Greetings from Charlotte,
This has been another busy week. Mr. Meredith taped a new television program and is writing a co-worker letter. Mr. Ames is preparing a TV script for filming next week. We are also in the midst of budgetary planning for next year. Last weekend, Mr. and Mrs. Ames flew to Joplin, Missouri, to visit congregations in that area. Mr. Ames was able to speak in the Joplin and Fayetteville, Arkansas, congregations. I flew to Texas to speak in the Dallas and Gladewater (Hawkins) congregations and visit with brethren there. Both trips were positive, informative and encouraging. There does not seem to be much support around the country for the doctrinal ideas that were raised in Mr. Bryce’s letter. Please refer to, and make available for the brethren, the two-page box article included in this issue of The World Ahead entitled, “Confused Critics Limit the Gospel.”
The Church Administration Department is very happy to announce the birth of Abigail Dorothy McNair, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rod and Dana McNair. Abigail was born yesterday at 8:12 p.m. She measured 22 inches and weighed 9 lbs and 8 oz. Both mother and daughter (and, of course, the father also) are doing well. Congratulations to the ever-increasing McNair family!
Next week, approximately 100 singles from all over the United States (and some from Canada, Mexico and France) will meet in Charlotte to participate in the Living 4 Tomorrow and in the All Ages Singles Seminar programs. The programs will include lectures given by several ministers— including Messrs. Meredith, Ames, Apartian, and Winnail—and social activities. Excitement at Headquarters is building up as we prepare for these events!
Mr. Bruce Tyler reports: God’s Work in Australia continues to flourish. We have received the initial influx of semi-annual responses, which are now being processed. Our current count stands at 1,789, an 11-percent response so far. According to previous responses, we estimate that we will receive about a 15-percent response requesting Prophecy Fulfilled: God’s Hand in World Affairs. All members will automatically receive the booklet.
This week we also had a very encouraging response to Mr. Ames’ Tomorrow’s World program #286, offering the audio CD titled, “The Day of the Lord.” Our previous highest response of 338 requests was for the booklet Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity, back in February. So far this week we have received 342 requests for the CD and our projected total should take us over the 350 mark for the week.
Drought Conditions in Australia: “After a heat wave this past weekend—up to 44°C (111°F)—we survived the most severe conditions for bushfires on record in South Australia,” adds Mr. Tyler. Here is part of a report from The Sydney Morning Herald, October 28, by Daniel Lewis: “With parts of NSW experiencing their driest weather on record, the state’s winter-planted grain crops have been devastated and Australia is heading for its smallest harvest in more than 10 years. In a special update yesterday, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics warned the drought would cut… the value of farm production, (by) a 35 per cent decrease. The Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Vaile, said: ‘The figures confirm what we already know—many farmers will have zero farm income and no cash flow.’”
Work Party in the Philippines
Mr. Basilio Osillos, Philippines Regional Office Manager, reports: On November 19 we had a work party at the office to process about 4,000 semi-annual letters and the November-December issue of the Tomorrow’s World magazine. There were 24 people who volunteered, among whom were three children and five youths. Fun and enthusiasm filled the room from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visit to India
Mr. Rajan Moses will visit India from Tuesday, December 12 to Wednesday, December 20. He will take a flight to Hyderabad and from there he will drive with Padma Rao to a place call Karim Nagar. He will hold Bible classes for 25 to 30 leaders for three days and visit the congregations there. He plans to go through all the fundamental beliefs of the Living Church of God.
It is never pleasant to see ministers or brethren choose to leave the Church over personal doctrinal issues. The Scriptures plainly show that it is the Church that is responsible for making doctrinal decisions—not individuals who come up with their own ideas about doctrine (Acts 15, I Timothy 3:15). Jesus clearly warned that as the end of the age approaches “many will come in My name… and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5). The apostle Paul also warned that false teachers would arise from within the Church “to draw away disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:30-31). We are advised to follow leaders as they follow Christ—not as they quote Mr. Armstrong or any other man (I Corinthians 11:1). We are also warned that we will have to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). This is why we must all make sure that we are all studying and really understanding what the Scriptures actually say (II Timothy 2:15).
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
Confused Critics Limit the Gospel
In recent months some individuals have chosen to criticize what the Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs of the Living Church of God states about the Gospel. The essence of their challenge is that the LCG statement is different from what Mr. Herbert Armstrong taught—therefore the LCG is teaching a false Gospel. The critics project a common theme that the LCG is going off track doctrinally. Yet, in their zeal to make a religion of Mr. Armstrong’s writings, these critics appear to be unaware of what Mr. Armstrong actually understood about the Gospel. They also overlook or ignore the fact that their arguments and sometimes twisted reasoning actually contradict what the Bible says about the Gospel. Many critical comments follow or promote the erroneous ideas of the self-appointed apostle, David Pack, of the Restored Church of God—as the following quotes illustrate:
David Pack states: “LCG’s gospel has become a hybrid of truth and Protestantism, combining the Messenger with His message, the kingdom of God… LCG goes further and actually lists Christ as the first element of the gospel. Notice this from their Statement of Beliefs: ‘The Gospel of Christ is the ‘Good News’ of the forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s sacrifice, and of the soon-coming kingdom and government of God.’ This ‘gospel’ is very different from what Mr. Armstrong taught in his booklet What is the True Gospel?” Mr. Pack then asserts that the “revised gospel” taught by the LCG is a false Gospel condemned as “another gospel” in the Bible (Galatians 1:6-9; II Corinthians 11:4). (quoted from How LCG’s Teachings Differ From Those of Mr. Armstrong and RCG)
Chris Lomas (a former LCG minister now with RCG) states: The LCG doctrinal statement about the Gospel “is contrary to what God restored to His Church through Mr. Armstrong… The LCG has begun to twist the Gospel priorities very subtly.”
Syd Hull (a former LCG minister now with RCG) states: “RCG is the only organization that preaches the true gospel to the world.”
DS (a former LCG member now with RCG) cites the LCG doctrinal statement about the Gospel and then asks: “What did Mr. Armstrong teach the Gospel was? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news of the coming kingdom of God, not a gospel about Jesus Christ, or his name.”
Charles Bryce (former LCG minister) states: “LCG seems to be preaching a mixed, confusing message about the gospel, i.e. that the gospel is the good news of forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s sacrifice and of the soon-coming kingdom and government of God and the name of Jesus Christ. There seems to be a movement toward the gospel about Christ and the gospel of salvation.” Mr. Bryce uses only one scripture to define the Gospel (Mark 1:14-15) and then refers to the warning in Galatians 1:8-9 about preaching a different Gospel.
All these attempts to define the Gospel claim to faithfully follow the teachings of Mr. Armstrong. They also state or suggest that references to Jesus Christ or salvation are simply not part of the true Gospel. However, when you compare these claims with numerous Scriptures about the Gospel and with what Mr. Armstrong also wrote about the subject you find something very different.
Notice how the following scriptures define the Gospel:
Mark 1:14-15 – Jesus said the Gospel was about the coming Kingdom of God
Mark 16:15 – Jesus commissioned his disciples to preach the Gospel to the world
Acts 8:12 – Philip preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ
Acts 20:20-27 – Paul preached the “whole counsel of God” including repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ, the Gospel of grace and the Kingdom of God (grace involves forgiveness, unmerited pardon)
Acts 28:23 – Paul preached about the Kingdom of God and about Jesus
Acts 28:30-31 – Paul preached of the Kingdom of God and things concerning Jesus Christ
I Corinthians 2:2 – Paul’s main focus was on “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”
I Corinthians 15:1-8 – Paul preached “the gospel…by which you are saved…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…and that He rose again on the third day”
Ephesians 1:13 – Paul wrote of trusting in Christ “after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation”
These scriptures clearly indicate that the Gospel includes not just a message about the coming Kingdom of God, but also the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins. That sacrifice, when accompanied by repentance and spiritual growth on our part, will result in our ultimate salvation—receiving eternal life in the Kingdom and family of God (see John 3:16, etc.). The Gospel is also about the exciting news that Jesus Christ is going to return to this earth as King of kings to establish the Kingdom of God and bring peace and justice to all (Isaiah 9:6-7; Revelation 11:15). To separate the Gospel of the Kingdom of God from the good news of the opportunity for salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is simply not biblical or factual.
What the critics of the LCG doctrinal statement also overlook is the fact that Mr. Armstrong understood the Gospel encompassed more than what he addressed in certain writings that critics have chosen to quote. Notice these statements from the Good News, December 1984, p. 5 – “The Gospel of Christ is Christ’s own Gospel—not a story about His person… The Gospel of Christ ‘is the power of God to salvation’ (Romans 1:16)… What is Jesus Christ’s Gospel?… It is the Good News of the Kingdom of God!... It is the message of divine government—government by God’s Laws!... Of course that message includes the knowledge about the Savior, High Priest and coming King! Of course, it includes the true way of salvation, which the churches have lost! [Emphasis ours]. And it includes also knowledge of the location of the territory to be ruled over by the King of the coming Kingdom—the fact it is this earth and not heaven.” Mr. Armstrong clearly understood that the true Gospel included much more than just a story about the person of Jesus Christ. However, he also clearly understood the Gospel included that Jesus was the promised Messiah who came to give his life as a sacrifice for mankind and to explain the way of salvation that is outlined in the great plan of God pictured by the Holy Days. When we study all the scriptures on the subject, there is no need to be confused about the Gospel. Even the critics should remember that Mr. Armstrong repeatedly stated, “Don’t believe me, believe your Bible.” The Bible must be our ultimate authority in this vital subject.
NEWS AND PROPHECY—December 14, 2006
A Curse of Globalization. International travel and trade have an unwelcome effect on human and animal health around the planet. Dangerous microbes are being spread from nation to nation via passenger and cargo aircraft and ocean-going ships. Francois Le Gall, World Bank lead specialist for African livestock observes, “Avian flu is just one of many diseases that are impacting the continent [of Africa]. Experts expect other diseases to emerge or re-emerge. Almost every year there is a disease appearing, and 75% of these emerging or re-emerging diseases are coming from animals; 80% of those could pass from animals to humans—including Rift Valley fever, rabies and anthrax. These could come together to create what the experts call ‘the perfect microbial storm.’” The Director General of the World Organization for Animal Health recently said, “Remember that with globalization, and unprecedented movements of merchandise and people, there is a continuous transfer of pathogens [disease-causing organisms]. This is made worse by climate change. Many disease vectors have colonized new territories. Mosquitoes and other insects whose larvae were previously killed off by cold winters, now survive in temperate zones” (Reuters, December 8, 2006). The plagues of God are being prepared and, at His time, will be released on all mankind (Deuteronomy 28:59-63). As we watch world events, we see more details of how end time prophesies might be fulfilled. In the kingdom of God, when everyone has their own “vine and fig tree” (Micah 4:4) and the desert “blossoms like a rose” (Isaiah 35:1), we will likely not have a global exchange of food, which will greatly reduce the transfer of disease. God also promises to protect nations from disease when they consistently obey Him (Exodus 15:26).
A Gathering of Kings. Last week in Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah gave the opening address at the 27th annual summit meeting of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Speaking to Arab heads of state from six Gulf nations, Abdullah said, “Our Arab region is besieged by a number of dangers, as if it was a powder keg waiting for a spark to explode.” The King said the Palestinian people were being oppressed by “a hostile and ugly occupation” by Israel, while the international community watched the “bloody tragedy like a spectator.” Abdullah said the region’s most dangerous trend is that in Iraq and Palestine, “a brother is still killing his brother... In Lebanon, we see dark clouds threatening the unity of the homeland, which risks sliding again into... conflict among the sons of the same country.” The king called for GCC states to “stand as one” in the face of the Arab world’s problems. The Gulf States are fearful of a U.S.-Iranian confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear program. During their meeting, GCC leaders discussed moves toward economic integration and the establishment of a single currency and common market, to be set up in stages starting in 2007 and to be fully operational by 2010 (Agence France Press, December 9, 2006). This proposed oil-state union, in the hands of the King of the South, would be a powerful sword to hold at the economic throat of Western Europe (Daniel 11:40). A common currency could help unite these nations, which already have a common language and religion—what will remain is for a leader or leading nation to take charge in this ever-emerging world power.
Another Challenge for Evolution. Scientists recently discovered a Jurassic period shrimp in the Coral Sea. This shrimp was thought to have been extinct for 50 million years (Reuters, December 11, 2006). Darwinian theory and evolutionists posit that because the “fittest” species adapt and survive, there should be only a fossil record of “ancient species” because they will have greatly changed and evolved or become extinct in 50 million years. This discovery creates one more problem for advocates of macro evolution. However, the Bible clearly states that “by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth.” (Colossians 1:16).—Don Davis, Scott Winnail, Floyd Spencer
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