The

SUSQUEHANNA SENTINEL


May 25, 2003


In This Issue


LIKE A MUSTARD SEED

In Mark 4:30-32, Jesus said, "To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade."

Jesus' parables were stories which used things commonly understood to picture or illustrate things that needed to be understood. Many in Jesus' audiences were farmers. Likely almost every family had at least a small garden plot. The smallest seed sown by man was the mustard seed. The mustard seed had become proverbial when speaking of things that were small. In Matthew 17:20, Jesus spoke of a small amount of faith as "faith as a mustard seed." Yet in the fertile Jordan River valley, the mustard seed frequently produced a plant much larger than any other herb. Scholars and historians have recorded mustard plants in that area up to ten feet high, so large that birds sometimes build nests in them. It was this phenomenal growth that Jesus used to picture the growth of His rule and His cause.

In modern English, the word kingdom usually suggests to our minds the territory and subjects of a king. In early English, the word was more likely to suggest the rule or power exercised by a king. "Kingdom" usually suggested kingship or kinghood. This was also true of the Greek word Jesus used originally from which our word "kingdom" is translated.

Jesus was born to be a King, Luke 1:31-33. Yet, when wise men from the East came to visit the newborn King, they did not find Him in the palace of the present king as they expected. He had been born in a stable in the nearby town of Bethlehem. He did not grow up inside palace walls, but in the home of a carpenter in the despised Galilean town of Nazareth. When He began to call men to accompany Him, He did not choose from the rich, the elite, the Jewish nobility. His first four followers were Galilean fishermen. Another follower was called from among the despised publicans who collected customs taxes on behalf of the hated Roman government.

Though multitudes followed Jesus when times were good, when He was arrested they forsook Him and fled. After His resurrection, a few of His followers began to reassemble. About 120 of them were known to gather in the city of Jerusalem. From this small core of followers came a congregation numbered at 3,000, then 5,000, and then more and more, Acts 2:41; 4:4; 6:1, etc. Truly the kingdom of heaven was like the proverbial mustard seed, which from the least of beginnings, came to be the greatest of herbs.

--Clarence R. Johnson


LEAVING AN APOSTATE CONGREGATION

Many of our brethren across the country are sore distressed by the state of affairs in churches of Christ today. To say that many churches are undergoing change is a gross understatement of the situation. Radical changes in thought toward the authority of the Scriptures are allowing many churches of Christ to take very liberal views toward the work and worship of the church. With the "new hermeneutic" as their license (which denies that the New Testament reveals a pattern for our organization, work, and worship) the movers and shakers of institutional churches of Christ are leading their people toward the wholesale acceptance of a myriad of innovations and compromises with denominationalism. Our brethren are "re-thinking" such issues as instrumental music in worship and the role of women in the leadership and worship of the church. Additionally, many brethren are abandoning "book, chapter, and verse" preaching and teaching for a modernistic higher criticism which seized the pulpits of denominational churches many years ago. Moral issues such as social drinking, mixed swimming, divorce and remarriage, immodest dress, etc. are no longer preached about in sermons lest we appear too strict and legalistic. Even the plan of salvation is under serious attack. Many leading, influential elders, preachers, and professors are not too sure there is a "plan" as we have preached it. Baptism is being "re-thought" in some circles, and it appears that before long the necessity of immersion for the remission of sins may be abandoned altogether.

Within many of the churches troubled by these issues are some brethren who sense strongly that the church is "leaving" them. They see these changes as apostasy, but it is hard to break long-standing ties with friends and family and leave such rank infidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ and His will. They know the church is not what it should be doctrinally, nor is it even moving in that direction. The preaching is no longer distinctive and could be served up in any denominational pulpit in town. They have tried to warn the elders, the preacher, their friends and anyone who will listen. But they are considered "old-fashioned", "non-progressive", "anti", and even "legalistic." Eventually, the elders no longer listen to them. The preacher berates them for trying to hold on to a "1950 mentality." Each passing week brings more compromise, additional innovation, and bolder liberalism. What must concerned brethren do if they cannot get the church to listen to the truth?

A Case In Point: King Jeroboam of Israel introduced the apostate worship of idolatrous golden calves in an effort to keep the northern tribes from going to Jerusalem for worship (1 Kgs. 12:26-33). He even appointed non-Levites to his new "priesthood." Unable to stop such apostasy, many Levites had no other recourse but to leave Israel and flee to Judah (2 Chron. 11:13-17). Remaining faithful to God meant separating from their homes and friends with whom they had previously worshipped. Doubtless it was painful to do this, but it resulted in the strengthening of Judah (v. 17). Men and women who stand for the truth always strengthen the people of God who are like-minded.

When John heard the announcement of the imminent destruction of "Babylon," he heard another angel warn, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities." (Rev. 18:4,5). While opinions vary regarding what "Babylon" is in this symbolic passage, the warning is clear that God's people must flee from Babylon or perish with her. Even lot was warned to leave Sodom or be destroyed with the salacious city (Gen. 19:13,14).

It is no different today. God's faithful people must no longer promote apostasy by tolerating it. "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord ..."

--Mark White, Bible Viewpoints, Fry Road church, Houston, Texas


UNCERTAIN THEORIES OF ORIGINS

The recent finding of what is described as a "humanoid" fossil in Chad dated by evolutionist methods at seven million years old and therefore the oldest "humanoid" fossil to date has thrown evolutionists into a turmoil. It is clear that their evolutionary theories of progression from ape to human are not correct. The journal Nature wrote: "New-found skull could sink our current ideas about human evolution" (John Whitfield, "Oldest member of hu man family found," Nature, 11 July 2002). The conclusion, using the dating of the evolutionists themselves, has to be that a number of apes or ape-like animals which are now extinct lived in different places of the world. There is no evidence that they had anything to do with the "evolution" of humans.

A letter in Time Europe Magazine, July 8, 2002 from George Findlay, Kent, England caught my attention. He wrote: "Scientist Stephen Wolfram can write an equation for the orbit of a single planet, but not for an entire solar system or even a living cell [June10]. I think I may be able to put Wolfram's mind at rest. A single equation does not exist. And Wolfram's suggestion that science has been headed in the wrong direction for 300 years is an understatement. Yet those who disregard science and seek a supernatural beginning are just crazy; there is a lot of rhetoric but no facts. Give me factual evidences. Let us put age, time and distance relating to the universe where they belong-on the shelf to gather dust." 

The prejudice of the evolutionist is easily seen in Findlay's letter. The truth is that the evolutionist wants evolution to be true because he hates the idea of a God who created. The one who contends for a creating God is "crazy," although no theory of science concerning beginnings has any credence!

Factual evidence? The existence of the Bible is a fact which cannot be explained without God. And "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:20). The universe is fact, and it shows in its every facet that there is a Creator with eternal power and divine nature. 

--Paul K. Williams, Truth Magazine, Jan. 16, 2003


WHERE I USED TO GO TO CHURCH

A man was stranded on a deserted Pacific island for years. Finally one day a boat comes sailing into view, and the man frantically waves and draws the skipper's attention. The boat comes near the island and the sailor gets out and greets the stranded man.

After a while the sailor asks, "What are those three huts you have here?"

"Well, that's my house there."

"What's that next hut?" asks the sailor.

"I built that hut to be my church."

"What about the other hut?"

"Oh, that's where I used to go to church."
(By the way, please don't write to remind me that the church is a group of people, not a building -- I'm aware of that, but I think there's another lesson to learn here). There are some legitimate reasons for "changing churches," but there are also some people who change congregations every couple of years simply because they have trouble getting along with other folks. Someone at church said something that made them mad, or one of the songleaders doesn't pick out songs they like, or the elders decided to change the time of services, etc. etc. The reasons go on and on, and you just about mark on the calendar when they'll leave to go to the next church. It makes you wonder if they would be happy in a church by themselves; perhaps, like the man in the story above, they would move somewhere else after a while just out of habit.

Each of the New Testament epistles is filled with instructions on how to get along with others in the church. There are a couple of reasons for that. It is important and it is difficult for all of us at times.

"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another....Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.....If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." (Rom. 12:9-10,15-16,18)

Have a great day!

--Alan Smith, Thought for the Day, White House, Tennessee


MORE INFORMATION...

Clarence R. Johnson
Evangelist
Phone: (717) 361-6212
E-mail: clarencejohnson@comcast.net

Building
30 Apple Avenue
Marietta, Pennsylvania

Parking at 19 West Walnut Street
Phone: (717) 426-4537
Click here to see a map on Yahoo!

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 463
Marietta, Pennsylvania 17547

Meeting Times
Sunday
Bible Classes 9:00 a.m.
Worship Service 10:00 a.m.
Evening Worship 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday
Bible Classes 7:00 p.m.

Web Site
http://susquehannachurchofchrist.org

To Request Bible Correspondence Course, Send Email To:
biblestudy@susquehannachurchofchrist.org

Those who worship God must worship in Spirit and in Truth

John 4:24