Why Do We Do What We Do?
Be watchful; stand fast in the faith; conduct yourselves with courage. Be strong in the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 16:13) (A Faithful Version)
So, how was your week? A few little trials and temptations here and there – a usual week except for a trial where my faith, beliefs and intelligence were challenged directly. I should have realized right away what it was, but I didn’t. It started off confrontational and got worse from there. I thought I could explain why I believe what I do and how I arrived at this point in my life. As it escalated I let my pride take over and it did not end well.
Hindsight being 20/20 I realize it was not a question of my faith directly but one of those trials God puts before us to see if we truly understand what He is trying to teach us and are we practicing what we preach. I know I failed that particular test once the pride demon tossed his miserable two cents in. Knowing I failed that test did in fact open my eyes to some important issues:
1. Do we follow a man, an organization or God?
2. Why do we believe what we do?
3. How come we are so much different than other Christians?
4. Does the Bible version we use really matter?
Let’s take point 1, who do we follow? Let me give a little history here. I will use my particular background and then of our Fellowship. I was raised Catholic and attended a Catholic elementary school for several years. I was never comfortable with what I was being taught. That’s what my mother told me later in life. She said I would come home with many questions as to why we were supposed to do certain things.
As I got older I would read my catechism, the Ten Commandments and parts of the Bible. The older I got the more I drifted from the church. I felt awkward at best. Something did not feel right. I still have most of the books I searched through, interpretations of scripture by various scholars and theologians, books on different types of meditation, spiritualism, Zen, martial arts and the like. One book I found interesting was The Missing Years of Jesus. The only reason I mention this is because I tended to think about Him and those years a lot. It seems to have kept Him in my mind.
Search, read, search, read some more, never feeling I had any hard answers. I was developing a belief system that was not the norm, though. If I spoke to anyone about it I usually found they would get uncomfortable, so I kept my developing beliefs to myself for a long time.
A couple of years after I retired from police work I had an experience that led me to move forward more seriously in my search for Truth. I began reading Bibles, plural, because I have more than a dozen versions. I settled on a King James/Amplfied side by side because of variations I had found in the different versions. I knew the New Testament was originally written in Koiné Greek and I had learned the Amplified version was done to better explain the original Greek meaning which was hard to capture in English. This helped a lot. The more I read the more I seemed to be learning and understanding. Still not mainstream religion, though.
Through an organization I was in I met a man who talked about God a lot. I listened and said little. The more he would talk the more I realized what he was talking about was how I felt most of my life. The real truth of the Bible and not mans interpretation of it as was the case with most traditional mainstream religions.
I learned later he had originally attended a Worldwide Church of God group in the Miami-Homestead Florida area. I had never heard of that group before this.
Fast forward, I began attending his Bible study group and began to grow and understand more. He had approximately 10-15 members attending each Sabbath. I did a lot of reading and research on my own and the more I read and studied the more I seemed to grow. Unfortunately, this man could talk the talk but failed miserably when he had to walk the walk. In 2015 a number of us left because of his personal issues. We met on the next Sabbath to discuss our future. We all agreed we had to pray and let God lead us. We all firmly believed He had used our prior acquaintance to introduce us to His Truth and now it was time for us to really study and grow as He saw fit.
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained the same precious faith as ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
According as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and virtue;
Through which He has given to us the greatest and most precious promises, that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
(2 Peter 1:1-4)
In our early research and Sabbath studies as He led us, we began to learn and understand there were other small groups around who were like us. We wanted to stay close to God but not through some self-serving man or group. In trying to decide on a name for our group we found we all had similar inclinations, funny how He works. Why were there more than 1,200 variations of Christianity in the United States alone and more than 30,000 worldwide? How did His church stray so far from its founding on Pentecost after the death of Jesus? We were led to try our best to return to the original Christianity as practiced and taught by the apostles in the first century. Much of it was done in homes and through small fellowship groups where people could speak and interact and ask questions.
We have learned so many Truths that are not accepted by “traditional” Christian denominations. Sabbath is the seventh day, not any other day. God set it aside and sanctified it at creation. (Note: there were no Jews then. Only God, Adam and Eve and all the created animals.)
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
And by the beginning of the seventh day God finished His work which He had made. And He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.
And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because on it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
God also set forth His Law. If there is no law, there is no sin!
“…for through the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)
“For the law works out wrath; because where no law is, there is no transgression.” (Romans 4:15)
We know Adam and Eve sinned and Cain murdered his brother, Abel. So, law and sin have been here just about since the beginning. I dare say it was God’s law and not anyone else’s.
It would be approximately 2100 years or so before God made the covenant with Abraham. It was his grandson, Jacob/Israel that actually fathered the 12 sons that would eventually be the 12 tribes of Israel and approximately 2500 years before the Exodus and the written law at Mt Sinai, the Ten Commandments.
We learned that the holidays enjoyed by “traditional” Christianity are reworked pagan holidays that were Christianized and not any of God’s Holy Days practiced by the original early Christian church and sanctified by God.
“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
“Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘Concerning the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are My appointed feasts.”
We noted a couple of things here.
1. The “children of Israel” God is speaking of here comprises all 12 tribes. Not all were Jews. Mainly just 2 tribes, Judah and Benjamin.
2. God clearly states, twice, these appointed feasts are His. “…Concerning the appointed feasts of the LORD” and “…even these are My appointed feasts.”
These same feast and Holy Days listed in Leviticus 23: 3-37 are the same ones noted in the Gospels and Epistle’s in the New Testament and practiced by Jesus and the apostles. The weekly Sabbath, Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.
We were beginning to see not many traditional Christian churches were following the Bible regardless of what their sign said. How can a pastor read the Bible, just about any version, and think it’s ok with God to worship Him with formerly pagan holidays? Isaiah does a good job of relaying God’s anger for their pagan ways of worshipping Him. He has told us how to worship Him, is that what we do?
“Hear the Word of the LORD, rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, people of Gomorrah.
“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” says the LORD; “I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of he-goats.
When you come to appear before Me, who has required this at your hand, to trample My courts?
Bring no more vain sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me—new moon and Sabbath, the calling of assemblies; I cannot endure iniquity along with the solemn assembly!
Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me; I am weary to bear them.
And when you spread forth your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; yea, when you make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.”
(Isaiah 1: 10-15)
Jesus was just as direct with the scribes and Pharisees. They questioned Jesus as to why His disciples did not follow the “traditions” of the elders. It seems He was more than happy to explain this to them.
Then the scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying
“Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
But He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘The one who speaks evil of father or mother, let him die the death.’
But you say, ‘Whoever shall say to father or mother, “Whatever benefit you might receive from me is being given as a gift to the temple,” he is not at all obligated to honor his father or his mother.’
And you have made void the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition.
Hypocrites! Isaiah has prophesied well concerning you, saying,
‘These people have drawn near to Me with their mouths, and with their lips they honor Me; but their hearts are far away from Me.
For they worship Me in vain, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.’ ”
Mark 7:13 adds this to the same scene:
Nullifying the authority of the Word of God by your tradition which you have passed down; and you practice many traditions such as this.”
This answers three of the for issues we started with.
1. Do we follow and organization, man or God?
The more I think about this the more absurd it actually is. Why would a loving all-knowing God Who made us in His image and likeness send inspired messages to forty prophets, scribes and Holy men and have them record these messages for posterity-us-and not expect us to follow His plan? We do not follow any organization or man. We choose to follow God and use His Bible as our guide. We do listen to sermons from other like-minded groups and will fellowship with them when possible but we are a separate fellowship Church of God group. A small flock.
Only for God does my soul wait in silence; from Him comes my salvation.
He only is my Rock and my salvation; He is my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved.
2. Why do we believe what we do?
It was explained above but the main point is this, we all are of like mind. We pray and study numerous sources and find the Bible to be the best guide for us. It was provided by God for our benefit, He has set our path and we follow Him. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 explain it well:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;
So that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.
Please note, all scripture means all scripture. Old and New Testament. It does not make any sense to exclude the Old Testament. It is referred to so much in the New Testament it must have been important for Jesus and the apostles to keep noting passages from it. Also, when they speak of scripture, it is the Old Testament – they had not written the new one yet.
3. How come we are so much different than other Christians?
See 1. and 2. above. Seriously, we say we are a Bible believing fellowship and we do actually follow the Bible. We worship on the true Sabbath, the one sanctified and made holy by God at creation and as practiced by Jesus and the apostles in the first century. We worship God as He instructs in His Bible. Remember, the Holy Days are His, no one else’s. As noted above, God does not like pagan worship by His people and He has no respect for the traditions of men that “make void” or “nullify” the Word of God.
Sunday worship was created by men and immortalized by Emperor Constantine in 321AD and the universal or Catholic Church. There is a lot of history available out there. Search for yourself. We have found that is the best way to learn the truth. Pray for discernment and guidance and research it. Talk to your minster or pastor if you must but do it after you have educated yourself.
4. Does the Bible version we use really matter?
Most of us believe it does. We were led to do a lot of research in the beginning. We explored other translations. We have Geneva Bibles which was one of the more prominent brought to early America. If we were going to get back to the original church and Christianity we needed the most accurate version available. As I noted above, I found the King James Version/Amplified side by side a benefit after my inspired research. I still refer to it. Some in our group read NASB and the NKJV but we all know that they have mistakes. My primary Bible is A Faithful Version which is in the original order for Old and New Testament and was taken from a more reliable Greek manuscript, Textus Receptus, used in the 1611 KJV. I find it lessens my reliance on the Amplified Bible and I have found it to be accurate when we use an Interlinear Bible to check it. Other versions not noted here aren’t used much unless it is to check what someone else writes. Too many changes and deletions.
First Century Fellowship Ministry, a Biblical Church of God