Legacy Institute is primarily the efforts of Leon and Gloria Sexton and their supporters. It claims to be a ministry as opposed to being a church. This article will mainly include quotes from Leon Sexton to give an idea of the work he feels needs to be done, with all of my comments (except the headings) being in italics.
The Sextons used to be involved with many of Herbert Armstrong's trips to southern Asia:
"Gloria and I first met the Abbot in the early 1970s when we visited the LA Thai Temple with our close Thai friend and my old teacher, Sawat Yingyuad. At that time the Abbot was called Phra Thepsopon which is a royal title for a high-ranking monk. We got to know him quite well over the years and a very close relationship between Wat Thai and Ambassador Foundation developed. When Mr. Herbert Armstrong started traveling and visiting heads of state again after a long hiatus because of his heart attack, it was the Abbot who made the call to arrange a meeting with King Bhumibol. And it was the Abbot who arranged a visit to Ambassador College by the Thai Buddhist Supreme Patriarch which led to our first overseas student project teaching Laotian refugees in Thailand" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, October 1, 2002).
"My first trip to Nepal was in 1984. At that time I was working as Asia liaison for Ambassador Foundation, and was sent to help set up Herbert W. Armstrongs visit with King Bhirendra and Queen Aishwarya" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, January 6, 2002).
Legacy Institute is Not a Church
"We want you to understand that Legacy Institute is not a church organization. We formed Legacy as a non-profit, charitable foundation and not a corporate church body. One of the founding principles of Legacy Institute is the firm belief that the Church, the ecclesia, the BODY OF CHRIST is a SPIRITUAL entity that transcends human church organizations. And when we say that the Church (for which Jesus is Head) is spiritual and not limited to a human corporate church organization, we really mean it! Therefore, we cooperate with fellowships organized into corporate bodies or otherwise, or specific lay persons or ministers who happen to be (or not be) members of one or another human organization. We cooperate, IF they demonstrate, by their fruits of obedience, the presence of the Holy Spirit and an humble attitude of serving all God's people, wherever they are found. We do this in a spirit of honest cooperation and brotherhood. We can only do this if we REALLY and TRULY believe Jesus is the TRUE Pastor General and God's TRUE and SPIRITUAL Church (ecclesia) is not limited to nor divided by human organizational lines" (Sexton, L. Newsletter June 15, 2001).
"We organized Legacy Institute as a charitable foundation and not a church" (Sexton L. Newsletter, August 21, 2003).
"Also, please continue to remember that Legacy Institute is not connected to any particular Church of God corporate group. Therefore, we receive no salary or regular financial support from any church organization. We must rely on donations from brethren of all fellowships to continue our Work among the Karen as well as the other projects we are doing in Asia" (Sexton, L. Newsletter February 25, 2000).
Seeks to Serve Those Not Being Served
"A year ago I visited Sri Lanka for the first time in many years. At that time there were a number of COG families not attending weekly Sabbath or going to the Feasts. So we considered holding a Legacy Institute sponsored Feast of Tabernacles site this year for these scattered brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka. But after visiting and discussing this with several families, it is clear that this is not the best way that we can help the people there. Almost all the scattered families holding onto observance of the Sabbath and Holy Days have now started fellowshipping with either the LCG or PCG. Each of these organizations already provides a means to participate in the Feast of Tabernacles and it is clear that a Legacy sponsored site is not needed in Sri Lanka. Legacy Institute seeks to help those lost sheep and scattered brethren who are not already being served by others" (Sexton, L. Newsletter April 2, 2002).
Teach the Right Way
"I remember an audience Herbert W. Armstrong once had with King Bhumibol in the early 1980s. Mr. Armstrong was telling the king that Ambassador College had only a small student body. He told the king that Ambassador was interested in teaching a quality way of life and not interested in just getting many students. The king commented, 'It is better to teach 10 the right way than teach 1000 the wrong way. The 10 will then be able to teach hundreds the right way. The 1000 perhaps can teach many more, but it will be the wrong way' " (Sexton, L. Newsletter December 23, 2001).
"Our job is not to control these people. Nor is it to try to bring them under the umbrella of one of our existing Western church organizations. God has already given them His Holy Spirit and is working with them. He is doing this without (and sometimes, in spite of) the control of any Western parent church. Our job is to SUPPORT what God is ALREADY doing! Our goal is to EMPOWER them to carry out the Work among their own people. We do this by teaching, encouraging and providing seed money for evangelistic efforts and any immediate physical daily bread needs they might have. We will not seek to CONTROL them. We do not seek to legitimize them. We are their brothers, not their fathers" (Sexton, L. Newsletter July 22, 1001).
"Legacy Institute's philosophy allows for various individuals or Church of God fellowships to cooperate together, in a spirit of one body and Christian fellowship, to acheive a common goal--without the 'baggage' of our traditional idea of how corporate church organizations should operate" (Sexton L. Newsletter, August 21, 2003).
The last portion of that statement suggests that L. Sexton does not believe that governance, such as HWA taught as one of the 18 restored truths, is a legacy that should be continued. Clearly he considers that legacy to be baggage.
Do the Work First
"The mentality of some is that they cant do anything without western money and leadership. I have actually heard one man tell me, If you provide me with funding, I can then preach the Gospel in such and such a place. I told him, First go and preach the Truth of God. God will then provide you with what you need. What Gods people in Asia need is encouragement, education and empowerment. God will take it from there; raise up leadership from their own peoples, and provide for their needs" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, February 21, 2002).
Claims to Spread the True Gospel
"our job to spread the True Gospel message in Myanmar is not getting any easier" (Sexton, L. Newsletter August 31, 2002).
"India needs the True Gospel message of the soon coming Kingdom of God that will break this evil cycle of ignorance, poverty and hopelessness" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, April 5, 2002).
"Jesus said, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work. Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? Behold. I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are ripe already to harvest. John 4:34-35. These words keep ringing loud and clear in the heads of those of us who are committed to finishing the Work of God. But we cant do it alone" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, May 31, 2002).
Work Not Finished
"Many times over the past decade and several times just recently, I have heard comments that go something like this, the Work is finished, now our job is to prepare the bride or the Preaching of the Gospel was completed by Herbert Armstrong. There are a number of problems with these statements, not least of which is that they cannot be substantiated by scripture. When is our job complete? Certainly not with the passing of one man. Mr. Armstrong did a powerful work under the inspiration of God, but God didnt stop The Work with his death (now nearly 16 years ago!) Jesus is still head of the Church, and in Matthew 28, He said we are to take the Gospel to ALL the world as a witness. He also said He would be with us always until the END OF THIS AGE! This age did not end in 1986. That means our job is not yet finished!" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, October 14, 2001).I absolutely agree with Leon Sexton on this point. For a documented article, please read, Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority?
Church Should be Mostly Gentile
"Paul is saying that Israel is not saved until the second coming of Jesus! We are currently in the time the Bible calls the blindness of Jacob with only a very few (remnant) elected from Israel. This blindness will end when the fullness of the Gentiles is achieved (come in) and Jesus returns to Jerusalem. Well, if this is true and the Bible says that it is WHERE ARE ALL THE GENTILES?! Brethren, we are living in the time of the fullness of the Gentiles and NOT the calling of Israel. The Church of God should be full of Gentile peoples, with only a minority of members hailing from the modern Israelitish nations of northwestern Europe, Britain and America! So where are they? Where are all the Gentiles? Look around. There can be only one answer. There is still a GREAT HARVEST to be done before Christ returns. It is the harvest of the Gentiles. Why havent we seen this harvest over the past 70 years? Because it has been our modus operandi to concentrate all our resources on preaching the Gospel to the Western Israelitish nations, with only a few meager crumbs falling to the Gentile world. But that is going to change. I believe with all my heart that The Holy Spirit is moving powerfully to stir up the hearts and minds of those He is calling in the Gentile world. There are THOUSANDS out there starved for the TRUTH of Gods Word. And once the gates are opened, a FLOOD will come pouring forth into the Body of Christ! That is why I am writing with such urgency. There is no time to be wasted. God is not going to wait for us to get our acts together. He WILL do according to His will. We can either get onboard, or be left behind. We have been given the precious TRUTH of Gods Word. It is now time for us to pass it along to our Gentile brothers and sisters. Our course is clear. An important part of our job is to prepare laborers for Gods fields, so that the TRUE Gospel of the Kingdom of God will be preached to ALL the world, not just to the West. So, we WILL continue our Leadership Training Programs. We WILL increase our efforts translating the TRUTH into languages such as Burmese, Hindi, Kachin, Karen, Portuguese, Tamil, Tegalu, Thai and other languages. We WILL start our school in Northern Thailand to train young people from Asian countries for the Gospel Work. And we WILL continue to ask all of you for your urgent and heartfelt prayers that Almighty God supplies our every need and directs us every inch of the way! We cannot hesitate. We cannot wait. We are compelled to go forward through the doors God has opened for us" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, October 14, 2001).
Gentiles to be Raised Up to Carry On the Work"In my last letter, I talked with you about the implications of Romans 11: 25-27, and how the Holy Spirit is becoming very active among the Gentile peoples scattered in remote parts of the world. Because of these passages in Romans, I foresee that the next great effort of Gods Work will be the calling of many thousands of Gentile people into His Church just before the return of Jesus. There are more out there who have not bowed the knee to Baal than we ever imagined! God has not been sleeping. Over the past 10 years, while, sadly, many have turned away from God and others have been busy re-organizing or involved in church wars, God is raising up servants among the Gentiles to carry on His Work around the globe. And Romans 9-11 tells us there is more to come!...Romans 11:26-27 is clear. Israel is now blind and will not be saved until the full number of the Gentiles comes in (NIV translation) and Jesus returns to establish His Government in Zion" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, November 2, 2001).
I support calling Gentiles, and have several articles at the COGwriter site directed specifically towards them. And I recognize that going to these lands is important (various COG groups have ministers in these areas, plus I have personally visited them sometimes). However, I do not believe that the emphasis away from the warning message to Israel is appropriate which is what Leon Sexton seems to me to be doing.
Here are some COGwriter articles directed towards Gentiles:
The Bible and the Arab World In History and Prophecy The Bible discusses the origins of the Arab world and discusses the Middle East in prophecy. What is ahead for the Middle East and those who follow Islam?
India, Its Biblical Past and Future, Part I: Any Witness? The Bible discusses the origins of those of Indian heritage and discusses some of the witness to them.
China, Its Biblical Past and Future, Part 1: Genesis and Chinese Characters This article provides information showing that the Chinese peoples must have known about various accounts in the Book of Genesis up until their dispersion after the Tower of Babel.
China, Its Biblical Past and Future, Part 2: The Sabbath and Some of God's Witness in China When did Christianity first come to China? And is there early evidence that they observed the seventh day sabbath?
China, Its Biblical Past and Future, Part 3: China in Prophecy What is Ahead for China? What will happen to nearly all the Chinese?
Japan, Its Biblical Past and Future, Part 1: Any Witness? This is a draft of an in-process article about Japan. Have they had any witness?
Japan, Its Biblical Past and Future, Part 2: Prophecy Japan in prophecy. What is prophesied for Japan. Will God save the Japanese?
Islands and Bible Prophecy What's ahead for islands? What does the Bible prophesy about them?
Focus on Gentile Sheep
"Who are the sheep Jesus refers to time and again? And what is this harvest He keeps talking about? We will have to examine Jesus own words. He tells us who He considers HIS SHEEP to be! Please read JOHN 10:1-16. It seems probable Jesus was talking about Israel when He talks about the sheep of the first sheepfold. But who are the OTHER SEEP WHO ARE NOT OF THIS FOLD which He refers to? Why the Gentiles, of course! The Bible is filled with prophecies concerning the conversion of the Gentiles" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, December 22, 2002).
"All of us experienced the same phenomenon, seeing Gods Holy Spirit at work changing hearts and minds in people who were discovering the True God for the first time. Dont ask me to explain where all this is going. I am still trying to digest it all myself! But if I am reading my Bible correctly (and I believe I am), this is not the first time pagan Gentiles have been called by God to receive salvation. In Acts 13, the Apostle Paul and Barnabas were asked to preach about Jesus in the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia. When the Jews left the synagogue to return to their homes, the Gentiles besought that the Gospel might be preached to them the next Sabbath. The next Sabbath came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God (verse 44.) Then the Jewish leaders, out of envy, spoke against what Paul was preaching. Now lets look at what happened next. Verses 46-49: Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. I never understood the power of these words in the book of Acts until now. After the Feast in Madras this year, I understand better what was taking place then, and what looks like is taking place again today. Is the arm of God shortened that He cannot call people directly out of the pagan religions in this sick world? Can God only call people who come from what we understand to be Israelitish nations today? Will God only call Gentiles with Christian backgrounds? Must they speak the English language before God can call them? I keep reminding myself that God is far, far greater than the box we keep trying to put Him in" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, October 1, 2002).
Israel was Warned First
"Now am I saying it was wrong to concentrate on the Israelitish nations? NO! I believe God wanted us to first go to Israel. And many seeds from that Work did fall among the Gentiles. But it is becoming more and more clear to me that God is shifting gears. The True Gospel message is now being taken directly to the Gentile nations of the earth. The Holy Spirit of God is showing us the way by calling thousands of Gentiles to the Truth, APART FROM OUR EFFORTS and affiliation with our CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS, even as God showed Peter His Will by causing the Holy Spirit to fall on the Roman Centurion Cornelius and all his household (see Acts 10.)" (Sexton, L. Newsletter November 2, 2001).
Persecution from the World's 'Christians'
"Brethren from around the world have donated funds to purchase land and construct a bamboo church meeting hall, but that construction has been temporarily halted. The reason is that the local Baptist and Catholic leaders successfully petitioned the town authorities to pass a law that only Baptist and Catholic church buildings can now be built. This was done specifically to thwart the activities of the Church of God in Na Mawn. Persecution comes in many forms and from many sources. This is a Buddhist country under the rule of a military dictatorship, but the persecution is coming from other Christian groups! So much for the ALL CHRISTIANS ARE BROTHERS idea. This has NEVER been the case. There has been more blood spilled by Christians at the hands of other Christians than I want to even think about. Anyone who has had any knowledge at all about the Christian history of this world knows this" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, May 27, 2000).
Changed the Order of Passover Services
Leon Sexton wrote:
The eating of these two symbols – the bread and the red wine – make up the main part of the Passover ceremony.
In addition, there is the foot-washing. Some Christian denominations choose to leave this out. But the Holy Bible includes it for a reason. In fact, the Church of God fellowship I was trained in traditionally put the foot-washing at the beginning of the Passover ceremony. However, the Apostle John puts it at the end (Sexton, T. Leon. Legacy Letter. February 24, 2007. Copyright © Legacy Institute 2007).
I have looked at John's account and believe that Legacy has inaccurately made a change--he also really should look at Luke's account as well as the other Gospel writers.
CBCG's Fred Coulter looked into this earlier and noted:
Some confusion has arisen over the time of footwashing due to a mistranslation of John 13:2...A correct translation of this Greek phrase is "while supper is taking place"...In The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, Berry uses the translation "supper taking place"...it is obvious that the time being designated was at or near the beginning of the Passover meal. John 13:2 could also be translated in the following manner: "As supper was beginning..." (Coulter F. The Christian Passover. York Publishing, Hollister (CA), 1999, pp. 242-243).
Sexton's Moved to Thailand to Carry on a Legacy
"Gloria and I are in Texas. We have decided to sell our house here and move lock, stock and barrel as they say, to Thailand. There is just too much work to be done in Asia. This decision was long (and hard) in coming, but I think we were headed this way all along...Some have felt that, with the death of Herbert W. Armstrong and the breakup of the WCG, God was pretty much finished with preaching the Gospel, or that the blood, sweat and tears shed were all for naught. Nothing could be further from the truth! What I have experienced over the past several years is telling me that God is just getting started! The fields are ripe with harvest. The Holy Spirit is more active now than ever before. We believe that we have been given a Legacy. We are compelled to carry on" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, July 22, 2001).
"Service in the 3rd World is not glamorous. It means hard work and sacrifice. God has blessed us with adequate western style housing for our volunteers (even flush toilets!), but little can be done about the heat, humidity, bugs and living in a culture that is so different from what we are used to at home. While in Thailand, all volunteers must adjust to the society in which God has placed us IF we want to make a real difference" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, December 22, 2002).
Progress of Legacy in Thailand
"I am very encouraged by the progress of Gods Work here in Thailand. It has come a long way since I first started teaching 2 Karen families in my one room apartment in Bangkok nearly 6 years ago. The first year we started to do Gods Work through Legacy Institute, I baptized 2 persons. The second year I baptized 2 more. The third year we baptized 3. Now this year so far we have baptized 4 and, if God wills it, we will baptize at least 3 more by Passover! We have formed 3 house churches with 38 adults (including our 10 Legacy students) and 29 children in attendance. We have a taped sermon program that is translated into the Karen language and sent to COG members and prospective members in refugee camps all along the ThailandBurma border" (Sexton, L. Newsletter, February 28, 2003).
I personally admire the dedication of the Sextons and others who have gone to southern Asia to proclaim the Gospel. Leon Sexton's position that the Gentiles are the main ones to be called now and to carry on the Work now differs from other COG groups (as well as the Bible).
I personally pray regularly that the Gospel message will reach more in Asia, and have even, to a very small degree, done some of that personally. Also, it has been our family's practice to often visit Gentile areas, where we hope that we have somewhat helped the objective of proclaiming the Good News to the Gentiles. I mainly disagree with Legacy on the points of governance (being part of the major work of the Philadelphia era to get the Gospel out is more effective overall than being separate) and that the Gentile portion of the work should be the COG's main priority--but I do agree that it should be a priority--and have worked to support that as well.
B. Thiel, 2003/2007 2012 0909
Back to home page