They Being Dead Yet Speak!
Hebrews 11:4: "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks."
The Bible speaks of many great men of faith, men who were gallant soldiers of the cause for which God had called them to serve Him. These men's lives are examples for us. 1 Corinthians 10:11: "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." The Lord intends us to look at the lives and work of others so that we might gain knowledge, wisdom and insight into life and the service of God.
Many older people lament the rebellious nature of youth. Being a teacher of young people, I see that rebellion on almost a daily basis. I, too, get frustrated by it, and my kids hear of my frustration regularly. The longer this process rolls on, the more understanding there is at the front of the classroom. Kids are rebellious due to the fact that they are not fully taught or they do not fully understand the role of tradition in their lives. We need to teach tradition. 2 Thessalonians 2:15: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle." Paul said he taught traditions, both verbally and by the written word. A tradition is neither good nor bad on the surface. It is that which is delivered. The Christians in Thessalonica were to hold to the teachings of Paul delivered to them by him in every form of communication by which he had delivered them. The Mosaic law was commanded to be delivered from generation to generation. Deuteronomy 4:9-10: "Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.' " These are good traditions.
Many today are seeing the value of story telling. Family histories are transmitted by way of story telling. In Alex Haley's Roots it was the telling of the family history from generation to generation that kept that family together and informed of their heritage. My late mother used to tell stories upon stories of her Uncle John and Aunt Sally, of her older sister Gladys and her husband George, of her Papa and her Mama. My father, if the Lord lets him live, will be 82 on January 9, 1999. He has forgotten more than most will ever know about the plumbing construction business and the construction history in the city of Houston, Texas. My two older brothers are the beneficiaries of his passing down of traditions as they now maintain the family business and are building their own traditions for their children and grandchildren.
The stories I tell are the stories of men I knew growing up who were great preachers of the gospel. I was baptized by James Wilson after a 10 day tent meeting conducted by Elmer Moore in 1964. My late teen years were blessed by the work and love of Joe Scarborough. In the mid seventies, I was greatly influenced for good by Don Willis, a great and godly man. In 1976, I had the pleasure of sitting at the feet of Roy E. Cogdill in the twilight of his preaching life. In 1985, Connie W. Adams preached a sermon at the Southside Lectures on courage that changed my life when I was ready to throw it away. I still preach that sermon and give credit to brother Adams every time I do so for saving me with his deliverance of the word of God. In the nineties, R. J. Stevens has been a wonderful and powerful influence. Since the Fall of 1989, my friendship with my good brother Stan Cox has meant more to me than even he probably knows. These are precious traditions in the kingdom of God. All of these men I learn from. This is as it should be.
The present issue of Watchman carries in it reprints of six (6) articles from Volume 1 of the Gospel Guardian of 1949 - 1950. Fanning Yater Tant was the editor of the Old Guardian, which became the standard bearer for the truth against the evils of institutionalism, the sponsoring church arrangement, and the social gospel. Frank Richey of Florence, Alabama told me this next story. Frank was preaching in a rural congregation in Northwest Alabama and began a series on "the issues." An older gentleman approached him after the first installment and inquired as to the need for such a series. "We solved that problem 25 years ago," was his insistent point. Even before Frank could muster a retort, a young man spoke up and said, "Dad, leave him alone. I am twenty five years old, and I have never heard this before!" Richey continued the series to completion.
We must preach the traditions. We must preach the "Old Jerusalem Gospel!" We must "speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent." Many people today are fuming and fussing over the work and teaching of Rubel Shelley and Max Lucado and a myriad of other liberals. Who are these men but false teachers who left us a long time ago? The buildings where they preach may have "Church of Christ" prominently displayed on them, but such signs are no more than decorations. Christ has nothing to do with their doctrine or their church. There is nothing "OLD" about their gospel.
Roy E. Cogdill, Jack Meyer and Cled E. Wallace are the authors of the articles I chose to be included in this month's theme section. Read these old truths with awe and respect for their source, the word of God. Preachers, Paul was ready to preach in Rome because he was not ashamed to preach in the capital city of the world (Romans 1:15-16). Be not afraid to speak that word which these dead soldiers preached. Their courage and their determination and their devotion serve to instruct, to motivate, and ultimately to save us by the preaching of the implanted word of God (James 1:21).
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