When evangelising down in Dublin in the last week, I was invited to go along to a meeting in a hotel in the famous though very worldly Temple Bar area. My fellow companion and labourer had come across some members from the church of God. He hastened to tell me that they were not that Church of God i.e. those heretics who reject the Trinity. Neither are they "Amish, Mennonite or Mormon" as their own literature tells us, although as you see from their website they dress somewhat quaintly. This group sang a Capella on the streets of Dublin city centre (though I missed them) and I'm told that they were pretty good. I decided to go along with my friend to the advertised meeting.
The meeting was in a small hotel room. My friend's wife also came and their pastor and his wife turned up, plus another lady and a young couple. There were about 18 members of the CoG. When we went into the room, the ladies (all dressed in long black dresses) were praying. They were kneeling at the chairs. We were warmly welcomed with big (and I believe, sincere) smiles and handed a hymnbook. The hymnbook contained some hymns I did not know, along with some old favourites. The meeting began, more or less on time, with a few hymns sung by the congregation. At various parts of the hymns, the CoG folk would either raise their right hand or stand and raise their right hand with a loud Amen! The singing was good. When the singing ended, the younger couple of visitors quietly took their leave.
A younger brother, whom I had met earlier on the streets, then said a few words. He certainly started very fervently and thanked God that he was saved. So far so good. As said, I found the clothing part pretty quaint. It was (and I am certainly not trying to be funny here or insult) like something out of Little house on the prairie. There were a few younger girls there, probably in their late teens, with their hair tied up in a bun and definitely no make up. (Pretty girls don't need make up anyway.) The men wore black shoes, trousers with white shirts buttoned right to the top with no tie and a black waistcoat. Some were clean shaven - others sported beards.
After the hymn singing and testimony (although it had no details of how the young man was saved) the pastor (I assume) with his beard and black preaching coat said that they were going to pray. Again, the folk all knelt to pray, including the older ladies. We visitors just leaned forward a little in our seats and closed our eyes. There was silence for a few moments and then one of the older ladies prayed and asked God to show the lost their true condition to many hearty Amens! especially from one of the young ladies who was quite vocal throughout. After her short prayer, they resumed their seats again.
A group of the young people then gathered at the front to sing. To be honest, I thought that we were going to get some Americana type hymns. I knew "Amazing Grace" would come (it did) but I also anticipated "How firm a foundation" etc. I was surprised when they sang what seemed to me to be pretty modern stuff, including one about kneeling at an old fashioned altar and getting saved. I thought of some of my Twitter friends. The singing was good - a Capella - and pretty loud. Sung with feeling as the hymnbook would put it.
Then came the preaching of the word. It was pretty good, certainly interesting to listen to and with solid conviction. He took a theme of hearing the word of God. He preached, I suppose about 25 minutes (I didn't time it). Before the meeting had begun, I had visited the book table and took one of their magazines which talked about "The time of Restoration". They also described themselves as anti denominational and believe in entire sanctification on this earth. I thought I could see where all this was leading. I anticipated an appeal being made for all present - saved or unsaved - to join their group. There was no such appeal, although in their promotional literature, they believe that they (I assume they alone) are the visible body of believers whom God has on earth today. It also declares that they are "holy, happy, and awaiting all other true Christians to return to this one glorious fold from all the denominations where they have been scattered." They believe that Christ will return to find his bride all glorious and without wrinkle. Not bloodied and bruised in denominationalism.
When the 80 minute meeting was over with apologies that the hotel could not provide refreshments, we chatted for a few minutes before leaving to catch a bus back to the caravan park where I stay when evangelising in Dublin. They could not have been friendlier. They themselves did not raise any matters with me and I did not raise anything with them. I did (and do) wonder where they stand on those "true Christians" who never leave their denomination to join their group? Is it a test of the reality of any one's professed Christianity? If it is, then I attended a meeting conducted by a cult. If not, then I am glad. I don't know if any of my readers have ever come across this group. If you have, feel free to share your experiences in the comment box.
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