The De-liberation of the Worldwide Church of God

 

In 2001 J. Michael Feazell, a former high-ranking assistant to the Worldwide Church of God’s [WCG’s] late founder and pastor-general Herbert W. Armstrong [HWA]and his successor Joseph W. Tkach Sr., wrote and published the book titled The Liberation of the Worldwide Church of God.

The author’s main point is that the WCG members as led by Mr. Armstrong had been in bondage or in some kind of prison because of the supposedly “deceptive”and untruthful teachings which he handed to them. [If you wish, you may search Google as to how you can obtain a copy of this controversial book.]

A related video titled “Called to Be Free” [see: https://www.youtube.com7/watch?v=kb76qyaC824] shows how Mike Feazell along with other former top leaders of the WCG [Joseph Tkach Jr., Dan Rogers, Greg Albrecht, Bernard Schnippert, Randal Dick. Ronald Kelly, and several others] one day came together and, without previous consultation with one another, they came to a unanimous conclusion that the teachings which HWA left behind were heretical, not true to the Holy Scriptures, and deserved rightly to be demolished and junked. Thereby, they advanced, the WCG and members would be “liberated” or “freed” from the bondage to former false teachings, as Mike Feazell confidently declares in his book.

By accepting the teachings of mainstream “Christianity” as “absolute truth,” the WCG and the brethren are pronounced by these leaders as now “liberated” and “free!”

The WCG members’ reaction to the book and the video has been, understandably, mixed. Those who feel they had been oppressed by the former church beliefs and practices expressed joyful thanks for the relief afforded by the new perspective. Those who have held HWA in high esteem felt mortified and incensed. The rest have tried to walk the tightrope between the two extremes — terribly confused!

I would like, in this present article, to make sense of this turn of events and train the lens of God’s Word on the issues raised by this actually revolutionary occurrence in the WCG.

My view is that the so-called liberation of the WCG has actually resulted in the “reformed” WCG becoming bogged down in a different kind of bondage or prison. I say, the WCG needs to be “de-liberated!”

The law of God — burdensome, or not?

Feazell and company maintain that WCG members had been needlessly burdened by their keeping of God’s “Old Testament” or “Old Covenant” laws and commandments. But these leaders contradict the plain testimony of 1 John 5:3 that God’s commandments are not burdensome! John here affirmed that we love God and the brethren by keeping His commandments.

These leaders also contradict Jesus’ plain testimony that “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:21).

Jesus’ commandments are not simply all His instructions as recorded in the New Testament. If we understand that the LORD who gave the law to ancient Israel was the same God Being who later became the God-man Jesus Christ, we will know that He meant to include that law among His commandments. [See: The True Christ, The Law of Christ, and The Four Dimensions of Christ’s Love.]

We can sing to Christ “I love You, Lord” all we can, and still not have a real personal relationship with Him unless we keep His commandments! Jesus called such worship according to the commandments of men to be but “vain” (Matthew 15:9). [See: True Worship.]

While these leaders consider the apostle Paul as their ally in teaching about liberation from the “Old Covenant” law, they blindly forget that Paul considered that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12), and that it is “spiritual” (Verse 14).  Paul affirmed that we do not make void the law through faith, but rather that we thus establish the law” (Romans 3:31)!

Paul admitted that by his own strength and merits he could not keep God’s law, despite his good intentions (Romans 7:15-24). He thanked God that through Jesus Christ and His spirit, he – as all others who are in Christ – can be subject to [or obey] the law of God and thereby please God (Romans 7:25; 8:1-14).

Paul also taught that, as we are led by the Spirit of God and thus are able to obey His law, we do not receive the “spirit of bondage” but rather the “Spirit of adoption” or sonship (Verse 15), whereby we become the “children of God” (Verse 16), who when glorified together “will be delivered from the bondage of corruption [evil and death] into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Verse 21).

Paul agrees with James 2:12, which affirms that God’s law is ‘royal” and is a “law of liberty.” Psalm 119:44-45 assures: “So shall I keep your law continually forever and ever. And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.” Keeping God’s law is not bondage!

By keeping God’s law [what HWA called “spiritual” law as distinct from “ritual” or “ceremonial” law – such as various laws on animal and other offerings and sacrifices], we are freed from the condemnation which we rightly deserve for sinning or transgressing God’s law (1 John 4:3; Romans 6:23).

Will we “become God as God is God?”

Feazell and company painted as “bizarre” HWA’s teaching that, as children of God we will become “God” ourselves. What’s so bizarre about saying that the children (or offspring) of dogs are also dogs? Why can’t the same logic apply?

However, the statement that “We will become God as God is God” needs to be qualified! HWA always taught that God is eternal or ever-living – with no beginning or end. The same cannot be said of created mankind. But, once made immortal through the resurrection or change at Christ’s return to earth (1 Corinthians 15),  true Christians will receive everlasting life such as God the Father and Christ enjoy. And for what purpose? So we can work with God in finishing the creating of “all things”– the whole vast universe – “new” (Revelation 21:5).  [See: Are We All God’s Children? and “He Marveled”.]

“New Covenant” Christians, like most evangelicals, have insisted that the New Covenant that Jesus Christ entered into with Christians does not require them to keep the laws of the Old Covenant. However, Hebrews 8:10 affirms that, under the New Covenant, God will put His laws in the people’s mind and write the same laws on their hearts. Jesus has fulfilled and will continue to fulfill His promise in Ezekiel 36:26-27 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh [a soft heart]. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Jeremiah 31:33 also has God promising the same. In Hebrews 10:16 we find this promise fulfilled.  How can we justifiably throw away something that God has put or written in our heart and mind?

For more on this subject, let me refer you to my previous articles on this website: Freed From Bondage, Barking up the Wrong Tree, Moses and Jesus – Are They Contraries? Law Added to Law Transgressed, The Law of Christ, No Such Thing as Sin?  Just What Do You Mean — Legalism?  and A Great Omission in Doing the “Great Commission.”

Feazell and company also singled out the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, the Old Testament Festivals, tithing and the food law as no longer necessary and required of Christians. [See: What if the Sabbath Is Still Holy? God’s Feasts in the Book of Acts: Mere Time Markers – or to Be observed?   The New Testament Teaching on Giving, Did Christ Cleanse all Meats? and True Worship.]

The same group of leaders has also taken the belief in the Trinity to be “absolute truth.” I challenge anyone to read my article “The Trinity Doctrine Reconsidered” and show me where I have been flawed in my reasoning as I prove this doctrine to be rank heresy!

Another claim of this same group is that we are saved by grace alone and are not required to do good works or keep God’s “Old Covenant” laws.  [See:  Saved for Good Works, Being and Doing, and The Law of Christ.]

This group also dressed down HWA for teaching the despised “theory” of “British-Israelitism” in his book The United States and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy as one of the strong pillars of the WCG’s faith.  [See: God’s Kingdom and Israel and https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the above-mentioned book.]

Since Jesus had commanded His 12 apostles to go and preach the gospel to the “lost sheep” of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:6), an idea about where those apostles went can give us a strong clue as to where those tribes could have settled after their Assyrian captivity. Ambassador College history professor Dr. Herman L. Hoeh discussed this in his astounding article “Where Did the Twelve Apostles Go?” [see:  https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Plain Truth (1934-1986),” then 1960-1969, and scroll down to the May 1964 issue, pp.7-12, 23-26].

No doubt Dr. Hoeh’s research work helped HWA in crystallizing the teaching on who and where the chief tribe of Israel are today.

The “divine healing” issue

This issue was brought up in Feazell’s book and in the video.  This is an issue that boils down to the person’s perception of his own faith and God’s supreme will. God plainly reveals that He is our Healer (Psalm 103:3; Exodus 15:26). But God’s Word also reveals that not all who believe in God are healed of every disease. We have the case of the apostle Paul, who had an affliction (a ‘thorn” in his flesh that he attributed to Satan) which God did not take away for Paul’s greater good,  despite Paul’s repeated faithful intreaty to God (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

I would suggest that you check out my following articles, for a broader perspective on health and healing:   Pandemic Pandemonium! and The Omicron Scare.

Feazell and company have also remarked about the authoritative and persuasive way HWA preached, and decided that people who believed his teachings were simply so blind and “theologically ignorant” that they couldn’t tell the difference between truth and falsehood.  I find this remark personally insulting!  If this group claims to have prayed for God’s Spirit to guide them in coming to their conclusions about all of HWA’s teachings, I too prayed for God’s Spirit and guidance as I took HWA’s dare to not believe him until I had proved from the Bible that what he taught was right. This group cannot claim exclusive right to or the corner on God’s inspiration and sound, logical thinking!

I have personally witnessed the humbler side of HWA, despite his seemingly “autocratic” manner, as some accuse.  I recount this in my article Two Goats Together, particularly the box captioned “Reexamining the Roots of our Beliefs.” Here I challenge the reader to overhaul his or her understanding about the “azazel” goat in God’s plan of atonement as taught by HWA, in the same way I challenge those who blindly believe in the trinity doctrine.

As this website purposes, I hope that as you read my articles God will give you eyes to see His pure truth and that you will truly be set free (John 6:32).  [See: About Pool of Siloam.]

On the Day of Judgment Feazell and his company of former WCG leaders will have to give an answer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for having done as warned and prophesied by Ezekiel 23:38 –

They have defiled My sanctuary and profaned My Sabbaths.

Also Ezekiel 22:26 –

Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.

And 2 Peter 2:18-19 —

For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness [KJV, “lasciviousness” or lawlessness], the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.

Jesus warns us that, at His return, He will reject many who profess to believe in Him as their Lord while practicing lawlessness, and tell them to depart – go away – from Him, saying, “I Never Knew You!”

Let us hope and pray that this group will see the error of their way and repent before it’s too late and their day of reckoning comes, when God will pour out His indignation and consume them with the fire of His wrath, and recompense their deeds on their own heads (Ezekiel 22:31).

And don’t you be deceived by their crafty and high-minded teachings, and save yourself from the condemnation that awaits them, unless they return to the truth.

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
17012023

Overcoming Temptation

|
As a follow-up to last month’s article [“On Earth Is Not His Equal”], I would like to refer you to a little booklet which I discovered among my books recently. For its tiny size [4” x 8” and only 34 pages long] it is packed with big-time help for people struggling with a mamooth-sized challenge. It’s titled — as is this present article I’m writing – “Overcoming Temptation, A Practical Guide,” written by R.B.Gorrie, and adapted and published locally by OMF [Overseas Missionary Fellowship] Literature, Inc. in 1974 and last reprinted in 1995.

Because of its timely and much-needed pointers, I wish this booklet were available to you on-line. Unhappily, I couldn’t find this booklet offered on OMF’s sales lists. However, if you make a Google search on the same subject, you could find a good number of helpful links. But this booklet, to my mind, has most if not all the elements or essentials mentioned in those links.

The booklet has five chapters, with the following headings: 1. The Battle You Fight, 2. The Enemy You Face, 3. The Right Strategy, 4. Right Tactics, and 5. Summing Up.

A comment on the back cover of the booklet says: “This practical guide has been much in demand, for the serious Bible student, as much as for the new young Christian.” I really hope I can get the author’s or publisher’s permission to republish the booklet in its entirety as a resource material on this my website.

Meanwhile, I might also recommend that you check this link: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Good News (1950-1989),” then 1980-1989, then the August 1985 issue, and scroll down to the article titled “How to Be an Overcomer,” pages 2-3, 19.

God bless you with victory in your struggle against your share of temptation!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
14122022

 

“On Earth Is Not His Equal”

Thus declares the well-known hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” written by the founder of the Protestant movement Martin Luther, about Satan the Devil.

If we look around – as well as inside – ourselves, we cannot but agree! Indeed, as 1 John 5:19 testifies: “The whole world is under the sway of the wicked one [Satan].” Satan is the “god of this age [KJV ‘world’]” (2 Corinthians 4:4 NKJV) and chief of the “rulers of the darkness of this age [‘world,’ KJV] and… spiritual hosts [armies] of wickedness in heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12, NKJV).

Thus some may find themselves ensnared in a habit or addiction to something that God forbids in His word — a sin. It could have something to do with lust or some sexual sin that one succumbs to, try as one might to overcome it. As the hymn says about Satan, “For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate.” That’s why there is no earthly or human power equal to him.

The thought of it could become very depressing. Indeed, Luther continued: “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.” But then the good news: “Were not the right Man on our side – the Man of God’s own choosing.” Luther asks and answers: “Dost ask Who that may be? Christ Jesus it is He: Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same. And He must win the battle!”

There is indeed a great battle going on in the heart and mind of people – Christian or not, but especially Christian – between right and wrong, good and evil. The apostle Paul was well aware of this tension. He wrote: “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these two are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:17, NKJV).

In Romans 7:14-25 Paul expounded on this battle —

For we know that the law [of God] is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am  doing I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If. then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do. It is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight n the law of God according to the inward man, But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!

The key to victory for a Christian in this dilemma is nothing or no one else but Jesus Christ – and His Holy Spirit. As “Lord Sabaoth,” Jesus heads hosts of heavenly armies – more, in fact, than the demonic forces Satan has with him. Revelation 12:4 reveals that Satan drew 1/3 of the angels of God to follow him in his failed attempt to overthrow God from His throne |(Isaiah 14:12-15). [See: Where Did the Devil Come From?]. That means that 2/3 – the broad majority– of the angels have remained faithful and loyal to God. Indeed, as Israel’s prophet Elisha assured his servant about this ratio: “…those who are for us [God’s loyal angels] are more than those with them [Satan’s angels or demons]” ( 2 Kings 6:16). 1 John 4:4 further assures:  “He who is in you [God] is greater than he who is in the world [Satan].”

Therefore, though on earth Satan has no equal, in the heavenly realm, he is no match to our Supreme God at all – or ever! This should give anyone struggling in the snare of Satan’s temptations great hope and courage to face his challenge, and trustingly look to God to bring forth or pluck his feet out of Satan’s “net” or snare (Psalm 25:15). This is especially relevant in today’s cyber world, where Satan is all over the internet! A multitude of worldwide web (www)  sites have been Satan’s agents to proliferate his evil scheme with all humanity!

But before Christ can come to our aid, we must be single-minded and fully committed to follow Him in everything He commands in His word. Jesus said: Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:32).

In this regard, here is a helpful quote from the article by Clayton D. Steep titled “What Satan Doesn’t Want You to Know,” which appeared in the March 1985 Good News Magazine [see: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select Good News 1951-1989, then 1980-1989, and scroll down to the March 1985 issue, pages 9-13:

Do you know that, if he must, Satan is even willing to allow you to obey many of God’s laws? As long as there is at least one point of the law – whatever it may be for you – that you refuse to obey!

The reason is that Satan knows God has ordained that to break one point of His law of love is to break all of it (James 2:10-11)! Therefore, to refuse to submit to one point is to rebel against God’s entire code of behavior. Anyone guilty of such an attitude of rebellion obviously is not totally submitted to God.

That is good enough for Satan (Page 12, emphasis mine).

This same issue of the Good News contains Mr. Armstrong’s powerful must-read editorial titled “Let God Fight Your Battles” (page 1).

May the above dire warning help in your overcoming and make you become even more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). To help you further, see: God’s Spirit and Obedience, The Higher Law of the Spirit, and Breaking Down Our “Walls of Jericho”.

God bless you!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
21112022

P.S.                                                   A Great Irony

While Martin Luther protested against the non-Biblical teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church of his time, where he had been a priest, ironically Luther ended up himself straying from the true teachings of the Bible. Except for some specific points [such as confession to priests, granting indulgences, praying to dead saints], Luther followed much of the teachings and practices of the RCC anyway! These are the same teachings and practices which most Protestant or evangelical churches and denominations follow today! [See: What If the Sabbath Is Still Holy? God’s Feasts in the Book of Acts: Mere Time Markers – or to Be Observed? Did Christ Cleanse All Meats?  Moses and Jesus – Are They Contraries?  Freed From Bondage, The Law of Christ, Law Added to Law Transgressed, and Saved for Good Works.] This shows just how cunning and crafty Satan is in his purpose to destroy mankind — to keep men from inheriting everlasting life in Christ’s kingdom!

Because of this, Protestants or evangelicals have become, in effect, the “wayward daughters” of the RCC! Unless they repent and change their non-Biblical ways, they will undergo the same punishment that spiritual Babylon will get at Christ’s return (Revelation 18-19).

Tragically, since the death of its founder and pastor-general Herbert W. Armstrong, the Worldwide Church of God – under the leadership of his successor Joseph W. Tkach and then his son Joseph Jr. — has now turned completely Protestant or evangelical in its theology and practice. [See: Where Is God’s Church Today? and a bit of its history since the 1990s in About the Author; The De-liberation of the Worldwide Church of God.]

The good news, however, is that Christ will not allow His church to perish, but will do all in His power to save as many as are willing to submit to Him fully! Hallelujah, Amen!

Good News –End of the World!

 

Yes, you read that right – the good news is: this present world is coming to an end – and that soon!

Why should this come as a surprise to many people? It is because most people know this present world to be the only world they have and hold on to. They haven’t yet heard that there is a new — and better world coming soon.

The cold truth is that there are just too many things wrong with our present world: despotic, oppressive governments, nations warring against other nations, rampant criminality and immorality, disease epidemics and pandemics, an atmosphere becoming increasingly toxic, people going hungry and dying everywhere. Indeed, as Galatians 1:4 describes it, this present world is evil! 1 John 2:16 cites the make-up of this present world that renders it evil: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” James 4:1-3 points to lust as the cause of wars and fights.

The word of God – the Holy Bible – assures us that Jesus Christ, our Creator and God, will come down from His heavenly throne to this our beleaguered earth, to bring to mankind the greatest relief effort it has ever seen! Not just simple relief, but salvation and refreshing.

This is what the “gospel” or good news of Jesus Christ is about. Jesus preached, as have His faithful servants: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” |(Matthew 4:17; Acts 2:16-40; 3:19-21; 8:12; 14:21; 16:6-10; 17:16-18, 30-31; 19:8; 26:18-20; 28:23, 30-31, etc.).

Our present world will come to an end, for one, through powerful forces unleashed by armies of nations in their last-ditch effort to defend themselves from their enemies. We have known that for years now many nations have a stock of nuclear weapons that can pulverize this earth many times over. The good news is that Christ will step in just in time before that could ever happen (Matthew 24:21-22, 29-31).

Christ will “destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18). He will destroy wicked men and nations with the intense fire of His coming (Isaiah 66:15-16). Then He will take over the control of all government and dominion of this earth |(Revelation 11:15).

Christ’s kingdom or government, which will be run with the help of Christ’s resurrected or glorified saints (Revelation 5:8-10; 20:6), will promptly go about to “refresh” the earth. Acts 3:19 talks about these “times of refreshing” that Christ will bring to this earth at His return in glory.

First, Christ will need to refresh the earth’s atmosphere, which will have been spoiled by the aftermath of nuclear explosions by nations at war, and the pollution from man’s factories, vehicles, and other pollutants. Mankind, needless to say, cannot survive without pure, clean air to breathe. Almighty God has the power to cleanse all this filth with one whiff of His breath.  By the fire of Christ’s coming the land, too, will be cleansed of the filth left by the bodies of dead men and beasts. Mass burying of carcasses, plus the clean-up work of carrion-eating birds and beasts (Ezekiel 39:12; Revelation 19:17-18) will complete the job.

Next, the metallic debris of warfare will be recycled into agricultural machinery instead (Isaiah 2:4). God will also purge the soil of deadly pesticides, herbicides and other  toxic chemicals, thereby opening the earth to productive agriculture to nourish surviving mortals (Isaiah 24:8; 6:11-13).

Then the seas and rivers will be cleansed of the filth of dead aquatic life (Revelation 8:8) and man-made pollutants by a stream of “healing waters” that will flow from Jerusalem out to all the waters of the earth, thereby restoring healthy marine, river and shore life (Ezekiel 47:1-12).

Mankind given a new heart

The greatest and most basic work of refreshing will be that the human heart, mind, soul and spirit. As Jesus perfectly understood it, out of the human heart proceed all sorts of evil (Matthew 15:18-20) that have caused misery everywhere.

This great re-education and reformation of humanity will be carried out by Christ through His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-12), with the help of His glorified saints, who will serve as “kings and priests” in His kingdom (Revelation 5:10).  As priests, they will teach God’s laws to the mortal subjects of the kingdom (Malachi 2:7). As a result, the pure knowledge of God will saturate the earth, “as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

God’s perfect law of love for God and for fellow-man will be taught and enforced throughout the world. God’s Ten Commandments will be the basis of all legislation. As people everywhere learn about God’s law, they will “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:1-4; Micah 4:1-3). “But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid… For all people will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever” (Micah 4:4).

Christ and His saints will rule the world with a “rod of iron” in such a way that evil will be nipped in the bud before it can cause damage to anyone (Revelation 2:27; Isaiah 30:20-21). People who will willfully rebel against and will not be corrected by Christ’s rule will be put away. Thus peace and joy will reign on earth (Proverbs 11:10). Isaiah 35 and 14:6-7 paint a magnificent picture of everlasting joy when humanity and the earth will come under the rule of Christ. [See: When He Rules the World.]

After the “Last Judgment,” only the righteous will enjoy everlasting life in Christ’s kingdom (Revelation 22:14). All the incorrigibly wicked will be destroyed forever in the “lake of fire,” which is the “second death” (Revelation 20:13-15; 21:8).

That same fire will them consume the earth’s atmosphere and surface, thereby purging it of all that human hands have touched (2 Peter 3:10-12).

Then God will create “new heavens and a new earth in which [only] righteousness dwells” (Verse 13). Revelation 21-22 gives graphic details of that new creation. “New Jerusalem” will be the eternal dwelling place of all the saved of mankind.

Will you be there? Make sure you will!  [See:  Saved for Good Works and Are We All God’s Children?]

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
16102022

 

The One Requirement

 

When I took up a pre-medical course in a Protestant [or evangelical] school, Silliman University, in Dumaguete City, Province of Negros Oriental on Negros Island in the Visayas Region, in the late 1950s, I was required to enroll in several religion classes. One subject of such a class was a survey of the Old Testament.

One particular OT verse that stood out for me was that from the book of the prophet Micah (6:8, NKJV): “He [God] has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to have mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

The small word “but” implies that God requires just one thing or a series of connected things that a man is to fulfill, in order to do what is good. This was a bit of a shock to me, because – growing up in a staunch Protestant home [See: http://www.pool-of-siloam.com/about-the-author] — I had assumed that one only needed to believe in Jesus in order to be saved (John 3:16). Later I learned about the teachings of the protestant movement’s founder, Martin Luther, on salvation by grace through faith alone – not through works (Ephesians 2:8). This is the banner which many evangelical groups carry when preaching the “gospel” to all the world. One particularly active such group is “Evangelism Explosion [or EE; see:  https://evangelismexplosion.org/about-us/.]

Through time, however, it seems that some evangelical groups, such as the church I and my siblings grew up in, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines [UCCP], have intertwined these two divine “mandates” and have come up with a “social gospel.” They believe that they should follow their Lord Jesus’ example of not only preaching the gospel but also doing good by helping the poor, healing the sick, raising the dead, liberating those oppressed by demons, etc. Thus, the UCCP promotes active participation in labor movements, charities, mission hospitals, relief efforts during calamities, etc. My elder brother, a labor union lawyer, spent himself defending the rights of laborers. My elder sister, a public health nurse, was at the forefront in seeking the welfare of health workers. My father, the first lawyer of his indigenous tribe, spent most of his years and energies defending the rights of his fellow-tribesmen to their ancestral lands, which “Christian” settlers were trying to take away from them.

Amos 5:23-24 shows that true worship requires justice and righteousness. Isaiah 58:6-10 teaches that true humility requires one to “loose the bonds of wickedness, undo heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, break every yoke, share one’s bread with the hungry, offer one’s house to the poor, cover the naked, take care of one’s family,” etc.

Jesus taught a similar thing, in Luke 3:10-14 and Matthew 25:31-45. The apostle Paul, under Christ’s inspiration, taught that “…as we have [the] opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith [fellow-Christians]” (Galatians 6:10).

Micah 6:8 speaks volumes of our main Christian duty: to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. In fulfilling this one requirement, we will also be able to comprehend and practice The Four Dimensions of Christ’s Love.

For further insights into this topic, see: Saved for Good Works, Being and Doing, and A Short and Sweet Psalm.]

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
16092022

 

A Short and Sweet Psalm

Psalm 15 is a short and sweet psalm of just two stanzas, as rendered in the Scottish Psalter:

O Eternal, who shall dwell in the temple of Thy grace?Who shall on Thy holy hill have a fixed abiding place?He who walks in righteousness, all his actions just and clear; He whose words the truth express, spoken from a heart sincere.

He who ne’er with slandering tongue utters malice and deceit;
Who will ne’er his neighbor wrong, nor a slan’drous tale repeat.
Who will claim no usury, nor with bribes pollute his hand;
He who thus shall frame his life, shall unmoved forever stand.

This is one of several Scripture passages that tell us that, in order to live forever in God’s house [or kingdom], we must do certain things. It’s saying that it’s not enough to simply have “faith” or “believe” and do nothing else whatsoever, which summarizes the battle cry of the “saved by faith alone” protagonists.

The psalm begins by affirming that God’s dwelling place is a “temple of grace.” A true Christian [a true follower of Christ] begins by receiving God’s grace [unmerited pardon for one’s sins through Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary] and remaining in it,  is ultimately assured of a place in God’s kingdom. How?

The “sweet psalmist” [Israel’s King David] then enumerates a number of actions or deeds one must do: walk in righteousness, be just and clear in actions, express words of truth from a sincere heart, keep from slandering others with malicious and deceitful words [not gossiping], not exacting usury on money or goods lent, not perverting justice through bribes.

The psalmist did not intend that the above-mentioned deeds are all that one has to fulfill. These are but a few examples of how to “walk in righteousness.” Psalm 119:172  declares that “all Thy [God’s] commandments are righteousness.” Verse 142   also affirms that God’s “law is truth.” Jesus expanded this by saying “Thy [God’s] word is truth”(John 17: 17 ). Indeed Christ affirmed the Old Testament scripture [Deuteronomy 8:3] that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

“Evangelical” believers often refer to Ephesians 2:8-9 as their proof that we are saved by grace alone through faith.  However, they fail to emphasize as well verse 10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The apostle Paul amply wrote that being justified through God’s  grace in Christ by faith, we “should be careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:7-8).  He taught that we are purified to become God’s “special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

These “good works” include deeds we do for God and toward our fellowmen. Jesus summarized God’s “great commandment” as loving God above all and loving one’s neighbor as oneself (Matthew 22:37-38).

For a fuller exposition of this topic, see:  Saved for Good Works and  Being and Doing.

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr. 09112022

 

Is Mankind Inherently Evil?

 

Did God create mankind as an evil creature? Is every human child born already a sinner? These are questions that have baffled some, if not many. Some perceive the Bible as supporting those questions with a “Yes!” —
• The [human] heart is deceitful all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
• Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then you may also do good who are accustomed to do evil. (Jeremiah 13:23)
• For out of the heart [of man] proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matthew 15:19)
• For from within the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. (Mark 7:21)
• Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5)
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)

On the other hand, some Bible verses seem to answer with a “No!” these same questions:
• Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”…..Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. (Genesis 1:28, 31)
• Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2)

How reconcile these two views?

Genesis 1:26, 31 [quoted above] must be our starting point in understanding how God created man – “very good,” not evil like some defective product. Otherwise that would be a bad reflection on God as our Maker – just as a defective product [such as a piece of appliance] would be an embarrassment to its manufacturer, who could be sued for some “malpractice.”

As the wise King Solomon of Israel pondered: “Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they [human beings] have sought out many schemes” [KJV, ‘inventions’] (Ecclesiastes 7:29 NKJV).

Just as a perfectly manufactured product can become defective through misuse, abuse or simply aging, so upright man [fittingly called Homo sapiens erectus by scientists] has become flawed and faulty through the misuse or abuse of man’s freedom of choice. [See: What Is This Thing Called “Will?“My Brain Made me Do it,” and “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!”]

The same was the case with Lucifer, an archangel or cherub whom God created “perfect” in his ways (Ezekiel 28:14-15). Yet Lucifer allowed pride and vanity to well up in his heart) until he thought to overthrow God and take over the reins of the whole universe (Verse 17; Isaiah 14:12-14). But Lucifer was no match to God’s infinitely superior power. He was cast back to the earth, along with his angels (Revelation 12:9). He became Satan the devil and his angels became demons. [See: Where Did the Devil Come From? and https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select Books & Booklets, and scroll down to the booklet titled “Did God Create a Devil?”

As a result of Lucifer’s rebellion, and his being cast down to earth, the earth became a waste and void. Genesis 1:1-27 relates the story of God “re-creating” the earth and life therein, before He created mankind. [See: The Comings of Christ.] Lucifer has since become Satan the devil, and his angels now demons. Satan is called the “tempter” (Matthew 4:3; 1Thessalonians 3:5). He is behind every sin that takes place in human society.

Mankind’s first parents [Adam and Eve] sinned through Satan’s machinations, and had to be cast out of God’s garden, Eden (Genesis 3). But God’s love compelled God to save mankind by “fixing” man’s heart, mind, and spirit. He did this, and continues to do so, through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16). [See: Two Goats Together, The True Christ, God’s Spirit and Obedience, The Higher Law of the SpiritAre We All God’s Children? and Christian Formation, and The Flaming Sword East of Eden.]

A child’s heart

Every human baby born into this world starts out as “innocent” – not knowing what is right and what is wrong. That is one sense in which we can understand the “foolishness” in a child’s heart that leads him to many troubles, from which he has to be delivered and taught.

When Israel’s King David repented of his double sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah (2 Samuel 11-12), he said that his mother had conceived him in sin (Psalm 51:5). That’s the way all of us were begotten/conceived and born – by sinful fathers and mothers. But we were not born as sinners. It is as we grow up in an imperfect family and in a sinful society that we “catch” and learn sinful ways, as egged on by Satan, the “tempter.”

The young King Solomon of Israel admitted that he was a “little child” and asked God to give him an understanding heart so he could discern between good and evil (1 Kings 3:7-9). Little children are also described as persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left (Jonah 4:11).

Numbers 14:29-31 shows that God looks on as “little ones” those below 20 years of age, whom He allowed to enter the Promised Land, while most of those older and who sinned were excluded from entry.

Does this mean that a child or even a teenager can go scot-free with any mischief or rebellion even after being chastised? No. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 commands that such a son [or daughter] be put to death.

When Jesus urged people to “become as little children” (Matthew 18:2), He meant that they should emulate little children in their humility, trust and faith in God. This is not to say that children are born perfect, despite their humility and trust in their parents’ provision. Children do commit things against God’s law – commit sin – more from ignorance than bad intent. Still they have to be taught and learn obedience. [See: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets, and scroll down to the booklet titled “The |Plain Truth About Child Rearing.”]

I trust that this article provides some added dimension to my previous articles Is There Ever Any Good in Man? and A Law-abiding Universe – But Man!]

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
17082022

The Conversion Therapy Controversy

In the last decade or so a heated controversy has arisen among leaders of societies around the world over “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” – “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts” [SOCE]. Psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists have sounded the dire warning, supposedly, about “The Lies and Dangers of Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” of the LGBTQ community, and are joined by human rights advocates. [See: https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy, https://www.wired.co.UK >Science>Health, “Resolution on Empirical, Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts” https://www.cpu.org/about/policy/sexual-orientation.]

Among the dangers cited are depression, anxiety, drug use, hopelessness, and suicide. The last link cited above affirms “the longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health profession is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation…. Homosexuality per se is not a mental disorder… Since 1974 the American Psychological Association [APA] has opposed stigma, prejudice, discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and has taken a leadership role in supporting the equal rights of lesbians, gay, and bisexual individuals.”

The target of these professionals’ advocacy are the values held by some faith-based organizations [religious or church groups], on the one hand, and those held by lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights organizations and professional and scientific organizations, on the other. These latter organizations oppose the idea [of faith-based organizations] that homosexuality is symptomatic of developmental defects or spiritual failings and that SOCE, including psychotherapy and religious efforts, could alter homosexual feelings and behaviors.

The APA, however, encourages collaborative activities in pursuit of shared professional goals between psychologists and religious communities, when such collaboration can be done in a mutually respectful manner that is consistent with psychologists’ professional and scientific roles.

Enter the law-makers

Coming into the fray are law-makers who have moved to ban or make illegal or criminal any efforts at conversion or reparative therapy for LGBT individuals. [See:   “‘Conversion Therapy’ laws – Movement Advancement Project”https/www.lgbtmap.org>equality-maps>conversion-therapy.]

In reaction to this legislation, some religious counselors or conversion practitioners are protesting such a law as violating their basic human right to freedom of religion and the right to practice their divinely ordained calling. [See: Devising Evil by Law.]

Amidst the cloud of this controversy, what can an LGBT person who sincerely wishes to change his or her sexual orientation and behavior hope for?

God’s word on SO conversion or change

Many advocates against SOCE assert that they have never found a case of a 100% conversion of an LGBT person, and dare anyone to present such a case, if any. Perhaps people who have indeed come out of such orientation and behavior are too apprehensive about their reputation to issue a detailed testimony of their sexual journey. Ephesians 5:12 says that certain secret matters are too shameful to even mention. Nevertheless, some ex-LGBT persons have courageously testified about their journey to change.  [See: https://changedmovement.com.]

In addition, we have the Biblical testimony by no less than the apostle Paul himself that, apparently after having personally dealt with them, he knew that certain church members among the LGBT community of his day had changed through the power of God’s spirit to transform their minds and behavior.  Since Paul’s letters have now become a part of the Holy Scriptures, whose words are truth (2 Peter 3:15-16; John 17:17) , we can be confident that Paul did not merely write what he did without actual basis in fact. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 [NKJV] Paul wrote:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed [cleansed of sin – “justified” or made just or righteous through the forgiveness in Christ’s sacrifice of His shed blood at Calvary], but you were sanctified [made holy] in the name of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of our God.

Psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists and law makers/enforcers cannot one-sidedly dismiss the possibility of LGBT persons to ever change their orientation and behavior through efforts by faith-based practitioners. As the APA resolves, there should be mutual respect between these two camps for their differing roles.

In this regard, I recommend that you read carefully my website articles The Rainbow Connection and Does God Require Us to Do the Impossible?

In the ultimate analysis, each one of us will one day be called to accounting of our every thought, word, and deed before Christ’s judgment seat (Matthew 12:36-37). May we be found worthy of God’s kingdom!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
26072022

The Church of God in the Wilderness

Now when the dragon [Satan, Verse 9] saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child [Verses 1-2, referring to spiritual Israel, the spiritual mother of Christ and all Christians, Galatians 4:28]. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time [3-1/2 years], from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water [symbolic of an army] out of his mouth that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:13-17, NKJV)

 

For decades the Worldwide Church of God [WCG] held the belief that the above-quoted scripture referred to itself as the “woman” who flies or flees to the wilderness, from the persecution that Satan the devil will perpetrate upon God’s people during the 3-1/2-year period of the “Great Tribulation” [often called “Satan’s wrath,” from Verse 12]. And for many years some church members – even leaders – believed that the “wilderness” that the church was going to be brought into was Petra – a desert area in the Middle East country of Jordan.

So strong was this belief that, when the Filipino brethren of the WCG observed the Feast of Tabernacles in Baguio City in 1968, I was involved as the master of ceremonies in a festival show which the WCG young people put on during the feast. The show was titled “Picnic in Petra,” a fanciful “picnic” which the brethren from all over the world held supposedly in Petra while celebrating the festival there. My future wife, the former Pacifica A. David, took care of teaching the dance numbers, while I took care of coaching the vocal numbers.

In those days we did not realize the logistical challenges that living in Petra would pose. The WCG magazine for its members, The Good News, published an article titled “We Fled Petra,” which detailed the many challenges that the brethren would have to contend with if indeed that was their “place of safety.” [See:  https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “The Good News,” 1960-1969, scroll down to the issue of October-November 1966, pages 5-6, 23-24.]

Despite these, the brethren went on sheer faith that Petra was their “place of safety” during the Tribulation.  After WCG founder and pastor-general Herbert W. Armstrong [HWA] died in January 1986, the church floundered, and became split up into dozens of splinter groups. Among these was the Philadelphia Church of God [PCG] led by Gerald Flurry. These brethren believed that in 1992 or thereabouts they would be “whisked” into the safety of Petra as religious persecution of true Christians by the “beast” in cahoots with the “false prophet” would befall them (Revelation 13:1-18). [See: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets,” and scroll down to the booklets titled, “Who Is the Beast?” and “The Mark of the Beast.”]

The 1990s passed, and nothing of the sort expected by the PCG took place. Naturally many members felt let down and became disillusioned and left the church. A similar thing had happened earlier, in 1972, when many brethren thought they would be taken to a place of safety [Petra], before events as supposedly taught in HWA’s booklet “1975 in Prophecy.” [Many had misconstrued this, although HWA explained that he wasn’t setting the date or year, but that scientists and other savants were predicting that dire things would take place in 1975 amidst all the science-made wonders in technology, health care, etc.]

Nevertheless the sunny promise of a “place of safety” implied by Revelation 12:14  encouraged Church of God members – whatever their shade of persuasion may be – to push on with the “Work” of the church. Thus dozens of splinter groups from the original WCG have put up their own publications, radio and TV programs and websites. [See: exitsupportnetwork.com>offshoots-of-worldwide-church-of-god.]

The original WCG had considered its founder and pastor-general (HWA) as a “voice crying in the wilderness” (Isaiah 40:3) – preparing the way for the return of Jesus Christ.  As such, Mr. Armstrong was looked by some as the end-time “Elijah,” as John the Baptist was at Christ’s “first” coming (Matthew 11:7-13).

At some point certain WCG leaders thought that HWA would be a team with his son Garner Ted [GTA] to broadcast the end-time message or gospel as the prophesied “two witnesses” |(Revelation 11:1-10). Both Armstrongs have died, and no “two witnesses” have surfaced, although there must be a host of “volunteers” for the honor – or horror!

That being said, however, Christ’s revelation about such “two witnesses” stands to be fulfilled surely in God’s own time and way. We cannot simply dismiss the controversy regarding their identity as so much ado over nothing.

In the ultimate analysis God has the sole prerogative to appoint His “two witnesses,” whose message will surely be heard worldwide [no big problem, with satellite TV and internet broadcasting these days]. Meanwhile, the “beast” power and his “side-kick” the “false prophet” will persecute the remainder of the Church of God that fail to escape into the safety of the “wilderness,” and will eventually kill the “two witnesses who will, however, be resurrected to immortal life together with the elect saints at Christ’s return.

Ways to look at “wilderness”

In Revelation 12:14 “wilderness” is rendered from the Greek eremos, which means “lonesome waste,” “desert” [Strong’s Concordance]. Thus it has been easy to associate “wilderness” with a desert place such as Petra in Jordan.

The same Greek word is translated as “wilderness” in Matthew 3:1, 31; Mark 1:3; Luke 1:80; 3:2; and John 1:23, where John the Baptist is said to have been preaching his message calling people to repentance. Likewise, John 3:14 and 6:31, 44 speak about the wilderness where Moses and the children of Israel sojourned – a desolate place, where they survived only through God’s miraculous provisions. The Hebrew word rendered as “wilderness” throughout the Old Testament is midbar. This seems to be the parallel to the wilderness of Revelation 12. In bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt to Himself [in the wilderness], God described Himself as having borne them on “eagles’ wings” (Exodus 19:4) – in a similar manner that God will give the New Testament church “two wings of a great eagle” so that she might fly into the wilderness, where she will be protected and nourished, just as the Israelites were all through their wilderness sojourn (Exodus 15:22-17:7).

The essential safety and well-being of God’s people both in the Old Testament and New Testament settings will be through God’s divine, miraculous provision. Without this, there simply is no way for the people to survive in a desert environment!

In the same way, whether God’s people are whisked away to some wilderness, or remain wherever they may be during these end-times, God can supernaturally protect and provide for His faithful children.  Any place can be a “place of safety” where God spreads His protective arms [or “wings”] over His people. Psalm 91 promises that when we are close to God in prayer, Bible study and meditating on His word [dwelling “in the secret place of the Most High,” Verse 1], we will have such security and protection in the face of all manner of harm or evil, wherever we may find ourselves.  To such a one God promises with certainty:  “He shall call, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation” (Verses15-16).

The apostle Paul admonishes us: “…It is high time to awake out of [spiritual] sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we [first] believed” (Romans 13:11). The apostle Peter, quoting Psalm 34: 12-16, wrote:

He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from deceit,
Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil. (1 Peter 3:10-12)

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
25062022

The Storge Love of God

 

In my article The Four Faces of Love I gave some space to explain one of the four faces of love, in the Greek language, which is storge. An example of this kind of love is the natural (or instinctive) love or care which a mother hen has when she squawks to call her chicks to take shelter under her brood when danger threatens, such as when a hawk flies overhead.

I was going to insert an expansion of this love of God into this article, but thought I’d rather write a separate article to explain this. So here it goes.

The picture of a mother hen was the same image Jesus Christ used of Himself in addressing His fellow-Jews: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37)!

The unknown psalmist used a similar image of God:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High [in prayer], shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Him I will trust! Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler! And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand [such as has happened in recent years due to the COVID pandemic, which has claimed the lives of millions worldwide. [See: Pandemic Pandemonium! and The Omicron Scare]; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. Because you made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling. For He shall give you His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample under foot. Because he has set his love upon Me [by obeying God’s commandments (John 14:15, 21; 1 John 5:2-3)], therefore I will deliver him, I will set him on high, because he has known My name, he shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him, with long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation(Psalm 91:1-16).

The “sweet psalmist (Israel’s King David) famously wrote about God’s protective love: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

This shows that God does allow us to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” – to experience life-threatening circumstances. But He tells us not to fear, for surely He will see us through and comfort us.

In what has been commonly called “the Lord’s Prayer” Jesus teaches us to ask God: “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).

James, Jesus’ half-brother, tells us: “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13). Instead, it is Satan, called the “tempter,” (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5) who tempts us by stirring up the lusts within us to commit sin or transgress God’s law. We are to ask God, as Jesus taught, to “deliver us from evil [or the evil one – Satan].

James further exhorted: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8). Indeed, too easily does sin beset or snare us (Hebrews 12:1). But we are to look to Jesus, so we can endure our temptations and triumph over them (Verse 2).

That is how the apostle Peter triumphed over his weakness. Jesus told Peter that Satan had desired to have him and to sift him as wheat (Luke 23:31). But because Peter still looked to Jesus, He saved him. Even when he lost faith to walk on water because of fear, Peter called to Christ to save him, and He did (Matthew 14:28-31).

Although Peter had denied Jesus thrice, Jesus looked on him with compassion; thus Peter cried bitterly when he realized his weakness – a show of his repentance. Thus Jesus was able to use Peter mightily to advance His cause and gospel.

As the Church of God observes the Day of Pentecost this coming 05 June, may God’s Spirit [which God poured out on Christ’s disciples on Pentecost day in A.D. 33] give you the strength to overcome whatever sin or sins you may be struggling with, and help you to obey Him and be saved! [See: God’s Spirit and Obedience and The Higher Law of the Spirit.]

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
14052022
.