This Week's Focus Passage

‘He that entereth not by the door into the fold of the sheep.’

Focus Passage: John 10:1

‘He that entereth not by the door into the fold of the sheep.’

We read in a biographical account found in the first issue of Naphtali Press, regarding the person of Alexander Henderson (1583-1646), that;

Not much is known about Mr. Henderson’s early life. In 1615 he was first settled as a minister of the word in Leuchars. Being young and ambitious, and unregenerate, he was in favor of the Episcopacy which had been forced upon Scotland at that time, and in fact had to crawl in through the window of the church to which he was first installed, the doors being locked against him, for the people were against the corruptions of that party. However, he was destined to be brought from the darkness of his sinful estate through the means of one of the most eminent men of that day, Mr. Robert Bruce. Having gone secretly to hear Bruce preach, and taking a seat in the back of the church, he was greatly affected by the text which the preacher uttered, and the following sermon upon them: He that cometh not in by the door, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber.

Henderson many times accounted this as the time of his conversion. What a remarkable instance in the history of the church of Jesus Christ, how that the preaching of one child of God was employed by the Holy Spirit to bring another child of God out of the darkness into the marvelous light. Here was an ambitious young man who apparently recoiled not at being lifted by supporters into and through an open window in order to gain access to the building of the church at Leuchars in Scotland in 1615. Is it not amazing how a person would have been able to submit to that sort of thing knowing that the congregation were adamantly opposed to his being settled as their minister. Yet the sovereign Lord of all who permitted that settlement also led Henderson to travel a distance to sit under the preaching of another. This other was Robert Bruce, who was preaching on this very text of John 10:1, He that entereth not by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. Alexander Henderson was not only convinced that he was that person of whom the text spoke, but according to his own later testimony, was brought to Christ for the first time under the preaching of Bruce upon that text. How marvelous are the ways of God in bringing about His purposes in His church and in the lives of each and every one of His children! Truly, William Cowper had a wonderful grasp of this precious truth when he wrote, ‘God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.’ It is marvelous in our eyes!

Jesus said subsequently, in verse 7, I am the door of the sheep, and again in verse 9, I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and go out, and shall find pasture. Henderson was powerfully convicted that he had obtained entrance to the fold of Christ’s sheep unlawfully, at least as far as the law of God was concerned. And moreover he learned, according to subsequent testimony, that his conversion had likely been a coming in the wrong way; through a door other than Jesus Christ. It would be well if more in our own day would be led to take this history lesson into their own hearts and minds, considering the door that they have come through in their ‘salvation’ experience. Perhaps many numbers would find, along with Alexander Henderson, that they had been lifted up by the strength and will of man, and not by the regenerating power of God the Holy Spirit according to the will of God the Father, and the satisfaction of God the Son at the hill of Golgotha. How much more blessed to know that we have come through Him who is the Door of the sheep, into His pasture, to rest in Him alone, than to be stumbling along in the land of Giant Despair—recalling Pilgrim’s Progress— having climbed over the rail out of the good way, and landing into the way not appointed by God in the Gospel of His Son.

How many in our day have been cajoled into a ‘decision for Christ’ under the pressure of an imploring evangelist, with the strains of ‘Just as I am’ echoing forth over, and over, and over again. We sat in our seat resisting the ‘call’ of the preacher when he pointed out to us that many others were coming down the aisle. This is the tactic of peer pressure; surely all those people moving out of their places to stand before the stage, cannot be mistaken; can they? Yet how few are aware that large numbers of those apparently, supposedly, moved by the gospel were only a part of the plan, or scheme, of the ‘revivalists’ to employ peer pressure. How many have read about the instructions given by the representative professors from their schools for ‘preacher-boys’ when they advise them not to use remarks such as, ‘for my closing statement,’ or, ‘to sum things up,’ because, as they warn, this will only cause the ‘man in the pew’ to ready himself; to tightly grip and hang on to the arms of the chair; to steel himself to resist the anticipated call to come down the aisle? These things are documented in their courses. This is their methodology.

And no one is questioning the sincerity of their motives. Many of these tent preachers and evangelists truly believe that if they are able to entice a sinner to ‘come to the front,’ that they have drawn a sinner to Christ; that they have plucked a brand out of the fire; that they have been instrumental in saving a sinner from eternal destruction in the lake of fire. And no one is suggesting that there are no conversions under these circumstances. What we are saying, and insisting upon, is that if there are any truly brought to Christ under this sort of methodology; this resurrection of the methods of such as Charles Finney; that it is not because of the method; not because of the unbiblical suggestions and directions given to folk, but in spite of these things. But because sinners are saved in different ways and under diverse means, does not give warrant to employ those ways and means. The ensuing problem is not with those few that are brought to Christ in these ways, but with the many that have made a decision under these pressures, knowing little of sin or repentance.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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