The Testimony of Donnie Warren
My story began long ago when I was a very young child. My mother and sister were strong Pentecostal believers, and took me to church with them when I was about three or four years old. We went to a little brush arbor ( upright poles with cedar tops laid on cross poles for a roof, and open all around the sides ) out in the woods, near a little town called Oak Hill Texas. There was an old rock store, a school, and a few houses strung out along the highway with Joe Tanner's blacksmith shop in the midst of it all.
I would play with the preacher's daughter on the sawdust floor, between the benches where the members sat to hear the fire and damnation sermon, as brother Donnie (whom I was named after ) wiped the sweat from his brow, and paced back and forth in front of the congregation with open bible in his hand. Sometimes folks would jump up with their hands held high in the air, and testify how the Lord had saved them, and speak in tongues, shout all over the place, then fall flat on their backs "under the power," and lay in the sawdust trembling until they regained control of themselves, got up, and returned to their seats.
When the service was over they would mill around and talk about what a "good time" they all had, then go home until the next meeting. Dad leaned toward the Baptist church, but would often go with us to the Pentecostal meetings, though he didn't get caught up in them like mom did. Well, I grew up in this religious atmosphere and believed Christ was my Saviour, but was always afraid I might not be good enough to be worthy of salvation because I was always sinning no matter how hard I tried not to. They kept telling me my salvation was a gift from God in His grace, then went on to tell me what I had to do to qualify for it. They didn't say it just like that, but that's what it all came down to in the end. God had done all HE could do, and now the rest was all up to me, whether I made it or not!
Needless to say, I was not very big on going to church a lot and "giving my heart to the Lord" then finding I couldn't live up to His standards. That meant going to hell for sure, so I tried not to think about it as much as I could. The years passed and I left that church far behind me and looked at many others, but found pretty much the same results in the end, earn salvation by being good, or wind up in hell. That was the bottom line every where I looked.
So I gave up on churches and took to studying my bible, and trying to find what God really said instead of what some preacher said He said. This was somewhat confusing, because all the while I studied the Word, God was becoming more, and more my Father, and Christ my Saviour deep inside me, in spite of the fact that I still kept sinning and repenting again, and again. Then one night I heard Garner Ted Armstrong and The World Tomorrow on the radio, and he grabbed my attention like a magnet grabs a nail. Thus began my journey to the truth, and a year later my wife and I were baptized into the Worldwide Church of God.
We learned a lot of truth in this church and were happy. We thought we had found the "true church" at last. This lasted about six or seven years, and then things began to fall apart in the church at the very top of the leadership at "headquarters." I began to hear things that had been kept covered up for years, and they were not good things! A fellow member and close friend got a booklet on tithing written by a minister who had resigned from the church, and it was a real eye opener for us. In addition to this, we began to learn more truth in our private bible studies, and it sure was NOT in agreement with church doctrine. After much research and careful consideration of what we had learned, we decided to leave the church and study at home with our friends. Thus began several years of scripture study and research with the help of a concordance and Greek and Hebrew dictionaries.
Then my friend ordered some books from the Concordant Publishing Concern. The first one I read was "The Mystery of The Gospel" by A.E. Knoch, and I knew at once that I had a pot of pure gold in my hands!! The trouble was, it contained knowledge so deep in the things of God that I had a hard time convincing myself that I was really reading what I thought I was reading!!!! But God opened my understanding to really see the precious truth in this little book, and when I finished it I sat in stunned awe for some time, and kept saying to myself "These things ARE true, they really are TRUE!!!!" Then I read "God's Eonian Purpose" by Adlai Loudy and It ALL came together for me. God's purpose to become ALL in all began to shine with a glory that I had never even imagined before!! Then came AE Knoch's "The Purpose of Evil And The Judgments Of God" and I saw God AS GOD for the first time in my life, and NOTHING has ever been the same again. At last I saw it was Christ and me, then after a while it was more of Christ and less of me. Then finally, God opened my eyes all the way, and I saw that it's ALL OF CHRIST and NONE of me! ALL is out of God, through God, and For God, praise His Holy name! And so I come at last to the present, where our God and Father and the beloved Son of His love, grow ever greater, and ever brighter in my life with each passing day. Amen!!!!
This is the outline of my long and weary journey from the apostasy of traditional theology, to the glorious liberty of God's precious truth, and a new creation in Christ Jesus. May God's grace be with you, and His peace fill your heart with rest that all the fiery darts of Satan can never penetrate!
Your brother in Christ, Donnie Warren