Q: Should we talk to others about our sins, and should we confess our sins to others, such as a minister or a priest?

A: The Bible teaches that we are to confess our sins to God. We read in 1 John 1:8-9, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Other Scriptures clarify that such confession must be made to God. Romans 14:10-12 states, “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”

We read that the people came to John the Baptist, “confessing their sins.” (Matthew 3:6). Note, however, it does not say that they were confessing their sins to John. Other Scriptures tell us that confession of sins is to be made to God.

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Q: Does the Church of the Eternal God believe in and teach tithing? Does the Church believe in three tithes? If so, how, and for what purpose are those three tithes to be collected?

A: The Church of the Eternal God believes in and teaches the Godly command of tithing. Our booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound,” explains on pages 18-20 that tithing is a binding command today that was not abandoned by Christ. (Our booklet explains that Hebrews 7 did not abandon tithing – contrary to what some may erroneously claim.) Our Updates have consistently upheld and referred to God’s command to tithe — compare, for example, Edwin Pope’s Editorials in Updates #38 (dated April 12, 2002) and #53 (dated July 26, 2002). That tithing is a command for today is taught in many Scriptures, including Matthew 23:23; Luke 18:12; and Malachi 3:8-10.

The Church of the Eternal God also believes and teaches that God has indeed instituted THREE different types of tithes – commonly referred to as the first, second and third tithe.

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Q: Does the Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates believe in and practice hierarchical government?

A: The answer is clearly “yes.” Our Statements of Beliefs point out that the Church of the Eternal God in the United States, the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada, and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom, uphold and teach “the major doctrines” which “were taught by Herbert W. Armstrong,” unless ” any particular doctrine is proven to be wrong by the Bible.” As we all know, Mr. Armstrong clearly taught hierarchical government within the Church — that is, rule “from the top down.” He did not teach, and neither do we, that the Church is to be ruled by the lay membership, that is, rule “from the bottom up.” We clearly understand that God the Father is above all, and that Jesus Christ, the Head of His Church, is under the Father. Christ, in turn, appoints those under Him who are to serve, lead and guide the Church on a human level.

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Q: You teach that Hebrews 4:9 enjoins the Christian to keep the weekly Sabbath. However, the context of the passage seems to indicate that the author is talking about the coming Millennium, and not the weekly Sabbath. Could you please explain?

A: The entire passage in Hebrews 3 and 4 speaks about the failure of ancient Israel to enter the Promised Land of Canaan, and the fact that Christians must be careful to avoid making the same mistakes, so that they can enter the future Millennial rest — the spiritual Promised Land, so to speak. At the same time, Paul draws an additional analogy between the weekly Sabbath and the Millennial rest at the end of man’s rule, comparing the coming Millennial rest with a Millennial “Sabbath” of 1000 years. Several Scriptures indicate a 7000-year plan of God — comprising a “week” of seven 1000-years “days.” God gave man 6000 years (or 6000 “days” of 1000-years each) to prove that man, under Satan’s influence, cannot rule himself. These first six “days” of 1000-years each will be followed by the seventh “day” of 1000 years, called the Millennium, during which Christ and His elect will rule this earth (compare Revelation 20:4-6; 2 Peter 3:8; Psalm 90:4).

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Q: Would it be alright, in light of 1 Corinthians 11:26, to partake of the Lord's Supper or Communion more often than just once a year?

A: 1 Corinthians 11:26 reads, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” Many have interpreted this Scripture to say, “Take it as often as you please.” But this is not what the Scripture teaches.

Reading the context, Paul was reminding the disciples of the events that happened on the “same night in which He (Christ) was betrayed.” (verse 23). Paul stated that on that night, Christ took the bread and the wine, gave it to His disciples, and said, “Take, eat… do this in remembrance of Me… This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (verses 24, 25).

Christ commands His converted disciples to partake of the symbols of bread and wine “in remembrance” of “the Lord’s death.” This is a memorial — and memorials of momentous occasions are always observed annually, once a year, on the anniversary of the event they commemorate. It should be noted that God specifically denotes seven ANNUAL Sabbaths to be observed in their appointed times. These annual Holy Days are either memorials of events that have already taken place, or they foreshadow events that will still occur. It is during these annual observances that we are instructed to keep exactly what God has commanded.

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Q: Does it violate the Biblical injunction against consumption of unclean meat to use medicines, vitamins and mineral supplements derived from unclean animals? Is it a violation to use gelatin products, which might be derived from parts of unclean animals?

A: The Bible prohibits the consumption of the “flesh” of certain animals, designated as unclean in passages such as Leviticus 11:1-8 and Deuteronomy 14:7-8. The Church has long understood that the use of medications, mineral supplements or vitamins derived from unclean animals does not violate the Biblical injunction against eating the FLESH of unclean animals. Until recently, diabetics had to use insulin derived from pigs, and the Church did not prohibit such use. (Now, the best form of insulin is derived synthetically). This is based on the understanding that medication, drugs and supplements fall into the category of non-food. For instance, calcium can be extracted from oyster shells.

The consumption of these types of non-food items is not the equivalent of eating the flesh of unclean animals. Likewise, blood transfusions are not Biblically prohibited [although the Bible does prohibit the consumption of blood], since the transfusion is not the equivalent of eating blood. If one were to carry the Biblical prohibitions too far, kissing or sexual intercourse would be prohibited as well, due to the exchange of bodily fluids.

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Q.: Does the Bible allow or prohibit the use of makeup?

A.: The Bible specifically mentions several times, in passing, the use of makeup. One of those passages can be found in 2 Kings 9:30, stating that the evil and wicked queen Jezebel hoped to seduce King Jehu. We read, “Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window.”

A similar passage can be found in two prophecies about Israel’s and Judah’s future enemies, in Jeremiah 4:30 and in Ezekiel 23:40. Jeremiah 4:30 speaks figuratively about the modern nation of Judah in this way, “And when you are plundered, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with crimson, Though you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, Though you enlarge your eyes with paint, In vain you will make yourself fair; Your lovers will despise you; they will seek your life.” Ezekiel 23:40, addressing the modern houses of Israel and Judah, states, “Furthermore you sent for men to come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and there they came. And you washed yourself for them, painted your eyes, and adorned yourself with ornaments.”

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Q: Does the Bible allow or prohibit birthday acknowledgements and celebrations?

A: The Bible specifically mentions two birthday celebrations of kings, ending with the deaths of certain individuals (John the Baptist and Pharaoh’s chief baker, compare Mark 6:21-27 and Genesis 40:20-22). There is another possible reference to birthday celebrations in Job 1:4: “And his [Job’s] sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.” The German Menge Bible explains that this is a reference to the “birthdays” of the sons (A similar expression is used in Job 3:1, referring to Job’s day of birth). The children’s conduct prompted righteous Job to “sanctify them,” for he said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” (Job 1:5).

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Q: You teach that it is wrong for a Christian to participate in war. However, the Bible tells us that ancient Israel fought in war, and that on occasion, God ordered Israel to fight. How, then, can fighting in war be wrong?

A: We believe that the Bible is very clear and explicit in condemning Christian participation in war. You may want to reread our Editorial, titled, “War or Peace — Which?” (Update #81, February 21, 2003), and our Q&A, titled, “Christian Participation in War” (Update #67, November 15, 2002). How do we explain Israel’s fighting in the Old Testament? Did God, who does not change, condemn war in the New Testament, but approved of it in the Old?

You may want to listen to our three-part sermon series on Military Service and War for a thorough explanation. It is posted on the Audio page of our Website. In short, ancient Israel sinned when they went to war. For Biblical proof, we are quoting pertinent excerpts from Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklet, “Military Service and War,” Copyright 1967, beginning with page 23. The headline of that section reads, “WHY Israel Did Fight.” The booklet continues:

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Q: Exodus 12:18, among other Scriptures, commands us to eat unleavened bread for seven days. Is this command still valid today? If so, how is it to be applied?

A: The command in Exodus 12:18 is an essential part of the annual seven day celebration of the Days of Unleavened Bread. As we fully explain in our new booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days,” these annual Feast days are still to be kept today.

Numerous Scriptures tell us to remove, during these seven days, leavened bread from our houses, and not to eat leavened bread. At the same time, we are told to eat unleavened bread during these days. Biblical passages containing this command can be found in Exodus 12:15-20; 13:7; 23:15; 34:18; Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:17; and Deuteronomy 16:3, 8. We also read that the Days of Unleavened Bread will be kept in the Millennium (Ezekiel 45:21). Further, Paul upholds the ongoing validity of God’s command to keep these days, explaining at the same time the accompanying symbolism, in 1 Corinthians 5:8, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

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