. “So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.” (Romans 3:28, NLT). But faith in what? Faith and grace belong together. Since faith’s only function is to receive what Grace freely offers, you cannot split them apart. So we are made right with God by our faith in his gracious sacrifice of Christ on the cross.


The fourth word or image of salvation is very popular because it’s so personal. We’ve left the temple and the market place and the court of law behind, and now we’ve come home.

“And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment. For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.” (Romans 5:9-11, NLT)

To reconcile means to restore a relationship, or to renew a friendship. So this word presupposes an original relationship with God, which was broken, and that Christ recovered for us. Reconciliation is the opposite of alienation.

It’s linked to justification in Romans 5:1: “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (NLT) Only after you have a right standing with God can you have peace through reconciliation.

Reconciliation is the fruit of justification. Peace is a synonym for, and a result of, reconciliation. It gives us peace and a personal relationship with God. According to Ephesians 2:13-18 it helps to bring us into peaceful and close relationships with those around us, especially those in the church.

How did this happen? According to 2 Cor. 5:18-22 it took place on the cross. “All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ’s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, “Be reconciled to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (NLT)

God was in Christ and together they reconciled us to them! God took the initiative, and reached out to us when we couldn’t reach out to him!

Reconciliation is finished! All we have to do is accept it!

What Does All This Mean To Me?

The first thing that the cross assures us of is that God is not mad at you – ever!  His wrath’s been placated by the cross. He’s now free to love us completely and unconditionally because of the cross. We then should be free from fear (1 John 4:16-18).

The Death of False Guilt

False Guilt will die when we understand and take this to heart. False Guilt is feeling guilty over something that you shouldn’t feel guilty about. If God has not condemned us how can we condemn ourselves?

And even if I am guilty the cross still rescues me! Justification teaches us that we are legally and morally in the clear – there’s no reason to feel guilty. Reconciliation teaches us that God’s not holding our sins against us- we have a restored relationship with Him! It also teaches us that we don’t have the right to refuse to forgive someone God has forgiven!

This is the real answer to guilt – this and not psychology – holds the answers we need!

The cross says that God wants you! He paid an unbelievable price for you. This doesn’t prove how wonderful you or I are – it proves how wonderful He is! He paid this price in spite of knowing, far better than we do, what terrible sinners we are!

And finally the cross teaches us that God’s not going to give up on us! After everything He went through to propitiate His anger and to ransom us from sin – there’s no way He’s gonna quit on us now! (See 1 Peter 1:3-6)

Thank God for the Cross!


 The Cross of Christ by John Stott – shorturl.at/GKZ56

 Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org


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Episode 118

Disciple Up # 118
Can a Disciple Use Cannabis or is that One Toke Over the Line?
By Louie Marsh, 7-24-2019


Why I’m talking about this, why it’s important beyond just the use of cannabis or any other drug. This whole discussion strikes to the heart of the Christian faith and of what is authoritative, Scripture or experience and culture.


News Article – https://www.foxnews.com/faith-values/porn-pot-christian-cannabis-marijuana-pastor








Introduction to Craig Gross.

 He’s not the first one to advocate on the behalf of pot or cannabis being something Christians should use. He is the latest and he’s got a track record of doing some good work in his former ministry XXXchurch.

Read from article.

The sound clips you are about to hear are taken from one of the videos he has on his Youtube page, links in the show notes. They are edited but I’ve tried hard not to take things out of context. Hopefully I won’t be sued for sharing these, if there’s a problem I will take this down and replace it with an episode without his sound bites.

Introduction clip

 His explanation and defense of using cannabis;

You don’t need that your not a doctor clip

 I’ve done a lot of work – clip

If you want to have a conversation you can’t define people out of it just because they haven’t used cannabis. I’m in the conversation and haven’t and won’t. So there’s that.

The Spiritual side of things

Not replacing God with cannabis clip

 I’ve never been closer to God since I starting smoking cannabis clip

 Read from article about spiritual experience.

How Do We Approach This? From a Biblical Perspective

The Bible does not mention cannabis but has a lot to say about this topic.

The Bible and Getting drunk or high

Getting drunk or high is essentially the same thing. It is allowing a substance you put into your body to take partial or full control or you, alter your senses and perceptions and to do and say things that you would not do otherwise. Thus you are not in control of yourself, you and under the control of a substance.

1  Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. Proverbs 20:1 (ESV)

20  Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, 21  for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. Proverbs 23:20-21 (ESV)

29  Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30  Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. 31  Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. 32  In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. 33  Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. Proverbs 23:29-33 (ESV)

18  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 (ESV)

Becoming intoxicated is a sin because it removes you from controlling yourself and from the Spirit’s control as well, and puts you at the mercy of something else. Thus Paul’s contrast between being drunk and being filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit.

 Using anything as a substitute for the Spirit is bad and should never be done by a Disciple of Jesus.

But God created it!

“Plants were created on the third day, and humans were created on the sixth,” he said in part. “The provision was created before the need. God created the earth (and the plants) FOR us, BEFORE us.”

As Fulton Sheen said about strychnine, “I don’t have to take strychnine to know it will kill me.” By the way according to Wikipedia, the most common source is from the seeds of the Strychnos nux-vomica tree. Not every plant is edible yet every plant is from God.

Using Cannabis to Connect Closer to God is Sorcery.

20  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, Galatians 5:20 (ESV)

Greek word for sorcery – pharmakeia. Refers to the wide spread practice of shamans and priests using local substances to put them into an altered state of consciousness in order to contact the Spirit World. Native American tribes here in the Southwest often used Peyote (from a small spineless cactus) to do this. This is done all over the world.

Timothy Leary – Promoted LSD as a way to alter your mind, discover the truth, or God or whatever.

When they speak of cannabis bringing them into close contact with God they are in fact demeaning the faith and reducing Christianity to the level of many other religions. One of the distinctives of the Christian faith has always been it’s complete and utter rejection of using any mind altering substances. This doesn’t change just because you like or enjoy it or found it helpful.

Wrapping Things Up

 5  As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:5 (ESV)

 You can’t be sober minded if you’re not sober. The word there means self-controlled. You can’t be self controlled if you are allowing another substance to control you. Either way you translate it, it effectively bans the use of cannabis or all other mind altering substances.

 Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org


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Episode 117

Disciple Up #117
Let’s Talk About: Who Is Jesus?
By Louie Marsh, 7-17-2019

This question is a vital one. There is no doubt that Jesus stands at the crossroads of history. Our calendars, culture and history all affirm that fact. But it’s also a delicate issue, because it deals with the very nature of our Lord Jesus. So we must approach this issue carefully and respectfully.

What is (or was for those of you who aren’t sure of the resurrection) Jesus Christ? Is He God in human flesh, a very good man, or half man/half god? The way you answer this question can settle your eternal destiny. Obviously then this is a critical question!

It’s delicate because of the balance that Scripture maintains when dealing with the Lord’s nature. The Jesus of the New Testament (all other’s being false) is neither God alone nor man alone, but fully God and fully man simultaneously. It is this unique nature that allows Jesus to be our Savior and high priest.

It’s no surprise then that every cult attacks the nature of Jesus. They deny that He’s God, or that He is man. They will not accept the Christ of Scripture and therefore lead their followers astray. The rest of this podcast is devoted to expounding the basic Biblical teaching on the nature of Jesus.

The Humanity of Jesus

This may seem rather obvious but it bears thinking about – Jesus was a man. To have a balanced view of Christ we must see both sides of His nature. In recent times some fundamentalist theologians have stressed Christ’s deity at the expense of His humanity. We must avoid this error and cling to the “sane center” of biblical truth.

The Lord Jesus limited Himself in order to be truly human, Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. Phil. 2:8 (Message – see Phil. 2:8-11)

So as a boy Jesus had to grow into maturity, And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52. Jesus displayed limited knowledge on at least two occasions: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Matthew 24:36…At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” Mark 5:30 In both these incidents Jesus displayed the truly human trait of not knowing everything.

Like a man Jesus felt sorrow, Jesus wept…Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. John 11:35,38

Jesus also felt mental and emotional anguish strong enough to cause Him to sweat blood, something unusual because a person usually passes out before reaching that point. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:44

When speaking of Jesus the Apostles did not hesitate to call Him a man. Paul said, For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Tim. 2:5.  Paul saw no contradiction between believing in Christ as God and man at the same time.

Apparently neither did the writer of Hebrews who said of Jesus, For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Hebrews 4:15

It’s clear then that Jesus was a real man with real emotions needs and drives just like the rest of us. Jesus had sexual, emotional and psychological needs like the rest of humanity.

Jesus was a man – but that’s not all He was!

The Deity of Jesus

While the humanity of Jesus is important it’s His divinity that is usually under attack. Yet the New Testament is blunt in it’s teaching that Jesus is God in human flesh.

Jesus Claimed He Was God

 There are so many instances of Jesus saying that He was God in the New Testament that we are only going to be able to cover a few of them due to space considerations.

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:16-18

This verse is important because it shows that the Jews who didn’t believe in Jesus understood Him! They clearly understood His claims to be God in human flesh, they just rejected it!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”  Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”  Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:6-9

 This is about as clear as you can get. By calling Himself truth and life, qualities normally attributed to God alone, Christ is clearly sending a message. Then when poor old Phillip doesn’t get it, Jesus makes it crystal clear – if you’ve seen me you’ve seen God, Phillip!  Making Himself God!

 I and the Father are one.”  Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”  “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:30-33

Again here it is interesting to see that the enemies of Jesus often understood Him better than His followers did!  The Jews clearly understand what He is saying, they simply don’t believe it!  That Christ and the Father are one in essence but different persons (check out Episode 114 for more info on the Trinity) is made clear in the Greek, which reads literally, “I and the Father we are one.”

During the trial of Jesus there’s a dramatic encounter between Jesus and the High Priests. Here’s how Mark records it:  But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”  “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”  They all condemned him as worthy of death. Mark 14:61-64

Here the High Priest is desperate to convict Jesus. All of his planned lies and concocted stories about Jesus have fallen apart. So in an audacious and illegal move, he confronts Jesus with the ultimate question. Are you the Christ, he asks. To which Jesus answers, “I am.”

Jesus was convicted of blasphemy because of His own testimony (that too was illegal under Jewish law by the way!). This is clear evidence that Christ believed and claimed Himself to be God.

Jesus Acted As God

 Jesus often acted in ways that would be totally inappropriate for anyone other than God Himself! For example He accepted the worship of Thomas.  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”  Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:27-28

The Old Testament is explicit that God and God alone may be worshipped. Yet Jesus, a pious Jew, allowed His followers to worship Him and to even call Him God! How else can this be explained unless Jesus is God?

Jesus also claimed that He was able to forgive sins. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5 (see also Luke 7:48). According to Jewish Law only God could forgive sins, no one else would even dare suggest they had such power.

Obviously only someone convinced of his own divinity would say and do the kind of things we’ve seen Jesus say and do. But what about His followers? Did they believe that Jesus was God in human flesh?

What Others Said About Him

 The Apostle Paul is very clear in a number of places that Jesus Christ is God. We’ve already looked at Phil 2:5-11, so now let’s look at another passage.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Col. 1:15-20

This passage is a beautiful hymn of praise to Jesus, and proves that He was indeed God! He’s the image of the invisible God, preeminent over everything in the universe – things that you can only say about God!

If that’s not clear enough – how about this one?  while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Titus 2:13. Hard to get any clearer than that isn’t it?

Peter too believed in the divinity of Christ. He even told Jesus that’s what he believed.  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. Matthew 16:15-17

Here Jesus not only accept such statements, but actually approves it and says it’s origin isn’t with Peter, it’s actually a revelation from God the Father Himself!

So the evidence from the Scriptures is clear and overwhelming – Jesus claimed to be God, was understood by His contemporaries to be saying exactly that, and His followers believed in and taught others about His divine nature!

The Good Man Scam

 It has become common for people to try and show at least some respect for Jesus, His teachings and Christianity, without actually believing what Christ taught about Himself. This is done by saying something like, “I believe that Jesus was a good man, a great man, and a great teacher, but not God.”

That sounds good, but there’s a real problem with it. This problem was pointed out by C.S. Lewis in his great book “Mere Christianity.”  Here’s what he wrote on pages 40 and 41.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I am ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg –  or else he would be the Devil of Hell. Either this man was and is the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.”

“You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

 Lewis was right – and that is why Jesus said He didn’t come to bring peace but a sword (Matt. 10:24). He is the great divider of history. An honest examination of the life and teaching of Jesus forces you to either accept or reject Him. There is no middle ground.

When confronted with this people will still struggle and often try to continue their contradictory attitudes towards Christ. Perhaps you are in that situation right now. If so, or if you are dealing with someone who is, consider this thought from the late Dr. Walter Martin.

 Would you say that Christ is a better person than you are? Do you think He was wiser, more spiritual that you? If you say yes, which most people will, then you are left facing a terrible question: Why don’t you obey Him?

He claimed to be God, died for our sins, and you say He is better than you. Yet my claiming He’s only a good man you are calling Him a liar or a lunatic.


 The Scriptures teach us that Christ was both fully man and fully God – simultaneously. That is what Christians have always believed – and continue to believe today.

But how did it work????  I DON’T KNOW.

 Application – What Does This Mean to Me Practically?

1) It allows me to know and worship the Real Jesus –

4  For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 2 Corinthians 11:4 (ESV)

2) It keeps me out of the cults who ALL deny that Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time.

3) It deepens my understanding of the Trinity. See Episode 114

4) This brings into clear focus how Jesus can totally relate to me and yet be completely without sin simultaneously.

14  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)

  Please Get In Touch!

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Episode 116

116 Disciple Up Show Notes
The Essential Art of Application, Pt. 2
By Louie Marsh, 7-10-2019

Brief Overview of part of last week:

WHY is application so important?

  • This is how to do what the Bible teaches us to do.


How Life Change Happens


1, My beliefs must change before anything else can,


2, My mind changes when I repent. Metanoia = change of mind, turn around, about face.


3, I don’t change minds, but God Word can and will!


4, Changing the way I act is the RESULT of repentance.




  • Study the text – CAREFULLY!


  • Discover the timeless truths in the text.


  • Carefully compare those truths to your life situation. Find the implications for today.


  • Develop a plan to implement those truths in your life today.

In other words – use the Application Bridge.

 Then – Now – Timeless Principles

 Interpretation – Implication – Personalization

 Example: The Trinity (episode 114)

  • Understanding the Trinity deepens my love and worship of Jesus as God in Human Flesh.
  • Understanding the Trinity should help me to see how God works and moves in my life more clearly.
  • Understanding the Trinity should radically change how I look at fellowship. If God is a Community (and He is) then that has to have a huge impact upon how I look at and participate in, community.

Example: Romans 14


  • Gentile Christians bought cheap, discounted meat from pagan temples, Jewish Christians wouldn’t touch them and believed they were tainted because of the idols.
  • Inline with this apparently some believers shunned meat all together but most didn’t so there was a divide there.
  • Many Jewish Christians believed Saturday was still the Sabbath Day and should be the day believers gathered to worship. Many if not most Gentile Christians felt any day would do.


  • We have freedom in matters of Opinion, NOT Gospel.

1  As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. Romans 14:1 (ESV)

  • Don’t judge your brothers and sisters.

4  Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:4 (ESV)

10  Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; Romans 14:10 (ESV)

  • Understand they are trying to honor God by what they do even though you disagree with it.

6  The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7  For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8  For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 14:6-8 (ESV)

  • Do your research and be fully convinced that you are right, while not condemning others.

5  One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. Romans 14:5 (ESV)

  • We will all be held accountable.

12  So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:12 (ESV)

  • Instead of judging focus on helping your brothers and sisters by not putting stumbling blocks in front of them.

13  Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. Romans 14:13 (ESV)

  • Nothing in and of itself is unclean.

14  I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15  For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16  So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18  Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19  So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Romans 14:14-19 (ESV)

  • Live by faith – honor your conscience.

22  The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23  But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Romans 14:22-23 (ESV)

 Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org


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Episode 115

115 Disciple Up Show Notes
The Essential Art of Application
By Louie Marsh, 7-3-2019

An Email Poured In!

 Wayne wrote: “I have been listening for just over a month and find it a great places to grow spiritually! I am sharing this with all my family and friends! May God continue to bless and grow!”

“I am a Gideon and we conduct a weekly bible study at the county jail, I am always looking for a message of hope, a message of purpose, etc.to incorporate so I googled ‘disciple’ and found the ‘up ‘ I was looking for!”



On any given Sunday, approximately 53 million Americans hear preachers preach over one billion words of sermons.  When it has been all said and done, a lot more will have been said than done

22  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22 (ESV)

11  The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. Ecclesiastes 12:11 (ESV)

11  The wise man’s words are like goads that spur to action. They nail down important truths. Students are wise who master what their teachers tell them. Ecclesiastes 12:11 (TLB)

WHY is application so important?

  • This is how to do what the Bible teaches us to do.

Your Pastor/teacher/small group leader should be doing this. But whether they are or not it’s still MY responsibility to do this for myself! And it’s yours as well. This is the only way to obey James command.

  • Application mirrors how Jesus Taught

Look at how Jesus taught. About 90% of the Sermon on the Mount is pure application. There is some teaching, “You have heard that it was said…but I say…” Otherwise it’s almost all application.

  • Personal Application mirrors how Paul taught.

Let’s look at a few New Testament books and see how much of them are teaching and how much are application.

Romans – 50% application

Ephesians – 50% application

Galatians – is maybe 80% application

James – also probably 80% application

1st Peter around 60% application

In most of Paul’s letters he first lays out the problems and what the Scriptures say about them and then deals with how and what the readers should do. He tends to be around 50/50 on this, not a bad goal for teachers and preachers to shoot for IMHO.

  • Personal Application strikes at the root of a deadly spiritual disease – PRIDE.

1  Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2  If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3  But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 (ESV)

    • Knowledge loves to compare – I know more than you and you and you!
    • Love never compares. It just seeks to serve, help and enjoy the object of your love.
  • Personal Application Helps me overcome sin and change my life
    • All behavior is based on belief.
    • Behind every sin is a lie or false teaching that I believe.

 3  At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. Titus 3:3 (NIV)

 Real, lasting change always starts in the mind.

2  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 (ESV)

  • How Life Change Happens.

1, My beliefs must change before anything else can,

32  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 (ESV)

2, My mind changes when I repent. Metanoia = change of mind, turn around, about face.

3, I don’t change minds, but God Word can and will!

4  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV)

4, Changing the way I act is the RESULT of repentance.

8  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:8 (NIV)

20  First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. Acts 26:20 (NIV)

 Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org


Check out the Disciple Up Facebook page:

My books –