“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 23, NO. 36 & 37 – THE GREAT UNKNOWN
The title has nothing to do with the line from the song that goes, “From here to the Great Unknown.”
To explain the title, go back in time with me to the sermons you’ve heard. My guess is that you heard about Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, John the baptizer, Jesus, Peter, Paul and a few others. Probably at some point in each of those sermons the preacher held one or two of these folks up as examples of how we should be. We left church wondering when it would be our time to build an ark, or kill a Goliath, or be crucified like Jesus, and go into all the world like Paul. Anything less seems to fall short of what is a “real” Christian. In other words, we were always “falling short of the glory of God.” That is until we get our act together and became like the people the preacher held up before us.
There is also that hairy problem of the Holy Spirit. If we were taught that the Holy Spirit was the Bible, problem solved, almost. Now all we had to do was duplicate the instructions in the New Testament and we would be safe. We would be lead by the Spirit of the Word, as it were. Among the problems with that is the person who could quote the most scripture would be considered the most “full of the Spirit”. (“Which version of the Holy Spirit do you want? KJV, ASV NKJV or some other? We have it in hardback and soft leather?”) We would also become literalists, which to the thinking student of scripture is impossible. So we need to find a way to decide which passages to follow and which to not. This, of course, is true even if we are not among those who believe the Spirit is the Bible.
I said the Holy Spirit is a hairy problem because when we see the passages that speak of the “indwelling Spirit” we also have to deal with them. That’s where the rub comes in for most of us. We are told that the Spirit gives us “spiritual gifts”. So we look around and we don’t see anything. If someone asks what our gift is, we are stuck. Those who try to display what they feel is theirs, seem to ruin it, if indeed they have it right. Which I think in most cases of self-recognition, they don’t. All I can say here is I think the gifts of the Spirit are best seen in us by others, and accepted by us in faith.
However, as a reading of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians indicates, the concept of the Spirit giving gifts can be a problem. As seen in the first letter, the “visible” gifts were the most sought after. But as time passed and they seemed to fade in and out of church life, so some explanation needed to be made. At some point it was decided by some that those “visible” gifts were only for a certain time and place. Therefore, they no longer existed, hence the Bible itself became the Holy Spirit. Regardless the excitement about that view and the scriptures used to defend it, it didn’t and won’t hold water, more less the Holy Spirit.
Left without a “The end!” from God, some set out to find the treasures of the lost Spirit. Meaning they wanted visible proof of the Spirit in their life. In
some cases visibility became the test as to if the person had the Holy Spirit or not. This led to some faking and hypocrisy. It also leads to frustration and disappointment as well as constant questioning of oneself.
In the New Testament there is never any doubt that the confessing person (Christian) does not receive God’s Spirit in their life. I’m not going to list the scriptures that would confirm that. My interest is in what a “spiritual” person is supposed to look and act like.
What does a spiritual person look like? Are there some “Christians” in any church who lack the presence of God’s Spirit in them? Don’t we look for the Moses’ and the Abrahams, and the Pauls? How many do we find that we can put our finger on and say it? On any given Sunday all across the world, churches are filled with believers who come, involve themselves in worship, and leave. If they were told to list their particular Holy Spirit gift at the door, how many could? How many would feel very accepted if they couldn’t? Why we feel that way is because those who preach and need to keep the wheels of the church turning, as well as being driven by the need to convert the world to Christ, need more wheel turners and converters. In other words, more people like Paul are needed. In fact, if you’re not aspiring to be like Paul you’re not very spiritual. “Why haven’t you been beaten or shipwrecked!?”
Now, let’s look at the actual picture in the New Testament, at least as we have it. We know about Peter and Paul and a few other “evangelists”. We are told that on the day of Pentecost three thousand folks were converted and “added” to the church. What happened to all of them? Did they all go off preaching? Some did. But behind those who did, were the great unknown. Those who never went beyond the edge of the town or city in which they lived. They assembled to worship and praise God and went out and loved their neighbors. We can imagine (because we still see it) that they did deeds of goodness and kindness. Hopefully they never wondered if they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Hopefully they were never made to feel unspiritual because they didn’t feel the need to express visible proof of the indwelling Spirit by displaying their gift (talent).
Are there unspiritual people who say they are Christians? Yes. What’s the test? For Paul it was the result, the “fruit” of the Spirit’s presence. In Galatians 5:22ff Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Strange, but there’s no “speaking in tongues” or “prophesying” there. Neither is there a “Be a giant for Christ”, though any one of those might cause someone to be, but not everyone.
Most of us are part of the great unknown, except to God who lives in us and makes God visible in the above (yes, visible) attributes. Do we have to be good at all of them equally to have the Spirit? No. Salvation is not by gifts,
. Keith firstname.lastname@example.org
CONCERNS: Judy Hall is still recovering from back surgery, but hopes to be able to be out soon. Both she and T. J. have had health problems lately. Garrett Lee Williams’s friend who suffered an eye injury is still being treated in hope of restoring his vision. Jenn McCready, a therapist that works with Del Bolin has a serious eye infection that may cost her to lose her sight. Eleanor Crush remains about the same, as does Wilma and Jenni Cullum. Helen Nicklas has recovered from pneumonia and is feeling better. Remember the Kincannons as they teach in Russia. Also Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Randy Conner, Ron Matney, and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 19-24
Monday: II Thessalonians 1:2-12
Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-25
Wednesday: John 2:1-11
Thursday: I Thessalonians 1:2-10
Friday: II Timothy 2:1-13
Saturday: Isaiah 40:1-11
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 26-31
Monday: Matthew 2: 1-12
Tuesday: Matthew 2:13-23
Wednesday: Genesis 31:36-50
Thursday: Acts 9:19b-31
Friday: Psalm 122:1-9
Saturday: Psalm 140:1-13
Our thanks to the young people for doing an excellent job directing the worship service last Sunday. It was impressive to say the least. Brice Reid did a very good job presenting the story of the Prodigal son, and all those who read and made announcements spoke clearly and distinctly. Apologies to AC Branch who was overlooked and we missed her prayer. Soon, AC!
A special thanks from Keith to all of you who stayed after last Sunday’s service for a reception in recognition of his 50 years of preaching. Also to Brice Reid and the other young people who decided to do it.
Another nice thing about last Sunday was the visitors who came. It was really great to see Diane and Lewis Sturm, who came from Ohio. Jessica and Perry Downing (Megan Beaver Downing’s in-laws) from here in Roanoke, and Harriette and Ralph Shivers just happened to be in town for a business meeting. It was almost a homecoming weekend.
THE ADULT CHRISTMAS PARTY
Even though this is being written before the adult Christmas party, there is no doubt everyone enjoyed themselves. A thanks to Del Bolin who served as this year’s MC. Also to Erma Williams for decorating and Judy McWhorter who arranged the menu, and to those who took on special things such as providing the appetizers and desserts.
We will have a Christmas Eve service. We will meet at 6:00 PM and read the story and sing the songs. Afterwards some go out to eat afterwards and everyone is invited.
Because Christmas falls on Sunday this year, we will only have a 10:30 worship service. There will be no Sunday School. This will give more time for the children (Christmas is for children of all ages) to have some time before church, as well as families getting together for the enjoyment of this special day.
As the year ends let’s remember we have been there for each other in both joy and in sorrow. That’s family.