Get Serious!

At the Feast of Tabernacles each year, Herbert Armstrong (late pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG)) used to ask: “Why are we here?”

Today, I would like to ask you this same question… and some other questions too.

Why are you here?

Today’s questions, and some of the other points that I am going to make today, apply to the adult members of our little congregation here.

But I want to direct this sermon, and more to follow, more specifically to the young people – both our own young people here on Vancouver Island and to any others who might hear these sermons via the internet.

The purpose of this series is to advise our young people to start getting serious… about such things as God… and about God’s way of life.


Thinking back on our many years in God’s church, I look out at our young people here today and I think, sadly, how you don’t have the benefits that some of the church youth had in previous eras of the church when our attendance was so much bigger.

We had relatively large groups of young people that could fellowship together each week during the Sabbaths, mid-week Bible studies and other social occasions and picnics, and throughout the year on the Holy Days.

In addition, there were Youth Educational Services (YES) lessons and classes for the younger children, Youth Opportunities United (YOU) groups and Summer Educational Program (SEP) camps every year for the teens, and Ambassador Colleges (AC) for older students.

Although I don’t believe that all of these church programs were perfect, I do believe that they all had great potential benefits.

Some of the larger post-WCG Church of God groups have tried to duplicate some of those WCG youth programs – with varying degrees of success.


God inspired ancient Israel’s King Solomon to write this proverb:

Proverbs 22:6:
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

This is a generally true statement; but it is unwise to take it too literally, as some have done.

As Solomon was, arguably, David’s favourite son, we can be sure that David trained Solomon up in the way that he should go – God’s way, of course.

However, Solomon, in his later life, did depart from it!

Also, many of the young people of God’s church – yes, even many of those who participated in those YES, YOU, SEP and AC programs – became disillusioned with the Church of God, for one reason or another, and left it.


Some time ago, I read a quote on one of the Church of God websites, which read:

Being born into the church of God no more makes you a Christian than being born in an airplane factory makes you a Boeing 747!

For this reason, I am concerned for the spiritual welfare of you young people who are here with us today.

Time is flying by and you young people are growing so fast.

You will soon be coming to the age when you will have to decide for yourself whether you are going to stay in God’s church… or whether you are going to leave it.

It should go without saying that we want you to stay. 

Of course we do!

But, as with all of us, no matter how old we are, the decision must ultimately be your own.

Not your parents’!  Not your friends!  Yours!

And God’s too, of course… because, in all this, we should be very careful to remember what Jesus said in:

John 6:44:
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

So, for those young people who have left God’s church – and who continue to stay away from it – we can only assume that God the Father was not “drawing” them at that time; and that He may not “draw” them until the time of the second resurrection (Revelation 20:5-6).

Strong Meat vs the Milk of the Word

Most adult Church of God members prefer what we call “strong spiritual meat.” 

But a lot of that strong spiritual meat that we hear each Sabbath flies right over the heads of you young people. 

And, for this reason, you probably derive very little from Sabbath services.

And that’s not your fault!


Most church adults don’t want to go back to “the milk of the word” – back to the basics.

I do not believe that God wants us to:

Hebrews 5:
12:  for though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
13:  for everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.

The author of the book of Hebrews was telling the long-time members of the church here, that they shouldn’t need the milk of the word anymore.

But there is nothing actually wrong with “the milk of the word.”

It is very good!

Just like physical milk for physical babies, the spiritual milk of the word has a special purpose, and a special “audience.” 

It includes all the basic truths and doctrines of God’s true church.

It is the necessary spiritual food for “babes in Christ” – whether they are physically young – or are spiritually young and inexperienced in the Word of God.

You young people are not yet ready to receive strong spiritual meat; and again, that’s not a bad thing.

Would any of us feed a slab of prime rib to a two-month old?

Of course we wouldn’t:

1 Peter 2:2:
As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

The apostle Peter recognized that the milk of the Word is what young people – and newly-called people – need. 

This is what you young people need so very much – whether or not you realize it right now!

This milk of the word is what will help you to grow spiritually.


Young people, I would like to you to start bringing your Bibles to services each week.

I’d like you to look up the scriptures that we quote, because I want you to understand that these doctrines and beliefs that we’ll be teaching in these “milk-of-the-Word” sermons are not my opinions. 

Neither are they the opinions of any human being.

No!  These things come from the very Word of God.

Jesus Christ is the personal Word of God (Revelation 19:13).

But the Holy Bible is the written Word of God.

Having your own Bible, is like having your own copy of Jesus’ words and thoughts in print.


By the way, I usually use the “old” King James version (KJV) of the Bible.

But in this series, I’d like to use the New King James version (NKJV), because, although slightly less accurate, the language in it is modernized and, without changing the meanings too much, it is definitely easier to understand. 

If any of you do not have your own copy of the New King James version, please let me know and we’ll get you one.


In this series of sermons, I am going to tell you the basics of what we believe – and why we believe it.

Again, not what men teach; but what the Bible teaches!

I want to help you to understand the basic doctrines of God’s true church. 

Also, to help you understand why we believe differently on certain matters from the teachings of other professing Christian organizations.

I know that you young people don’t like being different. 

But you are different!

As long as you are under the care and jurisdiction of your converted, Church of God parents, God considers you to be holy!  (I Corinthians 7:14)


To our adult members, I feel a need to apologize, because a lot of what I say in this sermon series will be “milk-of-the-Word” repetition to you.

I hope that you will bear with me… for the benefit of God’ precious young people.

Two suggestions of how to teach young people

How should we teach spiritual matters to our young people – and those who are young in the faith?

Here’s what God inspired the apostle Paul to write:

Romans 10:17:
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

Most early Christians didn’t have the benefit of their own copies of the Bible, as we do today.

So, most of what they came to believe, they heard – from preachers.

Preachers such as Jesus, John the Baptist and the apostles.

And that’s great – as long as the preacher that a person hears – listens to – is preaching the truth – as supported by the written Word of God – the written holy scriptures.

I understand that there are some people that don’t like to read. 

But, to really get to know your Bible, you need to read it.

The weekly sermons that we hear are just one part of our weekly Bible study.

So, it is necessary for us to continue our Bible studies throughout the remainder to the week.

Sell God’s Word to young people?

A church member once suggested to me that, in order for us to be successful in teaching God’s Word to young people, we need to sell it to them.

My immediate thought – from God’s Word – was this proverb – from God – via the pen of Solomon:

Proverbs 23:23:
Buy the truth, and sell it not; also, wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.

I’m sure that most people don’t like pressure-sales tactics. 

So, I don’t want to be like a used car salesman, trying to cram something down your throats that you don’t really want.

Rather, I believe that my job is to lay out the way of life that God is offering to each of us, coupled with the associated benefits of that way of life.

But, subject to God’s perfect will and calling, it is your choice as to whether you take it – or leave it.

When we think about the milk of God’s Word – under normal circumstances, babies do not need to be sold on the benefits of the milk from their mother!

Usually, mom’s milk is their very first natural desire after they are born.

This being the case, I’m not really a “salesman” of the Word of God.

But still, because God says that He wants us to buy His truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding, He must be his own salesman.

And, as He inspired the apostle John to write, yes, He is:

Revelation 3:18a:
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed…

This is, of course, referring to spiritual gold and spiritual white garments (explanations of which must be defers till another day).

Your parents – and all of us – want you young people to buy what God is offering.

We can all help; but, once again, it is entirely between you and God. 

“To purchase or not to purchase?” That is the question!

You either buy what God has to offer – and you automatically reap its great benefits – or you decline buying – and you automatically reject its benefits.

It’s your choice.

It’s not up to me – nor anyone else – to pressure you.

In many things in life, you’ll find that you can either choose to take the path that will lead you to the harmful way, or you can choose the path where it will be beneficial to you.

“Be Positive” in our Instruction to Young People?

Another suggestion I once received was that we need to be more positive in our instruction – especially to our young people.

Perhaps in the past we have experienced much in the way of overlyserious” content in church services – in the messages and the readings of overly negative “world news in prophecy” articles.

But there’s a big difference between serious and negative.

All that is negative is serious.

But all that is serious is not necessarily negative.

There are many positive, serious aspects to spiritual milk.  

e.g. The conversion process itself is a very serious matter; but is not at all negative.


The well-known word “gospel” means “good news”.

And in our little church group, we’ve tried for the past few years to accentuate the positive – to put the accent on the good news aspect of God’s Word.

But we need to be careful not to overdo this, because God has clearly commanded us not to preach smooth things or prophesy deceits (Isaiah 30:8-11).

Yes, we are to stay positive and to preach the good news, despite the fact that most of the news these days is bad…

But we also have a responsibility to sigh and cry over the abominations that fill our nations (Ezekiel 9:3-4).

There’s also this well-known command:

Isaiah 58:1:
Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

There are positive ways of doing this – as Jesus and his apostles did.

And we’re to emulate him and them (I Corinthians 4:16; 11:1).

I do believe that God does want us to be positive in our preaching; and I will try my best to be positive in these sermons for the young people.

I also believe that, as we hear about those abominations and see them on our TV or computer screens, He wants us to drop to our knees and to beg him even more fervently: “Thy Kingdom come.”

Consider the End!

I’d now like to quote a phrase that I read in a short story by the famous Russian author, Leo Tolstoy. 

The somewhat gloomy title of that short story is “The death of Ivan Ilyich.”

The story is about what happens in a person’s mind when he knows that he is dying.

The quote, in Latin, is “Respice finem which means “Consider the end.”


Whether young or old, we all need to be considering our end!

Young people, I would like you to consider that, pretty soon, in the very near future, you are going to have to make some major decisions.

There are some questions that I’d like you to ask yourself right now.

You might say to me, “Hey!  Don’t spoil my young life.  It’s too early for me to be considering my end – to be considering any of these serious things.  I’m way too young to be thinking about these major questions.”

How would God answer?  What does His Word say about this?

First, a very wise statement from God – given to us via Solomon – in his “wise period”:

Ecclesiastes 12:1:
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”:

And another statement from God – given to us in the Psalms; not by David; but by Moses:

Psalms 90:10:
The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Young people, your life span, like mine, is pretty well a maximum of a hundred years, which sounds like a long time.

For the purpose of illustration, I’ve divided up those hundred years into four 25-year “stages”:

·        Stage 1 is from birth to age 25, which covers childhood and youth.

·        Stage 2 is from age 26 (young adulthood) to age 50, which we may consider to be “middle-age.”

·        Stage 3 would be age 51 (later middle-age) to 75, which we might look upon as our more senior years.

·        Stage 4 would be age 76 to 100 when, as we just read in Moses’ psalm, after age 80, we really are living on borrowed time!

You young people are in stage 1 right now. 

Some of you adults are in stage 2. 

Others are in either stage 3 or stage 4.

I’m in stage 3 – I’ll be turning 70 in February.

But I’m telling you young people, from personal experience, that the time of your life goes by so very fast. 

It doesn’t seem like yesterday that I was in stage 1, like you are now.

But still, as I look back, my seventy years has just flown by.  Gone – in the twinkling of an eye!


Again, young people, you are rapidly approaching the age where you’ll need to be making some very serious decisions, which I’ll go into in more detail.

Some examples of these serious decisions you are going to have to make include:

·        Belief in God’s existence.

·        Whether you are you going to obey Him, or not.

·        Whether you are going to obey God’s laws and follow His way of life.

·        Whether you are going to keep His Sabbaths and holy days without complaint.

·        Whether you are going to include prayer and Bible study in your life.

·        What your attitude and behaviour is going to be like – at home, at church, at school and later, at work.

·        What your approach will be toward the infamous “sex, drugs and rock and roll.”

·        What your attitude is going to be towards the way that you dress and talk – the language that you use?

There are many others, of course.

These are just a few examples.

Today, I want to get into some very basic – but major – questions that you are going to have to be asking yourself.

All of these questions are big. 

Some of them are absolutely huge!

I want you to sincerely think about each question that I ask you here, and I want you to be honest with your answers.

Not to me, of course – but to yourself.

I want you to really think about them – not just now, during church services; but when you go home.

When you are lying in your bed at night.

Please think about your answers to these questions.

I can’t answer them for you. 

Your parents can’t answer them for you.

You have to decide for yourself!

Ok, first – right up front then – this is without doubt the biggest question in the whole universe:

·        Do you believe in God?

·        Do you believe that God exists? 

Secondly, if you do believe that God exists:

·        Do you believe that He is a loving and benevolent God?

·        Do you believe that He loves you?

·        Do you believe that He wants the very best for you?

·        And that He wants you to be happy and successful in your life?

Thirdly, again, assuming that you do believe that God exists:

·        Do you believe that God wants you to be working towards a commitment to Him?

·        And that, at some time in the future, eventually towards baptism.

Some other interesting and important questions:

·        Do you believe that God can see everything that you do?

·        Do you believe that he can hear everything that you say?

·        Do you believe that God can even see or hear what you are thinking?  Yes, that he can see into your thoughts because he is spirit?

And, finally:

·        Do you believe that the Bible is God’s true, inspired Word?

·        That the Bible is God’s true, inspired “manual for living”?

For the remainder of the sermon today, I would like to concentrate on the first two of these important questions.

We’ll go into the detail on others in the months ahead.

But first…

Does God exist?

This really is the most important question of all. 

This is the most important question in all of a person’s life. 

In all of the universe. 

In all eternity.

The most important question!

Because, if God doesn’t exist, then all of these other questions don’t really matter at all.

If God doesn’t exist, nothing else matters!

Whether you believe it or not, I’m telling you that God certainly does exist.

James 2:19:
You believe that there is one God.  You do well.  Even the demons believe — and tremble!

What James is saying here, is that it is very important for us to believe that God exists; but that this is just the very starting point.

The demons – and Satan himself – know very well that there is one God (which includes Jesus and His Father, of course). 

They know it, they truly believe that God exists – and they tremble because of His existence.

I have proved God’s existence to my own satisfaction; and I believe that all of the adults here have done so.

You can too!

It is beneficial for you young people that you prove God’s existence as early in your life as you possibly can. 

There are real rewards for doing so!

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth”!

But it is almost pointless for me to stand here and quote scriptures that prove from the Bible that God exists – because the Bible is God’s written Word, so, from its beginning to its end, it takes for granted that God does exist.

All we need are the first four words of the Bible:

Genesis 1:1:
In the beginning God…

Again, this whole book takes it for granted that God exists. 

No surprise, because this is God’s book.

Let’s jump over to the New Testament:

John 1:1:
Iin the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

That verse takes us back to the very beginnings of eternity (if such a time is even possible) – that right from the beginning of time, God existed.


In this regard, I would like to quote from a book called “The Spirit of Retirement” that was given to me as a retirement gift.

This quote is from a lady by the name of Marti Sivi:

My whole life I have sought to find God.

When I was a little girl, I asked my mother, where was God?

When she said that she didn’t know, nor did anyone else, I remember thinking, “Well, why is everybody doing all kinds of things every day instead of trying to find out?” 

I couldn’t believe that people were shopping, making money, etc. without being pre-occupied about finding God.

What an amazing thing for a little girl to be thinking.

I have looked for God everywhere in my life.

I hope that this lady, even in her senior years is still looking for God, and I hope that the true God finds her and calls her.

I wanted certainty.  I wanted hard facts.  And I wanted to know where the manual was for human relationships.

If God exists, why did He just leave us here with nothing but our curiosity?

There we see that, although this lady does possess a certain level of wisdom and knowledge, because she hasn’t yet been called by God, her wisdom and knowledge is very limited.

Foe example, she didn’t know that God did give us a “manual.” 

God did not just leave us here with nothing but our curiosity.

Yes, He did give us a “manual” for human relationships.

But that same “manual” is also an “instruction book” for our relationships with Him. 

That same “manual” also serves to prove that He really does exist!

That “manual,” of course, is the Holy Bible.

We will go into this whole subject in more detail in a future message.

But coming now to the second major question that you young people need to be asking yourselves:

Is God loving and beneficent?

Assuming that you do believe that God exists, what are the benefits, the rewards and the positive results that you can have – for believing in Him and for following His way of life?

Is God loving and beneficent?

Yes, He is!

The word “beneficent,” by the way (from the dictionary) means doing and producing good. 

According to Jesus, only God is truly good (Matthew 19:16-17).

And, as part of that goodness, He performs acts of kindness and charity.

God wants to perform acts of kindness and charity towards all of us – including you young people:

I John 4:
7:  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8:  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love…

That is an amazing statement.

9:  in this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
10:  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation
{appeasement} for our sins.
11:  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12:  No one has seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us…
Verse 16:  And we have known and believed the love that God has for us.  God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

Again, is God a loving God?

Yes.  But much more than that, God is love!

In Conclusion

I have asked you some big questions today. 

These are vast, huge questions for a young person to contemplate.

I believe that these are the two biggest questions in life – in eternity – in the whole universe!

Everything else in the universe hangs on these two questions.

But, if you really think about it, once you have resolved these two questions; and once you have really thought it out, and proved it to yourself – that God does exist and that He is a loving and beneficent God – that He loves you – and that He wants to do good for you and to you – and to all of us – then we have nothing to fear!

There is a wonderful freedom aspect to it!

Yes, we still have our part to play.  We still have our things to do.

But once we know that God exists, that He loves us, that He wants to look after us, and that He wants us as part of His plan, we don’t have to worry about anything!

We don’t have to fear anything!

We don’t have to fear sickness or even death – because, Hey!  God exists!  And He is there for us!

Yes, He does want us to properly fear Him; but that’s a different kind of fear - which we can talk about another time.


I want you young people, especially, to go home and think about these things.

Think about them when you’re lying on your bed, when you wake up in the middle of the night, and when you get up in the morning.

Please think about these things!

But don’t be afraid.

God doesn’t want you to be afraid. 

Please think about these wonderful things and you do not have to be afraid at all.

So, again, please think on these things:

Does God exist?

Is He a loving and beneficent God?


 John Plunkett

November 24th 2018