July 17, 2020 Brethren Letter
Several years ago, I heard a sermonette I remember very well. The person speaking told the congregation that he had once piloted a small Piper type aircraft. He went on to say that if a pilot expects to reach his destination, he must not allow his plane to veer off-course by even one degree. A change of just ONE tiny degree could cause a plane to end up several miles off the “mark”, by flight’s end.
On November 28, 1979, an Air New Zealand jetliner flew into Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica, killing all 237 passengers and 20 crew on board. The plane was unknowingly off-course from its intended coordinates. Here’s some of the story as found on Wikipedia:
On 28 November 1979, the fourteenth flight of TE-901, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, registration ZK-NZP, flew into Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica, killing all 237 passengers and 20 crew on board. The accident became known as the Mount Erebus disaster.
The initial investigation concluded the accident was caused by pilot error but public outcry led to the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the crash. The commission, presided over by Justice Peter Mahon, concluded that the accident was caused by a correction made to the coordinates of the flight path the night before the disaster, coupled with a failure to inform the flight crew of the change, with the result that the aircraft, instead of being directed by computer down McMurdo Sound (as the crew assumed), was re-routed into the path of Mount Erebus.
Over the years, various ministers and lay-members have tried unsuccessfully to get me to change my spiritual course “just a little” on various doctrinal beliefs. I’ve heard everything from “You need to change what you believe because Mr. Armstrong is dead now,” to “It’s time to throw that booklet away, Gary, (‘Just what do you Mean Born Again’, written by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong). We don’t teach that anymore.”
As we know, the apostle Paul is also dead, but his death never ONCE nullified the TRUTH of God! Mr. Armstrong’s death did not change ANYTHING either.
In January of 1991, the Worldwide Church of God announced a change in a long-standing doctrinal belief of what it means to be BORN AGAIN. At the time, statements were made by the Church leadership that the “new understanding” wasn’t a CHANGE at all, but merely a “clarification”. Some members viewed this change of belief as a minor, “one-degree turn” from what was taught by Mr. Armstrong. In other words, the change was labeled “insignificant”.
My wife and I didn’t view the change of that doctrine as insignificant! I said to her at the time, “The born again doctrine is like a thread woven through a fabric. If they are going to begin pulling on this particular thread, they’re eventually going to unravel the whole garment. It won’t stop here!”
What seemed like a minor “one-degree turn” to some in 1991, eventually became a MASSIVE DEPARTURE from the TRUTH by the mid-1990s! “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first…” (II Thessalonians 2:3).
In the beginning of tonight’s letter I referred to a sermonette that I had heard several years ago by a former pilot. You see, the point of his sermonette was this: A one-degree change in course spiritually may seem like a minor thing, but that one-degree change could eventually lead to an unrecoverable spiritual disaster. So, we must stay on the spiritual course all the way to the end!
Finally, remember these words as the apostle Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7).
Have a wonderful Sabbath!
Your Brother in Christ,