Chapter 42, Part 1 Preview: Aside from the fact that the title Church of God” contains a word derived from the name of a pagan god, and another from a pagan goddess, the “of” is still OK, should your local congregation mandate doctrinal requirements beyond the Ten Commandments? To do so would turn that congregation into a Church! Yet “The Church Is Not In God’s Plan”. I recommend that you preferably don’t go to Church, but rather consider The Anatomy of a Church and if there is a congregation of Disciples within driving distance—under Yehovah, and not under hierarchy—congregate there! This is spelled out in great detail in How Does the Eternal Govern Through Humans?.
(Note: Augustine equated the word “Catholic” with “Church of God”, one of many replacements. They exchanged “church” for “assembly” or “congregation”, and in the Aramaic and Greek and Latin texts they replaced the Paleo Hebrew Tetragrammaton “YHVH” with “Theos” or “God”. Here is an excerpt: “For when you join yourselves to us, i.e. to the Church of God, the heritage of Christ, who has the ends of the earth as his possession, you are restored so that you live in vital union with the Root.... The question between us, however, is, whether your Church or ours is the the Church of God. To resolve this, we must begin with the original inquiry, why you became schismatics.... the practice of the Church of God is the rule of our practice.”)
Be careful because “your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity of the Messiah.” (2 Corinthians 11:3) We must strive not offend one of Yeshua’s (Jesus’) “little ones” (Mark 9:42) or we could forfeit eternity. The following Ten requirements appear to be the only means by which those of us with the “Testimony of Yeshua” are able to “Come out from among them [unbelievers] and be separate ...” . Simply doing these things—particularly #4—will set you apart from the crowd. In fact you may be standing almost alone. (2 Corinthians 6:17).
1 You must never have any elohim ‘other than’ [Keil] Me
2 You must never make yourselves an idol, or any image...
3 You must never use the name of Yehovah your Elohim irreverently [in vain].
5 Honor your father and your mother.
6 You must never murder!
7 You must never commit adultery.
8 You must never steal.
9 You must never give a false testimony against your neighbor!
10 You must never covet.
Most people composing a Statement of Beliefs assume that they are supposed to itemize a complex sectarian constitutional framework of mandatory dogma. Not so! Yeshua did not belong to any sect—His only mention of sects was to condemn them. In fact “sect” and “heresy” is the same word in Greek!
Belonging to a sect will not save you. Yet Yeshua said that obeying the Ten Commandments, given to Israel by Yehovah—both in the letter and in the spirit of the law—will! They are the minimum requirements for obtaining “eternal life” in the best or “first” resurrection. There are many kinds of “other” or “additional” things that could be listed, but for what purpose; to exclude you? Understanding all Ten of these laws and keeping them with all of your being will put you into the Kingdom of Yehovah!
Mark 12:29-34 Yeshua replied, “The most important of all the Commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel; Yehovah our Aloha is One Yehovah, 30 and you must love Yehovah your Aloha with all of your intellectual endeavors, with all of your consciousness [psyche, Gr: psuche], with all of your understanding, and with all your ability.’ This is the most important Commandment. 31 The second is similar, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other Commandment is greater than these.” 32 The Torah teacher replied, “An excellent answer Rabbi. You’ve spoken the truth in saying that there is one Aloha, and there are none other than Him. 33 For a person to love Yehovah with all of their intellectual endeavors and with all their consciousnesses, with all of their understanding, with their ability, and to love their neighbors as themselves is far better than all the burnt offerings and ze’bakim [sacrifices].” 34 Then Yeshua, noting the wisdom of his reply, told him, “You aren’t far from the Kingdom of Yehovah.” No one dared to question Him again after that. —The Gabriel Version
Of course Yeshua’s Disciples should “all speak the same thing”, but with the understanding that Paul was really instructing us all to speak the very “same” things that Yeshua spoke! That is always the right thing to do, regardless of the demands of any sect or its representatives! We must obey Yehovah in all things to the best of our understanding. Whenever we find that the ‘church’ appears to be in conflict with what the Word of Yehovah states, then we must unhesitatingly obey Yehovah! This is a straightforward principle that will allow local Assemblies to grow and develop without any vain enticement toward becoming locked into defending erroneous teachings, as we strive to obtain the full maturity of Yeshua.
There is one concept that tends to get trampled under foot in a “Statement of Beliefs”, that being that an individual is generally expected, by a sect’s (denomination’s) hierarchy, to suppress their own conscience if it conflicts with the group’s mandated belief system. To sear your own conscience, so that we will “all speak the same thing”, whether technically right or wrong regarding a particular issue, is a sin! Any “minister” who would even insinuate that suppressing your own conscience under any circumstances is righteous does not remotely understand the mind of Yehovah or the very purpose of Yehovah’s commandments!
1 Timothy 1:5-7 Now the aim and purpose  of the Commandments is love, coming from a pure inner being and from a clear conscience, and from genuine conviction [faith]. 6 But some of these people have drifted away and have turned to peddling nonsense. 7 They want to be Torah teachers, yet they don’t understand what they’re talking about or anything about their bold assertions.
 About all of the older Greek translations use the antinomian word “end” rather than “aim or purpose or goal”. Yet the Commandments are no more ending than “the end” of “everlasting life” is in Romans 6:22. Same with Romans 10:4, “For Christ is the ‘end’ of the law”, or “the ‘end’ of the Lord”, as in James 5:11.
The primary reason that various assemblies have Statements of Beliefs is so that other people can quickly determine where the organization stands on certain theological issues. The problem with a pre packaged belief system is that the set of teachings tends to cause people to carve these ideas into stone tablets in their minds, rather than depending upon the Bible. It becomes difficult to grow in spiritual understanding beyond those tenants. The Statement of Beliefs becomes, in a real sense, a restraining wall built around the organization’s herd of holy cows.
Most religious bodies came into existence because of one man, or a small group of men, who taught that his God required their particular shopping list of expectations. The resulting doctrinal treatise then becomes the focal point for that group’s understanding. The founders, as their supporters commended them and their philosophies, become even more convinced that his God must be blessing their work, concluding that the numbers of loyal followers is proof of their doctrinal purity. A ministry is carefully selected from among only those men who willingly agree to preach only what they are allowed to preach. When dissent enters the church, and it will, these pre-compromised “yes men” will obviously be quite reluctant to stand for a truth that would cost them their paycheck and their prestige.
For hundreds of years, Christianity advanced through its ‘syncretic’ teachings (meaning the merging together of divergent systems of philosophy, morals, and especially religion) and because civil governments advocated religion as a means of unifying the people. When one particular religion would dominate, the government’s armies gained “converts” by the edge of the sword. Either way, as the body of doctrines solidified into a body of dogma, the Statement of Beliefs became the standard bearers of their theology. As a church wanted to gain followers it had to balance the desires of the “progressive” adherents against the human proclivity to resist change.
There are two approaches to setting doctrinal understandings. Traditional religious sects will hold to a body of doctrine, and will endeavor to twist the Scriptures to back up their belief system. The nearly “untried” approach is Scriptural—viewing the Scriptures without any bias, that is, without putting a sectarian “spin” on the Scriptures.
For example, typical “reasoning” concerning the authenticity of the doctrine of the Trinity would be a statement to the effect that “everyone knows that God is a Trinity”, and it’s not difficult to locate Scriptures that seemingly support the Trinitarian concept. (The situation is further complicated because the translators were Trinitarian!) However, an unbiased approach would be to search the Scriptures to determine if the doctrine is actually Biblical, rather than merely a fabrication of theologians. If the doctrine cannot be found, or if there were to be any uncertainty or ambiguity about it, the idea should simply be set aside to be discussed, meditated on, prayed about, and researched further.
To further illustrate the strength of tradition in establishing the meaning of Scripture, let’s look at the universally accepted concept that man is, or has, an immortal soul within his being, and that this immortal soul ascends to heaven or descends to hell immediately following ones death. The “scholars” within many religious organizations begin with the conviction that this is true, and are able to find many Scriptures that seem to indicate that this is the case. Again, this is largely due to the teaching having long been syncretized from popular pagan religions. It is apparent that there are Scriptures that mention “soul”, “heaven”, and “eternal life”. Theologians have been honing their skills of explaining these terms to reflect the ancient philosophies. Seemingly substantiating the doctrine of the “immortal soul”.
Surprisingly, tho there are no Scriptures that would indicate or allude to our being or having, an immortal soul. The words “immortal soul” do not appear together anywhere in the entire Bible; neither does the phrase “going to heaven.” On the contrary, Scripture shows that our soul is mortal! The Scriptures strongly state that immortality and eternal life are gifts from Yehovah, not something we are born with. Scripture teaches that we go to our graves, and we stay there until Elohim resurrects us. There are no Biblical references to Peter being the keeper of the Pearly Gates, or anything remotely resembling that.
Historical reference works inform us that the notion of an immortal soul originated in antiquity, but received its greatest advancement under the influence of well known Greek philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, and others. However, there is not a hint of it in the Biblical texts. Scores of other popular teachings, also extant in Christian “Churches” have also come from extra Biblical sources. The Protestant reformers themselves advanced many lesser explanations that also deviated from Scripture.
Elohim insists that we seek out His “opinion”, not looking to other religions or sources. He is the only source of truth. Elohim denounces the adoption of doctrinal ideas or practices from the worshipers of false gods, and “baptizing” their practices by incorporating them into Christian acceptance. Here is a prime example:
Jeremiah 10:2-4 2 This statement is from Yehovah: Don’t learn the traditions of other nations, and don’t be in awe of signs in the heavens, because the nations hold them in awe. 3 The traditions of those people are delusions, like when someone cuts down a tree from the the forest, the job of a ‘woodcutter’ with an axe. 4 They deck it with silver and gold, they fasten it down with hammer and nails, so that it won’t fall over.
This bears a remarkably resemblance to a Christmas tree, doesn’t it? It’s no coincidence!
True Disciples, those Yeshua said would actually follow the narrow road, the one less traveled, would search out what the Bible actually teaches. This is a more gratifying and exciting approach to Bible study, since your beliefs can be perfected as further knowledge is discovered, or brought to light by others from the Scriptures. So rather than always claiming that we have certain doctrinal beliefs, I frequently would say—concerning fringe ideas—that I presently hold certain doctrinal understandings. This is more than semantics. By acknowledging this, we acknowledge that we have some misunderstandings, and that our understanding will certainly improve, because we can only grow in knowledge if I make changes! Indeed, as I look back over the past few years, my understanding of teachings, some of them I once cherished and would have died for, have changed to the extent that I would die rather than reinstate them!
This in not to say that on topics that we have thoroly researched, we should feign doubts.
We absolutely must limit our beliefs to what the Bible actually teaches. This differs from the typical practice of following a set of doctrines or dogmas set up by men. Yehovah expects individual Disciples to decide what is true, based on what the Scripture says—to the best of our own understanding. That is what “work out our own salvation” is all about. A well known Muslim teacher, when asked why fanatics claimed that they held to the true understandings of the Koran, explained that those men read the Koran seeking to find passages that would empower them. He went on to assert that Christian and Jewish leaders do the same. Yehovah has absolutely no use for blind followers, even if they just happen to be following the “right” religion!
The strictly Biblical approach is unthinkable to most people, and intimidating to others. To the vast majority of people, it has become second nature to accept a set of teachings from a church headquarters, that ultimately becomes the test of membership–you either accept this collective set of beliefs—in its entirety—or be viewed as a threat to unity. A corporate churches’ immediate first objection to you following your own conscience in spiritual matters, rather than following the “collective conscience” is that this would result in “confusion and doctrinal disputes”. Presumably, we could not possibly handle it when two people read the same Bible, yet arrive at different conclusions. Discussing religion with someone from another “flock” has become a social taboo. When religious discussions occasionally do take place, most simply tell themselves that the other person just doesn’t have the good fortune of belonging to their group. Then they go their separate ways. Could it be that Yehovah is simply testing our love for each other with these doctrinal disagreements? Consider these passages:
John 13:35 This is how everyone will know that you are My disciples—if you love each other!”
1 John 3:11 This is the Commandment that you have heard from the beginning, that you should love each other.
Currently, true Commandment obedient “Nazarenes”, Christians, or kadishea (saints), as Yeshua called us, are divided (into sects) over many issues, yet they are still brothers, tho often without even realizing it! The Seven “Churches” (dysfunctional “families” of Assemblies) seem to be totally oblivious of the existence of each other! Yet so long as a person is keeping the Commandments, we had better consider him a brother!
2 Timothy 3:1-7 But realize this, that in the last days fiercely difficult times will come. 2 People will be self centered, money loving, pretentious, egotistical, blasphemous, disobedient to their own people [Gr. parents], ungrateful, irreligious, wicked, 3 inhumane, non committal, brutal, despising those who are good, 4 traitors, rash, arrogant, and loving pleasure more than the love of Yehovah. 5 They have something resembling the true worship of Yehovah, but are far from Yehovah’s power [Gr. its power]. Avoid them! 6 Some of these men creep from house to house, captivating feeble minded women who are burdened by their sins and swayed by all kinds of cravings. 7 They are always “learning” but never coming to a correct knowledge of spiritual truth.
Conversations are necessary to reveal that certain individuals are not “approved” by Yehovah if their error is leading them to sin.
Probably the most profound deduction about Yehovah is that He cannot instantaneously create character within us. Without that explanation, we would have to wonder about why we were born, just as the most primitive savage or the most “advanced” philosopher does. Love is the bottom line. Character is the outward measuring tool that Yehovah uses to measure our love. We generally think of character as something that we use to evaluate our fellow man with, and indeed we can to a degree much of the time, but only Yehovah can read the mind with certainty. “A man never discloses his own character so clearly as when he describes another’s.”-Jean Paul Richter (1763-1825)
Jeremiah 17:9 Human sentiments are more deceitful than anything else, and exceedingly corrupt. Who can understand them?
There is a deep seated flaw in the Christian tenant that “The law is done away–nailed to the cross”. They specify that the obsolete law in question is the Ten Commandments. They view the Commandments as optional, pretty good in general, but not something directly tied to salvation! Mankind does not want Yehovah or anyone else to know his real worth. Therefore, anything that would actually serve to accurately measure our true love is held in contempt. At birth, an infant has 100% self interest. Yehovah expects everyone to advance well beyond this self interest. The Law of Love as it pertains to interpersonal relationships is expressed in the last six of the Ten Commandments. Everyone, again from the savage to the philosopher, should be able to comprehend the merit of these measuring standards of love.
If you have any doubts about the tremendous importance of the Commandments, then I would strongly urge you to consider all of the “New Testament” references to the “commandments”. There are a couple of much twisted passages pertaining to man made laws that many would have you believe reflect the notion that Yehovah has rejected His own law. However, the overwhelming majority of the references are clear and powerful endorsements for keeping the Commandments. Your eternal life depends on keeping them! The vast majority of Christians who tell you otherwise are deceived. Here are most of the “New Scripture” references for the word “commandment”.
Matthew 19:16-17 Someone came to Him and asked, “Good Master, what good thing should I do to have eternal Life?” 17 He replied, “Why are you calling Me good? No one is good but One, namely Aloha [God]. But if you want to enter into eternal Life, OBEY THE COMMANDMENTS” .
 This is the world’s most important question, but virtually no one believes His answer, even tho it is repeated in Mark 10:17-22 & Luke 18:18-23! These are the six “love your neighbor” Commandments, (counting covetousness, vss.21-22). The first four Commandments are the “love your Aloha” Commandments, while the last six Commandments apply to human relationships. There is a greatly overlooked means of obtaining eternal Life for righteous people who are ignorant of the Torah, as explained in Are the “Unsaved” Lost?.
Mark 7:7-8 Their ‘reverence’ of Me is pointless because they teach human rules as doctrines.’ 8 You abandon the Commandments of Yehovah and hang onto human traditions, washing cups and pots and other things like that.”
Mark 10:17-19 As He was beginning His journey, someone ran and fell to his knees and asked Him, “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal Life?” 18 Yeshua replied, “Why call Me good? No one is good but Aloha [God] alone. 19 You know the Commandments: Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t murder. Don’t give false testimony. Don’t cheat. Honor your father and your mother.”
Luke 18:18-20 One of the leaders asked Him, “Good Master, what must I do so that I can inherit eternal Life”? 19 Yeshua asked him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except Aloha alone. 20 You know the Commandments, [Aramaic order] ‘You must never murder. You must never commit adultery. You must never steal. You must never give a false testimony. And honor your father and your mother.’
John 14:15 “If you love Me, obey My Commandments!
John 14:21 Anyone who accepts My Commandments and obeys them is someone who loves Me. My Father will love anyone who loves Me, as will I, and I’ll reveal Myself to them.”
Romans 13:9 It also says: “You must not murder”, and “You must not commit adultery”, and “You must not steal”, and “You must not covet”. And if anyone considers the other classes of commandments, they are summarized with this statement, “You must love your acquaintances as yourself.”
Ephestians 2:15 Having destroyed with His own body the hatred of the law of prescribed rules [Strong’s #] contained in public decrees [Gr. dogma], so that He could create in Himself one new man, and make peace.
Colossians 2:22-23 All of these abusive ‘notions’ will perish. They are the commandments and doctrines of men. 23 These bogus ‘notions’ appear to reflect humility and deep respect for Yehovah, but it is ascetic severity, and nothing of any real value against carnal indulgences.
Titus 1:14 Don’t pay attention to Jewish fables or to the commandments of men who hate the truth.
1 John 3:22 We receive from Him whatever we ask because we obey His Commandments and do what pleases Him.
1 John 5:2-3 This is how we know that we love Yehovah’s children: when we love Yehovah and obey His Commandments. 3 This ‘demonstrates’ the love of Yehovah, that we obey His Commandments, and His Commandments aren’t burdensome.
Revelation 12:17 The Dragon was furiously angry with the woman, and he went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, those who obey the Commandments of Yehovah [TORAH] AND have THE TESTIMONY OF YESHUA.
Revelation 22:14 Blessed are those who obey His Commandments . They’ll have access to the Tree of Life, and be permitted to enter thru the gates into the city.
 The Wescott & Hort versions of Revelation (most modern versions) unconscionably substitutes “wash your robes” for “obey His Commandments”, unlike the Peshitta and the Majority text versions (the KJV “family”). See Matthew 19:16-19.
If we all seek to serve Yehovah with a pure heart, then the supreme principle of displaying righteous love when we assemble together with Yeshua’s followers must take precedence over doctrinal disputes, or differences in understanding. We must avoid being so inflexible that we lose sight of the goal line–righteous love.
Wouldn’t it be a sad commentary on the last generation of commandment keeping people, if Yeshua said the same things about our “leadership” that He said about the dominant “leadership” of the first century’s “commandment keepers.” Yeshua’s greatest adversaries were righteous religious leader “look-alikes”, who were as rebellious against Elohim’s commandments as their father Satan.
Matthew 23:13-14, 23 I pity you Torah teachers, because you block the entrance to the Kingdom of the Heavens right in front of people. You aren’t coming in yourselves and you prevent those who are beginning to come in from entering. 14 I pity you Torah teachers, Pharisees and pretenders, because you devour widows houses under the pretext of long prayers. This is why you’ll receive greater condemnation. ... 23 I pity you Torah teachers, Pharisees and pretenders, because you give a tithe of your mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect the weightier requirements of the Torah: judgment, mercy, and fidelity. You should do those things without neglecting the others.
1 John 3:10-11, 18, 23 This is how the children of Yehovah are plainly distinguished from the children of Satan. Anyone who doesn’t live righteously and doesn’t love their ‘fellow believers’ doesn’t belong to Yehovah. 11 This is the Commandment that you have heard from the beginning, that you should love each other. ... 18 My new converts, let’s not love each other in words and in speech only, but in works and in truth. ... 23 This is His Commandment: that we believe in the name of His Son Yeshua Messiah and love each other as He has commanded us.
1 John 4:7-8, 12,16, 20-21 Dear Friends, we must love each other because love is from Yehovah, and whoever loves is engendered by Yehovah and knows Yehovah, 8 because Yehovah is love, and whoever doesn’t love doesn’t know Yehovah. ... 12 No one has ever seen Yehovah, but if we love each other, Yehovah remains in us, and His love is being perfected in us. ... 20 Anyone who says, “I love Yehovah”, when they hate a fellow believer is a liar. If someone doesn’t love their Friends who are visible, how can they love Yehovah who is invisible? 21 We have received this Commandment from Him—whoever loves Yehovah must also love their fellow believer.
With these thoughts in mind, if someone is honestly and diligently studying his Bible, and yet arrives at conclusions that are not in agreement with yours–who is wrong? Are you wrong, or is the other person wrong? Quite likely, both viewpoints are somewhat in error. Yet, if each respects the other person’s sincerity, Yehovah may very likely respect both individuals. We are all at differing levels of understanding, and our Father accepts us as a human parent accepts his own children, knowing that the child’s understanding will certainly grow. Yehovah can create knowledge out of thin air, that is why there are geniuses born every day, but He can’t create character that way. That is where “free moral agency” comes into the picture. Simply put, when Yehovah looks down from heaven at His human offspring, the only way that Hen differentiates the wicked from the righteous is by how they live!
Toleration of the other person’s free moral agency is quite difficult to maintain. Many congregations have been scattered to the winds because of factions, one believing or behaving one way, others believing or behaving another way. However, this is in accordance with what Yehovah warned would be happening.
Those who are driven to understand the will of Yehovah with a pure heart can be easily differentiated from among those who clash with others, forcefully insisting that others accept doctrines and dogmas, as they strive for positions and power.
Human nature insists that: “I am right, and you are wrong.” How people act in response to us, and how we respond to others is Elohim’s best assessment of our conversion. Yehovah is far more interested in how we work thru our problems, than He is in our understanding of the more technical aspects of Biblical understanding.
Are there issues that would cause us to rid someone from our presence? This too is something each of us must consider for ourselves. There are situations when we should separate ourselves from others—it is due to their deliberate sinfulness, but never merely for a lack of understanding! If a commandment keeping brother is “marked” by an assembly without sin being the reason, it is a sin to shun that brother! To the degree that we can accept each other and love each other, regardless of our differing opinions—that is the limiting degree that Yehovah will accept us by!
Consider Yeshua’s words as it relates to this subject:
Matthew 7:1-5, 23-24 Don’t condemn, so that you won’t be condemned, 2 because the way you judge others is the way that you’ll be judged. The same measuring standards that you judge other people by will measure your worth. 3 Why do you look at the chaff in your brother’s eye, without noticing the rafter in your own eye? 4 And how can you say to a friend, “Allow me to remove the chaff from your eye”, when you have a rafter in your own eye? 5 You pretender, first remove the rafter from your own eye, and then you’ll see clearly to remove the chaff from your friend’s eye! ... 23 Then I’ll tell them publicly, [see root words 3674 and 3056], “I never knew you. Get away from Me you Torah breakers”. 24 So everyone who hears these teachings and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on a rock.
Matthew 6:14-15 If you disregard people’s faults, your Heavenly Father will also disregard and acquit yours. 15 But if you don’t disregard people’s faults, your Father won’t disregard and acquit your faults.
In Part 2, we’ll pick up with: