Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Evaluating Our Example

Some have said that the way we preach the gospel to the world is by our example. I have pointed out in other posts that our example is not by itself sufficient to preach the true gospel and deliver the Ezekiel warning about the tribulation to come to 500 million people who need it.

But there is something else about our example and our preaching of the gospel by our example that needs to be emphasized.

How do we know what kind of example we should set? How can we evaluate our example? How do we know when we are setting a good example?

Are you setting a good example? If you say, yes, how do you know? How do you know that the example you set is a good one?

You cannot go by the traditions of this world. Yet, we must have a standard by which to measure our example, to know if it is good or bad, to know what kind of example we should strive to set.

That standard is the standard of God's word, the Bible. We must let God through His word teach us how to set a right example. We must let the Bible show us what a right example looks like.

In other words, we must let God tell us what our example should be, and God talks to us through His word, the Bible.

The word of God will help us see ourselves as we really are and will help us to see how we need to change in order to set a right example.

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

Without the Bible as a standard to use to measure and evaluate our example, we can easily fool ourselves (or be fooled by others) into striving for a wrong example, not even knowing that the example we are striving to set is wrong.

This is most common with members of the churches of this world, who think they are setting a good example for their children by keeping Christmas and Easter, for example. But mistaking a bad example for a good one can happen also in the Church of God.

Some ministers in the Church of God teach their members that they should primarily, or only, preach the gospel to the world by their good example, not by supporting a work designed to bring the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to millions of people who need it. But there is a built-in fallacy in this, one that can be discerned if one uses the Bible to evaluate his example but can be missed if one only uses his human reasoning or the reasoning of his pastor to evaluate his example.

The problem with preaching the gospel by example only is that you can't do it. It is impossible by definition. If you are not supporting a work of trying to reach millions with the gospel and the warning, you are NOT setting a good example.

A right example for a Christian to set, by biblical standards, must include preaching the gospel and the warning to the greatest number of people possible, and in our time that means Internet, radio, TV, magazines, booklets, and/or public lectures. That is the means and methods available to us today.

Why is that a necessary part of setting a good example?

It is an essential part of loving our neighbors as ourselves, which is one of the two great commandments. It is a part of loving God with all our being, because it is an essential part of doing what God says (Matthew 22:35-40). It is a part of showing mercy, which is one of the three weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23). Delivering God's warning to our nations is also part of obedience to the sixth of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:13), for God makes it clear in Ezekiel 3:17-21 and Ezekiel 33:1-9 that if we fail to deliver God's warning message to our nations, their blood will be on our heads and we will be counted as murderers in God's sight.

Now, if we are not loving our neighbors as ourselves, are not practicing mercy, and are counted by God as murderers, are we setting a good example for our children, for other members of the Church of God, and for everyone who knows us?

How ironic. A man who believes in only preaching the gospel by example will try to set a good example, but will fail because he doesn't know what that example will look like. He doesn't know because he doesn't let the Bible define that example, but rather lets his human reasoning or the human reasoning of his pastor define that example.

In order to set a good example, he needs to support the direct preaching of the gospel and the warning message to the public by all means possible. If he fails to obey God in this, he cannot honestly claim to be loving God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself. But he won't do this until, in his mind, he sets a good example. Yet he can't really set a good example apart from preaching the gospel.

So he won't preach the gospel until he sets a good example, but he can't set a good example until he starts preaching the gospel. He will get nowhere. He neither preaches the gospel nor sets a good example.

I suppose some member hooked by this deception will only wake up in the great tribulation when he is suffering along with others in the world who go through the tribulation. And when they find out that this member knew what was coming but did nothing to warn the nation, those people will say, "Why didn't you try to warn us?" He will answer, "I wanted to set a good example, first". They will say, "What good example? You knew the truth and kept silent? What kind of example is that?".

Those supporting fellowships that do not preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning of the tribulation to come can never set a right example, as defined by the Bible, as long as they support that position, as long as they fail to warn the nation.

If you are a member of such a fellowship, sending all your tithes to that fellowship, consider that the blood of the people is hanging over your head.

If you won't support the gospel and the warning through mass media, try this. Go to your neighbors individually. Talk to all your co-workers in the office or factory, on the job, maybe during a break or lunch period, and explain that God will punish them and the whole nation if they do not repent and start keeping the Sabbath and holy days and obey what God says in the Bible. Talk to all your relatives who are not in the Church. Go from house to house on your block, ring the doorbells, and tell your neighbors that there is a punishment coming if they do not repent. Then do it for every house in a two mile radius. Do this for about 2 hours a day, every day.

Does that sound like fun?

This probably would not be the best way to preach the gospel, and I am not recommending it for those who support the preaching of the gospel with their tithes and offerings. But do you think those same neighbors will notice your wonderful example, and ask, "Can you tell me about prophecy and the Bible? I have seen your outstanding example, and I am sure you know about God and the Bible, so teach me."

That is not going to happen, except rarely, and you know it.

Let's use a concrete example. Pick two neighbors. Stand outside the front door to your house or apartment. You have a neighbor to your right and to your left, two of your closest neighbors. How will your warn them about the coming tribulation and their need to repent to escape the suffering?

Do you think you can do it by your example? How?

Imagine you are setting a perfect example. What will you do? How will those two neighbors notice? And how will that example translate into warning them? Be realistic. Chances are, they might notice you are a nice person. You are not noisy, you don't borrow things and not return them, you don't take their parking spaces, etc. Maybe you are hospitable and invite them to dinner (then they do the same for you, so they are even). But you know as well as I do they are unlikely to ask you about your religion and beliefs except maybe in a casual way. How will you get to the point of telling them that if they do not repent they will probably go through the great tribulation and suffer and die in it?

You know as well as I do, it probably will not get to that point.

Yet, by supporting a fellowship that is preaching the gospel and the warning on TV and in print, you can get that very message to dozens and perhaps hundreds of people every year with your own tithes and offerings. Add everyone in the Church doing this, and it can be hundreds of thousands of people reached with the message each year. And those who do not have money or income to tithe on can support such a fellowship with their attendance and their prayers.

You won't escape blood guilt for not getting the warning message out by just being a "nice guy" to the people around you.

Setting a good example is a fine concept, and we should set a good example, but we have no way of knowing what that good example looks like except by the Bible. And the Bible shows that a right example must include direct preaching of the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the public by the most effective means possible, that is, mass media. If you have the opportunity to support the gospel and the warning but are not doing it, you are not setting a good example because you are not loving your neighbors as yourself and because God will count you as a murderer.

Am I being too vague here? Am I too subtle? Am I sugar-coating this?

Here are links to posts in this blog related to this subject:

"What Is the Church of God's Greatest Sin?", dated February 27, 2014, link:

"What Is Wrong with Preaching the Gospel Only by Example?", dated May 3, 2015, link:

"Will God Use Those Who Do Not Reflect His Mind to Preach the Gospel and the Ezekiel Warning to the World?", dated August 5, 2016, link:

Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:



No comments: