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This Is Some Strange Teaching

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This Is Some Strange Teaching


Walter Belton


January 17, 2021


Mark, Mark 1:21-34


Good morning. It is so good to see you! I remember, I think it was about 6-1/2 years ago, Matt and I had our first initial meeting, and he was sitting across the table from me. And I just said to myself, “There is no way me and that guy could ever be friends.” Now you have to be careful what you tell God what you’re not going to do because Matt is one of my dear friends. We talk often, we share meals often, and we have the opportunity to debate on some hard issues and still walk away and are brothers in the Lord. And I think that’s a piece that’s missing in our world now. We can agree to disagree and not be mean and ugly. And so, I am grateful for Matt and his beautiful family.

And certainly I’m grateful for North Hills allowing me to come this morning to share these services. And you sit in a dangerous spot, because I get to compare you to the 8:00 am service. I’ll talk to Peter and make sure that we post online whichever was the best service. So, let’s make sure you say “Amen” when you hear the truth. Certainly, I am praying for the staff and this wonderful church as you all are doing a great work for the Lord.

I just saw my minister of music and his fiancee, which is my goddaughter, walk in. Throw your hand up back there. Hey, man, good to see you. Make sure you be back at Word of Change at 12:30. My wife will be here at the 5 pm service. The church is doing something for her because her birthday will be this Friday. She allowed me to come here because Matt planned this, and I didn’t think about its being my wife’s birthday. So, he’s going to cost me more money now because I’ve got to make up for this. But she’ll be here this afternoon at the 5 pm service.

I know Scripture has already been read, but I want to just pull out a few verses in Mark 1 that we could jump into  this morning. Mark 1:27 says,

“And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? [What new doctrine is this?] For with authority … He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ And immediately his fame spread … throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. They were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this authority [this new doctrine that he has]! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’”

For just for a little while this morning, I want to talk to you from the subject, This is some strange preaching. This is some strange preaching. I was very intentional in the subject topic because after service, when y’all get to talking about me, you can just say, “That was some strange preaching.” This is some strange preaching.

It was in the late 1960s, a young evangelist began to gain notoriety because of his antics in the pulpit. He was one of those preachers that would throw his hands up, and he would jump about the pulpit, and he would yell, and people just loved it. And he became very popular preaching at revivals. He came down to a little church in Mississippi, no different from any of the other many churches that he preached at. There was an 82-year-old mother in the church who sat there, about in the second row. And as he began to preach and wave his hands and do all the little things that people would love, she just sat there and watched him.

After service, as people came down to shake his hand and tell him how amazing he was, she came by, grabbed the young man’s hand, looked him in the eye and said, “Young man, you’re something else.” Later on, there in the fellowship hall, while they were eating a meal, she came by and laid her little wrinkled hand on his shoulder and whispered in his ear, “Young man, you’re something else.” He grabbed the old lady by the hand and said, “Mother, you have said that to me twice now. Are you impressed with my preaching?” She said, “No.” She said, “But when I heard you preaching, I realized that if you’re not a preacher, you must be something else.”

I would suggest to you that there are many who bear the title of preacher, pastor, and teacher that don’t do a whole lot of preaching. There are a lot of individuals who wear that title but don’t have the anointing because we’re living in a day now in which preachers are more concerned about getting applause from the congregation. They’re more concerned about preaching in a way that they can draw crowds instead of changing lives. But what I want you to understand is that God wants anointed preachers that preach the Word of God, and with it, will break yokes and free his people from the bondage of the enemies. And the preaching today is more about entertainment instead of the enlightenment of God’s people. It’s more about giving information than transformation. Many seminaries now are putting out what I call “professional preachers.” I mean, they know how to line out a service. They know how to exegete a text. But they have no power because they can preach all day about the God of the Bible, but they’ve never met the God of the Bible. Nobody cares so much about what I know, but I want to tell you about the God I met.

And so in these days and times, when you preach like that, it’s strange. It’s strange because most ministers want to preach so in order to draw crowds and increase giving. But God wants us to preach some strange preaching. Jesus himself was a strange preacher. God wants strange preaching to change this world. Let’s hear what the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:21-24 [NIV]. He says,

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased [here it is] through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs, and the Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

God says through the foolishness of preaching man will be saved. This Word that we preach sometimes can be strange. The Word of God is strange. It’s strange that it’s so deep that the greatest of scholars can dive in and never reach the bottom, yet babes in Christ can swim in it and never drown. This Word is deep. It’s strange. But you’ve got to understand — anything that God brings is strange to this world. Jesus himself was a strange preacher. Even in his day as he preached, the things he said seemed strange to those who were with him. Listen to one of his sermons as he came to Capernaum. Maybe it’s a sermon that he preached in the text that we heard. Listen to what Jesus says in John 6:53-60. It’s the strange preaching.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood’” — that’s some crazy stuff right there! I love the Lord! — “‘… unless you drink my blood, you have no life in you. I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.’ He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.”

Watch this: “On hearing [this], many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” Many disciples deserted Jesus on hearing it.

Strange preaching! But the question you then have to ask is what is the strange preaching that Jesus was preaching? And this strange preaching that I’m talking about? It’s real simple. It’s truth. It’s truth. We’re going to have to get back to the place where we are preaching and teaching truth. Not personality, not politics, but truth.

Then somebody would say, “Then what is truth?” Jesus says in John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” We need to get back to preaching the truth.

But the problem is we are living in this free society, and we get to choose our version of the truth. Hold on, there’s no version of the truth. The truth is just the — Thank you! I’m glad I got three people that are listening to me out there this morning! — The truth is just the truth. But we have now chosen certain lenses that we put on, and now we see our version of the truth.

If there’s somebody as old as I am or older, you remember that the news was just the news. You remember that everybody got the same truth. Now, what you did with the truth was up to you, but the news was just the news. That’s the fact, Jack. But now, depending on what side you stand, that’s what view you look at and what media outlet you watch. And nobody sees the truth. Mark Twain, in 1897, said this:

“Truth is stranger than fiction. It is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibility. Truth isn’t.”

In other words, truth does not shift and conform. Truth is just truth. It’s solid. Take it or leave it, but it is the truth. And what we need to preach from our pulpits is the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ. And we, as the believers of the Lord Jesus Christ, should not be like everybody else in the world. We ought to be different. We ought to be strange because God says we are peculiar people. We are people that see the truth. We are people that read the truth. We are people that live the truth. We are people that know the truth. And that should matter in our lives.

In our text this morning, we find Jesus with some strange preaching. He comes into the synagogue, and he begins to preach, and instantly those who were there noticed that there was something strange about this preacher. The text says that he did not preach like the scribes, but he preached like someone who had authority. In the Greek that word simply means that he preached as if he had some sovereignty. He was free in his preaching. In other words, he wasn’t concerned about the judgment of the hearers.

Can I share something with you? I’m feeling judged right now. I feel naked on the stage because everybody out there is trying to sum me up, trying to figure out who this black man is that they have on our stage that we’ve never seen before. And he came out … I just feel… But that’s okay. That’s what we do. But if you are not an anointed, called man of God, you then allow the judgment of those who are listening to you to begin to conform what you say. “I better not say this because this family would leave the church.” Well, the devil is a liar. Get to the place where you tell her, “If you leave, I’ll give you gas money.” Because with the God we serve, it does not matter how much you give in this church; if you leave, God will send somebody to give twice what that person gave because you can’t control when truth is being preached.

He began to preach, and they began to say, “Who is this unlearned man that preaches with such authority?” When you have strange preaching, the first thing you see is that it will confound the wise. It will confound the wise. You thought you knew who God was. You’ve already summed God up. You’re like the scribes. You only talk about traditions and how it’s always been, but God can send somebody in with the Word and shake up your religion. Confound the wise. They had never heard preaching like this. They said, “Who is this guy? We know that he’s not a learned man. But yet, we can’t take our eyes away from him.” Because real preaching of the truth will confound the wise.

The anointing of God can do more for you than the academics of the world. Hold on, hold on. I know some child will say, “Mama, I told you. Preacher said I don’t have to go to school. All I need is some anointing.” That’s not what I’m saying. I am saying, when you get the burning, you also need the learning. But if you just have the learning and don’t have the burning, then you’re just one of those professional preachers. You need some anointing, some power from God. And it has the ability to destroy yokes.

Jesus began to preach and those who thought they were wise began to say, “What kind of preaching is this? What is this strange doctrine?” It was truth. Isn’t it crazy that here in 2021 that truth has become a strange doctrine? Truth is strange now because we can look at the same event, and everybody walks away with a different truth. Have we taken truth and begun to manipulate it and conform it to what we want it to be? I don’t know about you, but I want God to take my little wisdom and just kick it out the door, and I accept God for the truth he gives.

He walks in, he begins to preach, he confounds the wise, but then watch what happens. The text says, “Immediately [and don’t miss this] a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out.” Now the question I have to ask is why didn’t the demon cry out last service? Why didn’t the demon cry out last week during service? Because here’s the thing: I believe that we, in our efforts to draw the crowd, have created an atmosphere that’s seeker friendly to the point that even sinners can sit down and just be comfortable. They can come in one way, and they can leave the same way because we’re not trying to preach them into change; we only are trying to preach to them to get some change. (Ya’ll are going to catch that on your way home.)

But immediately, it says, when Jesus begins to preach, the demon cries out, “Jesus of Nazareth, I know who you are.” Wow! Did you miss that? The scribes and those Jews who knew the law, that always talked about the Messiah’s coming, when he shows up, they’re saying, “Who is this guy?” But the demon says, “I know this guy.” They say, “What kind of doctrine is this?” But the demon says, “We know why you came.” They say, “Where in the world is this preaching coming from?” But the demon says, “What are you here for, you Holy One of God?”

How is it then that the demons know more about Jesus than his own people? This wasn’t in my notes, nor did the other service get this. This is just for you. So, increase your offering if you’re blessed by this. Here it is: The reason  the demons knew who he was is that demons always function on the level of spirituality because they are always listening for their master’s voice, who is the devil. They’re always listening; so they are already tuned into the Spirit. But we who are Spirit beings turn off our Wi-Fi. We’re not always listening for our Father’s voice. We’re not always tuned in to the Spirit. We’re not always walking in the Spirit, and so we miss him when he shows up. But when strange preaching takes place, it convicts the sinner. You ought to walk out of this sanctuary every now and then mad at your pastor. Every now and then, you shouldn’t want to go down and shake his hand. You should be so ashamed of your lifestyle that you run up out of here and say, “God, please forgive me.”

Strange preaching not only convicts the sinner, but it also casts out devils. I want you to see this. My clock is moving fast. I want you to see this. The Bible says that the demon yells out, and Jesus quiets him down. The devil yells out. Jesus says, “Shh.” And then he just says, “Come out of him.” One of the things I told the first group is, how is it that Jesus can cast out devils with a whisper, and we always watch televangelists on television, they are always screaming at us? “In the name of Jesus, you demon … be gone!” Jesus don’t have a hearing problem. Can we tell preachers that? Jesus don’t have a hearing problem, and neither do we. Why are you always yelling? Maybe because ya’ll didn’t do what we said last week. So, we feel if we say it louder you may do it this week. Strange preaching casts out devils.

Then it says after the devil takes the man and wrestles with him, he lets him go. And the man is left there in peace. Strange preaching will comfort the comfortless. There are so many people who come to our sanctuaries, and they have a storm going on on the inside of them — anxiety and anger and fear. And they come in here hoping somehow that coming to church will settle the storm because Mama always said, “Go to church. Go to church.” But we go to church, and we go to church, but we still have the storm down on the inside. But if you ever run into some real anointed preaching, God has a way of whispering to your soul and saying, “Peace. Be still.” The right word will settle your heart, will remove that anxiety, will take that anger and that bitterness and wash it away. That’s what we want to see in our sanctuaries. We don’t want to walk away finding out three ways to increase my business, five ways how to lose weight, ten ways how to get your marriage right. Let me tell you something. If you get Jesus and you get it right, he’ll fix your business. He’ll fix your marriage. He’ll fix your money. If you ever run into … Now I’m yelling again at ya’ll. I just told you… It comforts the heart.

In another part, it says that after he had done this preaching and done this act, they began to talk about this guy that even demons responded to and obeyed. And the text says, “News about him spread immediately.” Instantly he begins to get hits and likes on Facebook. He went viral before you could go viral because strange preaching creates chatter. Whenever you come in contact with this real God, you can’t help but tell somebody. Whenever you come in contact and realize that all this stuff Mama has been saying is true, that Jesus is real, that he does have power, you can’t help but tell somebody. And we want to make sure that we are preaching the truth to the point that when you go to work, you are talking about Jesus. When you are on the playground, you’re talking about this Jesus. Because when he becomes real to you, he becomes real to everyone you talk to. There was a chatter about him. And I want us to get to a place that we can’t stop talking about him.

This is some strange preaching. And I hope that when you leave here today, that if nothing else, you can say, “Today we had a strange preacher in the house. I don’t remember his name. I don’t remember a whole lot of what he said. But he talked about Jesus. He talked about truth. He talked about what truth should do to us. He talked about how truth should make me live in a certain way.”

And here’s the thrust of my message, and I’m done. When you preach strange preaching, it’ll help God’s people to realize that he’s called them to be strange. He’s called us to stand out in the world. He called us to be those who are different. He calls us to be light and salt in this world. He called us to be peculiar people that don’t go along with what everybody else is doing. There is something else that governs our life. It is the truth. And we know that one day we’re going to have to stand before God and give an account of what we have done with that truth. And so, let me be strange to the world, but very familiar to my God. And so, it’s okay to be strange every now and then, because God wants us to be his people in this dark time to light the way. And when you have the Word, even if the entire world don’t want to hear it … As the apostle Paul says “even if an angel comes preaching something other than this gospel, let him be accursed to you.” We don’t jump on fads. We don’t allow our political ideology to supersede our theology.

We have a God we have to answer to. And we have to do it now. Don’t get mad at the devil because the world is getting wicked, get mad at believers. We bear the light. Darkness only comes when there is no light. And if we want the world to change, let’s turn our light up a little bit. And we have to do it now. Dr. King says,

“We can no longer continue to take that wicked drug of gradualism.”

There’s an urgency of now. If this world is to change, it will be done by those who bear the name of Christ. And so, don’t think you’re going to ride a donkey or an elephant to glory. It is only the Lamb of God that will make the difference in the hearts of his people. Let me pray for you.

Father, we thank you. We thank you, God, that even though we may not agree or understand with your truth, your truth stands. May our hearts be challenged today, that we would spread and share this truth wherever we go. Help us now, God, to be the kind of believers that are peculiar, the kind of believers that may be a little strange, the kind of believers that won’t waver from truth, that won’t be intimidated to the point where we go against what we believe God has called us to. So, God, give us the boldness to say what you’ve called us to say and to preach a gospel that is filled with redemption, that you loved us enough that you sent your Son to die, that he came, he died, he was buried, he was resurrected, he ascended, he sat down, and now he makes intercession. God, that’s the gospel. That’s the truth. And God, that’s what changes the hearts of men. So, Father, bless now your people, increase them. This is in Jesus’ name we do pray, amen.

God bless you. Have a wonderful Sunday.