Servants' News

Mar/Apr 2003

Letters and Responses

We print a representative sampling of our mail—both positive and negative. We do not include names unless we are fairly sure that the writer would not object. To avoid any difficulty, writers should specify how much of their name and address they would like us to print.

Lust for Money & False Religion

Phone transcript: March 30, 2003

Hi Norm:

I’ll just run this by you.

I’ve been getting some strange vibrations about the whore of Babylon. And I think we’ve been dealing historically with a front-that it’s not really the church-the Roman Church or the things directly associated with it directly, but that’s a front and the main thing is the commercial enterprise that underlies it. For instance, the dichotomy between God and mammon-the fact that Yeshua, the only time he ever got physically violent is when he drove the money changers and sellers of sacrifice animals out of the temple.

The book of Revelation indicates that the commercial interests are going to be very upset at the end of Babylon. It’s not the Beast, but it’s an underlying element of the whore itself. Run that through your personal “computer” there, and if it bears any fruit, let me know somehow.

— Gary Dubois
recorded on answering machine, 4:54 p.m.

Response: I realize that this is not a letter, but Gary asked for response and I would like to give one.

He [the second beast who had “two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon”] was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name (Rev 13:15–17).

These verses are referred to in six other places in the book of Revelation (Rev 14:9,11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). All of these places have good things to say about people who avoid worshiping the image of the beast and avoid taking the mark of the beast. Both things are mentioned in each verse. Worshiping the image is false worship, but taking the mark is putting money before God. It seems that God is equally unhappy about both of these.

It is sometimes amazing to see people who would not dare set foot in the door of any organization that has anything to do with false religion—even though there might be true believers there, but on the other hand, find no difficulty with governments attempting to require social security numbers, drivers license numbers or other identification for many significant financial transactions.

I have heard “believers” say, “I don’t see a problem with governments requiring an ID for every transaction—it will cut down on theft and fraud.” I believe this is making a god out of the state. Are not we wise enough to realize that the state is composed largely of carnal men, and if we give them great power, that we can expect them to use it carnally?

“For the love of money is the root of all evil...” (1Tim 6:10, KJV). This translation is clearer than the NKJV or NIV which say: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. In English, “all kinds of” is an idiom that means essentially “many different kinds of”, whereas “all evil” means “everything that is evil”. In a nutshell, evil is “wanting something that is not yours”. People who love money do not want to eat from the honest fruit of their labor, they want the power to eat the fruit of other’s labor. Those who love huge amounts of money want the power to control people through business, governments, armies, etc.

I agree with you that the only time Christ actually took physical action to stop someone from sinning was when people were using His temple as a means for dishonestly making money for themselves. By contrast, when Jesus met the Samaritan woman who had major sins and false doctrine (John 4:7-29), He told her where she was wrong, but He spoke kindly to her and taught her.

While I cannot explain the exact meaning of the symbols of Revelation, I believe that most Church of God brethren have a much better grasp of the danger of false religion than they do of the danger of evil economic systems. I hope to write more about this in the future.


Prisoner Makes Corrections

Letter: February 24, 2003

Dear Norm,

What a great surprise blessing to see your article concerning my situation, in SN, Sept/Oct 2002 issue. It just arrived to me in the mail on Feb. 18, 2003, but being dated as Sept/Oct 2002 issue, I assume it was produced long before my first letter to you on Feb 2, 2003. In that letter, I stated some of my situation and need, but obviously someone reached you with my situation sooner.

First, I want to give you a major thanks for using your paper space to try to help me in this way. With that appreciation in mind, please do not take the following as criticism in the least; it’s not. But there are a few errors, and I want to relate the corrections just because accuracy and consistency is so especially important where everything I do and say as a prisoner is scrutinized under a magnifying glass of skepticism.

(a) Says I’ve spent nearly 30 years in prison. Actually it has been 20 years. (The correction also works to my advantage for any prospective legal help, because the longer its been, the more attorneys and others think it’s hopeless. And I emphasize that it is not hopeless!)

(b) The heading says I need an honest attorney in southern California. My point here, is that it need not be “southern” California. It can be anywhere in California. In fact, my case emanated from mid-Northern Calif., which is where all further ongoing activity will take place on the case, even though I happen to physically be located in southern Calif. presently (and that also changes periodically). So, it’s important to emphasize that I need an honest attorney from anywhere in Calif., not limited to any part of the state (as most court actions at this stage are done by mail anyway).

(c) The attacker’s name was Allred, not Alfred, but that is a minor point that doesn’t really matter concerning the article.

I’m quite amazed at your insights as to some of the problems and realities about the court-prison industry, and I “second” the gist of your article overall. Hopefully, you could make these few corrections in a future issue. It well may be that an available attorney read the article and would have helped, but thought he/she was excluded because they aren’t in “southern” Calif.

Yes, it would be great for someone from the church to visit, as you made some reference to. For about five years Church of God people have promised to, and all so far let me down, and it’s reflected on the state of integrity of what they represent. I certainly don’t regard that failure beyond those specific individuals, though some are COG ministers who’ve led me on and broken promises.

I wholeheartedly welcome all skepticism about my innocence, and wouldn’t have it any other way. If you give me the go-ahead, as soon as I can get copies (a big hurdle), I will send you ample irrefutable evidence of my character and of my innocence and how the DA and defense attorney deliberately framed me for murder. Available to anyone on request, as long as I can get copies.

Thank you again,

— PF Lazor C73842
44750 60th Street West, Lancaster, CA 93536
20 years in captivity without cause

Response: Thank you for making these corrections. I still pray that someone will see this and help you. I would like to help you myself, but my own work is so far behind that I cannot. The Bible indicates that it was part of Jesus’ mission to set prisoners free:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound (Isa 61:1).

There are probably not very many lawyers who read this, but there are quite a few people who know lawyers and some might know an honest one who would be willing to take a paying case like yours. May God strengthen, bless and deliver you. May God bring speedy judgement upon those who knowingly profit from prison injustice.


Heaven and Hell Question

Letter: January 20, 2003

Dear Servants’ News,

I grew up in The Worldwide Church of God. But, since I’ve been married, I have been a Baptist for the past 8 years. I became a Christian a few years ago. However, I am still often very confused. I have 3 basic questions.

Response: That is understandable. For hundreds of years a variety of churches have taught a variety of doctrines—and have frequently resorted to social pressure or military force to get others to believe them, rather than patient teaching from the Bible.

Letter: Question 1: The parable of Lazarus and the rich man certainly does point to immediate conscience “hell.” And many Christians say this parable is not a parable?

Response: I agree that many teach this is a literal event, but even if so, it does not picture the traditional “heaven” or “hell”. The rich man asks for a cup of water, not enough water to put out the fire. Absolutely nothing is said about Satan, demons, God or angels being present in what is supposedly “heaven” or “hell”. See my paper: What Does the Bible say about Eternal Judgment?

Letter: Question 2: The part in the Bible about (I forget where the verse is) “Woe to...your punishment will be more bearable than theirs....etc.” Doesn’t this seem like eternal conscious punishment?

Response: I think you are referring to scriptures like this one:

“But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you” (Matt 11:22-24).

There are quite a few other scriptures like this—I cover them in the “Eternal Judgement” paper I am sending. I disagree with the WCG teaching in this area. They talked about a second resurrection where people would just sort of say “oh, I guess I was wrong, I repent” and all of their past sins and the effect of them would suddenly disappear. Experience in this life shows us that, although God forgives our sins, the effects of sin rarely disappear—when a thief repents, the goods he stole do not suddenly reappear to the owner; when a murderer repents, his victim does not suddenly come to life; when fornicators repent, children born from fornication do not disappear—or suddenly have legitimate parents. The scriptures show that it will take some people longer than others to get into the kingdom: “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you” (Matt 21:31).

I do not believe that the scriptures show punishment forever, but the Greek word means “age-ending”—they will be punished until their time is up. The Old Testament talks about the various kinds of punishments for different sins. People who stole will need to work to restore double of what they stole—but it will not take them forever. Punishment forever for a limited amount of sin is contrary to everything the Bible teaches. However, if Satan and his demons are to be kept alive forever, and go on sinning forever, then they indeed may need to be punished forever—or I think it is possible that God will get rid of them.

Letter: Question 3: And, finally, please tell me how many other denominations believe in the true “second death” (besides churches that branched off from the WCG)?

Response: The only ones that I’m aware of are Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Churches of God (which probably came from Armstrongs’s teachings).

There are hundreds of small Church of God groups that believe this doctrine. There are also many other non-CoG groups that believe it. The doctrine of Universal Salvation—everybody will eventually be saved whether they want to or not—is also taught by many groups, some Sabbatarian and some not. I have a long study paper entitled “The Origin and History of the Doctrine of Endless Punishment” by Thomas B. Thayer. I have not printed it, but I could send it to you via e-mail. It shows the pagan origins of this doctrine and was written in 1855, long before the WCG groups.

Letter: I want desperately to believe that the two resurrections are God’s real plan. How wonderful that would be. My “worry” is that I might be wrong in believing that! Look at the majority of Christians; they believe you go to heaven or hell. They are the majority, so doesn’t that make them right. If that many people believe this, it must be true, I’m afraid.

Any input would be appreciated,


— Toni Morden

Response: Two resurrections are a clear statement in the Bible (I don’t accept the WCG’s third resurrection):

(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.... And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done (Rev 20:5-6, 12-13).

Just because most Christians believe a doctrine does not make it true. The vast majority of churches today believe doctrines that they can simply trace back to the Roman Catholic church. For hundreds of years, that church ostracized or executed people who taught doctrines that were in disagreement with her. Christmas, Easter and other doctrines common to Christianity can be easily disproven, yet the majority of Christians believe them.

The teachings that people will go to Heaven or Hell at death is very useful for people who want to conquer others in the name of religion—it allows evil men to justify forced conversion. Torturing and killing people doesn’t sound “so bad” if one is “saving their soul” for all eternity. To me, though, it is obvious that God wants hearts of people turned to Him, not some forced confession on pain of death—or some random act of luck. For example, suppose a Asian mountain tribesmen falls into a rushing river and washes miles downstream where misisonaries find him and he accepts Jesus just before he dies. What will his opinion of God be if he saw thousands of his friends and ancestors burning in hell forever because the missionaries never reached them. Would it not be more just to punish all Christians for not reaching everyone with the Gospel?

This is an important issue and I am glad that you are studying it.


Observe Wave Sheaf Offering?

Letter: April 25, 2003

Hi Norm! Thank you for your email blessings for Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. I was sorry to hear of all the trials you have been having lately. Wow! I thought I had a few trials but nothing like that! My regards to Marleen!

I was interested in the celebration of all of the Days of Unleavened Bread—that has to be a particular blessing!

During my study this year, I gave some thought to the wave sheaf offering—it is commanded to be kept in perpetuity. It is not a commanded holy convocation. It perhaps has some bad connotations with Easter. In the WCG I don’t even remember studying it. Do you observe it in some special way? If you have any articles on it, I would appreciate receiving them, by email if possible!

Thanks, Norm for all your hard work on the Servants’ News which I read from cover to cover.

— Carolynn Landgrebe, Indiana

Response: The WCG never had any celebration or commemoration of the wave sheaf offering. Because there was no commanded assembly, it would have been difficult to require a church service. In general, the WCG did very little teaching on the extensive symbolism of the priestly rituals. The only time I participated in such wave sheaf observance was in a previous trip to Milwaukee when we did it at John Meritt’s house. There was a lot to learn from it.

I think it would be good to do this on a regular basis. But in our local congregation, and others, there are probably many things that we need to learn before this. Pentecost is counted from the Wave Sheaf, so Pentecost arguments about counting form the first annual Sabbath, the weekly Sabbath or when the barley is ripe also affect the Wave Sheaf day. (Most Sunday vs Monday Pentecost arguments are only about how to count 50 day, not about when the Wave Sheaf day is.)

If I write a book on the Holy Days, I certainly will need to include an explanation of it.

Thanks for the encouragement.


Bovine Cartilage, Sabbath

Letter: April 27, 2002

The Nov/Dec 2001 Servants’ News, page 30 has a suggestion to use sharks cartilage in place of pig or cattle. I understand that shark and pig are unclean but cattle is not, so you should be recommending bovine sources. I use a brand made from bovine sources and it works well. I buy it at Sam’s warehouse. The brand is called Members Mark.

I would also like to mention something that happened in our Sabbath group. A couple years back we let it be known that since my wife takes care of mentally ill people that once or twice a year when all other employees refused to work and it was a Sabbath, rather than leave them without care, she would work. Some understood and some criticised it. One who criticised it was also a nurse in healthcare who refused to work on Sabbath under any and all circumstances.

But later he changed his mind. He became very ill himself on a Friday night and had to ask others to take care of him. The Lord works in mysterious ways and of course we all have a different set of faults and God knows what trials we need. This was very encouraging for me as I believe I am going through trials now that perhaps this individual doesn’t need but I do. Thanks for your magazine, through it we can share such experiences as we become ready to meet our savior.

— James A Rich

Response: Thank you for sharing your source of bovine cartilage. There are Sam’s stores all over the country, so many brethren should be able to find it if they need it.

I also needed emergency services a couple of times on the Sabbath. One time, I would have been better off staying home, but another time was life-threatening. We prayed, and asked elders for anointing, but God did not answer that time (other times, He has). I think that if Sabbatarians are willing to use an emergency service on the Sabbath, they should accept Sabbatarians who work in that field on an emergency basis (not every Sabbath).


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