Biblical Answers to the World Mission Society Church of God

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.--1 John 4:1

Are you or a loved one struggling with this group? Do you need Biblical answers about the World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCoG or CoGWMS), their founder Ahnsahnghong (Ahn Sahng/Sang-Hong) or their current leader "Mother Jerusalem" (a.k.a. "Heavenly Mother God," Zang/Zahng Gil-Jah, or Chung Gil Cha)? Thank you for coming here. I hope my blog helps you. Questions and comments are always welcome.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Diversion

I'm sorry to go off on a different subject for a moment, but I just had the most wonderful conversation with my dad.  I am so filled with emotion, I could just burst.  We are sharing a couple days vacation together, which is enjoyable in itself, but this evening he told me much of his life story and how he's felt God guiding and protecting him since he was young.  He really does have a remarkable story.

One day my dad may find my blog here and he'll recognize me, just as my sister would, even though I don't use the name they know me by....
If you ever read this, Dad, thanks for being there for me and for sharing your story with me, even the hard and emotional parts.  I love you so much!

Each of us may look over our lives and wonder why we have a plain, boring, ordinary life, when other lives are filled with the extraordinary.  But when we feel that way, I think we need to look closer--look at how God's worked even in the little things in your life.  With God as a living and integral part of our life, even the most "ordinary" life can be full of meaning.

I have a lot to write, especially about "elohim" and clouds, but it will have to wait until I'm home again.  Blessings to you all.  Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.  I hope it's a benefit to you.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Just Thinking Things Out

I had two disheartening telephone conversations last night and feel the need to write about them and think them through in print...

The first was with my dad.  Although he went forward one day in church to accept Jesus' salvation (years ago), he has never felt the need to be a regular church-goer (so lacks practical support and teaching, we live more than an hour apart) and loves to explore different and unconventional ideas and religious philosophies (including his own ideas).  Combine that with the wealth of information (and pseudo-information!) that's available online, and you might imagine how varied our conversations can be when it comes to faith.

He told me he came across a disturbing list of how the story of Jesus is similar to the Egyptian myth of Horus, and now he's confused that the New Testament writers had maybe made up the stories of Jesus.  It really concerned him, and he didn't know what to make of it.

About that claim--first, Satan, our enemy, is infamous for being a liar. If there is anything good from God, Satan will try to counterfeit it to lead people astray. And I'm not surprised He would do it with Jesus Himself too. After all, look at all the people in the world who have false claims to be Jesus or God themselves, like Ahnsahnghong.

But if that's the only explanation I can give, then I'm like those at the World Mission Society Church of God who I complain about.  That explanation, while it may be true, doesn't prove anything in particular.  I have to be willing to look up facts and real answers, even if I'm afraid of what I'll find.  I can't ask my sister or anyone else to do something that I'm unwilling to do myself.

So I looked it up, and I'm happy to give you a link to good information in case you have a similar question.
http://www.kingdavid8.com/_full_article.php?id=fe54916c-64bc-11e1-8f66-6067e33f8f11
(I like his example of the list of similarities between Abraham Lincoln and JFK.)
Scroll down to the "Jesus vs. Horus" link, and it will break down the claim point by point with some research.  I feel better about the controversy after researching it, but I still worry about my dad's potential to fall for unorthodox and false teaching.

The second conversation was with my sister.  She excitedly told me all about her getting more involved in her church.  (I was going to write about what she's doing, and then realized it might be too much information....)  The good thing is that she's open to sharing these things with me (our relationship has improved that way), the bad thing is seeing just how deeply involved with her church she is, and not being able to speak my heart to her about all this for fear of pushing her away too far.

The more committed and connected she is to her church "family," the harder it will be for her to disconnect when she finally sees the truth.  (Yes, I pray "when" not "if" she sees the truth!)  That's a discouraging thought.  But I hope and pray that she is like the lost sheep in Jesus' parable (Luke 15:3-7); and that God will not stop pursuing her until she comes back.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Holy Third Day?

While I'm on the subject of days...
When I visited the World Mission Society Church of God with my sister on their Tuesday evening service, I heard the pastor refer to "this Holy Third Day."  So I started asking, What makes Tuesday a holy day?

The answer from my sister at the time was, "I'm not sure, but haven't you wondered why every church has a midweek service?  There must be a reason for it."  (Most churches do have a midweek service, usually Wednesday, but I always thought it was because we didn't want to wait all the way to the weekly service to get our "spiritual tanks" filled.)

Later her answer was that it had something to do with cleansing and purifying water.  Another person said it was somewhere in Numbers, and another gave me the kind of cryptic, roundabout answer, which unfortunately is all to common in my experience:  "If you came to the CoG and studied Clean and Unclean maybe you would know…..hmmm theres a thought…."

Turns out that Holy Tuesday is based on a faulty interpretation of Numbers 19:12.

If you search for "third day" in the Bible, you'll see there are 39 verses about the “third day,” and they are overwhelmingly about the third day in the passage of time, such as when they are traveling for three days and on the third day they arrive. Rarely it is the third day of the month, as in Ezra 6:15. Never does it specifically, refer to the third day of the week (Tuesday).

Then there is Numbers 19:12 which says, “He shall purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean.”

If you read the context of the chapter, you’ll see that the “third day” and “seventh day” here refers to the passage of time, NOT Tuesday and Saturday. Verse 11 says, “He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days.” In order to become clean again, he must purify himself on the third and seventh days of his seven days of uncleanness. If it meant Tuesday and Saturday, what would he do if he touched the dead body on Friday?

The same logic that would make Numbers 19:12 mean Tuesday and Saturday would also say that Jesus rose from the grave on a Tuesday. Did Jesus rise from the grave on a Tuesday? No, it was the first day of the week, Sunday. There are several verses in which Jesus says He will rise on “the third day”. It is not Tuesday. It is the third day from the crucifixion.

The World Mission Society Church of God has a history of taking verses out of context, thereby distorting their meaning.  If you study with them, be sure to read many verses around the one they show you, even the whole chapter or book.  That way you'll get a clearer picture of what the Biblical writer meant.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Little More about the Sabbath

Before leaving the subject of the Sabbath for a while, I'd like to respond to specific statements the World Mission Society Church of God has made about Sunday worship and the Sabbath.

I can't emphasize enough that our salvation is not decided by the keeping of the Sabbath on a particular day. Neither are we to judge fellow Christians about it. (Romans 14)

BUT the World Mission Society Church of God has made some false statements about Sunday worship, and I think they should be addressed. I'm going to take them directly from the official church website.
I'll put the quotations in green....

In the New Testament times, the Sabbath day is referred to as "Jesus' [the Lord's] day" because the true Lord of the Sabbath is Jesus Christ. "For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath" (Matt. 12:8; Luke 6:5). The apostles kept the Sabbath day as the "Lord's [Jesus'] day."

No, in New Testament times, the Sabbath day is referred to as "the Sabbath" not "Jesus' Day" or "the Lord's Day".  I've searched the Bible and never seen the phrase, "Jesus' Day."

As for "the Lord's Day," that occurs only once in the Bible--in Revelation 1:10, when John says, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day..."  If he meant the seventh day Sabbath, don't you think he would have said, "I was in the Spirit on the Sabbath..."?

Also, there are documents from church history, as early as the first and second century, that refer to "the Lord's Day" as the first day of the week, not the seventh day.  (I can give a list if you'd like the references.  I'm just trying to save space here in an already long post.)

After the apostles died, Christianity spread to western regions, including Rome. The gospel was preached to sun-god worshipers, and in the early 4th century, even the Roman emperor had heard the message of Christ. The emperor happened to be a leader of the sun-god worshipers, and when he converted to Christianity, many sun-god worshipers began to attend Church. As time passed, the faith of the Christians weakened, and they began to accept the customs of the sun-god worshipers. During this turn-over, they even began to rest and to worship on the first day of the week [Sunday]. In A.D. 321, Constantine, a Roman emperor, decreed an edict: "All judges, city-people and craftsmen shall rest on the venerable day of the Sun."

According to the WMSCOG, Christians did not begin to worship on Sundays until about the 4th century, and it was Constantine and the sun-god worshippers who instituted the change to their custom of "Sun"day.

First of all, the apostles and early church were ALREADY meeting regularly on the first day of the week.  Besides the documents of early church history from the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd century (as I mentioned before), there are indications of this in the New Testament.

The apostles, being Jews, continued their custom of the Sabbath, especially because it provided opportunity to preach to their fellow Jews. But they also began meeting on the first day of the week to commemorate the Lord's resurrection--starting with the first Sunday a week after the Resurrection (John 20:26).

In 1 Cor. 16:2, Paul instructs the believers to set aside their offerings "on the first day of the week." That implies that they were meeting together on the first day of the week.

And in Acts 20:7, the believers had gathered together on the first day of the week to break bread and listen to Paul preach. I've had more than one WMSCOG member tell me that they were gathered for the Feast of Firstfruits, which occurs after the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which starts with the Passover) on the day after the Sabbath.

Now follow carefully....  Rabbinic Jews say the Day of Firstfruits is the day after the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread which itself is always a Sabbath rest (even if it is not the seventh day), while the Karaite Jews say that it is the Sunday (first day of the week) following the Passover. In either case, the first day of the week in Acts 20:7 canNOT be the Day of Firstfruits.  The Day of Firstfruits cannot be more than a week after the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Acts 20:6, "But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days." In verse 7, Paul is getting ready to leave the next day. That means this first day gathering was about 12 days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread--much too long to be the Day of Firstfruits. 

They sailed "after the days of unleavened bread."  They waited until all seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were finished before sailing.  So you can start counting those 12 days from the end of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but the Day of Firstfruits is not more than a week after the first day of the Feast.
They were gathered together, and it was just a regular Sunday.

No matter how many members a church has, if the church has different doctrines than those of Jesus Christ, it could not have originated from Jesus. We keep the Sabbath day?the memorial day of the Creator?not observing the law of the Old Testament, but following the law of the new covenant which Jesus and the apostles obeyed.

The seventh day Sabbath is part of the Law of the Old Covenant.  But where is it commanded as part of the New Covenant?  Jesus kept the Sabbath because He was "born under the law to redeem those who were under the law" (Gal. 4:4-5), and He showed the Pharisees the manner that it had been meant to be kept.  But while Jesus gave us commands on how to live, He never gave the command to keep the Sabbath, even though He had plenty of opportunities if He had wanted to.

As for the statement, "if the church has different doctrines than those of Jesus Christ, it could not have originated from Jesus."  Yes, so where did Jesus promote the doctrine of worshipping a second god, "God the Mother"?!?  Ahnsahnghong's World Mission Society Church of God did NOT originate from Jesus.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Sabbath, Part 3

I was just rereading what I wrote last time and realized it might be a little unclear. So I revised a little. Hope it helps.

Romans 14:5 says, "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind." We are not to judge each other on this matter. But I wondered, what would make someone choose either Saturday or Sunday as the "proper" day?

Regarding Saturday vs. Sunday, I've seen that the various views of churches fall into these categories:
  • The Sabbath was kept on Saturdays throughout the Old and New Testaments, and it must be kept on Saturdays now. That is the Biblical day, despite the efforts of the Church to change it to Sundays.
  • The Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday by apostles in the early church. It is clear that God approved this change (perhaps even meant it to change), and therefore we must keep Sabbath on Sunday, and not Saturday.
  • The Sabbath does not need to be a particular day of the week. To work 6 days and rest on the 7th means that we must have one day a week for a Sabbath. It could be any day, even Thursdays, just as long as you keep a Sabbath every seventh day.
  • The Biblical Sabbath has always been on Saturdays, but Jesus fulfilled the law for us. The Sabbath is one of the ceremonial laws (like the Feast days) and it was not re-commanded (is that a word?) by Jesus, and so we are no longer obligated to it. We choose Sundays to gather together in worship as a continual memorial to the Resurrection.
Can you think of any other category for viewing the Sabbath? If you know of one I've missed, please share.

My children are studying for a Bible quiz, and one of their questions is,
"Why do Christians worship on Sunday instead of the Sabbath?"
Their answer is,
"Because Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath, we worship on the day of His resurrection."

You can see then, the teaching of the denomination I attend falls into the fourth category. But the more I study the Sabbath, the more I can understand each of the viewpoints. But I thank God that He is a righteous judge who looks at our hearts. We are not to judge each other on this matter.

The funny thing I've noticed about my life, is that although Sunday is my special day for worship with my church family, I am so involved in different ministries at my church, that it is definitely NOT a day of rest. It turns out that Saturday is the day I can really find rest from my busy week. So in a sense, I've got both--Saturday AND Sunday. Interesting how it worked out that way...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Sabbath, Part 2

The Bible is so rich and deep. There is so much to study and learn from it. I wish I had more time, but I’m glad for the time I have, and I’m also glad for my family and the other responsibilities that God had blessed me with. After all, we can’t study ALL the time, or there would be no time to put it into practice, right?

So last time I was here looking at the Sabbath and saw that in Romans 14 and Colossians 2, Paul warns us not to judge other believers on their keeping of days. That would cause division and stumbling.

The World Mission Society Church of God wants us to believe that if we don’t keep the Saturday Sabbath, then we are not saved, not going to heaven. But if we are not to judge each other on the keeping of days, doesn’t that mean our salvation is not linked to keeping the Sabbath (on Saturday or any other day)? How do we gain salvation anyway?

This takes us back to whether it is faith or works that saves us. And as I’ve shown before, we are saved by grace through faith, not by any works that we do. (Eph. 2:8-9)

The WMSCOG says that God commanded the Sabbath to be kept on Saturday, and so Sunday worship is a “rule of men,” from Matt. 15:9, “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”

But if you look at what was happening in Matthew 15, you see that Jesus was criticizing the Pharisees for imposing their own rules and traditions on the people, making them additional requirements to be acceptable to God.

Sunday worship is NOT a requirement earn salvation or be acceptable to God. It is NOT a “rule of men” in this way like the WMSCOG would have us believe.

We do not keep Sunday worship because we are obligated to, under the law upon pain of death (like the Sabbath laws). There is NO command in the New Testament to keep ANY special day, Sunday or Saturday or any other. We keep Sunday worship because we LOVE to worship our Lord Jesus and remember His resurrection. The principle of the Sabbath is still there—a day for rest and focus on the Lord, once a week. But the legal requirement of the particular day is gone.

That’s what I see.

Whichever day we set apart to the Lord, we remember that our observation of that day is not a matter of salvation. It is Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as payment for our sins—that’s what has provided our way to heaven. We as believers serve the Lord everyday of the week, but for our spiritual and physical well-being, it is a good idea to give one day out of seven as a specific time for rest and worship. One day out of seven--that is the way we take our Sabbath rest.

But again, let me emphasize, that the Sabbath rest is like any other commandment in this way: They are given so that we may "enjoy long life" and "so that it may go well with you" and so that we may learn to "fear the LORD" (Deut. 6:1-3). It's Jesus' work on the cross which provides salvation (our eternal life with God), not our work in keeping all those commandments, including the Sabbath.

I’d like to focus next time on the day of the week—Saturday or Sunday. What would be the reasons to choose one or the other?

Click here to go on to Part 3.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Sabbath, Part 1

The keeping of the Saturday Sabbath is one of the World Mission Society Church of God's main doctrines. They believe that long ago the Christian church changed to keeping the Sabbath on Sundays to satisfy sun-worshippers, that worship on Sunday is basically a scheme of Satan, and that Jesus and the apostles kept Saturday Sabbath so we must also. They say that Saturday Sabbath is one of the marks of Jesus' true church, and therefore a church that worships on Sunday cannot be a true church of God.

I’ve been studying about the Sabbath, and oh my goodness! I knew there were differences of opinion, but I didn’t know it was such a BIG controversy! And with many so adamant about either Saturday or Sunday, and each view point using scriptures, history, and logic to support it… How is someone like me going to sort through it all? There’s only one way—going straight to the Bible to see what it says and read it for myself… and pray that God would give me clarity.

Are Christians required to keep the Sabbath, and should it be Saturday or Sunday, or could it be any day of the week? What can we understand about this directly from the Bible?

The first thing to note is Romans chapter 14. I can’t copy the whole chapter here, but if you have the opportunity right now, go read it. It’s all about judging others about what they do or don’t do according to their faith. At that time in the early church, one of their big controversies was about what to eat—the dietary laws. In talking about whether or not we should judge others about their diets, Paul mentions days of worship as being similar.

Romans 14:1-6
1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

Now, I’ll let you decide which has “weak” faith – the man who “considers one day more sacred than another” or the man who “considers every day alike.” Either way, if he is “fully convinced in his own mind” and “does so to the Lord,” then we are not to be the judge. It is God who will judge His own servants because it is God who knows their hearts.

Romans 14:20 says, "Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense."

Since Paul equates the day of worship with this food issue, I think Paul would also say…
Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of the day to worship. All days are worthy of being used to worship God, but it is wrong to cause someone else to stumble because of your insistence on the “right” day.

In other words, the difference in which day to go to church should not cause such division among Christians as to destroy the work of God and cause others to stumble.

Colossians 2:16-17 has a similar tone…
So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

I think that’s enough to get started, but this is a big topic. I’m sure it will take several posts to get a thorough look….

Click here to go on to Part 2.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

About the 144,000

One of the ways the World Mission Society Church of God tries to draw new members is to tell them about how close we are to the end of times, and how plagues and disasters and wars are part of the end times events, and that if they want God’s protection from all this, they need to join the WMSCOG in taking the Passover. This all stems from passages in Revelation chapters 7, 9, and 14, which speak of 144,000 having the seal of God.

If you read some of the Fragrances of Zion that members write and get posted on the main church website (http://english.watv.org/fragrance/list.asp), you’ll see that they call themselves the 144,000 and are waiting for all 144,000 of their lost brothers and sisters to be found so that “Father” can return soon.

So I thought I’d find out more about WMSCOG doctrine concerning the 144,000. Ahnsahnghong talked about it in his book, “The Mystery of God and the Spring of the Water of Life.” Here’s what he said…

On page 77 (Chapter 5), he explains that in the last days, only the 144,000 will be the ones to be saved--left alive and transfigured to go up to heaven.

On page 81 (Chapter 5), he explains that the 144,000 are chosen by God, and that we should not test God, wondering if we are one of the chosen, but should live as though we were certain we were one of the chosen.

On page 85 (Chapter 6), he says that because “144,000” is interpreted by almost all Biblicists as a literal number, some pastors/leaders of large churches want to interpret it differently. He implies that if their church numbers more than 144,000, then the extras won’t be going to heaven, and since the pastors/leaders know this, they interpret things differently (incorrectly) so everyone thinks they will be going.

On page 443 (Chapter 33), he says that in a short period of time after WWII, the seal must be placed on “the 144,000 saints who will go up to heaven alive.” World War Three will not begin until after all 144,000 are sealed, and if you do not have the seal, even if you are one of the elect, you will die either in disasters or in the war.

On page 445-447 (Chapter 33), he says that the Seventh-day Adventists also believe the 144,000 will go to heaven alive, but since they believed the last days started in 1844, and everyone alive in 1844 is dead now, then they must have been wrong in their timing. He says the sealing did not start in 1844 as the Seventh-day Adventists believe, but it started after World War Two.

On page 447-449 (Chapter 33), he says that the “blood of the Passover Lamb” (keeping the Passover) is the seal that is required to escape the last plagues and enter heaven.

According to all these statements and interpretations, we can get a picture of Ahnsahnghong’s view of the 144,000, but I still have questions:

--My sister told me that the 144,000 will not be the only ones saved and going to heaven. If the church is teaching that the 144,000 are not the only ones to be saved, then that sounds like a contradiction. What are they actually teaching now, and is it the same as what Ahnsahnghong taught?

--If the 144,000 are specially chosen and you can’t know if you are one of the chosen but should live as though you are, that means that there can be people who follow all God’s laws, keep all the feasts, and keep the Passover so they can have the seal, and still not be one of the “chosen”. What about John 1:12 which says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name,” and John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (Emphasis mine) How sad to be told that if you do ALL the church requires you will be spared from the last plagues, only to find out that you might not be saved from those plagues after all.

--WWII ended in 1945 and WWIII hasn’t happened yet, so according to Ahnsahnghong, we are in the last days and the 144,000 are currently being sealed? And according to him, if the church has more than 144,000 members, some of them will not be going to heaven with them. The church website says that they have 1 million members, and that they reached 200,000 members back in 1999. If only 144,000 are being taken to heaven alive, what is the church teaching will happen to the rest? Do they die in the end disasters and plagues and then join the others in heaven? Or do they just die in the end disasters and plagues and tough luck, no heaven for them? Or...?