December 21, 2006
Greetings from Charlotte,
We are getting back in gear after the temporary diversion we had. Mr. Meredith and Mr. Ames both made television programs this week. Mr. Meredith taped program #293, “Satan’s Attack on the Bible,” which will air on February 18, 2007, and will offer the booklet The Bible: Fact or Fiction? Mr. Ames taped program #292, “Armageddon and Beyond,” which will air on February 4 and will offer the booklet Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled! I am finishing an article for the Tomorrow’s World magazine. Mr. Davy Crockett drove to Arkansas to conduct Mrs. Mary Hegvold’s funeral (see announcement below). Mr. and Mrs. Greer and Mr. and Mrs. Weston are in Charlotte to help host the Living 4 Tomorrow and Singles Seminar this week—to which several of us contributed lectures. We are also making plans to fill the vacancies left by the departure of Mr. Bryce and Mr. Solomon.
Note: Please read and make available to the brethren the special box article, Questions about Church “Eras.”
Mrs. Mary Hegvold, 80, died on December 17. She was a long-time and faithful member of God’s Church who served as a faculty member of Ambassador College for many years. Mrs. Hegvold was the widow of Mr. Sydney Hegvold, a long-time minister. She will be greatly missed. Mr. Davy Crockett is conducting her funeral today in Pikeville, Tennessee.
Another faithful member of God’s Church who will be greatly missed is Mr. Joseph Stevenson. A deacon serving the Living Church of God congregation in Northern Ireland, he died on December 17 at age 78. Mr. Stevenson was baptized in 1958 and ordained a deacon in 1966 for the newly established Irish congregation in Belfast. He served God actively until he was overcome by illness in the last two years of his life. Mr. Stevenson had an active interest in the early history of Ireland as it related to the Bible. Mr. Henry Cooper conducted the funeral service on December 20.
Living 4 Tomorrow
Thirty-five young and excited adults are currently gathered at the Headquarters of the Living Church of God in Charlotte to participate in the Living 4 Tomorrow program. They are being taught how to live and grow as true Christians. Sessions started on Wednesday morning led by Mr. Lambert Greer and Mr. Gerald Weston. Afterwards, Mr. Roderick Meredith gave a powerful message to the students about developing four key areas in life to become successful individuals. More singles will arrive today in Charlotte to participate in the Singles Seminar and Bible study tomorrow. It is encouraging to see the dedication of these young people to God’s truth and to God’s way of life.
Mr. Gerald Weston, Canadian Regional Director, reports: The big news from Canada is that we will be going on a new commercial television network with nationwide coverage. The time doesn’t appear to be good (12:30 a.m. Monday mornings), however, the number of people tuning into the CH network at that time is substantial.
South Africa and Holland Update
Mr. Rod King, South Africa and U.K. Regional Director, reports: “The Felber family from Switzerland is off to the warmer climate of Cape Town, South Africa, to visit some Church members. They will be amazed at the beauty of that part of the world where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet! We are planning the next board meeting of the South African corporation for late January, and I am certainly looking forward to catching up with our ministers and their wives for a few days and seeing the office in Harrismith if that is possible. I plan to visit the Peeters in Holland next week so we can conduct the Annual General Meeting for the Dutch corporation.”
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
Questions about Church “Eras”
Some critics believe Mr. Herbert Armstrong taught that Church eras were successive, but the LCG teaches that today several Church eras exist side by side or contemporaneously. Some also assume that the idea that LCG is a remnant of the Philadelphia Church in the Laodicean era contradicts Mr. Armstong’s statement that the Laodicean Church would only appear after the Philadelphia Church was taken to a place of safety—which means the Philadelphia Church would be the only era in existence prior to the Tribulation. This issue generates questions due to a confusion of terms. The Bible indicates (Revelation 2-3) that Church eras are successive—this is what LCG believes. An “era” is the period of time that a particular Church would be predominant in the history of God’s Church. The Ephesian era covered the time of the apostles and possibly their immediate successors—from about 30-120 AD. The Thyatira era appears to extend from about 1000 to 1600 AD. The Sardis era covers a period from about 1600 to 1900 AD. The Philadelphia era is understood to have begun with the ministry of Herbert Armstrong in the 1930s and the era (but not the Church organization) appears to have ended at his death in 1986. Dr. Herman Hoeh felt the Laodicean era began shortly after Mr. Armstrong died, and it does seem with the appearance of hundreds of spin off groups from the WCG—where many are now following their own doctrinal ideas—that we are living in the Laodicean era (see Revelation 3:14-22).
Although Church eras are successive in a historical sense, confusion arises when we see Church organizations continue beyond their eras. Waldensian churches that originated in the Thyatira era still exist today. While early Waldensian churches appear to have kept the Sabbath, Holy Days, dietary laws and other biblical doctrines, many modern Waldensian churches have adopted Protestant doctrines—Sunday worship, Christmas, Easter, etc. In other words, their era representing the Church of God is over, but the Church organization still exists. However, by changing fundamental doctrines, these churches no longer represent the historical teachings of the biblical Church of God. The same situation exists for Church organizations from the Sardis era that continued to exist during the Philadelphia era and still exist today. Mr. Armstrong felt and said that the Sardis churches he came into contact with were God’s people—yet their era was over. While Revelation 3:1-6 refers to Sardis as a “dead” Church, the knowledge of the Sabbath and other doctrines was preserved during this era, and God said He had a “few” in Sardis who would receive a final reward in the Kingdom.
The Philadelphia Church (not the era) is promised protection during the Tribulation because it would “persevere” in preaching the Gospel and in doing the Work (Revelation 3:7-11). This implies that it would continue doing its job even after its era had passed—thus it would be a remnant of the Philadelphia Church in a Laodicean era. While we now appear to be in the Laodicean era—where many are laid back and lukewarm about doctrine and other religious practices—the actual identity of the Laodicean Church as an organization may not become obvious until the Philadelphians are taken to a place of safety. This seems to be essentially what Mr. Armstrong was saying over 25 years ago. An important key to understanding this issue is that Church eras and Church organizations are not necessarily synonymous and they are not always contemporaneous.
NEWS AND PROPHECY—December 21, 2006
Israeli-Vatican Negotiations Resume. Israeli President Olmert has restarted negotiations with the Vatican that were suspended when he came to power in early 2006. Israeli-Vatican talks are aimed at allowing the Catholic Church to maintain control of its churches in the Holy Land and ensure tax exempt status of the church (Catholic News, November 29, 2006). From a prophetic perspective, it will be interesting to watch where this “open dialogue” with the Vatican will lead. Bible prophecy reveals that Gentiles will dominate Jerusalem just before the return of Christ during the “times of the gentiles” (Luke 21:24; Revelation 11:2). Daniel appears to speak of a 7-year treaty that will be made between the Beast Power and the Jews—which could lead to the commencement of sacrifices on the Temple Mount (Daniel 9:27). The signing of this treaty and its abrogation after three and one half years will indicate the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Will the current dialogue between Israel and the Vatican lead to a treaty brokered by the Catholic Church? We need to watch!
Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East? Fearing a nuclear-armed Shiite Iran, the oil-rich Sunni nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—may move to acquire “the bomb.” These six nations have decided to establish a nuclear energy program for “peaceful purposes,” but analysts are skeptical. The Saudis “say they don’t want bombs, but proliferation of any kind of nuclear technology raises the specter of some sort of nuclear arms race,” said Robin Hughes, deputy editor of Jane’s Defense Weekly. The Saudis are worried about Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East, as Tehran backs Shiite allies in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Afraid that Iran may seek revenge against the Persian Gulf states for backing Iraq during the 1980-88 war, Riyadh has said that a nuclear Iran could trigger a regional arms race. The Saudis already have close relations with nuclear-armed Sunni Pakistan (Independent Online [IOL], December 14, 2006). With billions in oil revenues, Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies can afford the best weapons available—so the nuclear race is on across the Middle East! Iran may be pushing nations together who will become the “king of the south” in prophecy (Daniel 11). God long ago prophesied, “Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near, Let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, ‘I am strong’” (Joel 3:9-10).
The Consequences of a Pandemic. William H. Sardo Jr., now age 94, was six years old when the 1918 flu pandemic—then known as the Spanish Influenza—killed 600,000 Americans and up to 100 million people around the world. The disease first surfaced at an Army camp in Kansas near the end of World War I, and soldiers quickly spread it as they traveled to other military installations across the U.S. and Europe. Sardo’s home in Washington, DC, housed his family’s mortuary business; he remembers caskets stacked in the living room. Eventually there was a shortage of coffins, and funeral directors relied on soldiers to dig thousands of graves. During the pandemic, schools, playgrounds and “all places of amusement” were closed. Public gatherings were banned, and the nation’s capitol—where 30,000 were infected, a tenth of whom died—began to shut down. Federal employees were put on staggered schedules to reduce crowding in offices and on public transportation. When churches were asked to close, pastors objected. Sardo, one of the last surviving witnesses of the pandemic, recalls, “There was a feeling that they couldn’t turn to God, other than in prayer” (Associated Press, December 17, 2006). During the pandemics that are prophesied for the future (Matthew 24:7-8), God’s people will need to place their trust in Him for protection and healing (James 5:14-16).—Don Davis, Scott Winnail, Ben Whitfield
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