Born a Jew, my religious background was conservative and dry in nature. It consisted of learning to read Hebrew, and reciting prayers, in which, by and large, you did not know what you were saying. There was almost no connection between what I learned at synagogue and what we did in our everyday lives. Religion was an add-on to the “normal” secular life of a North American in the second half of the 20th Century. Not surprisingly, I was cynical or at least suspecting that this was not at all what God was about. Since I did not know God, I was not sure what He really was about, but I resented being imposed upon with things that seemed meaningless and empty.
I began to contemplate the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?”
I expressed my feelings one day by crushing a small vial under my foot at Hebrew school, which emitted a rotten egg smell (we called them “stink bombs”). A friend and I thought this was funny. My teacher did not. She was livid. She also suspected me of doing it, and said so. I lied and denied it. She then said to the Rabbi that she wished to put me under oath on the pulpit before God. For some reason, the Rabbi did not go for this. However, it shook me up. I realized that while I heavily suspected the empty exercises at synagogue were not of God, there was an Almighty God behind everything Who knew everything. Lying to Him was impossible. I knew that somehow He was even there and over the inanities of Hebrew School. There were suddenly larger issues at stake. It was a wake up call to something latent that I had previously not faced in this way. God is real.
I went on in my independent ways for several years. At University I recall partying at the fraternity beer bashes while there were people witnessing outside the homes, handing out tracts. My friends all could not have cared less, but I was drawn. What are these people talking about, and what compelled them to do this? I tried to talk to them while being torn about losing my friends, who would leave me behind.
My search and hunger grew, particularly after I transferred from the out-of-state university to one back home where I commuted to school. I started reading philosophy, and books about the spiritual realm. I began to contemplate a question I had never conceived before, “Who is Jesus Christ?” I wondered what kind of man He was. I did not know anything of the Bible, not being taught from the Gospels, or having read much of any of it in English. My conviction was: This man was not an ordinary person. Who is the person that can leave behind all things to go out and tell people the truth, not being backed by a group or sent by other people? Who can do this? And Who can do this with the result being that all of history centers on His time of appearance!? I knew of no one, nor could I even imagine it. I knew I certainly could not do that. I didn’t know anything about God, so what could I tell anyone? I didn’t know anyone else who knew God, nor could I conceive of anyone doing such a thing as I considered Jesus Christ had done.
I knew that it was going to take time for things to be worked out in me.
I asked a friend what he thought about all of this, and he could not answer me, except to say, “Paul, why don’t you read the Bible?” This seemed a profound idea, and I was very excited to do so. I came to the Bible with fresh eyes, and with faith. God had given me to know that it was real and true. I knew that the writers and those who reported the things they saw were not liars. That was a question I had posed to myself, “Are those who report the story of Jesus Christ making it up?” That would have been a terrible sin against the readers, since it is presented as something to stake one’s life on. I knew, however, that they were telling the truth.
I started at the beginning of Matthew and read the entire “New Testament,” also reading the Psalms, Proverbs, and parts of the “Old Testament.” I was astounded, delighted, and very thankful to see and to hear what I was receiving. God IS real, and He gave the victory in Jesus Christ for those who receive Him by faith. The history of the Scriptures, which was my heritage as a Jew, I saw fulfilled in the sacrifice and resurrection of Yeshua HaMashiach. Abraham, our father, was instructed to sacrifice the son of promise, Isaac. God provided the sacrifice for all in Jesus Christ. Glory Hallelujah, it was a wonderful thing to know that everything was OK, and more than that, good, very good.
During this time God also was made manifest to me by many things arranged in my life. My whole world changed, I now knew what I was here for, or at least by Whom, and with the assurance that He would lead me on. God was in charge. I knew that it was going to take time for things to be worked out in me. (I had no idea what this meant. I only knew it was no small matter of simply saying you believed and all went on as normal.)
Do not be deceived; sin has a terrible price!
I also began to become aware of things in my life that were not right. My conscience began to bother me about things that previously were not a problem at all. However, rather than repenting of all, I tried to rationalize, and justify doing what I wanted to do. I continued in fornication, justifying it by the acceptance of my girlfriend of what I believed. If she wanted to be with me, I reasoned, that made it OK. I compromised to please myself. I was then unequally joined in relationship together with one who did not know, understand, or share in what I had been given. I began to suffer immediately because of this. Do not be deceived; sin (going contrary to the law of God) has a terrible price!
Look around you, why is there such devastation everywhere? It is because of sin. We do not realize how good things could be if we all were to repent and forsake our own ways. Not easy, I know. Impossible, in fact. That is why Jesus Christ came. He came that we might have those good things that were unobtainable otherwise. He is the Light that convicts us of sin. He is the sacrifice Whose blood cleanses us from our sin. He is the Life that raises us to new life in Him where we sin no longer. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We cannot go wrong with Him, and we cannot be right without Him.
I said to him, “God sent you here to me.”
I go on. We married, I thinking to put legitimacy on what God had not ordained. Things did not get better. Though outwardly it appeared OK, and even good to some, on the inside I began to be pressed and wondered what was wrong. Less than a year after our marriage, we moved to Israel. I had always wanted to go there to live. We ended up on Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev desert, on a program designed to acclimate immigrants through work and learning of the Hebrew language. I felt very happy to be in Israel, though my inner turmoil continued and grew. Sometime along the way I had prayed that God would send someone to talk to me. I knew I would not figure out what was wrong. God had shown me the truth of Scripture without a man present, but now I felt the need of one to guide me. I cried out to the Lord. He moved my heart to request this of Him.
On our program were people from all over the world, all Jewish, except for one couple, Victor and Marilyn Hafichuk. They had moved in next door to us. I wondered what brought them to Israel. Shortly after their arrival, at mealtime in the community dining area, I asked Victor why they came to Israel. He seemed to hem and haw a bit, talking about how they had been reading the Bible, but then changed gears and answered me very directly. He said, “The Lord sent us here.” You could have bowled me over with a feather. There I was, in this remote place asking God to send someone to me, and here was a man sitting next to me, declaring that God had sent him. More amazing yet to me was that while Victor did not know for what purpose God had sent him, I did. I said to him, “God sent you here to me.”
I was so thankful and eager to have someone to talk and relate to about the Lord, and the spiritual walk of life. We visited daily, and I began to learn many things from Victor and Marilyn because of those things God had been teaching them. I told Victor about my life, and in particular what had happened in my coming to be married. He had already seen, by the Spirit of God, (before anything was ever spoken between us) that the relationship was one of fornication (not brought together in marriage by God). Now it was being confirmed by my words.
She said, “You won’t be hearing from the Lord again.”
It was one thing to see this, but much more was at stake in speaking to me about it. Firstly, it is prevalent thinking in religious circles in our world today (if not everywhere) that it is wrong to consider any marriage an error, or result of wrongdoing. Secondly, a Gentile speaking to a Jew in Israel about the Lord, and more specifically, instructions from the Lord that many find offensive meant putting oneself in danger of being kicked out and perhaps even facing physical danger. Indeed, we spoke with two other fellows on our program that had such intentions towards Victor.
Trying to be subtle and hint to me about what I had done was not enough. Eventually Victor told me precisely what I had done, and that as with anything illgotten, I needed to give it back, so to speak. I was instantly convicted of my wrongness. I knew the Lord had sent Victor to me. I also knew without a doubt that this was His message and answer to my troubled state. I began to search the Scriptures for understanding of what had happened, and found in Ezra chapters 9 and 10 how the children of Israel had taken wives who were not of the household of faith, and they had to, by commandment of the Lord, put them away, even the children (which we did not have).
However, even after believing I began to rationalize that perhaps I could put off this difficult step (it was not at all what I wanted, quite the opposite) until a more convenient time. One day I expressed this to Marilyn, Victor’s wife, while he was away and we visited while she ironed. I said that I would wait to hear when the time was right. She said, and I will never forget how these words affected me, “You won’t be hearing from the Lord again.” That sealed it. I knew what I had to do, and by the grace of God I set myself to doing it.
He has made of the two one new man, serving Him in spirit and truth.
As a result, Victor and Marilyn were kicked off the kibbutz. I followed them a couple days later. I had many struggles and battles yet to fight regarding this matter. But the Lord was faithful, having mercy on me to keep me, forgive me, and bring me through all the battles and fires that have been there to purge and form me in His image.
The Lord has proven His words, counsel, and judgments, which He gave to me by Victor, who in time became more than a prophet and friend sent to me. Eventually the Spirit of the Lord brought us together into sharing the same life and we also became brothers.
All of God’s works are fulfilled and completed in Jesus Christ. In the beginning He sent a Jew named Paul to the Gentiles, to turn them to God through Christ. Now a Gentile (in the flesh) named Victor was sent to a Jew (in the flesh) named Paul, to also bring him to Christ. The Body is One. He has made of the two one new man, serving Him in spirit and truth. This is His day, for which the saints have longed and prayed for, and for which all of creation has awaited. Blessed be His Name forever! “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6).
I have some sad news to report. Because of Ronnie Tanner and Dennison Rivera coming to join the work of ThePathofTruth with Paul in Helena, Montana, much has come to light that I’ve not been aware of with Paul. Here are the brutal facts, with several witnesses:
Paul has been guilty of rebellion, of sedition, of betrayal. He has operated against me, teaching the Lord’s young servants, as did Jezebel, to commit fornication. He instructed Ronnie and Dennison to not openly confess their sins and make amends with those they’ve wronged or had terrible attitudes toward.
My doctrine has been to bring everything into the open, to deal with sin, ruthlessly, knowing that if we don’t do so before the Lord, sin will deal ruthlessly with us. It is the Law of God in all His universe. Satan takes no prisoners.
Paul hasn’t been responsible with mundane matters, failing outrageously. He has not followed my wishes or orders. He has instructed Dennison and Ronnie to not report matters to me, saying, “Victor doesn’t need to hear those things; they’ll upset him” (words to that effect). He has also counseled others in wicked fashion like Lynn Farris.
Paul has not conducted himself in holiness with Sara Schmidt as I firmly and urgently directed. Some of these things have been going on for years without my knowledge. Only recently, Paul has been forced out of the cover of darkness to confess.
There are many such things he has confessed and others have reported. He has argued with me, even publicly, and presumed to be of equal authority with and before the Lord. I will no longer tolerate his rebellion, whether it is open or in secret. This goes for all persons. I’m done. This is a new day.
I’m sad, I’m angry, I feel deeply betrayed, had, used, abused, violated. But there it is. I’ve said, “If nobody else comes with me, if all abandon me, by God’s grace I go on.”
My intense will is to bring the Lord Jesus Christ great joy (no thanks to me, be assured – I can be as corrupt as the next guy). I want the Lord to be ecstatically delighted with what I am, speak, and do for Him and in His Name. That is my sole goal and desire – these burn in me. I would want that for every being alive, especially for those who believe here with us. I know that I am perfectly incapable of accomplishing this. It is ONLY by His grace that any of us can do anything of true value in His sight. I trust in His grace for His Perfect Will.
Given these things concerning Paul, I declare that Paul is stripped of any authority and identification with me and the Lord at this point. However, I have still to decide what the Lord would have me to do concerning his involvement with ThePathofTruth. The Lord will show the way and do as it pleases Him. Until then, I would say that Paul’s best option at this point is to humbly and steadfastly obey in all that’s required of him by us from here on.
Of course, he may choose to leave. That’s up to the Lord and him. I and those with me go on. As of now, Ronnie is in charge in Helena with most of the duties of TPOT website, Dennison is helping him, and Martin Van Popta is in charge of business and other affairs in Helena with Ronnie and Dennison answering to him in all matters.
The Lord has also granted Martin to be with us in the labor of the Gospel and Kingdom and glory of God. Martin’s wife Jeannie stands faithfully by his side. James Sorochan stands to serve and rejoice with us, as well. We go on, stronger than ever, with those remaining being very thankful, including my wife Marilyn.
We all are one in mind and heart and enjoy fellowship as we have never had it. It is the Lord’s doing and we are all partakers of His grace and glory. Great things approach, we have not only nothing to fear but so much to look forward to. Bless the Lord of all! Jesus Christ is He!
I want every one of you who read these words to be free to ask whatever questions you will of me or anyone else among us. We hide nothing and have no desire to keep anything from you that you need to know for your spiritual benefit. We’re here not for ourselves but for the Lord and for you. Know that. To God be all the power, thanksgiving, praise, glory, honor, and worship!
Despite the circumstances that have arisen and been unveiled, I am so thankful! God is in full control. Not saying these things to convince myself or you – I know these things to be perfectly true. Several of us see it with our eyes, hear it with our ears, and understand it with our hearts. We have much to be thankful for.
Paul Benjamin Cohen
Helena, Montana, USA