A family of three (including a first grader), and two gentlemen attended. We began again with the Bereans and the need to search the scriptures and test any Bible teacher or religious literature against what the Book says.
The husband and wife were both at one time Catholics. She had made the rounds to many religions including Mormonism, but they are settling now into the Baptist church. Consequently they brought up some of the problems they had with the Catholic approach and the lack of scriptural base for many of the teachings.
This led as a springboard into Hebrews, and how Jesus Christ is our only High Priest and the only intermediary we need between God and man. On the other hand, Peter indicates that we are now a royal priesthood as well, and we should reflect God’s way of life to those who are not Christians as a way of pointing people to God.
What is the Gospel? The family did not understand the meaning of this term (Good News), and we talked about this in context of the new movie “Armageddon”. How can the “end of the world” be considered “Good News”? This led to a discussion of Revelation 19 & 20, the return of Christ, the millenium, and the eventual salvation of the majority of mankind. Paul told Timothy that God has not given us a spirit of fear, and if a teaching is based on fear, then it is not of God.
Two people attended, a driver from North Dakota and his girlfriend. Both are very independent, intelligent, and articulate. She is Native American, and the fellow was more or less accepted into a Native American family as a child. Listening to her description of the Native American approach to religion was enlightening and I suppose could be the subject of a full length essay on its own.
She is studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses right now at his encouragement on the theory that one needs to study all sides of an issue and then decide. His main interest is what we might call conspiracy theories, and he had more ideas than I can relate here. I listened for some time, then related my take on the subject. I was unable to find the scripture until I got home, but the force of it can be found in Isa 8:11-14 (NIV), but I was able to describe the principle:
The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said: “Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.
Conspiracy theories tend to bring a siege mentality and paranoia. God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of hope, as Paul told Timothy. It also causes us to focus more on the negative instead, become suspicious of others, and keeps us from addressing the real problem, which is sin and abandoning God and His ways. Do I believe there are internationalists in government who want to surrender some of our country’s sovereignty to the UN? You bet I do! But that’s not the real problem.
This led beautifully into a discussion of prophecy and the gospel. What is the Gospel? The word means “Good News”. How can we call the calamitous prophecies of the Bible “Good News”? The answer is: Those prophecies aren’t the good news. The Good News is described in Luke 4, where Jesus reads from Isaiah 61. In Isaiah 61, the full gospel is actually revealed—salvation, binding up wounds, the acceptable year of the Lord, which is then followed by what the earth will be like after Jesus Christ returns. All of which is Great News.
I was surprised that they didn’t have Bibles (for a man without a Bible he knew quite a bit more about it than one might expect), so they each took one and also literature and tapes. We talked for quite a bit afterwards and he asked about our church. I mentioned we keep the seventh day, and he asked me which day is the Sabbath of the Bible. I asked him, “What does the Book say?” He said, “It’s the seventh day, and most people don’t know that.”
Afterwards, he invited me downstairs for a cup of coffee, and I was pleased to join him. I suppose the fellow just enjoyed being able to share his ideas, but also to hear things from a different perspective. Something to be said for those who are the pioneering/cowboy types—they know how to think for themselves.
Hopefully, these folks will contact us again on their next trip through.
We studied with two truckers, one from Virginia and one from Arizona. The young man from Virginia came in a little early and he and I had an interesting conversation on his church experiences. He is new to his community and is having a hard time finding a church he likes. He says they all talk about the same thing every week and he wants to get into more in depth study. I was able to share with him the first lesson of CEM’s correspondence course, suggesting that if he found it helpful, he could write for the entire series.
He was a pleasure to speak with because of his obvious zeal in wanting to share some of the new things he had just learned from the scriptures. He taught me a few things I had not thought of—good for sermon material. The second man was a repeat visitor, although he remembered neither Arlo nor me. We have to presume that someone else took the study that week. It was encouraging to see the obvious enthusiasm these two men have for the Word and their eagerness to understand. It makes these Bible Studies so worthwhile. O that we should have that same zeal!
Arlo began by asking them if they had any specific subjects they might wish to study together, and the one man said he wanted to talk about adultery. We were able to share several lessons from Ephesians, such as Eph. 5:15-20 (be filled with the Spirit), 6:11-17 (putting on the armor of God), and 4:21-32 (“put ons” and “put offs”). The lesson is to fill your mind with God’s word, with his spirit, with his music, and with his thoughts. Good habits will drive out bad habits.
Prophecy was covered, and I related how prophecies are not given as a circus sideshow but as a warning in the hopes that people would repent. Note the example of Jonah, and the words of Isaiah 58:1.
An interesting side note is that one man said that when he was in the Marine Corps he went with a couple of fellow Marines to some Bible studies put on by a large church that didn’t have a building, but met all over the place. They seemed to minimize the role of grace and it seemed to him that they felt they had to earn their own salvation through not sinning. He only went a few times and never went back because he knew they were wrong. He couldn’t remember their full name, but they were some kind of “church of God”.
— Lenny Cacchio
[Brethren today who claim their evangelism is a continuation of the WCG’s and/or Herbert Armstrong’s work need to realize that the above attitude is not all that uncommon. While the WCG never officially proclaimed “salvation by works”, that often appeared to be the reality to some of the people who attended. —NSE]
Lenny Cacchio can be contacted at:
705 NE Bryant Drive, Lees Summit, Missouri 64068