“It Is Better Not to Marry” (Mt. 19:10-12)?

By Timothy Sparks
tdsparks77@yahoo.com
http://www.timothysparks.com

Jesus replies to “It is not profitable to marry” (Mt. 19:10). Not everyone can receive Jesus’ difficult teaching about no divorce of a God-joined union (Mt. 19:6-9). Those who contemplate marriage must do so knowing that marriage is for life. Some of the disciples thought it would then be unprofitable to marry. Jesus says there are three categories of those who can abstain from marriage: those born with a physical defect, those castrated unwillingly and those who willingly practice extreme self-control for the kingdom of Heaven (Mt. 19:10-12).

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By What Authority? by David Watts Jr.

https://medium.com/@davidwattsjr/by-what-authority-a51fdcff44fc

Some Background

For generations, brethren have correctly demanded authority for all that we do. We have correctly followed the pattern of Acts 15 when the brethren and apostles came together to consider the question of circumcision for Gentiles. We demand direct statements from Scripture, approved examples, and necessary conclusions.

We have also argued correctly that we do not act out of the silence of the Scriptures. Rather, we are to “prove what is the good and acceptable will of God.” (Romans 12:2). Simply put, we don’t act from silence. There is a duty on man to provide affirmative Bible authority for all that we do. God puts that duty squarely on our shoulders.

And we have also pointed out correctly that to honestly ask for Bible authority is not offensive or divisive. We hold our denominational neighbors to this standard. We ask them for authority. We mean no hatefulness nor offense. But this is our duty.

When Christ was challenged by Pharisees, even Pharisees with impure hearts, he was quite happy to explain His authority. Of course, he first asked the Jews about the baptism of John. His question to the Jews reminds us that there are just two sources of authority: Men or God. (Matthew 21:25)

We don’t establish authority by emotional circumstances. We don’t establish authority by what we’ve done in the past. We don’t establish authority by human reasoning. We establish it based on God’s written word.

The Present Challenge

Now we find ourselves in difficult circumstances both as brethren and as people. A potent disease is sweeping the world in the form of a global pandemic. While it is true that the fatality rate is generally thought to be about 1% across the general population, it is also true that the disease is bringing much hardship and suffering. Many will die. And we all have genuine concerns that medical facilities in the US (and every other country for that matter) will be overwhelmed with patients.

We are moved with compassion for our fellow man. As a nation we are guilty of the blood of millions of unborn children that are murdered in what is truly America’s Holocaust. Nevertheless, while the nation carries great guilt, we still mourn for the suffering of each individual.

The government has issued “shelter-in-place” type orders far and wide. In areas around Dallas, for example, these are in place until April 30. In NY State, the government has indicated this may continue for many months.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are forbidden, and in some cases no gatherings outside the home are permitted by the government. Texas Governor Gregg Abbott made clear these prohibitions do not restrict religious assemblies. However, he asked that such assemblies follow prudent social distancing standards, currently in the form of six foot separations.

However, the government still supports necessary travel to Walmart or the grocery store to buy groceries. Brethren and citizens do this in recognition of some risk to self and others. Yet, despite the risk, we must eat. We must continue to secure food and essentials for continued life. Brethren and citizens in industries identified as “essential” are permitted to work and gather. My daughter will work this very week 40–46 hours at Kroger, because this is essential work. She, and all those who work with her, and all those who visit Kroger, do so in view of some risks. But they also understand there is a responsibility to be met.

And many continue to go to such locations as drug stores, pharmacies and grocery stores. As of this writing, March 24, 2020, a trip to the grocery store will put you amongst fellow citizens numbering anywhere from tens to hundreds. Prudent social distancing provides a reasonable measure of protection.

The Response Among Churches of Christ

Churches of Christ have responded in various ways. Some elders and/or men of the congregation have suspended the Lord’s Day assembly. They have organized services remotely using solutions like Zoom for audio and video conferencing. Other congregations have continued to meet in person, following prudent guidelines for limiting the opportunity for spread of COVID-19.

Despite the challenging times and circumstances, we must continue to ask for Bible authority for our practices. We must continue to prove what is the good and acceptable will of God. We must continue to follow the pattern of sound words from the Lord. (2 Tim 1:13).

With this context, I ask — upon what authority do men suspend the Lord’s Day assembly? I’m referring to the commanded assembly of the brethren in each congregation in order to partake of the Lord’s Supper and remember our Savior’s death on the cross.

Reminder: God Commands a Congregational Assembling Together to Remember His Son’s Death

For generations, we have preached correctly that the Lord’s Supper is not something done in ad-hoc, separate, gatherings of brethren. Rather, the Lord shows that it is done when brethren come together as a congregation of God’s people.

This is the divine example in Acts 20:7.

This is also abundantly clear in 1 Corinthians 11:17–33.

Notice that in this context, there are five clear indications that this remembering of our Lord’s death is to be done together, in one place, as an assembly of the saints.

  1. The context of this passage is “when you come together” — vs. 17.
  2. Paul continues, “when you come together as a church” — vs. 18.
  3. Paul continues, “When you come together” — vs 20.
  4. Paul contrasts what they are doing (coming together as a church) with some sort of at home situation. He does this by pointing out, “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in.” The point here is that this was a gathering of brethren together in one place, this was not ad-hoc, scattered gatherings of small groups in homes.
  5. Finally, Paul again emphasizes, “when you come together to eat.” This reference to “come together to eat” is entirely consistent with Acts 20:7 where Luke records, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread….”

Scripture is clear, God expects brethren to come together, as a congregation, not as ad-hoc small gatherings in homes, to take the Lord’s Supper.

In spite of five clear indications in Scripture that the Lord’s Supper is to be taken in a physical congregational gathering, some brethren read this context and conclude that we can somehow take the Lord’s Supper in remote, scattered, ad-hoc gatherings that are not “an assembling of ourselves together.”

God Commands That This Assembling Be on the First Day of the Week

At risk of stating the obvious, God’s instruction is that the Lord’s Supper is to be taken on the first day of the week. Acts 20:7 shows this as an approved example.

The collection for the saints is not the same thing as the Lord’s Supper, but it is also clear that this is to be done on the first day of the week. Clearly, this was also to be done in a gathering of the congregation, not across ad-hoc, scattered gatherings of brethren.

The Question Remains: Where is the Authority to Suspend What God Commands?

When discussing marriage, Christ made clear in Matthew 19:6, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

By principle it is clear, man does not have authority in himself to suspend what God has commanded. Given that God’s word perfectly equips us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17), if suspending a command of God’s is authorized, there must surely be divine instruction permitting this.

Is This Like a Hurricane?

Churches have sometimes needed to suspend the Lord’s Day assembly because of an immediate threat from a hurricane. Is this current situation the same thing?

Respectfully, no.

If this is like a hurricane, this is a strange hurricane that allows people to go to work (if essential), allows people to go to the grocery store, go to the drug store, go to the doctor, even go to the veterinarian… and yet somehow selectively prevents people from assembling to worship the Almighty.

Hurricanes or blizzards actually involve physical barriers to assembly. Literally, roads are flooded and impassable. Bridges are washed out. Roads are truly impassable.

This is not our situation. Our situation is far more selective. Many hundreds and thousands of people use prudent precautions to go to the grocery store to buy supplies, but somehow those same prudent precautions are insufficient for worship of the Almighty.

Furthermore, if this is a hurricane, this is a hurricane that won’t merely last a single Sunday — but may last for months and months on end. Surely, the comparison is faulty at best.

Nevertheless, we don’t establish Bible authority based upon human reasoning, and for good reason. Situations are different. But God’s word is our perfect standard.

Do the Shepherds Have the Authority to Suspend the Lord’s Day Assembly?

Some have suggested that 1 Peter 5:2 (“shepherd the flock of God that is among you…”) is authority for elders to suspend the Lord’s Day assembly.

But perhaps they fail to remember that two verses later, in verse 4, elders are reminded that there is a Chief Shepherd: Jesus Christ.

Under what circumstances can fallible shepherds suspend the command of the infallible Chief Shepherd? The principles of authority make clear that shepherds answer to the Chief Shepherd and such men have no authority to suspend God’s commands.

Local Churches are Local, Right?

Yes, the Bible is clear, each congregation is autonomous and is not governed by any other men, elders, or organization.

The simple question, “Where is the authority” does not in any way erase congregational autonomy. It is simply a dialog among individual saints.

Government Isn’t Preventing Worship, Right?

This point has been made by brethren. The argument essentially is: “This is not government persecution. The government is trying to take care of us. This is not a case where government is preventing us from worshipping.”

This is a false straw-man. The issue is not whether government is preventing us from worshipping. We are of course free to engage in some acts of worship in our homes. We can worship in our cars. We can worship in a field of corn.

However, it is in fact accurate to state that government is forbidding brethren from assembling together on the Lord’s Day to remember our Lord’s death and partake of the Lord’s Supper — as God has commanded.

That is a serious infringement upon our duty as Christians. This is exactly the same type of infringement that occurred in Acts 5:29.

In that context, the government said, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name…”

Perhaps brethren today would have advised Peter and the apostles, “Look, they’re not preventing you from worshipping. Just go into your house and worship God. You’re not being persecuted.”

Yet Peter and the apostles resolutely rejected the government’s demands as it violates God’s commands to teach and preach. Maybe our brethren would have advised Peter and the apostles to just be quiet for 30 days or maybe a couple of months?

Yet the answer from Peter was unyielding: “We must obey God rather than men.”

Simply: God told us to teach and preach. We will do that, with or without your authority.

Today the situation is of the same type.

Government has said, “Do not assemble on the first day of the week to remember Christ’s death.”

God has said, “Do assemble on the first day of the week to remember Christ’s death.”

Our response ought to be exactly what is found in Acts 5:29. We will obey God rather than men. We will defy such orders and assemble with prudent social distancing precautions.

Does “This Present Distress” Suspend The Requirement to Assemble?

Some are proposing that we are authorized to suspend the Lord’s Supper gathering in view of “this present distress.”

Perhaps they seek to borrow language from 1 Corithians 7:26, “I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free.”

Perhaps brethren forget that Paul is talking about marriage. Marriage is optional. Paul made clear in verse 1, that it is 100% proper to remain unmarried. However, when marriage is undertaken, now God’s laws prevail, and if a person is married they must not seek to be free… even in the present distress.

Likewise it is clear. Assembling on the first day of the week is law. The “present distress” does not suspend our duty to assemble to partake of the Lord’s Supper, no more than the “present distress” authorizes divorce.

Aren’t We Supposed to Love our Neighbors?

Yes, this is the second great command as provided by Christ in Matthew 22:37–38. To be clear, Christ said, “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

This is relevant because doctors and researchers tell us that we can be carriers of the COVID-19 virus while completely free of symptoms. It is of course true that none of us wants to be the person that passes the virus on to another person — perhaps one that might be especially vulnerable.

However, perhaps our brethren have forgotten that in this very context Christ indicates there is a “great and first commandment” — that being, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

We would do well to remember 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

We must love our neighbors. But we have a first great command to love God. And loving God includes obedience to God’s commands. And God has commanded that we assemble together to partake of the Lord’s Supper.

Under what circumstances can the second command cause us to violate the first and great command?

Surely, there must be clear authority before we do such a thing.

Haven’t There Been Other Pandemics Where Churches Have Closed the Doors?

Perhaps. That’s a question for history. But we do not establish Bible authority by appealing to past practices. Those past practices may have been right, or they may have been wrong.

We establish Bible authority by clear revelation in Scripture.

The Path Forward: Scriptural and Prudent

If we limit ourselves to Scripture, as we must, and the established principles of Bible authority, here’s the path forward.

  1. No man has the authority to close the assembly on the first day of the week to remember Christ’s death and partake of the Lord’s Supper together as a congregation.
  2. Any elders who do forbid the assembling together on the first day of the week are acting without Bible authority. They are essentially locking the doors of the building and preventing what God has demanded.
  3. The same brethren who are perfectly capable of making a reasoned decision about the safety of going to Walmart or Kroger or even work, in spite of some risk, are also perfectly capable of assessing their risk in assembling for the Lord’s Supper.
  4. The Old Testament, which was written for our learning (Rom 15:4) makes clear that those who are sick should be quarantined. This is Biblical. Numbers 5:1–4 is one such place that reminds us of this truth.
  5. Note: quarantine is not for those who have zero symptoms. It is for those who are sick.
  6. By application, those who are especially vulnerable are justified in remaining in quarantine. Likewise, there are those who must care for sick family members or friends and may not be able to assemble. This fits the Bible pattern.
  7. Simply put: if sick, stay home. If especially vulnerable, stay home. If caring for sick family or friends, stay home. Otherwise, make the same informed decision you make when you go to Walmart, and using the same criteria, and understanding our spiritual responsibility, make a reasoned determination to assemble for the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week.
  8. Do this without regard for government permission. Acts 5:29 still applies.
  9. Be encouraged by the example of Daniel. Daniel was commanded not to pray. Yet, in Daniel 6:10, Scripture records that “when Daniel knew the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” Perhaps brethren today would have counseled Daniel to just close the windows and pray in private. Perhaps brethren would have told Daniel to worship in other ways. But Daniel deliberately defied the government and did so in a very public manner. This pattern remains for us today.
  10. Some congregations across the land have indeed continued to assemble in prudent ways. Some have met outdoors in an open area, with plenty of space between families and brethren. In so doing they have fulfilled God’s commands.
  11. Others have met in their regular meeting locations, but separating with pews between them, and additional space between each person. Some have allowed older brethren to enter and leave first, and avoid unnecessary social contact. Some congregations have asked each member to enter the building and immediately wash their hands. These are reasonable approaches that allow us to fulfil God’s command and remain prudent.
  12. Brethren have added precautions to the taking of the Lord’s Supper, with those who serve wearing gloves. In some cases brethren have ensured the bread is broken into small pieces in a sterile manner, so as to avoid cross contamination.
  13. The point is simple: it is possible to observe the Lord’s command, and assemble together with prudent precautions. It is a patently false narrative to claim these things are mutually exclusive.

The Path Forward: Courage and Conviction

We have a duty to meet on the first day of the week to remember our Lord’s death. That command is not suspended by elders, or men, or by government.

The path forward, to continue to assemble “as we have done previously,” (Daniel 6:10) will require courage.

We do not pretend we are immune to this disease. I suspect that eventually all people will be infected with this virus. Indeed, researchers and doctors indicate the lock down in place today is only designed to “flatten the curve” and avoid overwhelming hospitals. The efforts will not stop the number of people infected, but will simply spread those infections out over time.

We should also remember that while medical personnel and researchers often have the very best of intentions, they don’t always get it right. Mark 5:25–26 reminds us of a woman who “had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.”

We appreciate the intentions of most medical personnel, but we also remember that they are not infallible — neither in the past nor in this present struggle. As such, while we we seek medical counsel, we must not abandon our trust and reliance on God. King Asa would surely caution us against over-reliance on doctors and under-reliance on God (2 Chronicles 16:12).

We must have the attitude of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3:16–18. My paraphrase: Our God is able to deliver us. And He will deliver us. But if he chooses not to deliver us, we still will not forsake God.

In today’s situation: Our God is able to deliver us from this pandemic. And we have full faith that he will. But if in his eternal wisdom he determines to not deliver us, let it be known: we will not suspend God’s command to assemble on the first day of the week.

Other Questions to Consider

In this present trouble, do we have the right to also suspend baptism “in the same hour of the night”?

That is to say, a person contacts the preacher and genuinely wishes to be baptized in water for the remission of his sins. He asks the preacher, “Can I be baptized this very day?”

The Bible pattern is clear: “Yes, I’ll meet you at the nearest water and based on your faith and confession that Jesus is the Christ, we will baptize you immediately.”

But government says there is to be no travel apart from essential food, groceries, medicine, doctors, etc. Government does not want any assembly of any number outside the home. Even a two person gathering for the purpose of baptizing another is not permitted.

Shall we suspend the commandment regarding baptism because of what the Government has imposed? God forbid.

Shall we suspend baptism based upon the fact that we might expose this person to the virus, or he might expose us to the virus? God forbid.

Surely the absurdity is clear. We will obey God. We have no authority to suspend baptism. We can baptize with prudent precautions, but we will follow God no matter the cost.

Conclusion:

The simple question — where is the authority to suspend the Lord’s Supper assembly— is fair and proper. In fact, it is necessary.

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Baptism

QUESTION by R.: Who baptized John the baptizer?

ANSWER by Timothy:

I do not recall anywhere in the 1,189 chapters of the Bible that we are told who may have baptized John the baptizer.

QUESTION by R.: The thief was not baptized, so why was Yehoshua and all those who the apostles baptized if the old law was still active? The only ones that were baptized previously were proselytes and John was not one, he was a Jew.

ANSWER by Timothy:

Many assume the penitent thief on the cross had not been previously immersed, but he may have been as he may have been previously commanded to do so: “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (Mk. 1:4-5).

We simply are not told whether or not the penitent thief was immersed. However, we do know that Jesus had power on earth to forgive sins (Mk. 2:10) and that Jesus was able to pardon him (Lk. 23:43).

It is clear that some rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been immersed by John (Lk. 7:30).

What seems to be important for us today is that under “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:2), among other things which Scripture says saves, “immersion also now saves us” (1 Pet. 3:21). Both Jews (Acts 2:38-41) and Gentiles (Acts 10:48) are immersed into Christ to clothe themselves with Christ (Gal. 3:27).

Hope this helps in your search of the Scriptures.

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Forgiveness and Repentance: Harmonizing God’s Teaching

By Timothy Sparks
tdsparks77@yahoo.com
http://www.timothysparks.com

God as “the Judge of all the earth” (Gen. 18:25), commands humans to repent or they will be lost (Lk. 13:3, 5). God, being God, can and does dictate that to receive his forgiveness of our sins, humans must repent. God’s forgiveness is conditional. We will receive his forgiveness only if we repent of our sins. God alone has the power to forgive sins (Mk. 2:7, 10). Humans can forgive wrongs committed against them.

Some believe what is true of God’s forgiveness of our sins is also true for us individually. That is, a person who has wronged me must repent in order to receive my forgiveness of the wrong committed. Does God teach us to have this kind of forgiveness? Which kind does God teach: conditional or unconditional forgiveness?

Some believe, based on Lk. 17:3, that when we are wronged, we either cannot forgive or do not have to forgive unless a person repents. Concerning Lk. 17:3, the negative inference fallacy would be to assume: “If he does not repent do not forgive him!” Please see the following research on the negative inference fallacy and address of Lk. 17:3, https://timothysparks.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/negative-inference-fallacy.pdf.

Please consider that the Greek word ἀφίημι (aphíēmi) translated “forgive,” means “to send away, leave alone, let go.” We do have the ability to let go of a situation and leave it alone, even if the offender does not repent. Hard, yes. Impossible, no.

Notice God’s teaching concerning forgiveness (Scriptures taken from NKJV, unless otherwise noted):

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Mt. 6:12).

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt. 6:14-15).

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven'” (Mt. 18:21-22; other translations, “77 times”).

“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Mt. 18:35).

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mk. 11:25-26).

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Lk. 6:37).

“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us” (Lk. 11:4).

“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Lk. 17:3-4).

Love “thinks no evil” (1 Cor. 13:5) [Footnote: “keeps no accounts of evil”]. Also note the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC): “it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].”

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Col. 3:12-13).

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Evangelism: What Is It? How Do We Measure It? What Should We Do?

By Timothy Sparks
tdsparks77@yahoo.com
http://www.timothysparks.com

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A Biblical Pattern for Evangelizing

Scriptures Compiled by Timothy Sparks
tdsparks77@yahoo.com
http://www.timothysparks.com

Radical Evangelism—The First Century Way—Meeting People Where They Are

(As Opposed to Inviting People to Come to Us)

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom…” (Mt. 4:23).

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Mt. 9:35).

“Now when he had departed from there, he went into their synagogue” (Mt. 12:9).

“When he had come to his own country, he taught them in their synagogue . . .” (Mt. 13:54).

“Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught” (Mk. 1:21).

“But He said to them, ‘Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.’ And he was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee . . .” (Mk. 1:38-39).

“And he entered the synagogue again” (Mk. 3:1).

“And when the Sabbath had come, he began to teach in the synagogue” (Mk. 6:2).

“And he taught in their synagogues . . .” (Lk. 4:15).

“. . . . And as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day . . .” (Lk. 4:16).

“And he was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee” (Lk. 4:44).

“Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that he entered the synagogue and taught” (Lk. 6:6).

“Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath” (Lk. 13:10).

“These things he said in the synagogue as he taught in Capernaum” (Jn. 6:59).

“Jesus answered him, ‘I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing’” (Jn. 18:20).

“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house…” (Acts 2:46).

“But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, ‘Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.’ And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught” (Acts 5:19-21a)

“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42).

“Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).

“Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues . . .” (Acts 9:20).

“And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant” (Acts 13:5).

“But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down” (Acts 13:14).

“Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed” (Acts 14:1).

Acts 17:1-17

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.

But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. 14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.

Acts 18:24-28

24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; 28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

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Did Jesus Use Food as a Hook to Attract People to the Gospel (John 6:1-14)?

By Timothy Sparks
tdsparks77@yahoo.com
http://www.timothysparks.com

Notice the text (NKJV):

1 After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.

7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”

8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them [b]to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

We ask the question, “Did Jesus use food as a hook to attract people to the gospel?” Interestingly, John tells us, “Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased” (Jn. 6:2). Jesus was not using food to attract the crowd to hear the gospel. Rather, Jesus performed signs for people to hear and obey the gospel that they might have eternal life. Jesus did not feed them to attract them—they were already following him “because they saw His signs which He performed . . .”

According to the text, the feeding of these thousands was not about attracting people to a teaching opportunity, nor simply about filling their stomachs. The purpose of miraculously feeding so many accomplished yet another sign: “Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world’” (Jn. 6:14). The sign accomplished its purpose of creating belief in Jesus as God’s messenger, with God’s message, that they would believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, they may have life in His name (Jn. 20:31).

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