Roanoke Church of Christ



In last Sunday’s sermon I was talking about the time when the king of Assyria had his army surround Dothan in an attempt to capture the prophet Elisha. You remember that Elisha’s servant woke up to find the city surrounded by the enemy army. He woke Elisha and asked what they were going to do. Elisha told him not to worry, that there was more of them then there was of the enemy. Old Testament scholar, Walter Bruggaman explains this as  looking at things as they are and understanding the facts of the situation are not always the way things must be. That’s an important concept when reading scripture.

Another example is from the temptation of Jesus. The tempter knew scripture and tossed it in Jesus’ face. A good point to remember, just because a scripture is quoted doesn’t mean that’s the way things must be. Jesus knew more than scripture. Jesus knew how to do scripture. That’s also a desperately needed lesson to learn.

Nearly everyone who has been taught the Bible has been taught to use it as a proof text. Of course, there is a need for that as we teach the Bible, as long as the proof text is also context. I’m going to go a step farther, there are times when the scripture and its context needs to be understood, not as it is, but as it should be.

A easy example is Ps. 90:10 “The length of our days is seventy years-or eighty, if we have the strength.” How many people do you hear quote this “threescore and ten” passage as fact? Lots. Is it literally true? No. In fact, if we wanted to get into a scriptural war over it (and don’t we like to do that!) We could say, “Well, what about Isaiah 65:20, where the new earthly world ruled by the Messiah is envisioned? It says, ‘…he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.’ What about that?”
Contradictory? Only if you read the Bible as literal fact.

I can remember hearing Sunday school teachers and even preachers say that Jesus literally meant to cut off one’s hand or pluck out one’s eye because that’s what Jesus said. On the other hand, I never, and I mean never, heard anyone say that Jesus’ remark to the “rich young ruler” to sell what he had and give to the poor was to be taken literally. That is not to say no one ever did that, just that no one in my church background ever said that.

Well, why don’t we say that? We don’t because to do such a thing does not fit within the whole context of the life of Jesus. We are told in Luke 8:1-3 that Jesus was helped by several wealthy women who were followers. We also know that the message to the young man was not a message constantly repeated. But it does have a message to us about how we view money and the poor.

Here’s another little example of how scripture can be thrown around to prove a point. On one hand there are scriptures that are used to “prove” the world is getting worse, and that there was a time (it varies from person to person) when the days were good, as in “the good old days.” But, in Eccl. 7:10 it says, “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such a question.” I hit the ball on your side of the court and you hit it back until one of us fails to return it. Such is the life of literal interpretation.

So, how does the person arrive at one conclusion or the other? By observation. But that depends from where you are observing and how wide your depth of field. From where I stand, too many people are looking through the wrong end of the binoculars. Instead of looking at a wide open view of history, some people take the narrow view of looking only at their own time, or some vague time just before their time.

Who is right? Well, both see what they see and therefore mold their lives and view of God on their observation, be it long or short, narrow or wide. No one can argue with the “facts” of what is seen, but rather with how what is seen determines our view of God’s will and the world.

The “fact” is, slavery was never condemned in scripture. Is that fact therefore the truth about “owning” another human being? No. Did that fact allow the owners to teach, and even believe that a slave was not actually a complete human being? Yes. There are sad records of those who believed that the African slaves were not completely human. In fact, I have heard that in my lifetime, since moving to Roanoke. A youth minister who was a resource person at camp one year told me while he was working in a southern state (I’d rather not blemish that state by saying which one) was told by an elder, when he began to reach out to young blacks, not to worry about them because he wasn’t sure they had souls.

Well, how did slavery become unchristian? By observation. Christian people began to see and know black people and when they did their observation trumped the scriptures for slavery. Is that permissible? Of course! It happened all the time in the Old Testament. The Law of Moses said death to adulterers. While that meant only with another Hebrew man’s wife, even before the time of David, who was both adulterer and murder-for-hire king, the observation of the people said that law needed to be amended. Was it done officially? No. It was done because either the original law was outdated, or it was seen as unjust. Did they need a chapter and verse, or a word from a prophet to reach that conclusion? If there is one, we don’t have it. But the answer is “No.”

In our own history we had no chapter and verse to release women from the “weaker vessel” status. In fact there was (and still is) much quoting of verses to the contrary. What happened? Observation. The “facts” where not really the facts.

So when someone sees women serving God along with the men and says, “What about ‘Let the women keep silent in the church”, or some other such scripture, I don’t waste my time serving my scripture back into their court, (which can be done) unless they express a sincere desire to discuss the subject. Why?  Observation tells me those “facts” are not the real ones.

There will always be something that  challenges us to question the “facts”

CONCERNS: Jeff Bland’s friend’s father died just over a week ago. Remember the Major family as you pray. Bud McWhorter’s sister is slowly improving. Helen Nicklas had a CAT scan last week. Jeff Bland’s friend, Thomas Major’s father has died from cancer. The Smiths have a neighbor who needs our prayers, as does two of T. J. And Judy Halls. Remember also Trisha, a friend of the Bolins. The little boy Judy McWhorter mentioned with cancer is the nephew of a customer, not the son. Judy has set up a “fund jar” at her business. If you’d like to help, give it to her. Joanne Elder (needs a job), Martha Foy’s dad is still dealing with his back problem. Zona Fisher’s niece has cancer, as does her brother, Tim. Polly Altice reports that she is some better. Her son James is dealing with cancer. Isabelle Simmons is responding to treatment for leukemia. The Phlegar’s friend, Julie, in Texas is slowly recovering from a severe stroke, She is not yet walking. Wayne’s aunt is recovering from a serious fall. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Fla. (cancer), Barbara Mc Cauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum and Tim Elder.
Monday: Genesis 15:1-21
Tuesday: Psalm 2:1-11
Wednesday: Mark 5:1-20
Thursday: Hebrews 9:16-14
Friday: I Thess. 4:1-12
Saturday: Psalm 130:1-8
Monday: Psalm 119:1-24
Tuesday: Matthew 22:22-37
Wednesday: Revelation 3:14-22
Thursday: Galatians 2:11-21
Friday: John 15:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 112:1-10
Roger Fisher’s oldest brother, Atley, died last week. The funeral and interment was near Union WV on Tuesday. ALSO: Zona Fisher’s brother, Roger Wade, died Sunday night after a short battle with cancer. The funeral was Wednesday. Keep these families in your prayers as they deal with their loss.
Today, September 19, is Super Sunday. It looks to be a beautiful day to stay and enjoy the fellowship of food and friends after the morning service. If you are a visitor, consider yourself our guest.
Martha and Bill Albert have invited us to their home on the lake this afternoon. This is a great time of the year to enjoy the beauty of Smith Mountain Lake.

The food will be hot dogs on the grill, so bring some buns, some drinks, chips and maybe some potato salad and enjoy their hospitality. Martha really needs to know how many plan on coming, so see her after church. And, Thank you Martha and Bill for the invitation.

The Fort Ave congregation in Lynchburg started a monthly hymn sing last month. We missed getting it announced. The one for this month is on Saturday, the 25th at 6 PM. There will be a time of fellowship and refreshments following the singing.

The address is 1132 Sandusky Ave. You can check their web site @

Next month on Super Sunday, we will have our annual Peaks of Otter Hike and Picnic. Erma Williams has already put a sign-up list on the foyer table. If you remember last year it was a beautiful day with warm weather that turned comfortably crisp for the picnic. It’s a good time to enjoy the outdoors and the picnic. More about that in the next bulletin.
If you shop at Kroger or Food Lion you can put money on a gift card from either store and as you use it 5% will go to the Rescue Mission to help those in need. For the Kroger card you have to pick it up at the mission.

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