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Recovery Gifts

 

Recovery Gifts - Diabolic Alcoholic

 

 

Alcoholics and Addicts – Helping Them the Old School Way

With God’s Power: Compassionate, Sustained, Personal Action

 

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Page 4

Unfortunately, A.A.’s Big Book and some recent literature says I can’t be cured. And many an old-timer has been frightened of admitting that Bill’s statement about “no cure” contradicts his own frequent statements, and those of the pioneers. One man recently wrote me and said that the “no cure” statement appeared in the first 164 pages of the Big Book—the basic text of A.A. He said Bill’s statement that the Lord had cured him appeared on page 191 and therefore didn’t have the authority that the first statement carried. The man said he had stopped fighting over such ideas and was content to call himself “recovered.” He added that if that meant he was “cured,” then he was cured. And why not.

 

The body of the basic text declares that our sanity has returned, that God has restored us to sanity, and that we are neither cocky nor afraid. It says that’s the miracle of our participation in and practice of the Twelve Steps of recovery. Bill Wilson declared in a taped interview with T. Henry and Clarace Williams in 1954 that, “Only God Almighty could have cured us of this lunacy.” Right on, Bill! At least you were consistent in 1954 with what you wrote in 1939. Yet Bill had also written in 1939 the “ominous warning” that we are never cured and only have a “daily reprieve” conditioned on the maintenance of our spiritual condition—whatever that means. Later Conference Approved literature insists that statements by our founders that they were cured and statements by others such as trustee Frank Amos were misleading and that A.A. no longer uses the terms “cure,” “reformed,” and “ex-alcoholic” (See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, p. 136. Compare pages 129 [“cured”], 130 [“reformed”], p. 134 [“reformed alcoholics,” “ex-alcoholics”], p. 135 [“cures”]). I use those terms freely and proudly both in describing our history and in describing my victory. And I believe this attempted revision of fact and history by some un-named, employed staff person at A.A. in the late 1970’s is unpardonable. Please therefore put me on the list of those who are cured, as confirmed by those who were there in 1938, rather than refuted by someone who was paid to write otherwise in a book published in 1980.

 

This is not to say that my “anecdotal” statements about my cure are irrefutable, but they do coincide totally with A.A. history. Worse, occasionally someone phones or emails me telling me I have an ego problem when I say that I have been cured; that I am arrogant in going against A.A.’s written dogma that there is no cure; and that I am hurting the fellowship when I say the “higher power” and “spirituality” language is doctrinal, and pure nonsense.” Their vociferous and heated condemnations really ignore A.A.’s Tenth Step suggestion that “love and tolerance are our code.”

 

Change

 

Oxford Group writers dumped the expression “conversion” and replaced it with “change;” and I have heard or seen many Oxford Group activists say that a person has “changed” through using the Oxford Group life-changing program consisting of the Five C’s, the Four Absolutes, Quiet Time, Restitution, Surrender, believing in God and His plan and the necessity for obeying it. Their stated formula is, “Sin is the problem. Jesus Christ is the cure. And Miracle is the result.” But their miracle has been explained as a spiritual awakening, a spiritual experience, and God-consciousness. In other words, the Oxford Group settled for “change.” And the many of them that I have met, communicated with, and spoken to seemed to me to be leading exemplary lives and be very much interested in their very unlikely offshoot—Alcoholics Anonymous.

In later years, Alcoholics Anonymous writings also dumped “conversion.” They substituted a “spiritual experience.” Then they substituted “spiritual awakening.” And finally, in an explanatory appendix, they settled primarily for a “personality change sufficient to overcome the disease of alcoholism.”

 

The Bible is filled with talk about the necessity for change. The problem is that it is not talking about a mere spiritual awakening, spiritual experience, religious experience, or personality change. The Biblical change has been called “conversion.” It has been called “born again.” It has been called “saved.” It has been called being “sealed” with the promised Holy Spirit. The “changed” people—born again of God’s spirit—are specifically called saints (Ephesians 1:1), sons of God (1 John 3:2), children of God (1 John 5:2), brothers of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:11), Christians (Acts 11:26). and followers of the Way (Acts 9:2; 24:14). There is, therefore, a whale of a lot of difference between the characterizations in the Bible of those that were reborn and “changed” and those said to be “changed” in the Oxford Group and those in present-day Alcoholics Anonymous. Worse, several recent historical writers have claimed that A.A. is about “not-god-ness,” about “spirituality, but not religion,” about a higher power, and about belief in Something, Somebody, or nothing at all.

 

A.A. no longer involves conversion or salvation, these specious speculators claim; nothing but some kind of change called “Something changes.” Lacking is the pioneer A.A. assurance of Jesus that he was the Way and the Truth and the Life; that no man comes to the Father but by Him; that he came to bring a more than abundant life; and that those who believed on Him would have everlasting life, receive the power of the Holy Spirit, receive remission of sins past, could be forgiven for present and future sins, was healed, could cast out devil spirits, and would do greater things than he, Jesus, had done. This is the change which occurs when you have Christ in you, the hope of glory, as the Bible puts it.

 

The “change” of the Oxford Group was based on a theory of “world-changing” through “life changing.” The “change” of present-day A.A. has been defined as merely a “personality change.” The “change” of the Bible and of early A.A. was one of confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9).. And of thereby receiving salvation, the gift of the Holy Spirit with all the power, forgiveness of sin, healing, abundant life, and ever-lasting life that go with it. In a word, a “change” for a believing Christian and for an early A.A. was becoming a new man in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17); knowing he would be changed and receive a new spiritual body on the Lord’s return; and already had everlasting life that overcomes and triumphs over the devil’s power of death. Interestingly, even Bill Wilson accepted these ideas in his youth, in his decision for Christ at the altar of the Rescue Mission, and in his first messages that the Lord had cured him.

 

Change and Freedom

 

Jesus and God’s own Word spoke of a completely different kind of change and change process.  Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). God’s Word said: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). Jesus said: “No man can come too me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). He said: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. . . . He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him’ (John 3:16, 17, 36). He said: “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. . . . Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. . . . If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:28, 31-32, 36). He said: “The thief (devil) cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). He said: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). He said: “Verily verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:12-13). He said: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. . . . I have given them thy word. . . Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:3, 14, 17).

 

I repeat some of these words: If ye continue in my word, ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Then note what Paul wrote: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).

 

Change and Power From On High

 

Before he was parted from his apostles and those that were with them, and was carried up into heaven, Jesus told them: “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). In the first chapter of the Book of Acts of the Apostles, these additional remarks of Jesus are recorded: “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water: but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. . . . But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:4-5, 8). Having been filled with the Holy Ghost on Pentecost, Peter explained: “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear. . . . Then Peter said unto them, Repent [change], and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:33, 38). Explaining what trust in Christ meant, Paul said: “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise. . . . And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. . . . Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or thin, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 1:12-13, 19; 3:20). In Philippians, Paul added: “For it is God which worketh in you to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). In Colossians, Paul explained the mystery which had been hidden from ages and from generations but was then and there made manifest to his saints: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). And then: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

 

Change and Obedience to God’s Commandments

 

Believers do not get a free ticket just by their new birth alone. Jesus said: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Irael; The Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31). 1 John explains: “Whoseover believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:1-5). 1 John provided the reward for obedience: “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22).

 

Change by Putting on the Mind of Christ

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. To the praise  of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Ephesians 1:3-8).

 

“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3:16-17). “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. . . . For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:14, 16).

 

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).

 

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof: (Romans 13:14). “That you put off concerning the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lust; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:12-13).

 

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. . . . Lie not one to another seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: . .  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:1-2, 9-10, 16).

 

Change Accompanied with Prosperity, Health, Forgiveness, and Victory

 

Anne Smith was enthusiastic about the words in 3 John 2, and she quoted them in her journal: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 2). AAs were particularly fond of the Book of James which told them: “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he hath committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:14-16). The Book of Acts is filled with examples of how the born again followers of Jesus were able to heal, raise from the dead and cast out devil spirits, just as Jesus had promised that they could do. 1 John assured the continuing availability of Jesus Christ: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. . . . My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 1:9; 2:1). “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:16). “But thanks be to God, which giveth  us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Change When You Ask, Listen, Search, Study, Learn, Believe, and Bless:

 

The Good Book has some simple suggestions that can be applied by any AA, Christian or other person and in any fellowship, religious or otherwise. James 1 suggests that if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally. Without that resource, any Christian helper is just relying on the fallible opinions and practices of men. Romans suggests that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, but points out that nothing will be heard if the Word is not preached. When an issue comes up, follow the practices of those whom Acts describes as listeners in Berea who received the Word with all readiness of mind, then searched the Scriptures whether those things were so; therefore many believed. Timothy was enjoined by Paul to study to show himself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Those who don’t learn and believe are missing the point. Jesus said to his questioners that they did err not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. Hebrews urges that in order to please God, one must believe that he is and that he rewards those who diligently seek him. And those who operate with those principles under their belt and do their best to help others will surely bless those who want to listen, follow directions, and be healed.

 

Is There Anything Else?

 

Changed Behavior and Action

 

Whether one is a member of the Lions Club, the Boy Scouts, the Presbyterian Church, the Democratic Party, the CYO, the Army, the Navy, or the Marines, there is lots of room for asking how that person comports himself regardless of his membership or affiliation. What does he say? How does he say it? What is he thinking? What is his underlying mental objective? What does he do? How much is he walking the talk? I mention these organizations generally because all have worthy statements of purpose, and all are expected to produce something that glorifies that purpose. With our Heavenly Father, it is a similar challenge—but it has to do with what He says, not what man claims He says. His Word states that He wants all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. This does not merely mean selling light bulbs for the blind, or helping an old lady across the street, or singing the doxology, or showing up for a vote, or capably pointing a plane, a tank, a ship, or a rifle at some enemy. It means conducting yourself in such a way that the real purpose is effectively served. And with our Heavenly Father, it is similar. But the purpose is doing His Will in fellowship with Him.

 

The Good Fruit from the Good Tree Analogy

 

There is strong evidence that our Creator had a hand in the origins, practices, and development of Alcoholics Anonymous. There is strong evidence that early AAs sought to study His Word, do His will, and love and serve those people who wanted to come to Him through His son and really needed and sought His help. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught: “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit” (Matthew 7:17).

 

For sure, most of us came into A.A. loaded with corruption—physical, mental, moral, emotional, and clearly evident. But both Dr. Bob and Bill W. proclaimed that the Sermon on the Mount contained the underlying philosophy of A.A. It seemed to be their objective to plant a good tree with the expectation of its bearing good fruit. If and when the tree is corrupt, the fruit will be corrupt.

 

Good Trees and Good Fruit Defined by the Good Book

 

It is not far-fetched to look at the Bible, the prayers, the literature, the Quiet Times, and the work with others that transpired in early A.A. and conclude that the Fellowship was seeking to produce a lot more than a dry drunk. Now what might that be? Well, for one thing, Dr. Bob said the pioneers were all broke. Even so, he and Anne shared to the uttermost their home, their meager food servings, their shelter, and their love. Why? I believe they clearly planted a good tree based on the basic ideas of the Good Book. Dr. Bob’s son wrote in the Foreword to my title The Good Book and The Big Book that “God’s Big Book was the frame of reference in our home.” That tells me they were working with a tree that was good, and that good fruit was an object. The Bible study, prayers, guidance, reading, work with others, church, and religious comradeship were not simply an effort to force abstinence on unwilling sick people. These ideas came straight from what they called the “Good Book.” And the Good Book promised all the things here discussed and a good deal more. It promised health. It promised forgiveness. It promised prosperity. It promised an abundant life. It promised power from on high. It told of the price that was paid for enablement. And it offered everlasting life to those who believed.

 

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