Growing While Holding Fast

By Jon Bowles

21 January 2006

(PLAY FROM START)

It’s interesting: Mr. Henderson talked about what areas we are needing to be watching, and he was talking in there as well about one area is, not just churches outside, but it’s the true church as well—what’s happening within the true church. And there’s certainly, when you look at the various factions that there have been, there are the 101 varieties? Ha, we should be so lucky. Three hundred, four hundred, five hundred and one, whatever number it is, at this particular time. And there has, indeed, been an incredible shattering that’s taken place.

But I saw a letter last week that was sent out to the membership of another organization, and I would not, normally, comment on letters that go out to other people. However, I also know that certain ones of us have actually received this letter. And so I am going to go ahead and make a comment, because I feel that it’s direct attack, in some ways, on what we believe and stand for. And I’m not going to go and deal with it all. I’m not going to go and read through the letter. I want to take one paragraph, merely as an introduction, to show you the type of material—or this one particular point that is being dealt with.

And it goes in and it says: “It is therefore sad that some teach, in effect, the unbiblical concept that since the time of Mr. Armstrong’s death, the Church of God cannot and must not grow in understanding.”

Now, I know nobody—and I mean nobody—that would actually say that the Church of God cannot and must not grow in understanding. Now that, it’s near the truth. You can say, “Well, we’ve got to go ahead and keep aligned to the foundations.” But to say that we cannot grow in understanding? I don’t know anybody that actually says that.

“They falsely claim that Mr. Armstrong restored all knowledge to the Church...”

Now, again, these are straw men being erected. They’re straw men being erected—they’re near, but they’re not quite there; and it’s something that… Remember what happened before, in Worldwide? This is exactly what happened. Straw men would be erected; and then straw men would be knocked down and at the same time other concepts, which they then linked to it (the straw men).

He says: “…restored all knowledge to the Church, and that nothing can be changed since his death in 1986. [Now you see the other thing linked to the straw man.] They overlook that it is Christ who will restore all things (Acts 3:21). Mr. Armstrong would be the first who would, with his thundering voice, dismiss this totally unsound concept that we don’t have to grow in knowledge and understanding. [You see how it’s so near and yet twisted?] He encouraged us to change when we find error. He said that he was willing to continue to change, when he was proven to be wrong from Scripture.”

And that is true. But, you see, what is Scripture? Scripture is the Word of God. The living Word of God is Jesus Christ—that led the Church; that was leading the Church under him.

“Those who think and teach that the fullness of God’s truth was restored to the Church during Mr. Armstrong’s life …”

Does anybody say that the fullness of God’s truth was restored? We say that the truth that we need for this time was restored. But the fullness of God’s truth? What’s the fullness of God’s truth? You see, again, it’s straw men going through it.

“…[They] refuse to follow one of Mr. Armstrong’s most fundamental instructions—that of CHANGE when one is found to be wrong. We must change, when proven wrong by the Bible.”

Now, on the surface of it, it certainly sounds valid, except that there are slight twists all the way through the paragraph. And that’s just one paragraph. I don’t want to read all the letter. I’m not going to go ahead and just try and answer the letter. I just want to talk about this concept, because it’s still around. It’s still going. It’s still something that all of us are going to be coming across. And I know that I’ve talked about it before, but I think it is very important that I do so today.

And what I want to do today is:

You know, how do you grow on one side and hold fast on the other? Unless you know what you’re going to grow in and what you’re going to hold fast, you can get completely and totally confused. So you’ve got to make sure that you can sort these areas out. If we’re going to be obedient to God, it’s essential—because these two things are commanded. We’re commanded to grow, and we’re also commanded to hold fast.

So if we don’t know what to grow in, we don’t know what to hold fast in, we get the two mixed up, we can be up the river without a paddle. So the three points I have—because it’s only a cut-down sermonette, a sermon rather. Split sermonette, yes, there we go.

The first is (because you see, what in fact is happening, the problem with this letter that I used as an introduction is) that it doesn’t ask the right question. It doesn’t deal with the right question. The right question is “Who humanly has the right to go ahead and change, or to decide, what God places is in His church? Who humanly does that? And that’s not even addressed. Nothing whatsoever, throughout the entire letter, deals with that question—because that is the question! And really the first question I want to deal with is:

And those are the three areas I want to deal with.

First - A Caution: (PLAY FROM 6:16)

So let’s turn over to Romans chapter 14, just as a caution by and large (because in Romans chapter 14, there is something that we do need to be aware of in examining this question, “Who humanly has the right to decide, or to change, what God places in His church?”) to disassociate it from our own personal responsibility. There is a personal responsibility that I want to just deal with very briefly here; and you’ll find it in Romans 14, where it says:

Romans 14:1-2 Him that is weak in the faith receive…, but not to doubtful disputations. [not to arguing with him] (2) For one believes that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eats [vegetables].

Now the reason why is because they, at that particular time, they went to the market; and they tried to get meat. And they couldn’t buy meat that they knew had not been offered to an idol. That was the problem. It’s meat offered to idols, which is the subject matter of this section. And Paul actually came along and said, “Look, as long as you don’t ask the question, you go ahead and eat what is sold in the shambles; and asking no questions for conscience’ sake.” So you don’t have to go ahead and ask, “Has this been offered to an idol, or hasn’t it?” in every case. If it’s actually not said, you can go ahead and eat it in good conscience. But, you see, some of them were saying, “No, I’m not going to do that; because, if it’s offered to an idol, I don’t want anything to do with it.” (And it might possibly have been.) Now I want you to notice that, in the discourse here, at the end in verse 22 it says:

Romans 14:22 Have you faith? Have it to yourself before God [You don’t cram it down somebody else’s throat]. Happy is he that does not condemn himself in that thing which he allows. [In other words, whether he allows himself to eat meat that he doesn’t know for sure whether it has ever been contaminated by being offered to an idol.] (23) And he that doubts [In other words, if somebody honestly believes that they should eat no meat unless they absolutely know, categorically, that it’s never been offered to an idol, then he…] is damned if he eat [If he goes ahead and knowingly, or thinking that that is wrong, and yet he goes ahead and does it; then he’s damned if he eats, because it says…] because he eats not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Why is that? So, in other words, if we’re doing something which we believe to be wrong (even though we may be weak, even though we may be going down a wrong area), it destroys our character. So, I use this just as a precursor to this subject—you know, “Who humanly has the right to decide, or change, what God places in His Church?” If you genuinely think that something is wrong (that you should not be doing it)—regardless of what you know the Church may say—if you genuinely feel that something is wrong, you can destroy your character! And it says whatever is not of faith is sin.” So you’ve got to be aware of that, just that precursor.

DOCTRINE WITHIN THE CHURCH (PLAY FROM 9:26)

But let’s turn over, then, to Matthew 18; and go into this particular subject. In Matthew 18:19, it says:

Matthew 18:19-20 Again I say to you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. (20) For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Ah, there you go. It’s perfectly all right: the Church has the full right to go ahead and change whatever it wants. As long as two or three are gathered together, all agreed, that’s it. Well, that’s not it; and the reason it’s not it is that you’ve got to put this particular section into context. And the context that you find here, notice in verse 17, it says:

Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them [It’s talking about somebody who transgresses against you. You go to them alone; you then go with some others; and, if he doesn’t hear either, you then go… It says:] , tell it unto the church [In other words, the authorities within the Church.]: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican [He then gets disfellowshipped.]

So, in other words, there’s a certain step and procedures that actually we’ve got to go through; and then it says:

(Matthew 18:18) Whatsoever you shall bind…

Talking to the Church leaders at that time. “The Church”—the people that were the ministry at that particular time, the apostles as it was at this time. “Whatever you bind.” And if two or three of “you” agree in this area, then it shall be done. [Verse 19.]

And this is where you have a case where you’ve got somebody that needs to be disfellowshipped. That’s what it’s talking about. That’s the context of this particular verse. It is not talking about doctrine within the Church. It has nothing to do with doctrine within the Church. It is talking to the apostles at that particular time—the disciples—the people who are going to become the very ministers of the future.

When you are looking at doctrine within the Church, Christ was quite specific. If you turn back to Matthew chapter 16, He says in verse 15:

Matthew 16:15-19 He said to them, But whom say you that I am? (16) And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (17) And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to thee [Now, I want you to notice the tenses here. The tense is “to thee,” that’s singular.], but my Father which is in heaven. [So it’s dealing specifically with Peter at this particular time.] (18) And I say also unto you, That thou [singular] art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [Now it’s not just Peter. It was Peter and Him as the Rock, Christ Himself as the Rock. But notice,] (19) And I will give unto thee [singular—Peter] the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou [singular] shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou [singular] shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [And then it goes on.]

So, it’s clear that He’s talking specifically to Peter. And Peter was the head of…or he was later the chief apostle, basically. He was the chief apostle. He was the one who was over the other apostles to decide in certain cases. You even find that in Acts 15. But this particular case, it’s not talking about somebody…I want you to notice, however, that in verse 23, it’s not saying that Peter can go out and do whatever he likes. It’s because the Father was selecting him. It says, flesh and blood hasn’t revealed this.” The Father selected him. The Father revealed it because, in verse 23, it says (to Peter):

Matthew 16:23 … Get thee behind me, Satan: you are an offence unto me: for you savor not the things that be of God, but those that be of men

So, in other words, there is a time; even with Peter, He had to make sure that he was directly under the authority that was coming down from God; but within that authority he had the right to bind and to loose. Within that authority, he had that right to bind and to loose.

WHO IS THE “WE”? (PLAY FROM 13:53)

You see, there is a problem with the concept that the “we” that decides to bind and loose, the “we” that decides to go ahead and make a change, can be anybody or any Church. Who is the “we”? Is it a council of elders? Is that the “we”? Is it a self-appointed prophet? Is that the “we,” who makes that decision? Is it a chief evangelist that makes that decision? Or a self-appointed evangelist that makes the decision? Or a senior pastor? Or a local elder? Or a Church member for that matter? You know, who is it that actually makes that particular decision?

It’s interesting, I got an e-mail yesterday, it was. It says: “This Friday we’re showing the movie, ‘Called to be Free.’ It’s the story of the Worldwide Church of God’s miraculous journey from the bondage of heresy to freedom in Jesus Christ. It will bring deep encouragement to believers; and those in bondage in cults, legalism and heretical movements will find hope and good news in the inspiring story. Childcare is provided. Bring your friends.”

I don’t think I’ve got the actual invite but that was sent out. You see people (when I read part of that letter, and I’ve talked about straw men being erected), they tried to justify what the changes were through Scripture, if you remember. They tried to justify it. And they’ll be adamant that it’s justifiable through Scripture to change to Sunday. They’ll say it’s justifiable through Scripture. Who makes the decision on that?

Another one, let’s just read… This one was from a member who reckoned he had all the answers in the real problems within the Church. He says: “Now we go to the book and the chapter of what really puts it in true perspective, Ezekiel 34. Notice verse 5, ‘No shepherd.’ It says ‘no shepherd.’ Not one or a few, but ‘no’ (or none). There’s no shepherd there. [And it talks about the shepherds of Israel. It says:] This whole chapter [I’m having to jump about within this. It says:] is about the failure of God’s ministry to feed His flock. But here is the good news. God goes on here in Ezekiel 34 to show that He will do from this point on, because His ministers have failed. Here’s the good news, notice it in verse 11 [he says], ‘For thus says our Lord God, indeed, I myself will search for my sheep and seek them out.’ How exciting is that! Notice this again in verse 12 and really on through the rest of the chapter, God says over and over again that here it is: ‘I myself will do this.’ Why? Because the ministry have failed. In verses 12 and 13, God says He Himself will gather together His flock and deliver us and feed us. How awesome!”

In other words, all membership. They just sit at home by themselves, no ministerial guidance whatsoever. And this is one of the ideas that is floating out there. Again, taken from a website.

I can read you another one: “We are the true Church of God that the God of Israel, El Eloha Yisrael, is using at the end of time for the ingathering of the scattered people of Israel all over the world. Among all the offshoot Churches of God from the Worldwide Church of God founded by Mr. Herbert Armstrong, we are the only ones that truly represent God and Jesus Christ; and there is no other remnant from the Philadelphia Era but us. [So, pretty plain and straightforward.] All the other offshoot Churches of God organizations are simply trying to follow and copy the Work of the former Worldwide Church of God, that God has already given up on, to the wolves in sheep’s clothing. In keeping with the commandment of Jesus Christ that is written in Matthew 6:33, ‘But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,’ we are pursuing zealously and wholeheartedly the righteousness of God through our faithful observance and study of all the 613 commandments of God written in the law of Moses. [Okay, you see, the answer—the answer to all our problems. Okay?] This is the reason why we no longer need to repent. As you will notice in the message of Jesus Christ to the Church in Philadelphia, we’re not being admonished to repent unlike the other Churches and congregations of God, for we’ve already become like God. [This is a genuine website. I kid you not!] The law of Moses has made us pure, holy, and perfect spiritually, and the sacrificial death of Yeshua maintains our righteousness before the eyes of God. It’s like God had already given us eternal life...”

Who is “WE”? That’s the question! And that is the problem with people that go ahead and say, and use Scriptures, that you must grow in grace and knowledge. THEY DO NOT ADDRESS THE BASIC FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION! That’s the problem. And this is the solution. Why did I go on to that website? Because he e-mailed me with some “wonderful new revelation.” And I thought, “I’ve never heard of this guy before.” And I went on the website, and he’s got pages of this stuff (prophecies, and all this kind of stuff). There are hundreds and hundreds of these things.

Who is the “we”? Who has the right? Is God in the chaos? God has allowed it. He’s allowed a sifting process to take place. But is He the organization? As far as He is concerned, is He the author of chaos? You have got to have a standard somewhere. And we’ll go on, and we’ll have a look at that. You see, in case of Peter, he was told in John 21 (I haven’t got time to turn there, but in John 21 it’s taught): “Feed My sheep. Feed My lambs.” You know nurture, look after the Church. This was what he was actually given. If you’ll turn over to II Peter 1:12:

II Peter 1:12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance.

You see Peter was given the job towards the Church. He was put into a place of authority by Jesus Christ, over the other apostles, to make sure that there was a consistency within the Church. To make sure that the authority was there, that the decision-making within doctrine was not just a willy-nilly approach. That this piece and this group of council over here, a self-appointed prophet over there, some kind of a local Church… I mean, I’ve had local Church elders writing to me, convinced that they’ve got this wonderful new truth about the calendar. How we’re all completely off the wall as far as the calendar is concerned. I get it all the time!

II Peter 1:12-15 I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. (13) Yes, I think it [fitting], as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; (14) Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shown me. [And we can go to “Mystery of the Ages;” and we can see what Mr. Armstrong wrote in the introductory comments, and find him using almost identical type of languages within those comments.] (15) Moreover I will endeavour that you may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

It doesn’t end when the apostle dies. If the truth is the truth during his life, then the truth is the truth goes on after his death! There are foundations there; and it is the foundation—a spiritual heritage—that we align our teaching to, that we remain submissive to, so that we all speak the same thing. That’s what it’s for. That’s what it’s all about.

II Peter 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

In chapter two, in II Peter 2, it says:

II Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

So we see, in this particular section, that there was a problem at that time. People were teaching things which were different. But Peter said, “Look, you’ve got to hang on to what I have taught you. You’ve got to go back to what the revelation was that was given to us.” And, at this time, that revelation did come through a human being. We did not understand these things all on our own. We just didn’t do it! And it wasn’t Mr. Herbert Armstrong that did this. It was God Himself inspiring, because you don’t get “the meaning of life” by just out of a human mind.

II Peter 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. (3) And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation [and so on]

But, you know, I have another one here. Another e-mail from somebody who wrote to me about postponements; absolutely convinced that the postponements were, you know, “wrong”—we should “not” have postponements. (Within the calendar, they should be postponed when you have certain situations.)

And, you know, you will find that continually: That if you find people going back and saying, “You know, we must grow in the grace and knowledge” and trying to lead you (and everybody else away in the Church generally) away from the foundation, the question is not about whether we grow in grace and knowledge, or whether we don’t.

Of course we grow in grace and knowledge! But the question is “Who is the WE’?” Who is it that has the right to make the decisions within the Church? And in this shattered fragmented time that we find ourselves in today, there is no human “right” anywhere. There simply isn’t. They’ve all got their own ideas.

WHAT MUST BE GROWING? (PLAY FROM 24:55)

So, what must be growing? Well, here in II Peter, let’s read what it actually says over in II Peter 3. Notice right at the very end. The very end, the last thing that he leaves the Church with. Now remember, here he is, he’s the one that Christ did put in authority. He said, “Look, you are the one that can bind and loose.” And he says (in verse 18, it says):

II Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

That’s the Scripture that is being quoted, and it’s so often being quoted out of context because, when you start putting into the context… First of all, notice the two things you are growing in is in the grace and in the knowledge. Of what? Of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”. That’s what it says. “The grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” And the context, let’s pick it up from verse 13:

II Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we…

Now remember, we’ve been talking about the “we” as talking about for we have not followed cunningly devised fables” And it talks about how I will endeavor that you may be able after my decease.” This “we”. Okay?

II Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.

So, what must we grow in? Well, this righteousness is one area; because we’re not there, ready yet to be able to administer that righteousness for that Kingdom.

II Peter 3:14-16 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. (15) And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him has written unto you; (16) As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.

So they can take words; and they can pull words out of Paul and say, “Hey, look at this! Look at the other.” And then start twisting the actual words.

II Peter 3:17-18 You therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. (18) But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory [and honor].

When you put it into context, the context says the exact opposite. In other words, don’t let people go ahead and twist the words and to twist the meaning and to lead you down the garden path; but, instead, get your mind focused on growing in the knowledge—in the grace and knowledge—of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That is the important thing. And if you notice what it’s talking about, the way he actually begins the very book itself, in II Peter 1, where he says in verse 3, it says:

II Peter 1:3-8 According as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: [In other words, you’re looking again to Jesus Christ] (4) Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, [There’s the righteousness—the very nature that God has. That’s what it’s talking about.] having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. [This is the growing process. And here he then starts to explain how we grow.] (5) And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith [which is the initial thing; the faith in God. Do you trust in God in the process, that He’s working with us? You add to the faith] virtue [or warrior-like courage—the courage, the courage of our convictions. You have faith in God. You’ve then got to stand up and be counted.]; and to virtue [this courage] knowledge; [You’ve got to learn about what God’s way is. We’ve got to learn the way in which God is.] (6) And to [this] knowledge temperance [and self control. You’ve got to be not only just charging here, there, and everywhere; but there’s a certain control that is necessary, a self control.]; and to temperance patience [So you endure through this Christian life that we have.]; and to patience [good worship] [That this relationship with God… It’s not “godliness.” The word is better translated as “good worship.” This relationship with God is established and continues.]; (7) And to [This relationship with God; this “good worship.”] brotherly kindness [This “philia.” This love between brethren.] ; and to [that, this love of God. This] charity [The “agape”, which is the kind of love that God has.] (8) For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What’s it say we must grow in? “Grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And here he said how it’s done. And I will keep you always in remembrance of these things.” And this is what it’s talking about. So, what must we grow in? It’s a personal development, a personal relationship with God, so that we are righteous—ready to assume the role that God has for us in the future. That is what is important.

II Peter 1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off [He can’t see the purpose of the life that we have.], and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

He hasn’t even gone really back to where the beginning of that process has taken place. Let’s go on just a little bit more. Let’s turn back to Ephesians 4. In this subject of “what must we grow in,” what is it that we must develop? What must we grow in? Here in Ephesians 4, notice this verse 11. He says:

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

So there are offices within the Church. The ministry may well have gone ahead and gone off the rails, as this member was talking about. Many of them have. But the offices have been put into the Church for a purpose. Here in Ephesians 4:12, it says:

Ephesians 4:12-15 For the perfecting [Why? It says for the perfecting—the maturing] of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ [For teaching the Church, so that the Church has the correct kind of teaching.]: (13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: [We grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. That’s what it’s talking about. We have the same kind of stature as the Elder Brother that’s gone before us. That’s what it’s talking about.] (14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; [You can tell the difference between.] (15) But speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up [So, what must we grow up in? We must grow up…] into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

So, it is in all the facets of our existence that we grow up to the same level and stature. That is the aim. That is the growth. That is the way we grow in grace and knowledge. The idea that we grow in grace and knowledge as a Church to destroy the revelation that was given to the Church is just not right! And, as I say, the reason that’s not right is they are not asking the right question. The question is: Who is the “we?” Who makes the decision? Who has the right to make the decision within the Church?

GOD’S PURPOSE IN IT ALL (PLAY FROM 33:25)

Now if we just turn back a page here in Ephesians, to Ephesians 2. Again, what’s the purpose of this growth? As it says in verse 18:

Ephesians 2:18-21 For through him we both [That’s Jew and Gentile.] have access by one Spirit to the Father. [This relationship with God.] (19) Now therefore you [That’s the Gentiles.] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; (20) And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets [And that “apostles and prophets” are the apostles of that time, and the prophets are the Old Testament prophets], Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; [The One to whom all the foundation is aligned, where the foundation originates from.] (21) In whom [That’s in Christ.]all the building fitly framed together grows to a holy temple in the Lord.

So what must we grow in? We grow in the knowledge and the grace of Jesus Christ, to become a holy temple. A single holy temple. That’s what we grow in. We grow in righteousness. We grow in God’s mind, His character. That’s the area of growth.

Ephesians 2:22 In whom you also are builded together [Notice: built together. That’s with Jew and Gentile—the entire Church] for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

That is what it’s all about—so that the Godhead has reproduced Himself; that habitation of the Godhead in the Spirit, working within our minds. That’s the purpose of life, the meaning of life. You know, we talk about this, that the Godhead is actually reproducing His character in human flesh. That is awesome! Absolutely awesome!But it’s been revealed to the Church. It is reproducing godly character (holy, righteous, perfect godly character) in human flesh. And we’ve got to grow. It’s like a child in the womb. What happens with a child in the womb? A child in the womb has got to grow. It’s got to grow.

HOLD FAST TO WHAT? (PLAY FROM 36:00)

Okay, let’s ask the question: “What must we hold fast to?” Now, it talks about… I won’t actually turn there, but Revelation 3:11. It says YOU hold that fast which YOU have. That’s what the actual verse says. It’s Revelation 3:11. It’s a prophecy for our time. It’s talking about the Church at this time. And it’s talking about the remnant, if you like, of the Philadelphia Era. And here we’re looking at, it says:

Revelation 3:11 Hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown.

Turn over to I Corinthians 4. Here the people of Corinth also were going across to various different people who were making decisions independently of each other. “I’m of Paul.” “I’m of Apollos.” “I’m of Cephas.” “I’m of Christ.” All competing. And it wasn’t that one was actually of Paul, Apollos, or whatever. They had their own ideas, and they were competing together. And here, Paul brings out, in I Corinthians 4, notice in verse 7 it says:

I Corinthians 4:7-16 For who makes you to differ from another? And what have you that you didst not receive? [You know, what is it that you’ve got that you didn’t receive? What is it that we have that we haven’t actually received in the spiritual sense?] Now if you did receive it, why do you glory, as if you had not received it? [What are you doing as if you suddenly came with this Truth all by yourself? We didn’t. We simply didn’t come up with The Truth by our self at all! And he goes on. He goes into this. Again, he becomes very sarcastic. He says:] (8) Now you are full, now you are rich, you have reigned as kings without us [“You’re already there. You’ve already made it.” Almost like this guy I read from. You know, “We don’t need to repent, we’re already there!” Why? “Because we keep the six hundred and what-ever-it-is laws of Moses.” And it says:] (9) For I think that God has set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. (10) We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are honourable, [oh] but we are despised. [Sarcastic as he can possibly can be to these people! And he says in verse 14, he says:] (14) I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. (15) For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have you not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. [He was the one that Christ used to open their mind—through his words, through his preaching.] (16) Therefore I beseech you, be you followers of me. [That is, the apostle Paul—because he was the apostle being used at that particular time.]

Now if we go over to Matthew 17, turn over to Matthew 17, coming after (ha), amazingly, Matthew 16, where in Matthew 16 it’s saying “You are Peter, and upon this Rock,” it says, “I will give you the keys (It’s “the” singular. “The keys…”) to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind and whatever you loose” (as far as setting doctrine within the Church—as long as he is under that authority of God; and God the Father is working through him—because it’s clear from the context, but there’s no indication that anything else was the case). He then flows into Matthew 17 (which Peter himself refers back to, in II Peter) where He is actually transfigured before them; and Peter is a witness to that. And right after this, he goes in and actually has the question asked in verse 10:

DEFINING “ALL THINGS” (PLAY FROM 40:01)

Matthew 17:10-11 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that [Elijah] must first come? (11) And Jesus answered and said unto them, [Elijah] truly shall first come, and restore all things.

Now, does that mean to say everything? All knowledge within the Church? It’s not a case of all knowledge! It’s all knowledge that is needed for this end time. It’s “everything that is needed for this end time” he will be instrumental in establishing. Now let’s face it: The meaning of life, you don’t get more than that! There is not more than that.

Matthew 17:11 [Elijah] truly shall first come, and restore all things.

And, in this particular section, the question is: “Has he come, or hasn’t he come?” If he hasn’t come already, if this verse is not true as of now, then it has got to happen again, doesn’t it? People are going to have to look for somebody else. And the ‘somebody else’ they’re looking for has got to be greater than the knowledge than we’ve already got.

Now, I’ve covered all this before. I’m “teaching grandmother to suck eggs” in many ways. But, realistically, when I read something like the letter that I used in the introduction, all of these things come back. It’s going back to our basis. It’s going back to the roots. It’s going back to the foundational things we went through all those years ago—three, four, five years ago (Well, more than that.)—when we first started to understand how we need to get back on track. We need to start going back and understanding just what it was that we were taught. And you talk about “growing in grace and knowledge.” We do grow in grace and knowledge. We never got it! That’s the problem! And we GROW IN the grace and knowledge that was there—that was given to us.

But, you know, what do we hold fast to? If you go over now to II Peter 1. Go back to II Peter again. It says, remember, it says Elijah was going to restore all things, wasn’t he? This end-time Elijah was going to restore all things. And people make a great deal about that. But, notice, it says:

II Peter 1:1-3 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: (2) Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, (3) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things [All things, what? “All things…”] that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue:

We’re going back to that same thing! What do we have to hold fast to? All things that relate to life and godliness. It’s the foundation areas. We grow in that. But the basis, the foundation areas, remain constant. They remain constant. All the things that we need at this particular time. In II Peter 1, notice in verse 19, it says:

II Peter 1:19-21 We have also a more sure word of prophecy [And that word “prophecy” means more than just foretelling the future. It’s forth-telling. It’s speaking forth under inspired perspective.]; whereunto you do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: [There is when the fullness will come. But until that time comes, you take notice of what, in fact, we’ve been taught.] (20) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. [And this is a problem. This is the problem within the Church.] (21) For the prophecy came not at any time [as it says in the margin] by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

And as it says over in chapter 3, verse 2:

II Peter 3:2 That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: [Because, at that time, there were problems coming into the Church.]

If we just look at a couple of final Scriptures: Jude chapter 1, just go over a few pages to Jude. In Jude 1 it says:

Jude 1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: (2) Mercy to you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. [Notice: Mercy, peace, love “be multiplied”—grow. So there’s your area of growth!] (3) Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write to you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend…

Now that word is actually one word. “Earnestly contend” is one single Greek word; and it means, you know, you earnestly fight for. The actual same word (that is part of that word that is used for the contending) is where you find in I Corinthians 9:25, where it says and every man that strives for the mastery (the word “strives”) is temperate in all things.” That word “strive,” it’s like being in a competition in the Greek games. I Timothy 6:12, it says, “fight the good fight.” That word “fight” is this word “contend.” II Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight. I have finished my course.” The word “fight” is this word “contend.” Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many shall say unto you, seek to enter in and you will not be able to.” That’s over in Luke 13:24. That “strive” is this word, where it says “strive earnestly”—“earnestly contend,” rather.

So you earnestly contend. You fight for something. And what is it that we have to fight for? What is it that we have to hold fast for? And what is it that we have to contend? It says:

Jude 3 … for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints [The ones that were a part of the Church.]

“The faith that was once delivered.” That word that is once, also it has a bit more than just “once.” It’s a case of once with a finality about it. You find it over in Hebrews 6:4, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, …to fall away to be renewed again.” Hebrews 9:27, “It’s appointed unto man once to die.” There’s a finality about it. Hebrews 9:28, Jesus Christ was once offered to bear the sins of [so] many.”

And, again, what’s it saying here? That you contend, you fight for, the faith that was once delivered to the saints. You go back to what was delivered to us. And that, in fact, is something that God Himself did for the Church, that Christ actually led the Church, in the past.

So, the question is… So many times these questions that are posed are straw men. They are questions that are not really the question at hand. The question is not whether the Church must change or not. Of course the Church must change. But who is the “we” to decide what the revelation is? Who is it that makes that decision? That is the question! And, as I say, the question has never even been broached at all within that letter—not a single, solitary time; and this really is something that we’ve got to understand.

What areas do we grow in? Well, we grow in the fact that we are reflecting the divine nature. It is the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. We’re reflecting that divine nature. Remember… Turn over to II Corinthians 3, final scripture. It says in verse 18:

II Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord [So we are looking in a mirror.], are [being] changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Now, what does it mean? “From glory to glory.” Why “glory to glory”? How is that image being changed? The glory that is Christ, the Godhead (The glory that is the Godhead—His perfect, righteous character). That’s the glory! TO the glory that will be ours, because we’ve taken on the same mind. So it’s from glory to glory; and it is a reflection that grows, that develops.

So what, in fact, is it that we must grow in? It’s in reflecting that divine nature that is mentioned over in II Peter 1. That’s what it’s all about. That’s the growth. That’s the growth area. It’s like child in the womb. A child in the womb has got to grow! We are a child in the womb. We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to develop in…to become a God being. Become a being, the same as Jesus Christ was “born again.” We must be “born again” as He was. He was not born again in the human flesh, He was born again as a spirit being. That’s what we’re aiming towards. That’s what we’re actually going towards—to be actually a God-being, as Christ is. “Changed into the same image, from glory to glory.”

And what areas do we hold fast? We “hold that fast which [we] have.” What we have - what we have been given — the revelation that has been given to us. A child in the womb does not change how it grows. It has got to change. It has got to grow. But it doesn’t change how it grows. It doesn’t change the foundation of the growth process. That does not change! And that is what we have. That is what we have to hold fast - is what we have. Now that is the revelation of God. That is the revelation of God, given at this end time, through the apostle that God sent.


Transcribed by KDO January, 2006