THE MAZE

This is the follow-up article to “Are We Worshipping a False Christ?”

We will take a close look at the stumblingstone in action, also some of the traps, nets, snares, and pits, all put in place by our Dad, the Father.

Romans 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Remember, “lay”, Strong’s # 5087 means “to place.”   “Zion”, Strong’s  #4622 means fig., “the church.”

Before getting into the maze in detail, I would like to look at another subject on which our eternity hangs by a thread.  Will Christ find faith when He returns?

Luke 18:8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Without faith, it is impossible to please God:

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]:  for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Just what is this faith?  Isn’t it believing the written Word of God?  If that is not the core of faith, what is? There can be no foundation  for faith in spiritual matters short of the written word of God and answered prayer.  Believing what you see written in God’s Word is critical to salvation.  If you believe what any mortal says, without proving it, you are getting on dangerous ground. If you don’t believe what could be verified through personal Bible study, you will certainly miss salvation because of a lackadaisical approach.

A couple of words about credibility: why is this even an issue with some?  It is caused by shallow conversion and vanity, because God is not doing things the way the person wants HIM to.

Let’s jump right off into THE MAZE.

Luke 13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

“Strive” is Strong’s # 75, meaning “to struggle.”  There will be more on struggling later in this article.

“Enter” is Strong’s # 1525, meaning “to enter.”

“Strait” is Strong’s # 4728, meaning “narrow from obstacles standing close about.”

“Gate” is Strong’s # 4439, “meaning a gate or folding entrance.”

Let’s analyze this before we go on, in order to understand just what God is saying.  We must struggle to enter this gate, or door, into the Kingdom, but this narrow trail which we call LIFE is filled with obstacles standing close about us. These are the stumblingstones, stubs, pits and snares described  in  Romans 9:33 and Isaiah 8: 14-15.  Humanities’ very first stumblingstone was the encounter of Adam and Eve with Satan in the Garden of Eden.  Did God not place (or permit) this stumblingstone?

Luke 13:22 And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

What prompted the man to ASK Jesus this question, “Lord, are there few that be saved?”  Was this stumblingstone aspect of the way God deals with mankind  STREET KNOWLEDGE at that time? Paul’s writings indicate that the stumblingstone was common knowledge to him, as he quotes Isaiah 8:14-15 on this very subject in Romans 9:32-33.

Why does Paul PRAY to God concerning Israel that they MIGHT be saved?  Does this not indicate that he feared that they were in real danger of stumbling fatally?

Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

My article “Will All Israel Be Saved?” deals extensively with the fact that God has chosen to reveal  this knowledge again for a very important reason.

Look at some examples of how God has used Christ as a stumblingstone.

Rom 9:32  Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

Romans 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Isa 8:14  And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Isa 8:15  And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.

Consider the Tkach Apostacy: Joseph Tkach was placed in charge of the Worldwide Church of God by Herbert W. Armstrong shortly before HWA’s death in January 1986. Joseph Tkach quickly began to dismantle the WCG’s doctrines and beliefs that had been put in place by HWA since the church’s creation in the 1930’s. “Stumbling,” Strong’s # 4348, means “a stub, i.e., fig., AN OCCASION OF APOSTACY…”  It didn’t just “happen.”  Was God not aware of what would happen with the Tkach’s?  Was God taken by surprise?  Or did HE, by premeditation, place this “stub” within the Woldwide Church of God?

What about the current conditions of all the WCG “splinters?”  All claim that their group is “right,” if not openly saying it, by the very fact that they will not visit another congregation in the same city.  This certainly says LOUDLY, “My group is right.”  God must surely shake His head in disbelief at this gross self-righteousness.  A few years ago, we were all ONE fellowship.  Don’t be fooled.  This is a major stumbling block, and many will miss salvation because of it.

Divorce and remarriage affected a small segment of the church prior to 1974 and was a MAJOR stumbling block to those it did affect.  For the newer members who may not have firsthand knowledge of this situation,  if either spouse had been divorced previous to the current marriage,  the couple was told to separate before they could attend church.  In some cases, there were children in the current marriage. How would this ruling affect YOU?  Was Christ NOT aware that this policy was being enforced in His Church?  You bet!  He and the Father were well aware of it and allowed it for a stumblingstone.  It caused much heartbreak and suffering, and yet it went on for years.

What about the “dictators” within the ministry in the “old days?”   Was God not aware of the decisions they rammed down members’ throats?    Yet, God allowed it to continue uncorrected for years.

What about the Systematic Theology Project (STP)? This was a book of changes and watering down of the doctrines and beliefs of the WCG. It was introduced in the mid-70’s by Garner Ted Armstrong, son of HWA, supposedly without HWA’s knowledge or permission. This book was FULL of pits, traps, and stumblingstones of doctrinal error.  I personally stumbled on one of these which cost me thirty-two thousand dollars in one year.

Church positions on make-up and birthdays have seesawed back and forth and caused problems for church members and their extended families.

What about the parable of the tares in Matthew 13:24-30? Satan sowed the tares among the good seed.  Also, Christ says to leave them.  Are they left for a snare?

What if YOU stumble over one of these stubs?  Remember Luke 13:24 where “strive” means “to struggle.”

Now look at Matthew 11:12:

12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

“Violence” is Strong’s # 971, meaning “to force, or to crowd oneself (into), or (pass.) to be seized….”

“Violent” is Strong’s #973, “meaning a forcer…”

“Take by force” is Strong’s #726, “to seize (in various applications):- catch (away up), pluck, pull, take (by force).”

Does this verse leave ANY room for a passive Christian?  If we get caught in a trap or stumble over a stone, do we just lie there and moan, “Woe is me!”  or do we GET UP and charge through the strait and narrow gate, forcing our way through the maze of obstacles to the finish line?  No passive Christian will be in the Kingdom!

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable,  and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and  all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

“Fearful” is Strong’s # 1169, meaning “(dread); timid, i.e., (by impl.) faithless:- fearful.”

A perfect analogy of this maze is found in modern-day American football.  A running back tries to take the ball through the MAZE of 350 pound  line-backers, who are OUT TO GET HIM!  Just like Satan is out to GET Christians.  The running-back gets tripped up, goes down, and sometimes even LOOSES yardage.  The very next play he runs again, fighting his way toward the goal foot by foot, sometimes inch by inch.  The point is that he DOES NOT QUIT.  He keeps his eyes on the goal and fights onward.

John 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

The true sheep hear the voice of the shepherd.  Remember how the Bible says we are being judged: “by what is written in the books, according to our works.” (Revelation 20:12)

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

Remember, if you reject knowledge, you will be rejected from being a priest in God’s Kingdom.

Published October 19, 1996

© Edgar Y. Bennett
PO Box 509
Black Hawk, CO 80422 USA
edgar@solidrockspeople.org
www.solidrockspeople.org