Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 4, 1998
Last Updated :
May 10, 2013
Mandates Of The Family Charter, Jesus Is Head Of The Church, Divisive Spirit Of Exclusivity, Jesus And Apostles Prayed For Spiritual Unity In Body Of Christ, Serve With Humility Forced Recognition Of Prophets By Some Churches And Cults, Proof Of The Prophet's Calling, With Signs Following, Signs And Miracles Can Happen But Are Not Absolutely Necessarily, We Walk By Faith And Not By Sight, Our Small Daily Miracles, Proof In God's Natural Creation, Carl Sagan: "Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence", Accurate Fulfillment Is The Mark Of A True Prophet Of God, Real Prophecy Or Just Educated Guesses, Deceiving, And Being Deceived, God's Spirit Or A Familiar Spirit, True Prophecy Is A God-Inspired Event, No Hit-And-Miss True Prophets Of God, True Prophecies Bear Positive Fruit And Will Confirm The Office Of A True Prophet
We find another clear example of the exaltation of David Berg and his second "wife" in what is known as The Family Charter. This document -- I don't know if it is still in full force or if it has been updated since I read it years ago -- defines the rules and regulations of The Family International, and the membership structure as well. In explaining the various requirements for maintaining full-time membership within the group -- which TFI refers to as being a DO, or Disciple Only, member -- the charter begins as follows:
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"The basic responsibilities of full-time Family members (referred to as DO [Disciples Only] members) in the Family are in brief: They must believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. They must believe that David Berg, and Maria, his wife and successor, are God's Endtime prophets."
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While I am not absolutely certain of this point, being as I haven't researched the group in many years, it is possible that a DO member is now referred to as a CM; that is to say, a Charter Member. At any rate, the first requirement is one which any sincere Christian should easily be able to meet.
However, it is the second requirement which should obviously be of concern to us. If a person possesses an earnest desire to serve Jesus Christ in a full-time capacity, unless he is willing to accept David Berg and his "wife" Maria -- Karen Zerby -- as God's Endtime Prophets, then the clear message is that he should not even consider trying to become a member. In other words, with this rigid requirement to accept Berg and Zerby as Endtime Prophets, the Children of God are placing an insurmountable obstacle before anyone who may have a sincere desire to serve the Lord within their organization. One must truly question if they want their followers to really serve the Lord, or to only serve them.
Some of you will no doubt be wondering if by this requirement, it is meant to be understood that Berg and Zerby are the only Endtime Prophets. While one would hope that it simply means that they view themselves as two of many Christians who have dedicated themselves to the Lord, the sad truth of the matter is that a close examination of their history and publications reveals that they have in fact long believed that they are the only Endtime Prophets on Earth. Clearly, David Berg and Zerby are guilty of the very same spirit of exclusivity that we saw in the other men who we examined earlier in this series.
The demand of Berg and Zerby to be viewed and respected as the Lord's only Endtime Prophets is really no different from the Roman Catholic Church requiring its members to reverence the Pope; or the Eastern Orthodox Church requiring respect for the Patriarch; or the Anglican Communion requiring that its members honor the Archbishop of Canterbury; or Ellen G. White and the Seventh Day Adventists believing that they are God's church on Earth; or the Jehovah's Witnesses claiming that they are the 144,000, or the Mormons requiring that their members respect and obey the edicts of their "Twelve Apostles"; or Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God making similar claims; and on and on it goes. In every case, it just amounts to man worship and self-aggrandizement in some form. It is replacing Christ as the only true Head of His Church, with a man, or a woman, or with some other form of leadership. Consider the following verses:
"Which he [God the Father] wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
Ephesians 1:20-23, KJV
"But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:"
Ephesians 4:15, KJV
"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body."
Ephesians 5:23, KJV
"And he [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."
Colossians 1:18, KJV
"And ye are complete in him [Jesus], which is the head of all principality and power:"
Colossians 2:10, KJV
"Unto you therefore which believe he [Jesus] is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,"
1 Peter 2:7, KJV
Continuing our discussion regarding the spirit of exclusivity which has gripped so many churches, organizations, cults and individuals, I am reminded of something else regarding the Children of God. In the early seventies, one of David Berg's sons named Aaron wrote a song called "We Are the 144,000". This extremely self-righteous song stated in part "We are the 144,000; who else, could be but us?" As I recall, when David Berg became aware of this song, he quickly put a stop to it and banned it from being sung within the group. I believe he made a remark to the effect that some of their members should be thankful if they happened to find themselves amongst the 144,000.
As I mentioned a moment ago, Berg and Zerby became convinced that they are God's Endtime Prophets. It is not surprising then that in one of his earliest "Mo Letters", Berg boasted to his followers "We are the only nation upon this Earth that God recognizes!" Whether he was referring only to the Children of God, or to the Body of Christ in general, is a matter of speculation. However, I believe that Berg meant the former.
While I understand and agree with some of the motivations which cause some of these religious organizations and cults to isolate their members from the world, as I first mentioned in part two, we should be concerned with the way they all go to the extreme in declaring themselves to be the only bearers of the true Word of God. This mentality even runs contrary to what the Lord teaches us in the Gospels. You may recall that when some of the Apostles tried to stop a certain individual from preaching the Gospel because he was not counted amongst the Lord's immediate followers, Jesus immediately showed them the error in their thinking when He said the following to them:
". . . Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."
Luke 9:50b, KJV
This incident clearly reveals that Satan has been using the same divisive tricks for literally thousands of years. You may recall how I also mentioned in part three that it wasn't long after Jesus returned to Heaven that the Disciples began to coalesce around different leaders of the Church. It was at this point that the fractures began, denominationalism started to take root, and the spirit of exclusivity began to take its toll on the Lord's Church. As we have seen, it is this very same spirit of exclusivity which has deceived many churches, organizations, cults and individuals into thinking that they are God's only chosen voice for the hour; they are the only ones with the proper interpretation of God's Word; they are the ones to whom God has revealed a new truth which has never been shared with the world before. Yes, they may be the ones, but they are the ones who have become deceived.
As can be seen, Jesus simply did not tolerate this attitude of exclusivity which, if we can be honest with ourselves, is fueled by pride and self-righteousness. Quite to the contrary, Jesus prayed that His followers would be united in Spirit and joined together as one in doctrine and purpose, with Himself as our only Shepherd. The First Century Apostles longed for this very same thing. This becomes evident in verses such as the following
"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 10:16, KJV
"And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are . . . That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:"
John 17:11, 21-22, KJV
"That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Romans 15:6, KJV
"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
1 Corinthians 1:10, KJV
"Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."
2 Corinthians 13:11, KJV
"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace . . . That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
Ephesians 4:1-3, 14-16, KJV
"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;"
Philippians 1:27, KJV
"Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind."
Philippians 2:2, KJV
To reiterate my earlier point, while Jesus clearly prayed that there would be one Fold and one Shepherd, He was not referring to a human leader who lorded over an elite church or human organization such as the aforementioned churches, groups and cults. He was in fact referring to Himself as the one true Shepherd, and the global Body of Believers as His Fold. Now, obviously, some level of organization is required in the local Christian body. I discuss this subject more at length in "Where Are the First Century Churches?" and "Are You Just a Baby Huey?". However, these local leaders are to serve -- as in the word "servant" -- with love and humility, as we clearly see by the following verses:
"At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 18:1-4, KJV
"Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
Matthew 23:10-12, KJV
"And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
Luke 14:7-11, KJV
"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:"
1 Peter 5:2-6, KJV
"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
James 4:6-10, KJV
Returning to our discussion regarding the Children of God, while the Lord did in fact establish certain requirements for being full-time Disciples, I don't recall that honoring two people as Endtime Prophets was ever one of them. If we consider that David Berg is now deceased, I must sincerely ask how it is possible for any potential new member of the group to become convinced that Berg was an actual Prophet of God. Is he just supposed to accept it as fact simply because the cult says so? In similar fashion, one must wonder what positive proof his "wife" and heir -- Maria -- can provide which confirms that she is a true Prophetess of the Lord as well. Furthermore, what does this say regarding her second husband Peter -- Stephen Douglas Kelly a.k.a. Christopher Smith -- who is also known as Peter Amsterdam and King Peter within the cult?
On a related note, while I was working on this series this evening, I exchanged a few private messages with one of my Facebook friends. This person is having some problems with the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Without even knowing that I am working on this series, or what I am writing in it, my friend informed me that he was told the following by the pastor in that church. This is verbatim from my friend:
----- Begin Quote -----
"Even if you believe in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, believe that He is the son of God, died on the cross for our sins and rose in three days, but do not swear allegiance to prophecy and to our prophet, no pastor in this church will baptize you."
----- End Quote -----
Wow! Mind-boggling! So you see, the Children of God are not the only ones who outright demand veneration -- and basically worship -- of a self-proclaimed prophet or prophetess as a condition for becoming a member of a church or organization.
Earlier in this series, we examined some examples from both the Old and the New Testaments which showed how the Lord had called certain individuals into unique service. As you will recall, this usually involved some clear physical signs in order to increase that person's faith, and to confirm God's calling to them. Not only that, but once these people did accept their calling from God, some of them demonstrated in very clear ways that God was indeed with them. This was most certainly the case with great Prophets like Moses and Elijah. The Lord proved beyond a shadow of a doubt through the many plagues upon Egypt, as well as by the many miracles which He performed in the wilderness, that Moses was indeed His man for the hour; even though the older generation continued to doubt, complain and rebel.
In similar fashion, when it failed to rain for three and a half years in Israel, and when fire came down from Heaven and consumed the sacrifice and the altar, and when the four hundred and fifty false prophets of Baal were slain, there were few people in Israel who doubted that the Spirit of the Living God rested upon the Prophet Elijah. The Spirit of the Lord was so heavy upon the Prophet Samuel, that at one point, when Samuel went to anoint David as the new king, the elders of Bethlehem timidly inquired of Samuel by saying:
". . . Comest thou peaceably?"
1 Samuel 16:4b, KJV
As I explain in the article entitled "Are the Gifts of the Spirit for Today?", this is one of the reasons why certain people are given the Gifts of the Spirit. While some are to edify the Body of Christ, others serve as physical proof and a confirmation of a Prophet or Apostle's ministry and Divine Calling from God. For example; the purpose of Divine Healing is not just to heal bodies. It also serves as a very powerful testimony of the existence of the Almighty God. Miracles such as Healing are supposed to boost people's faith so that they will come to believe in and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. When Jesus healed the people of ancient Israel and performed other mighty miracles, He was not only proving the existence of His Father, He was likewise proving that He -- meaning Jesus -- was exactly who He claimed to be; that is, the Son of God.
You may also recall that at the end of the Gospel of Mark, prior to returning to Heaven, Jesus remarked that the word and the work of His followers would be confirmed, or proved, by miraculous signs which would follow, or accompany them. Consider these verses:
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."
Mark 16:17-20, KJV
Notice that Jesus specifically says "these signs shall follow them that believe." Then in the final verse we see the actual fulfillment of His words in the phrase "and confirming the word with signs following." I again encourage you to consider reading "Are the Gifts of the Spirit for Today?", being as I include many Scriptures which highlight the signs which Jesus is referring to in the previous set of verses.
Now, please understand that I am not saying that every single person who enters into some kind of ministry for the Lord has to receive powerful signs of confirmation in order to convince them of their calling. Neither am I saying that once someone has begun a particular ministry, he should be able to perform great miracles like Jesus or the Prophets and Apostles of old. I know that some people believe this -- such as the followers of William M. Brannon, and a few other individuals who I have encountered on Facebook -- but personally, I do not believe this. While such signs and miracles can happen, I find nothing in the Bible which says that they absolutely must happen.
I also suspect -- please note that this is simply a personal theory -- that in addition to confirming the ministry of the Apostles, another reason why God performed so many signs and miracles during the First Century, is because the Church was young, and such miracles were necessary in order to plant a strong seed of faith, and so that the fledgling Church would grow quickly in the face of serious persecution by both the Jews and the Romans. Today, however, we should be a strong, mature Church which believes by faith alone, without the need for so many signs and miracles, as I explain in the article "Faith and the Shroud of Turin". In other words, we walk by faith, and not by sight; and as Jesus Himself said to the Apostle Thomas in the Gospel of John:
"Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
John 20:29, KJV
"(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)"
2 Corinthians 5:7, KJV
While to my recollection I have never witnessed any kind of major miracle -- such as what we see described in the pages of the Bible -- I do witness and am thankful for the small miracles which occur in my life on a daily basis. I am of course referring to having sufficient food to eat, clothes to wear, a house to live in, a soft bed to sleep in at night, protection from violence and evil men, money to pay my bills, etc. These miracles of provision and blessings demonstrate God's love and care for me, and that is all I really need to be happy . . . well, along with my cats. Lord help us all to not be like the Scribes and the Pharisees who were constantly asking Jesus for signs to prove His Messiahship, as we see by these verses:
"Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:"
Matthew 12:38-39, KJV
Even if I never witness any kind of Divine Healing, or see fire fall from the sky, or the Red Sea divide, or the Jordan River part, or someone being raised from the dead, it really does not matter; because as I said, we are supposed to walk by faith, and not by sight. Even without any kind of physical evidence, I am still going to believe, because God has given me the faith to believe. I don't need great miracles to boost my faith in the Lord. Just looking at the beautiful blue sky, the billowy clouds passing by, and the beautiful green trees is enough to convince me that He is real. As the Apostle Paul was inspired to write in his Epistle to the Romans:
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"
Romans 1:20, KJV
Not only have I never experienced any kinds of signs which confirm my particular calling in the Lord, but neither have I ever performed any kind of miracle. However, I know in my heart that this is what God has called me to do. I also know that many people have been blessed by my writing ministry. All I can say, is that God alone knows why He chooses us, as well as in what manner He desires to use each one of us.
Having said that, what I am also saying is the following. If Mark John Allen is going to make the bold claim of being the Endtime Elijah; or if David Berg and Karen Zerby are going to proclaim to the entire world that they are God's two Endtime Prophets, as they have most certainly done for more than four decades through their organization, as well as through their personal writings, then they ought to have some very powerful proof to back up their claims. These people should have some mighty signs following after them to confirm and prove their work, exactly as the Lord did with the First Century leaders of the Church. Where are the signs and miracles which confirm the lofty positions to which these people have each appointed themselves? As famous American astronomer, astrophysicist and cosmologist Carl Sagan customarily remarked, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Where's the evidence?
This lack of evidence from some of these self-styled prophets and prophetesses presents us with a few other possibilities. The first of these is that unlike Jesus and the Apostles, who were accompanied by many signs and wonders, these people are really not true Prophets of God. Therefore, they do not have that kind of Spirit Anointing. As a result, it is not possible for them to perform any kind of signs and miracles. The second possibility is simply that these charlatans don't possess true faith. Quite frankly, I believe that the former is the actual answer that we are looking for here. They are all impostors.
As we saw earlier, one of the basic requirements for one to be considered a true Prophet of God, is that he accurately predicts futuristic events. After all, that is what Prophets do; they prophesy. These prophecies should not be something which he was able to concoct through scientific reasoning; or through comparing statistics and figuring out probabilities; or by looking at past records and trends in order to make an educated guess as to where things might be heading. This is basically what stock market analysts, political analysts, meteorologists and some of those so-called New Age psychics often do. It has absolutely nothing to do with God's Spirit. It is all science, mathematics, economics, etc.
As we all know, there are a lot of charlatans in the world; and they come in all kinds of flavors. One of the tricks of their trade is to state their predictions in very general terms so that when certain events do happen, they will make it appear as if they were accurate in their prognostications. I find these deceivers all over the Internet. Some of them are seriously out to lunch. They are so deceived themselves, that they actually convince themselves that their so-called "prophecy" has come true, and then they endeavor to convince other people of the same. As I shared with you in part four, the Apostle Paul wrote the following to Timothy:
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
2 Timothy 3:13, KJV
What these liars do is either hi-tech wizardry, or else it is inspired by the forces of darkness. These people have absolutely nothing to do with the true Spirit of God. They may have a spirit, but it certainly is not the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it is a familiar spirit. Now, the predictions of a true Prophet of God normally involve events which could not possibly have been predicted by any means other than through the direct intervention of God's Spirit. In other words, I believe that true prophecy is a God-inspired event. It is the Spirit of God taking over the vessel of the Prophet's body, and using it as a type of divine communication device.
Furthermore, as I stated a moment ago, a true Prophet of God will be very accurate. I have mentioned before that I do not believe that real Prophets of God are hit-and-miss like so many of these wannabe prophets and prophetesses that we see today. Just imagine for a moment if Jeremiah or Isaiah or Daniel had goofed. "Oh, sorry; I thought that was the Lord speaking to me. I guess it wasn't after all. My mistake."
I believe that in one way or another, the prophecies of a true Prophet of God will bring forth positive fruit for the Kingdom of God; such as repentance, for example. When their prophecies do come to pass, they will serve as proof of the Prophet's ministry and Divine Calling. This is exactly what the Prophet Ezekiel wrote in the following verse:
"And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them."
Ezekiel 33:33, KJV
Please go to part eight for the continuation of this series.
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