Sunday, May 28, 2023

Mr. Armstrong Understood the Concept of Spiritual Healing

I have posted before about physical and spiritual healing.  I have shown that Christ suffered to pay the penalties of suffering that both our spiritual and physical sins have brought on us.  By His stripes we are healed - Isaiah 53:5 - but that healing includes our spiritual healing as well as our physical healing, and we should acknowledge and give thanks for both.

But there may be some in the Church of God today who do not want to acknowledge the principle of spiritual healing.  They only want to say that the healing Isaiah 53:5 refers to is only physical healing - the forgiveness of our breaking the laws of physical health - physical sins that bring on the penalties of physical sickness, disease, injury, and disability.

They cannot say, "physical and spiritual healing".  The words won't form in their mouths.  They cannot give God thanks for spiritual healing - the spiritual healing of our character that happens as the result of God's Holy Spirit giving us power, love, and a sound mind - in other words, a healthy, healed character.

So they either say "physical healing" with no reference to spiritual healing, or they avoid the controversy and duck the question, perhaps out of fear of some of the brethren, by just saying "healing" without reference to it being physical or spiritual, knowing most will understand it as physical.

Why be afraid of the reaction of some brethren on this issue?  They know it will offend some brethren, those who make an idol out of Mr. Armstrong, and are dead set against anything that goes beyond his major teachings in Mystery of the Ages and his other writings and his sermons.  The fact is, in all of Mr. Armstrong's docrtinal writings, so it would seem, he understood the concept of "healing", and that word, to refer only to physical healing, not spiritual healing.  I suppose they think that the idea that the word "healing" in the Bible can refer to spiritual healing is a Protestant concept.  So for a Church of God leader to say that Christ's broken body and the stripes He endured, symbolized by the broken unleavened bread we take at Passover, pays the penalty of suffering for both physical and spiritual sins and enables our physical and spiritual healing - both - would seem like heresy to some brethren, as if the leader is watering down the truth we learned from Mr. Armstrong - truth those brethren think we should hold fast to.

So to avoid offending those brethren and losing their support, their tithes, and their attendance, the leader will not say, "spiritual healing" - those words won't come out of his mouth.

Yet, Christ suffered to make our spiritual healing possible, and that spiritual healing begins or continues to take place with the receiving of God's Holy Spirit, represented by Pentecost.  We all desperately need God's Holy Spirit and the spiritual healing it provides, and we should give God thanks for it.  But many brethren probably do not because their leaders do not, perhaps out of fear of the rejection of HWA-idol worshipers, who make an idol out of Mr. Armstrong, Mystery of the Ages, and other major teachings of Mr. Armstrong - having faith in those teachings more than faith in God and His word, the Bible.  They think they are "holding fast", but they are not.  They are forsaking the Philadelphian example of Mr. Armstrong of being willing to learn new knowledge from God's word and believing the Bible more than man.

But I would like to remind those brethren of something they may have read in Mr. Armstrong's autobiography and never noticed or have forgotten.  

Mr. Armstrong was familiar with the concept of spiritual healing and the association of the word "healing" with the spiritual health of our character.  He may not have taught it in the context of Isaiah 53:5, but he knew the word "healing" can refer to our spiritual condition.

In the passage where Mr. Armstrong talks about his spiritual conversion, he says he was conquered by God.  He said that when he researched the Sabbath issue he was forced to admit his wife was right and he was wrong.  He said it was the bitterest pill he had to swallow but it was the only medicine that brought real healing.

He used that word "healing" in the context of his spiritual condition, not in reference to any physical disease he had.  Look up that passage in the autobiography and see for yourself.

Then look up the words "heal" and "healing" in the Bible, using a concordance or computer program or website that finds words in the Bible.  You will find one or more instances where healing is used in a spiritual context, including a passage where God says He will "heal" our "backsliding".  "Backsliding" is not a physical disease, it is a spiritual problem.  God says He will "heal" it.

The Bible also uses the term "cleansing" to refer to being spiritually changed to be like God.  Both "cleansing" and "healing" are used in this context, probably "cleansing" a bit more.

It is not unusual for God to use more than one symbol to represent the same thing.  For example, God's Holy Spirit can be represented by water, by oil, and perhaps by wind or air.

There may be distinctions between cleansing and healing in the spiritual context.  For example, Christ at His last Passover with His disciples said they were clean because of the word He taught them.  They had not yet received the Holy Spirit to dwell in them, so perhaps "cleansing" refers to repentance and faith, and "healing" is more in reference to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  I don't know.  I have not tried to research this in detail.  The reader may do so.

We should acknowledge that Christ paid a price in physical suffering so we can be healed spiritually as well as physically.  We should give God thanks for that.  We should appreciate it, especially this time of Pentecost when we think about the gift of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual healing it accomplishes in us.

We should be thankful for God's Holy Spirit, but we should be doubly thankful knowing that we can only receive it because Christ suffered for us.  He paid the price for our sins so we can be spiritually healed by the Holy Spirit.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Waiting!... for Pentecost

"And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father..." (Acts 1:4).

The Day of Pentecost teaches a number of lessons.  It represents the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).  It represents the start of the New Testament Church of God.  It teaches us the lesson of the first fruits, that the Church in this age is only the early, small spiritual harvest of members of the kingdom of God, in contrast to the great future harvest after Christ returns as represented by the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.  It may represent the work of the Church of preaching gospel to the world, because it was on Pentecost that the Church of God began to preach the gospel with power and to rapidly increase in numbers (Acts 2:14-42).  

I think Pentecost also teaches us the lesson of waiting for God's blessing.  We are taught to count fifty days to Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-16).  

This number 50 reminds us of the Jubilee that came every 50 years in ancient Israel, a time when everyone could return to the land of their fathers and would once again own their own land, a great blessing (Leviticus 25:8-13).  

But the Israelites had to wait for it, and 50 years can be a long time.

Likewise, the disciples had to wait for the Day of Pentecost before receiving the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.

Think of it.  Christ promised the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-18, 26).  Then He suffered and died to pay the penalties for our sins so we can be forgiven.  He was also resurrected and went to heaven, making it possible for Him to send the Holy Spirit.  The disciples had already repented.  Yet they had to wait.  They had to wait for the power and love and sound mind that are the fruits of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:7).  They also had to wait to preach the gospel.

We also have to sometimes wait for God's promised blessings, yet God is faithful to fulfill His word.  We have to learn to wait and trust in God's faithfulness and promises.  

Pentecost can remind us of that lesson.

Trust in God and wait for Him.

"Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14).

Friday, March 17, 2023

Self-Examination for Passover

The Bible teaches, and the Church of God has long taught, that we should examine ourselves before Passover in order to take the Passover in a worthy manner.

"Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world" (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).

Also, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified" (2 Corinthians 13:5-6).  

To examine ourselves, we need to meditate (think about, reflect) on where we fall short of obedience to God and His way of life.  This helps us to see why Christ had to pay the penalty for our sins, and it helps us to see where we need to work to improve.  We need to measure ourselves by God's law and God's word.

A good way to examine ourselves is by God's word, the Bible.

"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).

Here are some scriptural passages I use and may be useful to others as a starting point.  You can use these and add to them passages that help you in particular.


God is love (1 John 4:8).

Love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10).

Love chapter (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).


Love towards God (Deuteronomy 6:5, Deuteronomy 11:1, Matthew 22:36-38, Mark 12:29-30, Luke 10:25-28).

Love towards neighbor (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:16-19, Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28, Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8-13).

Parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).


Weighier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23).


Exodus (Exodus 20:1-17).

Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 5:5-22).


Matthew (Matthew 5:1-48, 6:1-34, 7:1-29).

Luke (Luke 6:20-49, 11:1-13, 12:1-12, 22-53, 13:23-30).


Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7).
Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11).
Pergamos (Revelation 2:12-17).
Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29).
Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6).
Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13).
Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22).


Ezekial warning (Ezekiel 3:17-21, 33:1-20).

Hold back those stumbling to the slaughter (Proverbs 24:11-12).


Here are a few more that help me.

Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).

Whatever is good, think on that (Philippians 4:8).

Be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2).

Trust in God (Proverbs 3:5-6. Jeremiah 17:7-8).

Trust not in man (Psalm 146:3-4, Jeremiah 17:5-6).

Overcome Satan with prayer and fasting (Leviticus 23:27-32, Leviticus 16:20-26, 29-34, Revelation 20:1-3, Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13, Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:17-29).

Avoid violence in entertainment (Isaiah 33:14-16).

Humility (Luke 18:9-14, James 4:5-10).

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

When Is a Test More than a Test?

Any trial can be a test from God.  But sometimes a test is more than a test.  Sometimes it is also correction for a fault - a signal that we need to change something in our lives, in our thinking, in our behavior.  Sometimes God sends us a trial to get our attention and to let us know that something is wrong.  Sometimes God uses a trial to punish us for our good, to correct us, so we make needed changes in our lives - to turn us from a wrong path.

Any trial can be a test of faith.  Actually, blessings can be a test - will we still seek God or will we become spiritually lazy and complacent if He blesses us?

Some of us might want God to test us that way.  If I had a million dollars, would I still diligently seek God or would I rely on my wealth?  I might want God to test me that way, but so far he hasn't.

But a trial can be a test of faith only, or a test and a correction also.

And when a trial comes, or a series of trials, we should certainly examine ourselves to see if God may be correcting us for a fault.  We should not just assume we are OK spiritually and not in need of correction.

Consider how we want the public we preach the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to to react to our message and the tribulation itself.

Putting ourselves in the place of modern Israel can be a useful exercise, and I have explored this before in this blog, though in a different context to make a different point.

One leader of a group in a sermon has said that it is important that we practice what we preach.  He is absolutely right.

I have used this principle before to show that we must be willing to do what we ask the public to do in our message - to believe God, that is the Bible, more than any man, church, or tradition and to be willing to learn new knowledge, even knowledge that changes and corrects the teachings of our religious leaders, to believe the Bible.  We say to the public, don't believe us, don't believe any man, believe God, believe the Bible.  We must do the same.  We must believe the Bible more than Herbert W. Armstrong and be willing to learn new knowledge from the Bible that he did not have as well as correct his errors.  That is what he did and that is what he would do today if he were alive, and we should hold fast to that way of life that he taught us by his example.  I have also shown that any reluctance to do this because we believe that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah to come to restore all things and that, since all things have been restored, nothing needs to be changed, is false and contrary to scripture.  I believe that the Bible teaches that the work of Elijah of restoring all things continues past Mr. Armstrong's death, and I have given the evidence from the Bible in past posts.

But in this matter of examining ourselves to see if a trial is a correction for our faults. the principle of considering how modern Israelites will react to our message and prophetic events also applies.

There are many religious Israelites, Catholic and Protestant for instance, who follow their false traditions and think they are OK with God.  They trust in their traditions they have learned since childhood.  They keep Christmas and Easter, Sunday, etc. but not the Sabbath and holy days.  They think they are right in what they are doing.

What happens when they hear our message?  The vast majority will reject our message as a false message.  They won't believe it.  They will believe their traditions and their church leaders more than the Bible (just as some Church of God members believe Mr. Armstrong's writings and the traditions we get from him more than the Bible).  We warn them that the great tribulation is coming as punishment for their wrong practices and thinking if they do not repent, but they do not believe our warning (most of them).

So the tribulation comes upon them.

But how do they react?  Instead of repenting in the tribulation, they think it is just a test.  "We need to have faith in our traditions of Sunday, Christmas, Easter, the trinity, the immortality of the soul, etc.  God is just testing our faith.  We need to continue to be righteous by keeping our traditions, in spite of our trials."

Then, in the millennium, those who receive no rain because they do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles will say, "God does not want us to go to Jerusalem to keep this feast.  He is just testing our faith by withholding the rain."

God chastens every son that He loves (Hebrews 12:5-11).  But how can He chasten us to teach us lessons if we keep saying, "I am not doing anything wrong - God is just testing my faith"?

If you study trials in the Bible, you will find some that are only a test and not a correction (Abraham told to sacrifice Isaac, Daniel and the den of lions, etc.) and some that are both a test and a correction (Job's suffering).  You will also find the principle of God punishing to turn us from sin expounded in various places.

When we go through a trial, we need to examine ourselves with an open mind to see if God may be correcting us for our faults, and if so, repent.  "He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1).

When God chastens us with trials, He wants us to repent and go a different way, not stubbornly say, "I am right, I am not sinning, God is just testing my faith".  God chastens us to wake us up and teach us lessons.  It is a dangerous thing to resist those lessons.  It is better to cry out to God and say, "God show me where I am wrong" and then examine ourselves with prayer, fasting, Bible study, and meditation to find our faults.

Isn't that what Mr. Armstrong did as related in his autobiography?  At one point, God was not answering his prayers, so he fasted and prayed till he found out what was wrong with him.  Here is one more lesson we can learn from Mr. Armstrong's example.  He didn't say, "This is just a test of my faith."  He knew it was correction from God for his fault.  

And if we are wise, we will consider the counsel of others.

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent" (Revelation 3:19).

Punishment from God should lead us to repentance.  If we just say, "I am not sinning, this is just a test of my faith" when God is trying to get our attention so we wake up and repent, then we are refusing to repent and we are resisting God.

And when we seek to find out our faults, if we are wise, we will consider the counsel of others.  Not all counsel is right, but we should at least think about it.  If we don't, then we are not wise.

We must practice what we preach.  We must do as we want the public to do and we must practice the message we preach if we want that message to bear fruit.  If we tell the people, don't believe me, don't believe your religious leaders, believe God, believe the Bible, then we must practice the same thing.  We must not make an idol out of Mr. Armstrong, making faith in him equal to faith in the Bible.  We must not have faith in Mystery of the Ages or any other writings of Mr. Armstrong.  Faith is a form of worship, and we should only have faith in God.

We must be willing to change Mr. Armstrong's teaching and correct his mistakes, and we must be willing to add new knowledge to what he gave us, based on God's word, the Bible.  We must hold fast to Mr. Armstrong's example in this.  If we don't, we have no right to expect success in preaching the gospel, and we have no right to expect good fruits from our efforts.  We fall into danger of becoming a self-centered social club more than a dynamic and fruitful Church of God.

And if God sends us trials, maybe He is correcting us for our hypocrisy.

One necessary note and reminder.  If a change in doctrine, either a correction to an existing doctrine that is wrong or an additional new doctrine that gives us new knowledge, truth from the Bible we did not have before, is necessary, things must be done lawfu1lly and in order.  God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).  If a member becomes aware of a need for a change, he can submit the change and the scriptural basis for it in confidence, privately, to the leadership.  The leadership can then evaluate the change, according to the Bible, not according to Mystery of the Ages or any other teaching of Mr. Armstrong, and then, perhaps with counsel, make the decision for the whole Church.  That way we preserve unity and all speak the same thing (1 Corinthians 1:10, Romans 16:17-18).  It is not the role of the lay members to create division and spread their ideas to the other members on their own.

It is the role of the leadership to base doctrine solidly on the Bible and on godly principles of sincerity and truth as Christ leads.

And if the leader refuses to do that, Christ may deal with him as He sees fit.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Give Thanks for Herbert W. Armstrong

Today in the United States is Thanksgiving, a national holiday for giving thanks to God.  At this time of year, many in God's Church keep Thanksgiving and spend extra time thinking about God's blessing and giving God thanks in prayer.

Among many things we give God thanks for, I think it is appropriate that we give thanks for Herbert W. Armstrong and the great body of truth God has revealed to us through him.

We are very blessed in that regard.  Not only do we have the truth and traditions God gave us through Mr. Armstrong, but we have a great body of literature from him and from the Church under his leadership available on the Internet, which we can continuously review for encouragement and for a reminder of the things we believe in common because of him.

Some of the key pieces of literature of Mr. Armstrong that are my favorites are, The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy, The Incredible Human Potential, Mystery of the Ages, and The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong.  Right now, I am part way through reading The Incredible Human Potential, which I have read many times.

I am thankful that God gave us Mr. Armstrong as a powerful man of God to lead the Philadelphia era of the Church and to teach us many truths.  Mr. Armstrong was not perfect.  He made mistakes, and he corrected many of his own mistakes, and he would still correct his mistakes if he were alive today.  But the vast majority of his teachings were right on target, and very important.  The way God prepared Mr. Armstrong for this service was amazing.  Mrs. Armstrong was an important partner and helpmate to Mr. Armstrong in this work.

Mr. Armstrong set a wonderful example for us in practicing what he preached and putting God first, and so did Loma Armstrong.  When you read his autobiography, you will see that he always put God first in believing and obeying God more than man.  

Loma did this first.  She learned about the Sabbath from a Church of God member, and she was convinced, not by what people said, but by what God said in His Word, the Bible.  Though she was a religious person, she was immediately willing to give up her traditions and what she had been taught by various ministers all her life in order to believe God directly - to believe what she saw in the Bible.

Mr. Armstrong at first resisted, but after a lot of research he too made the choice to believe God more than man.  No doubt, God inspired both him and Mrs. Armstrong to make these right choices.  I believe God inspired them by His Holy Spirit which was with them but not yet in them, and this was part of the way God called them.  We should give thanks to God that He did so.

I think that individual members reading Mr. Armstrong's literature on a regular basis can help bring and maintain unity in the Church, since we are reviewing the things we hold in common.

When you read the autobiography, you will notice that Mr. Armstrong went to God's Word, the Bible, rather than man, for truth.  He did not let any man interpret the Bible for him.  He let the Bible interpret the Bible, as he taught us.  Did he make mistakes in understanding the Bible?  Yes, but as I said, he was willing always to correct his mistakes when he found them.  Did he refer to and use the writings of men in his research?  Yes, but as a source of ideas and reference, not as final authority.  He had an open mind.  He learned from others.  But for final proof, he went to the Bible.

That is why he was able to say to the public, don't believe me, don't believe any man, believe God, believe the Bible.  He could say this without hypocrisy because that is exactly how he personally lived.  That is a beautiful thing.  And God was able to use him to do a great work.

People, coming into the Church of God as it was growing, had to believe the Bible more than their churches, their traditions, their ministers, and even their own opinions.  And God required that the person who challenged them to do this do the same.  Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong qualified.

It is noteworthy that this is not something Mr. Armstrong did only when he was an ordained minister or when he became an apostle or became aware that he was an apostle.  He did this always.  He always put the Bible first over the teaching of ministers or over tradition.  He was that way when he was being called, before baptism, a "prospective member" as we say.  He was that way as a newly baptized lay member.  He continued this way after he was ordained.

For that we can be grateful, for it is because of this that God was able to do a great work through him, and it was because of this great work that many of us, or our parents or grandparents, were called into God's truth.

Let us give God thanks for Mr. Armstrong (and Loma too) and let us appreciate the body of literature God has provided for us from Mr. Armstrong's time.

Friday, June 24, 2022

The Supreme Court Has Overturned Roe vs. Wade

Today it was announced that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe vs. Wade.

This is welcome news.  Roe vs. Wade has always been a bad decision both legally and morally.  The overturning of Roe vs. Wade has been long overdue.

Now states can ban or restrict abortion.  Some already do, and many more may now do so.

Also, Congress has the power to ban or restrict abortion for the whole country, if it chooses to do so and if it can get past a presidential veto.

There is much that can be said about this, about abortion, about Roe vs. Wade and its reversal, about what the Bible says about abortion, and about God's judgment.

But I want to just point out one thing.

The responsibility, and guilt, for allowing abortion will now fall more directly and completely on the heads of the people, on the heads of the voting public.

God is teaching us lessons, and the great tribulation to come will be a lesson for the United States and other Israelite nations.

Up until now, in judgment, the people could say, "Abortion is not our fault.  The Supreme Court, which we have not elected and whose justices we cannot remove, has forced us to allow abortion".

That will no longer be true.  This decision does not end the issue and the controversy.  It simply moves it from the courts to the legislatures.  It will be an immediate issue in the state legislatures.  Some states will outlaw abortion and some states will not.  Women who want an abortion who live in states that prohibit it can make a trip to a state that allows it to have their abortion.

But the issue, in years ahead, can also be decided for the whole country by the Congress and the President.  The United States Congress can pass a law banning abortion and the President can sign it, and if that happens, abortion will be banned in the entire country.

Or, and this may be overlooked but is important, the Congress and President can pass a law that FORBIDS STATES FROM BANNING ABORTION.  Federal law overrides state law.  Congress and the President, in the future, can pass a law that has the same effect as Roe vs. Wade - it will make abortion available in all states - not because of the force of the Constitution but because of the force of federal law over state law.  

Here is the difference.  With Roe vs. Wade in effect, the ordinary voting public can blame abortion on the Supreme Court, over which voters have no direct power to install or remove justices.  They can say to God, in effect, "This is not our fault - we didn't pick these justices who force abortion on us".  But now, this issue is under the control of the voting public.  They elect liberal or conservative senators and members of the House of Representatives.  They elect liberal or conservative presidents who sign or veto bills.

Right now, it is unlikely there will be a federal law banning or allowing abortions.  The House of Representatives and the presidency are controlled by different parties.  The House would never pass a bill requiring the states to allow abortion, and the President would veto any bill that banned abortion.

But this will be a hot election issue in the future.

If the American people want to stop abortion, they can elect conservative members of Congress and a conservative president who will pass a law banning abortion in all fifty states.  But if the American people want to allow abortions in all fifty states, they can elect liberal members of Congress and a liberal president who will pass a law legalizing abortion in all fifty states, and that federal law will override state law.

I do not think the Supreme Court would overturn a federal law legalizing abortion.  I could be wrong, but the basis of this would be different than Roe vs. Wade and would not be so easy to overturn.

So the whole issue will be more directly in the hands of the people than ever before.

And if the people - the voting public - decide to legalize abortion nationwide - look out!  The blood of the innocent children killed will be more directly on the heads of the people than ever before.  

We are being made ripe for punishment.

God is teaching us lessons, and He is allowing Satan to set us up for the great tribulation in a way such that our national guilt will be very obvious to the people who must go through the great tribulation.

As a nation, if we allow abortion to continue, we will not be able to say to God, or to ourselves, "The Supreme Court made us do it".

When the great tribulation begins, God wants the nation to know that it is guilty and that God is just and fair to punish us for our national sins.  National sins bring national punishment, and we are being set up for it.

God is taking away our excuses.

It is possible that in the 2024 election, abortion will be a hot issue, and the majority of the voting public will be in favor of abortion and will elect a liberal Congress and liberal president, and that Congress and president will pass a law, maybe in 2025, legalizing abortion in all fifty states.  Our nation will be more guilty than before and without excuse.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Don't Become Vain If God Uses You in His Work

We just celebratedd Pentecost, and as with all the feasts and holy days, God uses it to teach us lessons.

Pentecost teaches us about the starting of the New Testament church and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  It teaches us the lesson of first fruits, that the Church of God is a small, early spiritual harvest compared to the greater harvest to come after the return of Jesus Christ to rule the earth.

But Pentecost is also a reminder of the work of the Church in preaching the gospel.  One of the first things Peter and the other apostles did after receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit was to preach the gospel to the crowd, and about 3,000 people were added to the Church that same day (Acts 2:1-41).

God's way of life is the give way of life.  God teaches us the give way of life to prepare us for eternity in His kingdom as His children.  He teaches the give way of life through His law, through the example of Jesus Christ, through His word, the whole Bible, through His Holy Spirit working in us, through the Church and the instruction of the ministry, and through circumstances.  We learn not only by instruction, but by doing.  We learn to give and love our neighbors by practicing the give way of life.

God is doing a work in the Church and the world to prepare for His kingdom, and He gives us the opportunity to participate in that work.  That is one way we learn by practicing the give way of life.  There are many parts to God's work, and God gives different gifts and opportunities to different members in the Church.  All of us can participate in God's work through our prayers.  Most can contribute tithes and offerings.  Some have the opportunity to help feed the flock through sermons and sermonettes.  Some serve the needs of other members.  Some are able to write articles for the Church or for the work of the gospel.  Some are pastors and can serve by speakng, counseling, and baptizing.

God can use each of us in a small way or a large way.  But however God uses us, all credit goes to Him.  He provides the gifts we need to do any kind of work, and He provides the opportunities.

No matter what kind of gifts or opportunities God gives us, and no matter how greatly He may use us in His work, we must never become vain, proud, and puffed up about the work we do.

If God uses any of us in a powerful way, that does not mean we are righteous!

If God uses a person in a powerful way, can that person still lose out on salvation?


Doing a powerful work, doing God's work, does not guarantee a place in His kingdom if we do not develop God's holy righteous character - if we do not really practice the way of faith and love.

Consider this passage, which I will quote at length, though most readers are probably familiar with it.  "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matthew 25:31-46).

Note that those who were rejected because they did not really put love towards their neighbors into practice protested that they did great works in Christ's name.  But their works did not save them.

God gave gifts to many Old Testament Israelites in the wilderness after they came out of Egypt.  Notice these examples.

"See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you" (Exodus 31:2-6).  God inspired and used these men to build the tabernacle.

" 'I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now - if I have found favor in Your sight - and do not let me see my wretchedness!' So the Lord said to Moses: 'Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone" (Numbers 11:14-17).  Later, these seventy men prophesied (Numbers 11:25).

But though God gave spiritual and mental gifts to these men, gifts of skill and ability, then used them to do a work, God did not bring them into the promised land.  They died in the wilderness.  God only brought Joshua and Caleb into the promised land because of their faithfulness (Numbers 14:29-30).

"But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness" (1 Corinthians 10:5).  Who does that include?  It includes Bezalel and Aholiab and other gifted artisans who built the tabernacle in the wilderness (Exodus 31:2-6).  It includes the many whose spirit God stirred up to contribute to and do the work of the tabernacle (Exodus 35:4-35, 36:1-7).  It included the seventy elders who prophesied (Numbers 11:25).  God used them to do the work, but in the end they were not faithful, and God was not pleased with them.  They died in the wilderness.

Look at Solomon.  God loved him (2 Samuel 12:24-25).  God gave him wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-14).  God used him to build the temple and to write books of the Bible (much or most of Proverbs, all of Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes).  Yet, Solomon did not remain faithful "Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as did his father David" (1 Kings 11:6).

Consider king Saul.  God selected him and used him, yet he was not faithful and God later rejected him (1 Samuel 9:15-17, 1 Samuel 10:1, 23-24, 1 Samuel 15:10-34, 1 Samuel 16:1).

Joab fought battles for king David and helped David in a number of ways (2 Samuel 12:26-30), but he was a murderer and was executed for his crimes (1 Kings 2:5-6, 28-35).

Or consider Judas.  He was one of the original twelve apostles.  He served Christ and God.  He went out along with the other apostles, and healed the sick, cast out demons, and preached the gospel (Matthew 10:1-15).  He probably baptized (John 4:1-3).

Did God not perform miracles by the hand of Judas?  Judas must have been as successful in doing God's work, in general, as the other apostles, for when Jesus said that one of the twelve would betray Him, the other apostles did not know who He was talking about (John 13:21-30).

Here was a man who served Christ by helping to do the work, probably performing miracles and helping to bring the truth to others, yet Christ said he would have been better off if he had never been born (Matthew 26:23-25)!

If God gives any of us the gifts and opportunities to do a powerful work, let us not become puffed up in pride and vanity, thinking the work we do makes us righteous.  We have to make sure our hearts are really right with God.  And we have to be humble, giving all credit to God for any good work He does through us.