Dear Brethren and Friends,
At the Passover time, we correctly focus on Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and His shed blood to pay for our sins. As I have said a number of times in sermons, brethren, we are the “Church of the Forgiven.”
We should always be profoundly aware of the tremendous debt we owe Christ—and God the Father, who “gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). We should be eternally grateful that we were made in God’s own image, and that our Father planned for us to be His full sons and share eternity with Him, with Jesus Christ, and with the “spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23). We should certainly focus on the profound love and selflessness which Christ demonstrated in being willing to “empty” Himself of His divine glory and come into this human flesh and then die an agonizing death to reconcile us to the Father and so make possible our full Sonship in the Kingdom and Family of God.
We must never forget what Jesus did!
Again, the ultimate purpose of His supreme sacrifice was to make it possible for true Christians to eventually become full sons of God. Thus, many scriptures referring at least partially to the Passover and Christ’s death also emphasize that we must not merely believe in this and be thankful for what Jesus did, but that we must let the risen Christ actually live within us through His Spirit. And that we must spiritually “eat” of Christ, and truly “feed” on Him. Jesus said, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me” (John 6:54–57).
Brethren, at this Passover time, it is of profound importance that we examine ourselves seriously and ask ourselves individually, “Am I actually doing what God expects of me?”
Later in this powerful passage in John 6, Jesus explained, “It is the Spirit [that] gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (v. 63).
Obviously, one of the primary ways we must prepare to become full sons of God is to “feed” on Christ by genuinely studying and saturating ourselves with the very word that He inspired. Many of us in the Church do “a little Bible reading” every day—or at least most days. But how many of us consciously try to carefully read, meditate on and “drink in” the very mind and heart of God and “feed” on Christ by profoundly studying the Bible with heartfelt intensity and accompanying prayer? How many of us cry out to God as we study, “Teach me your ways, O God, and lead me in Your paths”? How many of us try to regularly meditate on God’s word, on His law—and on His Plan—and try to truly have the very mind of Christ in this way and to reflect Christ’s mind in everything we think, say and do? Remember, Jesus inspired the Apostle Paul to write, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
As many of us so sadly observe, hundreds of millions of professing Christians and even thousands of scattered Church of God brethren in various groups say that they “intend” to follow Christ’s direction. Yet, it is obvious in so many cases that they go exactly the opposite way in some of their doctrines and practices! A number of Church of God groups are now struggling to maintain themselves because of people’s deep-seated desire to be totally “independent.” Their idea that, “I won’t let any man tell me what to do,” has helped cause their problems! For this rebellious attitude against God’s clearly taught pattern of government has been a part of carnal human reasoning almost from the very beginning of human existence!
Carnal human beings out in this deceived world—cut off from God, and cut off from the understanding that His word really is inspired—develop the attitude, “I want to do it my way!” In their deceived condition, millions convince themselves that it is more “loving” to ignore God’s word and instead to allow men to marry men, and to allow mothers to murder their unborn babies right in their own womb! They condone and promote all sorts of practices that God’s word condemns again and again. But they are blinded! They have that excuse. And we know that God will later bring these blinded people to genuine understanding and repentance. But we in God’s Church should know better!
So, we in the Living Church of God must really “feed” on Christ and have His mind in the way we approach every single facet of human existence—and mean it.
God tells us in His inspired word, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). Virtually all Church of God members have read this verse. Yet, we sometimes find even baptized members fiercely resisting the instruction and direction of God’s true ministers regarding the qualities they should seek in the person they will marry, as well as the proper procedure in dating and courtship—and even the way brethren ought to conduct themselves at Church functions. No, God’s ministers are not to be “dictators”—they are to be “helpers of your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24, KJV)—but we should all rejoice when things are done decently and in order, and we should not seek to “get our own way” against the clear commands of Scripture (1 Corinthians 14:40).
If we are to continue to have the wonderful atmosphere of unity and loyalty we have experienced in the Living Church of God for so many years, we all need to meditate on these scriptures and sincerely try to “align” ourselves with the mind of God! As we do this, our fruits should make it plain to anyone who cares to examine this Work: (1) Where the full Truth of God is most thoroughly taught and practiced; (2) Where the Work of preaching the Gospel to “all the nations” is most effectively being accomplished; and (3) Where the biblical form of Church government is more fully understood and practiced.
At this “time of the end,” especially, we should truly focus on preparing for the reality of our service in Christ’s soon-coming world government. He wants us to learn to humbly practice and submit to His loving government in the Church today. As the Apostle Paul was inspired to write, “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2–3). So we must all “get involved” in learning and practicing Christ’s form of government right now!
As the Apostle John wrote, Christ is indeed preparing a “place,” a position as king and priest in the coming Kingdom—for each one of us (John 14:2). Christ is right now “checking us out,” working with us and “testing” each of us to see if each of us will be a surrendered and cooperative “team player” in His coming world government.
May God help us all to surrender to Him in every facet of our lives so that He may tell us at His coming, “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities” (Luke 19:17).
Dear brethren, as we approach the Passover, we must in many ways “examine” ourselves and try to draw much closer to Christ and to have His mind. Church government is only one of these—but is an important one, which is vital in preparing us for our real future. For, if we are to be in Christ’s Kingdom, we must not only believe in Him, we must do as He said and “live as He lived.” Then, we will honor Him not merely by belief, but by action and by fulfilling the supreme purpose for which He and the Father have placed us on this earth and have given us life and breath.
With Christian love,