Chapter 33 Preview: Father’s prophets were murdered for boldly proclaiming His truths. Yeshua (Jesus) was slain because He passionately spoke the words of His Father. Millions of martyrs have died rather than accept censorship! Yet today, multitudes of people shackle themselves into darkened galleys (church pews), each repeatedly whispering the mantra: “ALL speak the same thing”. Yet lacking courage, FEW EVER SPEAK! In this small porthole in time—while freedom of speech
prevails [Update: is quickly being destroyed]—why are professing Christians afraid to speak out in their own congregations, among their own Friends about their deeply held personal convictions? When did apathy triumph over passion? (Sequel to: The Bible Never Mentions Sermons)
Father (Yehovah) has indelibly impressed the desire for freedom of speech into the minds of His people Israel—to our virtue, or shame. That is why the modern western democracies descended from ancient Israel are unique among the nations of the earth. Elsewhere else, for the most part, dictatorships, despotism and tyranny has been the norm. So why have so many “Churches”, contrary to our “stiff necked” nature, espoused the Catholic hierarchical approach of government? Why are we not allowed to express legitimate concerns about the faithfulness of our leaders to the doctrine of Yeshua? Yehovah has rubbed our faces in hierarchy, yet we are still not free to speak without being publicly “marked”!
Yehovah’s prophets were slain for boldly proclaiming the truth. Yeshua was crucified because he passionately spoke the words of His Father. Millions of martyrs died rather than accept censorship. Today, multitudes of people shackle themselves into darkened galleys, each repeatedly whispering the mantra: “ALL SPEAK the same thing”. Yet lacking courage, FEW EVER “SPEAK” ! In our small porthole in time, while freedom of speech truly prevails, why are professing Christians afraid to speak out in their own congregations, among their own Friends, about their own convictions? When did apathy triumph over passion?
The modern western democracies that descended from ancient Israel are unique among the nations of the earth. Elsewhere, for the most part, dictatorships, despotism and tyranny reign. So why have the Incorporated Churches, contrary to our very nature, espoused the Catholic approach to “Church government” We are not allowed to express legitimate concerns about the faithfulness of our leaders to the doctrine of Yeshua. Yehovah has rubbed our faces in hierarchy, yet we still fail to speak for fear of being publicly branded and banished!
In my Expose “The Bible Never Mentions Sermons” (the previous chapter), I explained the Biblical format for Sabbath Assemblies from the point of view that 1 Corinthians 14 presents the most essential instruction available to us on the topic. We saw that not only is the term “sermon” absent from the Bible, but also the very concept of sermons is in direct contradiction of Biblical admonition. The Biblical model is actually so self evident that even critics cannot help but acknowledge that an interactive gathering was the course of action that Paul undertook. Still some question whether or not it would be a sin to substitute the traditional Protestant sermon/service format. (On a noteworthy but related topic, our forefathers fought to allow us to have what is legally termed a “Free Church”. The incorporated Churches are in for great trouble.)
To understand the reason why Paul preserved the tradition of “interactivity” in the early Assemblies, rather than advocating “pontification”, an unwarranted later alteration, we need to consider principles garnered from every relevant scriptural passage. Paul taught that “ALL” should participate (1 Corinthians 14:31). When a minister continuously imposes only his viewpoint on a congregation, without allowing the “listeners” any right to be heard, then the people are being set up for disaster. I want to describe the dismal problem that I personally had with the last three church organizations with which I was associated. The root of the “one voice” problem is man’s hunger for power. The lust for power can be directly associated with the local sermon giver, if he at least has some freedom of speech, or the problem may originate from regional or national puppet masters who tell their hireling “ministers” what to say. When civil government officials deny individuals an opportunity to be heard by their peers we call it totalitarianism!
In 1993, after attending the Worldwide Church of God for twenty years, I decided to read their several years old booklet entitled “God Is”. I suddenly realized that the strange comments that I had been hearing for the last few years were a blatant attempt to gradually introduce the Trinity doctrine into a church that had heretofore faithfully explained the pagan origin of the concept and had previously been exposing most of the forged, twisted and misapplied “scriptures” that seemingly support it. Realizing that the ministry had already accepted the “new truth” or else lacked the backbone to oppose it, I found myself in a totally unexpected dilemma. I decided to discuss the evolving apostasy with my Friends—knowing that I would be promptly disfellowshipped. What a tragic feeling it was to be totally prohibited from reasoning from the Bible with my friends. Had the church established a forum for we the people to question its teachings, allowing at least some open discussion of differing viewpoints, then some spiritual lives might have been saved. Freedom of speech in an Assembly is a matter of spiritual life and death!
Proverbs 3:27 Don’t withhold good from anyone who deserves it, when you have the the power to do so.
Interestingly, the two ministers, from separate congregations, who eagerly cast me from their congregations were soon afterward preaching in a large “splinter group” that teaches against the Trinity! Perhaps they apologized to their now non-Trinitarian God, but they never admitted the error to me, or to those who felt that there must have been a valid reason for my banishment. Eight years later, with reluctance, I decided to visit one of the nearby congregations led by one of these now “re-enlightened” ministers. When the minister arrived, I was greeted with a smile and the comment: “Here comes trouble”. He had nothing else to say.
Proverbs 11:9 Profane people destroy their neighbors with their mouths, but righteous people are rescued by knowledge.
From 1993 t0 2000, I was a member of one of the larger WCG “splinter groups”. I had even spearheaded the formation of the local group. Out of the blue, I was challenged to consider some historical information about the Jewish calendar. I began to casually look into the matter only to discover that Hillel 2 had radically altered the method that the Jews used to determine the Feast Days in the fourth century. Most of the time, today’s Jewish Holy Days are not in sync with the New Moons. Historical information verifying this change is virtually beyond dispute. Jewish encyclopedia’s readily tell the story. Yet some COG ministers have even resorted to rewriting history in an effort to deny that Hillel 2 made the changes. Jewish authorities unanimously acknowledge that their “innovative” calculated method of determining when the Feast Days occur had not finished evolving until a thousand years AD!
By chance, soon after I learned of this, and before a Feast Day had arrived to betray my new found conviction, I was exposed. I could not evade a direct question. Beginning immediately, and for eight consecutive Sabbaths, “calendar nuts” were bombarded from the pulpit. Again I was trapped in a situation without any permissible recourse. The ministry was hostile and in no mood to “reason together” from the Scriptures.
Proverbs 15:14 The mindset of the intelligent seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on stupidity.
As I was preparing to abandon ship, I decided to reveal to my friends a few of the things that I had discovered; knowing that I had nothing to lose and that they had knowledge to gain. Had I been allowed to have only a few minutes of time in front of a “jury of my peers”, I know that I could have poked a dozen holes in the unsubstantiated assumptions of my Friends. One Friend actually did want to understand my new found conviction, yet he told me that he did not care to verify the information because he preferred to follow the church instead of Scripture, believing that the ministry was responsible if he sinned! Can you think of a Biblical example where Yehovah ever permitted one person’s sins to be passed on to another?
Totalitarian rule is of and by Satan! If an organization doesn’t allow you to follow your conscience in every instance, then they are trying to put a fence between you and your Father! Your conscience is the “voice” of the special (holy) spirit. Totalitarian rule is idolatry! There is no excuse if you worship a golden calf, even if a modern day Aaron is palming it off as the Elohim (God) of Israel. By all means learn from others but never under any circumstances become dependent on them for your salvation!
1 Corinthians 1:12-13 I’m telling you that one of you says, “I’m of Paul”, and another says, “I follow Paul”, and another says, “I follow Apollos”, and another says, “I follow Cephas”, and another says, “I follow the Messiah”. 13 Now was the Messiah divided? Or was Paul crucified for you? Or were you immersed in the name of Paul?
By 2001, I was a member of a geographically dispersed “calendar group” for about a year and a half. On the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the group of about one hundred people were surprised to learn that there was a “likely possibility” that the very vicinity in which we were meeting in was the “place of safety”. “Better still”, we wouldn’t have to leave the U.S.! The audience was entirely composed of former WCG members, most of very long standing. To my horror, this group was remarkably receptive to believing their leader when he said that the long awaited time to flee was “imminent”. All but a handful immediately committed to help “prepare the way” for their less informed Friends in the “greater Church of God” who would be awakening soon. The “likely possibility” was immediately accepted as solid truth with almost no doubts expressed! Plans to sell homes and “migrate” to the desert area commenced on the spot!
Because of the long standing acceptance by the Churches of God that the “leader”, “God’s anointed”, speaks for God—any dissension among the ranks is unequivocally regarded as insubordination. The one person who briefly stated aloud that he did not believe that anything was “imminent” was promptly and vigorously ridiculed. My difficulty with this approach is that no forum is ever permitted in any of the COG’s that I am aware of, where someone can publicly question the leadership. There are no checks and balances that include the majority of the congregation. Sure, you are permitted to go to a minister in private and express concerns, but any significant challenge to the ministry will almost certainly result in banishment. The membership of the vast majority of today’s Sabbatarian Churches of God are still amazingly tolerant of this situation, having been taught (brainwashed) for decades about the “no questions asked” superiority of the “top down” approach. How much more must happen to shake our confidence in men? This is in great contrast to the Biblical approach exposing the errors of mandatory silence.
I am fully convinced that should this same “place of safety” announcement be made in many of the other hundreds of COG splinter groups, the same conditioned response would occur. WE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT TO FOLLOW THE “APOSTLE” OR “MINISTRY” IN A WAY COMPARABLE TO HOW THE CATHOLICS ACCEPT MEDIATORS BETWEEN THEMSELVES AND ALOHA (God)!
Philipptians 2:12 So Friends, as you have always listened to and obeyed Yehovah, not only when I was near you, but now that I am far from you—continue in the necessary work to make sure of your own eternal Lives, with fear and trembling,
Acts 17:11 The [Berean] Jews were more open minded than the Jews in Thessalonica. They eagerly listened to the message from them every day, and examined the Scriptures to see if these things were true.
Lesser examples of erroneous beliefs being imposed on congregations blindly following the lead of the ministry could be demonstrated for virtually every Christian professing organization in the world. The question is: Whenever we must choose between what we believe to be the truth and what anyone else says—should we follow a man or should we follow the conscience that Yehovah gave each of us? The following passage illustrates that even unconverted non Israelite aliens are responsible to heed their own consciences!
Romans 2:14-16 When people of other ethnicities who don’t have the Torah instinctively do what the Torah requires, they, while not upholding the Torah, are essentially their own Torah! 15 They demonstrate the behaviors associated with the Torah because it is written in their ‘hearts’, while their consciences also bear witness. The decisions of their conscience are either a legal accusation or a legal defense excusing them on the Judgment Day, when Yehovah, thru Yeshua Messiah, will judge the secret behavior of humanity as My Good News declares.
Here is an example of being excused for not having a good shepherd. People who literally believe the above passage are part of an extreme minority. Yet it is marvelous and comforting. It powerfully expresses Yehovah’s impartial justice. It is the nobleness of your conscience, rather than the power of your intellect that Yehovah takes notice of! Your intellect is largely determined by random genetic factors beyond your control. However, your conscience is a spiritual component that is the standard operating equipment within humanity, it places us above the animal kingdom. It is our spiritual guidance system, yet it is under our own manual control. It is a “still small voice”. Listen to it!
We have been conditioned to go to a minister instead of going to Yehovah. We have been programmed not to think for ourselves. Many even believe that “all things”, meaning all Biblical truths have been restored! Yet if we can find a single exception to this theory, then the notion falls apart. When we find incongruities between what we see in the Bible and “church doctrine”, we assume that the problem lies with us. Should we cease to even read the Bible and prove all things for ourselves since we are strongly admonished to believe the explanations of the professionals? Sheep follow their shepherds, but if this analogy is taken one step further, the shepherd eventually decides that it is time for the slaughter. Too many “ministers” have gone that next step. Certainly this is an extreme illustration—but its extremity only underscores the influence of “the ministry”.
When a serious decision has to be made, then many viewpoints should be considered. The more important the decision, the more essential the council is. Consulting a “paid for” ministry, when they are required to “all speak the same thing” is not necessarily going to present you with a variety of open and sincere viewpoints to consider! Standardized headquarters prescribed solutions are frequently standardized formulas for failure. I remember when the WCG told happily married people to divorce if they had been previously married outside of the church. The anguish was immense; the recourse was supposedly to “obey, or end up in the lake of fire.”
Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel, plans go awry, but with many counselors they endure.
Perhaps you have been warned against seeking out the input of other converted people because they support another group. Maybe you were even told that they preach “another gospel”. Still, as long as a Friend is conscientiously obeying the Ten Commandments and truly acknowledges that Yeshua the Messiah has come in the flesh, there is no Biblical excuse for ostracizing yourself from his company. Shunning, excommunicating, marking, disfellowshiping or “dismembering”, or any word for the banishment of such a person would be a sin!
Proverbs 18:13 Anyone who gives an answer before listening is foolish and shameful.
Proverbs 24:23 Here are some more wise sayings: “It isn’t good to show partiality in judgment.
1 Peter 3:15 Be dedicated to our Master the Messiah in your thoughts. Always be ready to vindicate the expectation of your faith to anyone who demands an explanation for it, with gentleness and respect,
Proverbs 1:5 A wise person will listen and continue to learn, and a discerning person will get guidance ...
For years I was afraid to read anything that was written by people having opinions that were different in any way from what I had been taught by the church that I attended. I was told to guard my mind against anything not written by the “true church”. Fear of losing my crown effectively stifled my spiritual understanding for twenty five years! I was afraid of my own thoughts. Had I not finally been forced to get out from under the rock that I was hiding under (because it was smashed), I might never have learned another meaningful thing about Yehovah.
Should we close our minds to new challenges from other sources? How can you be sure that another viewpoint is not right? To my total astonishment, I found out that many things that I had assumed to be the truth were only supported by assumptions! It is amazing how well many assumptions are camouflaged! Often an assumption is supported by several other assumptions. Unless you challenge your own mind to learn new things it will deteriorate. Use it or lose it! Usually you discover that you have assumed something only after being confronted with the right question, whether by seeing it in writing or hearing it.
Reading literature written by a “multitude of counselors” is one of the best ways to be certain that you have taken into consideration a significant representation of the relevant information available on any given topic. You can learn a little here and a little there, either adding to your existing fund of knowledge, or else ferreting out cloaked assumptions that result in yet another quest for knowledge. Only after you actually begin to prove things for yourself, even things that you have been willing to stake your life on, will you begin to really learn. Any time that you are afraid to consider a conflicting opinion, then be assured that you have not proven your existing point of view. Yehovah will never greatly reward you for holding fast to assumptions!
Imagine that you were trying to learn the truth at a jury trial, would you believe the accuser without hearing the accused?
Proverbs 18:17 The first to state their case seems right, until his neighbor begins to cross-examines him.
If you don’t hear both sides of a story you can’t possibly be certain of the truth! It’s the same with any controversy.
John 7:24 Don’t make ‘superficial judgments’, but make your judgments righteous judgments.”
You will be judged on your judgment! Righteousness is using wise judgment.
Can a Church Forfeit it’s Freedom of Speech, and Consequently Yours?
When a church incorporates itself with a civil government, it is granting that governing authority the role of master. This is worse than when ancient Israel formed treaties with heathen nations. At least then, Israel had equal say in the arrangement. Corporations are under the direct control of a human government. When the historic confrontation between the Worldwide Church of God and the State of California erupted, it was because the church had incorporated. It’s all about money!
To compound the evil, many incorporated churches even frown heavily on their members informally getting together with open Bibles in front of them. Righteous people earnestly seek out opportunities to learn while fools avoid opportunities for instruction. The entire book of Proverbs illustrates the value of seeking wisdom. By all means seek it.
Proverbs 12:15 Fools think their own way is right, but a person who listens to advice is wise.
Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is supreme—so get wisdom. And by all means, get understanding.
Proverbs 15:31-32 A person who listens to criticism that leads to life is at home with the wise. 32 A person who refuses correction despises themself, but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.
The following quote of Yeshua isn’t an example to “the ministry” of how to teach with autocratic “authority”, or favoring hierarchy. Yeshua is the Living Torah, the Word, but He taught from the written Torah.
The online searchgodsword lexicon further defines “authority”, and the first possible renderings have nothing to do with one being subjected to the will of another. In fact just the opposite is being illustrated. It means “power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases, leave or permission, physical and mental power, the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises”. Yeshua taught freedom of “choice” and “liberty”. He taught by reasoning together using mental power. He tried to influence people to do the right things by the logic of what He said! (He is the Logos—Logic!) His logic was so superior that His enemies eventually didn’t dare try to trap Him with politically dangerous questions, because they were without fail proven to be fools!
Matthew 22:41-46 While the Pharisees were gathered around, Yeshua asked them a question: 42 “What do you have to say about the Messiah? Whose Son is He? They replied, “The Son of David”. 43 He replied, “So then why does David, inspired by the spirit, call Him Yehovah? Because he said, 44 “Yehovah said to His Word [Targum of Jonathan (Aramaic) Psalm 110:1 —Gill’s Commentary], ‘Sit at at My right hand side until I put Your enemies under Your feet.’” 45 So if David calls Him Master, how could he be His son? 46 No one was able to answer Him. And from that day on no one even dared to question Him.
Are you afraid of being disfellowshipped if someone asks you about “the hope”, meaning any part of that hope, “that is in you”? Keep in mind that you already have freedom of speech and that Yehovah expects for you to use it wisely. It is often wise to temper controversial comments by saying “this is my current understanding” or some such statement. If your friends want to discuss controversial Biblical subject matter that you do not necessarily desire to discuss with babes, then avoid needless public controversies by inviting them into your home. This is recognizing the difference between when it is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak”.
Secondly, if a Friend is disfellowshipped but he has not sinned, would you side with his persecutors? He may be in dire need of encouragement. Would it matter to you if he were only cast aside for following his conscience?
Thirdly, would you be afraid to be cast out of a corporate church over a matter of principle? If you are afraid, can you be certain that your priorities are right?
There is, as Solomon said:
Ecclesiastes 3:7 a time to tear apart and a time to mend, a time to remain silent and a time to speak,“Don’t fear what they fear”:
1 Peter 3:13-16 Who will harm you if you are zealous about doing good? 14 But even if you were to suffer due to righteousness, be glad. Don’t be afraid or shaken by those who threaten you. 15 Be dedicated to our Master the Messiah in your thoughts. Always be ready to vindicate the expectation of your faith to anyone who demands an explanation for it, with gentleness and respect, 16 with a clear conscience, so that when someone severely criticizes you, as they do evil people, they will be ashamed for having falsely accused your good conduct in the Messiah.
Matthew 23:1-3 Then Yeshua conversed with the crowd and His disciples. 2 He told them, “The Torah teachers and Pharisees have seated themselves in Moses seat . 3 Now everything that they tell you to obey [people didn’t own copies of the Torah], you must practice, but don’t do what they do, because they don’t ‘practice what they teach’.
 What is Moses seat? Here is a good answer.
The following two paragraphs are from an excellent offsite article on the topic of “Moses seat”.
“All therefore—that is, all which, as SITTING IN THAT SEAT, and TEACHING OUT OF THAT LAW, they bid you observe, that observe and do. The word ‘therefore’ is thus, it will be seen, of GREAT IMPORTANCE, AS LIMITING THOSE INJUNCTIONS WHICH HE WOULD HAVE THEM OBEY TO WHAT THEY FETCHED FROM THE LAW ITSELF. In requiring EXPLICIT OBEDIENCE to such injunctions, He would have them to recognize the AUTHORITY BY WHICH THEY TAUGHT over and above the obligation of the law itself—an important principle truly; but He who denounced the traditions of such teachers (chap. 15:3) cannot have meant here to throw His shield over these [traditions, and rules which were not “fetched from the law itself”] ...”
“In other words, “Moses’ seat” meant authority to administer ELOHIM’S TORAH—Torah given by Yehovah to Moses—correctly. And, as long as they were administering that Law, and teaching it correctly, they were to be OBEYED. However, this did not include their own humanly devised traditions, or man-made “laws,” because such “traditions of men” and “added” human commandments were NOT given to Moses and were never part of the Elohim’s Torah!”
Hebrews 13:17 Confide in your leaders, and listen to them, because they watch over your consciousness as men who are obligated to give an account for you. They should be able to do it with joy rather than anguish, because that wouldn’t be to anyone’s advantage.
KJV: “Obey them that have the rule over you...”
The “James gang” and their more recent cronies have put a spin on this verse. The same word that was translated as “obey” in Hebrews 13:17 can also be translated as “agree”, “assure”, “believe”, “have confidence”, “be confident”, “make friend”, “persuade”, “trust”, and “yield”. It means to convince, by analogy to pacify or conciliate, to assent, or to rely (Strong’s Concordance). It means to remain teachable. As leadership teaches things concerning Scripture, you should listen and be persuaded to follow, IF what they teach is found in Yehovah’s Word. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says “to persuade, to win over” or “to be persuaded, to listen to, to obey.” It goes on to state that, “The ‘obedience’ suggested is not by submission to authority, but resulting from persuasion.”
Commentary is also appropriate for the word “rule”. It is a generic term that is “used of any kind of leader, chief, commander”. In reference to Yehovah’s people we should have leaders—not rulers! (Matthew 20:25)
Fellowship implies agreement within the faith. It is an absolute necessity to be able to discuss Yehovah’s thoughts with others. Yehovah will be certain that there will be someone to talk with when you need them. There must be at least two! If there is not, then you need to be looking harder.
Matthew 18:19-20 Further, I am certain that if two of you agree on earth about anything that you request, it will be done for you by My Yehovah in the heavens, 20 because where two or three have assembled together in My name, I’m among them.
Being cordial is how we should generally conduct ourselves with everyone. Yet there is a vast difference between being cordial, or even friendly, and fellowship! How often did the envoys (apostles) reason with the Jews, who rejected Yeshua entirely? That was by no stretch of the imagination fellowship!
Notice the end time context of Malachi 3:1-2 and then what will be happening at that time in verse 16:
Malachi 3:1, 16 I’ll send My messenger, and He’ll prepare the way before Me, and the Sovereign, who you’re looking for will suddenly come to His Temple, the Messenger of the covenant, who you desire. He’s coming, says Yehovah the Commander! ... 16 THEN those who feared Yehovah SPOKE WUTH EACH OTHER, and Yehovah paid attention and listened, and a scroll of remembrance was written in His presence for those who feared Yehovah, and who honored His name.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and a man sharpens his friend.
Wouldn’t it be tragic to discover that you had refused to speak to a Friend, and the shunning was partially, or entirely, responsible for their giving up the faith? Should we judge a person’s character by differences of understanding—our inevitably varying stages of spiritual growth?
Proverbs 24:6 with wise guidance you wage your war; victory depends on many advisers.
Barricades that divide Friends are reprehensible. We must not tolerate these fences or those who build them. Any pretense of exclusivity beyond keeping the commandments and having the words of Yeshua are imaginary!
Revelation 12:17 The dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went away to make war with the rest of her offspring, those who obey the Commandments of Yehovah [TORAH] AND have THE TESTIMONY OF YESHUA.
There are some circumstances where Yehovah has instructed us to “quarantine’ ourselves from certain other people. This has been greatly abused by applying it to people that it should never remotely have been applied to. In these situations, the person doing the marking might actually be a better candidate for being marked!
John 1:4-11 In Him was Life, and that Life was the Light of humanity [anthropos]. 5 This light shines in the darkness, but the darkness can’t comprehend it. 6 There was a man sent from Yehovah whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify about the Light so that everyone would believe ‘because of him’. 8 He was not the Light himself, but he came to testify about the Light. 9 The true Light enlightens everyone who comes into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into existence thru Him, but the world didn’t recognize Him. 11 He came to His own people and His own people didn’t accept Him.
The intent of 2 John 1:10-11 is that “this doctrine” refers to our belief that Yeshua is Elohim who came “in the flesh” (v.7). We should refuse to “receive” false teachers who reject this doctrine by not supporting them financially and we should also avoid the appearance of endorsing their teachings. We would be correct in rejecting them as unbelievers. Concerning verse 11 where it mentions, “greets him”; this would indicate that we not identify with or support that person in any manner. Even saying nothing in the presence of such teaching implies that we are in agreement unless we say otherwise! It would be good to take note of the things that John instructed the true “cherished ones” (saints) to do, and avoid doing in 2 John 1.
Romans 16:17-18 I urge you, Friends, to watch out for those who cause divisions and scandals [Gr. skandalon] contrary to the doctrine that you have learned, and avoid them. 18 Such people are not serving our Master Yeshua Messiah, rather they feed their own stomachs. By eloquently prepared oratory they deceive the minds of naive people.
Many churches today teach that this passage instructs their members to avoid those who believe different things than their church teaches, often even over minor points. These verses do have to do with conflicting beliefs, but under what circumstances and what conditions? Which beliefs should one ‘avoid’ even discussing with another person?
Exactly what are the criteria that would make fellowshipping with such a person evil? In a broad sense, Paul explained that anyone who had formerly kept the Ten Commandments, “which we have had from the beginning”, but who now rejects any of them, is quite apparently no longer a Friend. More specifically tho, anyone who supposedly claims to be your Friend, now that the Messiah had been with us “in the flesh”, who now rejects our Life-Giver, must also be treated as if he were a stranger.
In 1 Corinthians 4:5, the approach to dealing with a blatant commandment breaker is to “hand this kind of person over to Satan”. That would be applicable to any sin that was punishable by death in the Sinai covenant.
Notice one more thing from John 10: “If anyone comes to you, and doesn’t bring this doctrine”. Is this a reference to any particular religion, or any religion other than your own? To be precise, it is simply a reference to one specific doctrine. It is the doctrine just spoken of: “deceivers... who don’t confess that Yeshua the Messiah came in the flesh”. According to John, anyone who ‘teaches’ that this is not the truth is both “a deceiver and an antimessiah”.
There is another factor involved in this process that John gave instruction on. Verse 8 explains the need to be careful “so that you don’t lose what you have earned”. Verse 9 states that if one does not “remain” in the doctrine of Yeshua, concerning His coming “in the flesh”, then that individual doesn’t have Yehovah. However, anyone who does “remain” in this doctrine has both Father and the Son. This is significant because of the use of the word “remain”. Remain doesn’t mean “to live” as you might imagine from the normal English usage. The Greek word translated as “remain” in this verse means, “to continue”, or “to remain”. This is about not losing something precious that you have, because of a “deceiver”.
There is an action required by the “deceiver”. In 2 John 1:10, the action spoken of is that the deceiver is attempting to play an active role in recruiting you to his doctrine. “If anyone comes to you, and doesn’t bring this doctrine [the doctrine that Yeshua has come in the flesh], don’t welcome them into your house or even greet them, 11 because anyone who greets [encourages] them shares in their evil work.” There is much information given here. The “deceiver” (wanderer, imposter, leading into error) is actively “coming” “to you”. “To” is “pros” in the Greek, and is a preposition with the accusative case in this verse. “Pros” denotes movement “to” or “toward”, implying motion “onward”. “To” “pros” in the accusative means “the ‘motive with a view to’ anything”. Applying this to “to”, in verse 10, we find that the “deceiver” has an agenda to mislead “you” away from this truth.
Without getting too deep into this, I hope you see that this cannot be referring to anyone at the grocery store, your son-in-law, your barber, or your Hindu fellow worker, but only to someone who is deliberately trying to dissuade you from “remaining” in the truth. The doctrine that he has come to you with to discuss is one that he has already rejected. This person was likely a former believer in Yeshua, as this is strongly implied in these verses. This is not about someone who never knew or understood the Testimony of Yeshua the Messiah, but someone who is, or was, familiar enough with Yeshua to deliberately reject Him.
2 John:11 because anyone who greets [encourages] them shares in their evil work.
We need to be seeking out righteous people and learning as much as we possibly can from every one of them that we find. This is only possible where freedom of speech is both understood and cherished. If we fail to grow spiritually then we will die spiritually. You must hunger and thirst for righteousness, and always be available to encourage your Friends. If you are in a situation that denies you spiritual meat, then you must search elsewhere for it or you will starve.
Chapter 34 is Are Public Prayers Biblical?
Ron Dart, one of the best men to flee from the WCG has this to say about another aspect of freedom in his “Prime Directive” audio. Their interactive session follows each week. (Linked 12-31-16)
“There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.
“The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”
The above remarks were apparently made by Swinton, a preeminent New York journalist, circa 1880. Swinton was the guest of honour at a banquet given for him by the leaders of his trade. Someone who didn’t know the press or Swinton offered a toast to the independent press.
My paraphrase: There is virtually no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, in America, as independent ... whole Bible representation.
“Swinton outraged his colleagues” by his reply.—Labor’s Untold Story, by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais, published by United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, NY, 1955/1979.