Friday, February 23, 2018

Billy Graham in His Own Words

This week, mainstream Christians mourned the death of evangelist Billy Graham. Often called “America's pastor,” Graham died Wednesday at 99 years of age at his North Carolina home. 




I noticed that praise for Graham seemed to cross denominational lines on social media. And I also noticed that those from the Churches of God didn't quite know what to say. They seemed to realize that publicly criticizing a prominent, moral figure in American Christianity was risky. But it must have seemed equally risky to praise the symbol of the movement they have called “so-called Christianity" for decades?

Well, if it makes you feel any better, I can relate. I was a child in the Worldwide Church of God during the latter part of Billy Graham's heyday. He diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1989, more than half a decade before the WCG broke up. Graham's public ministry ended before I ever left the COGs. The hallmarks of his crusades – rallies, altar calls and sinner's prayers – were ridiculed 
by my COG ministers, and they still make me vaguely uneasy. Still, it's undeniable that Billy Graham affected the lives of countless people. If As Bereans Did marked Rod Meredith's passing, it seems like we should at least comment on Billy Graham.

Since we're all in this awkwardness together, maybe can ease the tension with a game. I'm calling it, “Billy Graham, Bible or COG?” Let's go!

Round One:

a. We determined to do all we could to avoid financial abuses and to downplay the offering and depend as much as possible on money raised by local committees in advance.

b. Many professing to be Church MEMBERS say, when a Co-Worker letter arrives, in a grumbling, complaining disgust: "Oh, that's another of Mr. Armstrong's REQUESTS for MONEY," and many don't even read the letter! Are YOU one of those? If so, LET ME BURN YOUR EARS before the Almighty GOD burns YOU in the Lake of FIRE! If that has been YOUR attitude -- if YOU are only on the GETTING side, and SHUN helping, and giving to the cause of GOD, then I say to you ON AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST, if you don't REPENT and QUICKLY, and change that hostile, despicable, detestable attitude, you DO NOT BELONG in GOD'S CHURCH! You are some of the ROTTEN, PUTRID, spiritual WASTE that has been PLUGGED UP INSIDE OF THE SPIRITUAL BODY OF CHRIST'S WIFE, just as physical waste is plugged up in my dear wife's body! And the living Jesus is just as able to EXPEL YOU from the spiritual Body of HIS WIFE as He is to expel this physical waste from my wife's body!"

c. By covetousness they will exploit you with their deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”

Round One answers: 
a. Billy Graham, b. COG (Herbert Armstrong's March 2, 1967 letter to the Radio Church of God, c. Bible (2 Peter 2:3)


Round Two: 

a. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish that I might gain Christ, and be found in Him”

b. “You can have religion but not know Christ. It's having Christ that counts”

c. Living Church of God is carrying on the teachings and practices (that is religious not personal practices), of Herbert Armstrong more than any other group on earth! ... LCOG is the true Church of God which teaches and practices Apostolic Christianity!

Round Two answers:
a. Bible (Philippians 3:7-9), b. Billy Graham, c. COG (Rod Meredith on the exclusivity of the church)


Round Three: 

a. In the Old Testament, the leading ministers were the prophets.  But in the New Testament they were the apostles… If you check the list of booklets I have written with new revelation, you have one small book and 41 booklets with new revelation from God…Isn’t it logical to think that God would have another apostle crying out to this world…?…

There have been a few people from the beginning of the Philadelphia Church of God who have said to me from time to time, “I think you are an apostle.”  I never believed that  because I didn’t see it in the Scriptures.. but we are here to search out God’s truth…

“An apostle must be called by Jesus Christ without the intervention of another man.. his authority does not depend on recognition.”…

So here’s the point: If Christ established and office, we’d better be aware of it…

Genesis 49:10 says that a lawgiver will not depart from Judah’s feet until Shiloh come. Does that indicate that this man, this lawgiver, will be alive when Christ returns? I don’t know, but it could indicate that…

Does the work of Eliakim sound like a prophet, or more like an apostle?…

I believe only an apostle can ordain an evangelist…

I MUST SAY HONESTLY THAT I BELIEVE THE FRUITS OF AN APOSTLE ARE HERE.

b. I'm not a great preacher, and I don't claim to be a great preacher... I'm an ordinary preacher, just communicating the Gospel in the best way I know how.

c. Let the one who boasts, boasts in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Round 4 answers
a. COG (Gerald Flurry declaring his apostleship), b. Billy Graham, c. Bible (2 Corinthians 10:17-18)


Round Five:

a. I feel sorry for the man who has never known the bracing thrill of taking a stand and sticking to it fearlessly. Moral courage has rewards that timidity can never imagine. Like a shot of adrenaline, it floods the spirit with vitality

b. Here is an important point: while we certainly respect the verdict, at the same time we personally are not to sit in judgment. As Jesus Himself instructs us, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). Jesus also tells us that “there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known” (Luke 12:2). We can have confidence that our all-knowing God is aware of all aspects regarding this tragic situation. We need to remember what James, the brother of Jesus, writes to us from a spiritual perspective: “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). As a result, we will not be making speculative comments about the verdict.

c. Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?

Round Five answers: 
a. Billy Graham, b. COG (United Church of God, official statement on former UCG elder Stephen Allwine's conviction on charges of murdering his wife), c. Bible (1 Corinthians 6:2-3, 5)


Round Six:

a. Why did I pastor 19 churches? I don't know if any man pastored 19 churches--I may have baptized more people in the last century than any man in the ministry of God--over 600. Was there anybody who baptized more than that? I've raised up literally scores of churches in the splinters.

b. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake.

c. I worry every time I go to the platform that I'm unworthy to be there. I often wish that the platform would just open up and drop me through.

Round Six answers: 
a. COG (David Pack on his qualification to lead the Church), b. Bible (2 Corinthians 4:5), c. Billy Graham


Round Seven:

a. “Without the resurrection, the cross is meaningless.”

b. Easter purports to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. The problem is, though His resurrection was extremely important, Christ never established it as an annual observance. There is also no record of the apostles or early Church celebrating it.

c. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures."

Round Seven answers:
a. Billy Graham, b. COG (COGWA, 5 Major Differences between Passover and Easter)


Round Eight:

a. “Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”

b. “Every area of our lives is to be under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And that means the searchlight of God’s Word must penetrate every corner of our lives.” 

c. “The word repentance” is sadly missing today from the average pulpit. It is a very unpopular word. The first sermon Jesus ever preached was 'Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. What does repentance mean? It means to change – to change your mind, change the way that you're living – and to determine that with God's help you will live for Christ.”

Round Eight answers:
Actually, these are all quotes from Billy Graham. I just wanted to demonstrate that the COGs might be incorrect when they accuse Graham of teaching cheap grace. 

                                                                      *     *     *

Love him or loathe him, judge Billy Graham for what he's actually said, not for what's said about him. And do the same for your leaders as well.

So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. - Matthew 7:17-20






Put your POST here.
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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11
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Friday, December 22, 2017

The Best Gift Ever

'Twas the Sabbath before Christmas, and all through the land, COG folks were resting, “The Two Babylons” in hand. 

Their church magazine was laid out, with care, to a page with a man dressed in
red, with white hair.


Honestly, those magazine articles almost kept me from writing this season.  It's not surprising, but it's still frustrating, to go into painstaking detail to challenge Alexander Hislop's fabrications, only to see groups like LCG, COGWA and UCG practically copy-and-paste the same articles we refuted last year. But whatever. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last.

I had almost decided to let Christmas pass without writing. This season is just as overwhelming for mainstream Christians as the spring and fall holy day seasons are for Armstrongists. There are shut-ins to visit, homeless to feed, concerts to attend, cookies to bake and gifts to buy. It's easier for a Martha-type like me just to focus on handing out bread to homeless families than to convince Armstrongists I'm not deviant for doing so.

But then, as I was putting up decorations, I stumbled across an ornament with John 3:16 printed on it. This isn't a super common verse to read in the Churches of God, but my kids' Sunday school teachers
have had them memorizing it before they could even read. You know, at the same age I was memorizing the tribes of Israel in the Worldwide Church of God. I'm not sure I heard this passage until Passover services as an adult. In case you're not familiar with it, verses 16 and 17 go like this:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

That word translated “believe” in verse 16 is the Greek pisteuo, from the root, pistis. It's the word for “faith.” When followed by “in Christ,” it implies knowledge of, assent to and confidence in Him, according to Zodhiates' Complete Word Study of the New Testament. 

We get more insight into this verse when we backtrack to verse 14 and 15, where Jesus compares His work on the cross to the episode with Moses and the bronze serpent in Numbers 21.

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

In Numbers 21, those who looked upon the snake were healed. Not those who dragged themselves to Moses and touched the snake or obeyed enough of Moses' commands. Their own efforts did not factor into their healing. Likewise, our actions do not factor into our salvation.

“The nature of belief is implied in the illustration of Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness. Belief consists of accepting something, not doing something. The result of belief is that one receives eternal life,” according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary

I have heard this concept mangled so many different ways in the COGs. I've even heard a minister say that “faith IN Christ” is a mistranslation, and should be translated “faith OF Christ” - the same kind He had. In other words, we are not saved by having faith in Jesus. We are saved by achieving the same level of faith He had.

Huh? Jesus was God. Is it even called “faith” at that point? Self-confidence? I don't even know where to go with that idea.

Anyway, back to that pisteuo we were talking about earlier.

I don't care if you don't have confidence that Jesus was born on December 25.  I don't think we're ever going to conclusively settle that one. I don't have total confidence either, although there's decent evidence it's a possibility. At the very least, it's not the pagan slam dunk many would have you believe. Christians didn't pinpoint the December 25 date for the first century or two of Christianity, and we can assume those believers are ok, since Romans 14:5-6 tells us our salvation doesn't depend on celebrating specific days:

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.

I don't care if you believe that Christmas trees are pagan. After doing a good bit of research myself, I am confident that they aren't. Frankly, I think some of the popular theories used to “prove” their pagan origins are pretty ridiculous, and I find it annoying to feel compelled to defend myself on this point. But that's ok, I'll just blame it on the Nazis. That's a popular thing to do these days. And if we put up a tree despite our doubts, it's sin, according to the reasoning in Romans 14:23:

But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

I don't care if you believe that Christians shouldn't celebrate man-made holidays. But just so we're clear, there's no prohibition on creating them to celebrate miracles. The Jews certainly did it. They established Purim after Esther and Mordecai prevailed against Haman. The Jews created Hanukkah to commemorate the miracle of the oil at the re-dedication of the Temple during the Maccabean revolt. The Bible doesn't condemn these man-made holidays – in fact, it tells us Jesus was at the temple during Hanukkah. I even know several COG families who have started embracing these festivals.

So what DO I care about?

I care whether you are placing your pisteuo, your confidence, in the work of Jesus, or in yourself. Because really that is the only thing that matters.

If you are placing your confidence for salvation in His sacrifice, by faith in the promise of forgiveness through His shed blood alone, then it doesn't matter whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Pentecost. If your confidence is in Him, then you have what you need.

If your confidence for your salvation is in your own actions, then it also doesn't matter whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Pentecost. If your confidence is in yourself, then you'd better make sure your batting average is 100 percent.

Nothing else matters - not twinkling lights, evergreen trees, matzos or shofars. Nothing else gives you right standing with God. Nothing else besides confidence in His promise of forgiveness  - by grace through faith - in the shed blood of Jesus.

Now how's that for a gift? Christmas or not, it's the best one ever.

(Ephesians 2:8) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.



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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11
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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

God's Evergreens

God loves evergreen trees. Trees aren't evil in any way. Don't blame the poor trees.





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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11
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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Advent of Honesty

From all of us at As Bereans Did to all of you, our astute and honored readers --

MERRY FACTMAS

Factmas? What's that?

Why, that's the time of year that we devote to countering the fake news about Christmas that we find in Armstrongist literature each and every year that are, to be blunt, willfully dishonest.

Yes, I said it. I said Christmas. It's a scary topic to many people in the Armstrongist tradition. A lot of things can be overlooked but not sympathy to Christmas. Too much baggage is involved. Too much fear. But listen to me please. I am not here to trick you out of a crown. Quite the opposite. I am here to present facts. If I can give you even one truth, no matter how small, don't you want to know what that is?

Have you been told that Christmas is pagan? Have you been told that December 25th is the birthday of Nimrod? Have you been told that Christmas Trees began in ancient Egypt? Have you been told that Jeremiah condemns Christmas Trees?

Everybody knows these things. Right? I used to believe them too. Before I looked at the facts.

Well, what would you say if we told you that these things are fake news? What if we told you these things are in fact not true, and we can prove it? What if we told you that the very church leaders who have been telling you these things have known that these things are not true, and have known this for decades?

Scary? Yes. I can relate. Moves you too far out of your comfort zone? OK. I understand. Don't let that chase you away.

We encourage you to read through our catalog of articles to see just what the other side of the story really has to say. But not only what the other side has to say, but to see what your own side of the story has actually said over the years and how the story keeps changing in order to keep promoting a false narrative.

We've been doing this for almost ten years now. We've been drawing on materials that have been available for years, sometimes centuries. Why don't the leaders in the Armstrongist splinter churches pay any regard to these facts? They have access to the same source material we do. We suspect it has to do with money and control. Of course, I am referring to your money and control over you.

If anything I have said has piqued your curiosity in any way, I encourage you to dive into one of these recommended articles:

Christmas FAQ
Falsely Accused? Christmas Trees and Germanic Paganism
Falsely Accused? Christmas Trees Were Christian Theater Props
Falsely Accused? Catholics Rejected Trees as Too Protestant?
Falsely Accused? Nazi Christmas Propaganda Lives On
Falsely Accused? You Decide
Jeremiah 10 and Christmas Trees
The Plain Truth About December 25th
On Nimrod And Christmas Trees part 1
On Nimrod And Christmas Trees part 2
On Nimrod And Christmas Trees part 3
Unto You A Child Is Born
Nimrod's Birthday Was January 6?
A Dialogue On Jeremiah 10
The Quotes Before Christmas
Crazy About Christmas
Established And Imposed
Christmas On Trial

*The Christmas FAQ in particular has become our place to link to more Christmas articles on other sites that we've found useful.

Read one. Just one. Pick one out, read it, pray about it, think it over, come back and read another. Or by all means please take some time to check our facts.

You will find something odd within these articles, strange and curious to you no doubt, and that is referenced sources. I trust, in this age of fake news, that you will agree that not all source material is the same. If I quote propaganda, then what good is my quote? If I quote something that is known to be fake, then what good is my quote? If I make a statement today then use myself as a reference tomorrow, what good is my quote? Well, these are precisely the type of things done by Armstrongist authors over the years. These annual collections of alternate facts are what we call "intellectual dishonesty." (That's a fancy way of saying fake news.)

How can "God's Truth" be based on lies? It can't.

So we decided to do just the opposite and take the most rigorous approach we could and bring you quotes from primary sources or the best possible secondary sources we could find. Not just any confirmation-bias source, no! The best sources. We call this "intellectual honesty."

Read our articles. Verify our source material. Follow the trail of evidence. We have boldness to encourage you to this. Why? Because we love the truth. The truth will take care of itself. And the truth will set you free.

How do you fight fake news? FACTS! We got em. We want you to have em, as a free gift. And so we say...

MERRY FACTMAS




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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gary Klar RIP

ABD has learned of the passing of a true anomaly within Armstrongism - a genuine, kind, caring, giving, decent leader of a splinter group - Mr. Gary Klar.

Gary was attending the Feast of Tabernacles when he began experiencing respiratory issues. The next day he passed away. Next month he would have celebrated his 51st wedding anniversary.

Gary was given the rank of Elder in the old Worldwide Church of God. After the breakup of Worldwide, he attended the United Church of God with his family. The Toledo congregation was deceived by the lying false prophet Ron Weinland into splitting from United and forming the Church of God - Toledo. When the despicable false prophet attempted to take sole control of the Toledo church and steal its entire bank account for himself, Gary was a key element working against Ron. The Toledo church split, with Ron going his way with the money and Terry Wrozek, and Gary remaining to head the large group of people who refused to leave with a petty dictator. Gary tried his best to make a genuinely better church. It's quite remarkable, really, what he was able to accomplish with what he was given.

In ten years of blogging, we have only come across two church leaders like this. Two. And Mr. Gary Klar was one of them.



Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What the "Holy Day Plan of Salvation" Means for You

Last time, we looked at the someone tenuous origins of the traditional Church of God doctrine that the Hebrew holy days represent God's ongoing, progressive plan of salvation for humanity. I also threatened, or rather, promised to explain why I find this doctrine so troubling.

So what's my problem with the holy day “plan”? Besides that it's just a theory passed off as rock-solid, salvific Bible truth? A theory used by many in the COGs to self-righteously disparage what they call "counterfeit Christianity". Those are issues, for sure. But they're not the biggest one.

The COG's teachings on plan of progressive salvation diminishes the significance of Christ's sacrifice and lures believers back into salvation by works, a fact which groups like the United Church of God and others vehemently deny, yet consistently reinforce in their literature.



“The sacrifice of Christ constitutes that important first basic step in God's majestic plan of salvation,” wrote the late John Ross Schroeder in a July 2010 article on the Holy Day plan. “Nonetheless, an subsequent passage in Ephesians shows other essential steps.”




I turned to the passage Schroeder referenced – Ephesians 1:9-10. I don't see any other “essential steps” Christians must take. Let's look at the whole passage, in context. This time, I'm turning to the ESV, because this passage is convoluted, even to me, in the NKJV. I'll emphasize verses 9 and 10 for you.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Hmmm. I don't really see any evidence of Christ's sacrifice being the first step in a progressive salvation plan here. The only thing I really see that rings a bell is the word “plan.” Basically, in this passage, we have God revealing His Son at the appointed time in history, opening our minds to the fact that Jesus was God's Son, redeeming us and forgiving our sins through the shedding of His blood, and eventually setting right the fallen world.

This passage bears almost no resemblance to the COG narrative of this plan, which goes something like this:

1. Jesus died for your sins on Passover. (so far so good).
2. We then put sin out of our lives, which is pictured by the Days of Unleavened Bread. (hmmm.)
3. We receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Wait. How did we put sin out of our lives without the Holy Spirit?)
4. Jesus Christ returns at the Feast of Trumpets. (debatable, but it's a possibility)
5. Those who have successfully completed these “essential steps” celebrate their millenial reign during the Feast of Tabernacles (where they have achieved divinity, despite what Isaiah 43:10 says).
6. Satan is put away on the Day of Atonement (wasn't Jesus our Atonement? 1 John 2:2)
7. Humans who never had a chance to learn about God's plan will receive another chance to accept God's way at the Great White Throne Judgement on the Last Great Day (despite 2 Thessalonians 1:8, which tells us Jesus will judge both those who don't know God and didn't follow the gospel at His return).

But I'll admit, UCG leaves the salvific significance component of our works vague. But competing sister splinter COGWA does not. Consider what Jeremy Lallier, a full-time writer for COGWA's Discern magazine, recently wrote on his private Sabbath Thoughts blog for the Feast of Trumpets:

“As Christians, that trumpet will be the moment that defines us for eternity. As our Lord and Savior descends through the skies and voices from the heaven proclaim Him King of kings and Lord of lords, we'll either rise up to meet Him... or we won't. Those are the possibilities. There isn't a third option.”

Wow! You have my attention! That paragraph alone made me sit up two inches straighter in my chair.

“What kind of life did you live? What kind of choices did you have to make along the way? What did you value, and what did you let go of? What did you have to overcome? What aspects of your character changed – and what stayed the same?”

Hmm....

“How did those changes happen? What habits did you develop or break that helped lead to them? Who influenced you – and who did you have to step away from so they'd stop influencing you? What sacrifices did you have to get used to making, and what things were so important you vowed to never let go of them?"'
I'm starting to notice a trend here - a whole lot of "you, you, you" and not a whole lot of "God, God, God." But let's hear him out.

“Keep stepping backward from your future until you get to the present, then connect the dots.
Well, at least he isn't pulling out a sticker chart. Yet.

“Using the tools we've been given, we chart our way to the finish line, plotting out a life that leads to hearing, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Woops. I spoke too soon. I stand corrected.

“This isn't just a thought exercise. Your destiny hangs in the balance. If you want to make sure it's a good one, now's the time to reverse engineer it.”


All right. I've had enough. It's intellectually dishonest, at best, to claim to teach that salvation is a free gift, but then state that we are responsible for plotting our own destiny to a heavenly crown. If we make our own destiny, then we have reason to boast, which directly contradicts scripture:

What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh. For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace, but as debt.  - Romans 4:1-4

I'm glad you brought up Abraham, our COGWA friend would probably say, at this point, in our imaginary debate. Doesn't the Bible tell us that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered Isaac in James 2:21.

Why yes, it does. But is that the whole story? Let's look at the passage rather than a single verse.

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see, then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. -  James 2:21-24

Abraham's true faith was confirmed when he attempted to sacrifice Isaac upon the altar in Genesis 22. But his faith was accounted to him for righteousness – God justified him – much earlier, in Genesis 15, even according to James. His decision in Genesis 22 was evidence of what happened in Genesis 15.

And what kind of life did Abraham live? What kind of choices did he make along the way? What aspects of his character changed, and what stayed the same? Let's see. Abraham made some good choices. He left Ur. He rescued Lot, and then let him have his pick of the land. He attempted to sacrifice his son when God told him to do so. He also lied about his wife to try to save his skin. Twice. Once was even after God “counted him righteous.” He doubted God. He fathered a child with Hagar.

If we plotted and charted Abraham's life, what kind of picture would we see? Someone who secured his own destiny through grit and determination? Or a sinner who, like Paul, warred against his nature throughout his life and relied upon the grace and mercy of his Creator? What about YOUR life?

There are many reasons that Christians should live godly lives:

1. We are bondservants of the Lord purchased with His blood.

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. - 1 Corinthians 6:20

2. Since we have died to sin and have been raised  with Christ, we are living sacrifices.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and the perfect will of God. - Romans 12:1

3. We are representatives of God's kingdom.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given s the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed us to the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

4. To witness against those who mock us.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 
- 1 Peter 3:15-16

5. To turn others to God

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
- Matthew 5:14-16

There are these reasons, and many more. But noticeably absent is the goal of securing our entrance into God's Kingdom through an elaborate, metaphysical game of connect-the-dots. We can neither obtain nor maintain that destiny.

This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?   - Galatians 3:2-3

We can't reverse engineer, connect the dots or force out enough fruit to sell for a ticket into God's kingdom. Thankfully, the ticket is free and the fruit is a by-product, or evidence that we are connected to the True Vine. With that assurance, we can rest in Christ, knowing that He is the author and finisher of our faith.

A holy day plan that reveals an ongoing “plan of salvation” sounds tidy, inspiring, even desirable. On paper. But in real life, a checklist of “essential steps” means that you must achieve in order to progress to the next step. And if you don't achieve enough by the time the last step comes, then you fail.

Whether it's a progressive holy day plan, Lallier's subtle “we'll either rise up and meet Him... or we won't” or Herbert Armstrong's deity, who aborts Christians who don't grow enough, the message and theology are the same. Thankfully, they're not true. Thanks be God for His indescribable gift!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10.

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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11
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