HISTORY and TIMES of THE KINGDOM
Victor Abram Letters
For the better part of the era in which I grew up, the fifties and sixties, the Kingdom's leader, Mr. Victor Abram, made it a point most every week to send to the faithful a weekly letter of "inspiration". It is my understanding that in most Kingdom homes, including ours, this letter was included at some point during the week in our daily devotions. I still can remember sitting and listening, or pretending to listen, to those interminably boring diatribes. I know that both the author and my parents meant well, but I could have gotten more spiritual light, inspiration and nurture from a long walk through our woods (or for that matter, just watching traffic) than to have listened to fear laden, paranoid dangling participles and guilt-ridden run on sentences for 20 minutes at a time. I think the reason why we have not until now posted any of these letters is, in part, due to the sub-conscious desire not to ever go there again. But they were a very common and consistent part of my exposure to the Kingdom, as I suspect they were to other young members of my generation as well.
One other thing. My mother always insisted as soon as the letter was finished and we had meditated appropriately long enough on those seeringly inspirational messages, that the letter be torn to small pieces before placed into the waste paper basket. When I asked why we always tore it up before tossing it, she replied that it was to prevent others from reading it. This never made any sense to me. If this letter was of such importance and of paramount spiritual value, than who would possibly care or mind if some poor misguided, spiritually deprived dump-picker should stumble onto this little gem at the municipal landfill? (it really was a dump back then though, not the environmentally correct "transfer station", "recycling center" or "landfill" of today) Wouldn't we be sharing our spiritual Sandfordian insights with the world, this world whose covering we were supposed to be removing? At which point my father would say, " Just tear it up and throw it away, Reggie, and don't give us a hard time."
Our first "letter" is actually one of his last, if not THE last. It is a talk Mr. Abram gave into a cassette tape to be replayed to the congregation at one of the last feasts before his death in 1977. The "letter" here is actually the transcription of that talk. The onslaught of the cancer had evidently made him too weak to appear in person at the Fairwood sanctuary to deliver it in person, so he taped the message as he felt able. I will not attempt to analyze it for the reader, but let you draw your own conclusions.
Good morning, everyone !
We are already well started in the observance of the last day of this great Feast to Jehovah. Certainly it has proved to be a great Feast. God Himself, by His Spirit, has been here in a remarkable way. Even though I have presented myself among you little, I have recognized from reports and from what I have been connected with that truly God has shown Himself, answered our prayers, and encouraged us to press on.
I am coming to you this morning by way of the tape recording, as it seems to be the best way for me to communicate and at the same time conserve my strength so as to be able to do it at all. This time I have turned it over to Joseph (Wakeman) to manage, and he will, at his discretion, stop the recording and call your attention to something special or call for prayer or whatever is necessary to make a good meeting. It will not be simply to break things up but just to keep us alive.
I do trust that I will be able to say what God wants me to say so that I will have properly discharged my responsibility to you as your leader during this Feast.
We want to be sure that we close this Feast as a company of worshipful believers. He seeketh such as worship Him in spirit and in truth, and in order to bring true worship to the holy God we have to be helped continually in our faith - to really believe Him, and so our relationship with Him is maintained on the right basis.
Probably we better stop right here and pray for God's blessing on this service, that the words I utter may convey to you what I want and that we will, without interference from foul powers, find ourselves geared up to God and one another, so that as we go from this Feast we will go on into His will. Lead them, Joseph, in prayer. Then I recommend that you sing #375 in Warrior Songs, Preach the Gospel.
This is an action hymn, and when we have had a concentrated series of meetings we have all come face to face with various issues that call for action on our part, that is, we have got to put things into practice that we have heard. More than that, as children of God, we have got to pass on the good things of God to others. There is a great deal in this hymn that covers the whole spectrum of what it means to tell the good tidings, but it also brings out the idea of action. There are some points here that I want to emphasize specially before I get done,
I think that what I have to say to you could be divided into two areas. I am very sorry that I don't have my thoughts any better organized than I have. I wanted very much to have another talk with you before you go, I had in mind the preparation of this recording, and yet I seem to have all kinds of opposition to whatever I set out to do. It has been very difficult for me to really get down to it to utter the words.
I think that the first part I am interested in getting across to you would be tied in with that thought of the right kind of action on our part in these days in which we live. I think, if I remember correctly, the keynote thought for the Feast was to be drawn from those words in the book of Revelation which speak of the suddenness with which God deals with this Babylonish world that has forsaken Him and run after materialism.
It speaks of Babylon and of the fact that in "one hour" the downfall will take place. The sudden sweeping away of the monstrous world system won't take the Almighty long to accomplish.
In our consideration of the outpouring of God's wrath on the earth and of the coming of the King, Who certainly is coming, we don't seek to have any spirit of gloating over the fact that everything we are opposed to is going down. We simply choose to be one hundred per cent in gear with God and God's thoughts and God's ways in winding up the affairs of this age. This calls for intelligent understanding of what God has said in the Bible.
I rejoice in what I gathered was a great uplift to You in the talk our brother Robert Sweet gave you in magnifying the Word of God. We can't do that any too much. Actually that is the point for all of us in our action - to be so sure of what God has said that everything we think or do or say is an indication of just where we stand on these things in relationship to God.
Jesus had many things to say in talks to the people and in His teaching of His disciples some of which was very clearly applied to certain given areas as He spoke. Other things that He had to say have multiple applications as we go along that we only see as we proceed through life.
He certainly meant something particular when He said, "Let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay," or in other words, when you say "no" mean "no" and when You Say "Yes" mean "yes". Don't talk in such a way as to leave somebody who is listening uncertain as to what you are thinking or what you are meaning by what you have to say.
That is one of my special points today - that we need to seek God to enable us, each one, to make sure that in our conversations, in our communications with others we never leave a question in anybody's mind as to where we stand as far as the Bible is concerned and as far as loyalty to God is concerned and our relationship to Jesus Christ and so forth and so on.
It is possible to be spiritual cowards. When we face so much opposition we can get tired and try to put up our defenses in such a way as, to protect ourselves from attacks. I don't think that He calls for us to unnecessarily stick our necks out in inviting opposition, but I certainly don't want there to be any mistake in anybody's mind as to whose side I am on in any of these issues that confront us continually in the world.
A minister or a pastor or a teacher, one who is called and appointed to minister to others has perhaps a greater responsibility in this connection than just everybody. But certainly every parent has a special responsibility inasmuch as they have a special position in the family, Every husband has a special responsibility as he is appointed to something special. And as we are all called individually to be believers we all have a responsibility to make sure that in our communicating, we don't double talk in such a way as to leave the issue clouded or to leave ourselves actually uncommitted.
There may be times along the way when there are areas of uncertainty that we haven't gotten through yet to know all of God's way and to know all of the application of His Word. But it must never be because there is any question as to where our loyalty lies.
There is quite a bit in the Bible that deals with what I am referring to here, and I will call your attention to some of the Scriptures. Jeremiah 15:19 gives us an example of what God calls for from those who are speaking for Him. "If thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth." That is the responsibility of that priest.
In Ezekiel you read of the wrong action on the part of the priests, Ezekiel 22:26, "Her priests . . . have made no distinction between the holy and the common neither have they caused men to discern between the Unclean and the clean. This was completely wrong for priests to minister in such a way that the people to whom they were ministering were left in the dark as to God's feelings about anything.
We read again in Ezekiel 41:23 of the conditions during the millennium when things are straightened out and what they ought to be in the land. And they", that is, the priests, "shall teach my people the difference between the unclean and the clean," In other words, there is to be no fooling, teaching must be straight, words uttered be to the point. There must be a clear distinction made so that people understand and are guided in the way. What a change we would have in the land if we had that going on !
It is interesting to notice right here, even though it isn't a point, I am trying to make a lot of right now, that in Leviticus, 10th chapter, 9th and 10th verses, the priests were to drink no wine or strong drink so that their mind would be clear in making a distinction between the holy and the common. In other words if they are drunk, they have taken on a load of alcohol you can't be sure that they will minister straight. How many pulpits that would empty today, were it applied.
You remember the language used concerning Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount, where the people were much startled because (Matthew 7:29) He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Then a little further, in John, you get the reason why "For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God. We could dodge out of this and say, well, Im not a scribe, Im not a priest, Im not a minister so this doesnt apply to me. I think it applies to everyone of us because, as we noted in the hymn we sang,, it is each of our business to preach the Gospel. And the last thought in the last verse is, Speak as if the Lord were speaking.
It is marvelous how quickly the atmosphere can be cleared if somebody loyal to God speaks up without any equivocation, speaks clearly for God. There may be many people within the sound of his voice that secretly agree and wish that somebody had the gumption to speak up, who are glad to quickly take hold, yet they lack leadership. Of course they shouldn't be cowards. At the same time there is a chance for you and me to clear the atmosphere wherever we are by our clarity in declaring ourselves for God, for right.
Some people will refrain from speaking because, they say, well, I can't talk, I don't have much education. Yet under certain circumstances you will find them talking like a windmill.
It isn't a matter of whether you have had a lot of training in public speaking. If you have something to say for God you are going to say it. And we better have something to say for God or we might get mistaken for being one of these who belong to the devil.
They marveled at Jesus, see John 7:15. "The Jews therefore marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" Well, He had the Holy Ghost on Him, that is why He could speak. If you have the Holy Ghost on you, you can say what God wants you to say and it will be heard.
When you are dealing with spiritual things there is so much about faith and there is so much about God that seems mysterious that a person is tempted to feel you can't be sure about anything. That is not the attitude He wants us to take.
It is quite interesting to notice that John in just his epistles declared 41 times "we know". He didn't say, we think, we imagine, but we just "know". And Paul, in his writings had this to say 93 times.
Decent people are glad to have somebody say something that they are convinced of. As I said before, it clears the air. If there is anything we need today it is to have the air cleared from the miasma of lying propaganda that lies like thick clouds everywhere and is being added to continually.
We aren't talking about any smart aleck, I know it all, talk. We are not suggesting bombastic self assertion. We are simply talking about the simple, straightforward expression of loyalty to God. What I am talking about is something like what we read in the book of Job, something Elihu had to say when he addressed Job after his so called friends had run out of words. This is what Elihu said, "I have yet somewhat to say on God's behalf." He is saying, I've got something to say for God. If these gentlemen are done with their rambling, and if you are willing to stop your talking and ranting around and listen, I've got something to say just for God.
is what we want - people that want to talk for God and can't stand it to not see God
vindicated. They can't endure letting the thing go without clearly defining the issue on
After all, where does the Bible come from? See 2 Peter 1:21, "But men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit." As a result you have the Bible. You can rightfully say, thus saith Jehovah, even though the words were uttered by a man, because that man was moved by the Holy Ghost in what he said and the result was the Holy Bible, God's Word.
I hope you won't take this lightly. I hope that you will be caused to sense to some extent how important it is in keeping our souls clear, in maintaining our identification with God and right that we open our mouths on the right occasion in letting it be known where we stand, without fear and without favor.
The battle lines are being drawn and they will be drawn clearer, and we want the ring of truth to come from our lips - something that rings true to God every time, on every issue, without foolishly making trouble for ourselves, still so loyal to God that we don't hold back just for the sake of saving our skins.
It is interesting to note what Luke had to say when he wrote out his version of the Gospel for his friend. See Luke 1:3 & 4, where he says to his friend, "It seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught." Luke knew something that Theophilus had not had the opportunity to know so well. Evidently Theophilus was a believer and Luke wanted to share with him what he knew so that he too would be properly instructed as to the facts concerning the ministry of Jesus Christ.
That ought to be the ambition of all of us. Wherever we have learned anything from God, and we have, we ought to be interested in passing on so other people can know what we know. There should be no pride, no smart aleck about it, but just simply speaking for God the truth as we know it to be from our experience, which means there is plenty for us to say and do that will be constructive and helpful to others all the time and everywhere.
Now I recommend that you stop right here and pray that God will enable us to go from this Feast and in our contact with others speak as if the Lord were speaking, see that we are not double tongued, uncertain as to what we believe and uncertain in expressing it so that we leave other people confused. We should rather, in humbly knowing the truth, express what God has made real to us in such a way as to help somebody else find their feet settling onto a rock instead of being left to be buffeted by the storms of lying propaganda that are everywhere which we can do our part in countering.
Prayer here in God's house, under these circumstances will go a long way in helping us be equipped for the battle when we go home and are more or less alone in carrying on the thing that we have committed ourselves to and that we want to be identified with.
Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth," so you don't have to apologize for having something to speak positively about. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." If you know some truth then you ought to want to pass it on to somebody else, so they too can be free. And 'in this way we are showing the unselfish spirit that denies ourselves and reaches out to cooperate with the Lord.
We have gone over what was on one side of this cassette recording and now I have something of a little different nature that I want to leave with you, and I am particularly. concerned that you get what I have to say here.
I am glad that you can hear my voice and not simply read the words in a letter even though you will have both, as this will likewise be mimeographed so you can all have a copy . . I hope that you will all recognize the importance and necessity of your reading what I have to say or hearing it and reporting on it either to yourself or to somebody else in such a way that you don't make it say something that I didn't say or make a meaning out of it that I didn't put in it. I don't think that the language I use is generally so ambiguous that nobody can know what I really mean. If I am trying to bring out various sides of a thing I can bring them out, but I don't think that I am saying one thing and meaning something else so that you are justified in saying that I said something that I didn't say.
Please remember right here that I love you all very much. I am deeply moved at the love you have expressed for me, at the wholesouled and continuing support that you are giving and that I am expecting you to continue to give as I fight my way on through. There is no denying the fact that it has been a revelation to me what you have manifested in your hearts toward me.
There is nothing in what I am wanting to say now that is seeking to curry any favor. I am only seeking to continue to be true to what I understand to be your interests and my responsibility to you. We have other men taking care of the management of the business of the Kingdom, but I hope you understand that it is crystal clear with all of them that nobody is superceding my position. I continue to be general overseer of the affairs of the movement, and you continue to look to me as being your leader.
I am sure it has been said already scores, if not hundreds of times in various places and under varying circumstances that it is very evident that things have changed in the Kingdom. And we may have heard such expressions as being thankful that certain "standards" have been changed. This may have been referred to with a great deal of relief, satisfaction. This is what I want to talk about a little.
Times do change, customs change, civilization itself changes. Practices and habits of men change. It is inevitable that it should be so. But God Almighty said, "I am Jehovah, I change not." There are some things that are unchangeable at the same time that there are those things which do change. When we talk about change we need to be clear in our minds what we mean by change. What is it really that changes? If God can't change then His law can't change, for His law is simply an expression of Himself.
It may be that man's comprehension of God changes and that as a result it would appear God has changed, but that is not fact. God can't change and consequently His standards, and mind you I said His standards, of right and wrong can't change. The application of the laws of God to the lives of human beings is something that is set up by men themselves. Men conclude such and such a thing that God has said applies thus and thus to such and such a situation. On this is built a code, a moral code or a code of ethics or however you want to express it.
Changing times bring out different phases of human reactions and it is necessary for there to be a reconsideration of man's conclusions in dealing with what God has said.
What I am wanting to say, and perhaps I am belaboring it too much, is that God has not changed, His law has not changed, the meaning of its application to you and me has not changed. We are still responsible to obey the commandments of God as delivered to us in the Holy Scriptures. We are still responsible to read what it has to say as being directly applicable to us. We are still responsible to bow our wills to God's will whether we think it is convenient or not or whether it is popular or not.
I confess that I have recognized the danger at least and probably the existence of the fact, to some degree, of men, human beings mixing in their own interpretations in the application of Scripture. We all have likes and dislikes. We all have certain ways of looking at things and they may result in different people seeing things from a different standpoint, a different light. Yet among the people themselves one may be fully as honest as another, as totally intending to be as true to God as another, and seem to come up with a completely different interpretation or application to some Scripture.
All I have sought to do is to make sure that I didn't put my opinion into the application of truth that governs the activities of people on the earth into the picture so much that I was adding something that I had no right to add that the Scripture really did not say.
There are many people who would like to have things spelled out. They don't know the Spirit of God very well, they don't want to bother to try to figure everything out and so they say, just tell me what to do and I'll do it and let it go at that. But that is putting a terrible amount of responsibility on a minister, pastor, teacher and so forth. Actually no one has any right to go beyond what the Scripture says in establishing practices.
I have not changed any standards. I have recognized that I had no right to bear down so hard on my dislike for television that it made it so I was practically prohibiting or seemed to be prohibiting its use in Kingdom homes, although of course everybody had them and everybody knew it. I have recognized I don't have any right to deal with it that way. I may feel concern, but that is as far as I have a right to go on it. That I have faithfully done and I will continue to do.
There are many issues that seem to require some kind of teaching beyond the language of Scripture in order to get any true up-to-date application. Of course the make-up of people being as it is, there are those who are perfectly willing and glad to do that kind of thing, make that kind of judgment, and there are others that want nothing to do with it.
We have this business about the length of women's hair. Certainly nobody can deny the fact that the Scripture plainly says it's a shame for a woman to have short hair, or to be "shorn" I think is the word that's used. At least there is enough said plainly and clearly to cause any God-fearing woman to realize that in the early church and to the apostle Paul it was an issue that was paid some attention to as applied to the women in the church.
The same goes for the wearing of jewelry by Christian women. As far as I am concerned I could wish that I had never heard of such a thing. I have concluded that it is not my business to go around with a tape measure checking the length of every woman's hair, or even spend my time trying to notice particularly, although of course I can't help but notice. But women and men both, the Scripture stands as it reads. I can't change it, I don't want to change it. You can't change it. You can't change whatever is God's standard.
Here is where the bind comes in. Someone says, well we all have the Spirit of God and He will teach us, He will guide us all, we don't have to be told by the ministers. Yes, I agree to a certain extent, but then I ask you, why does the Scripture also say, "Obey them that have the rule over you," if those over you are not expected to tell you anything to do or not to do? Why does it refer to them as watching for your souls if they are not in a peculiar position in finding out what pleases God and pointing you to it? Why is that kind of language used if there isn't something that is the responsibility of the minister, the pastor, the teacher in guiding the church in the practice of the Bible? Please consider it from that standpoint, for I have to.
Now as I know my soul, the only change that I have made is to draw back from any arbitrary, artificial, dogmatic interpretation or application of unclear Scriptures, but rather to seek God to cause you all to want to please God so much that you will pay attention to everything that has been said, everything that has been pointed out, and that you yourselves will recognize the responsibility of getting things right and thus conduct yourselves accordingly.
This applies to the whole spectrum of all the various things that you might call part of what has been referred to as our standards.
I have become sick and tired of the use of the word "standard" by lots of people simply because it seemed as though they were making a religion out of seeming to be very accurate as the Pharisees were in paying attention to jots and tittles of things. They had forgotten all about the heart depth of the love of Jesus and the power of the Gospel to change. I felt it was sickening to have our religion, the heart religion that we have in the Kingdom dealt with in such a way that that is all the standard meant.
I do believe that if we love God as we profess to love Him, and I think we do, then He will guide us into the paths of righteousness, into the proper application of what God has commanded and will save us from slopping over and getting into either ditch.
He will cause us to conduct ourselves in such a way as to be true to Him, not set ourselves up as holier than thou, but to maintain our separation, maintain the distinction at the same time that we have hearts that can reach out and help and understand anybody anywhere and deal with them in such a way that they will want the kind of religion that we have.
"Owe no man anything" is still the law of God. Even though financial dealings are set up in such a way that a person is hiring money and if they keep up their payments you might say they aren't technically in debt, I still feel as though in my loyalty to the people that I love I ought to point out to them the folly of paying twice or three times as much for something by buying it on time than as though they lived within their means.
I think it is right for me to point out the fact that buying things on time as you are encouraged to do is living a lie. You are living on your future income and you are giving the impression that you have something that you don't have. I think it is a kindness of a man of God to point such things out to his people. But he has to keep his head clear as to the place where the commandment of God reaches and when you are getting into something that is more a matter for the application of common sense.
Again, I don't know whether I am belaboring this too much or not. What I am seeking to do, and this is the one thing I want you to get out of this, I am warning you that in anything I have said or done, if it may have been interpreted by somebody as my having changed the standard, I deny it.
I warn you women, you are going to be judged according to what that Scripture means about the length of your hair. You're going to be judged as to how you deal with that about excessive piling on of ornamentation. The Scripture reads plainly, "Obey them that have the rule over you." You are responsible to obey your ministers, your pastors and so forth as well as you children are responsible to obey your parents and you wives are responsible to be in subjection to your husbands.
Victor Abram can't lightly change the law of God. He has no desire nor inclination to do so. He certainly is not interested in making it hard for anybody in a world that is hard enough to live in anyway. But it is going to be a sight harder to live through eternity in God's disfavor than to deny ourselves a few things we need to today to keep in His favor, even though it does make us a little odd in the eyes of the world.
I know there are other angles, other areas where much might be said, but it would be the same thing I'd say about them. There is a place for each of us to be led by the Spirit, and I am the last one who is going to say that everybody has got to be led to do exactly the same thing under the same circumstances. You be led by the Spirit and trust God to lead everybody else. But make sure that you are led by the Spirit of God and not by your own desire or your neighbor's ideas or anything else.
I want to see His face with joy. I want to see you presented faultless in exceeding joy.
I think we have very little time left and I know the pressure is going to be tremendous on us all before we get done, but I believe His grace is sufficient to take us through, His understanding is infinite. We will find Him caring very much and if we will keep ourselves humble under His hand He'll see to it that we all make it victoriously.
Now don't let anything throw a cloud over this last glorious day of the Feast. Let us humbly and simply trust God to guide us all into the truth, commit ourselves to His good Spirit, and know that He will faithfully see us through. For the King is coming, we are going to be on hand to welcome Him and He Who has been with us all the years of the movement up til now will see us through the rest of the way victoriously.
My deep heart love is with you all, trusting that God will make you feel and sense what you each ought to get out, of what I have had to say here and which I am leaving with you as a warning.
I will close this with a prayer
Dear Father, will You take these words that I have uttered on this tape in hand Yourself and by Your Spirit make the application that should be made of them to the hearts of the people of God so that we will all be held in the middle of the road of righteousness, of Godliness, of holiness, separating the precious from the vile, the holy from the common, keeping ourselves separate from the ungodliness of an ungodly world, yet so conducting ourselves as to make the religion of Jesus Christ attractive to others.
I pray that we will all be enabled to live the Bible to avoid empty profession and vain theory and to make each of ours a life of doing . Cause us each one, I pray, to reject the carnal desire to have Scripture so applied as to make it easy on our flesh, yet leaving us unprepared for the Day when we see His face.
We must remember that to many who have claimed to be on His side He will say, "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." May we all greet Him with joy.
Make us and keep us all holy, happy, humble, loving children of the wonderfully good God you are to us.
To this end may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with each of you. Amen!