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.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Galatians 4:26 -- Part 4

Still working on...
Galatians 4:26  But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.

I'll be quoting again from the WMSCOG page about "Heavenly Mother."

They say that "through the history of Abraham's family, God has revealed to us how we can inherit the kingdom of heaven."  And that the "reason why Isaac was chosen as Abraham's heir was that Isaac was the son of Sarah, who was free.  This history shows us that the heavenly inheritance will be given to those who are born of the heavenly Mother, who is free."

I've already examnined how Abraham represents himself (not God), and how God established His covenant with Isaac because he was the promised child, born miraculously to Abraham and Sarah.

The WMSCOG says that God chose Isaac to become God's heir because his mother (Sarah) was a free woman, not a slave.  They say that Eliezer was a servant, so both his parents were slaves, thereby disqualifying him to be Abraham's heir.  And Ishmael's mother (Hagar) was also a slave, and "this is why God could not allow Ishmael to become Abraham's heir," even though his father (Abraham) was free.  They say that "the key factor in deciding an heir is 'Mother.'"

Is it true that the status of a child's mother (slave or free) determined whether or not that child could become an heir?  Let's think about this now...

Was Eliezer disqualified as an heir because his mother was a slave?  No, Abraham said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” (Gen. 15:3)
Eliezer would have been Abraham's heir if Abraham had no children of his own when he died, despite the status of his mother.  (By the way, it's interesting to wonder why Abraham didn't mention his nephew Lot as his heir.  Makes me wonder exactly who Eliezer was to Abraham....)

How about Ishmael?  Was he disqualified because his mother was a slave?  God's special covenant was not passed to Ishmael, that's true, but God did promise to bless him and make him into a great nation.  (Gen. 17:20).

What about when Sarah said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”  (Gen. 21:10)  Can you understand Sarah's animosity toward Ishmael?  Ever since she offered her maidservant to her husband she had regretted it and had problems getting along with Hagar.  Finally she had a son of her own, and she "saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking." (Gen. 21:9)  It is no wonder she wanted him gone.

If you read further in Genesis 21, you see that God told Abraham not to worry about Ishmael.  Even though Ishmael would not receive Abraham's earthly inheritance or be a part of the covenant God made with Abraham, He told Abraham He would still "make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” (Gen. 21:13)

Another question is... Are there other cases in the Bible that would show us if a mother's status (slave or free) did indeed influence someone's inheritance?

There are three that come to mind.
#1 -- After Sarah died, Abraham married again, a woman named Keturah, and she bore him sons.  (Gen. 25:1-2)  We don't know anything about Keturah, but it's likely that she was not a slave, isn't it?  Yet, "Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac." (Gen. 25:5)  But with Ishmael gone, Isaac was the firstborn son, with all the privileges associated with that birthright.

#2 -- Isaac married Rebekah and had twin sons, Esau and Jacob.  Esau and Jacob had the same mother, a free woman, and yet Jacob (the second born) got the birthright and the blessing of the firstborn instead of his brother.  (Gen. 25:19-34 and chapter 27)  There wasn't even a blessing left for Esau. (Gen. 27:38-40)  At least Ishmael got a blessing.

#3 -- The 12 sons of Jacob came from 4 different women.  (Gen. 29:31-35; 30:1-24 and 35:16-18)  Leah and Rachel, his two wives were free women, and they gave him 6 and 2 sons respectively.  Rachel's servant Bilhah bore Jacob 2 sons, and Leah's servant Zilpah also bore Jacob 2 sons.  The mothers of those 4 sons were slaves.  Were they excluded from the inheritance of their father, Jacob?  NO.  God blessed ALL 12 sons of Jacob and grew them into the 12 tribes of Israel.

So the WMSCOG's logic chain to interpret Galatians 4:26 is flawed.  Next time we can examine what that passage from Galatians really means.

Click here to go on to Part 5.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Galatians 4:26 -- Part 3

Galatians 4:26  But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.

So to prove that this verse is speaking about a "Mother God," the WMSCOG first tries to show (through the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man) that Abraham represents God in the Bible.  But we've just seen that Abraham in fact represents...himself, the physical father of the Jewish nation.  But let's get past that, just for the sake of argument, and see if the rest of their interpretation makes sense...

Their next step is to show that Isaac, the son God promised to Abraham, was Abraham's heir.

Yes, that is true, though not quite through the way the WMSCOG explains on their webpage about the "Heavenly Mother."  The quotes I use from the WMSCOG in this post are from there.

They compare three people who could have possibly been Abraham's heir.  The first is Eliezer, Abraham's servant.  Here's Genesis 15:2-4...
But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”  And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”  Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”

The WMSCOG says, "When Abraham was an old man and had not yet borne a son, he asked God to allow his servant Eliezer to be his heir."
 
If you read what Abraham said, you'll see that he was NOT asking God to let Eliezer be his heir.  In Genesis 15:1 (ESV), God tells Abraham, ""Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great."
 
Abraham remembers God's promise to him from Genesis 12 that God would make him into a great nation and give his offspring the land of Canaan.  Abraham does not want Eliezer to become his heir.  He wants God to fulfill His promise.  "What can you give me since I remain childless?" he asks.  No "reward" would mean as much to him as having a child of his own.
 
The next possibility is Ishmael, the son born to Abraham through Hagar, Sarah's maidservant.
Genesis 16:1-2  Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”  Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

God had promised Abraham a son (Gen. 15:4), but his wife was not able to give him any children, and they were getting old.  So Sarah and Abraham think perhaps this promised son is going to come from another woman, and they try out their idea.  Finally Abraham (at 86 years old) has a son, Ishmael.  Can you imagine the joy Abraham felt, even though this son was not from Sarah?

The WMSCOG says, "When Abraham said to God, 'If only Ishmael might live under your blessing,' God did not allow Ishmael to become his heir.  Instead, God promised Abraham that he would have a son through his wife, Sarah."

God did speak to Abraham again when he was 99 years old in Genesis 16.  He DID promise Abraham that Sarah would give him a son, and that it would be through this son, Isaac, that God would establish His covenant to make him into a great nation.

But can you imagine Abraham's thoughts about Ishmael, his first and long-awaited child?  Ishmael (about 13 years old by now) would have been special to Abraham, and so Abraham would have hoped God had a special blessing for Ishmael.

Did God refuse to make Ishmael Abraham's heir?  God did say that it would be through Isaac that Abraham's covenant would be fulfilled, but what happened to Ishmael?  Was he kicked to the side?

No, God said, "And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation." (Gen. 17:20)

God heard Abraham's request for Ishmael and blessed him!

So, yes, Isaac was the heir of the covenant promised to Abraham.  He was the son God promised to Abraham--born by a miracle of God, and not through the ordinary way.  But it's not quite the way the WMSCOG tries to explain it.

Click here to go on to Part 4.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Galatians 4:26 -- Part 2

Galatians 4:22-26
"For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.  His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. ... Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.  But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother."

The logic that the WMSCOG uses to interpret this verse is complicated (to me, at least). It's going to take several posts to cover it all. I'll take it step by step...

Their first step towards their conclusion that this verse points to "Mother God" is to say that Abraham represents God in the Bible.  To do this they go to the story Jesus told of Lazarus and the rich man from Luke 16.

Luke 16:22-24
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.  So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham...'"

On their website page about "Heavenly Mother," the WMSCOG says,
"Lazarus was obviously carried to God's side after he had died; however, the Bible sates that Lazarus was carried to Abraham's side.  In the parable, the rich man, who went to hell, called up to God in the distance; however, the Bible states that the man saw Abraham, and called up to him, saying, 'Father Abraham.'  Who is the only one who is worthy to be called 'Father' in the spiritual world?  God is the only one who can be called upon in this way.  Then, whom does Abraham represent?  Logically, the character Abraham was chosen to represent God."

Does Abraham represent God?  Is that why he's called "father" in the spirit world and why Lazarus is described as being taken to Abraham's side?  No...
Abraham is the physical father of the whole Jewish nation:
No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. (Gen. 17:5)

"Father" was not just a word used for a person's direct father.  Their grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, and all of their forefathers were also called "father."
God spoke through Joshua to the Israelites about their "father Abraham" even though they were many generations removed from him:
But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac... (Joshua 24:3)
Here are more references to "Father Abraham": John 8:56; Acts 7:2; Romans 4:12; James 2:21.

God spoke again to the Israelites through Isaiah about their father Abraham:
look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many. (Isa. 51:2)

In my culture and in my family, we are not accustomed to calling our grandfathers "Father," but we do make a big deal of them on Fathers Day every year along with our immediate fathers.  I have heard many interesting stories about great-grandfathers I never knew, and I am excited at the prospect of meeting them one day in heaven.  Is there any reason to think we won't be calling our own earthly fathers by the names we've always known them?  Dad, Daddy, Papa, Grandpa, Gramps, Father?

Now imagine what it is like for an Israelite who has grown up with stories of their great ancestral father, Abraham....  How they might long to meet Abraham in heaven and call him Grandpa, Father.  This is a different sense of the word than calling God, "Father."  Can you see?

In the parable, Lazarus was carried to "Abraham's side" to show that he was in heaven with Abraham.  It's interesting to look up the phrase "the bosom of Abraham."  The rich man called Abraham "father" because he was Jewish and Abraham was his great-great-great...grandfather.

Then, as the WMSCOG asks, whom does Abraham represent?
Abraham represents Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish nation.

The WMSCOG's first misinterpretation here is to assume that Abraham represents God.

Click here to go on to Part 3.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Galatians 4:26 -- Part 1

It seems the WMSCOG is constantly quoting Galatians 4:26 to prove that there is a "Mother God":
"But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother."

What does that verse mean?  Does it indicate another God, the "Mother," as the WMSCOG claims?
Those are the questions I wanted to explore in my studies.

The first thing to do, before examining the details of the WMSCOG's interpretation, was to read it myself in context.  And not just the whole of Galatians chapter 4, but to read the whole book of Galatians--it's only 6 chapters long.  If I read the whole book at once, it will help me get a clearer idea of Paul's message.  (You can read it for yourself, too.)

This is a letter written by Paul to the Galatians when he had heard that they were turning away to other gospels.  He warns them not to accept any gospel other than the truth that Paul had given them, even if it appears to come from a trustworthy source. (Gal. 1:6-9)  He continues throughout his letter to compare the freedom we have in Jesus Christ with the slavery of being under the Law.

I'm going to pull out some verses and main points...

This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. (Gal. 2:4)
We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. (Gal. 2:15-16)
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (Gal. 2:21)

ALL of chapter 3, here's verse 11: Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”
and verse 18: For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
and verses 21-22: Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

Comparing heirs and slaves, Gal. 4:1-7, here's verse 7: So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Concern that they are turning back to slavery, Gal. 4:8-9...Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
Using Hagar and Sarah to compare the Old Covenant and New Covenant, slavery to the Law vs. the promise of freedom through faith. (Gal. 4:21-31)  Here are verses 23-24a: His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.  These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Gal. 5:4)
The acts of the flesh compared to the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:13-26, here's verses 17-18: For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
and Gal. 6:15...Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

When you look at the book of Galatians as a whole, it is not talking about the existence of a "Mother God" at all.  The passage about Hagar and Sarah is just one example among many points in Paul's message that we are not under the regulations of the Law any more.  We are free, no longer slaves to obeying the Law!  We can know the grace of God through faith.

More about Galatians 4:26 next time...

Click here to go on to Part 2.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

ONE God -- Has Another Been Hiding?

How does the World Mission Society Church of God reconcile their doctrine of two gods with so many verses showing that there is only one God?

"There is the Savior's name for each age, but the name of God as female does not appear.  For God the Father stands as a representative, just as only a father's name appears on a doorplate in the home though there is a mother.  In the book of Romans it is described that through one man, Adam, sin entered the world.  Actually it was Eve who sinned first, but Adam's name was representatively mentioned.  It is the same with the Savior's name for each age; only the name of God the Father has been representatively used."
from the sermon "The Elohim Gods."

So apparently the WMSCOG believes that when God says, "Let us...," it means "God the Father and God the Mother."  And when God speaks with I and me, it also means "God the Father and God the Mother," because God the Father is representing both of them.  Just like when only a father's name is on the doorplate of the home, even though the wife (mother) lives there too.

No, that doesn't work.  Let's think about it...
Think of a home that belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Example.  We knock on the door, and Mr. Example opens it and talks to us.  Mrs. Example is in one of the bedrooms, so we can't see or hear her.

If Mr. Example says, "This house belongs to me.  I live here.  I am in charge of my house." -- Even though Mrs. Example also lives there and shares the rule of the household, it is still a true and acceptable statement.

On the other hand, if Mr. Example says, "No one else lives here but me.  I am the only one in charge of this house.  I am alone here." -- Those are not true statements.  He would be lying.  Even speaking as the representative of his household, he cannot make statements like that truthfully.

Just to review, God said...
"I am God [El], and there is no other." (Isaiah 45:22)
"Is there a God [Eloah] besides me?  Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one." (Isaiah 44:8)
(El and Eloah are both singular.)

God cannot truthfully make the statements He did, if there was a Mother God waiting in the wings for her time to come.

Monday, November 1, 2010

ONE God -- More Verses

In my last post, I showed verses from Isaiah where God (YHWH) claims to be the only God (which He is--He cannot lie).  Here are more verses from that also tell us there is only ONE God (not two, as the WMSCOG claims).

Note that in the New Testament, the Greek word for God, Theos, is singular.

My emphasis is shown in bold....

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me."  (Exodus 20:2-3)

"Now see that I, even I, am He,
      And there is no God besides Me;
      I kill and I make alive;
      I wound and I heal;
      Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand." (Deuteronomy 32:39)

"Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone." (2 Kings 19:19)

"Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:
      I am the LORD your God
      And there is no other.
      My people shall never be put to shame."  (Joel 2:27)

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.” So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He." (Mark 12:29-32)

Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.  For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.  (1 Corinthians 8:4-6)

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! (James 2:19)

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17 NIV)