Know Your Bible

VOL. 13                                                                                                                         January 24, 2016                                                                                                                            NO. 45



  I took a trip down memory lane recently by looking at sermon outlines and manuscripts I developed over 30 years ago. No, I didn’t throw them away but kept them because they were too hard to come by! I was amazed when I looked carefully at them. In some ways, I feel sorry for the brethren who listened to them. I hope what I said was better than what was on paper. Maybe, just maybe, that shows I have grown as a preacher. Perhaps I have learned a thing or two along the way that has made a better preacher of me than when I first began. I still preach the same truths I did back then, but maybe a little better. 

The old sermons I reviewed did reveal something rather startling, however. I noticed that the sermons I preached thirty years ago for those who were outside of Christ must now be preached just as fervently to members of the church. Let me give you some examples. 

Sermons once preached on unity based on the Scriptures were once aimed at sectarians, but must now be directed to brethren who are not sure such unity can be obtained. Some leading voices among brethren now advocate fellowship with denominations. Some are calling for reestablishment of fellowship with brethren who compromised truth. The cry is for us to compromise some valid Bible principles, in order to achieve such unity. We must remind ourselves that we are not separated from erring brethren or denominations just because we want to be apart. We are separated because someone left the faith (Jude 3). 

Sermons formerly preached on morality to folks in the world are desperately needed by many in the church now. Time was when divorce was un- common among us, but not today. Modesty was upheld as a virtue for Christians, but many members now decry any attempt to teach about it. “Social” drinking was once unheard of among us, or at least denounced in our teaching, but is now encouraged and practiced by some preachers and elders. It looks like it is past time to dust off some old sermons and preach them to a “church” audience! There are immoralities now named among the saints which should not be (Eph. 5:3). 

There was a time when my sermons on the purpose of baptism were directed primarily to denominational people who were caught up in a “faith only” salvation. But now, some churches of Christ have preachers who say that baptism is optional. Or, they say that a person being immersed doesn’t necessarily have to know why they are being baptized. This being the case, it looks like we need some more substantive sermons on baptism in most congregations. 

Years ago, my sermons on the work of the church and the work of the individual Christian were devoted primarily to helping brethren avoid the pitfalls which institutionalism created for us. Now, it appears that “we” need such teaching again for ourselves. Read the church bulletins and listen to the announcements at services in many churches. Social affairs, secular endeavors, educational options and political issues are frequently highlighted. Do we not know nowadays the difference between what belongs to the home and what belongs to the church (I Cor. 11:22)? 

Those old sermons have been re-worked, expanded, revised and preached again and again through the years. It doesn’t appear that I can throw them away just yet. They are still just as needed as ever. My task is to work hard at “clothing old truths in new robes”. May God help me be true to Him and His word. May the audience be filled with those who want truth! 

—Mark White

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I recently read an article about a giant bug that many thought had become extinct. There are a few islands off the coast of Australia that provided the habitat for a bug that is about five inches long.  These monster bugs used to live on one island, but a shipwreck brought some people and rats to the island. The story goes that the bugs became a favorite food for the rats. Soon there were no bugs, but many rats on that small island. About eighty years later a few scientists were studying the insect and plant life on a nearby island when they found insect droppings that were huge (in bug terminology). Thinking these bugs must be nocturnal, they did their investigations at night and they found the bugs.

There arose a big conference about the bugs. Should they be returned to the original island where they were found so they could repopulate the species? Should they be taken and cared for in a zoo?  Needless to say a lot of study and money went into this project. What they decided to do does not really matter here. The point is the fact that so many people get excited about bugs and other creatures, but hardly any concern for human life.

It is ironic that so many groups exist to protect the life of an insect or an animal, yet at the same time have no problem defending abortion. There is a group to protect the whales. Another group protects the seals and polar bears. Animal rights defenders will stop progress because of a bug or animal without consideration of the cost to so many people. They stopped the building of an airport because of a frog. They stopped the building of a highway because of a spider.  They nearly stopped the logging industry because of an owl.

I see it strange that everyone who is adamant about these things will defend the right of a mother to terminate the life of a child. If one mistakenly destroys an eagle egg, they can be fined a quarter of a million dollars, but killing a child is a natural thing to do?  Something is very wrong with this picture. The bible tells us that God created man and gave man dominion over every other living thing.  While it may be true that mankind can do as he pleases with the animals; I am sure that acts of cruelty are something God despises.  Jesus said that God sees the sparrow and sees to its protection and provision. God gave the animals instinct so they could survive. God had to teach mankind love, humility, and consideration of others because these are not natural born instincts. Come to think of it, mankind has very few natural instincts to speak of. God designed human babies to be cared for and as they grow they are to learn to care for others. This does not always happen, but if more people would learn to follow God's teachings, our world would be a better place. Our world we live in has many people who have rejected God's teachings. God describes these as ungodly individuals. We see so much murder and the taking of life these days. Human life has been devalued by so much of society that when one is removed from life, hardly anyone pays attention. But step on a bug and you might find yourself standing before a judge with charges of cruelty to a living creature. So sad, because the abortionist will not face similar charges.

—Carey Scott

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