I have been going through your articles and was inspired by your teachings; the firm stands that you have taken on the Lord and to walk only in the Bible's teaching and its ways and not to sway with customs and traditions. I believe, the Lord has kept this promise for you "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" - Isaiah 30:21 [KJV], all these years. I praise God for that.
Now, I would like you to address a few questions which have been in my mind for many years. [I would like to thank you because today my doubts about head covering were cleared after reading the article in your web site]. There a few things, which I need some clarifications.
1. The traditional Malayalam Pentecostal missions have administered or created a custom that men and women ought to wear white attire to services. To my knowledge, there are various Pentecostal missions in India, and each of them has a slight variation on this. Some wear complete white, some wear white shirts and black trousers, some say any light color shirt is fine but preferably white. Ladies should also wear white, if not light-colored attire. When asked, the ministers (pastors and preachers) cite Revelation 4:4 "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold." They say that we enact or rehearse the worship that will happen in heaven after our resurrection, so we are to wear white.
Should people attending service wear only white?
2. They also forbid or teach that women should not wear any ornaments of gold or any jewelry at all. Women from India wear heavy jewelry normally, but I do not see ladies wearing heavy jewelry to church services. The verses they cite are I Timothy 2:9-10 and I Peter 3:3-4. My point is that they have completely misunderstood these verses, rather than taking the literal meaning that women should not wear any jewelry, I believe Paul and Peter are talking about modest clothing and not to show their richness but to show the richness in Holy Spirit. I believe they do not forbid women to wear modest jewelry.
3. They also say that men are not supposed to grow mustache or beard, for growing mustache or beard is as if one is rebelling against God. A preacher visiting from India went on to say that people with a mustache and beard will not enter God's kingdom. When asked about great preachers and servants of God from different parts of the world preaching with mustache and beard, their answer is "we do not want to talk about others, you obey God." I have no problem with having a clean shave, but I do not understand why they have to insist so much on such silly things. I do not have a long beard or terrorizing mustache but a normal mustache without any beard.
The reason, that I have mentioned earlier that I attend the Malayalam service is because all these above customs I see only in the Malayalam Pentecostal churches. I am not sure if these customs are followed in other denominations. These churches claim to be rooted in God's word, but, honestly, if all these churches are rooted in the word, I don't understand why there are so many denominations amongst the Pentecostal churches.
I hope and pray that the Lord will speak to you that you will be able to write back in the light of the Scriptures. I would also appreciate it if you can give some suggestions when encountering such people. I am praying for God's grace that I should be able to handle such preachers and teachings in the future. Please keep us in your prayer.
I pray that the Lord should give you more strength to work for Him more than the former days. Amen.
Does God require the wearing of white to worship services?
The people you are talking with do not fully acknowledge that Revelation is a book written in symbols. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants -- things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John" (Revelation 1:1). The word "signified" in English translates the Greek word for figurative or symbolic language. Revelation is a book that teaches God's people mostly through word pictures where the various elements of the picture represent concepts.
In this case, the white garments have meaning, which God Himself translates for us. "Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, 'Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?' And I said to him, 'Sir, you know.' So he said to me, 'These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb'" (Revelation 7:13-14). If nothing else should alert the reader that this is symbolic, the fact that these robes became white by being washed in blood should catch your notice. Blood doesn't make things white. There is symbolism going on here.
To a Christian, the meaning should be clear. We are washed in baptism. "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). It is through baptism that we come into contact figuratively with the death of Christ and his blood. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4). Therefore, the ones seen were Christians who had gone through great persecution and how had purified their lives, removing the stain of sin from them, through the blood of Jesus Christ. "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (I John 1:7).
Each time you read about white garments in Revelation, you are supposed to think about people who have purified themselves from sin through the blood of Jesus. It is not a physical garment for when we are in heaven, the physical world will be gone (II Peter 3:10). It is a spiritual concept about the character of the people.
Is it wrong to wear jewelry?
Both I Timothy 2:9-10 and I Peter 3:3-4 are being misunderstood because the people miss a Greek idiom that is being used. A full explanation can be found in the outline "Biblical Figures of Speech: Ellipsis." Suffice it to say that when you have a "not" followed by a "but" where a common verb is shared but not always stated, then a Greek speaker means that what follows the "not" is insignificant when compared to the importance of what follows the "but." Another explanation, one that doesn't delve into the depths of grammar, can be found in "Why isn't I Timothy 2:9 taken literally?"
Is it wrong to have facial hair?
See "Where does the Bible say facial hair is wrong?" There is no law forbidding a mustache or beard. What you have are people who are adding to God's word despite the warning, "Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar" (Proverbs 30:6).
Given that the group you are worshiping with does not hold respect for God and His teachings, though they claim otherwise, won't it make sense to seek out a congregation of God's people who are dedicated to following God's ways? "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:1-3).