WHAT IS MY ATTITUDE TOWARD THE CHURCHES?
It is one of peace-concilliation.
They have gone the road God said in His word they would travel. Yet He has not put them out of existence. Why should I seek to do so?
To the Ephesians saints Paul foretold of burdensome wolves, not sparing the flock, and of men of their own selves speaking perverse things to draw away disciples. See Acts 20:29,30. This came to pass before the apostle died. In his last letter to Timothy he declared that all in Asia had turned from him. See 2 Tim. 1:15. This included the Ephesian saints, for Ephesus was in Asia. The Galatian saints had already turned from him, as is noted in the Galatian letter. The secret phase of lawlessness was to lead to the apostasy. Thus we see a downward trend in the churches long before the ministry of the apostle to the nations closed.
That this was to continue, was foretold by Paul in 1 Tim.4:1, etc. The spirit had said expressly that in subsequent eras, or in later times, (not alone in the latter days, as the King James Version has it), some should depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. Vainly do the preachers insist that the churches have gone steadily upward. They have gone downward much of the time. If they had not done so, the scriptures would have been proven to be untrue.
But this does not mean that the churches have been useless. Nothing is useless. In a universe operated by the Creator in accord with the counsel of His own will, no useless thing could exist. Through the churches, partly, God has built up civilization. I say "partly," because here have been other factors. The greatest human document in existence, the Declaration of Independence, was written by Thomas Jefferson, who was not connected with any church and who did not subscribe to the orthodox theory of the "Trinity." If he preferred any denomination it was the Unitarians, who are as unorthodox as I am. Thomas Paine, the Agonistic, had much to do with civilization. Secret orders have been factors in civilization-building. These, and many other instruments, God has used.
Saints have found much comfort in the churches. That much of this comfort was psychological, I am fully aware. But it was taken for spiritual joy. Also, in a large measure, the churches have stood for good morals. But this can be said of many who were never connected with the churches.
The churches have not stood for the entire truth of God. They ceased to be the pillar and ground of the truth before Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy. Christendom, in modern times, has been divided into two great schools of thought-Arminianism and Calvinism. Arminians have held the precious truth, that God loves all, that Christ died for all, and that it is God's will that all be saved. Bur they have held the awful error, that He is not able to carry out His will. Calvinists have taught that God is able to save all whom He wills to save. This is a glorious truth. But they claim that He does not love all, that Christ did not die for all, and that it is not His will to save all. This is a dreadful error. Arminianism is as good as Calvinism, and vice versa.
We are told that in the last days perilous periods will be present. Such periods are here. Evils that the churches have opposed are the order of the day, engaged in by church members. They have a form of devotion, but deny its power. See 2 Tim. 3:1-5. The Churches have collapsed, so far as their influence for good is concerned. Civilization is collapsing.
However, there are saints in the churches. I fellowship with them. I would be glad to take the Lord's Supper with any church where I worship from time to time. As I said in the beginning of this article, my attitude toward the churches is peace. So far as I am aware, one denomination has as much truth as another.
But I do not want to be a member of any of them. They have their mission, even yet. But my mission is more far-reaching. They are not willing to accept all the truth. They would not have me as a minister unless I would renounce part of the truth.
The scriptures teach the salvation of all, but the same scriptures tell us that the testimony of this truth is to be given only in certain eras. See 1 Tim. 2:3-6. "To be testified in due time," says the King James Version. "The testimony in its own eras," is a better translation. During Paul's ministry was one of the eras. The present era is another. Much of the time during the centuries since Paul's ministry, this truth was not to be testified. This is why it has lain dormant. How like God, to bring in this glorious truth at the time when churches and civilization are in a state of collapse! It is being preached throughout the world today. Not many believe it, and the majority of the preachers are against it.
Let us not boast. We are but instruments of God. If others do not believe it let us not censure them. God has not led them into a belief of it. God intends that this truth shall succeed in the face of opposition. Those who want to live devoutly in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted. There can not be persecution without persecutors. Organized, creed-bound churches are in the best position to persecute. They carry out God's program when they do so.
May we, who carry the message of concilliation, live and practice our message.
"The Way of Truth" is published by Elder Ezra D. Gifford, W. 1129 Jackson Ave., Spokane, Wn. It does not teach as we about many things, but it advocates the salvation of all mankind.
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