NEW LIFE BULLETIN September 5, 2021
SCRIPTURAL TRUTH *
Most preachers I know who hang on to their old sermons find upon review, that they wouldn’t preach them again. It’s not that what they said at the time was untrue, it’s just that they’ve moved on in their understanding of both scripture and the world. Of course, some themes continue to run through all sermons, but the glue that holds the sermon together is something stronger and deeper than any one period of time.
This poses the question: If preachers could live two hundred years or so, would their sermons continue to become obsolete? Would there ever be a time when they had “eternal” sermons? Sermons that, with the passing of time, would not change regarding their application to the surrounding world. I don’t think so. In fact, I believe it is part of the great expansion of knowing God and God’s world that will prevent it from being so. You will also note I said “application.” The topic may be Jesus’ words about loving one another. That theme will not change. What will change is the application, or perhaps we might even say the “hermeneutic,” meaning the method of interpretation.
All preachers use sources for their sermons. Those sources are closely guarded secrets because most of them are either too good to reveal, or they are “borrowed” (plagiarized) from a compatible and hopefully reliable source. The stealing is not as critical as who you steal from. You can buy copies of Martin Luther and Charles Hadden Spurgeon’s sermons and even preach them if you want to preach sermons outdated by time and language. Were they insightful? Yes, for their time and place. Good themes? Yes, and those themes can be used and expanded upon, but preached word-for-word their application and illustrations belong to another time and culture. In other words, those sermons, as is, would be as irrelevant and tasteless as “peas porridge in the pot, nine days old.”
As I said, the problem with “borrowing” is who you borrow from. If the preacher continues to only use source material from past preachers of his own thinking, he will be stuck in the past and will think only as they thought. I once knew a preacher who did read beyond Church of Christ preachers, but only from those of the l9th century. He is still thinking in that same century and is a leader in the watch dogs of orthodoxy in his area.
If you are a preacher or a student of preaching, you might disagree. But I would ask why your old sermons seem too dull, or, for lack of a better word, too awful to be used again without a lot of updating and modification? Were they true? Hopefully. Then what happened? The world happened. The world constantly presents us with deeper and better ways of understanding and applying scripture. By that I mean the world (humankind) keeps on growing in its knowledge and understanding of itself. This, I believe, is the will of God. Without it we would still be in some prehistoric, primal darkness.
It is in cooperation with the continuing growth of human wisdom and understanding that the truth of scripture also grows. Therefore, at one time, apparently honest men could preach that slavery was the will of God because it was not condemned in scripture. On the other hand, equally honest men and women began to see the world of slavery and scripture in a different light. So, the same scriptures began to be understood in a different and better way. This would also be true of the value and place of women, both in society and in the church. Science and medicine are other fields that have presented (however slowly) believers in scripture with the challenge of new understandings and applications. One can only imagine what things we accept today as an acceptable application of scripture that time and human understanding will challenge us to change.
I suppose for some this is heretical and dangerous thinking. We want solid ground for our truth, and we want our truth to be unchangeable. However, our “truth” as truthful as it is, is not necessarily God’s truth for all time. That truth must be gained one step, one day, one experience at a time. This is true in every field of endeavor, so why not in the understanding of God?
Can you imagine someone in the first century telling the apostle Paul to pick up a phone and call the church at Corinth? Such an item in his hands would have seemed evil. Why didn’t Paul know about airplanes and television? Because those steps of knowledge had not yet been taken. And when those steps are taken, we always look back at where we were and are thankful we took them.
But the question still lingers: Is yesterday’s truth tomorrow’s truth? In many cases, yes. But in other important areas of human (and spiritual) development, they are not. And because it does involve the lives of humans and the continuance of the earth, it also involves how scripture is used.
For example, in Galatians 4:8,9, Paul tells them they “were slaves to those who by nature are no gods.” He then asks, do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? Question: Was what had enslaved them real or not? How can a “no god” be real? What had enslaved them was the superstition, the belief in all these “no” gods. However, from this and other passages like it, we take an ancient belief in all kinds of “beings” and turn it into a doctrine about a battle going on in heaven. And yet we will acknowledge that the “Lord’s prayer” speaks of doing the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven. Does God get God’s will done in heaven or is “heaven” out of control? In Colossians l:16-18, Paul says about Jesus, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” Paul then says, “…so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”
When we use the truth of scripture without separating it from the time and culture in which it was written, we strangle the eternal truth for the world we live in today. As we learn new truths, we should not be among those who use scripture to enslave those it was meant to free.
THOSE TO SERVE IN SEPTEMBER
Announcements: Mike Branch or Connie Crites
Ushers: Lyn Jordan
Singing: 5 & 12- Karen Branch
19-Wayne Flora, 26- Del Bolin
Scripture: 5 & 12- Ruby Crosen,
19 & 26- Susan Jordan
Communion: 5 & 26- Wayne Flora,
12 & 19- Keith Wagner
29-Ann Claris “AC” Fuller
CONCERNS: TJ Hall’s son-in-law, Jeffrey Davis (Wendy’s husband) passed away on 8/29/21 of Covid related issues. Deanna McRoy is recovering from cancer surgery in Atlanta. Joni & Alan ask for prayers for their son, Nathan, and his family. Judy McWhorter is recovering from knee replacement surgery and COVID-19. Del Bolin’s mom, Carrie, is home, please continue to pray for her health. Erma’s sister, Lorretta, has a serious six-month oncology treatment plan. Please continue to pray for Alisa Flora’s nephew, Ethan Gentry, and her sister Melanie Gentry. Wayne Flora’s parents, Sylvus and Martha Flora, and sister, Jan. Teryn Gaynor’s mother, Brenda Windham, has cancer and will start immunosuppressant medicine. Pray for Steve Gaynor’s family. Charlie Duvall, Mark McRoy’s friend, has constant pain and is facing several surgeries. Phil Peters, Holly Wagner’s friend, has Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer. Jim Hunter has been diagnosed with an autoimmune deficiency and will be going to UVA in September. Joni Beach’s niece, Jamie Cole. Pray for Debbie McRoy’s cousins, Linda Alsup and Erica Halford.
ALSO REMEMBER: Stacey Smith, Bud McWhorter, Jan & Gary Overstreet, Bonnie Beaver, Martha Albert, Steve Nicklas and family, medical student of Del Bolin, Cory. Calesta Saunders, Alan & Joni Beach, Kerry & Sula Hay, Judd Beaver, Lebreska Whitaker, Wayne & Susan Phlegar, Nick Hodges, Ruby Crosen, Mark & Ellen Tidwell, Donte McCadden, Joni and Alan Beach’s fathers, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, and Tim Elder.
We have evening services at 6:30pm for those who are unable to attend Sunday Mornings. Please be sure to pick up and hand out the postcards.
SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS
This Sunday, 9/5/21, Brian will be discussing Discipleship. Please join us. Then the following Sunday Del Bolin will pick back up with the study of “The Acts of God in the Book of Acts” at 9:30 am, in person or online with YouTube.
PIG ROAST- 9/4/21
We will have a COVID-19 friendly pig roast along with a showing of “God’s not Dead,” a movie-in-the-yard. We will gather around 5:30pm and plan to eat around 6:30pm, when the meat is ready. Movie will start at sunset, about 7:45pm. This is an outreach event.
ONLINE YOUTUBE SERMONS
We continue to provide services online. The Roanoke Church of Christ YouTube channel link below:
Join the Zoom Meeting on the study of Matthew at 7pm.
Meeting ID: 842 3705 2443
We will begin the study of the book Saved from What? on September 9th at 6:00pm at the Miletis’ home. It will also be discussed on Sunday mornings at 9:30am. This will be a great on-ramp for someone you have been witnessing to. Books are in. See Brian.
We will be hosting kids from the Rescue Mission. This will be a twice-a-month event starting in September on Fridays. If you would like to help, let Brian know.
We want to thank Mike & Karen Branch for having a church get together at the lake house on 8/22. Everyone who attended enjoyed the time of fellowship.
Food Pantry items needed: peanut butter, Chef Boyardee Ravioli and Beefaroni, and skillet meals like Hamburger Helper.