September 7, 2003


After Jesus miraculously fed the 5,000, "Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray." (Mark 6:45-46).

Remember that Jesus and His apostles had just returned, tired and weary from preaching to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As multitudes flocked around them, the apostles had petitioned Jesus to send the multitudes away, Mark 6:36. But Jesus, realizing that the multitudes were like sheep with no shepherd, had compassion on them, taught them, and then fed them.

After the multitudes had been provided for, Jesus sent His apostles away to a much-needed rest, and He also sought rest, solitude, and an opportunity to pray in a quiet atmosphere, away from the crowds.

John informs us of another reason Jesus found it necessary to flee from the crowd at that time: "When Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone." (John 6:15).

Strange as it may seem, numerous students of the Bible, even in our time, have the mistaken notion that Jesus wanted to be an earthly king. This, Jesus repeatedly refused to do. He came to be a king, but not a worldly king in a physical kingdom. Jesus' kingdom is a spiritual reign in the hearts of men who willingly submit their wills to His. 

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, Satan showed Him all the earthly kingdoms and their power, and promised it would all be His if He would worship the devil, Luke 4:5-8. Jesus declined.

After the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus is once again offered the opportunity of becoming a political ruler. He slipped out of the crowd, and once again declined to become an earthly monarch, John 6:15.

Still later, in response to a question by the Pharisees, Jesus tried to get them to understand that His kingdom is not a political, military reign to be manifested in a manner observed by those who are worldly-minded. His kingdom is within--within the hearts of those who make peace with God, Luke 17:20-21.

When Jesus stood accused before Pilate, Pilate asked Him if He were a king. Jesus indicated that indeed He was. In fact, He was born to be a king -- but that His kingdom is not of this world, John 18:33-38. Pilate understood that Jesus' kingdom did not rival that of Caesar. Jesus' rule is spiritual, not political, and His army is spiritual, not carnal. Every Christian has a dual citizenship, rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" (Matt. 22:21).

--Clarence R. Johnson


[Editor's Note: The following article was written a number of years ago, to introduce folks to a certain Texas congregation. It has been slightly adapted to make it more applicable to this Pennsylvania congregation. Please read and benefit. -CRJ]

There is a church in your community which has no bowling club, no softball team, nor does it sponsor a Boy Scout troop. The physical property of this church includes an adequate place for assembly and worship, with air-conditioned class rooms for Bible study, but there is no kitchen, no banquet hall, no gymnasium, no party rooms.

Your first thought may be, "What a strange church. What a strange people." Perhaps. However, many of these church members are your neighbors, and in fairness to them, and to you, we should explain that they are very normal people. Many of them enjoy bowling and softball. Some serve as trainers and managers of softball and/or little league teams. Some of them work with Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. Our teen-agers enjoy dates and music sessions as much as any others their age. Our young folks "make the team" in high school and college and their parents cheer them on with enthusiasm. But the church is not used as a civic or social club.

By now you may be asking, "Then what does this congregation offer me? What does she offer the community in which we live?" These are fair questions and they demand fair, open answers.

We offer you the New Testament church. Not a social club; not a civic organization; not a public welfare institution - although the influence of Christianity has been felt in all these worth-while fields of human endeavor. Members of the Susquehanna church of Christ who are business men bring honesty and fairness into commercial and domestic relations. Members of the church of Christ, richly endowed with the spirit of Christ's love for mankind, have made better communities, cleaner politics, and have done much to relieve the sufferings of humanity. But the church of the New Testament, the Lord's church, has a very special reason for existing -- a Divine reason for existing -- with a purpose and a work that demands attention and precedence over all else in this life. She is a spiritual institution, administering to our spiritual needs.

The church, as a functional organization, was established by Jesus Christ the Son of God, to fill a need, to do a work, that no human institution could possible perform. We deplore the fact that many religious institutions of the present have smothered the real purpose of the church beneath civic, social, and domestic affairs. They feed hungry souls with hamburgers. But when all the needs --or desires - of this life have been met, and we find we must leave this life - what then? "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Jesus said, ". . .and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). The church was to he built upon the truth that Jesus was the Christ (See 1 Cor. 3:11), a truth fully proven by His resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4). By this sacrifice of Himself, Christ "bought" the church (Acts 20:28) -- He "gave himself for it" (Eph. 5:25). Reading such scriptures, we are impressed with the sacredness of this Divine institution. She can have no trivial purpose, nor is such assigned her by the word of God.

"To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph. 3:10-11). Can a community social center serve so noble a purpose?

In 1 Tim. 3:15, Paul writes ". . .that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." The church holds aloft truth - the reference is to spiritual truth, that saves souls. Shall we replace divine truth with book reviews and travelogues? God forbid. 

But some may say, "We live in the 21st Century. The church must meet the needs of today " Exactly so. 

We have many fine civic and social organizations which can meet the physical needs of our community today. Members of the New Testament church as parents and citizens, individually support and promote all wholesome efforts to better the lot of mankind in this life. But this 21st Century is woefully lacking in emphasis upon the soul of man, and his eternal welfare. The church must meet the needs of today - the very greatest need of all being the peculiar and distinctive benefit offered mankind by Christ.

The church of Christ specializes in being the church. We offer this community simple New Testament Christianity. Our primary concern is with the spiritual needs of mankind -- his need for God, for forgiveness of sins, for genuine God-satisfying worship, for the pureness of conscience that can come from living, working, and worshipping according to the directions of the word of God.

As a people, we know we are not perfect, "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves; but they measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you" (2 Cor. 10:12-13).

We make no plea of greatness on our own part, but pledge ourselves to strive diligently to follow the rule of God, the Divine message. We speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent.

Visit with us soon -- and let us welcome your honest investigation of the church of Christ in this community.

--Robert F. Turner



Sept. 14-19, 2003

Hyde Park, PA

Steve Klein

Sept. 24-28, 2003

Dexter, Maine

Clarence Johnson

October 5-10, 2003

Gettysburg, PA

Jim Ward

Oct. 17-19, 2003

Washington, NJ

Mark Russell

Live now as you will wish you had lived when you stand before God in judgment.


Clarence R. Johnson
Phone: (717) 361-6212

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
Bible Classes 9:00 a.m.
Worship Service 10:00 a.m.
Evening Worship 6:00 p.m.
Bible Classes 7:00 p.m.

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Those who worship God must worship in Spirit and in Truth

John 4:24