John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Is Our Faith?
How Faithful is Our Faith?
God’s people are familiar with question asked by Christ in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?”
One PCG member told me that she cannot accept the point presented in the CGF booklet saying that Christ has already come secretly. I asked her, “Is it not written in the Bible that the Day of the Lord and Christ’s coming would be just like a ‘thief in the night’?” (Mat. 24:43-44, 2 Pet. 3:10, 1 Thes. 5:2, Rev. 16:15), and, “Are we expected to not know when He has already come?" She responded that she just cannot accept that Christ has already come because there is no proof that He has.
I understand her predicament. That’s because I, myself, had previously read the booklet, The Day of the Lord, by Mr. Ardis, and did not believe and just laughed. As I look closely now, I see the basic reason why many of God’s elect do not believe that Christ could have come, despite verses in the Bible indicating that Christ is to come secretly as a thief in the night.
With preconceived ideas resulting from years of religious teachings we received, our minds are often closed to new understanding--new understanding that cannot be absorbed by our “locked” minds even if there is Biblical proof refuting what we believed before. What we don’t fully understand is that the holy Bible is the living word of God and that there are still many things we don’t understand yet. Preconceived notions make it difficult to see that there is first an unexpected secret coming of Christ (Mat. 24:43-44, 1Thes. 5:2, Rev. 16:15) to His Temple (Mal. 3:1), to closely discern (Mal. 3:18) who, among those whom God called, have the faith to stand for Him in the end time. Those called and chosen few who study and pray constantly with an open mind and a sincere desire to follow Christ will be accounted worthy to be protected when the Great Tribulation comes, and later will be with Christ at His glorious second visible coming to the whole world to finally rule the nations of this world (Rev 1:7)
There are always hidden truths in the Bible that God wants us to learn, according to His purpose, time and place. There is dynamism in God’s word. Our understanding is always limited according to what God wants us to understand, depending on His plan for us in each situation.
As humans, we tend to ask for physical evidence, for “proof,” especially when new understandings run contrary to our existing belief system, when something new intrudes on our comfort zones and alters religious norms.
Some of us are already tired of moving from one church group to another. Hence, some of God’s people tend to avoid, and, to a certain extent, stop proving because doing so would only confuse their minds. But does God really accept this line of thinking among His people? Doesn’t God admonish us to keep on growing in understanding and knowledge, to not stop proving, especially when we detect something is no longer going right in His church, or in the way His servants lead His people in the church? Is it okay with God that His people just follow the human leaders in His church even if these leaders deny His name and usurp His authority? Or when His ordained ministers no longer teach His chosen ones according to what is written in His word--the holy Bible--but according to whims and human reasoning?
A few days after I left the PCG, I was accused by one of the PCG brethren, of reading much so that I could find fault in the church. I’m very much saddened by this misinterpretation of my actions, and at realizing the dangerous mindset of some of the brethren in the PCG. During the time when I did not deeply understand some abominable acts done by the PCG ministry, I did not make a move to prove certain issues. If I were fond of finding fault in the ministry, I could not have stayed as long as I did in the PCG, having observed a number of offenses and human shortcomings among the brethren and the ministers. I see now that, if I had been truly open-minded, maybe I could have seen what others have seen as abominable acts, much earlier. Or maybe God has His own reasons for showing me what is going on in the PCG just in this very end time. Is it not true that God works in very mysterious ways? He calls, draws and uses us according to His purpose, in His time and place.
Does God accept somebody who already understands the abominable condition of a church and still stays in that group? Will God “understand” if we tolerate the abominations committed by His ministers, compromising God’s truth and justifying wrong actions through human reasoning? Of course not! He wants us to be vigilant--to be willing to take a stand for Him!
This is the dilemma of some of the brethren. Despite what they observe and know to be no longer right, they have decided to remain in the PCG for reasons other than following Christ and God the Father. Isn’t the Great God in Heaven a jealous God? Hasn’t He always emphasized this? If we don’t believe what He says in the holy Bible, and instead we believe human leaders in the church who veer away from His word, can we expect God to be happy with us? Or, will He be furious?
Does not Christ appreciate God’s people who stand firmly by God’s word and follow Him as He leaves a church because the human ministry leading it usurp God’s authority and deny His name by making abominable claims, rulings and pronouncements? As God’s very elect, shouldn’t we know whether the ministry is still following God obediently, or whether they are blindly following another god and leading God’s people away from Him? Some who have seen the abominable acts of the PCG ministry have said that they will just wait and pray that Mr. Flurry and his ministers will repent. So they stay in the PCG while waiting. Is this the right action that Christ and God the Father expect from His people – from His chosen ones?
It is one thing to submit humbly to authority and respect God’s ministry. But it is another thing to condone sin by following ministers who have gone astray from the righteous ways of the great God of the universe. Is it right for God’s people to stay in the PCG while waiting for Mr. Flurry to repent?
What if Mr. Flurry will not repent? Do we think Christ and God the Father will force him to repent? I personally hope and pray that Mr. Flurry and the rest of the PCG ministers who are making abominable rulings and pronouncements will repent. But I did not wait for them because I knew that the longer I stayed with the PCG, the more callous and blind I would become. I would be no different than those WCG members who lacked the courage to take action despite the flurry of doctrinal changes made starting in the late 80’s. And most importantly, I know that God the Father and Christ would not be happy with such a decision.
God the Father will not force His people to repent because He wants us to develop His character within us. He wants us to sincerely realize that we are wrong, and honestly accept that fact in front of Him in all humility. If we suffer as a consequence of our decisions, that is the normal result of our wrong thinking and wrong choices.
Most of us do not fully understand what faith is really all about. As Mr. Armstrong often said, we really “do not get it.” As humans, we are always looking for proof--tangible physical evidence--when, in fact, faith is the exact opposite of relying on the physical. Let us review God’s word on this. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Now, is it not clear that if we do have faith in God’s word, that faith is our evidence that God’s word is true? Why look for physical proof? Ask yourself, “All these years, what is it that we have been hoping for?” Is it not the return of Jesus Christ?
If God’s word says He is to return at a time when we do not expect Him, as a thief in the night, can we say we believe Him and still demand physical proof that he has returned? Since He told us that He was to come as a thief in the night, i.e. secretly, are we expected to know when He does come to God’s temple? Now that He has come secretly as a thief, His faithful people have been made aware that He is here! As God discerns their hearts, their love of His truth, and their willingness to follow Him, He opens their minds to understand. But this knowledge is anchored on our faithfulness to God and His words – the holy Bible.
When I joined the PCG in 1994, I did not look for hard evidence. In early 1994 we could not really see the effects of apostasy in Southern Philippines. But I had discerned that something was wrong in the WCG after reading the booklet God Is. Then, a few months later, I received Malachi’s Message. It was then that I began to reread available materials side by side with the Bible. Through God’s Spirit and Christ’s knocking, I came to understand that He is no longer in the WCG and left that church after careful Bible study.
When God’s elect ones lack faith, their behavior is altered, resulting in wrong decisions and actions—for example, impatience is a manifestation of a lack of faith. When Mr. Flurry decided to print and distribute Mystery of the Ages, he knew the copyright law and the instructions in 1Pet. 2:13, as well as God’s eighth Commandment, which forbids stealing. He reasoned that God would understand because his intentions were good, i.e., to make available to the world God’s plan of salvation for humanity. Instead of negotiating with the WCG, or praying for God’s intervention and help to allow him to distribute MOA in accord with the laws of God and human authorities, he tried to reason that God would support him even if he violated those laws because the result would be what God wanted. I now realize that this is human reasoning, and not God’s will, since Mr. Armstrong completed the task in his time.
The question is--does God really allow His people to transgress His law and the laws of the land in order to accomplish something He wants done? Does God think like humans, that “the end justifies the means”? Is there any Biblical evidence that can support this concept? If God does think like this, David could have just killed King Saul, reasoning that the king needed to die for his evil deeds and to save Israel from his misguided leadership. God does not make short cuts as humans do. He is not impatient as we are. God wants us to develop His godly patience so we will be worthy to enter His kingdom.
Sometime in the year 2000 or 2001, a minister in the PCG ruled that it was okay for children of God’s people to take board exams on Saturdays, claiming that Mr. Armstrong allowed it in his time. So the minister allowed his son to take an exam on a Sabbath. Others followed. This caused much confusion to other members. Another minister in Southern Philippines finally decided to verify it with PCG headquarters, only to find out that it was never allowed in Mr. Armstrong’s time. The minister concerned acknowledged his mistake after some adverse consequences of the abominable ruling.
But the issue is, were God’s people able to discern and understand the depth of such an offense? Why did a minister use Mr. Armstrong’s name to justify breaking God’s law? Is this not self-righteousness and a gross display of faithlessness? My children have broken the Sabbath by attending classes and taking exams on Saturdays. And that is their decision. But I have made it clear to them that they are breaking God’s law. And we have to ask God’s forgiveness of our sins! If we try to make excuses in front of men, sometimes using other men’s words to justify our sins, it demonstrates a lack of faith in the redemptive role of Christ and the grace and mercy of God the Father. And God would be angry at our giving importance to what men say instead of fearing God! For God, that is plain hypocrisy!
The ruling to impose a “must” baptismal counseling on 25-year-olds who have grown up in the Church is a plain display of lack of patience and faith, at the very least. At worst, it is a usurpation of the authority of the Great Almighty God of the universe! The action denies God His prerogative of calling people whom He chooses at the time He chooses. It is a complete denial of His name and His authority! That is why I was very much alarmed when the PCG ministry tinkered with this very sensitive matter that even Christ did not put His hand into!
When the Israelites were left to themselves as Moses went up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, they became restless. As they lost faith, they started looking for an alternative in the physical realm to direct their devotion. They molded an animal figure and started kneeling before it and worshiping it. As Mr. Flurry started losing faith in God, he tried to find tangible physical things that could link him to Mr. Armstrong and to God, such as HWA’s prayer stone, his books and booklets, the furniture, the candelabra, the stone of destiny, etc. In an effort to display spiritual fruits, he embarked on an aggressive building program, Jerusalem diggings and other physical and worldly endeavors. As he lost connection to the Almighty God in Heaven, he was deprived of the Holy Spirit and of the new truths and revelation fitting for the end times. He is depriving himself and the PCG members of the true spiritual fruits that are vitally needed by God’s people to prepare themselves for the turbulent times just ahead.
How pitiful it is for God’s man to lose his connection to the Ultimate Source of Power of the whole universe. And, as Church members, if we blindly follow human leaders who have gone astray, we lose our focus on God the Father and Christ. God wants us to stand for Him, and not for any fallible human. It is in this context that we should continually be building faith by deeply studying God’s word, and by accepting what it plainly says. God does not want us to reason around His laws, truths and statutes to justify our own understanding and “legalize” our motives.
What we should deeply understand is that our faithfulness should not be towards the human leaders in God’s church. We should be faithful only to God the Father and His son Jesus Christ. Hence, we should pay close attention to the holy Bible and what it says, especially when human leaders in God’s church deviate from God’s laws, statutes and doctrines. And when new understanding comes our way, it is our responsibility to continually and consistently study and prove all things.
As said earlier, Christ is discerning now, who among God’s chosen people, including our families--husbands/wives/children--is worthy to be protected. The reason Christ comes secretly, as a thief in the night, to God’s temple, is to see who is worthy to become pillars and lively stones in His temple. Let us ask ourselves honestly and bluntly, are we worthy, considering our imperfections, to be protected by God in the place of safety? Considering the attitudes and values of our husband, wife and/or children, are they worthy to be in the place of safety? We are not to condemn or try to act as judge in God’s place, but we are called to discern right and wrong behavior. So, do we have the faith, or do our family members have the faith, to follow God’s instructions when the time comes? These are questions that we should honestly answer to ourselves. And the answers are what Christ is discerning in our individual hearts and minds right now.
The answers to these questions depend on how much faith each individual has. That is why I leave to my grown-up children their own decisions about these spiritual matters, especially in light of what is going in the Church right now. I cannot be sure of what God’s verdict will be regarding my personal sins and shortcomings, or anyone else’s, when the time comes. I also am building faith to be worthy of God’s mercy.
Building and strengthening our faith requires patience and diligence to search and carefully study God’s word. God’s truth is not something that just comes to our mind through our human reasoning. It must be sought and proved from His word. And as we go through the process, God will open our minds, as He chooses. As God’s truth becomes fully embedded in our minds, our faith is continually built-up. Then our daily actions, our works, will be anchored on Christ’s faith, which is in us through God’s Holy Spirit.
We need to realize that in this end time God is not interested in material things, such as acquisition of properties and other tangible assets. It is a bonus if He showers us with material blessings, as he promised. But He is not looking for the physical fruits that we possess and enjoy in this world – buildings, equipments, books, magazines, etc. What God wants to find in each one of us is Faith anchored on His truth – nothing more, nothing less. That is what Christ wants to see in our inner selves as He discerns and picks out the pillars for God’s temple. As He sets apart those who boldly stand for God, His true faithful ones joyfully love and respect His authority.
After all is said and done, everything boils down to the question: “When the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth”
© Church of God's Faithful 2017