Dear friends and workers,
It has now been over a year since I stopped attending meetings. I originally wrote this shortly after I left, but for various reasons put off sending it. Although it would be much easier for me to remain quiet, I would like to explain in case you may be concerned and confused as to why I left.
Please be assured that my love and faith in God is only growing stronger as I pray, read/study the Bible, and attend a strong biblically grounded church. I have in no way lost my salvation, but in fact have gained salvation and freedom in Christ, being confident in the knowledge that I am truly saved, not because of what I do, but because of what Christ did for me. I am happier than ever before. Now, nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to study and absorb God’s word.
I want you to know that it is with love and concern that I write this. Please read and consider, and I encourage you to read and examine God’s written word carefully. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11). (Note: Bible passages are in bold/italics and the New King James Version (NKJV) is used throughout, unless otherwise mentioned. Underlined emphasis is mine.)
There have been many issues that have concerned me in the last few years, but it was particularly in the first several months of 2021, that I began paying more careful attention to them. I realise that these concerns are already shared by some of you, and you have chosen to remain, but ultimately they caused me (after much prayerful consideration) to step away from this fellowship, as I felt that this was the only way I could grow spiritually. My main concerns are:
1. The common belief that this church is God’s only “way”. There are, in fact, many sects that also believe that they are God’s only true “way”. It became very clear to me in the mission/special meetings that this “way” was frequently said to be the “one true way”, that all other Christian churches are “false”, and that the workers are the only “true shepherds”.
As some may know by now, this church/fellowship did not originate with Jesus and His apostles on the shores of Galilee. Rather, it was started at the turn of the 20th century in Ireland by William Irvine utilising many methods and terminology of the Christian organisation “The Faith Mission”, in which he had been a missionary. Originally evangelical and non-sectarian in nature, the church became exclusive. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).Yes! He is the same… but this “way” or fellowship is not the same as it was when it was started, and it is not consistent throughout the world.
It is also generally believed that one must profess through the workers in order to even have a chance at being saved. But Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). Certainly, some are appointed to be evangelists, pastors, teachers etc. for the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4), but they are not required for salvation, which can only come through faith, repentance and belief in Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).
2. Workers are required to be homeless, unemployed and unmarried, which are linked to the conditions Jesus set for His twelve disciples in Matthew 10:5-10, when He gave specific instructions for His disciples for a particular mission to a particular place and time. It was to be a hasty trip. They were to proclaim that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (i.e. Jesus Himself was coming in person) only to the “lost sheep of Israel” (i.e. the Jews). He also told them to heal, cast out demons, take no money, spare clothing, or even sandals. In Luke 22:35-36 Jesus gave them a new mission, which required money, baggage etc. and instructions to preach the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:19). The conditions of Matthew 10 which the workers base their ministry on, implies that the workers are modern equivalents of the apostles, and therefore are the “miracle ministry”, with a monopoly on correct teaching, spiritual authority and salvation. This effectively dismisses and disqualifies any alternative Christian message and interpretation of scripture.
There is no evidence that the apostles/disciples were necessarily homeless and/or unmarried. In fact, some of them had wives and homes. Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever… (Mark 1:29-30). Also note in the last reference, they had just left the synagogue; Jesus evidently had no issue attending and teaching in a religious building. The apostles also taught in synagogues (in Acts), and only met in homes out of convenience, or to avoid persecution. Jesus never gave a specific command to meet in homes/hired buildings. And yet, permanent convention buildings have been constructed that are only used for a very short time each year. There are also many instances when disciples didn’t preach in pairs (eg. Paul, Peter and Philip often preached solo).
Regarding the requirement to remain unmarried upon entering the work: My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we have no right to eat and drink? 5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? (1 Corinthians 9:3-6). Paul also spoke of it being better not to marry in 1 Corinthians 7, but he didn’t make it a requirement; in fact, he said it was better to marry, than to end up committing sin.
The universal practice of “the church in the home” and “the preacher without a home” is not exclusively supported by scripture. Not to say that these practices are necessarily wrong, just that it is not the only way to hear or experience the Gospel.
3. Most importantly, it saddens me greatly that many friends and workers are unsure of their salvation, and rely on works (rules) and self-sacrifice. Salvation is not works-based. Adherence to certain expectations (eg. dress, meeting attendance, avoidance of “worldly things”) are like depending on the “Law” for salvation. If we fully believe in our salvation, we will love God, we will want to do his will, and “good works” will be a result, but they won’t “earn” us salvation. It clearly states in John that those who believe in Jesus, are saved and that is all the work that is required. As long as we continue to believe, and are guided by the Holy Spirit, our salvation is secure.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16-18).
Then they said to him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:28-29).
Salvation through Christ’s sacrifice is not emphasised enough. There is more emphasis on Him as a perfect example, a man who overcame sin. This creates an expectation that we also must strive to achieve something approaching perfection, and misrepresents the real reason that Jesus came down to Earth: To die on the cross, be buried and resurrected, in order to atone for the sins of those who believe in Him. It is because He is fully man/fully God, that He is perfect and sinless, and could therefore be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Because of our fallen sin nature, our best efforts at being righteous will never be good enough.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… (John 1:1&14).
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9).
In this context, grace is God’s unmerited favour to us through redemption by the blood of our saviour, Jesus Christ.
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3, NIV).
As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 12 …There is none who does good, no, not one…21But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness… 26 …that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:10-28).
…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:9&10).
I would also like to address James 2:14-26 which states that “faith without works is dead”. I quote:
James 2:14–26 is sometimes taken out of context in an attempt to create a works-based system of righteousness, but that is contrary to many other passages of Scripture. James is not saying that our works make us righteous before God but that real saving faith is demonstrated by good works. Works are not the cause of salvation; works are the evidence of salvation. Faith in Christ always results in good works. The person who claims to be a Christian but lives in willful [sic] disobedience to Christ has a false or dead faith and is not saved (https://www.gotquestions.org/faith-without-works-dead.html).
In summary, the realisation that the meetings are not the only true way (Jesus is the Way, and he alone can save us; Hymn #153), and the Gospel can be spread and practiced by anyone who chooses to believe in Him and His sacrifice, has been a wonderful revelation to me. Furthermore, the joy that comes from realising that I was saved when I believed on Him, and that His Holy Spirit will guide me, is liberating. I have also developed friendships and enjoy fellowship with other Christians, who I previously would have considered unsaved, which is further evidence of the extent of God’s love to all who believe.
My husband and I very much welcome contact anytime should you wish to discuss anything, or simply want to catch up. We’re thankful for the friendships we’ve had over the years, and for those whose friendships have continued.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen (2 Corinthians 13:14).
With love through Christ,
24th of September 2022
New King James Version Bible (NKJV)
New International Version Bible (NIV)
Preserving the Truth by Cherie Kropp-Ehrig