Is it wrong to listen to a fellow-member who disagrees with
the ministers? To attend other churches? To listen to other religious
broadcasts? To admit "Jehovah Witnesses?"
by Herbert W. Armstrong
AFTER you have come to a knowledge of the TRUTH, have repented and been
baptized, and by the Holy Spirit been put into the true Church of GOD, is it all
right to attend some other church?
"Well," you might reply, "here's the way I look at it
But WAIT! Stop right there!
If you have truly REPENTED, you have stopped using human reason and acting
according to the way YOU look at it! If you had the faith in Christ as personal
Saviour to be baptized into Him, you were accepting HIM as your Lord and Master,
to obey what HE says -- not the way YOU look at it. If you have received God's
Holy Spirit, it is to lead you into all TRUTH -- which means understanding of
GOD'S WORD, and what it instructs on all these questions, so that you know WHAT
The Scriptural Answer
Therefore you will look into the Bible for your answer.
Suppose you live in an area where GOD'S Church has not yet established a
local congregation. There is no place in reach for you to attend services UNLESS
you attend some OTHER church.
It has seemed to many in this situation that, since Seventh Day Adventists
keep the right DAY, it would be all right to attend the nearest church of their
denomination. Besides, is it not NECESSARY to keep your children in Sabbath
It has come to our attention that several of our members have reasoned in
this manner. Isn't it necessary, as a Christian duty, to attend regular church
The WORLD has its churches. The WORLD has its religions, replete with false
teachings, false doctrines, and pagan practices. One of its basic beliefs and
practices is that it is necessary to your salvation to ATTEND CHURCH. You see
the slogan: "ATTEND CHURCH" along the highways on billboards. You read
that slogan on the "Saturday Church page" of your daily newspaper. You
see it in signs or bulletin boards posted outside church buildings. You hear it
on radio and TV. You have been told by the WORLD "ATTEND CHURCH" so
many times you have come to ASSUME, without thinking, that this is the teaching
of your Bible.
But IS IT?
You may be surprised to know that there is only one passage in all the New
Testament giving any direct instruction to assemble together with others:
"... and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good
works: not forsaking the assembling OF OURSELVES together, as the manner of some
is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day
approaching." (Heb. 10:24-25).
Even there, it is not a direct command that you MUST assemble together with
others in the church -- for the simple reason that God KNEW, when He inspired
His instruction to us, that some would be living where there is no church to
attend. Notice, the command is: "NOT FORSAKING the assembling of ourselves
together." If there is no church in which to assemble, you are not
FORSAKING the assembling together. The very words: "NOT FORSAKING"
mean you are not to "ABANDON" -- not to "REFUSE" assembling
-- not to "DESERT" assembling. (See dictionary). It implies RUNNING
AWAY FROM, or REFUSING TO assemble.
If you live close enough to one of GOD'S churches to attend His Sabbath
services, and you refuse to attend, desert attending, abandon attending, or
neglect it, then you are breaking this command.
But if you live where God does not have a church near enough to attend, then
you are certainly not refusing, abandoning, or deserting attendance, because
that attendance is not in your power.
Does this mean that God makes light of church attendance -- that it is not
important -- that we ought not to attend? Not at all. The Sabbath is a HOLY
CONVOCATION (Lev. 23:2), which is a COMMANDED assembly -- one you are COMMANDED
to attend. But of course this command applies within realm of your ability. If
you are confined to bed with sickness, you are UNABLE to attend. If you live two
hundred miles away from GOD'S Church, you are UNABLE to attend with regularity.
During apostolic days many local churches were established. "And so were
the churches established ..." (Acts 16:5); "So ordain I in all
churches" said the Apostle Paul (I Cor. 7:17). Nothing is said about
whether they had large and ornate buildings, but the implication is that they
did not. Some merely met in the houses of members. "The churches of Asia
salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church
THAT IS IN THEIR HOUSE." (I Cor. 16:19). In Col. 4:15 you read of the
church in Nymphas' house in Laodicea -- and this evidently was one of the
important churches. There was a church in Philemon's house (Phile. 2).
However, Scripture teaches against brethren assembling in small groups in
private homes WITHOUT A MINISTER TO LEAD THEM! You read in Acts 14:23 that Paul
and Barnabas ordained elders in EVERY church. There were no churches without
ordained leaders. If you did not read the article in The GOOD NEWS on this point
of a few brethren in a locality meeting together when there is no minister,
write in for it. THIS OUR MEMBERS ARE FORBIDDEN TO DO!
Attending OTHER Churches?
But now what about attending some OTHER church?
HOW does God say we must worship Him? You see signs and slogans in the world
to this effect: "Let every man worship God ACCORDING TO THE DICTATES OF HIS
OWN CONSCIENCE." But that is contrary to GOD'S instruction.
To a woman of the world, Jesus said: "Ye worship ye know not what."
Then He said: "God is a SPIRIT: and they that worship Him MUST worship Him
in SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH." (John 4:22,24). God will not accept worship
"according to the dictates of man's conscience." To be acceptable to
Him you MUST worship Him in SPIRIT -- that is, you must have within you HIS Holy
Spirit, which He gives only to them that OBEY Him (Acts 5:32) and you must
worship Him IN TRUTH. What is TRUTH? Jesus said "Thy Word is truth."
You must worship Him according to the BIBLE!
With whom are we to have FELLOWSHIP? The Apostle John, in his first letter,
declared God's TRUTH in order "that ye may have fellowship with us
..." showing we can have fellowship ONLY with those who know and obey the
TRUTH. Do you know any OTHER Church that knows, believes, preaches, and OBEYS
the TRUTH? -- that keeps the true Sabbath, and ALSO God's Holy days and
Festivals; that knows the Resurrection was on the Sabbath and the crucifixion on
Wednesday; that knows God's PURPOSE is that we, now MORTAL, are to be begotten,
and then, after a life of overcoming, growing in knowledge of Christ and in
grace, developing godly CHARACTER, are to be BORN of God at which time we BECOME
divine members of the very God family; that the soul is mortal; that this is not
the time God is trying to save the world, but only His "first-fruits";
that Christ is coming to rule all nations with God's WORLD GOVERNMENT, ON EARTH,
for a thousand years; that the Gospel is the Message of the KINGDOM OF GOD,
which is both the world-GOVERNMENT of God and the FAMILY of God into which we
may be born; and many other TRUTHS held and proclaimed ONLY by this one and only
TRUE Church of God!
No other church on earth knows, obeys, and proclaims this TRUTH of God!
YOU are to have fellowship ONLY with those who know and obey the TRUTH!
Now continue what John says about fellowship: "... that ye also may have
fellowship with us: and truly OUR FELLOWSHIP IS WITH THE FATHER, AND WITH HIS
SON JESUS CHRIST." (I John 1:3).
Our fellowship is, first of all, WITH God the Father, and WITH Jesus Christ!
If I have fellowship with Christ, and YOU have fellowship with Christ, then HE
joins you and me together in fellowship. You can not have true Christian
fellowship with ANY, except those who also have fellowship with God the Father
and with Christ.
But WHO does have fellowship with God? Just anybody? Members of worldly
churches? LISTEN! "If we say that we have fellowship with HIM, and walk in
darkness, we lie, and do not the TRUTH: but if we WALK IN THE LIGHT, as He is in
the light (truth), we have fellowship one with another." (Verses 6-7).
Brethren, that narrows fellowship -- assembling together for worship -- down
to ONLY those who are in God's TRUTH -- the true LIGHT -- and who OBEY it. And
that means ONLY those whom God has, by His Holy Spirit, put into HIS TRUE
CHURCH. We are barred from fellowship or worship with any others.
The Church of God at Corinth was threatened with division. It needed
correction. WHY? One preferred Paul as a minister, another wanted to follow
Apollos, another Peter, and some Christ. Listen to Paul's correction:
"God is faithful, by whom ye were called UNTO THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SON
JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ, THAT YE ALL SPEAK THE SAME THING, and there be no divisions among
you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same
judgment." (I Cor. 1:9-10).
We must have fellowship only with Jesus Christ, and those who are together in
the TRUTH -- all speaking the same TRUTH.
Now suppose you try to find fellowship with members of a Seventh Day
Adventist church. They may worship ON THE RIGHT DAY, but they do not keep God's
annual Sabbaths and Festivals; they do not proclaim the true Gospel of the
KINGDOM OF GOD which is to rule THE EARTH for the millennium; they do not
believe we are to be actually born into the divine, glorified FAMILY or Kingdom
of God; and they do break the second Commandment with their many idolatrous
pictures of a long-haired man they falsely call "Christ"; they do
believe lies and errors, such as their "Sanctuary Question,"
"Investigative Judgment," Mrs. White's inspiration as God's
"Prophet"; going to heaven, etc., etc.
Suppose you try to find fellowship with Baptists, Church of Christ,
Methodists. They believe in the immortality of the soul -- if they have not gone
"Modernist" -- they do not OBEY God's Law and therefore cannot have
His Holy Spirit. There is no basis whatsoever for fellowship with them. They are
deceived and carnal. They are of the UNFRUITFUL WORKS OF DARKNESS!
God commands you: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers;
FOR WHAT FELLOWSHIP HATH RIGHTEOUSNESS (keeping of God's Commandments) WITH
UNRIGHTEOUSNESS? AND WHAT COMMUNION HATH LIGHT (TRUTH) WITH DARKNESS?
...WHEREFORE COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM, AND BE YE SEPARATE, SAITH THE LORD."
(II Cor. 6:14-17).
IN, But Not OF the World
All this does not mean that we cannot have any contacts with the world, or
people of other beliefs. It does not mean that you cannot buy groceries or
merchandise in a store staffed with unbelievers, or with professing Christians
of other beliefs.
Paul clears this up: "I did not mean you were literally to avoid contact
with the immoral of this world, with the lustful and the thievish, or with
idolaters; in that case you would have to leave the world altogether. What I now
write is that you are not to associate with any SO-CALLED BROTHER ... Associate
with him? Do not even eat with him." (I Cor. 5:10-11 Moffatt translation).
We are not to have social or religious FELLOWSHIP -- close friendship -- with
any except those who know and OBEY the TRUTH. We must not try to WORSHIP with
them -- attend their churches.
In Jesus' last prayer for His Church -- FOR US! -- He prayed the Father:
"I have given them THY WORD and the world hath hated them, because they are
not OF the world, even as I am not OF the world. I pray NOT that thou shouldst
take them OUT OF the world, but that Thou shouldst keep them from the
evil." (John 17:14-15).
Again God instructs through Paul "Have NO FELLOWSHIP with the unfruitful
works of darkness." (Eph. 5:11).
You can WORSHIP GOD three times a day -- in a private room, behind closed
doors -- on your knees, in prayer. DO YOU?
You can have FAMILY WORSHIP in your own home -- husband, wife, and children
-- every morning. DO YOU?
You can join THOUSANDS of our own Church brethren in DAILY WORSHIP, by
sitting quietly before your radio while The WORLD TOMORROW program is on the
air. DO YOU?
If you hunger for fellowship, remember you can, and MUST, for true worship,
have regular daily fellowship with Christ, and with God the Father, to whom
Christ has given you direct access in prayer!
Should You Admit "Jehovah Witnesses"?
When the so-called "Jehovah Witnesses" come to your door, should
you admit them?
"Well, the way I look at it," some might say, "is this: it
would be discourteous not to admit them, and that would not be 'Christian,'
BUT HOW DOES GOD LOOK AT IT?
God says "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my
ways, SAITH THE LORD." (Isa. 55:8).
What does God COMMAND?
"For many deceivers (including "Jehovah Witnesses") are
entered into the world ... Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not (obeys not)
in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God ... If there come any unto you, and
bring not THIS DOCTRINE (of Christ, and of God's true Church), RECEIVE HIM NOT
INTO YOUR HOUSE, neither bid him God-speed: for he that biddeth him God-speed is
partaker of his evil deeds." (II John 7-11)
These "Jehovah Witness" people DO NOT OBEY GOD! They ARGUE against
God's Commandments, and especially against the Sabbath. Reports reach us of
scores of them who lie when they say I was formerly a member of their sect. So
do some Seventh Day Adventists lie, or at least willingly misrepresent, when
they say I formerly was one of them.
Both of these sects will argue Scripture, in a spirit of contention, which
your Bible forbids. "Jehovah Witness" people especially will argue
AGAINST God's Law. They DO transgress God's Law, and they abide NOT in the
doctrine of CHRIST. Therefore their deeds are EVIL. God says you, also, are
partaker with them of their evil deeds if you receive them into your home.
Shall you, then, be discourteous or un-Christian? Of course not. When these
people come to your door, just smile and tell them politely, but FIRMLY, you are
not interested -- you do not discuss religion -- and BE CLOSING YOUR DOOR as you
say it, and be sure you DO close it as soon as you have said merely that short
sentence. Do NOT give them any chance to talk back, or continue the
conversation, or get you into an argument.
YOU CANNOT CHANGE THEM! You cannot talk them into the TRUTH! If you already
KNOW the truth, they cannot deceive you with their false teachings, or talk YOU
into anything. Any further conversation with one of these people are IDLE WORDS,
for which you shall have to give account in the judgment!
The GREATEST Danger of ALL
But all these temptations to ensnare you into the world -- into false
doctrines -- into forbidden fellowship or false worship are mild compared to the
ONE IN OUR VERY MIST, HARDEST OF ALL TO RESIST!
That is the impulse to listen to the professed BROTHER in the Church -- one
supposedly of our own membership -- who begins to say to you -- or to a group
standing on the Tabernacle grounds -- that he is not quite sure he agrees with
something one of God's ministers said -- or with something said on the WORLD
TOMORROW program -- or with something in one of our magazines or booklets or
Several times -- in fact, almost every Festival -- someone on the grounds
will approach one or two members, with an argument, or interpretation of his own
of some point or question of Scripture, which is contrary to the doctrine of
GOD'S OWN CHURCH.
Usually a crowd begins to gather quickly. It seems MANY are such "dumb
sheep" -- so naive and unthinking, and ready to be deceived by Satan --
that they are ALL EARS at once! This sort of thing seems to stimulate a certain
excitement -- an interest, to see what this fellow has to say, that many of you
members just can't resist crowding up to hear him! It seems to fascinate you!
Now LISTEN TO GOD'S TEACHING! The Apostle Paul, speaking his farewell to the
elders of the large Church of God at Ephesus, said:
"I KNOW THIS, that after my departing, shall grievous wolves enter in
among you, not sparing the flock. Also OF YOUR OWN SELVES shall men arise,
speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." (Acts
THAT DID HAPPEN IN THAT CHURCH!
The GREATEST DANGER OF ALL is when one who is among us, supposed to be one of
us, approaches you with some doctrine or interpretation CONTRARY to that of
God's Church, and of God's ministers.
Whether it be a so-called "Jehovah witness" or even one supposedly
a member of God's own Church, remember THIS COMMAND:
"If there come ANY unto you" -- it does not say member of ANOTHER
church -- it says if ANY come unto you -- "AND BRING NOT THIS DOCTRINE,
RECEIVE HIM NOT INTO YOUR HOUSE ..." -- DON'T LISTEN TO HIM!
IF you see a little group gathering around a man or woman on the Tabernacle
grounds -- or at your local church -- and this person is disagreeing with God's
ministers or God's Church, REPORT THIS TO A MINISTER OR DEACON AT ONCE!
There have been at least two different WOMEN who have come to the Tabernacle
either at Passover time or at the Feast of Tabernacles, who devoted themselves
busily to trying to teach different and false doctrines -- especially to the
women. WE HAVE HAD TO PUT THEM OFF THE GROUNDS, and forbid them to return. One
woman tried to argue contrary doctrines PRIVATELY, in the tents and steel booths
of members, hoping not to be seen, or caught by one of the ministers.
It is your duty to report such an activity to a minister or deacon
"Didn't I Say, LISTEN"?
But some will say, "But didn't you say, over the air, for us to LISTEN
to you, and also to LISTEN to all others, but not to believe you, and not to
believe the others, but believe what we see in the Bible?"
BRETHREN! When I speak ON THE AIR, I am speaking to the outside WORLD -- to
the unconverted. I am not speaking just to those who should already KNOW the
These people all around the world, who listen to me on the radio, do not know
whether I am a false prophet, a minister of God, or WHAT. To them, YES, I say,
DO NOT BELIEVE MEN -- BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE!
That is what you should have done -- before you knew the TRUTH. Probably it
was because you did do that, that you saw the TRUTH with your own eyes in your
Bible. Perhaps THAT is what brought you INTO the truth, and led you to God's one
and only true Church!
To people who do not KNOW that this is the ONLY true Church of God, I do say
those very things.
But to you who have PROVED this is GOD'S CHURCH, it is different.
BUT, you say, are you no longer supposed to PROVE ALL THINGS, by your own
BIBLE? Yes, of course you are!
Then is it wrong for you to PROVE THESE THINGS FOR YOURSELF, in your own
Bible? Not at all! What we say is, DO NOT LISTEN ANY LONGER to those who bring a
DIFFERENT doctrine! If you have already seen these truths for yourself --
already PROVED them in your own Bible -- already proved this is the true Church
of God, then GOD'S TEACHING, as I have shown you in this article from the BIBLE,
is, DO NOT LISTEN to those who bring a different doctrine.
In God's Church, we ministers do not tell you what to believe, and command
you to believe us, without even looking into your Bible. That is what the Roman
Catholic Church does -- but not God's Church.
Of what does the preaching of God's ministers consist? Do we not PREACH THE
WORD, just as we are commanded? (II Tim. 4:1-2). Do not our sermons to you in
the Church consist of EXPOUNDING the Scriptures -- of PROVING to you, in your
own Bibles, the true doctrines of God?
What about the articles we write? Do they not consist of expounding the
Scriptures, PROVING the truth by the Scriptures, so you can see these things for
yourselves IN YOUR OWN BIBLES? Is not that what I am doing NOW, in this very
article? Am I now asking you to merely believe ME -- to take my word, without
proving it to you by GOD'S WORD?
But suppose, when you study your own Bible, you come across something you
feel is contrary to the teaching of the Church? Must you hide your eyes from
what you see in your Bible? CERTAINLY NOT!
Well then, can you go to other members with it, to set them straight?
CERTAINLY NOT -- that would only tend to CAUSE DIVISION. The Bible teaches that
we must all SPEAK THE SAME THING.
Well, what shall you do, then?
LISTEN! UNDERSTAND THIS! You MUST NOT go to any other member with what you
feel you have found is contrary to the Church's teaching. Instead, YOU MUST
BRING IT TO THE MINISTERS! If you are a member of a local congregation, take it
to your pastor. Go into it WITH HIM -- but with NO ONE ELSE, lest you foment
division, and be cast out of the Church! If there is no local pastor, bring it
to one of God's ministers, or write it to HEADQUARTERS.
God's ministers will go into it with you. If you are right -- if you have
found any place in the Bible where we are in error, then WE WANT TO KNOW IT. We
hate error, and love truth, even though the truth correct and reprove us! Bring
it to us. If YOU are wrong, we will patiently show you, and explain it more
perfectly to you. If we are wrong, we will correct it BEFORE THE WHOLE CHURCH,
so that ALL the Church may, with one mind, believe the TRUTH, and speak the SAME
If any other member comes to YOU to point out where the Church is wrong -- DO
NOT LISTEN! Rather, TELL HIM TO TAKE IT TO THE CHURCH! And then report him to
This, Brethren, is the ONLY way we can have unity!
AUTHORITY of the Church
When you repented, you repented of rebellion against God and His government.
You surrendered to OBEY God's government. And God carries out His government
THROUGH HIS CHURCH!
Has God given His Church AUTHORITY to determine DOCTRINE? Yes, indeed He has.
In the Apostolic days God set up His HEADQUARTERS Church at Jerusalem. There
are some matters of doctrine, or procedure, which do not appear plain to all
members alike in the Scriptures. One such example was the matter of whether
physical circumcision was still to be practiced. The Church at Antioch was
divided, and in doubt. This could have split up the church. But they took it to
the Headquarters Church at Jerusalem, where the largest number of highest
ranking ministers was located.
God, through His Holy Spirit, LED THIS CHURCH to settle this doctrinal
dispute GOD'S WAY. The decision of the Headquarters Church WAS NOT THE DECISION
OF PETER AND THE APOSTLES -- it was the decision of GOD, as He led them to
understand, and to settle it. The brethren at Antioch WERE REQUIRED TO ACCEPT
THIS DECISION, and Church was kept in UNITY, all speaking the same thing -- and
the thing inspired by GOD!
Today God has His Headquarters Church, where the largest number of highest
ranking ministers are located.
One subject the members could not all see alike, or agree on, was that of
women wearing lip-stick and make-up. The leading ministers of God's Headquarters
Church went into a very thorough study of this question. We had no set opinions
of our own. We sought only GOD'S truth.
God led His Church into His TRUTH. But we did not command the women to follow
OUR personal ideas, like human dictators. We rendered GOD'S decision, as He
revealed it to His Church -- and we published a long article in The GOOD NEWS,
explaining fully the Scriptural teaching so that every member could see this in
his or her Bible. But when the CHURCH settled it or rather when GOD settled it
through His Church -- that is FINAL, unless one can bring to the Church evidence
of error, and the CHURCH OFFICIALLY alters its decision.
Another example: One of MANY things the Church MUST do, where there is no
definite Scriptural direction whatsoever regarding some phase of it, is this: We
are COMMANDED to take the Passover. We are COMMANDED to take the wine, as well
as the unleavened bread. That much is PLAIN TO ALL. But one phase of doing this
which is NOT made plain in the Scripture is HOW, or by WHAT METHOD, the wine is
to be passed and taken by each one.
Many will say: Since Jesus "took the cup, and gave thanks, and said,
Take this, and divide it among yourselves" (Luke 22:17), therefore Jesus
meant to divide it into several small glasses, and each drink of it from a
But this year at the Passover, one member declared there should be just the
one great big Texas-size cup, and all 792 who took of it should have put their
lips to this same big cup -- no matter if it took all night and all the next day
to pass the one cup to so many!
In such cases, the individual member does NOT have authority to determine
God's will -- THE CHURCH has authority to determine the procedure FOR THE WHOLE
God did not give us one absolutely plain Scripture on HOW this wine was to be
divided among us. Jesus did say: "DIVIDE it among yourselves."
Therefore, GOD has shown His CHURCH that, since God is not the author of
confusion, and all things must be done decently and in order, that the ORDERLY
way to DIVIDE the wine among 792 people is to divide it into 792 small glasses,
provided specially for this very purpose. There is NO BIBLE TEACHING saying, as
this man said, that all must put their mouths to the same one and only cup!
Therefore, the CHURCH HAS RULED! That ruling has the AUTHORITY OF GOD! Every
member is COMMANDED, by the government of GOD in His Church, to partake of the
Passover as the Church has been inspired to rule. Any member is perfectly free
to come to the Headquarters Church to present any reasons he may have why he
thinks the Church ought to rule otherwise.
But, so long as he remains a member in the fellowship of God's Church, he is
NOT free to voice his contrary doctrine to any other members, or to do
otherwise, but obey the Church's commands, which, in such a case, ARE THE
COMMANDS OF GOD! Otherwise, he is coming with a different doctrine -- he is
causing division, tending to stir up strife and introduce confusion -- and he
must be MARKED, and disfellowshipped, and refused permission to be in the
fellowship of any of our brethren!
This is GOD'S WAY of preserving UNITY! This is GOD'S WAY of leading us all to
SPEAK THE SAME THING, and insuring that it be the very thing GOD wills, not our
The Church at Eugene, Oregon, was split over a division of human opinion on
HOW to count 50 -- and on setting the right day for all the Church to assemble
for the Feast of Pentecost. This split was STARTED by TWO WOMEN! Only the CHURCH
has authority to determine such matters for ALL THE CHURCH. Otherwise there is
confusion. Those carnal minded members who rebelled are no longer in God's
Church. But the Church of God goes joyfully on, and on, constantly GROWING, and
as God's instrument, doing the Work of God WORLD-WIDE, producing FRUIT, having
God's continued and abundant BLESSINGS!
These things, dear Brethren, we speak to you, that all may understand, and
that we may be drawn closer and closer to the TRUTH, in harmony, and the SPIRIT
OF GOD and GOD'S LOVE! Thus, and only thus, do we have God's blessing!