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REVIEW: Starting New Churches on Purpose

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I recently pulled this book back out for some research.  This is a review I wrote of it back in 2015.  I must have been in a snarky mood that day!


Starting New Churches on Purpose by Ron Sylvia
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Supersized Church Menu with Purpose-Driven Shake, Bible at market value.

A friend gave me this book shortly after I took over a church plant. He thought I might benefit from some of the advice in these pages, and indeed, it provides practical advice. Even so, it’s not an overstatement that this book gives represents everything wrong in Evangelical churches today.

Primarily, the book lacks concern for what God has said concerning churches. So, when developing the core values of a church, one should take “time to research churches on the Internet” (57). When planning what to preach, go to a megachurch website to find a sermon series—a.k.a. plagiarism—in case you don’t want to plan an “original series” (146). Readers with no outside knowledge would leave God’s Word out of t…

SERMON: “What the Triumphal Entry Reveals,” Mark 11:1–11

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What the Triumphal Entry Reveals | Mark 11:1–11
Shaun Marksbury | Grace Bible Church
Sunday Morning Service | September 16, 2018

There’s an important moment of hesitation before entering the Holy City.  Whereas, on the road, Jesus was determined to move forward despite all that would happen to Him (10:32–34), He now purposefully delays.  He knows that He must make certain preparations to fulfill His mission.


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With Jesus entering Jerusalem, we finally leave the long road of chapter ten.  We’ve also closed our study on the second phase of Christ’s earthly ministry.  Our text today opens with the final week of Christ’s life, and Mark 11:1–15:47 (one-third of the book) will focus on Jesus in Jerusalem. 
This account begins with the use of historical presents in the original language, moving the reader along in the narrative.  In the previous chapter, we read about the healing of the two blind beggars, one named Bartimaeus in Mk 10:46–52.  It also follows two events no…

Fruitless Faith? | Mark 11:12–14

It’s the next day, “in the morning” (Mt 21:18), perhaps before six.It may be that Jesus and the disciples camped the previous night near Bethany rather than staying with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.As a result, they didn’t have breakfast, but something seemed promising: a fig tree in full leaf, out of season.However, its disappointing state becomes a picture of the fruitless faith in Jerusalem.
Notice the promise of life.A fig tree in full leaf meant either that it had produced small, edible buds or even some early fruit.Mark notes that it wasn’t fig season, so this tree advertises a unique snack for hungry travelers.However, the promise was false; the tree’s lack of fruit while being in full leaf meant it wouldn’t bear fruit that year.This served as a picture of the state of the Holy City—full of spiritual activity, but the heart of the people was far from God (Mt 15:7–9).
Notice the curse of death.AsJesus wept over Jerusalem the previous day, the fruit of their spiritual efforts will n…

SERMON: What the Blind Man Saw | Mark 10:46–52

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What the Blind Man Saw | Mark 10:46–52
Shaun Marksbury | Grace Bible Church
Sunday Morning Service | September 9, 2018

Though blind, Bartimaeus saw more than the crowds or even the disciples.  He saw a reason to cry out to Jesus (vv. 46–48), to come to Jesus (vv. 49–51), and then to follow Jesus (v. 52).  His faith and testimony serves to be the perfect illustration of discipleship, a fitting end for this chapter.

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We finally come back to our study in the Book of Mark, completing chapter ten.This chapter has been a road leading us in one direction.In verse one, Jesus departed to the region of Perea and taught the crowds.Down in v. 17, we see that “He was setting out on a journey” when the rich young ruler came.In v. 32, we read that they “were on the road going up to Jerusalem.”Now, in v. 46, we read that Jesus, His disciples, and a large crowd including Passover pilgrims (cf. Ps. 42:4; Mk 14:1–2) are passing through Jericho on the way.The next chapter will begin w…

Chronology of the Passion Week

There's a need for us to know what takes place when that final week.  Many commentaries I've read note what appears to be a gap in the Gospel records on Wednesday.  This oddity evaporates if the "Triumphal Entry" occurred on Monday, not Sunday.  Dr. Keith Essex has mapped this out in part of his syllabus for New Testament Survey, and I hope you find it as helpful as I did.


SundayArrival in Bethany (John 11:55-12:1)Supper and Crowds (Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:2-11)
MondayThe Triumphal Entry (Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19)The Visit to the Temple (Matt. 21:14-17; Mark 11:11)
TuesdayThe Cursing of the Fig Tree (Matt. 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14)The Cleansing of the Temple (Matt. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-48)The Request of the Greeks (John 12:20-36a)The Return to Bethany (Mark 11:19)
WednesdayThe Lesson of the Fig Tree (Matt. 21:20-22; Mark 11:20-26)The Temple Controversy (Matt. 21:23-23:39; Mark 11:27-12:44; Luke 20:1-21:4)The Fina…

What the Triumphal Entry Reveals | Mark 11:1–11

With Jesus entering Jerusalem, we finally leave the long road of chapter ten.Whereas Jesus was determined to move forward before despite all that would happen to Him (10:32–34), now He delays outside the Holy City.He knows that certain preparations must be made to fulfill His mission.
Notice what the Lord knows.We’ve already seen His foresight of His coming rejection and crucifixion in the previous chapter.Here, we see more foresight—He knows that a specific kind of donkey is tied in the next town, and He also knows the that the disciples can borrow it without trouble.There can be no doubt that He also knows Who He is—He allows them to lay down their coats and branches ahead of Him, giving Him a royal welcome and applying the Hosanna chorus to Him from Psalm 118:25–26.After all, that’s why He awaited the donkey outside Jerusalem—He was fulfilling Zechariah 9:9.
We also notice in this last verse that He looks around the temple in v. 11 and then leaves.In vv. 15–18, He’s going to clean…

We Affirm a Biblical View of Grace | Titus 2:11–12

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We Affirm a Biblical View of Grace | Titus 2:11–12
GBC Distinctive Series | Shaun Marksbury | 9/2/18

If Titus is to establish a healthy church, he must understand and teach how God’s amazing grace works in people’s lives.  Paul explains here that it appears, bringing two new realities for those who trust the gospel.  So, as members of Grace Bible Church, we must trust that God’s grace saves us (v. 11) and schools us (v. 12).

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Manuscript: We’ve reached the end of our GBC Distinctive series, and we’ve discussed quite a bit together.  Primarily, we’ve seen the importance of Scripture in all that we do as a church—our governance, fellowship, and worship together.  We saw how the Scripture informs specific beliefs such as the sovereignty of God, the Lordship of Christ, and our view of the end-times.  We also examined how Scripture informs our individual lives—how we view ourselves as individuals and as a part of the church, our evangelism, etc.  In other words, we’ve seen why we c…