Ruling in the Church

by
Jack M. Lane



We received a brief letter from a long-standing friend of ours who is now serving in a congregation of the United Church of God, An International Association (UCG,aia). He asked us some good questions which need to be addressed. We thought the responses to our friendís questions might be of interest to our readers around the world.
 
 

We sent out letters to our church friends and acquaintances when we began publishing "The WAY," telling them about what we were doing, and inviting any of them who desired to subscribe. One of the letters we received came from a friend we had known as a local elder in a congregation we had attended years before.

Part of our friendís letter reads, "Your approach is not unique. Others in the past have tried to do things such as you are doing. But how do you explain Ďobey them that have the rule over youí (Hebrews 13:7; 13:17, 24)? Also, 1 Timothy 3:5 speaking of ordination (Ďhow shall he know how to rule the Church of God, if he does not know how to rule his own familyí). 1 Timothy 5:17 speaks of the elders who rule well.

"With all these scriptures how can you say [in the letter you sent me] Ďwe have determined not to be "of" any man?í Paul said follow me AS I follow Christ!"

These are all excellent questions, and many people have asked about these same things. In fact, various people have looked at these same issues and have come up with differing answers! These matters are of great concern to Godís people. What are the answers?

HOW SOME PEOPLE APPROACH BIBLE STUDY

As we all go back to the Bible and begin to study more earnestly than ever before, there will be times when people come to a different understanding on a subject, or find a different shade of meaning in a scripture, which can color their perceptions. We all tend to filter what we learn through our own experiences and our own backgrounds. Unfortunately, this may cause some of us to view certain scriptures according to what we might like to see, rather than what is actually there.

We must always be on guard against this kind of thinking, because it can lead us down the wrong path. For instance, people who strongly prefer to have no one telling them what to do might answer our friendís questions one way, while another person, more accustomed to being under manís authority, might answer in a completely different manner.

Our efforts at "The WAY" center on looking into the Bible and seeing what God has to say on a subject. We try not to color our findings with any personal bias or prejudice (and we admit this is a difficult thing to do), or at least keep our own bias to a minimum. When we find we have been in error, we try to change our ways to line up with what God has commanded. The object of the Christian life, after all, is to please God in every way we can.

Many of the doctrines we learned were taught by Herbert Armstrong after he learned them from others. In many instances, his doctrines were taught as they were worded in the King James Bible and/or the James Moffatt translation of the Bible. Seldom, it seems, were the original languages consulted. (And when they were, the wrong meaning was frequently attributed to the word in question.) In addition, if a Protestant commentary contained some helpful information, all too often that information was rejected because it came from a Protestant source rather than from Pasadena.

As the years went by, many more translations of the Bible came on the market. There are many scriptures which seem to be translated better in the newer versions, but which at times give a different meaning than the understanding obtained from the King James Bible. However, if these new versions disagreed with the official, accepted doctrines of the Church in Pasadena, these scriptures were often explained away, or simply ignored.

PROBLEMS WITH TRANSLATIONS

Yes, itís true, several of the new translations seem to have an "agenda" to conceal the truth in some regards. There is little doubt that certain of the recent translators had a specific objective in mind when they published their translations. However, the King James Bible is also guilty of that very thing! It becomes more evident with the passing of time that many scriptures in the KJV were, shall we say, "flavored" by certain considerations.

The King James translation was done under the direct supervision and close scrutiny of King James himself. (Itís interesting to note that, according to one recent source, the book of James was named by King James after himself -- the authorís name was apparently Jacob, not James!) The king was very interested in the translation that was to bear his name, and he followed its progress closely.

Consider the plight of the translators! The king was virtually breathing down their necks, checking every detail. This might explain why certain verses have been translated with strong, authoritarian, military terms which do not reflect the true meaning of the original Hebrew or Greek.

Consider, for example, that the Hebrew word torah doesnít mean "law" in the sense that we mean "law," so much as it means "teaching." If we study the teachings of God, we can learn more than if we simply try to obey the Law (usually spelled with an upper case "L") of God. To demonstrate this, consider the difference between the "long form" Ten Commandments and the "short form" Ten Commandments. The "short form" can be likened to law: do this, donít do that. The "long form" is teaching: do this or donít do that, and hereís why!

Some of todayís translations, while flawed in certain areas, do translate certain words more accurately than the beloved King James. In many instances, those verses have been the very ones used by Worldwide, and some of its off-shoots, to rule their people with the iron fist.

Godís Way is the way of love and mercy, of turning the other cheek and forgiving 70 times seven. Godís true shepherds will leave the 99 safe sheep and go out searching for the lost one. Godís true ministers (servants) will point peopleís attention to God, not to themselves or their corporation.

Sadly, because much of the information in this article has been suppressed over the years, most people in the church are not aware that some scriptures have been mistranslated, and then misapplied by human leaders.

With that in mind, letís take a look at these questions.

OBEY THEM WHO HAVE THE RULE OVER YOU?

Certainly, if we were under someone who had authority over us (as many recruits in the armed services find out), we should be obeying our rulers with unquestioned obedience. Otherwise, swift and severe punishments can be incurred.

But what is the context of Hebrews chapter 13? And what form of obedience do we owe those who are in leadership positions in the church?

Letís examine the verses in Hebrews 13 that were mentioned.

Verse 7: "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation" (KJV). Notice the same verse in the NRSV: "Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith."

The Greek word translated "them which have the rule over you" in KJV is hegeomai (Strongís #2233), which refers not only to a ruler, in the traditional sense, but "to bring, lead; it primarily means to lead on or forward, to be the chief or principal participant." Hegeomai can also mean "to think, meaning to esteem another before oneself, to prefer or go before another," as in Romans 12:10 (The Hebrew/Greek Key Study Bible, ed. Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D.).

Hegeomai also means "to lead or go before, go first, lead the way. ... Spoken ... of officers and teachers in the churches (Heb. 13:7, 17, 24)" (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, ed. Zodhiates).

"Those who lead you" would be a better translation than "those who have the rule over you." This is one of those verses where the King James translators yielded to the military authority of the monarchy and the "political correctness" of the day in reinforcing the political and religious hierarchy of 17th century England. The Greek says we are to remember those who lead us in the congregation, and consider the outcome of their faith. (It might be amusing to also consider "the end of their conversation," but the meanings of those words have changed since the days when the KJV was new.)

Letís consider verse 17 of the same chapter: KJV has: "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." NIV renders this verse: "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you." NRSV says: "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing -- for that would be harmful to you."

The word translated "obey" in Hebrews 13:17 is the Greek word peitho (Strongís #3982). This same Greek word is translated, in the very next verse (verse 18), as "trust"! The usual sense of the word peitho is "to entice or persuade, to prevail by persuasion," etc. (Hebrew/Greek Key Study Bible). It doesnít mean "obey" in the way we use the word "obey." Rather, it means to develop a trust between two people by the power of persuasion, not by the force of authority!

The word "submit" in verse 17 is the Greek word hupeiko (Strongís #5226), which, indeed, means to yield or submit. However, Zodhiates lists as antonyms (words with the opposite meaning) such other Greek words as kurieuo (to rule over), epitasso (to order, charge, rule over), and authenteo (to dominate) (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament)! The implication, then, is that this "rule" (or rather, this leading) which the leaders are supposed to have is a rather "soft" rule, not like an authoritarian dictator. The sense of the words can be summed up by the old slogan, "He rules best who rules least." The concept of following a leader is more in line with the Greek usage, rather than the idea of obeying a ruler.

Looking now at verse 24: "Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints" (KJV). That could be understood to mean that there were those who had rule over both "you" (the readers of the epistle) and "all the saints" (the remainder of the church in every area). However, reading different Bible translations makes it quite plain what is meant:

Instead of saluting rulers, other translations say, "Greet all your leaders and all Godís people" (NIV); "Greet all your leaders and all the saints" (NRSV); "Give our greetings to all of your spiritual leaders and to all of the saints" (Amplified Bible); "Greetings to all your leaders and all your church members" (J.B. Phillips). As you can see, there is no reference to saluting rulers at all!

In the days of the King James translators, as it is to this day, to salute someone was to give a military greeting to a superior officer. Zodhiates indicates that this Greek word, aspazomai (Strongís #782), is used in this context to actually mean "greetings sent by letter or other means"! Again, the Greek word hegeomai used here refers to leaders, not rulers. The verse is an encouragement for the church members to send greetings to church leaders and church brethren (the saints), not stand at attention and salute, waiting for orders.

WHAT IS A RULER?

When we were children, our parents ruled over us. Those who entered the military found that just about everybody ruled over them. If a police officer stops a speeding motorist, the captured offender usually realizes that there is a definite rulership taking place, and the driver had better be very humble and obedient under the circumstances, or else he or she may end up "going downtown" with the officer.

When two people marry, the husband finds himself in a leadership position. How he handles this responsibility has an influence on his family relationships for life. Should the husband "rule" the wife in a strong, military manner? Or is it more appropriate for a husband to take the lead in family matters, in love and genuine concern for his wife and children?

When a man pastors a church congregation, what type of leadership ought he to practice? A strong, overbearing, militaristic approach (ruling the congregation) will quickly offend and alienate most people. The only people who would truly respond to an autocratic, tyrannical leadership style are the weak-willed followers, those who canít think for themselves, and who need a strong personality to tell them what to do and what to think. There are some very happy congregations dotting the landscape with just this kind of co-dependent relationship taking place between the pastor and the flock.

WHAT CHRIST SAID ABOUT RULERS

Letís look again at the Greek words translated "rule" or "ruler" to see if we can shed further light on the subject.

We have already seen the word hegemonai (Strongís #2233). This word has been translated in the KJV as "count," "think," "esteem," "have rule over" (three times, only in Hebrews 13), and "be governor." The meaning, as we have seen, is to lead, or to go before. Military-like rulership is the minority translation, even in the KJV.

There is a different Greek word which is used in places where true rulership, or reigning over someone, is being mentioned. Notice this example:

"Jesus called them together and said, ĎYou know that those who are regarded as rulers [Strongís #757] of the Gentiles lord it over them [#2634], and their high officials exercise authority [#2715] over themí" (Mark 10:42, NIV). The NRSV renders this verse, "So Jesus called them and said to them, ĎYou know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.í"

Strongís #757 is the word archo, or first, meaning first in rank or authority. Strongís #2634 is the word katakurieuo, which is an intensification of kurieuo, which means to have dominion over something or someone. You might recognize kurei, better known to some of us as the Latin Kyrie, meaning "lord," hence to "lord it over" someone. Strongís #2715 is katexousiazo, literally to exercise authority against, or in a hostile manner. The NRSV says it best: "their great ones are tyrants over them."

Unfortunately, many members of the clergy (of various churches through the ages) have thought that this is the kind of authority they held to rule over Godís people. Their headquarters rulers told them to rule this way. Many of them did as they were told, causing untold hardship to many people in their congregations.

How utterly ironic that this is exactly the type of leadership style Christ specifically warned His disciples not to practice! What Christ was describing was definitely not the job function of Godís true servants!

Paul wrote, in 2 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV): "But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you."

What kind of "rule" is this that God distributed to them, that would reach out to the Corinthians? The word "rule" in this verse in the KJV is translated from the Greek word kanon (Strongís #2583), which means a straight object used for examining things, such as a plumb line, or a ruler! This kind of rule has nothing to do with dominance or dominion, but rather holding up Godís Way of life as the figurative yardstick by which Christians may judge their own behavior! Notice how Paul refers to "the measure of the rule."

ELDERS WHO RULE WELL

Letís consider the next question in the letter from our friend.

"Also [consider] 1 Timothy 3:5 speaking of ordination (Ďhow shall he know how to rule the Church of God, if he does not know how to rule his own familyí). 1 Timothy 5:17 speaks of the elders who rule well."

Again, we need to define rulership. We have already seen how Paul was not referring to the dictatorial style of "lording it over" that rulers frequently use. What else can we learn from referring to the Greek?

1 Timothy 3:5 (KJV): "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?"

1 Timothy 5:17 (KJV): "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine."

In both of these verses, "rule" is translated from the Greek word proistemi (Strongís #4291), which means to stand before something.

In the first verse above (1 Timothy 3:5), our friend unintentionally misquoted the verse. Notice its wording: "rule" is only mentioned once, and the grammatical understanding is not so much to boss as to preside. In fact, the meaning is made plainer by adding in the surrounding verses:

"Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)" (1 Timothy 3:1-5, NIV)

In the second instance (1 Timothy 5:17), the meaning is more clearly to be over, to preside over, or to rule. But notice this alternative translation, which might better fit the meaning Paul had: "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching" (NIV).

A NEW BREED OF RULER

Letís examine some other scriptures that talk about rulers and ruling, to get a more well-rounded picture. Notice first Matthew 2:6. See how the King James translation says one thing, while the NRSV, on the same verse, shows a different shade of meaning, more in line with the original Greek.

First the KJV: "And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor[hegiomai, Strongís #2233: one who leads, or goes before], that shall rule [#4165] my people Israel."

Now the NRSV: "And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler [leader] who is to shepherd my people Israel."

Do you see the difference? What is the difference between governors who rule and rulers who shepherd?

The word "rule" is translated from the Greek word poimaino (Strongís #4165), which means to shepherd. It is translated in other verses as "feed," or even to "feed cattle"! Does this give the same connotation as the word "rule"? Not at all!

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful" (Colossians 3:15, NRSV). This time "rule" is translated from brabeuo, which means to umpire in the public Greek games!

We will rule with Christ when He returns. That concept has intimidated many gentle people in the church over the years, who have not wanted to wield a rod of iron. According to the Greek, we can now see that rulership with Christ is going to be a lot less fearsome proposition than many people had thought!

"And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule [Strongís #4165] them with a rod [#4464] of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father" (Revelation 2:26-27, KJV).

Again, Strongís #4165 is poimaino, which means to feed, to tend a flock, to keep sheep, to furnish pasture for food, to nourish. What could this possibly mean in a government context? Harsh, dictatorial rule? Not at all.

But what about the rod of iron? "Rod" (Strongís #4464) is rhabdos, which indicates a royal sceptre, or a walking stick, or even a branch or a twig! Interestingly, the Enhanced Strongís Lexicon carries a reference that "When applied to kings with a rod of iron, indicates the severest, most rigorous rule."

Yes, itís true, Christ must put down all rebellion and hostile attitudes, and the rod of iron is there if needed. But it is not to be the order of the day.

MANíS MISRULE RIGHT FROM THE START!

Looking for a moment back to the Hebrew scriptures, we see a clue right from the beginning that God knew what kind of rulership mankind would use. Notice in Genesis the first chapter:

"God made the two great lights -- the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night -- and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:16-18, NRSV). The Hebrew word translated "rule" in the first two instances here is memshalah (Strongís #4475). "It means dominion, rule, reign, realm, government, power. ... Gen. 1:16 and Ps. 136:8, 9 describe the sunís prevailing dominance during the day and the moonís strength by night" (The Complete Word Study Old Testament, ed. Zodhiates). The third instance of "rule" listed here is translated from the Hebrew word mashal (Strongís #4910), which means "to rule, reign, govern, have dominion; to manage. Gen. 1:18 indicates the prominence of the sun over the daytime and the moon over the nighttime" (ibid.).

Contrast this with what takes place a few days later, in verse 26: "Then God said, ĎLet us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." Would manís dominion be the same type of rulership? Letís see.

The Hebrew word translated "dominion" is radhah (Strongís #7287), which means "to tread down (as a winepress, with the feet); to subjugate, subdue (Gen. 1:28...); to crumble; to oppress; to walk on a person...; to rule, cause to rule; have dominion, reign ...; to prevail against, to take ..., to scrape out" (ibid.).

Can we see an indication from this that God may have known, right from the start, what kind of rulership or dominion mankind would exert over this world?

If youíve never noticed it before, please notice it now: God gave man dominion over specific things, namely fish, birds, cattle, wild animals, and creeping things. There is nothing in this verse to indicate that man was given dominion over man!

Aside from Godís instructions regarding marital relationships in Genesis 3:16 ("To the woman he said, ĎI will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule [Hebrew mashal, Strongís #4910] over youí"), there is no command at this time in mankindís history authorizing men to have dominion over, or rule over, other men! Warfare and slavery were later inventions, which men took to themselves as part of the knowledge of good and evil. But "from the beginning, it was not so!"

FOLLOW ME AS I FOLLOW CHRIST?

1 Corinthians 11:1 is another scripture that has been abused and misused over the years. It has been, in effect, surgically excised from the Book with an Exacto® knife and held over the head of the minister as a banner, to enforce obedience by the congregation. Only by reading the entire passage and seeing the context, without our previous prejudices, can we understand what Paul is teaching in this verse.

It is evident from a reading of 1 Corinthians chapters 10 and 11 that verse 11:1 ("Be ye followers of me...") belongs to chapter 10, as the main principle toward which Paul was heading, or a concluding thought, rather than as an introductory thought for chapter 11. In fact, verse 1 doesnít belong with the rest of the thought of chapter 11. Some modern translations format the passage in this manner, with 11:1 as the end verse of chapter 10.

To see the true meaning of 11:1, letís understand the context in which it was written. Note that chapter 10 contains instructions regarding the eating of meats which may have been sacrificed to idols. Paul instructs the Corinthians, and us today, "Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say" (verses 14-15, NIV). Notice the similarity of thought with "Let him who has an ear to hear...". There is a deep underlying principle to be found in this passage.

Paul continues, "Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lordís jealousy? Are we stronger than he?" (verses 19-22).

Paul teaches us in this chapter that we must try to avoid offending both God and those of other religions. "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God -- even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved" (verses 31-33).

Now comes the oft-quoted verse, 11:1. Letís note how different versions render the thought: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (KJV); "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (NIV); "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (NRSV); "Try to imitate me, even as I myself try to imitate the Messiah" (Jewish New Testament); "Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah)" (Amplified Bible).

Notice how Paul is not commanding people to fall in line behind him, snap to attention, obey his every command, or fear to do anything Paul might dislike. He isnít even telling anyone to "follow" him in the sense of being a follower of Paul, or being in Paulís denomination, or believing Paulís version of the Gospel, or anything of the kind! Rather, Paul is encouraging the Corinthians, and us today, to imitate his example of trying not to cause anyone to stumble!

How many people in the church in the last few years alone have stumbled because of the wrong example set by ministers and members of large corporate church organizations? How many souls have been lost to the church today, and possibly to the Kingdom of God, because of mismanagement, malfeasance, offense, petty carnality, and the many other ways Godís elect have been made to feel rejected, ousted, shunned, and ostracized by their association with a church group calling itself a Church of God?

Paul isnít saying "Follow me, soldiers!" Heís saying, "Take my lead -- donít go around offending people!" And what do we see today? Offended people, shunned from one group, trying to find another gathering of Godís people, only to be offended and shunned again, and again. If only the church corporations, and their pastors, and their members, would place a little less emphasis on doctrine, or publishing, or broadcasting, or prophecy, or following the letter of the law to the utmost degree, or on being the only one true Church with the only one true leader! If only they would devote a little more time and effort to following Godís Way of life, nurturing the flock, feeding the sheep, leading them beside still waters instead of to slaughter! If only the shepherds of these flocks would leave the 99 and go after the one who is lost, rather than chasing away anyone who is not ready to slavishly follow the local leader without question! Can you imagine what a different picture would be projected of the church of God?

The church of God portrayed throughout the prophecies is likened to a flock of sheep, in a pastoral setting, with a shepherd tending Godís flock. Those shepherds who feed themselves rather than the flock are sternly warned of Godís sure punishment (Jeremiah 23; Ezekiel 34).

The picture of a drill sergeant barking orders to a marching platoon is nowhere found in scripture, but is found in the Church organizations of men. The need to "keep people in line" by force or coercion is not a scriptural principle, but is seen all too often in the corporate Church.

While weíre in 1 Corinthians 11, letís notice verse 3: "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God" (KJV). The NRSV says, "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ."

No translation of this verse even hints that the head of every man is his local pastor, church authority, corporate headquarters, or any other human agency! From a religious standpoint, we each answer to Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). If we allow someone else to stand in place of Christ, as a mediator between God and man, that is idolatry! And Paul admonished us, as we just saw above, to flee from idolatry!

FINAL THOUGHTS

These answers to questions from a friend and brother may come across as being rather strong (see Proverbs 17:17; 18:24; 27:6; 27:17). But these very issues are what took a major portion of Godís church down the wrong path many years ago. A militaristic, dictatorial church is not at all what God had in mind, nor is it the way every pastor ran his congregation. But there were far more than enough instances where local congregations were run along the lines described in this article. Such a strong authoritarian pastor, and the strong autocracy at headquarters encouraging that kind of behavior, had to define "love," and "sin," and even "the Kingdom of God" very narrowly, to keep the troops in line.

Those people today who wish to remain under the same type of regime can find church corporations which are ready to accept them (and their tithes) with open arms. Other church members, realizing more fully what it means to be a follower of the Way, have looked around for a group with whom they could attend and share their growing Bible knowledge, but usually find that no corporate church organization is willing to accept anything God has revealed to the so-called "lay person." The leaders of the corporate churches reject the idea that the Way of love is much broader than any of us had thought before, or that God might reveal new understanding to the "man in the pew."

Here is one chilling example of abuse of power today. One well-known man with the "rank" of evangelist was quoted as saying recently that it would be a cold day in hell before he ever took the word of laymen over the minister! He then immediately disfellowshipped a large number of his followers. It may or may not have made any difference that the minister involved was also the evangelistís brother-in-law!

The Father and Christ shepherd their flock by leading, guiding, directing, showing the Way. They expect the shepherds over Their people to do the same, not just make themselves fat at the sheepís expense!

One final comment. Our friend began his letter by saying, "Your approach is not unique. Others in the past have tried to do things such as you are doing." Itís true, we are not unique in what we are doing. We werenít trying to be unique. Nor are we the only ones doing this.

But where are the ones from the past? We have seen copies of now-defunct publications by church members who saw that all was not well at headquarters. What became of them? Perhaps in some cases, they saw after awhile that there was no longer a need for their publication. The popular newspaper In Transition has apparently undergone its own transition, citing that very reason. Perhaps the vast amounts of time and effort required to produce a quality newsletter, newspaper or magazine, plus the expense involved, have dictated for others that it was time to stop publication. Perhaps some of the writers and publishers simply got tired of the fight, or compromised their standards a little, so the sense of being on a crusade left them, and they just folded up and stopped publishing.

Letís pause for a moment and laud those who have tried in the past to do what we are doing here. Over the years and decades of corporate church life, there were several people who saw the direction the corporate church was taking, and decided it was wrong. When regular, acceptable channels led nowhere, some people found that the only way to get the word out was to publish. The exercise of freedom of speech is, after all, the kind of spirit and freedom that built America!

This publication came into existence to help and support other publications, such as The Servantsí News and In Transition, as well as many others. After we are finished with our publishing tasks at some point in the future, perhaps someone else will come along to take our place.

The beat goes on. The truth must go out. In every generation of Godís church from the first century A.D. onward, God has carried the truth forward one person at a time, or two at a time, or a small group at a time. A study of church history will demonstrate that adequately. The large, mega-corporation church of the 20th century has been a unique experience. That experience is now over, as the true church of God, the body of true believers, withdraws more and more from "corporate churchianity" and its Godless hierarchical structure, to rekindle a direct relationship with their Father in heaven through the one Mediator between God and man, Yashuah the Messiah (1 Timothy 2:5).

God knows what He is doing. Itís interesting to watch as more and more people find out. When itís all over, and we can look back on this life from the safety of the resurrection, a lot of questions will be answered, including some questions that havenít even been asked yet! Itís important that we all do our best to be there, so we can hear the answers.

tW

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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