Sometimes, the topics come fast and furious. There is so much that could be said.
Someone mentioned that the type in the blog cannot be resized. It’s the first someone has brought it up, so I’m looking into it. Apparently, it is somewhere in the template, or at least I hope it is. Even if it is, I don’t know if it is fixable.
God’s Love Conditional?
“J” at Shadows of WCG Next Generation has apparently been up to the usual. I don’t often read the comments over there, but apparently someone wrote that in order for God to love you, you must keep the commandments. You can imagine the response, and it was an entire blog article. J didn’t identify the commenter, and I did not bother to look. Obviously, I am not antinomian by any means, but to characterize the love of God being contingent upon commandment keeping is a mischaracterization of the traditional COG stance. J wrote in response a correct statement that, “We don’t EARN God’s love by Sabbath and Holy Day Keeping.” He even states, “YES, we are to keep His Commandments”, but then contradicts himself by saying, “You can, in your freedom in Christ, choose to keep the Sabbath and Holy Days.” Love? God is love. However, in His love, He isn’t going to make someone miserable by forcing that person to spend an eternity with Him, either.
Again, it is the “One Sentence Summary of Antinomianism” that really says it all. However, what you wind up with is: Jesus died to save you from your sins, which is breaking the Law, and He nailed the Law to the cross, so you cannot break it, so there is no Law, so how did you sin again?
Is Salvation Conditional?
What is implied, of course, is that salvation is conditional. Not everyone is going to make it. The reason is quite simple: Not everyone wants to be or ever will want to be saved. The Bible is quite clear that some will end up in the Lake of Fire. They will have had a legitimate opportunity for salvation, but they will reject it.
They love their sin! Just as Israel wanted to go back to Egypt, some people long in their hearts for their sins. Human carnal nature is deceptive and cannot be overcome by our own power. We have to repent! That means we have to turn away from our sins, we must throw ourselves upon the mercy of our Savior, and we must ask Him to take away even the desire for sin.
Sin is the disease! Sin is the problem! It causes suffering and pain, many times upon people who aren’t even involved in the sin!
If sin is the disease, then the shed blood of Jesus is the antidote. But, how can you partake of the antidote if you have no glass? Repentance is the glass that holds the cure!
Will the World Repent?
Lack of repentance will plunge the entire world into a time of war and suffering unknown previously. Undoubtedly, the Beast will deceive people to believe they can come “Just As I Am”. No need for repentance! You can worship while still in your sins! How appealing that will be to the mass multitude who have been trained to listen to “professional” theologians, many of whom don’t even believe in the works they are supposedly studying?
Many in COG circles talk about a “warning message” to the Israelitish nations of America, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, etc. That is valid for a simple reason: The OT prophets talk a lot about the days of the time of the end leading up to the “Day of the LORD”. That will be a time of great turmoil, chaos, death and destruction. However, this view overlooks the fact that the entire world is going to be going through a Great Tribulation.
We are to make disciples of “all nations”! God wants to warn all His potential children!
Who is My Brother?
Perhaps what is most on my mind is, “Who is your brother?” Now, there’s a question that would make a Pharisee proud! According to Richard Burkard’s article “22 JAN 11: Brother Against Brother?”, Governor Robert Bentley really stirred things up recently:
At first glance, you’d think people would be relieved and happy by what Robert Bentley said this week. He wants to be the Governor of everybody in Alabama — but he’s NOT everybody’s brother. That sort of tangled relationship should be saved for jokes about the Ozarks.
But Governor Robert Bentley caused a nationwide stir, even before taking the oath of office. He told an Inauguration Day worship service in Montgomery people who haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as Savior are "not my brother, not my sister." At least he didn’t conduct an altar call during the service, to fill staff positions.
Burkard has two links to articles he wrote within this article, and there’s a lot to chew on. Not only do I see parallels to the Pharisee’s question, “Who is my neighbor?”, but I also see parallels to Cain’s question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Burkard points out the NT word is the same throughout for “brother”, so I’ll cover the OT. “Brother” in the OT likewise comes from the same Hebrew word H251 “ach”. “Brother” means literally brother, but it can also mean “relative”.
14And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. (Genesis 14:14, King James Version)
Lot was Abram’s nephew, but in this passage, he is called “brother”. Also, before in Ge 13:8, Abram tells Lot, “We be brethren.”
At some point, people tend to not recognize others as relatives any longer. First cousins are relatives, but 25th cousins 50 times removed is a bit extreme to try to put on a genealogical chart.
And yet, lest we forget, the Bible recognizes that everyone is related. Since we are all “one blood” (Ac 17:26), and Eve was the “mother of all living” (Ge 3:20), we are all related in some sense. It also points out why racism is stupid. Any supposed trait of another race can be in yours too!
“Brother”, then, can have a wide range of uses depending upon context. Most of the time, in Christianity it means “spiritual brother”. That is, “a brother from another mother” as some like to call it. We are all regenerated and growing to become children of Our Father. If they repented, which implies they know of what to repent of, if they are surrendered to God, which means they try to keep the Commandments, if they are growing in love towards God and man, are they not a spiritual brother?
If someone in LCG comes to your congregation, would you welcome them? From UCG? From Big Sandy whatever they call themselves these days? CGWA?
So, one of the links in Burkard’s blog article takes me to this bothersome portion:
The Church of God-watching web site Missing Dimension explained the situation this way on April 4, 2002 [note: I’m not sure this website is still functional]:
UCG minister Frank McCrady surprised some people when he called members of the Church of God Big Sandy "brethren." Although it seems to be stating the obvious, it even made the front page of the February Journal.
"You can call them Havirites or Church of God Big Sandy -ites, but you’d better call them brethren," Mr. McCrady had said Feb. 16 while reading announcements. "Jesus Christ … died for them just as much as He did for us."
However reasonable these remarks were, they apparently ruffled feathers among the control freaks in the sect’s hierarchy, and McCrady backtracked in a written statement that was read out by none other than president-elect Roy Holladay:
"Dear brethren: After considering some of the things that I said during announcements on the Sabbath last week, and hearing Mr. Dean’s sermon, I feel that I have said some things that I should not have said and have unnecessarily offended some in the congregation, for which I humbly apologize and ask your forgiveness. Your friend, Frank McCrady."
I have no qualms about “ruffling feathers”. I have spoken before about political correctness in the Church, and this appears to be another case of it. I have to wonder why McCrady felt he had to apologize, and I wonder why once again Roy Holladay’s name comes up in the midst of messy things.
I mostly wonder if Jesus would have apologized. I also wonder what was in that sermon that Aaron Dean gave. I wonder if I wouldn’t have walked out the door and went to the Big Sandy church after an announcement like that.
Apparently, even if they are keeping the Sabbath, the holy days, clean and unclean meats, were baptized and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that isn’t good enough for some. It is not about organization. It is not about men’s corporations. It is about submitting to God. Apparently, even in the COG, some don’t realize that!