Grace and peace to all from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
My name is Michael Welhous, my wife's name is Josephine, and we have three kids - Jonathan (10), Francesca (8), and Sarah (2). We have a dog named Shadow, and a cat named Max. (Max Welhous. Get it? We thought it was cute.) I have been in law enforcement now for about 10 years, and have great opportunity to be a living witness.
Anyway, my wife and I met almost 14 years ago when we both worked in New York City. We got married in '87 and moved out to Long Island, New York in '88. Throughout our sojourning we have been to many different churches. I was brought up Catholic, and my wife, Baptist. When we got married, my wife wanted to get married in a Baptist church, and at the time it didn't matter to me because I thought all of these different denominations were basically all the same thing anyway. How wrong I was.
While going to a Baptist church in Westbury, L.I., I was one day drawn to go up to the altar and "accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior." That was the first day of the beginning of my new life, but unfortunately, because of the false doctrine of "unconditional" eternal salvation, I didn't grow for many years.
Because of our different religious backgrounds, Josephine and I decided to use only the Bible as our credo. If it was done in Scripture we'll do it. If it was commanded, we'll do it. If it wasn't stated, we won't state it, etc.
As time went on, we began to increase the amount of
time we read Scripture. This led to many life changing discoveries. One day we began to
notice that everyone in the Book of Acts, was getting baptized in "the name of Jesus
Christ." We had both been baptized in "the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit," but no one in Scripture was. We began to realize that Jesus'
command in Matthew chapter 28, had deeper meaning. We also now realized that the trinity
doctrine was false. We both decided to get baptized "in the name of Jesus
Many felt we were splitting hairs. We can't blame them - at first, we thought we were splitting hairs! Nonetheless, if Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, a perfect and sinless man, humbled himself unto an immersion in symbol of repentance, who were we to decide for ourselves that it was not important. Even John the Baptists' disciples were baptized again when they learned that it was the One coming after John, that is , Jesus, whom they were to believe on. Many say, "What's in a name?" Well, our active faith in this "name" catapulted us into a renewed relationship with God, and we have never been the same since. "What's in a name?" Everything!
Not too long after this, we began to see what the Scriptures actually said about our salvation in comparison to the doctrine of "unconditional" salvation, or as it is sometimes referred to as "once saved always saved." We searched and searched for a church that taught baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and that did not teach the doctrines of "the trinity" or "once saved always saved." This proved to be futile.
One day, a very good friend of mine at work (a JW) began sharing with me that there is a name in the Scriptures that has been covered up. I was stunned. I shared this with my wife. She was stunned. As soon as possible, we went out in hot pursuit of a good Old Testament Interlinear. We found The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament, by Kohlenberger. It was such a shock to us that we felt we just had to start telling everyone we knew, but the shock magnified. As it turned out, many people already knew, but simply did not care. Others accepted that Yehowah's name appears almost 7,000 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, but they too felt it was unimportant.
We had attended "congregational" churches, non-denominational Christian churches, Oneness Pentecostal churches, and now we felt we had to "check out" a Kingdom Hall. We found the discourse very uplifting, but there were two very major problems. In a 50 minute discourse, we didn't hear Jesus' name even once! We went from one extreme to the other. Mainstream "Christians" didn't seem to care about Jehovah God's glorious name, and the JW's claimed to have a love for the saving name of Jesus, but never mentioned it, at least in the particular discourse we went to. The other problem was, that immediately after the discourse, the congregation began their Watchtower study. I certainly agree with studying certain things for background information, but these congregational external book studies were obviously replacing actual Scripture study.
We continued to maintain ties with various Society members, but as we began to convincingly refute certain doctrines using only Scripture, while they could only defend their stand with Watchtower articles, they eventually fled, and we have not seen nor heard from them since. It is very sad, because they are really very nice people, and we enjoyed talking with them.
My wife and I, until this very day, have decided to accept only the apostles' doctrine (i.e., Jehovah's Good News which Jesus declared, and which was handed down to the apostles, and they in turn declared). We have come to the realization that Jesus' true church is spiritual. It is composed of brothers and sisters who have such a love for God, his Son, and the truth, that it doesn't matter what they used to believe. What matters is the truth, even if what they believed, they believed all of their lives. They would rather admit being wrong, and adjust their thinking and living accordingly, in order to get more in line with the truth. It is not any one organization or any one denomination. The true church is non-denominational. It is gradually revealing itself as a body composed of many members, with one Head (Christ), whose only Head is Jehovah. They are striving to live and love exactly as Christ lived and loved. They are trying to reveal the living Christ to the world today.
As Jo and I freed ourselves from the doctrines of men, and adhered only to the very words of our Lord Jesus and his apostles, we began to see his words being fulfilled more and more in our lives. Suddenly we were able to disown ourselves. Suddenly we were carrying our own stakes. Suddenly we began to see Jesus being revealed in each other, and even in our two older children. Since we decided to truly walk in the footsteps of our Lord, we began to examine everything we did. For example, birthdays were celebrated in Jesus' day, yet he nor his apostles are seen to celebrate theirs, so we no longer celebrate. This led to an investigation of Christmas, which we now no longer celebrate. Then there came an investigation of Easter, New Years, Valentine's Day, etc. We have voluntarily removed ourselves as much as we possibly can, from all things "polluted by idols." This we do, not because any given organization tells us to, but because we are trying to mirror Jesus in our lives. Some may have been "coerced" into abstaining from many of these holidays, but this is clearly not correct because, just as with all issues of our Christian walk, participation in various holidays is a personal heart issue for each of us.
During the course of our Bible studies, Jo and I decided to get on the internet for the purpose of deeper biblical research. Jehovah led me to The Friends of the Nazarene web site. As we began to read the publications, we felt, and still obviously feel, that what is presented is done so in the proper spirit of Christ. There seems to be an honest effort to simply provide biblical facts, rather than the philosophical and theosophical beliefs of men. We have not found any one circle of believers more in line with biblical truth than our "Friends." There are, of course, a few things that we all will not completely see eye to eye on until Revelations chapter 21 is fulfilled, but it is incredibly uplifting to find brothers and sisters who are making effort to proclaim and live the true gospel: There is one true God, Jehovah; and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus our Lord. He is the Head. We are the body. It is encouraging to know that there are others who understand who God is and who understand that if we do not adhere to the Head (his Son) and continue to lift up the Head, we will perish, for it has pleased God that the Life be in his Son, and the Son should be honored even as we honor the Father.
Thank you for allowing me to share my testimony. I tend to type as I talk - a lot! Sorry!!
One last thing, my wife and I are praying now that the sisters in Christ increase communication with each other, as we men have. The order that God has established in his Church concerning men and women is understood and is clearly important, but the need for sharing in order to edify and be edified is also. The women are equally important members of the body, and it is imperative to the growth of the whole body that they communicate.
Paul said to Titus, "But speak thou the things which befit the sound doctrine: that aged men be temperate, grave, sober minded, sound in faith, in love, in patience: The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sober-minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." (Titus 2:1-5, KJV)
"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you." (1 Thessalonians 3:12, NIV)
Yours in Messiah Jesus,