Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Claiming the Title "Philadelphia" without an Open Door

A Church of God fellowship may want to claim the title, "Philadelphian".  But can such a fellowship do this with any credibility when they do not have an open door for preaching the gospel to the world?

How does God primarily open a door for preaching the gospel?  We live, in the United States, in a country of freedom of speech and economic prosperity, and these benefits are available to greater or lesser degree to all fellowships.  How does God open the door for one and not another?

God seems to give the open door to a fellowship by opening the minds of its leaders to see the need for preaching the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the public.  He arouses zeal in that direction.  Then, armed with that zeal and understanding, the leader or leaders of a fellowship mobilize the resources they have in that direction.  God also gives the gift of wisdom so they know how to do it.

A group that lacks zeal for the gospel does not have an open door.

That zeal is a gift from God.  It is a way, in circumstances in which all groups have the freedom and money to preach the gospel, that God gives one an open door.  He arouses zeal in our hearts, and that zeal results in action.  But if a group is not preaching the gospel, God has not aroused zeal for the gospel in that group and its leadership.  Thus, little or no action.  No Philadelphian open door.

That zeal must be real, not just put on to make an impression with the members.  The proof of that zeal must be action, not words.  The proof of God's blessing and open door (only God knows the hearts of the leaders) will be that the action will be effective and will get results.  

Why has God not given to a group, which claims to be Philadelphian, an open door for preaching the gospel by arousing zeal for the gospel?

One reason God may not arouse zeal in a group may be that they do not fully practice the Philadelphian way of life that leads to the open door.  They are not willing to practice what we must preach to the public.  They may willing to strive to obey the commandments and overcome sin - and if so, give them credit for that.  But they may not be willing to believe the Bible more than COG tradition, and they may not be willing to learn new knowledge from the Bible.  

In my opinion, no such group can rightly claim to be Philadelphian.  They hold on to a list of doctrines, but they have departed from the way of life practiced by Mr. Armstrong.

If a group wants to be Philadelphian, let them be willing to learn new knowledge.  Let them teach their members that they should believe what they see in their own Bibles more than any COG tradition or teaching of Mr. Armstrong or any other COG leader.  Let them not ridicule or scorn members who send in doctrinal papers that suggest changes in doctrine or new knowledge, and let them not reject such papers without examination, as Church of God Seventh Day rejected Mr. Armstrong's papers when he was a lay member.

And then, let them demonstrate zeal for the gospel by going all out and spending about half of their income to deliver the message of God's truth to the nations, using the other half to feed the flock.

If a group does that, then their claim to be Philadelphian would have some credibility.

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