Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Proud Man

“There is more hope of a fool than for him.”
Solomon, in Proverbs 26:12

Anything good a proud man does, does him no good at all. If he reads the Bible, he just becomes prouder because of the fact that he has read the Bible. This was a terrifying lesson to me when I first learned it, for it taught me not to take credit for anything good I might do.

If a proud man worships God, he only becomes prouder because of the fact he has worshiped God. If he falls on his face and cries out to God, he only becomes prouder of how much he has prayed. If he helps the poor, the sees himself as better than the poor man. If he brings God his tithes and offerings, the larger the amount he brings, the prouder he grows. If he ceases from doing evil deeds, he becomes proud of his goodness.

Pride is a horrible trap. For if a proud man does good, he becomes more evil because of it. This is why Solomon said that there was more hope for a fool than for a proud man.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

How Long Will It Be?

“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you,
but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

“How long will this people provoke me? And how long will it be, ere they believe me?” (God, in Numbers 14:11)

There is nothing good that God’s children are doing that they could not do if they obey the call of the Spirit and come out of Christianity. We do not need to participate in any earthly religious system in order to accomplish the will of our heavenly Father. We can do whatever we are doing that is right and, I contend, do it even better, without being under the yoke of religious traditions and doctrines. There is no commandment of God that requires His people to join any of man’s religions to be able to do it.

Can you think of anything that God’s saints are doing that is right and holy, that they would not be able to do if they were out of Christianity instead of in it? I can’t. They can even gather together to edify one another without partaking in an earthly religious system.

The mystery is this: If God’s people do not need it, and if they could serve God better without it, then why do they cling so fiercely to it? And why does the call to come out of it anger so many people who believe in Jesus? Outside the gate of Christianity, we can only love him more – more purely, more completely, more acceptably, more “in spirit and in truth”, more in harmony with the Father and the Son, and more in unity with one another.

God’s call to come out of her, my people” is only a call from the Father to more of His spirit and power, more of His knowledge, more of His love and truth, more of His grace and goodness; in short, more of everything that is pure and holy in Christ. Where is the down side of doing our Father’s will and coming out?

Other Questions

I just asked, “Can you think of anything that God’s saints are doing that is right and holy, that they would not be able to do if they were out of Christianity instead of in it?” But let me ask the opposite question now. Can you think of anything that is wrong and unholy that God’s children are doing simply because they are in Christianity? Those of you who know the truth can point to many things that you know God’s precious people are doing that are not right in God’s sight, precisely because they participate in one of Christianity’s many sects. Wouldn’t it be better for us all to come away from the wrong, so that we can do more of what is right and please our heavenly Father more fully?

We can trust our heavenly Father. He is not calling us to a heavy burden. On the contrary, He is calling us away from one, the heavy burden of the doctrines and commandments of men. Our Father is not calling us into a trap. He is calling us out of one.

He is calling in love, for our good. And there is no doubt in my mind that His heart is hurting again for His children and that He is asking again the question He asked Moses after the Great Wilderness Rebellion, “How long will it be ere they believe me?”

How long will it be, I wonder, before God’s people finally recognize that it is His loving voice, not mine or any other man’s, crying out, “Come out of her, my people”, and that He is only calling them to where they really want to go?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Hiding the Children’s Food

What I tell you in darkness, that speak in light;
and what you hear in the ear, that preach upon the housetops.
And fear not them who can kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul;
rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell

Jesus, in Matthew 10:27

There are several reasons why I have chosen not to be part of a religious organization, but one of the most important has to do with what I have seen and heard from men who minister within the confines of religious sects.

In years past, I have spoken with ministers who confided to me some truth they had learned from God, but who would not dare to reveal to their congregations what Jesus had taught them. These were not wicked men. Some of them were good men whom I loved and respected for their moral integrity and their love for God and people. But they were in an incredibly difficult position. They had been hired by a religious organization to teach that sect’s brand of the gospel, and they knew that if they revealed to their congregation what Jesus had taught them, they would certainly be fired as pastor.

One such brother, a Pentecostal Holiness minister whom I still love, called me one evening to discuss what Jesus had shown him about communion. I could tell that he wanted to teach the truth to his congregation but that he feared to do so. So, he had come up with a clever plan. He would teach the truth about communion along with several other ideas about it, ideas that were taught by various sects around the world. That way, the congregation wouldn’t be able to say he was actually teaching it as the gospel, or that he really believed it himself. If the truth was taught as only one of several possible interpretations, he figured, people would see him as only doing his duty to educate his flock in what some people thought about the subject.

There are others here with the same testimony I have. One minister, for example, told Sister Lou that if he confessed before his congregation that he had received the holy Ghost baptism and spoke with tongues, they “would run me out of town.”

There have been others, men from the Church of God, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and other sects, who received things from God and talked to me about it, but who could not muster the courage to confess the truth they knew to their flocks. And again, I am not speaking of evil men; I am talking about men with the light of life within them, though it was concealed, as it were, under a bushel. They had all been hired to teach only those things that fit within the doctrinal limits of their respective sects.

It was an awfully hard trial! They knew that their family’s financial security would be put at risk if they dared to tell the congregation what they had received from God, and it was heart-breaking to watch them bear that burden. In time, judging by what I saw in the lives of such dear brothers, I came to hate the whole idea of “religious organization”. Where is any such thing found in the Bible anyway?

I am free to tell my flock that I have been wrong and that they have been wrong because they have not hired me to do anything. They have no influence over what I preach or when. They, like me, are after the truth, no matter where it leads us. Doing the will of God is of first importance to all of us. And they are confident that if God shows me a better way, I will not hide it from them. They know that I am free to embrace it and that I will tell them about it, in case they want to come with me.

In truth, these precious souls are here with me because Jesus sent them here to help me, just as I am here to help them. I have never gone out looking for “members”. Jesus sends me the help I need. These sheep of God’s flock have simply heard the truth from me, and the truth has made them free. Moreover, God put it in their hearts to forward the work He gave me by joining with me in it, and by bringing in their tithes and offerings so that the good things we publish for God’s people everywhere may continue to be published, and so that I, their servant, can “live of the gospel”, as God has ordained (1Cor. 9:14). Tens of millions of gospel tracts, books, and audio/video productions have been produced and sent out by the people associated with this work over the decades. And as far as I can tell, they all “do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto man”, and would not stop living and giving as they do even if told to stop. They know the will of God, and doing His will is first in their lives. Following Jesus’ perfect example, we have never “taken up a collection”. Nor has anyone here ever heard me ask for money. If the congregation does the will of God, the shepherd does not have to beg for wool. Happy, well-fed sheep produce that without being told to.

This is the way it ought to be for God’s servants everywhere. The servant of God must be free from all forms of pressure to hide from God’s children what he hears from God. Every minister of Christ everywhere ought to renounce the system of pleasing a religious organization and be a true servant of God for His people – boldly and in love speaking the truth they hear from Jesus. They would be amazed at the results. Feeding the sheep in God’s pasture is the way to bless the sheep so that the sheep can feed the shepherd.

To hide children’s bread from them, for fear of their reaction to it, or for any other reason, cannot possibly be the way Christ wants us to live. It is the word of God that will unite us who believe. But how can that happen so long as His servants are afraid to tell His people what they have heard?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Time, Purpose, and Judgment

Dear John,

I just want to say thank you for writing the All Things book. It has touched my heart so deeply that I can only cry as I read it page by page. I just finished proofreading the chapter on Solomon. I am very grateful to Jesus that he let you understand Solomon’s wisdom concerning time, purpose, and judgment, so that we could be taught it and live. I cannot even put into words how I feel right now except to say that I feel overwhelmed with God’s love and mercy.

I don’t know if it’s available or not, but it would be nice to have that one chapter of the book made into a little booklet that could be given out to hurting people. There is healing in it because it shows God’s heart towards His people.

With love,

Hi Bess:

You have helped us a lot in getting this book ready to be re-printed. Your proof-reading help, as well as the help of others, is invaluable.

That particular chapter in Solomon’s Wisdom, concerning “time, purpose, and judgment” seems to have an especially powerful effect on people who have been hurt. A lady from my Community College OT class took the book on her vacation some years ago, and when she returned, she told me the same thing you said. For me, it was touching when she described sitting on the beach in her beach chair, crying behind her sunglasses as she read that part of the book.

If, from reading the book, someone like this lady, who is going through an especially difficult time, gets the sense that God really loves and will take care of her, then I have accomplished my mission in writing it. It is difficult to have faith in God unless you really feel that he cares about you as a person.

I am doing so much work right now in preparation for re-printing all our books that I can’t see making that portion of the book separate booklet just yet, but I will keep it in mind for a possible future project, and I do thank you for your comments.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Humbling Ourselves to the Scriptures

A letter from Brother Jerry.

Hi Brother John,

Sheila and I have been reading your new translation of the Gospel of John this morning, and there are two things in particular that have really stood out to me.

In chapter 8, Jesus plainly explained to the Jews that they could not hear Him because He told the truth and the truth was not in them. He told them that they seek to kill Him because he told the truth and that “Abraham did not do this”.

Then we continued reading into chapter 9, about the blind man who stood before the Jews after Jesus opened his eyes. They did not want to accept that Jesus, by the power of God, had made this blind man to see. In 9:27, it says he (the healed blind man) answered them, “I told you already, and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again?” I told Sheila, “Wow, we just read this in chapter 8. Jesus had already told them, “You can’t hear me because I tell the truth”, and now they can’t hear this man telling the truth, so they asked him to tell it again, looking for something else. I thought that it was incredible that Jesus had just told them their condition in chapter 8.

Then it says in verses 30-34: “The man answered and said to them, ‘Well, here is an amazing thing. You don’t know where he is from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God doesn’t hear sinners, but if anyone be God-fearing and do His will, He hears him. From the beginning of time, it hasn’t been heard that someone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man weren’t from God, he couldn’t do anything.’ They answered and said to him, ‘You were altogether born in sin, and do you teach us?’ And they cast him out.” Wow.

The other thing that thrills my soul is this. In 12:37 it says, “Although so many miracles had been done by him in [the multitude’s] presence, they did not believe in him.” Then, in verse 39 it says, “This is why they could not believe, because Isaiah said again, [God] has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes and understand with their heart, and be converted, and [God] should heal them.”

Those verses about God blinding and hardening the hearts of the people made me think of this. I just read in Exodus about Pharaoh’s heart being hardened over and over again by God, to fight against God. Pharaoh had no choice but to resist God because God chose to use him that way. I have read in the scriptures that “By the hands of wicked men, Jesus was delivered up.” And God said through Isaiah that the people could not hear or understand “lest they be converted, and I heal them.” God made choice among all of those people, to not allow them to obtain to His righteousness. Pharaoh was not allowed to please God and do the will of God by letting the people leave Egypt. The crowd in John was not allowed to understand and be converted and be healed and, ultimately, saved. And the will of God (to have Jesus crucified) was put into the hearts of men, by God, to be carried out. And afterward, God would judge them for it.

I thought this. If a man wanted to have a bank robbery carried out, by someone other than himself, he would not go to a righteous man’s home to find a robber; he would go to a den of thieves. He would go to a man that already had thievery in his heart and then just give him a new idea about what he already wanted to do.

Yes, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. But all that means is that means that Pharaoh was not a righteous man. He was a man who was going to defy God anyway. And his heart was hardened so that the glory of God could be seen amongst God’s people. God did not choose a righteous man to harden, to carry out the evil deed; he chose a man who only needed a new idea of how to be himself.

In John’s gospel, God chose everyone in that crowd that day, who would believe or not believe Jesus. It says that God made them blind and hardened their hearts so that they would not be converted and be healed. I bet, with all confidence, that God did not leave one person in the dark who had a right heart.

And when it was time for the awful deed of crucifying Jesus, only wicked men could do such a thing. I have heard you say that “They could not have gotten Peter to do it.” God just gave a new idea to men who already had a heart to kill an innocent man.

There are vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor. Doesn’t it read “God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and harden whom He will harden”? I am so thankful that I sincerely believe that God would pass me by if he was looking for a wicked man to sin against Him. What a privilege to be a vessel of honor!

God uses darkness to contrast the light, and dark-hearted people to work in that darkness. Thank God for being called to the light! I was in darkness before that call. It was only God’s choice that got me out and got me to Him. I was worse than many around me. It was just by His mercy that He chose me.

What a good day.


Hi Jerry:

Over the years, both as a student and a teacher, I have noticed some significant differences in people’s attitudes toward the Bible. I have had professors and students who, when considering difficult passages in the Bible, just shrugged them off as evidences that humans were the authors of the Bible, and so, errors and contradictions were only to be expected. On the other hand, I have seen people humble themselves when they come upon Scriptures that seemed contradictory or difficult to explain, and confessed their need of God’s help to comprehend His book. Let us choose the latter course.

The Bible’s assertion that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart has given many people theological problems, for that act of God conflicts with the nature of the sweetie-pie god that is often proclaimed to this generation. God will harden hearts. The Bible says so; therefore, let us humble ourselves to fear before Him!

You have chosen the path that leads to a real knowledge of the true God. You have chosen to confess that what the Bible tells us about God is true. When we do that, our understanding is enlightened, for we receive what God has given to us for our good. I would that all people everywhere would simply confess that the Bible is true. If they did that, they would grow in the knowledge of God.

Your explanation of what kind of man Pharaoh must have been in order for God to harden his heart is a prime example of what I am talking about. Rather than argue with the facts that the Bible gives, you have chosen to believe the Bible, and the result is that you have increased in the knowledge and fear of God.

May God grant all of us, always, that same humility when we face things that we cannot make sense of. God is always right. Praise His holy name!

Pastor John

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Taking Away the Flesh and the Blood

From the Gospel of John, chapter 6:52-56, 60-63

"Then the Jews murmured among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Therefore, Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I tell you, if you don’t eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I’ll raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."

. . .

"Then, when many of his disciples heard this, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you should see the Son of man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is worthless. The words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life."

Sitting in his tiny apartment in about 1960, Uncle Joe never guessed, as he sat reading the Bible and writing out his thoughts, that in 2008, his writings would answer a question that I had often asked myself when reading the words of Jesus from John 6:62 (above).

I never understood why Jesus all of a sudden changed the subject from eating his flesh and drinking his blood to that of his coming ascension into heaven. That comment seemed to me to be out of place, and there are several scriptures just like that in the Bible. When I read them, I say, “What is that comment doing here?”

But Uncle Joe answered my question about John 6:62 this morning. This is a portion of what he wrote:

"Now we know, and all sensible people will agree, that the wine that Jesus poured and gave to the disciples to drink, and bread that he brake and gave them to eat, was not his natural body nor his natural blood, for his flesh was still on his bones and his blood still ran warm in his veins. And, yet, he tells the Jews in John chapter 6that they must eat [his flesh and drink his blood] or “have no life in you” (verse 53). Since we see that the wine and the bread partaken of by the disciples were not really his flesh and blood, we know that it was symbolic of something else, yet to be given to them.

"In John 6, when Jesus saw that he had offended the Jews by his saying, he said to them, “What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before?” In my understanding, he was saying to them, 'Suppose you see me go away into heaven, taking this flesh and blood with me? What then?'

"Then again we hear his words, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you they are Spirit and they are life” (John 6:63)."

Of course! This is the reason Jesus made that surprise comment in John 6:62 about his return to the Father. Seeing that the Jews were offended because they thought Jesus was teaching that people had to eat his natural flesh and drink his natural blood, he asked them what would they do if he took his natural body away from mankind, and no one could ever possibly eat his flesh and drink his blood? Why, that would mean nobody would ever be saved! In reminding his followers that he would be returning to the Father, Jesus was trying to show them that he was not talking about eating and drinking natural things. That is why he finished by saying, “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is worthless. The words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.”