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- “Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People
- The True Church – One Organization, or Many?
- The Government of God – Understanding Offices and Duties
- The Work of God – Its Final Chapter!
- Why The Restored Church of God? – Should You Join?
- Should Accusers Be Answered?
- Is “That Prophet” Alive Today? – The Rise of False Prophets
- There Came a Falling Away
- Surviving “Perilous Times”
Founder and Pastor General of The Restored Church of God, Editor-in-Chief of The Real Truth magazine, and voice of The World to Come program, David C. Pack has reached many millions around the globe with the most powerful truths of the Bible—unknown to almost all. He has authored 80 books and booklets, personally established over 50 congregations, and appeared as a guest on The History Channel. Mr. Pack attended Ambassador College in Pasadena, California, entered the Worldwide Church of God ministry in 1971, and was personally trained by its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong.Learn more
Is “That Prophet” Alive Today?
The Rise of False Prophets
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Section I – Is “That Prophet” Alive Today?
- Chapter One – Prophets—True and False
- Chapter Two – The Role of a Prophet
- Chapter Three – Identifying “That Prophet”
- Chapter Four – Christ’s Great Warning
- Chapter Five – Seducers Grow Worse!
- Chapter Six – Fear, Flattery, Filthy Lucre and False Prophets
- Chapter Seven – More Characteristics
- Chapter Eight – A False Christ
- Chapter Nine – The Final Prophets
- Chapter Ten – Taking Action
- Chapter Eleven – Source of Persecution?
- Section II – Matthew 24 – the Rise of False Prophets
- Section III – Who are the “Sheep” of Ezekiel 34?
- Section IV – Doctrinal Changes in PCG
- Section V – The PCG Experience – Where To From Here?
Why is a book on the subject of “That Prophet” specifically, and prophets in general, necessary? For this reason: The Restored Church of God (RCG) is committed to creating every tool necessary to help those who desire to be faithful brethren—no matter their current splinter—know what the Bible instructs as events following the apostasy continue to develop. Many of God’s people are still resolved to fully obey God but need help to do this. This volume provides crucial assistance to those who joined one particular group—the Philadelphia Church of God (PCG)—the organization that formed first after the apostasy!
But it also offers vital instruction to everyone who has been in any of the offshoots of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG).
A certain very ominous and loud alarm bell has tolled throughout the splinters and slivers! A new and truly grave danger has come to face all of God’s people, and I had to decide whether or not to “answer the bell” that it represented. While helpful to everyone, this book is primarily directed to those who followed the first leader, Gerald Flurry, who left the WCG and formed PCG—but, secondarily, also to any who is tempted to follow one claiming to be a prophet. Regardless of this man’s original plans, both his intentions and the titles that he now claims changed in an appalling way. This is our attempt to help thousands who are languishing there know who and what they follow. We cannot ignore the plight of so many following either this man or others like him. (The first section, now longer and with chapters, once appeared as the booklet Is “That Prophet” Alive Today?)
The increasing danger of false prophets and the proliferation of their foolish ideas (in the name of “understanding prophecy”) among God’s people has grown so great that another, separate article had to be written later just to address what more and more of God’s people are now encountering.
At the same time, another need arose for other articles to be added to our original booklet, written in early 2000. That early booklet was almost entirely about this subject. But over time there were other related issues that presented themselves, which had arisen because of the many reported experiences of those in the first splinter. The PCG represented a unique situation—one that was entirely unlike the problems that were being faced by God’s people in all of the other splinters. It became obvious that additional assistance in sorting through a variety of other problems was necessary for those who had gone with this early organization. This meant that our initial booklet about “That Prophet” had to be expanded into a full book, covering all of the necessary information to help people escape the clutches of that organization.
In addition, a variety of related questions arose about the Two Witnesses. These needed to be answered against this background.
In the summer of 2003, because of the above-described spread of false prophets, I wrote the article “Matthew 24 – The Rise of False Prophets.” It was initially placed in our book Surviving “Perilous Times”,” which had also been published at that time. We have added that article to this book as Section II.
Almost none of God’s people ever took the time or had an interest in studying what God says about prophets—true and false. Similarly, very few even knew that Mr. Armstrong said or taught anything about them, including how to recognize true and false prophets, the function and purpose of God’s prophets, when there is and is not a need for a prophet or prophets to arise and how prophets interface and work with apostles. Virtually no one knows that Mr. Armstrong had anything to say about “That Prophet.” Yet, both he and other ministers in the Church did address this subject in a number of publications. But no one had ever assembled this material.
The problem grows much greater when one considers that most throughout the ministry within the splinters are in almost the same condition as the laymembers. They also know almost nothing about the subject of the biblical office of prophet. Their ignorance is truly a tragic state of affairs—and it has directly contributed to the rise of false prophets in this age. If they had better done their homework—and fulfilled their responsibility to teach God’s people about true prophets and to warn them about false prophets—this book might not have been necessary. This ignorance is perhaps the very biggest reason that some former ministers have become confused, thinking that they hold the office of prophet today. (One former Church Pastor, Ron Weinland, has come to believe himself to be one of the Two Witnesses, and, incredibly, claims his wife is the other. The material you will read would have protected this man from such foolish presumptuousness.)
It is my hope that many ministers, elders and deacons—leaders!—will also read this vital book, and will act on it, which means sharing the truth that it contains with others! Of course, such courage could come at some price for those who do.
Section III comes directly off the previous section. Titled “Who Are the ‘Sheep’ of Ezekiel 34?”, this was also originally an article in Surviving “Perilous Times”.” Written in 2003, it followed the “Matthew 24” article in that book because it is a classic example of how people mangle fundamental prophecies, as Section II describes. It also reflects a prevalent mindset among many who no longer follow the one claiming to be That Prophet. This is because the abuse they received in his organization led them to misunderstand the correct application of Ezekiel 34. This will be made clear. By no means, however, are all those who subscribed to the thinking addressed in Section III former members of PCG. Many now use this chapter to justify the decision to never again come under ministerial authority.
Now for some important background explaining Section IV. At the end of 2000, I produced a list of almost 200 doctrinal changes that were occurring within the splinters. Most brethren there had come to believe that all the doctrinal errors had been left behind in the WCG. Of course, this was far from true. Old Protestant teachings were exported out of the WCG and into the splinters, and new false doctrines and ideas have been born in the splinters, under the banner of “growth.”
The new list of false teachings in the splinters appeared as part of an article titled “Endless False Doctrines—How Most Are Still Being Fooled!” A large portion of that list had to do with the false biblical understanding and the false prophecies that the leader of the PCG was preaching and publishing. The list we prepared was by no means a complete list of all the errors of that organization. That would not be possible. It would probably not be possible to come close. However, Section IV is a list of 78 errors the leader of PCG has spread. (We also decided to let the list of errors remain in that article within Surviving “Perilous Times” so that the longer list could remain intact, and still reveal the big picture of what is happening outside the Philadelphia remnant. It was important that brethren throughout the splinters understand that the spread of false doctrine was occurring in all the groups that had formed in the breakup of the WCG.)
Finally, after working with literally hundreds of God’s people who had escaped the Philadelphia Church of God, there came a point at which it was obvious that we needed to help these brethren in a special way. Many of these people had been terribly abused in an appalling fashion that others have not experienced, but can benefit from understanding. They had also been indoctrinated into a way of thinking that is almost impossible to comprehend for those who have not been in that organization. Working with them became its own education. While some recovered fairly easily, others struggled in ways they could not always understand.
Over time, it became clear that there were certain unique problems that they were wrestling with, that were completely unlike anything I was seeing in people coming from any of the other groups. A pattern presented itself. I also found that many of them were truly wonderful, zealous people, completely unlike their leaders, and unlike what many in the other groups had presumed them to be.
In the fall of 2004, I asked a group of former PCG leaders, who had come with RCG, to write an article for those who had shared their experience and who had also come with RCG. These men very carefully compared notes, obtained counsel from others, and produced an extensive article outlining the critical issues with which PCG and former PCG brethren were wrestling. Several men in Church Administration and I then added a number of elements to this article from our own experiences. Originally published in our Pillar magazine, produced for all the members of RCG, this article now appears as Section V here.
Vital for All!
Many who never joined or attended the Philadelphia Church of God will be tempted to not take the time to read this book. They will feel that it “does not apply” to them. For a variety of reasons, dismissing it would be a tremendous mistake! Everyone can learn from what is happening in that organization—and in the tiny “slivers” that have emerged from their parent “splinter.” The Philadelphia Church of God stands as a testimony to the great power, influence and truly grave danger presented by false prophets. I urge everyone who has the Spirit of God to thoroughly study this material until you have a true sense of that danger and fully comprehend what it means to God’s people at the end of the age! Other similar organizations are forming, and seducing ever more of God’s people.
Recognize that this book is not an attempt to single out the Philadelphia Church of God for special attention. Unique problems exist in virtually all of the organizations that emerged from the Worldwide Church of God. Within reason, we have attempted to also identify problems specific to each of them. I have a God-ordained duty to explain the false doctrine, division, confusion, hatred and other generally deplorable conditions found throughout the many groups of the seventh era. The reader must come to see that these problems all have to do with the fact that every one of these splinters is outside the Body of Christ—the one, unified organization where the living Jesus Christ is the Head and is leading and working. Our book The True Church – One Organization, or Many? covers this subject in detail.
My responsibility to warn the nations of modern Israel and to warn and teach God’s people is thoroughly explained in the two-part sermon “Watchman to Israel—Messenger to Laodicea!” Every member of every splinter should make time to hear this most important sermon!
Finally, recognize that some few points, as well as references to other parts of the Splinter Explanation Packet, overlap or essentially repeat themselves in the book because they fit the context of sections that were not always under one cover.
You are urged to pay very close attention to the lessons and instruction contained throughout.
Chapter One – Prophets—True and False
In the wake of the apostasy—the falling away—each splinter developed its own set of false doctrines. Some groups recognize them and others do not. Naturally, people are the same. Some care, and will anoint their eyes and wake up, and others will not. This is human nature.
The Bible states that there are prophets, and that all of them fall into one of two categories—either true or false. All prophets—past, present or future—are one or the other. They cannot be both, and they cannot be in-between.
Understand that this book must be studied in its entirety to see the grave danger that false prophets pose! You cannot skip around, reading only selected parts, or you will miss the full picture. This subject is much more important than most have realized!
What does God say about prophets? Since He states that there are true and false prophets, He must explain how to distinguish between them. But in this longer section, we will primarily study what the Bible and Mr. Armstrong say about “That Prophet” of Deuteronomy 18:15—and the importance of distinguishing true prophets from false.
Ephesians 2:20 states that the New Testament Church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.” The context of that passage shows that Christ’s role is to build the Church—the Body of Christ—“fitly framed together growing unto a holy temple in the Lord.”
Make no mistake! These two high offices merge with Christ’s role in building His Church. So, there must be no misunderstanding the role and identity of a true prophet when Christ sends one. Since Christ builds His Church partly on prophets (those of the Old Testament), He knows the true from the false. He expects us to know the difference as well. Therefore, He would never leave His people in the dark, unable to identify false prophets, and thus vulnerable to their devices and their deceit. You will learn that He does and that the difference is not hard to see for those who look closely.
The apostle Paul said that in the “last days” many “would not endure sound doctrine” and be turned to “fables” (II Tim. 3:1; 4:3-4). Understand! The calling, role and function of prophets have always been matters of doctrine—of correct teaching—within God’s Church. The Bible and Mr. Armstrong make this plain. I intend to leave you with a clear picture of “sound doctrine” regarding true and false prophets, and their roles.
Always False Prophets
False prophets have always been associated with the Church of God “landscape.” On the surface, they rarely appear to be what they are. Just as Paul warned of “false apostles who come as angels of light” (II Cor. 11:13-15), false prophets can also appear to be “angels of light.” The New Testament account describes false prophets confusing God’s people. Therefore, God must show exactly how to distinguish true prophets from counterfeits—impostors—with one’s crown at stake. There could be no room for doubt or confusion. Paul also warned that certain deceivers have an amazing ability to “transform” themselves into something that they are not. Herein lies the danger. History shows that when false leaders or false prophets appear, the majority of people—in the Church or the world at large—are perfectly willing to let them get away with their actions!
False prophets were foretold to appear at the end (Matt. 24:3, 11). There will be many before the Great Tribulation arrives. There will almost certainly also be false “Elijahs.” Since many will not recognize the final Elijah, they will set themselves up to be victims of men who may take this title. The final, great “false prophet” of Revelation will almost certainly claim it.
As you read, do not be paralyzed by the fear of men! Paul also wrote, “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7). People of sound mind are much better able to hold fast to “sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1; II Tim. 4:3). God’s mind in yours will always reject unsound doctrine—if you are willing to examine all the facts, and fully “anoint your eyes.” This book addresses the subject of prophets head-on and contains the facts. It explains God’s warning to His people.
The all-powerful living Christ will give you the power to act on the facts, if you ask Him for it. You may soon face a crucial decision, profoundly more important than you now know!
One Splinter Leader
A great many present and former brethren have contacted RCG from the organization where thousands have been told by their leader that he is “That Prophet” of Deuteronomy 18:15! Is this claim true or false? Can it be proven? Must we guess at the answer with salvation at stake? Do you care about the answer? When shown God’s truth, will you act on it?
The reader should note that the term “That Prophet” is used throughout. It is derived from John 1:20-21, where certain priests and Levites were questioning John the Baptist. (You may wish to read this passage before proceeding.) These leaders were referring to Deuteronomy 18:15, which speaks of “a Prophet” whom God would send “like unto me [Moses].” Of course, Moses recorded this prophecy. While we will revisit John 1 momentarily, the reader should know why the use of the term “That Prophet” instead of “a Prophet.” These terms have always been interchangeable.
No Desire to Attack a Man
True ministers of God strive to never attack other human beings. They are for the truth rather than against people—and there is a big difference. Therefore, I have determined to actively resist and teach against any false doctrines that are deceiving people among the splinters. However, the subject of That Prophet presents a unique problem with this policy, requiring some explanation.
When a leader teaches a false concept or doctrine, it rarely has anything to do with himself. Generally, the heresy can be clearly singled out and countered without having to necessarily address the man who teaches it. For instance, if someone teaches that Christians are “born again” in this life or “the Sabbath is done away,” it is easy to counter such claims with the truth, without addressing the particular man or men teaching these errors. But consider! What if the wrong teaching is inseparable from who and what a leader says that he is?
What if the matter is also at the core of who a Christian worships?
Does a true minister say, “I cannot dispel this kind of false teaching because if I do I would also attack its author”? The reasoning might continue, “I know that this man is deceiving thousands of God’s people, but I cannot address his error, or try to help those he is deceiving, because I would also be attacking him, not just his error.” The problem could go further. If a man claimed to be Moses, Elijah or one of the Two Witnesses, must we give him a “free pass” because, in dispelling such an outrageous heresy, we would also appear to be attacking the man making the claim? What if someone stated that God had revealed to him that he was an apostle? Can we not question—prove!—him, asking for facts, evidence and fruit? What if he asserted himself to be Christ? The question looms even larger.
When Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal, was he attacking them? No! God inspired Isaiah to “Cry aloud and spare not!…Show My people their sins!” (58:1). This volume does that—and it will soon be evident that one of the greatest sins a Christian can commit lies at the heart of the subject we are addressing.
I was under no illusion. It was obvious that what is written here would evoke a ferocious attack against me personally. It did. However, a faithful minister always strives to “lay down his life for the sheep.” Believe me, I am not a masochist, and I do not enjoy persecution any more than you. But my job is to help God’s people make it into His kingdom. If I can help even one, but at some personal expense, it is worth it!
Do not be duped into believing that if a minister fights for sheep (John 10:11-13) who are being deluded by a leader elevating himself into extraordinary offices that he does not hold, the minister has attacked, slandered or name-called the man. I hope you can understand that somebody had to write this book, even at the risk of being called an accuser. There is no way to separate the doctrine of “That Prophet” from the man who claims to hold that office! It is my hope that you understand what is at stake.
But we must first learn what a prophet is.
Chapter Two – The Role of a Prophet
Most people naturally associate prophets with the Old Testament. Since this part of the Bible was written first, it is where we are introduced to prophets—true and false. However, prophet is also a New Testament office, and is so identified twice.
Let’s briefly examine these two scriptures. Ephesians 4:11-13 states this: “And He [Christ] gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
This passage reveals that true prophets can be part of the New Testament ministry and play a role in “perfecting” and “edifying” the Church. At times, the Head of the Church, Christ, does “give” some to be prophets. This much is plain. However, these verses do not explain how prophets interact with the other ranks of the ministry. (In the near future, Jesus Christ will give two men—the Two Witnesses—the office of prophet. God’s people must be able to distinguish these men from impostors. A later chapter in Section I will very carefully prepare you to do this.)
I Corinthians 12, about the Body of Christ, has also often been called the “spiritual gifts” chapter. Here is another plain reference to New Testament prophets. Verse 28 states, “And God has set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings…Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?”
The string of questions at the end of the passage is obviously rhetorical! The reason no answers are given is because each is such an obvious “NO!” More specifically, since all are not prophets, any more than all have any other of these gifts, then we must know exactly how to understand when one is a prophet!
Mr. Armstrong’s Teaching
The above passage reveals that Christ certainly does “give” some to be prophets. As with all the other “gifts of the Spirit” (vs. 4-10), this one comes for a specific purpose. God’s prophets play a specific role with this appointment. As mentioned, some or most may feel that Mr. Armstrong never addressed or explained the role of prophets, but he did, including what prophets are given to do! For those who value what Christ’s apostle taught, the following statements are sufficient to answer whether any man today is either a true prophet, a false prophet or “That Prophet.”
For those who do value what Mr. Armstrong taught, the first statement could resolve the matter and end the book! Notice:
“Emphatically I am NOT a prophet, in the sense of one to whom God speaks specially and directly, revealing personally a future event to happen or new truth, or new and special instruction direct from God—separate from, and apart from what is contained in the Bible. And I never have claimed to be.
“There is no such human prophet living today!
“The Bible is the written Word of God—and, for our time now, it is COMPLETE! Never have I believed or claimed that God reveals to me new truths not contained in the Bible—in addition to, or apart from the Bible…
“Let’s take a look at the Church of God of the first century, as we find it revealed in the Book of Acts, beginning from the day of Pentecost, 31 A.D. The Bible was not fully written—only the Old Testament—in 31 A.D. God then was still communicating new truth, instruction and knowledge directly and personally to prophets. As the Church progressed, it was the function of a prophet to communicate TO THE APOSTLES special messages which God had personally revealed to them. Others were inspired in the writing of the books of the New Testament.
Personal, Tomorrow’s World, Feb. 1972
This powerful statement bears examination! First, Mr. Armstrong makes absolutely clear that there are no prophets alive today. He said this over 40 years ago! Only the most technical mind would suggest there may now be a prophet alive born after February 1972, the date of Mr. Armstrong’s article. Obviously, no serious person would try to cite such a loophole!
Second, Mr. Armstrong states that the function of prophets in the New Testament is to inform apostles of new revelations from God. Put another way, without a living apostle, there can be no true prophets! This was also made absolutely clear. Do you believe Mr. Armstrong correctly understood this? Would one holding the highest office in the Church (apostle) be confused about the role of those holding the next most important lower office with which apostles interact? The idea is absurd.
Third, Mr. Armstrong is blunt about the fact that anyone claiming to be a prophet today must be false! (We will understand later how the Two Witnesses fit with Mr. Armstrong’s statement, including their interaction with an apostle.)
These three points are crystal clear to all who believe that God used Mr. Armstrong to “lay the foundation” for the Church. Remember that he knew he was an apostle. And he often quoted Ephesians 2:20. Would God leave His servant blind in regard to the role of the only other office that Christ said formed the foundation of the Church, when that office was subordinate to him? Of course not!
Only With Apostles
Only now can one see why Mr. Armstrong gave the understanding that he did in this quote. Prophets work with apostles. God has always used this pattern to place truth into His Church. Let’s put this another way. You can have an apostle without a prophet, but you cannot have a true prophet without an apostle! Do you see this? Then, we should not only understand this is true, but why. I would never have understood a prophet’s role (any more than any other truth) unless an apostle had taught it to me. That happened—and I am determined to remember it! Are you?
Here is a statement from MYSTERY OF THE AGES, which Mr. Armstrong called his most important book. While it strengthens the above quote, it also demonstrates that he never moved from his previous understanding:
“There was no such doctrinal committee in the Headquarters Church at Jerusalem. All teaching came from Christ through the apostles and a few times Christ communicated to apostles via the prophets (of which there are none in God’s Church today since the Bible for our time is complete). God’s Church today, as in the first century, receives its teachings from the living Christ, through an apostle, just as in A.D. 31.”
This statement is consistent with what we read previously. Note at this point that anyone professing to be a prophet bringing “new truth” (purported to be understanding “on top of Mr. Armstrong’s foundation”) cannot possibly be bringing truth. It may be new, but it cannot be true—all loud assertions by self-appointed prophets notwithstanding! Remember, Philadelphians are told, “hold fast what you have” (Rev. 3:11), not “hold most of it fast and let some of it go” or “hold that fast which you have and add ridiculous prophetic nonsense (“revelations”) on top of it.” (I do not suggest that God’s Church cannot grow to see existing truths more clearly and, because truth only enters the Church through apostles, Christ could use this office to add more to the existing framework.) It is no accident that Christ ties “let no man take your crown” with “hold fast what you have.” Honestly examine this verse for what it says!
Mr. Armstrong long understood both his apostolic role and that of a prophet. Before continuing, realize that anyone who believes that there are true prophets alive today disagrees with Mr. Armstrong. Recognizing that your crown is at stake, are you prepared to do this? Should you not at least be open-minded to considering the remaining information in this book?
The book The Government of God – Understanding Offices and Duties has one entire chapter and parts of several others devoted to explaining the nature and function of prophets in the New Testament. What is written in that book forms the reader’s foundation of understanding, and cannot be separated from the contents of this book. It also covers the role of apostles in detail, including how Christ teaches His Church through this office, as well as how it interacts with prophets.
Sleight of Hand
Most people have witnessed a magic show. They have experienced magicians who have everyone present wondering, “What happened?” or “How did he do that?” Often the most amazing tricks involve sleight of hand. We need to see how this man ignored fundamental understanding of what Mr. Armstrong taught and the Bible teaches, and got away with it.
Let’s look closely at his effective use of sleight of hand to pull this off, and how most were so fooled that they did not know to call him on it.
What the Splinter Leader Claiming To Be “That Prophet” Did!
In this light, let’s examine another statement from Mr. Armstrong in MYSTERY OF THE AGES before moving on. For our purposes here, it is all-important. Mr. Armstrong included a vital section of the book (actually several) wherein he explained the various responsibilities of all the offices that Christ had established within His Church, including prophets.
The Philadelphia Church of God now owns the copyright to, and has reproduced, MYSTERY OF THE AGES. Remember again that this organization professes to be holding fast to all that Mr. Armstrong taught. Take a moment to read the next statement from Mr. Armstrong, recognizing that the portion in bold has been deleted by its leader from the new version that PCG offers:
“The prophets set in the foundation of the Church are those of the Old Testament, whose writings were used to form a considerable part of New Testament and gospel teaching and functioning. No prophets are mentioned as having either administrative, executive or preaching functions in the New Testament Church.
“Evangelists were leading ministers, proclaiming the gospel to the public, even raising up local churches and having supervision over some churches under the apostle. Therefore an evangelist may hold executive functions under the apostle in the Church headquarters or work today.”
The deletion of the portion in bold is its own stunning revelation about this organization. Sadly, most who are members there seem to still have no idea that their leader has deleted this crucial portion of Mr. Armstrong’s text. Nevertheless, the statement is plain. Prophets never hold “administrative, executive or preaching functions” in God’s Church. This deceived leader’s assertions notwithstanding, there are no exceptions to this rule! And we will learn that this even applies to the Two Witnesses.
But there are other, different reasons this man could not be That Prophet.
Chapter Three – Identifying “That Prophet”
Let’s establish a premise regarding That Prophet. If we begin our examination of this figure with the conclusion that the splinter leader declaring himself to be its fulfillment is wrong in his claim, then who is or who will be That Prophet? Can we know?
Yes, and the answer is not difficult.
The reader needs a picture of Moses’ prophecy for later reference. We will refer to it often. Read Deuteronomy 18:15-22 carefully:
“The Lord your God will raise up unto you a Prophet from the midst of you, of your brethren, like unto me; unto him you shall hearken; According to all that you desire of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto you, and will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken? When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him.”
We saw that Mr. Armstrong taught about prophets in a general way. Let’s now learn what he taught specifically about “That Prophet.” Then we will examine why he taught this as he did. Let’s remove all “mystery” cloaking this subject.
Mr. Armstrong was never in doubt about who That Prophet is. For many years, the Church understood the correct answer as a basic article of belief among God’s true doctrines. I was first taught it in the late 60s as a student at Ambassador College—and I still have my sophomore “Deuteronomy” notes written directly into my margin in 1968 from Old Testament Survey Bible class!
Now carefully read this statement from Mr. Armstrong:
“The time is just before the RESURRECTION of the just, at Christ’s coming. As Moses delivered the ancient Israelites from Egyptian slavery, so CHRIST is coming to deliver modern Britain and America from the now-impending Babylonish slavery. (See Deut. 18:15; Acts 7:37; Jer. 23:5-8.)”
The United States and Britain in Prophecy, p. 173
This statement is also found in the August 1979 issue of The Plain Truth, when Mr. Armstrong was reprinting this large book serially. The emphasis is his. It explains, with two other verses included, who Mr. Armstrong knew would fulfill the role of this great Prophet, and leaves no doubt that Jesus Christ is That Prophet!
We have asked whether God would have left Mr. Armstrong in the dark on the role of prophets in the Church. Now we must ask a much bigger question. Could Mr. Armstrong be so confused that he did not know who would fulfill Deuteronomy 18:15-22? Could he have somehow been deceived about a prophecy as important as the Coming of Christ and His bringing God’s government to earth? Is it “no big deal” that many today wrongly believe that this great Prophet is really some obscure local church pastor?
At best, we might theorize that a local pastor professing himself to be “That Prophet” could have temporarily been a real prophet had God used him to reveal truth to Mr. Armstrong during his lifetime. Of course, had this happened, Mr. Armstrong would have recognized this man as a true prophet of God and identified him as such to the Church, and we would all have become familiar with him. (Remember, however, that this would still not qualify such a man to be THAT Prophet.) He would have been “number two” in the Church, outranking all other ministers! So, to quote Paul, “I speak as a fool!”
Obviously, none of this happened!
Commonly Understood Truth
Before leaving what the Church taught, we must include two quotes from other early WCG publications. Note the original, 58-Lesson Bible Correspondence Course. In the early years, the entire membership of the WCG was urged to diligently study these lessons, and of course, most of the “old-timers”—some of you—did this. It was written in great detail and contained much valuable information. While Mr. Armstrong did later shorten it to 32 Lessons, because of minor errors that he had grown out of, and partly because of expense, it is clear from his above statements that he never left or altered his understanding of who That Prophet would be.
The next statement is very direct:
“Is Moses therefore referred to as a type of Christ? Acts 7:37. The word ‘prophet’ refers to Christ. Note the words, ‘Like unto me.’ Also see Acts 3:20-22. What did God send Jesus Christ to deliver us from? Rom. 3:24-25.
“comment: Moses, sent by God to deliver Israel from physical bondage, was a type pointing to Christ whom God sent to deliver repentant believers from spiritual bondage!”
Lesson 25, 1960, 1969
The prophecy is written in a way that Moses is identified as a type of Christ, not an end-time, self-appointed “That Prophet” local church pastor that thousands now follow!
The Cause of Stephen’s Death
Note Mr. Armstrong’s reference to Acts 7:37, and that Stephen speaks there directly from Deuteronomy 18:15: “This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me: Him shall you hear.” Just moments later, Stephen was stoned by his audience, in part for what he said here. The reason he quoted Deuteronomy 18 is because of an antecedent in Acts 6:14. Stephen was being accused of “blasphemy and speaking against Moses” (vs. 11). Verse 14 contains the specific charge—and identifies who is That Prophet. Notice: “For we have heard him [Stephen] say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.”
Stephen’s purpose in quoting Deuteronomy 18:15 was to show his accusers that “this Jesus of Nazareth” was the very one who would fulfill Moses’ prophecy! In context, the account reveals that he was trying to explain that he was not “against” Moses, but that he understood Moses! Stephen recognized that Moses was obviously talking about Christ as the fulfillment of That Prophet! What could be plainer? The Jews simply did not comprehend what Stephen understood about this Prophet’s identity—because they had rejected Jesus as the Christ. They were furious with what he said.
This is the problem with some today who, like the Jews, never had clear knowledge of who would be That Prophet!
Now grasp this. Do not miss the fact that these same Jews killed Stephen when he tried to explain this truth to them! Remember their perspective on this verse when we study John 1:20-21! The subject of Christ, and this includes all of His roles, is one that can make people extremely angry.
I have taken the time to explain this because the Correspondence Course made this plain well over forty-five years ago. The entire Church believed it—in fact, no one ever questioned it. It was basic doctrine understood by all. Not until the mid-90s did anyone doubt Christ’s future fulfillment of That Prophet!
Who will you believe?
Another statement should be examined at this point:
“‘For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ’ (John 1:17). Was Moses ever acquainted with grace and truth? Did Jesus ignore the law? Did these two prophets—one the founder of Israel and mediator of the Old Covenant, the other the Son of God and Mediator of the New Covenant—have anything in common?…
“Jesus descended from Judah. Moses came from Levi. Both were sons of Abraham. Jesus was a ‘babe in a manger.’ Moses was a babe in a boat. Moses was born a slave. Jesus was the single object of intense persecution by a king whom Satan inspired to exterminate Him while He was yet a child. Moses was adopted into Pharaoh’s family and became a prince of Egypt. Jesus was the Prince of Peace. Moses was a general of the armies of Egypt. Jesus was Captain of the Host. Moses fled for his life into exile in Sinai, away from Egypt. Jesus was taken, to save His life, in exile into Egypt by His parents…
“Moses was the main prototype of the great Prophet to come—Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews also compared the two prophets. ‘Therefore, holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession [profession, KJV]. He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in God’s house. Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house has more honor than the house…Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later’ (Heb. 3:1-3, 5).
“Both Jesus and Moses were faithful to their tasks and their callings. They accomplished the work of God in their respective ages. Yet Moses was a figure and a type of the Prophet to come—Jesus the Messiah or Anointed of God.”
A Tale of Two Prophets, 1977-78
It is obvious that the author parallels the life of Moses with the life of Christ. A Tale of Two Prophets was a long booklet, including much additional information. In it, the author also parallels the role of Moses with the role of Christ. This was the entire point of this very extensive booklet. Remember, Moses was inspired by Christ Himself (as the God of the Old Testament) to say that this prophet would be “like unto me.” This is very important and identifies the only possible candidate to be a type of Moses!
Jesus Christ alone lived certain events in His own physical life that either did fulfill or will fulfill roles in a way that closely patterned Moses’ life!
Moses ruled physical Israel. Christ rules spiritual Israel. Moses judged Israel and appointed others to help him. Christ will judge the world with the help of the saints. Moses led physical Israel from physical Egypt. Christ leads spiritual Israelites out of spiritual Egypt. Moses was a man “mighty in word and deed” (Acts 7:22) in Egypt. As the God who designed and created the universe, this is obviously true of Christ. Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant and Jesus is the New Testament mediator. Moses and Christ each brought the law from the Lawgiver—the Father—to the Church, of the Old and New Testaments. Both were threatened and persecuted. And…Moses and Christ were both prophets!
Moses was—by far—the greatest type of Christ, and vice versa, that the Bible identifies. There is more to be said later about this from the New Testament about exactly why Christ was not only the greatest, but also the ultimate Prophet. We will learn that Revelation states that even Laodiceans understand these basic verses.
Prepare to be surprised!
Two Key Scriptures
We have seen what Mr. Armstrong and others wrote about That Prophet. There are other passages that speak directly about this topic.
Mr. Armstrong regularly repeated three things. First, “Don’t believe me, believe your Bible” (often citing Paul: “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good”). Second, “Let the Bible interpret the Bible.” Third, “Always start with the most basic scriptures and build from that point.” (The second and third are among the once, but now less familiar, Twelve Rules of Bible Study).
We must employ all three principles with this subject.
Let’s now absolutely prove who is That Prophet, allowing the Bible to interpret itself: “And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall you hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from the people” (Acts 3:20-23).
The apostle Peter plainly—absolutely unmistakably!—equates Jesus Christ with the Prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15! This is why Mr. Armstrong taught this truth as he did! There is no other possible way to read this passage—at least not for the honest mind.
Surely there has never been, or ever could be, any human prophet whose every word could be heard by all people, and we could add, who have ever lived. Certainly, no human being could ever achieve this. Moses told his audience long ago that they would “hear” this Prophet. How would this be possible if this figure came beyond their lifetime? When Stephen quoted Moses, in Acts 7, he told his audience that they also would hear this Prophet. I repeat: How would this be possible if this person were to come beyond their lifetime?
The only Prophet that all people from all previous ages could hear is Jesus Christ! He is the only possible “candidate” who could be heard “In all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.” Of course, literally, beginning in the near future, everyone will hear everything that Christ speaks!
So, there is only one conceivable way that any person alive today could claim to be “That Prophet”—he would eventually have to claim that his writings and “revelations” are to become part of Scripture! How so? This is the only way that all human beings—from Creation through the Great White Throne Judgment—could ever be exposed to such a man’s prophecies.
Do you see—do you clearly understand—this point? Remember, the words of true prophets form part of the foundation of truth on which the Church is built. And Mr. Armstrong explained that the Bible for our time is complete!
Peter also mentions how “all [God’s] holy prophets since the world began” have talked about the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15. I have given entire sermons showing that every single prophet (along with all other servants of God), beginning with Abel, have pointed to the Coming of Jesus Christ to set up His kingdom. It can be easily proven that when Peter said this, he knew exactly what he was saying. Of course, God was inspiring him, and that should be enough to believe it! (Our book The Work of God – Its Final Chapter! covers this understanding in detail.)
Recall that in The United States and Britain in Prophecy, Mr. Armstrong paralleled Deuteronomy 18:15 with both Acts 7:37 and Jeremiah 23:5-8! Why? Because Jeremiah’s words form the core of an important millennial prophecy describing Christ’s Return. That prophecy refers to “raising unto David a Righteous Branch” and “a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” It also states that “in His days Judah shall be saved.” This obviously parallels Deuteronomy 18.
Carefully study all of Jeremiah 23. Most of it is about false prophets! But verses 5-8 are referring to Christ, and are central to the chapter. God inspires Jeremiah to include this section because the ultimate great Prophet—who stands above all of the false prophets plaguing both ancient and modern national Israel, and the Church—is Jesus Christ! No description of false prophets is complete without contrasting them to the greatest Prophet of all time! This is the point of Jeremiah 23:5-8, and it does this!
Two pivotal passages explain this chapter’s time setting—that it is a warning for our time! Notice: “In the latter days you shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.”
This is a stunning statement—and powerful warning—from God (vs. 20-21) for those who will receive it!
All false prophets claim that they are sent and inspired by God. He declared that this is what happens. God wanted His people at the end of the age to be warned about their deception and, by now, you recognize that I am doing this. Notice further that these prophets are known to “lie” (vs. 25). The biggest way that they do this is by claiming, “I have dreamed, I have dreamed!” Then they presumptuously present these dreams—usually supposed revelations from God—“in [God’s] name.” This should strike deep fear into you, because all should greatly fear to follow one of these false prophets.
If someone claims to be not only a prophet but also to be “That Prophet,” he is both a liar and a blasphemer! (He makes himself God!) He may be “running,” but God has certainly not sent him! If he claims titles belonging to the all-powerful living Jesus Christ, then he is no less than a blaspheming idol, seeking to replace Christ with himself. This is serious—but I told you that this book would be blunt!
There is much more to consider.
Chapter Four – Christ’s Great Warning
The parallel chapters of Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 are generally referred to as the Olivet Prophecy. We will see that there are several powerful warnings in Matthew’s account, all referencing either deception or false prophets, or both.
Three times, in Matthew 24, Christ warns of those who would come and “deceive many.” Notice verse 5: “For many shall come in My name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Surely none will doubt that this has happened—both in the world and in the Church. Many have, in fact, come “in [Christ’s] name,” which means by His authority, and many—actually vast millions—have been deceived. But this is also true of God’s Church. About 80 percent of the WCG have left the truth. Certainly “many” were deceived there!
But verse 11 is more specific. While it also warns of “many” being deceived, the difference here is that the deception is at the hands of “false prophets.” This unquestionably is a warning to the Church!
How do we know?
Verses 12-13 speak directly to the Church. It is only in the Church where people may not endure to the end. It is only in the Church where iniquity (lawlessness) could abound in such a way as to cause godly love to grow cold (normal brotherly love will certainly disappear in the world). These are conditions in the Church!
Do not miss this crucial point. False prophets are foretold to deceive THE CHURCH at the end!
Most Ignore Warnings
Keep this fundamental truth in mind: there has never been an important warning that christ has given to his church that has not been largely ignored!
Ponder this! Will you ignore the stunning warning of the next four-verse passage? Remember, Christ is warning the Church about deception at the end.
The world has always been deceived (Rev. 12:9)! So, only with the above starting point in mind can we properly address the specific nature of Matthew’s warning. It speaks of conditions in the world and in the Church just before Christ’s Return: “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ or there; believe it not, For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert; go not forth: behold, He is in the secret chambers; believe it not” (24:23-26).
Several elements stand out here, and each requires consideration. First, Jesus warns His disciples that they could be deceived. Notice the repeated use of the word “you.” But think. Since the disciples did not live in the end time, but we do, the warning was not for them but rather for us. See Matthew 24:3!
Is There a “Very” Elect?
The splinter leader who claims to be That Prophet has been telling his followers that “God’s very elect can never be deceived.” Because Christ uses the phrase “if possible” (vs. 24), this man cites this phrase as proof that deception, for the very elect, is impossible. He tries to make a distinction between the “elect” and the “very elect,” when the Bible makes no such distinction! So many have asked me about this passage that it must be clarified and understood. The idea that it is not possible to deceive the elect is absolutely ludicrous. But we need to understand why it is so preposterous—and why it is such a dangerous trap!
Consider! What is the point of Christ warning His disciples—or the “very” elect—about false prophets and false Christs if they cannot possibly be deceived? Think hard about this. Jesus also reminds them that “Behold, I have told you before” (vs. 25). This means He had previously warned them about this same danger. What is the point of multiple warnings, if there is no danger? It insults God to suggest that free moral agents cannot be deceived (particularly when the god of this world has not yet been bound). This is because it makes His warnings pointless. This faulty reasoning parallels classic, long-time Protestant thinking of “once-saved-always-saved.” Just substitute this with “once enlightened, can’t be deceived.”
Those accepting this man’s line of reasoning simply have not understood their Bible. Such people are already desperately deceived! Realize that it also serves a false prophet’s purpose to tell you that if you follow him, you cannot be deceived. If someone follows a false prophet or a false Christ, he is already terribly deceived. Understand what has happened.
This extremely clever deception proves in itself the truth of Jesus’ words. His reference to potential deception (“if possible”) is not a hollow warning—it is not Bible “filler material.” Actually, Christ’s instruction in Matthew is one of the greatest warnings in the New Testament!
Deception at the end is apparently so great that the potential exists for God’s people to follow not only false prophets, but also false christs! Jesus is saying that the subtlety and sheer deception necessary for such a false prophet or false messiah to succeed must be staggering! To brush off this greatest of all warnings as not a warning at all (because it cannot happen to the “very elect”) is one of the greatest deceptions i have ever heard!
If you have bought into this—WAKE UP!
Understand. A false prophet, let alone a false messiah, is already a deceiver. He is not slowly becoming one. He is already a proven, cunning deceiver! It is in his interest to convince you that following him eliminates all danger of deception. Do you understand this? Will you consider it? I repeat, if this means you, WAKE UP! All who follow this man are in grave jeopardy—NOW!
It has been my experience that people always start by assuming that other people are either deceived or in danger of it. Like the old saying “accidents only happen to others,” most seem to unconsciously suppose that this is true of deception. This becomes its own enormous deception!
In summary, if one claims to be not only a true prophet, but also That Prophet, then you are in the presence of a false prophet and a false christ! I cannot state powerfully enough the serious peril that you are in! It is hoped that by now you have been sobered by Mr. Armstrong’s words and the words of your Bible. They are absolutely compatible! If you are part of the organization following That Prophet, you are in the presence of a false, blasphemous human idol who seeks to “steal your crown” through directing your worship to himself. If this man tells you that he is trying to help you, then remember Satan told Eve that if she would do what he said, “Thou shalt not surely die.”
I tell you, do not believe either your false leader, or me alone, believe your Bible and Mr. Armstrong!
When faced with those saying that Christ is “here or there,” Jesus warns, “believe it not” (Matt. 24:26). Yet, today, many former brethren now follow another, different false prophet who purports this very thing. Will you believe false prophets and false Christs, or the true Jesus Christ, who states that deception will get much worse (vs. 24) and that some false prophets and false Christs will perform miracles, deceiving many, including many brethren—some of whom now believe that it is impossible for this to happen to themselves?
Does this concern you? It should. The Head of the Church foretold that this would happen and that many people—some of your brethren—would be duped when it does. None could have believed that more than 110,000 people (75%) would walk away from the truth, and yet they did! But perhaps the most astonishing fact is that they did this much more easily than most could have ever dreamed.
Will you believe that Jesus Christ meant what He said?
Chapter Five – Seducers Grow Worse!
Paul warned that “in the last days…evil men and seducers shall wax [grow] worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue you in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them” (II Tim. 3:1, 13-14).
I learned the truth from God through Herbert W. Armstrong. Do you still feel this way about your calling?
Now consider the following classic example of how a deceiver mangles and twists the Bible.
Thousands have been taught in PCG that John 1:19-21 validates the idea that there is a difference between “That Prophet” and “the Christ.” Before continuing, remember that we learned from Stephen’s martyrdom that the Jews were deceived about this. Their confusion was so mixed with hate that they killed the man who tried to straighten them out. Be careful that this same murderous spirit does not claim you as I try to help you straighten out this same matter.
Recognize again that this book takes Stephen’s position.
Now notice the account that is tripping up so many: “And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Are you Elias [Elijah]? And he said, I am not. Are you that prophet? And he answered, No.”
The explanation offered for why this passage supposedly teaches that Christ is not That Prophet is truly pitiful. But, since it is deceiving thousands, it needs clarification.
The rationale goes like this: Since John’s questioners thought that Christ and That Prophet were two different people, then they must be! This reasoning continues with “the Jews kept the ‘oracles of God’” (Rom. 3:1-2) and then with, “They are the authority who would know this matter.” That’s it—that’s the explanation offered! But this is utterly ridiculous.
Here is why.
The Jews Were Unconverted
The Jews were carnal-minded—meaning unconverted! This will become more important to understand in a moment. They did not even recognize Christ as the Messiah when He came (soon after this conversation with John)! Ask yourself, how could those who did not even have God’s Spirit be an authority on any supposed difference between That Prophet and the Messiah—particularly since they did not even recognize the Messiah when they saw Him? This alone makes them very poor “authorities” on this subject—or virtually any important subject. Yes, God used the Jews to preserve the Old Testament Scriptures and His Sacred Calendar. They are “custodians” of these. But their rejection of Christ has always been its own towering proof that they do not understand what they preserve! Remember, the Jews have kept the Passover a day late for millennia. This is but one proof that they do not comprehend what God used them to physically preserve. Space prevents listing the many additional errors in classic Jewish theology, among them the fundamentals of even who and what is God.
Consider further that John the Baptist was asked whether he was “Elijah.” Obviously, the Jews had Malachi 4:5-6 in mind when they asked this question. I now ask the reader: Did John the Baptist fulfill the Elijah role?
Let’s look at this more closely, and see its connection to more of what the Jews could not see. Matthew 17:12-13 reveals that John the Baptist was the Elijah who preceded Christ’s First Coming. (Another leader would be the second Elijah [Matt. 17:11], preceding Christ’s Second Coming—and my sermon series on this subject, “First a MOSES, Now ELIJAH—130 Proofs!” conclusively proves this.) However, notice how John answered. He simply said, “I am not.” He almost certainly meant that he was not a reincarnation of the real Elijah. Yet, we know that he was the first prophesied Elijah!
Here is the point! Christ called John as great a human being as had ever lived (Matt. 11:11). Therefore, he was a deeply converted man! If he could be such a great man (as well as converted)—and yet not be certain that he was the Elijah—then the carnal-minded Jews who rejected and crucified Christ could not possibly be authorities on the identity of That Prophet. How could they have known, one way or the other, whether That Prophet was Christ? The answer is, they could not.
Do not let a deceiver twist basic scriptures into a tangled ball, making them appear to say what they do not!
“The Testimony of Jesus Christ”
Christ described those of Laodicea as “poor, wretched, miserable, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17). He also said they would lack zeal, be lukewarm and have a smug “rich-and-increased-with-goods-and-have-need-of-nothing” attitude. These are very, very strong words. They mean that this era is in a terrible spiritual condition. However, there is a critical element of prophecy that even the Laodiceans grasp!
Let’s learn it! Revelation 12:17 describes those who are not taken to the Place of Safety. These described there as the “remnant of her seed” are Laodicea, and the Church has always recognized this. Notice the two signs identifying these people:
They (1) “keep the commandments of God, and (2) have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
None question what are the commandments of God. But what is “the testimony of Jesus Christ”? Again, let the Bible interpret itself. Notice: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). Note this scripture well, because even Laodiceans understand the basic “spirit of prophecy.”
Remember, Christ is the greatest Prophet of all time, and the only prophet ever compared to Him is Moses. Jesus understands the essence—the core—the “spirit”—behind the third of the Bible that is prophecy. Certainly this includes knowledge of all the prophecies about and related to His Second Coming. After all, most Bible prophecies are embodied in Jesus Christ’s Return, when He sets up His kingdom. This has always been the central focus or “spirit of [all] prophecy”! It is the very centerpiece of the gospel!
Here is the point. Even Laodiceans understand that Jesus Christ’s Second Coming, as That Prophet, is the very embodiment of the “spirit of prophecy”—the “testimony of Jesus Christ.” (When completely understood, this becomes one great proof that all Laodiceans eventually return to God’s one, unified Church. This is where the truth of prophecy would have been maintained.)
We are now ready to ask a central—and most crucial—question. If the Laodiceans understand this much about Christ’s role when He returns—and they are called “blind” by Christ (Rev. 3:17)—then could the leader of the Philadelphian era have somehow remained ignorant—blind—for 52 years about who That Prophet was? It is utterly absurd to suggest that Mr. Armstrong did not understand this point. Imagine him erroneously teaching, for over half a century, that That Prophet was Christ, and then coming up in the Resurrection and learning that an obscure Oklahoma local church pastor that he barely—or never—knew was really That Prophet!
The living Christ led His apostle from 1934 to 1986. Could anyone seriously believe that the living Christ was not competent enough or would neglect to reveal to Mr. Armstrong His (Christ’s own) role as That Prophet? Would Christ forget something so monumentally important?—or do we suppose that Mr. Armstrong was too dense to recognize such a vital doctrine? Did Mr. Armstrong forget or did he somehow neglect to properly teach something so enormous, when he was prophesied to “lay the foundation” (Zech. 4:9)?
Chapter Six – Fear, Flattery, Filthy Lucre and False Prophets
Take a moment to review Deuteronomy 18:22. Christ inspired Moses to warn God’s people to “not be afraid of” false prophets. This is because they do engender fear in their followers! Actually, this is their central goal. Fear is generally how they motivate followers.
Any false prophet “worth his salt” knows he must make his followers fear to leave him. One way he does this is to promise them things if they stay with him. Also, if people leave, he knows that he loses financial support. No mystery here!
Titus warns of “gainsayers…vain talkers and deceivers…whose mouths must be stopped” because they “teach things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (1:9-11). In the end, false teachers always have a money angle hidden in their “new teachings.” II Peter 2:1-3 explains that the false prophets of the Old Testament (of which Peter was speaking) functioned like false teachers in the New Testament. Verse 3 shows that it is through “covetousness which they with feigned words make merchandise of you.” Another way of stating this is false prophets try to deceive you so that they can take God’s money from you!
Do you believe these plain warnings?
A Warning Long Ago
Here is another more extensive statement from the Correspondence Course about the psychology that false prophets use on their followers. Notice the “fear angle” and the “money angle.” Carefully follow the logic and teaching. It may help unlock your mind from the fear preventing you from leaving one employing these tactics:
“But just HOW would you KNOW whether a man is a ‘false prophet?’
“Would YOU know, for sure, how to recognize a false prophet?
“There is one absolutely SURE WAY to know.
“Here it is: When you search the Bible from beginning to end, you’ll find the false prophets have had ONE THING IN COMMON. They have always put the emphasis on a promised desirable RESULT, while ignoring, rejecting, or opposing GOD’S WAY to that result. They always treat the EFFECT, not the CAUSE. But the TRUE prophets of God have always put emphasis on the right CAUSE—on God’s WAY to the desired blessings…
“But the false prophets ignore or oppose God’s Law. They encourage people in continuing their WRONG WAY. They ignore or tacitly approve this WRONG WAY. They work for PEACE, for prosperity, for desired GOOD THINGS, while encouraging people to travel the OPPOSITE DIRECTION FROM those desired ends!…[Author’s Note: They may even tell you that they are continuing God’s Work.]
“King Ahab gathered together these false prophets before him, and asked: ‘Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to battle, or shall I forbear?’ And they answered, ‘Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king’ (I Kings 22:6). These false prophets advised the king to go a WRONG WAY, and promised a GOOD RESULT.
“…‘Thus saith the ETERNAL of Hosts, Hearken NOT unto the words of the prophets that preach unto you: they make you vain:’ that is, they flatter, approve, encourage vanity—‘they speak a vision of their own heart, and NOT out of the mouth of the ETERNAL. They say unto them that despise me, The Eternal hath said, Ye shall have peace;’—they promise a GOOD RESULT, while approving a WRONG WAY. Or, to quote from the Revised Standard Version: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets (preachers) who prophesy (preach) to you, filling you with VAIN HOPES; they speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the ETERNAL. They say continually to those who despise the Word of the ETERNAL, “It shall be well with you”; and to every one who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, “No evil shall come upon you.”’”
“That is, go THE WRONG WAY, and there will be no penalty—no evil RESULT. They promise a good result for a wrong cause.
“This 23rd chapter of Jeremiah is a prophecy about conditions in OUR TIME, NOW shortly before Christ’s return as KING of kings to rule the whole earth. Notice, in verse 20: ‘… in the LATTER DAYS, ye shall consider it perfectly.’”
Test 6, Lessons 21-24, 1960, 1968
Notice that this quote spoke of false prophets “promising you a good result.” Now ask: “Am I being repeatedly told that if I follow my leader, he is my ticket to the Place of Safety?” No one wants to go through the Tribulation. I don’t! You don’t. It certainly “plays well in Peoria” to promise protection through this horrendous period, unlike all others. To be “protected,” all that one must do is succumb, give his mind to the prophet, and his “new revelations” and “new truths,” and the Place of Safety is secured! The flip side of this is that this man relentlessly threatens his followers with the Tribulation—or the lake of fire—if they leave him! The Bible says so much about how God’s true servants are protected from all that lies ahead that I have given an eight part sermon series you will want to hear. Titled “The 1,335 Days of the Son of Man,” it explains who will be “taken” and who will be “left” at the time God’s Church is removed by Him to a place of protection and safety.
Be careful of declaring, “Well, our leader is not speaking against the Law!” Yes, he is—and plainly so! Moses wrote the five “Books of the Law,” including Deuteronomy 18:15. If someone tries to convince you That Prophet is someone other than Christ, he is speaking directly contrary to “the Law,” which has always been far more than the Ten Commandments.
Do you see this?
King Ahab thought he could trust a false prophet, and it cost him his life! Recall that Jeremiah’s prophecy is for those in the “latter days.” He wrote that we today should “consider it perfectly.”
Do not let your leader control your mind through fear of missing out on the Place of Safety. He knows that if you leave him, he misses out on God’s tithes (and he will also miss out on the Place of Safety, anyway—and the kingdom of God—if he does not repent). Keep this simple. Peter and Paul knew carnal-minded false prophets could figure out this angle. Certainly then, you and I can. As Christ warned, referencing the abomination of desolation in Daniel, “he who reads, let him understand”—and this includes understanding the many great dangers present at the end of the age. Incidentally, Christ said this in Matthew 24:15, just eight verses before warning of false prophets and false Christs. Review this passage, asking if you are one that Daniel described as the “wise that understand” (12:10).
The Flattery Tool
Jeremiah 23 is a truly remarkable prophecy. Notice that it warns how false prophets “make you vain”—that is, they flatter, approve and encourage vanity. (Remember, the Correspondence Course quoted extensively from it.) The “wise that understand” is also addressed in Daniel 11!
The following passage should inspire and motivate the strong among God’s people! Carefully note: “But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. Now when they shall fall, they shall be helped with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed” (vs. 32-35).
This prophecy pictures the trials, tests, difficulties and determination of “strong” people of “understanding” in God’s Church at the end of the age, stating that there will be a people “with understanding…[who] shall instruct many…even to the time of the end.” Mr. Armstrong related that he asked God for understanding more than any other single gift. Obviously, God answered him—and he taught God’s ministry and people to pursue understanding.
This passage proves flatterers get into the Church—and that flattery plays a role in the strategy employed by false prophets.
This is the end time. Will you let a false prophet “cleave to YOU with flattery”? Will you let him “make you vain” by continually telling you how special you are? How you are automatically Philadelphian if you follow him? How you cannot be deceived if you follow him? How you will be protected if you follow him? How you will receive more new and special understanding, if you follow him? These are compelling inducements designed to control you through a combination of fear and flattery. Will you allow clever psychology to CONTROL you?
Force yourself to objectively answer these questions!
Isaiah 8:20 teaches that if leaders (including wizards, false prophets, people with “familiar spirits,” etc.) do not speak according “to the law and to the testimony,” and “if they speak not according to this word [Deuteronomy 18:15-22 is part of God’s word and the law], it is because there is no light in them.” We will see that SOMETHING ELSE is often in them. And this verse is God’s warning about it.
Chapter Seven – More Characteristics
There are additional elements of character and conduct common to false prophets that need to be examined and understood. The first is introduced with one of the Bible’s most tragic examples.
King Saul’s Demise
King Saul’s love/hate relationship with David is well-known. Most are familiar with this sad but instructive story, where Saul slowly yielded himself to a demon. This account proves that people can start out “little in their own eyes” and yet fall so far from God that they can actually become demon-possessed. In I Corinthians 10:11, Paul was inspired to record that “all these things [the many Old Testament accounts] happened unto them for ensamples [margin: types]: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”
What can be learned from Saul’s tragic end?
It would take much time to show how Saul left serving God. Suffice to say that he ignored Samuel’s instruction and slowly came to fear David, once a dear friend, and came to see him as an adversary—a competitor—and twice sought to kill him with a javelin.
In I Samuel 19, an amazing account culminates in verse 24. A demon spirit was said to be “upon Saul” (vs. 9), making him completely crazy (vs. 23-24). The account states that he stripped himself naked and “prophesied” all night. The Hebrew word prophesied is better translated “raged,” and Saul literally did this all night. Incredibly, the result was that people began to say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
This is a curious statement. While at first glance it does not seem to fit the context, it actually does. How? And what is the message for us? Remember, these accounts are written for “our admonition upon whom the ends of the world have come” (I Cor. 10:11)!
Here is the point! False prophets do often rage, sometimes in great anger, and conduct themselves in a bizarre fashion. Strangely, this account reveals that it can be this very conduct that causes people to think themselves in the presence of a prophet of God! Religious people (particularly in a “spiritual” or “church” setting) often reach this wrong conclusion—and this Old Testament example explains why.
What was really occurring was simply a demon controlling a human vessel!
Saul was vexed, and often outright possessed, by a demon. The unwitting and fearful (which was apparently almost everybody in Israel at the time) continued to follow him anyway simply because he was “the king”—and this led them to eventually conclude that he was “among the prophets.” Fear gripped the majority—while only a few hundred people chose to follow David until Saul died! The lesson is that despite the fact that Saul had become a crazy demoniac, most of his subjects continued with him anyway!
This account should truly sober you! It is a characteristic of false prophets and demoniacs to bellow, rage, belittle and attack other people—sometimes relentlessly—to elevate themselves. Apparently, Saul also had a particularly murderous spirit, which repeatedly tried to kill David, or have him killed. Saul became abusive. Yet, few had the courage to stand against him, because he was “the king.” Over time, Saul became a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” One moment, he could be warm, friendly, charming, and David’s best friend, and seconds later a raging murderer seeking to kill David!
Be careful if what is being described is a pattern visible in your leader. It is not of God.
The “Accuser of the Brethren”
Another scripture directly relates to what we have just discussed. Revelation 12:10 calls Satan the “accuser of the brethren.” He attacks, accuses and slanders God’s people “day and night” before God—never letting up. Constant accusation is a common characteristic of those in Satan’s grip!
Let’s consider. As weak and pitiful as is the condition of Laodicea, those of the final era are still God’s people. While very different from Philadelphians, they are still brethren. Never lose sight of this.
Tragically, the PCG leader has, because he has instructed his followers that they can speak to worldly unbelievers, but not to converted Laodiceans.
Reflect a moment! Above all of the qualities that Philadelphians are known for, God named those of the sixth era for brotherly love. While they “hold fast what they have” doctrinally, and have “kept [His] Word,” among others, God actually names them for brotherly love. No true Philadelphian (or Christian, for that matter) continually attacks, slanders, maligns and accuses all the “evil Laodiceans”! Those of the seventh era do keep God’s commandments and have the testimony of Jesus! Again, they are God’s people! Sadly, it is true that only half will make it into the kingdom of God, and they will have to lose their lives in the Tribulation to get there (Rev. 20:4). But no one with God’s Spirit would ever forbid all contact with them.
It should be a great warning to you if your leader continually attacks and accuses the “evil Laodiceans”! The devil is always the one behind the raging, slandering and relentless attacking of those who need help—from God and their brethren—to awaken!
Recall that Daniel said, “They that understand …shall instruct many.” How does this fit with blasting, lambasting, attacking, slandering and accusing anyone—never mind brethren—through endless name-calling. This will not help awaken God’s people—it will drive them away, and possibly into the lake of fire! No one who loves his fellow man can ignore the seriousness of helping precipitate such a terrible end for those whom GOD calls brethren. The Christ of the Bible would never have His servant declare “civil war” between eras by stating, “We are at war with the Laodiceans.”
If this is your leader, he is wrong and his actions are absolutely ungodly! But they are consistent with the conduct of a raging false prophet!
Another characteristic of false prophets is that few or none of their prophecies ever really come to pass. For instance, if a “prophet” openly identifies (predicts) the man of sin, and states that Christ will destroy this man “with the brightness of His Coming,” and the man subsequently dies of natural causes long before Christ comes—the case with Mr. Armstrong’s successor—this is a failed prophecy, disproving the prophet’s authority!
If a man predicts (in 1995) that the O.J. Simpson trial would “produce a guilty verdict” and that race riots would ensue as a result, and the verdict comes back not guilty—and there are, of course, no race riots—this is a failed prophecy, disproving the prophet’s authority!
If a man predicts an earthquake (in 1994), or any other major event for a specific date, and it occurs even a few hours into the next day—and this happened with the one claiming to be That Prophet—this is a failed prophecy, disproving the prophet’s authority! Close is not good enough. Actually, the chilling truth is that being close means that the man is connected to evil elements in the spirit world!
Do you grasp this?
Demons are also aware of events that God is controlling. In the end, being close to correct is actually worse than if the prophet were far from correct. At least this way he might then have only been speaking presumptuously (Deut. 18:22), without contact from either God or evil spirits.
Carefully reflect on what God declares in Ezekiel 14: “And if the prophet be deceived when he has spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel” (vs. 9).
If this passage does not sober a false prophet, probably nothing will. But, more important, will it sober you? God reveals that the real source of the false prophet’s delusion is actually HIM—GOD! W hen a prophet speaks falsely, it is because he has already departed from God, and thus become the recipient of God’s own form of “deception.” As with King Ahab of Israel, for instance, the Bible reveals that God sometimes sends “lying spirits” to carry out His purpose, in that case to deceive Ahab to go to battle where he would die.
This passage in Ezekiel reveals that within the understanding that demons are actually the ones inspiring a false prophet, it is God who has sent one or more of these spirits to fulfill His purpose, which can also be to present a test to God’s people regarding whether or not they will follow those He has not sent.
If a prophet is sent by God, every one of his prophecies will always be perfectly accurate—no exceptions! He would not merely be close to the timing and truth of events “foretold.” He would always be completely correct, if God was sending a warning through him. Never forget this, because God is always right!
But there is an important, related aspect about false prophets.
We Must Ask
The last section described a prediction from the one claiming to be That Prophet about Mr. Armstrong’s successor being the man of sin, and how this man was scheduled for destruction by the “brightness” of Christ at His Return. Besides the fact that this was a failed prophecy, there is another even greater problem with this prognostication. (First, realize that this false prophet simply shifted his “prophecy” about this deceased man to his son—now believing that the son of Mr. Armstrong’s successor would, in fact, be the man of sin. It was sort of, “Oops, I had the wrong WCG leader in mind. Not to worry, it’s the son, not dad.” Incredibly, most of his church seemed to give him a free pass on this.)
Now let’s understand the much greater problem than having in mind the wrong generation of the same family!
To those with the Spirit of God, the Bible is plain about the identity of the man of sin. Mr. Armstrong taught, and the Church long understood, that the man of sin is the final “false prophet” who will usher in the “beast” (a political/military superdictator), foretold to be given power over a ten-nation combine, often referred to in the Church as the United States of Europe. Virtually no one had any doubts about who the man of sin would be. There were never discussions speculating on where this religious “leader” might come from. (There were many discussions, however, about when this man might appear.) No one in the Church doubted that he would arise out of the great “woman” church, described variously in Revelation 17:5 as “Babylon,” a “whore” and the “mother of harlots.” The entire Church once understood that this figure would almost certainly be possessed of the devil and would be given special supernatural power by him to perform lying signs and wonders for the purpose of bringing the whole world to worship the beast (II Thes. 2:9). In fact, verses 10 and 11 in the same chapter warn that those who do not “love the truth” would be sent “strong delusion” to believe lies from (and about) the man of sin.
Everyone knew they had better keep this understanding straight!
Any number of books and booklets made this man’s identity most clear. So did many sermons. The most important among them was Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? The very newest members of the Church understood these things—plainly! Yet, the one claiming to be, in effect, the greatest prophet of all time—That Prophet—no longer understands what 150,000 brethren knew as surely as they knew Christmas and Easter are pagan, Saturday is the Sabbath and God is not a trinity!
You must ask yourself: Is it even remotely within the realm of possibility that a true prophet of God could become confused about the identity of the man of sin, when even widow Jones in Paducah was never confused about this?
Actually, the question grows: Could a true prophet of God (never mind That Prophet) become mixed up about such a fundamental and major centerpiece about how the entire plan of God and prophetic sequence of events at the end of the age would play out? Of course not!
The problem was that this false leader fell into superimposing the truth that the Church is God’s temple with the fact that the man of sin was also foretold in II Thessalonians 2 to “sit in the temple,” claiming to be God. (I can tell you that Mr. Armstrong told me personally, in the middle of a wide-ranging discussion [in about 1980] about prophecy, that these temples could not possibly be one and the same.) This “temple-error” thinking has led this man into a host of other temple-related ideas that could only be described as ridiculous—absolutely absurd! Some of these will be seen in the list of his errors found in a later section of the book.
This list will take the reader deep into other kinds of horribly botched, butchered and mangled understanding of prophecy that this man has fallen into. Consider this. You will learn that he no longer even has a basic understanding of what is the Church’s prophesied commission—the Great Commission of Matthew 24:14 and 28:19-20 – which is to announce the kingdom of God to the world and to warn the modern nations of Israel. Having forgotten this, this blind leader openly declared in late 2005 that the Church’s commission is to “expose Satan and his evil everywhere we find him.”
What? Where could he—how could he—come up with such an idea? Certainly not from Mr. Armstrong!—and certainly not from God!
Obsession with obtaining the copyrights to some of Mr. Armstrong’s books and booklets has contributed to the now opaque darkness that has replaced the light of truth once in his thinking. Anger and hatred at those who took the Worldwide Church of God into apostasy has caused so many to lose their sense of proportion—their basic soundness of mind (II Tim. 1:7) toward Scripture—and this is what is propelling the one claiming to be “That Prophet.”
Such leaders—such “prophets”—are no longer (or possibly never were) God’s servants, let alone true prophets. How could even one person believe he was following Christ by following such men? Yet, thousands seem to have no problem.
The real source of this leader’s problem presents itself in the next section.
A less familiar characteristic of false prophets, and this is related to the last two sections, is that they are often extremely prolific in claiming new revelations from God. True prophets always speak plain, simple truth, delivered without frills!
Typically, false prophets claim that they are getting “more and more insight.” They often work late at night (recall that Saul raged all night), while they produce things that are increasingly bizarre, odd and strange. They also claim, and I have seen this several times in my 30-plus-year ministry, that the new understanding they are receiving is coming “faster than they can record it.” This makes no sense if such understanding or supposed new insight were coming from God. If God wants to send a message, why would He give it faster than the prophet could receive it? As a man yields himself to the demon manipulating him, in fact, he does become consumed with his messages and the need to deliver them. The God of peace would never rev His servants to fever pitch. The Bible does not record such a pattern.
I have dealt with any number of demon-possessed people. It is these spirits who create a frenetic, rushed, frantic mindset in those they are vexing or controlling. Remember—God’s Spirit reflects “power, love and a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7). When what is being said, and/or a person’s actions, are continually unsound, it is not coming from God! “Revelations” often occur late at night because spirits know that the mind of a sleep-deprived person grows weaker and more open to outside influence! I have seen this pattern far too often!
Taking More Titles
No description of false prophets is complete without explaining one final characteristic. These deceivers always seem to find new ways to elevate themselves to greater offices and roles! Declaring oneself to hold the second-highest New Testament office—prophet—is, in itself, a huge self-elevation. But it rarely stops there.
While other splinter leaders have said “they could beapostles” or “some may think” they are apostles (Ron Weinland also believes himself an apostle) Gerald Flurry has also now declared himself to be one. He stated this long after this book was written. This man is an apostle—a false one (actually both men), because of the many heresies he teaches. His fruits, along with PCG’s fruits, are terrible. We saw in II Corinthians 11:13-15 that Paul was not afraid to declare men to be false apostles. Neither am I afraid to call these men what they are. But it is ultimately the responsibility of God’s people to discern the difference between true and false apostles. More false leaders will rise in the future to make this claim.
Declaring himself an apostle becomes a means by which he can validate his assertion that he is a true prophet. Since there is no living apostle for him to report his “truth” to, he simply declares himself to hold both offices, even though there is no biblical pattern or example of such! Since this deceiver claims to be delivering new revelations from God, he can easily declare himself an apostle. Remember, the Bible teaches and Mr. Armstrong taught that truth only enters the Church through apostles.
This never-ending acquisition of more titles better secures the false prophet’s followers under his spell. The man declaring himself That Prophet also claims he is The Lawgiver, The Voice, King, Father, The Messenger, Teacher of Righteousness, The Nail, among many others! Of course, there will be more in the future. Such is the working of a cult leader.
But these divine and religious titles have all given him a tremendously powerful grip on those whose worship he seeks!
God the Father is the only Lawgiver in the Bible. Jesus Christ will bring and administer the Father’s Law to the whole world at His Return, and Moses is the only human who was ever a type of Christ in this way. It should be clear that anyone claiming to be “The Lawgiver” is taking another role of both God the Father and, in an indirect sense, Christ. This is a second reason that PCG’s leader is also a false Christ! Further, John the Baptist, and another to come at the very end of the age (see Malachi 3), are both Elijahs who filled the roles of “a voice” and “a messenger.” No one else in the New Testament is prophesied to be a similar voice or messenger. But anyone elevating himself into these roles is fully consistent with a false prophet!
It is important to recognize that only Jesus Christ is both an Apostle and a Prophet. Hebrews 3:1 states that He is an Apostle, and we have already proven that He is That Prophet. Christ’s roles are consistent with what Mr. Armstrong taught. Recall that he explained there cannot be a true prophet without a living apostle! This becomes proof that Christ inspired Mr. Armstrong to teach as he did.
Consider! Christ Himself could not have been a true Prophet unless he was also an Apostle. Remember, you can have an apostle without a prophet, but never vice-versa. This explains why God assigned both offices to Christ!
But has this man’s habit of taking titles gone further than any have realized?
Chapter Eight – A False Christ
The introduction briefly referenced that Christ places leaders into the different New Testament offices that He has designed to administer to and feed His Church, and to do His Work.
Christ Gives Offices—Men Cannot Take Them
It is crucial to understand that Christ gives offices to certain men in His Church. This was briefly explained early in the book. You must comprehend that there is a BIG difference between a man presumptuously taking an office and responsibilities to himself, and a man receiving an office that was given to him by Christ, because he has been chosen for one or more duties or responsibilities. It is absolutely vital to recognize the all-important difference here. Mr. Armstrong knew that Christ had given him certain offices because he could look back, in each case, and see the fruit demonstrated that he held a certain position, office, role or duty—such as the rank of Apostle, Watchman to modern Israel and Messenger to the sixth era (the latter of which he explained in MYSTERY OF THE AGES).
In each case, Mr. Armstrong learned through fruit shown over sufficient time that Christ had indeed given him each of these responsibilities. Never did Mr. Armstrong covet an office, then look ahead at how he might fulfill it, follow this by then taking the office on his own authority, with this, in turn, followed by setting out to convince others that he now had the office. This is never the way God’s servants do it! Men truly chosen of God are always able to LOOK BACK over the years to see how God has used them. They do not need to invent reasons why they WILL hold a particular office, and then take it to themselves.
The reader must see the tremendous difference between one who is truly given an office by Jesus Christ, and a man who is a presumptuous, self-promoting impostor who sees one or more offices and titles that he desires, declares himself to have these offices and roles, and then sets out to prove to others that he does.
The critical element that separates those to whom Christ gives an office is humility. The man would have never thought of himself as holding a high office until long after he was already doing the job. The one who takes offices on his own authority is driven by vanity, which eventually always turns into extreme arrogance and worse. The latter, is a person who was seeking to exalt himself. This is either because he is not, or was never, humble. Christ cannot ever use such a person, and “resists” such (Jms. 4:6; I Pet. 5:5). He gives offices to those who want to serve, never to those whose goal is to be served for purposes of self-exaltation!
The fruits proving that a man is chosen of God become readily evident because the man’s humility allows Christ to freely work through him.
A special caution is in order here: Those who have been “burned” by a false leader, or worse—as with so many of God’s people today—a series of false leaders, have difficulty ever trusting any leaders again. But it can be done. This takes faith in God, but, I repeat, it can be done! The problem grows worse, however, for those who have been “burned” by a false prophet, and more particularly by any man who has taken to himself a whole variety of high offices and titles. Of course, this has been the case with the one claiming to be That Prophet. Former followers of such self-exalted “leaders” have an even greater difficulty ever again believing that Christ has truly given one of His servants one or more high offices or duties. Such is the jading that can come to those who have had this painful experience. In effect, Satan has such people exactly where he wants them—against all manner of government and authority, and completely unable to ever again trust Christ’s ability to lead His Church.
Ironically, many today were once willing to follow a false leader who had never demonstrated fruit, but then later, tragically, have allowed themselves to be unwilling to follow one who is a true leader—one who really does have a high office—who has demonstrated by fruit that Christ did, in fact, select him for his position.
Be careful that this does not describe you!
Think very hard about all that has been explained in the last two subheads until it becomes crystal clear in your thinking. (Our book The Government of God – Understanding Offices and Duties covers in detail each office or rank, including the duty and function of each in the New Testament Church. It offers thorough explanation about how to know for certain when one has been given any of these responsibilities. Read this truly vital book very carefully in your study of the Splinter Explanation Packet.)
Truly a False Christ!
Jesus Christ will fulfill many offices and titles when He returns! Of course, He already holds several. God’s Word refers to Him as King of Kings, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Savior, High Priest, That Prophet, The Great Shepherd, Apostle, The Mighty God, and others. Certainly the reader is familiar with these terms.
Let’s “reason together” about this. Do you think for a moment that a man who takes roles designated solely for Christ will respectfully acknowledge that this makes him a false Christ? Obviously not. So, expect clever, cunning, serpentine counter-claims attempting to explain away all that you have learned here. False Christs crave the worship of their followers and must fight to retain their adoration!
Let’s ask some straightforward questions about Christ’s titles. For instance, would anyone doubt that one claiming to be our savior, while saying he did not intend to be a false Christ, would be any less one—merely because he asserts that he is not? Would anyone doubt that if one claimed to be our high priest, while saying he did not intend to be a false Christ, he would be any less one—merely because he asserts that he is not? Would anyone doubt that one claiming to be the wonderful counselor, while saying he did not intend to be a false Christ, would be any less one—merely because he asserts that he is not? The same could be said for prince of peace or king of kings, etc. You see the point.
If someone claims to be That Prophet, but disconnects this office from Christ, this person is still a false Christ. Of course, he is deluded in his reasoning. But then so is anyone who makes claims equivalent to elevating himself into any of Christ’s roles! And he cannot claim “innocence by reason of insanity” before God. Even in the world, “ignorance of the law” is never permitted as a valid defense. It has been my experience that only very, very rarely will—or can—one return to a sound mind after going even remotely this far. Only God can heal a mind gone so far wrong—but even then only if the man truly yields himself and submits to God as clay to the Potter!
A final aspect of the demon world must be noted before continuing! Demons want to be considered the saviors of the world. Demons want to rule the earth as king of kings. Demons want to be the wonderful counselors that people seek through psychics, wizards, witches, mediums, “channelers,” etc. Demons (specifically Satan) want to be considered the mighty god (“of this world” – II Cor. 4:4). Similarly, demons are generally aware of prophecy. They have long used chosen agents to foretell the future—Jeane Dixon, Nostradamus, Edgar Casey, and many others.
Understand therefore! A demon spirit would love to be considered That Prophet—and would love to influence a human vessel to this end. Appropriating that title to itself, through a human agent, is very attractive to a demon—especially if it could gain control of many of God’s people in the process! Very carefully reflect on this reality of the spirit world!
In fact, this is the very reason that demons have inspired this man to ban his followers from contact with any of the brethren in other organizations. From a demon’s perspective, the worst possible thing that these followers can be exposed to is the Spirit of God within those outside his group who are able to see how wrong-headed is the thinking of the leader they are using.
This is also another way that fear is being used in the ever more dangerous cult environment that such false prophets create. They want their followers to be afraid to talk to “outsiders.” These false leaders know that knowledge dispensed outside their control is a threat to their ability to retain control. Hence, the implementation of what could only be called the tragic policy of forbidding followers all contact with members of other “Church of God” organizations. This blanket disfellowship, a product of a horribly misguided rendering of what Mr. Armstrong taught on this matter, has also been extended to immediate family members who are not in his group.
But the Bible does reveal that two, final very special prophets will yet appear before the end of the age.
Chapter Nine – The Final Prophets
Could there be any more fascinating topic to speculate upon than the coming work of the final prophets during the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord? Hardly!
But at the same time, there is hardly a subject related to prophecy that is more badly mangled and misunderstood than that of the Two Witnesses.
Let’s clear this up, once and for all.
What About the Two Witnesses?
Various questions arise about the Two Witnesses, including how are they able to report to a living apostle. Let’s understand. In Revelation 11:10, Christ does refer to these two servants as “these two prophets.” The Greek word there is prophetes (pronounced pro-fay-tace), and it plainly means prophets. Hence, the question, “Where is the apostle to whom the Two Witnesses report?”
This question did not arise prior to 1986, because the entire Church had thought for many years that Mr. Armstrong would be alive when the Two Witnesses appeared. Since he is gone, and there seems to be no other apostle to whom the Two Witnesses can report, this question arises: “How can these men correctly carry out their duties?”
Much of the rest of the chapter will serve as a kind of inset to the rest of the book. When discussing the subject of the Two Witnesses, certain basic questions arise collectively. It is not really possible to address even the most basic ones without some background—some additional, helpful information. This allows us to answer several questions at the same time.
Offices in the Body of Christ
The subject of the Two Witnesses is one of seemingly endless speculation. Let’s state again. Almost everyone enjoys talking about these two final servants, but few seem to understand exactly how they will appear, let alone how and where they will receive their office. This should not be.
First some basic review from earlier: Recall that the office of prophet is the second highest New Testament office—in the body of christ! It must be understood that Christ’s Body is not divided. If this is not firmly in place within the reader’s mind, the Bible’s picture cannot come clear. This Body is still found today as one, unified, organized, uncompromising Church. And again, if this is not understood, the reader will never be able to understand the identity and function of the Two Witnesses. What follows will elude your comprehension. (Again, to learn more, read our book The True Church – One Organization, or Many?)
Many seem to have the idea that the Two Witnesses will suddenly appear “out of nowhere.” It is as though they will explode on the scene one day having grown up like mushrooms “overnight”—or they will fly in like astronauts from outer space—or they will have been hiding in a cave waiting to be revealed—or they will be Bible figures from the past suddenly reincarnated! Obviously, no one articulates their arrival in exactly these ways, but references carry this net effect. But then, no one believes that they will come from among today’s modern Protestant or Evangelical television evangelists. The result is much unnecessary mystery about a subject that should be understood as clearly as it was when Mr. Armstrong was alive.
From One (or Two) of the Splinters?
This said, because God’s people are now scattered into many organizations, there is the question of whether the Two Witnesses will come from one (or possibly two) of the splinters—in other words, from Laodicea.
If the reader is not yet convicted about the identity of Laodicea, it will not be possible to understand what follows. Reading “ANOINT YOUR EYES” will eliminate all confusion regarding the identity of Laodicea. The Two Witnesses coming from an organization within the now dominant Laodicea is absolutely impossible for two central reasons.
Let’s learn them:
(1) Christ describes Laodicea as “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked,” and “lukewarm,” without zeal and puffed up with too many “goods” and “riches.” He would NEVER put two men in the second highest office in His Church who were in this kind of deplorable spiritual condition! He would also NEVER select people who were doctrinally unsound to be given such enormous miraculous power and authority as the Two Witnesses will have. Remember, Laodicea is described as those who themselves “rule, judge and decide.” They have rejected Christ’s government. This has put them outside the Body of Christ.
(2) The Two Witnesses must arise from within the Body of Christ. They will have been men who understood where Christ was the “Head” (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18)—where He is leading, meaning where His government is present. They will be men who have submitted to that government, and who will have been doing this for some considerable time! In other words, the Two Witnesses will be men that Christ has been ruling. These men will have to be doctrinally sound in all points long before they can begin their commission. Also, such high offices would never be given to men who are untrained or inexperienced. God never works this way, particularly with the highest offices in the Church. The Two Witnesses will, no doubt, have been faithfully serving in God’s Church for some time before they are ready to be given the very high office of prophet. They will be tried and proven, and made ready for difficulty probably beyond imagination.
(Again, you may wish to read THE TRUE CHURCH book written to the splinters. If you have not yet done so, you will be unable to really grasp the magnitude of this point. Take the time to read it as soon as possible.)
No More Mystery
Let’s bring this question to conclusion. The “mystique” shrouding the identity of these two final servants need not be. Let’s strip it away! Let’s speak plainly.
Christ is not divided—and The Restored Church of God IS the one, unified, organized, uncompromising true Church and Body of Christ on earth today! This Church is the only place Christ’s government can be found. This means that the Two Witnesses will be given (Eph. 4:11) their office by Christ from within this church! He simply would not do it any other way, and to do so would work against the entirety of I Corinthians 12, among many other scriptures.
Let me repeat for emphasis: I state without apology that both of the Two Witnesses will be members of The Restored Church of God. (The popular theory that one will be Philadelphian and one will be Laodicean is silly at best, ludicrous at worst.) No one knows whether these men are here yet, but if not, they will have to come here, and do so well before the Tribulation, and well before they know their final identity. I Corinthians 12:27-28 makes absolutely clear that they will not—actually cannot, according to Scripture!—be given their offices when they are outside the Body of Christ.
Think for a moment. During the period when the Worldwide Church of God was on track, none ever doubted that the Two Witnesses would come from inside. No one thought for a second that they would come from any other place outside where Christ was leading. No one ever speculated that they would come from Sardis, an era outside Philadelphia, let alone come from any of the WCG’s many little earlier offshoots that had developed over time.
Only With an Apostle
Yet, as we have seen, these two final prophets must report to an apostle to be consistent with what Mr. Armstrong understood. This means that there must be another apostle at the end of the age, and that he must be in The Restored Church of God.
This is now the case!
This is a very bold statement. Is it true? Understand. It is for the reader to examine and determine the truth of this statement—to see whether Christ has given me the office of apostle, based on the fruits, or I have taken this office and authority to myself. What are the facts, the evidence, the proofs of such an appointment?
(The reader is again encouraged to carefully examine the extensive sermon in this packet titled “21st-Century Apostle” as well as the almost equally extensive sermon explaining both the Watchman and Messenger roles of today. Too much is at stake to take my word or anyone else’s on this matter.)
A final thought may be helpful here: Circumstances have forced me to research and come to more fully understand the office of prophet than anyone else today—and there is no doubt of this. The result has been that this long process has allowed me to teach you the truth of that office—from what Mr. Armstrong taught and from what God’s Word teaches. The result has also been a chapter in the book The Government of God – Understanding Offices and Duties, as well as the book you are now reading. All of this has helped prepare me to understand how my office will someday interact with the two final prophets whom Christ will select and train in this Church.
The reader has some careful studying to do after reading this chapter.
Work With Christ in a Unique Way
We may ask: With whom do the Two Witnesses work once the Tribulation begins, and the Philadelphian remnant is at the Place of Safety? Remember, the Great Tribulation is when these men receive extraordinary power in order to represent God, visiting, addressing and warning nations around the world. Who do these men report to during the Tribulation? In all likelihood, although we cannot know for sure, the Two Witnesses will probably not interact much, if at all, with the human apostle during the Tribulation. Let’s examine this to see why.
We must recognize that John 9:4 describes the end of the Work of Philadelphia—the “night…when no man can work.” Conditions in the secular world will become so bad that the Work of God simply cannot continue, and the Church will have to be taken to a place of safety for its own survival and protection at that point. The “baton” of the Work, so to speak, must then be handed to the Two Witnesses, to men who must be given extraordinary supernatural power to enable them to carry out their task unharmed.
A related question arises. What about Old Testament prophets? Who was the apostle to whom they reported?
Again, Mr. Armstrong taught that all true prophets report to an apostle. Possibly the two greatest prophets ever would hardly be exceptions. We have also seen why he taught this. How does this teaching harmonize with these questions? There is a simple answer!
Consider! How did God always work with prophets (and all of His greatest servants) throughout the Old Testament? The God of the Old Testament (long understood to be Jesus Christ of the New Testament) generally spoke face-to-face—communicated directly!—with those He was using. With few exceptions, there is a pattern throughout the Major and Minor Prophets. Each of these books starts with a phrase to the effect of “The Word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel…” or “The words of Jeremiah…To whom the Word of the Lord came…” or “The Word of the Lord that came to Micah…,” etc. You may wish to turn and read several of them.
The One who became Christ worked directly with all of these prophets. Sometimes He also appeared as Melchizedek when He spoke to the Patriarchs, and others, face-to-face. Most of us would have at least in the past been somewhat familiar with how Christ dealt directly with His greatest Old Testament servants.
Recall that Hebrews 3:1 states, “Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” We know that God’s Old Testament servants looked forward to Christ’s sacrifice as their Savior. They also looked forward to Him as their High Priest—as well as their Wonderful Counselor, King of Kings and Prince of Peace, among other offices (Isa. 9:6). The Church has long recognized this. Would these prophets have not also looked forward to Christ as God’s New Testament Apostle? He has probably always been God’s Apostle, since the Father had been “sending Him” (the meaning of apostle is “one sent” or “messenger”) to earth with messages for thousands of years prior to the New Testament period.
Whether Christ has always been an Apostle or became one at the birth of the New Testament Church may not be absolutely clear, but we do know that Christ “is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8) and that He “changes not” (Mal. 3:6). Here is the point! Old Testament prophets reported directly to an Apostle—Jesus Christ—who would one day be just as much their Savior, High Priest, Apostle, etc., as He is ours. And this is fully consistent with what Mr. Armstrong taught.
Now we can ask again: To whom do the Two Witnesses report all through the Tribulation? In Revelation, Christ calls these prophets “MY two witnesses” (11:3). Combine this with Zechariah 4:14. This chapter refers to the Two Witnesses several times and culminates with verse 14: “These are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” (Revelation 11:4 confirms of whom Zechariah 4:14 speaks.)
Unique Among Prophets
This verse reveals that these two servants have a special, direct relationship and proximity to Christ. All three “stand” together. It is obvious that the Two Witnesses report directly to Christ in carrying out their duty. If you consider the role that they play, it should be even clearer why they have to report to Him in fulfilling it. Their circumstances are unique in all history. Consider: Fire comes out of their mouths to devour their adversaries. The power that Christ gives them is so great that they cannot be killed by anyone or anything for 3½ years. This alone makes them unique. But consider further.
Their role also differs from all previous prophets in several additional ways. No other prophets lay unburied for 3½ days. No other prophets were resurrected, or were perceived by the entire world to “torment them.” These points alone demonstrate that these are not ordinary prophets, where the usual “rules” governing prophets apply. Still, they do work directly—face-to-face—with a living Apostle—CHRIST! And they may still, in some way, report to the human apostle at the Place of Safety. This is something as yet unknown.
Witness(es) Also Apostle(s)?
I recognize some people believe that one of the Two Witnesses may be an apostle. The idea is that this would solve the problem of who the other one can report to. When Mr. Armstrong was alive, we thought that this was a possibility because we could not imagine that he would not be one of them. I certainly once thought this would be the case, and did so for a long time. But I confess to not really having thought through what it meant if he, carrying the office of apostle, would have been one of the two final prophets.
Again, an apostle is “one sent” or “a messenger.” I felt that men God would call “MY Two Witnesses” are certainly HIS “messengers”—and they certainly are directly sent by God. This was a reason that it did not seem to be a stretch to believe that at least one witness could be an apostle. But, Jeremiah, in his commission “to the nations,” and Ezekiel, in his commission to “the house of Israel” were both specifically described as “sent” by God. Of course, they were both prophets. Therefore, it is correct to say that all prophets were directly sent by God. However, they were never sent to the world as a whole with the gospel of the kingdom of God, nor were they permitted to hold administrative office in the New Testament, as were apostles.
This becomes another reason why I do not believe that the Two Witnesses could be apostles. If they were, why would the Bible specifically reference them with use of what would be their lower office of “prophet”? If they held the higher office of apostle, it seems obvious that God would reference it, and leave any supposed lower office out of the picture.
Our book THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD has an entire chapter of some size covering additional points about the Two Witnesses. As mentioned, it also has an extensive chapter about prophets in general, and the serious reader will encounter this material.
We have now come to the point where any who are following either a “prophet” or “That Prophet” must take action. But what should they do?
Chapter Ten – Taking Action
At some point, every journey comes to an unexpected crossroads—a moment of decision. That time has arrived.
Dealing With False Prophets
We can now return to the subject of this section.
The Deuteronomy 18 description of That Prophet concludes with a sobering warning. Preceding and following this description is an equally great warning about what to do with false prophets, once they are discovered. When one takes the title of That Prophet, he has even exceeded the evil that Moses warned against! Let’s read.
In verse 20, God commands that prophets who speak in the name of other gods should be put to death! This certainly includes those appropriating titles of Christ—who is God! It is no accident that the end of verse 22 (which concludes the warning) cautions, “you shall not be afraid of him.” We have seen that most would be afraid of a false prophet and would, therefore, not put him to death. Of course, none can carry this out today—but no one should ever “hearken to him” again, and he should be marked for what he is (Rom. 16:17).
God promises to deal with these blaspheming idols later—and soon!
Let me make something clear about identifying false prophets. Mr. Armstrong and Christ have told us exactly how to know either a false prophet or a false That Prophet. Will you believe a true apostle or a false prophet? Will you believe the true jesus christ or one who is a false Christ?
The reader is left to answer these questions!
Attacking His Flock
Anyone claiming to be That Prophet, The Lawgiver, “Father,” etc., has literally attacked his flock with blasphemy and rank idolatry. Like any cult leader, his only possible objective is to seek ever greater adoration and worship—and that may currently include you!
Such a one is an outright antichrist! This cannot be viewed any other way. The Bible is plain that there have always been “many,” and this is still true today (I John 2:18).
Christ determines who is a Philadelphian and who, therefore, goes to the Place of Safety. (Yes, as we have seen, there is one true Church—one Body of Christ—where brethren meet in Philadelphian doctrinal unity, and these will be protected.) But it is blasphemous and abominable for any man to tell you that he has your “ticket to the Place of Safety,” and that his ministers will decide who goes there. This is the classic fear hysteria that David Koresh, Jim Jones and Marshal Applewaite (San Diego Heaven’s Gate cult) used to elevate themselves and lead people to their death!
Such claims are very serious business!
Idolatry and I Corinthians 10:6-15
We discussed I Corinthians 10:11 in the context of Saul’s descent into the conduct of a raging lunatic. There is an even more important and directly applicable principle in that chapter. Speaking of Old Testament events, examples and types, recall that verse 11 states, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples [types]: and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come.”
Let’s now examine the above longer passage more carefully, recognizing the entire context describes idolatry. Look up the examples in verse 7 (notice “idolaters”), and verses 8 to 10. Each account involves idolatry.
Then, verse 12 states, “Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Again, the subject here is idolatry. Verse 13 is also part of most people’s “scriptural vocabulary.” It speaks of “common temptations” and God’s faithfulness in not allowing trials greater than we can endure. Then, God promises to always make “a way of escape”—for those who will seek it, and recognize it when it appears. This is absolute proof that the entire context is about what His people are to do when confronted with idolatry. God promises a way of escape in such circumstances, but they—you!—must take it! Remember, Revelation 21:8 declares that “idolaters” will end in the lake of fire!
While you should not ever fear your false leader, you certainly should fear this!
I Corinthians 10:14 is short, powerful and conclusive, making Paul’s point clear: “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry,” and then is followed by “I speak as to wise men; judge you what I say.” Will you judge what Paul said? If you are standing in front of a false prophet, let alone a false That Prophet, then you are before an idol who seeks to replace your worship of Christ with himself!
I will also be bold. “Judge you what I say”! Will you flee idolatry, or stand frozen in fear, unable to flee the false Christ who holds you?
At the book’s outset, I said you would face an inescapable choice! Your crown—your eternal life—is at risk if you ignore the words of God, Christ, Paul, Mr. Armstrong and now me! I have attempted to make the truth plain. If hundreds or thousands around you will not act, will you let that affect your decision?
Moses warned, in Exodus 23:2, “You shall not follow a multitude to do evil.” Consider! With the parallel exception of Sabbath-breaking, God punished Israel worse for falling into idolatry than for any other sin. This is the message from physical Israel’s rollercoaster ride through history. (But these warnings are even more for those of spiritual Israel, for whom so much more is at stake.)
Idolatry and Sabbath-breaking are the two biggest reasons God sent Israel into captivity—causing them to become the “lost sheep of the House of Israel.” When either the Sabbath, which is a sign between God and His people forever (Ex. 31; Ezek. 20), is forgotten, or idolatry occurs, the true God has already been pushed aside. Every time ancient Israel committed these sins, they had become blind—and only captivity awakened them! This is another clear message from their history—and it is a very strong warning for those facing the prospect of the Great Tribulation.
Will this punishment be necessary for you?
If the majority around you (the “multitude”) continues to do the “evil” (Ex. 23:2) of following a false Christ, will you do the same because you fear to be in the minority?
(Our sermon “God’s Way: Small, Little, Few” explains the typical actions of the majority and the minority, and how they relate to you.)
Let’s now summarize two previously established points—and then draw a conclusion: Idolatry is commandment-breaking, not commandment-keeping! The Second Commandment forbids idolatry. Even the Laodiceans “keep the Commandments of God.” Also, to even be considered Laodicean by Christ, one must understand the “spirit of prophecy.” Remember, these two points are the only “positives” that Christ acknowledges concerning Laodiceans’ conduct and understanding. They are commandment-keepers (Rev. 12:17) and they have the “spirit of prophecy” (19:10)! Christ established these as minimum standards to even be Laodicean. Let’s assume you are holding to many other correct doctrines. If you ignore or violate such basic standards, even for Laodiceans—let alone Philadelphians!—all zeal becomes worthless!
Do you understand the overall point here? If what has been written here describes you, do you see the need to WAKE UP?
Do not misunderstand what is at stake for every Christian in this age! Even lukewarm Christians are never idolaters (Rev. 21:8)—and they do not lose sight of Jesus Christ as That Prophet. They understand the “testimony of Jesus Christ”—the “spirit of prophecy.” Violating either of these two key points takes oneself completely off the “true Christian radar screen”—as much as the professing Christians of this world.
YOU CANNOT FOLLOW A FALSE PROPHET OR A FALSE CHRIST AND REMAIN A TRUE CHRISTIAN!
Remember: Many religions have certain elements of truth within their theology. This does not make them Christian! Everyone knows this. Do not forget it.
Mr. Armstrong did not fear to “Cry aloud! Spare not! Lift up [his] voice like a trumpet and show My people their sins!” (Isa. 58:1). I also cannot. Paul wrote, “Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrines; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you” (I Tim. 4:16).
Mr. Armstrong quoted Isaiah 58 and Ezekiel 33 often. Take time to review them. This book fulfills both the Revelation 3:14 “messenger” and Ezekiel 33:7-9 “watchman” responsibilities. I have tried to replace the fear of your false leader with an absolute fear of God. If you have “eyes to see and ears to hear,” it could save your eternal life!
Chapter Eleven – Source of Persecution?
I have become convinced that some of the final greatest persecution, prophesied to come on God’s people at the end, will be driven by the cult-leader mentality of certain splinter leaders. Of course, true Christians will always suffer some persecution for the truth. But it may be that the bizarre, absurd, odd and strange actions of many brethren, and certain particularly unsound and unbalanced leaders, claiming to follow the truth, will be one reason that Christ’s true disciples will eventually be “hated of all nations for My name’s sake” (Matt. 24:9)—and will be pursued by an army described in Revelation 12:17! Surely, it is false Christs and false prophets who exhibit the very worst of strange, cult-like behavior!
Will you follow the plain truth or a man? Mr. Armstrong continually told God’s people to believe their Bibles, and I never found him in disagreement with it. So I follow the truth that God taught me through him, because it can still be proven. You should never follow a man unless he is absolutely following Christ (I Cor. 11:1). Obviously then, you should never follow a man who seeks to take offices of Jesus Christ to himself!
The Restored Church of God does not bend on or compromise any of God’s doctrines. But I have seen every conceivable compromise imaginable throughout the sister groups that collectively form the seventh era. Yet, RCG is absolutely determined to retain exactly what the whole Church once had!
Are you?—Will you?
In recent years, I have known many who left the Philadelphia Church of God. Sadly, so many of these have been virtually ruined by their time in his organization. They were so violated and abused, and witnessed so much attack, slander and accusation of others from their leaders that, in many cases, they now seem no longer able to remember how a Christian is to conduct himself, even in the most basic matters. It has been painful and truly heart-rending to hear of so many who were torn to pieces over their dilemma before leaving. While some did escape his organization, they seemed to collapse twenty feet outside his door, unable to continue. Others left but seem unable to shake his form of thinking and behavior, going on to join a small offshoot “sliver” or “moon” of similar thinking, thus remaining trapped in the gravitational attraction of this false prophet’s “planet.” All of these small groups ultimately bear no real fruit, and this eventually becomes the case of all those within them.
Section V of the book covers a great deal of information that will be particularly helpful to those of God’s people who have been able to leave this man, but who may not have recognized that they are struggling with certain attitudes or, if they have identified some of these, they have not understood what to do about them. The reader must be sure to read all sections of this book. It will help you understand why so many ex-PCGers seem never to break away from their PCG roots, tending to find agreement, support and comfort only in its (PCG’s) various tiny offshoots—where their thinking is never challenged, but rather welcomed and reinforced.
On the other hand, it has been heartwarming and inspiring to see that many who left the apostasy very early have been some of the most zealous people I have ever met. Many have had to repent of attitudes they developed (I had some) toward so many former brethren that they never knew, merely because they never separated them from the thinking of their leader.
Think for a moment. Any leader who claims to have written the “little book” of Revelation 10 has literally “added” to the words of Revelation. We must believe God, and conclude that He will “add to that person the plagues written in that book.” God help this man to repent before it is too late—for either himself or those blindly following him, and the words he has added! Pray for this man and for others like him. They are in infinitely more trouble than they know.
“That Prophet” Is Alive Today!
The book has come full circle back to its title. On the cover, it asked, “Is ‘That Prophet’ Alive Today?” By now, you know that the answer is a resounding “Yes!”—and he is sitting in heaven at the right hand of the father as the head of his church! The living Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament. He declares that He is a “jealous God,” which means that He wants you to worship Him, not the false Christs or false prophets that He warned 2,000 years ago would plague the Church and confuse and seduce so many from the truth at the end of the age!
Understand. You are the captain of your own ship. You must determine where you will steer it. You must point it toward God, His full restored truth, His government and His true Church and true Work. Be willing to help your friends do the same. Take a moment to read James 5:19-20, Galatians 6:1-2, Proverbs 24:11-12 and Jude 21-23. They will encourage and inspire you to help others save themselves from the deadly trap described in what you have just learned. Focus on these and other scriptures given here, and on all that Mr. Armstrong taught, as you help yourself and strive to help those you care about!
I have tried as hard as possible, with God’s help, to firmly but lovingly warn you about false prophets and false Christs, and to teach the truth about “That Prophet.” Correction hurts, and this section certainly contains some. And it means that you may have to make some painful decisions.
First, before this can happen, carefully read all the other sections of the book. As you read, continue to prepare yourself to face the question—the decision—of what action you will take on all that you have learned.
Matthew 24 – the Rise of False Prophets
In the wake of the apostasy, and driven—actually fueled—by rampant compromise throughout the splinters, various prophecy “ministries” have sprung up like dandelions in the spring. Taking advantage of people’s thirst for understanding and meaning of events and trends in the splinters, they teach every conceivable unsound “fable” (II Tim. 4:1-4) that men could devise.
These prophecy factories are actually a direct fulfillment of Christ’s warnings about “false prophets” deceiving the Church prior to “the end of the world [age]” (Matt. 24:3). The living Head of the Church left His people a very specific warning.
Notice verse 11 in Matthew 24: “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” The context at this point in the chapter is entirely about the Church—what will happen in the Church at the end. It is not speaking of the world, but is rather a warning about “many” such false prophets among God’s people, and the damage they can and will do there—how they will affect and deceive “many” there.
Just this verse pictures both “many” perpetrators and “many” victims. Establish this in your mind.
Now notice the warning in verses 23 and 24: “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
Christ also knew that these people are not always easy to spot—if one merely looks at the surface. Notice: “beware of false prophets, which come to YOU in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15).
Get this straight. Wolves eat sheep! Christ leaves no doubt that this is a real danger for brethren—the “elect”—GOD’S PEOPLE at the end of the age!
Identifying False Prophets
Many have supposed that one must actually declare himself to be a prophet in order to be a candidate for the role of false prophet. Certainly, as you have seen, some have taken the office of prophet to themselves. Section I describes the man who claims to be “That Prophet” of Deuteronomy 18:15 (taking to himself Christ’s role), but some who have left this man have also proclaimed themselves prophets. But this is only one way a man can be a false prophet.
The other obvious way is to stand up—with or without an ordained office—and spew out prophetic “understanding,” heretofore “unknown to the Church.”
Here is how these prophecy deceivers work their magic: Generally through use of familiar prophecies, these unlearned and ungrounded self-appointed teachers believe themselves to have been selected by God to be His vessel for revealing “deeper” or “richer” or “fuller” prophetic insight to scattered brethren, hungering for answers—the “big picture.” These are made to feel that they will see things so much more clearly—be enlightened—if they would just open their heads and hand their brains (and potentially their crowns) to these seducers. Tragically, growing numbers are doing just that.
Turning the World’s Future Into the Church’s Past or Present
Invariably, these inventive modern soothsayers seem to take specific prophecies, involving physical fulfillments yet to occur, and dismiss them with very inventive “Church” fulfillment scenarios. Ironically, some “pastors” and others have become, in a certain sense, wonderfully “skilled” at horribly butchering crucial prophecies, some so basic that they would seem to be almost impossible to misunderstand. These teachers reduce electrifying, world-shaking prophecies soon to strike the whole world, into nonsensical “fulfillments” that have supposedly already occurred in the Church!
In other words, some brethren are being systematically taught to look backward at what has supposedly already happened, instead of carefully watching—looking ahead!—for enormous events yet to occur (Luke 21:36). (The next section describes a classic example, and one of the biggest.)
Do you see the grave danger that many are placing themselves in?
How the Seduction Works
Approximately one-third of the Bible is prophecy, with somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of it yet to be fulfilled. Consider for a moment. If all of the Church’s previous prophetic understanding can be revisited, reviewed and revised at will, in the name of “better” or “new” or “dual” understanding, the potential for absurd, ludicrous theories, scenarios and alternative applications of well-known prophecies becomes almost limitless. This is what is happening, with it to only grow much worse.
Not only are there more and more of these “prophecy ministries” taking in gullible brethren, too weak in understanding and conviction to resist them, but this is often being done in the name of “holding fast” to the truth. Some of these men even have the gall to invoke Herbert W. Armstrong’s name (as though he would agree with their lunatic ideas) to give themselves his endorsement from the grave.
Astonishing! But people are falling for it.
Here is why so many are being taken in by the proliferation of false theories. Disillusioned by the confusion and division in the large splinters, many hundreds are opting out—seeking out smaller groups, and looking for “greater insight” into what the overall “Church” is now enduring. These become the best candidates to be victims of false prophets waiting to catch them like ripe plums falling into their basket!
A significant number of brethren, as many as six to eight thousand total, counting those still remaining with the one claiming to be “That Prophet,” are falling for such incredibly absurd counterfeit understanding of so many verses that, again, were seemingly once impossible to misunderstand!
A Classic Example
The teachings of one slick, lengthy brochure would be laughable if it were not for the fact that so many are being taken in by its messages. This publication contains a series of articles that truly mangle and destroy correct understanding of events yet to occur.
Written by Ron Weinland, these articles address such topics as the ten virgins, the spiritual temple, man of sin, desolation of the temple, clarifying the seals of Revelation, the two witnesses, etc. The publication vomits on the reader prophetic junk from one who calls himself “a prophet of the God of Abraham.” This same man, now claiming to be one of the Two Witnesses, has written, and is now selling, a book titled The Prophesied End-Time, and has been advertising it in Reader’s Digest. It is a prime example of cleverly mixing truth with error.
I do “credit” him with the shrewd tactic of wrapping himself with Mr. Armstrong’s office and reputation.
Of course, on a related note, these men do teach a certain amount of truth mixed with error. This also serves to attract potential followers. Believing a false prophet to be a teacher of truth, they become more willing to explore his false prophecies.
How the Sting Works
After presenting a series of gross distortions and outright perversions of the Bible’s most basic prophecies, Ron Weinland asks questions like “Does anyone dare stand before God and deny what we have witnessed in these matters?”—or “Why can’t pastors and Church leaders admit or acknowledge that these verses have indeed been fulfilled?”—or “Do we have eyes to see?”, among others. Statements like “The evidence should be obvious to all, but many will not face this issue or admit its truth” are used throughout. Yet, what he presented was gobbledygook.
In each case, these questions or declarations are preceded or followed by various conclusions that are terribly misguided, confused and plain wrong!
Like the apostates before them, repetitive high-pressure techniques are used to scare people into accepting nonsense. Before entering the ministry, these inexperienced would-be prophets would have been better served to have spent many more hours studying the truth of basic prophecy from past literature and the other teachings of Mr. Armstrong.
While the above publication is also very poorly written and produced, people freely send this man God’s tithes so that he can continue to take in more unsuspecting minds—just as they were taken in. Sadly, the cycle expands and continues, with every day producing more victims.
I am embarrassed for any author who, however sincere, can dismiss great future prophecies as having been fulfilled in the Church, writing things such as “It has indeed been a sobering revelation for the Church that the first five seals of Revelation have been about itself and that these seals are no longer a matter of future prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled, but are now a matter of history—seals that have already been opened” (emphasis mine).
To read that the “man of sin” (II Thes. 2:3) was supposedly Mr. Armstrong’s successor—or that the abomination of desolation applies to the Church, and “flee(ing) into the mountains” (Matt. 24:15-16) was God’s people fleeing into WCG offshoots—or that Ezekiel’s hair (chapter 5) being divided into thirds also applies to the Church being divided and affected in thirds—or that the Great Tribulation is also a prophecy for what has already happened to the Church—is simply pitiful, ignorant thinking!
A couple more seductive statements are worth noticing: “Have you been given the ability to see and hear something that you are still resisting and fighting against?” This form of reverse psychology is so cunning and lethal in nature that the only thing left unsaid by this man is that if you heed these warnings, “Thou shalt not surely die.”
The Role of Pride
Finally, the following statement may reflect the most clever use of psychology: “Rather than being faithful witnesses of those things we have witnessed at the end of this age, pride has filled the Church with self-importance about our own good and our own ability in handling the Word of God” (emphasis mine).
This reference to “pride” and “self-importance,” supposedly keeping people from seeing the “worth” of these theories, is truly incredible!
We must ask: Who really holds these attitudes? Pride and self-importance are very much in evidence here. But in whom?
Paul told Timothy not to permit “novices” to be ordained or used in positions of authority. He gave an important reason these could not “take care of the Church of God.” Notice this, speaking of elders: “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (I Tim. 3:6). Novices are especially subject to pride.
I have taught prophecy extensively—and correctly—for over 40 years, certainly much more than any other minister during this same period. I usually taught very thorough class-like workshops in every one of my pastorates, covering all the basics and more from Daniel and Revelation, with many passages included from other books.
While prophecy can be made easy to understand, most ministers never took the time to master the correct sequence of end-time events. They remained woefully ignorant of even the basics, and generally avoided teaching the correct understanding and flow of prophecy to the vast majority of God’s people in the WCG, even when it was on track. (This remains true of most ministers, and therefore brethren, in the splinters today.)
This sets the stage to see how times have actually grown much worse!
Today, ministers long ignorant in even the rudiments of prophecy are suddenly finding that there has developed a growing “market” for people seeking to fill a long-unsatisfied void in this area. After tossing out a few prophetic “nuggets” in sermons or on websites, independent but novice ministers find the money starts rolling in and they are “off to the races.” Pride grips them. They are lifted up, feeling—“knowing”—they are “used of God.” They see themselves on a mission to reach the widest possible audience—even sending materials unsolicited, often through use of their “disciples,” who are almost breathless with excitement to assist their new spiritual captor.
These prophecy “ministries” then move forward, taking on a life of their own.
When such suddenly-elevated leaders give themselves over to urges of “new understanding,” they are actually completing the cycle of “falling into the condemnation of the devil.” Too unskilled in the scriptures (particularly passages about prophecy) to resist the “deeper insights” they feel are coming to them, they wind up yielding to demonic whisperings in their ears. As these men become conduits for fallen spirits, they pour out pure garbage on their followers.
The result is that they destroy far more people than just themselves—and in the end they do always destroy themselves! I have seen it all too often, with name after name—past and present—coming to mind as I write this.
Since writing this book, I have written a long article refuting this man’s teachings. Titled “Ron Weinland—Spectacularly Wrong!”, it is a must-read to see how far wrong false prophets and their followers can go.
Three other examples—all classic—must be included to show how far some men, considered “knowledgeable” in the scriptures, can go from sound, correct understanding.
Consider all that Mr. Armstrong taught about what the nations comprised of the modern descendants of ancient Israel are prophesied to endure because of their rebellion against God’s Law.
One former WCG pastor, known for supposedly being particularly “deep in meaning” and “good in research,” teaches that there is no future captivity ahead for the nations of modern Israel. In his sermons, this man has asserted that the descendants of Israel have already been in captivity for 2,700 years, and stated that “Mr. Armstrong suffered from tunnel vision” and “viewed prophecy through the eyes of what Nazi Germany did to the Jews—one tribe—and generally applied it to the last resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire.”
In other words, according to this foolish—and particularly dangerous—theory, Mr. Armstrong fraudulently warned hundreds of millions about the horrific onslaught of nothing more than an imaginary event!
How ridiculous! This man’s absurd counter-teaching slaughters even the most fundamental events of Bible prophecy.
Consider. Any danger of entering the Tribulation evaporates. So does urgency to apply Luke 21:36, because there is nothing to “escape.” Laodiceans need not worry about a captivity that will never come! Few things could please the devil more than seducing God’s people from such proper understanding, and the healthy fear that should accompany it.
The books MYSTERY OF THE AGES and The United States and Britain in Prophecy, and so many more of Mr. Armstrong’s booklets correctly revealing and explaining the meaning of prophecy, are gutted in meaning—made utterly worthless—by the above idea and many other of this man’s deceptive teachings.
This false teaching continues by stating that Israel will ally with the Beast and that the original captivity of 721-718 B.C. is still in effect (i.e., ancient—now modern—Israel is still in captivity today). This idea, if correct, makes Mr. Armstrong himself no less than a false prophet. The only other possibility is that Christ’s ability to lead him was so impotent that He could neither guide nor dissuade Mr. Armstrong from preaching such a colossal error—and centerpiece of so much of what he taught—for 52 years to hundreds of millions of people! In effect, this would have meant that he got nearly one-third of the Bible essentially all wrong.
How many could possibly believe that?
This former WCG minister also asserts that the “blessings and cursings” (Deut. 28; Lev. 26) no longer apply, proclaiming that they were voided by God’s divorce of ancient Israel in preparation to marry New Testament Israel. Many other false ideas flow from this wrong thinking.
He speaks of Isaiah 10 as though a detailed description of Assyria (modern Germany) is merely referencing “spiritual Babylon.” A host of enormous problems necessarily accompany such terribly misguided thinking. The “seven times” (or 2,520 years) that passed over Israel, and ended in 1800-1803, now have completely different meaning—or are totally meaningless—in light of the above teaching…and on and on it goes. No wonder this man states that his teachings, and I quote, are “massively different from Mr. Armstrong’s.”
Another local church elder, who openly takes the title of prophet, loudly proclaims in his sermons and writings such silly nonsense as the idea that the Day of the Lord (foretold in numerous scriptures to last for one year, following the Great Tribulation) began in October 1997, with Christ having secretly returned some time after this. This man aggressively writes people who have not solicited his ignorant opinions (he did this to me). His hope is to prey upon brethren too weak to see through his ramblings, portrayed as “new truth”—so that he can gain more followers by appearing to have an inside connection to revelations from God. This man also left following the one claiming to be “That Prophet” and, severely damaged in thinking, asserts that God revealed to him that his former leader is really the head of the Laodicean Church. This is truly appalling ignorance!
In late 1991, another former WCG pastor resigned and created a new organization (The Church of the Great God), the second to form after the apostasy.
An interesting and effective speaker (and in this case meaning a seductive speaker), this man decided to specialize in giving “in-depth” sermons. However, having accepted from the beginning a number of the apostates’ doctrines, this man eventually fell into a host of absolutely preposterous prophetic ideas. Consider just one, because it well illustrates how far afield so many have gone: This man has actually come to the conclusion that the “great whore” of Revelation 17:5 is the many nations of Israel today. He has given ten separate sermons explaining in excruciating detail why this is “true.”
Think for a moment of all the basic understanding of prophecy that Mr. Armstrong had to have wrong for this theory to be correct. The whole framework on which hangs the one-third of the Bible that is prophecy implodes into a pile of rubble if this thinking is correct. The Catholic church and the Protestants are no longer identified in this chapter as the “great whore” and her “harlot daughters.”
Now try to comprehend how a person’s—a senior minister’s!—understanding of basic prophecy can so completely collapse. In fact, it is the very ridiculousness of it that makes it attractive to certain kinds of people. How is this? This particular idea is so outrageous that some would naturally want to investigate it out of curiosity—just to “see what he said”—almost “for laughs.” Tragically, the end result is that a weak person is taken in, a splinter that should not be able to attract five people grows—and a wolf can enjoy a meal!
Again, we must ask: How could even one person fall prey to such outrageous, ludicrous false prophecy from these “teachers”?
But hundreds love their sermons—and there is a reason.
Modern Church Psychics
Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. Consider for a moment.
Like Saul consulting the witch of Endor, millions in the world routinely consult psychics today. They want answers, which seemingly no one else can offer. Hoping to learn more about what the future holds for them, and the meaning of life, many people are willing to pay money for the services of seers only too willing to help them consult with “the other side”—i.e., demons! Once hooked, many become captured by the fascination of what they will learn—what will be revealed—next! Thinking they are receiving special understanding unknown to the masses—potential “enlightenment” others are too “close-minded” to see—patrons open their minds to dangers worse than they could possibly dream.
God’s people live in this world, and are surrounded by influences bombarding them on a daily basis. This has an effect beyond what most realize.
In several ways, many former WCG brethren have become no different from their counterparts in the world. Believing their fellow brethren too narrow-minded to understand what they are willing to be shown, many seek out modern “Church psychics” so readily available today through the power of the Internet and various marketing campaigns.
In a related strange twist, just like the world, many brethren are no less willing to “pay”—through a distorted application of tithing—for the services of these “Church psychics.”
As with palm readers and astrologers, various false prophet “ministers” crouch like so many spiders waiting to pounce on flies.
This is exactly why Christ warned His people to beware of “prophets” in the last days. He simply calls these “Church psychics” by what they are—false prophets.
Truth Only Through Apostles
Mr. Armstrong taught over and over again that Christ only brings truth into the Church through apostles. This has been covered at great length in several other of our books to the splinters, including in Section I here. He was most plain—and correct!—about this doctrine!
Section I explained in detail how Mr. Armstrong understood and taught that prophets could only work within the New Testament Church when there was a living apostle to whom they could report. Any prophet claiming to function independently of an apostle is automatically a false prophet! I urge you to carefully read and review the book THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD, whether or not you have been associated with the organization led by the one claiming to be “That Prophet.”
Recognizing this, it should be easy to see why Christ warned of false prophets active among God’s people at the end of the age. He certainly understood that His twentieth-century apostle would die before the falling away struck the Church, and that another would not be appointed for many years. He also knew that the rise of the seventh era, with its many scattered, divided organizations, compromising in a variety of different ways, would create a fertile environment, perfect for the work of these deceivers.
Christ knew that people would be hungry for “answers” amidst the confusion surrounding them in the last days. Like Saul himself, they would seek modern witches—or more like wizards—of Endor to fill the void. Awaiting these people would be a prophecy smorgasbord of every shape, flavor, color, texture and size of seduction—and seducers!
All this compounding confusion would disappear if people would simply remember just the very basics of what Mr. Armstrong taught about the framework of true prophetic understanding.
To help people eliminate this confusion is one of the reasons we have rewritten and preached all of the basic principles, including details, of prophetic understanding, once known to the entire Church, but now forgotten by so many who want “new things” (Acts 17:21) and falsehoods in their place.
Isaiah’s words have come to pass in the Church: “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (30:9-10).
What Paul foretold about conditions in the Church in the “last days” (II Tim. 3:1) regarding “evil men and seducers” (vs. 13) has also come to pass. The context continues into chapter 4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (vs. 3-4).
Returning Full Circle
At the beginning of this section, we discussed Christ’s warning in Matthew 7:15 about false prophets in reality being wolves in sheep’s clothing. That passage continues with Christ offering vital clues that assist, in one additional way, those seeking to identify false prophets for who and what they are.
Take a moment to first read Matthew 7:16-20: “You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.”
Several points emerge. Jesus explains (twice) that a man’s fruits allow us to “know him.” Acknowledging that a man is a false prophet is not judging him—not assigning him to the lake of fire—condemning him—it is knowing him for what he is! So says the Head of the Church.
The way this is done is to examine the types of people that the man “gathers.” Instead of being the luscious, beautiful, delicious fruit of “grapes” and “figs,” his followers are usually better described as “thorns” and “thistles.” So it is with so many people who go with today’s false prophets. Note them well. They are usually bitter, angry, accusative, gossip-mongering, self-righteous to the point of pompous, and self-congratulatory, among other things. Their “fruits” are readily available for examination in the many “chat rooms” they frequent on the Internet. So many of these people could only be described as completely unteachable and ungovernable—thorns and thistles! Any who doubt this should simply try to tell some of them where and how they are wrong. Such will never doubt again!
Matthew 7 is a truly serious warning to all who fall prey to false prophets. Could Christ one day consider you to be the equivalent of a thorn or a thistle? These are the kinds of people “gathered” to false prophets. Whether they were always this way or became this way is not relevant. This is what they are after remaining very long with such false leaders.
I can only hope that you are sobered by what is at stake if you miscalculate in your response!
Apostates More Honest!
In a very important way, the false leaders of the Worldwide Church of God were more honest than their counterparts in the splinters. But how could this be?
Carefully consider for a moment. The WCG leaders who succeeded Mr. Armstrong eventually became more plain about their disagreement with Mr. Armstrong and the fact that they were changing the doctrines that he taught. As time passed, circumstances made it better that they just openly disagree with the Church’s previous view of who and what he was. They simply declared that he was wrong about virtually everything. Of course, at first, they were more careful, and steered clear of appearing to denigrate or undermine his office and role. But in the end, they spoke openly and without fear of identifying him as one they simply did not agree with.
The leaders of the splinters have been less honest—actually much less honest than the WCG apostates. These men knew a generally supportive position regarding Mr. Armstrong was the best way to capture larger numbers. Therefore, they have at least generally portrayed themselves as loyal to him, as recognizing his office of apostle and his role in bringing truth to the Church.
The end result is that this deceitful approach has permitted these leaders to more easily take in—seduce—larger numbers of unsuspecting brethren who thought they were following loyal ministers of God who were “standing up for the truth.”
Passing Beyond Laodicea and Out of Christianity
All those who understand that the WCG completely departed from God, and became a spiritually dead church, must recognize that people of two eras—two ways of thinking—fled that church in a co-mingled condition. Numerous of our other books (especially the book The True Church – One Organization, or Many? and “Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People) explain and prove this in detail. Even Laodiceans, though in a weak and miserable condition, are God’s people—are true Christians. They are described as “keep[ing] the commandments of God, and hav[ing] the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17).
Notice again what was described in Section I—the two signs identifying Laodiceans. There is no question what are the commandments of God, but what is “the testimony of Jesus Christ”? Let’s allow the Bible to interpret itself. Notice a few chapters later: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (19:10).
Also note again. Even Laodiceans understand the “spirit of prophecy.” If people lose either of these two critical qualities, they fall short of the minimum standard to remain true Christians. Can you see that the subject of prophets is much more important than you may have believed?
Jesus states that those of the seventh era understand the essence—the core—the “spirit”—behind the third of the Bible that is prophecy. Certainly this includes the knowledge of all the prophecies surrounding events that occur prior to Jesus Christ’s Second Coming—including those affecting the Church. Recognize that the majority of Bible prophecies are embodied within His Return. Christ setting up His kingdom is the very core of the gospel—and this has always been the central focus or “spirit of [all] prophecy”!
Here is the point. Once a Christian loses track of the rudiments of prophecy, he has lost “the testimony of Christ”—and is in grave danger of passing out of Christianity altogether!
Much, much more is at stake than meets the eye when you allow your understanding to be perverted regarding the unfolding of events prior to Christ’s Return! Whether or not they believe it, growing numbers are being set up to fall prey to much worse deception in regard to events soon to strike the whole world. Do you see this?
One cannot follow a false prophet and remain a true Christian. This is absolutely impossible—and there are other reasons for this.
Related False Teachings
Invariably, those who either claim to be prophets or who lead ministries based on revised prophetic understanding, teach that the long-understood Work of God—as Mr. Armstrong did it—is over. I know of not a single exception. These men are no longer interested in taking the gospel of the kingdom of God to the world or the Ezekiel Warning to the modern nations of Israel. They have become too lazy, blind, selfish—and self-focused.
Conveniently, these men love to claim that Mr. Armstrong’s death ended all further obligation for anyone to continue what they believe is now finished for the Church. Yet, Mr. Armstrong said that neglecting to do God’s Work was enough in itself to disqualify one from being part of the Church of God. (Again, I cover in careful detail what Mr. Armstrong actually taught about continuing the Work of God in our thorough book The Work of God – Its Final Chapter!)
But the danger of following false prophets still does not end there. Tithes belong to God. And they are for the purpose of doing His Work and feeding His flock, where His government and the full truth—His Church!—are in place.
When a person: (1) Follows a false prophet, (2) loses the testimony of Jesus Christ, (3) abandons the Work of God, (4) rejects the government of God, the only place where Christ is working, (5) sends tithes that belong to God to one of His enemies in doctrinally-compromised organizations, in other words, where He is not working, (6) refuses correction from His faithful (or even lukewarm) ministry, (7) usually, then, neglects to assemble together on the Sabbath when a congregation of faithful brethren is nearby, (8) rejects the one true Church and Body of Christ understanding and, because this is always the case with such people, (9) has taken on a host of other wrong doctrines and ideas (wittingly or unwittingly), which are generally but not always related to prophecy, such a person has fallen away from true Christianity—ALTOGETHER!
Ironically, in an amazing quirk of blind human nature, such people often see themselves at the very pinnacle of holding fast—the “truest Philadelphians.” The reality is that many of these have fallen away—or very soon will if they do not repent and break free of the false prophet’s death grip on their eternal life!
It is that serious!
Who are the “Sheep” of Ezekiel 34?
As we have seen, many of God’s people are now drowning in an ocean of prophetic junk and widespread scriptural error. Confused, deceived and spiritually battered, they have been conditioned to accept false prophetic ideas—things that are nothing more than doctrinal heresy packaged, disguised and labeled as “deeper understanding,” “new revelations” and “growth.”
Many brethren have allowed themselves to be doctrinally poisoned by certain splinter leaders. They have been unwittingly spoon-fed by brutal dictators who cloak their deceit and biblical misunderstanding under the guise of honoring Herbert W. Armstrong and holding to his sound teachings. But we saw that many come to view prophecies about physical Israel as though they were directed to God’s Church—spiritual Israel (Rom. 2:29).
Could this be you?
Copying the Protestants
Exactly as the Protestants have done with other plain teachings of God’s Word, scores, if not hundreds, of passages applying to physical Israel are being “spiritualized away.” (Of course, we have seen that PCG has taught people to do this almost routinely with prophecy throughout the Bible.) This deceitful practice has resulted in terrible confusion and misunderstanding of what to do in the wake of the apostasy. Hundreds of passages about prophecy are now being misapplied to the Church.
Perhaps no single case is as misunderstood, misused—and misapplied!—as Ezekiel 34!
Let’s understand. While this chapter can have some application to the Church, in principle, and this is true of various prophetic conditions regarding modern Israelite nations (and Mr. Armstrong long understood this), it has nothing to do with Laodicea, Philadelphia or any other people supposedly connected to God’s Church. It is addressed entirely to physical Israel. Chapter 33 makes this clear, as does the end of chapter 34. (Remember, the Bible was originally written without chapter divisions. Men added these later. This means that these two chapters work together. What God wrote as a connected prophecy cannot be separated by men.)
To the “House of Israel”
Ezekiel 34 cannot be properly understood without recognizing the entire context. As long as we allow the Bible to interpret itself, this chapter becomes most easy to understand!
Mr. Armstrong spoke and wrote many times about chapter 33. When referring to what is called “The Ezekiel Warning,” he almost invariably turned to this chapter of Ezekiel’s book.
Verse 7 describes God’s “watchman”—Mr. Armstrong for 52 years—warning the house of israel (one other would follow). Notice: “So you, O son of man, I have set you a watchman unto the house of israel; therefore you shall hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me.” Verse 11 again repeats the term “house of Israel.”
The context never changes all the way through chapters 33 and 34. How do we know this? Notice this description concluding chapter 34 and this part of Ezekiel’s overall prophecy: “Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they, even the house of israel, are My people…and you My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men” (vs. 30-31).
In Scripture, the term “house of Israel” always refers to national israel, never to the Church. This is part of the most basic understanding known to all the millions who have read The United States and Britain in Prophecy, among other books and booklets that Mr. Armstrong wrote.
If Ezekiel 33 and 34 were a warning to Laodicea, Mr. Armstrong spent 52 years warning an era that had not yet arrived—and further, he did not know he was doing this! If these chapters address the Church in any way—Philadelphia or Laodicea—his entire foundation for understanding prophecy was wrong. The Church has always correctly understood that Ezekiel’s warning is a message for physical, national Israel. Understand. Mr. Armstrong was not confused about his responsibility to warn the modern descendants of Israel—the house of israel!
Verses 30-31 above obviously speak of the Millennium. Again, how do we know this? Even a cursory glance at today’s world reveals that God is not yet, as these verses foretell, “with them [the house of Israel].” And since those whom God is calling today—who are being led by His Spirit within them today—will be Spirit-composed members of the God Family during the Millennium, those who are described in verses 30 and 31 would not be referred to as “men” or “people” (vs. 31). So this is obviously talking about physical Israelites alive during the millennium.
“Flock” and “Shepherds”
We have now established the context leading into chapter 34. Remember again, the chapter break does not mean the subject has changed. The end of chapter 34 makes this absolutely clear.
Notice how many times the terms “flock,” “sheep” and “shepherds” are found in chapter 34. Take some time to read the entire chapter, highlighting these words as you see them.
The context of Ezekiel 33, leading into the statements, and the latter part of chapter 34, closing them out, is entirely about conditions in modern Israel, leading up to King David coming to rule them as their shepherd in the Millennium.
On a side note, these two chapters are completely different from the scattering referred to in Daniel 12:7, which does talk about God’s spiritual flock—the “power of the holy people”—being scattered. Take a moment to prove this by reading Daniel 11:32-35, which sets up 12:7. This verse is explained in other literature, so we will not go into detail here. But 12:7 is also an example of a verse used by many to justify not seeking out the one true Church, because God supposedly now desires His people to be scattered.
Ezekiel 34 is a classic example of a prophecy pertaining to physical Israel being misapplied to spiritual Israel—the Church. Again, and tragically, certain splinters have conditioned—actually trained—their members to think this way—to routinely substitute the Church for national Israel.
Now carefully read verses 23-24: “And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it.”
These verses reveal that as God regathers Israel in the wake of the Great Tribulation, He will raise up David to lead them. David will obviously not be resurrected (mysteriously “reincarnated”) in this age to rule over spiritual Israel, the Church. Certainly none are expecting that to happen.
Therefore, this is a reference to physical human beings who are part of the literal physical twelve tribes receiving their opportunity for salvation during the millennium.
The “flock” of chapter 34 are scattered surviving Israelite sheep gathering under David, obviously occurring after his resurrection into the kingdom of God, and after these “sheep” have come out of captivity. It cannot be talking about scattered brethren. It has nothing to do with Philadelphia or Laodicea, as others so falsely—and conveniently—teach. Recall that the twelve apostles will rule the twelve tribes of Israel in the Millennium (Matt. 19:28), under David!
Could anyone who understands how God used Mr. Armstrong seriously believe that he never understood his commission? That he was (as must be supposed) unconsciously warning an era that had not yet arrived?
Few conclusions could be more ridiculous—and more dangerous!
Who Are These Prophecies Talking About?
Many believe that all of God’s spiritual sheep are now permanently scattered, thus fulfilling the prophecy in Ezekiel 34 and Jeremiah 23. This thinking stems from frustration with organizations, most professing to be led by Christ and/or His government.
Their misuse of these prophecies flows from whether the scattered sheep referenced here are Laodiceans, Philadelphians or both. The misunderstanding begins with Ezekiel 34 but proceeds to Jeremiah 23 and chapters such as Zechariah 11.
Notice Jeremiah 23:2: “Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed My people; you have scattered My flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, says the Lord.”
Verse 6 continues by stating, “In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
These verses obviously reference physical Israel, including the tribe of Judah. The following could not be talking about God’s people: “For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourns; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right” (vs. 10).
This is talking about physical conditions on earth. Notice: “Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways…for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation” (vs. 12). This is describing the time of God’s Wrath—the day of the lord, the punishing of all the inhabitants of earth. Remember, Laodicea is punished in the Great Tribulation.
This is certainly not new understanding! It is basic to what most brethren probably learned (or should have) in the first year of their calling—yet, tragically, have now forgotten!
None of these prophecies can possibly be talking specifically about spiritual Israel. Though Daniel 12:7 could also have some application to the physical house of Israel and though, as previously mentioned, there are, conversely, principles in chapters such as Ezekiel 34 and Jeremiah 23 that Mr. Armstrong recognized as paralleling in certain ways some conditions in the Church at the end of the age (because much of LAODICEA is still divided on doctrine and still scattered as a result)—they cannot possibly be talking directly about Philadelphia or Laodicea. (It is absolutely impossible that any parallel exists with unified Philadelphia—those who are able to walk together in one organization because all of them are in agreement.)
Also notice the mentioning of “prophets” and “priests.” This is a reference to the hundreds of thousands of false ministers of this world who have misled hundreds of millions or even billions of the lost sheep of the house of Israel for millennia.
The Ezekiel Warning has always been understood as directed to physical Israel. However, it could not somehow mean that the true watchman of modern national Israel would not also cry out to spiritual Israel, the Church—as the messenger of the seventh era. That is the purpose of our book “Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People. (This book and America and Britain in Prophecy serve as warnings to spiritual and physical Israel, respectively.)
Consider one other passage in Jeremiah 6:13, which is part of the setup to chapter 23: “For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one deals falsely.” This cannot possibly be a reference to God’s Church, or ministers in it, but rather to national Israel. Remember, Christ states that even Laodiceans “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17). So Jeremiah 6 and that book’s early chapters so obviously refer to physical Israelites—and, again, set the stage for the rest of Jeremiah!
How Does This Happen?
How do thinking people, empowered with God’s Holy Spirit, forget the very clearest teachings of Christ’s twentieth-century apostle—and the entire collective ministry under him—and come to believe such dangerous, unsound “prophetic” silliness?
This thinking is most apparent in those who have departed from the leader claiming to be, among numerous other divine titles, “That Prophet” of Deuteronomy 18:15. Mentioned previously in earlier sections, they saw their former leader “spiritualize” (read into) endless passages to promote himself by taking many titles belonging to God and Christ. Confused and wounded, these survivors, and certain brethren who have left other splinters, seize on the phrase “no shepherd in Israel” (Ezek. 34:4-5) to justify their rejection of ALL organized groups and leaders.
Verse 4 of this passage describes the shepherds of Israel in the following way: “but with force and with cruelty have you ruled them.” Those who followed the one claiming to be That Prophet were certainly ruled with “force and cruelty.” Seeing this, they were set up to seize on the phrase “no shepherd in Israel,” as a means—an excuse—to tell themselves that they should never again listen to another minister or organization.
Carefully consider what such people are actually doing: By rejecting all government over them, they have found a way to—at best—take their place in the Laodicean age, where “the people rule, judge and decide” all matters for themselves.
(Our book on THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD is extremely important, and introduces the subject that Mr. Armstrong described as “everything” in extraordinary detail.)
This man’s pattern of distorting plain prophecies began through his nonsensical misapplication of the entire book of Malachi. Like Ezekiel 34 and Jeremiah 23, Malachi is written to national Israel, and the ministers of these nations, and of this world. Tragically, thousands, hungering for “prophetic understanding,” were taken in by what was nothing more than his wonderfully clever marketing ploy. Even more sad, many others remain trapped in his grasp by fear of entering the Tribulation if they leave him.
Although many have escaped PCG, many of these still “spiritualize away” these kinds of scriptures to justify staying alone—not tithing, assembling together, seeking the true Church, doing the Work, yielding to God’s government, receiving correction, truly preparing for the Wedding Supper, etc. In other words, those who reject this man “throw the baby out with the bath water.” They escape him and escape his organization—but not his mode of thinking. And though they successfully break free from his group, they are still unwittingly enslaved within his ideas, because of the misguided way that he conditioned them to view all prophecy—including falling into the false belief that there is “no shepherd in Israel.”
I have likened this thinking to how so many throughout the splinters internalized a variety of the apostates’ false doctrines and general approach to Christianity, while thinking they escaped—that they left all of that behind. How wrong they have been. But so have been many who left the man described here. If this is you, ask God to return you to soundness of understanding.
Some Final Verses
Now that we have seen the overall fallacy of substituting God’s Church for national Israel in prophecy, we should examine other verses to make the point most clear.
Remember these things: (1) Laodiceans keep God’s commandments (Rev. 12:17), (2) Ezekiel 33 cannot refer to Laodicea, and (3) the “Ezekiel Warning” chapters open and close with the term “house of Israel”—and are clearly a message to physical Israelites. As you read the following verses, ask how any of them could apply to God’s Church—spiritual Israel.
Ezekiel 33:25-26: “Wherefore say unto them, Thus says the Lord God; You eat with the blood, and lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood: and shall you possess the land? You stand upon your sword, you work abomination, and you defile every one his neighbor’s wife: and shall you possess the land?”
How could these extreme conditions possibly be referring to brethren in the Church?
Verse 31: “And they come unto you as the people come, and they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness.”
Again, this is obviously speaking of physical Israelites sitting in the churches of the world as though they are before God—not of those sitting among His true people.
Chapter 34, verse 25: “And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.” No Church application fits this verse.
Verse 26: “And I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.”
This speaks of physical water and physical blessings being showered on physical people—so obviously occurring in the Millennium!
Verse 27: “And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.”
Do any think that this passage is referencing spiritual trees, spiritual fruit and spiritual safety?
Now again notice Ezekiel 34:31, remembering that it is part of the Ezekiel Warning context: “And you My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, says the Lord God.” Since we established that David will rule all Israel in the Millennium, this passage cannot possibly be a reference to the Church in the end time. Obviously, David has not yet been resurrected and, also obviously, those mentioned here “are men”—physical human beings.
Chapter 37 removes all doubt about who David (vs. 21-25) will rule. This chapter was referenced throughout all WCG Feast sites in practically every Last Great Day sermon for decades, and was once well-known to the whole Church! It speaks of hundreds of millions, or probably billions, of Israelites being resurrected back to human life in the “valley of dry bones” during the Great White Throne Judgment.
This marvelous prophecy culminates at the end of 1,000 years of David leading the twelve tribes of Israel back to national prominence, readying the world for this great second resurrection event.
Why would anyone allow himself to reduce such an awesome, inspiring prophecy—heralding marvelous news for vast numbers—into a hodgepodge of ideas pointing to a lot of scattered, divided, doctrinally unsound “brethren” who will no longer follow even the basics of true Christianity?
The “Lost Sheep of the House of Israel”
Now notice John 7:35. It refers to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” as the “dispersed among the gentiles.” In John 10:16, Christ spoke of “other sheep [the house of Israel] not of this fold [the Palestinian Jews that He was speaking to]” who would one day be gathered into “one fold” under “one shepherd”—DAVID!
Finally, take a moment to read Matthew 10:6 and remove all lingering doubt about who are the sheep in Ezekiel 34 and Jeremiah 23. Here is Christ’s commission to His disciples: “These twelve Jesus sent forth…saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles…But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of israel” (Matt. 10:5-6).
There it is. The Bible has interpreted the Bible—and Ezekiel 34. Once again, what has been written here is far from new, unless it is new to your remembrance, since the entire Church once thoroughly understood these things.
Before concluding, consider this single statement from Mr. Armstrong to see exactly what he taught about who Ezekiel’s prophecy was describing (italics mine):
“Ezekiel’s message is for our day—a prophetic warning for America and Britain, now!”
“Always the true prophets and ministers of God have stood almost alone, and opposed by the overwhelming majority in Israel. That is Israel’s history of old. It is true today.”
“Ezekiel catalogs our sins—our customs and ways which seem right in our eyes but which are contrary to God’s laws and an abomination in HIS sight.”
“Our people today can’t see where these things make any difference! But Ezekiel says the preachers have deceived the people, and led them astray. They have condoned all these things, until the people have lost God’s pure TRUTH!”
“In the meantime, our job is to WARN America and Britain of what lies ahead! To shout the warning to come out of BABYLON (Rev. 18:4)—that those who heed may find God now—may come under His divine protection (Psalm 91), and by a true Spirit-filled life obedient to GOD’S WAYS and laws, be prepared to become a ruler or a teacher in Christ’s soon-coming glorious Kingdom!”
“Will Russia Invade America?”, PT, Nov. 1948
Again, we must ask, how could so many brethren have forgotten such basic—and enormous—prophecies, thinking themselves to be holding fast? How could so many go off into such completely ridiculous theories and twisted ideas, under the guise of “new understanding”?
Keep it Simple!
Determine to keep it simple—and for the rest of the age! Do not allow the growing number of end-time seducers (II Tim. 3:1, 13) to spiritualize away scriptures in the same way that Protestants do with so many of the Bible’s plain words and doctrines—the Sabbath, heaven, hell, baptism, unclean meats, Holy Day observance, commandment-keeping, when one is born again, and much more!
Do not allow false or lukewarm ministers and brethren to reduce great millennial prophecies about tomorrow—describing God dealing with and healing vast millions of the lost sheep of the house of Israel—into messages supposedly about the Church today!
So many now twist Scripture to serve their own agenda and promote a following for themselves. Seeking additional tithes to elevate themselves and expand their influence, these men truly “make merchandise of the brethren.” Will you allow them to steal your crown—to move you around as so much merchandise on a shelf—convincing you to accept their prophetic “interpretations,” to abandon continuing God’s Work, to ignore Sabbath assembly, to steal God’s tithes and rebel against His government?
What path will you choose?
DOCTRINAL CHANGES IN PCG
As mentioned, the Philadelphia Church of God professes to hold to every doctrine—every point—that Mr. Armstrong taught. This is far from true, and has always been the case when false leaders, especially false prophets, come among God’s people. Because such men have taken to themselves a high office that Christ never “gave” (Eph. 4:11), they have a generally greater problem. They see themselves as the “chosen vessel” of special “oracles” sent directly by God to His people. But this would be no problem if everyone understood that no one should listen to them. Sadly, they do not, and many do listen.
As you have now learned, false prophets invariably profess to bring “new revelations” directly from God, with their messages usually centered around convoluted prophecy that is very difficult to understand. Again, sadly, no matter how bizarre, strange and outrageous the ideas may be, those caught in the false prophet’s orbit cannot see his inventions for what they are. This process can carry people deep into ideas that are so ridiculous—so absurd!—so plain wrong!—that they can ingest scores of these teachings before they realize what has overtaken them.
Such is PCG’s snare!
The following list of 81 doctrinal errors in PCG is part of an article titled “Endless False Doctrines,” which constitutes a section of our book Surviving “Perilous Times”.” There, these false doctrines are numbered 91 through 171. Because they are part of the problem associated with false prophets, and because the reader should now be prepared to see them for what they are, we have included them here. We have generally left the language and references that were originally used to demonstrate that they were originally part of a larger list, and one in which we were not identifying the names of particular organizations.
(91) One leader considers his book to be the “little book” of Revelation 10, and that it fulfills Revelation 3:20—Christ knocking on Laodiceans’ doors. [Many prophetic ideas that follow (through #171) depict a doctrinal tragedy—a prophetic “holocaust”—of epic proportions, playing out in one group. I list many changes taught there, partly because all need to be warned of how far from God’s Way thousands can wander—in the name of “new revelation,” “new truth” or “growth in understanding”—once they cease holding fast to exactly what God taught through Mr. Armstrong. I hope I have properly represented these complicated, nearly impossible-to-understand teachings.]
(92) Revealed prophecy: “The [group name] has kept all the revealed knowledge God gave to Mr. Armstrong. All of the Laodicean groups have rejected at least part of the revelation. Therefore God has given them no new revelation since Mr. Armstrong died! But the [group name] has been flooded with new revelation. We are the only group that is eating from the tree of life...” (quote from leader)
(93) The Seven Thunders (Rev. 10:3) are the seven chapters of (leader’s) book.
(94) Malachi is (leader’s) message to the Laodiceans and Philadelphians.
(95) “The little book and our message is to measure the Church to prove that they are Laodiceans...” (Ibid.)
(96) “Through [leader’s book] God has opened up shocking new truths concerning His end-time Church from the books of Daniel, Amos, Micah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and Revelation...Many of the prophecies...previously believed to apply to worldly religions, actually describe events...within the Laodicean era...” (Ibid.)
(97) Backing and supporting this message...(of leader, through his book) is one’s ticket to the Place of Safety (p. 146 of his book).
(98) Revelation 11:1-2: Everyone that has God’s Spirit and is not a member of this group—is “outside” God’s temple—is in the “outer court” of the temple. Only the people of this one group are considered to be “inside” the “inner court” of God’s temple.
(99) “Where is God’s temple today? It is the [group name]! Where is God’s temple treasure today? It is within the [group name]!” (Ibid.)
(100) Incredibly, all those who have God’s Spirit within the many groups constituting Laodicea, including immediate family members, are disfellowshipped and cannot be contacted by those in the “inner court.” [This is actually derived from a horribly butchered rendering of what Mr. Armstrong instructed the Church in the 1970s.]
(101) The reward, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me on My throne” (Rev. 3:21) is not for Laodiceans, but rather Philadelphians. Laodiceans enter the kingdom, but are not in God’s Temple or at headquarters with Philadelphians.
(102) “The [group name] is our ‘nail in his holy place’ in this end time...We are reviving God’s only Work. No other group on this planet is doing God’s Work...” and “The [group name] typifies Ezra’s work in this end time. Ezra 3:3...the altar, or the work of the [group name] ministry, is established on the right foundation...” (Ibid.)
(103) And yet, this leader declares that the primary purpose of the Church—its “work”—is now to “expose Satan and his evil.” [In a similar butchering of the Church’s most fundamental commission, this has replaced preaching or announcing the kingdom of God to the world and warning the nations of modern Israel.]
(106) “Pestilence” (Matthew 24 and other places) means racial unrest and riots. Leader also falsely predicted that the O.J. Simpson trial would produce a guilty verdict and bring race riots.
(107) Jews have been notorious troublemakers throughout history everywhere they went, bringing misfortunes like the Holocaust on themselves.
(109) The “very elect” of Matthew 24:24 cannot be deceived.
(110) 19-year time cycles were merely Mr. Armstrong’s passing interest. Dismiss them.
(111) Virtually all O.T. prophets’ messages are to Philadelphia about Laodicea.
(113) Malachi 1:2-3 shows Esau (Edom) and Jacob (Israel) are coded words: Esau is WCG Laodiceans who lose salvation. Jacob is all other Laodiceans.
(114) Malachi 2:4-6 is a prophecy of Mr. Armstrong.
(115) Malachi 2:14-16 is a prophecy about Laodicean ministers’ treachery to “the wife of your youth.” The “wife” is the Church God built through Mr. Armstrong.
(116) Malachi 3:8-9 refers to Laodiceans robbing “the whole world” by not supporting (group name) in delivering God’s message. The phrase “smite the earth with a curse” (4:6) only refers to a curse on the Laodiceans, not the earth.
(117) The “end-time Joshua” of Zechariah 3:1-9 and the “man of sin” of II Thessalonians 2:3 both refer to the WCG leader—first the father, then, when he died, his son. [Imagine one who is supposedly a true prophet of God having become so confused about the identity of the MAN OF SIN—the final false prophet—at the end of the age.]
(118) Daniel 8 refers to the same WCG leader who “will be an end-time Antiochus. His goal will be to crush the faith of spiritual Israel—God’s Church” (Ibid.).
(119) There are two abominations of desolation. The first is Antiochus Epiphanes. The second is WCG leadership. “There is also an end-time abomination of desolation, as prophesied here in Daniel 8 and Matthew 24 and Luke 21...You know that there is an abomination of desolation going on even now! Daniel 8 is discussing transgression, truth being cast to the ground—a satanic host practicing and prospering at destroying the daily sacrifice—all from within the sanctuary, God’s own Church, inside the Church, a man is acting like God, magnifying himself even to the prince of the host, casting truth to the ground” (Ibid.).
(120) The 2,300 days (evenings and mornings) or 1,150 days (Dan. 8:12-14) is the daily sacrifice taken away on January 16, 1986 for 1,150 days until (leader’s book) was written, on March 11, 1989. Then God began to “cleanse the sanctuary.” Several quotes follow: “Using January 16, 1986, as our beginning point makes Saturday, March 11, 1989, the end of the 1,150 days. As most of our readers know, I was fired from the Worldwide Church of God on December 7, 1989, for upholding what Mr. Armstrong taught. That was nearly nine months after the 1,150 days ended...And I had been working on the manuscript for nearly nine months! Though I do not remember the exact date God began revealing [book name] to me, it is safe to say that it was on or around March 11, 1989, God began to cleanse the sanctuary. True, it began with just me...Verse 12 says an army was given to Satan ‘against the daily.’ By him the ‘daily’ was taken away...Today the temple is the Church—so, again, the ‘daily’ in prophecy refers to the sacrifice, or Work, of the Church.” The daily sacrifice taken away, of Daniel 12:11, will be when the work of the (group name) will end. “The continual is not a physical sacrifice—it is a mind-stirring vision! This DAILY refers to a spiritual Work of God DURING ALL OF MAN’S HISTORY...” (quotes from leader). [This is a phenomenal mangling of an end-time prophecy—Daniel 12:11-12—that all true Christians should watch for.]
(121) Ezekiel 9:1-11 is about the spiritual slaughter of God’s Church by an angel: “...The worst slaughter physically is in the Tribulation. But the spiritual slaughter begins in God’s sanctuary—His Church” (Ibid.).
(122) The 144,000 are the Laodiceans that will die in the Great Tribulation.
(123) (Leader’s name) says Isaiah 3:16 refers to the Laodicean Churches. [Mr. Armstrong understood it refers to the women of modern Israel.]
(124) Related to this, this leader believes and teaches that the WCG—now a completely spiritually-dead Protestant/Evangelical church with virtually no truth—is still Laodicean, and in the category of the splinters.
(125) Isaiah 22:15-19 is a prophecy of the end-time WCG leader who succeeded “Eliakim”—a code name for Mr. Armstrong.
(126) Isaiah 28:9-14 and 40:9 are prophecies about Laodiceans and national Israel to whom (group leader) “...must deliver the good news to God’s own Laodicean Church and to all Israel.” He continues, “These verses are directed primarily to God’s own people.”
(127) Isaiah 58:1—“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet...” refers to (group name) warning the Laodiceans.
(128) Isaiah 66:3—“Today, that means God’s Laodicean Church is eating unclean spiritual food and going their own way...” (Ibid.)
(129) “The Holy Roman Empire...is the abomination of desolation” (Ibid.).
(130) Matthew 24:15-18—The flight referred to here is “spiritual” since God’s people will have already been taken to the Place of Safety.
(132) Isaiah 1:7 refers to “your cities are burned with fire—caused by the blacks’ rioting like the L.A. riots in May 1992...There is deep racial division and hatred in America” and the Ezekiel 5:12 reference to “A third part of you shall die with pestilence...can be defined as a plague of violence or burning or of violence and rioting” (Ibid.).
(134) Jeremiah 3:6-12: “...this means spiritual Israel, the Church.”
(138) Jeremiah 44:10-19 is God’s end-time Church rejecting His government.
(140) In Ezekiel 11:4, “Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man...” refers to the fact that “God commands the [group] to ‘prophesy against’ this Laodicean heresy!..” and 13:11 refers to “a stormy wind...This has to be the work of God’s [group] Church today!” (Ibid.)
(141) Ezekiel 16:8-18 is a prophecy of ancient Israel, but is more a prophecy of the Laodicean Church. “This is referring mainly to an end-time wife who rebels and must go into captivity” (Ibid.).
(142) Ezekiel 33:33 is “A final warning message immediately before the holocaust! That message is delivered by the [group] after HWA’s death” (Ibid. 1992).
(143) Ezekiel 44:15-16 is explained as “This is a prophecy of what the [group name] is doing today in the midst of great disloyalty to God” (Ibid.).
(145) Ezra 9:8 is a prophecy of a Philadelphian remnant.
(146) Jude 14 means ten thousand Philadelphians will be in the Place of Safety. [This illustrates the same utter butchery of prophetic understanding we have seen in his previous statements. Jude 14 is a plain statement from Enoch that all of the saints who return with Christ total “ten thousands”(plural). Read it.]
(147) Hosea 1:1-3 is explained as “Hosea is discussing God’s own Church...in this end-time!” and 1:4-9 is a prophecy of the end-time Church. “...They were God’s people in the Philadelphia era...” (Ibid.)
(148) Hosea 3:1-5 means “God’s end-time Church committed adultery and whoredoms” (Ibid.).
(149) Hosea 5:9 means “not only a prophecy of Britain’s downfall, it is a prophecy that God’s Work would continue...Today these servants are in the [group]” (Ibid.).
(150) Joel 1:8 means “God is addressing His Church spiritually...” and 1:9-16 is a prophecy about the Laodicean Church.
(151) Joel 2:23-26 means “...God is still addressing His Church...a remnant of which will not be cut off...[group] receives God’s spiritual rain...” (Ibid.) and verse 28 “refers only to all of the Laodiceans in the Tribulation before the Day of the Lord” and verse 29 means “...these people begin to serve God in the Great Tribulation...” (Ibid.)
(152) Amos 1:1 is explained as “...discussing God’s spiritual family...The book of Amos is mainly focusing on God’s Church!” (Ibid.)
(153) “‘Prophesy not’ of Amos 2:11-12, refers to the WCG’s leadership and God’s own people...of the end time...ministers God raised up and they are divided” (Ibid.).
(154) Amos 3:1 is “primarily discussing God’s spiritual family” (Ibid.).
(156) Amos 7:8 means “This [group] Work is God’s final warning to the Laodicean Church...” (Ibid.)
(159) Micah 3:1-3 means that apostate Church members have been “spiritually...skinned and had the flesh ripped from their bones” (Ibid.).
(160) Micah 3:9 means Laodicean leaders “pervert all equity” but 4:8 refers to (leader’s name).
(161) Micah 6:1 explains that (group) is to fight and contend with Laodiceans for God’s truth.
(162) Micah 6:16 is a prophecy of WCG leaders and apostasy: “Has there been a father and a son team today that has destroyed spiritual Israel by bringing into God’s own Church the worship of Baal...?” (Ibid.)
(163) In Micah 7:4, the “watchman” is (leader).
(164) Habakkuk 1:5 is explained as “a prophecy about [group]...” (Ibid.)
(165) Habakkuk 2:2 refers to “The message [that] is going out through [leader’s book]” (Ibid.).
(166) Habakkuk 2:18-19 refers to “the WCG has become a teacher of lies” (Ibid.).
(168) Zephaniah 1:8 refers to Laodiceans wearing “strange apparel” and verse 9 is a reference to “..all those that leap on [over] the threshold” which is “...what is taking place within the Laodicean Church today” (Ibid.).
(170) Haggai 2:4-7 speaks of (group). “At times, it can appear that the [group’s] commission is overwhelming. But God tells us to be strong...and work” (Ibid.).
(171) Haggai 2:8-9 speaks of (group). “...WE must look at these verses spiritually. All the silver and gold...is a mere pittance compared to the riches God is building in our lives,” and verse 11, “Haggai shows us that the Laodicean ministers have a law or government problem...Verses 15-17 is God addressing the Laodicean Church” (Ibid.).
If you are or have been in the Philadelphia Church of God, take time to examine other doctrines being imported into that organization. Really scrutinize and analyze what you are seeing—what has been or is being presented to you as “new revelations.” Be sure that you grasp the big picture of what is happening.
In light of what you have seen in previous sections, the reader is left to ponder the confusion, deception, error and outright ignorance of the PCG leadership—of even basic prophecy—reflected in the mere sampling that is this list!
Also, this list of errors will benefit more than just those who are in, or who were in, PCG. It is important to recognize that the nature of this list becomes its own statement for everyone outside this organization as well, regarding the allure and subtlety of the spreading leaven of false prophecy.
THE PCG EXPERIENCE – WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Most brethren in The Restored Church of God have sifted through one or more of the groups that splintered from the Worldwide Church of God. Many gravitated early toward the organization carrying the attractive name “Philadelphia Church of God.”
This fundamental question presents itself: How have so many been deceived into believing that PCG is the true Church of God? Can certain experiences there be used to ultimately serve the brethren from this point forward? Are there common potential areas of weakness that ex-PCG members should work on? If you have been in PCG, please do not be offended by what you read here. These things must be said to those who will hear.
Our Worst Problems
The very worst problems experienced by RCG have virtually all come from ex-PCG members who came among us. Initially appearing to be sincere, and perhaps having been genuinely so when they arrived, literally scores of people from this organization have sought outright to destroy this Work. This includes many who also later spent time in a variety of slivers that came from PCG.
While it is painful to report, I must say that in all my years in Christ’s ministry I have never before experienced such accusative, judgmental, arrogant, destructive, sometimes dysfunctional, and in some cases vicious behavior. Rather than being thankful for deliverance from such a brutal, blasphemous organization, so many have been programmed by false conditioning there to instead see themselves as especially discerning, uniquely insightful—unusually able to distinguish true doctrine from false, loyalty to Mr. Armstrong versus disloyalty, good from bad, etc. Worse, invariably no one was able to tell them otherwise.
While each organization has created attitudes in people that must be left behind as a result of anointing the eyes, ex-PCG brethren must address in advance of coming with us learned attitudes that are simply not welcome here. If you are considering The Restored Church of God after having been in this organization for any length of time, it is imperative that you read this section with yourself in mind.
Over time we had to accept that there are very few who come with us from PCG who really hold to the truth. The majority have been almost impossible to work with and have eventually left RCG. If you do not fully love the truth, please do not come with us. We have had some terrible experiences with brethren from PCG. They are so often unteachable and ungovernable. They are extremely picky and accusative. We have dealt with hundreds of them. Many simply cannot merge well into RCG.
After they come with us, they act as though they have special knowledge, and they burst with arrogance. If you decide to come with RCG, understand that we now have to see you as coming with a certain problem. Of course, we will be patient, loving and kind to you—if you permit us!—but consider long and hard whether you will be happy here.
Also understand that the longer individuals stay in PCG the more difficult it is to work with them. Those truly being brought by God will anoint their eyes and repent of wrong attitudes. They will fight their way through, and grow out of all old thinking. Understand that you can be an exception to what has been described here. Many have been!
A Deception From the Beginning
As the WCG was entering the apostasy, a pastor near Oklahoma City, who seemed to be standing up for the truth, departed in December, 1989. He formed a new organization, calling it the Philadelphia Church of God.
From that time, the early PCG was often compared internally to the Radio Church of God—an organization with “small beginnings.” It was an exciting time for many who viewed themselves as on the ground floor of an organization that would quickly expand in size and scope, and then flee to the Place of Safety.
Many who joined PCG at this time were happy to be a part of an organization standing up for the truth, supposedly having a headstart on the rest of the brethren. The leadership vehemently proclaimed that the PCG was the only group holding fast to the truths taught during the Philadelphian Era. But this was far from the case.
Those who went with PCG early on simply rebelled, often leaving God’s Church over pickiness rather than faithfulness to the truth. Think. The WCG was much less on track in the liberal 1970s than in 1989 when PCG’s leader left. However liberalized it had become, the WCG was still the Body of Christ in the 1970s, and it would have been wrong to leave. Ninety-five percent of those who left were never seen again. The point? Those from PCG considering RCG must understand what they left when they did—and what they joined in its place.
Many brethren, meaning those with the Spirit of God, found their way to this organization during this early period. The beginning years of the PCG were filled with excitement—the anticipation of being part of a short warning to “all the Laodiceans,” after which all PCG members would receive a reward of physical protection. It was even stated from the pulpit that this “short warning work” would probably only continue until 1997, a year that would mark the end of 6,000 years from the creation of man.
The first few years of this organization’s history were spent laying the groundwork for changes to come—all the while reassuring the congregation that the doctrines of PCG were to be exactly as had been established in the Philadelphian Era. The “Philadelphia standard” was to be maintained. The ministry also flattered the membership, convincing them that they were the “very elect” who “cannot be deceived.” This was proclaimed by misapplying Matthew 24:24. They were told often how special they were, how they were receiving knowledge others were not learning, how they were “God’s jewels” according to Malachi 3:17. This had the natural effect of puffing them up, of making them believe that they were better than everybody else, when all they were really doing was quietly growing in pride at an incredible rate, and to a phenomenal level.
Sermons focused on strong hierarchical government, on the importance of autocratic ministerial authority, on assaults against the “rebellious Laodiceans,” and finally on new prophecy or revelation that Mr. Armstrong could not have known. Brutal government was routinely practiced, and for the smallest even perceived “wrongs.” When terrible fear evidently occupied, and sometimes even preoccupied, large numbers, this should have been a warning signal. For these reasons and others, attentive spiritual eyes and ears should have recognized that something was not quite right, and that they were steadily moving further in the wrong direction. Ironically, while having been conditioned to think themselves able to see what so many in other organizations could not, it was the presence of blindness at a stunning level—perhaps the worst in all of Laodicea—that prevented such conclusions.
As time progressed into the mid- to late-1990s, new members continued to filter in from the WCG, as well as from other splinter groups. However, along with this second wave of ex-WCG members were many new attendees without any prior Church of God experience. This occurred simultaneously with an ever-growing emphasis on Gerald Flurry, his authority, and his place as an “oracle of God.” This leader began to proclaim himself to be an intercessor between man and God—as someone critical or necessary for everyone to be able to communicate with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
However difficult it may have been to realize at the time, this period saw much less importance given to established truth, and ever more emphasis placed on the leader’s so-called “new revelations.” The sandy foundation being constructed was preparing minds to accept what would have been unthinkable in the early years. Also, it is crucial to understand that, unlike the splinters and slivers, all of which are led by weak and compromised, but in some cases converted, leaders, PCG was being led by a very dark and different—but equally real!—spirit. And it was not the Spirit of God. In this way, those exiting PCG fight a much different battle than those leaving any other splinter or sliver. Their direct exposure to, and influence by, the god of this world makes their unlearning process different from others.
Here is how this influence entered: First, the leader assumed the office of a “prophet.” Then, he went on to boldly and presumptuously claim the title of “That Prophet,” as mentioned in John 1:21—an obvious reference to Jesus Christ. This subtle deception was introduced to congregations in the manner that outrageous lies usually are—incrementally over a prolonged period of time.
As the new millennium progressed, new members rarely had either WCG or splinter experience. The third wave of attendees was zealously loyal to the leader calling himself “That Prophet.” One of the prerequisites for attending services in the PCG began to include a prospective member’s willingness to enthusiastically accept this blasphemous false doctrine.
Next, the blasphemy accelerated, as the leader quickly took more and more divine titles to himself.
With prospective members being expected to accept and believe such outrageous teachings, why did PCG appear to enjoy such success early on?
PCG’s Success Explained
In general terms, PCG was catapulted to apparent success in the 1990s because it formed early in the apostasy when few other real options existed. The PCG seemed to provide a refuge to many who were seeking sanctuary from the apostates in the WCG. PCG appeared to offer brethren continuity in their lives, when available alternatives were markedly disconnected from the way of life practiced during the Philadelphian Era.
PCG grew rapidly to perhaps 7,000 members (including children) sometime in the mid- to late-1990s and held steady at or near that number for a time. Many will recall Romans 11:4 being used repeatedly to excite the congregations to believe in their special place among these 7,000! The flight to a place of protection had to be near, they reasoned.
But the exodus to this place of protection never commenced for PCG. In fact, in the mid-1990s, the enthusiastically embraced Jordanian project ended in disgrace as PCG was expelled as an unwelcome guest from that Western-friendly country.
As PCG prophecy became ever more muddled and outrageous, membership began to decline. At the time of this writing, PCG has about 4,000 or less in attendance. Those of you who came from this organization are of the fortunate group that survived not only an apostasy, but also an equally dangerous fraud. Many who exit PCG do not survive the experience. They have become spiritually “ruined,” people unable ever again to demonstrate either the love of God or an ability to trust Christ to lead His Church. Perhaps some others were simply not converted. However, many converted brethren who leave PCG find themselves wandering among the splinters, or excusing themselves from their responsibilities entirely by choosing to stay home.
By making the move from PCG into The Restored Church of God, you have taken a great leap toward recovery. One of the first steps is to recognize that the PCG experience negatively impacted all of you. But what areas of your character need the most attention?
We will see that there are admirable qualities in every former Philadelphia Church of God member. But, to recover from having become too big in their own sight, we will also analyze some of the common problems many have been afflicted with after experiencing the delusion peculiar to PCG.
If you were a PCG member in the early- to mid-1990s, you can probably recall a high level of enthusiasm among all in the organization. You probably embraced the new organization with tremendous zeal, while being thankful for finally being free of the apostates in WCG. You may have thanked God that there was a place to go—an alternative to the sprint back to Protestantism.
I have sometimes reflected on the similarities between the zeal during this period and our current experience in RCG. However, a deeper analysis quickly reveals stark and critical differences.
I have come to realize that much of people’s zeal was misdirected. Let me explain by asking a question to former PCG members who came out of WCG. What was the most common, natural human emotion engendered in you when listening to the angry, loud, bombastic sermons delivered by the PCG leader? Did you experience inner peace? How about joy?
A very common emotion felt by all during this period of zeal was anger—specifically, anger directed at the apostates, but also at the Laodiceans who were lumped together with them! Many of us probably wondered occasionally if these attacks could really be from the true God.
However, we continued for years because, quite frankly, many of us were very angry ourselves at the WCG leadership—especially the senior WCG leadership—after having been betrayed by them. The self-proclaimed “righteous” anger many of us experienced was used by the devil in an attempt to enslave us in this organization. But Satan also used our need for a sanctuary or refuge. We were excited to find a place to continue in the way of life that we practiced. We had finally arrived at a place to fellowship with like minds, in unity—in agreement—or so we thought.
Many might remember Mr. Armstrong’s mother’s favorite scripture, Psalm 133:1, being used repeatedly by speakers to describe PCG. But, while “unity” was internally promoted as another PCG quality, discord and conflict became obvious.
Soundness of Mind
Many in other splinter groups viewed PCG disdainfully, or described the leadership as unbalanced or even insane. This tended to unify us in anger toward them: “What could a bunch of doomed, lukewarm Laodiceans know anyway?” we might have reasoned.
This is not to say that PCG’s critics were justified in broad-brushing all in the organization. These attacks only served to increase the indignation and anger in the membership toward those on the outside, and actually galvanized them, contributing to the internal presumption that PCG was nearly perfect and completely sound. As the years passed, reality indicated just the opposite—PCG as a group was becoming less sensible and balanced. But these changes were often subtle, difficult to see at first.
Many times, whenever a leader, such as an elder or deacon, departed or was disfellowshipped from that organization, he would be viciously attacked and demonized from the pulpit. Outrageous lies would be told about him in sermons in order to convince the membership of how “evil” he was. Deceived, many members would conclude, “No wonder he’s no longer with us.”
The retaliatory posture of the leadership contributed to the delusion of the membership. Real and imagined persecution from outside justified and encouraged the fight against “the Laodiceans” and the world. “Christ’s servants were persecuted and attacked in every age,” went the reasoning. The members were told many times that their leader’s counterattacks were, in reality, acts of love provided in the hope that the recipients would repent! Most did not recognize the folly and un-Christian nature of these attacks.
Of course, an attack from the PCG leader did not even require provocation from someone outside the organization. Seemingly, anything could set him off.
We knew well II Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” We might have observed how the leadership seemed to really enjoy their interpretation of “power,” and we were told that “love” was agape, and was usually akin to the “tough love” spoken of in the world. We also knew we had “sound minds”—right?
Although you were part of an unsound organization, your overall soundness of mind may have been preserved, but this would have been in spite of PCG, not as a result of it. But it is almost certain that you did not exit entirely unscathed!
While this may seem obvious, we tend to ignore or even justify unsound attributes when they are found in our character. One of the assigned tasks each of us has is to isolate, understand and overcome acquired unsound qualities.
The Works of the Flesh
PCG members, although required to submit absolutely to certain points of administration (especially those concerning the leader), often tend to be somewhat independent. Remember, many left WCG early—and often on their own accord. While this quality is not negative in and of itself, it can cause some to be difficult to work with in the framework of organization. Therefore, we must ensure that we are not prone to “strife” and “seditions,” feeling “we left so early because we see things more clearly. We can help the leadership of RCG stay on track.” History has shown that those ordained in PCG have been the very worst part of the problem.
After witnessing too much mercy for outright sin in the WCG during the apostasy, many went to the opposite extreme. They exhibited little tolerance for imperfection in others, often overlooking many areas in which they could improve themselves. However, Christ admonishes us to be concerned with our own imperfections and to overcome them, and not be overly concerned with the faults in others (Matt. 7:3-5).
Many PCG members unconsciously take on some of the characteristics of the leader—even after departing in disgust. Let’s strive to identify these un-Christian qualities in ourselves and eliminate them quickly!
Ex-members may be comfortable with regimentation and strict discipline. However, this by no means would include everyone. Again, many suffering the abuses of badly administered hierarchical government may react by rejecting the government of God altogether!
Be extremely careful not to drift into that mindset.
A Few Specific Guidelines to Effect Change
Doctrines have been muddled and changed throughout the splinter groups. Although PCG purports to practice all of the same doctrines given by God to the Church, many exceptions are administered, with other teachings now simply ignored. The purpose here is not to point out specific errors, but to encourage all who have come from PCG to study diligently.
Do not assume that you know all that you used to know! “Study to show yourself approved…” (II Tim. 2:15)! Without doubt, there will be certain points of doctrine that you will have to re-establish in your mind as you continue through your Christian walk.
Much of what the deceiver leading PCG teaches is outrageous and easily identified as heresy. However, some of his error is more subtle and difficult to expose. Therefore, one must re-examine the third of the Bible that is prophecy and confirm that such retained understanding is indeed God’s understanding.
Anger management is one of the first orders of business for anyone seriously considering removing the ill effects of the PCG experience. This may be difficult—and many may not even recognize their internal anger until too late.
No one likes to be taken advantage of or lied to. PCG members directed much of their anger at the brethren in other splinters and the apostates after being defrauded. The spiritual trauma can be enormous for those who discover they have been taken advantage of and lied to again!
After leaving PCG, many have fallen spiritually dead, throwing the truth away as a result of their disgust and anger toward carnal men who distorted and misapplied that truth.
The result has been that many have experienced increased disgust with people in general, and leaders in particular. Our steady zeal for the truth can wane or even wax cold if bitterness sets in—if cynicism is permitted to take over. We can begin to see only imperfect men, and ultimately lose contact with the true God.
We should always be diligent in doctrine and conduct—and have certain high expectations of our leaders. However, distrust, followed by extreme distrust, can easily change into outright paranoia and become unworkable! The seriousness of this human tendency, so prevalent in this age, cannot be over-emphasized. All people battle selfish, carnal nature on this issue in this confused and decadent age nearly devoid of competent and selfless leadership!
Let’s root this out before the root of bitterness takes us out!
PCG Experience Viewed as “Glass Half-Full”
In spite of all these assaults working against God-like character, there are many benefits to having been a part of PCG—one being the experience and maturity gained. This can be used practically when interacting with others anywhere—but especially inside God’s true Church and with those in other splinters.
What All Brethren Can Learn From the PCG Experience
The Restored Church of God has a significant percentage of brethren who came out of various splinter groups, each one having its own unique history, works, personality, character traits, attitudes—and strengths and weaknesses.
For example, the United Church of God (UCG) has thousands of members, with the largest ministry of all groups, and is known for its “love” and “tolerance.” And yet, this group continually compromises with and liberalizes doctrines and traditions. The Living Church of God is generally doctrinally a little more accurate than UCG, but it too has watered down many doctrines and also remains obsessed with miracles. Likewise, PCG has unique problems.
Regardless of your splinter background—or even if you have never been in a splinter—we can all learn from the PCG experience. Survivors of that organization can bring with them strengths and weaknesses that can teach us to stay on track toward the kingdom.
Diligent, Faithful and Loyal
In the late 1980s, it became evident that Mr. Armstrong’s successor was changing doctrine. Feeling betrayed, the first wave of brethren to leave the WCG saw PCG as a safe haven—a group upholding the truths that God had brought to the Church through Mr. Armstrong, including the same form of government. These early PCG members sincerely wanted to follow Christ’s instruction to “hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown” (Rev. 3:11).
And they were so disgusted with the WCG apostates that many were willing to tolerate what appeared to be questionable and quirky doctrines found in PCG’s book Malachi’s Message—the core of that organization’s beliefs. The apparent glue that held the membership together was its commitment to Church “government.”
The leadership of PCG indoctrinated its members with an extensive education that overemphasized the form of government. Void of the spiritual aspects of God’s true Church government, members were conditioned to worship the PCG form of government, which was built on the assumption that top-down government automatically qualifies as being from God. Yet, consider the Roman Catholic Church, which has the correct governmental structure, but without doctrinal truth! Obviously, the correct form or pattern of government is not enough.
Remember this crucial definition of the one true Church: “…the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15). God’s government administers on the purity and love of the truth, as well as the truth about what constitutes the love of God: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18).
Despite having been taught the wrong emphasis, true PCG survivors are known to be faithful, responsive and loyal to government in the Church. They diligently follow instructions, without wavering or excuse. This is unusual in today’s lukewarm age.
There is something else that makes ex-PCG members unique in the era of liberalism and compromise: They have been trained to give, to sacrifice for the Work of God. They seem less needful of reminders to send God’s tithes and offerings. As a result, they are generally more faithful in their support of the Work than those who have come out of other splinters.
The earliest members of PCG believed they were the first to see the doctrinal changes in WCG, and, as a result, many proudly wore this as a badge of distinction. Also, because of their courage and faith to leave the apostasy early on, members were conditioned to be “watchdogs” for the Church.
Compared to the doctrinal confusion and compromise of UCG, and how it destroyed any sense of proper Church government, it was easy for PCG members to feel secure that its own group employed the correct form of government.
They also compared themselves to the “Presiding Evangelist” leading LCG. It became apparent to them that this leader secretly felt that he was to be the Elijah, but would not explicitly admit this, to avoid offending tithepayers who believed Mr. Armstrong had fulfilled this prophecy. For many in PCG, this double standard reinforced the belief that their own organization was the only one in which God was working.
PCG came to see the splinter groups and the WCG as the Laodiceans. This appeared to make PCG the only possible choice of being the one true Church. The PCG leadership encouraged its members to feel spiritually superior to all brethren outside their group. This gave birth to a dangerous attitude of “us” vs. “them”—“Philadelphians” vs. “Laodiceans”—and created an unbiblical and spiritually unhealthy atmosphere that bred pride, arrogance and self-righteousness. (This is what often spills over into RCG.)
Members were made to feel that they were crowned the “very elect” who could not be deceived, who were courageous enough to stand up against an “overgrown bully”—the Worldwide Church of God. They were collectively convinced that they were God’s favorites over the thousands of spiritually-depleted Laodiceans. PCG members soon found themselves trapped in a deceitful snare of favoritism—and mistreatment.
Ironically, while the PCG leaders cunningly puffed up their members, they also systematically abused them. They did not tolerate any questions about their leader’s “revelations” and “new understandings.” Questioning new teaching was tantamount to calling that man’s integrity into question. Therefore, any hint of doubt was grounds for being viewed as a heretic. In effect, PCG employed a “no-tolerance policy,” which quickly degenerated into systematic governmental abuse. Members had to learn how to maneuver through a maze of constant fear and suspicion. Many lives were, in fact, spiritually ruined.
Yet, the few who managed to survive this ongoing nightmare learned how to endure distress, setbacks and affliction, and they have proven to be unusually faithful, loyal and zealous. This is largely because they had already laid deep roots years earlier, back in WCG when it was on track.
With a few exceptions, those who were baptized in PCG—and had never been in God’s Church when it was “on track”—seldom escape PCG’s prophetic junk and doctrinal confusion.
Many brethren have left PCG harboring deeply-ingrained resentment toward their former leaders—and yet unknowingly reflect the same overbearing characteristics of that leadership! Having been exposed to wrong conduct for several years, they have been subconsciously programmed to behave just as rudely. Many have become loud, aggressive and insulting—oblivious to how others perceive their actions. Such ingrained behavior can only be conquered and rooted out through sincere, conscientious effort—and through sometimes much prayer and fasting.
Proving All Things
PCG was built largely upon prophetic teachings, although its take on prophecy is largely unbiblical—inconsistent with what Mr. Armstrong once taught and what Scripture reveals. False doctrines and twisted prophetic “understandings” so widely taught by some splinters today often originate from PCG.
Most who have been in PCG for any prolonged length of time have neglected to continue “proving all things,” having been admonished to become grounded only in church literature. To investigate or question the scriptural validity of “new revelations” is seen as being disloyal to government.
Those truly called of God should work out their own salvation with fear and trembling—not out of fear of an oppressive government, but rather from proper fear and respect of God. The best way to rebound from those years of suppression and fear is to exercise the liberty to prove all things and even ask questions when in doubt—without fear of being reproved for sincerely seeking help.
One effect of having been in PCG is suspicion toward any leader who has a strong degree of determination. Some confuse this with the dictatorial approach of their former leader, and conclude that they prefer a “softer” approach toward government. Some even choose to “stay at home.”
When the Church was on track, it followed Mr. Armstrong’s leadership because he taught the full truth. This is what made its government valid. And this must be the goal of those who determine to endure to the end! He was certainly a strong and determined leader!
We all must wake up and get rid of the excess baggage we may have brought with us, regardless of our former associations. This is the way to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives.
Remember, we are all admonished to hold to what we have. The full truth is precious and continuing the Work of God is all-important, and both should be recognized as such. Scars of abuse and betrayal are no excuse to wallow in self-pity. Instead, we must press on, rejoicing in the truth while allowing no man to steal our crown.
Perhaps the main benefit of having been a part of PCG is that we were not at home in our living rooms believing we could continue in the faith by ourselves. While some doctrines may have been neglected, or observed in somewhat of a slipshod manner, most were at least noted and, to a degree, practiced. People who venture out on their own quickly fall away from truth. This is one reason God exhorts and commands His people not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25). Tragically, thousands have done this, and this includes many who left PCG and came to this end.
There is little that can be achieved in this world, or among God’s people, without organization. Those in PCG did not get sidetracked on alternate forms of government. This knowledge can be used to benefit RCG by recognizing the value of visible organization—and supporting what God is doing.
Most who came through PCG observed a poor administration using a form of the government of God. We have probably observed—and experienced—abuse by selfish and incompetent leaders. Determine to be different! If given responsibility or authority, determine never to abuse this charge! Always err on the side of compassion when dealing with the people of God.
Most of the doctrines of God remained intact within PCG. The gravest errors were so-called “new revelation” added, not doctrines taken from our understanding. This can be a great asset! A former PCG member is not starting completely from scratch when it comes to understanding the true doctrines of God.
For some, certain positive Spokesman Club experiences may have occurred while in PCG. Hopefully, many men took advantage of this training while a part of that organization, and can apply what was learned—perhaps not immediately because of our size, but certainly in the future. Such training is invaluable in developing the whole, complete, Christian man.
Finally, perhaps more than any other organization, PCG did not drift into the social liberalism that has affected the human family in the western world, as well as most of the splinters in this age. Proper roles of men and women were encouraged. Husbands were instructed to provide for and lead their families (I Tim. 5:8), wives were to submit to their husbands’ authority and to be homemakers, if possible (Eph. 5:22; Titus 2:5), and children were expected to be in subjection to both parents.
Do not take this knowledge of family for granted. It carries incalculable value. Many among God’s people have lost much, if not most, of the basic understanding of the God-plane relationship between a husband and a wife. Determine to build your family on a solid foundation, and to be a shining light.
In one sense, the PCG experience does not generally have to be reflected upon as being different from experiences in other splinters. You must identify strengths and weaknesses in your past, and root out imperfections (Matt. 5:48).
Repetition of crucial points can be helpful. The book would not be complete unless we repeat and expand (and add) some few points contained in this and earlier sections. Summarizing certain elements of what has been covered will be helpful. All readers of the Splinter Explanation Packet, however, should recognize that many of the points here are helpful to many others besides those who have been in The Philadelphia Church of God. Do not simply dismiss what will be covered here as things that pertain to “those people.”
Over the years, many dedicated brethren have come with us from PCG. Many of these begin excited, zealous and ready to move on. But, in time, sometimes quickly, not a small percentage of them turn to nit-picking, criticizing, and outright accusing the leadership of the Church—unconsciously falling back on their unseen PCG conditioning and “training.” This problem has proved so severe among many that at least half of those from PCG found “reasons” to leave—the majority of these were from among those who came in the early years of RCG. This was before we had sufficient literature in place to make clear in advance who and what—and all that—we are. Strangely, many of these were willing to tolerate an almost endless amount of abuse and nonsense from the PCG ministry and from its headquarters in order to remain in a false church, but seemed only too quick to leave RCG at the slightest perceived “problem” once they had come back into the true Church and Body of Christ, and come under the true government of God.
Strive to be as absolutely thorough as possible in your analysis of all that is at stake as you decide whether you will come to The Restored Church of God. Read the last paragraph and the next paragraphs of this final section very, very carefully, trying as hard as humanly possible—and with God’s help—to admit to yourself where and to what degree you have been affected by what you have experienced in your years in PCG.
Recognize that these years simply changed you in ways that other splinters did not experience in the same way. The betrayal was more intense in some regards than that which occurred in the WCG. (This is largely because you entered PCG with the hope that you had not only been “delivered” from the false doctrine there, but you had been shown “special” things that the other splinters—generally also those who left later than you—were not seeing.) While your feelings will almost certainly tell you that you have not been as affected as you think, the fact remains that this unconscious “reorientation” has happened to thousands—and these same thousands have had great difficulty being able to recognize it.
As you make your final decision, if not done already, thoroughly consider all that you are (re)setting your hand to do (Luke 9:62). Be sure that you have fully come to grips with how PCG literally trained its members—through an endless array of what could only be called attack sermons—to look down upon those in “all the Laodicean groups,” even teaching them that they were “at war with the Laodiceans.” Then recognize that this training is hidden in multiple layers within you—until, again with God’s help, you train it out of yourself. Remind yourself that you are returning to everything the Church was when Mr. Armstrong was alive and the Worldwide Church of God was completely on track.
This tendency has had another unseen effect on many of those with a PCG background. It has caused some to unconsciously elevate themselves to the role of steering or “coaching” Headquarters with little ways to “make things better.” Be careful of the very wrong tendency to point out how literature or sermons could have or should have included this, that or the other point.
Finishing the Work
First, the true Work of God, in all of its component parts, is continuing here. All of the splinters have gotten confused about what is God’s Work, and, in some cases, whether that Work was even to continue past Mr. Armstrong’s lifetime. The Work that Mr. Armstrong did is the same Work that is being continued in RCG—and in a tremendous way within the understanding that we are the ones fulfilling Revelation 10:11, the ones truly “prophesying again.” All of Mr. Armstrong’s references to the laymember’s part in God’s Work, in MYSTERY OF THE AGES and The Incredible Human Potential, among others, apply once again to all of God’s people.
Be sure that you are clear about the fact that the “work” that PCG was doing (particularly in its emphasis in spreading its “new revelations”) was false, and in no sense the true Work of God. While this has brought confusion to a few, a return to the participation in God’s true Work, exactly as the entire Church once did it, should bring perhaps some of the greatest inspiration that you could experience. (Of course, the SEP explains the role and duty of the Messenger to the seventh era, which could not have applied to Mr. Armstrong who was the Messenger to the sixth era.)
Many who leave The Restored Church of God claim to be convicted about doctrine, but so readily seem to abandon the need to preach the kingdom of God to the world and to warn modern Israel. These almost invariably choose one of several tiny groups asserting that Mr. Armstrong finished the Work in 1986. Be very sure that you get all of this straight in your mind before arrival—and, if you are here, review THE WORK OF GOD book until it is embedded—hardwired!—deep in your mind.
Second, the restored truth is being taught to the Church and preached to the world, and this is made possible because all of the literature from the past—and more—has been re-written and is once again fulfilling the purpose that God, through Mr. Armstrong, intended. Some few from PCG (and this is not entirely unique to those just from that organization) have gotten confused about exactly what it is that Mr. Armstrong may have taught on this, that or the other point. Some have felt that Restored has been wrong because they had come to accept as having come from Mr. Armstrong what was, in fact, a wrong teaching that PCG either invented or never had straight. Some have been willing to recognize that they were wrong and that our understanding of what Mr. Armstrong taught is correct, but some few refused to believe that they had ingested wrong ideas, and, thinking that they were most perfectly “holding fast,” could not be brought back to proper understanding so that they could really hold fast.
Third, fellowship is once again wholesome among God’s people as the brethren walk together in the unity that the entire Church once enjoyed. You will notice almost immediately that there is a wonderful happiness, joy and peace that radiates from the lives of people with whom you are now meeting. While not yet perfect in these areas, and recognizing that we are all striving to continuously grow and be more like Christ, this is generally what those who are with us reflect. (In fact, when prayer requests are made, brethren invariably report, no matter where they are in the world, that the mail and email response is beyond anything they have previously experienced.)
It Takes Time
We recognize that it takes time, sometimes much time, to completely recover from having been betrayed in the way that PCG brethren were—and this means slowly learning not to talk continually about “old war wounds” and all of the “terrible things” being done to God’s people “back there in the PCG.”
Of course, many who are with us were never in the Worldwide Church of God or even one splinter, let alone several. This means that they are in their first love, and are “on fire” for the truth as the way all of God’s people were when they heard it for the first time. We must be extremely careful about what we discuss from the past, and to not make negative things the focus of conversation, because “newer ears” are listening—and this means that you could be offering to new “babes” a confusing example of true Christianity, and this coming from those who should be the most mature among God’s people. Newer people simply cannot relate to or benefit from these awful experiences of the past, and are not edified by hearing more than a very little bit of this kind of thing, and even then it should come with helpful qualification. In this regard, be careful not to isolate within RCG into an “ex-PCG clique” because these love to relive the past through endless horror stories (that, sadly, were mostly true). The Church that Jesus Christ promised to build can never have “a church within the Church.” This cannot and must not ever be.
On the other hand, former PCG members should not meditate on the time spent in that organization as completely negative and distasteful, or a complete waste of years, but as a period in which those who went there experienced some of life’s—and Christianity’s—most critical lessons. But this is only true to the degree you recognize that these lessons applied not just to others—but to you.
Government, Instruction and Correction
Fourth, God’s true government is in place, with Christ the Head of His Body and leading His Church. God has given government to His Church to protect and preserve it as well as to guide and direct it in all that it must do, including a host of judgments and administrative decisions that will continue to be necessary for the rest of the age. Tell yourself that this government will correct you—probably indirectly through sermons or articles, but there is also a chance that this could come in a personal way, and when you may be least expecting it. This is the time to focus on Job 5:17-18, Hebrews 12:6-12, and both Proverbs 3:11-12 and 9:8-10.
Remember that correction is inseparable from true Christianity. Since all of God’s true saints are in preparation—thorough training!—for not just the relatively brief Wedding Supper, but for positions of rulership, possessing real power, tell yourself that you should desire and even crave the right kind of instruction and correction, which is administered in love by those you have learned to be true ministers of Jesus Christ. Be careful that the slightest hint from them that you are wrong on a point does not become an equation with “they are lording it over the flock”—and “this is the same as it was in PCG, and therefore could not be God’s government”—and everything gets thrown aside as you suddenly bolt out of the Church over what is often seen to be almost nothing by those not involved.
Remember, in this regard, that Romans 8:7—hostility to government—is common to all human beings, and this facet of human nature does not completely disappear until the resurrection.
Determine, as Paul wrote, to “forget those things which are behind” and to “reach forth unto those things which are before.” Paul then described himself, saying, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” finally adding this: “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded” (Phil. 3:13-15). Periodically remind yourself that the Christian’s central goal is to become “perfect” in Christ, and we must remember to be “thus minded”—and that none of us were born anything close to the finished product God intended when He called us. Remember, God calls Himself the “Potter” and us the “clay” (Isa. 64:8; 45:9). It is most crucial that those with a PCG background continually remind themselves to look forward toward the end of their calling—eternal salvation—instead of at the real or perceived shortcomings of those around them. As explained, this includes their view of RCG as a whole.
As the age draws to a close, we must diligently “redeem the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16) and, with God’s guidance, work painstakingly to improve our character.
This final section has focused primarily on works of the flesh and attitudes of mind that need to be overcome. However, do not forget the spiritual fruits that God expects in those He has called and chosen: “…love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23). Stay focused on replacing any acquired bad habits and qualities with these God-like traits, and you will both heal and move forward with renewed inspiration and zeal.
Excitement—this time for the right reasons—truly awaits you in The Restored Church of God should you make the decision to move forward with all that you have learned in this book and from the rest of the Splinter Explanation Packet.