Ray Wooten on Church Governance

November 10, 1995

Dear Friends,

I have received many requests regarding what I believe relative to church governance and the work . I decided as a result to write a brief letter to at least explain my overall concepts in this area. I would like for my friends to know that I don't have any complaints or contention with the doctrines of most Sabbath keeping groups, which have in the past been associated with the Worldwide Church of God. My basic difference with some lies in the area of governance. I simply disagree with the concept of any man or group of men having dominion (i.e. governmental control) over the faith and beliefs of others. (2Cor. 1:24) I have been told that I have no following or support for these convictions. That is probably true but that is not my purpose. These personal convictions, by their very nature, preclude the prospect of personal gain or large following for any one man or group of men. They are, however, based on the Word of God and allow for the freedom of every Christian to be directly under the dominion of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.

I believe that under the New Covenant that Jesus Christ is the Head of each member of the Body. There is no one between the Head and any other member. The Holy Spirit is the ingredient in the New Covenant that was missing in the Old Covenant. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, each person is led to the understanding and the willingness to submit to the living and the written Word of God. There is not the need for human government or for a human mediator such as Moses. This is why there is no "Moses seat" in the New Testament church. Under the Old Covenant, Moses actually sat on Christ's seat.

Remember that today, all power and authority has been given to Jesus Christ by the Father. Christ is the Mediator, the Apostle, the Shepherd, etc.. As a matter of fact, He has all these offices for Himself. He delegated the job of Mediator to Moses-for a time. He delegated the job of Apostle to those whom He personally selected and sent to introduce His message, i.e., the gospel of the Kingdom of God. And those Apostolic jobs or responsibilities were not transferred or passed as a baton from one human to another. They are gifts from God and are not transferable. Today, He has delegated to some the responsibility of assisting Him as shepherds. But it is always under His direct supervision and authority. This is the reason He has said "You are not masters, rabbis, fathers, rulers, lords or governors..." "But you are brothers..." and servants. (Matthew 23:2-10)

I do believe in a work. And I would hope that it could eventually include every human being on earth! But we have to begin where we are. I believe that the work includes making disciples, not merely preaching the gospel as a witness or visiting heads of state and other political figures and never even mentioning the name of Christ or the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. This work must emanate from healthy congregations, all of whom are involved and have a sense of ownership in this work. The sense of ownership must involve more than paying one's tithes and offerings and praying for the success of the others as Christ told the Pharisees. (Matthew 23:23)

As Christ knew, the Pharisees were precise in paying their tithes and offerings and they prayed often. He tells them in Matthew 23:3 that they did not have judgment, mercy and faith and says "these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone". They should have practiced judgment, mercy and faith and so should we. Judgment requires each of us to be involved in the process of making decisions within an assembly or congregation relative to the commission. And all of us must know that we are a necessary part of that process.

It is in this way that God is working with each and every one of us to build holy, righteous character and to help us qualify for rulership in the coming Kingdom of God. Such a concept?that is so different from our recent past practices-requires absolute faith in God. But this is and has always been a work of faith. The only question is: Are we mature enough in the faith of Jesus Christ to accept it?

Your Brother in Christ,

Ray Wooten
PO Box 361334
Birmingham, AL 35236
Fax: 205-822-8529
Phone: 205-822-8524