Christian Churches of God
Reconciliation through Forgiveness in the
Temple of God
(Edition 3.0 20080119-20080203-20110305)
This text follows on from the paper Forgiveness (No. 112) and deals with the reconciliation to the Church and the brethren.
Reconciliation through Forgiveness
The Temple of God, which Temple we are, is made up of the people of God in which God resides. We will examine the concept of being reconciled to our brothers. A building cannot stand unless it is composed of stones properly crafted and fitting together in proper joints in sound construction.
All humans have differences of opinions and difficulties. Sometimes we can take offence at others. Sometimes we can be influenced by others to our detriment and the detriment of the body of Christ. Sometimes we can make a false report not knowing the full or true facts of the matter and we can follow after a multitude to do evil, not even understanding that is what we are doing (cf. Ex. 23:1-2).
"You shall not utter a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man, to be a malicious witness.  You shall not follow a multitude to do evil; nor shall you bear witness in a suit, turning aside after a multitude, so as to pervert justice; (RSV)
We have seen it happen many times in the Church of God. Sometimes people are hurt by it and some take themselves out of the body because of it. In some cases it is with self-righteous railing accusations. God knows the full facts of a matter and He will vindicate the cause. Our job is to make sure that we do not cause anyone to stumble and we do not give offence and cause them to depart the faith.
There is a sequence of a teaching in Matthew from 5:21-26 that throws light on the mindset behind the conduct of the Church of God.
Matthew 5:21-26 "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.'  But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire.  So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison;  truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny. (RSV)
This text placed the level of operation of the followers of Christ at a higher level or standard than that which the law demanded. It showed a spirit or mental state that was required of the faith that was of a type that ensured right conduct between the members of the faith. It was to ensure that the concept of violence was lifted above the simple injunction not to kill anyone and place it on a level of the obligation to make alive and to safeguard the well being of the individual.
Each of us is not to maintain anger against our brother. We will be judged for it as the elect are under judgment now. If we insult our brother we are doing damage to the person. Insulting someone is assault to the person and often defamation. Such conduct is to be dealt with by the council of the Body of Christ. The concept of “Raca” translated “you fool” is really the Aramaic insult of “Spit in your face.” It is violence to the person and such an attitude removes one from the First Resurrection and places one in danger of the death of the Second Resurrection unless the action is repented of.
The comment Christ made regarding offering your gift at the altar is of significance. What gift was he speaking of, and what altar was the one in question? Clearly if he was meaning the physical Temple of God at Jerusalem then the comment is superfluous as it was not the Temple that was built by Christ and the apostles. That temple was a spiritual temple of living human beings. Each one is part of the building. Each one is part of the offering of prayers and worship to God. The prayers and worship are daily and one is told not to let the sun go down on one’s anger. So reconciliation to the brother is at least on an ongoing basis either daily as we forgive others before we go before God, or at least weekly at Sabbath services where we meet to go before God as a cohesive body.
More importantly, the greatest ceremony of our spiritual year is the reconciliation of the church and the individual to God at the Lord’s Supper. We cannot expect to go before God at the Lord’s Supper and be forgiven our sins if we have not reconciled ourselves to our brothers and have forgiven them, or been forgiven for whatever perceived grievance that they have against us and whatever offence we may have caused them.
The Day of Atonement also represented the sacrifice for reconciliation of all the sins of the Holy People in that day (Lev. 16:20). All the sacrifices were fulfilled in Christ and thus it is at the Lord’s Supper that the sacrifices of reconciliation are also fulfilled. We have seen people offended and also those that give offence. He who is full of the Holy Spirit takes no offence. However, sometimes people are offended more easily. Sometimes people are so self-righteous they don’t understand when it is they that are at fault.
We were reconciled to God while we were as yet sinners and enemies of God by the death of God’s son and in his life we are continually reconciled to him (Rom. 5:8-10). We cannot remain away from God and be saved. As we are all partakers of the Holy Spirit, God is in all of us. Therefore how can we be reconciled to God and remain apart from those in the Holy Spirit who are part of the Temple of God? It is logically impossible to do so. Therefore, to maintain salvation we cannot be apart from the body of Christ, which is the Temple of God.
We are duty bound to maintain a continuous state of reconciliation to attain salvation. That is why the Seventy Weeks of Years were allowed to the physical Temple to build it and to sanctify it and to bring it to an end. That was so that we who were chosen and predestined to be called over the forty jubilees in the wilderness could take our place as the spiritual Temple of God (see the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 13)).
Seventy weeks are determined upon your people and upon your Holy City, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy (Dan. 9:24).
All things are of God, who reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ and has given to us the Ministry of Reconciliation. To whit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation (2Cor. 5:18-19).
So if God gave us the ministry of reconciliation ought we not to be dedicated to reconciling each one of us to each other not imputing sin to any? We are ambassadors for Christ as though God beseeched the elect by us. We pray for you in Christ’s stead that you are reconciled to God (2Cor. 5:20). Christ was made sin for us; he who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (cf. v. 21).
Is it not then incumbent on us all that we are to let no accusation or division occur among us so that we are reconciled to each other and therefore to God through Christ?
It was Christ that was made like unto his brethren where he did not take on himself the nature of Angels but was made like the seed of Abraham. He was made in all things like his brethren in order that he could be made a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God to make reconciliation for the sins of the people (Heb. 2:17). Do you not know that you have been redeemed and made a nation of kings and priests under Christ in the Order of Melchisedek being priests forever without genealogy and without limitation or end of our priesthood?
How then can we cause division and not take the Passover together or take resentment before God and let our offences remain unresolved, in spite of the injunctions placed upon us to be ministers of reconciliation, each and every one of us? To reconcile means to make two opponents to become friendly, to accept a situation that exists or one is confronted with, or simply to balance statements of account, and in that sense it means to forgive debts also and especially within the body of Christ.
What then are we required to do? How do we leave our gift at the altar and then go and be reconciled? What is our gift?
Are we not required to make daily sacrifice in prayer as a sweet offering before God? Have not the 24 elders of the High Priesthood and inner council of the elohim been tasked with collecting our prayers as an incense offering and monitoring them under the Lamb who was anointed above them and found worthy to open the seals of the plan and prophecy of God? (Rev. chapters 4 and 5).
Do we not go before God three times a year with our gifts as part of the Laws and Commands of God?
Is not the most important of these the Passover where we are commanded to go before God for the Feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread and make our offering and take of the Lord’s Supper with which we are again washed of our sins and reconciled to God? Is this not required each year? How can we take of this most important feast and yet remain unreconciled to our brethren? How can we expect forgiveness and not extend it to our brethren?
The command is to go and be reconciled and then return to God and give Him praise. Ask forgiveness at the Lord’s Supper so that He might forgive you as you forgive your brethren, and ask forgiveness for the trespass or offence that you have given them.
No conflict is entirely one way. We are all at fault.
All of us give offence and trespass against one another. We must forgive each other so that we may be forgiven in turn and thereby reconciled to God.
Over the years the Church has lost a number of people through sin, error and self-righteousness. Sometimes people regret their errors and seek to be reconciled to the Church. Many are held back from reconciliation through shame. Many hate for the same reasons.
Where the Church is a body of believers that agree on a course of action, then sometimes manipulators seek to wrest control or to change the course of the decisions by devious means. Those people also usually leave when they are caught out. Some commence alternate groups, but rarely accomplish anything of value as the same spirit of conspiracy and intrigue accompanies them in the next venture.
Some people think that they are serving God when they meet with people that believe other things than they do. The usual result is that they do not discuss the key issue on which they disagree.
People will make errors from time to time and they should be exhorted as brothers.
The text of the paper Forgiveness (No. 112) ended with the procedures for forgiveness.
Consider: Is it a breach of God’s Law, or is it our or their pride, or a root of bitterness? Has it happened before?
Step 1. Go to God in prayer for guidance.
Step 2. Decide to ignore or decide to act. If we ignore, then forgive and forget. End the matter.
Phase 2: Establish individual responsibility
Step 1. What did we do? What could we have done? What should we have done?
Step 2. What did the other party do? What could they have done? What should they have done?
Step 1. Discuss both aspects.
Step 2. Their response:
Go to Phase 5.
Proceed to Phase 4.
Litigation is the process of settling dispute before authority. There are specific processes and authorities established for the resolution of dispute. Dispute should be resolved within the Church.
Step 1. Go to the person with witnesses. Establish the problem as in the first instance.
Step 2. If there is still no resolution then and only then proceed to the ministry and the council of the Church. Too often individuals run to the ministry before going to their brother. However, a minister can suffice for the witness phase if necessary.
Step 3. The case is decided by the council of the Church and the matter is resolved. Go to Phase 5.
Step 4. The matter is not resolved by the Church council and the matter is serious enough to warrant solution. Paul is clear that this is a last resort and that the Church is responsible for just resolution of dispute. We must decide matters between the elect, as we are to judge the world and angels (1Cor. 6:2-3). If the Church will not act and there is no repentance, then proceed to civil litigation, that is, if there is no other option and the matter is serious enough.
Step 1. Be united in the resolution of the matter. Proceed in brotherly love.
Step 2. Rectify the problem:
Step 3. Ongoing care of the relationship and guarding against further offence.
If offence is repeated then commence again. If forgiveness is requested, then forgive again and continue the relationship. Bring the offence to mind only if it is repeated.
The only exception to this sequence is that of the cessation of the doctrine of Christ and relapse into the doctrine of Antichrist through the view of the Godhead, which seeks to separate Christ’s divinity from his humanity. 2John 9 then requires that the offender be not even greeted. Repentance must be shown to be complete.
Phase 1. Establish the Reasons for the Estrangement.
Ask the question: “Why did I leave the Church? Was it a result of disagreement with the elected leaders of the Church, or did I simply sin and leave or was removed as a result?
1.A: If so: did I go to the Church with the problem and abide by the resolution of the Elders and voting members?
If I did not do so, why did I not do so?”
Remember, rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, as it says in 1Samuel 15:22-25:
22 And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king." 24 And Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD." (RSV)
Other questions are: Did I fail in my written undertakings to abide by the Statement of Beliefs and the Constitution? Is the current group I am with properly and democratically run? Do I have a vote? Why am I there?
Did I listen to whisperers and to attacks on the brethren? Where are those people now, and what are their fruits? What do they do for the Faith?
If I simply did not like someone in authority over me, or working with me, what is the biblical basis for me leaving the Body of Christ?
Where is the real Body of Christ working and am I taking the Passover with that Body, having discerned its location and fruits? Do I tithe to that Body? If not, then I am in sin or it is not the Body of Christ.
Remember, there is no excuse for failing to support and work within the Body of Christ. Most people who leave the Church stop tithing for some twelve months before they announce their exit.
At his return, Christ punishes those who bury their talent.
Matthew 25:14-30 "For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. 17 So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, `Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.' 21 His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, `Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' 23 His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, `Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' 26 But his master answered him, `You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' (RSV)
If you have answered all these questions and realise that you must be reconciled then it is time to rectify the situation. We cannot take the Passover without proper reconciliation to those in the Body. We certainly can’t when we are out of the Body of Christ.
1.B: Estrangement in Sin.
We should ask: If I sinned and was rebuked by the Church, did I leave in a huff or was I dismissed as a result of a review?
If I left in a huff then it is about time the matter was treated in maturity and I was reconciled.
If the person was dismissed, was it because they refused to accept correction or did they attempt to lead a rebellion or cause a schism in the Body?
Were they dismissed for theft or other sin? Did the person attempt to make amends?
If the person did not attempt to make amends, is it not about time he/she did so now?
We might realise now that, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the issue, we all have to be reconciled to the Church. We might say: “I was wrong but I was also wronged, in my view”. Be that as it may, we all have to put that aside and seek reconciliation.
Reconciliation Step 1.
The person to be reconciled has to contact the secretaries of the Church and ask to be reconciled. They will then provide a minister to interview and counsel with each person. There will be fruits of repentance evident that lead to reconciliation.
The minister may require some matters to be completed or rectified before reconciliation. If the minister is satisfied that the person is repentant and earnestly seeks reconciliation he will recommend to the Church that the person be readmitted, and forward the completed “Application for Fellowship”.
The committee of the Church responsible for those matters will process the application for fellowship. There are times when people have been marked and the Church has determined that they have an additional period of trial added to their fellowship. That is because the circumstances have been serious enough to warrant that decision. The decision is never made lightly and is usually voted on by the members in that congregation as well or sometimes even the international body.
The Church has had applicants restored to full voting membership immediately as well, because the circumstances were understood to be such that it was a misunderstanding.
As CCG is one of the few churches that confer voting membership on its members, what does it matter if you have a vote or not? In such circumstances the person simply has to rely on the fact that Christ is running the Church through the voting members with the Holy Spirit.
There are circumstances when officers have been removed or
remove themselves for various reasons so that the period is extended, or the
person is restored to fellowship but not to their former position(s) and
We all labour for salvation and receive the same wages as the parable of the labourers in the field tells us.
However, there is a price to be paid for error. Satan and the demons will be offered repentance but will not receive the same positions they held before the rebellion (see the paper Judgment of the Demons (No. 80)). The First Resurrection is a better resurrection. Repentance and loyalty are required to achieve it (Heb. 11:35).
Sometimes God restores a person and places their sins as far as the east is from the west and they go on as before.
It is God through the Holy Spirit that determines the level of maturity and understanding. It is up to each individual to make amends and to initiate the process of reconciliation, and the Holy Spirit will make the matter manifest.
If we pray and fast for repentance and reconciliation God will deal with us. It is not a new thing, and the Churches of God have dealt with it all before, and God’s mercy is without measure.
You will not be the first in that situation nor will you be the last. Be prepared to make amends and to be restored to your brothers and sisters.
They have never stopped working and loving one another in the Faith. They have prayed for the reconciliation of the whole world to God through Christ and, most of all, those who have been estranged from the Church.
They do not reply to overtures from the estranged, but pray for their reconciliation. The silence is to make one aware of the problem and initiate the recognition of the need for reconciliation.
The Passover is central to the Faith. Those who are estranged and seek reconciliation are to do it so that there is peace and harmony and love in the brethren at the Passover in all aspects of the Feast, and for all the Feasts.