by Herbert W. Armstrong
page 1 Good News April 1979
For many years I have striven to bring all God’s children into a unity of belief (Ps. 133:1).
Did you ever stop to think how many things we believe and proclaim to the world that are contrary to the doctrines and teachings of all other churches calling themselves “Christian”?
I am writing a book, titled A VOICE CRIES OUT Amid RELIGIOUS CONFUSION. This book will say that of all the religions and all the more than 250 denominations and sects in “Christianity,” NOT ONE, except the Worldwide Church of God, knows WHO and WHAT God is! NOT ONE knows what, and why, MAN IS! NOT ONE knows the TRUTH about the nation Israel — WHY God chose them, yet gave none but their prophets His Holy Spirit — where they are today. NOT ONE knows what is the TRUE GOSPEL Christ proclaimed! NOT ONE knows what happens in the hereafter — the transcendent human potential. NOT ONE knows the real function of the Church and purpose of its being.
None but God’s true Church
NONE but God’s one and only TRUE CHURCH has the full knowledge God has revealed to His own Church. NOT ONE knows what salvation really is!
Doesn’t it, then, become abundantly apparent that we must all know precisely what God has prepared for those who love Him — and that we speak these amazing TRUTHS as they are — all speaking the same thing?
But first, WHY is it important that we all believe and speak the same DOCTRINES? Continue in I Corinthians 1:10: “that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
Will God’s Kingdom be divided?
UNDERSTAND this! If we are led by the Spirit of God we shall enter into His Kingdom of God at the time of Christ’s coming and the resurrection. Will GOD’S Kingdom be divided?
Again, we are, so to speak, in the process of being trained for entrance into the Kingdom of God, where WE SHALL JUDGE ANGELS (I Cor. 6:3).
A kingdom or a house divided against itself cannot stand! Even two cannot walk together except they be agreed! (Amos 3:3).
A few years ago, when I had high hopes that my son, Garner Ted, might qualify in God’s sight for very high office in God’s Kingdom, I said to him, “Ted, I often think of you and me as a father-and-son team, and how wonderful it would seem if we could be like the Father-and-Son divine Team that heads the entire universe! But to walk together as God and Christ do, we would have to remember that the Son agreed completely with the Father in all things. He said, “‘I have not spoken of myself; the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say’ ” (John 12:49).
But as soon as I mentioned that the Divine Son was in total agreement with His Father, Ted would immediately change the subject.
How do we come to know WHO and WHAT God is, and the other truths mentioned above that are not known by any other church or religion? Jesus Christ revealed them to His apostle, who taught these precious truths to you! And how precious they are!
A corollary to I Corinthians 1:10 is Romans 16:17-18: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
“Avoid them” means just that. Walk away from them. Do not invite them into your home. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (II John 10).
Completely AVOIDING those ex-communicated who hold and speak a different doctrine is IMPORTANT with God. To the Thessalonians God made this a command: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received from us [that is, from Christ’s true apostles] . . . And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him” (II Thess. 3:6, 14).
This is SO IMPORTANT to GOD that He had the apostle John, in the 90s, A.D., write, as quoted above, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine” (as received through Christ’s apostles), “receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (II John 10).
WHY DOES GOD COMMAND US TO ACTUALLY SHUN A DISFELLOWSHIPPED MEMBER? WHY DOES GOD WANT US — COMMAND US! — to mark and avoid those who come with a different doctrine? Because they created DIVISION among God’s people! “And” (Rom. 16:18) “by good words and fair speeches” they DECEIVE those who listen — they claim to serve God — but they DO NOT AGREE with God.
One of my son’s “fair speeches” intended to deceive and draw away members tries to turn the very command of God, that we must all speak the same thing, into an accusation that I am using MIND CONTROL over our members.
So he sends out a “fair speech” in writing, attempting to associate God’s Church with the Jim Jones Guyana cult. He says: “For too many years” (when he was in God’s Church) “I tried with all my being to encourage our brethren to think for themselves.” In other words, to QUESTION and doubt the validity of the doctrines CHRIST had put in the Church. He continues, “The demoniac preacher Jim Jones used extreme forms of total dictatorial control over his followers.” Then he spoke of “total thought control” — inferring that now, all of a sudden, I am another “Jim Jones” and exercising “total thought control” over you members.
He says that when I say, with I Corinthians 1:10, that we “all speak the same thing,” I am using mind control over you, and he sends out letters and booklets EMPHASIZING that HE DOES NOT AGREE WITH OR PREACH THE SAME THING as his father. Thus he not only breaks God’s Fifth Commandment by dishonoring his father, but he seeks to misrepresent and pull over a following for himself (Acts 20:30).
But, LET’S FACE IT!
God does command that we ,all “speak the same thing” (I Cor. 1:10). But now we need to ask HOW that can be done. HOW, without mind control, has God provided that we may all come to speak the same thing?
TRUE doctrines were revealed
After God inspired Paul to command that we must all speak the same doctrines, HOW does Paul say we all come to that sameness of doctrine and belief?
First, he shows WHY all did not speak the same teachings. He said some looked to Peter, some to Cephas, some to Apollos, some to Paul. In other words, they were all looking to MEN — and not all to the same man.
Coming to chapter 2, Paul says he did not come to them with clever and enticing words. Then he said the TRUE DOCTRINES were REVEALED, and that the natural carnal mind could not understand. Paul had the truth because, 1) he had really repented when God struck him down temporarily blind and spoke to him. Then later, 2) he explained he had been with and had seen Christ. His teaching came directly from Jesus Christ. So had Peter’s!
But Paul shows, I Corinthians 2:7-14, that NO ONE can come into the truth with a natural carnal mind. It requires the receiving of the Holy Spirit of God. As God said through Paul another time, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).
No one will ever come to understand the TRUTH except by receiving the Holy Spirit. But EVEN SO, all these Corinthians were supposed to have received the Holy Spirit— YET THEY BELIEVED DIFFERENT THINGS, because they followed different men!
God put His TRUE DOCTRINES into His Church through His apostles BY THEIR WRITINGS. Jesus is the Word of God in PERSON! The Bible is the Word of God IN PRINT!
Today, Christ has put the TRUE DOCTRINES into God’s Church through the apostle whom HE chose – not elected by men!
How doctrines are revealed
In our case, the 20th-century “time of the end,” how did God put His doctrines, beliefs and teachings into the Church?
Answer: By His chosen apostle, just as all doctrines, teachings and practices were put into the Church in A.D. 31 by Christ and the apostles — who, with the prophets, form the FOUNDATION of the Church.
Jesus specially prepared me for this purpose, just as He specially prepared the apostles of the first century. He brought me to see that what I had been taught in a Protestant church was false — the opposite of the Bible. Jesus Christ is the Word of God IN PERSON. The Bible is the Word of God IN WRITING.
The living Christ brought me to two severe challenges, which forced me to see I had been wrong. He swept my mind clean of all previous beliefs and doctrines and taught me His doctrines and beliefs.
Still, as was Peter and Paul — and Moses, Elijah, David and Daniel — I am human and could make a mistake.
BUT, if you have proved that this is, indeed, God’s true Church for this present time, then you MUST BELIEVE that if and when I make a mistake, the LIVING CHRIST will correct me! Indeed HE HAS DONE so!
Christ put His doctrines in God’s Church in A.D. 31 through the apostles HE had chosen and taught. In our time, now, the same living Christ called, prepared and chose me as His servant to put His doctrines into God’s Church today!
Christ’s responsibility to set Church right
If I make a mistake, it is CHRIST’S responsibility to set me straight! But DO YOU BELIEVE CHRIST IS STILL ALIVE AND WILL DO IT? Or, if you think our Church doctrines are wrong on some point, do you think it is YOUR responsibility to set the Church right?
Back in the earlier years of the present decade, some wanted a doctrinal committee to question all we believed — and in truth it gravitated into an effort to TRY by inductive reasoning and research to prove Christ’s doctrines in the Church are in error!
Since that time, Christ has led me to see our doctrine and teaching on two subjects were indeed in error. Yet NONE of the arguments of the “intellectual liberals” were valid. God opened my eyes to see the error from an entirely different approach and viewpoint than the “scholars” had presented.
One of these was fixing the day of Pentecost. Every known translation of the Bible, in 1927 when I first studied and set the date, translated into English, said, count the 50 days FROM a specific Sunday. One day FROM Sunday is Monday, and 50 days FROM a Sunday is a Monday. For 40 years God’s true Church observed this Festival one day late.
Finally I found, on evidence from Jewish Old Testament teachers and from two of the translators of the Revised Standard Version, that FROM was a mistranslation. It should have been translated ON or, count beginning on a Sunday. I had not made the original mistake — the translators had. But I IMMEDIATELY changed it upon PROOF.
The other major doctrinal change made is one that needs a deal of up-DATING! It concerned “divorce and re-marriage.” All the arguments of the “scholarly” liberals on this subject were false. Again I think it fair to say the real error was due to translating.
This caused me, and the many with whom I counsel on such questions, to pass over a verse in I Corinthians 7, without recognizing its real meaning.
Now suppose a member thinks he or she has found an error in our doctrines. How must you proceed? IF you have found truth, we all want to know and embrace it! But how MUST you proceed? NEVER by trying to convince another member of your “finding,” lest you fall guilty of Romans 16:17-18.
Take it to your local minister or write to headquarters. What must a local pastor do? Send it to headquarters. If it is felt to be a valid truth, it will be brought to me personally, and the LIVING CHRIST will make it clear to my mind!
We have covered the question of how does the living Christ put His doctrines into the Church. But the Church is made up of many members. How does each member come to understand each doctrine?
How Christ put His Church back on track
Now let us pull together all that has gone before.
We have to admit that at this time a year ago, those in God’s Church were NOT all speaking the SAME THING. And we were DIVIDED!
The living Christ, Head of the Church, began to move swiftly to correct this evil in our midst. The spearhead of the liberal movement was my own son, Garner Ted, because he was wielding executive vice presidential AUTHORITY — AND MORE — for his whole attitude and approach was that of making himself chief top authority. However, he was under the influence of a small group of “intellectuals” who used him.
Christ has been moving swiftly to set the Church doctrines back on track, through articles in The Worldwide News and The Good News.
The ministry and pastoral direction is fast being put back on God’s track. This of necessity means that I, personally, am going to suffer abuse and persecution and false rumors from a few ex-ministers. But I must be concerned with PLEASING God, not man.
Now we have to ask, HOW did this division and doctrinal disagreement get its ugly head inside the Church, and HOW safeguard the Church from any further Trojan-horse invasions?
I have said through the years, over the air and in print and before audiences, “Don’t believe me because I say it — look in your own Bible and believe what you find there!”
But I DO NOT — or, at least, SHOULD NOT HAVE ever said that to our own brethren! But my son writes: “I tried with all my being to encourage our brethren to think for themselves.” In other words don’t believe our deep-rooted Church teachings — think out NEW, DIFFERENT beliefs for yourself!
But GOD’S WAY is THIS! This is the way the original first-century apostles preached. They spoke the TRUTH with POWER! To the unconverted Thessalonians, the Bereans were complimented for checking up on Paul’s preaching (Acts 17:11). But none should be accepted IN THE CHURCH until that person either has come to KNOW and accept and believe Christ’s true doctrine, OR has repented so THOROUGHLY, CONQUERED BY GOD and with an attitude of a little child, so that the minister doing the baptising feels sure he or she will accept and believe fully Christ’s true doctrines in His Church.
Yet I must add one comment concerning the above paragraph. Paul shows in I Corinthians 2 that the carnal unconverted mind cannot comprehend and come to real understanding of spiritual knowledge. There is no PROMISE in the Bible that one will receive the Holy Spirit prior to baptism (though Cornelius and his house did).
In Matthew 28:19-20, in the great commission, Jesus mentioned “teaching them to observe … [commandments],” after mentioning baptism.
That is why I myself have baptized some prior to coming into full doctrinal teaching, but these were cases where I felt sure they were so completely surrendered to Christ that they would — as in fact they did — accept doctrinal teaching.
I said at the ministers’ conference that I feel we have been too lax in baptising people before they were completely REPENTANT and FULLY BELIEVED Christ and what He says in the Bible.
Once in the Church, WE MUST ALL SPEAK THE SAME THING! I have covered earlier in this “Personal” how a member should proceed who thinks he has found where the Church is in error on a doctrine, or where he thinks he has discovered “new light” the Church does not yet have. It must be cleared finally by Christ’s apostle.
by Herbert W. Armstrong page 4 Good News June/July 1979
In a recent issue of The Good News I mentioned that often I have said to the public, on the air or in The Plain Truth, “Don’t believe what I say because I say it, but look into your own Bible and believe what you see there.”
But then I said in this article that I do not say that to our own members. I think some may have gotten the idea I said members should not read the Bible or even read over what I have said to better understand by seeing it all in context for themselves.
Apparently some got the idea I said nonmembers must believe only what THEY SEE FOR THEMSELVES in the Bible, but that members must NOT read the Bible or believe it, but believe ONLY WHAT I say or write. Of course I did not mean that.
What I did mean is that members should have checked up in the Bible and assured themselves what God’s Church teaches is true BEFORE being baptized and coming into the Church. What I meant was that members should not disbelieve everything we teach and read the Bible for the purpose of trying to prove that we teach falsely.
I suppose the reason that came to mind is that we did have, a few years ago, a group of self-professed “intellectuals” who started a “doctrinal committee,” when their sole PURPOSE was to HARM God’s Church by trying to MISUSE the Bible and misinterpret it to try to convince others that the Church taught falsely — when in fact, this is the ONLY church on earth that DOES have the TRUTH!
Bible study encouraged
Let me make it crystal CLEAR! I encourage nonmembers to SEE the truth for themselves in their own Bibles. But, after one becomes a MEMBER, he is supposed to know we have the truth. He has checked up — he has seen it in his own Bible. Therefore I do NOT encourage members to QUESTION all over again what we preach.
I most certainly have always encouraged all members to read and study the Bible continually — to increase their own knowledge and understanding — but NOT to deliberately try to DISAGREE with the Church and study for the PURPOSE of disagreeing and causing dissension and division in the Church.
But, in continuous Bible study to ADD to one’s store of biblical knowledge, if one comes across a knowledge of something new to the Church — something not proclaimed or preached in the Church, he may go to his local pastor with it, or he may contact headquarters at Pasadena or he may bring it personally to me.
If it is either contrary to Church doctrine or something in ADDITION to Church doctrine, he MAY NOT spread it to other lay members. IF his new understanding is correct and biblical, it will be brought to me personally, even though he takes it first to his local minister or one in Pastoral Administration at Pasadena. And God has always seen to it that my mind is open and able to see NEW TRUTH, or to admit ERROR if PROVED and then correct it.
I know many will say Herbert Armstrong is human and subject to being prejudiced or closed-minded. I am human all right, but the living CHRIST has chosen me and MADE ME HIS APOSTLE. He is the DIVINE Head of this Church. Do you not think HE, the ALMIGHTY Christ, has power to see that my mind will be opened to either new truth or to correct error? Otherwise YOU QUESTION JESUS CHRIST!
Church is a spiritual organism
REMEMBER, this Church may be made up of mortal humans, of which YOU are one and I am one. But this Church of God is a SPIRITUAL ORGANISM — not a humanly organized and purely humanly led and influenced operation of MAN, started BY man, run by man!
I’m afraid that is the point many of us have not realized. I shall write a separate article on that subject.
Those of us IN God’s Church are HUMAN. But God has called each one of us or else we should never have been accepted into this holy fellowship. Our call has come from GOD! The HOLY SPIRIT of God has actually entered into each of us, or else we do not belong in this Church. It is a SPIRITUAL ORGANISM, not a human organization, though it is well ORGANIZED on GOD’S PATTERN and not as other purely human organizations.
Now, do you not, then, understand that the living CHRIST has PUT HIS POWER, by the Holy Spirit, into His own chosen apostle, so that He is able to open His apostle’s mind to either new truth — as He has done repeatedly for 52 years — OR to recognize and purge out ERROR? Does CHRIST have that power — or do you question His power? It is not my human goodness — for that is nothing to brag about. I am talking about the LIVING JESUS’ power and ability!
You must study the Bible
SO UNDERSTAND. I certainly did not mean to say those in the Church must not study the Bible. Indeed everyone MUST! What I did mean is, if ever you think you see in your Bible that what I, or the Church, teach is in error — or if you see a biblical TRUTH the Church does NOT preach, then YOU MUST NOT MENTION THAT TO ANY OTHER MEMBER, OR TO ANYONE EXCEPT YOUR LOCAL PASTOR, OR WRITE TO THE PASADENA OFFICE OR DIRECT TO ME.
Jesus Christ, through His POWER of the Holy Spirit, is guiding and ruling and heading this Church. It is ENERGIZED by a POWER that is MILLIONS OF TIMES GREATER THAN A HYDROGEN BOMB — yet this supreme POWER of God’s Holy Spirit is NOT SEEN — therefore the world knows NOTHING OF IT!