December 2017           "A Journal of Biblical Understanding"           Volume 14           

(Daniel 4:25)
" ... and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will."


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THE BIG QUESTION IN SOME CHURCHES
-- WHERE IS GOD?

For quite some time now, especially since the tragic scattering of the WorldWide Church of God which I believe was caused by a falling away of the ministry from the Truth, many brethren are asking "Where Was God?" or "Where IS God?" whenever a hard test and trial comes upon the Body of Christ.

One person who wrote in to The Journal (News of the Churches of God) asked:
"Why doesn't God seem to heal anymore? This is a question I have asked myself for 28 years. I have not seen anyone healed, brought back from the dead or had demons cast out. Why? The only answer I can come up with: for man to have the power, he would have to be chosen by God and not man. All of the leaders in God's church today were chosen by men. From what I have seen the past couple of months, the Church of God's leaders are not of God at all."

Many people are asking similar questions. After the shootings in the Brookfield, Wis. service of the Living Church of God, one man asked: "I wanted to know where was God when this happened," Don Free told the Chicago Sun-Times. "He was supposed to be everywhere. He could have at least been there." (quoted from a Chicago Sun-Times interview with Don Free about his niece, Angel Varichak, who was one of the wounded. Mr. Free said she was expected to survive.)

Where WAS God during THIS massacre? Is it a valid question?

Have YOU seen any dramatic healings? Or have YOU seen any dramatic happenings where God unmistakably intervened to save a church member?

I wrote a few months ago to several well known Churches of God and asked them the question, "Have you had any dramatic healings in your church that can be proven to be miracles?"

Out of the several letters I wrote, only TWO responded. Their answer was of course they have had some dramatic healings in their church BUT they could not share them with me due to PRIVACY issues! One suggested that I run an AD in The Journal requesting such information (an ad that I can't afford by the way.)

However, of all the questions that others have asked and been printed by The Journal, I still have not seen ANY answers by ANYONE who has had some miraculous healing by God! Maybe they don't want to share the miracle with us?

In scripture when Jesus healed, he even told some of those healed to do certain private things not revealing they had been healed by Him. What did they do? THEY TRUMPETED IT EVERYWHERE!! That's what!

Are we not supposed to share the fact that God has dramatically healed someone in the Church?

But really, why didn't God intervene when a member of the Church opened fire on the Minister and his family as well as many who were sitting anywhere close to him?

Terry Ratzmann had been a member of God's Church since WorldWide existed under Herbert W. Armstrong. According to those who knew him, he was a quiet, gentle man who grew his own garden, and shared the produce with his brethren and an neighbors.

It was reported by his mother, and several church members that Terry had problems with depression, and several were aware that Terry was actively searching for a mate. It was stated that he searched diligenly at each Feast of Tabernacles since more members came together from more church groups at that time than any other.

It was reported that on several occasions, Terry had left church services early, apparently bothered by something he had heard in a sermon. It was also stated that two weeks prior to the massacre, he had left early even though he had been scheduled to give the closing prayer. Some stated he was "bothered" and some said he was "upset".

Of course the national media changed this to "he left in a huff" or "he stormed out" in their reporting of the incident. The media MUST make it more sensational than it already was, you know!

It was also reported that the police rejected the idea that Mr. Ratzmann was depressed or any other theory, and were focusing totally on the "WHOLE CHURCH", the ministry, the members and what was being preached. Heraldo Reviera on his 'show' "Heraldo Reviera at Large" considered the Living Church of God to be like those followers of David Koresh in Waco, Texas who were destroyed when their house was burned to the ground. Those people were pictured to be RADICAL EXTREMISTS who were STOCKPILING weapons to defend against an onslaught by the U.S. Government.

Not only was that not true, there was no stockpile of weapons. All evidence of what happened was bulldozed flat before anyone was allowed in to the area of what the FBI called "the compound". Sounds evil, doesn't it? Compound! Wow! Creates a picture in the mind of hearers of an ARMED FORT. All that 'compound' was is a big HOUSE out in a field, not any kind of fortress!!

Others, I am sure, have equated the Living Church of God (and others of us, by extension) with the Jim Jones poison massacre in South Africa. That is just the way human nature is, when one doesn't understand someone else and what they believe. Peaceful church-goers then become evil ogres in the minds of others because of what is reported in "the media."

There is something that I haven't heard or read that anyone discussed very much. Even though Terry Ratzmann had 3 clips full of ammunition, he only used 1 and part of another.

What stopped Terry Ratzmann?

Could it have been similar to what happened to Judas when he betrayed Jesus to the Priests? After Judas had done the evil deed, Satan left him, HE CAME TO HIS SENSES and, realizing the enormity of what he had done, went out and hanged himself!!

Mr. Ratzmann STOPPED part way through his massacre, evidently realizing the horror he had brought upon his church brethren, and KILLED HIMSELF! The media and police have poo-pooed statements made by some that Mr. Ratzmann must have been possessed by a demon to do such a horrible thing! Of course, they would do that! They don't believe in Jesus the Christ ANYWAY so they certainly don't believe in Satan or demons, do they?

Where is God? Why did He not stop Terry Ratzmann before he killed anyone? Why did He not PROTECT the members of His Church? Why is He not HEALING in the church as He did during Jesus' life here on earth?

Those are valid questions. I don't know if I can answer them but I am going to try to put forth some FOOD FOR THOUGHT!!

When Herbert W. Armstrong began his studies back in Oregan so many years ago, it was a night and day effort between him and God. Mr. Armstrong would study and pray, pray and study. He began to get answers from God. Notice, Herbert Armstrong did NOT go to any man to begin his studies. He began with prayer to God.

I want everyone, at this juncture, to realize that I have the utmost respect for Herbert W. Armstrong and admire his dedication to God. However, facts are facts.

A letter he wrote in 1939 detailing what he then believed about church government was completely different than a sermon he gave about the same subject in the 1960's. By the 60's Mr. Armstrong began to believe that the church was GOD'S GOVERNMENT ON EARTH and he (Herbert Armstrong) was the HEAD. (He called it the "physical head")

As time went on, Mr. Armstrong became almost dictatorial in his decisions and in his pronouncements about the church until he was finally near the end of his ministry claiming that "God won't let me make a mistake!" That statement I heard with my own ears during a sermon in Atlanta, Georgia! Although it didn't shake me up as much as it should have, I felt something wrong with that kind of idea. I later realized that people whom God had dealt with directly in the old and new testaments were allowed to make mistakes, some of them serious and tragic!

Moses cried out, "Must we fetch you water?" before he struck the rock to which God had only commanded him to speak.

Nu 20:8 "Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
Nu 20:10 "And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
Nu 20:11 "And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also."

Yes, Moses made a dire mistake that cost him his passage into the "promised land." He was NOT allowed to cross the Jordan river, but had to look over into it from a mountain. Moses died in the wilderness without receiving that promise.

King David made a tragic mistake when he desired Bathsheba as his wife and sent her husband to the battle front where David was sure he would be killed.

David lost the son given to him by Bathsheba because of that disobedience to God and His Laws. A tragic mistake!

Many other of our forefathers made mistakes even though God was working with them. Why would Herbert Armstrong think God would not allow HIM to make any mistakes when it came to decisions about scripture?

That is the same thing the Pope believes happens when he is seated on his throne (the so-called Holy See) in the Vatican. He believes all his pronouncements are "infallible!" He believes God wouldn't let him make a mistake, don't you see?

At the beginning of his ministry Mr. Armstrong preached that everyone should "prove it from our own bibles!" He said, "Don't believe me just because I say it! Believe your own Bibles!!" Yes, we were told to do as the Bereans did and "prove all things." Those who did that, by and large, left the church in the 70's and 80's because of some of the teachings that didn't square with scripture!

During the latter part of his ministry, Mr. Armstrong (and the ministry, too) began to really preach hard about the fact that they were "doing God's Work!" That became a leading standard from many pulpits until the ministry finally began preaching that if anyone should criticize a minister, they were CRITICIZING GOD HIMSELF!! We were told that if we got what we thought was Bible Truth from anywhere other than from Headquarters, through the ministry, we had better be aware it was a deception of Satan!! That statement was made at the Feast of Tabernacles by a leading minister from Pasadena.

Man had set himself IN PLACE OF GOD! Man, according to them, was DOING THE WORK OF GOD!!

A few years later after I had left the WorldWide Church of God, I had occasion to be doing research for an article I was writing for my newsletter (which was then called The REAL Truth, and later changed to The SevenTimes Newsletter). I searched in Strong's exhaustive concordance for the phrase "work of god".

I found the answer to what the REAL work of God is.

Joh 6:29 "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."

If WE believe upon Jesus, whom God sent, then WE are the work of God. God is working to CHANGE MINDS, to cause chosen people to begin to THINK LIKE HIM.

Solomon talked about the Work of God in this way:

Ec 7:13 "Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?"
Ec 8:17 "Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it."

Yes truly, the Work of God is something that MAN CANNOT DO (or even FIND unless God leads him to it)!! It takes the majestic power of the everliving God to be able to do the work He is doing!!

Then what is the work God has given US to do?

He has ordained that we "sow the seeds of the Gospel" to the whole world!

Mat. 28:19 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, BAPTIZING them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 TEACHING them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

Yes we are to be teachers, and baptizers. Each of us individually has been appointed to "go into all the world" and teach the people of the world to "observer all things whatsoever I have commanded you." We are to teach them about that FAITH once delivered to the Saints" by Jesus the Christ.

Of course, that pre-supposes that we KNOW what that faith really is!! Too many have believed what other men have taught about what that faith is. One of those teachings is, THAT faith is the one you receive when you are first baptised.

Not true!! God told us it was the faith once delivered to the Saints! Not the faith once delivered to us at our baptism!!

Then it behooves us to GET INTO GOD'S WORD and find out what that faith was, doesn't it?

Each individual has been given an appointment by God to share that "faith once delivered to the Saints" with people around this whole earth. We are to spread the Good News (that's what Gospel means) to others that we know and who "asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" (1 Pet. 3:15)

We are ALL in training to become Kings and Priests at the return of Jesus the Christ to this earth when He will set up His Kingdom on the earth!

Rev. 5:10 "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."

What a magnificent calling!!

Back to the question ... where is God?

It is my personal belief from many years of Bible study and prayer, that we are in a world that God turned over to MAN'S GOVERNMENT during the time of Samuel. The tribes of Israel wanted a human King just like all the other nations around them. Samuel thought they had rejected him as judge but God was very forthcoming to Samuel that the people had NOT rejected Samuel, but they had rejected GOD, that He should not reign over them. (1 Sam. 8:7)

At that time God turned mankind over to the RULE of men (under the influence of Satan, of course) and then gave a whole chapter of what they could expect from this HUMAN king. (1 Sam. 8:10-21)

Life from that time on became even harder because God was not approachable by individuals. He turned His back on humanity as a whole, and then began to work with only CHOSEN people who would work to help God implement His Plan for mankind.

Even though God called and chose certain people, He DID NOT TAKE THEM OUT OF THE WORLD! (John 17:15) Jesus prayed that His chosen ones would be kept from the EVIL ONE, however, He DID NOT say there would be no tests and trials for those chosen people!!

And PLEASE remember the scripture in Rev. 12:9!

Satan deceives THE WHOLE WORLD!! God's church is STILL IN THE WORLD and Jezebel is "teaching" in His Church!!! (Rev. 2:20). ANY HUMAN BEING IS SUBJECT TO BEING DECEIVED, even those of us in God's Church unless we stay extremely close to God and depend upon Him and Jesus for our UNDERSTANDING!!

Each of us will have his fiery trial to see whether or not we will OBEY God even though things aren't going very well with us. We need to be studying the Book of Job this Passover Season, learning the lessons which God was teaching Job.

Even though God allowed Satan to deal harshly with Job, Satan was not to take his life! The main point here is not that God allowed Satan to TEST Job about his obedience to God, but that Job would hold on to the FAITH which he had in God and continue to OBEY Him!!

Everything is about ATTITUDE and OBEDIENCE to God, NO MATTER WHAT THE PHYSICAL CONSEQUENCES, and no matter what tests and trials God allows to come our way while we "sojourn" here in this strange land.

We are told several things in the wonderful book of Hebrews about FAITH and how we should conduct our selves after our CHANGE of MIND!!

Heb. 11:8 "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."

Also Heb. 11:13 "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."

That country is the Kingdom of God and that city is the Holy City New Jerusalem which comes down out of Heaven from God. (Rev. 3:12; 21:2) Why is it Holy? Because God will be IN IT!! (Rev. 21:21-23)

Yes. Once God chooses us and places His Holy Spirit within us, we are no longer an active citizen of whatever country we were born. We have become a citizen of God's Kingdom (which will be established on this earth at Christ's return - Rev. 11:15), and we begin to ACTIVELY SEEK that Kingdom in our words and in our deeds. We become AMBASSADORS of that Kingdom, which is still in Heaven until the Resurrection of the Saints.

It seems to me that God is NOT protecting us from the tests and trials of living on this earth because He is trying to find out if we will look to Him NO MATTER WHAT BEFALLS US!!

Does that mean God won't protect us or heal us any more? OF COURSE NOT! It depends upon God's Grace and Mercy as to how He deals with EACH INDIVIDUAL, in or out of His Church. We just have to HAVE FAITH and then LEAVE it up to God to do what is the very best for us!

Solomon tells us that there is a time for everything, that time and chance happens to ALL.

Ecc. 3:1 "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 ¶ He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end."

All these things come to "EXERCISE" us!! They come to TEST us as to whether we will STAY WITH GOD or "return to that other country" which God drew us out of!!

Perhaps you say, "Well if God would just show us a few real miracles, we would really believe! It would be much easier to worship Him then!"

At this, I would like to bring to remembrance what happened to the Children of Israel when God brought them out of Egypt. God SHOWED THEM MIRACLE AFTER MIRACLE and they STILL didn't believe. They STILL did not want to stay with God but wanted to GO BACK into Egypt, to their former way of life. All those TRUE MIRACLES were just so much happenstance to them after a short while when they began to have difficulties in following God!!

At one time Jesus' disciples came to Him and asked,

Mat. 17:19 "Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."

How long has it been since you prayed DILIGENTLY and FASTED? Not ever? Maybe last year during the Day of Atonement? If you fasted then, what was your ATTITUDE?

At another time, many caused quite a stir because of the teachings of Jesus. They became OFFENDED at His teachings and asked many questions.

Mat. 13:54 "And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief."

How is YOUR faith? Are you harboring a spirit of UNBELIEF because of how you approach God?

This we also need to consider.

In the Book of Hebrews we read this:
Heb. 3:8 "Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.
17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."

Has our heart (our MIND) been hardened by the deception of Satan without our knowing it? Have we become comfortable with just attending Sabbath services and letting the minister tell us what to believe without proving "all things?"

We NEED to EXAMINE ourselves closely, using God's Lamp (His Holy Word)!!

Heb. 4:1 "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."

We need to deeply consider the following.

Later the Children of Israel wanted a king just like all the other nations around them. A MAN to rule over them!! A MAN to make decisions for them!!

Is that what is happening to God's Church right now? Have the true miracles we have seen in our lives grown dim in our memories? Have they ceased to be remembered as REAL miracles? Do we expect God to be with us the same way He was with the Apostles?

He could, you know!! Then why isn't He?

Could it be we have gone away from God while still trying to claim His Promises? Could it be that many in God's Church are LOOKING to some minister (who is just a man), RATHER than LOOKING TO GOD, and thereby placing that minister before Christ?

During one Feast of Tabernacles, after I had left WorldWide Church, I was visiting about among the congregation when I came upon a family I didn't know from another city. They asked me what church I attended. My reply was God's Church. They wanted to know who our leader was. I replied that He was Jesus the Christ.

A look of amazement came over the woman's face and she said, "No, no. I mean who is your leader, your minister?" I again told her it was Jesus the Christ. She adamantly said, "Well, you MUST have some human leader, don't you?" And again I told her no, that Jesus was completely sufficient.

Looks of amazement were on the face of her and her husband! In their minds any church group HAD TO HAVE a HUMAN leader!!

Is that what YOU believe? Do YOU have to have some HUMAN leader before you feel you belong to the "true" church? Do YOU feel LOST if you don't have some man exercising authority over you?

If you believe these things, then some soul-searching needs to be done in your life. A lot of examining your faith needs to be done before Passover!!

THERE IS ONLY ONE HEAD OF GOD'S CALLED-OUT-ONES, Jesus the Christ!! And we are all brethren, a part of that Spiritual Body.

If you are giving your devotion to some human minister, RATHER THAN JESUS, do you think God will do many miracles in your church group? Do you believe that some organization is "the true church" and that if others are not in that organization, they are not a part of the church? Don't put all your eggs in one basket, unless that basket is Jesus the Christ!!

I am saying we should respect a minister (if he is due it) but we should NOT let that respect change our devotion from God to man!!

Jesus told us that a minister was a helper of our faith, one who took care to explain to us God's scriptures. He also told us that ministers were NOT to LORD it over us, as the nations around us exercise their authority. He said ministers were SERVANTS, not just to Him but to the brethren also!

Just one more question. If you believe God when He says "I will never leave you not forsake you.", and yet you feel like He is not CLOSE to you or your church, don't you need to ask yourself, "WHO MOVED?"

If we want God to work miracles in our lives, maybe we should get back to worshipping Him and not some man who has been placed OVER us by some other man!!

At this Passover season, we should ALL be examining ourselves to see WHETHER OR NOT WE ARE IN THE FAITH "that was once delivered to the Saints"!!!

Your friend,

Ken Browder, Editor - The SevenTimes Newsletter -
"A Newsletter of Biblical Understanding"

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