Unity: Which Church of God for You?

by COGwriter

(Part of this article was originally published in The Journal: News of the Churches of God, in the year 2000. And many changes are in this version as the CGCF/UCG 'merger' has since taken place, CCOG formed, and more more scriptures were added.)

Which church, if any, should you be part of?

How about just being independent?

The Bible teaches:

1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity! (Psalm 133:1).

Although the old Worldwide Church of God (WCG) had various imperfections, by and large there was pleasant unity among the brethren. But what about now? There are probably as many groups (small and large) that once had their origins in WCG as there are major denominations of Protestantism. Why is this? What, if anything, can be done about it?

(Here is a link to a related sermon: Church of God Unity.)

Many of the articles this author has read concerning the scattering of WCG members place the blame on the ministry. And certainly this is consistent with the warnings in Ezekiel 34 concerning the bad shepherds.

Probably the best modern quote on this subject this author ever heard was from a minister who had left WCG who said, "Those ministers who had earlier told members to lose jobs over the Sabbath, were not willing to lose their own jobs over the Sabbath." Actually, one of the reasons for the lack of unity is that many so-called shepherds were not committed to what they publicly proclaimed.

But is this the only problem?

Jesus taught:

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own...My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. " (John 10:11-14,27).

Thus, while Jesus blames the hireling, He also teaches that the sheep are to know and follow Jesus.

In Acts, it strongly supports the concept that the original, but small, New Testament Church of God started out united:

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers ... And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers ... So continuing daily with one accord in the temple Acts 1:14;2:42,46).

Later, Paul suggests this was no longer the case:

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you (1 Corinthians 1:10-11).

The fact that doctrinal and other differences are shown in the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3 also supports the concept that there have been differences in the Churches of God.

The following statement in the Book of Acts shows that these differences among believers were often significant as:

2 Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them (Acts 15:2).

Now because parts of major four groups/eras (Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicean ones) were prophesied to be around at the end, this partially explains why there are many COG groups (as well as claimed COG groups) today.

Many are Called, Few are Chosen

Although many once part of the old WCG blame governance, the Tkach group, the ministry, the leadership of the various Church of God (COG) groups, and other external factors for the lack of unity, the fact remains that God holds each of us responsible for doing the right thing whether or not the ministry does its job.

As taught in Ezekiel 33:6:

6 ... if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity.

The New Testament teaches:

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

And, many who were disillusioned by what happened in WCG (and sometimes other organizations) however, cling to the above, but have failed to realize that they were not supposed to become independent (see also Independent/Unaffiliated: Independent Members of the COG: Herbert W. Armstrong Comments, Plus Questions and Answers).

The apostle Paul warned:

For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears (Acts 20:27-31)

Well, since the death of Herbert W. Armstrong, most who appeared to have obeyed during his life have fallen away. And independents and other non-Philadelphians have failed to accept the whole counsel of God.


Because apparently they failed to "test (or prove) all things; hold fast what is good" as Paul warned (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and, quite likely, had originally failed to follow a major fundamental teaching of Herbert Armstrong, "Don't believe me, believe what is written in your own Bible!"

It seems clear that most who attended the old WCG did not prove whether or not the doctrines were in fact true. This also seems to be consistent with certain prophecies (2 Thessalonians 2:3, Matthew 24:12-13, 2 Timothy 1:15, 2 Timothy 4:3, 1 Timothy 4:1; see also The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings). Zechariah 13:7-9 talks of a time where two-thirds will essentially fall away. So departures from the faith should not be a surprise.

Even though Jesus also taught, "But he who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13), most of the people that were once part of WCG directly or indirectly renounced what WCG used to teach. Most are not members of what this author will refer to as the 'greater Church of God'. Yet, most who are part of the COG have become Laodicean (Revelation 3:14-22). This should not surprise us as it was predicted.

Now getting to those who completely left the faith, notice Paul warned that would happen:

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Jesus likewise warned:

For many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14)

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).

John wrote:

...for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us (1 John 2:19).

Parable of the Tares

Though it is not 'politically correct' to say this, it looks like the following parable from Jesus was also applicable to what happened in WCG:

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn." ' (Matthew 13:24-30).

Thus, some who left the faith may have not have been uprooted earlier to assist those of us who still remain.

Why Many Groups?

Even though about one quarter or so of those who used to profess to believe have not renounced their affiliation with the greater Church of God, there are now many different groups.

Why are these groups separate?

Other than leadership issues (which this author considers to be secondary), a major reason is apparently that many who remain do not agree with some of the fundamental doctrines which were in place at the time of Herbert Armstrong's death even though Paul warned:

9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines (Hebrews 13:9).

Prophetically, the reason has to do with the fact that in the time of the end that most are not Philadelphian.

Most simply either did not understand what being Philadelphian was about and/or did not put that as a priority.

Nearly all groups so misunderstand Bible prophecy that they will NOT know when the Great Tribulation will begin until it is too late (for some details, check out the article Do You Hold to These Laodicean Prophetic Errors?).

Furthermore, many groups have renounced and/or mispplied what Herbert Armstrong claimed was God's form of governance.

HWA himself taught:

God has always, in dealing with humans, worked through ONE MAN at a time -- one who believed God! Some in ancient Israel challenged this one-man leadership. Some, like-wise, have challenged it today! ...  In founding God's Church, Jesus worked primarily through one man, Peter, even though He originally chose His 12 disciples. Few have ever noticed how Peter was the real leader. Jesus had told His disciples to go NOT to the gentiles, but to the "lost sheep of the House of Israel." ... Notice now PETER'S preeminence. Few have ever put all these scriptures together as I shall now do. This shows PETER was leader. ... And, though there were other apostles, God worked primarily through ONE man - PETER! Has God changed? Or is He the SAME still today? ... The Jerusalem conference (Acts 15) showed that PETER was predominant over even Paul, although Paul was the ONE MAN God worked through primarily in the ministry to gentiles. The CHURCH is GOD'S Church. (Armstrong, Herbert W. And NOW Christ Sets Church Back On Track Doctrinally. Good News, April 1979).

The government of God has been restored to the Church, and the government of God has been placed in the Church. You read that in Ephesians 4 and I Corinthians 12. Christ is the head of the Church and under Christ in the administration of the government are an apostle or apostles, then evangelists, then pastors, then all are called elders, all ministers all the way up clear down to the lowest. So then there are teachers and elders both speaking elders and preaching elders, deacons and deaconesses. And the Church is restored in that form of government. The Sardis Church even didn't have the right form of government (Armstrong HW. Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era. Sermon, 12/17/83).

The government of God is of necessity government from the top down. It cannot be 'government by the consent of the governed' (Armstrong HW. Mystery of the Ages. 1985, p.49).

Someone in October 2019 told me he had been in WCG for decades and that HE KNEW doctrine, yet he did not believe that church governance should be defined by Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12. He wanted it based on HIS INTERPRETATION of 1 Peter 5:1-4, to which I told him that this did not negate Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12.--but he had made up HIS own mind.

Someone else in October 2019 , but who did not have a prior WCG bckground, asked if it was not better that a group ran a church as opposed to having a top leader. My response was that not only was hierarchical governance biblical, it was also more efficient financially and doctrinally. The group shw had asked about spends more money on bureaucratic aspects of its governance that CCOG spends in total, plus its by laws have boxed it into to a position that it has not allowed it to officially make corrections to fix doctrinal errors. And that is just one example.

Now notice what the Apostle Paul wrote about Jesus' idea of governance:

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ -- 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Notice that a specific order, a hierarchy if you will, is taught in the New Testament via Paul:

28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (1 Corinthians 12:28-30).

There is only one person that long-term evangelists ordained by Herbert W. Armstrong said could be prophet, and that was Bob Thiel (see Church of God Leaders on Prophets). There is only one person who unexpectedly was anointed to receive a double-portion of God's spirit by an ordained COG minister and then told this was reminiscient of the passing of the mantle, and that was Bob Thiel (see Herbert W. Armstrong, the Philadelphia Church, & the Mantle). There is one church with the most signs of Acts 2:17-18 (see Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?), and its human leader is Bob Thiel.

Most independents seem to NOT believe that God could be mainly working through one group and that they should support that group. They seem to be wise in their eyes and trust themselves.

Plus, those in various organized groups refuse to accept how God works.

.Notice that the Bible warns against that:

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)

The following from the Old Testament seems to apply to the Laodiceans:

12 There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, Yet is not washed from its filthiness. 13 There is a generation--oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up. (Proverbs 30:12-13)

The Laodiceans are essentially the last generation of the Church age. They need to be washed and have white garments, but they think they are fine already.

Jesus prophesied:

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13)

This is basically what happened to the old WCCG and a falling away apostasy. This also led to the Laodiceans to become the majority--most Christians in the end times are Laodicean. Many also do not care much about Africans or others in poorer parts of the world--they lost a lot of their love.

They seem to think making some efforts towards Matthew 24:14 is sufficient as God calls. Yet, they do not seem to understand that getting Gentile converts really is part of God's plan. They fail to have proper love towards the brethren.

Notice the following:

27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. 29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:27-30)

Gentiles will be among the rulers in the Kingdom of God. Yes, massive amounts of Gentiles will later be called in the age to come (see also Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation).

Are more Gentiles going to be called in this age?


In Romans 11, verse 25, the Apostle Paul wrote the following:

25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)

26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:26-27)

So, in the sequence of Romans 11, we see the full number of the Gentiles will come into the faith (Romans 11:25), prior to Jesus’ return (Romans 11:26).

The late Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, taught the following about Romans 11:25:

Now I want you to study carefully one of the most wonderful, important chapters in all the Bible -- the 11th of Romans. … Verse 23 says those who abide not still in unbelief shall YET receive salvation. … Now study carefully beginning verse 25: “Blindness in part is happened to Israel [HOW LONG? Forever? No -- note it], UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” -- the end of this age during which God is calling a people from among the gentiles to bear His name (Acts 15:14). And so, says Romans 11:26, “all Israel SHALL BE SAVED [how?]: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” The Deliverer, Jesus Christ, is coming again!

When He comes, the gentile times will be over -- the BLINDNESS will be removed from the Israelites -- and their opportunity -- their FIRST chance -- of salvation will then come to those whom God had blinded! This is at the time when He comes to REIGN on HIS THRONE -- the throne of David, with the saints made immortal reigning and ruling with Him -- and the time is DURING THE THOUSAND YEARS!

Notice verse 31. These blinded Israelites have not now, in this age, received mercy, that through the mercy of the gentiles saved in this age, they MAY, THEN, obtain mercy and salvation. How? Because these saved gentiles will then be kings and priests, assisting in this wonderful Work! (Armstrong HW. Where Will The MILLENNIUM Be Spent? Tomorrow’s Word magazine, September 1971, p. 5)

25: “Blindness in part is happened until Israel”-HOW LONG? Forever? No-note it-“UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” -the end of this age during which God is calling a people from among the Gentiles to bear His name (Acts 15: 14). … These blinded Israelites have not now, in this age, received mercy, that thru the mercy of the Gentiles saved in this age, they MAY, THEN, obtain mercy and salvation. How? Because these saved Gentiles will then be kings and priests, assisting in this wonderful work! (Armstrong HW. Where Will The MILLENNIUM Be Spent? Plain Truth, February-March 1954 , pp. 4-5)

(25) For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel [or that part of Israel, meaning the great part, the big part -- all but a few, have been blinded. It’s the big part actually] until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. [Or the number of Gentiles to be converted becomes complete -- as other translations have it] (Armstrong HW. Romans 11-13. Bible Study, June 27, 1980)

Clearly, we are much closer to the time when all the Gentiles are to come in to later be kings and priests than when those articles were published (see also: Christians are to Rule).

More of the Gentiles had to be called and converted– and that is happening now!

Sadly, many people are affected by prejudices and other factors which stop them from acting on the truth and supporting the reaching of the Gentiles.

Getting back to Matthew 24:12, its last fulfillment looks to be when the persecutions of Daniel 11:29-35 take place. Then, they will likely tell themselves it is not them being persecuted, only some fringe COG-types, so they are fine. Furthermore, they will not consider that it will be time to flee when it is.

Unlike the Philadelphians, the lukewarm Laodiceans did not "hold fast" (Revelation 3:11), endure with the right attitude, towards the work of reaching others. They felt that because they got through the lawless teachings of the Tkach Administration, that they were fine. But the Bible is clear that keeping the commandments and not being Philadelphian is NOT enough for protection from the coming hour of trial (Revelation 3:10; 12:14-17). Many will not have the proper love towards their persecuted brethren.

Many, if not most, groups have changed the belief in Church eras and a place of safety. Many groups have eliminated tithing (or at least parts of it). Several groups have adopted a different calendar system. Several groups have gotten involved with the 'sacred names' movement (see Sacred Names: True or False Gospel?). Several others have adopted Jewish customs and rituals (even though Jesus warned the Pharisees about that in Matthew 15; see also Messianic Judaism Beliefs Differ from the Continuing Church of God). At least two groups falsely claim to have a 'prophet' (see Teachings Unique to the Philadelphia Church of God and Concerns About Ronald Weinland's Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God). At least two have claimed to be led by 'apostles' (see Why Not the Restored Church of God? and Teachings of Triumph Prophetic Ministries). One or more claim to have a way to 'uncode the Bible' instead of reading it as written.

Many former WCG members, frustrated by all the problems in the various groups, consider themselves 'independent' and refer to those in the groups as members of 'corporate churches'. It should be added that many of the independents have wildly different beliefs on what most of us once affiliated with WCG considered to be biblically backed doctrine.

If WCG members truly understood and accepted true biblical governance, there would be unity. But relatively few did.

In addition to rejecting aspects of governance, many groups and independents have declared (or indicated) that since Herbert Armstrong preached the "gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 24:14) to the world that this either does not need to be done or at least it is not the leading priority for their group (Two articles with more details on these subjects are The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government and Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?).

Another Laodicean way this is happening is that some will attend with multiple groups, so they are not committed to any, and give some of their tithes and offerings to a group that does some gospel proclamation. They are trying not to be cold, but certainly they are not being hot.

The true cause of all of this is consistent with what Jesus foretold about at least four attitudes around at the time of the end within the Church of God: that of Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea (and even multiple attitudes within each of those four). And that is what we see today. Many no longer believe in “Church eras” and fail to see that multiple Laodicean groups, to cite one example, were essentially prophesied to exist now.

The reality is that most who were once in the old Worldwide Church of God did not truly accept the doctrines taught as of the time of the death of Herbert W. Armstrong and did not have the same view towards the mission of the Philadelphia era and did not value the truth enough, thus this is why there are many groups.

Personal vanity and other sins are also a major factor. Some value social contact more, some value convenience of local congregations, some value contact with certain ministers, some want control, some do not want to tithe, some just want to be on their own. But the reality is that most, as Herbert Armstrong said once in a sermon, DID NOT GET IT.

Now, that does not mean that individuals in different COGs cannot get along, but the reality is that COG history is full of splits and difficulties, and that was prophesied. Information on COG history can be found in the free pdf booklet: Continuing History of the Church of God.

The Bible does not endorse “group think,” but instead endorses individual responsibility for one’s spiritual life (Matthew 10:34-37, Philippians 2:12). But the Bible also teaches that those that will not properly 'gather together' (Zephaniah 2:1-3), with the true Philadlephia remnant (Revelation 3:7-10) will not receive the promised protection from the coming 'hour of trial.'

Yet, many that I have spoke with that claim to be in the COG, but were not supporting the Philadelphia work have basically told me that they were not in a more faithful group because of their friends, family, etc. were part of it (cf. Matthew 10:34-37), its location/activities were less conducive (cf. Matthew 13:45-46), they liked/dislike a certain minister (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:5-6), there was not a local congregation near-by etc. But all those criteria are discounted in the Bible.

Pride is perhaps the biggest factor affecting unity. The Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-18) seem to have a major problem with pride.

Speaking of the Laodiceans, it should be noted that unlike the message to the other six churches of Revelation 2 & 3 which starts out addressing each singulary, the message to the Laodiceans is addressed in the plural form. What does that mean? Well, that helps show that multiple Laodicean churches would be around at the end. The splits that now exist were basically prophecied over 1900 years ago. Clearly this indicates that, because of lukewarmness, there would be many groups.

From an outside perspective (only God truly looks at the heart) it appears that most remaining outside of the Continuing Church of God do not seem to feel that they really need "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3) while getting the gospel out as top priority in truth. How can we be together if we do not "all speak the same thing" (I Corinthians 1:10). Others who claim to do this, sadly, often rely more on traditions of men than the word of God.

It should be added that those of us who still believe in Church eras, believe that there will be at least four different broad groups (not limited to any particular corporations) during the end time. One that compromises (Thyatira, Revelation 2:18-26), one that has a name that it is alive, but is dead (Sardis, Rev 3:1), another who keeps Jesus' command to persevere (Philadelphia, Rev 3:10), and the final one that is lukewarm where, apparently, the people do not care that they have problems (Laodicea, Rev 3:14,16; note 'justice of the people' is how Smith's Bible Dictionary translates Laodicea).

Perhaps it should be noted that with the Laodicean COG's, there are dozens of wrong prophetic teachings which will prevent them from realizing that the Great Tribulation will begin unless they repent. These are documented in the article The Laodicean Church Era.

Efforts at Unification

Since as Paul wrote, "For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:5), it would seem to make sense that those of us in the Church of God should be united now, if possible.

Some public efforts towards unification within the various fellowships have happened. The Bible Sabbath Association has long tried to cooperate with many groups, though they later changed. The old Giving and Sharing used to as well, before it essentially shut down with its founder's death.

The discussions between the United Church of God (UCG) and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship (CGCF) did not surprise this author as he had long felt that the two groups may eventually merge. However, the following comment in a publicly disclosed letter from UCG's board to CGCF's board (dated May 10, 2000) was a surprise:

Many have asked the question in recent years, 'Why do people who believe the same doctrines assemble in different places and refuse to meet together?' We need to answer this question. At recent Feasts members and ministers of both of our churches have enjoyed fellowship, combined youth activities, talent shows, and visiting for services. It has been recognized by most of us that our common heritage remains strong, our teachings and understanding of God’s word are the same, and what differences remain are primarily a matter of perceptions or past hurts.

Unless at least two of the people once on CGCF's board have changed their positions on certain doctrines, the differences are more than "primarily a matter of perceptions of past hurts"--they hold to different doctrines in certain important areas. Essentially, UCG has changed governance (but so had CGCF) and changed the priority of proclaiming the gospel (but so, essentially, had CGCF). (For partial documentation, please see the article Differences Between the United Church of God and the Global Church of God in The Journal issue January 31, 1998 which includes older quotes from the leadership and some of the membership of these two organizations. There is newer article at the author's web site titled Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God which documents some of the current differences between two groups which had their origins in the Worldwide Church of God. (RCG has repeatedly called for unification with it, but what it wants is not biblical, see also Why Not the Restored Church of God?)

Lest this author give the wrong impression, he is pleased when groups once affiliated with WCG are talking and may possibly merge or cooperate. The only objection is that unity based on doctrinal compromise (which may happen if some of the groups merge, and did happen in the case of the CGCF/UCG 'merger') is not good thing (it should be also understood that some minor differences of opinion are normal and not considered to be doctrinal compromise). Let us not forget our world history--the Catholic (which means 'universal' or 'unifying') Church has a history of compromise for growth--we are not to be one of her daughters (Revelation 17:5;18:4).

If, however, the doctrinal issues are properly resolved (and one would hope they would be able to be resolved to agree with the Bible and traditional WCG teachings in mind) then unity is 'good and pleasant' (Psalm 133:1).

Why are You Where You Are?

Irrespective of what happens in or between the various groups, when was the last time you asked yourself why you affiliate with who you do (or don't in many cases)? Since the Bible is to be the source of doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16), it is from the Bible that information to help deciding where one should fellowship can be found.

Perhaps the most fundamental is what Paul wrote:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Jesus similarly taught that:

Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:22-23).

Thus, one should not be part of a group that practice (or teaches lawlessness; see also Mystery of Iniquity)--the current WCG (now called Grace Communion International) sadly is a group like that.

The Bible clearly indicates that one should not make their religious decisions on the basis of what family members decide (Luke 14:26).

Jesus also taught, And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:27)

Thus one probably should not chose one fellowship over another because one seems 'easier' to bear..

The Bible indicates that financial reasons are also unacceptable (Matthew 13:22). Family reasons are also unacceptable according to Jesus (Matthew 10:34-37). The fact that one likes the preaching style of one minister (or group) more than another also does not seem to be biblically sanctioned (1 Corinthians 1:12-13), nor does the fact that one does not like aspects of the leading minister (2 Corinthians 10:10).

Where Should One Be?

Other than avoiding churches that practice lawlessness, there are other biblical guidelines that give information on where one should be. Does the group "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3)? If so, great, but is this the only criteria?

Jesus taught that His people would be set-apart by the truth:

17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:17-19)

Sadly, nearly all COG groups have doctrinal and/or prophetic teachings that they insist upon that are not true. Because of that they cannot hold the end time Philadelphia mantle as they are not, "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). Notice also:

4 For the word of the Lord is right, And all His work is done in truth. (Psalms 33:4)

10 Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord deceitfully, (Jeremiah 48:10)

The work needs to be done in truth and those that insist on doctrines and prophetic teachings that are not true are not leading the Philadelphian remnant of the Church of God. That is a big part of why the Laodiceans and other non-Philadelphians are not promised protection from the 'hour of trial' (the Great Tribulation) like the Philadelphians are (Revelation 3:7-10).

The Bible also teaches:

3 I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. (Psalms 101:3)

If you, and/or the group you may be part of, have fallen away, now is the time to repent, change, and do what is right (cf. Galatians 6:1).

Jesus also taught:

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples...You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit (John 15:7,8,16).

Thus individual members are to bear fruit. And:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Matt 7:15-20).

Thus groups should be judged by their fruits! The next verse says:

Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

What is the will of the Father regarding fruit? That we bear much of it! Thus, whatever group you are affiliated with should be trying to bear fruit.

Jesus clearly indicates that this is not just talking about an individual improving one's own life as He said:

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)

But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matthew 13:23).

Therefore, it appears clear that one should be affiliated with a group that places a high priority of developing fruit through proclaiming the gospel! Even though this author has heard some say that this is the job of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3,7) or the 'third angel' (Revelation 14:6), here is what Jesus says this to those who want to wait for someone else:

Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! (John 4:35).

I believe that the evidence demonstrates that the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) has done the best job in terms of priorities on proclaiming the gospel while relying on the Bible over traditions of men than any other group. The CCOG has picked up the Philadelphia mantle and is leading the final phase of the work.

While the author clearly feels that many of the COGs have not done a good job of publicly proclaiming the Gospel and remaining faithful to doctrine as they should have. This does not mean that the efforts of those such as formerly LCG's Dibar Apartian, UCG's Scott Ashley, CGI's Ian Boyne, and in the past former Church of God, aic's Brian Orchard, and others have gone unnoticed. These men all seem to have been faithful in their efforts to support what they believed the Church of God stood for, under what could be considered extreme conditions. Perhaps, if doctrinal differences can be resolved, we could, in that theory, combine together. But, because of the time we are in and the prophecies related to Laodiceans, do not expect all the COGs to unite.

Attendance in Other Fellowships

So let us assume you have examined the teachings of the various groups. You have determined which group best contends for the the faith once delivered (Jude 3), is true to the Bible (II Timothy 3:16), bears fruit (Matthew 7:15-20), and is proclaiming the gospel (Matthew 24:14;28:19-20; Mark 8:35).

So are there times it is proper to attend services of another fellowship?

The biblical answer is yes. The apostles often attended Jewish services when Christian churches were not around (e.g. Acts 14:1). They also attended Christian church services when they were available (Acts 14:27;15:4).

The author himself has attended with several other fellowships at various times primarily because he does not wish to, "forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some" (Hebrews 10:25). Initially, he did so because there was no ability fellowship with a Philadelphian remnant group when he first left WCG. And other times he did so, because that group did not have services available in various locations he traveled to. These seem to be biblically acceptable reasons and are also consistent with the traditional teachings and practices of the old WCG. It should be added that when he attended at those other fellowships, he was not disruptive nor argumentative, but grateful for the opportunity to fellowship with those of similar faith.

The author, however, does not believe that one should regularly fellowship with a group other than the one's primary group if the opportunity to fellowship with one's primary group exists. If one is truly in the group that is most appropriate, Ecclesiastes 9:10 would seem to apply, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might."

How does the Continuing Church of God differ from other Sabbatarian COG groups?

Some have wondered, “How is the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) different from the other former Worldwide Church of God (WCG)-connected churches with the ten-twenty most amount of congregants?”

Here are twelve ways:

  1. We are more biblically-focused. Our sermons tend to contain more scriptures than others–enough so that our English online sermons have truly helped fulfill Matthew 28:19-20–we have taught all that the New Testament records that Jesus taught (proof can be seen in a sermon listing of the Gospels, etc. with links at COGWriter.com). We also read the entire ‘book of the law’ every seven years at the Feast of Tabernacles as instructed in Deuteronomy 31:10-13 (see also The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time to Learn the Law).
  2. We have more information in more languages in order to fulfill the commissions of Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20 to reach the world with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and other teachings (see also Preaching the Gospel in Over 100 Languages).
  3. Many teachings are restored in more detail. For some examples, check out our books: Continuing History of the Church of God, Proof Jesus is the Messiah, and Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation.
  4. We were the first group in the 21st century to boldly, and more accurately, teach why God made anything including humans (see The MYSTERY of GOD’s PLAN Why Did God Create Anything? Why did God make you?). Which is: God made what He did so that eternity would be better and that God made humans so each who ultimately accept Him, in their own way, will give love to help make eternity better (it is not clear if the other COG’s teach this yet).
  5. We post more accurate information online on prophecy and world events (for example, check out Daily Bible News and Prophecy Updates), which shows we are serious about Jesus’ admonition to watch (Mark 13:37) and warn (cf. What is the Ezekiel Warning?).
  6. We do not have the prophetic errors that many teach, which (unless they change) will prevent them from knowing when the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) will start until it is basically too late (for details, check out The Laodicean Church Era) to flee (cf. Zephaniah 2:1-3; Revelation 12:14-17; see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Near Petra).
  7. We are the fastest growing xWCG church in the 21st century (e.g. CCOG’s 6 Years and Scriptures Laodiceans Miss).
  8. Like the start of the Philadelphian era was preceded by a dream from God given to a woman, the official 21st century start of the remnant of that era was also preceded by a dream from God given to a woman--furthermore several associated with CCOG have had confirmed dreams (see Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God). We are not just one of scores of COG groups, but the only mantle-possessing Philadelphian organization and the leader of the Philadelphian remnant that God is using to go through doors He opens (Revelation 3:7-8) for the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14, Romans 11:25, etc. in the final phase of the work.
  9. Unlike the claimed COG groups with a claimed prophet, CCOG is the only group whose prophet first had hands laid upon him by another related to that role (and that was done after being told by a long-serving evangelist that God may consider him to be a prophet) (see How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God) and he received dreams consistent with how God says He communicates with His prophets (Numbers 12:6). We also believe we best practice biblical governance (see also The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government) and that is part of why God has blessed us. We are also the only group that seems to have many of the signs the Apostle Peter said the end time faithful would have in Acts 2:17-18 (see also Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?).
  10. CCOG is the only one of the ‘top ten’ US headquartered COG’s whose top human leader has not taken a salary. Such monies instead have been used to support the poor (Galatians 2:10, 6:10) and preach the gospel to the poor (Luke 4:18), particularly poor Gentiles (cf. Romans 11:25). We also spend the highest portion of our income to do this than any of the ‘top ten’ groups we know of (cf. Luke 12:34. Philadelphia means “love of the brethren’ and we show that love through proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God around the world and supporting poor brethren. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble” (James 1:27).
  11. Our focus includes supporting the fulfillment of Romans 11:25 (e.g. What About Romans 11:25 and the Full Number of the Gentiles?) as well as providing the ‘Ezekiel warning’ to ‘Israel’ (e.g. What is the Ezekiel Warning?) (many are not serious enough about Romans 11:25 and some are lukewarm when it comes to making warnings related to specific sins). This focus is more than just providing a witness only, but also includes efforts we believe can be used for God granting conversions (John 6:44; Romans 9:27, 11:25).
  12. Knowing that a ‘famine of the word is coming’ (Amos 8:11-12) and that Philadelphian Christians are to do the work when we can (John 9:4; Revelation 3:7-13), we are strategically and specifically preparing for the ‘short work‘ (cf. Romans 9:27-28) through literature, websites, media, videos, visits, and other means, that will help lead to God’s determination that Matthew 24:14 has been sufficiently provided as a witness for the end to come (see also Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word).

And there are more.

Including that we are more upfront than many about what we do teach. We are “speaking the truth in love, {so true Christians} may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ -- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16). The apostles were confirmed by signs that followed them (Mark 16:20) and there have been signs that have confirmed the Continuing Church of God (for some details, see Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?).

We teach the truths that were restored to the Philadelphian era of the Church of God (see, for example, Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God), including various ones others have lost. We add details and other information that early Church of God leaders wrote about in the earliest centuries of the Christian church as well as what Philadelphia-era Church of God leaders wrote of as well

Furthermore, basically, we believe that we best represent the continuation of the original Christian church of Acts 2 and the remnant of the Philadelphia Church Era in the 21st century as we lead work towards the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14 and other aspects of the The Final Phase of the Work. We look forward to the resurrection (Acts 23:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) and the “blessed hope” of Jesus’ return (Titus 2:13) and the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

Basically the Continuing Church of God believes it is (and through scripture and various facts, prove that it is) the most faithful remnant of the Philadelphian portion of the Church of God,

We believe that Jesus has shown His favor through opening doors (Revelation 3:7-8) to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, providing fulfilled dreams (see also Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?), and growth in believers (see, for example, What About Romans 11:25 and the Full Number of the Gentiles?).

We believe that we are leading the final phase of the work and that the most faithful Christian will ‘gather together’  (Zephaniah 2:1-3) as part of us prior to the start of the Great Tribulation (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Near Petra). And more are joining with us to support God’s end time work each year.


Unity in the Churches of God is still elusive as division was prophesied.

The desire for unity is not new. Paul wrote:

"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift" (Ephesians 4:1-7).

Paul admonished unity and one faith. This would not have been necessary to write if complete unity existed.

The apostles were confirmed by signs that followed them (Mark 16:20). God provided signs bearing witness to early Christians according to His Spirit and will (Hebrews 12:2). There have been signs that have confirmed the Continuing Church of God (see Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18?), Plus, consider that the old Radio/Worldwide Church of God pointed to a dream that preceded its formation as part of its confirmation that it had God’s blessing (see Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God). Please accept the criteria that God, not some organization claiming to best represent Him, has set for determining who is a true prophet of God. Do not add non-biblical criteria, which is what most have done.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

People complained that the apostle Paul was not really an apostle and that he was a not a good speaker, but was a better writer. Some depictions of him show him short and balding, Some believe his affliction was a problem with his vision. Yet, despite being despised and criticized by humans, God used him to write more of the New Testament than anyone else.

Now, there is an interesting difference related to the Laodiceans and other eras.

In His messages to the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3, the first six start out stating, "And to the angel of the church in...write." However, that differs from the seventh message. Notice what it states:

14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write (Revelation 3:14)

As this article mentioned before, the message is to the LAODICEANS PLURAL. This strongly supports the view that there would be a lot of Laodicean churches in the end time. One of the main reasons that there is lack of unity amongst those who once were part of the old WCG is that few of them truly felt that they were called to be Philadelphian Christians. Most discounted that, while others have totally misunderstood what it meant to be Philadephian. The Laodicean churches also do not understand key aspects of end time prophecy and not understand many signs associated with the end (see also The Laodicean Church Era).

The COG does not need organizational unity as much as it needs people to wake up and be Philadelphian. If those within it will do so and rely on the Bible above personal preferences that they tend to have, such Philadelphian organizational unity can be attained. And such unity, to some degree, will happen prior to the start of the Great Tribulation (cf. Zephaniah 2:1-3; Revelation 3:7-14).

The Bible warns, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14). While this author strongly believes that most of those in the greater Church of God are believers, there are areas where many no longer believe what WCG used to teach. The Bible also warns, "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" (Amos 3:3).

It is the author's fervent hope that the those who are or were in the Churches of God need to examine the teachings and practices of the Bible and various groups and make their decisions based upon biblical guidelines--this should be done irrespective of any possible discussions between the different COG groups. It is also his hope that the various groups can examine each others differences, agree to officially resolve them, resolve them to teach "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3), and unite if possible. In order to help the matter, all members of the Church of God family should individually do the same.

This latter hope, if realized, would result in true unity of the faith and maybe even organizational unity for the end time remnants of the Philadelphia Church. For others, it will come later--after Jesus returns (Zechariah 2:10-12).

Which COG do I believe is the most faithful? That would be the Continuing Church of God.

Here is a link to a related sermon: Church of God Unity.

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