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.

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

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

God's Evergreens

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

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Advent of Honesty

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


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...


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

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?”
“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.

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Do the Holy Days Reveal "God's Plan for Mankind"?

If there's any phrase that brings to mind my years of holy day observance, it's “plan of God.”

God has a plan. Not the overused, Jeremiah 29:11 kind. The Leviticus 23 kind. The capital "P" Plan kind. One that reveals God's framework for redemption of mankind through the holy days. The one we must rehearse each year "throughout your generations forever" to keep it in the forefront of our minds. Or so the Church of God narrative goes.

So how exactly did the COGs arrive at their understanding of this Plan? Most splinters of the Worldwide Church of God explain it similarly. The United Church of God concisely explains it like this:
“God's overall plan can be discerned in the voluminous pages of the Bible. Yet it may be compared to a jigsaw puzzle in the sense that vital bits and pieces of that plan are discovered in different books.” wrote the late John Ross Schroeder
in a July 2010 article on the Holy Day plan. “It is the Church's sacred task to preach it to this world – crafting it together correctly, 'rightly dividing the word of truth' as the Bible puts it." 
Wait just a minute. This "Plan of God" thing is a theory? Like evolution and Pangea? Like relativity or cigarettes causing cancer? Like fluoride? No, I didn't say all theories were inherently wrong. But they are often controversial and must be explored with caution. So anyway, the holy day “Plan of God” appears to be a theory that someone pieced together from many different books of the Bible, at least from the admission of some COG's.

UCG's sister splinter, COGWA, simply sidesteps this detail and presents it as fact.

"We need God's festivals for what they picture," writes Eddie Johnson on COGWA's Life, Hope and Truth web site.

No mincing words for COGWA. They intuit and state that, "from this short passage" (Revelation 20:4-5) we can tell this chapter "records future events that are also represented in the last two of the festivals listed in Leviticus 23."

Hmmm. Maybe I'm just deceived, but I'm slightly uneasy eliciting the meaning of a celebration that's "required" for salvation from two short verses of scripture. I know, COGWA, it's my inexcusable "absence of biblical understanding in traditional Christianity" that drives my reluctance to label people "false believers" over the selective interpretation of a handful of isolated verses.  No, it couldn't be the years of study that I've done in the process of/years after leaving the COGs.

For example, I somberly take issue with COGWA's statement that every human who has ever lived "will be resurrected and come to understand the implications of all seven biblical holy days. Nobody who has ever lived can come to God, or knowingly turn his back on God, without first knowing and understanding God's offer of eternal life."

Don't get me wrong. I deeply wish this errant doctrine were true. It's about the only tenet of Armstrongism to which I am tempted to cling. Unfortunately, it directly contradicts 2 Thessalonians 1:8 (among other scriptures), which discusses what will happen at Christ's return:

In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because or testimony among you was believed.                                                                        
                                                                                       - 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10

Those who do not know God are done, according to his passage. They do not pass go. They do not collect $200. They receive the brunt of the "flaming fire" and subsequent "everlasting destruction" at the time of the return of Jesus Christ. Not after some mythical "second chance." It is game over. I get no pleasure from relating this. I wish it weren't true. I only point it out because I want you to understand that this "holy day plan" doctrine is a theory, and further, not a theory without major holes.

So anyway, where did UCG and COGWA get these ideas? Who first put the puzzle together, and what assurance do we have that they got it right?

A man named Herbert Armstrong – who founded today's Church of God movement – taught that man was required to keep the Hebrew holy days. He claimed that the populations of Europe and the United States were descended from ancient Israel and had simply lost their traditions through captivity and migration. These claims, and his attempts to impose them on the Church of God Seventh Day, got HWA disfellowshipped from the organization. The only basis for the authority of his theories were his own claims of divine revelation, putting him on par with individuals like Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of God of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons).

Of course, Armstrong apologists might claim that the Apostle Paul's vision sounded sketchy, too. In which case, we must obey biblical admonition to judge our leaders by their fruit. So let's see. After his encounter, Paul was transformed from a zealous Pharisee intent on murdering Christians to one who was tortured for spreading the faith he persecuted. What of Armstrong? I cannot judge his heart, but I am commanded to judge his fruit.

BUT I absolutely am NOT judging the sincerity of those who have been taught to keep the holy days and believe they honor God by doing so. Many were drawn into Armstrong's theories during vulnerable, turbulent times, both in their personal lives and on the global scene. Others have been raised with these traditions since they were in diapers. I accepted the symbolism I was handed and celebrated these days for decades. They're listed in the Bible. They are given passing reference in the New Testament. Heck, the very first event Israel commemorated foreshadowed the entire basis for the Christian religion. The symbolism behind the other holy days is strong, too. Especially when your leaders make it up.

In a way, many outside the COGs DO believe that the Hebrew holy days revealed God's plan for salvation. And that plan was Jesus. Many, including Messianic Jews raised in Orthodox Jewish communities, believe that the festivals God gave to Israel were intended to demonstrate their own insufficiency to solve the problem of sin, as well as show them their need for a Savior. The Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles  - they were shadowy symbols that could teach us lessons, but never stand in the place of the real thing. This is what Paul meant when he wrote:

But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. - Galatians 3:23-25

So, what's the big deal, Martha? HWA said the holy days revealed God's plan for salvation, you say that the holy days pointed to Jesus, who was God's plan for salvation. Same difference. Besides, it seems like your hero Paul still kept the holy days and even discussed them with the Corinthian brethren. Now what?

Fair point. But it's no surprise that Paul, an ethnic Jew, may have continued to keep the holy days. Although it's unclear whether he treated them as days of worship, or as opportunities to share the gospel with his countrymen. We know that many Jewish believers pressured gentiles to accept Hebrew worship practices, thanks go Acts 15 and pretty much the entire book of Galatians.  So, it's not shocking to see gentiles discussing holy day practices in the older books of the New Testament. I won't even get into the book's context and the Days of Unleavened Bread being a tangential theme.

Seriously, Martha, what don't you accept about not "one jot or tittle"?

Probably the same thing you don't accept about what is meant by "Israel," "forever" (Leviticus 23), "finished" (John 19:13), "covenant" and "obsolete" (Hebrews 8:13). This is Acts 15 all over again, except using binary code and keyboards instead of scrolls and speeches.

Whatever Martha. Peter and Paul kept portions of the Sinai Covenant and I'm pretty sure they “made it" into the Kingdom.  Even experts in your Expositor's Bible Commentary can't agree on what Matthew 5:18 means. Isn't it a safer bet to just continue keeping the holy days? What's the big deal?

I'm so glad that you asked. We'll talk about that next 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

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Parties to the Covenants

Back in October 2014 we wrote the article Confusing the Covenants which addresses the confusion in the Sabbatarian doctrine regarding the Old and New Covenants. Today we have somewhat of a follow-up.

The whole of Sabbatarian doctrine is based on the idea that the seventh-day Sabbath is binding on all people everywhere. Sabbatarians ask, “Why would anyone want to change that?” The problem with that is the Sabbath has never been binding on anyone but Israel. Non-Sabbatarians ask, “Why would you want to change that?

Here is a brief summary of the Sabbatarian thinking – 1) The Old Covenant preceded the New Covenant so it applies to everyone, 2) the Old Covenant Law is God’s Law so it applies to everyone, 3) I want to be obedient so I keep the Old Covenant Law in the New Covenant.

Here is a brief summary of the non-Sabbatarian response – 1) The Old Covenant never applied to any Gentile at any time; it only ever applied to Israel, 2) the Old Covenant was abrogated by God so it applies to no one, 3) I want to be obedient so I keep the New Covenant law of faith and love.

We can refine it down to these two basic claims:

Sabbatarian – the Sabbath applies to everyone, so you have to change the law to avoid the Sabbath.

Non-Sabbatarian – the Sabbath never applied to anyone but Israel, so you have to change the law to observe the Sabbath.

Clearly, someone needs to answer the question, “Does the Old Covenant law apply to everyone or not?”

It’s a tricky thing. One can’t comprehensively answer it in one blog post, or even one book. So we have been trying to answer that here, post by post, for close to 10 years.

Back to the intro paragraph regarding covenants. Our friend Larry Dean has helped us put another piece of the picture together. Larry has studied law and approaches the law from the perspective of a lawyer. His post is about who the law itself defines as the people to whom the law applies.

Okay kiddies, we are going to have a rudimentary class in "statutory construction." We are going to learn how to read a section of law. This is the kind of stuff first-year law students learn, in their first semester of law school. Remember the movie "The Paper Chase?" No? Well, here is a reminder. Its the kind of hellish story that lawyers love telling each other. They like to brag about the abuse they put up with in law school. Lawyers LOVE nursing grudges at their law school professors:

Just kidding.

But it is true. Law school is where you enter as a normal happy-go-lucky human being, and then three trauma-filled years later, you leave angry and bitter, ready and willing to sue the snot out of people.

I can hear you mutter: "Who does he think he is, muttering such bigly-syllabled words, as "Statutory construction?" Don't worry about it. We are going to unpack a mystery. We are going to be sleuths. We are going to find meaning. We are going to look into each other's moist eyes, full of longing and passionate-desire and............

We are going to uncover who the mysterious "you" is in Exodus 20:8-11. One always start out legal analysis by posting the section of the statute that you are quoting from:

Exodus 20:8-11

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days "YOU" shall labor and do all "YOUR" work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord "YOUR" God. On it "YOU" shall not do any work, neither "YOU," nor "YOUR" son or daughter, nor "YOUR" male or female servant, nor "YOUR" animals, nor any foreigner residing in "YOUR" towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

I count three "YOU"s and five "YOUR"s. That is a lot. But who is being referred to as "YOU" and "YOUR?" Adventists insist that "YOU" is all mankind. But that is not how you read a statutory section. You must go to the Preamble to find who "YOU" and "YOUR" is. God gave out some big hints. The Preamble is Exodus 20:2. He wrote it with his finger on Tablets of Stone. And in this case, Exodus 20:2 has been interpreted by the Jewish Courts to be both the Preamble of entire law, AND the First Commandment as well. You can see how the Jewish Courts interpreted this verse in the exhibit below. The whole law rises and falls on this one verse. You have to know who the law applies to. Those Jewish Courts were given that awesome and exclusive power in Deuteronomy 17 to render a definitive statutory construction. And they did. But first, the First Commandment:

"I am the Lord Your God, who brought "YOU" out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."

That's pretty specific. It tells us the mysterious "You" referred to in verses 8-11 is the group of people that were "brought out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." This is only six verses apart. That is what is known in the law as a "defined class" of people. Even better, in this instance, there was a court with exclusive sovereign jurisdiction that has rendered a binding interpretation. Not that this is even a close call. For anyone trained in the law, anyone that has survived the hellish brainwashing of law school, that is the end of of the story. Or as they say in the mining towns of I-DEE-HOE where I live and learned my cowboy accent, that is "all she wrote."

The Sabbath was given to the people that God delivered from Egyptian bondage. But there is more. Deuteronomy 5:

"5 And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in "YOUR" hearing today, that "YOU" may learn them and be careful to observe them. 2 The Lord our God made a covenant with "US" in Horeb. 3 The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. 4 The Lord talked with "YOU" face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. 5 I stood between the Lord and "YOU" at that time, to declare to "YOU" the word of the Lord; for "YOU" were afraid because of the fire, and "YOU" did not go up the mountain."

Wow. That is even clearer. "You" is "Israel." It was Israel that was delivered from Egyptian bondage. Israel is the blood-descendants of Jacob. And these blood descendants of Jacob were all assembled within earshot of Moses, on one day! Moses made it clear that the covenant was not with the "fathers" of the people standing within earshot of Moses. It only applied to people who could hear Moses's speech, live. On ONE DAY! Moreover, it was the people that God spoke to "face to face." That's about as specific as it gets. But it gets even better. IN verse 15 it very pointedly sums up who the "you" is:

"15 And remember that "YOU" were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord "YOUR" God brought "YOU" out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord "YOUR" God commanded "YOU" to keep the Sabbath day."

Well, that was a short class! But God apparently wanted to pile it on. He wanted to spike the football in the end zone. He wanted to leave the varsity in when He already had a 60 point lead.......

Enough with stupid sports analogies. Let's go to Exodus 31:

"12 Then the Lord said to Moses, 13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘"YOU" must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and "YOU" for the generations to come, so "YOU" may know that I am the Lord, who makes "YOU" holy.

14 “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to "YOU." Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. 15 For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.18 When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God."

That merely restates that it is the Israelites are the "YOU" who are to keep the Sabbath. They were the blood descendants of Jacob that were delivered from Egyptian bondage. It says that is the Israelites that are to keep the Sabbath three times, just for good measure. It says nobody else. Reading Deuteronomy 5, Exodus 20:2, and Exodus 31 together is airtight and bulletproof. There is absolutely no wiggle room. This is a solid case.

The Sabbath was given only to Israel. It was given only to the people in earshot of Moses, gathered in one day. It was given only to the "you" who were delivered from Egyptian bondage.

-Larry Dean, on Facebook, 8/12/2017, borrowed by permission

So, the parties to the Old Covenant, and therefore the Sabbath, were God and Israel. The Sabbath only ever applied to Israel. This is the law according to the law.

As we've emphasized over and over and over again the Gentiles were strangers to the Covenant and excluded by law! Never at any time or place did the Sabbath apply to Gentiles. If a Gentile wanted to participate in the law - for example, if they wanted to participate in the Passover - then they were required by law to become an Israelite.

By law, a Gentile had to stop being a Gentile in order to participate in the law. For the Sabbatarian doctrine to apply the law to Gentiles, they must change the law. It is not an unchanging Old Covenant law that applies to all people, but a fundamentally altered one. If one wishes to say "God changes not therefore the law changes not" then the law does not apply to Gentiles, never has, and never can.

We have many articles to further help you understand. Try our FAQ and Categories pages for more. But highly I recommend these two articles in particular:

Lying For God v8 PartI pp4-9

The Sabbath Rest of Hebrews 4

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

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Which Day?

You may have noticed that we haven't been posting much lately. Everyone is so very busy! I haven't had any time at all to sit down and do the writing that I enjoy. Martha has a busy schedule as well, and finds plenty enough to keep her occupied just in daily life. Good thing we have guest authors! Child Survivor wrote a post for us a few months back and liked contributing so much that he's back for another go. We're always happy to hear from our readers.


On social media, in this case Facebook, I keep reading posts by Adventists and previously by the few remaining followers of Herbert W. Armstrong that accuse anyone who doesn't observe their version of “sabbath law” of being “followers of the pope”, “Babylonians”, “lawless”, and “commandment breakers”.  As a “child survivor” of Herbert Armstrong's cult, the Worldwide Church of God, granddaughter cult of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, I will continue to tackle this subject until I know I need to move on.  But regarding some of these accusations from sabbath keepers,  that we are essentially “Commandment breakers” meaning you couldn't possibly love Jesus if you don't “keep His commandments”,  keeping His commandments is ALWAYS about keeping the sabbath.  And I would remind everyone that Jesus never once instructed sabbath keeping, but that's an argument for another day.  My favorite accusation, however, is that those of us who attend church on Sunday are actually “worshiping the sun” or “following the pope”.  That is what I wish to zero in on with this post.  Does the day you congregate on in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord REALLY make a difference with God?  What was the practice of the early church? Did the early Christians keep the sabbath as modern Adventists claim, did they keep Sunday, or were days of the week a non-issue with them? Does the preaching of the word, prayers, singing, and mutual edification Christians experience all go straight out the window because of the day of the week they're doing it?  Let's look deeper.

First thing I wish to start with is a humorous but also sad illustration.  When I was 12 I remember watching the original airing of an “All in the Family” episode. (I'm 53 to save you from having to do that math).  This episode involved Archie's desire to see his newborn grandson, Joey, get baptized.  When he approaches his daughter, Gloria, about it, he begins by reminding her how religious her mother is and that she prays “every day, even when it ain't Sunday, when the Lord ain't listening”.  That remark brought quite the laughter from the studio audience.  While I believe it was intended as humor toward Archie's ignorance and not an attack on religious people, it reminds me of the mentality that is very much alive in sabbath keeping circles that God only acknowledges corporate worship on Saturday.  It brings me to ask this question that I have asked again and again and again and have never once received a straight answer from Adventists, Armstrongists, or any other Sabbatarian.


Before I dive into the scriptures, I just beg you to consider the accusation of “sun worship” simply because the day of the week is called “Sunday”.  One person recently told me that's how Sunday started as worship of the sun.  So that makes any religious gatherings “sun worship” simply because allegedly thousands of years ago, extinct religions supposedly worshiped the sun on that day, makes ANY gathering guilty of the same thing?  Are we to assume “once pagan, always pagan”?  If so, then why isn't the same applied to Saturday which was supposedly the day the god Saturn was worshiped?  Why is that day immune from leftover pagan influences of literally thousands of years ago?  I also wish to let you know that I have been attending Protestant worship services almost every Sunday since my conversion from Sabbatarians to Christianity in 1980.  A typical Protestant service involves singing praise to God with either traditional hymns or contemporary songs (which by the way modern Adventists and Church of God Seventh Day congregations use with extreme liberality), prayers offered, offering taken, reading of scripture, a message or sermon from scripture, and either on a monthly or weekly basis, communion.   In the typical Catholic mass you have songs sung, much, and I mean much scripture read from the pulpit, prayers offered for those in need and for the world around them, usually some sort of message, much liturgy which is usually directly from scripture, and communion.  Again, in both cases, does all this count for nothing more than pagan worship simply because of the day of the week it falls on? Especially since Adventist services have so many similarities with Protestant services?

One question I have asked on occasion and only got a response once, was “what if I rest and read scripture on Saturday, but attend a Baptist worship service on Sunday morning, is THAT ok?” The only one who ever responded to that was a pompous Armstrongist who began by saying “while I have ISSUES with Baptists, I guess that's ok”.  Really?  But at least she answered me.  I've also asked the question about Catholics and Evangelicals who are in and out of church before sunset on Saturday, if THEY kept the sabbath?  Only one answered me with “it depends”.  Ok.  But if it is not assumed that if these people who attend church on Saturday at 4pm are not keeping the sabbath, why has it been universally assumed by these people that Paul was “keeping the sabbath” in Acts 13 and 17 simply because he was in a JEWISH gathering on a particular sabbath?  And I would add that these passages simply say what he did on those days, they NEVER tell us that Paul KEPT the entire day, or any part the day at all.  He was just in a place where Jews were gathered to bring the gospel of the Messiah to them.   If being in the synagogue on the sabbath meant Paul and the early believers “kept the sabbath”, then you have to grant the same credit to Christians today who go to Saturday evening services of their “Sunday keeping churches”.  But you never do, ever.  So to be at all credible with your beliefs you either have to drop the argument from Paul's so-called “example” or grant the same credit to millions of Catholics and some Protestants around the globe who are doing what you claim Paul was doing.

Now let's look at the scriptures.  I think everyone reading this KNOWS that there is NO prohibition against gathering to worship collectively on ANY given day in scripture, but most Sabbatarians will never admit it.  But the fact that you know is good for enough for me to continue at this point.  Again, with scripture we begin with the birth of the church from Acts 2:

“Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all in one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat on each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” vs 1-4

Now you see, the Holy Spirit came in power on Pentecost.  When was Pentecost?  THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK!  Armstrongists would argue for holy day keeping here, but the fact remains, this miraculous event empowering the followers of Jesus and saving 3,000 souls (read the rest of the chapter for that) COULD have happened on the weekly sabbath, it would have set a precedent...but it DIDN'T.  It happened on what we refer to today as SUNDAY!!!  Is this significant?  New Beginning?  First fruits?  Our Lord's Resurrection?  Take your pick!

Now if you keep reading in Acts 2, you will see what the practice of the early believers was starting in verse 46 “So continuing DAILY in one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor  with all the people.  And the Lord added DAILY those who were being saved”.  Vs 46 & 47

Do you see the word DAILY here?  It doesn't say “weekly” or “from sabbath to sabbath”.  It clearly does not distinguish any day from another.  The church met as often as they could and that would have definitely included what we now call Sunday and yes, Saturday as well.  But days are not emphasized or distinguished, at least not anywhere near to the point that Adventists do.

Another passage from Acts that sabbath keepers absolutely love to rip apart is..from Acts 20 verse 7 “Now on the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight”.  WHOA, He preached until midnight?  No wonder poor Eutychus dozed off!  But attention spans were longer then. But that's beside the point.  But do you see?  Breaking of bread (Lord's supper) and preaching, all on the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK.  This is a Christian gathering and no pope was around to bless it, and it was 300 years before Constantine.  So not only did the early Christians meet daily, but the first day of the week had a special significance and it's recorded in scripture!

Further on in the New Testament we have from 1 Corinthians  16:1&2 “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come”   I have read Sabbatarians refute the notion that this is promoting meeting on the first day of the week by insisting Paul was telling people to start storing up their offerings on the first day of the week so at the sabbath they would collect it.  Problem being, that's not what he writes.  He tells us that this is the “collection”, not individual storing up.  He's also addressing Christians collectively, not individually...”given orders to the churches..”.  While Paul does say “each one”, the context is still a collective instruction to a group.  The exact procedure here is a bit fuzzy if you ask me, but we are dealing with a culture from 2,000 years ago.  But either way, it goes without saying, the first day of the week is associated as set apart and for an act of Christian worship..offerings.

To sum up, I am not advocating the notion that the sabbath was changed to Sunday.  The sabbath, like the rest of the law was nailed to the cross , Eph 2:15 & Col 2:14-17.  Christians are not obligated to keep any day holy.  Christians have traditionally assembled on Sunday, the first day of the week to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  It has traditionally been a “celebration”, not an “obligation”.  Can you understand the difference?  While I do acknowledge that some Christians have applied the 4th commandment to Sunday, I believe they have done so in error.  The Catholic church made every Sunday a “holy day of obligation”, but that simply means they are required to attend mass on that day, not keep it as a “day of rest”.  I also know that some fundamentalist Christians over the last 100 years have erroneously put strict requirements of “keeping the sabbath” meaning Sunday.  While I believe their motives are arguably well-intentioned, their methods in both cases have been misguided, just as I believe modern Sabbatarians are misguided about their  understanding of the sabbath, law, grace, and salvation in general.

I pray that this will not fall on deaf ears.  I so hope you can come to grapple with the following realities..

1.  There is NO PROHIBITION against congregating any day of the week in scripture.

2.  There is no command to keep the sabbath ANYWHERE in the New Testament

3.  Scripture does not have the early church meeting exclusively on ANY day of the week.

4.  There is no mention of the early Christians keeping or meeting on the sabbath.

5.  And finally, keeping ANY DAY will never save you nor help you STAY saved.  Salvation is a gift from God completely unmerited for all of us have sinned and fall short of God's glory.   Rom. 3:23

However, if you can show me any scripture at all that answers my original question, which I will repeat for those of you with short memories...



And I would like to add, quotes from Ellen G. White or Herbert W. Armstrong do NOT count as scripture.

Thank you to all of you Christians and Sabbatarians alike for reading this post.  May God enlighten us all with His perfect revelation.

God bless!

Child Survivor, thanks for contributing. Hopefully this provokes some thoughts.

And, hey .. if anyone wants to post a guest article, just reach out. We're always willing to at least consider your piece.

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, May 19, 2017

Rod Meredith's Race is Finished

The Living Church of God announced today that Roderick C. Meredith, 86, died late Thursday night. Meredith, LCG's presiding evangelist, was reported to have suffered from aggressive, terminal cancer.

We've known this day was coming for some time now, but it's still hard to know what to say.

Some individuals - usually members of LCG or the former Global Church of God - have consistently sung Meredith's praises. But many current and former COG-ers have difficulty finding positive things to say about the man's example.

Even Herbert Armstrong questioned Meredith's judgment when he expelled him from Church Administration in Pasadena and "exiled" him to Hawaii as a result of his draconian attitude and actions against the WCG ministry. HWA described Meredith as self-righteous, competitive, and covetous of power.

"... you were a harsh task master over the ministers. You, yourself find it difficult and perhaps impossible to TAKE what you dished out. Dozens of ministers would testify to that. You rubbed the fur the wrong way! That has been your life-style!" (Herbert Armstrong, letter to Rod Meredith dated March 14, 1980).
Former LCG evangelist Dibar Apartian has been quoted as saying that Meredith had not changed in the 40 years Apartian had known him. Apartian is said to have made his statement shortly before his death in 2010. From the Leona McNair libel judgment against Meredith (case spanning from the early 1980s until WCG's eventual payout in 1992) to Patrick and Elizabeth Scarborough's defamation case against LCG last year, it's hard to argue otherwise. Even without considering Meredith's departure from the Global Church of God. Or the Terry Ratzmann incident and fallout. Or the scores of members disfellowshipped. I could go on, but this hardly feels like the time to beat a dead horse.

In times like these, it's probably best to set our personal feelings aside and turn to the scriptures.

The Bible tells us that those who are sealed for salvation have received the Holy Spirit.

(Ephesians 1:13-14) "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." 

Those who have the Spirit are belong to God. And those who don't, well...

(Romans 8:9) But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

What is the evidence that one is in the flesh?

(Galatians 5:19-21) Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

 And, in contrast, what is the evidence that one has the Holy Spirit?

(Galatians 5:22-23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

These are sobering thoughts to ponder.

(Matthew 7:15-20) Beware of false prophets, come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruit you will know them. 


God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), and neither are we. We can't know Rod Meredith's heart, especially not what might have transpired as he contemplated his life during his final days. We pray that he eventually came to accept the grace he so frequently mocked.

Meredith, a sincere believer in the Armstrongist brand of Christianity, was a natural product of his theology and his environment. He believed that running this race would lead him to salvation. Do you? If so, you can stop reading and move on. But if not - if you have doubts about Meredith's eternal destiny, if you fear for his future - maybe it's time for you take a good, hard look at the path on which you are running.

(Hebrews 13:7) Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their life and imitate their faith.

We offer our sincere condolences to the Meredith family, and offer prayers for their peace and comfort. We also offer our ears to anyone who needs to talk.

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Were We Really This Bad?

Today we have a rare treat - a guest post from one of our readers!

This guest post comes to us from Ray, the Child Survivor. Sometimes CS stops by for a comment. Today he's stopping by for a whole guest post about his views on the Sabbath.

It's good to get things off of your chest. Helps the healing process. And it helps us, too. (Definitely helps me to not have to write anything this week.)

We yield the floor to you, Child Survivor....

I spent most of my childhood in a Sabbath-keeping cult, Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God, the granddaughter cult of the Seventh Day Adventist church. My family left the WCG when I was 13, but was briefly introduced to the Church of God Seventh Day, and the SDA
religion in the 3 years following. Since then I came to faith in Jesus alone, and since 2009 have been engaged in conversation with current members of these movements (especially Adventists) through email and social media and have had quite the education on where these people stand on scripture and other subjects. This post will focus on what I have discovered with their arguments on "law" and the "Sabbath". My findings are fascinating and as follows:

1 John 3:23, John 6:35-40, Ephesians 2:8 & 9, John 5:18 and ANY references to us not being under law seem to have been stricken from all their copies of the Bible. If you quote such verses to these people, they can't seem to even SEE them!

EVERY SINGLE TIME in scripture the word "Commandments" ALWAYS refers to the 10 given to Moses on Mount Sinai, except in Ephesians 2:15, THERE the word means something else.

And when they say "keep the commandments", they really mean "keep the Sabbath".
They will give endless scriptures (mostly Old Testament) for keeping the Sabbath, but when asked how to properly keep the Sabbath, they suddenly don't have time, hurl insults, or go silent.

The law of the Sabbath is bound for all eternity, but laws regarding HOW to keep the Sabbath are either "ceremonial" or "magnified." Any laws that fall under these classifications are always laws they just don't want to keep, like no kindling fires on the Sabbath or staying in your dwellings.

Regarding the other commandments, "thou shalt not kill" is ignored beyond the threshold of Adventist hospitals. (Elective abortions) "thou shalt not commit adultery" does not apply to Armstrongist evangelists. (marital affairs was the norm) "Thou shalt not steal" does not apply if done for the sake of "the church" (coercing people to triple tithe or shoving the offering plate at people more than once per service) simply to feed the wealth and power of the church and it's leaders.

Regarding the Sabbath, the fact that Jesus and Paul were in Jewish gatherings on the Sabbath AUTOMATICALLY means they were keeping the entire day sacred, yet they refuse to grant this same criteria to any Catholics or Protestants who are in and out of church or mass before sunset on Saturday afternoons. Usually they don't answer the question
if you ask them if the same applies here.

Sabbath law regarding "no paid work" on the Sabbath does not apply to pastors.

They claim that they do not believe that we are saved by keeping the law, but if we are truly saved, we will keep the law, thus keeping the law is how we STAY saved...but only THEIR version of the law. Most laws in the Old Testament are discarded.

Many Proof-texts from the New Testament used for Sabbath keeping for Gentile Christians don't even mention the Sabbath.

The Sabbath is always calculated by using the ROMAN CATHOLIC CALENDAR which uses the names of pagan deities in the months and days of the week.

Sabbath law of "sunset to sunset" doesn't apply to parts of the planet that will go without sunrise or sunset for months at a time. (like Barrow, Alaska) But a consensus is never reached on how to resolve the dilemma.

"Jesus being Lord of the Sabbath" NEVER, EVER means that Jesus is more important than the Sabbath!

The Sabbath is God's greatest gift to humanity. Sorry Jesus, you're not number 1 with these folks.

Congregating in the name of Jesus, singing His praises, hearing the Word preached, and encouraging other Christians AUTOMATICALLY becomes SUN WORSHIP because you are doing it on the first day of the calendar week. Yet congregating on Sunday becomes okay with Armstrongist when a holy day falls on Sunday. And with Adventists, midweek services NEVER mean that they are worshiping the god associated with that day of the week, such as Wednesday.

With Armstrongists, it was always an absolute sin to enter a retail store on the Sabbath, but eating in a restaurant after Sabbath services or buying take-out...was okay.

Working on the Sabbath is treated as the "unpardonable sin", yet when Sabbath keepers need the services of those who are BREAKING the Sabbath by paramedics, police and fire fighters, or the utilities, suddenly they forget about the laws of working on the Sabbath and use their services.

In Adventist, Armstrongist, and other Sabbath keeping groups, the Roman Catholic church is demonized as "the Great Whore of Babylon"...never to be believed, never to be trusted. BUT, when the Catholic church makes the claim to have changed the Sabbath, they all of a sudden become THE AUTHORITY.

The Sabbath was changed by the Pope, but wait, it was changed by Constantine, yes, the pope, oh wait, Constantine, it's the Antichrist, oh wait... Any writing from early church fathers like Ignatius and Justin Martyr are virtually ignored, or these early church leaders are maligned by Adventists and demonized by Armstrongists.

The Lord's Day in Revelation 1:10 is clearly the Sabbath, even though the Sabbath is not called that ANYWHERE in scripture.

The most coveted, desired "rest" is where you attend services, eat green bean casserole, and if you're an Armstrongist, drink heavily on Saturday. The REST Jesus offers in Matthew 11:28 is not desired.(why should it be? After all, Armstrongists go out of their way to avoid even talking about Jesus).

They also seem to be reading a different Bible than the rest of Christianity. Their versions seem to say some strange things and omit others, such as.....

Their copies of the Bible seem to state that Adam, Noah, and Abraham ALL kept the Sabbath, even though the word "Sabbath" doesn't appear in scripture until the 10 commandments are given to Moses in Exodus 16.

There is no mention of any humans knowing of such a ritual prior to Exodus 16.

The main point Jesus was making to the rich young ruler was that he had to keep the Sabbath, which isn't even mentioned in the dialogue. Their versions of this story also exclude the part of Jesus telling him to sell all his possessions and follow Him and he will have treasures in heaven (something Armstrongists vehemently deny).

The main message of the 3 angels in Revelation 14 is for everyone to keep the Sabbath, even though the Sabbath is nowhere mentioned in the entire book of Revelation.
Those who are faithful who will be granted eternal life are those who keep the Sabbath, even though when Jesus talks about His separating the sheep from the goats in Matthew 25, the Sabbath is nowhere mentioned.

They seem to see Sabbath keeping as the true mark of a disciple, even though Jesus said that it was us loving one another where the world would know we are His.
Another puzzling thing about their approach to scripture is how they pounce on New Testament passages that mention the Sabbath, but never quote entire verses or read the entire stories, such as the Sabbath-keeping Jews wanting to throw Jesus off a a cliff or starting a riot when Paul was converting the masses to Christ. They constantly quote "Sabbath was made for man"...but never finish the thought with "not man for the Sabbath" unless they are cornered.

They never quote the passage regarding the "Sabbath day's journey" in Acts 1:12 because that would destroy the attendance of the sparsely scattered memberships of the Armstrongist splinter groups or the Hebrew Roots movement where people commonly travel up to 2 hours to attend Sabbath services. They never quote Colossians 2:16 except out of context and many refuse to acknowledge that when Paul says "Sabbath" that he actually MEANS "Sabbath."

Their Bibles also seem to exclude the final chapter of John's gospel. 3 times in chapter 21 Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, when Peter answered "yes", each time Jesus said "feed my sheep" (depending on the translation). He NEVER said "keep the Sabbath"...yet that is exactly what these people are convinced the only Jesus asks His followers to do.

But the most troubling thing I find with the Sabbath keepers and their twisted views is where they stand on Jesus. If you look at the "Bible Sabbath Association" which claim to be unification of different Sabbath keeping groups and their loyalty to the 4th commandment, you see that
these groups views on the Lord Jesus Christ RANGE from Trinitarians to Arians to Unitarians. So the Sabbath is important, but Who exactly Jesus is, is a secondary issue? Seriously? Obviously they believe keeping the Sabbath is what saves and what one believes about Jesus is irrelevant.

Also regarding Jesus, when you ask about any relationship they may have with our Lord, Messiah, Son of God,..... They always, and I mean ALWAYS, immediately steer the discussion to their own righteousness by quoting "If you love Me keep my commandments," which of course they have been taught that the word commandments can ONLY mean the 10 given to Moses....which THEY keep by keeping the Sabbath. Talk about Jesus, they will talk about the Sabbath, and ultimately THEMSELVES, because legalism is nothing more than cleverly disguised SELF WORSHIP.

Well there you have it.

Lots of Sabbath-centrism going on out there in the Adventist spin-off groups like Armstrongism. Surprising, coming from Sabatarians? It's their defining characteristic, after all.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns with the planet, Child Survivor. Taking the time to write all of this and send it in is not easy. Some people might find it intimidating.

We appreciate all of our readers. Hopefully someone out there will relate and find some comfort in what you've shared.

God bless!

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, April 14, 2017

Moses Died On Mt. Nebo

The primary, most central, most mission-critical tenet of Armstrongism is the requirement of observance of the Old Covenant law. Not all of it, just about 2%. The law must be kept because it cannot be changed, they say. Oft repeated is, "not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (MAT. 5: 18b)[NIV]. The law does not save you, they teach, but without observing the law you cannot be saved. Among the laws that Armstrongism claims must be observed are the Old Covenant holy days, including Passover.

The Armstrongist calendar year practically begins at Passover. They read about the Exodus, and clean almost every nook and cranny of leavening. But Passover is a Jewish holiday, you say? If you are talking about the Old Covenant Passover, then yes, yes it is, God bless them. And it should stay theirs. Passover is generally considered to be by far there most important calendar event. But Armstrongism says no, Gentiles are required to observe it too. Something doesn't add up about that, you wonder? Correct. It doesn't add up.

Jesus and the Apostles were Jews, who lived in the end times of the Old Covenant, of course they observed the things of the Old Covenant. But the Old Covenant ended. <- The biggest part of the equation is left out. After that point, the Apostles were abundantly clear that believing Jews could retain their national traditions but the Gentiles were not to become Jews in order to be Christians (see Acts 10, Acts 15: 18-26 and GAL. 2: 11-16). To demand we all must do what Jews did to fulfill the contract of the Old Covenant during the Old Covenant period doesn't make any sense - even if it is Jesus and the Apostles. The Gentiles weren't party to it in the first place and Old Covenant ended when Jesus died. Not to worry! To oversimplify it, Armstrong teaches that they keep the New Covenant .. just there is little difference between the Old and New Covenants. Passover was a law then and it's a law now. No changes! Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen...! The only parts of the law that have changed are the national parts that governed Israel, and the ceremonial parts. Basically all Jesus did was take away sacrifices. So the law HAS changed - IF we accept this Armstrong doctrine. The parts they require haven't changed, they assure us. Passover is one of those required parts. For example:

(EXO. 12: 43) And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner [Gentile; non-Israelite] shall eat it."

Oh. Well, maybe Exodus 12: 43-49 isn't such a good example. That says Gentiles are forbidden by law from participating in Passover, and this is repeated in Numbers 9: 14. Requiring everyone to participate would be a huge change in the unchanging law.

Let's just forget about that. Forget you saw that. Let's stick to the core, the spirit, the heart, which is that the law doesn't save you but you can't be saved without the law.

ABD agrees that the law doesn't save you, we just disagree about the continuing requirement of Old Covenant law.


There once was a man from Egypt named Moses. Moses was a particularly unique example among mankind. Author of the Pentateuch. Hero of the Jews. Specially chosen to act out a picture of the salvation process. Giver of the law. In fact, Moses represented the Old Covenant law. As Elijah represented all Old Covenant prophecy, Moses represented all Old Covenant law.

One day, as he led the Israelites through the desert, they came to Kadesh. It was hot, there was no water, and what should happen but Moses' sister dies. It was not the best of times. To add insult to injury, the people come to Moses and Aaron and their complaining was so bad that Moses' patience gave out. God tells Moses to speak to a rock and water will gush out for all to drink. Moses didn't listen so well. In his anger, he yelled at the people and struck the rock - twice - rather than just speak to it. God had something specific He wanted Moses to do, but that just wan't in Moses' nature. For this, God would not let Moses lead the people into the Promised Land. Note that God points out Moses' lack of faith as the real reason. You can read this in Numbers 20: 1-13.

Since we know that all of these things happened as examples for us, what does it all mean?

Moses, as the law, was fiery hot with anger. When violated, there is judgment and punishment. The rock was Jesus. The water was the Holy Spirit. From this Rock waters could flow, but who was able to make them flow? The law, in his anger, strikes out. It isn't in the nature of the law to be gentle towards the weak human condition. As Paul said, the people died under the law without mercy (HEB. 10: 28). Water does flow because God is merciful, just as water flowed from Jesus side when He was struck (pierced). But it wasn't as God wished it to be. God didn't desire punishment and sacrifices and things of the law (for example, ISA. 1: 12-15). God wanted love and faith and things of the spirit and the heart (ISA 1: 16-17; MIC. 6: 8). God specifies in Numbers 20 verse 12 that it was because of a lack of faith that the law could not lead Israel into the Promised Land.

Faith is commended in the Old Testament but doesn't come from the law. So the law did its best to the people until they made it close to the Promised Land, but it could go no farther. Moses died on Mount Nebo, overlooking the Promised Land. He never stepped foot in it. The law was made for a certain people in a certain place at a certain time. The law kept the people up and until a certain point, then its purpose ended.

Because faith has little part in the law, the law can not take God's people to their Promised Land. No, the law does not save you.

Galatians 3, the whole thing (but especially 19 and 24-25), is perfect right here. I'll wait while you read it. Please, be my guest.

Welcome back!


Deuteronomy 34 tells us that Moses was allowed to see all the Promised Land, that he died, and that before he died he passed a special blessing onto Joshua who would lead the people into the Promised Land. That last part is incredibly important. Joshua would lead the people into the Promised Land, not Moses. What does this mean?

Joshua had the very same name as our Lord and Savior Jesus. Both were named, roughly, Yeshua. Joshua is an Anglicized version of Yeshua and Jesus was Latinized to Iesous before being Anglicized into Jesus.

Clearly and unmistakably the foreshadowing indicates that the law cannot bring God's People into the Promised Land, but Jesus Christ can ...and has. The Old Covenant with its law, having accomplished all that it could do, was no longer useful. Jesus has taken the place of the law to accomplish what it never could. The law never could because we are so weak. The law is all about us and what we can do while faith is all about God and what He can do.

One of the first instructions that God gives Joshua in Joshua 1: 7-8 is to keep the law perfectly. Jesus did this, too. It is important to specify this!

You see, the Armstrongists quote Matthew 5: 18, but they use it incorrectly. They try to say the law has not changed at all, even though it is easy to demonstrate that it most certainly has changed in order to fit Armstrongist teachings. Not just some judicial part, or some ceremonial part, but even the moral part - which we saw earlier in the law of Passover. In order to push Passover on all Gentile Christians, Armstrongism must change the law. Yet Jesus said it was not His intention that the law should change. Jesus did as Joshua was instructed - He kept the law perfectly. Even the smallest letter and stroke of the pen were all satisfied in Jesus. Nothing was altered to make it easier on Him. The spirit of the law was completely satisfied in every way throughout Jesus' life and in His death as an offering for sin. In this way, the law was completely satisfied. Justice was satisfied. Love was satisfied. Everything Jesus did brought the Old Covenant to perfect completion. You see, the point I'm driving at is that the law was not simply changed, ever, it was fulfilled. All of it. Teleo!! And then the entire Old Covenant with all of its laws and requirements was abrogated.

The law cannot save you. The Old Covenant law isn't even asked of you. It was asked of Jesus, and He accomplished all that was asked.

When Jesus had fulfilled it all, He died on the cross and on the third day rose again as our Savior. He crossed over from death into life eternal, just as Joshua led Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land.

The law is not changed now or removed arbitrarily now, it is completely satisfied and completely replaced. It was an all or nothing deal. Nor either is this an after thought. It was planned this way from the beginning. I hear people say, "God wouldn't change His mind, so the law remains." Ahh, but God didn't change His mind, which is precisely why the law is removed. Then when it was accomplished He sat down at the right hand of the Father. This is metaphoric language. It means His work of salvation, so many thousands of years long, was completely accomplished and now He rests from it. He does a new work now.

All analogies break down at some point. Just as Jesus is our Passover lamb, but He was not taken into a home for 4 days and physically inspected before being sacrificed, roasted, and eaten with horseradish, so Jesus did not do  absolutely everything that Joshua did. Jesus did no cross the Jordan, He did not bring a people into a physical land, He did not war with anyone, He did not grow old and die, and etc. But this was all done and recorded for our good, so that we could know that Jesus is who He says He is and did what He said He would do.

He leads us to enter into that Promised Land. The way we enter with Him is by participating in Him. The way we join in the promise to Him alone is by participating in Him. We become one with Him, in spirit. Where He is so we will be because we are part of Him. The church, what remains here on earth as a witness through the ages, is His spiritual body. Each of us individually, and all of us collectively. We take in that bread and wine and in this we are always reminded that we take Him in. He in us and we in Him. And so we will always be with Him.

The law doesn't save you, Jesus does. You cannot keep the law, Jesus did. The law is not asked of you. It was never asked of the Gentiles anyway. The Old Testament isn't there to tell you what laws to keep now, it is there to tell you who Jesus is. The Old Covenant is gone, the New Covenant remains.

For a fabulous bit of expansion on the fact that our own efforts at law-keeping are wholly insufficient, I recommend to you Martha's post "You Will Never Be Worthy".


In conclusion of this whole topic, Moses, who represented the Old Covenant law just as Elisha represented the prophets, was not allowed to bring Israel into the Promised Land. Moses died on Mount Nebo. The meaning for us is that the OC law cannot bring us into our rest, our Promised Land. Paul is absolutely crystal clear about this in Hebrews, Galatians, and Romans. The law was only intended to keep Israel up until Jesus' death. Whether the letter of the law was nailed to the cross or our long list of offenses was nailed to the cross, it doesn't matter. Either way the outcome is the same. The Old Covenant law has no more accusation against the Jews, and it excluded the Gentiles so it never had any hold over the Gentiles anyway. The purpose of the Old Covenant and its requirements is over. It was never meant to go any farther.

Jesus fulfilled it completely and set it aside. Jesus alone can bring us into our Promised Land. We can't do this. Moses can't do this. The way this is done is by participating with Him - just as we take the bread and the wine into us. The church on earth is His body, spiritually. We are one with Him. And so we enter into the promise and the rest in Him. He is our Promise. He is our rest. He paid for our sin and gifts us His righteousness. Our righteousness does not come from the law! It comes from grace through faith. The way we participate in Him is through grace of the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit that comes by faith. Follow the Holy Spirit. From now on it is no longer us who lives, but He who lives in us. Just as Paul said.

Armstrongism has conditioned its adherents that if there is no law then there is no standard, anything goes. Not so! Notice that no one here has ever said we have no standard of conduct to live up to. We most certainly do. If we are led by the Holy Spirit, what conduct will we have? We have righteousness, but righteousness is not of the law anyway (GAL. 2: 21). Once again, if we are led by the Spirit then we are not under the law (GAL. 5: 18). So, it isn't that there is no standard, it's that the standard is not the OC law. The New Covenant standard is faith and love. Step into it!

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