Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Most Important Trip

Greetings again! My name is Larry McElroy, and in my previous communication I mentioned that my wife and I departed from UCG in the fall of 1999.

I have asked myself, is there a more rare and important commodity on Earth than Truth, which so few seem to find? But also, how far would I go to qualify for eternal life? And how much effort would I exert to obtain salvation? And finally, how much would I give up to serve those who need a powerful message of hope in these desperate times?

Everyone has had their own journey after the apostasy. Upon leaving UCG (after four years there), we sought out, bumped into, observed, visited, and in some cases tried to participate in a wide variety of groups in our quest to find where God was working. We could categorize the groups in the following manner:

  • Fellowships—loosely organized groups in which there were continual doctrinal conflicts and friction
  • Prophecy groups—false prophetic nonsense was their main focus
  • “One-issue” groups—such as calendar and sacred names groups
  • Intellectual groups—leaders who didn’t want to serve people, but had a following
  • Internet ministries—800 number call-ins for Sabbath services
  • Groups playing Mr. Armstrong’s tapes—living in the past and doing nothing to give others the Truth today
  • Isolation groups—taught members to leave the big city, strive to make themselves ready by living together, and not worry about warning the world

What to Look for?

Some of these groups had a partial form of correct government—from the top down (no voting for leaders), but it was not the true government of God. It was form, not substance. What was missing? Doctrinal integrity as taught by Mr. Armstrong. Friendships were made with many people during this five-year struggle, but most did not understand the deceitfulness of compromise or the importance of doctrinal purity—holding fast to what we had been taught (Rev. 3:11) during the Philadelphian era of God’s Church. We were yet to understand that we ourselves didn’t appreciate what the full Truth was—due to 15-plus years of watered down teaching (WCG, UCG and sundry groups). We had also compromised with God’s Truth.

On Our Own

In 2004, we were on our own, meeting in our home with our family and several friends. Again, we asked, “Where is the Work of God?” Was the Work destined to just die out? The “churches of God” were contaminated, bickering, tepid, a confused consortium of individuals thinking they were “just fine” (Rev. 3:17)! Each group believing they were the answer! Blindness caused so many to depart from the “old paths” (Jer. 18:15).

Those of the 7th era do not want the “old paths” of truth (Jer. 6:16) established by the Elijah who was to “restore all things” (Mal. 4:5-6; Matt. 17:11-12). Many cherish their “new understandings” and societal acceptance—unaware that they are not pleasing God. They cannot see themselves or their desperate, life-threatening spiritual condition.

Ask, Seek, Knock

When we are lost spiritually, what works? Beseeching God for His deliverance is key. We had been wandering in a toxic spiritual wilderness full of deadly vipers for five years. In January of 2005, I remember getting up in the middle of the night on several occasions and asking God to help me find the Truth. It was the most important matter—not “name brand” organizations—not social groups—not high-ranking leaders—not intellectualism. Where was the simplicity of God’s Truth to be found?

An Internet search brought me to an advertisement. I clicked on the ad and found The Restored Church of God (RCG) website. This led me to request the Splinter Explanation Package (SEP). I soon received a large box of books and information.

How Far?

Ask yourself, how far would I go to find the Truth? I asked myself this question numerous times. I spent most of 1½ months reading Anoint Your Eyes,” The Government of God, and I Will Send Elijah to Restore All Things, plus numerous booklets and articles. I found the reading riveting! Time flew by and understanding began to come—“anointing your eyes” is a life-changing process—it involved repenting for letting the Truth slip from my grasp! It meant acknowledging that others through subtlety and use of their arguments about growing in knowledge led to rejecting the “old paths” of truth from the past.

Now it was time for action. Was the RCG real—or just another group with a nice looking website? Did they live the Truth? Were they a “paper” or “cyber” organization? There was only one way to find out. God’s Word says, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thes. 5:21). Again I asked myself, how far would I go to find the true Church of God that taught all the Truth? What is eternal life worth? What is doing the Work worth since we were not called for salvation only—but to help others know the love of God and to finish the Work? Since I lived in Utah at the time, I had to take a 2,000-mile trip across the country to a location in Ohio. In March of 2005, I headed for Wadsworth to find out if RCG was what it claimed to be.

Arriving at RCG Headquarters was refreshing, from the smiling receptionist, to the rows of displayed literature, to the beautiful décor of the offices and meeting rooms. Arriving on Thursday, I met the various department managers and Mr. Pack. These were the friendliest and most cordial people I had met in many, many years. I didn’t feel like a stranger!

On Friday, I took a tour and spent time with each department manager discussing his area of responsibility—focusing on the department’s role in accomplishing the Work of God—its role in sending Truth to the world. There was a sense of urgency in developing quality magazines, using the most efficient technology, and developing more effective leadership skills to take God’s Word to a dying world. The focus remained on taking the full Truth to the world and feeding the flock.

I was invited to members’ homes on Thursday and Friday evenings and a brunch on the Sabbath, where many brethren were present. This included a delightful meal and uplifting fellowship. This was Philadelphian hospitality!

Much more could be said to describe this most important trip of my life—a trip to prove where the Work of God was being accomplished. This was where I belonged. I was particularly struck with the following thoughts while visiting:
  • RCG’s focus was on the Truth
  • The people exhibited brotherly love
  • Their desire was to finish the Work
  • Their focus was to warn modern-day Israel
  • But also to feed the flock of God
  • There was no condemnation for not “coming to RCG sooner”
  • God’s Spirit was inspiring these people
Reflecting back, as my wife and I begin our 7th year in RCG, I want to state unequivocally that this post is not about my accomplishments, but about the mercy of God. Without it, I would have never returned to the Body of Christ. It is very evident that the paths of God are “mercy and truth” (Psa. 25:10; Prov. 16:6; l Pet. 1:22).

Back to the beginning: Truth is the rarest and most important commodity on Earth, and it is few that find it. How far will we go to qualify for eternal life? How much effort will we exert to obtain salvation? How much will we give up to serve those who need a powerful message of hope in these desperate times?

I urge all ministers in the splinters to make the same trip. It will change your life!