How much of the burden of your problems should the Church of God shoulder? Are YOU looking for a SPIRITUAL WELFARE STATE? What is the right balance?
JESUS charged Peter, "Feed my lambs!" And again, "Feed my sheep!" And again, "FEED MY SHEEP!" Does that then mean the great multitude of problems arising among our brethren is also the responsibility of His Church? Are our problems the problems of the Church?
Baptism should have been the most serious, solemn covenant you have ever made in your life! Yet the Church did not bring you to repentance. Only God through the power of His Holy Spirit working with you — not in you — could make you aware of the tremendous enormity of your sins. Then your sincere obedience to Peter's command in Acts 2:38 determines whether or not God begets you as His own begotten son by impregnation of His Holy Spirit. You determine this wilfully and God recognizes your real repentance and resolve to forever obey and serve Him. God recognizes and responds! Do you?
What Is YOUR Responsibility?
Being properly baptized IS ONLY A BEGINNING! You need desperately to understand that statement! Many have not understood, in spite of the fact this has always been thoroughly explained at baptism by counselors sent out by Mr. Armstrong. At baptism you have only begun, to commence, to initiate, to start to take the first steps toward the real goal of your life! To attain to the perfectness of God by overcoming yourself! Matthew 5:48 and Revelation 3:21. To be accounted worthy, Luke 20:35; 21:36. At baptism begins the real battle for your life! You have not achieved your goal! It is only a beginning. Many do not today realize this most important point! At baptism, with the begettal from the Father by His Holy Spirit, begins the responsibility that is solely yours! YOU are responsible — for seeking out every possible avenue for good, sound Christian growth. YOU are responsible — to shun "every appearance [form] of evil!" (I Thes. 5:22). This is YOUR responsibility! Yet many of you are failing!
Cry Aloud! Spare Not!
Sin is a growing, malignant cancer! As cancer destroys the sense of well-being, brings pain and suffering and finally agonizing death to millions in the world about us — so does sin react in the human body! The GREAT COMMISSION with which Christ charged His Church was to "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew MY people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins!" (Isa. 58:1). That charge is today being fulfilled powerfully over the air to the millions scattered over the earth. Mr. Armstrong's is that thundering voice! But Isaiah's directive from God points the finger of his ministry directly at you! You, too, need a warning — a second warning, if you please! You heeded the first one and repented, or said you did, after hearing The WORLD TOMORROW. Now you are a part of the Body of Christ! And now — once again — God is warning YOU! Warning you to "earnestly CONTEND (struggle, strive, battle) for the faith which was once delivered unto [you!] the saints!" Many of you are drifting! Many of you are lethargic! Many of you are looking to others to fight your battles for you — looking to the Church for the target, the weapons, the ammunition and the push to carry you through! And that is not the solution! Christ commands (through Paul), "Work out your OWN salvation with fear and trembling!" The cry is out! You are not being spared in your sins! Turn from your shiftless, lazy, lethargic ways. Do it now!
The Responsibility of the Church
You have often heard Mr. Armstrong speak this truism over the air, "You can't get into the Kingdom of God on the coat tail of another!" Also, "Any dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a good swimmer, caking strong, sure strokes to swim upstream." Brethren! This is the responsibility of the Church of God. The Church, the Body of Christ, is to FEED you the sure Word of God. It is to SHEPHERD — to guard — the flock. The ministers, ordained and placed in office by God, are to encourage, to exhort, to admonish, to counsel with, and to WARN YOU! The basis always used is the "more sure word," But God has not appointed them to live your lives for you — to shoulder all your problems and solve them for you. YOU must stand on your own feet. Your fruit shows! You cannot hide your sins from God. And you cannot hide them long from His Body. The scars show through only too clearly. "By their fruits you shall know them!" (Mat. 7:20). Lately some have had to be disfellowshipped from God's Church — from having tainting contact with you — God's flock. This hurts and hurts deeply! It grieves the minister whose responsibility it is to cut such a person off (Heb. 13:17). IT should shock YOU into a realization that Christian living is a battle all the way. It is a horrifying experience to see one plunge over the line to the toboggan-slide straight to the Lake of Fire — to terrifying destruction.
How about you? Can we get through to YOU, that your great GOAL in life is to change from a self-centered "infant Christian" to a God-centered, fellow worker with Christ? Can we exhort you? Can we encourage you? Can we warn YOU when we see the fruits of wrong thinking in the place where fruits of the Holy Spirit should be? The desire of God's heart (and of all of us!) is to see your face-happy and joyous — the face of a newly-born son of God in the Kingdom, the Family of God very, very soon now. Is that truly your desire? Are you literally straining every nerve to overcome your faults, and to root out your carnal nature? Are you at war with your three great enemies — pressing hard against the pulls of the self, the world about you and Satan? Are you experiencing daily the exhilarating thrill of the conqueror as battle after battle is won? The joy that you — not the Church — but you, personally, through the inexhaustible POWER of Christ living in YOU, are winning the most gigantic encounter of your life? Examine yourself! If your answer to the above is a weary shake of the head, then — WAKE UP! Prod yourself! You have robbed yourself of joy — real happiness — long enough. If you need help, cry out to God in earnest prayer. Confess your sins to Him. Lay out your problems as Hezekiah did (II Kings 19:14) before the eyes of your King. He will respond abundantly! If you need inspiration, encouragement, exhortation, contact one of God's ministers immediately — or one of His representatives in your area. Get busy and solve your problems quickly so you can begin to LIVE and, once and for all, to work the WORK OF GOD! In the words of our Saviour, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my JOY might remain in you, and that your joy might be full!" (John 15:11). This is the measure of the Church's responsibility. How about doing yours?