(Radio Program: True Church 3)
Herbert W. Armstrong brings you the Plain Truth about today’s world news and the prophecies of the World Tomorrow.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Herbert W. Armstrong:
Where did the very church go which Jesus Christ said He would build? Men have searched history for a large, popular, growing, visible, politically organized body in endeavoring to compile the history of the church. So if you go to libraries and you obtain church histories, that’s what you’ll find. That’s what historians have recorded.
Now in the actual history of the first two centuries of the professing church, we saw it was divided into many different sects, many denominations, in one division, the Gnostics alone, there were more than fifty divisions, fifty different sects.
But now let’s look into the history of the true Church. Remember that the largest book of prophecy in the New Testament, the book of Revelation, the one great prophetic book in the New Testament pictures the church in the future and it shows TWO CHURCHES, not one. I’ve explained to you that the word church comes from the Greek word, since the New Testament was written in the Greek language, the Greek word ecclesia and it means a crowd, a group, an assembly of people, that’s all.
There’s no sanctity in the word church. And so if you have a world church, of this world, that’s not the Church of God. Then there is the Church of God mentioned in the Bible. Now we find in the book of Revelation is a great world church pictured here, and it is not the Church of God at all. This is the FALSE church, the DECEIVING church, the FALLEN church, and this pictures what we saw beginning in the history that we’ve read to you, and I have read to you from various histories, various encyclopedias, but primarily from Gibbon’s Rome in the past several broadcasts.
Now Rev. 17: just notice a little bit of the false church before we get into the actual history of what happened to the real true Church. :1 There came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, (now John is the one who is writing this. He is not the revelator. Jesus Christ is. It’s the revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him and God sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John and John recorded it to writing. Now the prophetic part of the book of Revelation as we saw when we were going through the book of Revelation, the prophetic part of the prophecies is contained in the visions, the things that John saw in vision. Usually it was in symbol of course. But it was in the vision and the things he saw, so here is the prophecy and here is what he saw.) There came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, (that is the seven last plagues) and he talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: That’s Rev. 17: verse 1.
Now in the 18th chapter you’ll see about the judgment and her name is called Babylon and God’s people are told to come out of her that we be not partakers of her sins, that we received not of her plagues, for strong is the God that judges her. Therefore, her plagues are to come in one day, death and mourning and strong is the Lord God that judgeth her. They’re His judgments, these plagues. The kings of the earth have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her and so on. And she’s called here the great city Babylon. In one hour is thy judgment come. Now these judgments are the punishments that God is going to send on this professing church because of the false doctrines, because of, well it is the church of the world whose god is the devil. Now the people in it are deceived. The people in it are good, sincere people, that is they ‘re as good as people are and they are as good and bad in human nature of course. There is so much good in the worse of us and so much bad in the best of us, I guess and that’s true but we’re carnal unless we’ve received the Spirit of God to change our minds and our hearts. And so these people in relation to religion have been honest and sincere. They’ve just been deceived and the devil is the great deceiver. But here is an instrumentality that he has been able to use.
Now here is this great woman. Now in the Bible prophecies a woman is a symbol of a church. You’ll find it in the fifth chapter of Ephesians where the true Church is the financed Bride of Christ. To be presented to Him a chased virgin. That’s the true Church. Then in II Cor. 11: you’ll find again where the symbol of woman is a symbol for the church. So we know this is a church. Now she’s a great church, not a small church. And she’s sitting on many waters. Now that is a symbol, the many waters. But you turn over to verse 15 of Rev. 17: And he saith unto me, The angel explained it, the waters which thou sawest, where this great fallen woman sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. That is many nations speaking many different languages. Which means of course, many Gentile nations speaking many different languages. Now the fact that the woman sits on them means she has a grip on them religiously and controls or rules the religion. So it is a religion then that has dominated and permeates many nations. Alright the second verse says, :2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. In other words, she has actually mixed into the politics of this world’s civil governments. You know, God is a Supreme Ruler. God has ordained however and decreed MAN MUST CHOOSE whether man will accept voluntarily the government of God or whether he will reject it. And he can. God has allowed man to set up his own ideas and to organize himself if he pleases. Which man has chosen to do. And all of that sort of thing. And God has laid before mankind the truth on the one hand and allowed him to disagree and to take error on the other. God has set before man, for man to choose. Life and death, good and evil. And man has usually chosen evil. Of course, man thinks he wants good and he really and sincerely thinks he does but it seems that he usually goes the way of the evil.
And so God has set apart a seven thousand year period, my friends, in which He has DECREED as the SUPREME RULER, that we must choose. Even though we chose wrong. And He allows us to go wrong. Now we can only go wrong and chose wrong because God allows it and only as long as God allows it and for any organized rebellion against God on this earth He has allowed just 6,000 years. Then there ‘s going to be 1,000 years in which God is going to take over the government and is going to rule mankind and all nations of this earth and we ‘re coming to that time, the beginning of that seven thousand years in our generation now, this 20th century. We, my friend, are living at the end of the age. We’re the people that are living in two ages. Two worlds. And you’re going live into the happy, peaceful, joyous world tomorrow. We’re at the end of this world. And here’s what’s happening at the very end God is going to finally send His plagues on this great false religious system. Now in verse 5 on her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, (yes, in it’s the pagan Babylonish mysteries that she has putting Christian names on them as I’ve shown you) MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT.
Now Babylon means confusion. It’s confusion, division, many, many, many divisions of religion disagreeing. Yes, all in confusion but it’s a great system and there is one thing in unity in the whole system, and that’s rebellion against God. They don’t want what they call works. They don’t want OBEDIENCE to God. They want salvation but they have turned grace into lasciviousness or license to disobey. Jude 4 tells us to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered . Now God prophesied that this thing would happen. That the people would rebel against God. God laid before Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden the truth and the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the Tree of Life, but also He laid before them rebellion and sin and going THEIR OWN WAY, and the way that would seem right to a man, symbolized by the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was a mixture of good and evil. That’s what we have in human nature. That’s what they partook of. They rejected God. They turned the wrong way.
My friends, that’s what the people did in the professing Church that Jesus started. But remember that they weren’t in the Church once they rebelled against God they were no longer in the Church. The Church is not a visible organization. The Church is an invisible, a spiritual organism. It’s composed of visible people of course. Flesh and blood people. But it is only those people that have the Spirit of God in their hearts. That are being lead by the Spirit of God. Whose very lives have been changed by the POWER of God and who have been COMPLETELY been broken up about the kind of life they had always lived . Who have REPENTED of it and TURNED AWAY from it and turned to God, and given themselves to God to let Jesus come into their hearts and lives and live His life, His Holy, righteous, perfect life in them and for them. So it is Christ in them. And that is the hope of glory, and the people in the true Church do have Christ in them, in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Now one maybe here and one there. And again there might be a body attending together all but one of whom are in the true Church but that one is apostate, and is not a real Christian, not really following the way of God. That one is not in the Church even though he attends with them.
You see, it isn’t a matter of how many band together and meet in some building and assemble in Church pews or something like that, my friends. Joining a visible organization doesn’t get you into the Kingdom of God or buy you any salvation in any way at all.
Now those in any group, many of them might be Christian and some not or many of them might not be and a few might be. Or they might all be or they might none of them be. God knows. And we’re not the judge. And God alone can read men’s minds and hearts. And He knows who are His.
Well, now this name is Babylon the Great, not the LITTLE, the SCATTERED, the DISPERSED, the PERSECUTED, the DESPISED. Oh no, JESUS said that HIS Church, the Church that HE said He would build would be the little flock. He said it would be despised and hated by the world. He said if they persecuted Me, they will you too. And so, the you, is the people that formed His Church. He said you ‘re not greater than your Lord and Master. They’ve persecuted Me, they’ve hated Me. They spit in His face. They crowned Him with a crown of thorns. They beat Him almost to death before He was crucified. He took your sicknesses and your diseases and infirmities on Himself. Did you know that? And then they crucified Him and they stuck a spear in His side and the blood gushed out. They gave Him gall and vinegar to drink when He was thirsty. But He looked up to Heaven and said God, Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing. Yes, He had the love of God in His heart. That isn’t a carnal love.
Now His people were going to be scattered, by the popular organizations of this world. And so here was BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. Rev. 17:6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the MARTYRS of Jesus: (There, my friends, is the professing church that ASSUMES the name of Christ. The Christian name Jesus said many false prophets will arise. They’ll say that I am the Christ, they’ll profess that I am the Christ, they’ll take My name, they’ll use it, they’ll call themselves Christians but they shall deceive many. Well, here’s the picture of it in Rev. 17: That’s a prophecy. Did that prophecy come true? Has it ever happened? Is it ever going to happen? It’s in the word of God, my friends.
Now in the 12th chapter of Revelation you find the true Church is pictured. And this is a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. :2 She being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. (Now that is first the Church of the Old Testament). My friends, do you realize that God’s Church, that is God formed a Church, it wasn’t God’s Church in one sense. It wasn’t called the Church of God. But it was a church. And it was the only one that belonged to God in any way. Formed under Moses and you’ll find in the seventh chapter of the book of Acts, verse 38 in your Bible that that is called the church in the wilderness. Why they called themselves the same name, it’s just a synonym, different English word, but it means the same thing, the Congregation of Israel. But that was the Congregation of Israel, the Church of Israel not the Church of God. That Church did not have the Holy Spirit. That Church did not have salvation. That Church was not commissioned to go into all the world and preach the gospel. But my friends, after Jesus went to Heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit and on the Day of Pentecost the Spirit of God came to enter into the minds and the hearts of the people that had accepted Christ. And the people who had really repented and those that now submitted themselves to God so that God could send His Holy Spirit, His great power, His very life into their minds, their hearts and their lives to change them, TO CONVERT THEM, and so they became converted, which they hadn’t been in the Old Testament.
Now these people had been spiritual begotten whereas they were merely flesh born in the Old Testament. Now they became the Church of God . Not the congregation of Israel. There’s a great difference then, of course, between the old and the new. But here first it’s speaking of the church as she was prior to the time of being begotten by the Spirit of God while it was even Israel. Rev. 12:2 She being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. Well then here appeared the great red dragon that is called the Devil, in verse 9, and he stood before the woman that was ready to be delivered and the child, which is Christ, of course, and speaking of the birth of Christ. For to devour her child as soon as it was born. :5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to His throne. The time element passes rapidly, completely through in that one verse the birth, the whole ministry, and the death, and the resurrection of Christ and His ascension to Heaven in that one verse five. Now then, we come even into the Middle Ages where this happened in history. Verse 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. In other words, that, my friends, in prophetic language (and I haven’t time to explain all of the technical details of it just now) that is a duration of 1,260 years. That happened in history. The true church was a persecuted church. It was scattered and they had to flee beyond the bounds of the paganized civil governments, least the secret police would get them and completely torture them and finally martyr them unless they recanted and accepted the pagan doctrines that were falsely labeled Christianity. It actually happened.
Now you find the devil being bought into focus here in verse 9 And the great dragon was cast out, (there had been a war up in Heaven with Michael, the Arch Angel, and his angels and it says) he is called the Devil, and Satan, that deceiveth the WHOLE world: Satan deceived the WHOLE world. Now, is that true? Has he? Or is the whole world all enlightened now? And only a few deceived? My friends, we believe well of course, naturally we look at what everybody professes and believes this Christianity, all these people couldn’t be wrong. You know we believe like for instance the cigarette manufacturer said that millions can’t be wrong and people really believe that. I want to tell you, my friends, in God’s word it’s the millions who usually are wrong but in this world the way they look at it, it’s just the other way around isn’t it. They think the majority is always rights. Well God shows the majority usually are wrong, very often.
Now, here is Satan deceiving the whole world. And later we find that the dragon saw that he was cast into the earth, verse 13, let’s drop down to that. He came down here in verse 12 having great wrath, the Devil because he knew he had but a short time. Now, and when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. He persecuted the true Church. And that true Church had been terribly persecuted. :14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. The Church had to flee. Now, the last verse, verse 17 And the dragon was wroth (that’s very angry, full of wrath) wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, (remnant is the last generation, the last remains, the very last portion or part, that is then this last generation of the true Church and that time is coming. AND WE’RE THE GENERATION THAT ITS SPEAKING OF, AND IT HAS NOT YET HAPPENED. It’s going to happen in your life time and mine. In the next few years. Now it’s coming a lot sooner than you think. I tell you, my friends, it’s right now later than you think. We are living in MOMENTOUS times. We’re living in TERRIBLE times. And it’s time to WAKE UP! Look what’s happening in the world. Look at the hydrogen bombs. Look at what’s happening. Now I think that the wars are going to be held back a while. In fact, there’s a great deal in prophecy to indicate it. I don’t think it’s going to break out into a world war in the next month or two. I want to tell you it’s going to happen in a very few years and one, two, five, fifteen years whip by so rapidly today that it’s just like a passing breathe of some kind. Like passing another airplane up in the air. Or two trains passing each other on two tracks. It just soon passed you. And it’s a lot later than we think.
You know God is the Supreme Ruler. God has ordained, however, and decreed that man must choose whether man will accept voluntarily the government of God or whether he will reject it. And God has laid before mankind the truth on the one hand, and allowed him to disagree and take error on the other. God has set before man, for man to choose, life and death, good and evil, and man has usually chosen evil. Of course, man thinks he wants good and he really and sincerely thinks he does but it seems he usually goes the way of the evil. Now, here’s this devil, wroth with the woman, the true Church, and went to make war with our generation now. The remnant of her seed WHICH KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD. There aren’t very many today that believe in that, my friends. The majority of professing Christians today just hate the commandments of God. They despise the commandments of God, just like the devil. The devil despises God’s law. Why his original rebellion was against that. Disobedience to God, insubordination, refusal to recognize and to submit to the government of God. And trying to make himself the ruler is what made him a devil in the first place. Turn back to Ezekiel 28:, Isaiah 14: And there it is. My friends, he is deceiving the world by putting that very thought in the minds of the people that profess to be Christians . Turning grace into lasciviousness. Oh, my friends, don’t let an evil devil, such an evil influence of spiritual delusion and deception, deceive you. Keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus. Now there is the true Church being persecuted, scattered, driven away. There you are.
Alright now let’s go a little farther. Also in this same book of Revelation is an amazing prophecy and almost no one seems to understand it and yet it is so very plain and it shows you the actual history of the Church. Of course, it was written in advance. It was prophesy. But now it’s history, it’s already happened. That prophesy has been fulfilled. And it is in the second and the third chapters of the book of Revelation. Revelation 2: & 3:. Now usually we pass right over the second and the third chapters of the Book of Revelation. Well, we passed over this second and third chapters because they of themselves are not part of the main prophesy of the world. They are a prophesy of the true Church which has not been recognized by the world at all. And we were going into the prophesy of what would happen in the world. So, I skipped that but now I’m going to go into it. Now, I’m going to let you understand just exactly what it says. I see the time has gone so far that we aren’t going to, anymore than just barely, get started in this program. So let this be sort of an introduction and listen every single night or every single day. Whatever time this program is on in your part of the country. And we are going to go through this mysterious Revelation 2: and Rev. 3: that almost nobody has ever understood which merely traces in detail, more or less detail that is, in advance the prophesy of what was going to happen from the very time of Christ on down to now in the true Church of God.
Where is that Church?
Jesus said I will build My Church. Well, He did build it. It isn’t the church the world has held up to it’s gaze. It isn’t the church the historians have looked for because they didn’t know what to look for. They looked for the popular church that prophesy said would deceive the world. So, my friends, when we get church history, we’re getting history of the world’s churches. The churches of this world. Now if you’ll notice, we’ll go as far as we have time here for just about two or three minutes. For instance, notice Rev. 1:12 & :13 John sees a vision of seven candlesticks. And Jesus is in the very midst, the middle of the seven candlesticks. Now, the Bible interprets the seven candlesticks to mean these seven particular church congregations as you read in verse 20. Now, Jesus is here picturing the church through seven successive stages. It’s only the one church. But it’s in seven successive stages of different time and different generation, and so He has taken seven churches that did exist in Asia Minor. They were on a mail route. And He takes those churches that were on a actual mail route, and the mail carrier went around first from the one, from Ephesus, next he came to Smyrna, then to Pergamos, and so on, finally winding up at Laodicea. And so there’s the time order and God uses that to show the successive spirits and events that would happen in the true Church. And He shows the condition of the Church. Now of course, in a sense, you will find all seven of these characteristics in the Church of God at any one time, in a sense. And actually for instance, in the church at Ephesus, while you’ll also find among some of the people in the church the Laodicean condition and some of them the Sardis condition, some of them the Philadelphian condition. Yet the Ephesus condition dominated at that time. And at the end the Laodicean condition of lukewarmest dominates. And yet there is a definite succession in these churches.
Well, Jesus is pictured as dwelling among them. He’s in the midst of these seven candlesticks and the seven candlesticks are the seven successive phases of the church. They were a type of the entire church. Now Jesus dwells in the entire church then. That’s what it shows us. By that symbol which is explained in the Bible itself. Now since the vision pictured Jesus dwelling only in these seven churches, those seven churches pictured there actually represent the one great Church of God in it’s seven successive eras or stages of time. Now Jesus chose the seven because they formed a perfect two-fold pattern. Now first they were typical of the general conditions among God’s people anywhere and at any time. That’s why we today are admonished to hear what the Holy Spirit says to all of the seven churches, not just to the one that might be in our time now. Second, those seven churches, each of which had it’s own particular characteristics were chosen because their location in successive order on this long mail route was typical of the seven successive stages of expansion of the Church of God through all ages. And of course, these characteristics were typical of those literal churches that existed at that time. And they were a type of what was going to happen all the way through.
Now beginning the next program we’re going to begin right there with that and we’re going to go right on through and show what the prophesy said and then we’re going to dig it right out of history and we’re going to show you what history says did happen and I’m going to show you where is that church that Jesus said He would found. The persecuted Church. The scattered Church. The True Church of God. Where is it? And what have they believed and what have they done? And what customs have they practiced and followed through every generation down to now? My friends, it’s eye opening and astounding when you get it.]]>