I recently corresponded with a person I have known for some time. He doesn’t support any group and is, for all intents and purposes, an independent. When I mentioned that to him, he said that was a phrase coined by Mr. Armstrong, as if, therefore, it had to be wrong. The person felt this way: “I am a believer. I am a part of the spiritual body of believers.” The question is, is that enough? After all, demons also believe, yet they tremble. James 2:19 says: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!”
I felt somewhat frustrated by our discourse in certain matters and made this observation: Independents seem to believe that a miraculous metamorphosis occurs in their minds. They think that their biblical knowledge undergoes exponential growth to the point where they no longer need a minister to tell them what the Bible teaches, or to correct and exhort them. They are quite content to stay home, to support no group in particular, and to think everything is just fine.
Notice, however, what Ephesians 4:11-13 says: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…”
Please notice that this growth is achieved by GOD, using His ministry. We are further admonished in Hebrews 10:25, not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. These clear admonitions apparently fall on deaf ears when it comes to some independents.
This is what Mr. Armstrong thought about independents: “What about a single member, ‘a joint, or part,’ going off by itself–or following a man instead of the Church of God that is in direct continuous succession from the apostolic Church founded by Christ, in A.D.31? He is like a joint or a piece of wood or stone, entirely outside of, and therefore no part of the body of Christ that shall marry Christ” (The Incredible Human Potential, ed.1978., pp.123, 124-125).
When we look at the original independent, it was none other than Satan, whose line of reasoning followed a path similar to this: “I was put in charge of the earth and I really don’t like being directed on how to run my show. I have pondered this deeply and really feel that the way of get is superior to the way of give. My mind is so increased with knowledge of this new understanding that I will share it with my leaders who will pass it on to their followers. This way of get must be imposed on God and the rest of the angels who just don’t get it. The time has come to make war against the Creator God to take over the universe and to impose my great understanding and knowledge on Him and His angels. He must be deposed of His power and rulership, to enable me to carry out my plans.”
The rest is history.
God placed His ministry in His Church for the benefit of the whole body. Let us never think that we would be better off as independents! Rather, let each of us–as members of the body–grow in grace and knowledge, in willing participation and in a growing understanding of this vital endtime work of God’s Church!