Our dear friends: When you professed, you began your walk with God. How do you please Him? What are His standards, His law? “God . . . hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” (Heb. 1:2) The Bible is the only reliable source of His words, and contains all the essential criteria for salvation. You, and you alone, will stand before your Creator to “give account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:12) No one in your meeting will be there. Your favorite worker won’t be there. Your parents won’t be there. Your spouse won’t be there. You are the captain of your soul, master of your fate, the only one accountable for your life, so you MUST have an accurate understanding of what God expects you to believe and do. You have the right, indeed the responsibility, to question, search, and prove. Scripture encourages you to do just that: Ps. 77:6, “make diligent search,” John 5:39, “Search the scriptures…,” Acts. 17:11,”…they… searched the scriptures daily, whether these things be so,” II Cor. 13:5, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves.” I Tim. 4:13-15, “Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…give thyself wholly to them…” II Tim 2:15,”Study to show thyself approved unto God…” Finally, Jesus’s own words in Matt. 24:4 were “Take heed that no man deceive you.”
We believed all our lives, and two generations before us, that this precious fellowship we call “The Truth” dates back to the Bible, enduring through the centuries, always meeting in homes, having a ministry going out two by two, as Jesus sent out His original apostles. Our faith in this was complete. We also believed that this fellowship was the Only Right Way, primarily because we believed it had been founded by Jesus, but also because we knew of no other church with such a ministry and which met in homes rather than church buildings. We believed this “way” was perfect. The people weren’t always perfect, but the “way” was. We knew of no scandal that ever touched it. We believed that this fellowship we loved so much, called “The Truth” was the only way anyone could get to Heaven. A truly seeking soul would find “The Truth.” God would lead them to it. If they were truly seeking, they would be brought in contact with either the friends or workers, would come to gospel meetings, receive a revelation of God’s true way, and profess.
We are a group of friends from different states who have a burden. A heavy one. For a long time, we have been perplexed and distressed over what to do about it. We have prayed about it earnestly, desperately beseeching God for an answer. What to do? Or do we do nothing? How we wish God would thunder down to us: “This is what I want you to do!” All of us feel strongly that something should be done. Because He’s the God of Truth and He cannot lie. And because we love you, our brothers and sisters in this fellowship. Since we read time and time again in the Bible of God using human vessels to bring truth to people, we humbly and sincerely pray that what we are doing is His will.
You are a wonderful people, a dear people, an exemplary people. And you deserve to know the truth. What we are bringing to you, our dear friends, is truth. Fact. You may not want to believe it, as we ourselves did not. Indeed, you may decide you will not believe it. But that won’t change it. It will still be truth. You may be afraid to believe it. We were, at first. Friends, beware of fear. See Rev. 21:8. Remember: “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Tim. 1:7) You may reluctantly believe it but decide not to do anything about it, decide that it’s not going to change anything in your life. That’s up to you. As for us, it has meant life to us. Now, we thank the Lord constantly for revealing to us the truth as in Jesus. We have learned to trust Him in a fresh, deeper, way.
What are we talking about? Do you have the courage to read further, or will you allow the “spirit of fear” to control you? What are you fearful of? Truth? Friends, facts speak for themselves. We have been confronted with irrefutable, undeniable, documented proof that, far from enduring down through all the centuries since Christ, this fellowship that we love so much is marking its centenniel this year! Until 1897, there were no “truther” workers, no friends meeting in homes, no gospel meetings, no fellowship without a name which its believers call “TheTruth.” It did not exist. We learned that instead of Jesus being its founder, it was founded in 1897(1) by a man named William Irvine, a Scotsman, who became a “Pilgrim” worker with the Faith Mission in Scotland in 1895 and was sent to Ireland in 1896. He claimed to have a special revelation from God regarding Matthew 10, which he later called his Alpha Message. While continuing to receive the hospitality and financial support of the Faith Mission, Irvine began propagating a belief that all believers must follow the example of Jesus and go forth as homeless, unpaid ministers. A few of his contemporaries agreed with him. Irvine then challenged them to join him in going forth without salary or a home, and they began preaching in Ireland. (Years later, he referred to this as “a great experiment.”) In 1901, he severed his Faith Mission connection. (See information regarding the Faith Mission, page 4.)
A man by the name of Edward Cooney(2), an itinerant salesman who “made a habit of speaking about Eternal things to his customers,” met William Irvine sometime later. In 1901(3), he, too, decided to join Irvine’s followers. Eddie exhibited great charisma as a preacher and was very influential in the spread of what we now call “The Truth.” Some of us have heard the name Eddie Cooney all our lives; our parents knew Eddie before he was ousted from “The Truth.” Some older friends today still remember him. The names of the first workers are familiar to some of us- William Carroll, Jack Carroll, William Gill, George Walker, Irvine Weir. The group took no name, but referred to themselves as “Tramp Preachers,” “Go-Preachers,” and to their method as “the Jesus Way.” They were also known as “Dippers,” “Cooneyites,” “Irvinites,” the “Damnation Army,” (because they constantly damned all churches to hell) and later, “the Black Stocking Gang.” Irvine and his followers revolted bitterly against everything associated with the traditional denominations and declared that they were doing things “the Jesus way.” In their zeal, they seemingly were unaware that they were actually drawing attention to themselves, rather than to Christ.
LIVING WITNESS DOCTRINE
Around 1904, the “Living Witness Doctrine,” stating that salvation is only possible through the ministry (“living witness”) established by Irvine, was formulated. Some workers regarded this as heresy and left the work in disagreement over this new teaching. As we all know, this is still a principal tenet of “The Truth,” but it is a grave error, and we will explain why later. This Living Witness doctrine was significant because it laid the groundwork for the claim of apostolic succession begun in later years.
For the first several years, all converts did the same thing as those who had converted them – left all and followed Irvine. He was a dynamic speaker and easily captivated his audiences. Many took his challenge, taking vows of celibacy, submission and self-denial. As more and more became workers, selling all and giving Irvine the proceeds, the movement grew quickly. A number of these new workers had been prosperous farmers or merchants in Ireland, so the purse of this “penniless” leader soon became quite full. Workers were sent to other countries, including the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A very plain appearance code was rigidly required. Around 1906, Irvine changed the rule that all followers must become workers, and he officially sanctioned home meetings. The body of believers was divided into “saints” and “workers.” Today, the “church in the home” is a foundation stone of the fellowship, but it was not always so.
Next, Irvine appointed his trusted associates, such as George Walker, James Jardine, Jack and William Carroll, as “overseers” of vast regions. So began our highly organized “Truth” as we know it today.
Conventions began, with the very first held on William Gill’s farm in Rathmolyon, near Dublin, in 1903, attended by about 70 workers. Another convention was established in 1904, which grew to be very large, lasting a number of years. It was held on the estate of John and Sara West, called Crocknacrieve, in County Fermanagh, near the town of Enniskillen.(4) Those early conventions lasted 3 – 4 weeks, and were patterned after the Faith Mission conventions and after the Keswick Conventions (in northern England, also still in existence today). For information, contact Keswick Convention Centre, Skiddaw Street, Keswick, Cumbria, England CA124BY; phone: 011-441-7687-72589.
Irvine was their leader. He was dynamic and forceful, but as time went on, friction increased among the overseers and in particular, with Irvine. Once, as a younger worker (John Long) was preaching about Noah and the ark from the platform at Crocknacrieve, Irvine called out to him,”John, tell them there were no clergy in the ark.” John was thrown off by this interruption and concluded his sermon hastily. Irvine then denounced him in front of the crowd, saying that John was never “convinced that the clergy were wrong and there has always been a holding back in him. For years he has been dragging his feet on the ground to hinder our going on. Let him prove whether God will be with him as He has been with us. All those stand up who believe that John Wesley is in Hell!” Nearly all stood up. Those who remained seated provoked Irvine to wrath, and he made uncomplimentary remarks about them. He also denounced almost all the workers except one or two because they had “given away too much to fleshly influences” and were “merely acting the hypocrite.”(5)
Differences of opinion over doctrine also arose among the workers, and disturbing contradictions of Irvine’s character were noticed: his dedication of early years gave way to exercise of privileges and power. A former worker has written, “… It seems to be him, and he seems to be it, and the people seem satisfied to have it so. It seems to be a power in him. He has a strong personality, and they like it. They are afraid of him and still they like him. It is a pity there is no check on him, or that they cannot control their love, and keep it from becoming worship. They speak of him as a man raised up. They trace their spiritual genealogy to him. They refer to him as the beginning of a new order, as Adam was the beginning of human descent. There are a thousand people in the tent and not one of them dare resist his will. The men on the platform nod to everything he says, whether they like it or not, and when he turns to them for approval, they draw their faces into the appearance of a smile, knowing that their lives as preachers depend on his favour. He is a strong man by nature, and used to be a mine boss, and never allowed his will to be resisted. He brought the same spirit into this work, and uses the same methods in dealing with these people. He is master of the situation in every way. The others are only poor echoes of his voice, and in his presence are not able to throw off the incubus of fear that almost paralyzes them. He founded the Testimony by himself.”(6)
Irvine possessed a strong attraction for women. “He definitely had a weakness in that direction, and women didn’t make it any easier for him. He would always have the best of food, with sometimes several cooking for him alone.”(7) Later, Irvine’s “fall” was compared to that of David, who, “when he didn’t go forth to battle himself, but sent his armies out, fell into temptation of adultery…” There is no question that William had a weakness along that line and…that he had fallen. I know positively that there were women who have confessed to me of trouble with him along those particular lines.”(8)
In 1886, well before he founded “The Truth,” Irvine became the father of an illegitimate son, Archie Irvine, born to a woman in Kilsyth, Scotland, his hometown. Archie was apparently raised by his grandparents and moved to New Zealand in 1900. He eventually became a Presbyterian minister, retiring two years before his death in 1952, at age 66.(9)
Irvine’s thinking took a new turn, and he formulated another doctrine comprised of his end-of-the-world prophecies, which he called his Omega Gospel: that he had been divinely anointed to bring the last message of Jesus Christ to the world before the judgment, which would begin in August 1914. He saw himself, along with John, as the two witnesses of Rev. 11. People were perplexed by the oddness of his preaching when he “spoke about stars as other worlds, and held before us the strange possibility of going to them and doing for them the work of Saviours as Jesus had done for this one.”(10)
Irvine also said that God had ceased to bear witness to his Alpha Gospel and that, with so much talk of war, it was possible that the judgment was imminent. Workers who had eagerly devoted themselves to preaching his Alpha Gospel (his interpretation of Matthew 10 as a revelation from God) were not willing to accept his new Omega Gospel. They didn’t want him coming to their fields to interfere with their operations. His new “gospel” would have undermined their authority as the “true way” preachers and created widespread confusion and schism. Many leading workers resented his position as the ultimate authority and his control of the purse strings. Likely feeling threatened, they conspired to remove him, deciding he was no longer worthy of their loyalty and had lost the Lord’s anointing.(11)
In April of 1914, the other workers excommunicated their founder. William Carroll, by then overseer in Victoria, Australia, informed Irvine of their decision to take control. Irvine was not permitted to speak at any meetings or conventions. No public announcement of his rejection was made at conventions, nor to the friends, and his position was left open to surmise. Some were told he was ill. Members were forbidden any further contact with him. Listen to his poignant recollection: “Six years ago, in April, I was rejected and despised and cast out to die, according to prophecy, my birthright divided amongst my children and enemies…but the anointing that God gave me remained with me, and nobody seems to get my mantle, though many have tried my shoes, sat in my seat, slept in my bed, ate my meals, and have enjoyed the rise to power and pre-eminence…’The Jesus Way’ was stolen, confiscated, misappropriated. I remember seeing and hearing you take it over in my presence…The man to be forgotten in public and gloated over in private; the subject for the nightcap talk in bed; the excuse for robbing and dishonouring others; blind, bound, bruised, alone, a heretic, a blasphemer, smitten of God for his sins in his mind, and afflicted by all the afflicters; treated unjustly without and within, despised and rejected and persecuted, while the hireling hypocrites reveled in sharing the spoils of my labours in God…”(12)
As was to be expected, a schism took place. Some friends remained loyal to Irvine, but the majority submitted to the overseers’ international exclusion of him. Incidentally, there are followers in California and other areas still loyal to him! They also believe they are “God’s only right way” and don’t take a name, although they’re nicknamed “Irvinites.” They possess volumes of letters written by him.
Irvine eventually traveled to Jerusalem to await the fulfillment of his Omega prophecies, which, of course, never occurred. His devoted followers willingly supported him for the rest of his life. Still portraying himself as a homeless preacher, he lived “under very good circumstances,” at one time lodging with an ordained Presbyterian minister.(13) He died at the Almazi Hotel in Jerusalem on March 3, 1947, after suffering from throat cancer, leaving a sizeable estate to several relatives and a hospital.(14)
THE SECRET SECT
Thus began the cover-up of “The Truth’s” founder. The other workers were embarrassed by him, and rightly so, but rather than admit the truth of their founder’s false prophesies and delusions, they chose to ignore him and instead asserted that they had no founder on earth.
Following his rejection, overseers banned from the home meetings anyone who corresponded with and supported William Irvine. Workers who refused to suppress their knowledge of him as founder were excommunicated. Listen to a former worker, an Irishman: “I spent 12 years in this work in the American states of Alabama, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois. I was later excommunicated but the excommunicators would hardly call themselves that. If they were asked, they would likely say they did not excommunicate anybody and we went out from them because we were not of them. On the 27th September 1919, I appeared before a special court and on the 28th took a train for the wilderness. I need hardly tell you what manner of men the judges were. The one who knew least about the case summed up the evidence in four words: You wrote a letter. That was all and it was enough; and the sentence was banishment for life, and I suppose eternal damnation thereafter. My separation from them cut into me deeply at the time, and I went down to St. Louis to get my bearings. For 6 months I was there working as an auditor in a railroad office. Trying to freeze me to death by the cold treatment of exclusion from ‘the one true way’ or trying to starve me to death by closing all supply doors against me, has been like trying to drown a fish. We have not known persecution in its time-glorified forms; and what we have suffered would hardly be worth mentioning in the light of the greater sufferings of others; but for myself, I must confess that there were times when I could have borne very little more. What with slurs and insults, hints and insinuations, misunderstandings and prejudices, dark looks and averted faces, where formerly there had been smiles and friendly greetings…But I was only one and have heard the testimony of many. I watched the ‘judge advocate’ as he pronounced the death sentence, for that is what it was to Gus Halb. I saw the sweat break out on him as the full meaning of the thing came home to him. He never spoke a word and when he felt himself dismissed, he turned and walked out of the room like a man in a dream….If I was to bring one charge against the good companions of our youth, who later became religious rulers and exactors, it would be a very dreadful one: they erred against compassion.”(15)
It was decided that Irvine’s role as founder should never be mentioned; young workers were told not to discuss the subject. A subtle emphasis on the teaching that their church was “from the beginning” helped workers overcome the difficulty of explaining about its founder to incoming members. Thus, the facts of the origin of “The Truth” began to fall into obscurity, and the apostolic succession myth gained credence.
Most workers weighed the consequences, accepted the overseers’ decision, and avoided mention of Irvine. However, Joe Kerr, one of the “Living Witness” doctrine’s formulators, who preached in South Africa, re-examined the doctrine. He said he had seen “the true marks of Jesus” in people outside “The Truth” and so felt compelled to renounce it. South African workers then warned the friends there to treat him as an apostate (a defector, or dissenter) and to refuse to support him. He wrote: “We had the loan of beds and furnishing in a room and the preachers sent the saints who owned these things and took them from us. They left us the floor to sleep on, and forbade any of the saints to come near us. I had no trade, and all the unskilled work out here is done by the coloured and native people.”(16)
In 1928, Eddie Cooney was excommunicated in much the same way. For a time, he had submitted to the overseers’ demand that William Irvine be hidden, but he said it went against his conscience to do so, that it was “not honest.” He still believed that Irvine’s original Alpha message (Matt. 10) was a revelation, but he concluded that a mistake was made in 1904, when they accepted the “Living Witness” doctrine. He made it known that both he and Irvine had been born again before starting “The Truth.”(17) He also believed that every individual should depend upon God for direction; he wanted workers to be free to go where they felt led, rather than being restricted to a certain “field” of labor. Additionally, he was disturbed by the “hierarchy” that had materialized – the distinction between saints and workers under the direction of overseers. He opposed this, saying it was a temptation to ambition and power. He felt this should be a universal movement, with no boundaries or classifications. The increasing wealth of the movement and the growing power of overseers in their territories all distressed Cooney. During WWI, he preached throughout Britain and was a well-known open-air speaker at Tower Hill in London. He enjoyed being notorious, martyr-like, and suffering opposition. By 1921, he had the reputation for “teaching things on his own, without consulting any of the older brothers.” Finally, Eddie became too great an irritation to the overseers, and a complete ban was placed upon him – a very successful attempt to deny him support. Those loyal to him separated from the main group and continued to have meetings of their own – and so, what is known as the Cooneyite sect began. Cooneyites still exist today, primarily in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and they, also, claim to take no name. They meet for fellowship in homes, using the 1951 edition of Hymns Old and New, in which Cooney is author of five hymns. They also dispensed with the “offices” of worker and overseer, which Cooney felt had led to corruption in the main group.
So today there are three separate, but similar, sects in existence because of William Irvine, each of which believes it is God’s only right way! Friends, this is only the tip of the iceberg. “The Truth” has a fascinating history, and much more material is available. Have you ever wondered why so many of the old workers were Irish? Now you know. “The Truth” began in Ireland, not Palestine!
THE FAITH MISSION
We mentioned earlier that William Irvine was a worker in the Faith Mission. Perhaps we should now learn about the Faith Mission. It was founded by Mr. John George Govan in Scotland in 1886 for the evangelization of the rural areas of Great Britain and Ireland. This Protestant nondenominational evangelical ministry sends both men and women workers from village to village in pairs, with no guaranteed salary, taking no collections, leaving all their possessions, and holding gospel meetings in churches or local halls, as well as annual conventions. Sound familiar? Faith Mission workers, however, urge any who are converted at their missions to become active in their local churches. The Faith Mission uses some terms very familiar to all of us: profess, testimony, taking part, workers, companions, harvest field, missions, friends, the work, saints and meetings. Mr. Govan’s daughter, I.R. Govan, furnishes this information in her book, The Spirit of Revival, which can be obtained through the Faith Mission Headquarters, Govan House, Gilmerton Road, Gilmerton, Edinburgh, Scotland EH17 8QG; phone 011-141-31-664-5814. Copies are available of the letter cited in Footnote 1 on page 1, if you doubt William Irvine’s involvement in this group.
The Faith Mission is still in existence today and prospering spiritually. Both brother and sister workers labor throughout the British Isles, with associate missions in Canada, France and South Africa. One of our friends visited a Faith Mission convention in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland, a couple years ago. The following is a direct quote from an account he wrote:
“I was greeted by a Faith Mission worker who handed me a small hymnbook entitled Selected Hymns From Songs of Victory. The hymnbook contained 185 hymns, without music, many of which I recognized from Hymns Old & New. The meetings were opened with a couple of hymns followed by prayers and testimonies of the workers or other invited speakers. I would estimate the attendance at the meetings to be between 300 to 500 people.
Overall, there were many more similarities than differences between the Faith Mission Convention and the Two-by-Two version. During meals between meetings, one could overhear people discussing how wonderful a particular worker’s message was or how they were anxiously awaiting to hear what the next worker was going to share. In listening to both the workers and those attending, I found the terminology to be identical in every respect to that of the Two-by-Twos.
The highlight of the convention for me was the Sunday afternoon meeting. It was a very moving experience as we heard a beautiful sermon about God calling two common men, Moses and John the Baptist, to deliver His message. After this, the meeting was “tested” to see if any were willing to give up their earthly possessions and pursuits “to offer for the work” and give the rest of their lives to Christ. Any who felt moved to do so were asked to rise to their feet and walk up to and stand in front of the platform while the last hymn was sung. After such a powerful sermon, I fully expected one or two to come forward. To my astonishment, nine offered! There was hardly a dry eye in the place!”(18)
It was the writer’s impression that the Faith Mission neither flaunts nor conceals its unwitting part in the formation of “The Truth.” A sister worker with whom our friend spoke was very open and straightforward in answering his questions about the early days of the Faith Mission and William Irvine.
The following quotes are from a Faith Mission 1996 newsletter, and could very well be lifted from any of our workers’ letters: “Noel and Brian had some good attendances in Hillsborough mission, with up to sixty people present and felt a good spirit of prayer and a sense of God’s presence in the midst…mission at Ballinamallard which was very well attended with many unsaved under the sound of the Gospel. Unsaved have been in nightly in Ballytober, and we are praying that those whom God is dealing with will come through for the Lord…Garry and Alison had an encouraging start…a lady…who regularly attends the meetings, brokenly sought the Lord in her own home earlier this month. Many of God’s people have testified of blessing and encouragement during the mission…although numbers remained quite small, unsaved attended most meetings. We trust there will still be fruit as a result. Other special meetings in England include…”
The Faith Mission currently has about 100 workers, a Bible College in Edinburgh, a network of homes which are district headquarters, and several camp centers. If you are now thinking that “The Truth” is surely a clone of the Faith Mission, you are nearly right. The exceptions are that FM people do not believe they are the only right way, they openly acknowledge their origin, and they believe in Christian fundamentals.
The FAITH MISSION has an internet website: http://www.faithmission.org/
THE TRUTH ABOUT “THE TRUTH”
Coming to grips with the truth about “The Truth” is a very painful process. Most of us have been raised in “The Truth,” and our parents and grandparents before us. We battled this on our knees, praying desperately that God would show us what is right. True to His Word, He did, and the Bible and its Author have come alive to us, bringing true joy and freedom. This “valley” experience caused us to appreciate Ezekiel 37’s prophesy of the valley of dry bones; out of the “death” of once-cherished beliefs and misplaced faith, God can bring new life. The gain is well worth the pain, friends. This was, in fact, the deciding factor in the writing of this letter.
For some of us, it was different. We had begun to realize there were serious discrepancies between certain Scripture and what we had been raised to believe. Learning the history of our fellowship only served to confirm what we had begun to suspect – that “The Truth” was but another man-made religion, not unlike the “false” churches that we have heard belittled and mocked all our lives. We, too, fought a battle on our knees and in our hearts. Now we, too, are reveling in the truth (Jesus) that has set us free!
Each experience is unique, but we now share in common the freedom to love the Lord deeply, as He deserves to be loved, with all our hearts. We long that our many dear friends in “The Truth” could also know the relief and accompanying joy that a more complete understanding of Christ’s role as one’s Savior can bring.
In meetings, we are constantly encouraged to love the Lord and to set our affections on things above. This is absolutely right, and Scriptural. But, we are deprived of the very knowledge that would enable us – would free us – to do just that, wholeheartedly and unreservedly.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) Friends, what is this grace that permeates the New Testament? Paul prefaced most of his epistles with “…grace and peace unto you from God…” What is this “throne of grace” that we are to “come boldly unto”? Friends, in “The Truth,” grace seems to be equated only with strength or power from God. This is not the primary meaning of grace. Biblical saving grace is the free mercy of God, His absolute forgiveness, the enjoyment of His favor. (See Cruden’s Complete Concordance.) This is God’s sovereign saving grace. Friends, as you read the following verses, substitute “free mercy” or “forgiveness” or “unmerited favor” for the word “grace”:
John 1:17, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Acts 15:11, “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved…” Romans 3:24-25, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (to take the punishment for, to be an appeasement, a substitute) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness…” Romans 6:14, “…for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Eph. 1:7, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace…” Eph. 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith…”
How are we saved? Justified? By what we do? By what we don’t do? By anything of ourselves? No! We are saved “by His grace.” This, dear friends, is the crux of Christianity. This is what God planned from the foundation of the world. This is why He “sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” This is the most wondrous miracle that ever captured the heart of mankind! This is what makes our very soul shiver in awe – The wonder of it all! “For God so loved…” Can we comprehend the magnitude of such love? Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” Titus 3:5-7, “NOT by works of righteousness which WE have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs…”
The Bible says eternal life is a gift. John 6:27, “…for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you…” John 10:28, “…And I give unto them eternal life…” John 17:2, “…that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” Romans 5:15-21, “…so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one [Adam] many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many…the gift of righteousness…the free gift came upon all men…” I Cor. 1:4 and Romans 6:23. “I thank my God always on your behalf for the grace of God which is given you by Christ Jesus, that in everything you are enriched by him…” II Tim. 1:9, “Who hath saved us…not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.” How are we saved? By our works? No; we are saved by the free mercy / total forgiveness / unmerited favor of God – through faith in what Jesus did. This is known as saving faith. Not faith in what we do, or don’t do, or by faith in a method, good as that method may be.
In II Cor. 9:15, Paul wrote of God’s “unspeakable gift.” Another version says, “too wonderful for words.” Brilliant, eloquent Paul had no words to convey the wonder of God’s “unspeakable gift”! God’s sovereign, saving grace. His free mercy and forgiveness. His “free gift,” as Paul wrote. Was Paul being redundant? Perhaps deliberately so. Perhaps he wanted no mistake about it – the “free gift” cannot be earned, cannot be merited. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”
So God’s “free mercy” (grace) gives us eternal life. Do we earn/work for – or even merit – a gift? If we did, it wouldn’t be free – wouldn’t be a gift. Which is precisely what Paul says in Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace…”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Because God loves mankind so much, He does not want His creation to perish. He also knows that since Adam, man has been, and will be, sinful. That’s why He sent Christ to redeem us. II Peter 3:9, “…not willing that ANY should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” II Tim. 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Repent because “all have sinned and come short,” but believe that “through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved.” Through a belief that trusts our salvation to Jesus ALONE, we are saved, when Jesus becomes our personal Savior. A personal relationship is begun.
Dear friends, when people in the Bible received salvation, it didn’t take weeks of gospel meetings. Salvation was instantaneous. “I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” “Receive thy sight. Thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight and followed him.” “This day is salvation come to this house.” (Luke 19:9) “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Acts 2:40-42, “…and the same day were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Acts 4:4, “Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.” Read Acts 8:36, (Philip and the eunuch), Acts 10:24-48, (Cornelius), 16:14-15 (Lydia), 16:31-34, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Also, II Cor. 6:2, “…behold…now is the day of salvation.” Our salvation is not determined when we die, when perhaps we may have made ourselves worthy enough. (What a time to find out!) Salvation is here and now!
Our salvation is not contingent upon how much sacrifice and self-denial we do, but on what Christ has already done. By His life, death and resurrection, He saved us! The moment that truly dawns in our hearts is the moment salvation comes, and we are “born again.” When the wonder of God’s “unspeakable gift” enters our hearts, there are no words to describe the intense relief, the awe, the “rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8). We are free! What exquisite comfort! This precious knowledge enables us to love the Lord as He deserves to be loved – with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to set our affection on things above. We can, and should, emulate Christ, but He knows we can never attain His perfection. That’s why He died for us! Our very dear friends, we are not saved by our doing, but by Christ’s dying. We need not fret that we don’t measure up to the standard of Christ, that we come so far short and aren’t all we should be. We can “come boldly to the throne of grace” where we know we will “obtain mercy.” We can rest in the peace of knowing that his precious blood covers all our shortcomings. Trust totally in what He did; not in what we try to do. Death also loses its “sting” because we have accepted his free gift of salvation. We can claim His perfect pardon. This is indeed “Good News”! This is the Gospel.
How can we be so sure of salvation? Because we know the righteousness of Christ is more than sufficient for us. As long as we trust totally in His righteousness (not our own), Scripture gives us confidence:
Isa. 32:17, “…and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.” Isa. 55:3, Acts 13:34, “…the sure mercies of David.” Rom. 8:38, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” II Tim. 1:12, “…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Philip. 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” II Thess. 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you…” Heb. 6:19, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast…” Heb. 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…” We also have the whole armour of God to protect us! I John 3:19, 21, “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him…Beloved… have we confidence toward God.” I John 2:25, “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” I John 5:13, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” Jude 24, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”
Did you know that in the 1600s, the meaning of the word hope was more like eager anticipation, expectation? So when the King James translators used the word hope, they didn’t mean today’s current concept of wishful desire, but something far more certain. The word follow also has changed from what it meant in the 1600s. Rather than to imitate, it meant to accompany. The word repent now means to regret, or sorrow. In the days of King James, it meant to rethink/reconsider, reaching a new conclusion. As you read your Bible, contemplate these more accurate meanings.
What we desperately want to do is focus your attention on Christ. Only Christ. We have become aware of a chilling phenomenon in our fellowship: Jesus and “The Truth” have merged in the minds of many. The distinction between the Son of God and this fellowship is blurred. “The Truth” has been elevated so much that it has become synonymous with Christ! Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the father but by me.” (John 14:6) Now, He certainly did not mean a group of people, a body of believers, or a fellowship or ministry. He was referring to Himself – alone. This fellowship that we (brazenly?) call “The Truth” and “The Way” is comprised of people – people in the ministry, people meeting in homes. People – no matter how good they are – should never be placed on a level even remotely near Christ.
Friends, what do we believe about Jesus? Who was He? Do we know? Most of the friends believe He is the Son of God, a man with the attributes and powers of God but under God in authority, and separate from God. A few believe that Jesus is also God, “made flesh” (John 1:14) – or God “made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7) – that He is God, the Son, as well as the Son of God. Have you ever heard about this in meetings? From the platform? We’ve been told that the word “Trinity” isn’t in the Bible. True enough, but the word “Godhead” is, which is the same thing. (Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20, Col. 2:9) I John 5:7, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” The Triune God. We hear about the Father, we hear about the Holy Ghost/Spirit/Comforter, but do we ever hear about the miraculous truth of Jesus also being God (in human form)? If we believe this, doesn’t it merit being frequently spoken of, with awe, wonder, amazement, joy, praise, triumph?!
Matt. 1:23 tells us the name Emmanuel means “God with us.” Isa. 9:6, “For unto us a child is born…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” John 1:1, 3, 14, 15, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…John…cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.” (Jesus was six months younger than John the Baptist.) Notice that Word is capitalized, referring to Jesus, who made God’s thought audible. See also Rev. 19:13, “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”
John 8:58, “…before Abraham was, I am.” (Refers to Ex. 3:14; God’s name: I AM.) John 10:30, “I and my father are one.” When He said that, the Jews began throwing stones at Him. When He asked them why they were stoning Him, they said, “for blasphemy” – because You, a man, are making yourself God. Jesus didn’t deny it. In fact, He affirmed it by stating that God set Him apart from other men and that the miracles He was doing confirm Who He is – vs. 34-38. Jesus described the Trinity/Godhead in John 14:1-26. Note especially vs. 9 & 11: “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father…Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me…” John 20:28, “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” Col. 1:13-18, “…hath translated us into the Kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven and in earth…all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church…”
Philip. 2:6, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” I Tim. 3:16, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh…” Titus 1:3, “…according to the commandment of God our Saviour.” Heb.1:8, “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever:…” Rev. 1:8, 17, 18, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty…Fear not, I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore.” Look for more references. Check out Mark 12:35-37, Luke 20:42-44, Acts 2:34-36. Scripture often uses Jesus and God interchangeably.
Hints: Only God can forgive sins. (Ex. 34:6-7; Is. 43:25) Yet Jesus did. Only God is the Lord, yet Jesus was addressed as “Lord” more than any other title. Only God is to be worshipped. (1st commandment, Matt. 4:10, Luke 4:8) Yet Jesus accepted worship. (Matt. 2:11, 8:2, 9:18, 14:33, 15:25, 20:20, John 9:38) Even the angels were told to worship Him. (Heb. 1:6) Revelations is full of worship of the Lamb.
Having trouble comprehending this “mystery of godliness” – God “manifest in the flesh”? (We have good company: Paul!) Because Jesus, of necessity, was a man, He was subject as a man to the laws of time and space. While He was on this earth, His heavenly Father remained in the dimension of heaven, omniscient, omnipotent, controlling and directing His universe. “I am in the Father and the Father in me.” We see the Father in Jesus, the heart and mind of God toward man perfectly and completely revealed, the personal relationship which God wants to exist between Himself and man. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself…” (II Cor. 5:19) Jesus is God “made flesh” – God incarnate. No human mind can comprehend infinity or eternity. Nor do we need to. God gave Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus personified God on earth – the love of God for mankind. That is all our finite minds need to understand.
There’s a hymn (not one of ours) that says, “Love was when God became a man.” Can our limited human minds possibly comprehend this awesome concept: that the Creator of the vast cosmos called our universe would send Himself down to this planet to experience first-hand what it is like to be a human being, to demonstrate, by deed and word, His heart of love; then finally, to die a criminal’s death, bearing all the evil and despicable sins of mankind – in order to ransom His creation from their sin and to be their perfect intercessor! Are we capable of fathoming such awesome, magnificent love? This defies our comprehension. It overwhelms us. It conquers us. It brings us to our knees at the foot of the cross.
Because Jesus was not only fully man, but also fully God, His death had infinite measure; it could count for countless others. “…For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many…so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:15, 19)
“Many.” What about the “few” in the “narrow way”? This leads us to another cornerstone of Christianity, and why William Irvine’s “Living Witness” doctrine was a grave, deadly error. When any church claims that their church is the Only Right Way, what is it claiming? That its method/doctrine/ system is the only one that God recognizes, so its believers are the only ones who can be saved, correct? We sing “Jesus alone can save me” (#153). Isn’t there a contradiction here? If “The Truth” is the only right way, and only professing people can be saved, then how can we sing “Jesus alone can save me”? Shouldn’t we be singing “Jesus and ‘The Truth’ can save me”? Friends! Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the father but by me.” “I am the door…” “I am the good shepherd…” “I am the bread of life…” “I am the vine…” Check out those pronouns! They’re singular. Did He include anyone else? The apostles? A ministry? A fellowship? A body of believers meeting in homes? Of course not! Jesus is our only “ladder” leading from earth to heaven. Believing in a method does not save us. There’s confusion in “The Truth” over who does the saving. The very name Jesus means “Savior.” (See margin Matt 1:21.) The Bible clearly states again and again that Christ died to save sinners:
“…he will come and save you.” (Isa. 35:4) “… for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21) “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” (Matt. 18:11) “… and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28) “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them…” (Luke 9:56) “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) “…that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17) “…this indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” (John 4:42) “…whom ye crucified…neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) “for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47) “…to be a Prince and a Saviour…” (Acts 5:31) “…being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Rom. 5:9) “…Christ died for our sins.” (I Cor. 15:3) “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thess. 5:9) “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (I Tim. 1:15) “Who gave himself a ransom for all…” (I Tim. 2:6) “…we…testify that the Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” ( I John 4:14)
To ensure that there be no mistake about the importance of this, the Bible also clearly states that His atoning sacrifice was planned by God from the beginning of time. “…ye were not redeemed with corruptible things…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world…” (I Pet. 1:18-20)
Are you beginning to understand why our belief of being the Only Right Way (the culmination of William Irvine’s “Living Witness” doctrine – that salvation is only possible through the ministry established by him) is so deadly? Because it shifts the saving by Christ only – which God planned from the beginning of time – to our being saved by a method, or by a ministry; or to our being saved by Christ plus a method, a fellowship called “The Truth.” Isn’t that the same thing as saying we (Jesus and us) are the way, the truth and the life? Look at John 10:7, 9, 11. Did He say “We are the doors – I and the Apostles?” Or “We are the good shepherds”? Friends, Jesus did not use a plural pronoun.
Are you beginning to see what’s happened? How this fellowship has become so elevated that it has really replaced Jesus as our Savior? Do you also believe that this is serious? Are you beginning to get a glimpse of the importance of understanding that Jesus was God-made flesh? Of keeping Him high and lifted up? Of worshipping Him only? Friends, the “way” planned from the foundation of the world was Jesus – only – not a certain ministry or meetings in homes. Friends, it is imperative that you separate “The Truth” in your minds from Jesus! One is a way, a method, or system; the other is the Savior. Put “The Truth” down to where it belongs among men, and raise the Savior up to where He belongs – “the image of the invisible God” – Who created “all things,” was made “higher than the heavens,” “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named…and hath put all things under his feet…” Read Col. 1:14-20, Heb. 7:26, Eph. 1:20-22.
We must recognize and accept the work and person of Jesus as the only way to be saved. He did not say that he knew the way, nor that He taught them the way, nor that He would show them the way. He declared that He is the way. Our true foundation should be a personal recognition, belief and conviction of who Jesus really is, and in what He came to do. What did He come to do? To establish a ministry? To institute church meetings in homes? Where are verses to support this? “The Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” He came to save each of us, individually!
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh.”(I Peter 3:18) “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many…” (Heb. 9:28) “We are sanctified through the offering of Jesus Christ once for all…But this man, after he had offered up one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” (Heb. 10:10, 12) “…that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3)
We have heard it said that Jesus was the first worker. Also, at a recent convention, it was said from the platform that workers are replicas of Jesus.(19) Friends! This is dangerous thinking! Is it not elevating people to the status of God? The workers are a dear and esteemed people, but there’s not one worker who can save you. Who Jesus was, and what He did, once and for all, cannot be repeated or implemented by any human being. Friends, as long as you believe that “The Truth” is God’s only way, you are trusting in a system, or method of salvation, and not in Jesus ONLY.
ARE WE SAVED?
Why do we wince when someone asks us if we’re saved? We hesitatingly reply, “Well, I hope so,” or “I’m trying to be.” This is the reason: Professing people believe that we must earn our salvation, and we know we’re not doing a very good job of it! Friends, there is no person on earth who can save you – not even yourself! Central to “The Truth’s” doctrine is this theme: salvation by obedience and willingness and submission. The life of Christ is emphasized, but His redeeming and atoning sacrifice – His substitutionary death on the cross – is de-emphasized. (Folks, this is a legacy from William Irvine. He mocked belief in the sufficiency of the blood of Christ to wash away man’s sin. He spoke of “Calvary ranters.”(20) Doesn’t that give you chills? William Irvine launched his own personal war against the organized religions of his time. But, in doing so, he also rejected sound Christian doctrine and substituted his own.) Friends, the blood of Christ is absolutely crucial to salvation! Acts 20:28, “…to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Romans 3:25, “…through faith in his blood…” Romans 5:9, “…being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved…” Eph. 1:7, “In whom we have redemption through his blood…” Heb. 9:12, “…by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Heb. 13:12, “…That he might sanctify the people with his own blood…” Rev. 1:5, …”Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood…”
The focus in “The Truth” on the life of Christ (our Example) robs us, and it robs Him. It makes us feel that we must live up to His righteousness (an impossible goal) in order to be worthy of heaven, that we have to do our own redeeming, so to speak, because the saving work of Jesus on the cross is not understood. Professing people believe that the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary doesn’t apply to anyone unless they live according to everything in “The Truth,” and that Jesus did what He could, but the rest is up to us. We must complete what He began. In other words, we must finish saving ourselves. Folks, what are the last words of Jesus recorded by John (19:30)? “It is finished.” What was finished? Christ’s work of redemption was done, complete, finished. Let us not deprive Him of the victory He obtained on the cross for the redemption of all who trust in it! “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) “…for the works which the Father hath given me to finish.” (John 5:36)
“We don’t feel worthy. But if we’re willing, this will make us worthy. Denying ourselves. The thing we must do daily is to take up our cross… What we’re trying to do these days and years is make ourselves ready that we might in some measure be worthy of being the Bride of Christ. It’s up to us now to be making ourselves worthy.” Those words are a direct quote from the platform.(21) Our dear friends. This trying to make ourselves worthy is not scriptural. What does the Bible say about it? “And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book. . .” (Rev. 5:2-4) We humans can never make ourselves worthy. Only the Lamb that was slain is worthy. Why? Because “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Isa. 64:6) Because “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10) “But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might he given to them that believe.” (Gal. 3:22) Our sin, no matter how good we try to be, will separate us from God, the Holiest of Holy, unless we allow the blood of Jesus (the only sinless One) to cleanse us, unless we allow Jesus to save us. Only the blood of the Lamb can make us worthy.
What about the verses that speak of walking “worthy”? In their context, the connotation is clear that the author means walking worthy of their status as Christians – that they should be following Christian concepts in their walk with God. (Eph. 4:1-3, Col. 1:10-12, I Thess. 2:12)
We hear so much about willingness, don’t we. Yes, we need to be willing to follow our Lord and Savior, but often the friends and workers are actually implying that we must be willing for many outward things, i.e., appearance (primarily women), foregoing certain entertainment, not having TVs/radios/stereos in our homes, etc. (These all differ, depending on the individual overseer your state is under.) Most of all, it is stressed that we need to be willing to profess, then be faithful in “The Truth,” and all that entails. Folks, what do we really need to be willing for? Perhaps most of all, we need to be willing to allow Christ to save us. To totally depend on His righteousness, rather than going about to establish our own. (See Rom. 10:1-4.) To accept the gift of salvation, the gift of eternal life through believing in the power of His shed blood on the cross. We need to be willing to stop relying on all that we can do to make ourselves “more worthy.” To stop saying, in effect, “You didn’t do enough, Lord Jesus. What You did isn’t sufficient for us; we have to be willing to finish your work. We can’t trust You that much! We can’t accept your gift; we must ‘in some measure’ earn it.” Friends, we need to be willing to trust our Redeemer!
Are you now feeling like the jailor in Acts 16? “Then what must I do to be saved”? What was Paul’s answer? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31) What did Jesus say? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Note the two words in italics. “Whosoever” is not very exclusive, is it. (It doesn’t say “Whosoever professeth”!) The Bible puts great emphasis on belief. See also John 11:25-26 and Luke 8:50. We would agree that belief isn’t just an intellectual, head belief, but a heart belief. The Greek word for “believe” in this verse was “to cling to, to trust in.”
“…He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24) “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” (John 6:47) “…after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise…” (Eph. 1:13) Our worth to God is not determined by our performance! Throughout Scripture, belief/faith/trust in God was critical. John indicates that believing, along with love, is a commandment. “And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another…”
If we are God’s Only Right Way, and professing people have a monopoly on salvation, then everyone else – in every other church – is wrong. Is that not blatant judging – even condemnation – of others? “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned…” (Luke 6:37) Who are we, to feel so smugly sure that the way to salvation is exclusively ours? Acts 10:34-35, “God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Can we be so self-righteous as to believe that only professing people fear God and live righteously? Look at Acts 10:45. Are we like “those of the circumcision which believed” who were “astonished…because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost”? Are we like the “certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others”? (Luke 18:9).
One day John told Jesus that they had seen someone using His name to cast out demons, and they had told the person to stop because he wasn’t one of “us.” (Mark 9:38-40 & Luke 9:49-50) They wanted this person to stop his work of deliverance. He wasn’t a member of their group. They couldn’t imagine God’s saving and healing power could be operating outside of their circle. How did Jesus respond? He said ‘Forbid him not. Don’t stop him, for no one doing miracles in my name will turn against me. Anyone who isn’t against us is for us.’ The power of grace lies in the name of Jesus (only). Acts 3:6, (Peter) “…In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Rom. 10:12, “…for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” See Col. 3:11. The disciples here wanted to limit the life-giving power of Jesus’ name. Weren’t they starting to say, “We’re the only ones who are right” – to preach a gospel of exclusivism? Dear friends, may we not attempt to shrink the Creator of mankind into our own exclusive box. “For the love of God is broader than the measure of man’s mind.”
“For if by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles…bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (I Cor. 12:13) The eye cannot say unto the hand, ‘I don’t need you, you’re not part of the body,’ just because it isn’t an eye. (Vs. 21) It isn’t the place of the eye to judge. If we say that no one outside of this fellowship is going to heaven because they don’t see things as we do, aren’t we just like the eye who told the hand that it wasn’t part of the body? Who are we to say who is, and who is not, part of the body of Christ? Who are we to judge the salvation of another? “Who are thou that judgeth another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth.” (Rom. 14:4) “The Lord knoweth them that are his.” (II Tim. 2:19, I John 5:11-12) God wants us to be free from human judgment of the worth and value of people.
“…strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:13) We have heard this verse used many times to “prove” that this fellowship is God’s “only way.” Surely a fellowship of so few has to be the “narrow way” of the Bible, it is reasoned. Of course, this same verse is used by other groups – the Amish and Mennonites, for example. What is “few” with God? What is “few” in a world of five billion people, with the total number throughout all history being unknown?
Do we ever hear about these verses? Matt. 26:28, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Acts 2:41, 4:4 & 32 speak of “thousands” and “multitudes” of believers. Rom. 5:15, 19, “…and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many…so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many…” (Heb. 9:28) Rev. 7:9-17, “After this I beheld and lo a great multitude which no man could number of all nations…stood before the throne…” So many people that it was impossible to number them were cleansed in the blood of Christ.
Rom. 1:16, “…the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” “Believeth” what? The “gospel” of an unpaid ministry and church in the home? Or the gospel of Christ…unto salvation.
We will readily grant that “wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat…narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Remember, Jesus is the Way, even the “narrow” Way. Not a system, a fellowship. Did Jesus mean to be narrow-minded, relegating all other sects inferior? Or did He mean that He (the Way) is not pursued by most—multitudes rarely have a thought about Him. By contrast, “few” care enough to search, find, and establish a relationship with Him and live by His teachings. There are also many “religious” people who talk without a walk. BUT, friends, contrary to what most of you believe, there are devout Christians in this world today. We in “The Truth” have built a fence of superiority around our group which doesn’t allow us to even contemplate that there might be others who love the Lord as much as we do – and perhaps more. For a century now, “truthers” have been “sitting in the seat of the scornful,” we are ashamed and sorry to say.
Friends, we strongly urge you to listen to a good Christian radio station. You will be very pleasantly surprised. (In the south/midwest, BBN – Bible Broadcasting Network – is excellent.) Web site: Click to view it: http://www.amen.net/bbn
Go into a Christian bookstore and browse – with your God-given mind open. You have the right to do this! (See page 1.) We have learned a wealth of Bible knowledge this way – and discovered a wonderful world of Christian believers with standards of moral conduct at least as high as ours, who are totally committed to Christ. Are they “deceived,” as we have been taught? Sorry, folks, but we could never believe that again. Listen to them; read what they have written. Can you honestly say they are not Christians? How could people write or speak like this if they don’t know God? Here are some reliable Christian authors: Max Anders, Kay Arthur, Charles (“Chuck”) Colson, James Dobson, David Jeremiah, Hal Lindsey, Max Lucado, Catherine Marshall, Joyce Meyers, Charles Swindoll, Ron Rhodes.
Many of the hymns in our own hymnbook (Hymns Old & New) were written by those we term “worldly religious people.” Haven’t you ever wondered how they could have written hymns that are so meaningful? Favorites such as “Tell Me the Story of Jesus,” “O God of Bethel,” “More About Jesus,” “When I Survey,” “Was It For Me?,” “Just As I Am,” “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee,” and many others.
Did you know that there are organizations dedicated to historically and scientifically proving the Bible correct? Some of the Old Testament events, once dismissed by biblical critics as entirely imaginary, have now been confirmed by archaeological scholars. The recovery of ancient texts continues in excavated cities of the ancient Near East, and the archaeological illumination of the New Testament is proceeding. Pilate’s residence has now been identified!(22) The theory of evolution has become as much a religion as creation, and creation scientists have endured scathing denunciation by adherents of this worldview. However, scientific evidence is mounting, and even some evolutionists have renounced their previously held views and become convinced of the validity of the biblical account of creation. (The Genesis Flood explains much, from the Grand Canyon to dinosaur fossils.) For some fascinating reading, check out http://www.icr.org/ (Institute for Creation Research), and/or Answers in Genesis (www.answersingenesis.org) Or surf on over to http://www.ChristianAnswers.net, www.gospel.com, http://www.goshen.net/BiblePathway There’s a wealth of Christian information out there!
Did you know there is a spiritual revolution going on in atheistic Communist China? God is working in China in a very powerful way. One Communist official said, “If God had the face of a 70-year-old man, we wouldn’t care if He was back; but He has the face of millions of 20-year-olds, so we are very worried.”(23) Millions of people are accepting Jesus as their Savior. There is severe persecution of these Christians, very similar to that which New Testament Christians suffered. In January 1996, the Communist government launched a vicious campaign to literally persecute the millions of house-church Christians out of existence. But they continue to grow. Their #1 request to western Christians is “Please send us Bibles.” (There is currently only one Bible for every 2,000 Christians. They pay large amounts from their scanty wages to buy one page of a Bible, then share it with others.) At great personal peril, western missionaries seek to carry thousands of Bibles into China. The Bibles are usually confiscated by the customs officials and secret police, but then are sold on the black market. These persecuted Chinese Christians need Bibles and our prayers, friends.
Dear friends, if you have borne with us in this letter so far, we truly thank the Lord and bless your hearts, because we know these things are not easy for you. We have traveled this road ourselves, so we well know how painful it is. This is radical thinking for you. This analogy comes to mind: Forcing one’s mind to even begin to think differently from what it has been taught all one’s life is like inserting a knife into a closed seashell, the “knife” of truth, if you will – deliberately prying a closed mind open. You no doubt are experiencing fear. If you have read this far, you deserve our sincere congratulations. You have good courage. Likely, you’ve been warned against reading letters/books like this. You’ve even been told to destroy/burn them, unopened. Dear ones, if your minds weren’t controlled so well, those warnings should send up a red flag. You have a right to use the intelligence that God gave you! “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Tim. 2:15)
As we stated on page 1, Scripture encourages you to examine, search and prove for yourself. In Acts 17:11, the Bereans were counted “more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so.” And the Bereans were listening to Paul and Silas – apostles! They were commended for not just receiving the word readily, but also for searching to prove whether the things they heard were right. Our dear friends, please don’t feel intimidated by anyone who would make you feel guilty for questioning that which we have been taught from childhood not to question. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee…” (Hosea 4:6) Jesus told the Pharisees they were in error because they did not know the Scriptures. (Matt. 22:29)
Real truth stands proud and secure and says, “Check me out! Search, probe, question! I am truth!”
Friends, real truth WELCOMES scrutiny!”
LAW – WORKS
“But to him that worketh not, but BELIEVETH on Him that justifieth the ungodly; his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness WITHOUT works..” “We are not under the law but under grace.” Romans 4:5-6, 6:15
Read Col. 2:14, 16-23. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross…” Listen to a more recent version of vs. 20-23: “Since you died, as it were, with Christ, and this has set you free from following the world’s ideas of how to be saved – by doing good and obeying various rules – why do you keep right on following them anyway, still bound by such rules as not eating, tasting, or even touching certain foods? Such rules are mere human teachings, for food was made to be eaten and used up. These rules may seem good, for rules of this kind require strong devotion and are humiliating and hard on the body, but they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person’s evil thoughts and desires. They only make him proud.”
Many Jews were mistaken about the law, also. They gloried in the belief that they alone truly kept the law. Trusting in the law and observing every minute detail of their traditions, they were sure they would be found acceptable by their works. However, they completely misunderstood the purpose of the law. The law did not save anyone; it was intended to help men to realize their inability to keep it, see their sin, and understand their only hope was in God’s mercy – through “the promise” to come: Christ. (Gal. 3:19-24) It’s a common snare. When a group of people think they alone are God’s chosen people, or when they believe they alone have The Thing God approves of (a way/the law), it’s not uncommon for them to make the mistake of assuming God disapproves or rejects everything/everyone else.
External legalisms (rules) thwart the emphasis Jesus placed on the heart – the inside – and shift our focus to the outside, where they invite judgment of one another and pride in our personal “standard.” There are many legalisms we in “The Truth” must adhere to in order to conform to an unspoken and unwritten “professing” code. If anyone fails to conform, he/she is immediately judged as slipping, losing their hold/vision, lowering the standard, etc. Guilt and peer pressure abound. Great emphasis is placed on outward appearance, as well as conforming to other so-called “standards,” even to the point of considering them “works” – as in “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20) This chapter in James is often touted as proof that we are saved by works. This deserves some serious pondering. First of all, what did James consider “works”? Women wearing skirts instead of shorts/pants? Not wearing jewelry? (Watches, pins, wedding rings, and hair jewelry are OK now; necklaces, bracelets, earrings are definitely still out.) No makeup, having long hair/wearing it up? Not having certain equipment in our homes? Not reading books (that’s pretty much OK now, too), not listening to radio, watching TV, movies, etc., young people not engaging in sports or extra-curricular activities. All of these “standards” vary by geographic location, overseer, and generation. What once was sinful a generation ago is now OK.
Look in Col. 3:12-17 for GOD’S dress code!
None of the above are the “works” that the New Testament writers wrote about and have nothing whatsoever to do with salvation. They’re only petty and superficial rules very similar to what the Pharisees concocted and made such a fuss about everybody following. “…teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mat. 15:9, Mark 7:7) Those kind of rules/laws could very well be compared with the “dead works” of Heb. 6:1 (repentance from dead works) and Heb. 9:15 (purge your conscience from dead works). Exterior self-denial makes one feel smugly superior to the “world” (and even to those in the fellowship whose “standard” isn’t as “high”). It promotes self-ism. The self-denial that Jesus wanted was far deeper than that – a losing of one’s self in love for God and others.
These legalisms could also be compared with the “works of the law” that Paul wrote about in Gal. 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and NOT by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” That’s mighty clear. He even repeated the theme to make sure there was no misunderstanding. The Galatians had slipped back into believing again that keeping the Jewish laws was necessary, instead of just having faith in what Jesus did. Additionally, vs. 21, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” THIS IS SERIOUS! Having so much focus on the outside is actually detrimental to inner spirituality. Jesus died to atone for our sins for the simple reason that we cannot atone for them ourselves. Further on, in ch. 3:24-25, Paul explained that the law was like their schoolmaster, to bring them unto Christ, but that after “faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”
If you feel the focus in “The Truth” is not on such external things, but more spiritual, try wearing a bracelet or necklace into meeting. (If you’re a woman.) Or cut your hair, or even just wear it down. Or wear shorts at the next casual gathering. Or go shopping in slacks and bump into one of the friends. Or put a stereo or TV in your living room. Or put up a Christmas tree. (Incidentally, did you know Christmas trees are OK in “The Truth” in Australia and some other countries?) What would happen? Eyebrows would raise, heads would shake, workers would be told, your reputation would be probably unsalvageable, people would think you were either (a) losing your senses, or (b) “losing out.” You could have the most Christ-like spirit in the world, and it would mean absolutely NOTHING. Now tell us again the focus isn’t on the outside!
Now, back to the “works” – without which James said faith was dead. In Romans 4, Paul made it very clear that Abraham was not saved by works, but simply by believing God. (Vs. 3) Abraham had a saving faith in God. His belief (faith) ONLY was “counted unto him for righteousness” – before circumcision and before he had done any “works.” Heb. 6:12, “…who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Hebrew 11, “By faith…” First faith, or belief, THEN the “works.” Heb. 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him…” James spoke of Abraham being justified by works when he offered Isaac upon the altar. He spoke of Rahab saving the lives of those messengers – both because of the faith they already had.
Abraham and Rahab were not saved by works; they were saved by FAITH that works.
Rather than “works” being exterior form or “standards,” what are they? The Good Samaritan demonstrated good “works” when he took care of the man who had been assaulted. [Incidentally, we have always heard the Good Samaritan parable allegorized (“spiritualized”). Why? There’s nothing in Luke 10:30-37 to indicate that Jesus meant the parable to be taken as anything other than literally. It parallels perfectly with what is termed “The Golden Rule” – or the 2nd Commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Lev. 19:18, Matt. 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27). The Samaritan who was being a good “neighbor” took care of that wounded man’s body. In so doing, he may well have helped the man’s soul as well, but there’s nothing in the Scripture to justify taking that parable in a spiritual manner only. However, doing so does exonerate us from feeling any guilt over doing NO charity work whatsoever. Folks, why do we as a church do nothing to help those less fortunate in this very needy world? Because they’re in “the world”? Is that what all this Scripture means? Because we consider them “worldly,” we should do nothing for their bodily needs? Aren’t the above passages of Scripture chastising that attitude? Jesus healed and fed the people, not only spiritually, but naturally, as well.]
Jesus also said when we make a feast to “call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee.” Did He also mean that to be taken “spiritually,” not literally? Heb. 13:16 – “But to do good and to communicate (share what you have with those in need) forget not…” I John 3:17 – “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” Gal. 2:10 – “Only that we should remember the poor…” Those “works” (actions) are the EVIDENCE of a saving faith.
Faith in Jesus will result in good works. Faith in action; love in action. Works are OUTWARD proof, evidence, of INWARD faith. Faith in Jesus will also produce integrity, uprightness, honesty, as well as the fruits of the spirit – love, patience, hope, generosity, thanksgiving, goodness, truth, purity, peacefulness, submissiveness, mercy, kindness, impartiality, sincerity, virtue, temperance, brotherly kindness. Folks, we’ve had the cart before the horse all these years! Good works follow salvation; salvation does not follow good works. Heb. 6:9, 10 – “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation…For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love…” Good works will add to our reward, but they will not save us. Only Jesus can do that.
Our salvation and our reward are two entirely different things. Salvation/eternal life is a gift; it cannot be earned. Eternal reward can be earned. We can add to our reward by doing good works in the right manner. See Matt. 6:1-4, 14, 18. Luke 6:35, “…and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Also, Ps. 19:11, “…in keeping of them there is great reward.” See also Matt. 5:12, James 1:25, Jeremiah 31:16.
Peter also wrote that we’re to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10). The Christian’s road must always be contrary to those forces which assault our faith, e.g., materialism, secularism (man, not God, as the measure of all things), atheism (denial of God’s existence), hedonism (relentless pursuit of pleasure), dishonesty, immorality, etc. Christians are transformed by the renewing of their minds, to the standards of Christ.
To be sure, there is much work to be doing. Reading through Matthew 5, 6 and 7 makes us realize how much work is yet to be done in ourselves. And there is a needy world out there, to whom we have an obligation, as Christians, to help. BUT, good works are not the criteria for salvation; they’re the result of it, the outward proof of it – which was what James was saying. We cannot earn or merit salvation by good works. Salvation is solely the gift of God – through faith in what Jesus did for us. And for that, He deserves not only our heartfelt praise and thanksgiving, but our adoration, worship and service!
Try looking at it this way: How can you prove your love for God? If He laid down certain requirements and you met them, would that prove you love Him? You could perform just out of duty or guilt or even fear, and not out of love. So this then would not be a true test, except of obedience. BUT…what if you didn’t have to do anything – except believe, and trust Him to get you to heaven? Then, whatever you did for God would be totally by your free choice and because you wanted to – purely out of love and appreciation for the gift He gave you of salvation, with no strings attached. Such is the case if one is saved by grace and not by works. What a Mastermind we have for a God!!
How important is doctrine? What does the Bible say? I Tim. 4:13, 16, “…give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them…” What is the doctrine of “The Truth,” friends? Do we know? What does the word doctrine mean? The dictionary says it is a body of principles presented for acceptance or belief. Other than believing that God is, and that Jesus is His Son, and our Example, what do we believe? What is our doctrine? The two beliefs that are dear to the heart of every professing person are: 1) the ministry – the method by which Jesus sent His disciples out – two by two, without salary or home, and 2) the church in the home. Upon these two principles primarily, “The Truth” rests. Many of the scriptural truths which have been discussed in this letter have not been emphasized, nor even taught, principally because they are not part of our doctrine. People have been put out of the work, and out of the fellowship, for teaching or speaking about belief in the deity of Christ (that Jesus was fully God as well as fully man). The sovereign, saving grace of God is not accepted; that belief is denigrated, disparaged. Our doctrine is one of salvation by works; that our place in Heaven must be earned by our works, rather than by our faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice solely. So some very basic Biblical doctrine is either unknown or only vaguely understood by most professing people.
As you’ve been reading this, you have probably been wondering about Matthew 10, upon which our ministry is based. Folks, let’s examine this Scripture together… We love you all, both saints and servants. We know this is an extremely sensitive issue for you, as it is for us. Remember, we have been where you are now.
After Jesus gave his twelve disciples power against unclean spirits and power to heal “all manner” of sickness and disease, what was the very first instruction He gave? Vs. 5-6, “Go NOT into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Who were the lost sheep of the house of Israel? The Jews, right? He was sending those twelve disciples to His own people, the Israelites. He was NOT sending them to the Gentiles!
What were they to do? Vs. 7, “And as ye go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” What was the Kingdom of heaven? Wasn’t it God’s everlasting Kingdom, over which Jesus would reign forever? Wasn’t He telling them to proclaim to the Jews that He, their long-awaited Messiah, had indeed come, at last? Those disciples were to tell the Jews about the arrival of Jesus. As proof that what they were preaching was true, He gave them power to do supernatural things (cast out unclean spirits, heal sickness and disease). And they performed those miracles! They were able to follow Jesus’ instructions to the letter – because He had given them power for that specific mission, at that specific time, for that specific purpose.
Because the Jews were known for their hospitality to one another, and Palestine was a small area geographically, those men would not have needed to carry much with them in the way of money or clothing. There was also an urgency to their mission; they did not have much time. “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel til the Son of man be come.” (Matt 10:23) Even though they hurried, Jesus said they would not even get through all places before He would be there, right behind them. Luke 9:1-6 gives a more succinct version, but again emphasizes the healing power the disciples were given and indicates the temporary nature of the instructions in vs. 10, “And the Apostles, when they were returned, told him all they had done.” When He sent the 70 in Luke 10, they were to go into every city and place where He would soon go. The 70 returned to Him, not long afterwards (17 verses after He had sent them out!), rejoicing in the power they had been given, although He cautioned them to rejoice more that their names were written in heaven. The point is, the power was there as evidence of their very special, short-term, mission: to tell the Jews that Jesus would soon be arriving.
In Luke 22:35-36, Jesus changed His instructions about taking no money or belongings. “BUT NOW, he that hath a purse, let him take it…” Why? Perhaps because the mission of taking the Gospel to the Jews of Palestine had been accomplished? The Jews had the first opportunity to believe on Him. But He would be leaving very soon, and these men would now need money, clothing and protection, as they preached the Gospel to all the world.
Matt. 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Note, by the way, the singular name – denoting one God for all three.) No specific instructions are given in MATTHEW about how they were to “teach” when they went to “all nations.”
How about MARK? In Mark 16:15-16, Jesus told them to go “into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…” That’s it!
In LUKE 24, Jesus told them that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” No specific instructions on how to accomplish this. Friends, the message was of supreme importance; the method was not.
Let’s look at JOHN 20:21, “… as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” Aha! There you go! But we must ask: How DID the Father send Him? Does He mean the manner in which He sent them out earlier in Matthew 10? There’s a marginal reference here – not to Matt. 10, but to Matt. 28:18-20, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore…” And the very next verse (22): “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and saith unto them; receive ye the holy ghost.” John 17:17-19, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” Again, how did the Father send Jesus into the world? Does this mean the method He used in sending them out? No, folks, it’s far deeper than that. He sent them out sanctified. Sanctify means to set apart for sacred use, or to make holy, to purify. As His Father had set Him apart for a sacred use, and sent the Holy Spirit with Him, so He set them apart for this sacred purpose with the Holy Spirit. That was why they were able to produce miracles, as He did.
Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power after that the holy ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Still no specifics. The only time Jesus gave specific instructions for the manner in which they were to preach was in Matt. 10, which was clearly for the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” for that limited commission.
Folks, study this for yourselves. Don’t take our word for it. If you’re able to find Scripture to prove that the manner in which Jesus sent His disciples out was critical to the salvation of believers, please contact us. You know, we have no problem with the way in which our workers go out. It is a beautiful thing, and the majority of them live pure, consecrated lives. But we no longer believe that Jesus taught that all preachers must go out in that manner forever, not when a careful examination of His actual words indicates otherwise. We must be careful to prove all things by Scripture. The most important thing, by far, is our relationship with Jesus. THIS is what is critical to our salvation.
For those of you who would call us “evil” and accuse us of attacking workers, please rethink your accusations. What we are urging you to do, and we include all workers as well, is this: Examine the Scripture carefully, as the Bible itself urges you to do, and test it against what you have been taught. If the Bereans in Acts 17:11 could search the Scriptures to test whether what Paul and Silas said was accurate – and be called “noble” for doing so! – surely each of you has the right to do the same!
We urgently wish to emphasize that we are finding no fault with a ministry such as ours. However, to espouse a creed which believes that God can only speak through such a ministry is severely limiting the power of a God through Whom all things are possible. “…from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (II Tim. 3:15)
CHURCH IN THE HOME
This is the other primary foundation stone in the doctrine of “The Truth.” We have always loved this concept; it is very warm and personal. However, does the Scripture make meeting in homes a criterion for salvation? Did those first Christians always meet in homes? Luke (24:51-53) tells us the disciples returned to Jerusalem after Jesus parted from them. Where in Jerusalem did they go? “And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.” In Acts 2:46, believers continued daily to meet together in the temple, and went from house to house breaking bread (eating). They also met in the temple in Acts 3:1 and 4:1. Paul “reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath.” (Acts 18:4) In Acts 20:7-9, they were meeting in a 3-story (loft) building. A home? Doubtful. It doesn’t say. And it doesn’t matter! In Acts 19:9, they met in the school (revised version: “lecture hall”) of Tyrannus for two years. Where were they meeting in I Cor. 11:18, when Paul addressed the erring Corinthians, “…when ye come together in the church…” In vs. 22, he asked, “What? Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the church of God, and put them to shame that have not?” They weren’t meeting in homes here!
As we well know (!), Paul greets several churches which were in homes in several of his letters. Many of the early Christians obviously did meet in homes. As Christianity spread from those early days in Acts, it became more dangerous to meet in the temple and synagogues. Christians soon began to be persecuted and feared for their lives. They met behind locked doors for fear of the Jews, we are told. They met secretly, not by choice, but by necessity. There would have been a measure of safety in home churches that there wouldn’t have been in public buildings. Certainly, construction of church buildings in that time would have been impractical, even foolhardy. Nowhere does Scripture dictate that homes are the only place in which to worship.
We have been told many times that Jesus instituted the church in the home in Matt. 26 when He arranged the Last Supper in that upper room. But if He did, folks, no one recorded any words of His which stated that.
For one thing, this was not Sunday morning. It was sometime in the middle of the week. (Just before Jesus was crucified on [Good] Friday, remember?) Also, neither Matthew (26:18-20) nor Mark (14:13-16) nor Luke (22:8-13) indicate that the homeowner or his family were even in the house at the time. John apparently didn’t feel it important enough to record where the meal took place. (Ch. 13:1-4) “The disciples made ready the Passover.” Only the twelve were present during the meal. Perhaps they merely borrowed/made use of that guestchamber/large upper room. In any case, there was safety there, as well as privacy for an intimate discussion with His disciples. This would have been a perfect time for Him to say, “This is how you must worship from now on. You must always use a home.” But did He say that? Not in our Bibles! He introduced the bread and wine then, but said nothing about instituting church in the home.
We are not saying the church in the home is wrong. Definitely not. But neither are church buildings wrong. Jesus did emphasize throughout His ministry the importance of worshipping “in spirit and in truth.” The where is not important; the how is. Jesus always focused on the inward.
Incidentally, the bread eaten at the Passover meal would have been unleavened bread. (Ex. 12:18). The bread we use is always leavened (yeast) bread. Jesus also washed the disciples’ feet after that meal. (John 13:4-16) Do we do that? The point is, why is the church in the home so crucial, when there are many other Scriptural details which we ignore completely?
We’ve often heard quoted Peter’s words in Acts 7:48 and Paul’s in 17:24, that God does not “dwell in temples made with hands.” That is absolutely true. God does not dwell in buildings – OR homes – OR convention tents/sheds (all of which are also “made with hands”). God dwells in people. People are His church, His bride. This is the point that both those men were emphasizing in those verses: “Ye are God’s building.” (I Cor. 3:9)
When Jesus commissioned the disciples in Matt. 28:18-20 to go and teach all nations, He gave no guidelines as to the number who should travel together while preaching the gospel. It would have been impossible for the eleven disciples to whom He was speaking to evenly divide into pairs, and He said nothing about such a requirement. How many times is “two and two” mentioned in the Bible? Twice. Mark 6:7 and Luke 10:l. (Neither time did Jesus indicate this was mandatory, nor for all time.) Some believe Acts supports the necessity of preachers going “two and two.” Does it? Do a study of Acts. We found that ONE person went alone on an evangelistic journey ten times; PAIRS going (“two and two”) are mentioned 8 times; 3 persons, 7 times; 4 persons; once: 7,8, and 10 persons, once: two persons plus an unspecified number, once; 3 persons plus an unspecified number, once. To conclude, disciples went out “two and two” only 8 times out of 29 in Acts – or just under 28% of the time. Dear friends, shall we remove our “truther” lenses – so we can stop reading into the Bible what is not actually there?
Did you know that collections are Biblical? See I Cor. 16:1-3. “Upon the first day of the week…” These collections were to be done on Sundays! In Acts 11:29, “every man according to his ability” sent relief to needy Christians in Judea. In Acts 24:17, Paul spoke of bringing “alms to my nation, and offerings.” Actually, Paul addressed the money issue quite frequently. He must have realized that it is indeed a necessity. See also Romans 15:25-28, II Cor. 8:1-24, 9:1-13, Philippians 4:15-19. Jesus, in Matt. 10, said, “The workman is worthy of his meat” – a principle that Paul reiterated in I Cor. 9:14, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” Paul added that “the laborer is worthy of his reward” in I Tim. 5:18. He spoke and wrote of these things openly. Does our method most closely resemble the New Testament church?
When Jesus threw the moneychangers out of the temple, was it because they were making money for the temple? Or was it because they were making money for themselves, and dishonestly. He said they had made His Father’s house a den of thieves. When Jesus was in the temple, watching the people casting money into the treasury, (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4) He didn’t find fault with them, did He? He would have known the temple needed money for maintenance, etc. He commended the widow who had cast in “all her living.”
Workers may not receive a stipulated salary, but they do receive money, quite a bit of it. In addition to letters and “handshakes,” workers, particularly overseers, frequently are the beneficiaries of sizeable estates and trusts. Some have bank accounts. Likely, certain of them own stock. However, there is minimal, if any, accountability. The very real possibility exists that many workers actually receive far more of a “salary” via these means than most “worldly” pastors do.
MISCELLANEOUS POINTS TO PONDER
“THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER”: Paul originally applied these words to Jesus (Heb. 13:8) but that phrase, too, has been applied to the fellowship. There are many dissimilarities in “The Truth” worldwide, some minor, some major.
►Dress code varies substantially, not only from region to region in the US, but internationally, as well. (Did you know that ladies’ hats in meeting are a must in some countries!)
►Just within the US, the acceptance of such things as radios and stereos in the friends’ homes has always varied. In the east, they are still outlawed; in the west, they have been casually accepted for many decades.
►American visitors overseas to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, etc. are surprised to sip real wine in the communion cup passed around at meeting! Beer is an acceptable beverage in many European professing homes. During the early years and still currently in Australia, the bread and real wine (usually Port) are passed during Sunday morning meeting at convention. Several cups are passed around simultaneously, being topped up as required from jugs carried by those serving.
►Military service in the armed forces is NOT acceptable in some countries, yet very common here in the US.
►The time frame between professing and baptism and being allowed to partake of the bread and wine have varied greatly by both time and geography.
►Just one generation ago, many activities were absolutely forbidden that are now considered acceptable. In some parts of the US, the friends celebrate Christmas quite openly, in others, clandestinely! However, in Britain as well as Australia, and perhaps other countries, Christmas is celebrated very openly, complete with Christmas trees!
►In some areas, marriage to an outsider has meant excommunication (disfellowshipping). In others, it still means prohibition of taking part in meetings; in still others, there is no punitive action. The rules regarding divorce and remarriage are constantly changing, and vary vastly according to both geography and time – and overseer.
Now, the above points are easily read. However, we are talking about people here—individual hearts hurt, cut to the quick, devastated, and lives sometimes shattered by the arbitrary application of these man-made rules.
Several of the Apostles were married: Jesus’s brothers, “other apostles” and Peter. I Cor. 9:5, “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas (Peter)?” The NIV (New International Version) reads: “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?” Although Paul chose to remain single himself, he condemned the practice of “forbidding to marry.” (I Tim. 4:3) He said “marriage is honorable in all.” (Heb. 13:4) The evangelist Philip (Acts 8:5-40), who brought the gospel to many people, had a house and four children (daughters). (Acts 21:8, 9) In the early days of our fellowship, there were numerous pairs of married workers, but no longer. Incidentally, weren’t most/all of the OT prophets also married?
Peter and Andrew had a house in Capernaum. (Matt. 8:14, Mark 1:21, 29). In Matt. 4:13, it says Jesus “dwelt” (lived) in Capernaum (in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy), probably with Peter’s family. See Matt. 8:5, 14; 17:24; Mark 2:1; 9:33; John 2:12; 6:17, 24, 59. All these verses would indicate that Jesus used Peter’s home in Capernaum as his base of operations. That explains Luke 10:15, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.” The people of Capernaum had many opportunities to see and hear Jesus. Therefore, their condemnation for rejecting Him was the greater.
John also had a home (John 19:27), and likely other apostles, as well. See John 20:10. These men obviously left their homes while they were traveling with Jesus. We don’t doubt the gracious promises of Jesus in Mark 10:28-30 to those who had “left all…house, brethren… father…mother…lands…” but He gave no commandment that all preachers must do this, or how long they should do it. He merely assured them that they would be rewarded for it. Many “worldly” pastors and missionaries make such sacrifices, as well.
We say we take no name. Yet as early as 1914, our fellowship registered with the British government under the name “The Testimony of Jesus.” In 1942, we registered as a church with the U.S. government using the name “Christian Conventions.” The name “Christian Assemblies” is used in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. See attached sample letterhead, used for official correspondence.
“FAMILY,” NOT ORGANIZATION:
Did you know we’ve been incorporated? Or some of us have. A 14-page incorporation document has been unearthed by a vigilant ex-2×2 detective! Yes, believe it or not, our fellowship was incorporated on May 5, 1995 in Alberta, Canada, under the name of Alberta Society of Christian Assemblies, complete with a Board of Directors and Voting and Non-voting Members. Copies of the title and signature pages of this document are attached; the complete document is available upon request. Do you think this information would ever be disclosed to us voluntarily? Update: After exposure, and the resultant uproar, the corporation was dissolved in November of 1996. We find no fault with this type of document, nor with the official letterhead. Both are accurate, honest representations of a highly organized sect. But why the secrecy?
We ignore I Cor. 14:34 (“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak…”) and I Tim. 2:11 & 12 (“Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach…”), yet insist that women not wear jewelry, just two verses prior (I Tim. 2:9). We ignore the admonition about braided hair, two words away from “gold or pearls…” Wouldn’t it make more sense to admit the real meaning of Paul’s words – that women should be more concerned with good deeds than with outward appearance. Our appearance and behavior should be appropriate and honorable in our culture. Scripture always focuses on the inward. Notice vs. 8. Do our men “lift up holy hands”? Many issues we place such importance on were purely customs of Biblical times and places, and not commands for all time.
“The truth as it is in Jesus.” (Haven’t we all heard this time and time again?) Eph. 4:21 actually reads, “If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.” When did the “it “get inserted? When did God’s Way change from being Jesus, a person, to an “it” – a method of ministers and meetings? ANSWER: William Irvine’s letter dated August 17, 1921: “It was so wonderful, both in numbers who heard, the numbers who professed, the numbers of workers, the ground covered and the clearness of the truth as it is in Jesus.” That misquote goes all the way back to our founder! “Know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.” (Luke 1:4)
When the friends think of the word “gospel,” what do we think of? “The Truth,” right? This fellowship to which we belong. This method. This “Way.” Read I Cor. 15:1-10 for a definition of what Paul considered “the gospel.” He clearly tells us that it is Christ dying for our sins, His burial and resurrection. What Christ has done for us is the “good news” – the gospel.
We hesitate to add this, friends, but it is only fair that you be fully informed, so you may weigh this fellowship accurately. The vast majority of the friends and workers lead honorable lives. Honest, godly, upright. But, regrettably, our fellowship has never been immune to scandal. However, covering up scandal and truth has been, and still is, given top priority, usually at the expense of innocent victims. All to maintain the fallacy of this fellowship’s “perfection.” Just as “worldly/false” churches have, we also have had our share of sexual promiscuity and child abuse among both friends and workers. This is not surprising, since we are all human, and workers, in particular, are under the stress of a very unnatural lifestyle. Irreparable damage has been done to innocent victims (who rarely have received any kind of counsel but instead an admonition to keep quiet about it). Exacerbating this iniquity is the pattern established of merely moving the guilty offenders to a different field, where offenses are often repeated on other unsuspecting victims. Additionally, these offenders have not received desperately needed help/counseling to overcome their sexual problems.
How were things like this handled in the Bible? When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, did God allow it to be hidden? David tried to hide his sin, but the Lord sent Nathan to confront him. You all know the story. Why do we know it? Because it was recorded for all posterity to read, that we might learn from it. And David was King of Israel! “…who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts…” (I Cor. 4:5) David’s sin was dealt with openly, he repented honestly and paid a high price for his sin. (The baby died, and Nathan warned that David would be afflicted by warfare the rest of his life in punishment.) God did forgive David, and he rose up and continued his close relationship with the Lord. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Prov. 28:13)
Do any of you have the Authors booklet for Hymns Old and New (1987 Edition)? Look up #179, “As We Gather,” #182, “Lord, We Are Met Together,” #183, “Our God Our Father,” and #184, “Here We Come.” Notice that out of all the hymns, only these four have nothing beside them. No author names. Isn’t that strange? Not when you consider how thoroughly this fellowship excommunicates those who dare to disagree with the status quo. Those hymns were written by Eddie Cooney. If you doubt this information, a letter from a worker verifying this is available by contacting us. #10 in the “old” book (1951 edition), “Jesus Died for Sinners,” and #105, “Hear the Voice of Jesus Calling,” were also written by Eddie. Incidentally, the authors names in the booklet are coded. Those in all capitals are written by professing people; those in initial caps are written by “outsiders.”
Have you missed an old favorite, “Cease Not to Praise God”? (#239 in the “old” book) We wonder if the reason it was not included in the 1987 edition was because of its reference to the Trinity in the chorus: “I will not cease to worship Him, my Savior and my God.” Another hymn, #6, “When I Survey,” has been changed slightly. Verse 2 now reads, “Save in the cross of Christ, my Lord.” #15 in the “old” book read, “Save in the cross of Christ, my God.” This was the original author’s wording. Neither of the original authors were professing.
#389 now only has 3 verses. It was #165 in the old book, and it is now missing verse 1: “As humbly we prepare/Our hearts to seek Thy face, Admitting Christ to dwell within, And save us by His grace.” The chorus of #40 in the “old” book reads: “…through His blood I now am saved.” #45 in our current book reads: “By His blood I am redeemed.” This modification required major changes in the original author’s wording in order to make it rhyme. Both these changes reflect more accurately our ‘saved by works’ doctrine and our lack of assurance of salvation now, respectively.
For those of you who have heard the history of “The Truth” already, yet refuse to believe it, here is information which may help clear your thinking.
What about George Walker, remembered by many of us with great fondness? Some say that he grew up in the fellowship, so it couldn’t have been started by William Irvine. According to the 1905 Workers List (the earliest Workers List in existence), George went out in 1899. Those of us who knew George and heard him preach, remember his story about his father telling him he wouldn’t last, that he would starve. His father certainly was not professing! George was raised a Methodist. At a funeral service for sister worker Ida Hawkins in March 1978, when he was 101 years old, he stated that he had made his choice around Easter time, 1898, “80 years ago.” (That would have been 1898, and he, 21 years old.) “On Easter Monday I met a man that told me of his desire to go as the disciples did. I could see that was the right way.” Who was the “man”? No doubt William Irvine. In a 1930 letter to an Alice Flett, Eddie Cooney wrote that “…I met William Irvine, through whom George Walker, William Carroll, Willie Gill and a number of the present leaders professed, including James Jardine…”
Mar. 24, 1942: On Christian Conventions letterhead, George Walker wrote to the Office of the Director of Selective Service, Washington, DC:
“…during the closing years of the last century and the first years of this century, a number of people in the British Isles and in America were exercised in heart and mind, through their study of the Scriptures, in regard to the methods of preaching and worship in the several churches of which they were then members. They were deeply concerned about spiritual things, and became fully convinced that there should be a return to the methods and purpose taught and carried out by Christ and His first disciples. This conviction led…to religious meetings, and in due time a number of these people went forth to devote their lives to the preaching of the Gospel.”
Friends, those are George Walker’s own words recording the time frame this fellowship began – at the turn of the last century. It has NOT continued down from the apostles through the workers, as we have been led to believe all our lives. Ask yourselves, why is this myth still being perpetuated in a fellowship known, of all things, as “The Truth”?
Some say that a “remnant” of this fellowship was preserved underground for a period of time and then was “restored” by William Irvine. Indeed, early Christians were severely persecuted and forced to go “underground” for a time. But no religious persecution had been going on for a couple of centuries before 1900. Why wouldn’t it have been “restored” far earlier? Why wait around til nearly the 20th century? Not one shred of evidence, nor a single person’s name, has come to light who was in this supposed “remnant” prior to the turn of the century.
God promised that His truth would be revealed to ALL generations. “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.” (Ps. 90:1) “One generation shall praise Thy work to another, and shall declare Thy mighty acts.” (Ps. 145:4) “Thy faithfulness is unto all generations…” (Ps. 119:90) Psalm after Psalm proclaim that His name will be remembered and praised in all generations. See also Luke 1:48-50. No generation would be skipped. That means God’s saving truth has been available to people of all generations, including all those before 1900.
Another rationalization we have heard is “I know it’s right because it works,” or “God wouldn’t have allowed this way to continue if it wasn’t His way.” Folks, that proves nothing. Many other groups “work” – Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, even Hinduism, Muslimism, and Buddhism. Some abuses, such as slavery, “work,” and lasted for centuries! Because a thing endures, doesn’t indicate God’s favor or preference, because He allows many things. “For He maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sendeth rain on the just and unjust.” (Matt. 5:45)
Some of you believe that William Irvine was a prophet to whom God gave a revelation. Irvine himself claimed to be a prophet. However, in the Bible, no prophet was self-appointed. God always took the initiative in calling a prophet. (Jer. 1:9, II Pet. 1:21) Besides, God’s true prophets were accurate in their prophecies! Claiming he had been divinely anointed to bring the last message of Jesus to the world before the end of the world, which he believed was to be in August, 1914, William Irvine went so far as to warn his friends all over the world to prepare for a great worldwide famine and drought, advising them to sell their farms and homes, and instead invest their money in fisheries, railroads, canneries, shipping, etc. Unfortunately, many of them followed his advice. According to the Scripture, any minister who prophesies the end of the world is a false prophet. Even the workers believe this. Irvine’s message did not line up with God’s Word. Jesus Himself announced the futility of speculating on the date of His return in Matt. 24:36. The Israelites asked in Deut. 18, “How may we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?” In His infinite wisdom, God anticipated future generations would also need to know the answer to this question. His answer is preserved in Deut. 18:21-22 and Jer. 28:9, “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously.” The test God gave is perfect and complete – no exceptions given. Time was, and is still, a false prophet’s worst enemy.
Now, how can William Irvine’s first message be the words of a true prophet and his later message the words of a false prophet? “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can a fig tree bear olive berries?” (James 3:12) Is there a single example in Scripture where a true prophet ever predicted that something would occur in his lifetime which did not actually come to pass? No. If a prophet uttered a false prophecy, wouldn’t that invalidate all his prophesies – put them all at risk? Wouldn’t that make him a false prophet? Of course! Our God is not “the author of confusion.” In Jeremiah 23:16, God says, “Hearken not unto the words of the [false] prophets…they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.” There are no exceptions made indicating that certain words of a prophet are to be attended, and others are not. In the light of Scripture like this, how can anyone think it would be God’s will for any of Irvine’s claims to be true?
William Irvine did what many others have done – predicted the end of the world and made false prophecies. How is he different from any other deluded religious zealot? Why does he deserve the status of a “prophet raised up” or a “man used of God”? If God had planned on raising up another prophet, nearly two thousand years after Christ, don’t you think this most definitely would have been recorded in the Bible? Instead, Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…” Friends, keep in mind verses like these: “…of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them; therefore watch.” (Acts 20:20) “And many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many.” (Matt. 24:11 and 24) In Rev. 2:2, Jesus warmly commended the church at Ephesus for testing those “who call themselves apostles and are not.” From these and other Scriptures, it would be wise for us to test men’s word against God’s Word.
Additionally, William Irvine, and many early workers, did not meet the criteria of James 1:26, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” In those early days, workers said hurtful and hateful things. “One young girl of 15 at a meeting rose to leave. ‘I saw the devil in that girl’s face, and the devil would not let her wait,’ said Mr. William Irvine most improperly.”(24) They regularly condemned people to hell, even naming them in meetings! “A ‘Tramp,’[early workers were called “tramp preachers”] illustrating some point, said that a certain neighbour woman had gone to hell. Her son demanded of the foul-mouthed fellow why he had done so. ‘Jesus Christ told me to do so,’ was the impudent reply.”(25) “Mr. Irvine…spoke of the clergy of all denominations in scathing terms and stated that in all ages the clergy were the marks of the devil…Hell is a place where every man will be made to serve God in the Jesus way.”(26) “There was the usual torrent of abusive talk, bristling with denunciation and everlasting torment…”(27) “Mr. Cooney is excellent as a spouter of damnation and hellfire, but when it comes to the love of God, and the tenderness of the Savior for mankind, Mr. Cooney appears to know nothing of it. He reiterates the statement which his hearers know so well, how he left his home about eleven years ago, and discovered the ‘Jesus’ way of preaching the gospel.”(28)
James 3:13, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” William Irvine was, basically, a product of his time and place. Founding this fellowship was his protest against the religious practices, social conditions and values of the late Victorian period in Britain. His style of preaching appealed to those who already had an anti-clerical attitude, and most of the early converts came from the north of Ireland. Now, the north of Ireland is noted for many things, but religious tolerance is not one of them! When Irvine attacked the clergy, they responded by preventing him from using church halls, so Irvine, becoming even more hostile, decided he was the only one right; therefore, his was the only right way.
Read the Irish newspaper (Impartial Reporter) articles and other various newspaper articles written during those early days on TellingTheTruth.info website at https://tellingthetruth.info/newspapers/newsprold.php.
Additional information is available, and a worldwide network of loving and supportive friends are able and anxious to help you. You have only to reach out to us …
Telling the Truth (TTT): www.tellingthetruth.info
Research & Information Services – http://www.workersect.org
Threshing Floor Ministries, P.O. Box 9899, Spokane, WA 99209
For any of you who are interested in serious Bible study, there is an international, interdenominational organization with excellent study methods, called Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). People of all faiths attend, and no monetary requests are made. The teaching is relaxed, but in depth. No pressure. http://www.bsfinternational.org
Our dear friends, please believe us when we say that we love this fellowship and all in it, both friends and workers alike, very much. (This letter is far from “hate mail.” Rather, it has been a labor of love.) We have appreciated your walk, your prayers, and your testimonies, as well as our years of fellowship with you. “The Truth” has much to commend it; there is much that is admirable about it. However, it is our earnest prayer that you will allow the words of Scripture to sink deep into your hearts and cause you to examine your beliefs and where your faith lies. May the Holy Spirit do His perfect work; apart from that, this letter can accomplish nothing.
Friends, would you censure us for this letter? Is telling the truth wrong? Because it hurts? Because it disrupts lives? “…these that have turned the world upside down are come hither, also.” (Acts 17:6) How can trying to rectify deception be wrong? “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” (Matt. 24:4-5) Perhaps this letter could remove the “bushel” under which Truth has been hiding for over a century. May real Truth now “give light unto all that are in the house.”
Before you would judge this letter for its impact, please judge for its content. We see eternal danger in continuing to believe in salvation by works instead of grace. “I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Gal. 2:21) “Of how much sorer punishment…shall he be thought worthy, who hath…counted the blood of the covenant…an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (NIV-insulted the Spirit of grace) (Heb. 10:29) And we see eternal danger in continuing to place our trust in a system, when it is Jesus alone who saves us.
If we have erred in any of our statements, please show your love for us by telling us where we are mistaken. You may contact us at any of the email or “snail mail” addresses noted in this letter. Thank you.
With love and caring,
Jeanie and Sam Dudley
NOTE: This letter is known as the Summer 1997 Letter
This Letter was mailed anonymously to about 3,500 Friends and Workers in 1997
Western USA & Canada letterhead, 1996
Title/signature pages of incorporation document for Alberta Society of Christian Assemblies, May 5, 1995. http://workersect.org/2x205rb.html
(1) Faith Mission letter dated 29 May 1991 signed by C.N. Peckham verifying William Irvine’s status as one of their workers from 1895 until his gradual secession. In Aug. 1901, their records indicate cognizance of a “movement that has been going on for a year or two. A number of young people are going out on quite independent lines…” In Sept. 1901, it was noted that “Pilgrim Irvine has been working on independent lines, chiefly in Ireland.” Also Impartial Reporter, Aug. 25, 1910, and Dec. 18, 1913.
(2) Extracts from Accounts of the Early Days” given by G. Pattison.
(3) 1905 Workers List.
(4) Impartial Reporter, Sept. 29, 1904, p. 8.
(5) Outline of the History of a Peculiar People from 1900-1931 by Alfred Magowan, p. 6.
(6) Ibid, pp. 8, 9. Also, The Secret Sect, p. 60-61.
(7) Edgar Hawkins, 1954 interview. The Secret Sect, p. 61.
(8) Irvine Weir, 1954 interview. Ibid, p. 61.
(9) June 16, 1952 obituary, The Press, Christchurch, NZ.
(10) Alfred Magowan, letter dated 9/11/53. The Secret Sect, p. 62.
(11) Carroll’s letters, pp. 120-123, Cooney’s Testimony, p. 115, Ibid, p. 63.
(12) Letter dated 29 June 1920 from W. Irvine to W. Carroll.
(13) R. Irwin, Enniskillen, interview, 1954. The Secret Sect, p. 65.
(14) The Secret Sect, pp. 65-66.
(15) A. Magowan, personal interview & communication, Nov. 1954. Also, Ibid, p. 69.
(16) Letter from Joe Kerr to Irvine Weir, 1955. Also Ibid, p. 71.
(17) E.C.’s testimony. Also Sara West, in her Statement About the Sect’s Origin: “I should mention here that William Irvine (deceased) professed through Rev. John McNeill (Presbyterian) Scotland some years before going forth to preach on apostolic lines.” (Ibid, p. 115)
(18) Forward Press, Summer 1994, Vol. 5, No. 2.
(19) Rogers, Arkansas, Convention, 1996.
(20) The Secret Sect, p. 19.
(21) Pulaski, Virginia, Convention, 1995.
(22) SOURCES, A Historian Looks at Jesus, by Paul Johnson, The Wilberforce Forum, A Division of Prison Fellowship, 1991. (P.O. Box 17500, Wash. DC 20041-0500).
(23) “God is Back,” Far Eastern Economic Review, June 6, 1996.
(24) Impartial Reporter, Jan. 22, 1903. (This Northern Irish newspaper is still in existence.)
(25) Ibid. Jan. 29, 1903.
(26) Ibid. July 18, 1907.
(27) Ibid. Aug. 5, 1909.
(28) Ibid. Aug. 15, 1909.
NOTE: The Secret Sect is out of print