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There Is a Better Way


We received the following email after sending Family Life, Forgiveness and the End of Hell:

I’m really tired of the whole religious issue. I gave twenty years to church and God and every prayer yielded yet another “test”. My wife’s best friend is a God fanatic, even thinks she talks to him directly. She is in a wheelchair, half paralyzed and has to use all sorts of drugs to get through the day. I am nearly bankrupt, and have been on the brink of divorce again and again. I prayed for a car to get to church, and ended up with junkheaps that fell apart after they got home. After I got done wasting my time listening to ministers tell me how I was a sinner (must have gotten one of those ministers who is free of vice and sin, which is why his church paychecks keep him in a decent car and house) I took on responsibility for my own life, and at least now when crap happens, it’s because crap happens, not because God is “testing” me, or Satan is assaulting me.

They used to tell me that God never promised us wealth and prosperity, which is no big deal because wealth was never one of my goals. But I’ve grown weary over the years of watching other people, saints and sinners alike, prosper while I supposedly am a rotten sinner who is cut off from God.

Circumstances decide our lives, not God. It’s like that “think positive” crap. You can think all you want. It takes resources as well as positive thinking. If we are born with money, get some good breaks or make right decisions we will prosper, or we can go down like a crashing plane, it all depends on us. I see drug dealing scum driving supercars and wearing fancy clothes while I drive an old black car and wear rags (pardon me, I do confess to really liking my old black car though). Why? Because of God? No, because they do something that makes more money than me. That’s just how it is.

People think you have to have God in your life or life is without meaning. It is true. I feel empty and cut off and have for a long time. I live to raise my kids and that’s all. I don’t care about anything else anymore. If I knew there was a bright tomorrow with God in it, I could care less about this world or the BS that it is made of. But I know my prayers were worthless and the hours and years spent tithing, going to church, doing holy days, and all the other stuff made no difference. Human beings should rely on God because of evidence of him in their lives, not because someone told them to or because without him their lives are hollow. I simply found evidence that I was an idiot. I’d like to be wrong, but that simply is not how it is, no matter how much dreaming I do.

I don’t use God for a crutch. One person believes in heaven and hell. I used to believe in resurrections. Another man believes in Buddha, another in reincarnation and all of them have their reasons for believing. They will die for their beliefs, yet the majority of them cannot be on the right path if there is one God and one way.

I was one of the dumbbells who went to WWCG [Worldwide Church of God] for years, and my big regret after leaving those self righteous idiots was not doing it sooner. They turned their beliefs backwards. I was dumb enough to see a glossy paint job on a lot of turds.

Thanks for your efforts, but I’m burned out with it all. I could fall on my knees today and turn to God in submission and give it my all…again. For it I would get what I have now. Being responsible for myself I never have to wonder why when I prayed and fell flat on my face that someone let me fall. If I fail, it’s me to blame. I wanted to take my family toward God for years and tried as hard as I could, but every prayer was greeted with another trial. It’s my problem now, not his.

I knocked on heaven’s door, God said no, so I said okay.

Best regards. Gene

Paul’s reply:

Gene, thank you for your letter. Believe it or not we appreciate what you have written, and the frankness and honesty of your expression. We can understand your frustration and cannot blame you for being tired of the “religious issue.” Have you been reading The Issues of Life? If you have you would know that we have been fighting against religious lies, deceptions, slanders, blasphemies, false faith, self-righteous hypocrisy and more, on a regular basis. However, you would be mistaken to think we are fighting in vain, or that there is not a victory to be had. We are not fighting against false religion as sport, blowing smoke, without purpose or gain. We are prevailing against it because God has given us the weapons to do so. We prevail because we are not debating from within the confines of false religion, but come against these spurious representations of God from without, where God is, and we with Him. He is not in the works of men.

The religious works of men are, as you somewhat allude to them, a death trap. They are the gates of hell of which Jesus spoke. God too says, “Enough!” He has sent us to contend for the true faith that was once delivered to the saints, which has been run over roughshod by a false version, preaching a false Christ, which has deceived many, including you.

The problem for you is that you have gone hook, line, and sinker for the false version. It would seem otherwise now, since you are rejecting religion, but in your rejection you also reject God. In other words, you are saying God is only known or can only be associated with these false representations of Him. Of course, if they are false, and God is true, how can they be our only chance to know Him? It is absurd. Nevertheless, that is the predicament of man in sin. He is blind and makes no sense.

No, the only way a person can truly be free of religion is not by rejecting God, but by coming to Him. Physically removing yourself from false congregations is not enough. The false in you is still there, which caused you to be deceived in the first place. That is why you are in bitterness of disillusionment. “Dis-illusionment” is good, as long as reality replaces the illusion. Then the bitterness is replaced by peace and fulfillment in Christ, Who is our Savior, here and now. Therefore, whether religious, or anti-religious, you are yet in bondage with the rest of the world because you are not reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. The whole world, the Bible says, lies in wickedness. There is only one way out, Jesus Christ, not a phony religious Jesus, made as men conceive Him to be in their own image, but the real and living resurrected Lord.

Let me reason with you for a moment, Gene. You equate the works of men with God (which equation is error). You say that since church failed you it is because God is not there, or is not answering you (which are both true). Because these works are false, you therefore conclude that God does not exist, or will not ever answer. By any measure this is not sound thinking. Hang in here with me. There is a payoff to what I am telling you, if you have not picked up on that already. Consider: If I tell you to go fishing at the pond down the street, but you make a wrong turn and start fishing in the municipal swimming pool instead, are you going to blame me because you haven’t caught any fish? Would you be justified to conclude that it is not possible to catch fish?

We can testify to you, and do, that it is possible to “catch fish.” It is possible to have peace with God, true prosperity of soul and abundant life. We have those things courtesy of God through Jesus Christ. He, the Living God and Lord Jesus Christ, has apprehended us, not religion, not WWCG, not imaginations, not do-gooding and works, not excessive studies and obsessions with doctrines. He has turned us from our sins and ways that were unprofitable, as are yours. He has spoken and given us to know that He is indeed faithful, that there is a reward, and that He rules in absolute sovereignty over all things, here and now. You are right that your circumstances determine things. However, God, Whose rulership you deny, determines your circumstances.

“The lot is cast into the lap, but all ordering of it is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33).

“A man’s heart devises his way: but the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

So you are right to say that you decide what you want to do. God has already said that you would. He is ahead of you. It is even He Who has brought you to the juncture where you say there is no God. Do you know why this has happened? We can tell you. The Scriptures have an answer.

“For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That You might be justified in Your sayings, and might overcome when You are judged. But if our unrighteousness commends the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous Who takes vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?” (Romans 3:3-6)

Are you not judging God? You say He does not care. You say He cannot do anything. You say there is no profit in serving Him. You say, “I could fall on my knees today and turn to God in submission and give it my all…again. For it I would get what I have now.” You are not the first to say these things.

“You have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?” (Malachi 3:14)

So, Gene, if what you are saying and doing is not judging God, I do not know what is. Why should God put Himself in the position of being rejected, maligned and judged by His creatures? The answer, which is the only one that gives true hope, and which you have not heard, or known, is so that He could judge you. Why, to condemn you? No, to save you. Judgment is for correction, not destruction. How else will you want and appreciate what is right until you have done what is wrong and have suffered the undesirable results? How else will you know and confess that you are wrong, if you are not found guilty before God, Whom you have been offending all this time in your self-willed works, thoughts, and ways? How else will you be able to understand and appreciate His righteousness, if you have not been subjected to the ill fruits of your own righteousness?

You complain against God, that He did not give more money, or a better car, or peace of mind, or a better marriage, but I do not hear you saying that you bear any fault or blame whatsoever. Now you say you are willing to take all the blame, but who was to blame before? If it was not God, then why do you dismiss Him now? Why would you rather not seek Him with all your heart, as the Scriptures teach? If the way you were on was obviously wrong, why do you not consider listening to those (us) who agree with you that it was wrong (having left behind the wrong way ourselves, to which we were subject for a time), but have now found the right way?

Your faith was never in God, Gene, but religion, or a form of worship not of God. It is not because you did not work at it hard enough, or believe enough, but because there was nothing there to begin with. It was a work of man. You were religious, right in there with the rest of them, painting the turds and covering over the ugly truth. All of this has been to demonstrate that your righteousness is not worth a hoot. Did God ask you to do all those things? No. You are right; unless you have it from Him you really do not have anything. So why not go to Him that you might have something? As I said, He was not where you were looking for Him. Why do you think that He says that you will only find Him if you seek Him with all your heart? Because part way does not cut it.

You sought God for yourself, and what He could do for you, and not for truth’s sake. You, in effect, were saying, “My will, not Yours, be done.” Is it any wonder you did not get anywhere? Others may appear to be getting somewhere, but they are no better off. Perhaps you are more realistic than they.

Forget, for a moment, about what you want. How about what God wants? Did you not learn in church that Jesus Christ died for your sins? If He died for you, do you not think it wise and right to seek Him for what He wants, and that you might not know what you are doing after all? He does not owe you; you owe Him, and big time. You are His, paid for. And He yet rules over all, whether you ignore Him, or pursue Him. That is a fact from which you cannot escape.

“Where shall I go from Your spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there” (Psalms 139:7-8).

I know that I cannot talk you into the faith, Gene, and I am not trying to do that. Faith is a gift. Nevertheless, faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God. You have heard the false, which has left you bitter and empty. Now you have heard the true, and someday you will rejoice in the fullness of God. But first there will be repentance, a turning to Him, not for what He will give you, but for what He has already done for you, and for Who He is, God Almighty, your Savior. There is a time and place for everything.

In closing, if by saying “enough” in your subject line, you are asking us to remove you from The Issues of Life mailing list, could you please let us know? We will comply with what you want but do not want to assume. We wish you well. I recall what the Lord once spoke to Victor, many years ago, which sums up the whole matter in five words: “There is a better way.”

Contending for that way, knowing Him Who promises better things,

Paul

Gene’s response:

Hi Paul. I’m taking the time to read your entire reply carefully. I’m glad you did not find my e mail personally offensive because it was not intended to be.

You are right in a lot of areas. I was very swamped in the mentality of the old church and it shaped my being. Some of it was good, some of it very bad. When I tithed devotedly, I harmed myself because my mother was a shirker and lived off of the church, me and every other one she could sponge. I was taught that these ceremonies must be completed or God will punish you vigorously. Unfortunately compliance brought its own punishment.

With regard to my marriage and finances, you are right again, it is largely my doing. My education is the reason why the money fails. Seems to result from not being in school more than about a third of the time when you are a kid because mom is deathly scared that her secrets will be found by the school board, so she keeps you hidden at home. Her smothering lead to major depression, near suicide, and to latching on to the first girl who treated me well, which ended up being a mistake for which I’m entirely to blame.

What I don’t understand is prayer and faith. I have never looked for God to give me a big fine house and a Rolls Royce. But fellowship has always been vital for the proper teaching of your kids, in my mind. The world and the schools are so corrupt it is mind boggling. I had to withdraw my girls from public schools due to persecution and the constant injecting of atheism and evolution (I can’t stomach that crap) into their classroom against my will. My desire was to go to a proper religious organization and teach my kids what I had proved to myself and knew for a fact to be true.

I have sampled some churches, and had found one that was, in my mind, right on the money, but getting there is a problem. I borrowed money to get a car and it seems I made the tour of the lemon tree. Most of what is around my area is spin-offs of Mormonism and African American stuff and it just does not work. (I get looked at funny just driving through a black neighborhood, and the police always wonder what a white guy with a pony tail is up to.)

I have one major difference of belief with other churches, and that is the doctrine of the resurrections. Seems those of us who think the way I do are the minority. But to me teaching your kids something you don’t believe is like aiming a gun backward and shooting. Bad idea.

I’d rather not burn up your reading time with a huge e mail, but I do appreciate your input, and would be glad to remain on your mailing list. I was going to ask for removal, but changed my mind. I’m pretty open to different christian view points.

Off and on I may discuss issues with you if that is okay. I’m sure you are busy people, but at some point it would be nice if this life could make sense. I suspect many of us who left that idiotic church behind are in the same boat. Some went to other churches, some became atheistic, and a few of us said “I just don’t know anymore”.

Thanks for your view point, I’ll speak to you in the future. Best regards, Gene

I have prayed for wisdom, guidance, as well as physical assistance, but none of it ever seems to work out. I really don’t know what I’d pray for anymore if I was to try.

Paul’s reply:

Hi Gene,

When we get down to it, there really is only one issue for all of us. What would the Lord have us to do, and are we doing it? We all have needs, and so many things we want, or things we feel compelled to do. I am not necessarily speaking of bad things. You have children you want to provide for, and a desire to find, and share in, a community for support and strength. These are common, desirable, and understandable things that all men want. But it is also common that mankind does not get what he wants. Show me one person who says that his or her life on this earth, according to his or her wants and desires, is perfect. That person does not exist, or is delusional, or is lying, or is entirely selfish and does not care that the world is perishing. So what is the answer?

Many assume that, because the situation of life on earth is so far removed from the ideal, God does not exist, or does not care, or the devil is too strong, or any combination of these lies. None of it is true. God is. He cares. And He, not the devil, rules absolutely, over every detail of everyone’s life. “Not a hair on your head shall perish,” the Lord promised to His followers. Either He is omnipotent, or He is not. There is no such thing as partial omnipotence.

So, why are things so bad? Why do hurricanes destroy what has taken a lifetime to build? Why are we ever looking or hoping for something better, and find that things stay the same or get worse? The answer is sin. We are not just talking about the blatant and gross violations of all that is decent, but the underlying sin nature that is the heritage and state of every person on earth, and the cause of all discontent and woes without hope. The only way out of this nature is the regeneration of the soul by Jesus Christ. I will not say that the regenerate person does not suffer from discontent and woes, but those are now with purpose, meaning, and a sure hope of better things to come.

The sin nature and state is one of independence of God. In that state a man may go to church, pray, read the Bible, ask God for help, give all his money to the poor, and go to a martyr’s death for his beliefs. A man can do all those things and still be in his sin nature, because he is yet acting from his own will, and is serving himself. He is religious for what it will do for him. And no matter how noble men may think that to be, it is still unacceptable to God, as was Cain’s sacrifice, who gave of his produce to God.

The only hope any of us has, and the only hope for this world of corruption, is to turn to the One Who alone cares, not for what we can get from Him, but for what He would want and have from us. There is no point in continuing on as if we are wiser than God, and know what we need. We really have no idea what we need, or even want. He, Who knows all, and Who laid down His life in the evident care and love that He has for the world, is the One to be entrusted with all. It is all His, so we are not giving Him anything He does not already possess. We are only confessing all to be His, putting our hope in Him as our faithful Creator, and here is the most important step, saying to Him, “Your will, not ours, be done.” That is our only sensible choice and our solemn duty.

The sin nature is so strong, persistent, and destructive, that God had to become man Himself, and shed His own blood, to put it away for us. The sin nature is so powerful that the only possible way to deal with it was the crucifixion of the Son of God, Whom we all have denied and scorned, to do our thing. He came to lay down His life and we took it from Him. We are all murderers, thieves, and scofflaws. It is true.

The sin nature is so strong, persistent, and destructive, that men will do anything but submit to God. Men will destroy the environment and each other, before they will submit to God. They will go to the ends of the earth preaching religion, before they will submit to God. It is true. All these lessons are here to show us that we have absolutely no hope but to turn to Him, in abject and total confession that we are ignorant fools, wanton, and entirely deserving of the destruction we have so loved in all our ways. Only then is there any hope for anyone or anything. We all belong with our faces on the earth, confessing ourselves miserable sinners, and then, at last, there will be hope, because that is reality, and God IS REALITY.

We have tried to deny reality. We have done it in various ways. One of those, and the most powerfully deceptive, is to be religious. It doesn’t work because reality does not go away. Destruction and devastation only increase when we try to cover over and hide our true nature and stance. It is hypocrisy. We can only begin to enter into the blessing and peace of God when we confess things the way they are. Then there is hope in God, Who will continue to illuminate our way. If we have light we have hope that there is yet more to see, and we can begin to walk in the revelation of things from God. The central fact of all existence and the revelation of light is that God rules absolutely and eternally in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. That is why the gospel (good news) always begins with the word “Repent.” We turn to Him Who is here, now, ruling in complete wisdom, with good will toward mankind.

If He laid down His life for you when you did not deserve it, then you ought to consider that He will not withhold any good thing from you, if you surrender yours to Him. How do we lay down our lives for Him? We turn to Him and seek to do His will, not ours, and trust Him to make His will known to us. And why would He not, if we ask Him? Is that not according to His will?

“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek [follow, worship] the LORD shall not want any good thing” (Psalms 34:10).

An unprofitable but thankful servant,

Paul

Victor’s reply:

Hi Gene,

I do believe that, Lord willing, Paul’s letter will help you immensely if you read it carefully and take it to heart. I would like to address a minor matter in your letter. You write:

I have one major difference of belief with other churches, and that is the doctrine of the resurrections. Seems those of us who think the way I do are the minority.

Are you saying you believe the WWCG doctrine about the resurrections, or do you disagree with them? I want to tell you that the Scriptures teach spiritual experience. One must experience the resurrection within, in this world and realm of existence. It is not a matter of history but of personal experience. As Paul wrote to those resurrected in Ephesus:

“But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved), and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6).

Gene, we speak of what we know. It is not theory or a matter of mere potentiality; it is a matter of present, living reality. He is HERE, NOW. The WWCG, along with many other churches, looks without Him for His Coming. We are with Him because He has come and is here, now, within. Did He not say, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within”? Read Our Testimonies and The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Victor

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