[This is an email I received from my friend Marty. I plan on downloading the referenced messages and listen to them, but I have not as of yet. Obviously, he is from UCG and is referencing the troubles within it right now. However, these troubles are nothing new, and this sounds like a series that can benefit anyone with the COG body.]
This email is long and comes from my heart at a time when our church is unraveling at the seams. This email comes from the inspiration I’ve received on the very subject that cuts to the heart of the problem of all of this! I’m sorry for the length of the message and how sometimes it’s a little disjointed. It is hard to summarize the gravity and extreme import of an 8 hour sermon series….quite possibly the most important 8 hours of your life! Please read this all they way through.
Disclaimer: I use a lot of references in this email to "you". Please realize, I’m speaking to whomever will listen. This is not written with you personally in mind. I will send this to ministers and lay members all over the world and hope that it gets forwarded on. If this speaks to you, then please take it for what it’s worth.
I am writing to inspire you to dig deep into the real heart of the issues facing US as a church and as individuals in the Church of God and our relationship with God! This subject IS, I believe, the MOST important issue facing the church today! It is my sincere hope that you will take the time to listen to what I have for you here. This is potentially for you, the most life-changing material you will ever get your hands on! Bold statement, eh? If you understand fully and act in a manner to endeavor to employ this in your life, you will have the tools necessary to be in the Kingdom of God (of course, not forgetting our basic doctrines either). But if you think that simply knowing the doctrines of the church, keeping the Sabbath and holy days and not eating unclean meats…and all the other things we do that makes us different from the world’s version of Christianity…is all you need to make it to the Kingdom and survive what lies ahead of us, you’re wrong. (I’m sure few of us really believe that or would say that, but I bet many live this way and don’t realize it!).
Gary Petty brilliantly explains in over 8 hours what God IS (1 John 4:8 & 16 state that God is love=agape)! He goes through 1 Corinthians 13 word by word and defines Agape in a way I suspect you’ve never heard. I grew up in the church of God (and actually listened from a young age) and went to Ambassador College/University, and have been serving and speaking for years now. I did NOT understand this material the way I needed to and knowing what I know now, I realize I may not have had my ducks quite in the row that I thought I did! Knowing and doing still remain 2 different things and I must put into action that which I’ve learned from Mr. Petty. But being blissfully ignorant (rich and increased in goods [knowledge]?) that I grown in what’s really important (post-1st grade knowledge) is scary!
1 Cor. 13 says that we can have all knowledge of doctrine, prophecy, bible history…but if you don’t have agape, you have nothing!!! All of those other things are meaningless without agape. Mr. Petty explains that all of our foundational beliefs are like 1st grade knowledge, now the process of conversion must continue with taking on AGAPE! Without agape, you’re still in 1st grade and no 1st grader will ever graduate from school!
You may say, well I know about "love". When you read 1 Cor 13 you read about love, but the English word "love" is a terrible word because we English speakers immediately think we know what that means! Mr. Petty explains that "love" is an emotion, but agape is an ACTION. How are you supposed to have feelings of warmth and affection for your enemy? Have you ever been confused by this and felt woefully inadequate because you can’t imagine loving someone who has wronged you in a terrible manner? That’s because you’re not supposed to necessarily have philio (brotherly/community love) for your enemy, you’re supposed to have agape! It’s a totally different thing! It has little to nothing to do with feelings or "love" as we know it. It’s an action, not a feeling! So unless you understand this subject at the level that he teaches it, you likely are unaware of how much you don’t understand agape…and this is the very thing the bible tells us God IS and that we ARE to BECOME!! We understand his commands and doctrines, but I fear that not enough in the church understand what he IS (agape). (We certainly not seeing agape being employed by many right now [ordained and lay members].) Now, don’t get me wrong – the doctrines & holy days and Sabbath etc. are 1st grade – you MUST have those to have agape. But the scary thing is, you can have the doctrines without having agape…and most are completely unaware that they don’t have it! As Mr. Petty says, you can have all the biblical knowledge in the world and have no more agape than a pagan! We can find ourselves thinking we’re righteous but it’s a self-righteousness based on knowledge and not based on our actions which must be driven by agape!
We’ve all been fed spiritually, usually very well, with many messages that cover various aspects of this sermon series, but never have I heard it so well concentrated and focused like a laser beam on what really matters to TRULY become like God and Jesus Christ! If these issues were fully understood by our ministry (on both sides of the issues!!), we would NOT have the problems we have today! They would self-resolve immediately and we’d have true unity!!! Listen to this series and find out why & how! No members would allow themselves to become polarized and contribute to this problem if they understood agape they way they SHOULD.
You were created to be a child of God. This is why I was born and why I was called at this time. All humans were created to be his children, but not all are called today. We should be able to get to the place that people recognize that we’re so much like our Dad and Brother. Agape is the CHARACTER of our Father. Do you even know what agape is? Listen and see…
Have you ever wondered why at the end of 1 Cor 13 Paul says, "Now abide faith, hope & agape. But the greatest of these is agape." How can agape be greater than your faith? You will find out in this series.
The subject of agape is VERY big. It took 8 hours to explain it and it’s impossible for humans to live it completely; but we must shoot for it and we can only shoot for it if we fully understand it. True leaders in the family of God, as spirit beings, will live this perfectly! When Christ asked Peter if he loved him, and Peter ultimately cried – why did he cry? Because Christ asked Peter over and over if he agape’d him and Peter answered, "Yes, Lord, you know I philio (brotherly love) you." Peter understood what Christ was asking him when he asked him if he agape’d him. Would you? Peter knew that agape was too big for him as a mere human (especially without the help of the holy spirit). I know now that I wouldn’t have known what Christ was asking – but sadly I would have thought I knew and answered ignorantly – Yes Lord. I do know now though! I also realize how horribly ineffective I have been at living agape thus far in my life. But now it’s a crystal clear picture in my mind of what I have to do to put on this most important aspect of my Christian walk! Learning doctrinal facts is where we all started, and it was thrilling when we realized the world has been misled and perverted to believe things that are abominable to God. But we must take his grace and continue growing in the knowledge of what he is — his agape — to not do so will frustrate the grace God has given us! This is conversion. It will take a lifetime.
Are you feeling challenged? I hope so. I hope you’re wanting to prove me wrong, and to yourself, that you really do understand what agape is and that you really do know why the English word love has nearly nothing to do with agape.
The church faces great division right now. I KNOW with all my heart that if this message went viral and everyone was able to hear this series, our divisions would END! You cannot know this material and think you’re right and they’re wrong. Listen and see why… You look at yourself only because NO ONE lives agape the way God does! NO ONE! The question is, how far off are you when you miss this mark? Do you even realize that you’re missing this mark (because we all do!)?
My desire is to challenge you to download this series and then PLEASE forward this to everyone you know that can benefit from this material. I’ve never written anything like this in my life and asked everyone I knew to send it out as a viral email. But I promise you, when you’re finished with this series you’ll want the whole world to know about it too. It could save our church from imploding! More importantly it could bring many much closer to God and to each other!
Download all 8 sermons here, in full CD stereo (no passwords needed): https://www.yousendit.com/download/ZGJjT0NWeWFwaFN4dnc9PQ
Pray for the unity of the church and pray that agape is finally employed in the lives of EVERY member – leadership and lay! Pass this message on, or at least the link.
I like the distinction made between our English word "love" and the Greek word "agape". Agape is a kind of committed love, a love put into action, as Marty has said, not primarily an emotion as our English word "love" implies. Apage is a decision of the will to put outgoing concern for others into action. And God is indeed agape and agape love is the heart and core of His nature.
Does one have to keep the holy days and Sabbath to have agape? And is it only those who have God's Spirit and are converted who have apage? Can pagans have agape?
They do not have agape towards God with all their hearts, all their minds, all their strength, and all their soul as God commands us. But they can have agape, to a degree. They can have apage towards their children or towards their nation. But isn't agape a divine love that only God and those with God's Spirit can have?
Agape is a Greek word. It existed and was used to express a kind of love the Greeks knew about long before Christ was born. Words derive their meaning from usage. Agape is not a word invented or coined by Christians. It was used and had meaning for Greeks who knew nothing about the true God. It represented a committed love, a love of the will, a love put into action, but not necessarily towards the true God, and not necessarily towards neighbors to the same degree as ourselves.
What makes agape different in Christians is the target or object of our agape love and its intensity and totality. The object of our agape love is the true God and our neighbors, and the intensity of it is to have agape love towards God with all our being and to have agape love towards all our neighbors equal to our agape love towards ourselves.
It is likely Peter did not realize the kind of love Jesus was talking about. The account is written in the Greek language, but it is unlikely that Jesus and Peter were speaking Greek, rather they were probably speaking Aramaic or whatever language was commonly spoken among the Jews living in Judah and Galilee at that time. This means that if that language did not also have separate words for love as the Greek language did (agape, philio, and eros), then Christ might have been using just one word for love that existed in that language and Peter would have answered with that same word throughout the conversation. But John, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was writing in the Greek and was giving us the INTENDED MEANING of the ways those words were used, using the Greek words to make the distinction. So it was John who was telling us that the first two times Christ used the word "love" He was using it in the sense of agape, and the last time He meant philio, but every time Peter answered, Peter meant philio. They were using the same words, but Jesus had something different in mind than Peter realized. This explains why the account in the Greek language shows Peter replying with a different word than Jesus was asking about. It wasn't that Peter was ignoring what Christ was saying. He was just not quite understanding Him fully.
Wow, the parallel is amazing. I remember when WCG was getting liberal and started changing doctrine they began talking a lot about love. Sermon after sermon about love. Yeah, I know…you probably think this is awful questioning, but I have a good memory!!
@Anonymous: Not "awful", and there have been some scary parallels. The real question is whether or not UCG is heading to the same destination. I hope not.
I tried to listen to the Don Ward sermon that you mentioned in an earlier post, but it no longer there. Not sure why. The message I received was :-
We're sorry, but the page you are looking for (/audio/103010%20Ward%20-%20The%20Ministry%20of%20Reconciliation.mp3) has been moved to a new location or does not exist.
What are your thoughts on the Fasting Paper Analysis
Posted by Abigail Cartwright on November 7, 2010 at 1:42 PM
@Anonymous: To be honest, I only skimmed through it once. Maybe I'll find some time to re-read it this weekend. I did re-read the fasting paper a couple of days ago, and, sort of like the Sabbath paper, I again kept wondering, "What's the point of this again?"
I will say that the fasting paper wasn't nearly the shocker to me that the Sabbath paper was, but there are certain overtones in it that seem to be repeated in a few of these sermons that come out of Cincinnati.
John, Marty and COG,
As a UCG member, I have written many questions into the church for various subjects to only get watered downed blah answers so to not start any true questioning of their true beliefs. I asked the hard questions: New Moons, Birthdays, Wave Sheaf, Fast for Simple & Erroneous, Gods Calendar vs Hilel II, Tribulation Period, and the famous Place of Safety. Do you realize that the church cannot answer one of these with any authority and strength! Sorry folks, if things fall so be it, I want a church strong in God, true on policies, honoring Gods word over all, and tough on the sinners, they let everyone off the hook without kicking them out. No wonder everyone laughs at us, and I think we need to re-translate the bible similar to the English Tanakh (or use it for services). Therefore I write this so you know your own weakness' is how you will fall, but Gods believers will stand, and you can bet it will be a glorious day when when honor both the Sabbaths and the New Moons before the Prince.
Best of luck to my brothers in UCG, and you can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any private discussions.