Question: If the Gospel is good news, what was all the news before? Of course we couldn’t say it was bad, but in what way was the Gospel better?
As I’ve sometimes seen and heard the “Gospel” proclaimed, it doesn’t seem to be much better news than the old news, i.e., the old law with it’s rules and regulations.
Take a quick journey with me through the Bible. Almost before you know it, we arrive at Abraham. There is hardly a breath before God decides the violence and cruelty of the earth deserves a cleansing flood. Since there’s nobody left but Noah’s family, there is no need for circumcision. Then there’s that thing about the tower and then Abraham.
Abraham is considered “righteous” because of his faith, not because of his works. He prospers without any real rules. He just lives his life, has a few battles, meets the king of Salem, a strange guy named Melchizedek, who is a “priest” of the Most High God. Which is interesting, because he is a Canaanite king. There is no promised land or children of Israel yet. So it seems there were other “righteous” guys out there besides Abraham.
There is no list of rules for them to follow. No Sabbath Day violations to worry about. (Didn’t they know God rested on the Sabbath?) No real sacrifices to please God. Finally God’s promise of offspring to Abraham comes true. His decedents are probably like all the other families. Jealously, greed, cheating each other, weird sexual things happening, and all of it without a lot of rules and regulations. In time, because of dysfunctional family ties, Jacob’s (Israel) son, Joseph, gets sold to some Egyptians. In Egypt he tells the king that God has a plan for Egypt. There it is again. God dealing with the “others.” The plan is that with the impending famine, there should be a tax on the grain, with one fifth going to the government storehouses. During the famine it was to be sold back to the people. Gen. 47 says Joseph’s plan eventually cost the Egyptians everything they had just to survive, and therefore allowed the king to own all the livestock and land. The result was that the Egyptians became the king’s slaves.
During all this is the story of reconciliation between Joseph and the brothers who sold him, as well as the whole tribe of Jacob moving to Egypt. Things go well until a king (Pharaoh) came along who had no connection to Joseph. He found the “Israelites” to be a strange people, who happened to inhabit the strategic doorway for the enemy to invade the land. Since everyone else belonged to the government, why not them?
Keep in mind, they did nothing to deserve this as some kind of heavenly punishment. It just happened to them because they were aliens. However, it seems they never forgot who they were. On the other hand, how they worshiped is unknown, but it would seem from future incidents that they pretty much bought into the polytheistic gods of Egypt. But God didn’t smite them, and they were there, according to sources, anywhere from 215 to 400 years. Two hundred fifteen is probably more correct. So they had no rules and regulations except whatever was left of the covenant with Noah, and maybe circumcision.
Along comes Moses and leads them out of Egypt. And possibly, because they had been in Egypt so long, they were so saturated with everything Egyptian, a new covenant is established, the Law of Moses. The Law may be summed up in situations like Nadab and Abihu, the Sabbath day rules and a bunch of others found in the books of the law. In other words, mess up and you’re toast, and in the process a lot of animals and fowl have to die. I can only speculate why the way it was with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was tossed out for the Law of Moses. We’re never sure how happy Israel was with the law, even with Psalm 119. But they seem to keep on breaking it over and over and receiving due punishment for so doing.
How strictly the Law was kept during the time of the Judges and Kings is anyone’s guess. A close look at those books do not show much about strict adherence to the Law of Moses. In fact, idolatry is a constant problem, even to the point of sacrificing their children. Ps. 106:35-38 is just one example. So the story of the Law of Moses is that it never seemed to work in a satisfactory way. Otherwise, why would idolatry be so attractive? The result, according to the prophets, is that the Israelites were carried off into exile. It is after the return during the reconstruction of Ezra and Nehemiah that an attempt at strict adherence to the Law of Moses was initiated. It was during and after this time that the Law of Moses became bound to the “oral tradition,” the interpretation of the law by the scribes. At this point, obeying the law and the traditions became a way of “binding” God to the person. Therefore, the Law became the Savior. This became a new idolatry. Man could save himself by adherence to the law. In fact, some scribes equated the tora with God.
In the years which followed, religion and Greek politics began to merge. As to the actual daily worship and strict adherence to the law, we can only see glimpses from the New Testament. But the rigidity of tradition and law seem to be evident.
Along comes Jesus and the good news. He wants to place God back in the center of the relationship with man, rather than relationship with the law. He tells his disciples to go and announce that the kingdom of God is at hand. As to what that meant is subject to a lot of different ideas. However, it should also be noted that in Luke 4, Jesus says it is related to the prophesy in Isaiah which has to do with freedom. In Luke 17:20,21, when asked when the kingdom would come, Jesus said the kingdom was not something to be seen, but to be experienced in the heart. In Romans 14:17 Paul said the kingdom of God is “Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Galatians 5:1 announces that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Free from the yoke of any enslaving doctrine. In the Lord’s prayer, the prayer is that God’s kingdom and will is connected to what we do on earth.
So if there is “good news” does that mean the prior news was bad? That’s cutting it close. But Paul, in Romans almost says that. While he loves the Law, he also knows it placed a constant burden of failure on the adherent.”The good I would do I do not do etc.”. (Rom. 7) He sees in Jesus the revelation of a God that loves and does not condemn. “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (8:1) There is also a new law, the law of the Spirit of life, which has freed him from the law of sin and death. That “law of the Spirit” breaks down the barriers between people. It takes away the idolatry of believing God only loves us when we get it right according to rules and regulations. The sad thing is, too much of Christianity still operates that way.
CONCERNS: Betty Foy, R. J. Hall, Judy and T. J.’s grandson is having vision problems, but the MRI showed no brain damage. More tests will be done. Along with pink eye, Judy is also seeing a doctor for vision problems. Teryn Gaynor’s mother is starting cancer treatment. Joni Beach’s parents, her aunt, Pat Voss, and her niece, Jamie Cole. Jim Hunter had a good report from his doctor. Sheila Jansen and Amber Weaver, Marjorie Wilson (cancer) Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, David Albert, Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, Sandy Blanchard and those caring for her. (Cancer and loss of vision) Kim (Hall’s) friend, Mary (MS), Darnel Ray Barns, Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson Deana McRoy Stephanie Rigney, Jenni Cullum and her friend, Sean, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: FB. 22-27
Monday: Jeremiah 31:23-34
Tuesday: I Corinthians 11:17-34
Wednesday: Acts 6:1-7
Thursday: Matthew 5:21-48
Friday: Psalm 119:129-152
Saturday: Psalm 67:1-7
OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 29-MAR. 5
Monday: John 1:1-18
Tuesday: Luke 18:1-4
Wednesday II Corinthians 1:3-11
Thursday: II Corinthians 1:23-3:11
Friday: Job 1:13-2:10
Saturday: Psalm 97:1-12
We were saddened to learn of the death of Wendy (Hall) and Jeff Davis’ little granddaughter, Anna Belle, who died as the result of an infection. The funeral was last Friday in Texas.
We knew the time would come when Jeff Forsyth would finish his training as a physician’s assistant and he and Karissa would probably relocate. The time has come. Jeff will be working in Wilkesboro, NC. They have found a house and will be moving soon. They have been a wonderful encouragement to us while here and have lent their talents in various ways. We know that they will continue to be a blessing in their new location. We will present them with a going away gift next Sunday. The snow last week delayed it being ready.
Today is Super Sunday. Since it will be the last Super Sunday Jeff and Kirissa will be with us it will also be a good opportunity for us to individually express our love and appreciation for them. The kindling wood will be dry enough for us to have a roaring fire in the fireplace and the temperature outside will be on the mild side, so plan to stay.
A Brief steering committee meeting will be held in the library after the Super Sunday meal.
As you can see, the snow and ice brought down a very large section of the tree in front of the main entrance. No damage was done to the building, however, there is a lot of clean-up work to be done. One of the things the steering committee will discuss is if we’d like hire someone to do it. Kevin Cornett has offered, but we have not talked about cost. It may lay there for awhile until the ground drys a little so as not to tear up the yard when it is moved.
Vivian Dugan will be visiting with her daughter and son-in-law over on the coast for a few weeks.
Del Bolin has started a new class on Sunday mornings. It involves reading the Old Testament n book form with out chapters and verses. The goal is to see things otherwise lost in a traditional reading. It is to be read at home and then discussed on Sunday. Books are available in the foyer
A reminder: When the temperature is going to be near freezing on Wednesday evenings, there will be no service.