Letter to the Brethren – January 12, 2017

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Dear Brethren, Co-Workers and Friends:

The age we live in is characterized by an attitude in which religious zeal is apathetic and holiness is unimportant. Society has traded in godliness for worldliness today, valuing the carnal ideals of man more than righteousness. The laws of the land increasingly marginalize Christian ideals in favor of the ill-motivated preferences of mankind. The Truth of the Bible is compromised and scientific theory vaunted. These are the signs of the times. Truly, we only need to read the Bible and look around us to come to the conclusion that Truth is exchanged for the lie (compare Romans 1:25), and that which is good is declared as evil (compare Isaiah 5:20).

Most of the world is blind to these observations though. But, if we are able to recognize and comprehend how society has departed from God, we should consider ourselves to be very fortunate. For, God calls very few out of this world to understand the Truth—and indeed, it is a great privilege, especially in the current age. If we are blessed enough to be given the gift of understanding through the Holy Spirit living within us, we are also accountable to do something with our understanding.

What are we to do then? If we are accountable to do something with our understanding, does this mean that we are to go out on a crusade to force the world to see the errors of their ways? Are we to dedicate our lives to proselytize and convert the unconverted? The answer is, absolutely not! The Bible is clear in the teaching that no one can come to God unless he or she is called. To go on a religious crusade is bound to fail and cause more damage than good. At the same time, the Church of God has the collective commission to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world as a witness, so that Jesus Christ can return to this earth (Matthew 24:14).

If we are not to actively force our beliefs and knowledge of the Truth on people who are not called, should we then just be satisfied with the knowledge we have, and go about “business as usual”? Is it sufficient for us to merely have the knowledge of the Truth if we want to inherit the Kingdom of God? Does the knowledge of the Truth make us immune to being pulled into worldliness and sin? Can we just be satisfied with what we have learned and keep it to ourselves? Can we count on our own strength, wisdom, and wealth to save our lives? Again, the answer is, absolutely not!

There is a warning to the Church of Laodicea in the Bible that applies directly to our current age. It bears repeating so that we are reminded of what to monitor in our lives. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:15-19).

The fault ascribed to the Church era of Laodicea is a lack of zeal, and the prescription is repentance— coming out of sin. When the love of the Truth is lacking, we expose ourselves to the deceptions of the world, and put ourselves at risk of returning to sin and falling away from God (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). Yes, we must do more with the knowledge that we have been given as a gift than just keep it in a figurative portfolio of assets. God’s Spirit, and the understanding that comes with it, is useless unless we love it, care for it, and zealously put it to work.

While we are not to be overzealous and go on a crusade, we must set forth on a different kind of journey. With the Spirit of God guiding us, we are compelled to embark on a quest in our lives. The understanding of the Truth should lead us to continually search for ways to improve our lives by overcoming sin, seeking spiritual growth, and to cease our endeavors for worldly gain. The way that we put our gifts to work involves deepening our conversion so that we live our lives in a way that glorifies God. We are to work from the inside out, trying our best to understand righteousness and to live accordingly. When we are able to do this, the good works that we do will offer a positive example to our peers in the world who observe us (compare Matthew 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12). Our individual quest in this human life to overcome sin and replace it with righteousness must actively carry on throughout our lives.

Knowing what we are called to do, it would be a good idea to ask ourselves some questions. Have we finished with learning? Have we stopped inquiring about the Truth? After learning the basics in the Bible, have we stopped our spiritual development? Do we consider our quest to be complete? Or, are we carrying on in our journey? Are we clear about what we seek on our quest? The answers to these questions should help to guide our next steps, which must involve learning how to complete our conversion.

An important part of the commission of the Church of the Eternal God and its international affiliates is to provide you with the raw materials that you need to continue your spiritual development and to assist you on your quest. Just as those who have gone before us, we are pilgrims and strangers on this earth, who seek a homeland in the Kingdom of God (compare Hebrews 11:13-16). And pilgrims on a journey out of this world must be adequately equipped. For this reason, the Church also continues on a collective quest that is directed to feed the flock, but also to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world as a witness.

As we all carry on in this mutual quest for the Kingdom, we should all be conscious that one day soon that great day will come when we will find what we all seek, but only if we never stop working individually, and collectively.

With brotherly love,

Eric Rank