Biography and Video Conferences

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Hi S____,

It is good to hear from you again. Yes, I agree that we need to live what we learn and not become ‘professional students,’ with no intention of ever applying what we have been shown to be true.

You ask what Bible I use. I use the King James Version, but I check it out with the e-Sword bible study program which you can download free from my site. George Wigram’s Englishman’s Hebrew and Greek Concordances along with a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance are just as effective in book form. Those are my main study tools and what I used for years before I found the e- sword program on line. It saves a lot of time instead of flipping back and forth among the bible, Strong’s and the Wigram’s.

We live-stream bible studies from my home on the first through fourth Sunday of each month, and anyone who would like to join us is welcome to do so. Also, there are other bible studies live-streamed that are all archived on the site and several other local bible study groups that offer wonderful fellowship and study opportunity.

You asked about my experience in coming to see universal reconciliation. I am sending you two letters I wrote to other readers on this subject. I get this question about once a month so I will probably combine these and post this eventually.

Mike

Hi M__,

I started listening to the Armstrong broadcasts for the first time back about 1959. Actually it was my father who made me listen.

At that time I was only 12 yrs. old, and the speaker was Herbert himself, doing the broadcast. Ted had not started doing the broadcast at that time. It was still called ‘the Radio Church Of God.’ Dad listened for several years, but quit listening when Mr. Armstrong quoted Eze 18:4 and 20, “the soul that sinneth shall die.”

It was only then that I took an interest in the broadcast. I wrote off for the ‘Bible Correspondence Course’ in 1963 and ended up going to the Big Sandy, Texas campus in 1965. I graduated in ’69 and went to Pasadena, where I worked on the ‘mail analysis team’ for the next four years.

Working on that team turned out to be more of an education than my college experience in some ways. Our main function was to analyze what had been said by Mr. Armstrong in His letters that had prompted any donations. Our team was answerable to Mr. David Jon Hill, who has since died. I really liked Mr. Hill, but looking back I am disappointed at how blatantly money- oriented we all were. Mr. Hill would joke that he would hate to see what would happen if any of the’sheep in the field’ ever got to read the minutes of our meetings. It was always entirely about how to increase donations. At the time I left the church in 1973, we were taking in 55 million dollars a year. By the time Tkach tried to bring every one into the orthodox fold, it was up to over 125 million per year.

While working on that team, I had access to the ‘micro- film’ department. This was in the days before we had everything on computer files. I would sit for hours in the micro- film department reading Mr. Armstrong’s very earliest writings.

One day I happened upon an article in a very early edition of ‘The Good News’ magazine entitled, ‘What Is God’s Form of Church Government?’ Mr Armstrong was at that time just coming out of the Stanbury Conference 7th Day Church Of God.

That Church was a splinter from the 7th Day Adventist Church. Mr. Armstrong’s reason for leaving that Conference was that the leaders of the Stanbury Conference wanted to establish a ‘pyramid’ form of church government. I couldn’t believe what I was reading! The WCG was a pyramid form of government. The very first words I heard out of the mouth of Mr Herbert Armstrong at my freshman year orientation were, “Don’t you think that you as a freshman student are going to teach me or any faculty member any new truths. That is not the way God works. God works from the top down. So if you think that you are going to be revealing any new truths to anyone, you need to just pack your bags right now and go on back home.”

At that time I agreed with every word spoken. I had no doubt where I had learned so many truths that I had come to see.

But now, here I was, reading an article written by this same man, pointing out that Christ had said: Joh 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

Mr. Armstrong pointed out to the Stanbury ministers that the reason God had used the example of a ‘vine’ was that was the only plant in nature where every branch on the plant had equal access to Christ the ‘vine.’ He then quoted:

Mat 20:25 But Jesus called them [His disciples] unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
Mat 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
Mat 20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Mat 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

He went on to point out that a pyramid form of government in the church was essentially just following in the steps of the Popes of Rome, injecting the priesthood in between the laity and a personal relationship with Christ. “It shall not be so among you.”

It was a very effective article. It certainly affected me. I wish I could say that I went immediately to Mr. Armstrong and demanded an answer as to why he was no longer teaching these “plain truths.” That did not happen, but I did start from that moment being far more careful of what I just accepted as truth. To make a long story a little shorter, I made the mistake of voicing my questions about several doctrines to several of my co-workers. Word got back to the head of the mail department and he called me in for a conference. His name was Richard Rice. Mr. Rice was kind enough to allow me to take a severance package and move back to Georgia. I am to this day thankful for that. I have been in the construction and remodeling business ever since.

You asked what truths I had retained from that experience. I have retained only two doctrines from ten years of that experience.

They are the doctrine of a mortal versus an immortal soul, based on the verses in Ezekiel 18:4 and 20, along with a host of other scriptures which state plainly that the dead “know not anything,” and are “asleep.”

Ecc 3:18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
Ecc 3:19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all [ is] vanity.
Ecc 3:20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

Ecc 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Ecc 9:6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [ thing] that is done under the sun.
Ecc 9:7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
Ecc 9:8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.

1Co 15:18 Then [ if there is no resurrection] they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
1Co 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
1Co 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, [ and] become the firstfruits of them that slept.
1Co 15:21 For since by man [ came] death, by man [ came] also the resurrection of the dead.
1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

The other is the teaching that a Christian is an “ambassador” on this earth and therefore should not get involved in either the politics or the militaries of their host countries. But I have also retained my wife, the former Sandra Wolf of Lakeview, Oregon. We have reared 3 boys and two girls who are all now grown and seem to be very founded in Christ.

You mentioned the fact that the WCG did not believe in the trinity. That is true. They did not at that time believe in the trinity. At that time Mr. Armstrong believed in a binity, a two-part God head. I cannot harmonize this teaching with 1Co 8:6 “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and [besides this “one God of whom are all things” there is also] one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” For a thorough treatment of this subject read ‘Is God A Trinity?’ on the web page. Today the very small part of the church that has remained faithful to Tkach and Co. believe in the trinity.

To my knowledge, the vast majority of the splinter groups, who are still under the law, still also believe in a binity.

You also mentioned that we believed in a second chance at the second resurrection. We were quick to say that we did not consider it a second chance. We saw clearly that Christ spoke in parables “lest they should be converted and I should heal them.”

Mat 13:15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

So we considered this their first chance at salvation. But we were completely orthodox when it came to the almighty power of the beast within God’s temple being the greatest single factor in the salvation equation. The unscriptural doctrine of ‘free will’ was and is just as much a part of the WCG and all of its offshoots, as it is in orthodox Christianity. No one is willing to dethrone the ‘beast within,’ the ‘man of sin… sitting in the temple of God.’ For a thorough discussion on this subject read ‘After The Counsel of His Own Will,’ on the web page.

That covers everything you asked about.

I am extremely privileged to be allowed by God to share these resources with those who want to avail themselves of them over the internet. I am much encouraged by your interest and enthusiasm.

Keep digging. The treasures of God are indeed “hidden” but for those who are willing to dig, there are “rivers of living waters” just below the surface.

Your brother in Georgia,

Mike

Hi D____,

I am a remodeling contractor in Georgia. It is a full time job and I struggle to keep up with my e- mails and my writings.

I am married to the former Sandra Wolf of Lakeview, Oregon. I Am 57 [now 67 as of 2014], the father of five and the grandfather of 14 [now 16!].

I was reared a Pentecostal. My Pentecostal father forced me to listen to the ‘World Tomorrow’ broadcasts by Herbert and Garner Ted Armstrong. After two years my father quit listening, but by that time Mr. Armstrong had shown me that:

Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Eze 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die.

These verses of scripture, of course, fly in the face of the Christian doctrine of the immortality of the soul. Dad had always taught us to put the scriptures ahead of everything else. He was having trouble following his own advice, but I was determined to stick to whatever I could be shown in the scriptures. Now, here was Mr. Armstrong constantly saying “Don’t believe me, believe the Bible.” It seemed at the time that I had been given the opportunity to learn from a true man of God!

To make a long bio a little shorter, I took the Ambassador College Bible Study Correspondence Course while still in high school and ended up attending and graduating from Ambassador college in Big Sandy, Texas, much to the embarrassment and resentment of my entire family.

After graduation I was sent to the headquarters of the church in Pasadena, California, where I was employed for the next four years as a member of the ‘Mail Analysis Team.’

During my stay in Pasadena, 1969-1973, The World Tomorrow radio program was on more stations around the globe than any other radio program in the world. The World Tomorrow TV program was also growing by leaps and bounds. We picked up at least 5 trays of mail every morning. Sometimes it was double that. The mail was read by students sitting at computer monitors, who would type in the code for the literature requested as a result of what Mr Armstrong had offered on the radio and television programs that week. Anything more than a request for literature was sent to the mail analysis team.

In this capacity I was exposed to many of the opposing points of view that were out there. I also had access to all of our archives. I was intensely interested in the history of our church, so I would go down to the ‘micro-fish’ department (this was while computers were still in their infancy), and I would read Mr. Armstrong’s earliest writings.

It was there that I came across a very early letter Mr Armstrong had written to the leaders of the ‘Seventh Day Church Of God, the church that had ordained Mr Armstrong to the ministry, way back in the 1930’s. I cannot remember the title or the date of that article, but I certainly do remember what that article said.

It was all about why Mr. Armstrong had decided to part company with the Seventh Day Church Of God. The reason Mr. Armstrong left that church was because it had just decided to adopt a “pyramid form of church government.” Now mind you, there was no church in the world which had a stricter ‘pyramid form of church government’, than the World Wide Church Of God! It was very much like the military in as much as every one knew exactly what his rank was in the organization. And here was Mr. Armstrong in this 1930’s article waxing eloquent about ‘the vine’ versus ‘the pyramid.’

Though Mr Armstrong had no idea who the ‘Nicolaitans’ were, he was nevertheless used of God, to expose the ‘Nicolaitan’ spirit in the Seventh Day Church Of God. Here are but a couple of the scriptures Mr. Armstrong used to make his point that there was to be nothing or no one between Christ and His called:

Joh 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Mat 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
Mat 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
Mat 20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Mat 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

The reason Christ used a vine instead of a tree, Mr. Armstrong very eloquently pointed out, is that the unique thing about a vine is that on a vine every branch has equal access to the main vine.

In line with this doctrine of our Lord Himself, Paul makes this statement:

2Co 1:23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.
2Co 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

Now if Paul had ‘no dominion over the faith,’ of those in his charge, who do all these church leaders whose by laws are nothing less than a pyramid form of church government; who do they all presume that they are?

I used to believe that the World Wide Church Of God was the most dictatorial church on the planet. I have come to see that it is virtually impossible for any denomination to remain a denomination without its bylaws. Therefore every denomination is of necessity a pyramid form of government, because the bylaws have taken the place of the word of God.

All of the arguments to the contrary ignore the fact that the gospel was preached to all the known world with absolutely no central government in the apostolic church. Paul never went to Jerusalem for approval, and yet he and all of the apostles and all of the disciples were used of God to spread the gospel to all the known world within the first 70 years after the death and resurrection of Christ. This was accomplished without the use of satellites, television, radio and without even the use of print. God needs none of these when He decides that it is time for an angel to “fly through the midst of heaven proclaiming the everlasting gospel.”

Well, I am sure you can see where this knowledge led me. It wasn’t long until I left California and brought my wife and two sons and all that we owned and returned to Georgia. After returning to Georgia, I attended WCG services for one more year while I continued my independent studies. I was at last to the point that I didn’t believe Mr. Armstrong, I believed the Bible. That was good advice, but it was fatal advice for our relationship with that church. I could now see that the Bible and the WCG were worlds apart.

The next twenty years of my life were spent attempting to become someone in this world. There were still a lot of undetected, WCGdoctrines that were part of my subconscious mind, that still had to be “burned out” of me.

One such teaching was the proverb that reads:

Pro 13:22 A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

I was determined to leave an inheritance to my children’s children. I worked long hours and spent very few hours in the Word of God. But while I was ignoring my Father, He was all the while slowly dragging me to Himself. It seemed that the more I worked, the more I had to work. I had always taken great pride in the fact that I had never been in debt and I had perfect credit all my life. Between the years of 1996 and the year 2000 God crushed me to powder. The “inheritance to my children’s children” was taken completely away in the things of this age.

It was only at that point that I finally cried out to God confessing that all my efforts had failed. I finally came to see that my efforts had produced nothing but a corrupted life and a spiritual house that was built on sand. Just like the prodigal son I came to myself, and I did not like what I saw reflecting back from slop in the hog trough.

I do not consider it mere coincidence that during this period of severe chastening I had started fellowshipping with the followers of the founder of the Concordant Publishing concern, one A. E. Knoch. One doctrine of this group of believers is that law of any kind has no place in the life of a believer. ‘Law’ to these brothers can only mean the law of Moses. They despise the label ‘Christian’ because they teach that the teachings and doctrines of Christ are not for believers today. It shames me to confess that I was so far from God and His word that it took me several years before I picked up on the fact that something was terribly wrong with the doctrines of A. E. Knoch. It took a sermon entitled ‘The Words of Christ Are Not For Us’ to awaken me to the danger my family and I were in with our continued association with this group of believers. It was not until that sermon that I finally became aware of where their insidious doctrine of ‘two administrations’ was leading me. With the help of God I left there.

1Ti 6:3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
1Ti 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
1Ti 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

The fulness of this doctrine of two administrations is that the teachings of Christ and all of his twelve apostles stand in complete contrast to the teachings of the apostle Paul. The thought that there was a time of reformation and a time of transition from the law of Moses to the law of the Spirit is considered heresy to these brothers. Mr. Knoch’s doctrine of ‘two administrations’ says that the teachings of the twelve apostles of Christ were only for Jewish believers and Jewish proselytes. They call this ‘the Gospel of the circumcision.’ This ‘gospel of the circumcision’ is “a gospel of grace mixed with works,” to quote Mr. Knoch himself.

“The apostle Paul’s gospel, on the other hand, has no works whatsoever. Paul’s gospel is a gospel of ‘pure undiluted grace.” What Mr. Knoch understood ‘grace’ to be was unmerited pardon apart from works. It all sounded so scriptural. And to many it still sounds that way. Be sure to read ‘The Purpose And Function Of Grace,’ in the paper on ‘Strong Delusion,’ for a Biblically balanced understanding both of what ‘grace’ is and what ‘grace’ does in the life of God’s elect. While I was shamefully unable to properly publicly withstand these teachings at the time of hearing that sermon, I was given the opportunity several years later to show these very brothers how opposed to the scriptures is their doctrine of ‘two administrations.’ I was invited by the Concordant brothers in Richmond, Virginia to present to the entire conference the Truth of the Gospel as God had revealed it to me. While they have never made that ‘mistake’ again, I commend those who put that conference together for their fearlessness.

To demonstrate how well scripture is received by those with divine blinders, I remember the wife of one of the ministers asking me publicly “Why do you keep saying ‘we are the circumcision,’ when Paul tells us that there is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision in Christ?” When I pointed out that I was merely quoting Paul himself, from Phillipians 3, she simply repeated herself as if Paul had apparently contradicted himself:

Php 3:3 For we [Gentile Philippians] are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Paul’s statement that there is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision in Christ, simply means that we are all circumcised in heart if we are in Christ.

Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

‘In the spirit’ cannot be understood by those who believe that “The spiritual is the physical!” as I was so emphatically assured by the leading speakers in Concordant circles.

The inevitable result of a ‘lawless’ gospel and such a “physical” approach to the scriptures is at best a very lax spiritual lifestyle. “Nothing you do or don’t do can affect your standing with Christ,” Mr. Knoch taught. The result for me was devastating. I had actually bought into a doctrine of demons, and I was reaping the fruit of that doctrine.

It was as if God Himself had set me up for a mighty fall. First, I had been placed in a church that was so legalistic that it resembled the military. After years of ‘wandering in the wilderness,’ I ended up in a group which taught that law had no place at all in the life of a believer. But my Father knew exactly what it would take to drag me away from the things of this earth and “set my thoughts and affections on things above.”

While still attending the Concordant Conferences, but having ‘come to myself’, my son Wayne suggested that I should share what I had learned and experienced with others. With Wayne’s dedication and expertise, ‘How To Scripturally Study The Scriptures,’ was born as my fledgling web site in late 1997. I had met Willard Rogers at a Concordant Conference in South Carolina. I was attempting to share my new found knowledge with anyone who would listen. Willard was the only one at that time who showed any interest in all the scriptures that flew in the face of Mr. Knoch’s two-administration heresy. Several years later, Willard invited me down to Mobile, Alabama for a Bible conference. I could see God working in the life of Willard just as he had with me. We had one and all ‘lost our first love’, become the prodigal son and built our spiritual houses on the shifting sands of Babylon. We had all been crushed to powder by the fiery work of the Word of God in our lives. We have met many others over the last few years with the exact same experience. The messages to the seven churches are experienced by all who are chosen out of the called in Babylon. The messages to the seven churches are really only for “those that have ears to hear what the spirit says to the seven churches.” Those messages will be ‘heard’ by no others. God knows his elect and has their names written in his book. That ‘book’ is Christ. It is at this time a small book, but it is through the few chosen that all mankind will be brought to God, in His time.

In 1997 I had come to see how the apostles had ‘Rightly Divided The Scriptures’, and I had committed it to pen and paper. The original title of the web page was ‘Personal Bible Study.’ I truly believe a principle that God opened my eyes to see through the writings of Andrew Jukes. “Flesh and blood [hath revealed no spiritual truth to anyone] but my Father which is in heaven hath revealed it unto you.” I have learned much at the feet of Andrew Jukes; as much as he too, is at the feet of Christ. No one ever learns truth from anyone but the Father. If it comes any other way, it is not in you. And my prayer every day is that God will continue to purge me of any ‘wood, hay or stubble’ that might hinder my spiritual eyes and ears. I do not hesitate to say along with the apostle “I die daily.”

I hope this is the overview you wanted and is not too long, and I hope it is of some edification to you.

Mike Vinson

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