GIVING & SHARING NEWSLETTER December, 1994 No. 30
The Importance of Faith
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him,” Hebrews 11:6. Faith is a foundational subject of the Bible. The Savior said, “ . . . when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8. Doctrinal changers in the Church of God have, and are continually, watering down the faith once delivered. There seem to be very few today who have not compromised and given up doctrinal truth.
In order to shore up our faith, we need to revive our faith in the Almighty. Giving & Sharing is pleased to reprint two classic articles on faith, written about fifty years ago by Herbert W. Armstrong. They are, “What is Faith?” and “What Kind of Faith is Required For Salvation?” These articles were originally published as mimeographed copies, and are in the public domain.
Armstrong cites philanthropist and evangelist George Mueller (1805-1898) as “the greatest modern apostle of faith.” Mueller founded five orphanages and other charitable institutions in Bristol, England. He started on his knees in believing prayer, with no financial support. Every contribution for feeding, clothing and sheltering thousands of orphans was the result of believing prayer, for Mueller never sent out a plea for money. Mueller knew that no true servant of God ever needs to beg for money. Here is Mueller’s definition of faith:
Faith is the assurance that the things which God said in His Word are true, and that God will act according to what He has said in His Word. This assurance, this reliance on God’s Word, this confidence, is faith.
The inspiring story of Mueller, the apostle of faith, is given in his book, The Autobiography of George Mueller, available from: The Berean Call, PO Box 7019, Bend, OR 97708-7019.
Mueller gives five conditions for prevailing prayer:
1. Entire dependence upon the merits and mediation of the Messiah as the only basis of claim for blessing, John 14:13, 14; 15:16.
2. Separation from all known sin, Psalm 66:18.
3. Faith in God’s Word of promise as confirmed by His oath. Not to believe Him is to make Him both a liar and a perjurer, Hebrews 11:6, 6:13-20.
4. Asking in accordance with His will, with godly motives, not seeking any gift of God to consume it upon our lusts, I John 5:14; James 4:3.
5. Patiently waiting on and for God, James 5:7; Luke 18:1-8.
Another Faith Chapter
Most of us know that I Corinthians 13 is the “Love Chapter,” that I Corinthians 15 is the “Resurrection Chapter,” and that Hebrews 11 is the “Faith Chapter.” Yet few realize there is another faith chapter in the Bible. It is Matthew 19. At first glance, you might not see how this could be true, since the word, “faith,” is not even contained in this chapter. Yet upon closer examination, you will see that Matthew 19 has a remarkable consistency. Its central theme is an abiding faith in the Almighty, in spite of adversity.
The first brief view of faith is given in verses 1-2. So common were the Master’s acts of healing, that they are given only a passing mention here. Some people may have the faith to be healed, but there is much more to a deep faith in the Eternal. In the trials of life there are two common pitfalls that the vast majority stumble into: sex and money. In the rest of Matthew 19, Jesus gives startling, in-depth encouragements to build up our faith so that we do not fall into the pit of misuse of sex and money.
Verses 3-12 deal with the sexual sin of divorce and remarriage, which is a form of adultery. What does marriage have to do with faith? Everything! God’s law stipulates that marriage is for life. Yet mankind today, like the Pharisees of old, tries to find loopholes around God’s Law of Marriage. It takes abiding faith to marry for life, and stay married. Jesus explained that whosoever puts away his wife, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery, and he that marries her that is divorced commits adultery. If you are divorced and have to live separately without the marital relationship, as “eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake,” verse 12, your faith will be severely tested. Few, if any, Church of God organizations today follow God’s Law of Marriage. Truly, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given,” verse 11.
What kind of adults are able to receive the Truth of the Almighty regarding the scriptural teaching on divorce and remarriage? Verses 13-15 provide us with the answer. The Gospels do not contain “sound bytes” of Jesus. Here is an amazing example how a seemingly unrelated passage, on little children, explains and expounds upon the principles of faith and marriage covered in verses 3-12. The only people who can receive the teaching of the Messiah on divorce and remarriage are those who are humble children of God. “Of such,” Jesus said, “is the kingdom of heaven,” verse 14.
Those humble in attitude, childlike, innocent, and pure, are the ones that are going to be in the kingdom of heaven. Today it is difficult to find pure and innocent children, because all too many young children learn about sexual depravity and vulgar language at a very early age. Our society is saturated with sex. The media drums into our minds that we cannot exist without sex. Yet young, tender, innocent children do exist quite happily without sexual relations. They are too young for the serious lifelong marriage relationship. There will be some today, who because of improper divorces and remarriages in the past, must live single, without the marriage relationship. Those who have the determination to do this must have a childlike faith, a “yes, Lord” attitude. If there is any group of people today who need the living faith of the Master, it is “D&R” cases who must live single because their true spouse is either remarried or will not reunite with them. The just shall, and are, living by faith. Daily their faith is tested and tried. Our prayers should be with them that they withstand the test, for they are being refined like gold in the fire.
Matthew 19:16-26 varies the theme of faith, showing how riches can destroy faith. The young rich man came to Jesus asking, “What must I do to be saved?” The answer was: “keep the ten commandments.” The young rich man asked if there was anything more, and to his chagrin, Jesus advised him to sell what he had, give the money to the poor, and come and follow Him. This man went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. So we see there is a deeper level of faith then just keeping the Commandments of God. Riches are often an impediment, keeping one out of the kingdom of heaven. The young rich man was addicted to his wealth and power. He could not give it up for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.
Likewise, few today have the faith to give up an adulterous relationship, a divorce and remarriage situation, for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. They are addicted to an adulterous relationship. Only those able to receive these mature teachings of Jesus are those who are childlike in attitude, those who place God’s Truth above sex and money.
You may ask, “What about me?” Maybe you, like myself, do not have a divorce and remarriage situation that forces you to live single in order to obey God. Perhaps you are like me in that you are not at all wealthy. In verses 27-30, Jesus covers the rest of us. We have all had to give up something to faithfully follow the Eternal. Actually, like the disciples, we must give up all, verse 27. Whether we have had to give up brethren, family, property, or whatever, for His name’s sake, we must do it in faith. And, most importantly, we must continue in faith, not looking back, not regretting what we have done for the Eternal. For in reality, whatever we must give up for His sake, is worth nothing compared to the gift of eternal life.
So we have seen that throughout Matthew 19, faith is the key to survival here and now, and the key to future joy in the kingdom of heaven. Faith and marriage are closely related topics. Those who attempt to justify adultery and living wantonly do not have the faith of the Almighty. Unlawful sexual relations and selfish use of money are obstacles to faith. The rich and those living in an adulterous relationship are hereby presented by our Savior with the opportunity to demonstrate where their faith lies. Perhaps some who read this article will take action in their lives. “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it,” Matthew 19:12.
The Conspiracy of Silence
Many Church of God publications today do not clearly expose the Roman Catholic Church as the “great whore,” of Revelation, “Mystery Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth,” Revelation 17:1, 5. The reason you will not find this teaching is that much of the Church of God has apostatized and become part of Babylon. The Church of God is not alone. Recently, it has been reported that evangelical Protestants have made an agreement with Rome not to proselytize Catholics in areas such as South America.
One Protestant who has not completely bowed the knee to Rome is Dave Hunt. We are reprinting Hunt’s excellent article, “A City on Seven Hills,” which is a condensed excerpt from his new book, A Woman Rides the Beast: The Catholic Church in the Last Days. Hunt’s book is available from: The Berean Call, PO Box 7019, Bend, OR 97708-7019.
We remind Giving & Sharing readers that we promote the excellent book against pagan Catholicism, Babylon Mystery Religion, by Ralph Woodrow.
It is an affront to the Almighty that many of God’s own people do not denounce Mystery Babylon. Too many in the Church of God have silenced themselves rather than fearlessly proclaim the Truth of God. In the midst of this conspiracy of silence, at least a few firm voices must be raised.
Worldwide Church of God Splits
Alan Ruth, PO Box 4373, Troy, MI 48099, offers his well-written paper, “The Worldwide Church of God Splits: Their Triumphs and Troubles.” Ruth analyzes the many splits from the Worldwide Church, why there are splits, and their successes and problems. His astute observations include lessons we can all learn. At the end of his paper, Ruth charts various churches and organizations which have descended from the Worldwide Church of God. The number of offshoot groups continues to grow, as many people are searching for Truth and fellowship.
One of Ruth’s key thoughts is that the Church of God in general has failed to practice the instructions in Matthew 18 about resolving disputes and problems among brethren. Brethren often go to the minister first, rather than going to the brother with whom they have a problem. Many ministers not only tolerate this unscriptural practice, they encourage it. As the recipient of such unjust treatment more than once, I say a hearty “Amen!” to Mr. Ruth’s brilliant analysis.
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?
A minister excommunicated me, claiming that I was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” My beliefs in a Monday Pentecost were the catalyst that led to my ouster. He was fully aware of my beliefs before I began attending his church. We did not push our beliefs, but briefly answered a few brethren who asked us our position on Pentecost. Most of them never knew of our difference. The minister’s intolerant attitude led me to ask, “Am I a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Just what is this animal?”
In Matthew 7:15-17, Jesus warns us, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” Here, Jesus is talking about false prophets, who appear to be sheep, members of the flock. You can distinguish these false prophets who are wolves, by the fruits, or results, of their lives, even though their outward appearance seems to be good.
In Acts 20:28-30, the Apostle Paul warned the elders of Ephesus, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” In this passage we see that grievous wolves enter among the elders, and even some of the true elders become grievous wolves, devouring the flock of God to draw a personal following.
In both these New Testament passages, the wolves in sheep’s clothing are in the ministry. The following scriptures show that the Old Testament message is the same.
In Ezekiel 22:25-28, God’s true prophet Ezekiel lambasts prophets, priests, and princes who “ . . . have devoured human lives; they have taken [in their greed] treasure and precious things; . . . They have made no distinction between the sacred and secular, neither have they taught people the difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from My Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. Her princes in the midst of her are like wolves rending and devouring the prey, shedding blood and destroying lives to get dishonest gain. . . . seeing false visions and divining lies to them, saying, Thus says the Lord God, when the Lord has not spoken,” (Amplified Version). People’s lives are disrupted, torn apart with abandon, by these wolves, these false prophets.
Zephaniah 3:3-5 continues the sorry story, “ . . . her [Jerusalem’s] judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones on the morrow, for nothing is left by morning. Her prophets are light — lacking truth, gravity and steadiness — and men of treachery; her priests have profaned the sanctuary [defrauding God and man by pretending their own word is God’s word] they have done violence to the law,” Amplified Version, see also Jeremiah 23:11; Hosea 9:7. This kind of spiritual wolf devours everything in its path. They are treacherous lawbreakers.
On the other hand, the servants of the Almighty are sent by Him to be a witness for Him, as sheep in the midst of such wolves, Matthew 10:16. They have freely received God’s Truth, and they are to freely give it to others, verse 8. See also Luke 10:1-3. Hirelings, ministers who preach for money, do not care for the flock, and let the wolf devour the flock, John 10:11-14.
If I am a wolf in sheep’s clothing, I fail to recognize it. But what about others? God is their judge. Some would be quick to judge that Joseph Tkach, who succeeded Herbert Armstrong as leader of the Worldwide Church of God, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. After all, Tkach has led many of God’s people away from His Truth in many areas.
In 1973, when I worked in Worldwide Church Administration in Pasadena, California, I knew “Joe” Tkach quite well (nobody called him Joseph then). He was a Local Elder of the San Marino church. To say that Tkach was a wolf in sheep’s clothing would not be true at all. In my opinion, he demonstrated little interest or respect for Biblical doctrine. He was a byword among the headquarters ministry for someone who was a social climber and barely qualified to even be a minister. In 1972, Tkach had told a friend of mine that he, Joe Tkach, a low-ranking elder, would someday succeed Herbert Armstrong. At that time, for anyone to think that Armstrong would entrust Joe Tkach with leadership of the Church would have been preposterous. But in 1986, with the death of Armstrong, that is exactly what happened. The evidence is strong that Joe Tkach is not a wolf in sheep’s clothing, for his purpose and modus operandi have not been deceptively concealed.
So, why do we sheep often fail to recognize a wolf in wolf’s clothing, let alone a wolf in sheep’s clothing? John 10:11-14, previously referred to, answers the question. For too long, God’s people have been led by hirelings, who preach for pay and do not care for the flock, and fleece the flock for all its worth, finally allowing the wolf to enter and finish off the flock altogether.
An excellent book that covers this topic in greater detail is “Lord, What Should I Do?” by Fred R. Coulter, available from the Christian Biblical Church of God, PO Box 1442, Hollister, CA 95024-1442.
We sheep must realize that we have only one true shepherd, the great shepherd, the Messiah. May He come soon to destroy all the ravening wolves who are devouring God’s people today.
What Should You Be Doing?
Our series of articles on the subject of What Should You Be Doing? emphasizes the neglected Bible Truth that the Almighty expects every one of us to do a “work” for Him. Everyone who has the Holy Spirit has been given unique gifts, which the Almighty expects to be used in His service. The problem is discovering, and using, our spiritual gifts. Our 32-page revised edition of “What Should You Be Doing?” will challenge you to be a profitable servant of the Master. Write for your free copy today!
There are a multitude of ways to fulfil your spiritual requirements for doing. Here are a few ideas for positions of service that Giving & Sharing could use:
Wanted: person to duplicate tapes and conduct a tape ministry
Wanted: person with excellent speaking voice to transcribe written articles into cassette tapes for tape ministry
Wanted: persons to review articles for grammar and punctuation errors
Wanted: persons to review articles and tapes of other Sabbath-keeping ministries to select the best tapes and articles for a lending library service to others
Wanted: musically inclined person to compile a music tape library of hymns and special religious music to be part of lending library
Wanted: persons to conduct summer youth and family camp
Wanted: persons to type articles on a computer word processor
Wanted: person to manage mailing list and print mailing labels for Bible Study mailings
Wanted: persons in countries such as Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, and South Africa to establish independent, affiliated “Giving & Sharing” services in their areas
Wanted: persons to write religious articles for youth
Wanted: persons to correspond with or telephone others who need fellowship
Unfortunately, most of God’s people are unemployed as far as God’s work is concerned, while Satan’s cohorts enjoy full employment in his devilish work. It is time we all get off our spiritual “duffs” and be abounding in the work of the Almighty. What are you doing spiritually?
Newsletters 1-30 Reprinted
We also have ready for publication a booklet of all Giving & Sharing Newsletters, numbered 1-30, issued from 1989-1994. If you are relatively new on the Giving & Sharing mailing list, you will want to read these back issues. Write for your free copy of the 60-page booklet, Newsletters 1-30. We hope to have “What Should You Be Doing?” and Newsletters 1-30 available for shipment in early 1995.
Observe the Holy Days With Us
Our tentative plans are to observe part of the 1995 Passover season in South Dakota. We hope to celebrate Pentecost in Colorado. For the Feast of Tabernacles, we anticipate meeting with others on the Texas coast near Galveston. If you are interested in fellowshipping with us during these or other times, please let us know as soon as possible. Remember, Giving & Sharing is not a church organization, nor do I function as a church elder. We enjoy Group Bible Studies with others who like to share their understanding of the Almighty’s Word. If you are prepared to give a Feast, rather than merely have a Feast, come and share with us! Please call Richard Nickels at 307-686-5191. For dates of Holy Days in subsequent years, ask for our free article, Introduction to Biblical Holy Days. Ω
Don’t Just Read Our Newsletters!
In order for Giving & Sharing to be able to continue to publish Newsletters that are of value to Sabbath-keepers around the world, we need input from YOU! Please send us useful books, articles, tapes, and news of importance so we can share them with others.
Richard C. Nickels
3316 Alberta Drive
Gillette, Wyoming 82718.
As we have explained in our review of Giving & Sharing’s free booklet, “What Should You Be Doing?” the Almighty has given spiritual gifts to each of His people; gifts that can be used to serve others. We are responsible to our Heavenly Father to use His gifts in service to others.
GIVING & SHARING is a nonprofit mail-order bookstore serving Sabbath-observers around the world. We carry most Bibles and Christian religious books in print. Write for our most recent order blank.
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· Biblical Law, 140 pages, suggested donation, $5.00.
· Biblical Marriage and Family, free.
· History of the Seventh Day Church of God, Volume I, 256 pages, suggested donation, $9.50.
· Six Papers on the History of the Church of God, 354 pages, suggested donation, $14.00.
· Basic Bible Study Tools, free.
· We are Sabbath-Keepers, Not Seventh Day Adventists, free.
· Herbert W. Armstrong: 1892-1986, $2.00.
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