Roanoke Church of Christ


It Helps to Have Help

Keith Wagner, March 7, 2021


You may have heard a Gideon tell story about a person who picks up a Gideon Bible while in some distress, reads it and accepts Christ as their personal Savior. It’s a story that proclaims the power of the Bible. Or, you may have heard about a person who reads the Bible for the first time, and having done so, knows what they need to know to become a Christian.  In other Words it’s simple. Yes, as a start.  However, where that start takes the person is another matter.

We’ve all heard someone say, “The Bible says what it means and means what it says.” Or, the bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!” No questions just do what it says, and you’d be saved. Anyone who read what it said and didn’t arrive at the same meaning as you, were wrong. There can only be one right meaning. But what if what it said was not what it meant? What if the meaning of the word in one time meant something different in another time? Even better, what if the story (parable) was understood differently by those who heard it and those who would read it centuries later?

Think of how hard it is to convince people that the “talent” as in the parable of the talents, has nothing to do with using one’s natural ability. But that the word “talent” is a translated word for a sum of money.  It is about what one thinks of God, not how one uses God-given ability. “Does anyone believe God is like a harsh man, reaping where you do not sow, and gathering where you did not sow seed”? Matt 25:24.

As I look deeper into the historical and culture meaning of things in the Bible. I am convinced, that while there is enough to start one on the journey of Christianity, help is needed to grow in wisdom and understanding. Hence the meaning of “disciple” or “learner” or more to our understanding, “student.”

It is easy to say if we just love God and our neighbor as ourselves, we have fulfilled the law and the prophets. But when the lawyer asked Jesus who was his neighbor, it was legitimate question. It was a question disgusted in the synagogue each time that scroll was read.  (By the way, during the synagogue service when there was a reading of scripture, there was then a discussion about it.) All sides would be examined. They did not say it said what it meant and meant what it said.

Take for example the “neighbor” question. Certainly, the law of Moses had said the neighbor should be loved. But did that mean the inhabitants of Jericho, and the other cities wiped out by the Israelites?  “Neighbor,” at the time the law was given had a more narrow definition than it did after Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan. James and John had just suggested letting them call down fire on the Samaritans who had just tossed Jesus and them out of their city. (Lk 9:54)

Today, while still struggling with who the neighbor is, because of Jesus and the meaning of the gospel as seen in the life of Paul and the church, we know it means anyone, especially those in need.

Let’s look at another one. When Jesus was preaching the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:17 ff, he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” What did he mean? The answer is generally that Jesus kept the Law in every way, every way. But, for example, we see him not keeping it when it came touching lepers and other unclean people. So what do we do with that? We try to understand it as it was understood by those who heard Jesus say it.

To do that we have to dig into Jewish culture at the time. This can be done with the blessing of the internet. If you really want to understand Jewish thinking, go to A. J. Levine, a New Testament and Jewish scholar at Vanderbilt. You don’t have to agree with her to learn from her. She is among a number of scholars who have studied the history of Jewish thought. Here’s what they say about Matthew 5:17ff. In the synagogue and other places of teaching and learning, when a participant has misrepresented the Law in some way in the eyes of another, he would say, “You are destroying (or abolishing) the Law!” When a participant said something, which highlighted the intent of the Law in another’s eyes, the person would say, “What you have said fulfills the Law!”

 So it would be possible for those discussing the Law to have different views as to what it meant. The word “fulfill” had nothing to do with literally keeping every aspect of the Law, but whether the listener believed it was, or was not “fulfilling” the intent of the Law. Therefore, Jesus is not saying he will keep every part of the Law, but that what he does fulfills the intent of the Law.

 Why is something like that important? Because in knowing what the original intent of the words were, keeps the reader from formulating a twisted understanding about how Jesus could keep the Law while seeming to break it. It also answers the question of when he fulfilled it. It was not nailed to the cross when he died. It was fulfilled in the way he lived it.

When someone says Jesus broke the law, someone else hurries to say he didn’t, because of the Matthew passage. What Jesus was saying, and they understood, even if they didn’t agree, was that his actions fulfilled the intent of the Law.

The Jews didn’t have one solid understanding of the Law. They read it, and then reasoned about how to apply it. Adultery and divorce were problems. They agreed on that. But they argued about what constituted a valid reason for divorce. 

The same was true of the Sabbath. They knew it was to be kept, but how? So they made a list of things that could or could not be done on the Sabbath. Those items became the Law. If we say Jesus never broke the Law, only the interpretation of the Law, we miss the point. The interpretation is the Law, i.e., the “fulfillment” of the Law It may always mean what it says, but for it to do that, we need help in understanding what it actually means.



Announcements: Connie Crites

Ushers: Leena Bolin / Mike Branch

Singing: Karen Branch 7th

 Del Bolin 14th, 21st, 28th  

Scripture: Susan Jordan

Communion: Keith Wagner


3-Vivian Dugan

5- Bonnie Blessing

12-Buster McRoy

29- James Downing

31- Erma Williams


10- Alan & Joni

 CONCERNS: Friend of Mark McRoy, Mr. Calesta Saunders is paralyzed from waist down from a spinal stroke. Pray for Erma’s sister Lorretta. She has had multiple surgeries.  Susan Jordan’s father, Kerry Hay, recovering from heart procedure. Angela Cavalier will have knee surgery in March.  Please continue to pray for Judy McWhorter’s brother-in-law, Gary Overstreet, he is recovering at Raleigh Court Rehab.  Megan Downing’s aunt Stacey Smith with ongoing cancer treatments. Also pray for Megan’s grandmother Bonnie Beaver has stage 4 ovarian cancer and surgery is being scheduled.   Alan Beach will be continuing treatment at UVA keep him and Joni in your prayers. Del Bolin’s mom, Carrie health issues. Alisa Flora’s sister, Melanie Gentry, stage three cancer. Please keep whole family in prayer.

Please pray for friends of Keith Wagner, Jo-Ellen and son Joe Griffith both are having health issues.  Teryn’s Mother, Brenda Windham cancer, continue to pray for Martha Albert who is in Alabama for a while.  Joni Beach’s niece, Jamie Cole. Pray for Wayne & Susan Phelgar to continue to stay safe and healthy. Pray for Debbie McRoy’s cousins, Linda Alsup and Erica Halford. Deanna McRoy has a kind of cancer that can return at any time. 

ALSO REMEMBER: Rhonda McRoy,  Martha Albert, Holly Wagner, Andressa Mileti, Ruby Crosin, Mark & Ellen Tidwell, Donte McCadden, Joni and Alan Beach’s fathers, Jim Hunter, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Tim Elder.

FOOD PANTRY PARTICIPANTS REQUESTING PRAYERS: Mary Ann Cook knee problems, Albert Cook health issues has no energy, Betty Otey requesting general prayers for well-being and health.

 WEDNESDAY NIGHT ~ We are Studying the gospel of Matthew via web conferencing at 7pm. This is an interactive session   that can be joined by computer or phone call.
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CONGRATULATIONS ~ Maggie Foy has been accepted to UVA. She will start in the Fall. No major yet. Congratulations Maggie!          

SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS ~ We are continuing our Sunday school class at 9:30am. Del Bolin will be leading the class on the study of “The Acts of God in the Book of Acts. The class we continue in the auditorium under the COVID guidelines.


We continue to provide services online. The Roanoke Church of Christ YouTube channel link below:

RESCUE MISSION TRAINING ~ Please prayerfully consider serving with the Roanoke Rescue Mission in their Agape After Care Program as outlined by Ms. Natalie Kline. Contact the office if you are interested in attending the training.

OFFICE HOURS ~ Brian Mileti’s office hours will be Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Cell phone # (540) 521-2112

Please call before coming to the office.

CHURCH WORKDAY ~ We are planning a Saturday outside workday soon. Will let you know date & time.      

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