The

SUSQUEHANNA SENTINEL


October 5, 2003


SPIRITUAL MOTIVATION OR PHYSICAL MOTIVATION?

Jesus and His apostles crossed the Sea of Galilee and "came to the land of Gennesaret and anchored there. And when they came out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was. Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the border of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well." (Mark 6:53-56).

John records that this took place on the day after the feeding of the 5,000, and the day after Jesus had walked on the Sea of Galilee, that He rebuked the multitudes for following Him for wrong motives. "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him" (John 6:26-27).

As Jesus tried to shift their attention from their physical needs and desires, to their spiritual needs, they began to quickly lose interest and drift away. As He tried to enlighten them as to the true nature of His Messiahship -- that He had not come to be a military or political redeemer, but a spiritual redeemer, John says "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?' Then Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'" (John 6:66-68).

When Jesus had spoken of Himself and His will as their spiritual nourishment -- the Bread of life, they could only think of the literal bread, the manna God had given their forefathers in the wilderness. Most of those who had eaten the manna in the wilderness had not continued to walk with God. They became unfaithful and perished in the wilderness. But he who would partake of the spiritual nourishment Christ came to provide, would sustain himself perpetually thereby.

And so most of those in the days of Jesus' earthly ministry, missed the point of His Messiahship, and of the miracles He worked to confirm His identity as the Son of God. Jesus did not come to physically redeem the Jewish nation from Roman rule. And though most of His miracles were within themselves acts of mercy, their primary purpose and significance was to call attention to Jesus' spiritual authority and purpose. Jesus had come to redeem men from sin. His miracles were the credentials that established His identity as the Messiah, the Son of God.

--Clarence R. Johnson


DOES GOD HAVE A DOOR-KNOCKING LAW?

It certainly is not sinful to knock on the door of a stranger and offer to study the Scriptures with him, invite him to worship services, etc. It is never wrong to study the Bible with anybody, anywhere, any time.

As a gospel preacher, "door-knocking" is one of the things I have been involved in a number of times. On several occasions when I was in La Porte, Texas, we took a city map, marked out various areas beginning near our meeting house, and went door to door inviting folks to attend our meetings, offering to have home studies with them, etc. I know that similar efforts had been done in Exton, Pennsylvania, before I moved there, and we made such campaigns two or three times during the time I was there. In a similar effort, some of us went to the Exton Acme store, the Downingtown Farmer's Market, and the Exton mall (until we were asked to leave there), and distributed 3,000 invitations to one of our gospel meetings. At the time of another of our gospel meetings, we acquired a mailing list of all the individuals in near proximity to the building and sent out written invitations to the meeting along with an offer for an open Bible study, the Jule Miller film-strips, correspondence courses, etc. We did not set up a single home study by this method. As far as I could determine, we did not get even one visitor to our worship services as a result of such efforts. Virtually all of our visitors from the community turned out to be individuals who knew some church member and came at their personal invitation. I have known of better results in a few places, and I have known a few individuals who were especially effective in such endeavors. I think good advice would be, "If you don't have a better idea, it's worth a try." It has worked quite well for the Mormons and "Jehovah's Witnesses." 

Someone asks, "Didn't the apostle Paul go 'house to house' to teach, and didn't Jesus send His disciples from "house to house?" There are four "house to house" passages in the KJV. Let us look at them briefly to see if God has a door-knocking law. We'll look at them in reverse order.

1. 1 Timothy 5:13. Young widows have a tendency to "learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also, and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not." Does this passage suggest they went knocking on the doors of strangers to spread gossip, or isn't it more likely that "house to house" simply means they visited in the homes where they already knew people?

2. Acts 20:20. Paul told the elders in Ephesus, "I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Though this passage might indicate that Pau1 went door-knocking throughout Ephesus, this is far from a necessary inference. He did teach in public assemblies and in private homes, and so should we.

3. Acts 2:46. "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." Did they go door-knocking, looking for a meal from strangers, or did they eat from "house to house" where they already knew people? (Note that in this passage, the ASV replaces the phrase "house to house" with "at home." They ate at home, and in each others homes. But in the Greek, the construction is almost identical with Acts 20:20. They ate in homes and they taught in homes, but it is not necessary to conclude that this was the result of a "door-knocking campaign."

4. Luke 10:7. When Jesus sent the 70 out on the limited commission, He told them that when they were accepted into someone's home, and allowed to use that home as a base of operation, "…in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house." Time was of the essence. They could accomplish more by teaching and operating out of one location than moving about from place to place. This passage does not forbid our door-knocking, but neither does Acts 20:20 require it. Door-knocking is one of many methods we might choose to use to make contact with potentially interested individuals. It is not necessarily the best method, not necessarily the worst, but one of many to be used at our discretion.

But back to our initial question: Does God have a door-knocking law? The answer is NO! 

--Clarence R. Johnson


FINDING THE WAY OF SALVATION

Jesus said, "Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matt. 7:14). Did you ever wonder why many who seek to go to heaven may never find the way? The logical answer seems to be that they are looking for it in the wrong place. We cannot find salvation anywhere except where God has put it. 

Some seek to find salvation at the point of faith. Of course, faith is an essential element in the salvation of the soul, hut no verse of Scripture teaches that faith apart from obedience to the will of God will be effective. Noah was saved by faith when he "moved with fear, prepared an ark," etc., Heb. 11:11. Abraham's faith led to justification when it caused him to obey God's will, James 2:21-23. Paul speaks of that which avails with regard to our salvation as a faith which is "working through love" (Gal. 5:6). This accords with what James wrote in James 2:19-28.

Perhaps some fail to find salvation because they search for it in the works of the Law of Moses. God didn't put it there, and 21st century men and women will not find it there, Gal. 5:4-6; Col. 2:16; Gal. 5.22-27.

Many people seek to be saved, but insist upon following ways devised by their fellow man. God didn't put salvation in human doctrines, Mark 7:5-9.

Some put off seeking for salvation in this life, holding out for a possible second chance after death. There will be no salvation after death for those who have made no preparation on this side of the grave. See Luke 16:19-31; John 8:24; 8:21; Heb. 9:27; Rev. 20:12. 

In fact and in deed, God put salvation in Christ, John 14:6. To get into Christ, where God put salvation, one must believe the gospel (Heb. 11:6; Mark 16:15-16). He must repent of his sins (Acts 2:38; 17:31). He must confess His faith in Jesus as the Son of God, (Rom. 10:9-10) and he must be baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:3-5; Acts 22:16). 

If you have sought salvation outside the will of Christ, you have been looking in the wrong place. Study and obey the teachings of the New Testament Scriptures. Jesus is "the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him," (Heb. 5:9).

--Clarence R. Johnson


UPCOMING GOSPEL MEETING SCHEDULE

Dates
Congregation
Speaker

October 5-10, 2003

Gettysburg, PA

Jim Ward

Oct. 17-19, 2003

Washington, NJ

Mark Russell

Oct. 19-23, 2003

Butler, PA

Wayne Goforth

Oct. 24-26, 2003

Susquehanna, PA

Dale Smelser

Nov. 14-16, 2003

Bethlehem, PA

Doug Focht


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