Not on Works of Man
There are so many thoughts crossing my mind that I am at a loss as to where to start. So I will start in the middle of my life. I was invited to the Gospel Meeting in a home, and eventually joined with them in regular Meeting.
My early contact with the Two-by-Twos was in some business dealings with them. I was impressed with the simplicity and sincere life they seemed to have. I noticed, of course, odd things that should have been enough warning as to the cult origins of the religion. This was between the time of the first Gospel Meeting and my first attendance at Fellowship Meeting. The seemingly mandatory style of life did not speak of the liberty that one should have in personal choices of a matter of conscience and understanding.
First, I will tell of my main reasons for leaving this religion. The purpose of evangelizing, to me, meant telling others not only how great God is, but making clear the purpose of Jesus’ brief stay on earth. I finally realized that most of the members, and those brought in (converted?), understood little or nothing of the free salvation offered to all by the Grace of God. The works we do in life are not payment for salvation, but our expression of thanks to God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They treat the Spirit as a power rather than a personality. It weighed heavily upon my conscience to be a part, and to support a ministry that just told interesting stories, and did not convey to the listeners the message from God of His wonderful Grace. Their message conveyed the thought that how we worshiped and the Two-by-Two form of religion were most important for salvation. This was definitely a “different Gospel” (1 Galatians 1:8-9.) than that which the apostle Paul taught. Perhaps the following will help the reader to understand the way the Gospel speaks to me.
Even though the true Gospel was not preached, I was impressed with the message spoken. Some years later I was asked by someone, after attending a number of Gospel Meetings, “When are they going to tell the Gospel?” I replied, “I don’t know.” Finally, I realized they never did, and likely never would. I also know now that they do not recognize the gospel as a message but rather as something to live by.
Recently I asked a man raised in this Way, and having preached for some twenty years, “What do you feel the gospel is?” He replied, “The life and teaching of Jesus.” While this may be partly true, it is hardly a satisfactory answer from an Ex-Worker. Granted, this is a dictionary definition, but any doubts as to the meaning as used in the Bible are cleared up by examining the following (and many other) Scriptures. Matthew 4:23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” Luke 7:22, “Then Jesus answering said, unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.”
Jesus’ life and teaching were all under and fully linked with, the Mosaic law. He fulfilled the older and introduced the new. The Gospel is the message (delivered by the Saviour Himself) — which some accept and others reject.
I told him what I thought the Gospel is, but he hardly gave notice to my explanation. Essentially what I said was: the Gospel is the “new” good news, unknown before Jesus came to earth.
1. God’s invitation is extended to all in this world with no pre-existing requirements; to enter His Kingdom.
2. Jesus became a sacrifice for us — removing the guilt of sin in our lives; through the crucifixion.
3. Salvation comes not of our works, but is a free gift to those who have accepted his offer to become a child within His Kingdom.
While the above can be expanded upon, we can here see the love, mercy, grace, forgiveness and impartiality of God.
The record of the thief on the cross is an example of the Gospel in its simplest form. This man had to know something about Jesus to make the statement to the other thief: “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” To Jesus he then said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”
And Jesus said to him, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
This man accepted Jesus as Lord, Jesus forgave his sins, and eternal life was his that very day. Here we have the three parts of the Gospel spelled out for us, The man knew nothing of requirements that modern religions would place on salvation and had no opportunity to do any works whatsoever. It is still that simple, but we, because of the love shown by God, should be more than willing to live lives that honor Him.
Many Workers (and likely most Friends) today consider the gospel as that which prepares a person to enter the Kingdom of God, rather than the invitation to enter the Kingdom, good news of forgiveness, and free salvation.
Some of the hymns in Hymns Old and New (the Two-by-Two hymnal) speak of the cost and effort to obtain salvation. Sacrifice and obedience is stressed. This matter is so important, I’ll quote a few of the many Bible verses referring to God’s gifts. A gift is not earned. If it were, we could never have the promised salvation. Accepting the invitation. into His Kingdom brings the blessing of gifts.
Romans 5:15, 18 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. 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, bath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Ephesians 2: 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Romans 6: 22-23 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The constant emphasis in the Two-by-Two religion is how this group’s way of worship and service is patterned after the “New Testament example” (the Twelve being sent by twos, etc.) However, upon studying the Bible, I find little support for this. The Bible shows that at least some of the twelve apostles were married and had homes, and there is no indication they sold their possessions. No indication that there was a rule for preachers going forth in twos, except when Jesus sent them on special assignments to the Israelites only. The Workers today certainly do not begin to comply with those stringent instructions. Paul spoke of receiving wages and also working at a trade. As for Meeting in homes only, Paul’s statement in II Corinthians 11:22 would not be appropriate for a person as well educated as Paul. The wording indicates they were not Meeting in a home. It was emphasized also the only place for the communion of the Lord’s supper is in the home.
We weren’t told the Two-by-Twos originally built portable Meeting Houses and that the Home Meeting were not approved until 1908, after the sect’s beginning in 1897. Originally, all Two-by-Twos were to sell all and preach. Luke 14:33 “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he bath, he cannot be my disciple,” was interpreted as a requirement to sell all earthly possessions. No explanation is given by the Workers for having the communion at Conventions in other parts of the world. (A number of small loaves are used.) They also emphasized how there was a unity of thought throughout the world because all were taught by the same spirit. Later I found not only widely differing teachings but also much change since the beginning in 1897.
They have consistently held, down through the past nine decades, that one must hear the Gospel (theirs) from one of their Workers, or you will not be saved. I have yet to receive an answer to the question of how their first Worker got saved without prior Worker. In the early years of this group, it readily admitted and proudly stated that William Irvine was its founder.
In February of 1995, I was glad for an opportunity to discuss many things with Workers regarding the Two-by-Two religion. One question I asked was how they determine which instructions (of Jesus) are now binding and which are not.
They replied, “That which was followed by the apostles later,” and “What right do we have to do these things any different?”
This raises some interesting questions we did not pursue. Obviously, they themselves do not follow all the examples of Jesus and of His apostles. It seems the portions they single out are like law, and any violation of following their choice is wrong. I tried to point out that we are now under the law of love and guided by the Holy Spirit, and how we serve may vary from generation to generation. It seems they cannot comprehend that anyone would disagree with their view that the form of worship is a requirement of salvation.
The Workers also informed me that they thought I never had the same spirit as themselves, right from the start. This is all too true, and I’ve now learned this is true of many who have left the Two-by-Twos. The reason is obvious. If a person questions and demands Scriptural or logical (true) reasons, he or she is marked. Members are expected to accept the Workers word most everything. One Worker stated from the platform in Gilroy (a California convention) that if a person had views that differed from that of the Workers it would be best for that one to refrain from expressing their views. (Questions are not really appreciated if they are about support for their doctrine!)
I fully expect any who have made a choice to rely wholly on the sacrifice of Jesus for salvation to have the same relationship with our Saviour as I. I rest my own hope upon the promises made by Jesus. It does seem a very serious situation to remain in the Two-by-Twos when the Workers teach salvation rests in themselves as mediators. How can a person be comfortable supporting a ministry that “preaches a different gospel” and means of salvation, other than that which is taught in the Scripture? If a person is aware of the many false teachings within the Two-by-Two ministry, that becomes a very disturbing factor in itself.
Things that troubled me most over the years were:
1. The implication that salvation was only for those within this group. Explicitly upheld in the beginning, but is now usually implied, and definitely upheld in private conversations.
2. That this way was referred to as “The Truth” and “The Way,” using the words as proper names meaning exclusively only this group of followers. Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.” Yet, the Workers claim you must come to God by them!
3. That the True People of God were only those accepting and following the teaching of this group of preachers.
4. That Workers, exclusively, are the Only Sent Ones of God (those succeeding William Irvine).
5. That there was little or no mention of free salvation by the Grace of God.
Secondary troubling aspects were:
1. Their unorthodox and unscriptural use of words and phrases.
“THE TRUTH” meant themselves — not “without error,” as generally used and explained by the dictionary — or sometimes it meant the message only as preached by them with any other preaching being from the devil himself.
“PROFESSING” meant taking part in their Meeting —not claiming to be a child of God.
“THE WAY” meant the method established by them for Meeting, worship, and preaching, none of which is validly based on Scripture.
“THE MESSAGE OF JESUS” is only the Gospel if delivered by one of their ministers.
Representing the erroneous beliefs of others as being the norm for all Outsiders.
Belittling the Scriptural understanding of Outsiders.
Accusing Outsiders of ulterior motives.
Maintaining that they could know what others were thinking, and erroneously accusing them.
Calling Wednesday Night Meeting a Bible Study when there is no studying together, just comments or Testimonies.
Representing their own going forth as Jesus sent the twelve — just compare their ministry with each one of the statements Jesus made in sending forth the twelve.
3. Mis-use of Scripture:
Taking out-of-context Bible statements and using them to uphold themselves, e.g.: saved by preaching, no salary, and Jesus speaking of the hireling as one with a salary, when He explains it as one not owning the sheep.
Using a phrase or hard to understand portion of scripture to uphold teaching. e.g.: women’s hair, foolishness of preaching etc.
4. General attitude:
The shunning of private discussion coupled with unwillingness to seriously examine scripture. “Just come to Meeting!”
No discussion of religion when together as friends, even though they appear to be devout. This of course is contrary to what we see in the early Church.
One of superiority.
Even though money is taken in by the Workers, by perhaps many millions, no accounting is ever given as to how the money is spent. Workers do have access to monies held under others’ names and control how it is spent. Also, some in the past have had the accounts in their own names — this, while claiming to be going forth as the twelve, who could not even accept money! (The special assignment as in Matthew 10 is, they teach, an example to be followed for ministers today — like law.)
Meeting of Workers and sometimes, a select few only, to decide issues amongst themselves as to doctrine and methods, then not telling the members of their decisions. Most members know little or nothing of many past decisions.
While the above characteristics are not confined to this group, the conditions for this are fostered by the very nature of the group’s basic attitudes and teaching.
1. Members are advised, or at least encouraged, to not study and discuss general beliefs and practices together. Such studies require the prior approval of the Workers.
2. There really is no meaningful discussion in gatherings together at any social affair (e.g.: In homes, group dinners, picnics, etc.)
3. Members are actually advised not to read anything of an enlightening nature relating to this group; its origin or past history.
4. Members are to avoid discussing with others these things in any depth, but rather advise 5. Outsiders to contact the Workers or “come to Meeting.”
These practices definitely keep members in the dark and automatically deny them the freedom to which they are entitled.
Not long ago I discussed, with a very prominent Worker, if it was possible to be saved by reading the Bible. He said, “If one could be saved by reading, there would be no need of preachers.” The irony of this is that this represents the means by which the Two-by-Two group began. I asked how the first Worker got saved. He replied, “That’s a good question.” His answer ties in with their refusal to acknowledge the truth that their religion was started within the Faith Mission by William Irvine in 1897.
An older Worker from Ireland, speaking at a Gilroy Convention some 25 or 30 years ago, told of the beginning. (His story is verified by other accounts.) He stated that Mr. Irvine (a “Faith Mission” minister) and his companion (yes going in pairs), a Mr. Long, in reading Matthew 10 decided to try going forth without support from headquarters. Irvine was a powerful speaker and very demanding. He later referred to it as an experiment! *
Irvine resigned from the Faith Mission, with which he was affiliated, about three years after his start (he was a superintendent at the time). And about three years later the doctrine of being saved only by hearing him — or a preacher descended from him — was established. This teaching has survived to the present time. Many were removed from the Work because of not being willing to support the heresy. In fact there was a great upheaval because of this “Living Witness Doctrine” after the decree took effect. In 33 years of hearing Workers’ messages, I’ve not heard one express disagreement with this teaching. I believe, however, that some Workers do not agree, and I know for sure some members do not.
The one thought that became unbearable for me was that I was supporting this false system that was teaching a Way to heaven that was not according to Scripture and instilling within the minds of most that other Christians were going to be lost because of not aligning with the Two-by-Twos — a judgment that, as Jesus made so clear, is wholly unacceptable. Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:2 “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Paul also spoke extensively of being saved not of works, but by the Grace of God through Faith. Galatians 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.”
The really difficult part was the choice to break with the group, knowing full well how I would be rejected and that I would be misrepresented to others as a result. Conscience finally won, and the decision was made. I recognize it is extremely difficult to renounce one’s commitment to friends and established relationships and religious beliefs. This is a part of our human nature. However, true friends will respect your choice and remain friends.
I love these people dearly and wish so to help any. However, efforts to help are not readily accepted, and I am not spoken well of — even said to be going to a 1ost eternity as a result of leaving this group. As an example of the above, one who quit going to Meeting told me that after asking why the Workers didn’t come to talk; she was told: “You are a prodigal” (outside the kingdom!). The attitude expressed by Workers is that you have left “God’s Only True Way,” and it’s up to you to return for forgiveness. Yes, you will be accepted, not because of having accepted Jesus, but rather for having accepted them as the only entrance to God’s Kingdom,
My Father asked Workers if he would be accepted as he was, and the answer was “No, he had to accept the Workers as God’s only true sent ministers.” This simply meant salvation was based on this acceptance. This was much too disturbing to my Mother, who had been going to Fellowship Meeting for some time, and she never attended another Fellowship Meeting. I continued going longer than I should have. It has been six years since I attended a Meeting.
The relief is tremendous, but I see in others and by what is presented at funeral services (which I do attend), that the same false teaching is still being presented with apparent full acceptance by most.
The proof of being right which they offer is based on the close friendship with one another — not adherence to Bible teaching.
No pamphlets or books exposing this group had been read by myself before leaving the group, so my decision to leave was purely motivated by what I observed.
Here is a partial list of changes that should, in my estimation, be made before the group would be a satisfactory group with which to meet.
Claiming an unbroken ministry from the original apostles.
Claiming that the ministers are mediators between man and God.
Saying salvation is only through themselves (i.e., the Workers).
Calling this fellowship the “Truth” or “The Truth and The Way”.
Referring to the Gospel as only their message instead of being the message of Jesus.
Controlling by intimidation.
Using secrecy in financial situations.
Claiming to be going forth as Jesus sent the 12 and the 70.
Do the following:
Accepting others who follow Jesus’ teachings in a sincere effort, as brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus.
Proclaim Jesus as both God and Lord.
Restore the Elders to authority in Church matters.
Allow individual freedom of choice in matters of dress and style.
Have genuine Bible studies.
Encourage all to seek truth as to the past of this or any group, and read about or listen to any dissatisfied person, and those who may have left the Two-by-Twos.
Recognize there are others outside their group who are Professing Christians.
Contact those leaving and make a genuine effort to understand the reason—consider their viewpoint.
There are many of today’s churches that meet the above requirements.
I’m asked quite often “What do you have to offer?’ The above should answer that question — Just simple Christianity.
My own testimony as to my hope of salvation is quite simple. I understood making Jesus my guide, and that He was my Savior at an early age. His atonement was a substitute for me. My commitment was made in my heart, and as promised — even in the Old Testament — His guiding message has been written upon my heart. In spite of my many failures and mistakes, He is always faithful to help me to do right. My basic guidance is the law of love and I am fully relying upon promise of free salvation, and that His going to cross makes atonement for me.
My parents had never heard of this group while I was growing up. They taught my brother, sister and myself that we should be guided by the principles taught by Jesus. We never considered our salvation was something for which we were to work. This is commonly referred to as legalism (rules that must be observed to obtain salvation; example: how or where we meet, manner of dress, how Meetings are conducted, and a host of other “rules”). It was clear that God promised to write upon our hearts what is necessary when we are born into His family. The new liar starts at birth, not before as the Workers would have you believe. That’s not saying God doesn’t work with us before that time.
I am not going to any Meeting now due to the circumstances prevailing at present. If the time comes that I can, I would not want to be a part of some group whose identity and religious beliefs reside in the name they go by, or a group who are subject to the administrative policies of an organization. The freedom of every individual must be recognized, and salvation must rest on the sacrifice of Jesus; It is certainly not necessary nor possible for all to think alike on all subjects, but we can agree on from where our help and salvation comes.
I am extremely pleased to have regained my liberty in Jesus and enjoy talking about the Kingdom with others who value the Grace of God.
By Darrell C. Mansur (deceased)
(written sometime before 1996)
*Possibly after Doug Parker’s pamphlet A Spiritual Fraud was distributed in 1954