We are blessed that we are given spiritual food each Sabbath because that is one of the primary purposes of why God gave us such a day – to teach us of His ways. We must never take that for granted. It is important that we continually pray that God feed us and inspire those who prepare the messages we receive.
This is just as I have often mentioned about praying in your personal preparation for the Feast of Tabernacles and the sermons you will be hearing. You should also pray in the same manner throughout the year for all preparation and delivery of the sermons you are to receive. This not only includes asking for such help to be given to the speaker, but we should also be asking that we be able to receive spiritually what is given. Our spirit in such matters reflects an attitude toward God. It reveals how we think and whether we are “full” or “hungry” for God’s word – His guidance, correction, inspiration, ways, etc. If we are “full” in our own eyes then that kind of prayer, hunger, and thankfulness to God for what He gives will not occupy much of our “thinking.” Instead, it will reflect more of a Laodicean spirit that is becoming lukewarm and not one that is spiritually watchful and desirous to be zealous for God’s way to livein us.
In actuality, what we spiritually put into that which is to be given in sermons has a corresponding measure as to what we will be able to receive from them. Much of this comes down to the kind of value and importance we actually place on what God offers to us.
The timing and importance of this admonition is good since the ministry has been encouraged to begin focusing on the preparation of Feast sermons. This year we are also planning to add something new to the speaking schedule. Besides the evangelists, there are a few others who have been asked to prerecord a split-sermon for the Feast in the possibility of it being selected to be used at that time. Although it is not important at this time for you to know who has been working on this, what is important is that you need to be praying for these individuals who have never had such a responsibility or opportunity to serve God in this manner. More specifics about this will likely be mentioned later on this summer.
As I was not given a post to write for last week, I wrote a kind of “personal” to all the ministry and then decided to also have them make that letter available to all the brethren. I mentioned in that letter that as I started writing it God had shown me what the next post would be about, which is this post. It is important that I now repeat the paragraph that led to what God was showing me that was to be covered in this post.
In that letter to the ministry I referred to the series of posts that had just been completed entitled, “An Extraordinary 4 1/2 Years,” and I wrote the following paragraph:
“As I wrote that series, there are several things that I have come to far more deeply appreciate and understand. One of these concerns the importance of the truths God has given us that set us apart in such a powerful way as His true Church. I’ve often encouraged the Church to review the 57 Truths. Reviewing these truths and becoming more fully grounded in them cannot be emphasized enough. God has laid them out for His Church, even in order, count, and timing, let alone for the purpose they serve and teach. God did not just randomly reveal these truths, just as He did not randomly create the galaxies. Everything is for a purpose and time – by design.”
I’ve often marveled, especially since the Apostasy, how some people have claimed to be in unity with the truths revealed through Herbert W. Armstrong, but don’t even begin to be in unity with the first one that is attributed to being revealed through him – Government. These same people often speak of going back to the “basics” and sometimes speak of “proving them again.” What on earth are those basics? Is it about tithes, the Sabbaths of God, the name of the Church? What is to be proven in those things? How do you go about to “prove” them? Those who say such things do so in a context of going back to “prove” these to themselves as the basic truths of God.
The truth is that you cannot “prove” them to yourself, “of or by yourself,” to be true. Even such use of the word “prove” is in great error. So where does such an idea come from?
In the past, during the later part of Philadelphia and on into Laodicea, this concept of “proving” scripture or truth began to take on a false meaning and it carried a very untrue concept along with it. This was unwittingly, foolishly, or just falsely being taught by a growing number of ministers and it even began to be reflected in some of the publications by certain authors.
To better understand how this misinterpretation came to be, it would first be good to simply stand back from all this and consider the times in which the early apostles taught and wrote about what God gave to them. Some who have misinterpreted scripture would quote a scripture written by Paul that was used to show that people should “study” God’s word in order to be approved by Him: “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). But the concept of modern day study can in no way apply to those in the Church in the period of time Paul wrote this. Today someone can research through books or computer aids (study programs or use of the Internet) to “study” into God’s word, but even then one needs to be exceedingly cautious and on guard.
There was nothing remotely close to this concept of study in what Paul was telling Timothy. The New Testament had not even been fully written at this time and people didn’t have ready access to Old Testament scriptures as we do today in an abundance of printed books.
The Greek word translated into English as “study” actually means “to be diligent and/or to labor.” Paul was simply telling Timothy that as a minister he should be diligent and work wisely in his ministry at holding to (sticking to) teaching the word of truth as he had learned from him (earlier verses in context). But there are some in the past who have used this wrong English word, translated as “study” in its modern usage in order to pass along a concept that didn’t even exist in Paul’s time as it does today.
Yet having said all this, it needs to be understood that we should use the kinds of tools available to us in order to be “sharp” in the knowledge and understanding of God’s word. Certainly, it is good if we study, but how and what we study is most important. It is just as Paul was admonishing Timothy as a minister that he faithfully give to others what he had received through him.
However, there is a false concept that can be attached to “study” if one is not careful and that is the danger associated with the misuse and false teaching of applying it to a scripture like this. It was false for any minister in the past to use that verse in such a manner. It is not only in error, but it also distorts what Paul was actually telling Timothy, and it can leave a very dangerous “concept” in the mind. That concept is what Satan planted early in the mind of Eve, which in turn was planted into Adam’s mind. That is the concept that anyone can have the ability to discern for themselves what is right or wrong – what is true or false. No amount of study in the world, by anyone, can determine what is true and what is false. Even if one only studies the Bible, which millions have, the personal judgment of how each person actually “thinks” (the way “I” see it) will pollute what is true.
Studying from one’s own intellect by relying on our own ability to discern and know God’s truth is not only unwise, but it is actually foolish, dangerous, and simply wrong to do. It is also highly unwise to place reliance on outside sources as true and authoritative. This is why I have encouraged people to be diligent in being in unity with the 57 Truths and to use the extensive store of the great wealth of knowledge and understanding of God’s word that is contained on the Church website. These things coupled with reading scripture and seeking God’s help through prayer to understand are powerful tools God has given us to grow spiritually strong.
The Word Prove
We have just covered the misapplication of the Greek word that means “to give diligence” and/or “to labor” that has been translated as “study” in some English Bibles. It is simply in error and is a completely wrong interpretation of what Paul wrote. It is similar and closely related to the misapplied use of the definition many have ascribed to the word “prove” in scripture. Those who speak of “going back and proving the basics” are applying a false usage of the definition of that word.
The English word for “prove” has two basic definitions and both can be applied to the meaning of the Greek word from which this is translated. A major problem, however, is in how the word is applied in the context of the Greek writing, as “how” it is used is very specific. Some unwittingly or purposefully misapply the use of the word in order to support (or justify) their actual intent or desired interpretation in order to give validity to their actions. This is quite a paradox once you grasp the proper use of what it means to “prove” oneself.
One basic definition of the word is to “establish the validity or establish the authenticity” of something and the second is to “put to the test or to try out” something or someone. The second definition is more in unison with the actual Greek word, but both can apply if you understand how the word is used in the Greek.
The way this word is used is quite clear in its context in scripture, but with a little twist of “how” someone can misapply it, it then becomes very insidious and spiritually dangerous. The reason it is so harmful and treacherous is that it insinuates a totally false concept, teaching, and doctrine that is totally contradictory to how God calls, teaches, and leads His people. We will come back to this point a little later.
The Greek word translated to the English word “prove,” is a word that means “to test, examine, and try.” The use of the word, however, is in context with the process of making a judgment or decision as to whether something or someone is “approved or disapproved” in how it or they perform, work, or accomplish (do) a task. The best way to grasp the usage of this word is to see how it is used in context in scripture.
The simplest and clearest basic example is in what Christ said in a parable about a certain man who made a great supper and invited many to it. This parable then continues with each invited guest making excuse of why they could not attend. One of the examples is of a man who had just purchased some oxen: “Another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen and I must go to prove them so I pray that you have me excused” (Lk. 14:19).
In this example, it is not saying that the man was going to establish the validity or authenticity of the oxen, but that of their performance as to what they could accomplish – the kind of work they could do. Proving the oxen was a matter of a decision or judgment that would hinge on their performance – how they worked. Approval or disapproval of the oxen rested on what they could do.
This difference may not seem that important at first glance as to the meaning of this word “prove,” but it is actually exceedingly important in how it is applied. This will become clearer to you as we continue into this subject and see how it is being falsely applied by those who speak of “going back and proving the basics.”
This man who had purchased these five oxen simply wanted to go out into the fields to see (verify) the kind of work they could do. He wanted to put them to the “test” and “try” them in order to determine if they performed (worked) in such a manner as to be approved by himself as their owner.
The meaning of the word “prove” is basic, but how to prove something or someone is what is important. You cannot prove (test, try, or establish the validity of) something or someone by what you “think” in your own mind or by your own opinion by simply looking at, observing, judging, or deciding from your own viewpoint or perception. The decision or approval (or disapproval) rests on the work, performance, and/or accomplishment of something or someone. That is “how” something or someone is approved through the testing (proving).
There is a scripture often used in preparation of Passover that uses this same word in a manner that also clarifies its proper usage through context: “Examine (Gk. – take account of) yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove (put to the test, establish the validity of) your own selves. Do you not know your own selves how that Jesus Christ is in you, except (Gk. – or else, if not) you are reprobates (Gk. – rejected, not approved)” (2 Cor. 13:5)? The admonition here is to take an account of your own life and how you are living it. It is to put ourselves to testing (as in taking a test) to see (determine) how we are performing (living, applying) God’s way of life. In such an accounting of our own life, much of the test of “how” we are living God’s way will be determined by how we live our life toward others and whether or not it is revealing God’s spirit working in us.
Insidious Misuse of “Prove”
It was mentioned earlier that to misuse and misapply the word “prove,” as some do when speaking of “going back and proving the basics,” is insidious and spiritually dangerous. Again, the reason it is so dangerous is that it insinuates a totally false teaching or doctrine in scripture that is not scriptural at all. In actuality, it is totally contradictory to how God truly works in the life of His people.
The false concept of “going back and proving the basics” may sound like a noble, sound, and righteous act, but it is far from it. This idea of going back and proving the basics is a spin off of the false interpretation of a scripture in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 that states, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
We are indeed to “prove all things,” but only in the way Paul is admonishing and not in the way some misinterpret this. Is Paul telling people in God’s Church that they have a responsibility to prove through study, intellect, or personal insight whether certain Biblical teaching or doctrine is right or wrong – true or false? Are members of the Body of Christ shouldered with the task of verifying the validity or truth of teaching in God’s Church?
These are truly good questions as they should help lead you to a better understanding of how God reveals truth to His people. Within the Body of Christ, truth is not revealed to individual members through personal study, insight, and/or intellect, no matter how much one might try to prove something true or false through their own ability. Such an idea, concept, or teaching is totally contrary to the truth of God, the working of His ministry, and the structure God has created within His Church – government.
What Paul was saying was that people are to prove – to establish the validity of God’s truths and ways – by putting them to work through living and exercising them in their life and thereby approving them as the only true way of life to live. When he says to “prove all things,” he is only speaking of “all” things that are given from God and not of living and trying all things that are possible in human life.
How God Works
The twist that some have placed on the word “prove” is indeed sly, deceptive, insidious, and totally false. It is highly dangerous spiritually because of what such a concept actually teaches. It teaches that individuals have the ability within them to discern, judge, examine, and decide for themselves what is true and what is false. If that were true, we would not need God’s spirit to lead us into all truth. No one has such ability apart from God to discern or know such things. Such must be revealed spiritually to us by God. That is how God works in us to give us His truths. The idea that individuals have the ability within themselves to discern or learn what is true, apart from God revealing it, is the same lie Satan foisted upon the first two human beings. Satan seeks to sneak that false concept into the lives of all with whom God calls and works with. That is how he led a third of the angelic realm to follow him.
You can only prove God’s ways – His truths – by obeying and living them. You cannotprove them to others as the right (true) way of life to live, as such proof is the result of a personal conviction (approval) that comes by obeying and living them, and personally experiencing the results. This process is the true usage of what Paul was saying when he said to “prove all things.” He went on to say to “hold fast that which is good.” Paul was simply saying that what God has given us to live is good and we should hold fast to it once we have experienced (proven, lived) it.
It is simply a lie to believe that anyone can come to the knowledge of the truth – of what is right or wrong – by human reasoning, intellect, study, or by any other human means. Nor can one “go back” and re-prove truth through their own intellect, reasoning, or study. They cannot re-prove what they never proved as true anyway. It was given directly from God and only received as a matter of faith.
Did you come to the knowledge of the truth of God’s true Church by your reasoning, intellect, and/or study? No! But God called you to it. He had to draw you and reveal it to you. Did you come to the knowledge of God’s Sabbaths by your own means, especially that of the annual holy days, or did God have to reveal that to you? God indeed made recorded messages (containing His truth) or publications available to you that you could listen and/or study in order to learn of such things, but God had to reveal (communicate) it as true to you through the power of His spirit. He has to reveal the knowledge of His truth and it is up to us to then receive it once He gives us the ability to know it (believe it and act upon it – faith).
How quickly some leave (abandon or ignore) simple teaching that God reveals early on about how He is the one who calls and reveals truth to us.
“For what can man know of the things of man (of mankind, of a physical world), except by the spirit of man which is in him (except through human reasoning and human intellect God has given man)? Even so, the things of God no man can know, but only the spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world (in order to see and know the things of God), but the spirit that is from God so that we might know (come to know and see) the things that are freely given to us from God. These are the things which we also speak (are able to tell, discuss, communicate, preach), not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches (from intellect or human reason), but that which the holy spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:11-13).
That is the way God reveals all truth to us. It begins to be revealed to us from the beginning of our calling, and then God’s spirit continues to reveal more and more to us in order for us to continue building on what has been given before. So how does God reveal His truth and true ways of life to people? Is it done by personal revelation that is “directly” from God and straight to an individual? No, not unless one is a prophet or apostle. That is simply how God has structured His Church and how it is to function. It is how God works.
When someone begins to believe the lie that they can reason and study to know God’s truth then they quickly begin to lose what God freely gave them, since it is God who not only gives His truth to us, but it is God who sustains it in us through His spirit dwelling in us. Truly, the bottom line is a matter of knowing where God’s true Church is, and only God can reveal that single spiritual body to someone. That Church is the only means that God has given that enables spiritual growth through sermons, other recorded truth, and written material God and Christ inspire to be given to His people through His ministry. Without that direct source that God works through His Church and His ministry, one will begin to starve spiritually from lack of food that comes only in this manner.
Indeed, how quickly individuals can lose what God freely gave them once they choose to believe any lie and separate themselves from God’s Church. Individuals can and have gone quickly back to believing that the rock (Petra, Selah) is about a physical place of safety (protection) in Jordan, instead of God being our Rock of safety. Individuals have returned to believing that there are two eternally existing Gods, as they actually return to embrace a strong portion of the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity. And on and on it goes. Such is Satan’s pleasure. He and the demonic world cease to attack them, but instead make their life more comfortable in this physical world to which they have returned. Such individuals are no longer engaged in a spiritual battle to hold fast to what God had given them.
It is for such reasons that we should study the truths God has given us so that we can remain sharpened and strong in God’s word. This is simply a part of holding fast to what God has given already and not letting it slip away, but remembering it and thereby being more readily able to build upon it as God continues to freely give us more. We should seek to remember and hold fast to what we are given. That does indeed mean we are to “go back” and be reminded and strengthened in what God has given us. That is the correct context we should use if ever speaking of “going back,” but never in the context of proving things to ourselves apart from what God has given – 57 Truths!