Old Yet New
A Message on the 174th Anniversary of the Armenian Evangelical Church (1846) by Rev. Dr. Avedis Boynerian, Pastor of Armenian Memorial Church of Watertown, MA, and AMAA Board Member
“My grandmother read the Bible twice every day.”
“My father, before he went to work, first read the Bible and then prayed.”
“This Bible, which I cherish much, was given to me by my parents.”
We may have heard or said similar expressions and testimonies ourselves. They reveal and affirm the love and devotion of our parents and grandparents to the Word of God. And, at the same time, we confess that we do not have the same love and devotion they had to the Word of God.
The first founders of the Armenian Evangelical Church (AEC) in their first declaration considered “the Gospel of Christ” essential for their personal and communal lives, deeds, spiritual growth and maturity. They said, “We cannot let any authority, tradition or mandate deprive us from the Gospel of Christ.”
As a result, the first thing they did was to translate the Word of God into vernacular – the language of the ordinary people. This led to a spiritual revival and a zeal towards the Word of God and evangelism. Many lives were transformed and many churches and schools were founded.
Today, on the 174th anniversary of the founding of the AEC, it is worthwhile to reflect on the value, importance, role and relevance of the Word of God for our personal and communal lives in this day and age.
Many call the Word of God “Old Book.” Maybe “Old”, but not irrelevant! Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18). The Word of God is not just unchanged, constant, consistent and relevant, it accomplishes the purpose that which it is sent to accomplish. God said, “My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
Today, more than ever, we need to affirm the love and devotion of the first founders of the AEC to the Word of God and follow their example:
First, we need to accept the authority of the Word of God in all areas of our lives. The apostle Paul said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Word of God must always have the first and last word in our lives.
Second, we need to practice the Word of God every day. The writer of the Letter to James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do (practice) what it says” (James 1:22). Practicing the Word of God may not be an easy thing to do. But, we need to remember what Jesus said to His disciples then and to us today, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do (practice) them” (John 13:17).
May we, like the first founders of the AEC, consider “the Gospel of Christ” essential for our personal and communal lives and deeds, accept its authority in all areas of our lives and practice it every day!