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12/13/06 p.m. Since various ones (ECG, CGPFK, RCG) have their own version of the identity of the 144,000, perhaps this might be a good time to report what Herbert Armstrong taught on this subject:
But just as we come to the time for the terrible DAY OF THE LORD to strike, an angel appears holding back the four winds, (Rev. 7:1-3) which are the first four Trumpet plagues (Revelation 8:7-12) of the Day of the Lord.
They are held back until the 144,000 are sealed, and the great innumerable multitude of ALL NATIONS turn to God and His protection.
The 144,000 are 12,000 from each of the literal tribes of Israel. (Rev. 7:4) They are sealed by the Holy Spirit. IN their foreheads, and it is THE FATHER'S NAME that is sealed there. (Rev. 14:1) The TIME of this sealing, then, is yet future - after the Tribulation, after the heavenly signs, after the SIGN of Christ's coming appears in heaven (Armstrong HW. The key to the Book of Revelation. WCG, 1972, p. 10).
God's Wrath Restrained
But, as we begin the 7th chapter of the Book of Revelation, we find that the Day OF THE Eternal-- the time of these terrible plagues God shall send--is to be held up temporarily, until a certain other event of God's doing takes place. Notice the introduction of chapter 7 of this greatest prophecy ever written:
"And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was give tto hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel" (Rev. 7:1-4).
Now consider carefully a few important points. First, the preceding words show that the judgments of the Day OF THE Lord have come at this exact juncture. But God holds it back. Notice that just as the Day OF THE Lord IS about to strike, John sees in his vision four angels, holding back the four winds which are about to blow on the earth. You will see, a little later, that these winds blow the seven TRUMPETS which are to follow. These, of course, are symbols, but they represent things this world will find are very real. But they are restrained until the SERVANTS OF God are sealed in their foreheads. First to be sealed are the 144,000.
WHO Are the 144,000?
You have probably heard many interpretations. They are all in error. Men are unable to interpret this prophecy. The first thing to notice is that the TIME of the sealing of this 144,000 is yet in the future--it is after the Great Tribulation and the heavenly SIGNS, and just before the plagues of God's Judgments! It has not happened yet!
Second, this prophecy is plain, and means just what it says-- 144,000 of the 12 tribes of Israel--12,000 of each tribe. Where are they today? Where are the lost ten tribes?
But these 144,000 are not all! "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands... And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:9, 13-14) (Armstrong HW. The Book of Revelation Unveiled at last!. WCG, 1972, pp. 33-35).
UCG just posted the following about its COE meeting of 12/11/06:
The General Conference is scheduled for May 5 to 7, 2007. The business meeting will take place on May 6. The conference, once again this year, will be at the Holiday Inn Eastgate...
The task force report recommended three potential themes for the conference. After consideration of all three, the Council unanimously agreed on the theme "Build the House." The introduction to this theme in the task force report provides an overview:
This theme encompasses the basic idea of everything the Church should be doing:
• Become the spiritual temple the Father has envisioned.
• Prepare a people to contribute to the building of the temple.
• Become a unified and cohesive structure.
• Build with a sense of purpose and zeal.
The Council expressed its approval of the task force's work. Mr. Register will present a completed plan for the annual GCE at the February-March Council meetings...
One illustration of the Church's current stable condition is that this is the first year at which it is likely that there will be no proposed amendments to the Constitution or Bylaws on the ballot. Given the changes in the Church and its current condition, the question arises, "Is it necessary to continue to have an annual meeting to conduct the business of the General Conference of Elders?" With current methodology and technology it is no longer necessary for the GCE to have a conference to conduct its annual business meeting.
Mr. Dick stated that this is a huge question, opening a number of other issues and questions that would need to be seriously considered. For example, if the GCE meeting were held less frequently and if funds equal to the current cost of the conference were set aside each year, how long would it take to fund attendance for all the elders? And, he posed, is that even feasible?
Mr. Dick distributed a memo that emphasized that the Council should keep in mind the needs and concerns of the elders in any discussion of change to scheduling of the GCE meetings. He stated, for example, that if the GCE were to meet less frequently, it would be important to explain what contact and communication would take place during the year in lieu of the annual meeting...
Mr. Walker, chairman of the Council's Doctrine Committee, introduced a new process for reviewing study papers submitted on doctrine and prophecy. He explained that there was a need early in UCG's history for doctrinal study papers to clearly establish the Church's teaching and position. While a few papers are still submitted from time to time by members and elders on various subjects, the essential study papers have now been completed, and we do not anticipate the need for many study papers in the future.
The new process makes the work of the Doctrine Committee an appellate function rather than an administrative function.
It is biblically appropriate that UCG continue to look into zeal as an issue (Revelation 3:14-20). Regarding the GCE meeting, it is my understanding that this is required by UCG's founding documents.
12/12/06 p.m. From UCG's COE meeting:
Mr. Dick introduced Clyde Kilough to lead the discussion. In light of the positive income in excess of our budget, Mr. Kilough laid out to the Council the administration's plans for additional expenditures in this current fiscal year in the areas of Media and Communications Services and Ministerial Services. The operation managers met a few weeks ago to plan how they could best spend extra funds in the remainder of this fiscal year.
In the media area, we plan to invest over half a million dollars to increase our subscriber bases in several of our publications...
The total cost of the advertisements and the resulting fulfillment expenses would be $531,521.
In addition, Mr. Kilough proposed that slightly over $200,000 be added to the Ministerial Services budget, to be used primarily for the six-week training program for newly hired full-time ministers and extending Ministerial Development into several international areas. There would also be an increase in funding for Youth Corps projects. Mr. Kilough emphasized the value of providing young adult members with Youth Corps experience and service to help them grow in their commitment to serving the Church.
If the current income trend continues to the end of the current fiscal year (July 2007), the Church can invest the nearly three-quarters of a million dollars of these items and still have a sizable surplus.
Therefore, Mr. Kilough suggested that the next priority for use of the surplus would be to pay off the home office property. We are due to refinance the remaining 10 years of our mortgage, and we are very possibly going to be in a position to totally pay it off. Doing so would save approximately $400,000 in interest over the next 10 years, plus it would free up $156,000 in annual mortgage payments that could be channeled back into the budget.
Since UCG has been carrying a sizable surplus for a number of years, I thought that its leaders might propose spending some of it.
UCG also decided that the following questions are strategic issues that its COE members wish to address:
Summary of Strategic Issues:
• How to increase the percentage of income allocated to media?
• How do we provide an educated (future) ministry?
• How do we distinguish ourselves in a world full of gospel messengers?
• How do we retain our youth—those who are born to us into the Church?
• How do we involve, stimulate our young adults to stay involved?
• How do we present an arresting message?
UCG has been struggling with these types of issues since it formed in 1995.
12/12/06 a.m. USA Today reported:
Christmas, pagans and religious divergence
America prides itself in allowing, even demanding, freedom of religion — until that religion doesn’t feel like a religion. Neo-pagan Wiccas, for example. But the Christmas celebration is wrapped in pagan symbolism. So where does that leave us?
USA Today - Dec 10, 2006
Mary Zeiss Stange is a professor of women's studies and religion at Skidmore College. She also is a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors.
Have I just offended you? If you are a member of the American Family Association, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights or the Committee to Save Merry Christmas, I probably have...
Gone are the days when folks who worried about rampant materialism cautioned that it was time to "put Christ back into Christmas." Now it's time to put Christ back into Kmart. And so, as Wal-Mart spokeswoman Marisa Bluestone has bravely proclaimed, "This year, we're not afraid to say 'Merry Christmas.' " ...
Pagan symbolism Yet there is a deep, and seasonal, irony here — one that might come as a shock to the "Save Merry Christmas" crowd. For Christmas is, in its origins and its symbolism, perhaps the most pagan-inspired of all Christian holidays. Its dating derives from the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, which was determined by the winter solstice, that astronomical point in the year after which the periods of sunlight on Earth lengthen. And that's not all that contemporary Christians have in common with neo-pagans. Most of the popular symbols surrounding Christmas — evergreen trees and other greenery, mistletoe and holly, the Yule log, candles and bonfires and holiday lights, mystical spirits with the ability to fly and to enter and leave a house through its chimney, tricksters who treat or taunt little children, not to mention those elves — all derive from older, pre-Christian Europe.
These pagan-derived symbols and customs are precisely the elements of Christmas that Christian activists are pressing to preserve and promote, in venues such as Target and Macy's. Compounding the irony even further, these are the symbols that federal and state courts have determined make a holiday display sufficiently "secular" to warrant its construction on public property at taxpayer expense. All of which goes to illustrate what's wrong when any one religious group or government entity claims the ability to determine what constitutes "religion" in America...
An article of related possible interest may be What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?
12/11/06 a.m. In the current equivalent to the old WWN, WCG's Dan Rogers reports:
For the past several years, CAD has operated through ten district superintendents (DS's)...However, after discussions with many pastors, DS's, denominational leadership and the CAD staff, we have seen that a new structure is needed for our future. With that in mind, resources offered by CAD will soon begin to be delivered by two new teams—one focused on pastoral administration and the other on ministry development.
As CAD director at the denominational headquarters in Glendora, I will provide leadership, training, and oversight for the CAD teams, for pastors and other elders, and for our congregations and their related ministries. I will continue to work alongside Nancy Akers, Charles Albrecht, Susan Dick and Pat Shaw in the CAD office to coordinate administrative and development activities for pastors and congregations...
Pastoral administration will provide pastoral leaders with supervision and relational support through peer-level District Pastoral Networks. There will be 30 of these networks in the United States, each with about 10 Congregational Pastoral Leaders (who are senior pastors, pastoral team leaders or small group church leaders)...
Ministry developers will include me, Lorenzo Arroyo (who will also be a regional pastoral leader), Randy Bloom (who will also be Church Multiplication Ministries director), Ted Johnston (who will also be Generations Ministries director), and Curtis May (who will continue to be director of the Office of Reconciliation Ministry). Other existing DS’s will be making transitions. Bob Taylor will be retiring from employment as a DS but will continue to serve the denomination in various ways. Bob Persky has transitioned to the pastorate of the Richardson Grace Family Church in the Dallas, Texas, area and Al Barr has become the pastor of the Queens and Manhattan, New York, congregations.
WCG has made a variety of structural adjustments, and apparently this is another step along that line.
CGOM-UK's latest Mini-Study states:
Enoch is Dead
'...all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him' (Gen 5:24) 'These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth' (Hebrews 11:13) Some - certainly some Bible commentators - will challenge our title. Indeed the question: Where is Enoch is commonly asked by enquiring students. Careful study of the Scriptures, however, confirms the assertion: Enoch is indeed dead. ...first, though, who is Enoch? (Bible sceptics should leave now, unless you want to learn something.) He is described as 'the seventh from Adam' (Jude 14), and was born around six hundred and twenty-two years from Adam's creation. Enoch had the shortest life (365 years) of the pre-Flood patriarchs - though his son Methuselah had the longest (969 years). He is notable in that he 'walked with God' and, it is assumed, he was taken to Heaven. He was also, Jude tell us, a prophet who foretold events for the last days
...most Christians will cheer that Enoch has 'gone to Heaven' (along, it is believed, with Elijah). But is that what the Scriptures tell us? Notice that text in Hebrews: 'These all died in faith'. In v. 5 Enoch is listed in that number. So he died
Many do not understand that the Bible does not teach the pagan concept of the immortality of the soul, yet it does teach about resurrections. Two articles (found at the History of Early Christianity page) of related interest may be:
Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?
What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection?
12/10/06 a.m. This morning I noticed that CGG posted the following news item:
Terrorists rejoicing over new Iraq 'plan'
high level U.S. commission's recommendations for an eventual withdrawal from Iraq and for dialogue with Iran and Syria proves "Islamic resistance" works and America will ultimately be defeated, according to senior terrorist leaders interviewed by WND. The militants, from the largest Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, welcomed the policies outlined by the Iraq Study Group, which they claim recognizes Islam is the "new giant of the world."
Perhaps on a related note, this morning also I noticed that COGaic posted the following news item:
BERLIN, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called for more dramatic measures to be taken against Iran and declined to rule out a military attack against Tehran in an interview with Germany's Spiegel magazine.
Olmert criticised the international community's hesitation in dealing with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The West fears Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at developing nuclear weapons but Tehran denies this.
"I am anything but happy," Olmert was quoted as saying in an interview released ahead of publication on Sunday.
"I expect significantly more dramatic steps to be taken. Here is a leader who says openly that it is his aim to wipe Israel off the map. Israel is a member of the United Nations."
"That someone says such a thing these days is absolutely criminal."
When asked if he would not rule out a military strike against Tehran, Olmert replied: "I rule nothing out."
Since Iran will not be The Future King of the South, something is bound to happen to it.
12/09/06 a.m. UCG just posted the following:
We are deep into committee meetings today, preparing for the quarterly Council of Elders meeting that begins tomorrow afternoon, resumes Sunday morning and continues through Tuesday...
The Church’s base of U.S. coworkers and donors continues to rise at a nice pace. As of the end of November we have 8,482 donors (an 18 percent increase over last November) and 3,397 coworkers (a 13 percent increase)...
The month of December continues to be filled with conferences and meetings. So far in November and December we have conducted two regional workshops (Cincinnati and Portland); a regional pastors’ conference (Cincinnati); a United Youth Camps meeting (Cincinnati); a senior pastors’ conference (Cincinnati); and two continuing education seminars by ABC (Morton, Illinois, and Calgary, Alberta). So it has been a very busy time here in the office...
Of course, another activity that requires a great deal of cooperation and behind-the-scenes work is coming up in a couple of weeks, and that is the Winter Family Weekend. Currently this year is shaping up to be the largest we have ever seen for this activity. Mark Winner (pastor in Louisville, Kentucky) is coordinating the activities and based on registration and room blocks at the different hotels, he anticipates our numbers will be ahead of any previous year. This event is fast becoming more like a mini-Feast of Tabernacles and if the numbers hold up, this year will be larger than any Feast site we currently have.
The Winter Family Weekend, which according to some sources led to a departure of significant part of two UCG congregations when UCG allegedly opposed it, is now apparently a very big deal for UCG. Those that departed also hold a similar event at about the same time.
Last night, ICG's Mark Armstrong reported:
Obviously, Americans are not well informed enough to grasp the worldwide danger that is brewing in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the radical Islamic movement throughout the Middle East. There is a long term plan to destroy western culture and impose Islamic rule throughout the west! It is well documented, in the words of the terrorists themselves. Iran’s President threatened the “west” again this week. We must acknowledge their version of religion or “disappear”. He appears to revel in his brash threats, rarely letting more than a few days pass before issuing another statement more outrageous than the last.
A vast movement is afoot, setting the stage for the “King of the South” of Bible prophecy. Whether or not that turns out to be Iran, remains to be seen.
While I agree with most of what he wrote, we in LCG do not believe that Iran can be the King of the South. An article of related interest would be Is There a Future King of the South?.
12/08/06 a.m. CEG's Edwin Pope died at 5:15 pm last night. More information is available at the News of Those Once Affiliated with the Global Church of God.
Christianity Today reported the following about a current movie titled The Nativity Story (any bolding mine):
The film begins by quoting a prophecy, from the Book of Jeremiah, that is said to be troubling King Herod the Great (Ciarán Hinds). We then see Herod and his son Antipas (Alessandro Giuggioli) as they preside over the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem...
The movie then jumps back a year and then some to the beginning of the story, as the angel Gabriel (Alexander Siddig) appears to the priest Zechariah (Stanley Townsend) to tell him that his wife Elizabeth (Shohreh Aghdashloo) will have a son despite being well past the age of childbearing. Actually, Gabriel does not "appear" to Zechariah, as such; in one of the film's several minor deviations from the Bible, Gabriel reveals only his voice to Zechariah...
(The film imagines that the ancestors of Christ made and sold cheese, which kind of gives a new spin to that old Monty Python line, "Blessed are the cheesemakers!")
Here is where the tension between the film's ancient and modern sensibilities is at its most obvious...
There is also a tension of sorts in Mike Rich's screenplay, which oscillates between the need to be faithful to the biblical text, on the one hand, and the freedom to create dramatically compelling characters and scenes, on the other...
Of course, there isn't all that much information about the Nativity in the Bible to begin with, so the filmmakers have plenty of room in which to create a thematic and dramatic arc for their story—and many of their ideas are quite interesting...
But the real hero of this movie is Joseph...
For all the talk of "realism" and "authenticity" that has surrounded this film, it is still very much a family-friendly Christmas pageant, a Christmas crèche brought to theatrical life.
I believe that the purpose of the movie is to get people to think that celebrating Christmas is proper and to overlook that the celebration of Christ's birth (or any birth, please see the article on Birthdays) is not enjoined in the Bible as well as to overlook its pagan origins. Christmas was not even accepted by Roman Catholics until the fourth century--some of even their early leaders apparently opposed it. This is all documented in the article What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?.
Speaking of pagan origins, the following was recently in the news:
Wales: Llangollen celebrates pagan Christmas
ANCIENT pagan Welsh traditions will be recaptured by one Welsh town in its celebrations of Christmas this year.
There have been fears expressed by the church that Christmas is losing its status as a Christian holiday.
Father Christmas will parade through Llangollen in his original green outfit, worn before it was changed to red by Coca-Cola.
Other traditions being resurrected include a day of feasting on cheese on toast, predicting the future using treacle toffee or Taffy shapes, and an appearance by the lucky pagan Mari Llwyd...
Festival organiser Sarah Meade said, "Everything about the festive period is a hotch -potch of ancient pagan traditions and more modern marketing practices all spun together under the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ.
"It's only when you start looking a little deeper into what makes the Christmas we know and love so well that this starts to become apparent."
The town is also hosting a nativity play to go with the pagan celebrations.
Those interested in looking a little deeper into what makes the Christmas we know may wish to read the article What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?
12/07/06 a.m. ACD's Ken Westby reported:
Things don’t look good out there!
The former head of the Israeli Defense Forces said WW III has already begun and we’d better wake up to the fact. Whether already started or soon to start you be the judge. Regardless, just tracking the news is like seeing blackening storm clouds rolling across the horizon sending their lightening daggers randomly to earth, moving in mass steadily closer, the peals of thunder beginning to be heard.
The present crisis is bigger than the chaos in Iraq. It’s bigger than the apocalyptic threats of a nuclear armed Iran. It’s bigger than problems with N. Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, and the two-bit anti-USA dictator-nations of Central and South America. It’s bigger than an increasing hostile nationalistic Russia bent on empire again. It’s bigger than a resurgent communist China building a super military far beyond its defense needs. It’s bigger than worldwide terror and militant Islam set on world domination. It’s bigger than the accelerating moral decay of the West, a spineless Europe, and inept politicians more blind than sighted, more corrupt than honest. It’s bigger that the growing hostility toward Christianity and Jews stimulating lethal persecution in many nations.
It’s all of them together.
The present crisis facing us and the civilized world is all of the above…and more. Taken individually perhaps they could be dealt with and some success realized. But that is not an option since all the problems are on the table right now each needing immediate attention.
And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened (Matthew 24:20-22).
World events are leading up to the time that the Philadelphians will flee (please see the article There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra).
The following news item was of interest:
International Herald Tribune
Associated Press - Dec 6, 2006
ROME: Vatican archaeologists have unearthed a sarcophagus believed to contain the remains of the Apostle Paul that had been buried beneath Rome's second largest basilica.
The sarcophagus, which dates back to at least 390 A.D., has been the subject of an extended excavation that began in 2002 and was completed last month, the project's head said this week.
"Our objective was to bring the remains of the tomb back to light for devotional reasons, so that it could be venerated and be visible," said Giorgio Filippi, the Vatican archaeologist who headed the project at St. Paul Outside the Walls basilica.
While this may be where Paul was buried, it is sad that they want to make the tomb visible to venerate it. An article that touches on this subject seems to be What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?
12/06/06 a.m. In the lead article of the January 2007 edition of the Philadelphia Trumpet, PCG's G. Flurry wrote:
Last November’s mid-term elections marked a disaster in American history.
President George W. Bush won the last two presidential elections by razor-thin margins. Republicans have dominated both chambers of Congress for 12 years. But in November, the American government underwent a sea change. I believe the 2006 midterm elections changed American politics forever.
In the run-up to the elections, it seemed that nearly every critical race could go either way. But on Election Day, the Democrats made virtually a clean sweep.
God may well have had a hand in these results.
While I would not term the mid-term elections as a disaster, I would emphatically state that God did have a hand in these results. Notice what God has recorded in the Book of Daniel:
'This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.' (Daniel 4:17).
An article of possible interest may be Should a Christian Vote?
This morning I listened to a Calvinist theologian who stated that we in the COGs are part of a non-Christian cult. His main reasons seem to be our position on the trinity, the Holy Spirit, salvation/ten commandments, the sabbath, born-again, and HWA's position that Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity while on the earth. Regarding that last point, notice the following:
Jesus Became Human
Some serious students of the Bible understand that Jesus was not "fully human and fully God", which is a major position held by most trinitarians.
There are four major claims to support that position:
1. The Bible shows that Jesus emptied Himself of His Divinity while in the flesh. 2 Corinthians 8:9 teaches that Jesus became poor, yet God is rich (Haggai 2:8). Philippians 2:7 specifically teaches, "...Christ Jesus, who subsisting in (the) form of God thought (it) not robbery to be equal to God, but emptied Himself, taking (the) form of a slave, becoming in (the) likeness of men" (Literal translation. Green J.P. ed. Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, 3rd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI), 1996, p. 607). Note that "emptied Himself" is the literal translation in the Greek. Thus Jesus was not fully God (though God in the flesh) when He became a human.
2. Since Jesus repeatedly taught that He of Himself "could do nothing" prior to His resurrection (John 5:19,30;8:28), that He claimed He had "[a]ll authority" after the resurrection (Matthew 28:18), He was not fully God when He could do nothing.
3. The Bible states that Jesus was tempted in all points as humans are (Hebrews 4:15) and that "God cannot be tempted by evil" (James 1:13). "Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren" (Hebrews 2:17). Since "scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35) He could not have been fully God while in the flesh.
4. Jesus was not called God in the flesh until after His resurrection (John 20:28).
Thus while Jesus was what God would be like in the flesh, He simply was not fully God then. Also, the idea of being both FULLY human and FULLY God at the same time is contradiction that a logically is not possible.
By being empty of His divinity, Jesus simply did not have the direct powers (John 14:10), the inability to somehow die (and the Father raised him, He did not raise Himself--Acts 13:30-34; Romans 10:9; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12), the inability to be tempted (Matthew 4:1; Hebrews 4:15), and the glory that He had prior to His human birth and after His resurrection--thus Jesus was not "fully God and fully human" while in the flesh as the trinitarians tend to believe. The fact that Jesus actually died, and that one who is fully God cannot, also shows that Jesus was not "fully God" while on Earth.
Also notice that Melito of Sardis confirmed that Jesus was man when He was buried, but then truly became God:
The sheep was corruptible, but the Lord is incorruptible, who was crushed as a lamb, but who was resurrected as God....For the one who was born as Son, and led to slaughter as a lamb, and sacrificed as a sheep, and buried as a man, rose up from the dead as God, since he is by nature both God and man (Melito of Sardis. On the Passover, Verses 4 & 8. Translation from Kerux: The Journal of Northwest Theological Seminary, Vol.4,1;May 1989).
Jesus' nature is that He was fully God before being made fully man, and now He is fully God who had been man. But at no point was He both fully God and fully man--nor did Melito teach that. Melito, like us in the Church of God understood that while Jesus was "God with us" He was not fully God while on the earth, though He had the nature of God.
Even many Protestant scholars and translators admit that Jesus truly emptied Himself. The American Standard Version of the Bible is one of the few that has a correct rendering of the Greek term kenosis in this passage from Paul, which states:
Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:5-7, ASV).
Also, here is a quote from a Protestant Calvinist theologian about that passage:
Kenosis: Literally means to empty.
By being empty of His divinity, Jesus simply did not have all the prerogatives of divinity--such as the direct powers (John 14:10), the inability to somehow die (and the Father raised him, He did not raise Himself--Acts 13:30-34; Romans 10:9; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12), the inability to be tempted (Matthew 4:1; Hebrews 4:15), and glory that He had prior to His human birth and after His resurrection--thus Jesus was not "fully God and fully human" while in the flesh as the trinitarians tend to believe.
Jesus made His lack of such direct powers on Earth clear in scriptures previously quoted in this article as well as various comments He made about angels. For example, while human He stated,
...do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53).
Yet in various prophecies He said that later He had charge over the angels (Matthew 13:41) and that He would have the Father's glory (Matthew 16:27;25:31).
Also, prior to His resurrection Jesus had limited authority on His own (John 5:27-30)--this differs from after the resurrection when He was given back all authority (Matthew 28:18). (It should be added that Jesus suggested that the miracles He performed while human had to do with faith, not His own power; see Mark 9:23;11:22-24.)
...every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world (I John 4:3).
The trinitarian teaching that Jesus was still fully God while on Earth suggests that Jesus did not actually empty Himself of His divinity and that He truly was not in all things made like His brethren (this is consistent with the trinitarian teaching that the same God exists simultaneously in three manifestations, always having the same power and will). The trinitarian teachings thus deny that Jesus truly came in the flesh. And sadly, as John points out, this heresy was around even in his time. The unitarian position that Jesus is not God would also seem to be condemned by the I John 4:3 statement.
But because both Roman Catholics and the Protestants teach that Jesus was 'fully human and fully God', they reject that He emptied Himself of His divinity, thus they deny that He has truly came in the flesh.
A passage cited to support the view that Jesus was fully God would be Colossians 2:9-10 which states,
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
While this is an excellent description of the risen Christ, who stated that He had all authority (Matthew 28:18), Jesus simply did not have all the powers of God on earth prior to His resurrection.
As someone else once put it, "During the time Jesus lived on earth, He was the same WHO (identity and history) He had always been, but he was not the same WHAT (immortal, invincible, all-knowing, etc.) that He had always been. After living (and dying) as our example, the resurrection restored Him to what He had been."
Although I have heard some Protestant theologians improperly attempt to ignore what Paul taught in Philippians, perhaps the strangest one, was one who after admitting that kenosis (a word used in Philippians 2:7) means to empty, actually then stated that Jesus could not sin, and Jesus was God according to James 1:13. Let's look at that passage from James to see what it actually states:
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone (James 1:13).
Notice that verse says that God cannot be tempted. However, the Greek word for tempted (peirazo) is the same as the one used in Hebrews:
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
Thus, there is a contradiction in the Protestant Calvinist theologian's logic here.
By comparing James 1:13 to Hebrews 4:15 it is clear that since the Bible shows Jesus was tempted on earth (and this is repeated in many places in the New Testament) and that God cannot be tempted, that while on earth, Jesus was not fully God (though God in the flesh). Jesus was not God with all the godly attributes - but God in the flesh. God in the flesh is limited to the flesh. God in the flesh is subject to temptation to sin. The Word, prior to emptying Himself, was God Unlimited. While on earth He was limited, yet still God - but God in the flesh.
The main difference between He and us is that He had the Holy Spirit without measure, from birth.
Since we humans can sin, either Jesus was capable of sinning (which He was) or He was not tempted as we are. This also demonstrates that while on earth, Jesus was not fully God. However, as scripture shows, Jesus now is God--and was prior to His incarnation. It is a clear biblical truth that Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity to become a man prior to the resurrection.
Perhaps it should be noted that even what is believed to be the most ancient Christian complete sermon ever found, teaches that Jesus was Spirit and became flesh:
If Christ, the Lord who saved us, became flesh (even though he was originally spirit) and in that state called us...(Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed, 9:5. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, p. 115).
This ancient sermon is saying that Jesus was originally spirit and became flesh like us! Thus, confirming the general binitarian position that Jesus, in fact, did fully empty Himself of His divinity while on Earth.
Instead of calling us a "non-Christian cult", Protestants and others who claim to believe the Bible really should look into their unbiblical teachings. Several articles of related interest may include:
Hope of Salvation: How the COGs differ from most Protestants How the COGs differ from mainstream Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a COG background.
Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? Though he is known for his public sola Scriptura teaching, Martin Luther's writings about the Bible suggest he felt that prima Luther was his ultimate authority.
The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between in the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the COG is NOT Protestant.
Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Is The Father God? What is the view of the Bible? What was the view of the early church?
Jesus is God, But Was Made Man Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it?
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah's Witnesses, claim it was, but was it?
Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is a shorter article than the Binitarian View article, but has a little more information on binitarianism.
12/04/06 a.m. COGaic's David Hulme recently wrote:
The Führer had aspired first to become an artist, then an architect, but had failed the entry requirements for either course of study as a young man in Vienna. Now, after gazing down on the Tomb of Napoleon (the shrine of the would-be messiah of the previous century), he told his personal sculptor to design something much more impressive for him when his time came around—something people would literally have to look up to. Napoleon had tried to conquer the world and failed; Hitler was determined to succeed...
It’s a familiar desire among politicos of overweening ambition—this remaking of the map after the ancient Roman tradition. A few years earlier, another pretend-Apollo had claimed similar turf. The fascist Benito Mussolini—Il Duce—came to power as Italy’s prime minister a decade prior to Hitler’s appointment as Germany’s National Socialist chancellor...
Meanwhile in Italy, with Mussolini in office, the fawning language was getting worse. The degree to which public adulation was expressed in religious terms is evident from the words of an enthusiastic fascist in 1925, as recorded by British academic John Whittam: “A century from now history may tell us that after the war a Messiah arose in Italy who began speaking to fifty people and ended up evangelizing a million; that these first disciples then spread through Italy and with their faith, devotion and sacrifice conquered the hearts of the masses” (“Mussolini and the Cult of the Leader,” New Perspective, March 1998).
Some would soon make similar comments about Hitler...
And the Bible shows that they will be replaced by an even more evangelizing leader. The Roman Catholics actually hope for a resurrection of a Roman Empire. For example, a monk by the name of Adso in the 10th century wrote,
Some of our teachers say that a King of the Franks will possess the entire Roman Empire. He will be the greatest and last of all the Monarchs. After having wisely governed his kingdom, he will go to the end in Jerusalem and will lay down his sceptre and his crown upon the Mount of Olives. Immediately afterwards, Antichrist will come (Monk Adso, 10th century. as quoted in Catholic Prophecy. TAN Books, p. 18).
We in the COGs do not believe that the Bible shows this resurrection of a Roman Empire to be a good thing. An article of related interest may be Europa and the Beast of Revelation.
12/03/06 a.m. As a follow-up to yesterday's update, here are some additional quotes that the anti-gospel-work COG groups who claim to be faithful really should read:
Notice what HWA specifically taught about preaching the gospel, when that work ends, and preparing the church:
When this European empire is perfected, the great Work God is doing through this Church will be quickly completed--finished...
The sign He gave was that which He is doing through us--proclaiming for the first time in 1900 years to the world the Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD (Matthew 24:14).
But next, after our work, is to come the GREAT TRIBULATION (verses 21-22. That shall be ended, verse 29, by supernatural, frightful signs in the sun, moon, and stars; signaling the "day of the Lord"--see also Joel 2:31). Then quickly; the coming of Christ. See also Daniel 12:1.
Events now occurring SWIFTLY in the world are SIGNS of the imminency of the Great Tribulation. No one will be allowed to proclaim Christ's Gospel then. The "Philadelphia era" or succession of God's Church will be taken on the "two wings of a great eagle"--whatever that symbolizes--to a place of protection where we are to be "fed"--provided for. We need now to begin to be ALERT, for this "flight" may happen suddenly. DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY THE NEGATIVE SNEERING OF EXCOMMUNICATED MINISTERS: Both Revelation 12:13 and 3:10 warn us.
We, ourselves, are a sign (Matt. 24:14) of the very imminency of these things!
I say again and again, it is later than we think.
Fellow Ministers, God has made it our job to PREPARE His Church--that we may be "without spot or wrinkle...holy and withouth blemish" WHEN Christ comes!
This means renewed dedication, more constant and intensive earnest prayer, "soul-searching," and determined preparation. This is a serious responsibility for all of us! (Armstrong HW. Great Significance of Summit Conference. Pastor General's Report, Vol. 2, No. 26, June 27, 1980).
Notice that although HWA felt that the ministry had to prepare the church, the gospel still needed to preached until the European empire was perfected, and we flee to a place of safety. The European empire has not been perfected yet, nor have the Philadelphians fled to a place of safety, therefore, the gospel still must be preached...
Under HWA, It Was Always Taught that the Door Was Opened Until the Philadelphians Go to a Place of Safety!
Many once in WCG simply never understood what was taught about the open door:
Philadelphia has little strength to do this great work that God has given it to do. God has opened the door, and yet look how insignificant, how weak, how little strength we as a Church have to do that work...Revelation 3:7-13: "And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia write these things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that OPENETH, and no man SHUTTETH; and SHUTTETH and no man openeth." The great door that God has opened to this work is the facility to go into all the world and preach the gospel; the door of radio, the door of the printing press, plus many other such doors. God has set before us an open door and no MAN can shut it. God can shut it, and He will when the work is finished and the Philadelphia Church goes to a place of safety. ...The Laodicean Church is not going to he worthy to escape to a place of safety. When it is too late, they will find that the Church of Philadelphia has gone to safety (What Is the "LAODICEAN CHURCH"? Good News August 1959 Vol. VIII, Number 8).
Notice what Herbert Armstrong taught:
Our work in the hands of Christ is NOT YET FINISHED, and He will not allow the Work to stop until it is finished. And when will that be?
... since no one can know the day or the hour of His coming, we probably shall not be able to know the exact day that this 1335 days begins. But apparently that is the time when OUR WORK SHALL END. That will be a time when the UNITED EUROPE shall appear --the revival of the medieval "Holy Roman Empire." We shall then be warned, and readied to be taken to a place of refuge and safety from the Great Tribulation. Forty-five days later "the beast's" armies will surround Jerusalem. Thirty days later the Great Tribulation will probably start with a nuclear attack on London and Britain--and possibly the same day or immediately after, on United States and Canadian cities (Armstrong HW. The Time We Are In, Now. PASTOR GENERAL'S REPORT - VOL.1, NO.15 NOVEMBER 20, 1979).
Next, when our Great Commission is in God's sight completed, we are to be taken--symbolically flown on the two wings of a great eagle--we shall be taken to a place of protection from the Great Tribulation (Armstrong HW. Looking...PASTOR GENERAL'S REPORT - VOL.3, NO.4 January 23, 1981).
Thus HWA's writings clearly teach that the Philadelphia work was to continue until it was time to go the place of safety. Those who teach otherwise simply do not know what HWA really taught.
Also, remember it was Jesus who also said,
I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work" (John 9:4).
It is still 'day' (we are not fleeing), which means we are to do the work as long as we possibly can:
Just as the remnants of the Sardis era of the Church exist side by side with the Philadelphia era, SO WE WILL CONTINUE OUR WORK to the very "end time" when another group will appear -- a group not accounted worthy to escape the coming tribulation. Another separate work is yet to arise -- made up of begotten individuals who are spiritually lukewarm! WOE BE TO ANY OF US IF WE TAKE PART IN SUCH A WORK! Here is a work, yet to arise because of our preaching, which will say: "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." And Jesus will reply: "As many as I LOVE, I rebuke and chasten: be ZEALOUS therefore, and repent." It is time to WAKE UP! If you become complacent, lacking in zeal, looking upon a local church as a social club, instead of having your heart in the gospel, you, too, may find yourself in the "Church of Laodicea" left to suffer the impending, horrifying tribulation (A TRUE HISTORY of the TRUE CHURCH , 1959).
As we have not yet gone to 'a place of safety', we still must be diligent to do the work to proclaim the Gospel. It is Christ, and NOT the death of any man (including HWA), that shuts the door.
At risk of repeating myself, this concept was confirmed by Mr. Armstrong in his third to last letter,
I thank God that he has organized this present work of his so thoroughly that regardless of the outcome of my present illness, the work will continue right on to the Second Coming of Christ (Letter dated 12/23/85).
Also, look at what Jesus said in Revelation 3:14-16,
"And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.'"
It should be noted that Jesus condemns the Laodiceans for their work, which is obviously a different work than that of Philadelphians (as He praises the Philadelphians for their works, vss. 8-10, and tells them to 'hold fast', vs. 11). Look at what HWA and his WCG taught:
'And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness and then shall the end come' --the end of the age! (Matt. 24:14.). Then follows the new age when the reign of Christ shall replace Satan (Armstrong HW. PREDESTINATION: Does the Bible Teach It? Ambassador College, 1975).
This is further evidence that the groups that say there is no need to continue to preach the Gospel as a witness DO NOT follow what HWA taught. After the Gospel is done being proclaimed the 3 1/2 year end (not a pre-end lasting over 20 years prior to the 3 1/2 years, as certain groups suggest) comes and Christ's reign begins. In order to justify their existence (and, in my opinion, keep enough tithes to support THEMSELVES), they reason around the necessity of proclaiming the Gospel--as they all know well that they will not have the means to do it--and use the Laodicean logic on trying to focus on twigs, and not the "trunk of the tree" that HWA told us all that we should do.
Final HWA note: ALL the COGs I know of teach that when Jesus talked about fulfilling the law (Matthew 5:17-18) that Jesus did NOT (as the Protestants teach) mean that no one still needed to keep the law. When HWA said he fulfilled proclaiming the Gospel to the world as a witness, he (1) Never stopped proclaiming it and (2) He wrote that he intended for others to continue to do it. Those who claim to be in the COG and also claim that HWA completely fulfilled Matthew 24:14, simply are being hypocritical here.
The above is also in the article Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?
On other matters, LCG reported the following news item:
Will the Church of England Ever Be Catholic? On a visit to
Romelast week, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, became only the second English Archbishop to visit the in more than 400 years. During his visit, the Archbishop met with the Pope and discussed numerous matters in an attempt to “lessen” the divide between the two churches. However, the Pope pointed out that the Anglican Church’s stance on ordination of women and homosexuals is a major barrier to the two churches coming together. The Catholic Church’s goal of unifying all “Christians” may not include the Anglican Church because of its stand on these issues (Yahoo News, November 23, 2006). Revelation 17 speaks of a great church (“woman”) that will influence the actions of a coming Beast power in Vatican Europe. The is working hard to make amends with various Protestant groups including Anglicans and the Orthodox Church. Concurrently, it is lobbying the European Commission and all Europeans to return to their “religious [Catholic] roots.” Prophecies indicate that the “woman” will be successful in helping unify at least a “core” of ten European nations. However, Britain, as an Israelite-descended nation, is prophesied not to be a part of this core of nations, but rather to be taken into captivity by this coming Beast power (Deuteronomy 28:41, Isaiah 5:13, Daniel 12:1, Joel 3:1). The pressing moral issues that are driving a wedge between the Catholic and Anglican churches may become a powerful reason the British and others are excluded from a European core of nations. Vatican
An article of related interest may be Europa and the Beast of Revelation.
12/02/06 a.m. This morning, a reader forwarded me a link to a website by Daniel E. Cohran titled Hold Fast to "All things" . It is supposed to have links to live HWA broadcasts, but this morning, that did not work (also I have been informed by someone who did get it to work, instead of HWA, he got a lecture from Daniel E. Cohran). Sadly, this is another one of those small works that has changed the work and does not believe in the work of the Philadelphia portion of the COG as Daniel E. Cohran wrote (I combined two statements from two articles he wrote):
Mr. Armstrong writes:
"And all in the Church are commanded to speak the same thing - and it MUST be what Christ, either in person, or by written Word, has taught His apostle."
WOW! Now there is a lot of information in that little excerpt. Please go back and read it again and again. If ALL of us in this Laodicean era would heed this today, things would begin to change quickly! But what do we see instead? We see men trying to "duplicate" what Mr. Armstrong already did such as preach the gospel to the world as a witness to all nations. This is fulfilled prophecy...
The majority of God’s people today are asleep and doing an outdated work or rather a work that has already been fulfilled! Meaning the preaching of the gospel to the world as a witness...
It is sad that like SCG, RCG, PCG, CGPFK, GCW, and other Pharisaical groups (please see the article Are the Laodiceans the Modern Sadducees and Pharisees?), Daniel E. Cohran and many like him, really do not understand that Jesus condemned the Laodicean for having a different work than the Philadelphians. And instead, those groups feel that they are appointed to mainly warn the COG and not the world.
Since Daniel E. Cohran emphasized doing what HWA taught, while essentially condemning LCG (though without name) for doing what HWA taught, let us specifically read what HWA taught on this subject (as well as some comments I have made about it:
One of the arguments that has been raised with me was that Joseph Tkach, Sr. reported that supposedly Mr. Armstrong told him that since he (Mr. Armstrong) had fulfilled Matthew 24:14, that the need to proclaim the Gospel to the world was gone. This is the same J. Tkach who said that WCG would teach the 18 truths that Herbert Armstrong restored to the Church of God, said that Roderick Meredith was wrong when he claimed that WCG was going to do away with the ten commandments and holy days, said that WCG was not teaching the trinity, and other such things. Thus, it matters not what J. Tkach Sr. said Mr. Armstrong said. Furthermore, here is proof that J. Tkach understood he still was to proclaim the Gospel, for this is what he authorized as WCG's position, "Personal Correspondence Department, in a standard letter about the 1290 and 1335 days Daniel, included this statements,
Since no one knows the day of Christ's coming (Matt. 24:36 ; Acts 1:17), we may not know the exact time when the 1335 days begin. Apparently, however, at that time, the organized efforts of God's Work to proclaim the Gospel to the world will end. Forty-five days later, or 1290 days before the return of Christ, the beasts armies will surround Jerusalem. Those who are worthy will have been warned and taken to a place of refuge God has provided for them (Rev. 12:14-16) (Tkach J. Personal Correspondence Department Letter 61, February, 1989).
It should be noted that this is what was also sent out by WCG, but under Mr. Armstrong's name during the time of Mr. Armstrong's was alive.
It is also true that Herbert. Armstrong had various discussions with with Aaron Dean (HWA's long-time personal aid) on this subject (and I personally discussed this in depth with Aaron Dean myself). Recall that Mr. Armstrong himself never stopped proclaiming the Gospel over television, etc. and decided to publicly teach that the work of proclaiming the Gospel to the world should continue whether he was alive or not. Instead he taught,
...the rapidly growing work of the fledgling Philadelphia era required my full time. The present era was officially begun in October, 1933...By 1978 we went down to about 50 stations weekly. At that period following my heart failure while in Tucson, I once again took over TV broadcasting. We held steady while I was stuck in Tucson until 1981, when I came back to headquarters at Pasadena. From that time the TV program has produced steady growth, until today we are the second in the world in the religious category, with over 300 TV stations worldwide. Hopefully we shall soon be the largest. Since the beginning of 1985, we have averaged around 13,000 telephone responses per program (Armstrong HW. RECENT HISTORY OF THE PHILADELPHIA ERA OF THE WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD. Worldwide News, June 24, 1985).
The telecast did become the largest (had the highest ratings in the U.S.A.) for a short period after his death.
Another argument raised against the need to proclaim the gospel now is this quote,
Also a door was to be opened for this leader and/or the Philadelphia era of the Church to fulfill Matthew 24:14: 'And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then the end shall come'...These prophecies have definitely been fulfilled (Mystery of the Ages, p.291).
From this statement, similar statements, and a few statements made after he had heart problems, some have argued that Mr. Armstrong felt that the preaching work was finished. That is simply incorrect.
If this particular quote (which was published mid-1985, but written before the June 24, 1985 quote above) meant that Herbert Armstrong felt the preaching work was finished, one would expect that he would have gone off all television and radio stations then. Instead, he remained on them until he died. In his last letter, all arguments about the work being over were rebutted:
It may be that the Work that God has given me to do is complete, but not the Work of God's Church, which will be faithfully doing God's Work till Christ, the True Head of this Church, returns...Remember brethren, this is not the work of Herbert W. Armstrong...The greatest work lies ahead...Never before in the history of the Church has it been possible to reap so great a harvest. It has only been made possible through modern technology, beginning with the printing press, radio, television...Each of you must commit yourself to support God's Work...God's work must push ahead as never before. God is opening up new doors in television (Letter, 1/10/86).
And to be sure that this portion of the work would continue after he died, Herbert Armstrong insured that there were other men designated to continue to make television programs after his death. One of those men was evangelist Richard Ames, who remains faithful to this mission to this day, as he is still making television programs to proclaim the Gospel! Another evangelist who was preaching the Gospel in the French language over radio while Herbert Armstrong was alive, Dibar Apartian, continues to preach it to this day. When I asked him if Mr. Armstrong told him to stop doing this in the event of his death, Mr. Apartian responded, "To the contrary, he told me he wanted me to go on more stations".
This concept is confirmed by Mr. Armstrong in his third to last letter,
I thank God that he has organized this present work of his so thoroughly that regardless of the outcome of my present illness, the work will continue right on to the Second Coming of Christ (Letter dated 12/23/85).
Thus it seems clear that Herbert Armstrong felt that he was the leader of the Philadelphia era, but that if he died prior to the time of the end, that he considered that the Church should continue to preach the gospel to the world!
Another problem with some who have taken some of Mr. Armstrong's quotes out of context, is that while it is true Mr. Armstrong seemed to feel that he personally succeeded in preaching the gospel of the kingdom to all the world as a witness, it is not true that he felt the true Church should stop placing its top priority on proclaiming. For example, in what appears to be the second to the last letter from Mr Armstrong, he wrote,
It is now true that this Gospel has been proclaimed within every nation on earth by the Worldwide Church of God (Letter 1/86).
He then listed that 90 million booklets, magazines, articles, and correspondence course lessons had been sent out in 1985 (and never mentioned the Worldwide News which was for members only). Instead of suggesting that the publishing portion of the work was over, he wrote (in the same letter),
Now let's keep it up in 1986! (Letter 1/86).
Therefore, all of the last three letters sent out by Herbert Armstrong stated that the work of publicly proclaiming the Gospel was to continue even though it had been proclaimed within every nation. Why would God have all of them preserved if He did not want those who were faithful to keep up the work?
Some have brought up certain comments by Aaron Dean as an excuse to not place their top priority on proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness. Some apparently believe that since Aaron Dean now claims to have penned HWA's last letter, that this means that God did not intend for the church to first try to get the gospel out as a witness, but instead the focus should be to get the bride ready. Here is some of what Aaron Dean apparently wrote on November 23, 2005:
FYI, the simple answer is I did write his last letter for him - in his style of course. He was too weak to even dictate. I did read it to him however, and told him it wouldn't go out unless I knew he understood it. He squeezed my hand, and added a couple words, so I knew he got it. It was the truth as I knew it, and I felt we needed a send off more than "I did the work, so hang on till Christ comes". He really felt he had done the commission and that the purification of the bride was to be next. He didn't expect a great work to continue...I had asked if he could prove from scripture that that part of the work had been done, and he replied, "no"...
The simple truth is that the Bible supports that the work of the Philadelphians was to continue to the end and this is what HWA's church always had taught.
So now, using Aaron Dean, those who are opposed to the Philadelphia work, will cite his letter as proof that they can ignore the Bible and what the old WCG stood for. The fact that Aaron Dean has been on the Council of Elders of the United Church of God for years (a group that historically has placed a lessor priority on proclaiming the gospel than the old WCG) and has stated, "Personally, I think God is preparing the bride" (same letter) does not change what was previously written, nor the Bible.
Certainly God is preparing the bride, but to do that without placing a priority on proclaiming the gospel as a witness leads to a selfish, not Philadelphian, bride.
The plain truth is that I believe that God Himself wanted what was in HWA's last letter to be in that letter.
The fact that HWA had some possible doubts at the end of his life on the future direction of the church (recall that he appointed J. Tkach) does not change any of the facts. Even John the Baptist had some possible doubts at the end of his life about Jesus being the Messiah (Matthew 11:2-3)--but that also did not change the fact that true believers were to follow Jesus.
Those who are relying on Aaron Dean's account as an excuse for the true church to not proclaim the gospel are plainly in error. Perhaps I should add here that many small group who use it as an excuse, then turn around and claim that the work is essentially one of warning whoever they perceive to be Laodiceans in the COG, instead of getting the gospel message out to the world as a witness.
The record of the Bible and the writings of HWA that have been preserved clearly enough to teach that the top priority of the Philadelphia portion of the church of God is to continue to have the Philadelphia work--the work of going through the open door to proclaim the gospel. Would those that think otherwise teach that John the Baptist's followers should have rejected Jesus for the doubts that John raised at the end of his life?
Of course not!
Herbert Armstrong clearly wrote that the commission to the Church was to proclaim the gospel and "to provide the first actual harvest of mortal human beings" (Mystery of the Ages, pp.206, 232). How can this be done if the gospel is not being proclaimed? Mr. Armstrong also wrote,
God has given his Church dual responsibility: 1) 'Go ye into all the world' and proclaim the good news--announcement--of the coming kingdom of God. 2) 'Feed my sheep'. But in feeding the 'sheep', developing in them God's spiritual character, God has given them their part in supporting, backing up, the great commission: 'Go ye in into all the world' (Mystery of the Ages, p.265).
At least four times in the Mystery of the Ages chapter titled, Mystery of the Church, Herbert Armstrong quotes or alludes to portions of Matthew 28:19-20. He never says that dual responsibility is finished or that he finished either part. . In his autobiography, he wrote,
In Matthew 28:19-20, God's order is 1) go and preach the Gospel (compare with Mark's version, same words of Jesus, Mark 16:15); 2) baptize those who repent and believe; then after that, 3) teach them to observe the commandments (Autobiography, p. 523).
He never wrote that the priority should be changed by the Church after he died. Instead, recall that HWA approved Richard Ames and others to continue to proclaim the gospel message on television after HWA died.
It should be noted that WCG under Mr. Armstrong spent between 35-41% of its income on the first commission, the same as the Churches led by Roderick Meredith (Report from Treasurer. Living Church News. May-Jun 2000; p.16).
To answer the question, JUST WHAT IS THE WORK?, Mr. Armstrong personally wrote,
But Christ said to His Philadelphia era Church, that because we have but little strength, He would OPEN THOSE DOORS TO US (Rev. 3:8)" (Letter 11/19/76).
The PURPOSE for which Christ built the Church exemplifies its WORK...1) To ANNOUNCE to the world for its witness the coming Kingdom of God...2) To prepare the people to whom God adds to the Church...God has always worked with humans. He has worked with O N E M A N at a time...The WORK consists of proclaiming the Gospel, by radio, by television, in print (Armstrong HW. JUST WHAT IS THE WORK? PASTOR GENERAL'S REPORT - VOL.3, NO.6 February 6, 1981).
Herbert Armstrong repeatedly taught that the work of the Philadelphia portion of the COG was to continue to get the gospel out to the world as a witness until it was time to flee to a place of safety. Jesus Himself praised the work of the Philadelphia Church and told it to hold fast--Jesus also condemned the Laodiceans for having a different work. Sadly many no longer understand this. All the above is part of the article Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?
In his latest letter, ICG's Mark Armstrong wrote:
ABC News has come out just today to expose “smoking gun evidence” that Iran is supplying newly manufactured weaponry to Shiite factions. You may have seen over recent days that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad scoffed at the notion that Iran is fueling the violence in Iraq. This little episode also exposes again the transparent treachery that Iran’s leadership relies upon in its dealings with the international community.
Iran certainly may help the Future King of the South.
In an article in the December 2006 issue of WCG's Christian Odyssey titled Learning to Live Like Jesus: a study of Philippians 2, Mike Morrison wrote:
People are looking for the key to peace and contentment, and Christ offers it—but how will people know that he does, unless they see it in our lives? If we follow the way of the world, we will have nothing to offer it. But if we become more like Jesus, we will make the gospel attractive.
The above contains a lot of truth, yet sadly the leadership in WCG no longer wants people to live like Jesus.
Well Jesus kept and taught the ten commandments, the biblical Holy Days, did not eat unclean meat, and taught a way of life that excludes fighting in the military. Sadly, WCG has the world's position on those matters. Those who really want to learn to Live Like Jesus may wish to read the following articles (two of which mention WCG's positions):
What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments?
Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible?
The New Testament and Unclean Meats
Military Service and the COGs
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Volume 10, issue 29 COG writer B. Thiel (c) 2006