Sunday, May 21, 2017

How Roderick C. Meredith Has Benefited God's Work

Dr. Meredith has been a major figure in doing the end-time work of God of preaching the gospel to the world, of delivering God's Ezekiel warning message to Israel about the great tribulation to come, of making disciples of all nations, and of feeding the flock.

He has stood for several basic principles that are important for God's work. One, he has had zeal for the gospel. After leaving Worldwide, he was zealous to renew the preaching of the true gospel to the world and to start a broadcast. I am typing some of this from memory, and I don't recall the details perfectly (I will let others fill those in), but he started a work around December 1992. He started Sabbath services with only about 20 or fewer people on the first Sabbath. That was the beginning of Global Church of God. Within about 6-8 weeks he was broadcasting a program to preach the gospel to the world, I think on radio.

He remained firm on the importance of preaching the gospel to the world, and as he continued to do so, it became clear that he was not just trying to orient his program towards those in the Church, but towards those outside the Church of God, the people of the world, as Mr. Armstrong did.

Later, he resisted pressure to cut back on the gospel. In 1998, Larry Salyer and Raymond McNair led a movement to gain control of Global Church of God corporation, a corporation set up by Dr. Meredith to handle the business aspects of the Church. They fired Dr. Meredith over various differences, and one of those differences seemed to be the preaching of the gospel to the world. Dr. Meredith wanted to continue to spend money on the gospel at about the current rate, those against him seemed to want to cut back.

Mr. Salyer and Mr. McNair may have thought that most of the Church would back them. But most of the Church stayed with Dr. Meredith, and Dr. Meredith reorganized and formed a corporation with the name "Living Church of God". I think he preferred the name "Church of the Living God", but that name was not available.

About 75-80% of the ministry and members stayed with Dr. Meredith. They lost the assets held by Global, including, not only office supplies and equipment, but bank accounts, contracts, and copyrights. Living Church of God had to rebuild from scratch, rewriting all the literature, but with most of the ministry and tithe-paying members supporting Dr. Meredith, progress was swift.

Another important principle Dr. Meredith stood for was government from the top down in the Church, not government by the voting of men. He remained faithful to this principle to the very end of his life. This is an important principle taught very clearly in the Bible, as I have shown in chapter 8 of my book, Preaching the Gospel.

He also had a balanced approach to the memory and legacy of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. He remained faithful to the major doctrines Mr. Armstrong taught, and he showed respect for Mr. Armstrong. He knew Mr. Armstrong well and worked closely with him, more closely than most evangelists. In a sense, he was one of four young men who worked closely with Mr. Armstrong in the early days of Ambassador College, the others being Dick Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong, and Herman Hoeh. He outlived all of them and became an important leader to continue God's work after the breakup of Worldwide Church of God after Mr. Armstrong died and Mr. Joseph Tkach changed many of the important doctrines of Mr. Armstrong.

But as much as Dr. Meredith respected and loved Mr. Armstrong, he never made an idol out of him.

This is a ditch some have fallen into - they regard Mr. Armstrong's teachings as sacred, and for them his word and his teachings in Mystery of the Ages are almost on par, or actually equal in authority in their minds, to the Bible itself. Thus they refused to change any doctrines, even small ones, that Mr. Armstrong taught. They refused to believe the Bible first. They refused to be corrected by God in the Bible. They refused to grow in grace and knowledge as the Bible commands. In this, they have actually gone against one of the most important doctrines Mr. Armstrong taught by word and especially by his example: Don't believe me, believe your Bible, believe God. Mr. Armstrong knew he could make mistakes and that his teaching was not infallible. He corrected his own mistakes, changing his own doctrines as needed. And the proof that he was human and could make mistakes in his teaching was when he taught the brethren, in one of his last sermons before he died, that we should follow the next pastor general (Mr. Joseph Tkach) if we want to make it into God's kingdom. But those who make an idol out of Mr. Armstrong and his teachings do not care about the evidence in the history of the Church or in the Bible that show that we should not idolize the teaching of any man, even an important leader in the Church.

Dr. Meredith never fell into that trap. He loved and respected and honored Mr. Armstrong, and he maintained his major doctrines, but he never made an idol out of him, and he was willing to re-examine some of Mr. Armstrong's judgments and details of doctrines when he felt he had Bible evidence that he should do so.

Because of Dr. Meredith's faithfulness in preaching the gospel to the world with zeal, practicing top down governance in the Church, and putting the Bible first over the traditions of Mr. Armstrong, the Churches he raised up, first Global, then Living, because a home and safe haven for many Philadelphian Christians.

I have said before, Living Church of God does a better job of preaching the gospel and feeding the flock in a balanced way than any other fellowship. God has given LCG an open door for preaching the gospel, and I believe it is for the sake of the Philadelphians that are in LCG that God has provided that open door.

I believe that the majority of Philadelphian members of the whole Church of God have gathered, over the years, into Living Church of God.

There is a great work ahead, and I am hopeful that before the great tribulation begins and the two witness begin their special work, God will use those members of the Church who are Philadelphian in spirit and character as described in the messages to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 to really finish the work and get a powerful warning message out to about 500 million people in the nations that are descended from all the tribes of Israel.


Here are links to related posts in this blog:

"Dr. Roderick Meredith Illness", dated February 19, 2017, link:
http://ptgbook.blogspot.com/2017/02/dr-roderick-meredith-illness.html

"Dr. Roderick C. Meredith Has Died", dated May 19, 2017, link:
http://ptgbook.blogspot.com/2017/05/dr-roderick-c-meredith-has-died.html

Friday, May 19, 2017

Dr. Roderick C. Meredith Has Died

LCG has announced that Presiding Evangelist of Living Church of God, Roderick C. Meredith, has died of cancer Thursday night, May 18, 2017.

Here is a link to that announcement:
http://www.lcg.org/memoriam_rmeredith.shtml

Mr. Gerald Weston has previously been named as successor to Dr. Meredith, and will become the new Presiding Evangelist and Chairman of the Board. He has already been serving as President of Living Church of God and will continue in that office also.

Mr. Weston now becomes the highest human authority in Living Church of God, as Dr. Meredith was.

Dr. Meredith has been a strong leader in LCG. He knew and worked closely with Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong since the earliest years of Ambassador College. He also knew and worked with Mr. Armstrong's two sons, Mr. Dick Armstrong and Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong, and also Dr. Herman Hoeh. Those three men, along with Dr. Meredith, seemed to be pillars in the Church, working under Mr. Herbert Armstrong's supervision and direction, starting during the 1950s.

Dr. Meredith held a variety of positions in Radio Church of God, later renamed Worldwide Church of God. He wrote many of the articles for the Plain Truth magazine. He wrote the original Ten Commandments booklet. He taught Bible classes at Ambassador College. He did baptizing tours. He supervised congregations.

After the death of Herbert W. Armstrong, Worldwide began to reverse the doctrines that Mr. Armstrong had taught. Dr. Meredith was forced to leave, and of those ministers who left Worldwide and started new groups, Dr. Meredith was, as far as I know, the first to start broadcasting the true gospel in a program oriented towards the public, not just members of the Church of God still in Worldwide.

He raised up the Global Church of God. After several years of growth both in the Church and in the work of preaching the gospel to the world, certain men on the Global board of directors, apparently led by Mr. Larry Salyer and Mr. Raymond McNair, using the power and authority of the board, overthrew Dr. Meredith's authority and fired him from his position, even though Dr. Meredith started Global in the first place.

This was in November 1998.

About 75-80% of the ministers and members of Global remained loyal to Dr. Meredith, and Dr. Meredith was able to reorganize with a new corporation and Church name, as Living Church of God. In the United States, Global later went bankrupt, as I recall.

But Living Church of God grew both in members and in doing God's work of preaching the gospel.

Larry Salyer first went with United Church of God (UCG), and later went with Church of God a Worldwide Association (COGWA).

Dr. Meredith has been a strong force in Living Church of God for preaching the gospel and practicing top-down governance as taught in the Bible. One of his strengths has executive leadership and management. He knows how to run an organization. God has blessed LCG under Dr. Meredith's leadership.

Dr. Meredith has often said that he is not perfect, and that is true of him and all the top leaders of the various Church of God fellowships that have existed since the breakup of Worldwide. Yet, in my opinion, he has been the most effective of all the top leaders of groups in preaching the gospel to the world, of giving the Ezekiel warning to Israel, and of growing the Church and the whole work of God.

He has also remained faithful to the overall body of doctrine that Mr. Armstrong taught, such as the doctrines Mr. Armstrong named in a sermon before his death as having been restored to the Church through the work of Mr. Armstrong, which later became known as the eighteen doctrines.

I know that since the time Dr. Meredith first started out reviving the work of God after leaving Worldwide, many outside of Global and Living expected him to proclaim himself as an apostle. But while others have claimed higher offices than evangelist, claiming the office of prophet or apostle, Dr. Meredith never did. In this he was wise.

To me, titles claimed are less important than results achieved and fruits shown. If a man has the authority over certain things, he has the authority, regardless of the title by which he is known among men.

Some men who claim to be prophets or apostles may be only evangelists, and a man who only claims to be an evangelist may be counted by God as an apostle. It is God who judges these things, not man.

I will miss Dr. Meredith.

Now the full authority and responsibility for directing and supervising Living Church of God, under Jesus Christ, falls upon the shoulders of Mr. Gerald Weston.

I believe that Dr. Meredith made a wise choice, with the advice and counsel of many top leaders in LCG, in naming Mr. Weston to succeed him. Only God knows the hearts of men, and Mr. Weston's character and fruits will only become fully known by the results of his leadership of LCG over time. But Mr. Weston seems well qualified in ability and experience to direct and manage LCG under Jesus Christ. He has a balance of experience in both pastoring and supervising the pastoring of congregations and in preaching the gospel through TV.

I desire and pray that God will protect, bless, inspire, and empower Mr. Weston to do God's work according to God's will.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Does God Change What He Requires of Us?

God says, "For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob." (Malachi 3:6).

What does God mean when He says He does not change? Does He mean He never changes the details of what He requires of us? Does it mean He never changes His law?

No, as I will show in this post. For example, Hebrews says, "For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law" (Hebrews 7:12).

When God says He does not change, in Malachi 3:6, it is in the context of not destroying Jacob.

What does not change is God's eternal character - His love, His justice, and His basic way of life.

God also keeps His promises. He does not make a promise, then change His mind.

Yet even there, God allows and warns us that He can change even what He says He will do to us or for us.

"Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.
     "Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 'O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?' says the Lord. 'Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it" (Jeremiah 18:2-10).

The above is well illustrated with Nineveh in the days of Jonah. Jonah gave God's message to Nineveh, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" (Jonah 3:4). Yet, God saw that the Ninevites humbled themselves and repented, so God RELENTED of the punishment He planned to inflict in them and did not do it (Jonah 3:10).

There are many examples in the Bible of God changing what He does and the details of what He requires of us.

God required Israel to sacrifice animals, but He does not require animal sacrifices today. That is a change in a physical detail of what God requires.

God required physical circumcision of ancient Israel, but does not require physical circumcision today. That is a change in detail of what God requires.

God required the eating of a lamb at Passover in the past, but today He requires unleavened bread and wine as symbols of Christ's sacrifice. That is a change in detail of what God requires.

Swearing was allowed in Old Testament time, but not today (Genesis 24:2-9, Genesis 50:4-6, 1 Kings 1:13, Psalm 15:4, Psalm 63:11, Deuteronomy 6:13, Matthew 5:33-37, James 5:12).

God has changed His law. "For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law" (Hebrews 7:12).

Even in the Old Testament, God changed what He required of Israel. When Israel took Jericho, they were required to kill all the people and the animals, except for Rahab and her family (Joshua 6:16-21). But after the Achan incident (Joshua 7:1-26), God allowed Israel to take the livestock of the next city they conquered (Joshua 8:1-2).

Also, the prophet Ezekiel was told by God to cook his food using human waste as fuel for the fire (Ezekiel 4:9-13). Yet, Ezekiel had a conscience problem with eating food cooked with human waste, and he spoke to God about it, and God changed His requirements to accommodate Ezekiel's sensitive conscience (there is a lesson in that too - see 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 and Romans 14:14-22 and read the surrounding context) and allowed him to use cow dung as fuel (Ezekiel 4:14-15).

Why is this an issue?

There are some who may cause division in the Church by latching on to some detail of Old Testament law, interpreting it to apply a certain way in our society, and demanding we must follow it today. And a reason why we must do this, they may say, is that God does not change what he requires of us, so any detail of any law, commandment, statute, or judgment that God required of ancient Israel God also requires of the Church of God today.

But as I have shown, this is false. God does change the details of what He requires according to the timing of His plan and according to changing circumstances.

Those who argue otherwise to support their pet prohibitions have misapplied the verse that says that God does not change.

How then are we to know what has changed and what the details are of what God requires of us today?

We can sometimes know by the Bible itself. For example, we know by the New Testament that the Old Testament requirement for physical circumcision is not now required.

But when it comes to details of God's law, not everything is always spelled out in the Bible. Sometimes judgment calls have to be made.

God has given the leadership and ministry of the Church of God the authority to bind and loose. "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:18-19).

What does this binding and loosening authority include? Does it include doctrine? Does it include authority over the beliefs of the members?

It does not include authority to command members to believe certain doctrines or the minister's interpretation of the Bible. Here is the proof text that authority over the beliefs and faith of the members is not included as something the ministry can bind or loosen. "Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand" (2 Corinthians 1:24). Paul here clearly states that he did NOT have authority or dominion over the faith of the members and what they believe.

But this binding and loosening authority does include authority over what is officially taught as doctrine in the Church. That is one of the reasons God has placed the ministry in various offices and why God has established organization, so there is not the confusion of every man teaching something different to the brethren.

"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Notice that one of the reasons God has set ministers in the Church was for the purpose of avoiding confusion in doctrine, including the details of what God requires of us today, details which may be different from what God required of ancient Israel. For if there were no control or authority over what is taught and spoken, with every man teaching what he thinks is right, you would have confusion. But God has established an ordained ministry with binding authority to prevent that very confusion, "that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine".

Now, if a man sees something in the Bible that he thinks is contrary to what the ministry teaches, he can take it to the ministry in private, respectfully, and discuss it with an open mind. It is not wrong for a member to correct a minister in private and in an attitude of respect, humbly and willing to be taught. Correction, in that sense, is not always from the top down, as some have said - see the example of Naaman the Syrian and how his servants corrected him respectfully, how Naaman heeded the corrected and God blessed this example with a miracle (2 Kings 5:1-14).

Then, if he is right, he may persuade the minster or the top leader, and the correction can be made for the whole Church. But if he is wrong, the minister may show him his error.

But is is possible for two sincere men, the minister and the member, to discuss it and still not agree? Yes. None of us is perfect. We all have different backgrounds. We are human and make mistakes. None of us knows the truth of God perfectly. As Paul said, "For we know in part and we prophesy in part" (1 Corinthians 13:9).

We see in Acts 15 an example of a dispute within the Church involving circumcision. This was a question of what God requires. Both sides felt strongly about the issue, before it was resolved. This shows there can be disagreements between sincere members of the Church. And in this case it was not resolved by everyone agreeing on what the scriptures meant, but by the authoritative decision by Peter and James. Everyone then submitted to this decision, knowing the authority from God that backed up the decision.

Certainly as we grow in the Church we should understand the scriptures more and more accurately. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).

But this takes time, and every man, minister or not, grows at a different pace.

If the ministry is wrong about a particular point of doctrine and is not persuaded by a member who tries to correct them, then Christ will correct them in His time, either before or after the resurrection. And the member who disagrees should be patient and wait for Christ to correct the problem, and in the meantime he should continue to believe what he sees in the Bible.

But he should not teach his fellow brethren in contradiction to the ministry - that is rebellion because he was not given that authority. The ministry has authority over teaching, not every member. Contradicting the ministry undermines the authority of the ministry in the eyes of the brethren, and this is contrary to God's intent.

God's desire is that there be peace in the Church, but you can't have that with every member deciding for himself what to say and teach regarding doctrine. That is chaos.

"Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10).

The Bible clearly shows that God does change the details of what He requires of us from time to time, and God has given authority to His ministry to make binding judgment calls on those details. Those who disagree may follow their conscience in their behavior, doing the best they can to obey the Bible, and believing what the Bible says, but if they take it upon themselves to spread their disagreements in the congregation, they are rebelling against the ministry and against the God who gave authority to that ministry.