When I was 19 years old and at college, I decided upon reading the Bible that I should be baptized by immersion, and I became convicted that I believed in Jesus Christ. Shortly afterward a friend gave me a magazine called the “Plain Truth,” and in it was a card to order a free booklet on baptism, which I ordered because they said it was “free.” Free...well not quite. Within weeks, the Worldwide Church of God had saturated me with booklets, meetings with ministers, proof-texts beyond my ability at the time to discern, and I was convinced of what they taught. Within a few short years I met my wife and we began a family, which made my ties to the organization strong and, as it would seem at the time, permanent.
Over the years I continued to read the bible and began to study the history of the WCG. I felt a nudge deep inside that something was not right in my faith. I was not sure if I would “make it” into the kingdom, and I found it continually more difficult to explain a grace that results from works. I had trouble grasping why we kept some laws but not others. Eventually I began to realize that I never really kept the law according to the Old Covenant at all. Yet all those other churches were false because they didn’t keep the law. My head was spinning. And when our friends lost their son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren to the silence of the Philadelphia Church of God, never to be permitted to speak to them again, it was too much for my wife and me. We cried for them and wondered, my God, could this happen to us? Could we lose our children to one of these groups? What if this is not right? We need to do something!
Most of you reading this have a similar story. We were certain that we had found the one true church and God’s true end time apostle. We continued on for years. Some of us were ordained, many of us gave sermonettes, sang in choirs, and we all had fun spending a lot of money on ourselves at the Feast. But we also spent a lot of time judging everyone else as false Christians. We became caught in our own trap, for if one must keep the law to be a “true Christian” then we were in trouble. So we lived on for years with questions and doubts but were afraid to face the answers. Some of you are still in a COG group, some have left, and some are alternating attendance between different COG splinters, frustrated with the continued splits and divisions.
Some of you are now like my wife and I were, feeling a strong sense that “we need to do something” but not knowing what to do.
That is where I was at when a Google search popped up the result for this blog. The many posts here were invaluable to helping me sort all this out. What a privilege to now be a contributor to this work. My entire family left the COG in 2010 and since that time we’ve been blessed beyond words. I have had the privilege to attend Columbia International University in their graduate seminary program. What a joy it is to study the Word of God! I’m involved in our church worship and have recently begun to become involved in various missions. My wife and I have met young people from China and other parts of the world who long to know about this Jesus who we talk about. Oh yes, while I was spending years arguing about Sabbaths, holy days, new moons, calendars and such, God was on a mission to bring the blessing of his Son to the many people groups around the world!
I have tearfully learned, having lived under legalism and fear, to value grace so much more than I ever would have. In that sense the entire COG journey has been a blessing. I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one and only way to life everlasting, that He gave himself willingly for me and for all humanity, and that I am saved by grace through faith in Him alone. Realizing the joy of this freedom in Christ has made me even more committed to living a life that shares his grace, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, love and peace with other people, as the Lord has instructed. Far from grace being a license to sin, I am overcome with a desire to please him as a result of what he has done for me. And I am dedicated to use my training in the legalists’ arguments and proof-texts in order to refute them and free those who may be troubled by such arguments as I was.
May your time here be a blessing to your journey!