What Others Are Doing
I Corinthians 12presents a great challenge to the people of the Almighty. It says that each member of the Church of God has a spiritual gift to further the body of the Messiah. We often act as if this is not true. By our actions, we say, "the minister alone has the gifts of the spirit, our function is merely to pay and pray." As a result, the growth in numbers of the Church of God has been stagnant. The current scattered condition of Sabbath-keepers in general is the result of not taking the "bull by the horns" and helping others learn Godís Word.
The early New Testament Church was not merely a "pay and pray" group. Following the persecution of Saul against the Church in Jerusalem, the disciples were scattered abroad, and "they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word," Acts 8:4. The whole Church was involved in preaching the word, not just ordained ministers.
And so today, a few understand these basic Bible principles, and are doing something about it.
At a Feast of Tabernacles, we met Don Young and his wife Nina. Don is a former elder of the Worldwide Church of God, and was baptized in 1959. The Youngs are doing something about their religious beliefs. They are putting them into practice personally, and are sharing their beliefs with others. Don writes articles about basic tenets of our faith, and places them as an advertisement in his local newspaper in Lexington, Kentucky. He has had several positive responses. (If you are interested in placing ads in local newspapers, you may wish to follow the suggestions given by the Bible Sabbath Association, Route 1, Box 222, Fairview, OK 73737. Ask for their free article, "Reaching Out Through Local Advertising.")
In a Bible Study at the Feast, Mr. Young explained why he writes and publishes these articles. When he was first converted, Don explains, he wanted so much to help others learn the Truth. Satan wants us to lose our first love and be dormant, but the Eternal wants us alive and fruitful. While some criticize him for trying to start his own church, the reality is, Don is trying to help others with Godís Truth. It was the same in Jesusí day. Some of His disciples objected to others casting out demons in the Saviorís name. "You canít do that!" they were saying. However, our Master refused to forbid them from doing this, Luke 9:49-50. Philip was a mere deacon, yet he was moved by Godís Spirit to do a mighty work for Him, Acts 8:4-12.
Mr. Young has noted that the Sabbaths, weekly and annual, are to be proclaimed in their season, Leviticus 23:2, 4, 37. "Proclaim" means "to herald, preach, teach, give out to others." Therefore, before the Holy Days, he places newspaper advertisements proclaiming the annual and weekly Sabbaths, so that others can understand their importance. The Holy Days proclaim Christ and the gospel. If one proclaims the Holy Days, he is proclaiming the Gospel, for it is the same thing. Satan wants the salt of the earth, the light of the world, to be hidden or covered up. The truth is that all members of Godís Church are responsible for proclaiming the Truth, Matthew 9:37-38.
What a ridiculous scene it would be if there was a great field to be harvested, and there were 2,002 workers to harvest it, but only two of them went into the field to harvest, while the other 2,000 stayed outside praying them on. Jesus sent His disciples out to preach ó before they had the Holy Spirit! Luke 9:59-62, 10:1-2. Most of us donít realize we are to be laborers for God, and not only payers and prayers. Read the story of the woman of Samaria, who did a great work for God, John 4:1-42.
In conclusion, Mr. Young exhorted us to be a "burning and shining light," like John the Baptist, John 5:35. We are not to be a hidden light, unseen by the world. We need to clean up our own houses before we can share our light with others. Are we the salt of the earth, or have we lost our savor? Let us apply Matthew 25:37-46 in the spiritual sense, as well as the physical sense. There are many spiritually hungry and thirsty people out there who need to be given the Truth. Are we going to respond to them, or are we going to selfishly claim it is not our responsibility? Let us be profitable servants of Him, Luke 17:5-10.
The Youngs have placed several advertisements in the Lexington, Kentucky, newspaper as well as The Journal. "Proclaiming Godís Sabbath Feasts," explains why the Sabbaths and Holy Days are important. "Why Christ Died," shows the relationship between our Saviorís death and the Commandments of God. "Christmas ó Justified Idolatry," proclaims basic Gospel truths.
Of course, Mr. Young has his critics. I disagree with Mr. Young on the doctrine of divorce and remarriage and the proper date for Pentecost. His style may perhaps be too blunt, and could turn off some individuals. However, I congratulate him on what he is doing, and wish that others would make a similar effort. Publishing Godís Truth in the local newspaper is not for everyone. Nor is it the only way to spread the Gospel. It is, however, a proper activity for some. Are you prepared to respond to questions and work with people who are convicted by the Truth you present? A mature person who has been in the Church for years should be able to do so, but not everyone is so gifted. The point is, God has given each and every one of us spiritual gifts, and we should discover and use these gifts from God!
Some may say there are no fruits from Mr. Youngís activity. It is too soon to tell. If we do no more than Noah did, we have done a great work. He was a preacher of righteousness, II Peter 2:5, yet only his family was saved. If only one person is helped, then all the effort is worth it.
A Communist Looks at Christianity
"The Gospel is a much more powerful weapon for the renewal of society than is our Marxist philosophy. All the same, it is we who will finally beat you. We are only a handful and you Christians are numbered by the millions . . . . We Communists . . . are determined to achieve our object and we know how to obtain the means. Of our salaries and wages we keep only what is strictly necessary; we give up the rest for propaganda purposes; to this propaganda we also consecrate all our free time and part of our holidays.
"You, however, give only a little time and hardly any money for the spreading of the Gospel of Christ. How can anyone believe in the supreme value of this Gospel if you do not practice it. If you do not spread it, and if you sacrifice neither time nor money for it?
"Believe me, it is we who will win, for we believe in our Communist message and we are ready to sacrifice everything, even our life in order that social justice shall triumph. But you people are afraid to soil your hands." From Paix et Liberte, a French Communist publication.
Nigerians Proclaim Sabbaths
One group of people who is low on funds, but high on fervent energy, is Nigerian Sabbath-keepers. I have been amazed at how zealous many of them are for Godís Truth. Sure, there are impostors and charlatans there, as in other parts of the world. But, there are also zealous dedicated workers who faithfully persevere, in spite of financial difficulties and hardships of living in a Moslem-dominated country hostile to Christianity.
How the Nigerian Church of God keeps the festivals puts many American Sabbath-keepers to shame. Even during the spring festivals, they have hours of daily Bible Studies, recreational activities, evangelistic meetings, and festive meals. They plan these spiritual activities long in advance, and every festival has some time devoted to proclaiming Godís Sabbaths to others. We are called to be servants of others, not spiritual hermits and isolationists. Our faith should result in action, a life well-lived, not just a creed of belief. May true believers everywhere exhibit these zealous characteristics.
Those of you who may wish to contact Nigerian Sabbath-keepers may wish to write: Joseph A. Orie, PO Box 87, Oguta, Imo State, NIGERIA
The late John Ajalli, of Nigeria, wrote several articles published by Giving & Sharing. He was always thankful for books, Bibles and articles for distribution to others. But as he said, God will do the work He wants done, no matter whether we support it or not. The Creator will fulfill the prophecy of Matthew 24:14. Every believer should help further the proclamation of the Gospel to all nations. We love His Truth, and are thankful we can have a small part in sharing that Truth with others. ó written by Richard C. Nickels
Know Much, Do Little?
(The following letter is reproduced from the February, 1992, Good Tidings, a monthly paper published by the Bible Truth Program, Stanberry, Missouri.)
I will venture to say, and I truly believe it, 98% of people who read the Bible do just that ó read! Mostly out of duty.
I would say 50% of people who were "raised in the faith" as I was, do the same. For 25 years after I was baptized, I did. Yes, I usually went over the Sabbath School lesson and normally that was the extent of my Bible reading.
I have attended Church of God services all over Oregon, Idaho, California, Missouri, Kansas, Alaska and Washington. During Sabbath School lessons, individuals seldom speak out in a general discussion. Some visit, some write letters and cards. Yes, that is in Church of God services.
First day preachers send out booklets and books and go to great lengths to explain just exactly what they believe. They have a terrific following because of the loving way they take time to write and explain the scriptures.
I know two young ministers in the Church of God who have pulled out and now are first day. Strong! It is just sickening. We claim to have the truth and know so much, and then do little about it.
The reason I can say that is ó look at our church progress and mission outreach. One church a member of my family moved to recently, they were told, had not had a new member (except memberís children or grandchildren) in five years. Oh my, I was really shocked, actually horrified. There has to be something radically wrong with the pastors and the members.
I am not, I hope, being too critical. I know some are good workers for the Lord, but I am so eager to see the truth spread. Thereís got to be a better way to spread the truth than we in the Church of God have done in the past 50 years. Time is running out. I wonder if the story of the Ten Virgins was trying to tell the Church of God 50% of us would be lost? God help us. ó A Concerned Reader W