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NOTS IN THE DEVILS TALE

Long before the days of laptop computers and power point presentations, preachers once made use of another high-tech way of visualizing their sermons. They were called "sheet sermons." All that was needed was a good bed sheet (the bigger the better), some magic markers, and a talented "sheet sermon technician" to download the artwork, scriptures, and outline from the hard drive of the preacher's brain to the sheet! The sheet was somewhere in the front of the assembly room in the vicinity of the pulpit. Many senior members of the Lord's church carttememb those days. One of the most interesting sheet sermons I ever saw and heard and later preached was a sermon called, "Not's in the Devil 's Tale. " It was preached at the Fairview Church near Pulaski, Tennessee by G. C. Fox in the early 1970's soon after I obeyed the gospel. A few years later I reworked the idea and put it on a sheet of my own and preached it in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and at a gospel meeting or two along the way. The sheet has long since disappeared, and I'm not sure if I even have the sermon outline anymore. But I have never forgotten the idea and text the sermon was based on. It came from Genesis 3:4 where the serpent (presumably the devil, see Revelation 12:9) shows up in the Garden of Eden talking to Eve about, of all things, God! He questions the woman as to what God has commanded, and she responds by informing him of the one restriction God placed on her and Adam. God had said, of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you art of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17: 3:3). That's when the devil threw a "not" in his tale: "Then the serpent said to the woman, `You will not surely die` " (Genesis 3:4). God said they would, the devil said they would not. Eve swallowed the "not" in the devil's tale, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The devil has been throwing "not" into his tale ever since. One shining example is in the New Testament teaching about baptism and the role it plays in our salvation from sin. Consider this simple command from Christ in Mark 16:16 – He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." For two thousand years the Bible has contained that message from God, but the devil has thrown in a "not" making the verse say, "He who believes and is not baptized will be saved." God's place of baptism in God word is plain and it remains the same from age to age. Beware lest you swallow this "not" in the devil's tale.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ