This week we thought we will look into what it means to practice godly agape love by “speaking the truth in love”. The apostle Paul explains in many places in his epistles that the brethren are to teach and to exhort others to live according to God’s truth and righteousness including the times when it may be painful to speak that truth.
Here is what UCG is teaching about love [and other groups are leaning towards this falsehood. They are teaching that a sentimental emotional feel good, is love; Instead of the truth that the Word of God defines true godly love, and that true love is to keep the whole Word of God. Jelly Learns About Love
It is true godly agape love to teach the truth that sets people free (John 8:32.) from bondage to sin. It is keeping the truth that liberates people from sin, and when we speak the truth to others, they, too, have a chance to be liberated from falsehood and sin.
The whole world lies under the sway of the evil one (1st John 5:19). God sent His Son to reveal the truth to mankind and in doing so Jesus sets the captives free (those that have been held in bondage to Satan’s lies all of their lives) if they listen, believe in Him, repent, and then follow in all of His ways. This was the basis of Jesus’ ministry on earth when He was here as a man: to speak and to demonstrate the whole TRUTH of GOD to mankind.
When Jesus was twelve He told His earthly parents that He must be about His Father’s business, which was to learn and then teach every Word of God. It is the whole Word of God that sets men free and that has been the Father’s and Son’s mission from the time of Adam and Eve’s rebellion, when the first couple chose to believe Satan’s lie rather than to believe their Creator.
At the beginning of His ministry Jesus stated what His mission on earth as a man was to fulfill true godly love by teaching all people to live by every Word of God. After his ascension his disciples would continue to fulfill true godly agape love which is to live by every Word of God, by teaching the truth without compromise to all people. This is still the work of God the Father and the Son on earth which they are managing from heaven.
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
The whole world lies under Satan’s deception and are in need of being set free and it is only through the work of God that humanity will be delivered from Satan’s bondage.
Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Growing Up In Christ
In Ephesians, chapter 4, Paul talks that speaking the truth in love is so very necessary to keep the brethren in the truth of God and protect humanity from the decay and death which sin brings, whereby they can then grow to the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
The Greek word for “love” in this verse is “agapé”, the same word used for “charity” in 1st Corinthians 13 (the love chapter) that we studied last week. Agape is (Strong’s #26) From agapao; love, i.e. Affection or benevolence; specially (plural) a love-feast–(feast of) charity(-ably), dear, love. (Strong’s Concordance)
What does it really mean to “Speak the Truth in Love”? The Greek word that is translated “speak the truth” is alétheuó (Strong’s # 226) means more than speak, it means embody, speak truth, do truth, live truth.
Paul is admonishing us to live, speak, embody God’s reality, and by this we exemplify his divine, unselfish, sacrificial [agape] love.
Here is the definition from Word Helps and Strong’s Concordance: alétheuó comes from 225 alḗtheia (from 227 /alēthḗs, “true to fact”) – properly, truth (true to fact), reality. Definition: truth, but not merely truth as spoken; truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to man, straightforwardness. 226 /alētheúō (literally, “to truth”) includes Spirit-led confrontation where it is vital to tell the truth so others can live in God’s reality rather than personal illusion. [In ancient Greek culture, 225 (alḗtheia) was synonymous for “reality” as the opposite of illusion, i.e. fact.] speaking reality (truth) into a person’s life, making a record of what God deems is truth (reality, fact). See 225 (alētheia).
In Ephesians 4:15 Paul says that he is speaking the truth in love and according to the Greek definition of agape, if he is speaking the truth according to agape love then it must be for the ultimate good of the people he is speaking to and the reality of what God deems to be truth.
What is the context of his “speaking the truth in love” and how is it benefiting those who are hearing his words spoken in love?
Here is the setting from which Paul says this
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Paul begins this section, about speaking the truth in love, with this verse that lists the offices of responsibility that God gives some, and then follows up in the subsequent verses with an explanation of the purposes and functions of those whom God has gifted and placed in these various offices.
Those people who serve diligently in their respective positions are not only gifted by God to perform their duties, but they, in turn are a gift to the Ekklesia if they are faithfully carrying out their God-given responsibilities. They are a gift to the body of Christ because of the role that they play in helping others to grow spiritually through their preaching, teaching and administrative works; but the work that they do is also supposed to help and protect the believers to avoid the pitfalls of succumbing to false teachers and false doctrines.
What is the purpose and function for which God places these persons in their respective roles?
Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
They are to faithfully minister to and edify the brethren by their preaching, teaching and exhorting, so that all may come to the complete knowledge of the truth [every Word of God]; and thereby all will be in perfect unity with Christ who is in perfect unity with His Father.
The various people who are appointed by God for these offices are also to protect the brethren from false teachings, from cunning crafty false teachers who sneak into the assemblies to deceive and to gain a following for themselves to take the members away from the truth of God.
How do they protect the brethren from false teachings? By teaching the whole truth of every Word of God as the ultimate standard of godly truth!
Ephesians 4:14 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;
This verse reminds me of times when I would go sailing. The sailboat would go nowhere if we did not put down the centerboard.
We would have to lift it up when launching out from shallow waters and if we forgot to put it down once we took off, the sailboat would careen around aimlessly; and if it was really windy, the boat would lean to one side and almost tip over unless we hurried and put down the centerboard.
The centerboard (or keel) is basically a flat blade sticking down into the water from a sailboat’s bottom. It has two functions: it prevents the boat from being blown sideways by the wind, and it holds the ballast that keeps the boat right-side up. Without a keel the boat is just pushed and blown whatever way the wind blows.
A person without the truth of every Word of God as his keel and foundation as his guide is like a sail boat without a centerboard and they are easily blown off course; anything that sounds good or makes them feel good or teachings that somehow supplies their emotional needs can easily sway or redirect them.
The past misuse of authority to abuse the brethren has established the present longing for a more feel good kind of false love and the brethren have been set up for the kind of meaningless without substance sentimentalism which is presently being passed off as “love” is much promoted by the false religions and even by COG groups today, appealing to the emotions and this error can easily sway us if we are not grounded in the whole Word of God.
We need to keep our focus on God’s Word which is truth at all times, to keep us from being misled by the deceitful teachers that abound among (Mat 24) us in our present evil world and who have subtly crept into and among the Ekklesia (Please see the whole epistle of Jude).
God’s servants are to “speak the truth in love,” by which they are to teach, exhort, admonish, warn, and, yes, even correct and rebuke when necessary. Paul did all of these things powerfully and faithfully in his role as a true apostle.
Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in [agape] love.
Paul tells us that we are to grow in Christ and that we must not stay immature. Those that are young in the faith and still lack knowledge of God’s Word are especially vulnerable; but then there are those who have been in the faith for a long time but have become stuck or have allowed themselves to follow after deceitful cunning teachers and have stop growing.
It is easy to be become tossed about, blown here and there by teachers who appear to be godly on the surface, but are in fact cunning and skilled in crafty scheming, who seek to sway people from the truth and lead them down false paths and into false traditions of men, rather than teaching them the sound doctrines of God’s Word.
That is what has happened and is still happening in the various COG groups today.
Instead of embracing the sound doctrine contained in the Holy Scriptures as taught by the true apostles, we have become stuck in the falsehoods that have crept in over the centuries and in our recent history.
Many, have for a long time now and are even still following after certain men that have set themselves up over us and have gained control over most of the Ekklesia with their false doctrine, especially this Primacy of Peter doctrine of the Nicolaitanes.
We are to only listen to those who “speak the truth” in love and follow them only as they follow Christ and the whole Word of God, and this speaking of truth, studying, meditating on it and applying it to our lives matures us in the faith.
God’s truth is to be our foundation or keel which keeps us going in the right direction and keeps us from tipping over and drowning in the sea of false doctrines and traditions of men.
By speaking the truth in all things, even when it might be painful to tell the truth, the Ekklesia develops into the full measure of the stature of Christ; and in this way the collective body will eventually grow into a mature spiritually fit bride for Christ.
Ephesians 4:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 4:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 4:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Paul goes on to give more instructions in how the brethren are to live godly lives (and not live according to the ways of unbelievers which includes the many false teachers among us who are not godly examples for the Ekklesia) and how we are to be renewed spiritually in our minds by putting on the “new spiritual man” and live a life of holiness and righteousness.
Paul concludes his instruction about this subject by saying that we are to put away lying [false teachings] and to speak the TRUTH [teach every Word of God] to our neighbor; the word “neighbor” represents all people.
Speaking the truth of every Word of God – and personally living by every Word of God – is the definition of godly agape love
Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 4:19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Brethren, many if not most of us have been taught and are still being taught that it is wrong to judge, to say anything negative, to expose those who are sinning, to speak up to defend the truth as taught in the Bible if it is not being taught by our leaders. We are told that we are in rebellion against God if we speak out to warn others about false leaders and how they are harming and/or taking advantage of the brethren.
We have been told that if we speak out against sin in the ministry in any way that we are like the complainers and murmurers that these verses talk about:
2 Corinthians 10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
We have all heard ministers and COG leaders tell the story of Korah and his rebellion in Numbers 16 and compare those who speak up for biblical truth and righteous purposes with those that went against Moses.
And we do agree that it is wrong to gossip and slander others and speak disrespectfully to those in authority or to anyone for that matter.
It is wrong to judge others in a way that is a form of condemnation; and we are to always try our best to treat others with kindness and respect for their person-hood; and again we refer back to 1 Corinthians 13 that gives us spiritual guidelines on how we are to treat others. Paul instructed the brethren how we are to be subject to those that are in authority, those who are not leading us astray or when obeying them does not conflict with the laws of God.
Nevertheless the Ultimate Authority is God the Father! and our FIRST duty is to God the Father and every Word of God the Almighty!
Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
We read how God hates gossiping, slandering, speaking evil of others; which is spreading lies and falsehoods. Nevertheless we are to speak the TRUTH to all; in order to bring all to sincere repentance and so save them! Speaking the truth to all is an act of godly love which may save many by bringing them to sincere repentance.
Proverbs 16:28 A froward [self-willed] man soweth strife: and a whisperer [telling false things in secret] separateth chief friends.
To “speak the truth in love” is not about sinful speaking in the way of gossiping and slander by spreading false tales in secret; but God says that we are to declare the truth openly and to judge righteously, meaning we are to judge every situation and to judge as to IF there is sin involved in those situations.
It never wrong to judge someone’s conduct, to openly expose lies and/or sins, correct those that are sinning, or warn against false teachers and false prophets! Jesus said to “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment”. (John 7:24)
We are commanded to judge but only in the way that God tells us to.
We are to judge all things as to whether those things are in alignment with the righteousness and holiness of God; and when they are not, we are to detach ourselves from them and we are to speak out against wicked things. God tells us by Isaiah that we must speak up and seek justice.
Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Solomon tells us to speak up for those who are unable to defend themselves, those who are desolate and have no one protecting them.
Proverbs 31:8 Open thy mouth for the dumb [for those who cannot speak for themselves] in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction [for the rights of all who are left desolate and defenseless].
In Leviticus God tells us that we are to speak to our neighbor when we see sin, in order to save him. Here God says that if we do not rebuke our neighbor for sinning, we are actually contributing to their sin; we become enablers of sin if we do not do what we can in warning them to stop sinning.
Leviticus 19:17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer [permit him to sin without warning him] sin upon him
We are to rebuke sin and not allow our neighbor to continue in sin without warning him, we are to help him understand that he is sinning so he can repent and not continue in sin. Such a warning is true godly agape love for in warning him we may save his life.
If we do not openly rebuke sin, then we have become responsible for the unrebuked sin.
This corresponds to what God told Ezekiel and told us through Ezekiel. The Ekklesia is also appointed to serve as a Watchman by preaching the Gospel and by giving warning.
Ezekiel 3:17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 3:18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 3:19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
3:20 Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 3:21 Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.
Because there have been so few in our recent history in the Ekklesia willing to speak out against sin, false doctrines, the Primacy of Peter philosophy, the traditions of men that are upheld in lieu of sound doctrine and setting our leaders and their corporate entities above God; the scattered divided condition of the church stays the same, and in fact is getting worse because wickedness is being allowed to grow like a cancer.
Many false teachings and lax obedience to the commandments of God have been brought into the Ekklesia over the years and still proliferate to this day.
The following are some Scriptures showing how the apostles spoke out and how they did not mince words when it came to exposing sin and falsehoods, naming names, warning brethren to be aware of certain men, and in some cases in bringing scathing rebuke on certain ones that were openly trying to dissuade those whom God was calling to His truth.
3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. 1:11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
1 Timothy 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 1:20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Titus 1:10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 1:11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. 1:12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 1:13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 1:14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
2 Timothy 2:16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 2:17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 2:18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…
When a leading deputy wanted to hear Barnabas and Paul’s Gospel message, another man (a sorcerer) tried to turn the deputy against believing in the words of Paul.
How many of us have friends or even close family members who try to turn us against God and try to discourage us from living wholeheartedly in obedience to all of God’s commandments and ordinances? Paul spoke out very sharply against this man; he held nothing back and even cursed him with blindness. This may seem very unloving and even harsh but God backed Paul up by performing the miracle that helped caused the deputy to believe.
Acts 13:7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. 13:8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. 13:9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. 13:10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
Acts 13:11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. 13:12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
Peter severely rebuked Simon for his covetousness and the sin of wanting to buy with money the gifts of the Holy Spirit; this was after Simon was baptized, revealing that baptism is no proof of real conversion. Peter exposed him for what he was and told him he needed to repent of having a wicked heart.
Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 8:19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 8:21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 8:23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
Paul heard the reports of evil-doing in the congregation at Corinth and quickly dealt with it so that it’s effects would not cause even more damage. He not only protected the church from the effect the sin was having on the members of the congregation because they were condoning it, but also he openly rebuked the sinner and pronounced judgment on him.
Latter this church member did come to his senses and repented and he was welcomed back into the fellowship. If Paul had been too timid to deal with a sinning brother, the effects of this vile sin would have continued to fester among the members and this person would have never been given the incentive to see his sin for what it was and then have an opportunity to repent.
1 Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 5:2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.
In the Gospels there are many examples of Jesus speaking out and He never hesitated to rebuke those who were wicked and sinning and/or full of hypocrisy.
Mark 7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 7:10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 7:11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 7:12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
When Jesus beheld the money changers making the Temple into a place of merchandise, He not only rebuked them but also drove them and their livestock out of the Temple. He then turned over their tables and spilled out the coins. It was because He was filled with a righteous zeal for His Father and for the sanctity of God’s Holy Temple that He spoke out; not only speaking out, but doing something about the sin by stopping the dishonest money changers from desecrating something that was supposed to be regarded as Holy.
John 2:15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 2:16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 2:17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
We need more godly men in the Ekklesia today with this kind of zeal for the truth of God, willing to speak out against sin, injustice and wickedness when they spot it in our assemblies. We need servants that alert and warn us of those among us who who say that they are our authorities and that they should be obeyed and followed rather than pointing the people to God the Father and to His Son, Jesus Christ.
Please read the whole discourse in Matthew 23 of how Jesus spoke up to the hypocritical religious leaders of His day and the things that He called them. He spoke the truth and exposed them for the corrupt leaders that they were and told them that they were “hypocrites”. He rightly stated that they were not teaching or leading those who were under their authority properly the righteousness of God; but rather by their false teachings and by their example they where making their subjects “children of hell”.
Matthew 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
23:16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
23:17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
23:18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
23:19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
23:20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
23:21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
23:22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
23;29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
In Matthew 18, Jesus instructs believers in how they are to approach and deal with a brother that is sinning. If that brother humbly accepts that he has erred and then repents, that is a very good thing; but if not, then Jesus tells us what we and the assembly are to do to get sin out of the assemblies.
Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican [remove him from the assembly].
By going to our brother and then speaking to them, we not only stop the sinning from being in our midst and from possibly corrupting others; but we are also to try to help restore the sinner to righteous living again and thereby saving him from God’s wrath.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
James 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 5:12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 5:13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
Isaiah 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
If we have been shown the truth in certain matters and we withhold that truth knowing that others will be harmed because of their lack of knowledge in those matters, we become at fault in contributing to the evil.
Proverbs 24:11 If thou forbear [neglect] to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; [are in danger of being slaughtered] 24;12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, [God, who guards your life] doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
To fail to warn the sinner would be like walking by our neighbor’s house and seeing billowing smoke coming out of the basement windows and then not running in to warn the owners that their house is about to burst into flames. If we neglect to tell them what we know and they burn up because they were not warned them, we are held accountable to God for doing nothing.
God’s people are called to become the very sons of God and we are to become righteous as God is righteous, to love as God loves, we are also called to help our brethren attain to righteousness whenever we can.
It is not easy to take a stand and to speak out against sin, especially when it involves those we love dearly and we do not want to offend them. But to rid the church of sin and false teachings we must do it.
Like a cancer; in order for the body to begin the healing process the cancer has to be eliminated, either by cutting it out or by shrinking it to nothing through strong medicine. And it can be very painful for both the ones that speak out and for the ones that receive the truth about what they are doing wrong or what they are believing that is not according to the clear teachings and the truth of the Bible.
We all know that those who do take a stand will receive backlash for doing so from those who refuse to hear the truth, who refuse to look at what has happening, who do not want to be told that their leaders are wrong and those leaders are not teaching according to sound doctrine.
So the ones that are seeing the errors for what they are, hesitate to speak up; it is only natural to not want to be ostracized and mocked for speaking the truth. Some of us have already been disfellowshipped and disowned by families for stepping out in faith to obey God rather than the men who say that they are our leaders.
Many just do not want to “rock the boat” but if by rocking the boat it will get the boat back on course (at least for the few who will listen) that is a very good and loving thing to do.
We Are Our Brother’s Keeper
Long ago one of the first sons of Adam, Cain, murdered his brother Abel and then was asked by God where his brother Abel was. Cain answered back with a brazen lie that he did not know and then added insolently “am I my brother’s keeper?”
Genesis 4:9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
There is some truth to what Cain had said for we cannot control all the things that threaten the safety and well-being of others at all times, and each person is responsible for taking care of himself in most respects.
But we are our brothers’ keeper in the sense that we are not to harm anyone or to commit violet crimes against them as Cain had done to his brother; and we are not to allow others to do harm to them if there is any way we can prevent it. We are also to do good to our neighbors and love them as we love ourselves. This is the Word and the agape love of God!
This kind of being the “keeper” of our brothers and sisters is what God does require of us, especially those He has called and is training to be kings and priests in His future Kingdom.
We are in training to truly be mankind’s righteous and loving teachers and helpers, and God only wants those who truly love their fellowman enough to tell them the truth, to be the leaders and rulers over the earth when His Kingdom is established.
God does demand that we fulfill the role of being our brother’s keeper in the sense of fulfilling the royal law of love and warning others to turn from the sin that is destroying them.
The called-out people of God are called to be the keepers of their fellowman in two ways: first we are not to do anything harmful or to try to take advantage of others. This includes harming them with our tongues or words in the form of gossip and slander, which is secretly lying about others [which is so often done in today’s Ekklesia by telling partial truths to deceive about the whole truth] or with false teachings, or verbal abuse of any kind; and second by warning them to turn from the sin that is destroying them.
1 Thessalonians 4:6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
2 Corinthians 12:20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 3:9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
The foremost and most descriptive chapter on agape love is 1 Corinthians 13. It is Paul’s detailed description of what it means to love in the very spirit and intent of God’s law of love, and at the end of the chapter we are reminded that [agape] love is even greater than faith and hope.
Chapter 13 follows Chapter 12 where Paul explains how the Body of Christ (the Ekklesia) is like the human body and is made up of many members, all of whom are important to the function and well-being of the Ekklesia and we are to care for one another.
The writers of the New Testament continually encouraged the brethren to love one another and that is what we must do; by constantly edifying each other (which includes speaking the truth) with our words and thereby building up the Body of Christ. That is part of our calling.
Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
1 Thessalonians 4:9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
Sometimes true godly love must warn, admonish, reprove or exercise correction. However, the correction is always to be done in the spirit of agape love and always with the goal of reconciliation of the sinning parties with God and with each other.
Titus 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
2 Timothy 2:23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
2 Thessalonians 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 3:15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
And as quoted earlier, Matthew 18:15-17 teaches the proper protocol of seeking the restoration of and reconciliation with a sinning brother.
Paul wrote to the brethren who were of the Thessalonian congregation, which was written for all of us, so that we are to follow certain instructions for those who do exhort and admonish according to what God says to do:
“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)
As fellow laborers and as believers, we are to be our brother’s keeper and we are to be filled with agape love toward them, building them up and edifying them and sometimes correcting them to help them remain faithful to God’s Word and to stay on track just as Paul wrote to the Romans.
Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Romans 15:2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
We Must Warn Others When We Perceive Deception in Our Midst
Many of you reading this are part of the history of what happened 20-50 years ago in the Ekklesia in the WCG. In January of 1995 all pretense came down and the very core teachings of the Sabbath and the Holy Days were rejected by that corporate organization. At that time we were told by the men that we trusted to be our leaders and pastors, that those things were no longer valid and we did not have to keep them anymore.
But many other changes to existing doctrines had already been made in much more subtle ways for years previous. There had been many signs that things were happening behind the scenes and yet I don’t remember anyone stepping up to the plate to warn the brethren that the church had been taken over by wolves until it became very obvious.
Because of indoctrination with the Nicolaitan doctrine, we feared we were disobeying God if we even thought the men at headquarters were misleading the brethren. We were taught that the man at the top was a modern day apostle. Many of us were deceived and got caught up with believing that the Pastor General and the ministers were right no matter what; and many of us followed them right into embracing the “new” false doctrines that they brought in.
The stranglehold of the vile Niclolaitan abomination – which Jesus Christ hates (Rev 2:6. 2:15) – keeps so many of the brethren in bondage to false teachings and to the corporate organizations and their leaders who are still misleading the Ekklesia to this day.
Perhaps we could have been spared a lot of pain and spiritual damage if we had only known what was going on behind the scenes, or could have rightly been told the things that were being done openly; but like the emperor with no clothes, it seems that no one wants to be the first to admit the obvious and speak out on these things.
Cry Aloud and Spare Not (Isaiah 58:1)
Today, unlike the years when WCG was breaking up, we have the Internet and we can have instant information any time we want and we can look up the history and see in hindsight of what really was going on with the leadership and with those that we thought were the true guardians of God’s truth.
There have been some who were right there in the thick of things at WCG headquarters who have come forward and spoken the truth, who seek to dispel the lies that were propagated in those years when many of us were being called. These things have been documented and not a few witnesses have told the real facts behind the facade of righteousness that was presented to the members in past years. So much of what we thought was true of these people were lies and they brought much error, abuse, and pain into the assemblies to advance their own causes.
Today in our modern times, a latter day work has begun which has the courage and is willing to step out and to tell us to prove all things that we have been taught from Scripture and to obey the whole Word of God rather than to blindly follow those who teach that it is okay to pollute the Sabbath; who demand and require that their members follow after a man-made calendar that deceives them into keeping the Holy Days on the wrong dates; who teach us that to disobey them is to disobey God; who are confused as to the true meanings of the Holy Days and festivals, and etc., etc. (Please See 2 Corinthians 11:19-20)
This work is the only one that I know of who is speaking out in this way (preaching and warning) and he is doing so out of love for you, the brethren (agape love for his brothers and sisters in the faith) not for gain, this is a very poor work in monetary terms, but is rich in faith and agape love.
Please help our efforts by supporting this work in reaching the rest of our brethren with the TRUTH, shining the light of God’s truth with sincere warning and admonishment to return to the true faith that was delivered unto the saints in the early days of the apostles.
Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
This is AGAPE LOVE: that God’s people, those who are the followers of Jesus Christ, desire that all men will be saved (just as God the Father and His son Jesus do) and are willing to tell them their sins and that they are following the traditions of men rather than adhering to the Sound Doctrines of the God’s Holy Scriptures.
2 Peter 2:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
And when we speak the truth in love we are doing God’s work here on earth exposing error and stating what is true, and for all those who listen, we are giving them the chance to come to the true knowledge of God as well to the saving of their souls [their eternal lives]. We too are, in effect, setting captives free!
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 1:22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 1:23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Who is on the Lord’s Side? It is a Day of Decision; Let Us Take a Stand for God’s Truth and Speak the Truth
Exodus 32:26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.
When Moses went up to the mountain to speak with God and to receive the Ten Commandments, the Israelites waited for him to come back down; and when he delayed they grew impatient and quickly turned aside from God’s commandments (Exodus 32). They went to Aaron and demanded that he make them new gods [idols]. So Aaron did as they bid him and made a golden calf to worship.
God told Moses what the Israelites had done and told him to go down and deal with the people. After seeing the golden calf and what the people were doing Moses became very angry. Then in verse 26 Moses stood at the Gate of the Camp and this is what he said to all the people. “Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me.” Only the sons of Levi gathered to stand by Moses showing that they were for Moses, but really they were taking a stand for God and showing that they, as Moses, opposed and condemned the wickedness that had taken place in the camp.
Think about it. Here was just one man who had come down from the mountain after receiving God’s Commandments. When he saw the Israelites worshiping the golden calf he must have been dumbfounded. After all the events that had happened since God had sent him and Aaron to deliver them out of slavery, the people were still following after other gods rather than seeking the one true God that had brought them out of bondage and the pagan ways of Egypt.
Since that time, God sends out His Gospel message to the people of the world and says basically the same “Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me.” It is God who calls and the Bible says He calls many people but only a few answer His call. “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14
In Proverbs, God through Solomon says that wisdom stands in the top of the high places, and at the gates of the city and she appeals to men and women to listen to God to hear His voice and to turn in the way of wisdom, which are all the ways taught in God’s Word.
Proverbs 1:8 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
1:2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.
1:3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.
1:4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
1:5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
1:6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
1:7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
1:8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.
1:9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
1:10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
In this life there are really only two camps: one is on the side of darkness, deception and wickedness; the other is on the side of God and His Holy Righteous ways. There is no compromise or complacency between the two camps, there is no middle ground. We may try to have our feet in both camps but that does not work. We are either for God or against Him. If we attempt to have it both ways, we become the enemies of God.
What camp do we want to be in? This was the question that Moses asked the people of Israel and this is the question that Christ is asking those of us who are being called to be a part of the Ekklesia today.
We are at a pivotal time in the history of mankind just before the tribulation is about to begin (perhaps within the next few years or so, only God knows) but we see the signs of the time and know we are close. God is calling to those He has called out from the world, (from Egypt) “will you now come out from the false traditions and the errors that have become so embedded in the Ekklesia since the time of the original apostles?”
God is looking for men and women who will take a stand and speak out just as Moses and Joshua did on that day of decision so many years ago. “Who is on the Lord’s side”. This question was asked in different ways by other servants of God in the Bible. One of them was David who asked the men who came to him whether they had come to be a part of his army or if they had come to betray him; and Amasai spoke up and told him that they wanted to be on his side, not on the side of David’s enemies.
1 Chronicles 12:16 And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David. 12:17 And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them, If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you: but if ye be come to betray me to mine enemies, seeing there is no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it. 12:18 Then the spirit came upon Amasai, who was chief of the captains, and he said, Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse: peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to thine helpers; for thy God helpeth thee. Then David received them, and made them captains of the band.
Abigail had recognized who David was and that he had been appointed by God to fight the Lord’s battles; so these men, in essence, were volunteering to help David and to be a part of his army that was for the Lord. David and his army was figurative of the Lord and the Lord’s army of believers.
1 Samuel 25:28 I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the LORD, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days.)
When Jesus began to teach some hard things to His disciples, many of them refused to accept His teachings and they were offended and therefore they departed and left off from being Jesus’ disciples. (What a shame and what a lost opportunity to become pillars in the early group of believers.)
John 6:58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
6:59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
6:60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
6:61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
6:62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
John 6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 6:69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
And then we have the famous words of Elijah who had King Ahab gather the false prophets of Baal and the people of Israel to Mount Carmel and then said to them:
“How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” (1 Kings 18:17-21)
I believe that this question is going out to the people of God at this time before it is too late; will we follow false teachers that compromise with the laws and ordinances of God, who are deceiving the people to stay locked into the errors we have carried over from COG leaders of the past? or will we have the courage to step out and be like the sons of Levi (as it says of them in Exodus 32:26) and say “YES” to God when He asks us “Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me” and then take a stand for what we have come to understand as His truth from the Bible regardless of what the elders say of do to us?
Do we love the truth? Do we love to hear the truth and love learning about what God has to say is TRUTH. Much depends upon how much we really do love the truth, our eternal destiny will be determined by whether we listen to God’s truth or listen to lies. Let us love the truth, obey the truth and speak the truth so that we and others can be saved by God our Father through His Son who is the way, the truth and the life.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Do we have the courage to change when we do see errors; things that we have been taught for many years that just were not biblical? Will we then have the courage to take a stand for the truth of the Bible, not just because of what any teacher or leader may say or because what title he may have, but because we have earnestly studied and proven what we believe and practice… from the Holy Scriptures?
There is a growing number who have done just that and are now keeping the new moons, the biblical calendar, refusing to eat out on the Sabbath, etc.; who desire with their whole hearts to obey God rather than men that say we must obey them rather than to believe what the Bible clearly says.
We are definitely living in the latter days and we only have so much time left to return with all of our hearts, minds, and souls to learning and obeying the whole Word of God. We are admonished to help all who will listen to do so as well….by speaking the truth in [agape] love.
James Malm and Constance Belanger
Note- Constance submitted the original rough draft of this article in 2015, which I then completed for posting.
~ Featured Scriptures ~
2 John 1:6
And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.
This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard
from the beginning, ye should walk in it.