Does GOD Have a Headquarters Church Today?
Where is the central church of divine authority to which scattered members and local churches should look for TRUE DOCTRINE or to settle disputed points?
By Herman Hoeh
INCREASING numbers are now being added by God to His Church. The establishment of local congregations is steadily increasing. God’s church is growing.
BUT it is inevitable that with such wonderful growth, there should also be new problems. Decisions must be made to settle questions and confirm the faith of new converts.
Gods’s church is a holy church. No person can “join” It. We are inducted into it by God through receiving and being led by the Holy Spirit. In God’s church there is not to be confusion, antagonism, or quarrelling. “For God is NOT the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints”(I Cor. 14:33).
Although we who have been truly added by God have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in us and guiding us, yet we are human. We still have to master and overcome our fleshly minds and passions. We have not yet attained perfection in character, which is our goal. With human nature striving against God’s Spirit in us, it is inevitable that questions and controversies will arise—that disputes would flare into bitter contentions unless God should provide a way to preserve the church in unity.
Problems Are Inevitable
Paul wrote that “there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (I Cor. 11:19). There will always arise contentions between those who have not totally yielded themselves to God and those brethren who are fully obedient to the faith. Almost the entire New Testament is devoted to the way to handle these disputes, to bring about harmony in the spirit of love, that the work of carrying the gospel to all the world may be completed through the arduous zeal of ALL the members of the church of God.
In order that no disharmony should develop today, let us notice how Jesus governed the church of God at its inception in 31 A.D. Remember that Jesus Christ RULES our church today in the same manner as He ruled it from the beginning. . He does not change in conduct. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb.13:8).
Church at Jerusalem a “Headquarters Church”
The church of God at Jerusalem was a “headquarters church” to whom all looked for TRUTH! Other local churches often became confused. Controversies and disputes on certain points entered. It was to the Jerusalem church, which had God’s authority, that they all turned.
Let’s notice it.
In Acts 15:1 and 2, we read of a dispute that arose in the local churches in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. In their midst were Paul and Barnabas, both of great authority in the church. Yet to whom did the brethren turn in order to settle the dispute? TO THE HEADQUARTERS CHURCH—JERUSALEM—WHERE THE OTHER APOSTLES AND ELDERS WERE GATHERED!
At Jerusalem the question would be considered and decided—why? Because the brethren knew that Jesus had given special authority to His ministers who were at the headquarters or mother church—Jerusalem.
Jesus conferred upon His representatives the keys of the kingdom of God and authority to guide the church through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They could “bind,” Or forbid certain things; and they could “loose,” or permit certain things. In Matthew 18:18, Jesus gives his ministers the authority to make binding decisions, based on the revelation of God and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in order to preserve the unity of the church in love and truth!
This explains the reason that the brethren mentioned in the book of Acts turned to the mother church at Jerusalem to settle their questions and disputes. They knew Jesus had promised to guide his apostles into all truth (John 16:13). The apostles had been thoroughly trained through the personal correction, reproof and instruction of Jesus.
The apostles in turn had thoroughly instructed the elders and the congregation at Jerusalem in the way of truth. The church at Jerusalem was kept pure by the constant admonition and correction of the elders and apostles so that it might be the example to all other churches. Christians, like all human beings, need to learn by example. In New Testament times the churches in Gentile nations “became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus” (I Thess. 2:14); and the churches in Judea were to pattern themselves after the headquarters church, the church at Jerusalem.
The congregation at Jerusalem, recognizing this responsibility, acted in her capacity. The apostles and elders, with the whole church, made the decisions and they were binding on all other churches (Acts 15:22). They sent letters to the various local congregations explaining what “seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us” (Acts 15:28). Again, in a previous situation, when it was known that certain individuals had preached in Antioch and news of “these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem…they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch” (Acts 11:22).
Notice how the Jerusalem church, acting in her capacity, watched over, corrected, and even intervened in the affairs of her daughter churches.
No other church could claim this right which God had conferred on the Jerusalem church alone.
The Example at Ephesus
Let us call to mind the example of the church at Ephesus, where Paul had spent three whole years instructing and training the elders and the brethren. He knew even at his departure that false teachers and disloyal elders would soon “arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).
This is exactly what happened. Ephesus, and all the local churches in the surrounding Roman province of Asia, were soon turned against Paul personally by false teachers and disloyal elders who sought personal power and prestige themselves (II Timothy 1:15). The church was torn by divisions and controversies. It was not the example after which all the other churches were to pattern their conduct. It was not the central or mother church from which the gospel of the kingdom or government of God was sent forth into the world.
Jerusalem Church Was Headquarters
The Jerusalem church was the mother church especially because it was the headquarters from which the apostles carried on their work of evangelizing the world. It was to the Jerusalem church that the apostles and Paul often returned after completing their journeys.
Jerusalem remained the mother church during the entire apostolic period, when the gospel was first carried to the known world. The apostolic church was given TWO 19-year cycles in which to spread the gospel of the Kingdom to the nations. During the first cycle, its spread was confined to Asia; but at the beginning of the second cycle, God opened a great DOOR for the spread of the gospel into Macedonia in Europe!
The meaning of this DOOR is defined in II Corinthians 2:12-13. “I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a DOOR was opened to me of the Lord”—a means to preach the gospel abroad. The gospel then spread until 69 A.D.—during the second 19-year cycle. In that year the organized power of the church to preach the gospel abroad was stopped. The central church at Jerusalem was forced to flee immediately before the final siege of the city by the Roman armies.
Today’s Church Prophesied
Now, just before the second coming of Christ to restore peace to this war-weary world, God has again given His church two 19-year cycles in which to carry the gospel of the kingdom to the whole world in fulfillment of Jesus’ commission. Just as the early church was granted two 19-year cycles FOLLOWING THE ANSCENSION OF JESUS TO HEAVEN, so now He has granted His church two 19-year cycles PRIOR TO HIS RETURN TO THIS EARTH in which this gospel must finally encircle the globe.
Jesus gave a message for His church today (Rev. 3:7-13), a prophetic letter telling precisely what we would be accomplishing at this very moment. We are doing the same work as the early true church—carrying the gospel of the kingdom to the world. We have less human power and strength, we are smaller in number than that early church; but we have the same power of GOD, and God has opened before us a DOOR—the door of radio and the printing press—which multiplies our power to reach today’s increased world population.
The first 19-year cycle has already passed, and we are now spreading the gospel abroad to Europe and finally the entire world in this last 19-year cycle.
What wonderful and momentous times!
BUT, as the work of the church progresses, and as new converts are being added constantly and new local congregations established, where is the central church to which the scattered members and church congregations should look for TRUE DOCTRINE, or to settle disputed points?
The Answer Made Plain
The church at Jerusalem was the mother church because it was the headquarters for carrying out the gospel. At that church were those who were especially called and trained by Jesus, who were filled and led by the Holy Spirit. That church was not torn by factions and false doctrines, by disputes and controversies. In its midst was the main body of ministers to whom Jesus had committed the authority to make binding decisions!
In our day, when the same gospel is being preached, there is again a headquarters church, PROVEN BY ITS FRUITS—a church to whom you scattered brethren can turn in times of doubt and controversy, a church to whom God has committed the authority to make binding decisions in order to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of love (Eph. 4:3).
This central church is at PASADENA!
From the church at Pasadena eminates the broadcasts and the magazines that go to the world. It is at this church that the main body of ministers either constantly remain or continually return. At Pasadena is a church not torn by strife and division, but one thoroughly instructed in the faith, composed of faithful ministers and members. At Pasadena there is the Spirit of God—there is LOVE and PEACE—there is complete agreement, harmony, unity, under the leadership of Christ.
The church at Pasadena, in exercising its God-given AUTHORITY as the headquarters church, has already made binding decisions which had dissolved the doubts and problems of many brethren and even of local congregations.
It is marvellous how God guided and directed His church through the past years. Having begun the work of spreading the gospel in 1934, in Oregon, Jesus Christ caused the headquarters to be moved to Pasadena in 1947. Many of the most faithful brethren came to Pasadena, together with Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong. Here at Pasadena, Ambassador College was founded to provide adequate ministerial help in spreading the good news of the kingdom—the government and rule of God. Already seven ministers have been ordained, most of whom constantly remain here because of their duties. They have all been thoroughly trained in the TRUTH.
Instead of having confusion, as we find in so many denominations, God’s way is a way of love and order, a way of obedience to His will as He reveals it in the Scriptures—His revelation to man. It is the government of God, not the will of men or of a dictator professing to bear God’s authority. Peter explains God’s rule in the church very simply: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, BUT BEING EXAMPLES TO THE FLOCK” (I Peter 5:2-3).
Who Shall Determine Dates and Places?
EDITOR’S COMMENTARY: Consider, now, one concrete example.
Does God intend each individual member to decide where, when, and how group activities of the whole church shall be held? Or does Christ, the living HEAD of His Church, determine these things, and inspire the apostles and elders whom HE has chosen and installed in office, at His headquarters Church, to know His truth and set such dates, places, and ways of observance?
Jesus truly said we may KNOW people by their fruits—and we may know this answer by the fruits of experience.
As an illustration, just one of God’s annual holy days falls on a day which must be calculated by COUNTING. All other holy days are set calendar days. But when we come to the very day which pictures our Church in this age as God’s first fruits of salvation, and the symbol of the reception of His Holy Spirit within us—the day called “Pentecost,” we are instructed to COUNT from a definite calendar day.
Are all people competent to make this calculation? Certainly God would not have each individual calculate it for himself unless every individual is competent to come to the right date!
The carnal-minded pagans from an early year after the dispersion of the headquarters Church from Jerusalem calculated this day always to fall on a SUNDAY. * The Roman Catholic Church adopted this calculation, and also the Protestant churches.
The Jews, whom God used in spite of their apostacies and errors to preserve His sacred calendar, have counted this day from the morrow after the first annual holy day, instead of from the morrow after the weekly Sabbath, as Israel did originally. Consequently the Jews count to a day which always falls on a set calendar day, just like all the others—the 6th Sivan. If they were correct, God would never have told us to “COUNT” to the day of Pentecost.
Some, today, begin the first day of the first month with the wrong new moon on certain years, and have ALL the holy days calculated one month astray.
Some, not knowing that the word “from” means “away out of,” and in their ignorance of the English language absurdly supposing it to mean “beginning with,” count only 49 days instead of 50. Others, not understanding the Hebrew language in which Lev. 3 was written and ignorant of the fact that the Hebrew “Sabbathon” means “weeks,” and is so translated in the Jewish translation, count only 49 days to the “morrow after a Saturday,” instead of counting 50 days to the morrow after the seventh WEEK. And these observe the same day observed by the devil’s churches!
“Private Interpretation” Leads to Division
What are the FRUITS of this “private interpretation,” by individuals whom God has not called as His instruments in ruling HIS CHURCH? The fruits are DIVISION, dissention, confusion, bad feeling, resentment, LOSS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! Those who have followed these practices have PROVED by the FRUITS of experience that this is not God’s way.
JESUS CHRIST RULES HIS CHURCH! His Church must meet on the right day, and all on the SAME day, and the “place which the Eternal thy God shall choose.” God does not rule thru individual lay members, but they are ruled BY Him through God’s own chosen servants whom He has educated and trained as His leaders.
Such matters as deciding whether the Ten Commandments are binding today, whether the blood of Christ will, upon repentace and faith, remit our sins, must be seen, and understood by each individual personally—otherwise how could one repent of his transgressons if he did not know what that transgression consisted of; and how could he believe, unless convinced in his own mind, personally, of the efficacy of the blood of Christ?
Each individual is commanded to STUDY the Scriptures, so that he may live by them as a WAY OF LIFE. The truth is that most of God’s children do not study the Bible enough.
But on all matters affecting the COLLECTIVE GROUP ACTION of the entire Church, there can be no division, or else the whole Church will be divided and a house divided against itself cannot stand! Therefore, God has placed GOVERNMENT in His Church to RULE in such matters, and to PUT OUT all such contentions and causes for divisions from His Church! In all such matters, and even many decisions affecting private conduct, God RULES in His Church, thru Jesus Christ the Head of His Church, and in turn thru the apostles and elders whom HE has called and trained thru experience and education for the office.
We are in the last days—the “TIME OF THE END”—when knowledge is being increased, and God is revealing hitherto hidden truths in His Word. It has taken time, and experience, for those whom God has called as His instruments in the rule of His Church to GROW to the fullness of such knowledge (II Pet. 3:18) and human reluctance to assume such authority, prior to the time God made us see it, has resulted in some sad experiences in the past.
God commands us (Eph. 4:27) not to give place to the devil, who deceives people into practises that produce confusion, and division which would KILL God’s Church! The time has come when, seeing clearly what God has revealed, we must be obedient to Him. His Church must be rid entirely of contention, strife, or division! The time has come to FEAR GOD, and to TREMBLE before His Holy Word! The POWER of God was manifest in backing up the authority of His chosen apostles and elders by striking dead Ananias and Sapphira!
God’s servants must act in humility and all love and patience, and in WISDOM, first knowing the will of God—but they must act, by God’s power and authority!
The church at Pasadena is your headquarters church, and as her children, all the brethren scattered abroad should feel free to ask for the advise and counsel of her ministers and elder brethren. This is God’s way to preserve love and harmony, to preserve the faith in purity, to preserve the TRUTH, among God’s people. Through Christ as living HEAD of the Church, and from Pasadena headquarters, the government of God is administered with divine authority in rendering decisions, in binding or loosing, in ruling the churches of God in our time.
*The subject of counting 50 days was corrected by Christ through His apostle after the publication of this article. For more information see “Why Many Don’t Understand Pentecost” published in the Good News Magazine, May 1981.
*On the subject of “Binding and Loosing”, this was too corrected by Christ through His chosen apostle.
In his article “How Christ Gives The Church Its Beliefs”(Worldwide News, Nov.20, 1978), Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong says, “There has been much discussion at Pasadena between certain ministers of lower than apostle rank, as to the CHURCH binding and loosing.
“So now let it be MADE OFFICAL – by Christ’s present day apostle – that this binding and loosing PLAINLY, CLEARLY was given to Christ’s chief APOSTLE – not to lower rank ministers ordained by his authority – not by the CHURCH as a body – but by the APOSTLE!”(end quote).
This article written earlier by Mr. Hermon Hoeh, directs the members to the headquarters church where the official decision of binding or loosing was made. Mr. Armstrong defines this further, to say it was given only to THE APOSTLES, not to lower-rank ministers, nor to the Church as a whole.
Some ministers today claim they have the authority to “bind and loosen” doctrine and make these official decisions but frankly are not given that authority! The apostle of Christ, speaking with the authority of Jesus Christ, makes that clear in his article. No “doctrinal committee”, nor lower-rank minister attempting to appoint himself such authority, has been given that authority by God. That authority belongs to Christ’s apostle, whom HE chose.
The men and women breaking away from what the headquarters church taught under Christ’s apostle leadership, are bringing confusion and division. Contentions have arose, and God’s scattered people are now looking back to God’s headquarters church to settle the disputes. This is why wwcg-archives.com was created to SERVE our brethren with this task. When ministers are teaching something contrary to the apostle of Jesus Christ, who, at the Church’s headquarters made an OFFICIAL decision, they are bringing division, confusion, strife, and contentions among the people. And God’s Church must be rid of such.
If a member comes into contact with such, you have a christian-duty to OBEY GOD, and act accordingly.
LOOK TO HEADQUARTERS—LOOK TO GOD’S APOSTLE—AND ALLOW GOD TO SETTLE DISPUTES AND CONTENTIONS THROUGH HIS HEADQUARTERS CHURCH. Those who will not submit to GOD and Christ and their decision made through THE APOSTLE, must be noted and avoided.