Hugh’s News & Views (Random Thoughts . . .)

RANDOM THOUGHTS, OBSERVATIONS, AND COMMENTS

Jan and I are fortunate to live in Gallatin, Tennessee (population 37,000), a town filled with good, kind, and courteous people. At the grocery store, the pharmacy, the dry cleaners, the doctor’s office, the dentist’s office, and the shops and restaurants people are thoughtful and helpful. The people with whom I walk at the YMCA are cheerful, jovial people. Most drivers are considerate of others, though some could be more careful and safer in their driving habits. Oh, I am sure that we have a few old soreheads in our town, but by and large good, kind, and gracious people make up the population of our little city. A couple of years ago, Gallatin was recognized by Readers Digest as the nicest city in the U. S. A. to live! After living here for over 18 years, Jan and I think they are right.

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Among the pleasures of living in Gallatin is being a member of the Nashville Road Church of Christ. Charles R. Williams served as the pulpit minister of the church for almost 20 years, but moved to the role of minister of education about a year ago. He continues to teach the Sunday morning and Wednesday evening auditorium Bible classes, as well as the Tuesday morning ladies’ Bible class (which my wife dearly loves). Charles is a true Bible scholar, a masterful teacher, and it is a pleasure to be in his classes. They are always supplemented with extensive outlines and an abundance of corroborative materials. (In a future essay I plan to say more about the Nashville Road church).

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The great African-American evangelist Marshall Keeble, in commenting on Romans 10:17 and how faith comes, said: “If I tell you I am coming by train don’t go to the bus station to meet me.” Saving faith comes in only one way, and that is by hearing the word of God. Don’t expect it to come any other way—miraculously, by osmosis, by happenstance. Won’t happen.

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Jacob Ditzler (1820-1903), famous Methodist preacher and debater, and John S. Sweeney (1834-1908), gospel preacher, were in a debate on the biblical action (“mode”) of baptism. Ditzler contended that according to the dictionary “sprinkle” was a secondary meaning of “baptize.” Sweeney came back and pointed out that a secondary meaning of “believe” is “to have an opinion,” and that a secondary meaning of “saved” is “to be pickled.” Based on secondary meanings he then offered this rendition of Mark 16:16: “He that hath an opinion and is sprinkled shall be pickled.”

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It never ceases to amaze me that people can see things that are not in the Bible, but cannot see things that are in the Bible.

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Both in preaching and in writing for publication, I try never to say more than I may want to say or that I may think needs to be said. At the same time, I try never to say less than needs to be said in order for the point to be made and understood. In all of this I seek to speak/write wisely, kindly, graciously, fairly, thoughtfully, truthfully, lovingly. Just as it is possible to say more than needs to be said at any given time, it is also possible to say less than needs to be said at any given time. Many sermons are preached in which no error is taught, but they fail to convey vital truth that should have been communicated. Their failure is not in what is said but in what is not said. Some preachers seem to be enamored with the desire to be seen as totally positive, while at the same time being possessed of an abnormal fear of being seen as negative (except, of course, when it comes to being negative toward those whom they view as negative, which, in itself, is highly ironic). A study of what Christ and the apostles were against might be as informative for some as a study of what they were for. Now, I haven’t said in this paragraph all that could be said, but I hope I have said enough for my point to have been clearly made.

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On my Facebook page of December 14, 2018, I posted the following: “Our Lord’s church is blessed with a host of faithful, able young preachers of the gospel. There is a veritable army of them out there, serving growing churches, reaching the lost, ministering to the needs of others, building up the cause of Christ. I am privileged to know many of them, to count a number of them as dear friends, and to love and appreciate all of them. My prayer is that they will not entertain overly negative thoughts toward some of us older guys who, in the judgment of some younger guys, may spend too much time warning of various perils that face the people of God in our day. The old apostle Paul spent a lot of time warning, admonishing, reminding, refuting, exhorting, and encouraging. He did this out of a heart overflowing with love for Christ and His church. As some of us grow older we perhaps see a little more clearly than some of the younger the need for the same thing today. Let all of us—young, middle aged, and older—who faithfully preach the blessed gospel of Christ love one another, cooperate with one another, pray for one another, build up one another, and encourage one another to “Preach the word! Be ready in season, out of season” (II Timothy 4:2) and to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

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As a Christian and a preacher of the gospel I have no agenda except to be faithful to Christ and true to His word.

Hugh Fulford

April 2, 2019

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