Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Few Thoughts for Those Leaving A COG


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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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I was thinking about comments by gracefullyfree, and I thought I’d post the results.

I was convinced by my mother concerning the truth of Armstrong's view. My dad was a Sunday going "so called Christian"(as we referred to him) and we froze him out, so to speak. The relationship was permanently ended. He died before I could repair the damage.

Thinking back, I realize that he didn't know what to do, how he should respond. He could have done something by virtually doing nothing. We kids were looking for him to do something; and we were ready for 'his tricks'. We had been well coached as to how to respond, and were prepared to resist.

In retrospect I realize that all he needed to do was to stay accessible, form relationships with people who could show the joyfulness of one redeemed. If he had left his door open, and provided a pressureless environment, where he and others could simply shine, at some point I would have been drawn to it because joy was something foreign to me.

The darkness of dwelling on the wrath of God haunted me, and the gospel wasn't so much good news as it was that God's kingdom would come laying it's foundation upon the dead bodies of every one I ever laid eye upon.

My dad needed to be a light, and have others around him that could do the same, with no 'witnessing. ‘No telling them "Jesus loves you."We were well familiar with how "so called Christians" witnessed, and we had our responses mapped out and ready.

For those with children in one of the COGs, I recommend that you build your life on the true gospel of redemption, pray for your loved ones and don't be seen by your children as trying to draw them in; as flailing in an attempt to include them in something that would expose them to other examples. We were expecting that "little trick" too.

If you have Christian friends flowing through your life, in and out of your door in a natural way, the light will be seen as normally as one is aware of the events that go on around them. Don't stress out about what your children believe. Again, be a light, and know that without Jesus, we would all be left in darkness. Think on this and let yourself have joy.

If you focus on the problem, you will squelch your own flame, and you will have no light. If you have any power to do anything, it comes from God, rest securely in his hands and do what he gives you to do without flinching.

It's hard to form relationships with Christian believers after believing so much of what is normally believed to be in gross error. That’s where sticking close to the trunk of the tree helps. We don't have to except everything. We should believe God's word not men’s. The bible is our primary authority. The Apostle Paul reasoned out of the scriptures and gained converts to Christ. Things that are not salvation issues don't need to be quibbled over; but to cut one’s self off from believers, and going it alone won’t create much light. Imagine trying to start a campfire with one stick. A campfire gains enough heat to sustain combustion when many sticks burn together. Of course the analogy breaks down as we aren't sticks that burn, perhaps thinking of it as a critical mass required for a nuclear reaction is better.

We can't be offended by some differences of opinion. We need instead to nurture our commonalities; and these commonalities are found at the trunk of the tree. The scriptures speaks of great power in belief e.g. John 5:24 (NIV)"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. This message is repeated often, and is rejected by Armstrong ‘s followers. They will point out James 2:19 “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. And they would be right in a sense; that is that the knowing that God is real is belief, but is it the belief Jesus was talking about?

Armstrongs view isn’t taking into account that the multiple shades and meaning of a word is determined by its context. James 2:19 is misapplied to those who have the belief of John 5:24. Those who believe that Jesus alone is the door to salvation are called by the father . The kind of belief that Jesus was talking about is defined in Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. This faith is based on believing in the goodness of God toward you i.e. that he loves you. The proof of this is in the cross as John 3:16 points out.

Do you think a demon cares to earnestly seek God? If they did, they wouldn’t be demons. Clearly the belief Jesus speaks of is not the belief demons have. The faith described in Heb 11:6 speaks of the faith that God rewards those who earnestly seek him, so this attitude (of seeking him) would preclude willfully doing what displeases God.

We can’t create this faith in ourselves. The implications of John 6:44 back this up: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.Do you believe that God would call any one whose heart he has not planted with a seed of love for him? Notice what Rom 8:7 says “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.”

We cannot create our own nature no more than we can create something out of nothing. All we can do is admit to the nature we already possess. God creates goodness and the ability to love, (and love is his true eternal law). For we know that the law was given because of transgression of something that pre existed the law given at Sinai. Gal 3:19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.

We know when this law was given. Gal 3:16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed Gal 3:17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later…… The law wasn’t reintroduced at Sinai, but originally at Sinai (even though a few provisions of it began to be introduced as Israel left Egypt), it was in fact introduced.

Yet sin existed long before. The oft abused 1Jn 3:4 “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. “ says (in the Greek) that sin is [G458 anomia an-om-ee'-ah from G459;illegality, i.e. violation of law or (genitive case) wickedness.]

The exact form of this word is used 3 times in scripture, all forms 15 times, and never refers to the law given at Sinai. It is virtually always translated as ‘iniquity’. The King James Version of 1John 3:4 has it translated as ‘law’. This is wrong, and Herbert got a lot of milage out of saying: “sin is transgression of the law.” Noice Jas 2:8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. This is speaking of the true royalty which is God, this is not a human ‘royal law’. The law of the New Covenant that God writes on a believer’s heart is not the law given at Sinai. True righteousness comes by faith, and in this we can agree with most bible oriented Christians.

It is God who creates righteousness notice Rom 8:8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. Rom 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

God does in fact form a new nature in us by his spirit; 2Pe 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.2Pe 1:4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature

Those who will say that Jesus was leaving something out in the statement in John 5:24 are missing the depth of meaning in his statement (NIV)"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. It’s clear from Rom 8:9 and 2Pe 1:3-4 that even for one to believe is a creative act of God, and it is his spirit in you that displaces evil and controls internally as opposed to a written external code of conduct; Which is not to say that the written code doesn’t have value as a point of reference, which explains why Paul said “we establish the law.” It is a tool that leads us to Christ; Gal 3:24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

We, as Christians, are to obey the same Law Abraham obeyed ( Gal 3:6 Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.) ;and because of what God did in the person of Jesus, we have access to the throne of grace and to his spirit that makes it possible. It is Jesus that is our righteousness in every sense. In this we can agree with the body of Christ at large, and we can have fellowship with others to where we can together acquire that critical mass needed to shine; and to shine will be the best witness to those who will try to cut us off, shut us out, turn their backs on us, roll their eyes and shrug us off as those destined for the wrath of God.


We need to follow the Apostle Paul’s advice in Php 4:6; and you can be certain that this is something I need to repeat often to myself v6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.Php 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Php 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

I know, easier said than done. It can be trying when we are loaded down, and when we reach out for some help, all we hear is something that strikes us as a lame platitude. There is no escaping that we will sometimes see things that way when we are in pain; but try to see things from Gods eternal perspective. Imagine an eternity with the most exciting and magnificent personality in the Universe, and the fact that he was willing to get down in the trenches with us, and suffer our pain. To say we should suffer, picking up our cross and follow Jesus’ example is no platitude; Jas 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Jas 1:4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I am encouraged when I hear of people coming out of the darkness of Armstrongism, or any other ism, and of their becoming aware of the completed work of Jesus, so that they may discover the true Sabbath rest in Christ.

1 comment:

gracefully said...

Luc,

Great words of advice.

My daughters and I have decided that religion is just not discussed. At least for now. When they ask if I miss the Sabbath- I tell them truthfully that I try my hardest to make everyday centered on God. They don't usually respond any further. When they ask if I miss my friends, I truthfully say "yes." And I do miss the feelings of having close friends, but now I realize they were only my friends because we had the same beliefs. Otherwise, they would still be my friends today. I do not hold any bad feelings towards them- I was the same way! I used to be just like them!
I truly do long for my daughters to have happy, fulfilling childhoods free from the bonds of legalism. But I am going to take your advice, and not push anything. I will let them know I am here as their mom who loves them. Period.

They do like seeing me happy, most of my previous life was spent being sad and moody most of the time. They are smart girls, so I think they're putting two and two together.... mom was in "the church" and was always sad/depressed, mom has left "the church" and is attending a Christian community church and is happy, loving, laughs more, smiles more.

I thank God I have found your site, thank you so much.

-gracefullyfree