What we have stumbled into amounts to spiritual “under cover work”—that is, under God’s covering, not man’s. It is potentially dangerous because family members are impacted and could have been potential victims if our family order as outlined in 1 Corinthians 11:3 were deficient.
God is a supernatural being. But not everything that is supernatural is of God. We encountered some supernatural phenomena that appeared as though it were the work of the Holy Spirit. We measured these manifestations against all of the Word of God, not just parts of it. Thus ‘spirit viruses,’ containing truth and error were able to be dismantled and inoculated against. Using the Word of God for verification, God has taught us and used us supernaturally as shown in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.
My family fellowshipped with a non-Trinitarian, “Lord’s Day” (Sunday) keeping group for a period of several weeks. We believe God led us to do so for His own purposes. They are diligent. They meet together for Bible study every morning. The group does not celebrate Christmas, Easter, or other pagan holidays and even keeps the Passover. The group knew and most of them respected that we kept the Sabbath and holy days. We thought we might actually learn some things from them about the Holy Spirit, and at the same time we might shine a light by keeping all of God’s commandments while in their midst. We shared our musical ministry with the group while we were among them. My family was judged and accepted for the way we dress, the love of God seen in our eyes, for our attitudes, and for the behavior of our children. I did not reveal my past affiliations to them so we were not labeled by our past. Their testimony of us is that we follow God.
Things went well for several weeks and we met many loving and devoted people who love God and seek to serve Him with all of their hearts. Over time, we began to notice a Nicolaitian spirit in some of the leaders of the group—cult-like tendencies in the amount of control these leaders exerted over the members of the group. Seeing the alternative of evil in the outside world, the members put up with it even when they disagreed.
Oh, the leaders also revealed what special roles they would play as the characters who would personally fulfill many Bible prophecies. I let them know that I did not believe this to be so, and that I knew of many others who also thought that they were the two witnesses, etc., etc.
Finally, one of their leaders got up and began to preach against keeping the Sabbath. God led us to see that we had done all that we could do among them. After sifting out the error, we did learn some things about the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit in some of them. The error we had to sift out can only be described as delusion led by good feelings made to appear like the workings of the Holy Spirit. We just have to hang a question mark upon some of the things we saw. We dropped out of fellowship with them on friendly terms.
Seeing that a particular family was in danger of being split by the interference of group leaders into their home, I shared with that couple some of the things I had seen in my past church experiences. I had seen families split over doctrinal dissonance, with the approval and encouragement of the ministry. The children, the divorced parents, and the church, not to mention the community, were all losers. I mentioned the scripture about what God has joined together, let no man put asunder, and other scriptures in my conversation. I felt led to pray for them as I was leaving and they received it, adding their own amens. Praise the Lord!
God did it, not me. A day or two later, the couple visited our home, knowing that we were about to leave on a long trip. The woman tearfully asked to hitch a ride with us to get away from those in her group who might try to confront her and get her back into the group and split up her family. It was a request for temporary asylum at a crucial time! She said that the scripture I mentioned made a difference because she remembered how God had miraculously brought her and her husband together. Without going into details, the perfect timing of many elements and events could have only happened with God’s intervention. There was no coincidence in the timing of any detail.
That couple is coming along well. The husband is stronger and the wife is stabilizing in her resolve not to go back “until God straightens things out.” That is a huge step for her. Her trip away, hitching a ride with us to another state, gave her time to gain strength in her personal relationship to God. She thanks us for “standing in the gap”.
Our visits to them have been at crucial times and I believe the timing is due to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit. It seems funny; not having a group to invite them to, only a way of living that they see us practice in our daily lives.
My family has visited a number of different groups, most of them Sabbath keeping, some are former Seventh Day Adventists with their own peculiarities. A Presbyterian woman’s group has recently invited my family to sing for them at a ‘praise and worship’ breakfast meeting on a “Saturday” morning. There will be some of their children and teenagers present. The leader heard us sing at a wedding. They know that we are Sabbath keepers. I mentioned that we do not eat some types of meat that might be served at a breakfast meal and the leader was happy to make a note of it. It is another opportunity for us to give some personal testimony.
The author of this article asked for anonymity to protect the people involved. Nevertheless, he is known to me and told me some of the events of this story as they happened—from the excitement of meeting the group, learning some things from them, and hoping to share new truth—to his departure and the partial breakup of the group. This story shows the dangers of groups, be they large or small, that have a lot of truth, but then do not fellowship with others because they think they know more than the others do.
When a person leaves one overly controlling group, they do not need to simply go to another overly controlling group. They need a group of believers who will help them where they are ready to be helped, and who will not look down upon them for their past.
— Norman Edwards