As the Passover season draws near, some of us have committed to fast and pray, to petition our Father, the Source of Love, to strengthen love in the church.
There is a blueprint for love--to esteem each other as greater than ourselves--and there is also an elaborate description of what love looks like in a functioning relationship in 1 Corinthians 13.
We are confident that with God's inspiration His people will allow love to transcend the current barriers and groupings and that such love will rise above all the individual ideas and thoughts and triumph over the fortresses of our minds.
Please let's uphold, respect and love each other as we would our most beloved friend, Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Let us unite with the Father and Son in strengthening love amongst the brethren. Let's regard each other as if each were Christ Himself.
"If you have done this for these the least of my brethren, you have done it for me."
We invite you to fast and pray with us (a commitment some have already made) prior to the Passover service as we seek our Father's blessing and endeavor to please Him through our care for each other.
We would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Small Group Bible Study; 2/82 Maidstone Rd.; Ilam, Christchurch 8041; New Zealand.
Small Group Bible Study
Veronica Ligteringen, Lindsay Codd and Jill Broadhurst
Christchurch, New Zealand
John and Rosemary Morton
Wellington, New Zealand
There are Christian people who actually believe that everyone is going to be saved. If this is true, there will be no one remaining for us to throw into Gehenna fire.
What about this? In John 6:44 Jesus said no man can come unto Me unless the Father draw or call him. All will be given a God-loving chance to be saved when the Father draws them and they are given to Christ.
Notice what Jesus said in prayer to the Father: "Those that you gave me I have kept and none of them is lost" (John 17:12).
Also, Jesus made a clear and profound statement of truth in John 6:37 when He said that "all the Father gives Me shall come to Me and him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out."
Isn't this the answer to the question about universal salvation?
Paul and Micki Herrmann
Texts about the Sabbath
I just wanted to say thank you to Walter Steensby for putting together the work of Gerhard Kemmerer on the New Testament passages that used the word sabbaton for his article in The Journal dated September 2009 [issue No. 136] and headlined "Some Texts About the Sabbath Were Never Properly Translated."
It was refreshing to read a clear and detailed treatment of this issue--which has confused or baffled many translators--and the presentation of a make-sense solution to the problematic passages (problematic only due to our modern-day linguistic ignorance).
It's the sort of solid stuff that I would like to see more of in The Journal.
Both your article and the sidebar by Ernest Kemmerer were appreciated greatly and will be most useful for my day-to-day reading of the Scriptures and some of the scriptural research that I am engaged in.
And thanks for the work that you and Cindy do to keep The Journal coming! [The Steensbys are The Journal's distributors for Australia.]
As I see it
Once again we see a wide range of views, this time in the November 2009 letters section of The Journal.
Paul Herrmann says we should get out of organized religion, and Wesley White thinks some have gone too far in that direction. Apparently Paul has had enough of people dictating dogma and acceptable moral conscience to him, and Wesley doesn't see that as a problem. Both agree that the problem is disobedience, but to whose concept?
Wesley is desiring of unity, but it seems to be on his terms: his concept of Sabbath, his concept of preaching the gospel, his concept of unity, his concept of the Body of Christ, his concept of feeding the flock, his concept of helping the poor, his concept of being too inwardly focused, his concept of being isolated, his concept of a problem.
Frankly, I am not convinced that unity is on everyone's priority list. Like most "independents," I am trying to make it day by day with as little offensiveness as possible.
It may surprise some, but the reason I don't fellowship with them is not because I don't want to be a Christian. It's because I think fellowshipping with them would be detrimental to my being a Christian.
When I read The Journal I am offended by most people's holier-than-thou attitudes. But I'm sure they don't care, because they live in an environment where they tell people when they are allowed to be offended.
Is the Bible the problem here? If we didn't have it, we might see advantages other than monetary in getting along with others.
Now we are so puffed up with "Bible knowledge" and self-importance that we can't be humble enough to get along, unless we can give advice and be the boss.
Or is it the way we see the Bible?
Passover on the 15th
If the Israelites had left Egypt on the morrow of the Passover (Numbers 33:3), which was at the end of the day (Exodus 12:41), why do some still believe that the OT observance was kept at the beginning of Nisan 14?
Verses 41-42 are proof that all the drama, except for the slaying of the lamb, took place on the 15th, that the Exodus began at the end of the holy day and that the Night to Be Observed coincided with the 15th.
Stoney Creek, Ont., Canada
I cringe when reflecting
I agree with Ray Wooten (page 1, The Journal, Nov. 30, 2009) on numerous points.
He stated that none of the Churches of God is God's church. Christians are not limited to any single organization or group of organizations. Christians are those who Jesus Christ lives in and they in Christ. They are those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and have Jesus ruling in them through the Spirit of God.
God is less concerned about how we identify ourselves in terms of denominations and affiliations than our identity of who we are in Christ.
Mr. Wooten is correct when he stated that "I don't know anyone who has all the doctrines right. If doctrines were salvation, there would be no possibility of salvation."
I have stated a similar concept. God would rather we get one thing right--accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and living by the His Spirit within us--than getting all the other doctrines correct and that one essential doctrine wrong.
He is also correct in stating that there isn't any one test Commandment and "the attitude and spirit are the test and we will grow in God's way of life."
Jesus living in us through the Spirit of God determines if we are in a state of salvation, not whether we keep all the Commandments perfectly apart from believing in Jesus.
Ray Wooten is right on when he states that "the annual festivals that we observe, we don't just observe them as days. We observe them for what they picture. They picture salvation not only for me but for all my fellowman."
I believe one of the most important things we can learn from a study of the feast days is there is a resurrection for both groups: those who die saved and those who die without having accepted Jesus as Savior. This is not a second chance but, for most, a first chance.
While not a test Commandment, the Sabbath and the feast days are a part of the traditions of the Churches of God. I use the term traditions that Ron Dart started using to distinguish many of the beliefs and practices that distinguish the "Churches of God" from those of mainstream Christianity.
Though I cherish these traditions, which are of great instructional value in understanding the plan of God, I recognize they are not essential to our relationship to our Creator.
I also agree with Mr. Wooten on evangelism: that we should urge people to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, not dictating to them where or with whom they worship (although we may express opinions if asked).
All of us, ordained to the ministry or not, have a part in that evangelism.
As Mr. Wooten said: "All of us who are a part of that spiritual organism called the Body of Christ are preaching the gospel wherever we are. We don't even have to open our mouths to preach the gospel."
I thought back to all those years in the WCG when I feared to say anything other than point people to those I believed God had appointed to preach the gospel. I cringe when I reflect on having been so wrong for so long about so many things.
There are so many salient points, I can hardly cover them all. Perhaps the most important point Ray made is something we in the Churches of God have believed for decades. But did we really believe it?
That point was that Jesus is the Head of the church. God's church is not an organization created by man with headquarters in a particular place on earth. Jesus rules His church from heaven while seated at the right hand of God the Father.
Three 19-year cycles since first five evangelists ordained
Dec. 20, 2009, was exactly three 19-year (moon) cycles since Herbert W. Armstrong ordained the first five evangelists in 1952, of whom only Roderick C. Meredith remains alive--and active as an evangelist.
Jan. 7, 2010, was exactly four 19-year (moon) cycles since The World Tomorrow officially was first broadcast starting in 1934. It is also 8,880 days (inclusive) since Mr. Armstrong's last sermon on Trumpets, Sept. 16, 1985.
Jan. 16, 2010, ended the 24th year since Mr. Armstrong died.
Cape Town, South Africa