Giving & Sharing On the Worldwide Web
Thanks to the help of Alan Ruth of Michigan, Giving & Sharing is now on the Worldwide Web, sharing the website address of Alan Ruth: http://www.biblestudy.org
Any newer personal computer with a modem can access the wealth of cyberspace information available. You can download Giving & Sharing articles, Newsletters, Order Blank, etc. Many public libraries and schools provide free Internet access. Visit Giving & Sharing on the Internet today!
Even though many in the Church of God believe that television is the best medium to present the Gospel to the world, they would have to agree that it is an expensive method. Radio, and specifically talk radio, is a cost-effective tool to present God’s Truth to others. Our friend, Lee Clark, has been sponsoring a talk radio show in Las Vegas, Nevada, The World Now. Usually, a guest speaker calls in to the radio station, and discusses a topic of interest to the Church of God, and the public in general. Listeners call in, and often spirited discussion ensues. Lee presents the viewpoint of the Sabbath-keeping Church of God from a positive perspective. He has an excellent speaking voice, and is deeply sincere in his desire to spread the Good News of the Kingdom.
Is your church group considering an outreach program? Consider the benefits of talk radio. Lee Clark may be able to provide advice and help, and put his World Now radio talk show on the air in your local area, sponsoring your local Church of God group. For more information, contact Lee Clark, 1115 South Casino Center #132, Las Vegas, NV 89104. Or, leave a voice mail at 702-263-5852.
Organic short whole grain brown rice is a staple of our family’s diet. Some people who are allergic to wheat products, find that rice is a non-allergic substitute. You need to obtain healthy, whole grain products. White rice is a tasteless gooey gumbo with most of the nutrients removed. On the other hand, nourishing short grain whole rice tastes great with a little butter and salt, or seasonings. My wife Shirley has found that organic rice purchased direct from the grower, even with UPS shipping, costs half as much as rice from our local health food store. For short grain brown rice and other rice products, write: Lundberg Family Farms, PO Box 369, Richvale, CA 95974-0369, phone: 916-882-4551.
Harold Hemenway, Box 88401, Tukwila, WA 98188, has published several interesting booklets. Although we disagree with him on some things, I have found his original research to be on the whole, very informative. He has agreed to distribute his material to Giving & Sharing readers at reduced cost. Mention that you heard about him from Giving & Sharing, and he will ship booklets to you for $0.50 each. The following booklets we recommend:
Should Christians Tithe? 30 pages, supports the three Biblical tithes as having existed long before the Old Covenant. Mr. Hemenway states that government social security does not take the place of third tithe. He gives short biographies of 13 famous people who believed in tithing, and prospered. He shows that tithing is a living law, today, that Jesus and Paul tithed, and explains very well the statute of Leviticus 19:23-25. I disagree with him on these points: He believes that the second tithe cannot be used for anything but food at the feasts, and that second tithe can be used on every Sabbath. He believes that the Jubilee year is year #1 of the next 49-year cycle, while I believe that the Jubilee is the last year of a 50-year cycle, which starts over again with the next year as year #1 of another 50-year cycle. I am very hesitant to positively state which year is or is not a Jubilee or Sabbatical year.
What Does it Mean To “Turn The Other Cheek”? 14 pages, is perhaps the best booklet Mr. Hemenway has written. We recommend it highly.
Are The Food Laws Scientific?, 42 pages, is a well-researched booklet on Bible health laws. It explains the scientific basis for many of God’s laws.
In summary, it is obvious that Harold Hemenway (b. 1959, a former member of the Worldwide Church of God) has spent a great deal of time in research, and has done much independent thinking.
From around the world, there is excitement occurring in the Church of God. Thousands of brethren are becoming aware of their responsibility before the Almighty to be directly involved in the Work of God. They have experienced the ill effects of “paying and praying and staying and obeying” a religious hierarchy. Now they want to zealously be about their Father’s business. That is good news indeed.
But, let’s make sure that we have learned some lessons from the past. Let us admit our fault in precipitating the current mess in the Church of God. A pivotal, common, mistake has been a root cause of the doctrinal disintegration and the embarrassing spectacle of an evangelist’s recent sexual escapades, now available on video tape for the world to see. The fault has been ours: the so-called “lay people” in the Church of God. We have allowed this to happen. We had the potential to have prevented it. But we shirked our spiritual duty. We thought “God will take care of it.” And He did. He allowed the sins of the Church of God to raise to the utmost heights. And we bear much guilt in these sins, for we participated in them.
How? Why? The Bible clearly defines the requirements for the ministry, the leadership of the Church of God. Not only did we, the lay people, ignore those qualifications, but we acted as if they did not matter. A leader can only exist if those led agree to be led. As a whole, the Church of God lay people have not insisted on the Bible qualifications for their leaders. Our article, “Ten Basic Qualifications of an Elder,” originally published about fifteen years ago, explains these “job requirements,” as outlined in I Timothy 3, and Titus 1. It is reproduced in its entirety following this article.
The first two requirements are that the elder, overseer, Church leader, etc. must be “blameless,” and “the husband of one wife.” That disqualifies Church leaders across many Church of God organizations. However, these leaders do not step down in disgrace. Their membership does not en masse refuse to recognize them as spiritual leaders. Why not? Praise the Almighty that there are some who are waking up, and taking the necessary action. However, other ministers are covering up and denying the facts which are evident.
Let us define “blameless.” The Bible helps us to do so. The word for blameless in I Timothy 3:2 is Strong’s #483, antilego, which means literally “to speak against.” One worthy of blame has the whole world, including the awake members of the Church, speaking against his sins.
“Blameless,” as used in these verses defining the requirements for the ordained ministry, does NOT mean “a condition of having never sinned.” All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. “Blameless” in I Timothy 3:2 cannot have this meaning, because it is a condition of remaining in the ministry, and ministers, as we all, do sin from time to time, and have to repent before God. They do not become disqualified when they sin, then re-qualified when they repent, in yo-yo fashion.
When Peter camouflaged his beliefs because of the Jews, Paul “withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed,” Galatians 2:11. Was Peter “blamed” in the sense of being disqualified from the apostleship because of this act? By no means! If you take a look at Strong’s Concordance, at the words “blamed” and “blameless,” you will see that the word “blamed” in Galatians 2:11 is Strong’s #2607, kataginosko, literally meaning “in opposition to knowledge.” The word “blameless” in I Timothy 3:2 is antilego, which is not the same. These words have no relationship and are not the same thing at all. Peter in Galatians 2:11 was to be blamed, kataginosko. A church leader in I Timothy 3:2 must be blameless, antilego. Just because the words in the English translation, “blamed” and “blameless” appear to be similar, does not mean that they are in way related. The Greek words from the original are totally different. Peter did repent of his two-faced actions, and continued to zealously fulfill his role as an apostle. His sin was not a public spectacle to the world. He continuously fulfilled the ten requirements for an elder.
Peter went against what he knew to be true. He knew it was ok to eat with Gentiles, but when some Jews from James came, he withdrew himself, fearing what these circumcised Jews would think, Galatians 2:12. This was dissimulation, or hypocrisy. This was a personal sin, but not something that was worthy of barring Peter from the ministry. It was not a public sin that would put him in shame by the average person on the street. It was not publicly spoken against. My brother-in-law, a pastor in the Worldwide Church of God, took a paycheck for years, when he did not agree with their liberal doctrines. That too was hypocrisy. He, like Peter, went against knowledge. But few except his immediate family knew his problem.
However, in I Timothy 3, we are told that an elder must fulfill ten qualifications, the first of which is to be blameless. Nobody can speak against his character, which must be impeccable. All of these qualifications are outward, discernable by the average person. For example, if a Church elder is a drunk, this will usually become publicly known. The minister may have personal sins, unknown by the membership, and the public at large, and he repents of them as the Spirit leads him to see them, as we all do. But his character must not be spoken against. There are few ministers who have such a bad character that the public knows their sins. A certain Church leader’s drunk driving convictions and bribing a police officer are an example. But far more people know of another well-known evangelist’s sexual sins, which are long and many. He is everywhere spoken against because of his sins. He is not blameless. He cannot fulfill the office of a bishop or deacon because he is not blameless.
Because God’s people let it happen, the entire Church of God has recently been given a black eye because of the continued sexual escapades of a renegade evangelist. One distraught teenage member of the Church was so devastated that he almost committed suicide. He had a certain amount of hero worship for this Church evangelist. He told his father: “If a man like ___ can’t make it, how can I be expected to do so?” How many others has this minister’s actions hurt? With the wealth of information about this evangelist’s history of sexual sins available, how is it that the teenager was so devastated? Why didn’t somebody tell him the facts? When this young person went to the Church’s leadership for counseling, the counselor lied to him. Headquarters ministers denied that it happened. Even the evangelist’s well-respected associate, who pulled away to form his own group, did not lay it on the line and tell the facts.
This is living proof that the qualifications for the ministry are serious. None of this hurt to God’s people, and possibly some turning some away from the Truth in disgust, would have happened if the Church had simply acted responsibly by accepting repentant ministers back into the membership, and barring them from any leadership role, permanently. But we humans seem to think that we are more merciful than God, that we know better than His Word. What has happened recently is proof that the Church of God should re-think its view of I Timothy 3. I cannot find one NT scripture showing where a minister of God committed gross public sins, spoken against (antilego) by the public at large, and was ever admitted back into the ministry. Leaders of the Church of God must be above reproach, that while their enemies in the world may rail against them for their doctrinal teachings, they cannot find any moral flaw in their character. Any Church that does not hold these standards is not worthy to be the bride of Christ.
Here is a sample of the Bible evidence proving that antilego does not refer to a private sin, but a gross public sin:
Luke 20:27 Sadducees deny that there is any resurrection. They publicly spoke against the resurrection, trying to trap Jesus, verses 28-33.
Titus 1:9 A bishop must be able by sound doctrine to be able to convict the gainsayers. A gainsayers is going to attack you in public. But if the minister is guilty of public sins, how can he convict the gainsayers?
Romans 10:21 God has stretched forth His hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. Israel’s sins were not hidden in a corner; even the heathen knew of their sins and idolatry. Look at modern Israel today, it is the same thing.
John 19:12 The Jews cried out and said that if Pilate were to let Jesus go, he would be against Caesar, because whosoever makes himself a king “speaketh against” Caesar. They are a public enemy.
Acts 28:22 The Christian sect was “everywhere spoken against.” The Roman authorities considered Messianic believers public enemies.
There are few Church of God leaders who have disqualified themselves from the ministry because of gross public sins. However, there are many more elders who have disqualified themselves for failing to meet qualification #2, by not being “the husband of one wife,” literally, “a one woman man.”
Some, in their ignorance of the Bible, have thought that this means that an elder cannot be a polygamist. No, this is not what being “the husband of one wife” means. It means, “one who is not divorced and remarried.” How do I know this? Because the reverse situation is mentioned in I Timothy 5:9. A widow to be provided for from Church funds must be at least sixty years old, “having been the wife of one man.” Now if the ministerial requirements in I Timothy 3:2 forbid a minister from being a polygamist (a man with multiple wives), then I Timothy 5:9 must forbid a widow on Church support from being a polyandrist (a woman with multiple husbands). Polyandry is a rare phenomenon in this world. The only well-known instances of polyandry are among the Eskimos in the far north. Because of the hazardous conditions of living, an Eskimo woman may sometimes have several husbands at the same time. This is called polyandry. Polyandry was not a practice in the Mediterranean world. Therefore, I conclude that both these verses refer primarily to divorce and remarriage situations.
Now, could these restrictions forbid an elder from remarrying if his first wife had died? After all, Moffatt translates I Timothy 3:2 as “he must be married only once,” and I Timothy 5:9 as “and she must have been only once married.” Paul was a great leader of the Pharisees before his conversion. It is quite likely he was married during this time, as it was expected. However, during his ministry, he was not married. Apparently, his wife had died. Yet, in I Corinthians 9:5, Paul says that he had the power to lead about a wife, just like Peter (Cephas) did. The Old Testament requirements for the priesthood (besides being from the tribe of Levi) were similar to New Testament requirements. In Leviticus 21:13-14, we are told, “And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.” Could the New Testament ministerial qualifications be any less than those of the Old Testament priesthood? There appears to be no Bible prohibition against an elder marrying again after his first wife dies, provided that he marries a virgin.
That takes us right back to “the husband of one wife.” It does not mean polygamy. It does not mean a second marriage to a virgin. The only meaning left is that concerning divorce and remarriage. A minister of the New Testament must not be a divorce and remarriage case. Yet here we have the #1 minister in a (formerly) Sabbath-keeping Church of God, who is divorced and remarried. And, we have the #2 minister in another large Church of God who, according to court testimony agreed to unanimously by twelve jurors, forced his first wife out of the house, and soon remarried. Plus, there are dozens of other ministers in the Church of God who are likewise divorce and remarriage cases. And, as usual, we have the majority of the lay membership going to these “ministers,” (who fail the Bible qualifications for their office) for spiritual counsel and advice, even at times, advice on their own marriages.
The Church of God evangelist in the news today for his sexual aberrations has suffered from sexual addiction for decades. He is surrounded by relatives and friends, “enablers,” who protect him from suffering the consequences of his evil actions. They enable him to continue his addictive behavior. Sexual addiction, like that of alcohol and drugs, is rooted in denial. If this evangelist’s friends confront him, there might be hope that he would admit his problem, and seek help from God and godly counselors. I encourage you to pray that these enablers have the courage to confront the sinner, so that the cycle of healing and restoration can begin.
Now, do you see why I said, “the fault is with us, the lay persons”? If the membership continues to recognize the leadership of men so tainted and disqualified for leadership, then they will get the leadership they deserve, from the basest of men. I am embarrassed for the Church of God.
The problem of divorce (and remarriage) among the clergy was noted in the October 23, 1995, issue of Christianity Today. Dr. Charles Stanley, 62, noted radio preacher (In Touch ministries), author, and pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, has been estranged from his wife since 1992. She has filed for divorce. The 157-year-old congregation has historically refused to allow divorced men to be pastors or deacons. In spite of the fact that his own son stepped down in protest over his father’s unwillingness to give up the pulpit, the deacons voted to keep Stanley in charge. At least a few Baptists have more scruples about the qualifications of their ministry, than does the Church of God.
Clergy divorce mirrors the rise of all divorces in America. From 1970 to 1990, there was a 65% increase in divorces nationwide. And today, 20% of American male clergy have been divorced. Southern Baptists have one of the lowest rates of clergy divorce. Conservative Protestant groups such as Assemblies of God, Christian and Missionary Alliance, and the Presbyterian Church in America, have upheld a no-divorced-pastors policy, but not without vigorous debate. Mainline organizations have adjusted their standards to freely allow divorced ministers. The Church of God appears to have dropped Bible standards as well.
“For if the first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them [Israel of old, and Israel, the Church of God, today], He saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,” Hebrews 8:7-8. No, we cannot blame our leaders for the mess we are in today. We have met the enemy, and he is US. Let us learn from our past mistakes, and insist on Biblical qualifications for the ministry. May God raise up faithful men of real character to lead the Church of God, today!
The Almighty willing, I plan to speak on behalf of Giving & Sharing and the Bible Sabbath Association, at the Friends of the Sabbath seminar in Sydney, Australia, July 5-7, 1996. I am looking forward to meeting many brethren in Australia, with whom I have corresponded for many years! Dr. John Merritt, Dr. Samuel Bacchiocchi, and Pastor Larry Walker are planning to join me from the United States. Other speakers from Australia are scheduled to speak. For information on the seminar in Australia, contact: Craig White, GPO Box 864, Sydney, NSW 2001, AUSTRALIA, phone: (02) 745 2964.
For information on other Friends of the Sabbath seminars in the United States and elsewhere, contact Friends of the Sabbath, 27068 La Paz #500, Laguna Hills, CA 92656, phone (714) 491-3866 (Gordon Barr).
— written by Richard C. Nickels
Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849