Tag: Recent

Can the Parable of Ten Virgins be related to the Parable of the Sower?

Question:

Shalom sir

I just finished studying your article titled Be ye Fruitful , in which you explain about the four types of ground where the seed of the sower fell into (Matthew 13: 3-9). I also read Brother Richard Gan’s message on the Ten Virgins. I want to ask, what “grounds” out of the four can we say the foolish virgins fall into?


Response

Dear brother,

It is important to understand that a parable is a story with a specific theme used to illustrate a truth. So, wherever we see a parable in Scripture we must first recognise its theme and the truth it intends to convey.

The application of a parable is always restricted to its theme. The failure to comprehend this has made some theologians stretch interpretations into exaggerations. That is the case with one well known organisation whose leaders have explained that the “wise virgins” of Matthew 25:1-13 do not to refer to the “Bride”. It is explained that in this parable the ten bridesmaids are escorting the bride and therefore can’t refer to the Bride of Christ. The Bride of Christ is said to be that small number of 144,000 of Revelation Chapter 7. It is further believed and taught that these 144,000 are the only people that will be given the priviledge to go to heaven; the rest of believers will only live on earth. Then they move to Matthew 22:1-14 to further emphasise that “the king” had invited guests to the marriage feast of his son. Here again it is assumed that the bride to the king’s son is what referred to the selected few and  all other Christians are the ones invited to the feast! All such strange interpretations arise from stretching parables beyond their theme.

Parable of Ten Virgins (Mat. 25:1-13)

We must ask ourselves this: When we look at the parable of ten virgins, what is the theme of the story? What is the message that was intended to be communicated? The message or theme of the parable can easily be found in the last words of admonishment the Lord said after telling it – “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Mat.25:13). So the Lord wanted to tell us about the importance of being always ready and he decided to use an illustration of a wedding. But a wedding has so many activities and different players: there is the groom, the bride, the bridesmaids, the friend of the bridegroom, the parents presenting the bride, etcetera. The Lord had to pick characters and activities that were appropriate for the message He wanted to convey. He decided to use bridesmaids and there was a good reason for that.

In the parable bridesmaids were called virgins. Here it is important to know that Jesus was not an American or European. He lived in that oriental (middle-eastern) region of the world and so his manner of language and illustrations were of that world. In the oriental weddings bridesmaids were unmarried young women. And as Brother Richard Gan has explained in detail, in THE FINALE,  “At an appointed time, these maidens were supposed to go forth and receive the bridegroom in his procession to the bride’s home… As it was usually conducted in the evening, lights were needed” (p.50). It is here where we can see that the Lord chose bridesmaids to emphasise the importance of being ready for the “appointed time”! Thus, the theme of the parable is not about the identity of the bride or the feasting during the event; those things are completely silent in the parable because the parable’s message is not about them! The parable is about readiness to meet the Bridegroom!

Parable of the Marriage Feast (Mat.22:1-14)

A simple reading of Matthew 22:1-14 shows that the parable is not about the king’s son or bride. The parable is about an invitation to a wedding feast; a wedding feast which some people despised to attend and others attended, and out of those who attended some were accepted (“chosen”) and others rejected for dressing inappropriately. The Lord concluded the narration of the parable by admonishing with these words, “For many are called, but few are chosen”.

The Parable of the Sower and the Seed (Mat.13:1-23)

The theme of the parable of the sower and the seed is about the different ways people hear the Word of God and why some people prosper in their hearing and others do not. In speaking the parable the Lord explained, “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side… But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (v.18-23). This parable applies to “any one [that] heareth the Word of the Kingdom”. That “any one” lived in the days of the Lord Jesus, in the days of the early church, or through the Church Ages. That “any one” could be a brother or sister in a local church. While it may be correct to say that the Foolish Virgins are not “he that received seed into the good ground” (v.23), to now find the specific category of the three other grounds they may belong to becomes a futile exercise because the theme of the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins is not about hearing but about readiness to meet the Bridegroom! The analogies in the two parables are simply too incongruent to be related.

“What does it mean to come to ‘the unity of the faith?'”

This question is clearly drawn from Ephesians 4:13 which says, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

First it is important to note from this verse that IT IS NOT different faiths that will get united but “we”, the people of God, who shall come into the unity of the Faith. The Faith is already ‘united’, so to speak, for  “There is…one Faith” (Eph.4:4-5)! However, it is the carnal mind of man that always hinders the full expression of that Faith. It is the carnal ideas and doctrines of man that have always distorted the right perception of “the knowledge of the Son of God”.  The “knowledge of the Son of God” has always been complete and perfect but ours is a world of imperfect minds trying to  grasp  the perfect knowledge of God. From time to time carnal ideas distort the right perception of the Truth. It is for this reason that people have conjectured different interpretations of Scripture. To correctly perceive Truth one has to be led by the Spirit!

Spiritual people die daily to their flesh and thus continually get filled with the Spirit (1 Cor.15:31). The Spirit guides them into all Truth (Joh.16:13). That Truth is the knowledge or Word of God. As we look into the mirror of that Word, we continually get transformed – “with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor.3:18).

All who are on this path of dying to self, and letting the Spirit of Christ fill them, will one day grow “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (2 Cor.3:18).  When that is accomplished, the divisions which came by carnality would be overcome because we would all be dead to every carnal idea or thought. Thus, the Unity of the Faith can only be a work of the Holy Spirit; No council of men, or  a group of ministers trying to rally behind one man, can ever produce it!

“Is Brother Ewald Frank ‘the wise and faithful servant’ of Matthew 24:45?”

It is alright for a preacher to identify himself as “faithful and wise servant” of Matthew 24:45, but to think and say that the Lord was prophesying about one man who would one day rise as “the faithful and wise servant” is in every way false. Furthermore, to teach that the faithful servant is the head over other servants of God because of these words –  “his lord hath made ruler over his household” (v.45) –  is a gross misinterpretation of Scripture!

When interpretation of Scripture veers out of context confusion begins where there should have been none.  When we look at how simple the parable of Matthew 24:45-51, and the obvious meaning of the phrase “fellowservants” in the passage, one wonders how such a strange doctrine rose from the Scripture.

Matthew 24:45-51 was a simple parable which the Lord spoke and was also recorded by Mark and Luke. The manner in which the parable was narrated indicates that it was not a prophecy but an illustration of a quintessential good servant or evil servant. The Lord begins by asking, “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?” (v.45). In these words he asked a question and indicated that a good servant ought to give his household meat in due season. He went further to state that “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (v.46). Now, do you notice that if this were a prophecy of a certain individual to rise in this endtime, the words in Matthew 24:46 mean that the person should be alive until the coming of the Lord Jesus? Apart from that the prophecy further implies that the faithful and wise servant will eventually turn  into an evil servant who shall begin fighting his fellows servants  – “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him” (v.50). But we are certain that this isn’t foretelling the future of any individual because prophecy is never phrased with such “if” parabolic conditions. When this parable is read from the record of Luke, it is quite clear that the “wise servant” and “evil servant” are not two persons but actually referring to one person who may become evil – “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing… But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him” (Luk.12:42-45).

Now notice that the evil servant smites his “fellowservants”! The word “fellow” indicates that he is not the only special one; he is one among other fellows. This even becomes more conspicuous when we read the record of the same parable by Mark. Mark wrote: “For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch” (Mar.13:33-37). Yes, servants of God have one authority, the Word of God!

An important question to ask at this point is this: What is the origin of ‘The Wise-Servant’ doctrine?

Whence came ‘The Wise-Servant’ Doctrine?

A false doctrine can arise out of a misinterpreted scripture or spiritual experience. The wise-servant doctrine arose from what I believe was a true spiritual experience.

Brother Ewald Frank once had a wonderful experience. God spoke to him to store the food because a draught was coming. When brother Branham met him, he told him both the experience and its interpretation. The food was the Message which was to be stored. After Brother Branham died, Brother Frank surely played an important role in ensuring that the Message be put in print form. However, God telling him to store the food because of the coming famine doesn’t mean he was the only one tasked with the responsibility. This is evident in the following words of Brother Branham’s prayer in the message, CHRIST IS THE MYSTERY OF GOD REVEALED (63-0728):

Bless our dear beloved pastor [Bro. Neville], the shepherd. We pray that you’ll anoint him with the Holy Spirit of Thy Word and reveal to them and feed the flock. Once, just a while ago when you showed the vision, the little tabernacle here . . . but to store up the food; that there would come a time when this would all be needed. When we seen Brother Sothmann and Brother Woods ready to cross over into another country to. . . But you said, “Store up this food here for the time.” Lord, reverently I’ve tried to do that.

If brother Neville would have let pride to get a hold of him, he would have started an agenda of proclaiming, “I am the one to feed the flock because the prophet said, ‘Feed the flock’”. It is important to always remember that whenever a thought or idea veers off from context misinterpretation follows and confusion occurs where there should have been none! In all this it is still interesting to note that the prophet had indicated what was the storehouse of the ‘food’ – not in Germany but Jeffersonville Indiana. Here is what he said in the message TAKING SIDES WITH JESUS (62-0601):

You remember what that dream that I got the interpretation was. “Go back and store up food.” Where was the store house? this tabernacle… And here’s where the food’s been stored up.

Who can deny that in terms of the distribution of printed sermons of William Branham, Voice of God Recordings (in Jeffersonville Indiana) has done more than all efforts of other ministries put together? We may disagree with beliefs that come out of the Branham Tabernacle or Voice of God Recordings, but no one can deny that they are the main vehicles through which Brother Branham’s messages have been stored and distributed.

But, What really constitutes the ‘food’?

What really is the “meat in due season” that a faithful servant of God ought to give to his household? Is it merely repeating the messages of William Branham on the tapes, or reading the Spoken Word books? Does the giving out of the food mean  repeatitively sharing a testimony of what God did when His prophet was here?

We know that all prophets of the Old Testament pointed to the coming of the full manifestation of the Word in Christ. But after Christ came, taught and asecended to heaven, did the apostles go round only repeating word for word what Christ the ‘full word’ had taught? Was Peter’s mission to keep emphasising how he was the one given the keys to open the kingdom of heaven? Was that the ‘food’? Not so. In the epistles we find much more than Jesus taught, not because the Lord was not the full Word but, because the life of the Word was still present among them. Likewise, one can read a Spoken Word book but without inspiration his soul will still starve of the real food. The actual food is not the spoken or written words of William Branham but what the Spirit speaks through those words! Thus, without the Spirit one can listen to tapes but still not eat of that food which can sustain his or her present need. That food can only proceed from the mouth of God and only he that hath an ear to hear the Spirit can truly hear! God uses his servants to bring out this timely food. It is the meat in due season! It is not food taken from a microwave of a library. Thus, “every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old” (Mat.13:52).

In conclusion, let it be clear that there are only Seven Church Ages. To lift one man in this endtime as the successor of the Seventh Church Age messenger will land us into ‘Revelation Chapter 23’! May we therefore give heed to the admonition of saint Paul –  “that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another” (1 Cor.4:6).

Testimony of Uganda Visit

On 11th January I received a call from Brother Akpan Nice, asking me to go with him to Uganda. He had received a word of prophecy from a sister in the congregation concerning the need to visit the country. I told brother Nice that I was still saving up money for the air-ticket cost for my April visit to Asia and so I could not afford going to Uganda by flight (Going by road was not an option as it would require me to apply for leave days from my work. It takes about four days to travel by road to Kampala and another four days for returning. Adding the three days I was supposed to be in Uganda would require me to use up about 11 of my leave days; days which will be so much needed for the Asian itinerary). When brother Nice insisted that he would pay my way, I realised the importance of the visit. I decided to set some time in prayer and fasting to seek the Lord’s will and guidance over the matter.

On the second day of my fast when I reached home from work, I went into the bedroom to have some time of prayer and reading the Word. This was on 16th January, 2019. As I prayed a verse of Scripture dropped into my heart – “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” ( Isa. 55:11). The word “prosper” got my attention. I stopped praying and began to meditate on how God’s word can be accomplished in someone’s life but yet not prosper in the thing for which it was sent! I was led to read through the book of Ezra to see how the prophecies of Jeremiah (29:10) and Daniel (9:25) got accomplished and prospered. Furthermore various events in the book of Ezra were a good type of difficulties that the five-fold ministry is currently going through in building the ‘house of God’.

After writing the thoughts I continued praying. In my prayer that late afternoon I kept supplicating saying, “Lord, let your Word prosper in the thing for which you sent it for in Uganda”.

After an hour of praying, I received the following text message from Sister Bree in USA:

I wanted you to know I am in prayer for you and the trips you are about to take the end of the month. I have set aside some time of prayer and fasting to that end. I pray the Lord will prosper His Word and encourage believers as well as call His elected to repentance while there is still time!

My heart was uplifted when I saw those words – “I pray the Lord will prosper His Word”. When I told her about the experience I had that afternoon concerning Isaiah 53:11, Sister Bree asked: “Are you aware that Brother Nice is this very minute using those same scriptures in his message? I’m watching him over YouTube.” Well, the Lord confirms his speaking to us in various ways and I could see the leading of the Lord in it all.

I flew to Uganda on 30th January, arriving there around 01:00 AM the following day, on Thursday. Brothers Charles Obwoon and Joshua Nice received me at Entebbe Airport. (Brother Joshua Nice, Brother Nice’s young brother who is also a minister of the Word, had arrived earlier in the week with brothers Akpan Nice and Christian Uzoukwu).

Left to Right: Brothers Akpan B. Nice, Joshua Akpan Nice, Andrew C. Phiri, Christian Uzoukwu, Charles Obwoon

I was taken to stay with the family of brother Ambrose Omal.

The Word confirmed with Visions & Dreams

On Wednesday, the day before my arrival, I was told of a great service the believers had when Brother Christian Uzoukwu  had ministered. A vision had been given to a sister during the service. On 1st February, I was scheduled to preach in the evening service. I took the believers through the book of Ezra, looking at types of what the Church of Christ is going through today.

It was an atmosphere filled with the joy of the Lord and a positive reception of the Word being ministered.

At the end of the service I kept hearing local ministers excitedly saying “It’s a Gideon-anointing!” I didn’t understand that until Brother Ambrose excitedly started narrating to me about a dream he had in 2018:

I had a dream the night of 30 – 1st of May 2018… It looked like I was attending a convention or crusade in a place I didn’t know and I realised it was pastor Andy of Ghana who was preaching but I was the one reading the scriptures on his behalf and then as it was going on Pastor Andy gave me a letter which was sent by Pastor Tay of Ghana to the congregation, and he gave me the letter to read to the congregation. I opened and I started reading. The only words I remember were:  “CONTINUE TEACHING THE PEOPLE ABOUT THE BOOK OF EZRA”. And then the spirit moved me to another place and I found the foundation of the church…was being dug and the workers were digging the foundation pits. I stood right there inside the foundation and the voice spoke to me saying, “GIDEON IS COMING”. The voice repeated, “GIDEON IS COMING”. I pointed my figure right inside one of the pits and drilled the pit with my finger like it was drilling machine. And then the spirit took me to another place which looked like it was a sugarcane farm. The farm was well fenced and I realised it was my cousin brother’s late farm. I entered the farm but there was no one inside. I saw nice and well maintained sugarcane plants all over, with no unkempt grass. There were only special and unique species of sugarcane that I have never seen before! So I toured the whole farm and as I was coming back through the same gate where I passed while entering I saw an armed soldier approaching me. He asked, “Who are you?”  I had a metallic sword in my hand that looked to have been made of aluminium steel. I replied to him that I am the brother of the owner of the farm and he said, “okay, fine, I thought you are an intruder”. He started conversing with me normally…escorted me to the gate and I realised they were two armed men. Then I woke up in the dream. As I was laying on my bed meditating  about the dream all of sudden I was caught up in a trance or vision… again the voice clearly spoke to me and said in two different languages, English and Kiswahili, saying “CATCH THE REVELATION, MAWOMBI”. Meaning, catch the revelation and pray. I woke up. Straight way I called my pastor and narrated to him this dream.

Yes, I taught through the book of Ezra showing the believers three troubles that have hindered the building of the ‘house of God’ – the Samaritans, false unity, and claims of one-man ministries. For the constraint of time, I could only

teach on the first two things. When brother Nice on 2nd February ministered, his message was “A good song sung Wrongly” and it hit so hard against claims of some ministries to have succeeded the Seventh Church Age messenger’s ministry. Brother Nice began his message by admonishing believers against the FEAR to stand up against error. It was such an anointed service and I knew that that was ‘Gideon’ speaking to them. We read in the Bible how Gideon separated fearful men from the brave ones who were truly ready to fight! My spirit rejoiced at the working of the Holy Spirit because on the previous day, unknown to brother Nice, brother Ambrose had shared to me a dream which exactly confirmed the message brother Nice preached! It was so uplifting to know that God was in our midst.

I took up the Sunday morning service and the joy of the Lord continued in our hearts. At one point as I preached I saw a brother in the audience looking awestruck as he listened with great attention. He then puzzledly exclaimed, “I can’t believe this!

From the pulpit I straightway left for the airport after bidding each other farewell with Brother Nice. I felt sad parting with him and the other ministers, leaving them on the field. On the way to the airport I asked brother Patrick (who was driving me to the airport) to stop the car so I could have a sight and take a photo of Lake Victoria. It is the largest lake in Africa and chief reservoir of River Nile. It lies mainly in Tanzania and Uganda but also borders on Kenya.

I wait to hear more testimonies of God’s grace for the remaining itinerary. I am now preparing for Asia. We earnestly covet your prayers. From Asia there is another call to visit Malawi and Nigeria. We can only pray that God’s grace may lead us. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev.22:17).


Letters 

We continue to receive letters of testimonies of the Uganda meetings. My sincere thanks goes to Pastor Charles Obwoon who received and kept us. Heartfelt thanks to brother and sister Omal who accomodated me in their house.

8 Feb 2019 10:53 am

Shalom my precious brother.

I want to register my sincere thanks to you for accepting to follow  the  leading of the Lord for you to pay us a visit one Kampala.  Though, it was rather a very short visit, it was very sweet and I and the church  were specially  blessed by your humble ministry.  

It left sweet memories and I trust God will grant us another opportunity to fellowship together.  
Best regards 
God bless you richly. 
Brother Charles Obwoon 
4 Feb 2019 9:23 am
Hello Pastor Andrew,
God bless you .
Did you reach back home safely ?
I was blessed for the great ministry the lord has given you.
My soul was delivered and my eyes opened to see deeper spiritual things .
May my God I serve and keep taking you around the world delivering his children from bondages.
Best Regards 
OG

Sermons preached in Uganda

The following were the sermons preached by brother A Phiri (Troubles of the Ministry & Through the Fire) and brother A Nice (A good song sung wrongly):

Troubles of the Ministry

A good Song sung Wrongly

Through the Fire

Question: Does Ezekiel 16:11-14 permit women to wear earrings and adornments?

Response:

Dear brother,

The counsel of God is perfect. What God requires of us is and will always be right. However, time and again man always drifts from the original plan or perfect will of God. An example of this is how man started engaging in divorce. Divorce was never part of God’s perfect will but because of the hardness of man’s heart He permitted it. When God permits something, even a vain thing that is unprofitable to man, it is in hope of something better to come, and also for eyes of man to see and learn. “For the creature”, Paul writes, “was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope” (Rom.8:20). It is for this reason that although God knew about the imperfectness of the Old Testament Law He still let it take full course. He permitted the Law of Moses so “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God(Rom.3:19). The Law was to show man that even when he knew the good thing to do he was insufficient to perform true righteousness (Rom.7:19).

Look at David. He had many wives. We know that God is not the author of polygamy. Polygamy is adultery! For “they twain shall be one flesh… they are no more twain, but one flesh” (Mat.19:1-8). But, how could God say to David, “And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom…and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things”? (2 Sam.12:8-9). Does this sentence really mean that God sanctioned the polygamous marriage of King David? How about the scripture which says God had put a lying spirit in Ahab’s prophets (2 Chro.18:21-22); would God lie?

It is important to know that God is everywhere and sovereign and therefore, whatever He permits the free-will of man to do, even when it is a terribly evil thing, that is by implication His cause!  Is it any surprising then that in Isaiah He declared saying, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isa.45:7)?

In Genesis chapter 35 we read about God telling Jacob to go to Bethel. Jacob knew that the gods and type of garments his family wore wouldn’t please God. So he commanded them saying “Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments” (v.2). Surely a spiritual person is able to discern the perfect will of God. When Jacob’s family heard the instruction, they did more than they were told for “they gave to Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand , and all their earrings which were in the ears” (v.4). But would every child of God follow this same example through time? Not so. Later there was a nation of Israel which time and again would get attracted to the vain beauty of pagan nations. Their hearts coveted after that and yes God gave them the vanity they desired but with consequences! Yes, God will always permit things but there are always consequences which follow. Wasn’t it considered a curse for women to lead people? “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isa.3:12). When Israel was in a backslidden condition, Deborah, a woman rose to lead the nation. Deborah herself knew that this was against normal order when she said to Barak, “I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Jud.4:8-9). The sins of Israel were many.

In the time of Ezekiel, the infidelity of Israel against God’s Law was thus illustrated:

I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head” (Eze.16:11-12). But what resulted from this beauty of Israel? The scripture continues: “But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was”(v.15).

That was in the Old Testament. But today that “which is in part” has been done away with. Christ came to restore us to that which was in the beginning. Be assured that if the family of Jacob upon conviction of the word they received from Jacob about some holy place they were to go to, gave up their earrings and garments, Eve who was in Eden, in the very presence of God, a pure daughter of God, would have never perforated her nose or ears to try to look beautiful! If the Fall had not occurred Eve would still have been alive today and there certainly wouldn’t be paint on her lips or eyebrows!

It is the same with all those who walk in the Grace God has given us through Calvary. We have left the “shadows” of the Law behind us because the Light of God’s Truth has shined upon us. We don’t take pleasure in carnality. We are the Bride of Christ “whose adorning [is] not that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold” (1 Pet.3:3). We surely can never hide in shadows of the night like prostitutes and thieves when the Day-star has dawned upon us!

A C  Phiri

Being right

By Watchman Nee

Watchman Nee (1903-1972)

Nothing has done greater damage to our Christian testimony than our trying to be right and demanding right of others…We ask ourselves, Have we been justly or unjustly treated? and we think thus to vindicate our actions. But that is not our standard. The whole question for us is one of cross-bearing…

A brother in South China had a rice field in the middle of the hill.In time of drought he used a waterwheel, worked by a treadmill, to lift water from the irrigation stream into his field. His neighbour had two fields below his, and one night, made a breach in the dividing bank and drained off all his water. When the brother repaired the breach and pumped in more water his neighbor did the same thing again, and this was repeated three or four times. So he consulted his brethren. “I have tried to be patient and not to retaliate“, he said, “but is it right?” After they had prayed together about it, one of them replied, “If we only try to do the right thing, surely we are very poor Christians. We have to do something more than what is right“.

The brother was much impressed. Next morning he pumped water for the two fields below, and in the afternoon pumped water for hiw own field. After that the water stayed in his field. His neighbor was so amazed at his action that he began to inquire the reason, and in the course of time he, too, became a Christian.

So, my brethren, dont stand on your right. Dont feel that because you have gone the second mile you have done what is just. The second mile is only typical of the third and the fourth.

(Excerpt from Sit, Walk, Stand).

Is Jesus ‘God’ or ‘Son of God’?

On one side of the argument are those who proclaim Jesus to be the very Almighty God who pre-existed as Yahweh. Scriptures like John 20:28 are used to support this view – “And Thomas answered and said unto [Jesus], My Lord and my God”, or John 14:8-9 which says, “Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.

On the other side of the argument are those who believe that Jesus must only be referred to as “Son of God”, not “God”. Again there are verses used to support this view such as Ephesians 3:14 which makes a distinction between the Father and Jesus – “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”, and Colossians 1:2 which distinctly identifies the Father to be God – “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

One time at a convention of believers I was sitting with different ministers around a table when someone asked a question: “Brother Andrew, is Jesus ‘God’ or ‘Son of God’?” I knew that the question did not rise out of a desire to learn but to raise an argument. As though thirsty and in need of a drink I asked for some water to be poured in a glass which was on the table. Someone filled it quickly. I lifted the glass in my hands and asked, “What am I holding in my hands?” The person answered, “Water”. To that I responded, “Will I be in order to correct you by saying, ‘Wrong! It’s a glass I am holding and not water.’ Is it not true that for the convenience of language you have called the glass by the new identity of the substance which has possessed it”?

Is this ‘water‘ or ‘a glass of water‘? 

To understand the Godhead one needs more than letters, words or semantics. Theologians look into Scripture and theorize three persons into the Godhead. They call the persons God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But this is a stark contradiction of the command given to the Hebrews, “Hear,O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deu.6:4). And contrary to the idea that God the Father is with the Son and the Holy Spirit besides him, Yahweh declares “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me” (Isa.45:5). But so confident are Trinitarians that they refer to Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, or the Father as a member, a portion,or a third of the Godhead. This again contradicts the Word which says, “In Him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col.2:9).  

Those with eyes to see should perceive that there is and has always been ONE Almighty Spirit who is everywhere and has neither beginning nor end. However, note that before anything was created He could not be called God. God is something that is worshipped but there were no angels or man to worship Him. But even if angels or human beings were created, how would they ever relate with, or comprehend, such an eternal being which was not confined to Space and Time?

The almighty invisible Spirit had to manifest in form in order to relate in Space and Time. That was the first thing to proceed from the Almighty Spirit and thus was the beginning of Time, the Alpha (Isa.44:6). The Alpha was not ‘another God’ but a visible ‘mask’ of the invisible Spirit through which He would create and relate with everything. In the future, Time will wind up and end in Him as the Omega. Thus, whenever God in Scripture is referred to as the Alpha and Omega, it is a description of His being in Time, not in Eternity.

The visible mask became “the angel of His [invisible] presence” (Isa.63:9). It was that mask, the first thing to be created by God, which began to speak, “LET THERE BE…!”and things began to come into existence (Joh.1:1-3, Rev.3:14, Pro.8:22-24). It was through that mask that angels and human beings could look at God. So, although “no man has seen God at any time” (Joh.1:18), it was that mask – which sometimes appeared like an angel, like a  human being, like a fire, like a cloud, like alight –  that the prophets of old looked at, and for the limitation or convenience of language and communication, declared that they had seen God: “Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel and they saw the God of Israel, and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone” (Exo.24:9-10).

When God manifested in a light or cloud, the light or cloud was not God, but for the convenience of language and communication, a person could say, “I have seen God”! Even when God took on the form of dust and appeared like a human being to Abraham, that visible form of dust was not God. It was only a form through which the invisible God had manifested. But in language we will still say, God “appeared” to Abraham (Gen.18:1). Likewise, when we come into the New Testament the same thing happened. However, God no longer appeared in temporal manifestations of light, cloud, or angelic form. In the New Testament Yahweh “prepared” a human body through which He would manifest (Heb.10:5). When that body was 30 years old it was ready to be filled by God’s Spirit and be used as the image of the invisible God. Yes, that was Jesus “the image of the invisible God” (Col.1:15, Heb.1:1-3).

So, it should be clear now that when we refer to Jesus as God, the way Thomas did in John 20:28, we are referring to Him as the manifestation of God in flesh. Like in the words of Paul to Timothy, “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim.3:16). And we are “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit.2:13, Isa.43:11).