Saturday, March 17, 2018

My Opinion Is God's Truth

I recently had the pleasure of having a friend of mine tell me and everyone else how wrong we are and how right they are. I just want to pause and reflect on something that came up in the ongoing conversation.

It all started when Stephen Hawking, an atheist, died, and I mentioned a quick RIP and then in brief passing said that now Mr. Hawking knows the answer to the great question. I certainly wasn't intending to enter into a theological dissertation, nor was I intending to advocate one particular view of the afterlife over the other. I just wanted to make a brief statement that I personally believe God is. Very general. Moving on.

Alas. Not to be.

A friend of mine (let's call him friend #1) appeared and started off by telling me that I and most everyone else was wrong on a particular view of the afterlife. The clam was that the Bible didn't support such and such a position. A second friend (let's call him friend #2) proof-texted a verse which clearly contradicted friend #1, and in all honesty did serious damage to friend #1's claim. If the Bible didn't support such and such a thing, then there would be no support, yet there it was. Friend #1, now ego-bruised, resorted to rhetorical statements like "I'm not going down to your level" and "I stand approved before God" and unto us didst provide quotations as II TIM. 2: 15 from the King James Version, forsooth.

So, in summary, friend #1 comes in to enlighten us all with their superiority and clearly itching for a hot debate, but when one was swiftly provided friend #1 took on the mantle of the victim here. Guy with a knife started a gun fight, and then cried about how unfairly he was treated. I just have to relate that here because so help me if I had a nickle for every time I've witnessed in my life someone who pulled this same stunt I would not ever want for nickels again in all my days.

But it's not really this particular attitude that I am on about. It's the attitude of "my opinion is God's truth."

Does God have a truth? Let's all agree, at least for the sake of argument, that a being who IS truth does indeed have a truth on any number of subjects.

But is it true that our personal interpretation is what determines God's truth? No. Not at all.

Yet I run into people all the time who have the attitude of "you aren't disagreeing with me, you're disagreeing with God."

Here's a quote from friend #1:
"If you aren't in agreement with the scriptures, that's your right. I have not put forth anything that contradicts God's word. If you disagree, take it up with him, I didn't write the book. As the scripture says, I do not have to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
Now, I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that many of you have experienced or even made a statement just like that one. It comes up all the time in Armstrongism but to be fair it isn't unique to Armstrongism. It creeps up among any number of very strong opinions. But I want you to notice something - he can't or won't make his case so now he is the guardian of the deposit of faith on earth, and any disagreement with him is a frontal assault on the Lord Almighty Himself.

What is this? It's posturing. It's a bluff. It's a retreat. It's rhetoric.

I will come right out and tell you all here that this person IS NOT an Armstrongist. Friend #1 doesn't keep the Sabbath at all. So, do you believe that his claim is God's truth and that disagreeing with him is tantamount to an assault on God? Of course not. What he's saying is a bluff, and oddly enough I feel we all agree on that. Some of you reading this feel that YOU have God's truth and disagreeing with YOU is an assault on God, so friend #1 here can't be right. If there's one buzz-word that keeps coming up over, and over, and over again in Armstrongism, it's "truth." Yet the splinter groups can't even agree with each other, let alone other denominations. Today's Armstrong splinter groups claim the truth but don't even agree with Herbert Armstrong who founded their church in the first place and claimed to have the only truth in 1,900 hears. Which one is right? How can you all be the "one true"? Can't be both.

And that's just what I'm on about. There's no humility in this. There's no love. Please excuse me for this quote, but I feel I must -

(I COR. 13: 8-12) 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

Sometimes we really think we know something but we are mistaken. Sometimes the innocent are condemned. Sometimes the diagnosis is incorrect. Sometimes the best intentions pave the road to hell. Sometimes there is a thing that seems right to a man, the ends of which are death (PRO. 14: 12). Guess what - we are flawed. We "see in a mirror, dimly" so to speak. What is an affront on the throne of God is for any of us to puff ourselves up as if this wasn't so. No human being besides Jesus alone has the right to claim My opinion is God's truth. God resists the proud, but gives mercy to the humble. Nothing is ever so hard and inflexible as pride. You know what happens to things this hard? They shatter! So we need to all be humble, and loving. Even to those we deeply disagree with.

(MAT. 5: 43-47) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

I get it. I do. We all have something we believe in deeply and we want others to believe it too. None of us believe something we know is a lie. There's a good reason someone coined the phrase, "Genuine, but genuinely wrong." But I urge you, whomever you are, never to resort to the prideful and self-defeating attitude of "my opinion is God's truth" that we see on display above. If there is anything we hare at AsBereansDid have learned it's that we, each and every one of us, really do need to ask, "What if I am the one who's wrong here?"

If you're not wrong, then you're not wrong. Behave with grace. The truth can take care of itself. Have a strong opinion; nothing wrong about that. Temper it with love. But! if you are wrong, how could you know it and correct yourself if you think the Lord God decides the truth based on what you believe at any given time?


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


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

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…


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.
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