Letters from our Readers - Part 1

Get real, Alan

In the Dec. 31 issue of The Journal, Alan Knight discussed some of the current debate among Church of God (Seventh Day) leadership in regards to"Protestant evangelical theology," specifically the subject of being saved by grace alone ["Advocates of Protestant Evangelical Theology Resign Positions in Denver Conference ofCG7"].

I believe there is much confusion in the Churches of God regarding this topic. I also believe that this confusion has opened the door to many of theissues that are tearing at the fabric of our churches.

I respect Alan Knight and enjoy his writing, but the truth of the matter is that we are saved by grace alone. Do we suppose we deserve eternal lifewhen it's by God's graciousness we even possess our physical existence?

By His grace we have the promise of eternal life through faith in the life, death and resurrection of God's Son. Every bit of knowledge,understanding, wisdom, love, mercy and any other good gift you can think of is ours because of God's grace towards us. Does anyone really think he earns or deserves any of this? Getreal.

We are all sinners. I'm sure we have read the New Testament scriptures that tell us if we break one of God's commands we have broken them all. You can"keep" the Sabbath all you want, and, if you slip in any point of the law, you have broken the spirit of the law. You are a sinner.

You can keep the Sabbath all you want but get jealous just once and it's all out the window. Get a little angry with your brother and you just lostit. You just sinned.

How simple it is for us to fall. It's a good thing God is gracious towards us and has provided us a way: forgiveness.

So where does God's law come in? Some have begun to preach that it is done away. I believe they have missed the point. We are to hunger and thirstafter righteousness: God's. We have the freedom to truly love God's law because His grace has removed the death penalty, which would otherwise be hanging over our heads.

Now when we fall, and we will, we don't have to fear. We can get up, dust ourselves off with the mercy of God and keep on overcoming. We don't have adeath penalty to hold us down any longer. We are free.

We are free to love God's righteousness without fear. We can't earn our reconciliation, but we are to use it for good. It's all by grace alone andalways will be.

I compare our Christian walk to an archer. An archer has a target. In a sense we have a target as well, with the center being God's perfectrighteousness. We must have a target, a standard to aim for. Without a target how would we know where to aim? How would we know what sin was? Does the archer miss?

Yes. But he keeps growing in skill. Do we miss the mark of perfection that is God's righteousness? Yes. But, by God's grace, He forgives. He helps ussee the target a little more clearly or maybe helps us to desire it more.

So how does He judge us? Is it by our ability to hit the target or by what's in our heart?

I believe God looks at our hearts. I believe it's all by God's grace: grace alone.

The Christian writer Josh Mcdowell has put it beautifully. We must "aggressively pursue love and humbly stand for truth."

But where does this humility come from? It comes from the realization that we are still sinners in need of God's mercy. We in the Churches of God havetended to get this backwards. Often we offend and hurt people unnecessarily by aggressively pursuing truth and throw grace and mercy out the window. How will the world know we are God'speople?

We know the answer. God's Word says it's by the love we have for one another. Isn't that the example Jesus set for us?

Let's look at the example set for us in the story of the woman caught in adultery. First, in mercy, Jesus got rid of her self-righteous accusers. Hethen extended mercy to her, granting her forgiveness. Jesus then showed her the way she should walk when He then said, "Go and sin no more."

It's all about grace: grace alone. It's about extending mercy and pointing each other to the target. It's about mercifully holding each otheraccountable.

Sometimes love is tough, but it should always be accompanied by mercy. It's all about "aggressively pursuing love and humbly standing fortruth."

In the end, it all comes down to the heart. It's about having an emotional connection with our God and, yes, maybe even getting a little emotionalabout what God has done for us. He has given us life itself. According to Scripture, where is God going to write His laws? Is it in our minds? I believe the Scripture says on ourhearts.

We know that marriage is sacred because it is a picture of the relationship we have with God. Divorce is so common in the church because couples stopgiving their hearts to their mates and start reasoning in their heads why they don't want to be married anymore. It's a matter of the heart, and so is our relationship with God. Just readthe parable of the prodigal son and tell me it isn't.

I remember church pastors and leaders ridiculing "Protestants" for saying they gave their "hearts" to God. I have been guilty of that myself. Shame onall of us. That's exactly what the Word of God says we must do. Giving your heart to God simply means you always remember that it's His grace alone that sustains you and grants you eternallife.

This might include refraining from using language and titles that alienate us from our Protestant Christian brothers and sisters. They just might bewilling to listen to what we have to say when we embrace them as the brothers and sisters they are, rather than treating them like enemies. We just might learn something from them as well,like how to give your very life for the name of Christ as many of them have done and no doubt are doing even as I type these words.

God's Word tells us that mercy triumphs over judgment. Thank God! Let's not harden our hearts, but let God's grace, His mercy, soften them. It's timefor us to "aggressively pursue love and humbly stand for truth." His grace demands it. It's about grace alone.

Bruce Hawkins

Muskegon, Mich.

Reading for a year

Thank you for The Journal, which we have been receiving for a whole year.

Some people do not like The Journal because it exposes and educates about things that they would like to be kept under the carpet. Others do not likethe freedom that The Journal offers because they have been reared in the mind-control setups.

God, who is in control, allows man choice, but man would much like to coerce and control through lack of information or use of wrong information. TheJournal is being published when God has promised that He would offer an open door that no man could shut! (Revelation 3:8). The Journal is part of that door.

As we enter the information age, God has already begun to raise up a service to disseminate the information and expose all who have taken the place ofChrist in the lives of the ekklesia.

Subtle ways have been introduced in the ekklesia to remove Christ out of their lives and instead place personalities, organizations or "works of God."The Journal has provided excellent service.

Please pass our thanks to some faithful contributors: Dave Havir, Wayne Cole, Ronald Dart and many others who are using The Journal to point people totheir real source of help, Jesus Christ and God the Father.

We have all been called to Christ Jesus, who will bring us to the Father. An organization or a personality can only facilitate that fact. Sad to say,we have witnessed subtle crafted human systems in which Christ has been superseded.

Just as it was during Paul's day: Men will not openly admit this (Ephesians 4:14). Our Savior tells us that by their fruits you will knowthem.

We wish you and the staff of The Journal a successful year 2001.

Stephen Karuga Kariuki

Sabbatarian Church of God

Nairobi, Kenya

Where we're going

I am far from being the smartest guy in the world, but, when I read articles in The Journal about the United States and Britain in prophecy ["UnitedChurch of God to Publish US&BC Booklet" and "Church of God Member to Publish US&BC Books," Dec. 31, 2000], I have to question something: Why is this subject so important and so muchtime spent on it?

When I read Colossians 3, specifically, verse 11, it seems to me this time could be better spent building a personal relationship with our Father andour Savior. Understanding where some of us came from is much less important than where we are going.

John Curry

Grain Valley, Mo.

Rod of iron

I enjoyed the article by Ellis Stewart in the last issue of The Journal ["Jesus Won't Wield Rod in Millennium," Dec. 31].

I recently read a good paper on the same subject, "The Torah Is Not Law," written by Mark R. Ensign. He is a lawyer, I think, somewhere in Texas. Hispaper expounds that Torah is instruction, not harsh law. He compares Torah as the concept of instruction in contrast with the concept of law.

I exchanged correspondence with him on some things in the article, and he was responsive. If you haven't read it, it is worth the time to doso.

Sandie Breazier

Via the Internet

Offensive word

This note is to point out something regarding your editorial policy. I realize you are not here to censor ideas, yet even you have to edit things: forspace, for example.

My comments pertain to a letter you recently edited and put only an excerpt of on page 3 of your Nov. 30, 2000, edition. The letter was by WilliamAllen Walker. On page 5, third column, on the last full page you permitted the following phrase to remain in your edited version of the letter: ". . . back to his renegade cultmaster." The offensive word is cult.

I think it is bad editorial policy to permit your wonderful paper dedicated to the "News of the Churches of God" to be used to call one of thoseChurches of God a "cult." To my knowledge it is the first time such a comment has ever appeared in your fine paper. I hope this was just a mistake and that it is not your editorial policyto permit people to attack other Churches of God like that. If that is your editorial policy, let me recommend you consider changing it.

Raul H. Reyes

Via the Internet

Keeping it simple

Regarding "Paul Preached 'Simplicity and Godly Sincerity,' So Keep It Simple, Please" [Dec. 31, 2000]:

I just wanted to write to you and tell you that that article in The Journal, by Ed Burson, was quite good. I haven't read a booklet or article foryears that was as well written. Keep up the good work.

Glenn Stingel

Daytona Beach, Fla.

Letters from our Readers - Part 2

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