EQUALITY AND FAVOURITISM: APPEARANCES AND REALITY
Sermon Delivered by the Presiding Patriarch on the Disillusion of the Independent Church of Jesus Christ, 16 April 1992
This historic sermon was delivered to the saints on the day the Independent Church of Jesus Christ was officially disbanded in April 1992, in Bergen, Norway. The Independent Church was the predecessor to the modern New Covenant Church of God, organised in 1996.
The Problem of Favouritism
One of the greatest challenges a minister of the Gospel faces is (1) how to avoid showing favouritism to any of the saints, and (2) how to avoid showing the appearance of favouritism to any of the saints. Whatever life situation you may find yourself in, whether in the Church or outside it, this problem always exists and a minister of the Gospel, if he is not careful, is likely to be misunderstood.
People tend to think in terms of their own social context. We live very much in a period of history where human rights is in the forefront. The United Nations Charter defines some basic human rights such as the freedom from hunger, the right to shelter, and so on. The world, ashamed of its racial biggotry, has moved from discrimination to what is called reverse discrimination. Not so many years ago blacks were discriminated against in favour of whites in education in the USA and not surprisingly whites resented this. Politicians, realising this was a politically sensitive issue that would loose them an important black vote, created legislation that gave blacks and other racial minority groups an advantage over their white peers. The results were both good and bad. Good, because it restored the confidence of a discriminated segment of society, bad because it then discriminated against whites. There is therefore a real tendency in human nature to swing from one extreme to the other in its attempt to be "fair" to those it has previously mistreated.
Red-Carpet Treatment in the Church of God?
You will find all kinds of cases like this in the secular world. Unfortunately, though, you find it in the Christian churches also. Even in our own, voices of disapproval have been raised because it has seemed as though certain persons were "favoured" over others and given "red carpet treatment". Such dangers are, unfortunately, all too real and great care must be exercised by the ministry to ensure that there is no favouritism of any kind. At the same time, though, the Church must recognise that people with different callings have different responsibilities and that specialised education must be given to such persons entering a specialised ministry that can be time consuming and which can appear to be giving that person a disproportionate amount of attention in relation to the rest.
Time and Love
It is here that I wish to emphatically stress two important factors in the equation of our inter-human relations. The first is time and the second is love.
It is a commandment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that the saints love each other with the same love. This is, to be sure, a most challenging commandment because if people are honest with themselves they will usually admit to having favourites. One of the posters in my study reads: "The heart openes to the heart that opens in return" and that is very true. People are naturally -- I would almost say chemically -- gravitated towards people who are open; the silent, introvert ones normally get forgotten. This I have certainly found true in the school I work at. Quiet children tend to be forgotten by teachers not because they are negligent but because the noisy, egotistical ones are constantly taking up his time as he attempts to maintain class discipline. To reach a quiet pupil he must go out of his way by subduing those who are spiritual caterpillars and are only seeking to get attention. For anyone who has not had classroom teaching experience it is impossible to convey just how difficult and energy-consuming this business is, even though everyone has been a child and has experienced a classroom environment! Because so many of the children I teach come from totally undisciplined homes, I frequently have to resort to drastic methods to contain them for the sake of the quieter more disciplined ones whose progress in class is often retarted by the selfishness of these noisy ones.
Diversity in the Body
The classroom situation is not, I have discovered, unlike a Church situation where you have a Body of diverse people. The difference is that they are all (or ought to be) born-again disciples but they are similar inasmuch as all have personal problems and all have different ways of seeing things. The number of views of education I have encountered in the classroom is incredible and from what some of the boys and girls say, you would think they knew more than their teachers! The same reaction is typical of many of the saints in relation to their pastors. Human-beings, whether classroom children or Christians, are self-willed and usually think they know best.
Callings to Leadership
A minister in the Gospel is called (if he is called properly) because he is experienced and knowledgable within his particular calling. He may not be 100% percent proficient (and must therefore be teachable) but on the whole he knows what he is doing. Children don't often realise this and think their parents are stupid (sometimes they are) and therefore go off and make the same mistakes, often with disasterous consequences, which their parents learned through experience and which they tried in vain to warn their children of. The children often disbelieve their parents because their parents have proven unreliable in other areas of life but more often than not the child is yielding to a principal defect in human nature called the spirit of rebellion.
The Problem of Rebellion
Rebellion, whether we like it or not, is deeply engrained in the human psyche. It is something we inherit from our parents through birth, what Christians sometimes call "original sin" because it originated with our first parents, Adam and Eve; it is something we pick up through the educational patterning we get at school, at home and increasinly in the media. Most societies anciently (and until recently) had mechanisms for dealing with rebelliousness but in the West these restraining mechanisms were suddenly overturned in the 1970's during what is sometimes called the "hippie revolution". This was a time when all systems of government and codes of morality were rejected by the youth of a whole generation in favour of what was loosely and inaccurately defined as "love". Though the hippie generation reacted legitimately against much wrong in society, the result of this mass rebellion was disasterous and fostered a spirit of rebellions whose after effects we still feel today in a fundamental rejection of authority. The 1970's are sometimes called the "I" generation for it was in truth one of the most egotistical generations ever. And the children of the next generation, following the rebellious attitude of their parents, have become lawless themselves. And yet these self-same parents bewail the fact that their children are unruly and undisciplined! Will human beings never learn?
Rebelliousness was dealt with strictly anciently. A youth showing disrespect for his parents under the Law of Moses could be stoned to death. Christians, who have experienced redeeming grace, are frequently appalled by such punishment but fail to accept that it is perfectly just and that it was the same God who instituted it as who died on a Cross to save mankind from his sins. In Norway it is illegal to beat your child or even to raise your finger; from the stories I have heard about the cruelty of parents in certain countries towards their children this is a good thing, but on the other hand a lack of what one might call "physical" discipline has led to a more precocious and rebellious youth which Norway, and other Western countries, will live to bitterly regret one day, if they are not already regretting it now.
Every teacher knows that some children are academically more advanced than others and so provision is made (if resources allow -- and that isn't often nowadays) for the more advanced children to do work that is more in line with their ability. A typical mathematics class will, for example, be divided into groups ranging from the least able to the most able. The teacher must labour both with the advanced student to help him go further as well as with the less able student to help him catch up. He marks them on the basis of how they have scored in their individual exercises so that everyone is graded equally. Sometimes if a pupil is especially retarded and the teacher doesn't have time, he will send the student to an other teacher who can devote more time.
Some pupils refuse to work and there often isn't much a teacher can do if all the punishments have been exhausted. He knows, because his time is limited, that he must devote himself to the students who are willing to work, whether they are advanced or disabilitied. It is here that a teacher must turn over the responsibility of a rebellious pupil to his parents because he simply does not have the time and resourses to deal with him without being unfair to the other pupils who do want to work.
Spiritual Education at Home
A similar situation obtains in the Church. 90% of spiritual education must take place in the home, at least moral education, which must be given by precept and by example. This is not, of course, always possible, and where children come from spiritually disadvantaged homes it follows that Church ministers must devote more time supporting these children. Similarly, single members of the Church are more disadvantaged than married ones who ought, in theory at any rate, to be mutual supports to each other and a spur to personal righteousness. (Sometimes, unfortunately, the opposite occurs).
Likewise, spiritual education in the Church is divided between those with different areas of responsibilities. The deacons take care of temporal aspects of the Gospel such a tithing but the teachers take care of spiritual education. The elders take care of more personal problems and the pastors, who watch over everyone, have to do what the deacons, teachers and elders may have neglected to do as well as give an overall, intergrated picture of the Gospel to Christian disciples. They are also to lead. Prophets are there to give the people God's Word, apostles and evangelists to spread the Word, and so on. The local congregation is therefore an integrated network of persons with different abilities, callings and responsibilties which, if it works as it is suppoosed to work, is the most perfect system of moral, spiritual, ethical and practical education anyone can hope to obtain. And it is perfect because God instituted it.
No two people are alike. No two people have identical callings though the content of their callings will overlap a great deal. No two people have the same spiritual advantages or disadvantages. All need the same love, all need the same education, but not all will receive it with the same attitude. Some need to be taught privately, some need to be taught in a social context. Some are very private by "nature", others more outward and social. Some differences are right, some aren't.
Equal but Different
In our attempts to be equal we can sometimes be disadvantaging those who need specialised ministry. Let us take some good examples from the scriptures.
Many and Martha were, as we all know, different. Mary loved the Gospel mysteries but Martha was more preoccupied with domestic affairs. Nobody will dispute that Jesus loved them equally. Yet He gave much more of his time to Mary because she was willing to go deeper into the Gospel. Martha resented this not because she wanted to go deeper but she supposed that Jesus was showing her sister favouritism, and that her sister was inconsiderate given all the household chores that needed doing. It is here that we must learn an important spiritual principle, and it is this: sometimes what is right for one person is wrong for another, and this should not be the cause of resentment by anyone. The Mary-Martha Principle, one of the canonised revelations of the Church (NC&C 66), teaches that whatever our calling is we should receive it with gladness and understand that it is spiritual if done in Christ. Martha was justified in preparing the meal because this was her calling at that particular moment. Mary was justified because it was her calling to be instructed at that moment. There are, as we know, times and seasons for everything. This is not to say that Martha couldn't understand what Jesus was teaching to Mary but it does say that because her heart wasn't right, she wasn't in a proper receptive state of mind to receive it. She was, quite simply, jealous.
A Lack of Discipline and Jealosy
I have talked about rebelliousness and said that its cause is usually a lack of discipline, but often closely allied to rebelliousness is jealosy. Let us take another example, the case of Joseph and his eleven brothers. It is assuemed by most commentators that Jacob favoured Joseph because his mother, Rachel, was his favourite wife. There is, unfortunately, much truth in this. But it would be wrong to assume that this was the only reason Joseph got disprortionate attention. We know also from the scripture that Jacob was aware that his younger son had an important calling from God.
A better example would be the story of Samuel. Hannah, as you will remember, was barren and couldn't have any children, so she promised God that if He gave her a child, she would dedicate him to temple service. She subsequently had a baby boy, and many other children, but only Samuel was specially dedicated. Only Samuel became a prophet. Did she show favouritism? Did she discriminate against her other children by not sending them to the Temple too? No, because God did not call them for this special service. Her other sons and daughters doubtless had other callings and were accordingly prepared for them. We don't know what their attitude towards Samuel was. Perhaps they were jealous, perhaps they were more enlightened. We don't know what the reaction of Hannah's sister-wife, Peninnah, was either, nor of her children, though judging from the account in the Old Testament she was not particularly spiritual. Samuel was treated very differently from his brothers and sisters and, as adjudged with a worldly eye, was shown undue favour. But what is right with God is not necessarily right with man, and this ought therefore to be an object lesson to us. It should remind us that whilst we must love equally, we must not treat our children as carbon-copies, but must be prepared to respond when they each receive their special calls.
In Samuel's day, and long after, there was a School of the Prophets which specifically trained up prophets for the service of Yahweh. Not everyone's son could enter but only those who were called of God. Does God show favouritism? Perhaps we should answer that question with another example from history.
Rewards and not Equal
God blesses those who are willing to be obedient and follow them. If He rewarded everyone equally, He would be an unjust God. The Lord wishes to bless everyone alike but because He is a God of principle, and limits Himself by the Laws and Standards He has set for righteousness' sake, He blesses according to people's responsiveness to His commandments,
The New Covenant Church of Jesus Christ  is pre-eminently a church of Covenant. God calls people into certain covenants, priesthood and non-priesthood, and rewards those who are true to those covenants. Like the schoool teacher who must be fair in teaching those who want to be taught, so the minister of the Gospel must spend time teaching and ministering to those who wish to go deeper into the Lord. This is not to say that he will neglect the others, but as we say in England, you can bring a horse to a trough of water but you can't force him to drink.
There will always be people seeking after the Gospel with different degrees of zeal and different degrees of faithfulness. There are ministers appointed to teach each and every category of soul. Like Samuel, who was zealous for the Lord, there are many who will receive intense Temple education. Like Israel and Judah, who were almost constantly in a state of rebellion, there will be others who will try to plead and reason with them to turn away from their wicked ways. Parents in particular must understand that each child has a different calling, that some are called like Samuel, some like Joseph, some like Mary, some like Martha, and that they are to see that each child realises his or her own individual call by being sent to the appropriate teachers. The callings of some will seem strange indeed, like Jocabed who had to surrender her son Moses to an Egyptian Princess not just to save his life but so that he could be trained up in a special way for his prophetic calling. Or like Abraham, who lived alone with his mother and nurse out in the desert in a cave apart from his father and the rest of his brothers and sisters; who went alone, apart from the rest of his family, to the City of Salem as a small boy to be educated in the ways of the Firstborn.
God's Ways are not Ours
God does what He will. The question is: are you sensitive to His callings or are you perhaps more interested in furthering your own narrow vision of how you think things should be? Many of you have no idea of the kinds of sacrifices that the Lord is going to ask you to make for His sake and most of you are quite unprepared because you are undisciplined and rebellious. Some, anxious to defend their own wrong thinking and sinful attitudes, and their unwillingness to repent, have instead accused the Lord's servants of priestcraft but never taken the action that was freely open to them in the democratic processes which God has given to this Church to rectify the wrongs they supposed were there. They have not exercised the courage of their own convictions because they have either been too weak or because they have known, deep within their subconscious, that they were wrong. Instead they have done the cowardly thing and left the Church, or they have been utter hypocrites and silenly harboured grudges and bitternesses, talking behind peoples' backs, even to those who are not of this Covenant. Some have made token repentance in order to protect their position but continued in their old ways without any real reformation.
This has never been, and never will be, a Church of favouritism. The Church does not exist for itself, neither is it a powerbase for priestcraft and those who have personal ambitions. This is God's Church restored on the earth. It's whole structure precludes that and it would fall and disappear before it became an instrument in the hands of unscrupulous persons. It will never go that way because those who have been set over this Church are under a strict commission to preserve its order. They are weighed continually to ensure that the government of Zion is just, fair, and according to the commandments and covenants. Notice that I do not say the Church will never fall; but I do say that if it falls it will not be reorganised or pass into someone else's hands -- rather, it will be withdrawn into heaven or back to the Holy Order which organised it.
An Historical Synopsis
Today is the 16 April 1992. This Church was called into being on 27 June 1984, nearly eight years ago. The first congregation came into existence two years later, and the Church was formally organised on 6 April 1988 in Oxford, England. At that time there were about 12 revelations. The same year the Church relocated to Oslo, Norway and small congregations were raised in Bergen and Oslo. In the space of four years some 570 revelations were received and several books of scripture, one or two of which are still incomplete. As the Lord revealed His Covenant from heaven, it became apparent that this was to be no ordinary Church. Indeed, not even those who founded it, myself included, had any idea just what the Lord was restoring. Many supposed that it was to be just another "Mormon Church" because most of its first members came out of that tradition, but it was not. Breaking that Mormon mould, which is deeply engrained in the subconscious of many members, has proved to be difficult. Traditions die hard, and people don't like changing. But above all we soon learned that the Church of Christ was to be a Church of continuous change, a Church where it would be impossible to sit back contentedly and assume that all the Restoration work was done. No, the Church turned out to be a Church not only new in its beginnings but new in its endings also. And that is the heart of the New Covenant -- not just "new" because it replaced the "old" covenant, but "new" because it is spiritually new all the time.
Without the Chavurat Bekorot, the Church of the Firstborn, or the Holy Patriarchal Order, this Church would never have been established. Few realise that the Holy Order has been the guarantor of the Church of Christ (local colonies). The Church of Christ in the first apostles' day apostatised because the original members of the Holy Order were murdered or exiled. The Old World Church of Christ apostatised and gave birth to orthodoxy, gnosticism, protestantism, and a whole host of -isms. Only those with alot of money will survive, like the great state Churches or the huge Mormon Church and many will be attracted to them because of their wealth and power. But, O, what a delusion!
Death od the Church
No Restoration has been easy; each one has had birth pangs. It was not until the 1980's that God spoke again to prepare people for the last day. This work is the last Restoration that will be effected before the great desolation comes and Jesus returns. This tiny, almost insignificant seed, by wordly standards, will grow into a great tree. But first it must die.
The seed contains all the instructions needed to build a tree and enough nutrients to start the growth process off. Likewise, the New Covenant Church of Jesus Christ has all the instructions it needs -- the revelations and scriptures -- to set it off, and enough Light hidden in the Chavurat Bekorot to set the growth process off. But like the seed, it has to die. It has to go through a period of darkness until, having exerted all its might in repentance, it can force itself above the soil and into the streaming sunlight of the Firstborn, Jesus Christ.
Revelation to the Church
I am commanded now to read you a revelation received on 8 March of this year:
The Lord has pronounced judgment on this House: therefore, as Church Patriarch, I solemnly declare this New Covenant, even the Church of Jesus Christ, to be no more, its Priesthood at an end, and all the offices therein. Let every banner of the General Church and of every Branch and Mission be taken down from their staffs and returned to the Holy Order .
(The banners are returned to the Church Patriarch)
1. Hearken ye people of the Church of Christ, even ye whom I called to do a great and marvelous work in My Name: Hearken!
2. Hearken ye deaf; look, ye blind, and see! Thus saith the Lord: Ye have seen many things but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but ye hear nothing.
3. It pleased Me, for the sake of the righteous, to make the Law and the Covenant great and glorious.
4. It pleased Me, for the sake of the righteous, to send you a prophet of the Firstborn after the Spirit of Elijah;
5. But behold, ye broke the Law and the Covenant and stoned the prophets in your hearts, holding My Law in contempt and seeking your own council; yea, and ye mocked and reviled the shepherds whom I set over you, yea, even amongst unbelievers.
6. Though I pleaded with you often and extended the hand of mercy, ye yet sought after your own council and would not obey.
7. Therefore ye have sinned a grievous sin against Me, saith the Lord, for ye have treated lightly that which ye have received, and mocked the Father of Light. Woe unto you!
8. I extended grace unto the women of Zion and gave unto them the Holy Priesthood;
9. But they became lifted up in their pride and sought to rule according to the listings of their own hearts; and behold, they have fallen!
10. I extended grace unto the men of Zion and entrusted them sacred Priesthood callings;
11. But they feared men more than they feared Me and in their weakness fled into the caves of their own minds and hearts;
12. They buried their talents and ran off when the wolf came among the sheep; and behold, they have fallen!
13. Therefore is Mine anger kindled against this people and I shall spit them out, saith the Lord, for they have polluted their inheritance and are no longer worthy to stand under the New Covenant.
14. Therefore the Covenant is at an end, saith the Lord, for I will not be your Husband any longer.
15. Take ye your bill of divorcement and get ye hence from My House, saith the Lord, that ye pollute My sanctuary no longer.
16. Weep and mourn, O Israel, and cover yourself with sackcloth and ashes, for until ye have acknowledged your sin in the depths of humility, with broken hearts and contrite spirits, I will no longer acknowledge you.
17. The Priesthood I have withdrawn from My Church, saith the Lord of Hosts, and I have taken it back up again into the Church of the Firstborn to await a more humble and obedient people.
18. I am the Lord and there is no other; I shall not be mocked and shall deliver just jugdment.
19. Woe unto Him who quarreleth with His Maker, who seeketh to council his God and the prophets whom He hath sent.
20. But let this people fast and pray and cry unto Me; and if per chance they repent, behold, I will hear them; but only after many tears.
21. And if ye will learn submission and contrition, surely I shall carry your sorrows and anoint you with the oil of healing;
22. And after the suffering of your souls ye will see the light once again and be once more satisified that ye are acceptable in My sight.
23. Woe unto those who deny the Light they have received, which Light they have consumed upon their lusts;
24. For it is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the Word of the Lord and the power thereof, to be restored again [to the same degree of enlightenment];
25. For there is no repentance for such and it would have been better if they had never seen, nor heard, nor known of the great mysteries which I, the Lord, revealed through My servant the prophet.
26. Yea, for such a one crucifieth the Lord of Glory all over again, subjecting Him unto public disgrace.
27. O, Israel, O Israel, how I would have gathered thee under My wings, but ye would not! When will ye stop stoning the prophets and they who would lay their lives down for thee?
28. The people who drink My Word and who are obedient unto it, without questioning and murmuring, produce a crop of Light that blesseth the world;
29. But they who drink not My Word, who are disobedient unto it, pruduce thorns and thistles which are worthless, and are in danger of being cursed and burned.
30. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I excuse Myself not. Therefore is the New Covenant sealed up until this people repent and pray for deliverence. Even so. Amen.
(NC&C 348, abridged)
These banners will be kept in the storehouse of the Temple until this people repent or a more worthy people is raised up by the Lord. I therefore declare this, the Seventh Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ, to be over and all further conferences, general and local, to be concluded. All records held by local pastors, secretaries and treasurers should likewise be returned to the Holy Order for storage.
You are all released from all your baptismal and priesthood covenants in this former Church of Christ though God will still hold you accountable inwardly for all your actions now and in the future. If there are any who desire to know what the Lord's will is for the immediate future, they are invited to attend a meeting here tomorrow at the same time .
May the Lord show grace and mercy to you is my prayer, in the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This sermon was given on Thursday 16 April 1992 in Bergen, Norway, during the Seventh Annual General Conference of the Church
 Some weeks before the Independent Church of Jesus Christ was dissolved it was renamed the "New Covenant Church of Jesus Christ", a prophetic allusion to what was to later come in 1996. In the period between 1992 and 1996 the Church more or less functioned like a typical evangelical church and was known as the "New Covenant Christian Fellowship".
 The banners of the old Independent Church were for a while stored in the Temple at Kadesh-biyqah as a memorial but were eventually destoyed.
 When the New Covenant Christian Fellowship (NCCF/NPKF) was organised.
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