Friday, January 30, 2015

Giving Credit to God

Whenever we accomplish anything good and worthwhile, we should give credit to God. It is God who gives us gifts, abilities, and opportunities for accomplishment, and we should give Him thanks and acknowledge, to ourselves first and to others when appropriate, that we were only able to accomplish anything good because of God's gifts, mercy, and help.

This is especially true with matters relating to the Church and God's work. Ministers, deacons, and Church of God employees, for example, should acknowledge that anything worthwhile and good they accomplish is because of God's help. All credit should go to God.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

Mr. Armstrong set a good example in this, as he set a good example in many things. He always gave God and Christ the credit for his accomplishments in the Church and in doing God's work. If someone spoke to him about his building of Ambassador College, he would correct him and say, "I didn't build Ambassador College, Jesus Christ built Ambassador College through me."

Yet, while we give credit to God for our accomplishments in the Church, which are really the work that Christ does through us, we must always remember that we are imperfect instruments capable of mistakes, and our mistakes are our own.

Not everything we do in the Church is Christ's doing. He doesn't lead and inspire us to make mistakes in teaching, writing, and speaking, for example. Our mistakes are our own, and we should acknowledge that we can and do make mistakes and accept responsibility for our mistakes.

We should give God the credit for any good we do, and we should accept the blame for our own sins and mistakes.

Here is my main point. Just because Jesus Christ works through the leaders, ministers, and members of the Church of God to do the Father's will and accomplish the Father's work, that does not mean that everything we say and do in the Church is from God and blessed by God.

So we have to be careful in the way we give God credit for our accomplishments that we do not imply that everything we do and teach is right because God is doing it through us.

For a minister to acknowledge to others that God helps him in giving sermons is right. Members who give opening prayers also acknowledge this when they ask God to bless and inspire the minister's speaking. But for a minister or speaker to tell the congregation, "Everything I tell you in a sermon is from God and is the word of God", or, "Listen to me to find out what Christ is saying to you", implying that what the speaker teaches and does is free from error and always according to God's will, is not right.

What should be a thankful and humble acknowledgement of God's gifts and help can easily slide into a proud and vain form of self-praise.

Have you ever heard a false minister or false teacher claim that the work he does is really God working through him? He may put on airs of humility - "I can't take the credit, what I teach you is God working through me - I am just an imperfect, lowly tool in His hands" - but he is really praising himself using God's name to justify and support his wrong teaching. In effect, he is saying that he is a worthy tool in God's hands, that God is able to use him as a tool because he is faithful to submit to God's will.

But in fact, God is not able to use a false teacher as a tool because a false teacher is not willing to be a submissive tool in God's hands!

So if you have hear someone you know is a false teacher say, "I am not doing this, Christ is doing this through me", in your mind you might say, "No, He isn't", because you know the teaching is false.

I used the example of a false teacher. That is the extreme case. What about a minister who is a true minister and most of what he teaches is right, but he is human and has faults and weaknesses and makes mistakes, even mistakes in his teaching?

He should give Christ and God the credit for helping him and inspiring anything he teaches that is right, but without implying that everything he teaches is right and from Christ. His attitude and explanation to the brethren should be, "God and Christ get the credit for anything I say that is right, and I am to blame for anything I say that is wrong."

The teaching of a teacher in the Church is only true and according to God's will to the degree that teacher understands and submits to God's will in his teaching. If he understands and submits to God's will 96%, his teachings will be 96% according to God's will.

How do we know what is right? By the Bible.

One minister who writes or speaks when preaching the gospel to the world might say to the brethren, "Read or listen to me when I preach the gospel to know what Christ is saying to the world." But someone else in a competing Church of God fellowship might say, "Look at the website Christ has built through us." Yet the teachings of the one group and their website differ significantly from the teachings of the other group. Is Christ contradicting Himself?

When Christ speaks to me through a minister, I think He usually does it by showing me the scriptures on a subject and inspiring the minister to put them together correctly. The minister will persuade me by building his case honestly and logically by the word of God, the Bible. Then I know the teaching is from Christ.

What I say about ministers also applies to lay members. We might pray and ask God to help us in our speaking with the brethren, to help and inspire us to say and teach right things in conversation and fellowship, to encourage, to be helpful, to say things that are right and edifying (Hebrews 5:12). And to the degree we succeed in saying and teaching right things, it is because God helps us, but if we say wrong things, those are our mistakes.

Does God help me to say right things in my book and this blog? I pray for His help. And I know that I am not capable by my human effort alone of teaching right things. I need His help. And to the degree I write what is good, God gets the credit. But if there is anything bad in my writing, the blame belongs to me.

And you have to know your Bible to know which is which.


Anonymous said...

It has been my experience that too many ministers (COG over several decades) have the attitude that it is "my way or the highway". A lot of people have been hurt and even turned off from pursuing a good Christian walk simply because of these arrogant people who are probably not really true servants of God. One in particular that I had several bad experiences with does not even believe the Bible on some points--this by his own admission. Yes, we all make mistakes-but many go against the Holy Spirit and it is up to true converts to be able to discern if the Holy Spirit is actually guiding the minister. The Holy Spirit does not ever lead someone to contradict the Word of God.
Anon said...

Yes, there are some ministers out there who do not believe the Bible. The evidence, their fruits, show it. And some are emotionally or spiritually abusive towards some of the brethren to one degree or another. Yet I am sure there are many faithful ministers also.

I have noticed something interesting. It has seemed to me that sometimes, if a local pastor or minister is being abusive or practicing hypocrisy, and the leadership of the organization that employs him does not deal with him even after knowing about it, God deals with the minister directly and removes him from the scene. It is as if God gives the top leadership time and opportunity to deal with the problem, and if the leadership refuses, God steps in and deals with the problem directly (1 Samuel 2:12-36, 3:11-14, 4:10-11).

Even in the case of a bad minister, we should respect the office and not speak against the minister with other members if we are part of his congregation. If the top leadership of a fellowship does not know about his behavior, it would be right to report what we know to higher authority, but not spread things around among the brethren, thus taking it upon ourselves to cut his legs out from under him. King Saul was unfaithful and abused David, but David refused to set his hand against Saul, and God shows us David's example so we can follow the principle.

James Barker said...

Nothing is impressive here are it is all anonymous. That removes any credibility as far as religious talk goes. When people hide who they are and their church name, affiliation etc, it is worrisome. said...

Credibility comes from scripture and logic. If you think credibility in religious talk should depend on the name of a human being, I think you are mistaken.

Anyone who reads, studies, and believes the Bible and also reads my blog can determine if I am writing according to the Bible and principles in the Bible or not. If I am, then the credibility of my posts and comments come from the Bible and from principles found in the Bible which I use in my writings. And if not, then what I write should not have any credibility no matter whether I give my name or what my name is.

For further discussion of this, anyone can read my comments in this post, in which I discuss my being anonymous. Look for the question asked by someone and my reply in the comments section in this post:

"Church of God Governance", dated December 19, 2009, link:

Anonymous said...

Hello to the author, and in response to Mr. Barker and his comment;
I have read these comments and pondered them. I certainly can understand the position Mr. Barker presents and that would be the ideal situation, if all those in the ministry and these organizations had the heart to please God in everything, which we do not have today. The true COG is very scattered and some of that is because of these ministers—want—to—be prophets, apostles Elijah’s and what not.
Members and even some ministers can quickly come under fire and be put out when they have openly exposed a wolf in sheep’s clothing for their sins. To do this today, much of the time that person who knows the truth needs to be anonymous in many situations in today’s COG groups in order to expose error and keep from becoming the victim of malice.

However, Eph. 5:9-13 says; 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” NKJV Again we find this in 1 Tim 5:19-21 “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. 20 Those who are sinning rebuke (Expose) in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. 21 I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.” NKJV
There are many ministers who do ignore these admonitions of Scripture, showing partiality in favor of their fellow minister instead of a member who may be right, so in order to get the wrong exposed—it may have to be done anonymously and through some open forum.
There are many legitimate reasons for one to remain anonymous, sad to say even in the COG and to even preach the Gospel. There are people today in “leadership” positions who believe that they and their organization alone should preach the Gospel and no one else can or should, without their specific permission. Read Mark 8;35 and John 16:2 and this may begin to become more clear.