Sunday, October 25, 2015

LEARNING TO DISCERN SCRIPTURE: SCS No. 59

The Old Pine Grove Community Church, Ezel, KY


Sunday, October 25, 2015, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 59

PRAYER for Today:
Father, we know You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are broken. We ask for Your will to be done and whatever Your will is to give us the strength and wisdom to live Your will till Your Son comes back.  It is in His name we pray. Amen.

SCRIPTURE for Today: Mark 13:22 King James Version (KJV)

22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

SERMON for Today:

These sermonettes have been very irregular of late.  The explanation is both simple and complicated.  The simple answer is that I have been going through a crisis which is both a spiritual crisis and a mental/physical crisis.  It is easy to state, but very hard to explain.  Therefore I am not going to bore you with the details, but I am going to try harder to be more committed to communicating regularly with those of you who read these.

We will not continue with the Gospel of Mark after today until we get near Easter next year because that is where we are coming to in Mark.  We will pick it up then.

I was trying to put together a conference on Faith Communities and Mental Health for next April 30th.  I mention this because some of you may have read about it on here.  Well I had to cancel the effort because I could not find an appropriate organization in the Tri-Cities area of TN/VA to get behind it with me.  The divisions in the mental health arena are very much like the divisions in the church.  It did not do my personal mental health much good to have to give up on this important endeavor which I had called “The Forgotten People of Appalachia.”  However, it would have done my mental health less good to continue.

The verse for today which was in the Scripture Lesson on September 6, 2015 talks about “false Christs and false prophets.”  We know the church is divided on what they call truth.  Who are the true ones or the false ones?  I am not the one to tell you, but in trying to put together this conference which is now not going to happen I found a friend from years ago when I first started Project Dream Again then called Christian Friends of the Mentally Ill.  His name is the Rev. Dr. John F. Baggett.
Dr. Baggett, Ph.D. had a book published in 2008 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company which when I tell you the title you might say John was reaching pretty high to think he could write such a book.  The book is titled Seeing Through The Eyes Of Jesus: His Revolutionary View of Reality & His Transcendent Significance for Faith. (available at Amazon.com or from the publisher)  He pulls it off.  It might be because of his theological education at Kentucky Wesleyan College and Vanderbilt Divinity School or his M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from UNC at Chapel Hill.  I think he pulls it off for the most part from his lived experiences with and without Jesus.  All the academic work is in the book, but there is a deeper underlying stream running through it that only comes from the pain of feeling the loss and the nearness of Jesus.  You cannot write about life from an ivory tower, but the tower can help you explain the pain and confusion of ordinary life if you do not lose touch with your roots while in the tower.  John stayed rooted.  (I have not finished the entire book.  If my opinion changes I will let you know.)

I read the Addendum to Part 1 first because it covered the methodology of how to study the gospels or anything for that matter.  It would help if people trying to understand the verse for today read John’s Addendum.  

Zondervan just published a Bible this year NIV Understanding The Faith Study Bible © by Christianity Today.  In it they use this text to go into a long explanation of free will saying even the “elect” can be turned and pointing to John Wesley as one who believed in free will.  Look the same verse up in the ESV Study Bible and it will tell you “Jesus’ remark that even the elect could be led astray emphasizes the stunning character of the false prophets’ miracles. But God will protect his own, so that they will not believe in a false messiah or prophet.”

If you went to the church in the picture above as I did in my youth you would have heard it both ways at one time or the other.  My point is that each of us needs to understand enough about how to read and understand the Scriptures that we can find our way into the loving arms of Jesus even if we never find a loving community of believers who do not put others down and condemn them to hell for beliefs they themselves do not hold.

May God Richly Bless Your Life This Week and For Evermore. Amen.

  
© Ed Cooper, October 25, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is an ordained Elder and minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ which are a part of the Restoration Movement started in Appalachia in the early 1800’s.  Ed started preaching as a teenager in the village churches around Mashoko Mission, Zimbabwe, Africa when he was there with his parents in the early 1960’s.)

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