The Living God Ministry
†"The Ministry of Reconciliation"
†††††††† 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
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A FEW GOOD GOALS
[a guest commentary by Bill Glover]
The March 31, 2003 issue of The Journal featured a lead article titled "Churches need a few good goals." This well written article dumbfounded me as I carefully read and re-read it several times. This article was a factual account of a conference where leading ministers and stewards from varying groups that splintered off from the Worldwide Church of God gathered to evaluate the "Church of God" and its people.
The conclusions reached at this conference were most profound. These men actually identified many of the problems experienced by members of the church but seemed unable to identify solutions. Actually the primary reason they could not arrive at definitive WORKABLE SOLUTIONS is because they began their quest from a WRONG PERSPECTIVE. This wrong perspective is that they seem to believe they HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO CHANGE GODíS PEOPLE.
Having been a member of the Worldwide Church of God for fifty years, I am intimately acquainted with its teachings. I ENROLLED IN Ambassador College in l953 and graduated in l957. My parents and older brother and sister were baptized by the FIRST student baptismal tour from Ambassador College in l948, For years I personally answered letters from around the world on behalf of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. [My article in the April 2003 Journal netted me letters from some with whom I corresponded OR KNEW PERSONALLY almost fifty years ago.]
Looking back over these fifty plus years and reflecting on the sermons I preached and heard and the articles written it is now crystal clear that the Worldwide ministry FALSELY believed that it had the responsibility to SPIRITUALLY CHANGE GODíS PEOPLE! [That fallacy continues to this very day in ALL the splinter groups that sprang out of Worldwide.] Nothing could be farther from the truth. A minister cannot change the people and should not even try. God has NOT given any minister that power or that responsibility. Not even Jesus Christ could do that as He clearly shows in Luke 22:31 Ė 32. Note what we find here. Christ told Peter that Satan had desired to gain control of Peter so he could sift him like wheat. Did Christ say, "I took care of Satan so that he could NOT bother you?" Read it for what it actually says. Christ showed that ALL HE WAS ALLOWED TO DO was "I PRAYED for you that YOUR FAITH would not fail you" (vs. 32). Peter had to develop his own spiritual character by making the right choices in RESISTING THE DEVIL (see James 4:7). Notice that Christ did the same for each of us who followed after Peter and the other New Testament Christians. We find this in John 17:9 which reads: "I pray for them (true followers) . . . which Thou (the Father) have given me; for they are yours."
What Christ did besides praying for all of us is GIVE US HIS WORD which will lead us to eternal life IF WE FOLLOW IT (vs. 14 compared with II Tim. 3:15 Ė 17. Now John 17:15 shows us that we are not to be taken out of the world but that the Father would PROTECT US FROM THE EVILS OF THE WORLD. Again note that Christ did this THROUGH PRAYER. Then in verse 17 Christ asked the Father to sanctify the true followers THROUGH THE TRUTH AS GODíS WORD IS TRUTH. Then as John 17:8 states "I have given them THE WORDS YOU GAVE ME and they have received them."
The point is quite simple. What God the Father and Jesus the Christ are doing in and through TRUE FOLLOWERS is developing Godís nature and character in each. This involves CHOOSING THE RIGHT OVER THE WRONG (see Deut. 30:19). Neither the Father nor Christ FORCES us to choose His way. This is the clear message from Genesis to Revelation. Review the first murder of a human being - - Cain slaying Abel - - to see clear evidence of this. The member of the God family dealing with Cain was the one who became Jesus Christ. He preached a sermon to Cain. Note this sermon as recorded in Genesis 4:6 Ė 7. Cain was told he had a CHOICE to make - - to choose either good or bad - - and that if he chose the good he would be blessed and if he chose the bad he would pay the consequences. This is clearly Godís way of dealing with mankind (see Deuteronomy 30:15-20).
I once counseled with a man who told me emphatically: "I get really angry with God . I ask God to make it impossible for me to sin and He has not answered that prayer yet!" I replied: "He is NOT going to answer that prayer!" He asked "Why? God tells us not to sin so why would He not answer that prayer?" I explained that we humans are in this fleshly body to learn to develop the very character and nature of God by using the power of the Holy Spirit to resist the pulls of the flesh, our selfish nature and temptations from the devil. That if God made it impossible for us to sin then He would be taking away the ABILITY to develop His character and thus thwart the very purpose for our being in the flesh [carefully study Romans 8:14-23]. Note especially verse 20 which shows that GOD HAS HOPE THAT WHAT HE HAS INVESTED IN US WILL EVENTUALLY NET THE RESULTS HE INTENDS. Actually, it would be well if each person reading this article would carefully study EVERY WORD in Romans 8 word by word and ask the Almighty God to grant him/her the understanding He wants each to have on this subject.
We are to personally and individually EXAMINE OURSELVES WHETHER WE ARE TRULY IN GODíS FAITH (I Cor. 11:28, II Cor. 13:5). We have the PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY to prove all things and then hold fast to those we find to be true (I Thes. 5:21 and Gal. 6:4). We INDIVIDUALLY have the personal responsibility to STAND before God by and through the help of the Holy Spirit (see Eph. 6:10-18). We are to WATCH and PRAY not only for ourselves but for all of Godís saints (fellow Christians) - - see verse 18 especially. We must always realize and remember that our personal salvation is an individual matter between us individually and the Almighty God. That we are personally responsible for that salvation God offers to us. That NO HUMAN MINISTER can save us, change us or even motivate us spiritually. That such is done BY GOD THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT. A true minister of God will remind members of this regularly. He will constantly tell the people "DO NOT TRUST ME WITH YOUR SALVATION - -TRUST GOD AND GOD ALONE!" Any minister unwilling to do this is definitely suspect and should not be trusted.
But what has been the practice of so many of the ministers who formed splinter groups from the old Worldwide Church of God? Honest questions or dialogues are NOT allowed. Anyone who questions a practice or belief is immediately threatened with expulsion and will be expelled on the spot unless that person recants and withdraws his question. Such a practice is NOT the Biblical approach. Scriptures quoted or referred to in other portions of this article prove that such is NOT OF GOD! Clearly such churches are NOT the true representatives of God. Pastors of such churches are merely trying to build their own "empire." The motivating drive of the true minister of God is the spiritual well being of each member that God brings to him. If actually challenged about his calling, A TRUE MINISTER OF GOD will follow the example of Moses and FALL ON HIS FACE BEFORE GOD AND LET GOD DEFEND HIM AGAINST HIS ACCUSERS (see Numbers 16:1-4 and 22 Ė 35 and chapter 12). For the fifty years I have been affiliated with the church I have NEVER witnessed a minister TRUSTING GOD TO DEFEND HIS MINISTRY OR HIS "AUTHORITY!" What I have witnessed for fifty years is a DIRECT VIOLATION OF WHAT CHRIST CLEARLY TAUGHT IN MATTHEW 20:25 Ė 28. Why is it that these ministers have NO FAITH THAT GOD WILL BACK UP THEIR MINISTRY? Getting angry, raising oneís voice, shouting threats of banishment and gathering your "goon squad" of deacons to back up your threats is not Godís way. And a deacon who allows himself to be USED in such a manner is NOT a true servant of God and most likely not even a true Christian. And, certainly, a minister using such tactics is NEITHER A CHRISTIAN NOR A TRUE MINISTER! Godís word - - The Holy Bible - - makes this crystal clear! If you as a person are following a minister who practices such then you are NOT following a man of God!
As a minister of the Almighty God I truly and deeply love Godís people. But I must always remember that THE CALLING is from God. Any spiritual change in a personís life IS OF GOD. That, as a minister, I can read Godís word to His people in sermons and in writings but I CANNOT GIVE GODíS PEOPLE UNDERSTANDING OR DISCERNMENT. Such comes ONLY from God the Father through the Holy Spirit (study John 6:44 and I Cor. 2:14). Specifically it is the job of THE HOLY SPIRIT to ENLIGHTEN GODíS PEOPLE (see John 14:15-17 and vs. 26).
There are many other passages that clearly illustrate that GOD AND GOD ALONE can change and motivate the human heart and mind. No amount of preaching, cajoling, threatening with the lake of fire, using scare tactics etc. is going to bring about MEANINGFUL CHANGES in another. A minister is wrong to use any of these tactics as he eventually causes harm to the individual because such tactics are misleading and confusing to the people. People can and do understand that they must make their own choices and they MUST ALSO LIVE WITH THOSE CHOICES. No one else answers for the decisions I make personally and I personally do not answer for the decisions others make. We each stand alone before God and God (and God alone) decides our fate (see Ezek. 14:14 & 20 and II Pet. 4:17- 9). Individually we are to STIR UP THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT that has been given to us (II Tim. l:6-7).
Thus, a true minister realizes that he is merely a TOOL in the hands of the Almighty. That he has the responsibility to "Cry loud and spare not showing Godís people their sins" (see Isa. 58:l). But that he CANNOT change the people himself. That such must be left in the hands of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit.
It appears that the ministers at the conference mentioned earlier in this article were laboring under the false impression that they are supposed to effect the changes needed in the lives of Godís people.
The only truly sad aspects of being a true minister of God is seeing that despite all your efforts, your concerns, your empathy, your prayers, your admonitions, etc., you must patiently wait for God to grant understanding and discernment to the person to whom you are ministering (see II Tim. 2:24-26). Read that passage very carefully and digest what it says. A true servant of God must not strive but be gentle to ALL, apt to teach, patient and "In MEEKNESS instructing those who oppose themselves; IF GOD PERADVENTURE WILL GIVE THEM REPENTANCE TO THE ACKNOWLEDGING OF THE TRUTH!" Read it. That is the clear teaching of the Bible.
As I read the article in The Journal it seemed apparent that the ministers assembled there were sincere but genuinely troubled by not being able to effect the changes they truly believed were needed. How relieved they would be if they actually understood that it is not their personal responsibility to "CHANGE THE PEOPLE!"
Let me tell you that it is extremely frustrating to see these problems in the church and to preach about them and to counsel people as to what they could do to improve their spirituality and then recognize that the people just are not getting it.
But, it truly helps when you finally come to see that once you have preached your heart out over these points and when you are able to back off and allow God and the Holy Spirit to give people the discernment they need to make these changes and they begin to change. It is truly rewarding when one comes to you and says "You know, I finally see what you mean by what you have been saying!" Then and only then do you fully grasp and understand that these things are SPIRITUALLY UNDERSTOOD because God "granted them the ability to grasp and understand these spiritual truths" (see II Tim. 2:25 again).
I would then like to propose "A FEW GOOD GOALS" to these ministers (and all ministers reading this). The first "goal" I would set forth is that of a concerted effort to make it clear that EACH PERSON IS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS/HER SALVATION. I have done that and a few people have gotten the message BECAUSE GOD REVEALED IT TO THEM - - not because I was clever enough to make the subject plain and understandable. [I have three taped sermons on this subject should readers wish to request them.].
At this point I wish to list some of the problems these ministers set forth as their "findings" in the church. After paraphrasing each "finding" I will then insert what I consider an appropriate "goal" in addressing these needs.
Following are twelve "findings" set forth by these ministers:
l). The "finding" that "The major gospel preaching effort should be directed toward the un-churched. [Suggested "goal": That, as true ministers of God, we recognize that the object is NOT to get people "churched" but to help people see the need for repentance and PREPARING TO MEET OUR MAKER (Acts 17:30).
2). The second "finding" was the quest for making as big an impact on the world as possible. [Suggested "goal": Realize that God at no time instructed His true servants to go and "make as great an impact as possible on the world!" Did Christ go about trying to make a big impact on the world? Did Paul or any of the other apostles? Did God command Jonah to go and "IMPACT" Nineveh as much as humanly possible? We need to actually study the life of Christ and see how He conducted His ministry. We should study Paulís life and practices too. As Godís ministers we are to preach the gospel "to the world as a witness" while recognizing that the overwhelming majority will reject it and even turn on us.]
[NOTE: Christ taught very clearly that NO ONE CAN COME TO CHRIST UNLESS AND UNTIL GOD THE FATHER CALLS HIM/HER (John 6:44). It is God who decides whom to call and whom to keep blinded (Rom. 11:7). The true ministerís job is to preach the word and then let God convert through the work of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:39 and 47). Also see l Cor. 1:26-31. It is the Holy Spirit that ENLIGHTENS and TEACHES Godís true people (see John 14:15-18 and vs. 26).
3). The third "finding" was: How to finance the doing of the work. (This one has very slippery slopes.). [Suggested "goal": Exactly what is the work of God any way? Most of us have assumed that "the work" is something like we have known for almost fifty years; namely, the World Tomorrow broadcast, the Plain Truth magazine, the Good News. Ambassador College (University), dynamic preaching over the air, beautiful facilities, etc. But all those things were merely PHYSICAL FACADES which we have seen crumble and disintegrate before our very eyes. We need to remember the words of Jesus to the disciples when they showed their reverence to the temple rather than to God.† Jesus pointed out that since they were not properly showing true reverence to God then the temple they were adoring had to be torn down and destroyed. That same principle applies to Godís people today. We dare not place out affection oh the PHYSICAL characteristics but only on God..
All those were nothing more than "WINDOW DRESSINGS" which impressed people but CREATED NO LASTING CHANGES IN THE CHARACTER AND NATURE of human beings - - including those MINISTERS who were conducting "THIS TYPE OF WORK!" The true work of God is WHAT GOD IS EFFECTING IN THE LIVES OF EACH PERSON HE SINGLES OUT AND TURNS OVER TO JESUS CHRIST FOR SPIRITUAL GROOMING THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT.] (Can we get off the slippery slope and begin to realize how God works and begin to trust Him to do His work in the lives of each person He selects?)
4). The fourth "finding" was: How to send members on their way to do some "work". [Proposed "goal": Part of this is covered in point number three above. But the MAIN WORK that God sets out for the member is TO BE A LIGHT AND EXAMPLE TO ALL WITH WHOM ONE COMES INTO CONTACT. Our lives are to reflect the very life, attitude and nature of Jesus Christ (Matt. 5:16 and Phil. 2:12-15). The New Testament is replete with similar instructions. So this "goal" is to constantly set before Godís people how they should LIVE THEIR LIVES BUT GIVE THEM SPACE TO MAKE THESE CHOICES THEMSELVES.]
5). The fifth "finding" was: Try and make disciples of the "unchurched." [Proposed "goal": Realize that we can DO NOTHING OF AND BY OURSELVES to affect the lives of the "unchurched. Either God calls and converts a person or that person is not going to respond to anything we do personally (John 6:44). Again, too many are laboring under the wrong impression and little wonder they get frustrated when they see no results from their "labors." God just is not going to bless a work that is not in accordance with His will clearly expressed in His word.]
6). The sixth "finding" was: Help members, once converted, to mature. [Proposed "goal": This is one of the few "findings" that really makes sense and has meaning and is actually "doable." The New Testament is replete with information as to how this can and should be done and why. Space restraints do not allow me to reproduce the entire New Testament here.]
7). The seventh "finding" was: The need to eliminate the duplication of efforts among the "different" churches of God. WOW! Is this point ever complicated and diverse - - as diverse as the many different people represented in these many different splinter groups. The solution here is extremely SIMPLE and yet IMPOSSIBLE. It is "simple" in that GOD IS NOT DIVIDED INTO ALL THESE DIFFERENT SPLINTER GROUPS (see 1 Corinthians 3). There is ONLY ONE church of God. There is only one way to serve and worship that God. But each person has the absolute responsibility to see that he is not placing his personal interpretation on these matters. As a minister of God I will not try and convince anyone of ANY of these points since I KNOW that if God has not opened their minds to see these things then I am totally helpless to effect any changes in their attitudes. These things are "spiritually discerned." God does state clearly that there is a way that SEEMS RIGHT TO HUMANS but that it leads to death (Prov. 14:12 and 16:25). Many are not going to be willing to learn this fact until they find themselves squarely in THE GREAT TRIBULATION or when they are brought before the judgment seat of Christ and He DENOUNCES them (see Matt. 7:12 and 21-27). Only Christ can open the minds of those set in their own understanding and I am happy that I have no responsibility toward them other than to merely state what Christ Himself taught (compare Ezekiel 33).
8). The eighth "finding" was: The suspicion church members have toward the "church" and its ministers. [Proposed "goal": The ministry in the Worldwide Church of God, as well as the many splinter groups, brings with it a dismal track record of spiritual abuse of the members. I tried to deal with this in the 90ís while still with Worldwide. I pointed out that the members had made it clear that the ministry HAD NO CREDIBILITY WITH THE PEOPLE. I argued that for a minister to be able to help the members he had to first establish his own credibility. I volunteered to meet with other Worldwide ministers and pledged to allow them to show me where I was lacking in credibility and what I needed to do to begin establishing credibility with the people. I was refused because every minister present knew that if they took the occasion to "run me through the mill," so to speak, that they all would have to subject themselves to the same by all the others. There was no way these men were willing to do this. They OUTWARDLY CLAIMED a willingness to help the people of God but NOT A SINGLE ONE WAS WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE PERSONALLY! If a minister is unwilling to submit to a critical evaluation by other ministers as well as the members of the congregation then HE IS NOT A TRUE MINISTER OF GOD! I cannot make it more plain than that. Yet these ministers tenaciously hang on to the "position" they claim to hold as a minister of God. These "ministers" are going to have a rude and sad awakening when they are brought before Christ in the judgment and required to give an accounting (see Heb.13:17, Acts 20:28, I Pet. 5:3, II Tim. 2:24-26, 11 Cor. 13:l0, Gal. 5:10, Heb. 4:13 and many other passages). Probably the most serious sin a human can commit is to claim to be a minister of God when God does not recognize him as such. I personally know of a lot of men who will have much to answer for when they come before Jesus Christ for judgment. If you are a minister and reading this then Ezekiel 33 directly applies to you - - you cannot claim ignorance [merely because you may not like me as the one advising you of this] for you have now been told straight out. But if you are TRULY a minister of God then you had better make certain you actually have credibility first with God and then with Godís people and that you have TANGIBLE PROOF OF YOUR MINISTRY. Merely having a ministerial certificate or merely having been ordained by a "church" does not mean you are a minister of God or "ORDAINED BY GOD!". Being able to deliver a sermon and being "liked" by the people is NOT proof God honors your ministry.]
9). The ninth "finding" by these ministers was: To enhance our "internal" image.
[Proposed "goal": Once again, WOW! And I say again "WOW!" A true minister of God will do everything within his power to help Godís people see that THE MIND, THE NATURE AND THE CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST IS TO BE ENHANCED WITHIN US. The books of Job and Proverbs clearly define what God thinks of our "internal image of ourselves." God says that the carnal mind (the natural "internal image" we have of ourselves) is ENMITY AGAINST GOD, IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE LAW OF GOD AND NEITHER CAN IT BE SUBJECT TO GOD AND HIS LAWS (Rom 8:7). But, as verse 6 states, the "inward image" we have of ourselves is death. A true minister of God teaches the people of God that they must humbly turn to God in total submission. Paul constantly stressed the need to divest oneself of this "inward self" and surrender to God so that the LIFE OF CHRIST WILL BE CLEARLY EVIDENT IN EACH OF US - - or, as Christ put it, we are to CLEANSE THE INSIDE OF OUR CUP (see Matthew 23:225-28 and then verses 23-24).] See also Romans 12:1!
10). The tenth "finding" was: The fact that only a small percentage of the members actually support the ministerial work of the different groups. [Proposed "Goal": Carefully evaluate the abuses the church has forced on its membership over the past fifty years. Evaluate the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on projects that had no intrinsic, lasting, or meaningful value. Evaluate the lifestyle of the ministry that lived in very nice homes, drove nice cars, and had everything handed to them on a silver platter WHILE THE BRETHREN HAD TO STRUGGLE TO PAY FOR ALL THESE PERKS THAT WERE NOT EARNED BY THAT MINISTRY.]
[SPECIAL NOTE: At this point I would like to quote a portion of the letter I wrote to Joe Tkach, Jr. of Worldwide dated March 3, 1996. (It should be noted that I stayed with Worldwide trying to get the leadership to address major problems that had done immeasurable damage to members.) The letter to Joe, Jr. reads as follows.
Dated: March 3, 1996
We just received the member letter. Shortly after reading it I received a telephone call from a local member - - actually a person born in the church who is now 35 years old and who has been a baptized member for well††
††††††††††††††††† †††over ten years. The question she asked me (and that I found very difficult to answer satisfactorily) forced me to
reflect back on the foregoing memo [the first portion of this letter to Joe].
This 35 year old, sensitive and intelligent woman (lifetime in the church) was asking how the church could†††††
††††††††††††††††††† really expect members to financially support the work when, for all her lifetime, all she and countless others
††††††††† ††††††††††received from the church was hurt, retribution and psychological and spiritual harm - - a crippling. I thought
††††††††††††††††††† this an† excellent question to pass on to you so you can have a better grasp of what you, as Pastor General, face.
This lady has made positive changes in her life in the last few months - - but she cannot attribute but very little
††††††††††††††††††† to the church itself and its efforts. She asked, "Why would anyone want to give financial support to a work that
†††††††††††††††††† has †literally wrecked so many lives for, in so doing, one is actually financing such practices?"
In other words - - in the view of this clear-thinking young 35 year old woman BORN IN THE CHURCH - -
the church, and you as Pastor General, are on trial. It seems to me that you will need to CLEARLY
†††††††††††††††††† ESTABLISH that these wounds are being healed and that God is truly behind the work you are proposing to do.
††††††††††††††††† As this lady put it, "Why should I support a work that has wrecked so many lives for so many years?" And,
††††††††††††††††† "How can we †truthfully say that God was behind the work of the Worldwide Church of God all those years when
†††††††††††††††††† so much harm †and damage was done to Godís people?"
She truly "WANTS" to get behind this work wholeheartedly but, at the moment, says that she and her husband
canít. I truly believe this summarizes the problem you are facing. In other words, because of the churchís
††††††††††††††††††† track record, ďWHY WOULD A PERSON EVEN WANT TO FURTHER THE WORK OF THIS CHURCH?Ē
†††††††††††††††††† We can no longer merely "claim" that "this is Godís work" and such automatically prompts people to
†††††††††††††††††† support it. The ministry (as a whole Ė not every last man) placed God in a very bad light by, in essence,
†††††††††††††††††† claiming, "I represent God - - donít you dare question me or my authority or else IíLL kick you out of the
†††††††††††††††††† church!"† †(Browbeating people Ė Godís heritage.) See also Matthew 20:25-29.
It truly burdens me to write these things but they are things being asked about and that should never have
††††††††††††††††††† existed in the first place - - or should have been addressed long ago!
I truly believe you are going to have to get across to the people that you are for real and that you are pledging to
do all in your power with Godís help and guidance to correct these wrongs. That one of the main reasons you
need financial help is to have the means to make spiritual healing available to all who need it."
It is evident that Joe, Jr, rejected this admonition and proceeded with the apostasy. It is also evident that the very last paragraph in this letter to Joe, Jr. applies to ALL MINISTERS CLAIMING TO SERVE GOD. We must be willing to PAY THE PRICE by showing Godís people THAT WE ARE FOR REAL - - THAT WE ARE CREDITABLE!
11). The eleventh finding was: The churches of God in general are losing the dedication of the people. [Proposed "Goal": Help the people see that their DEDICATION is to be TOWARD GOD AND NOT TOWARD A PHYSICAL CHURCH ORGANIZATION. The reason we have so many splits and so much disharmony today is because too many are DOING THEIR OWN THING (building their own little empires - - house - - rather than truly building the house of God (Haggai 1:9) rather than seeking out the will of God. This point is further explained in the preceding points.]
12). The twelfth finding was: Attendance at the Feast of Tabernacles has fallen off in recent years due to a change of attitude in the people. [Proposed "Goal": This finding is absolutely true. I personally addressed this problem at our feast site in Pine Mountain, Georgia in 2002.. I point out in this sermon that this problem is real but that those of us in the ministry CANNOT SOLVE THAT PROBLEM. That each person individually must evaluate his or her own attitude and once he or she SEES THIS AS A PROBLEM must go to God for the help needed to rekindle the keen desire to serve God as He wants us to.]
In concluding this commentary on the article from The Journal let me quote one of the ministers attending the conference referred to. He stated: "I think the church in general is losing the dedication of the people. They are not committed to the church; they are not committed to the feast; they are not committed to second tithe; weíre just losing a lot of the basic foundations of the church."
When I read the above statement I could not help but recall the clear teachings of Jesus Christ as found in Matthew 23:23-28. Like the Jews of Christís time on earth, Godís people have been led to COMMIT THEMSELVES TO WHAT WAS PERCEIVED AS THE BASIC FOUNDATIONS OF THE CHURCH. These "Basic Foundations" were Sabbath keeping, holy day observances, tithing, church attendance, church government (which meant "AUTHORITY") etc. These were our rituals and our routine which somehow was supposed to make us right with God.
The Jews had their own rituals and routines. They were extremely diligent in following these rituals and routines. They had a strict "Sabbath dayís journey" and also would carefully tithe every leaf of their herbs and spice plants to make certain they totally fulfilled the tithing law. But note what Christ specifically taught in Matthew 23. He first commended the Jews for tithing even the small items (He said, "This you should have done!" vs. 23). But note specifically that Christ corrected them for NEGLECTING THE WEIGHTIER MATTERS OF THE LAW. Note what Christ said these "weightier matters of the law" are. They are JUSTICE, MERCY, AND FAITHFULNESS. Please note that Christ specifically taught that we are to be PRACTICING THESE WEIGHTIER MATTERS OF THE LAW SUCH AS JUSTICE, MERCY AND FAITHFULNESS BUT NOT LEAVE THE OTHER MATTERS UNDONE.
It is RIGHT to keep the Sabbath and the holy days. It is right to diligently tithe and to refrain from murder, adultery, theft, lying, etc. These are things GOD EXPECTS OF HIS PEOPLE (Luke 127:10)! But doing all these things do not EARN a person his salvation and do not prove that those who follow these laws are automatically Godís people any more than the Pharisees of Christís day. The Pharisees obeyed all these laws and yet Christ called them hypocrites, liars and sons of their father the devil.
What did Christ state was PROOF that a person is a true follower of Christ? "By this LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER shall all know that you are my disciples (John 13:35). Also we must bear in mind what Christ taught in Matthew 6:12 and 14-15 where He stated that UNLESS WE ARE WILLING AND ABLE TO FORGIVE OTHERS THEIR SINS GOD WILL NOT FORGIVE OUR SINS! This is where TRUE CHRISTIANITY IS CLEARLY DEFINED AND IDENTIFIED!
All our righteousness [our law keeping of and by itself] is as filthy rags to God (Isa. 64:6). Job was self-righteously obedient UNTIL GOD CONVERTED HIM (see Job 42:1-6). Paul, before his conversion, was a self-righteous Pharisee. Once he was converted and saw what God really wants from us humans (CLEANSING OF THE INSIDE OF OUR CUP) he was able to abhor himself (as did Job). God EXPECTS outward obedience from us but what He really wants for His family is INTERNAL CHARACTER FROM THE HEART! A broken and contrite heart that trembles at His word (Isa. 66:2).
Job was an extremely OBEDIENT man but learned that God wants us to INTERNALIZE His law and make it a part of our very being. As Christ taught, it is not enough to avoid the physical act of adultery - - one must avoid THE VERY THOUGHT OR DESIRE TO COMMIT ADULTERY (see Matt. 5:27-28). The same is true with murder. Christ taught that if we are angry and hateful against another we have already committed murder "in our heart" (see verses 21-22). Now carefully study verses 17-20 to see what Christ actually taught and what we are to follow.
The point is that we, as true followers of Christ, are to be DEDICATED TO DEVELOPING THE TRUE NATURE AND CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST AND NOT MERE LEGALISTIC OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW THROUGH ITS CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS. We are to REMEMBER THE SABBATH but what we should remember about the Sabbath is WHAT THE SABBATH REPRESENTS.
The Sabbath was MADE FOR MAN (Mark 2:27-28). It was MADE when man was made (Gen. 2:2-3). Why was the Sabbath made at the time man was made? It was made (CREATED): 1). As a memorial of God as the Creator; 2). As a memorial of creation itself; 3). As a memorial that we are the created beings which are destined to become the literal spirit SONS OF GOD; 4). It keeps us in WEEKLY contact with our Creator; 5). It keeps us in touch with the plan and purpose God is working out through us here on this earth and 6). It is a type of the millennium (the seventh "one thousand year day" of Godís plan [seven thousand year "week"] on earth).
Are we really using the weekly Sabbath to remind us of all six of these points? Token obedience to the law will net us nothing (as Job and Paul learned before they were converted).
I am certain that those ministers who met in Tulsa were sincere and conscientious. But that just is not enough to fulfill Godís requirements (see Matt. 7:21-27). I wonder how long it has been since they individually and personally STUDIED WORD BY WORD the specific and clear teachings of Jesus Christ AS FOUND IN Matthew, chapters 5 through 7, and APPLIED THESE WORDS TO THEIR OWN PERSONAL LIVES! So as to see if they actually understand the "GOALS GOD HAS SET FOR US HUMANS." We must first understand fully Godís goals if we hope to have GOOD GOALS for ourselves and for the people of God!
One cannot find the correct answers to lifeís questions UNLESS HE BEGINS WITH THE RIGHT QUESTIONS and makes certain that those questions are ASKED OF ONESELF!
We are The Living God Ministry and it is our responsibility to point out the ways and will of the Almighty UNKNOWN God. We have no religious ax to grind. We are not trying to amass a following after ourselves. We tell you straight out that your salvation IS YOUR PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY and that you should not trust that salvation to "ministers" who actually do not know God but are seeking to build their own religious empire.
We do no proselytizing. We never try to talk you into or out of any practice or custom. That is because it is your personal responsibility to SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES DAILY WHETHER THESE THINGS ARE SO (Acts 17:11). Our job is to POINT THE WAY TO SALVATION. You then must choose whether you will prove these things to yourself. Since you have now finished reading this article you have now switched THE BALL INTO YOUR OWN COURT (see Ezekiel 33:4-10). The words in this article are true since they come directly from the Word of God - - The Holy Bible. You must now decide what you will do about these matters. The ball is squarely in your court. You and I perhaps will never meet personally. But, you are destined to meet the words of this article again and again until you get all these matters squared away with God. Remember, your personal opinion of me is not what will judge you. But your reaction to these spiritual principles will definitely judge you. There is no escaping that fact! You will be judged by the scriptures found in this article.
You may be one of those who tries to disregard these spiritual principles FOR NOW but eventually you will be forced to deal with them. That may first be in the GREAT TRIBULATION or it may be when you are brought before the judgment seat of Christ. You may choose to criticize me for my human flaws but that will not cut it with God for He KNOWS all my human flaws and has clearly advised you of the type of person He chooses to do His work (see I Cor. 1:27-29). You have now had this witness trumpeted to you in clear understandable language. Since I have fulfilled my responsibility toward you by giving you this message, your rejection of this message will NOT affect my personal salvation. It is now up to you!
Should you choose to do so, you can contact us further by various means. Our mailing address is: The Living God Ministry, Box 2784, Eugene, Oregon 97402, or e-mail: †billgloverLGM@comcast.net or telephone (541) 461-3337 or FAX (541) 461-3666.
Since we do no proselytizing, we will not be hounding you to "follow us!" If you wish further contact you will need to make that move. We are here to serve Godís people with no strings attached. We do not charge for the services we provide.
If you know of someone whom you feel would benefit from our material then give them this article or have them write for their own copy. We will never try to tell anyone what to believe or practice or what not to believe or practice. Your religious beliefs are between you and God. If you have convinced God that you are right in your beliefs then who are we to try and change you?
The primary support for this ministry is basically our meager retirement funds. Should anyone wish to assist us in providing help for others then it should be known that we are fully recognized by the IRS as a non-profit entity so that any contribution can be claimed on tax returns.
Our goal is to provide meaningful spiritual help to Godís people who need this help but we make no demands of anyone in return. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive! Please feel free to tell others of this ministry!
Sincerely, your servant in Jesus Christ! Bill Glover
POST SCRIPT: We welcome any honest feedback regarding our ministry and our material. If you have a sincere and honest question about anything we say you should feel free to ask it and we will deal with it objectively. Should we be wrong on any issue you will find that we are more than willing to correct the matter and apologize to our readers! Though we do not argue or debate we are not afraid of honest questions and dialogue.