Letters from our Readers - Part 1
(READ PART 2)
How thick is your skin?
My husband and I found the following on the Internet, and we couldn't agree more. (It is from Condensed Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Jack Canfield,Mark Victor Hansen and Patty Hansen, and is attributed to Theodore Roosevelt.) We need more doers of the Word and to encourage them always:
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. Thecredit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is noeffort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at his best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst,if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
In remembrance of Lon Lacey
We would like to say a few things about Lon Lacey [founder of A Church of God Ministry, who died in January; see also the article on page 24]. Not toomany people knew Lon the way we of A Church of God Ministry did. We knew him not from hearsay, nor from rumor, and not from our own ideas, but from long hours on the phone and time spent inhis home and at the Feast of Tabernacles learning God's Word with him.
He had a store of knowledge of God's Word and could not wait to share it with whoever would listen. He was always willing to share with those willingto learn.
Lon was the most honest, kind and loving minister we have ever known. He never made you feel like he was on a higher plane than the common, ordinarychurch member.
People said lots of things about Lon, some of them not too kind. We know it was because they did not take the time to get to know him and what he wasall about.
All Lon ever wanted to do was serve God and Christ and do His work and His will. He loved God's Word.
Lon took the Bible for what it said, not for what he thought it said. He made the Bible come alive right before your eyes. He made God and Christ morereal and more compassionate than we had ever understood.
A few years ago we asked the question of several ministers, "Where is God's true church today?" No one could or would answer us. Lon answered thosequestions straight out of God's Word.
When we as God's churches begin to understand who and what God and Christ really are, we might begin to grow in grace and knowledge as we should andmust do. We have to get past the selfish ambition, the power control, the fighting and feuding and the idea of what we think God's church is if we ever want to grow as God's peopleagain.
God allowed the Worldwide Church of God to self-destruct because of this very thing. It became so corrupt it was like the church Christ came to thefirst time. It was sick to the core. We can never go back into that again.
Lon Lacey brought hope and encouragement to everyone who knew him. He made you want to study and learn about God and Christ and what They are doing inTheir church.
I guess one thing we can learn from Lon's death is that God wants us to look to and follow Him and Christ, not a man or an organization. But Lon leftus a vast store of knowledge so we can continue to study and learn God's wonderful Word.
Lon will be greatly missed as he was greatly loved by those who truly knew him and what he stood for.
But we know that God is in charge and knows best, and we have to accept that and go on with doing God's work. Christ said in Habakkuk 1:5 that He(God) "will do a work like we've never seen before."
It has to be Christ doing it His way, not ours.
We pray for members of Lon's family that God will give them strength and courage. Lon will always be with us in our hearts and through his tapes. Itcan truly be said Lon Lacey was a prophet among us.
Bill and Vickie Durkee
La Follette, Tenn.
I would like to thank Bryn Hendrickson for submitting his essay "How Many Resurrections Does the Bible Really Teach?" In the past I have had adifficult time explaining the third resurrection. Now I know why. There are only two!
Mr. Hendrickson's article was clear, concise and well thought out, with appropriate and sufficient scriptures cited for backup and proof.
It appears in the Dec. 13 issue of The Journal on page 8. It is a must for an interesting and profitable Bible study.
Mary E. Moon
New London, Conn.
In reference to Bryn Hendrickson's article refuting the doctrine of the third resurrection ["How Many Resurrections Does the Bible Really Teach?,"Dec. 13]:
The third-resurrection doctrine had to be taught because of the doctrine that claims that all who "leave the church" are destined for the lake offire. Since the second resurrection was taught to be only for those who were never in the church, then there had to be a third resurrection to deal with those people.
Those who "leave the church" were said to be "incorrigibly wicked" since they "rebelled" against the church and "God's anointed" hierarchy.
I stopped believing this even before the 1995 "falling away." I've had a lot of friends who have left the church, and none of them were incorrigiblywicked. Sure, they had weaknesses and maybe a lack of faith, and some couldn't handle being lorded over by God's anointed taskmasters, but incorrigibly wicked? No.
In 1995 many more left "the church" (no longer defined as only the WCG). Some went back to the world, and some became mainstreamers. Still, I can'tthink of any who were incorrigibly wicked.
A couple of years ago somebody asked me what I thought would happen to those who were no longer a part of the Churches of God. When I told him theywould be in the second resurrection, he said that was "merciful" of me, although he didn't believe that himself.
Let me tell you that God is much more merciful than I am! He wants all to receive salvation. He is patient with us too. Paul tells us that "he who hasbegun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
If the "day of the Lord" and the "day of Jesus Christ" are the same thing, then we know from Revelation 1:10 and 2 Peter 3:10-13 that this "day"encompasses everything from the first resurrection through the second resurrection and beyond. For some who have been called now, this "good work" will be completed at the firstresurrection. Many, perhaps most, will just not be ready then. God, in His great mercy and patience, will simply wait until Satan and the demons are constrained to finish working with thosepeople.
Those who attain the first resurrection must have a tougher row to hoe than those who come later and must deal with Satan throughout their lives,since they are to be the teachers and example for those that follow. In the same way, Jesus had it even harder, since He is the ultimate teacher and example.
I think Bryn is right, because there is simply no need for a third resurrection. Take heart. Your friends and family members who have left the churchhave not been condemned to the lake of fire.
Grass Lake, Mich.
Check it out
Jenny Donier and I have begun a Web site. We are trying to facilitate communication and reconciliation among God's people in our own small way. I knowmany others are trying this too, but I hope we can perhaps expand the traffic.
Via the Internet
Rory Ries had a good comment in The Journal ["Stop This Nonsense," Dec. 13, page 4]. I have found, since the exodus from hierarchy, that many brethrenhave stopped believing the simple, plain words of the Bible. Everyone seems to be convinced that all are to be teachers, and we simply do not find that in the Bible.
Ezra and Nehemiah stood before the people of Israel on a platform made of wood, behind a pulpit, and spoke from a vantage point of physically beingabove the people. He could see them, and they could see him.
What did Ezra and Nehemiah do, along with a few other men? They gave the sense to the written Word that they read to their fellow Israelites. TheAlmighty had set them there as teachers for the benefit of the people, and those people knew it.
Today many of the brethren who have left hierarchies have concluded that Jesus is not powerful enough to give them ministers after His own heart andkeep them in the truth of the Word. They cannot seem to believe in what was written in Ephesians 4:11-16.
Jesus has set them in the Body as it pleases Him, not us. These functions of the ministry are gifts to the Body of Christ.
But there is a reason, a specific purpose, for those who have these gifts. For instance, what are these men to do? They are to bring the brethren tomaturity. They are also to keep the brethren in unity of the faith, the true body of beliefs, so they are not blown about by every wind of doctrine. They really do speak the truth in loveto bring the Body into being fitly joined together.
I did not choose myself to be a teacher to God's flock. I was involved in spreading the Word the best way I could for the fledgling Church of GodInternational while I was in Cleveland, Ohio. One elderly minister from the Salem branch of the Church of God (Seventh Day) saw that effort, watched me for more than two and one-half yearsand asked me if I would accept having him lay his hands on me.
I said yes, and soon he, Elder Kolterman, and Elder Bill Phillips did do just that with a few brethren watching.
I was given the charge mentioned to Timothy by Paul: to preach the Word. I have all authority in heaven and earth to preach the Word, not lord it overany of the brethren. That is why I have no organization, and I have no following as such. I teach the brethren how to ask questions, how to study the Bible and to always look to JesusChrist and the Word. Sometimes, when I have been in error, I have found out and freely admitted it openly. But I then change and am not in error anymore.
Many who feel they are bona-fide ministers with some or more of these functions seem not to be able to agree on some of the most important doctrinesthat have to do with our obedience. In 1992 I wrote a unity letter to more than 100 ministers and suggested we come together if we had even one difference and let the Holy Spirit guide usas happened in Acts 15.
Not one ever agreed to that, and only five answered me rather weakly. If the ministers cannot get together and agree on the truth by the leading ofthe Holy Spirit, then how do we expect the brethren to be all of one mind? The exhortation is for all to speak the same thing!
Sad to say, far too many ministers and brethren cannot seem to speak and believe the very words Jesus spoke. They also cannot understand He alwaysspoke what the Father told Him to speak. Yes, even in the Scriptures, from Genesis to Malachi, the Lord, Jesus, was always speaking what the Father told Him to speak. Is not Jesus theLogos?
The brethren have the responsibility to check everything a minister teaches them. They need to seek diligently in the Scriptures. I have challengedthe brethren to go to the Father and ask if I am a true minister of His. If He says yes, then listen to what I teach and check it out. Herbert Armstrong said, "Don't believe me; believeyour Bible." He also said, "Follow me as I follow Christ."
I have also challenged that, if I am not one of God's true ministers, then don't listen to anything I may say. Why listen to someone who is not ofGod's choosing?
But I caution: Read Acts 20, for of the very ministers some would arise to draw away disciples after themselves by speaking perverse, corrupt things.To defile (corrupt) the Body of Christ in that manner will bring great retribution on the person or persons involved. "If any man defile [corrupt] the temple of God, him shall God destroy;for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" (1 Corinthians 3:17).
There are those who seem always to want a paycheck, which, of itself, is not wrong. But to scare brethren into staying with an organization andsupport that organization with tithes and offerings exclusively is a sin. For, if a person supports an organization involved in sinning by its very exclusiveness, he is complicit with thesins of that organization. But many ministers of such organizations receive a paycheck out of line with what the average brother is earning by his work in the world. Many ministers wouldnot even know how to work in the world.
Passover is coming soon. Again there will be differences, albeit this year most should be keeping the same dates. I offer a free book, The Chronologyof the Exodus Passover, and free tape, Passover: Adhering to the Text. Write 900 W. Alabama, Anadarko, Okla. 73005, U.S.A.
May our heavenly Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, shower you with His love and lead you to those who would preach the truth to the brethren--tothose who realize the sheep do not belong to them, but to Jesus Christ. He is the one who paid for them with His own blood.
John W. Trescott
Biblical example needed
I believe that there is some church government and authority, but Mr. Armstrong placed too much trust in those under him.
I don't believe that people would be rejecting church government with the anger and resentment they are if there had been checks and balances. Itseems obvious Mr. Armstrong did not know what was going on in the local congregations.
Young high-school graduates were chosen for their good grades in school, and little else, to attend Ambassador College to train for the ministry.There is no biblical example for this.
No one should have been trained for the ministry who hadn't been baptized for at least 10 years and thoroughly tested, tried and proven.
Ambassador college was the perfect training ground to produce a Laodicean ministry.
Jim L. Weeks
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God