Do You Believe God Used Herbert Armstrong to Raise Up the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God?

By COGwriter

Herbert Armstrong believed that the Philadelphia era of the Church was raised up under his human leadership (under Jesus Christ):

"God used me in raising up the first and parent church of this 'Philadelphia era' (Rev. 3:7-13)" (Armstrong, H. Why Many Don't Understand Pentecost. Good News, May 1981).

He believed that there were two unique features of this era: 1) it was the one to go through the open doors to proclaim the Gospel and 2) it had at least 18 truths restored to it. Do you believe God used Herbert Armstrong to raise up the Philadelphia era of the Church of God?

Herbert Armstrong wrote,

"From the year 1931, exactly 1,900 years (a century of time cycles) from the foundation of the Church, this small remnant of the original true Church of God began to take on new life as the Philadelphia era… This era of the Church was to produce fruit…" (Mystery of the Ages, 1986 ed., pp. 289-290).

"It is to the Philadelphia era that Christ said He would OPEN DOORS that His Gospel might be worldwide, into all nations, in power" (Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong 1973 ed., page 450).

During his lifetime, the ministry of Herbert Armstrong reached more people with the true Gospel than any other ministry ever had (it may even have been more than the apostolic {Ephesus} era did)!

Herbert Armstrong wrote that he restored to the Church of God at least 18 truths that the previous era had lost (Mystery of the Ages, p. 251). Herbert Armstrong gave a sermon titled Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era on December 17, 1983, where he listed those 18 truths. After listing them he stated, "Well, brethren, all those things have been restored and there is a mission for this Church that never applied, and has never been done by any other Church. This gospel of the kingdom has been restored and shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations."

When I was in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), it appeared that perhaps every member believed they were called to be part of the Philadelphia era of the Church of God. Even to this day, former WCG members recoil at the thought that they may be 'Laodicean'.

A Team Together

Herbert Armstrong wrote that Philadelphians were to be "A TEAM TOGETHER" to "carry out the work of God" (Mystery of the Ages, pp.266). Yet, today we see many different groups that came out of WCG. Some claim to be Philadelphian, some aren't sure, but none wants to be considered Laodicean.

Many have forgotten that they used to believe they were part of the Philadelphia era of the Church of God. This may be because perhaps the first change that the Tkach administration made was that when it published its list of 18 restored truths, it left out of the description that these were truths restored to the Philadelphia era of the Church of God. At the same time, the Tkach administration also published its edited version of the Autobiography of Herbert Armstrong where it omitted all references to the Philadelphia era of the Church. Thus, many began to forget about being Philadelphian.

As the Philadelphia era wound down and the Laodicean era began to grow, we now see a Church of God that seems scattered.

Jesus Discussed the Philadelphia Church

Jesus said, "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,

'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens: I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie--indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches'" (Revelation 3:7-13).

Jesus said He set before the Philadelphia era an open door. Herbert Armstrong wrote, like the Apostle Paul (II Corinthians 2:12), that this door was open to proclaim the gospel.

Jesus warned this era, "Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown" (Revelation 3:11)--holding fast would seem to be to keep the truths that it had (it is also consistent with Paul's warning in II Timothy 4:3). Herbert Armstrong wrote that at least 18 truths were restored to this era.

Is There Any Church of God That Upholds the Philadelphia Standard?

There are several Churches of God who claim to believe the 18 truths (though most actually use the list developed by the Tkach administration and do not use the list that Herbert Armstrong gave). There are several Churches of God who believe most of the 18 truths. Most Churches of God spend some of their income on proclaiming the Gospel. Most Churches of God do some significant good.

Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).

Meaning of Laodicea

I know of few who claim to be Laodicean, but the Laodicean Church is the last one mentioned in the book of Revelation (Revelation 3:14-22) and comes after the Philadelphian era (Revelation 3:7-13). As the last, it is the one that will be the most dominant at the time of the end. The word "Laodicea" can be rendered "the people rule", "judgment of the people" or the "people decide." Laodicea is characterized by a rejection of the governance accepted by the Philadelphians, and by a general lukewarm attitude. Laodicea places emphasis on self (as opposed to proclaiming the Gospel), thus it also waters down the Truth-and so is "rebuked and chastened" and counseled "to buy from Me gold refined in the fire" (Revelation 3:18-19).

Remember, though, that those who go through the tribulation do "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17)--thus Laodiceans do have certain truths. Herbert Armstrong wrote:

"But, the BAD NEWS, as it appears today, my dear brethren, is that we, undoubtedly of the Philadelphian era...are in serious danger of BECOMING also the Laodicean era. I am personally much concerned about that. If YOU are NOT concerned, then indeed we are in mortal DANGER"(Personal from Herbert W. Armstrong. Good News, August 1979).

The Bible warns that some who claim to be Philadelphian are not (Revelation 3:9). The question is: do those claim to be Philadelphian uphold the standards that Jesus set and Herbert Armstrong clarified were characteristic of the Philadelphia era? Some, like the Pharisees (Matthew 23:24) emphasize minor points to the exclusion on major ones. Others prefer hearing prophetic speculation to supporting the work to preach the word. Others seem to prefer to emphasize odd doctrines of various types--doctrines that the Philadelphia era never held!

The apostle Paul warned, "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers" (II Timothy 4:2-3). This warning appears to have been directed towards the Laodicean time.

Meaning of Philadelphia

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance shows that Philadelphia means "love of brethren" or "fond of brethren."

When Jesus used the term phileo with Simon Peter (translated as "love"), what was Peter to do to show this type of love? He was to do the work.

"He said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?' Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, 'Do you love Me?' And he said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed My sheep" (John 21:17).

A trait of Philadelphians is that they love the brethren and will sacrifice to do so. While some may argue that this only means taking care of those already in the Church, this is inconsistent with Matthew 28:18-19 as well as Jesus' words in John 10:16: "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd." Philadelphians love others, not just themselves. Remember as Herbert Armstrong wrote: "This era of the Church was to produce fruit" (Mystery of the Ages, p. 290). As Jesus taught: "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it" (Mark 8:35). Philadelphians will give their all to proclaim the Gospel.

A.N. Dugger May Have Been Led to Partially Understand

Amazingly, just prior to the establishment of the Philadelphia era of the Church of God, the leader of the Church of God 7th Day at the time, seemed to understand that a new era was beginning that involved Herbert W. Armstrong as he wrote (bolding mine):

Dear Brother Armstrong:

I presume you think I am very neglectful of duty in not answering your letter before this, but it was a long time since your manuscript reached me...

I feel we are entering into a new era for this message and that it is going to take on new life. In fact the time for the message is now here (Dugger A.N. Letter to HW Armstrong, February 26, 1929).

And while some may claim that A.N. Dugger probably did not mean it in the manner I and others like me understand, notice the parallel from the Bible:

If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation." And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish." Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad (John 11:48-52).

Hence, I do believe that since A.N. Dugger was the top true religious leader at that time (though he was to be replaced in a few years in God's eyes by Herbert W. Armstrong), that God had him write what he did to help establish the fact that God was going to have Herbert W. Armstrong raise up the Philadelphia era of the Church of God.

Conclusion

Notice what Herbert Armstrong wrote

"...the final generation of the Church shall be LUKEWARM -- not less emotional, but more 'liberal,' more secular and less spiritual -- less strictly biblical --" "Speaking of the present 'Philadelphia' era, it says...because we have kept God's Word faithfully, not liberalizing nor watering down, God will keep us from the 'hour of temptation, which shall come upon all them that dwell on the earth' to try and test them" (Personal from Herbert W. Armstrong. Plain Truth, August 1980). "Those in the true Body of Christ shall be protected until this tribulation will be over (Rev. 3:10-11)--applying to those faithful in God's Work now going to the world. Rev 12:14; U.S.A. 26:20. But YOU must make your own decision -- and to neglect doing so is to have made the wrong decision! God isn't kidding! This is for real!...The decision in now yours!"(Armstrong, Herbert W. The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy. 1975; p:60). "But, the BAD NEWS, as it appears today, my dear brethren, is that we, undoubtedly of the Philadelphian era...are in serious danger of BECOMING also the Laodicean era. I am personally much concerned about that. If YOU are NOT concerned, then indeed we are in mortal DANGER"(Personal from Herbert W. Armstrong. Good News, August 1979).

Remember, Jesus gave this promise to the Philadelphia Church, but not to the Laodiceans,

"Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth" (Revelation 3: 10).

Do you wish to suffer the fate of the Laodiceans? Do you love your brethren (present and potential) enough to support the COG that places its top priority on proclaiming the Gospel?

Do you believe God used Herbert Armstrong to raise up the Philadelphia era of the Church of God? Do you accept the two Philadelphia standards including standing for the truth? Will you support the most faithful Church of God that upholds those standards?

If not, are you applying the Philadelphia standards in your decision?

If you are still confused and unsure, please pray about it. Jesus taught, "by their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). In time, if you are sincere and Philadelphian, I believe God will lead you to support the Living Church of God.

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B. Thiel. Do You Believe God Used Herbert Armstrong to Raise Up the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God? www.cogwriter.com 2002/2006/2007/2012

Articles of Possible Interest May Include:

The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present
The Ephesus Church Era predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D.
The Smyrna Church Era predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D.
The Pergamos Church Era predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D.
The Thyatira Church Era predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1585 A.D.
The Sardis Church Era predominant circa 1585 A.D. to circa 1933 A.D.
The Philadelphia Church Era predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D.
The Laodicean Church Era predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present

There are Many COGs: Why Support the Living Church of God? This is an article for those who wish to easily sort out the different COGs. It really should be a MUST READ for current and former WCG members or any interested in supporting the faithful church.

Who Was Herbert W. Armstrong? How is He Viewed Today?
The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?
Do You Believe God Used Herbert Armstrong to Raise Up the Philadelphia Era of the Church of God?
The Elijah Heresies
Independent Members of the COG: Herbert W. Armstrong Comments, Plus Questions and Answers
Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?