Three months have passed since we completed the 1999 Feast of Tabernacles. There’s no doubt that the most important part of this festival was the spiritual food provided by God’s ministers each of the eight days. The social life, side trips, fine dining and recreation were all short-term benefits—just “icing on the cake.” The time spent at the Feast is like college classes—a “crash course.” (After all, the Church has been termed “a teacher’s college” so many times.) The spiritual manna we ate will provide inspiration and strength for months and years to come—even for eternity!
We’ve been given so much information. What are we doing with all of it, though? Are we applying these messages?
Mr. Flurry wrote on page 7 of the September/October Royal Vision, “It is easy to hear these words and think of how wonderful they are and not do anything about them. As Mr. Armstrong always said, knowledge unapplied is of no value. This message, if we don’t get it out to the world, and we don’t apply it to our own lives, is of no value.”
Let’s examine why it is important to apply God’s spiritual knowledge—and how we can do it.
What Is Knowledge?
First of all, what is spiritual knowledge? King Solomon, the second wisest person ever to walk this earth, defined it this way: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
In its most basic form, spiritual knowledge is reverencing and obeying God. In other words, it is the fear of sinning against the Eternal and His perfect law. This is not a cowardly fear, the type of fear carnal men have. It is not the fear of what a harsh, oppressive dictator might do to us. Rather, it is a deep respect—the type of honor a son shows toward his loving father.
Solomon learned the importance of spiritual knowledge (fearing God). He knew that this knowledge was more precious than choice gold (Proverbs 8:10). He noticed that those who possessed great wisdom and understanding were those who diligently sought after knowledge (Proverbs 18:15); likewise, he observed that it was not good for a person to be without knowledge (Proverbs 19:2).
If we fear to break God’s law, we’re on the right track to happiness and blessings. If we use the knowledge God gives us, He will add more knowledge—as well as understanding and wisdom. That’s a promise. But the reverse is also true. If we fail to use the knowledge we have, we’ll gradually (and sometimes quickly!) lose it.
Why do we lose knowledge?
Much of the decline in our spiritual strength and stamina is usually due to the “disuse cycle.” Slow down, and it becomes more difficult to pick up the pace—so the natural tendency is then to slow down even more.
The human brain is a miraculous organ. Part of the brain is devoted to learning, striving to meet challenges and dealing with frustrations or difficult trials, while another part takes care of establishing habits and routines. If you let one part atrophy, its functions are taken over by the areas that are used more. When you stop challenging yourself and expanding your skills, that part of your brain goes quiet and brain activity shifts to its humdrum mode. The more you let yourself become stodgy and fail to challenge yourself, the harder it is to reactivate that part of your mind. This little axiom, “Use it or lose it,” can apply to just about every aspect of life.
Use It or Lose It!
Consider! The longer you neglect the talents and skills that you have developed over the years, the harder it is to bring them back to their old levels of excellence. For example, if a young person should take a foreign language class, piano lessons or sign language classes during elementary school—and then not ever use what they have learned in teenage years, by the time they reach adulthood, much of that physical knowledge will be lost—forgotten!
It doesn’t necessarily take years for this loss of knowledge to occur.
One Sabbath, when I was about 12 years old, my parents invited a couple of other church families over for a potluck after services. The families had several kids around my age. For some reason I was really antsy that day—I couldn’t wait for the sun to go down so I could play! I started to go outside before sundown, and my mother reminded me of the fourth commandment—cautioning me not to roughhouse on God’s holy day. So what did I do?
Minutes later—after receiving this instruction and having the knowledge—I rushed outside, right in front of my folks and our guests, and bolted down the front yard and leapt to the rope swing we had hanging from a tree branch. I swung upward about eight or ten feet. And right when I was at almost a 90 degree angle from the ground, I lost my grip. I slipped and crashed to the ground—right in front of the guests! How embarrassing! I smacked the ground with such force, I broke both bones in my left forearm!
If I had only used my mom’s instructions, and had not willingly lost it, I would have been spared much agony and embarrassment.
All of us can probably think of times in our lives when we made serious physical or spiritual mistakes—not out of ignorance, but as a direct result of either forgetting or ignoring knowledge!
When we remember knowledge, keep it and apply it, it is valuable and precious to us. We avoid tragedy and punishment. We are blessed! And we have peace.
In order to enjoy the rich blessings our loving Father longs to lavish upon everyone who follows His laws, God’s truth must not merely be recognized in the mind—it must be acted upon.
Consider the godly knowledge learned at the Feast this year. Every one of those messages was given for our benefit—to assist us in being successful in this temporary physical life and to better prepare us for the Millennium and beyond.
What happens if God’s Church doesn’t use the knowledge it has been given?
In Mr. Flurry’s booklet Hosea Reaping the Whirlwind, he wrote: “Why was God’s Church punished? ‘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’ (Hosea 4:6). They forgot God’s law…. Notice: They had the knowledge, or truth, of God revealed to them. Then they rejected it. They had God’s law, kept it, and then forgot it. This could only refer to God’s Church today. Only God’s Church understands His revealed truth in these latter days. Only God’s Church has been given and has kept His law. But now they have ‘forgotten the law.’ You cannot reject God’s truth if you never had it. And you cannot forget God’s law if you never kept it. Clearly, God is addressing His own Church. Only they have ever truly kept God’s spiritual law.”
God says the ministry should “keep knowledge” (Malachi 2:7-8). In Malachi’s Message, Mr. Flurry points out that the Hebrew word for “keep” here means to “watch, guard, to fasten with nails.”
As king-priests (Revelation 1:6), God’s very elect are truly ministers without portfolio—yes, even those who are not ordained. So this means all of us are obliged to keep this precious knowledge that’s been revealed to the Church. We must remember God’s law (Malachi 4:4) and all the new revelation too.
During World War ii the Nazis burned books to suppress knowledge. And during the past 14 years, the Laodiceans have twisted their interpretation of God’s laws and revelation in an attempt to hide the truth of God from the Church and the world.
What are we doing with God’s revelation—all this knowledge we have at our fingertips?
We may not burn the truth, but we might do something more subtle: neglect it.
If we’re not gathering God’s spiritual manna daily by continually studying and applying the knowledge we’ve been entrusted with, we might as well get a match and destroy that truth. Oftentimes we take for granted the things we have, and usually miss them only when they are taken away.
Those who have left God’s one true Church over the years generally have not held fast to God’s precious knowledge. Certainly not all of it, anyway. They became complacent; they thought they already knew it all. They didn’t see a genuine need to reread the booklets or magazines put out by the Church. They didn’t use what they were given, and now they’ve lost it.
If these people don’t repent of their lukewarm attitude, God says they will be destroyed for lack of knowledge (see the Hosea booklet).
That’s why it’s so important that we use this knowledge—and soak up the spiritual rain of new revelation that we received only three months ago at the Feast. If we don’t apply it this winter and beyond, we will regret it later.
Remember—we’re not just using this information for ourselves. We’re not studying and rereading our notes for selfish purposes—just to “save our skins.” No, we are gathering this spiritual information and inculcating it into our minds so that we can rear billions of God’s children in the World Tomorrow!
Using what we know is more than just having “head knowledge.” It’s more than merely retaining information in the mind. It’s acting on that information. We must reflect our application of this knowledge not only in our words, but by our deeds too (Romans 2:13).
So, how can we apply this Feast knowledge?
Study and meditate on your Feast notes along with God’s Word. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Combining study with meditation is one powerful tool: “medistudy,” you could call it. Studying the Bible and your notes is the act of carefully and earnestly reading, rereading and comparing various passages. John 14:26 says that the Holy Spirit allows us to actually comprehend what we are reading and thinking about.
Studying every morning or evening is like eating a meal. The Apostle Paul, in Hebrews 5:12-14 compared God’s Word to “milk” and “meat.” Christ said that the Word of God is the “meat” that produces eternal life! (John 6:63). Regular study is how we chew or masticate God’s instructions.
But it is not enough just to eat. Eating only brings the food into the body or mind. For the food to give us lasting strength, it must be thoroughly digested. Perhaps many of us hurriedly eat God’s manna—we skim right through our studies—and rush so quickly that we do not stop and digest God’s nutritious word, or see the true importance of the lessons we learned at the Feast.
This is why we need meditation along with the study. Spiritual meditation is detailed concentration on a Bible principle and its application in our lives.
When you immediately meditate after studying the Bible and your sermon notes, you allow the “acids and enzymes” of God’s Spirit to digest and assimilate the meat of God’s word.
Through meditating, the lessons will become a part of you! “You are what you eat”—spiritually. They’ll become useful! This is why King David was able to say in Psalm 119:99, “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.”
Pray about what you learned at the Feast. Proverbs 2:3-6 says we should ask and cry for knowledge. We’ve been given the knowledge—but ask God to help you put it to use. And thank Him for giving it to you.
Mr. Armstrong recommended that a Christian pray 30 minutes a day to remain spiritually stable—to stay afloat. But he suggested that a person pray 45 to 60 minutes a day for real spiritual growth.
Put urgency and zeal into your prayers. God doesn’t listen to “sleepy-time” prayers. Mr. Flurry wrote in the last issue of the Royal Vision: “Some think they can pray when they are half asleep. But God doesn’t want that lame sacrifice. He wants our best; He is a great King, the Lord of hosts. Do we thank God the way we should for all He’s given us? He’s given us everything. All the revelation” (p. 8).
Schedule regular prayer time into your day. Pray about the lessons you brought home from the Feast. Cry out to God for more of His Spirit—so we can understand and use this knowledge. And always be thankful in prayer.
God dictates that we must fast once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27). (For more information on this day, write for our free booklet Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days—Which?) But He leaves the rest up to us. He wants to let us decide how often we should “atone” through fasting beyond the one commanded holy day. Mr. Armstrong taught that we should fast about 10 to 11 times a year in addition to the Day of Atonement. This is the way to true spiritual growth.
We primarily fast in order to get closer to God—to better understand His will—not to impose our selfish will on God or try to “bargain” with Him to get Him to do the things we want. Fasting draws us closer to our Creator—enabling us to understand His family vision for us. We fast to better understand how He would have us use His beautiful revelation.
Fasting helps us acquire the mind of God (Philippians 2:5), as opposed to leaning to our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). Christ fasted 40 days to withstand spiritual attack. We must fast regularly too, if we want to use what we have and not lose it. We will be blessed with increased understanding, wisdom and faith if we apply this knowledge.
Using the Tools
Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us to do with all our might whatever our hand finds to do. In all of these three points—medistudy, prayer and fasting—we must work harder to use, with all our might, the spiritual tools God has given us.
Finding the time to use these tools and keep our spiritual minds fit may seem an elusive goal. But it is important to remember that you get the most benefit from the first small effort. By using these spiritual tools regularly, you will be able to find the time for them more easily. Build on that foundation and grow spiritually.
This is basically how to use knowledge properly—and in the process, build holy, righteous character. That’s what this Christian calling is all about. Mainly we are called to do a job—to finish the Work. But that is impossible without building character. It’s about qualifying to become teachers and literal members of the bride of Jesus Christ. It’s about rearing billions of children. We cannot do this without having perfect, holy, righteous character.
Mr. Armstrong compared character growth with developing a muscle. “Like muscle, character is developed, and grows by exercise. My name is Armstrong. I suppose I could make my arm slightly stronger, and develop the muscle, by constantly bending it back and forth at the elbow. But if I pull, or push, against some heavy weight or resistance, the muscle will develop much faster. There is within us this nature that exerts a heavy pull against that perfect righteous character—to give us something to strive against for the very purpose of strengthening and developing right character!” (The Incredible Human Potential, page 126).
God’s true Church possesses dangerous knowledge, especially in the end time with all the added revelation. But if we’ll do something with that precious knowledge from God now—it will work to our benefit. It will help strengthen our faith and character. If we forget it or reject it, however, it will harm us in the long run. It is dangerous because God says that He’ll destroy His elect who don’t use and apply what they know about His plan!
Benjamin Franklin once wrote: “All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.”
Think of it like this when applied to the Church as a whole (including Laodiceans and Philadelphians): There are those who are immovable—they are narrow-minded, self-righteous, vain in their own eyes. So sure they are right, knowing everything already. They believe they don’t need to pray or study anymore. They’re zealous about doing what they want, but negligent when it comes to obeying God’s will. They’re complacent and don’t see any need to obey the law and develop character.
There are those who are moveable—those who are shaken and thrown about by every wind of doctrine. They’re misguided. Dissident literature or other distractions (“idols” such as job, hobby, material things, etc.) get them off track and they fail to seek the Kingdom of God first. They float downstream, like a dead fish—forgetting that they must use the Holy Spirit to fight Satan’s continuous downward pull.
We want to be like that third group Mr. Franklin referred to: the group that moves! We must practice Ecclesiastes 9:10 to do this—to do the daily continual Work of God effectively. To be the “movers and shakers.”
Mr. Flurry wrote in Hosea Reaping the Whirlwind about this glorious hope of the gospel we were taught about at the Feast: “[We have] the most royal, majestic calling God has to give—an opportunity to be Christ’s bride! Spiritual knowledge saves nations. A lack of knowledge destroys nations! Once we have been given this precious knowledge, our greatest challenge is to hold on to it. That is our glory. To lose this knowledge is the worst imaginable shame. This glorious knowledge we have saves nations. It’s going to save the world—the universe! This knowledge is the world’s fabulous hope—and only hope. This is the greatest possible gift we can give the world. Failing to do so is the blackest possible shame!”
What we do with what we’ve heard at the Feast of Tabernacles will help determine our eternal reward! Let’s continue to “grow up” spiritually by using what we have been given so graciously. We must use it or we’ll lose it spiritually.