Volume 12, Number 2, September-October 2008

If You Are Going to Vote...

Letter:           October 27, 2008

Hi guys,

Please read this link if you are going to vote. I personally am not for biblical reasons. I don't want to cast a lot to put a king or ruler over me, as I want God, Yahweh to rule over me. I put my faith and trust in what his word truly teaches.

Response: Thank you for this very good letter, but I would like to clear a few things up. Deut 16:16-20 commands the same people who give offerings at the Feasts (everyone) to appoint judges and officers. Our president is not supposed to be a king but an officer sworn to uphold our constitution. Unfortunately the trend of our presidents has been to rule like kings rather than officers.   The biblical practice of casting lots—seeking the Eternal’s will—should never be confused with appointing judges and officers, which was intended to be the people’s decision.

Letter: However I do know Christians and professed Christians and others who do believe one is to vote.  If I were to vote, I'd likely vote for this guy.  We have freedom of speech and it's nonsense to say that I don't have a right to speak my mind if I don't vote.

Response: We are indeed thankful that our country allows you the freedom to say what you think about voting even though you do not vote. However you ought to think of the logic of what you are doing. Suppose that your e-mail was passed to everyone with a computer in the U.S.A. and 90% of them agreed with you. Because these 90% refuse to vote for a third-party candidate, the 10% that disagree would still elect a mainstream candidate.

Letter: But on the other hand, those who voted for Bush can see (with further research) you are partly responsible for his advancement of anti-constitutional powers.

Response: I did not vote for Bush last time because I believed he cared little for our constitution. I voted for the Constitution Party candidate. Even though he was not elected, my vote was my official decision against both Bush and Kerry. If everyone who could vote but chose not to, did what I did, we would have a different president right now. Those who do not vote are passively accepting whoever the rest of the voters elect and are therefore more responsible for the election of Bush than I am.

Please realize I have had major flaws in this matter. I did not vote for over 20 years because I accepted other’s religious teaching. After I studied the subject in the Scripture myself, I realized that I was responsible for rightly using whatever governing authority that I possessed—no matter how small that might be. However, I also realized that if I began to vote, it would be an admission that I had been wrong the whole time before--with no way to undo any of it! That was hard to deal with.

One election came by and I read a lot more about who was running and what they stood for. I said, “Hmmm, maybe I should be voting. I would vote for...” The next election, I actually planned to vote, but found out I was too late to register. In elections after that, I was registered and I voted for the person whom I believed best represented Scriptural principles.

So take heart! The Eternal does not hold us responsible to redo the past, but to change for the future. There will probably be another election, and you will probably have a chance to register in advance and vote for the persons and issues in accordance with the scriptures.

Letter: Please read this article [A Wasted Vote by Chuck Baldwin, Constitution Party Candidate] too—quite insightful and encouraging to me that there are still some men of character and guts.

http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/c2008/cbarchive_20081010.html

Biblical context: read Exodus 20 and read where the people of Israel (different than those who are in the nation of Israel today—totally different people ... by blood too) did not have censorship and did "voice" their view and will, even against God/Yahweh. Any of us can choose to go against him, it's called freedom to choose which way we will go, life to life or death to death.

  — Pat Brady

Response: Thanks for the article by Chuck Baldwin explaining why a third party vote is not a wasted vote. I will vote for him this year. I do not think he will solve all of our problems or do everything according to the Scripture. (I do not think I know how to do everything according to the Scripture). But of all the men who have gone through the procedure to have their names put on the ballot, I think he best represents a Scriptural view of governance.

 — NSE

First Resurrection: Know When It Is, or Be Qualified?

Letter:              October 6, 2008;

Hello

Yes, I just read a few articles that you have on your Web Page about Mr. Coulter of the Christian Biblical Church of God. I taught that your comments were very fair and I would like to know if you know anything of his teaching of Pentecost Resurrection? I am having a hard time with this  and like you said, you have to go through massive tons of material in  order to see if what he is teaching is right. And again, it is hard to  really dispute it even when you do go through all the material because  how things are twisted and turned.

I am a member right now with Christian Biblical Church of God but I  have a lot of questions which I can't get no one to answer. I am about to do a study on this but like I said it is going to take tons and tons of  work. At least 25 - 30 hours of just listening to tapes. But could you be a little bit more clear on Deuteronomy 16! I don't know of this one at all. Would greatly appreciate your help.

  — E.

Response: I remember reading about Mr. Coulter's Pentecost Resurrection teaching many years ago and finding it reasonable, though it did not cover all of the points that other teachers make for the Resurrection occurring at other times. I have forgotten most of the details.

But to be honest with you, I would not stay in a group or leave a group based upon their teaching of when the Resurrection occurs. If the group insists that you believe their explanation, that might be a reason in itself to leave. But if you are otherwise learning and serving there, then I would stay.

The truth of the matter is that the greatest scholarship in the world cannot change the day that the Father chooses for the Resurrection. Jesus did not know when it was (Matt 24:36). The twelve apostles did not really understand what was going to happen on Passover when Jesus died. After He died, they went back to their fishing occupation (John 21:3) rather than clearly understanding that the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon them in just a few weeks at Pentecost (John 20:19).

I have had many good Christian friends who have died thinking they knew when the resurrection was going to be—but that knowledge, whether right or wrong, really did not make much of a difference in their lives. We need to pray for revelation of those things that we need to know--some things we do not need to know. The important thing is whether or not we are living worthy of being in the resurrection. There are so many scriptures that tell us what to do to be in that first resurrection: Matthew 6:9-34; 24:44-51, 25 (all); Luke 12:15-48; Hebrews 11; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; 2Peter 3:8-14; Revelation 2; 3; 20:4-6.

Living by all of those verses actually requires much more faith and commitment than a 30-hour study of Pentecost—but that is why the Eternal has put us here.

I think you are asking about Deuteronomy 16 and its relationship to the Passover. Consider the priesthood in the old Testament:

Exodus 12 -  The Passover: each family kills a lamb in their own home. The Egyptian firstborn die and the Israelite firstborn are spared. While the name isn't used directly, we appear to be operating under a Melchizedek priesthood at this time

Exodus 13:1-3 -   The firstborn are sanctified or consecrated to God

Exodus 19:16 -   Israel is a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation"

Exodus 19:22-24 - Priests in Israel mentioned

Exodus  28 -   Aaron's sons set up as the priesthood.

Numbers 3:45; 8:14-18 - Levites replace the firstborn in God's service

Deut 16:1-8 -  Passover sacrifice commanded to be at the tabernacle, not in individual houses.

With the change in the priesthood form the firstborn to the Levitical Aaronic priesthood, it appears that the Passover sacrifice went from being a home sacrifice to a tabernacle sacrifice. The Old Testament does not record any in-home Passover observances after Exodus 12, but records two Levitical Passover observances at the Temple (2Chr 30 & 35). We need not be fearful of accidentally doing the wrong thing as there were some in Hezekiah's day that had a good heart, but did not keep the Passover the way it was commanded, and the Eternal forgave them (2Chr 30:18-20).

 — NSE

Treasures in Heaven Article

Letter:              August 8, 2008

Greetings Norm,

This is in response to John E. Robinson’s article, Treasures in Heaven, in the July-Aug ‘08 SN. I enjoyed his article, and agree with most of his conclusions. So my following comments are intended to perhaps build on what John presented.

Scripture clearly shows that the future will definitely see an increased emphasis on more earth-related activies: farming ranching, and like way of life. “Each man will live under his own fig tree!” [Is 36:16]. Yet those same Scriptures seem to teach a large emphasis on a capitalistic society!

“Cities will be rebuilt!” People will live in those cities. And, it is very unlikely they will have farms and ranches in those cities. Thus, what purpose do the cities hold? The weapons of war will be made into “plowshares”! (Isa 2:4; Mic 4:3). Yet, “plowshares”, while picturing nature activities, do not seem to point to “other activities.

Ask yourselves. In the future, are wives and mothers going to hand-make all of the clothes for their families? Will they take the clothes they make and wash them in a tub made at home by their husbands? Or take them to the nearest stream and beat the dirt out of them with rocks?

Or, will their husbands manufacture modern “washing machines and sewing machines”? And every thing else that are very acceptable necessities? Electricity, furniture, toilets, windows, mirrors, shoes, etc? Will the ranchers only raise animals for their own needs, or will they raise animals to feed and clothe the “bigger” multitude that live in the cities?

Does it not make sense that the produce of the land will find its way into the cities, meaning more than food and clothing? How about lumber jacks? Miners? Fishermen? Yes, the acts of those who deal with and in nature, will be “sold” to those in the cities, who will manufacture and process for all men. They will make the washing machines, refrigerators, etc. They will process food for the masses! And they will sell much of it back to the farmers and ranchers!

And, if the above is true, then there will be banking institutions, that can finance people who desire to enter into the capitalist ventures. Manufacturing, hotels, motels, restaurants! And, they must charge interest!

Only, it will be done the righteous way!

  — Ray Daly, Lincoln, ND

Response: Thank you for your letter. Much has been speculated about what society will be like when Messiah rules the earth. There is no doubt that numerous scriptures refer to cities and buildings, as well as farms and livestock at that time. Ezekiel 40 through 48 describe a massive temple complex that will require a sophisticated building industry to make. It is difficult to believe that Messiah will say: “I get to live here, and the rest of you live in tents.”

Will banking institutions be required? Must they charge interest? I cannot say “yes” to that. Suppose that somebody in the Millennium wants to start making electronic music keyboards so that every child who wants to, can learn to write, play and record the parts of every instrument in a symphonic orchestra. This ability is available for only a few hundred dollars today, so why shouldn’t it be in the Millennium?

Today, such a venture might start by a corporation obtaining a large loan from a bank, which obtained money from another bank, which made it from nothing. That will not happen in the Millennium (see article, page 1). Alternatively, a corporation might sell more stock to investors to fund the project. In both cases, the bank and the investors mainly care about getting a return on their investment. They do not care if the keyboards work, if children will really use them, or if they quickly fail and create an environmental disposal problem—unless it affects their profit. After all, the people who put savings into the bank do not want to be told that much of their savings have been lost, but the kids are really enjoying their keyboards.

In the millennium, might a keyboard entrepreneur go to a farmer, rancher or manufacturer whom he knows, who has a large store of silver gold from many prosperous years, and ask him to pay to build the assembly plant for his new keyboards? And if no one man has enough money, then might he go to a group of such men? Won’t these men be careful to ensure that the entrepreneur knows what he is doing and produces something functional? If the cost turns out much greater than expected, and no profits are made, but thousands of children learn music as they never have before, might these Godly men be content that they have lost some of their wealth, but that it has gone for a good cause?

Hang onto your hats, we are going the other way now:

Suppose the project is a great success, that the entrepreneur is able to repay all of the costs of building the keyboard factory. Suppose that this group of wealthy men continues to fund other individuals with successful ideas. Maybe all do not succeed, but most do. Suppose that there is another very successful farmer, who has a lot of silver from the sales of his produce, but who would rather use spare time to play one of those keyboards rather than to investigate the viability of new projects. Suppose he says to that group of wealthy men, “I’d like to help you start new industries, but I don’t want to get deeply involved in evaluation. If I just loan you 1000 pieces of silver, can you pay me twenty extra pieces every year for the use of my money—and give me the whole 1000 back if I ever need it?”

And the group of wealthy men write his proposal down, and say, “yes”. In a kind of folksy, down-home way, the group of wealthy men has just become a bank, opening a savings account at 2% and investing that money with reliable entrepreneurs doing sensible projects that are well known to them. When I went to public school, I was taught that banks actually worked that way. A century ago, some small banks actually did. But today’s centrally controlled banks are nothing like that.

It is very important to note that in this example, most of the money that these wealthy men are using to start projects is their own money—only a small part is other people’s money. In today’s banking world, most bankers have little or none of their own money invested in their own bank.

I do not know if there will be banks and lending at interest in the Millennium. I do know that it will not be like the corrupt and unjust banking systems we have today. I am ready to accept whatever our Savior will implement. I hope everyone else will, too.

Thanks for the letter.

— NSE

Matt. 18 Form Improvements

Letter:              July 17, 2008

Norm,

I must take exception to your Matthew 18 form [July-Aug 2008 issue, p. 44], at least in part. The second step of Matthew 18 is not about taking people with you to help convince the other guy what a sinner he is or how he needs to change his ways. The witnesses are not to help resolve the matter at all. Christ said what their purpose was, to establish everything.

Response: I largely agree with you and will change the wording on the form. However, please note that verse 17 says: "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church." So there must be a case where the person hears the witnesses and there is no need to tell it to the church. In my experience, there are many times when two people try to resolve an issue and are simply not listening to each other enough to even understand the other's point of view—they usually think they already know. When witnesses are brought into the picture and they hear both people at the same time and try to understand what the issue is, that often clears it up. There are also cases, and plenty of them, where one person's issue is ridiculous and their simple effort to explain it to a third party causes them to see the error and they give up on it.

Letter: It could be that the witnesses see something that makes the one who brought them wrong. That is the point of witnesses, and not allies, being brought.

Response: I agree they should be witnesses. However, since the person who brings the issue usually also decides to go to step two and bring the witnesses, they may choose allies, either intentionally or unwittingly. The church must be prepared to deal with situations where the person has brought allies instead of witnesses.

Letter: The witnesses are for the purpose of establishing for the Church, Step 3, all that had happened between the two with the sin between them.

Response: Yes.

Letter: You should rethink your form and replace step two with instructions conforming themselves with the intent of Matt 18. The idea is for the two involved in the sin to work out the problems without the Church being involved. Two opportunities for this are given, one with witnesses and one without. The witnesses are to report faithfully what they observed in the interaction to the Church. It is possible that both parties to Matt 18 are wrong, and the faithful witness will disclose that situation to the Church.

Response: I agree with all of this. I guess I just need to replace "help resolve the matter" with a more complex explanation. These are the trials of  designing a form that is:

   1.   Easy to understand

   2.   Thorough its instructions

   3.   Large enough type that people can read it

   4.   Big enough spaces that people can write in it

   5.   And fits on one page so it is not too cumbersome.

Thank you for your input.

Letter: Hopefully, God will grant you what is needed to continue your calling in Port Austin, and will take those enemies from your door.

       Royce Mitchell, Texas

Response: Thanks for the encouragement.

— NSE

Likes Are Sermons Biblical?

Letter:              July 5, 2008

Dear Norman,

My hat is off to Roj. Beaumont and his article, "Are Sermons Biblical" dated 07/07/07. I was delighted to see that you would print his analysis and conclusion that participation would produce more understanding. In my experience gained from the several Churches of God that I personally attended, the person delivering the sermon believed that his message was inspired from God and biblically correct. What was actually delivered was a sermon in keeping with the beliefs of the WCG whether correct or not. Even the self-exalted Gerald Flurry admitted that he was unwilling to change the ban on makeup because "he was not sure if it was correct or not."

I did attend with a very small group that met in members homes for a time. Questions were allowed and I watched the people grow weekly. It was fun to go to services. Unfortunately we grew and returned to the tape format with its attendant limitations.

My prayers will be with you and your struggles.

Regards,

  — Bob Shiloh

Response: There is no doubt that more learning can occur when questions and answers are permitted. But, those in attendance need much more faith in the Eternal. In groups where all teaching is controlled, it is easy for people to believe that their organization has all the truth because they rarely hear more than one understanding of any doctrine. But in groups that allow interaction, there will almost always be disagreement on significant doctrines. Often, this causes people to stop attending, or to participate on a limited level.

We should be careful of our boasting about this method of teaching, because the controversy created sometimes drives those who are weak in the faith not to attend any service any more. Then they are worse off than when they were in the hierarchical group where they at least fellowshipping once per week with teaching that was flawed, but still helpful. (Some ministers in the hierarchical churches do teach a lot of scriptural meat, others mostly promote of themselves and their organization.)

Those who participate in interactive services should develop the wisdom to see when their comments are helping and when they are offending others. There are signs we can look for. When people are quiet and refuse to talk about the subject of a service, or when they resort to a simple dogmatic statement of their belief and refuse to discuss it any further, they are having trouble with it. If they leave during the teaching, or frequently skip the service all together, that is not good. I know people who feel compelled to  announce to everyone present that they don’t agree with everything that is being said at this service. Helping these people troubled by interactive teaching can be accomplished in two ways.

The first way is to avoid openly discussing things that one knows would be difficult or offensive to other believers. If there were some truths that the apostles were not able to accept at that time (John 16:12), there may be truths that some cannot accept today. Paul learned some things that were “not lawful for a man to utter” (2Cor 12:4). There may be “deep truths” that we cannot share at our service, but only with a few friends. Also, there may be lessons that we feel must be brought up occasionally to the congregation, but which we should avoid bringing up “every time” in order not to have the same disagreement every week.

The second way is to teach people to be able to work among believers with whom they are in partial disagreement. Show them that Messiah and His Apostles met in synagogues where others spoke—there would be error taught there. They participated in the service and spoke later (Acts 13:15). Much of the New Testament epistles and Revelation 2 & 3 are corrections to the congregations at that time—and there is very little teaching to avoid meeting with the brethren who need this correction. Avoidance is only for major public sin, destructive false doctrine or agents of Satan. Those who are spiritually strong ought to go and hold up the weak (Gal 6:1-2).

While I would personally not want to attend a congregation where only one understanding of Scripture can be voiced, we all ought to recognize that we are all struggling together to learn from our Creator, and that none of us have the perfect method of doing that.

— NSE

Night in New Heavens/Earth?
Apparent Conflict Resolved!

Letter:              August 17, 2007

Norm,

I am glad to see a Servant's News back with articles of interest!!!!  It's been a while. I do have a question regarding one of the articles { July-Aug 2007, p.9], with discusses "who" is in the new earth, and the comment that there will be day and night there. In the description of the new earth in Rev. 22:5, the scriptures say there will be "no night there" nor is there a need for a candle, as the Lord God gives them light. Can you explain the writers comment regarding there being cold and heat, day and night in the new earth? I don't see that.

Thanks,

  — Kim

Response: The two Scriptures are:

“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen 8:22).

There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever (Rev 22:5).

The last verse is clearly written about those who have eternal life. They are the ones who "shall reign forever and ever". There will be "no night" for them, for they will always have the light of God. But it also says that they "need no lamp nor light of the sun", not that those things no longer exist. The flesh and blood people that are still alive will still need those things. Those that are "outside the city" (v 15) could not live without them. Hopefully they will learn to keep God's commandments (v 14).

If it also important to realize that the Greek for "night" is nux and while it does mean a literal night, it also has a  figurative use. According to Frieberg's lexicon:

... (2) figuratively; (a) as a symbol of death (JN 9.4); (b) as a sphere of moral darkness (1TH 5.5); (c) as a symbol of the present age (RO 13.12)

There will be no more death and sin among those who are reigning forever and ever.

— NSE

Information on Healing

Letter:              May 14, 2008

Hi Norm,

I was just speaking with Dixon Cartwright about healings and he said you had some views on this subject. I'm interested in getting a better understanding of divine healings historically and today after having had some in and out of the WCG. What piqued my interest was his statement that you believe there are just as many healings in protestant churches as the CoGs influenced by HWA. I'm interested in your evidence and reasoning behind that claim because it was not what I expected. Do you have some articles on your site that address this topic?

Sincerely,

  — Tim McHyde

Response: I would say there are less healings in the big denominational, institutional churches. But the Bible churches, the charismatic churches, etc. certainly believe in it. They pray biblical prayers, anoint with oil. I have seen a room full of people crowd around a sick person and pray for them. I have seen some miraculously get well; I seen some remain sick and later die.

I have read the prayer lists and updates of Sabbatarian groups and those of non-Sabbatarian groups. The number of dramatic recoveries, gradual recoveries, and "no answers" seem very similar—though I have not made a scientific study.

We can see in the New Testament that healing sometimes depends on the faith of the sick person, but also can be of function of a Christian with the gift of healing. Jesus and Peter sometimes healed people who did not even seem to be seeking it. There are people in Sunday-keeping groups that claim to have the gift of healing. I have never personally gone to one of their meetings. I have seen evidence that some of them are phonies. On the other hand, I have met people who are now Sabbatarians, but said that they were healed at one of these mass-healing meetings. I am sorry that I do not have written documentation of this. I would have to search through my notes and e-mails to find the instances--which I might someday. I don't know where you live, but I think if you attended some Sunday services of people who believe in biblical healings, and asked people if they know anyone who has been healed or anyone with the gift of healing, it would not take you too long to find your own data.

Another aspect of healing that I am studying is how to actually lay hands on people. Jesus sometimes touched the place where the person was sick. He made mud to put on people and did other things. He did not always just lay hands on people and/or anoint them with oil.

I have attached some articles. When Will God Heal is a good basic article available now on the literature page of www.servantsnews.com. Healing--Dunamis usage is a set of overheads I used for a message. It is mostly verses showing where the Greek word "dunamis" is used. It is frequently used for “miraculous healing power” in the Bible. Sin and Healing is another set of overheads, mostly scriptures, used in another teaching message. An article entitled Biblical Elders Needed for Healings? from the May/June 2000 Servants' News  by John Leitch is also available on the Previous Issues page of our web site. [ A very recent thorough study is available at Feast2008.org/Feast2008%20files/feast_2008_msgs/healin01.pdf  ]

May the Eternal bless your searching. Please let me know if you write anything up about it.

Are you suffering from something for which you need healing?

— NSE

Trial With Spouse Passing

Letter:              November 2, 2006

Sir:

Sorry that I have not written sooner, nor helped. The only reason I have is that I have not worked this year except in the garden. My problem stems from my wife [name withheld] died [two years ago]. From a mental way, I could not work as an electrician which I did for forty three years. Hope this little will help some.

May God bless you,

  — J. L.

Response: May the Eternal give you strength and peace in your time of difficulty. Many of us totally under­ estimate the value of a faithful spouse. It is always easy to see their imperfections—which are always there—and to not appreciate their good enough. We do not realize it until they are gone—either through death, or even more sadly, the nonsense of unnecessary divorce.

I had a taste of this difficulty in a different way when my wife moved 2½ hours away from Port Austin to cook for Spring Vale Academy to get the 86% staff discount so our sons could go to that Sabbatarian high school. (Interested parents: 989-725-2391, www.springvale.us ).

Even though I called her virtually every day and visited her most weekends, I still found that my work was not as effective as when we were together all of the time. I understand how you might not be able to do the job that you did for forty years.

Why does the Eternal let this happen? One reason is that He wants us to completely trust in Him—even more than in our believing mates! Our Heavenly Father has helped us through many trials in life, and the loss of a loving spouse is one more He will help us through. I realize that it is a lot easier to intellectually write than it is to live it. I struggled with it, but I do not think I let the Eternal work in me as much as He would have.

My wife has been back with me for several months now and it is a great blessing. But the Eternal does what He will. If he takes away a loving spouse, then we must work with Him. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).

The Eternal may also be testing other believers to see if they will help those who are suffering from these difficulties, or if they will simply be too uncaring or too busy to help.

May the Eternal strengthen you in your trial so you may overcome and again be a blessing to others during the remaining years that He may give you. May he strengthen others to encourage you.

— NSE

God Promises Trials... and Delivers!

Letter:                                     November 8, 2006

Dear Brethren in Christ,

You are not alone in your struggles.  Being a believer and persecuted is just a sign of the times. Although this sounds a little lame, but there are people who are praying for your welfare. I saw a street billboard the other day that read, "The worlds greatest people built the Titanic, but God's amateurs built the Ark."  There are believers all over the world who are enduring great struggles---read The Voice of the Martyrs at: www.thevoice@vom-usa.org Don't be dismayed at trials. In the Book of Acts God told Paul he would be rescued from a shipwreck, but Paul still had to go through that frightening shipwreck, and after he got to shore, was bit by a deadly snake!!

  Alison Raborn, Florida   &

 

by Norman Edwards

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