Monday, December 19, 2011

A Key to Faith

There is a need for more faith in the Church of God.

Many old-timers remember the atmosphere of faith that existed in the Church under Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong's leadership in the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, and even those of us who were not in the Church at that time are aware of the accounts of healings that took place. It seems there were many more healings in the Church at that time than now.

Mr. Armstrong had faith in God. He believed what God says in the Bible. He demonstrated that trust and belief in God's Word by giving up his own Sunday traditions and accepting correction in doctrine from the Bible. That attitude of willingness to believe the Bible more than anything else, more than his opinions, more than his traditions, and more than the teachings of any minister, was the foundation of Mr. Armstrong's faith. That is the way of life and of thinking that Mr. Armstrong practiced and it is the way of life and thinking he taught when he said, "Don't believe me, believe your Bible.

Mr. Armstrong always had a willingness to learn new knowledge from the Bible and to be corrected by the Bible, and it was because of that willingness that God was able to use him to restore lost doctrine.

I believe there is a direct connection between Mr. Armstrong's faith and trust in God's word, his willingness to change doctrine when necessary, and the healings that took place in those years.

Mr. Armstrong was willing to go, doctrinally, wherever Christ through the Bible would lead him (Revelation 14:4). He was more concerned with being faithful to teach the Bible accurately than he was about the reactions of human beings to the doctrines he taught. He was more concerned about what God thought than what man thought. He was not a people-pleaser. He was not trying to teach what the Church wanted to hear in order to build up and retain the largest possible number of members.

Since the death of Mr. Armstrong, some in the Church of God say with great emphasis that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah to come (Malachi 4:5-6, Matthew 17:11), and they try to use that to say that Mr. Armstrong's doctrines can never be changed or added to, but in saying this they seek to overturn the most important doctrine Mr. Armstrong ever taught, that we must be willing to grow in knowledge and be corrected by the Bible. Some may think that our body of knowledge as a Church is complete and free of error, and that no doctrinal change is ever needed, but they forget that the Bible teaches that we know only in part (1 Corinthians 13:9) and that we are to grow in both grace and in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18).

When we preach the gospel, we ask the public to be willing to learn new things from the Bible. We have to be willing to do the same.

True faith comes from God, it is a gift, and we have our part to do also. We may ask God for the gift of faith, we trust Him to provide it, and we can seek God through prayer and fasting, which the Bible teaches. We also increase our faith as we exercise it, making right choices to believe and obey God when occasions arise.

And when we seek God with fasting, I think we would be wise to consider the teaching and positive example of Mr. Armstrong. He relates in his autobiography how he first began to fast when his wife Loma Armstrong was sick and when God was not answering his prayers for her healing. When he was fasting, he did not ask God for healing. Instead he asked God to show him what was wrong with HIM. He used fasting to humble himself so that he could more readily be corrected by the Bible, and he looked to the Bible, studying it while he was fasting, for the answer to WHY God was not answering his prayers for his wife's healing.

And after God corrected Mr. Armstrong and he received the correction, THEN God answered Mr. Armstrong's prayer for his wife's healing.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

Our Attitude and Approach Towards God's Word, Chapter 1

The Source of Our Beliefs, Chapter 6

Practicing What We Preach, Chapter 6

Changing Doctrine, Chapter 6

A Lesson from the Autobiography, Chapter 6

Faith, Chapter 6

No comments: