Eric V. Snow, sermonette, 1-14-07, Ann Arbor, MI  UCG



      Are we just out to get salvation for ourselves individually?  Or are we supposed to help others get it too?  Do we  really think we could have figured out all our special doctrines on our own?  For example, could we have figured out that God requires us to keep the Holy Days and that they portray His master plan for saving humanity in advance?  So . . . can we stand spiritually on our own?  Or do we need help from others?  If we do need help, can we admit it?  Since we’re immersed in individualistic American culture, can especially we men confess that we want others’ encouragement and support?


In the Church of God as a whole today, there’s a spirit abroad that we don’t need each other, that we can be each our own spiritual teachers, that we’re only answerable to God.  But truly practical Christianity is an exercise in being part of an organized community where we have to learn to interact with people outside our own families cooperatively and peacefully.


S.P.S.  Christians should keep coming to church services so they can learn Biblical truths and how to apply them with others socially outside their own families.  We shouldn’t be out merely to get salvation for ourselves individually, but are supposed to help others get it also.


In the Church of God generally, there’s a spirit in  the air that nobody else can tell us what to do spiritually.  Each man and each woman can be their own spiritual teacher, and figure out the Bible on their own.  Overreaction to spiritual betrayal in parent church organization in 1995 and before.  Jump from one extreme to other, in one ditch, cross middle of road, leap into other ditch.


Judges 21:25


Standard Protestant approach:  Each man interprets Bible on own, “the priesthood of all believers.”  Not completely wrong:  We don’t need to confess to a Catholic priest to be forgiven for our sins.  We should be spiritually discerning.  We shouldn’t assume automatically all that we hear from the pulpit or Church of God publications is fully correct.  HWA’s stock phrase, “Don’t believe me, believe the Bible.”   


But there’s a need for balance.  A number of independent-minded people have become hyper-critical and skeptical about what any minister or larger Church of God organization says.  Some of them seem to think they could have figured out all of our special spiritual truths his and her own.


Acts 8:29


Like the Ethiopian eunuch, can we admit that we need others’ spiritual guidance who know the Bible better than we do?  At age 16, if given a Bible and asked, “Interpret this!,” I wouldn’t have had the foggiest notion of where to begin.  Let’s be appreciative:  God used HWA teach a non-Trinitarian Sabbatarianism to more of the world than any man since the first century A.D.  We shouldn’t assume that we could have figured it all out on our own.  (True, admit RC tendency also wrong, signing away brains to priest when entering church, but not our present problem).


Our special doctrines  remarkably interlock and interrelate with one another.  They are like an elaborate tapestry that eventually becomes completely unwoven when pulling the yarn from one end.  Our prior association found this out starting roughly 17 years ago.  Merely distributing the Bible doesn’t teach God’s saving truths from it:  One independent’s Gideon Bible society citation example.  That this or that group can figure out this or that truth, like the Sabbath or the Holy Spirit not being a Person, isn’t sufficient:  One needs all or most of the package to be wise unto salvation.


I Cor. 12:18-25, esp. last verse


We have to learn to get along with each other.  This is why staying home and listening to tapes won’t work.  It’s about the team, as Mr. Haab said recently.  Going to Feast example:  Learn how to cooperate more by going to various activities together at same time.  We weren’t called merely to get salvation selfishly for ourselves, but to help others be saved.


Mystery of the Ages, p. 270-71:  Quote from, if have time.  p. 215


Part of this assisting in preaching the Gospel to the world, such as through our tithes, offerings, and prayers.  One independent admitted, didn’t think a number of living room groups were effective at evangelism:  They rejoiced that they had the truth, but weren’t telling others about it much.  Not convinced major innovations justified; odd ideas picked up in small groups or by individuals zealously studying alone.  Told engineer going the independent route, smaller the group, the bigger the standard deviation.  Why?  Fewer people around to correct each other, few or no people with advanced, formal theological training, such as from AC in the past, “amateurs’ hour” approach.  Division over such issues not justified.  Old chestnuts of calendar, sacred names:  Nothing new under the sun!


Suppose problems in local church:  Sabbath talk example.  Instead of dropping out and listening to tapes, attend, and try to change things by bringing up such subjects, like what the sermon was on, etc.  Help others improve their behavior by one’s own actions rather than letting them shift for themselves.  We aren’t in the church merely to get salvation for ourselves, but we’re supposed to help edify others also.  When a viable truly believing church exists within a semi-reasonable driving distance, wrong to stay home instead.  (Is there a need to quote the relevant texts?)


Human relationships take time, emotional effort:  We have to invest in them to be truly happy in this life.  “Cocooning” with media, including sermon tapes, and family at home doesn’t lead to true spiritual happiness ultimately.  Example of independent now attending with conservative Sunday church despite still believing in the Saturday Sabbath:  Had been at home too much.  Mentions others who do both.


Conclusion:  God has called true Christians to learn from each other spiritually rather than to drop out, stay home, and listen to tapes.  Iron does indeed sharpen iron.  We’re also called to help others get saved, not merely to selfishly get salvation for ourselves.  It’s about the team, the church, God is building through Christians actively working together. As Mr. Armstrong said,  Incredible Human Potential, p. 119 (emphasis deleted):  “God’s way—the way of His law—is giving of outflowing love.  It is the giving way.  The person who tries to be an individual separate Christian, to get his own salvation, is going at it the getting way—Satan’s way.  And I would not wan to try to get myself into God’s Kingdom by Satan’s way. . . . But cannot a single separate individual edify himself, outside of the Church?  Not likely—and that is not God’s way.”