WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91123
HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG
PRESIDENT and PASTOR
February 22, 1974
Letter to all Ministers Worldwide
Dear Fellow Ministers of God's Church:
I am en route to Manila for the FIRST of the world PUBLIC APPEARANCE campaigns next Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
This is an historic FIRST! It is the first PUBLIC meeting, hopefully before audiences of many thousands, in world capitals resulting from approvals and endorsements from the very TOP of the governments of these nations. It is the BIGGEST THING that has happened in God's Work since it started, in our time, in January 1934!
I face a very busy week. On Monday there is another personal meeting with President Marcos, accompanied this time by the Minister of Education. I am to give a Graduation Address at the University on Wednesday, and receive an honorary Doctor's degree. I am to speak before the Rotary Club, the Lion's Club, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, and the Press Club. There are to be interviews on radio and television. The Friday and Saturday night meetings are to be in an auditorium seating 1800, as I understand, and the Sunday night meeting in the Coliseum, seating about 15,000.
The first of these world capital PUBLIC appearances was originally scheduled for Saigon. But as you know the Viet Nam war "Cease Fire" has never ceased, but recently has flared up, and government officials there, sponsoring it, felt it better to postpone it until late in March. I hope the war situation permits us to hold it about three weeks after the Manila meetings.
The officials in the Philippine government were willing to move the meetings there three weeks ahead of the original plans.
The Living GOD has moved, these past four years to give me, as your fellow Minister whom YOU call God's Apostle, and as God's chosen servant for getting His true GOSPEL into all the world, for a witness to ALL NATIONS just before the END of this age, almost unbelievable prestige, favor, and stature in the eyes of many kings, emperors, presidents, prime ministers and OTHER HIGH LEADERS OF MANY NATIONS. I am now, by God's grace, received in many world capitals as an AMBASSADOR FOR WORLD PEACE. I can assure, with authority and confidence, world leaders and heads of state that WORLD PEACE not only is possible, but is definitely coming in our time. And this in spite of the fact that the efforts of world leaders for six thousand years have brought no peace but repeated WARS.
That Message is the Message of their Creator -- the Good News OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. I go before these world leaders with the highest credibility. And in this I think you should REJOICE and THANK GOD, and add your most fervent PRAYERS to mine for the VICTORIOUS conclusion of this GREAT WORK, to which YOU have been called TO HELP!
NEVER, so far as I know in all history, has our GOD moved on government heads of major nations to invite, and endorse such meetings where God's Minister delivered the GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD before their LEADING people. It is something NEVER DONE BEFORE.
Fellow Ministers, SATAN KNOWS THIS! And just as I am now flying to Manila for this very first of these never before meetings, Satan is pulling out all stops to try to destroy THIS GREAT WORK OF GOD I need your prevailing, fervent and UNITED PRAYERS as never before!
News has just this morning reached me of one thing I have to inform you about IMMEDIATELY.
I have just learned that some of you are still being troubled over what we came to call "D & R", although I had been led to believe that issue had been settled satisfactorily for all with the publishing of the new booklet, "Marriage and Divorce." I did not know until this very morning that only a PART of the papers and research of those on the so-called "D & R" research team had been turned over to me -- that only PART of the ministers and scholars had full and complete input to me.
Before the 1973 Ministers' Conference in Pasadena, it was announced that a team was being appointed at Headquarters to research this question. Fellow Ministers I asked for that. I wanted the ideas, the views, the careful research of our best technical Biblical scholars and researchers. I did not myself select the committee that did the study and research. I did ask the coordinator of the team for the results of the studies. I devoted weeks to my own study, with the papers of committee members turned over to me.
I assumed, and no one gave me reason to know otherwise, that I had the complete results of the studies of the committee. It was not all one-sided.
Now I am given to understand that two or more Evangelists at Headquarters as well as other ministers and scholars did neither voice objections I am now led to believe they hold nor turned in the research they had thought relevant. Nor did they object to the booklet after it was prepared. It was printed. From that day until YESTERDAY not one word was voiced to me from ANY objecting to the booklet! Naturally, I assumed it was accepted by all and that question put permanently to rest.
But just yesterday the knowledge of this apparently strong objection came to me via Mr. G.T.A., Dr. Kuhn and Mr. Rader.
My son Garner Ted, incidentally, was not part of that doctrinal team. He voluntarily abstained from being a member of that team as he should have done, under the circumstances at the time. He said he would follow my decision, knowing I was intending to study every side of the question. I not only carefully studied all reports given me from the doctrinal committee, I showed their papers to some of our best scholars on the British campus, including Dr. Stavrinides (especially for his knowledge of the Greek).
I have always tried to follow the Biblical admonition that in a multitude of counselors there is safety. I have always tried to follow the principle that I learned as far back as 1915, to get ALL the facts before a decision. God called and chose me to get HIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM TO THE WORLD, and to be used in raising up His Church for our time to HELP get that Great Commission DONE!
The Living Christ, the HEAD of God's Church, has guided me. He has never let me make a fatal mistake or a major wrong decision -- but rather only minor errors when I was caught "on the run", as it were, with something else on my mind, and gave a quick decision without sufficient facts or study. But I TRY to call for counsel and advice -- and especially the FACTS.
Now I find that apparently the present questions have arisen in all probability because I was never given the papers or views of those on the team or in the organization who held views OPPOSED to most of those which were turned over to me (with one exception).
I am sending word to Headquarters to WITHDRAW the booklet from circulation until I may have opportunity to study the position of those opposed to the present booklet. That is not to say I will agree with them -- it IS to say I will study their position and facts in the scriptures WITH A COMPLETELY OPEN MIND. If there are errors in the booklet,I will CORRECT them. I want GOD'S TRUTH, and I must assume you Ministers do too! I would like to take a more liberal view -- if it is God's TRUTH.
If there is any reason I can account for, as to why God chose me and put me in the position I occupy, it is because I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COMPLETELY FAITHFUL WITH HIS WORD as He gives me to UNDERSTAND!
February 23, 1974
It is now Sunday morning. This letter, up to this point was telephoned in to Pasadena last evening so they might be getting that portion ready for mailing.
And now, this morning, the most shocking news in the history of God's Work has reached us by telephone. At least two trusted Regional Directors have been plotting with their Ministers and Deacons to try to do what I mentioned in the forepart of this letter, what Satan is trying to do -- DESTROY the Work of the LIVING God. They were, of course, keeping their nefarious plans secret. We do not yet know the true extent of their defection, but it may involve anywhere from five or ten to twenty-five Ministers. Garner Ted has sent an urgent message asking me to fly immediately back to Pasadena.
These are men I have loved, trusted and supposed to be true dedicated Ministers of Jesus Christ. Words cannot express how shocked and grieved I am -- for they are not, as they suppose, striking merely at me and my son, but allowing themselves to be used of the ENEMY and accuser of the Brethren, Satan the devil. And they are striking at the Living CHRIST, at the very Work of Almighty God. I grieve for them, because it is a fearful thing to fight against the Living God!
Satan HATES God's Church and God's Work. He tried to strike at me about four years ago. He failed. Then he tried to destroy Garner Ted. And believe me, that was SATAN'S work. But through it all, my son remained LOYAL to the Church, the Work, to me, and to Jesus Christ. He could have done FAR GREATER HARM to the Church and Work when he was on the outside than these men can do now. But not once was there any rebellion or lack of loyalty or wrong attitude toward God, or me, or the Church or Work. But real hours-long desperate and prevailing PRAYER brought real repentance, and that and FAITH brought God's FORGIVENESS, restoration and blessing, and abundant FRUITS for the Work and God's KINGDOM this past year and nine months. I only hope those Ministers now attacking and going out of God's Church will likewise spend hours on their knees in real repentance and also find their way back.
For when Satan could not destroy God's Work through me, or through Garner Ted, he now is trying to destroy it through a lower level -- and he will even try to destroy it through the Brethren when he fails through the Ministry.
Other ministers did all in their power to discredit me, even before God started this Work through me. In the early days of the broadcast ministers repeatedly tried to stop the broadcast. Once they planned to physically kidnap me (so I could not drive from Eugene to Portland for the broadcast) -- but I was warned by a son of one of them and drove by another route. NOT ONE of the several who have attacked and tried to stop God's Work in more than forty years has succeeded. NOT ONE has himself prospered, and I only hope these present mutineers do not come to the terrible fate all of the others did, for they are men I love.
Fellow Ministers, if Satan can influence us to get our eyes off the ONE BIG GOAL to which He has called us -- and get SO CLOSE to questioning this or that, OR SOME DOCTRINE of mere insignificance by comparison, we could magnify the lesser matter so BIG that we could no longer see the ONE BIG GOAL!
Just this past week, I was SO HEAVILY IMPRESSED with the necessity to write an article for The Good News on WHY God has called US NOW -- before the time -- instead of LATER, when He will call ALL in the world to salvation, that I simply could not resist, and I sidetracked everything else and wrote the article. After mailing it to Pasadena, I was HEAVILY BURDENED -- I know now, FROM GOD -- to get it into the hands of all brethren IMMEDIATELY. So I telexed Headquarters to send the whole article, as a personal letter, to the entire membership! I did not then know WHY!! I do, now! The article is included with this letter. I ask every one of you to read it carefully and thoroughly.
The number ONE MISSION in your life and mine -- the very REASON we were called NOW -- is to GET CHRIST'S GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD TO THE WORLD AS A WITNESS TO ALL NATIONS! The issues these defectives are magnifying in their own eyes are as NOTHING compared to that GREAT COMMISSION!
Here I am, in Manila, all set and signed for the FIRST of these REALLY BIG PUBLIC CAMPAIGNS in foreign Gentile nations all over the world -- backed, sponsored, approved, endorsed by those high in the government (members of the President's Cabinet), beside many other top people close to them. And SATAN DID NOT WANT THAT FIRST CAMPAIGN TO TAKE PLACE. This defection of Ministers, seeking to draw a FOLLOWING for THEMSELVES to rule and for selfish gain, has made it necessary for me to leave to return to Pasadena as soon as I finish this letter. WHAT INJURY TO GOD'S GREAT WORK! This was the most important event in the Work for forty years! I am assured by local leaders we were to have had audiences up in the many thousands.
A large white-uniformed brass band welcomed our plane at the airport. Also T.V. cameras, newspaper photographers, reporters. I was greeted as I stepped down from the plane by a Minister of Education and high official of the Angeles University. It was all in the papers that I was to receive an honorary Doctor's and Master's degree at the Graduation on Wednesday. I was interviewed by reporters and on T.V. at the airport. We visited the Minister of Social Welfare for the government in her lovely home, because she was just recovering from an operation and unable to greet us at the airport. I presented her with a gift, and she said, with warmth, "Your mission here this week, Mr. Armstrong, is a great gift to our nation."
Now I am forced to postpone the Manila campaign!
Fellows, there has been some TOTALLY unwarranted criticism on the theme of DOCTRINES. They are NOT BEING NEGLECTED -- but I'm sure you realize I cannot DROP the Great WORK OF GOD, and devote my entire time to DOCTRINE because some are questioning them.
Let me give you the record. I think you may not have realized the TRUTH. It must have been about one and one-half years ago that the issue of the Hebrew names for GOD came up. I was told that an outside minister was taking our members by the scores and even hundreds on that issue. I got right into it immediately. I took time, and then it took time to get it printed in The Good News. But I have heard no bad news over the issue since, and I assume we've settled that "doctrine."
Then the "D & R" question, Healing, Tithing, and the matter of inviting people to Church came up. In November, 1972, I began calling meetings of Evangelists to discuss and settle as many issues as possible. We did settle this last named issue -- as well as other matters regarding personal grooming (urgent at the time), and reported decisions at the last Ministerial Conference, January 1973. Then came the work on the "D & R" question. I went into that, got out the booklet, and have reported to you the results.
Next, I started work IMMEDIATELY on a new HEALING booklet. That is now ninety-five percent complete. I have gone into it THOROUGHLY and in depth, bringing up many points never covered in this connection before. I need another conference with Ministers at Headquarters, and questions and problems from the "field" which I had asked the Director of Church Administration to collect. The results of that meeting will supply the data to complete the new booklet on Healing. Meanwhile I have been VERY BUSY on the BIG COMMISSION, and God has blessed me in this area OVERWHELMINGLY.
Frankly, men, would one of you like my job? I NEED YOUR REAL PREVAILING PRAYERS RIGHT NOW! I NEED YOU TO HELP GARNER TED AND ME TO DO OUR PART IN SAVING THE WORK -- although it is GOD'S WORK, and He WILL save it -- but He wants our heart-rending PRAYERS.
I have given THIS WORK my all for more than forty years. YOU heard the Truth and came into God's Ministry directly or indirectly THROUGH ME. A great many of you by now, no doubt, came into the Church -- into the Knowledge of God's Truth, of His Gospel, His Salvation, His Eternal Life -- after hearing my son Garner Ted on the radio or seeing him on television. We both now need your help.
As never before, we need to know you are SOLIDLY BEHIND THE HEAD of this Church, JESUS CHRIST, and BEHIND ME in the very difficult office HE has placed me in, and behind Ted in the great office and responsibility which God has given him.
I am now on my way back to Pasadena.
PLEASE go to your knees now, and PRAY! THANK YOU, fellows, with all my heart.
WITH DEEP LOVE, in Jesus' name,
Herbert W. Armstrong
(The following letter and the GOOD NEWS article attached were sent to the brethren by GTA as an attachment to his father's February 22 letter to the Ministry.)
WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91123
HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG
PRESIDENT and PASTOR
February 21, 1974
Dear Brethren of God's Church:
I have just completed what I feel is the most important article (in letter form) to God's people in a year, or probably ever, because it sets forth as never before why God has called and put us in His Church NOW, instead of later. I ask you to read every word very carefully, then read it again -- and STILL AGAIN when it comes out in the May issue of The Good News. Satan is attacking against you and against the Living Christ and His Work. Your eternal life may depend on thoroughly understanding this!
WITH GREAT LOVE, in Jesus' name,
Herbert W. Armstrong
WHY Did God Put YOU in His Church?
God had a most important PURPOSE in calling you NOW, instead of later. Are you really
mindful of His PURPOSE -- are you really fulfilling it?
by Herbert W. Armstrong
REALIZE THIS! There are more than 3,600,050,000 human beings (three billion, six hundred million, fifty thousand) on earth today. But of that vast sea of humanity, God has in our time up to now called and put into His Church ONLY some 50,000 baptized members. The other 3,600,000,000 will all be called later -- most not even in this age. They could not come to Christ and be put into the Church NOW, even if they tried!
Then why were YOU called now, before the time?
Jesus said plainly: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). And, comparatively speaking, God has been drawing almost NONE in this age!
Very FEW Called NOW!
How many of us have become unmindful of the MEANING of the Feast of Firstfruits -- Pentecost? How many of us have become unmindful of THE PURPOSE for which the Father did draw us and put us in His Church NOW -- ahead of time -- before the other three billion, six hundred million will be called?
The Day of Pentecost is called in God's Word the Feast of Firstfruits. We are merely the first little preliminary harvest of God's children. Unless we fulfill God's SPECIAL PURPOSE for our calling now, we might never go into His Kingdom. THIS FACT MUST NOT BE TAKEN CARELESSLY!
How many of us become unmindful of God's purpose and assume we were called and put into God's Church only to GET our personal salvation -- and to ENJOY the fellowship and social life of our local church? WHY does God deny the other 3,600,000,000 people that blessing NOW? For, except the Father draw them, none could come to Christ! He said so!
Most people in the "Christian world" suppose Christ came to "save the world," to start a "soul-winning" crusade. They assume the apostles and their successors started the program of trying to convert the whole world. They believe this is the "day of salvation" -- and the ONLY time or age in which humanity may be "saved."
They misconstrue the following: "For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Cor. 6:2). Many insist it says now "is THE day of salvation" -- and they construe it to mean the ONLY time when God is trying to convert and "save" the world.
But that verse is quoted from Isaiah 49:8, where it says "A DAY" -- not "the day."
Most Are Blinded
The eleventh chapter of Romans makes the truth plain. Some had been saying God had cast away His people Israel. The Apostle Paul denies this. He reminds them of how Elijah had thought he alone remained faithful to God and all others had been cast away. God had reminded Elijah that He had reserved seven thousand that had not knelt before Baal. Even so, says Paul, there was in the mid-first century a comparatively small remnant that had received God's grace -- a very small minority compared to many MILLIONS. And all the rest (verse 7) were blinded! God blinded them so that they could not see or comprehend God's truth.
Then Paul compares Israel to the olive tree. The people of Israel are the branches of the tree -- broken off because of disbelief. That is, they did not believe what God had revealed to them, but instead they disobeyed -- and sinned. The Gentiles who had received God's grace were pictured as branches of wild olive trees, now grafted into the natural olive tree -- ISRAEL. And the Israelites, broken off, upon repentance, belief, and conversion, were grafted back in again.
Thus the Apostle was inspired to write that the CHURCH, in this time, is composed of those who are spiritually converted. The Church is this natural olive tree -- ISRAEL. The CHURCH, then, is composed of Spirit-begotten people only -- it is Spirit- begotten Israel!
Now remember, the peoples of western Europe and the English- speaking peoples are the descendants of the so-called "Lost Ten Tribes" of Israel. Most are spiritually "blinded" so that they cannot see the way to salvation. Paul was writing to only those converted and in the Church at Corinth in the mid-first century. We know, however, that after the first century not many Gentiles received real conversion and the Spirit of God. A false "Christianity" -- deceived by Satan -- rose up which kept almost all the Western world blinded and deceived.
This passage continues to show that those blinded to saving truth were to remain blinded UNTIL there should come "the DELIVERER" -- Christ at His Second Coming to RULE the whole earth. Then, "all Israel shall be saved." WHEN? At and after Christ's coming in all POWER AND GLORY!
WHEN Salvation Offered to Whole World
Now notice what will happen WHEN "the Deliverer" -- Christ -- comes to "turn away ungodliness from Jacob." Matthew 25, beginning verse 31, shows Christ coming as King of kings to RULE the world and to offer salvation and eternal life to all the world:
"WHEN the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats" (Matt. 25:31-32).
This is not referring to separating those of us already converted now from the rest of the world then. We have already been separated from the world by conversion, and we shall have been separated by already having received eternal life prior to Christ's setting foot on earth. For "... the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air ... (I Thess. 4:16-17). Thus we, converted now BEFORE the time, shall have been changed from mortal to immortal, meeting Christ in the air as He descends -- BEFORE His feet stand on the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:11-12; Zech. 14:4) -- and BEFORE He sits on David's throne which then becomes CHRIST'S throne in Jerusalem.
Now, continuing in Matthew 25:33: "And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:33-34).
So it is after Christ's return to earth, and in the thousand- year reign with Him, that He will set His hand to SAVE THE WORLD!
Notice next Isaiah 11. Verses 1 through 5 show Christ as the righteous Ruler and Judge. Verses 6 through 9 show the wild animals tamed, and the earth as full of Christ's KNOWLEDGE as the ocean beds are full of water. Verse 10 shows the Gentile nations seeking CHRIST and salvation. Verses 11 through 16 show Christ setting His hand to save Israel and the whole world -- during the Millennium.
Meaning of Annual Festivals
The annual Festivals of God picture GOD'S PLAN for working out His PURPOSE here below.
The Passover pictures the crucifixion of Christ. The wavesheaf on the morrow after the weekly Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread pictures the RISEN Christ being accepted (His sacrifice for our sins and His resurrection) of God. The Days of Unleavened Bread picture putting away sin. The Feast of Firstfruits (Pentecost), the first small preliminary spiritual harvest. The Feast of Trumpets, Christ's Second Coming. The Day of Atonement, Satan being put away. The Feast of Tabernacles, the GREAT SPIRITUAL HARVEST -- Christ setting His hand to offer salvation to the WHOLE WORLD. The final Holy Day pictures the Great White Throne Judgment -- the resurrection of all to whom salvation had not been offered, and their time of salvation or rejection of it.
The Bible teaches that this now is SATAN'S world -- that Satan has DECEIVED all nations; that he has deceived them into accepting him as their GOD -- being blinded as to the true Christ and His GOSPEL.
Not Just Another Church
Brethren, do we not find ourselves taking for granted that the churches in what is called "Christianity" are also God's churches -- that WE are just another of the many denominations, the only difference being that we hold to some different doctrines?
THAT IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE! We in GOD'S Church are not just one of all these churches. They are of this world. They do not have, or know, or proclaim Christ's Gospel -- the message God sent to the world BY CHRIST, as the MESSENGER. Of course, Satan counterfeits the Gospel and God's Truth. He lets his churches have a little truth. But they are DECEIVED and OF this world. But, YOU, brethren, "are a chosen generation" -- yes, SPECIFICALLY chosen for a very SPECIAL commission -- "a ROYAL priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people ..." (I Peter 2:9).
The world as a whole -- with its churches which call them- selves "Christian" -- are DECEIVED. God has allowed it. God has not called them. They do not know THE WAY to real salvation. They do not know even WHAT real salvation is! THIS IS NOT GOD'S TIME FOR SAVING THE WORLD!
What Actually Happened
To fully understand WHY most have been deceived -- and WHY God has put YOU in His Church now, in this very END TIME just before the coming of Christ in POWER and GLORY, we need to realize what actually happened to the Gospel after the first century.
Malachi prophesied Jesus would come as a MESSENGER, with a MESSAGE from God, which He was to announce (Mal. 3:1). He was to come as "the Messenger of the COVENANT." Jesus came as the Messenger of the NEW Covenant.
The "Old Covenant" was made at Mt. Sinai between God and ancient Israel. It was a MARRIAGE covenant, and it made Israel God's wife. It also established Israel as a KINGDOM -- one of earth's nations.
Likewise, the NEW Covenant, with Christ as Mediator (as Moses was of the Old), will be a MARRIAGE covenant, establishing Spirit-begotten Israel as Christ's Spirit-BORN wife. And it also will establish the "WIFE" as the KINGDOM OF GOD upon earth. That MARRIAGE will produce Spirit-born children. That is WHEN, and by what process, God will set out to SAVE the whole world. Satan will be GONE! Christ, WITH THE CHURCH, then will compose the KINGDOM OF GOD and will be ruling all nations! And SAVING THEM! (See Matthew 25:31-34.)
They HATED the Gospel
The MESSAGE God sent by Christ was the GOSPEL -- and that Gospel was the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It was the Message of the Covenant, which Covenant, as I said, shall establish the KINGDOM OF GOD on earth. The KINGDOM OF GOD is the GOVERNMENT of God which shall rule all nations. But also it is the FAMILY OF GOD into which we may be BORN -- the DIVINE FAMILY which becomes a SPIRIT-NATION, ruling all nations on earth -- a WORLD- RULING GOVERNMENT!
Jesus was sent to ANNOUNCE that message -- not to force men to accept it, believe it, and act on it. NEVER DID JESUS PLEAD WITH A SINGLE ONE TO BE CONVERTED. He merely announced the GOOD NEWS of the Kingdom of God, and He left it to people to decide whether to believe it and whether to act on it. He did not come THEN to CONVERT the world! He did not start a "soul-saving" crusade -- the Protestants did! He came to ANNOUNCE the GOSPEL -- the GOOD NEWS of His coming KINGDOM!
But people hated His message. Many BELIEVED on Him -- realized and BELIEVED He was the Messiah. But they did not believe His message -- His Gospel!
Notice, in the eighth chapter of John:
Jesus was speaking in the Temple at Jerusalem. "As he spake these words, many believed on Him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in my word [IF you believe my message and act on it -- live by it], then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:30-32).
This angered those "who BELIEVED ON Him." They hotly denied they were not free. They were Abraham's descendants!
"I know," answered Jesus, "that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word [the Gospel] hath no place in you" (verse 37).
It was that message -- that GOSPEL -- which caused those to whom Jesus came to cry out for His crucifixion. His apostles went out proclaiming the same MESSAGE; they, too, were put to death for it -- with the possible exception of John.
Persecution Sets In
In two years (A.D.33 ) the persecution started (Acts 8:1). Philip, a deacon, went to Samaria announcing the Kingdom of God (Acts 8:12) and performing many astounding miracles -- healing the sick and casting out demons. The people were greatly moved. They believed and were baptized. Among them was Simon the sorcerer who had deceived the people with his sorcery. He was their "spiritual leader" -- the "Peter" (Pater, father) in the Babylonian Mystery religion.
Seven hundred years before Christ, when the people of the northern Kingdom of Israel had been moved to Assyria, Gentiles from Babylon had been moved into the land of Samaria, north of Jerusalem (II Kings 17:18,23,24). These were the Gentiles which the Jews of Christ's day called "dogs."
This Simon, known in history as Simon Magus, saw his people starting to leave his Babylonian Mystery religion, which he had kept alive. Philip's miracles were REAL, and by hundreds people were believing and being baptized. Simon offered Peter and John money, trying to bribe them to confer on him the power to cause people to receive God's Holy Spirit by laying on his hands.
Peter told him sharply that he was "in the bond of iniquity." That is, bound by the grip of lawlessness -- hostile to God's Law.
Simon had managed to have himself baptized along with the scores and hundreds. He knew that all pagan religions were controlled by kings or heads of state. Their religions were used to hold a grip over the people and to keep the rulers in power. Whoever controlled the religion in a country also controlled the government.
Simon saw in Christ an opportunity to head up a UNIVERSAL religion -- he saw visions of ruling the world, if only he could lead out in a UNIVERSAL religion that would sweep into all countries. He had to do something, or see his followers all turn Christian.
So Simon claimed to be an apostle in the Christian religion in order to hold his followers. He appropriated the name of Christ. He changed the NAME of his Babylonian religion to "Christianity." He offered free GRACE -- forgiveness of sins -- which no religion had ever offered. But he turned grace into license (Jude 4); he did away with God's Law.
Before the end of the first century, his new UNIVERSAL (Catholic) religion had gained great strides. He gave great opposition to the true Church of God. This opposition is mentioned in Paul's epistles, in John's epistles, in Peter and in James and in Revelation.
The "Lost Century"
By the end of the first century, we come to a gap in the history of the Church. It's like a curtain had been rung down on that stage of history. When that curtain lifts, a hundred years later, we see a "Christian church" professing Christ, administering grace, but otherwise almost the very antithesis of the Church of Christ's apostles a hundred years before.
The Kingdom of God had been changed to become the church. The pagan day of the sun had displaced God's Sabbath. The Sabbath was called "Jewish," and persecution against things "Jewish" was a weapon used to supplant most of Christ's teachings with the Babylonian Mystery religion, now called "Christianity."
In the twelfth chapter of Revelation, we find a description of the true Church of God -- persecuted, small. It is persecuted by Satan the devil, who is the "god of this world" (II Cor. 4:4) and of the new false "Christianity." In the seventeenth chapter of Revelation, we find this Babylonian Mystery church described.
When the curtain lifts on that "LOST CENTURY" of Church history, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God was no longer preached to the world. Jesus and His apostles had carried on a dual ministry -- proclaiming the Kingdom of God and healing the sick. But after that "Lost Century" neither the Gospel of God's Kingdom nor healing was going out to the world.
The true Church of God carried on through every generation, but its teaching had to be secret -- under cover -- for fear of martyrdom. The Gospel of God sent to mankind through Christ was NO LONGER PREACHED TO THE WORLD!
Where WE Come In
In the pivotal chapter of the entire New Testament, Matthew 24, it is recorded that Jesus had been telling His disciples that the temple at Jerusalem would be torn down. Also He had told them of His coming in power and glory to rule. Then, on the Mount of Olives, His disciples asked privately, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world [age]?" (Verse 3.)
Jesus did not give them the sign of His coming and the END of this present world right away. First He warned them, "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying that I am the Christ; and shall deceive many."
That happened. They claimed to be the ministers of Jesus Christ. They said Jesus was the Christ. They preached CHRIST (the Messenger) to the world, but NOT His message -- His Gospel -- the Kingdom of God. And they indeed have deceived the MANY -- the MILLIONS and hundreds of millions!
Finally, in verse 14, He gave them the sign by which we were to know the time of the end of this age and Christ's imminent coming to establish the KINGDOM OF GOD is near. "And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Notice -- not to convert all nations. Just for a witness to all nations.
Gospel NOT Proclaimed 18 1/2 Centuries
Unless Jesus knew that a different gospel would go out -- a gospel about His PERSON (and teaching a DIFFERENT JESUS at that!) -- the end time proclaiming of the true Gospel of the Kingdom could not be a sign by which you may know His coming is near!
Jesus plainly said here that the true GOSPEL would not be preached to the world UNTIL NOW!
Notice briefly Galatians 1:6-9. This false gospel was already, when Paul wrote to the Galatians, being preached: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel... but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the qospel of Christ." Then he pronounced a double curse on any who dared to proclaim a different gospel.
A Different Gospel
Consider with that scripture another from II Corinthians 11:2-4, 13-15. Paul wrote the Corinthians, who were already listening to this FALSE gospel: "I am jealous over you with godly jealousy... But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted .... For if he that cometh [Simon the sorcerer's followers] preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or ANOTHER GOSPEL, which ye have not [as yet] accepted ...."
Who were these false preachers with "ANOTHER GOSPEL"?
Verses 13-15: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into [claiming to be] the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers [Satan's ministers posing as Christ's] also be transformed as [pretending to be] the ministers of righteousness."
WHY The First-Century Church
Now notice carefully!
Jesus taught His disciples the message (Gospel) of the Kingdom of God. They were with Him three-and-a-half years. After His resurrection they were with Him forty days (Acts 1:3) to become EYEWITNESSES of the fact of His RESURRECTION. As they announced the Kingdom of God, they also put great emphasis on being EYEWITNESSES that Christ ROSE from the dead.
In order for them -- TWELVE men -- a complete JURY to unanimously CONFIRM the resurrection -- to perform this mission, God specially called and raised up His CHURCH of that period of time to BACK THEM -- support them financially -- support them by fervent PRAYERS. But they were an infinitesimal tiny fraction of all humanity! At first the Church mushroomed in growth (Acts 5:14; 6:1, etc.). But in Acts 7 we find the persecution starting. In Acts 8 it is recorded that the persecution intensified, scattered the members of the Church, and records the facts about Simon the sorcerer.
Before the end of the first century, the persecution had reduced the true Church. Many members had gone out of the true Church by the nineties A.D. (I John 2:19). John was warning the brethren against the false ministers (I John 2:4; II John 7,10, etc.). Soon the false counterfeit church greatly out-numbered them.
Then came the "Lost Century" in Church history. The first- century commission had been carried out. The great false "Christianity" grew great and strong physically and politically -- but not spiritually -- until it became the largest religion, in number of adherents, in the world.
Through this 18 1/2 centuries, God's true Church existed, much of the time very SMALL, impotent, teaching and even meeting secretly, and unable to proclaim the GOSPEL of the Kingdom of God to the world.
One purpose for the Church -- one reason God did draw some to Christ -- was to beget a certain number by the Holy Spirit that they might GROW spiritually in grace and the KNOWLEDGE of Christ; that they may be resurrected into God's KINGDOM at the coming of Christ -- trained spiritually and developed in spiritual character and knowledge to RULE THE WORLD under Christ when He comes.
But now, in the past FORTY YEARS there has come a SPECIAL PURPOSE -- a SPECIAL TREMENDOUS COMMISSION to be carried out -- which today is the PRINCIPLE REASON WHY GOD HAS GREATLY INCREASED THE NUMBER CALLED over that of the immediate preceding years.
Notice carefully! It is important that you UNDERSTAND!
God's Church Today
Now we come down to ourselves in God's Church today.
In the autumn of 1926 God called me. For sixteen years I had been specially prepared for it. I was challenged into intensive study and research into the Bible. I was astonished -- shocked -- to see that the "Christianity" I had been brought up in was almost the antithesis of the Christianity of Christ and His Apostles. Against my will, as it had been at the time, I had to acknowledge I had been wrong about God's Sabbath.
That was the beginning of learning God's TRUTH. It was like a sudden awakening to a whole NEW WORLD. I was impelled to keep on studying. My complete surrender to God, His Law, His Word, His Will changed my whole life. I was baptized and received God's Holy Spirit. It was a total NEW AWAKENING -- A NEW LIFE. Now for the first time God opened my mind to understand the Bible.
The intensive study became my life. My conversion was in the spring of 1927. In 1931 I was ordained by the Oregon Conference of the Church of God. After many tests lasting seven years from my conversion, God chose me as His instrument to raise up the present era of His Church, to proclaim His GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD to the world and to feed the flock which He was to put in His Church.
The END TIME Was Here!
This proved to be the start of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Matthew 24:14.
But the Gospel was not to go to all the world right away. First, radio opened in the smallest way at the start. The first week in January, 1934, the true Gospel -- the KINGDOM OF GOD -- went out to reach perhaps a few thousand people in the northwest corner of the United States -- in Lane County, Oregon. The PLAIN TRUTH started February 1, 1934 with the VERY SMALLEST circulation -- just a few hundred copies. By late 1942, we were reaching a scattered national group of listeners and readers. Not important national leaders -- all just the "grass-roots" common people.
Gradually Jesus Christ, the living HEAD of this Work, called more and more of you brethren as Co-Workers with Him and with me in proclaiming this GOOD NEWS of Christ's GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM. The Work, on radio and by the printing press, grew. It spread to reach many MILLIONS over the United States, Canada, and Australia. Still God called only a comparative very small minority to conversion -- at this time!
But when it came to getting God's LAST MESSAGE out to ALL THE WORLD as a witness, we were blocked. I could not buy time on radio in Britain, nor in France, Germany, Scandinavia, nor in Russia, India, China, Japan, Indonesia, nor other countries around the world.
We Were Blocked
Governments in those nations -- in nearly all nations CONTROL radio, television, and the means of reaching their people! They try to CONTROL the minds and thinking and teaching of their peoples!
I tried buying radio time in a few little countries adjoining France, Germany, Belgium, India, Russia, and China. But results were ALMOST NIL -- almost NO RESPONSE. We simply could not reach the MILLIONS in these big nations that way.
Stupendous Doors Open
Now, at last, after 40 years of building toward it, the living Christ has opened STUPENDOUS NEW DOORS for getting HIS MESSAGE into the nations whose doors, those 40 years, were closed!
In all these HUGE POPULATION NATIONS -- China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Japan, Brazil, Bangladesh, the nations of western Europe, Asia, Africa, South and Central America -- God is opening doors AT THE VERY TOP!
He has already given me almost unbelievable FAVOR and CREDIBILITY in the eyes of those at the very TOP of many nations. And the number of nations conferring this unusual grace and favor upon me personally continues to GROW and EXPAND into more and more nations month by month!
There has been NOTHING LIKE IT BEFORE, so far as I know!
THINK OF IT! The chosen servant of the Great God being given great favor and high HONOR by numerous heads of state -- who actually want to hear my message -- who want their people at the top of their governments to hear it -- who want THEIR PEOPLE to hear it!
I know of nothing like it ever before in history -- unless it was in the days of the prophet Elijah.
Elijah Went to Kings
God had hid Elijah from King Ahab of Israel -- first by the brook Cherith, fed by the ravens, then in the house of the widow in Zarephath. Finally, God told Elijah in the third year to go to King Ahab. In the way Elijah met Obadiah, governor of the king's palace, who greatly feared God. Elijah told Obadiah to go tell King Ahab Elijah had come.
But Obadiah feared for his life! He said, "As the Eternal thy God liveth, there is NO NATION OR KINGDOM whither my lord [King Ahab] hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not" (I Kings 18:10).
Ahab's servants did not inquire or take an oath of the sheep- herders, farmers, or common people. Obviously, Ahab's men went directly to the KING of each nation, indicating that Elijah was known to the kings of the earth in his day.
Today, after 40 years, the DOORS TO THESE NATIONS ARE OPENING one after another, faster than I can get to them! THIS IS DEFINITELY OF GOD!
And now, PUBLIC APPEARANCE CAMPAIGNS are planned already in THREE nations, sponsored by officials high in the governments of these nations. Already I have gotten the MESSAGE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD to audiences of 55 to 100 of each nation's LEADERS in banquets or dinners in India, Japan, Thailand, South Vietnam, Ethiopia, and the Philippines.
This is positively miraculous! It is GOD'S DOING!
God had a SPECIAL MISSION for His first-century apostles -- giving personal eyewitness proof of the RESURRECTION of Christ, as well as proclaiming the Good News of the KINGDOM OF GOD.
From then until 1934, the Church existed, comparatively small in number, persecuted, unable to proclaim the KINGDOM OF GOD to the world.
WHY You Are Called NOW
But now, once again, there is a dynamic, super-important SPECIAL COMMISSION -- to proclaim the GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM in all the world as a witness to ALL NATIONS, just before the END OF THIS AGE -- and also to prepare the way for Christ's Second Coming!
And, just as God caused His Church in the first century to GROW RAPIDLY, even to MULTIPLY in numbers (until the persecution set in) -- to BACK THE APOSTLES, support them financially, support them by fervent prayers -- EVEN SO God caused His Church of our day to GROW at the phenomenal rate of 30% a year, multiplying itself in numbers eight times in eight years -- 64 times in 16 years, 4,096 times in 32 years -- and maintain that rate of growth over a 35-year span in OUR TIME.
WHY? -- to make possible and to support this very SPECIAL DYNAMIC COMMISSION FOR OUR DAY (Matthew 24:14)!!
And THAT, brethren, is the REASON God has called you and me TODAY -- ahead of time -- before He calls the other 3,600,000,000 people to salvation.
We are called, NOW, for a VERY, VERY special commission!
BUT WHY YOU?
Prophecy for Second Coming
Let's look a little further into Malachi's prophecy about God sending Christ with this MESSAGE. It's in Malachi 3, beginning in verse 1: "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Eternal of hosts."
In Mark 1:2, in Luke 1:17, in Matthew 11:10 and elsewhere, this first messenger preparing the way for Christ is referred to as John the Baptist. But in a greater sense it refers to a Work to be done preparing the way for the Second Coming of Christ NOW, in our time!
Read the next verse -- Malachi 3:2:
"But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap." The Moffatt translation makes the meaning a little sharper: "for he is like the fire of smelters and the acid used by fullers."
Continuing: "And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver .... And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not, saith the Eternal of hosts" (through verse 5).
This is NOT speaking of Christ's first coming, more than 1900 years ago! It is NOT speaking primarily of John the Baptist, who was only as one preparing the way before Jesus' first coming over 1900 years ago.
Primarily it is speaking of one to prepare the way before Christ's SECOND COMING, now, today, IN OUR TIME! It is speaking of things Christ will do when He comes in all POWER and AUTHORITY to RULE ALL NATIONS!
Does the full significance of that sink into your consciousness?
Now notice Luke 1:17. It is speaking, again, of John the Baptist -- but only TYPICALLY of one preparing the way for the SECOND COMING, NOW, at the END of this age.
Notice it! "And he shall go before Him [Christ] in the power and spirit of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
God's way of Preparing Us
And God has set before us HIS WAY of preparing us -- by GROWING in spiritual character, in grace and the knowledge of Christ, ready for our part in the Kingdom, reigning under Christ! And THAT WAY is OUR PART in fulfilling the special end-time WORK of Matthew 24:14: "This Gospel OF THE KINGDOM shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the END come"!
It would have been utterly IMPOSSIBLE for me to carry out this great commission alone. THAT is why God has called YOU now, instead of later, in the Millennium! And this great WORK OF GOD is THE WAY God has set before us for each to GROW and develop SPIRITUALLY. God's WAY -- that of HIS LAW -- is the way of GIVING, not getting. Those who try to simply GET their salvation are in danger of losing it!
God's WORK is a work of GIVING -- GIVING the GOSPEL of the KINGDOM OF GOD. In 40 years I have observed that ONLY those whose hearts are in this great Work are themselves growing spiritually.
I have mentioned how the early Church GREW and MULTIPLIED in those God added to the Church. But soon the persecution came. Soon the false preachers came, with the different gospel -- a different spirit. They came fomenting a spirit of criticism -- of DOUBT! They came saying Jesus' true apostles were preaching WRONG DOCTRINES.
They said to people: "Peter, and Paul, and those apostles won't admit they are teaching erroneous doctrines. Look how many are FALLING AWAY from them. Their credibility is at an all-time low. Don't follow them -- forsake them and the Gospel they are proclaiming, and COME OVER WITH US."
Yes, brethren, and THOUSANDS DID -- TO THEIR OWN ULTIMATE DESTRUCTION IN THE LAKE OF FIRE!
Look at the Fruits
But LOOK AT THE FRUITS! The work of the original apostles BORE THE TRUE FRUITS!
The Worldwide Church of God has always produced the GOOD fruits -- ABUNDANT fruits. It is the ONLY Work in 1850 years that has proclaimed the true Gospel of Christ -- the Gospel OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD to the world -- now GOING TO THE ENTIRE WORLD!
Prophecy says the END will not come until, also, there is a "falling away" first!
Jesus' parable (Luke 19:11-24) is for OUR TIME, now! It pertains to Christ going to heaven to receive the Kingdom officially and then returning. The "pounds" (English money) represent the SPIRITUAL GOODS Christ has entrusted to each of us now, while He is in heaven. When He returns, He will demand of each of us to show how we have used the GIFT of His Holy Spirit -- how much we have CONTRIBUTED to His Work -- the PURPOSE for which He put us in His Church NOW! He will demand of each of us to show how much we have grown spiritually in the way of GOD'S LAW -- the way of CONTRIBUTING AND GIVING. Those who prove disloyal or drop out of the Work -- THE ONLY PURPOSE FOR WHICH YOU WERE CALLED NOW -- will find themselves in the position of the one described in verses 20 and 24. They will lose the very salvation they were trying to GET!
You are each admonished to "make your calling and election SURE!"
Today, as in the time of the first apostles, MANY DECEIVERS are gone out into the world. They will ACCUSE God's Church and His Work. It is Satan the devil who is the accuser of the true brethren (Rev. 12:10).
As it was in the first century -- the days of the original apostles, when the Church was MULTIPLYING itself in membership (Acts 6:1) -- so is it destined to be NOW!
Before Jesus answered His disciples as to WHEN the END of the age and His return would come, He warned them against FALSE MINISTERS, deceiving the many. If possible, He said, they would deceive the VERY ELECT -- YOU in God's Church.
As the Apostle Paul warned the elders at Ephesus, "For I know this, that ... grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also OF YOUR OWN SELVES [the ministers in God's Church] shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore WATCH"! (Acts 20:29-31.)
Brethren, could this BE God's true Church, and such things not happen to us? This sort of thing DID HAPPEN to God's TRUE CHURCH in the very first century. They only PROVE this is GOD'S Church which He is USING and blessing! But SATAN IS ANGRY. Satan deceives even some from within us. They will falsely accuse. They will MISLEAD with false doctrines which they will palm off as TRUTH!
As in the days of the Apostle John, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (I John 2:19).
Among the false teachers accusing and trying to mislead the Church as Satan's ministers, described in the eleventh chapter of II Corinthians, were "FALSE BRETHREN."
Dear brethren, this could not BE God's true Church, through which HE is carrying on HIS TRUE WORK, unless Satan managed to inject some such in God's Church TODAY.
MUCH of the New Testament is WARNING God's people of these snares of Satan to hinder -- to attempt to DESTROY the very Work of GOD -- the very Work which is THE REASON God has called you NOW -- before He undertakes to SAVE THE WHOLE WORLD!
The Fruits Prove It
Remember, Jesus taught us to LOOK TO THE FRUITS BORNE!
Are they who falsely accuse -- who seek to draw a following away from God's Church for selfish purpose -- PROCLAIMING THE KINGDOM OF GOD TO THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD? Are they fulfilling the PURPOSE for which God has called us NOW? NONE but THIS VERY WORK of the LIVING GOD is fulfilling that PURPOSE -- bearing the FRUITS.
Finally, brethren, do you realize how THANKFUL, GRATEFUL, HAPPY and JOYFUL you and I should be that the Mighty God looked down from heaven and selected YOU and me to be called to salvation NOW, before the time, that He might USE US as His human instruments in GETTING HIS MESSAGE TO THIS ENTIRE WORLD -- preparing THE WAY for the coming of HIS KINGDOM on earth to END the nightmarish evils, agonies, sufferings, violence, wars and injustices on earth?
When I go before kings, presidents, emperors, prime ministers, and the LEADERS of many nations, I go and am received as AN AMBASSADOR FOR WORLD PEACE. I go before them not only as GOD'S representative, but also as YOURS.
I go in Satan's great disfavor -- in Satan's eyes and those he has deceived into being used AGAINST the Work of the living God, with no credibility. But in GOD'S EYES, and in the eyes of the nations' leaders, I go with great FAVOR, THE HIGHEST CREDIBILITY, and in high HONOR!
WHY were YOU called NOW -- instead of later when God sets out to save the world? That you might have the glory and honor of YOUR PART with me UNDER THE LIVING CHRIST in HIS WORK -- in getting HIS MESSAGE of the Kingdom of God into all the world as a witness to all nations -- just before THE END of this age!
THAT'S the reason for THIS WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD -- FOR THIS WORK OF GOD -- the most SERIOUS -- the MOST IMPORTANT MISSION ON EARTH IN 1900 YEARS!
Let's put our hearts and fervent PRAYERS into God's Work as NEVER BEFORE!