Have we learned anything from history?
Some of you are starting to get it. Some of you were already getting it but now realize you are not alone. Sadly, many will never get it in this lifetime.
We should be people of truth. Truth has to have a certain level of clarity to it, or it is just gibberish that could be applied to anything. What we say and do needs to reflect that truth, and that includes the terminology and phrases we use.
Some words and phrases we will use to describe things just as they are stated in the Bible. There is value in that, for anyone anywhere can use a concordance and check up on us. They will see we are speaking God’s words instead of our own.
Inevitably, we will use words and phrases that are not found in the Bible. These should always be suspect and examined. Do they convey the right meanings? Do they make our ideas more clear or more muddy? Better yet, do they convey what the Bible really says, and can we prove it?
Honestly, though, why does it all matter? It seems as though many go about their business day by day, drink in from what the ministry tells them, and they never really question any of it. Is that really what it is all about? It seems we have not learned from the events that unfolded between 1986 and 1995 at all sometimes.
There are several reasons it matters, though.
It Ruins Our Witness
How many people throughout this age of the Church have turned away immediately because of words and phrases that made no sense?
I got an email from a friend after a previous article on this topic. I’m posting a small portion without permission, so I’m withholding the name:
…I know that sounds picky, but if we make blanket statements like this to a world that doesn’t have God’s spirit and discernment, what kind of hope is there for those who’ve lost people at sea? It’s not picky to them.
This has always bothered me since the entire “God as God is God” debacle. We had gotten into the habit of saying things in coded form that made sense to us, but we really didn’t stop to think about the impact it made upon others. Instead of turning people to the truth and making disciples, we were too busy turning them off and turning them away.
Ask a Protestant how many resurrections there are, and some of them will without hesitation tell you “Two”. You ever realize that?
15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
~ Ac 24:15
28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
~ Jn 5:28-29
You can have all of the truth in the world. You can get everything else nailed down precisely. However, if you encounter this individual and insist that there are three resurrections, turn to Revelation 20 and him and haw about conjunctions and what is logical, they will not listen to anything else you have to say. They will turn away because you are building a doctrine of sand.
So, go ahead and make it a fundamental belief if you wish! You will be the one explaining to Christ why you insisted upon making mountains out of molehills instead of fulfilling the Great Commission!
Is there a third resurrection? Probably, but that is not a given, that is not clearly stated, and that is therefore definitely not a fundamental belief.
It Hurts the Church
Notice I put an image of the booklet “1975 In Prophecy!” at the beginning? There used to be a saying, of which I can only remember a part, “Flee by ’73” indicating that the Church would flee to a Place of Safety before 1973 and Christ would return in 1975. It was never a formal doctrine, but it was a strong belief that undercut many decisions, activities and messages heard during the mid-1970s.
How many people left the Church in or about 1975? I suppose we will never know, but in mid-1975 it became obvious that some had left because Christ had not yet returned.
After these things, HWA began working on Mystery of the Ages. It was finally published in 1985, but it was simultanously published serially in the Plain Truth magazine, as was the custom in prior days. HWA wrote an introduction to the book in his “Personal” memo in the Jul-Aug edition of the PT magazine.
Prior to publishing MOA, several sermons and articles came out with various nuggets from the book. One sermon was shared with all of the congregations, explaining why Noah being “pure” in his generations meant he was white and how even Adam was white. I watched people I knew look down, shuffle their feet, and even others not of color looking pretty uncomfortable.
How many members were hurt that day? How many eventually left because of this? I suppose we may never know. However, in an era on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement when much of the world was finally beginning to accept a degree of racial equality, this really stuck out like a sore thumb.
I don’t believe Adam was white, BTW. Ever notice how Adam and Edom are similar? Without vowels, they would be difficult to tell apart. Adam was made from clay, and his name implies it was red clay.
More to the point, even if I believed Adam was white, what possible good would there be in proclaiming it, let alone publishing it? What does it prove? Nothing that is godly, that is for sure.
It is as though we are purposefully trying to repel outsiders. We are told that the Gospel is an offense, but we are not told that we are supposed to add to that offense.
Is it any wonder that we have at times been considered a cult? We have bordered upon it and even crossed that line a time or two, and especially in certain locations under the thumb of some rather dictatorial “ministers”.
By departing from good biblical exegesis, we hurt our message and we hurt the Church itself.
It Hurts Ourselves
The Pharisees were sure they would recognize the Messiah when He appeared. They knew the Scriptures, after all, and they stuck to a strict legalistic code to be moral and righteous.
However, they did not stick to the Scriptures very well, did they? Jesus confronted and criticized them many times for their unbiblical ideas. He corrected their ideas and attitudes, and for the latter, they became more and more offended and plotted against Him.
They were looking for the Messiah! He was standing right in front of them! They did not believe Him!
They were guilty of many of the same things I’ve been going on about. They blocked entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, they hurt their nation (which was proven in 70 AD), and they themselves would not enter into the Kingdom of God either.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.
So, are you going to take after the Pharisees or Jesus’ disciples? They often, privately but still did, ask Jesus what He meant. They did not know everything, did not claim to know everything, and they were humble enough, at least in private, to say so. Whose example will you follow?
Quite simply, what we say and do will have an impact upon our accounting before Christ. Can we truly say we supported the mission of making disciples? Can we truly say we supported our church family? Can we say that we ourselves were willing to learn how to enter the Kingdom and then do so?
The truth matters! We cannot do those things without the truth! If we muddle around, blur the lines, make more out of our traditions than the clear meaning of the text, and if we cannot even logically explain our ideas, then we are not doing our jobs!
Do we want to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant,” or not?