The Word of God is the Key

by Dr. Ken Matto

(Isa 28:12 KJV) To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.

In the nice seasons of the year in New Jersey I like to ride to the mountainous sections in the western and northwestern part of the state. In doing so you will always go through a small town that had its beginnings many years ago. New Jersey is an old state which was settled in the mid 1660’s. One of the oldest sections of New Jersey is the corridor of Route 517, north of Route 78. When you leave Route 78 and go north on this road, you will come into a town called Oldwick which is a pre-revolutionary war town. In fact, there is a general store there which was built around 1760 and is still being used as a general store today. I went in there once and all the old beams, just as they were 250 years ago, are very visible. That little store was built to last. Can you imagine what it was like in 1760 when it was built?

The War for Independence was still 15 years away. The Boston Tea Party was 13 years away. That store has survived 248 winters. Right across the street is a church which was founded around the same time and many of the tomb stones reflect the age of the church. I wonder how many of those buried beneath the brown sandstone headstones shopped at that little store? I am sure every one. As you continue out of Oldwick north on 517 you will see a majestic view of a big valley and mountains. When I ride out of that town my mind wanders back to the 1700’s when I could picture the people who attended the church and then rode their horse and buggies back toward the farms. I picture them going north on what was then a dirt road. Times were simpler but harder.

As you continue north on 517 you will come into another old town called Fairmount. This little dwelling also has a church which was founded in 1740. The first inhabitants are buried right there in the church yard. When you continue north on 517 out of Fairmount, you will arrive at Long Valley where there was an old German settlement dating back to 1738. As you turn east on Route 24, you will be in the middle of a row of old houses. One of the old houses has a date plaque on it, dating it to 1750. If you would have continued north on Route 517, you would go up a very steep hill called Schooley’s Mountain. There is a great legend surrounding this place. It is said that a large shipment of British Gold was buried here and never recovered. It was a large payroll for the British troops. They were surprised by Continental troops and had to vacate the area quickly. They buried the gold in hopes of coming back to recover it. However, it was never recovered and still remains buried somewhere in Schooley’s Mountain to this day.

The reason I took you on another history tour of New Jersey, is because as I rode through those towns and saw history standing right in front of me, it reminded me of how well these people built their homes and businesses to be able to last close to 300 years. It further reminded me of the Gospel, how God gave the principle of salvation, that has stood the test of time for nearly 2,000 years. (Rom 10:17 KJV) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. God wrote in Romans that we are to proclaim the Word of God to bring in the souls of His Elect. This method has continually been the practice of countless millions of Christians who brought the Word every day and without admixtures of “exciting” things. God does not save through theatrics nor does He save through sales and marketing schemes. God applies the word to those He plans to save. No where in Scripture do we find a pattern or even permission to implant our own ideas and methods in bringing the Gospel.

These old homes which are standing for hundreds of years shows the carefulness which went into their construction. If substandard wood or methods were used to construct them, they would have perished long ago. God gives us a carefully constructed plan also. It is to bring souls to Christ through the plain teachings of Scripture. We do not need modern music or versions to do this, since they only bring confusion. God’s plan is simple, we bring the word and He applies it to whomever He will. His construction of the body of Christ since the first saved soul on earth has had only one method of construction. Apart from the teaching and preaching of the word of God, we will err. We are never told that we are to “help” God with our modern methods of confusion. The way the Gospel is being proclaimed today is foreign to the Scriptures. Children in the Bible were reached with the same method the adults were. It is the plain preaching of the pure word of God.

When we see a building which has stood the test of time, it tells you something about the designer. God’s method of building the body of Christ also tells something about the Designer. He does not do things with any manner of confusion involved. God’s method of evangelism is simple. Just as simpler design methods of buildings hundreds of years ago yielded longevity. Churches implement all kinds of man-centered programs to entice the people to come, and congregations buy into it. If Christ is the center of your church, then your church will grow. However, do not worry about numbers because that is God’s business. You minister to whom the Lord sends you. The reason that many people leave churches is because there are many confusing signals going out of the churches. People are not being given the plain Gospel but are being given all kinds of gospel additives which engender confusion. We must always minister to the spirit of a person and not to their flesh. Too many churches with the music programs are ministering to the flesh which is only going to be buried.

A true ministry ministers to the spirit of a person and does not go off course.

This is why God continually counsels us to seek the old paths. Why? BECAUSE THEY WORKED! What has been the response to that counsel? Ignore it and bring in the entertainment so people can tap their feet in the church and then when they leave, they leave spiritually bankrupt with tired feet. The only thing that refreshes the soul, is the Word of God. That brings us back to our verse from Isaiah. (Isa 28:12 KJV) To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. Are you hearing and ignoring or are you hearing and obeying? If your modern church is floundering, then maybe you need to de-modernize. If your ministry is waning, maybe you need to seek the old paths. It is never to late too trade in your SUV for a horse and buggy. Maybe your ministry will get simpler but harder. He who has ears to hear!  (1/30/04)