God at Work Today
“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.” (Psalm 107:1-3)
We seek to print what the Lord has anointed to our hearts, whether written by our hands or those of others—a lot of blessing has come to our hearts through some recent correspondence, which we have reproduced with slight modifications below.
Please, tell us what kind of church you are. We are particularly interested with the true church of God saints who have fled the apostasy—which is still called the “Church of God,” but is nothing but divided and hating people who seem to ignore the Word of God, which demands unity and love of God’s children. It is such a deplorable situation; we are disgusted with all the sectarianism depicted by the Church-of-Godism today. We are these days so afraid of man rule that we are shy about whom we fellowship or get involved with.
In His love and grace,
Dear Bro. ———,
Greetings in the name of Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep. I am writing to you with a full heart; and, in accordance with Romans 12:17, I am determined to tell you as fully as I know about the battles and burden of our times in general and what specific experience and direct knowledge I have of things.
I was saved when I was eight years of age, just a child; but the experience was very real and definite. Before then, I had been raised in a Christian home by folks who were saved (their background was Nazarene, therefore holiness), but it was all mental—I knew not anything of God from the heart. This all changed when God spoke peace to my soul.
Although entire sanctification as a definite second work of grace was taught where my folks went (and by then, my father had found the teachings of the church of God and had left the Nazarene church), I did not find that experience in services, but at home, in the woods, when I was thirteen. I could take you to the spot where I died, kneeling on an old metal folding chair, and the Holy Spirit took full possession. God broke the high-minded opinion I had of myself as a result of being raised to excel in the world, and He broke the ambition that went with it. How I do praise Him for His great mercy to me! I would never have survived the things that followed on my pilgrimage if God had not brought me to that.
The congregation that my father found had largely the form of doctrine correctly, but the essence and spirit of the truth was passing from them because they were not willing to pay the full price to walk in the light as He is in the light. They perceived it not, and were a great deal like the congregation in Revelation 3:17: “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” It was in this place that I made my start to serve my Lord with all my heart, and there was no difference between me and them that would have given me any advantage. The only difference has been that I was not satisfied to dabble at this; that is, to play a game. The next verse in the above quoted reads, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” (Revelation 3:18) This buying of the gold tried in the fire is the way of the Lord, for it is what He did while He was down here. It will make one spiritually rich. It could have made them spiritually rich, too; but I am sorry to report that they chose it not, and I am fairly confident that He took away their candlestick, and their house has been left desolate. My mother yet abides in that congregation, although she gets no food there.
I went from there to other congregations among a group of people. The Lord had called me to be a minister for Him, and I labored among those people for many years, until about 1989. There was a great deal of spirituality among them when I first started, although a decline was evident, and particularly evident in some congregations. But a number had a vision from God and considerable light and blessing. Most of those brethren are gone home, and the succeeding generation of leaders have fallen away a lot.
As a example of the light they had on man rule, I will tell you of an experience I had as a young minister. I was very naive and did not realize how someone could take advantage of me. I loved the Lord dearly and earnestly wanted to measure up to all truth; I was very vulnerable to counsel and did not have the seasoning to discriminate subtly between truth and error. One dear brother had been a blessing to me, and I very sincerely entreated him to come to me if he saw anything wrong with me and tell me. He looked at me, comprehending my youth and inexperience, and said, “Brother ———, God bless you, if I see anything wrong with you, I think I’ll go tell Jesus and let Him tell you.” This kind of love, this kind of respect for God and His ways, this kind of humility—it won my confidence and set a standard in my heart and mind. The brethren were reluctant to assume any more responsibility in my life than the Lord had laid upon them; they would not lay hands upon the ark.
I watched this group of ministers compromise and sin, including the same minister who told me what I related above. In 1984, they had a minister’s meeting in which they were afraid to deal with a minister who was plainly off on a number of lines. He was influential, and they were afraid it would split them. There were a few who opposed that compromise at the meeting, and all of them are gone now to meet the Lord. A number of the spiritual ones who taught us in the last years of their lives were not in the body by the time of the above-mentioned minister’s meeting. The decline was very definite after that. A spirit of human wisdom and reasoning took hold, and real authority and blessing from God departed. Eventually, He led us out—first He required it of me, and I left without my wife; then He dealt with her and led her out. Our children were young; we had expected there to be a small handful of saints, at least, but all of those in whom we had good confidence decided to stay in. It did not seem that God was dealing with them as He dealt with us, and this was hard to understand, but I felt then and I feel now that we must be true to God, whatever the cost.
We would not have survived if God had not helped us, but He did help us! He had prepared a family. They knew nothing of the true church and were members of a big, proud Baptist church where his parents were missionaries. Her parents were doctors. It seems incredible that God even works in such places, but He did. They were honest and willing to pay the price to walk in the light. Brother ——— told me that he keep feeling that “there had to be more.” This was surely true, and they left. A fanatical couple found them and dominated them. This just about finished them and thoroughly prejudiced their relatives against them. Finally, they escaped this couple, and as Brother ——— puts it, “floundered around.” Then she met my wife at a homeschooling function. They were drawn to the truth, and we began to meet together.
We have made numerous efforts to find other saints who want to walk in the light, and have found a lot of people who don’t. We have met with a group of folks who escaped from a deception, only to watch as nearly all of them went out into the world while still professing. Most of the survivors have been greatly damaged and hurt. Hardly any have escaped bitterness. There are a few who know us and attend our local services from time to time, but most of them will not have anything to do with us. Our closeness of life reminds them too much of where they escaped, and they are afraid we are like their old masters and will try to dominate them as they were dominated. That is about the last thing we would want to do, but they will not give it a chance to prove itself, so they only feel comfortable with people who do not live very carefully. This includes the people we had to leave. Evidences of spiritual need are rampant among them. They are being devoured by the world, little by little.
We have learned, little by little, how very much there is out there, and it is not longer a mystery to me why there are few that be saved (Luke 13:23-24). The opposition of the enemy of all righteousness is quite effective in the minds and hearts of mankind. But, I am glad to report, God is still saving people right now (a new one was born in the family this past Sunday), and there are people everywhere who want the gospel message and are willing to meet God’s requirements to them as He makes it known.
When we first heard from you, your correspondence coincided with a number of other letters, which overwhelmed the amount of time available for correspondence. There was a letter from a man who had escaped from Islam after 30 years of immersion in that religion. (He seems to have really got something from God, and recently the Lord healed him of an awful affliction.) There was another letter from some folks who assumed a fellowship with us which did not seem to have any foundation to it—they did not know us, but claimed that we had just what they were looking for, etc. We took these burdens and others to the Lord for direction. The ones who assumed fellowship wrote us every week, but we could not feel a burden from God to reply, so we waited. Eventually it came out that they wanted money. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” (Hebrews 13:5-6) This exposed motive was sad to see, but we were glad that we had waited on God. We have tried to be led by the Lord in our replies, for we want to really be of help to people. We are poor people, too, and live by faith. However, if God gives us something to pass along, we want the blessing of passing it along. Mostly, though, “Silver and gold have [we] none.” (Acts 3:6)
Now, regardless of where this goes, I want to say that the Lord has given us a heart of love for you. As a brother said, “I don’t know you, but I know God, and He knows you; so, indirectly, I know you.” That is, I recognize the principles at stake in these writings, agree with them, and want to do you any good I can.
We have nothing for you to join. Consequently, we have nothing that we can kick you out of, either. Unless God gives us something for you, both in material and in spiritual things, we have nothing to give. He has given us a love and burden for you.
I am sending you several writings. One is Sister Lottie Jarvis’ book, A True Story in Allegory. It symbolically portrays compromise and fanaticism. I hope and pray that it is a blessing.
Love and prayers,
Dear Bro. ———,
Holy greetings to you, dear brother, in the name of the Dear Lord and Master. Praise the Lord for all His goodness and mercy! “O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.” (Psalm 98:1) I thank God for using you to bless and raise me higher up in the heavenly places and in great hopes and confidence in the Lord. May He continue to use you this way with all other seekers and those hungry for the Truth. Amen. First, allow me to tell you that I am saved and living a holy life the best I know how through the power of the Holy Ghost. I love the Lord and live for Him with all He has given me—body, soul, and all else. Please, continue to pray for me to live a victorious life all the rest of my life.
[At this point, the author identified six different religious persuasions in his area of residence.] All these divisions are characterized by hatred, strife, bitterness, and so on, within themselves, and against the other groups. Each one uses money to woo followers here and keep them held up to a small or great extent, ——— being the richest and most affluent, but very small. Local members keep fighting for position to get the money and its advantages. I know all of them and have been actively involved in Numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5; tried to work as part of each one of them, but had to flee out of one to the other as rottenness became noticeable, and I opposed it to no avail. I experienced what the Lord says in Jeremiah 51:9—if Babylon could be healed, He would have healed her.
God had initially showed me in a vision that He has a clean, pure, and spotless church, made up of only the pure in heart here on the earth. I did not comprehend the meaning of this wonderful vision then, in October 1977. So I jumped from one group to the other, hoping it was the pure Bride of Christ I had seen in the vision, but only to be frustrated. Then, in around June 2002, God in His love, care, and grace, sent me another wonderful vision, which I did not comprehend clearly until the beginning of 2003. He showed me that I was faithfully going after Jesus, but before I would reach Him, a group would emerge in between with its fogs. I would get enmeshed in this group and get blinded by the fog, but would almost as soon find out that Jesus was not in the group. Then I would get out, see Jesus afar off on the Way ahead and start running after Him again, only to be obstructed by a group again. It was not until I had run clear out of every group division that I caught up with Jesus, who hugged me and kissed me and held me by the hand to lead me on. As said before, I did not see what the Lord was teaching me in this vision until January 2003. When the full meaning of this vision sunk into my mind, I completely stopped looking for groups, confessed my unfaithfulness to the Lord, and fully consecrated to serve Him and Him only as He showed and led me free from all divisions and their inherent evils. I offered to Him my whole being and asked God to fill me with His Holy Ghost, which I understood as His fully taking His abode in my body (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20), cleansing me wholly from all carnality and giving me the power to live holy all my life. It was then peace flooded my soul, joy unspeakable became part of my life in all circumstances, and love for God and all His creation is now so much my part of life that I would give everything to live this way. I am rejoicing in this glory up to now, for which I truly thank God.
I made all effort to do restitution to the best of my ability and I am still willing to do it whenever I become aware of anything of the past not corrected or returned to whoever owed. It is this love that sent me to the internet, after seeing what several men are doing, to look and see if there are brothers like that in the other parts of ——— and also in the other parts of the world. I have written to several, but many have proved to be only sects (from studying what is in their websites), and others have never bothered to reply. Some have replied but as soon as they ask about me from the groups I have mentioned above, they cut me off completely. Letters accusing me of all sorts of things have been flying all over. Some are genuine but most are false accusations. I do not know what you will do with me when you ask about me from those groups I have mentioned above, but I trust the Lord to lead you the right way and would not blame you at all if you decide to cut me off, too. But I have a soul and I expect every true man of God to be fair and true to my soul. That is one reason I have lost faith in all those groups I have listed above. They do not care about a soul that has rejected or found fault with them. However, I am entirely in the hands of the Lord and want determinedly to remain there until He takes me home. Please, pray for me in that God-given love for me you mentioned in your letter.
Now, in the light of what I have said above, I hope you can see what you mean to me at this very needy hour and why I am rejoicing about your coming my way. The material you have sent me has been so uplifting and encouraging that I truly thank you. I have read all of it and will studiously, prayerfully, re-read it all over again. God has been true and poured His love upon me again through you. I have refused (I am referring to A True Story in Allegory) Mrs. Simpleton’s great praise Ointment, also Mr. Big Heart’s purse of gold coins, and Mr. Worldly-Wise’s little gilt-edged book on philosophy. I no longer desire to indulge in the forbidden things and becoming a friend of the world, thus incurring the enmity with God. I want to be a member of the “Hold-Fast Family” on the top of Mt. Zion where I can see the heavenly home. The “Apostasy Valley” with its “little villages of like-mindedness and group spirits” no longer appeals to me. I am so glad to be free of this group spirit. I want to be one with those who are doing all the King’s will as revealed in His law. Praise the Lord!
So, my dear brother, have you been to “the Revelation Point” near the “Celestial Country”? Are your souls “vibrating with the harmonies of heaven’s music”? Are you holding “a convocation and reading of the law of the Lord”? Will you welcome us to the Camp of the Saints and help us stay there waiting for our Lord’s return? I await the answer prayerfully and humbly. But please, be forewarned that we do not expect to be dragged back to the “Morality Plain” in the “Apostasy Valley.” We have committed our all to the Lord (2 Timothy 1:12). We are hoping to be one with those whom the King is adding to on the Sea of Glass (Revelation 15:2-4; Matthew 25:33; 13:30). They are the ones eating the fruits of the tree of life on this side of the River of Life—this tabernacle of flesh (2 Corinthians 5:1-4) —while awaiting the return of the Lord. We feel He is so near (Matthew 25:6), and that the door will soon be shut immediately He comes (Luke 13:25). I want to be found there, within the walls of the City (Isaiah 26:1; 60:18) where I am constantly beholding the great heavenly city, having the glory of God (Revelation 21:10). This is the only glory I want. My dear ones, may the dear Lord keep blessing you and refreshing you as you have refreshed me. My hope and courage has been so raised that I am rejoicing and thanking the Lord for you. Thank you, once again, very much.
In His love and grace,
Dear Bro. ———,
Thank you so much for writing. We are praying that your trials and tribulations will work together for much good in your life and ours, too.
I want to say right away that no one has told us anything about you, and all that we know is what you have related in the emails that we have received from you. If we had heard anything, then we would have just committed it to God anyway, until He caused the truth of the matter to be revealed. But we haven’t heard or seen any of those letters that you have mentioned.
This scripture has been a comfort to me in these things: “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.” (Luke 6:22) Jesus has a blessing for us in being misrepresented, as long as there is no merit to the rumors or charges. “If, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Peter 2:20-21)
The Lord gave me something that has been of great value to me when I was in a trial from people’s talk. The realization that I was being treated this way had hovered over me for quite a bit of time—several months, as I recall—and it was getting me down. Just crushing and depressing me. I went out to a pasture to pray in a car that I had. I knelt down in the grass by the open door and poured out my heart to God. He gave me an answer: It’s not so much what happens to you in life that matters; it’s how you take it! This came as light from heaven to my soul. These things could do me good! God had designed them carefully to work together for my good! My despair was turned to praise. The Lord said, “It’s not how people treat you; it’s how you treat people!” Praise His name! Yea, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
It is our blood-bought privilege to live right all the time—in the face of the most awful evil and wickedness. To overcome evil with good by the power of God. To take without flinching the most scalding rejection and vituperation. To stay humble and loving in our heart in the face of the most outrageous injustice. Jesus has bought and paid for an experience in our hearts to do this, and He carefully regulates our temptations and trials so that we are not tempted above that we can ably bear. He makes a way of escape in His grace so that we can bear it.
Meeting these experiences is exceedingly dangerous to our spiritual life, yet it is the very means that God uses to help us grow and thrive. A minister was once preaching on the battles of the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7. He read, “how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” (Revelation 2:2) Then he read, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (Revelation 2:4) He said, “This is very likely where they lost their first love—in exposing and dealing with the false brethren.” I believe he had and has a good point. It is of great importance to me to learn the secrets that God wants to teach me of how to maintain holiness without losing holiness. (If you think that you must step outside of holiness to maintain holiness, you have already lost it.)
It is in this spirit and attitude that we value the writing of Sister Lottie Jarvis, A True Story in Allegory. She was a survivor of the great compromise after the 1880 reformation (this compromise occurred between 1910-1915). I believe that God gave her this message in symbolical form to help those who would hunger for and lay hold on truth after her time.
I heard a story of a minister. He said at one time that if God would hand him the Bible and say, “Here, George, just take this book and fix it to fit you,” he would just hand the Bible back to God and say, “God, the book is all right just like it is. Just fix George to fit the book.” I believe this with all my heart. God has already made a church that is just right. He operates it, puts people in it as they as saved, and takes them out if they sin. When men lose sight of it, it still continues on just as God wants it to do so. His way is perfect. It is just as it should be. The kingdom has not been left to other people (including you and me). Jesus runs it, for He is the Head of the body. Nobody fools Him. He deals with everyone justly and rightly. He helps us to hold still and wait on Him to do His work. He gives us courage and faith to trust Him for strength to do the work He has for us.
The 1880 reformation was a re-discovery of what God had and had been doing all the time since Jesus built His church, against which the gates of hell have never prevailed. It was there all the time while men stumbled around and lost sight of what truth was, what man rule was, what Holy Spirit government was. It will be there if you or I lose it. If everyone in the world were to turn away from Jesus, the gates of hell still would not prevail, for paradise is filled with saints, who are going to be coming back with Him at the end of time.
My dear friend, we have no power to turn you back from truth. You can go on and be faithful to God without our assistance at all. But we do love the Lord and want to do what He has for us to do all the time. We are thankful that we have received a kingdom which cannot be moved, and we pray for grace to be faithful and hear, “Welcome, thou good and faithful servant! Enter thou into the joys of thy Lord!” (Matthew 25:14-30) The Lord of the harvest has posted us in a little place in His vineyard. He has laid a burden on our heart to be “Johnny Appleseed’s” for Him. (This individual was an American figure, and his life illustrates what I am trying to say.) What we live, preach, and teach is not a secret. Saints have been living it for years. The narrow path is well-worn. Many have lived it before you and me. We are deeply interested in those truths that served them so well. We want to learn them and lay hold on eternal life, too.
I, too, abhor the fog line. I want nothing to do with an atmosphere “which causes the objects therein to appear much taller than they really are, so that a very ordinary person appears as a walking giant, especially to himself.” I have learned something of the extreme danger of thinking of myself more highly—not soberly—than I ought to think (Romans 12:3).
It is possible for us to be one in Christ without trying to be one in each other. We can keep each other consecrated to the Master and let Him inform or reveal about us that which either makes unity or reveals the lack of it. It is blessed to abide in the vine without unduly concerning myself over how my brother is doing. I can leave that to Him who knows all things and has all power.
And, so, dear brother, we rejoice in your escape from the groups of men. We especially rejoice in your continued love for them and your watchfulness to keep everything as clear as you can toward them. God has appointed you your Sanballat’s, Tobiah’s, and Geshem’s to refine you and humble you. You will not be able to build the wall acceptably without the effect of these deadly trials. “Beloved, think it not strange.” (1 Peter 4:12) They are our path to heaven.
We are only some of the smallest and most unworthy of the King’s servants (for He has many), but you set the joy-bells ringing around here when you follow the Lord’s way with all your heart. All of His servants joy in His salvation. All adore His great plan and shout His praises, both those of us down here and those above who are resting.
So as to what we will do with you is what we have learned to do all the time: commit you to God, as we do ourselves, also. “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:19)
A great number of the names mentioned in your letter are unknown to us. I would be glad to do good to any of these people if good can be done, but I am doubtful that there is an open door. We have approached some folks in the past to try to be of help, only to find that they were not really open, and that we were naive.
Please write to us as often as you wish and ask any questions you wish to ask. I am attaching a chapter from Sister Katherine Helm’s book, The Lure of Divine Love, and a tract by Sister Jarvis that you might enjoy.
Love and prayers,
Dear Bro. ———,
Greetings dear brother, in the name of the Dear Lord. My problem is this. There were many preachers in the meetings. Many of them want to come over to us and work with us as whole congregations. To me, this is fearful, particularly when I consider what Ezra did (Ezra 9-10). The people had to get rid of “strange wives.” John the Baptizer would not baptize those who had not repented. The early church would not work together with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the scribes. Therefore, please, advise me on what line of action to take in these matters. My feeling is that they all individually have to forsake all their Babylonian ideologies and traits, and for the ministers to sit down in the pews, until they know all the truth, measure to it and then be sure the Lord has laid a hand on them to minister. If this be the case, who will then minister to the distant congregations, as there are so few church of God ministers? But it is a hard thing for them to do. As for the individuals in the individual congregations, my feeling is that they should each examine themselves and if any feel they have ever sinned (which is so common in the sect world who teach the “sin-you-must” doctrine) since they initially professed salvation, they lost out with the Lord. So they have to come in through the altar. But this cannot be done legalistically. The Lord needs to show them this, and not me demanding it of them. It is a predicament. Can you please, advise me?
In His grace,
Dear Bro. ———,
Greetings in the name of the Lord and Master. I shall now be able to send you another question, which for ease of reference, I mark as Number Two here below. Please, help with answers and comments if the Lord gives you the time. If you cannot get the time, please, let another minister (true church of God minister, please) help me. Please, I do not ask the questions unkindly in any argumentative spirit or in any testing spirit. I just want to know, and also I want to know if the Lord has given us the same light in some matters or it is just my “notions.” I have also been mixing up with the false Church-of-Godism and there are some things I must get rid of. Therefore, please, do not take me wrongly when I ask questions. I believe you are on the mountain and can help me and the church here to live there. God bless your heart, dear brother.
2. Divorce and Remarriage:
- I have read the article on the above subject on the website. I would like to know if this is the saints’ stand on divorce and remarriage. I ask this because you have written a disclaimer on the website saying that whatever you add to your site is not to be taken as your stand. I just want to be sure.
- Jesus said that there should be no putting away of a wife (spouse) except for adultery/fornication. How is this exception taken by the saints? Is it their stand that one should live with the spouse in spite of adultery/fornication?
- I have always stood that marriage is for “till death doth part us.” (But the “putting away of wives” for other reasons other than adultery/fornication by many people here has puzzled me and I have met even American ministers who have married women who have left their husbands or who have been put away. One of the minister-missionaries defended their actions by telling me that marriage was for this life when we are in the flesh and for our happiness and should not therefore be taken as influencing life after death. Please, comment.) Do we disfellowship those who marry women who are put away? Do we disfellowship wives who have married men who have been put away? Are people who have remarried those put away to be accepted as ministers and even as saints?
- Here, we have people who do not marry the Christian way (church marriages), or even the legal way (going to a registrar of marriages other than a pastor and getting legal documents as they are married). The traditional way is that a man and a woman just come together and live as man and wife as long as they are permitted by the parents of both parties—though mainly it is the girls’ parents who play the greater part of permitting the marriage. We do not take this as a Christian way of marrying as it sets a bad example and is actually living in fornication. We insist that such people marry legally and in church. Can you please comment?
Please, as I said before, help if you can. But if you do not have the time, we would be glad if another minister can help.
Trusting to hear from you as the Lord leads and directs. Blessings and love from this way.
Dear Bro. ———,
Greetings in the name of Jesus. I checked my email this morning and retrieved your two letters on fellowship and divorce and remarriage.
Let me say first that I feel very inadequate to the task of answering your questions. Although I have a good hold on the Bible principles involved, and the Lord has blessed me with a good understanding of how these things apply within my own society and culture, I have enough experience to know that things are somewhat different elsewhere. I am still quite confident that the Bible has the answers for all men, all ages, all ways; but I am quite aware that I do not understand all the depths in the scriptures on all these points. I am trusting the Lord to help us both to find what He put there for us on the questions at hand.
The Bible tells us, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) It is a mistake to assume or extend naked faith with no evidence to go on. This situation of looking for the fingerprints of God in a man’s heart is not a case of “innocent until proven guilty.” It is a case of seeing what is and what is not established. The Bible tells to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) Again, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2) You will note in this last verse that there is an establishing, a transforming, a renewing that is needed in us to make it possible to prove what is good, acceptable, and perfect, will of God. In other words, we must have it to recognize it. And we must have it established in us to where it proves to be more than a passing thing, and then recognize that same process of qualification of each person that He saves, and we must wait and be witnesses of this in others.
To put this thought in the words of the parable of the sower, no person has any business taking on the position of a leader to the others until they have borne a crop in the field of their own heart. Merely putting down root is not enough. Merely looking promising is not enough. There must be fruit, recognizable fruit; not just buds or blossoms. “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” (2 Timothy 2:6) Note the authority of this verse. “Must be first.”
A brother was saved from being an alcoholic. Immediately he felt a burden to preach. His conversion and deliverance was real and beyond doubt, but he was advised to wait a year by brethren who were aware of God’s qualification plan. He did so, and God blessed him. Recently he died after many years of laboring for the Master as an evangelist. The brethren who advised him were standing on the Word of God. They were following the Bible. “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” (1 Timothy 5:22) This laying on of hands is no more or less than recognition of what God has already done, and we are here advised to go about it slowly and not do it suddenly. The gift should prove itself. The steadfastness of the individual should prove out. Time must be given for the proving.
I watched a minister violate this scriptural counsel. He was an older minister, and the deliverance of the young man under consideration seemed past doubting. The older brother had some misgiving (he should have stayed his hand), and he expressed himself that there had only been three months since the young brother had been saved and sanctified, but he said that the blessing on the young brother was so great that he felt he should go ahead. It had precisely the effect of 1 Timothy 3:6 in due time. Today, he is the head of a fanatical movement after leading a split in that group of people where he was ordained.
We do not know until it is too late to know just what is in each other’s hearts a good part of the time. God has not designed for us to just discern immediately all of the time. He has designed for us to trust Him. We might say that in this business of extending or not extending fellowship, trust in God is the first thing, trust in God is the second thing, trust in God is the third thing, and right on—it is trust in God all the way. It is having a loyalty and trueness to what God has got over to us that we will not attempt to negotiate or rationalize. If the other fellow does not see it the same way, we wait on God and trust Him to bring us together. If the other fellow does not see salvation as the end of sin in the life with real deliverance, then we simply recognize that we are not the same. No matter whether he is sincere or not, it is not the same. We are not standing on the same basis. This goes deeper than whether he says it exactly the same; it depends on what the actions of his life reveal about his heart’s condition. We wait on God to bring it out.
This is the principle that Jesus told the disciples. “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.” (Mark 9:38-40) People who have done business with God to the extent that His grace has regenerated their hearts cannot lightly speak evil of Jesus. That is because there is a real love for God right in there. I had better leave such folks in God’s hands, and extend confidence gradually as the evidence piles up that God is really in them and using them.
With respect to people who are not delivered from Babylonian tendencies and who have a secret idol (perhaps secret even to themselves) in their hearts, I would like to mention this scripture in Isaiah: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” (Isaiah 2:2) This flowing is completely contrary to nature, for it is all uphill to the top of the mountains. Also, for people to flow together in this manner, they must melt. There are a whole lot of things that can only work in the Bible pattern if the melting occurs. Peter melted before he went to Cornelius’ house. I suspect that Cornelius did his melting before he got to the point of sending for Peter. He and others there were so melted before God that the Holy Ghost fell upon them during the message. It was a meeting of great melting down before God. What happens in our hearts in these meltings make it possible for us to flow together up to where God would have us—to what He has prepared for His melted people. Unity without melting is merely union—pounded together, tied together, bound together. But Holy Spirit melting!—Praise God, it just melts us down with great abba’s in our heart to God and His ways, and we flow together upwards.
Brother, ask God to so fill you with His Spirit and His truth, and to so melt you before that truth that you will hold it up continually before everyone. Those who want it will seek God for it, and those who do not will persecute and trouble you, but God will bring it out all the clearer in those tribulations. Let us buy (only) the truth and sell it not. Nor discount it. Nor exaggerate it. It is just right all by itself. God knew what He was doing when He put it all together.
I feel burdened to present one more thought on this subject. “And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.” (1 Kings 6:7) This was spoken of the temple which Solomon built, which was a shadow of the temple of our hearts for a habitation of the Spirit today. There “was neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.” With that scripture, let us read: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26) Here is lack of the noise of strife. “In meekness.” “Gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” Waiting for the work of God to be done off premises, so to speak, in the hearts of the individuals in need of help.
A pastor had a situation in his congregation like this: after every Sunday, a certain sister took it upon herself to privately criticize the message to everyone who would listen to her thoughout the week. It was quite effective at destroying the burden of the message. He had borne with this quite a while, and arrived at the conclusion that he had a Bible right to go to her (Matthew 18:15-17). So he got in his car and started to her house. As he drove, the Lord spoke to him and said, “You do have a right to go to her, but if you do, it will destroy her.” He pulled over by the side of the road. After meditating about this for a while, he made a U-turn and went back home. He continued preaching, praying, bearing, and forebearing as before.
Dear brother, be true to God and to the souls of the people. Tell them the truth in love. Suffer yourself to be the offscouring of the earth; your rights to be trampled. Entreat with all longsuffering and doctrine. Will not He who waits for us at the end of our course be pleased if we thus labor in His vineyard at His direction? Leave the results with Him, and give yourself completely to God, to be used of Him as He sees fit. Whether a vessel of suffering or lightly esteemed, it matters not, as long as He is pleased. If the people hold you up, pray to be hidden behind the cross.
A final thought from Brother C. E. Orr’s writings:
Two men went to hear a preacher preach one Sunday morning. One said to the other after the preaching, “That was an eloquent discourse; he is a wonderful preacher.” In the evening they went to hear another preacher. After the services one said to the other, “What a wonderful Savior is Jesus.”
The whole question of acceptance of others comes down to this: Does God accept them? Has He qualified them for what they are attempting to do? (That is, are they in His order?) Perhaps they are saved, and we should recognize that fact, but they are not taught of God in other matters yet. We must wait on God to teach them and establish them. We must do the part He lays upon our hearts while we wait.
I will answer the letter on divorce and remarriage as soon as possible.
Love and prayers,
Dear Bro. ———,
In our day, we understand marriage to mean the union of a man and a woman to be husband and wife from the time they take vows of consecration to each other until death dissolves the union. We do not consider the couple to be married before these vows are taken. We label sexual impurity before the vows are taken as fornication. We label sexual impurity after the vows are taken as adultery. We do not understand the engagement period before the marriage vows are taken to be a part of the marriage, but a time prior to being actually married.
However, the Jews at the time of the New Testament did consider that pre-marriage engagement period to be part of the marriage, and they considered that dissolving of that engagement bond to be a putting away. Accordingly, we read, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1:18-20) Notice that Mary and Joseph were not married as we understand marriage. She was espoused (engaged) to Joseph. They had not come together. The angel told him not to be afraid to take unto him “Mary thy wife”; and he was called “her husband.” Yet, by our standards, they were not married, but simply promised to be married. It appeared (although it was not as it appeared) that she was guilty of fornication, and he was minded to put her away privily. To our minds, the period of espousal, or engagement, is not as binding as these folks regarded it, but to them it was, and to break it was a solemn step, entitled, “to put her away.”
I will here quote from an article on the subject which addresses the original scriptural words for fornication and adultery:
“And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and whoso marrieth her which is put away, doth commit adultery.” (Matthew 19:9) If the verse is read at first omitting the parenthetical phrase, “except it be for fornication,” it will be seen that divorce and remarriage are forbidden in the strongest terms. What a volume of sin and wickedness has been excused with that little parenthetical phrase! We note the exception rests with the word fornication, while the word adultery occurs twice later on in the same verse. Exactly the same thing is true in Matthew 5:32. We are forced to conclude then that there is a definite distinction in the use of the two words fornication and adultery. The consultation of any reputable English dictionary will show that fornication means “illegitimate sex relation on the part of an unmarried person,” while adultery means “illegitimate sex relation on the part of a married person.”
A study of the Greek words which these English words are used to translate will show about the same meanings, with the difference that porneia (fornication) widens out on some occasions to mean general unchastity. However, when in this verse Christ uses it in contradistinction to moikeia (adultery), we are compelled to the conclusion that it is used in its specific sense of premarital impurity.
A simple illustration will aid us in understanding the issue. The word man has both a specific and a general meaning. Specifically it means the male of the human species; in general it means the whole of the genus homo. The context will always reveal whether it is used in its general or its specific sense. If the word man is used in the same sentence with the word woman, one is sure that it is used in its specific and not in its general sense.
So it is with porneia and moikeia. When these words are used together they denote a contrast and no amount of sophistry or obscurantism can make them synonymous or interchangeable. Fornication here simply does not mean adultery unless words have lost their meaning, and it is a reflection if not an insult to the omniscient Son of God to insinuate that He was unable to express Himself clearly in such an important statement. If He had intended to make adultery a ground for divorce under His law He could very easily have said so. When He meant moikeia (adultery), He said, “Moikeia.”
I have attached the entire article to this email for you to read. Since the phrase “except for fornication” applies to the what we understand to be the engagement or espousal time, then it follows that there is no scriptural grounds whatsoever for dissolving the marriage bond until death does so.
The question: “Is it [the saint’s] stand that one should live with the spouse in spite of adultery/fornication?”
This question does not attempt the dissolving of the marriage, but questions how a marriage in trouble should be conducted.
If my wife should leave me and become the (illegal) wife of another man or divorce me and (illegally in the eyes of God, but legally in the eyes of the civil law of the country in which I reside) marry another, I am still her rightful husband, and have no right to marry anyone else until she has died. As a practical working relationship, my marriage is dead, but I am not released from my marriage vows by her sin. “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” (Romans 7:1-3) As long as she is alive and I am alive, we are husband and wife. As to the duties and responsibilities of a husband while she is false to her marriage vows: “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” (1 Corinthians 7:10-15) I must keep an open door; I must desire a reconciliation. She is still my wife, although she has defiled our marriage. As to the reconciliation, it may not be possible to share a marriage bed after infidelity because of disease. It may not be possible to live in the same house because of the nature of sin in the life of the one unsaved and the effect on other members of the household, yet she is still my wife until death do us part, and I must pray and find what my responsibilities are under the current conditions and do them with the Lord’s help.
As you can see, brother, this question of “living with the spouse” involves quite a bit more than the question of attempting to dissolve the marriage.
I know a couple who have been separated for years because of infidelity on the husband’s part. He was a minister, fell, and committed adultery with their niece. He married this girl, but later, she divorced him and married a younger man. Then he lived single. Eventually, he got back to God, and then he attempted to woo his wife. She had remained saved and chaste. She could not find grounds to take him back; there were questions other than the adultery offense, which had ended. She questioned some of his business dealings, etc. It all added up to a lack of confidence, as far as we can see. Whether there is more to it, only God knows. They remain apart, but know that they are married until death part the marriage bond.
I have been with other ministers who counseled wrongfully-married couples to part. They were advised to immediately stop living together as husband and wife. They were counseled to pray and look to God to help them untangle their financial affairs, including property, money, etc. To give time for the children to adjust. But they had no right to each other, and must needs steer away from each other until there was no longer a reproach.
It is a Bible standard, brother, that marriage is for “till death doth part us.” I am sorry to say that the land is full of adultery, just as we read about in the Bible (Jeremiah 23:14). This scripture covers the comment of the minister-missionary who defended second marriages while one has yet a living companion. As to the sad philosophy expounded to defend his sin, the Word says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) This minister-missionary says that what we do here in the flesh should not therefore be taken as influencing life after death, but the Bible says that we will “appear before the judgment seat of Christ [to] receive the things done in the body.”
The question: “Do we disfellowship those who marry women who are put away?”
Every minute spent in a state of adultery is continually committing of adultery. So, “Do we disfellowship those who sin?” We don’t have to do anything but recognize the fact that they are not walking in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7). Fellowship is automatically broken by sin. We began to pray for them to be delivered as we would any other kind of sin. If you accept them as ministers or brothers or sisters in the Lord when you know what they are doing, you will become a partaker of their sin and not be pure yourself before God.
In reply to the ways that people marry—non-Christian or even non-civil—that we call in this country “common law marriages.” In this state, I think, about ten years of living together will cause you to be recognized by the state as married. More and more, in this country that is losing what virtue it has had, people just take up living together. They don’t even try to get parent’s permission or anything—just cohabit. And they break up and live with someone else, many times dragging around and scarring little children and bigger children.
The Bible has very little to say about just exactly where the line is when people actually begin a marriage. It recognizes an illicit union between man and woman when fornication is committed (1 Corinthians 6:16). But it is obvious that this does not mean they become married. It seems that the Bible recognizes the great diversity of ways that people approach this business of committing to each other, with all that comes from it—what we term marriage. If two people just start living with each other, all the things that should be committed to up front start taking place little by little, step by step. The two become more and more entwined in their lives—children, everything. Even the world calls them “significant others.” A term I dislike, because it signifies that they have gone at it backwards. But the point is this: salvation brings about a great recognition of reality—sober-thinking. I must face what I have done and what it means. I must do the right thing. Maybe that means that I recognize that I have someone else’s companion, and I have ruined my right to take a companion by how I have lived. To get clear and do right, I must move away from wrong and do what is honorable and upright. If I have a right to my companion, I need to do the honorable thing and take vows before others. Perhaps they are vows I have already been doing to some extent, but it is aboveboard and proper to formally and publicly acknowledge and consecrate to the highest standard of light and truth that I perceive.
When I get to this thought, brother, I am strongly reminded of the uplifting effect that (true) Christianity has! Surely it raises a man to heavenly places in Christ Jesus to follow the gospel! God melts us so that we can flow upwards!
On another note, we are particularly interested in testimonies of deliverance that you are aware of, both in your life and the lives of those around you. We want to scatter the news far and wide of God’s saving power.
I trust and pray that these thoughts will be enlarged and taught by the Holy Spirit in a way that is profitable to you. I wish to say that I believe God knows how to get us to heaven, and He will get us there if we let Him. Brother, we are not the least disturbed by your questions. We, too, are seekers for truth.
Love and prayers,