GIVING & SHARING NEWSLETTER June, 1993 No. 22
Giving & Sharing Returns to Missouri
Earl Lewis is a member of the Board of Directors of Sharing & Giving, Inc., sponsor of the Giving & Sharing book service to Sabbath-keepers. Effective July 1, 1993, Earl plans to assume responsibility for mailing Giving & Sharing books and articles. The Almighty willing, I plan to spend more time writing. For Giving & Sharing Bookstore services, please write: Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, Missouri 64849 USA.
Who “Owns” Sabbatarian History?
History has not as much to do with time, as with how we live and believe. Recently, I have been updating the book, Six Papers on the History of the Church of God, part of which covers the history of Sabbatarian Baptists in England and America from the 1500s to the 1800s. It is inspiring and encouraging to learn that early Sabbath-keepers practiced nearly the same beliefs that we hold today. Through the pages of history, I have discovered our spiritual ancestors.
Yet some deny my claims of spiritual kinship with early English and American Sabbath-keepers. Don Sanford, official historian of the Seventh Day Baptist Church, has recently written a revised SDB history, A Choosing People: The History of Seventh Day Baptists (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1992). Sanford is antagonistic towards other Sabbath-keepers who appropriate SDB history as their own (see Sabbath Sentinel, October, 1992, pages 6-7).
Seventh Day Baptists cannot validly claim exclusive “ownership” of the history of Sabbatarians. SDB’s today do not agree doctrinally with their Sabbatarian ancestors! Actually, today’s faithful Church of God brethren are doctrinally closer to early English and American Sabbath-keepers than are today’s liberal SDB’s. Early American Sabbatarians rejected Trinity and immortal soul teaching, eschewed Christmas and Easter, promoted their faith much more than SDB’s do today, and traced their spiritual ancestry directly to English Lollards, Waldensians, and the First Century Church. Sanford’s book traces Seventh Day Baptists back to the Protestant Reformation and the Roman Catholic Church. The oldest existing Seventh Day Baptist Church, the London, England, Mill Yard Church, began during the mid 1600s. The Mill Yard Church has apparently always kept the “Lord’s Supper” on the fourteenth day of the first Hebrew month. Almost no American SDB churches followed this practice. Today, SDB’s accept Christmas, Trinity, and immortal soul teaching.
Who “owns” Sabbatarian history? Those who believe and practice what early Sabbath-keepers believed and practiced, John 8:39.
The Cross of Christ — a Christian Symbol?
Ralph Woodrow, in his book, Babylon Mystery Religion (available from Giving & Sharing), shows that the cross is one of the most important, pervasive, symbols of the Roman Catholic Church. The floor plan of the church is usually in the shape of a cross. Crosses proliferate Catholic churches and homes. The priest makes the sign of the cross 16 times during the Mass. Protestants use the cross on steeples, pulpits and in various other ways.
Early Christians did not consider the cross a symbol of veneration and worship. They considered it an accursed tree, the emblem of shame, Hebrews 12:2. Their faith was in what was accomplished by the cross, the sacrifice of the Messiah for their sins. To use worship symbols such as the cross was considered idolatry.
Not until paganism became “Christianized” did the cross become a Church symbol. In A.D. 431, crosses in churches were introduced, but crosses on steeples did not appear until about A.D. 586, when Rome sanctioned the use of crucifixes. The cross did not originate with Christianity, but was borrowed from paganism, where it was used as a symbol of the god Tammuz by the Babylonians of ancient Chaldea. Egypt, Greece, Phoenicia, India, and Mexico used the cross as a religious symbol long before the birth of our Saviour. The invading Spaniards were amazed that the Mexican Aztecs had venerated the cross since ancient times. The cross had entered the professing Christian Church through Constantine, whose “vision of the cross” led him to adopt the “Christian” faith in order to unify the Roman Empire. Constantine also persecuted Sabbath-keeping Quartodecimans of the true Church.
These facts are well-documented and have been known by the Church of God for many, many years. However, the Worldwide Church of God has now accepted the cross as an important religious symbol (Paul Kroll, The Plain Truth, April, 1993, page 15). Joseph W. Tkach now says that the cross of Christ is the “central reference point for every Christian” (The Plain Truth, May/June 1993, page 1). The Church’s television program has crosses prominently displayed.
A man from the Philippines writes, “What has happened to the Worldwide Church of God?” The same thing that happened to the First Century Church of God. They have departed from the faith and become part of the Babylonian system of religion. They have done what the American people have done in their political system: changed traditional values for their own ideas. As U.S. President, Bill Clinton, said in his inauguration speech, America has to change: “Each generation of Americans must define what it means to be an American.” In defiance of unchanging Bible absolutes, the majority in the Church of God today have redefined what it means to be a Christian. The Trinity, born-again theology, crosses, etc., are all part of a dramatic change in religious values. Let us not give in to the shifting tide. Let us worship God without the “aid” of idolatrous, pagan, cross symbols.
NIV or KJV?
We recommend that you use the King James Version of the Bible. One reason is that all major Bible helps, such as Strong’s Concordance, Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance, Englishman’s Greek Concordance, Gesenius (or Brown-Driver-Briggs) Hebrew Lexicon, and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, are based on the King James Version. One cannot engage in effective Biblical research, letting the Bible interpret the Bible, without using the King James Version as the base for study. See our recently updated free article, “Basic Bible Study Tools,” which shows you how to use Bible research tools.
Of course, if you don’t want to check things out for yourself, but are willing to accept what someone else says without proof, then you don’t need a King James Version (or any Bible, for that matter).
A second important reason for using the King James Version (KJV) is that it is based on the Received Text, the best manuscripts, which are closest to the original. Most modern versions, such as the New International Version (NIV), are based on the Alexandrian text from Egypt, which is corrupted. See our article, “King James Version Errors,” Study No. 122, contained in our free book, Bible Studies. The New International Version omits a reference to the New Testament Church keeping the Holy Days in Acts 18:21. Some 95% of all Greek manuscripts have this verse, but the NIV omits it without a footnote! The NIV is the standard version of the vast majority of Protestant Churches today.
A third reason for using the KJV is that its language is often easier to understand than the NIV. In our family Bible study, we have found time and again that the KJV is, in many passages, easier for our children to understand than the NIV! If you do find the King James English difficult, we recommend the New King James Version, which is also based on the Received Text, and brings some of the archaic language up to date. The NKJV corrects many KJV errors, such as Acts 12:4, which is wrongly translated “Easter” in the KJV, but “Passover” in the NKJV. Even if you use a NKJV, you will still need the old King James Bible in order to use Bible helps and Englishman’s Concordances.
As a sign of their doctrinal decline, the Worldwide Church of God has abandoned the KJV standard, and followed Protestants with the NIV as their standard version. In spite of admitting that, “The NKJV is the only major modern translation to be based on the Textus Receptus, whose manuscripts are part of the Majority Text,” the Worldwide Church recommends the NIV for one’s first Bible. The WWC has, since 1982, abandoned the use of uppercase pronouns referring to God (see The Plain Truth, May/June 1993, pages 11, 24-26).
Sparingly use modern translations such as the NIV, but only in conjunction with your main KJV wide margin, lifetime Bible. Don’t become a Protestant. Stick with the King James Version, or New King James Version.
Laodicean Motto: It is Finished!
When the Creator worked six days to complete the physical creation, His works were finished, Genesis 2:1. But, His spiritual creation was about to begin, as He thereafter blessed the Sabbath, verses 2-3. When the Messiah was about to die on the stake, He said, “It is finished,” John 19:30. He had finished the spiritual work of glorifying the Heavenly Father and qualifying to be our perfect Passover sacrifice, John 17:4.
When the Apostle Paul was nearing his execution, he said he had fought a good fight, and had finished his course, had kept the faith, and looked forward to receiving a crown of righteousness at the return of the Savior, II Timothy 4:6-8.
In the future, when the voice of the seventh angel shall sound, the mystery of God will be finished, Revelation 10:7. Part of this “mystery” includes the resurrection of the dead, I Corinthians 15:51. The Two Witnesses shall prophesy for 1,260 days until their testimony is finished, Revelation 11:3‑7.
For years, some in the Church of God have concluded that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God has been preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, in fulfillment of Matthew 24:14. The work of the Church, they believe, is finished. They base this on the teaching of Herbert W. Armstrong. In 1984, shortly before his death, Armstrong gave a sermon in which he claimed to have fulfilled Matthew 24:14. The Plain Truth was then going to every nation except Laos and Cambodia. Armstrong quoted the verse and said:
Brethren, that has happened. And that has happened through this work, and through the telecast and through The Plain Truth, and through other literature [such as United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy] . . . . But it is a fact, and has happened . . . that gospel of the Kingdom has gone to all the world, and there is no other voice that has taken it to all the world, and that is something that nobody can contradict! That has happened! Now, the next thing is the Great Tribulation, and after that will come the Day of the Lord.
This was not the first time Armstrong claimed that he had fulfilled Matthew 24:14. In 1972, after the failure of Armstrong prophecies concerning the time of the return of Jesus Christ, the Worldwide Church of God reinterpreted January, 1972, as the end of a second nineteen-year-time-cycle and the fulfillment of preaching the gospel to the whole world. As a result, the Church let down and lapsed into lethargy and liberalism, from which it has never recovered (with only a weak respite in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when an attempt was made to get doctrinally “back on track”).
If Armstrong was correct that he had fulfilled Matthew 24:14, then the Church does not now have a mission. It might as well pack up and go home, instead of go into all the world with the gospel message. When the prophesied Great Tribulation did not occur, the Church was driven inexorably into Laodiceanism, a spiritual condition of laziness and letting down. That is why I believe that “Matthew 24:14 is finished,” or “it is finished,” is the motto of spiritual Laodiceans.
Should we believe Armstrong’s bold claim? If he was correct about his fulfilling Matthew 24:14, Armstrong should have also been correct about another bold prophetic statement of his in the same 1984 sermon:
The United States has won its last war. We will not win any more [wars].
The American victory in Panama against Noriega, and the smashing 1991 victory against Iraq’s Sadaam Hussein over Kuwait, shows the falsehood of Armstrong’s 1984 claim. So, why should I believe what he said about Matthew 24:14? What does this verse mean? Does sending a few magazines to every country in the world fulfill the Eternal’s purpose in preaching the gospel to the whole world?
In the Book of Revelation there are a number of insets to the general chronological progression of prophecy. Revelation 12, a general history of the Old and New Testament Church, is such an inset, not tied to the chronology of the seven seals, seven trumpets, or seven last plagues. Likewise, Matthew 24:14 might be an inset in the Olivet Prophecy of our Savior. If it is not, you must admit that it does not say who will fulfil the preaching of the gospel as a witness to all nations. The Bible indicates there are at least two main events which will result in the gospel being preached to all the world, neither of which pertain to Herbert W. Armstrong nor the Church of God in general.
(1) The Three Angels of Revelation 14:6-12 will be used by the Almighty to thunder His end-time message to the entire world. The first angel has the everlasting gospel to preach to every nation, telling people to repent and worship God. The second angel announces the fall of Babylon and why she received God’s wrath. And, the third angel warns people not to worship the Beast and his image, nor receive his mark, lest they suffer the seven last plagues of the wrath of God. Some churches, such as the Church of God (Seventh Day), teach that the Church is proclaiming the “Third Angel’s Message.” My Bible says the third angel, not a human being, will proclaim this message in the future.
(2) The Two Witnesses of Revelation 11:1-12 will be mightily empowered by the Eternal to preach for 1,260 days. The whole world will be affected by their gospel preaching. When the Two Witnesses have finished their testimony, the Beast will kill them, and the earth’s rebellious people will rejoice at their deaths. Then, after three days they shall be resurrected, just before the Third Woe.
Both the Three Angels and the Two Witnesses will have a powerful impact on all peoples on earth. This will be a far greater effect than a few million copies of The Plain Truth magazine with a weak message. Let us not make bold, unsubstantiated predictions bragging about how well we have done in preaching the gospel to the world. Let us be honest and admit that the Church, since the great start in the First Century, has done a miserable job of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to all the world for a witness. The First Century Church lost its first love. Church history has been mostly downhill ever since.
Many people give up just before they would succeed. Instead, they are failures. I am happy that Paul did not give up preaching the gospel, II Timothy 4:7. Neither should we give up, but be always abounding in the work of the Lord, I Corinthians 15:58.
The work of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world for a witness has not been finished. Any church group which claims that it has, is in a Laodicean condition of lukewarmness and lethargy. “It is finished” is the motto of Laodiceanism.
Wavesheaf and Unleavened Bread
“The question [I have] is: since we are commanded to eat unleavened bread for the 7 days & we know this eating could not take place until the wave sheaf offering was made, what happens if the Feast [of Unleavened Bread] begins in mid-week? How can we eat unleavened bread if the wave sheaf won’t be offered for several more days?” D.J.S., Chicago
ANSWER: We are commanded to eat unleavened bread for seven days, Leviticus 23:6. There is no stipulation that the bread we eat during the seven days of unleavened bread has to be from the new harvest. Unleavened bread is used in the Passover service, before the wavesheaf, and this unleavened bread is obviously from the old, last year’s, harvest. The regulations given in Leviticus 23:9-14 concerning the wavesheaf do not clearly specify when the wavesheaf is to be offered. The events of John 20:17, which fulfilled the wavesheaf, help us to pinpoint the Sunday after the Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread as the correct wavesheaf day.
Even if Sivan 6 Pentecost advocates are correct, which they are not, wavesheaf day would be Nisan 16. Obviously, on Nisan 15, the first holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we would have to eat unleavened bread from the old harvest. God does not require us to do the impossible. Your statement, “we know this eating [of unleavened bread during the Feast] could not take place until the wave sheaf offering was made,” is not true.
The “bread, parched corn, and green ears” of Leviticus 23:14, is not the same bread as the unleavened bread of verse 6. The Passover unleavened bread is symbolic of the sinless body of the Messiah. The bread of the Feast of Unleavened Bread has a different religious purpose, to remind us that we are to be unleavened (without sin) before the Almighty. The “bread, parched corn, and green ears” of Leviticus 23:14 does not have the same religious purpose; it appears to refer to ordinary food to eat. We must dedicate the wavesheaf to the Eternal before we eat of the new harvest. So here we have three different breads, three different object lessons from our Creator.
Stories For Family Study
For years, our children have enjoyed stories from “The Children’s Bible Hour,” a religious radio broadcast from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Available on cassette tape, these stories have entertained and educated our children, especially on long automobile trips. Many of these stories have been put in written form, now available in three volumes, $10 each, entitled The One Year Book of Family Devotions. Each volume contains 365 stories based on a Bible passage. These practical stories are an ideal springboard for family Bible Study and discussion. A few stories require parental editing, to eliminate Protestant doctrine. For more information on books and tapes, write: Children’s Bible Hour, P.O. Box 1, Grand Rapids, MI 49501.
New Biblical Health and Healing Book
After many months, we have completed a major update of our material on Bible Health and Healing. I wanted to write a comprehensive article on Clean and Unclean Meats, because I have never seen a thorough presentation of this subject. A new, 46-page article, is included in our latest book, Biblical Health and Healing. In addition to material on Clean and Unclean Meats, the book contains several articles we have distributed over the years on Bible health and healing principles, including a review of Herbert W. Armstrong’s classic article, “Does God Heal Today?”
We are pleased to offer, free of charge, our 138-page book, Biblical Health and Healing. Here is a summary outline:
Summary of Biblical Health and Healing
Health From the Biblical Viewpoint (Study No. 18)
There are many scriptures which lay the framework for Biblical Health.
Anointing the Sick for Healing: Who? What? Why? How? (Study No. 23)
A detailed analysis of James 5:14-16 shows that we have much to learn about the Almighty's healing power.
What is the Gift of Healing? (Study No. 115)
Some modern “faith healers” abuse the gift of healing. Is it always God's will to heal? Why does God allow sickness?
God Does Heal — Today!
A review of the 1952 Herbert W. Armstrong booklet, “Does God Heal Today?” shows that the doctrine of divine healing is part of the Gospel commission. We “break bread” at Passover to symbolize our faith in Christ’s body, beaten for our healing.
Clean and Unclean Meats
This 46-page article is a comprehensive study of the Bible teaching about clean and unclean meats. The Law of Clean and Unclean is NOT just a principle of good health, but a vital part of the Ten Commandments.
Should Christians Be Vaccinated? (Study No. 72)
Vaccines are made from unclean substances and Christians should not be vaccinated. We should trust YHVH as our healer.
Whole Grain Breads: Proven Recipes, by Shirley Nickels
These are natural recipes we actually use. If you haven’t eaten Shirley’s delicious whole wheat Sabbath waffles, you haven’t lived!
A Time to Be Born—Naturally (Study No. 77)
We went through a tremendous trial during the birth of our daughter Amanda. The Bible has many scriptures regarding childbirth. Natural childbirth and breast feeding are part of God’s design.
Be Ye Clean (Study No. 91)
Being clean involves more than just washing one’s hands before meals. God wants us to be clean from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
Reviews: Confessions of a Medical Heretic, Back to Eden, and None of These Diseases
Dr. Robert Mendelsohn warns us to stay away from doctors, operations, hospitals and vaccinations except under extreme emergencies. Natural doctor Jethro Kloss wrote the encyclopedia on herbal remedies. Dr. S.I. McMillen shows that scientific evidence supports Bible Health Laws.
The Attack Against Healing and Health
Review of anti-healing material (by Ernest Martin, David L. Antion, Herbert W. Armstrong, Joseph W. Tkach, and Church of God, The Eternal). The doctrine of healing is critical because it requires the faith of God, which is necessary for salvation. Ω