Letter: January 2, 2003
Thank you and GOD’S blessings on your life as well and your family. I came across your web-site a week or so ago, but at the time I was rushed so I put it in my favorites! so I could check it out later. Praise the living GOD for the wisdom HE gives man-kind to have new technology. I thought your website to be incredible informative, sound teachings and one can delight oneself for long times in this web-site alone.
May our LORD JESUS continue to bless you to be a blessing.
Thank you for subscribing me and the issues you mentioned you’ll send.
Response: Thank you for your encouragement. It is needed at times.
Letter: January 2, 2003
Mr. Norman Edwards,
Thank you, thank you so very much for the Eight Studies. I thank God for your work.
I've been a member in several of the splits, Churches of God. Mercy! So many are blind to what is going on within the organizations of leaders—or they have gotten so comfortable (lazy) with their diligence in their studies and reproof and lost their focus.
I am sick and hurt for them. I just do home study, Sabbath and Holy Days at home now. This is not an easy thing for me to do, being alone and I so did enjoy the fellowship—meals together (potluck) being among people of the same mind.
Response: I am glad that the literature has been helpful to you. Let me encourage you to frequently fellowship with other brethren, however you can work that out. If you occasionally attend with the Church of God split groups, you may find others who think like you. Another approach is to visit Sunday congregations and look for people who are interested in keeping the Sabbath. There frequently are some, but they stay in their Sunday group because the only Sabbath-observing groups they know about are cult-like.
Continue to pray that God will show you how you can meet other brethren and how you can serve Him.
Letter: December 4, 2002
I hope this finds you well.
I really enjoyed the last Servants’ News especially the equipping to answer those into Harry Potter and Satanism. Thanks.
Do you know who is putting out the “Good Tidings Newsletter”? It has a post mark from Minneapolis, MN. No return address or name. I would like to know.
It seems the person was once a member of the WCG and then PCG because they are very negative towards both in their writings. No one I know who knows my new address has confessed to giving out my new address. And I think it a rather cowardly thing to send literature without putting your name on it or a way to receive questions or rebuttals.
Thank you in advance.
— Rob Labedz, Houston TX, Rkcka@aol.com
Response: I don’t know who is putting out the “Good Tidings Newsletter”. I remember that I did not put my name on my first two mailings because I “did not think it mattered who was saying it as long as it was said”. I also felt that very few people would listen to me if I was not “ordained”. I hoped people might think that the papers were from somebody “important enough” that they would read them, but I was not interested in creating a personality following as some previous Church of God leaders did. I have since repented from that lack of faith, and realize that if God is speaking through someone, that people will listen, even if he seems unimportant to himself.
People from the PCG probably have similar difficulties—with so much emphasis on hierarchy and position, they are afraid that nobody will listen to them if they know who they are. It is hard for these people to fit in with other independent Sabbatarians because they generally believe that the “one true Church” was the WCG for many years, but it became corrupt; then the PCG was the “true Church”, but also became corrupt; and now it is just their local group—maybe just their family. It is very difficult for these people to believe that God is working through diverse groups with different teachings.
Hopefully, someone will see this letter in Servants’ News and then respond to us or directly to you.
Letter: January 10, 2003
Yeah, I can see [Gerald] Flurry [leader of the Philadelphia Church of God] as a Jim Jones thing [cult leader who led his 900 followers to Guyana where they allegedly all committed suicide] but… so people come to Christ and Repent—then what?
Response: Then they do what Christ said: they learn His way from the Scriptures, they are a “light to the world” by being honest and good to all whom they meet, they teach others the truths that they know. Whether these things be done on a one-on-one basis, a local-congregation basis, or as a national or international work is guided by the Holy Spirit and by prophesying (God showing things in dreams, visions, etc.—not by adding up dates and years and interpreting symbols in the Bible).
Letter: What’s wrong with “place of safety”? I thought Germany was supposed to nuke America (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Revelation, bla bla bla…). I heard about that in 1975. Yes, it would be dangerous for Americans if Germany nuked America, I agree.
Do other HWA splinter-groups now not believe in a “place of safety” treatise? Interesting.
Response: The people who said that Germany would nuke America are the same people who said it would happen in 1972, then 1982, then “before the century is out”. If they did not get the date right, are we still sure that they got the prophecy right? Please read the December 1998 issue of Servants’ News, page 17, to see the many prophetic mistakes of Herbert Armstrong. I do not know how God can expect anyone to “heed the words” of a man who was incorrect in so much prophetic interpretation.
Some groups actively preach a “place of safety” as a drawing card to membership, others do not believe it at all, and still others are content to let some members believe it if they want to, but do not openly preach it.
Letter: So who teaches the whole truth and nuthin’ but the truth if it isn’t Flurry? Tell me who can prove (or disprove) “all these things”. I’d really like to know who I might follow wherever it is I’m supposed to follow them to, as Germany gets ready to nuke America.
Response: Christ taught us what to do, but it is amazing how many CoG groups teach something else. Notice:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt 24:36).
Even though Christ said He did not know it, people continue to try to calculate it from prophecies. Nowhere in here does Christ say to study prophecy so we would know when He comes.
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt 24:37–39).
Today, like in the time of Noah, people have always been “eating and drinking” and sinning, but did not know exactly how bad of a sin was necessary for God to take action. So we do not know today.
“Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left” (Matt 24:40–41).
This does not sound like one organization will be protected, but like individuals who have a relationship with God will be protected.
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matt 24:42).
The Greek here does not mean “watch world events”, but to watch oneself. “Be alert” is the translation in other Bibles. What kind of work is Christ doing in you?
“But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into” (Matt 24:43).
We need to watch our own house—our own body and life.
“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt 24:44).
Yet church groups continue to preach, “He is coming at the time that we have figured out—or the time that we will figure out”.
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods” (Matt 24:45–47).
Here is the key: We are to be doing whatever work Christ has for us, feeding others, physically and spiritually. When He comes we need to be “so doing”.
“But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 24:48–51).
Gerald Flurry claims that all brethren outside his group are not Philadelphian believers. He has been found drunk by the police twice. Other CoG leaders and ministers are far more interested in the money coming into their organization (which determines how they eat and drink) and far more interested in proclaiming theirs to be the “Church God is using” than they are in just serving whomever Christ sends to them.
Letter: Would it be someone in another splinter group who “loves” me enough to rescue me, with love of course, from the beer and the mob just in time so I can turn around and look up and witness the rapture—or catch some of Stoiber’s [German leader] smuggled nuclear missiles?
— Jim Ray
Response: The purpose of Christianity is not to rescue individuals from the “wrath to come”. Christ shows that we must follow Him and not seek to save our life. Some of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 were protected from trouble and some were not. I have about 50 scriptures that show protection for some who follow Christ, and trials and early death to others. But if the latter occurs, He gives the faith to endure and take the trials in confidence.
“And he who does not take his cross [stake] and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt 10:38–39).
The WCG and many of its splinters effectively preached a deal consisting of “tithe, attend services, attend Feasts and obey your minister and you will be delivered from the tribulation”. It was sort of like a hefty insurance policy—a reasonable price to pay if the tribulation occurred in your life time, but it also resulted in the impoverishment of some who might have been able to serve God better if they had not so heavily sacrificed to support a “work” that was feeding itself and smiting its fellow-servants (believers in other groups).
I hope this helps. Let me encourage you to find other believers with whom you can fellowship. I do not think I can e-mail you a directory of believers who are independent from organizations as webtv does not support PDF. If you would like to give me a snail-mail address, I would be glad to send it to you.
May God strengthen you in your sincere and honest study.
Letter: December 7, 2002
Thanks for including my request for covenant information [from your readers] in the July/August issue of the Servants’ News.
I feel that I have really opened a “can-of-worms” when I began this study. It may really become an exhaustive study by the time that it is complete. The study has certainly generated a lot more questions than I had expected. It is not always easy to separate currently held beliefs from what is clearly supported in Scripture. Most covenant-related papers that I have read to date, are not intended to objectively examine the issues. Many address the covenants in such a way as to support an already established set of beliefs. A good example of this is the recently released UCG doctrinal paper on the covenants. If you do not have a copy of this paper, I could email you a copy; it is not available to all UCG members yet.
I have received several inputs from some of your readers as a result of the article in the Servants’ News; these inputs should prove useful to maintain some unbias on my part.
I will keep you informed as I proceed through the study.
Thanks, once again.
—Wilmer Wilke, 613-256-4690
1142 Corkery Road, Carp,
Ontario, K0A 1L0, Canada
Response: Thank you for your study into this matter. I cannot promise to read the UCG paper now—I am behind in publishing the things that I have already studied. But if you are diligent and unbiased in your studies, I will certainly want to publish your results.
I completely agree with you in regard to your statement that most studies are done to bolster some existing doctrine. In general, people who are paid to study and who have the money to publish their studies belong to a large church group and they are expected to conclude that their group is teaching the biblical doctrine. Many simply could not grasp the idea that “their church” could be wrong in a major way—their view of salvation is too tied up with their being in the “right group” that teaches the “right doctrines”, not on their relationship with Christ and His works through them personally.
The result of this is that most of the published studies of doctrines represent the views of larger church organizations. One of the reasons that “cults” often have truth is because they are not trying to prove an established doctrine, so they study the Bible with an open mind. Cults need doctrine that sets them apart from the other groups—biblical doctrines are easier to defend than false doctrines.
Even among independent believers, however, I have found a strong tendency for writers to produce a rather brief article putting forth an unusual doctrine, and then in the face of many contrary scriptures, the writers crank out hundreds of pages of difficult explanations staunchly supporting their original doctrine, rather than admitting that either the subject is not that clear, or that they were just wrong. I have even run into people who claim to write articles or hold conferences to open-mindedly find the truth on an issue—while inside they already know their conclusion and are just hoping to draw an audience that they can convince of their way.
I hope that you will do honest research showing many scriptures that people use to explain covenants and their differing opinions. If you believe that God has shown you the truth of the matter, I do not object that you state it at all, but I would hope that your truth has an explanation for most of the other scriptures that others use. (I read too many papers that ignore the scriptures that disagree with their conclusion.)
May God bless you in your study.
Letter: February 19, 2003
Thank you for placing me on your list. I have read many of your articles over recent years, but I am intrigued that you should be lecturing at a college [Port Austin College] that believes in UR [Universal Reconciliation—all people will be saved someday]. Delighted, I guess, as this is a subject that I have been intensively studying these last three years.
I know according to what I have read from you that you would not see it as I do, but to me this is the real gospel. I’m glad that at last there is communication between some of these groups and look forward to sharing some research with you.
I’ll send you a paper on war shortly as soon as I have finished it.
— Graeme McChesney
Response: UR (Universal Restoration) is little different than what I believe. I believe that everyone who desires eternal life will be able to have it. Most UR groups believe that everyone will have it. The only difference is whether or not there will be a small group that rejects salvation. Both groups teach that we do not have to worry about people who have died or who will die not knowing about God. I realize that there are scriptures that talk about “all men being saved”, restoring “all things”, etc. However, I can point to places where the same word for “all” is used, and then elsewhere in the Bible shows that there are exception conditions—that “all” can mean “the vast majority”. Similarly, both of us realize that there are scriptures that talk about the “second death”, “ashes under our feet”, “totally destroyed”, “be no more”, etc. I am sure that you have explanations for all of these verses.
The main difficulty I find with many UR groups is that they tend to teach that “sin or righteousness in this life is no big deal because God is going to fix it all someday anyway”. I realize that not all do this. But most seem to underestimate the need to yield one’s life to Christ and live by His power, and let Him do His works in us.
While the UR message is a blessing to people who may have once believed in the false doctrine of eternal hellfire, there is no urgency to teach that doctrine to everyone in that it states that everyone will be saved whether they know that doctrine or not. People who are atheists or who are happy with their religion may be changed little by UR. The message of eternal judgment (that there is salvation, but consequences for each thing we do in this life) and the message that “Christ died for our sins and will live in us and do His works in us now” is truly wonderful and in desperate need of spreading. That message eliminates a lot of needless suffering and replaces it either with good in this life, or being “persecuted for righteousness’ sake” which is much better than needless suffering.