Matthew 18 isn't about doctrine
In response to your article on Matthew 18 ["What's Next When the Formula in Matthew 18 Doesn't Work?," The Journal, January-March 2009, page 3]:
This teaching by Jesus is for dealing with sin and trespasses between brethren. It is not to be used for doctrinal disagreements.
The main question is, Is Jesus leading us when we go to our brother?
More than one example in Acts shows how to deal with doctrinal disputes.
More than one example shows how each of us is to deal with anyone who teaches.
Compare them with God's Word. Compare their teachings to the teachings of Jesus.
The problem we have is with ourselves and the rules that we set up to govern our assemblies. Or whom we let govern our actions.
Maybe take a number
I was reading your article mentioning that the WCG had split up into so many groups ["What's Next When the Formula in Matthew 18 Doesn't Work?," The Journal January-March 2009], and it immediately brought to mind another one of Mark Robinson's humorous observations. [See "Good Friend Remembers Mark Robinson," January-March 2009].
Mark said he really wanted (tongue in cheek, of course) to start his own group, but then the problem was that "all the good names are taken."
I see one gentleman simply is now calling his group the Reorganized Church of God ["Church Changes Name, Publishes New Hymnal," January-March 2009]. Surely we can come up with something more original!
Re: "What's Next When the Formula in Matthew 18 Doesn't Work?" [January-March 2009]:
Loved it! Thanks! That has been my philosophy for a loooong time, Dixon. You are so right that Matthew 18 is for "someone who has sinned against you." That doesn't include being angry because they have a different philosophy.
I especially liked the part under "Blow Away the Chaff" where you talked about there not being a need to demonize other groups. Good for you! Going forward, if you don't demonize the other groups then we need to build bridges, not walls.
Wow, Dixon. Your article ["What's Next When the Formula in Matthew 18 Doesn't Work?," January-March, 2009] is one of the few I've ever read in your paper that comes from common sense and the voice of reason.
I think the only readers who will get it are the adults. (The ones who have grown themselves up.) Actually, some of the youth still in the churches will probably identify.
It reminded me of a CD I listened to a while back from a marriage counselor. He said, "You can either be married, or you can be right."
What a blast
With the 40th anniversary of men landing on the moon in July this year, I thought it would be good to let people know that they can hear the first two minutes of the GTA on-the-spot broadcast he made at Cape Kennedy on the 16th of May 1969 when Neil Armstrong blasted off to the moon. It is on the GTA Tape Library's Web site at icg.org.au.
Does God want effort?
Most professing Christians believe we are saved by grace but after that we must put forth our very best effort to do something. What do they mean by that?
They mean that, after Jesus accepts us and blots out our sins, then we must do something--"the work" or "God's work"--which can mean any number of many things that humans can do: tell people about Jesus, missionary work, changing your will so the church can get your inheritance, etc.
Are we better than Jesus? Jesus did far greater works than everyone else. He raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, turned water into wine, etc.
But notice that Jesus said that of Himself "I can do nothing" (John 5:30).
Someone will say that's right, the Father gave Jesus the power for Him to do those miracles Himself. He said that the Father does it all.
In John 14:10 we read Jesus saying that the works that you see Me do are not Me doing them but the Father doing them.
The self-righteous Jews of Christ's day would not and could not accept this great and profound truth because they were unconverted and did not have God's Spirit.
What about us, brethren? Can we accept the fact that God does everything in our lives? Or do we like to take most of the credit for ourselves?
Paul J. Herrmann
Get along, little Christians
Why can't we all get along? Probably not by saying, "That person didn't really mean to offend," which we read in The Journal again last issue [see "Can't We All Just Get Long?," January-March 2009, page 1].
That would be a rare exception to the rule, often just a patronizing cop-out. We too often speak and act from the abundance of our deceitful and wicked hearts. It is called human nature.
When the person offended reveals his being offended to us, he or she becomes the source of our stress. We don't want to share the stress and can easily suggest forgiving 70 times seven. This takes the stress off us.
Far too often we even see the victim as the bad guy. "He has a bad attitude, a chip on his shoulder, or he's too sensitive."
Shouldn't the question be "Why don't we want to get along?" It is easier to get the right answer with the right question.
Everyone wants others to make an effort to get along. Who will make the sacrifices to get along that they expect others to make to get along?
You got it. They crucified the only one. Or should that be "we crucified"?
We might be better off to quit playing church and joining Uncaring Jerks Anonymous (UJA).
In search of the Ten Commandments
I would like to ask if anyone knows of any Church of God group from which we might be able to obtain a piece of literature--namely the booklet called The Ten Commandments--for our OutReach Ministries Program.
For 14 years we have used the literature (16 Bible-study booklets) supplied by our friends from Springdale, Ark., Tom Justus and the Church of God Sabbath Day there.
Tom has several good booklets but has not published a booklet yet on the Ten Commandments, which are the very basics of all the Churches of God's beliefs. Our church would of course pay the cost of the booklets and shipping if needed.
John C. Strouth Sr.
Elder, Church of God Sabbath Day
P.O. Box 1308
Clinton, N.C. 28329, U.S.A.
No need to apply
I read the articles and letters of Brian Knowles, Robert Schmid, Bill Dankenbring, Ken Browder, Jan Aaron Young, Ken Westby, Don Billingsley and numerous others.
What the Holy Spirit leads me to prove, after comparing the content of their writings to the Scriptures, I will accept as truth. However, I will not follow any one of these excellent writers.
Contained in the Scriptures is all the knowledge that is required for achieving salvation. Those who would tell you any different are false prophets.
God certainly knows all about our propensity to follow other men, and surely this was one more good reason to send Jesus Christ, the only man we should ever follow. We need no other.
Amazing change, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
Our new American government, completely out of control, will change your life forever. Unfortunately, you will not like it.
By the time most Americans wake up to this insidious betrayal of everything this country was founded on, we will be another country, not geographically different, but a country controlled completely by government who knows best.
Once upon a time in a country far, far away, we had a republic. We the people had a voice. We the people decided how to run our lives, businesses and families. The government existed as an instrument to protect the people from foreign invasion and promote the general welfare but was to be small and, as the founding fathers intended, not intrusive.
America 2009 is a government absolutely intent on controlling every aspect of your personal life. Those who are now in control are power-driven by their own agendas.
It does not seem to matter that so many programs proposed to benefit the public have tried and failed in this country and many other countries. Supposedly these programs will work this time. Pure delusion!
We have people in appointed offices who have no qualifications whatsoever. Figure it out: inept losers of every sort, tax cheats, liars. They support giving money away to other losers.
In another once upon a time, Americans worked hard for a living. If a person worked hard and succeeded, that person was rewarded. If things did not work out so well, a person failed. Such is life. No bail-out! Live with it and start over!
Socialism does not work, as history has proved. Capitalism has its faults, but it works. Very simple: Work hard, produce, reap rewards. Our government has lost track of reality.
San Antonio, Texas
Let's all live like the Amish do
Today's Church of God groups are growing old. In a few years the Churches of God will be no more. Why?
When I entered first grade 60 years ago the first thing I saw when I entered the classroom each day was the Ten Commandments on the wall.
Peer pressure was not known, because most parents taught their children the right way to treat other people. Few people had TVs. TV shows in those days were mild.
Music is another tool that Satan has used. Little music out there is suitable for children or adults to listen to, yet they do.
The only way to turn things around would be for every Church of God family to move to the same location, have its own educational system, no TV and little computer use and deal with people of the world only when absolutely necessary. It could be done and it would work.
The Amish live this way, and they are not having near the problems that church members and their families are having.
Paul said to "flee sin," not get as close as you can and allow your children to do so without falling into the pit of sin. You can't fight Satan on your own.
Jerry D. Lewis
Verse 31 proves it
Leviticus 27:31 is proof God never commanded tithing of monetary income.
Tithes were commanded on produce, grain, wine and olive oil, animals. But, instead of giving a 10th of the produce, which is God's possession, you could buy back (redeem) what is God's possession by keeping the tithe and paying for the tithe in money if you added 20 percent to the value of the tithe in kind.
That is, you would pay $1.20 for a tithe or part of a tithe worth $1.
If a commanded tithe was 10 percent of money, or, for example, $1 of a $10 income and you wanted to keep it, then, to comply with Leviticus 27:31 you must pay $1.20.
Keep $1 and pay $1.20? Doesn't make any s(c)en(t)se!
Have you ever wondered where the Churches of God got the idea that when they die they would be "dead like Rover all over" until the resurrection?
I know of no other church or ministry that holds to this idea outside of the Churches of God.
What about this scripture: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ"? (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Do we have a separate soul? Yes, it is not immortal--Herbert Armstrong was correct about that--but a mortal soul that can live beyond death separately. This soul can be destroyed, so, yes, it is indeed mortal (see Matthew 10:28).
Are there biblical examples of people speaking, thinking and feeling although they're dead? Why, yes, there are.
1 Samuel 28:15-16: "Now Samuel said to Saul, 'Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?' ... So why do you ask me, seeing the Lord has departed from you and has become your enemy?'"
What about the New Testament?
Luke 16:24-31: The rich man and Lazarus. Here we have an example of Abraham, though dead, speaking to Lazarus, also dead.
Revelation 6:9-10 "I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain ... and they cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?'"
How about when Jesus was speaking to the Sadducees in Matthew 22:32? "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead but of the living."
Can we prove the disposition of all three of our parts: body, soul and spirit? Why, yes. Let's use the perfect example of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Just before Jesus died about 3 p.m. on Passover He said, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Luke 23:46).
"And Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise'" (verse 43).
Some ministers would rather make Jesus out to be a liar than believe the plain truth.
Mark 15:46: "And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb."
(1) Jesus' spirit went back to the Father. (2) His soul went to paradise. (3) His body went into Joseph of Arimathea's tomb.
So where did this idea come from: dead like Rover until we rise?
In the Jewish New Testament Commentary under Acts 23:8 we read: "The Tzdukim (Sadducees) believed the human soul disappeared with the body; only God's spirit remained."
Jesus spoke of the Sadducees as not knowing the Scriptures or power of God.
The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection. The Pharisees believed in a resurrection and a body, soul and spirit.
Isn't it about time we started believing in a three-part harmony like the Pharisees? Shouldn't mature Christians know we are not going into a black nonexistence void until the resurrection?
I pray that we begin to believe like Paul, who was "willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).
I first associated with the WCG in 1967, baptized in 1970. I am an independent Christian, having left the WCG in 1992, single, living in Texas.
Ernest R. Schreiber
Something of significance?
Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to pray in Jerusalem "at the crucifixion site" May 15, 2009, the 61st Roman-calendar anniversary of the founding of the modern state of Israel.
It happens to be 1,290 days before Trumpets 2012.
On March 31, 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu was inaugurated as Israel's prime minister, 1,335 days before Trumpets 2012.
Whether something of significance happens 1,260 days before Trumpets 2012, or whether the above events signify anything regarding Daniel's 1,335 days, remains to be seen.
Geoffrey R. Neilson
Cape Town, South Africa