You have reached the portion of our website explaining the apostasy of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Start here if you do NOT have a WCG background.
- “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?
- I Will Send Elijah to Restore All Things
- 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
I Will Send Elijah to Restore All Things
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Table of Contents
You are holding one of the most important pieces of literature you could read. It is written with a tone of urgency and pulls no punches. While it could have been a long “scholarly” book, taking an academic, “even-handed” tone—appearing neutral until the conclusion—it is not, because I am not neutral on this matter. Since the evidence on one side is overwhelming, I do not need to be, and such an approach to this subject would look foolish. Soft, smooth, neutral messages are left to the many others willing to deliver them, even on issues of monumental importance.
Following the apostates, certain splinter leaders, in effect, became enemies of the understanding that the entire Church once shared. Over time, their assault on Herbert W. Armstrong’s role has become clear. Since there is no avoiding reference to them, certain leaders are silhouetted or named here.
In 2000, I wrote the booklet Is “That Prophet” Alive Today? (now a book with a similar title), profiling a particular leader who had taken to himself multiple offices the Bible says belong only to Jesus Christ or the Father. The following quote, under the subhead “No Desire to Attack,” explained a dilemma I faced in writing that booklet. Faced with a similar dilemma here, I have decided to include that explanation:
“True ministers strive not to attack. They are for the truth rather than against people—and there is a big difference. I have determined to actively resist and teach against any false doctrines that are deceiving people among the splinters. But this subject presents me with a unique problem, requiring 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 attacking the particular men teaching these errors. But consider! What if the heresy 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, but I cannot address his error, or try to help those he is deceiving, because I would also be attacking him, not just his heresy.’ The problem could go further. If a man claimed to be Moses, Elijah, one of the Two Witnesses or another great servant of God, must we give him a ‘free pass’ because, in dispelling such an outrageous idea, 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? What if he asserted himself to be Christ? The question looms even larger. You see the point.
“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). I am doing 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 am under no illusion. This book “That Prophet” will evoke a ferocious attack against me personally. 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 anymore than you. But my job is to help God’s people make it into His kingdom. If I can help one person, even at some personal expense, it is worth it!
“Do not be duped into believing that if a minister fights for God’s sheep (John 10:11-13) when they are being deluded by a leader elevating himself into extraordinary offices 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 this doctrine from the man who teaches it! I hope that you understand what is at stake.”
Much more is at stake within the “Elijah issue” than most even begin to comprehend—without help. Few subjects seem to inherently carry the potential to so greatly inspire or so deeply anger. Hopefully, this short book will elicit the first response in many, but it will certainly provoke the latter in others.
The Restored Church of God (RCG) has created all of the tools necessary to help people who love the full restored truth of God to understand the many events surrounding the apostasy. All uncompromising brethren must know where they can have that truth returned to them. This volume is one of ten pieces of literature written specifically for that purpose. (The others are listed at the back, with The True Church – One Organization, or Many?, “Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People, The Government of God – Understanding Offices and Duties, The Work of God – Its Final Chapter! and Why The Restored Church of God? – Should You Join?as the five crucial centerpieces overarching the others.)
This book must be read in its entirety. No portion, chapter or group of chapters within it represents the full picture. It contains important material that steadily builds upon itself. Therefore, it should be read as is—rather than by hopping around to what may be favorite areas of interest. Also, if you are going to take the time to read it, do so with an open mind. Otherwise, you will only hurt yourself. If you read looking for “loose bricks,” you will probably “find” some. In any event, you will face an enormous decision after reading what is explained here—one that cannot be avoided.
Consider whether to proceed or to put it down now!
I must add a word to all those reading this book who are learning God’s truth for the first time. The Elijah issue is vitally important doctrine. But it has become a matter of great controversy among God’s people. As you prove God’s truth, and the location of His true Church, you cannot escape addressing this crucial issue. When you understand this truth, many other things fall into place, making the overall understanding of events, in both the last century and the years ahead, much easier!
May God help you understand and internalize the towering Elijah prophecy!
Chapter One – Framing the Question and Conflict
In the fall of 1933, an extraordinary prophecy, carrying enormous implications, began to be fulfilled. It was completed a little over 52 years later, in early 1986. Over 150,000 people once understood it. Yet, few of these people now seem to even remember this prophecy—though we will see that it is arguably the third most important in the Bible, behind the First and Second Comings of Christ.
God called Herbert W. Armstrong in the fall of 1926 and he was baptized six months later. He was ordained by the Church of God in 1931, and God used him to begin the Philadelphian era of the Church in October of 1933.
Mr. Armstrong led the Worldwide Church of God (formerly the Radio Church of God until 1968) from 1934 until his death in 1986. Over the course of his long ministry, hundreds of millions heard his voice and read his literature. The scope and power of that ministry was unprecedented in 2,000 years of New Testament Church history—and in fact in all history!
Over time, God revealed, through this man, hundreds of true doctrines, which had been lost over the centuries. In a clear and powerful way, until his death, he also warned of terrible national calamities prophesied for the modern nations descended from ancient Israel. Even though he came under extraordinary attack throughout his life, he never allowed this to deter him. Although Mr. Armstrong is gone, the huge impact of his ministry and God’s warning through him still resonate—and, more than ever, so do the relentless attacks against him and what he taught.
False Leaders, Then Confusing Disagreement
In the years after Mr. Armstrong’s death, false leaders captured the corporate Church and ceased to believe and teach all of the doctrines revealed through him. Approximately 75% of the Church completely departed from the truth, with the remaining 25% scattering into various splinters holding to differing amounts of the truth. Most agreed on certain basic doctrines, but disagreed on many others. The problem is best defined in this way:
While most agreed that they disagreed with Mr. Armstrong on various doctrines, they could not agree on where they disagreed. Because of this, thousands found themselves no longer able to walk together (Amos 3:3) in the unity the Church once enjoyed. As a result, they scattered into many organizations—where they could meet with others of generally similar belief.
The Elijah Controversy Appears
One of the largest disagreements regards whether Mr. Armstrong fulfilled the role of the final “Elijah”—foretold to come prior to the Day of the Lord and the Return of Christ. Jesus prophesied that this man would “restore all things” and, of course, this means to the Church of God at the end of the age. (Chapter Two examines the actual prophecy.) If Mr. Armstrong was this man, then all of the truths that he taught must be retained—held fast. The implications for any who reject his role, after seeing the proofs, are tremendous!
This book examines, in detail, why this is so—and why many have chosen to reject the fulfillment.
Sadly, so many who declare that they want to “hold fast to the truth” have exempted this profoundly great doctrine. They seem able to recognize that all of the other established doctrines suffered the assault of the apostates’ deceit, while thinking the “Elijah understanding” was never really part of the “sound doctrine” the Church once taught. Another possibility is that many have come to foolishly believe it is not the kind of understanding that is vulnerable to deceit. While this seems unlikely, it is more likely that most simply see the Elijah prophecy as something open to opinion and speculation—one person’s thinking is as good as another.
Who Started It?
Nearly all who left the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) unwittingly absorbed and carried, hidden in their “baggage,” false doctrines taught to them by the apostates. As a result, the apostates still control them where they now reside!
Actually, it was a certain renowned “Dr.” in Pasadena who long believed and privately taught to any who would listen that one of the Two Witnesses, NOT Mr. Armstrong, would be the final Elijah. In fact, most today have no idea that Herman Hoeh, now deceased, believed this! During the apostasy, this man went on to accept an avalanche of other false doctrines. Although he never made it out of the WCG (but is said to have quietly led the underground “resistance” there until his death)—his false theory did! Certain ministerial “followers,” Harold Smith chief among them, still privately expound his “wisdom” from their homes in the splinters and slivers. In turn, these followers have trained their own disciples in his false counter-theory. Several followers have since helped to successfully discredit Mr. Armstrong’s role by continuing to spread the “Dr.’s” theory to the majority there.
Ask: Would God use a largely apostate evangelist—no matter his long seniority, ordination dating to 1952—to expose Mr. Armstrong’s supposed “error” on the Elijah issue?
So many cannot grasp the overarching significance of this understanding, and its relationship to the entire apostasy—and, we will learn, the whole world! This is largely because most never recognized the full meaning of the Elijah understanding in the first place. Even the Jews’ terribly misguided belief about the final Elijah is not as mixed-up as is the wrong thinking of many confused brethren.
Some brethren do seem to understand at least a little of the significance of identifying who fulfilled this role. But whether it can be proven that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah is certainly a question in the minds of thousands. Speculation and opinions run rampant on this subject, having caused a virtual “cottage industry” of ideas and discussions to appear, primarily attempting to debunk Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment. Some counter-understanding is poorly conceived and some is absolutely ludicrous. Nearly all of it is full of deceit. I heard a 2001 sermon, which received wide distribution, attacking those who correctly believe and teach this doctrine, virtually labeling them as false prophets. Having become blind to the grave danger of rejecting the Church’s previous understanding, large numbers seem willing to believe that Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment was little more than a theory—an interesting possibility. Again, we will carefully examine the scope of this danger later.
Those who have become confused on this doctrine generally fall into four categories. We will also examine a fifth group that is not confused, and learn why.
The First Group
The first category consists of those who have rejected this doctrine, for whatever reason. They may or may not have made up their minds in a permanent way, but, at this time, they do not accept this understanding. These people are usually victims of either one of two particularly cunning deceivers who have carefully crafted the “case” against Mr. Armstrong’s Elijah role.
The single greatest active opponent of this truth, Roderick Meredith, an evangelist leading the Living Church of God (LCG), the second largest splinter, was disfellowshipped in 1979-80 by Mr. Armstrong for over eight months. We will see that his thinking is full of deceit, incredibly bad logic and poor scriptural understanding. Also, his private resentment for what he felt Mr. Armstrong unjustly did to him fuels his actions.
This man is fooling many trusting people because he continually states that he “loves Mr. Armstrong,” and “we honor Mr. Armstrong.” The WCG false leaders and all the splinter leaders, who themselves teach many false doctrines, always assert that they, too, “love Mr. Armstrong,” and they all regularly “kiss his tomb” (Matt. 23:29) to prove it.
Understand! The pope, Billy Graham and about everyone else would say that they “love Mr. Armstrong.” Not even the devil would attempt to deceive you by starting with the words “I hate Mr. Armstrong,” or even “I do not like Mr. Armstrong.” Most splinter leaders often add, “He was a fine man” or “He was, or probably was, an apostle”—before they proceed to tell you why he was wrong about various things. They understand that their chance to pull you into wrong doctrine and thinking is much greater if they can appear to respect and generally agree with Mr. Armstrong.
God’s enemies always attack His greatest servants, while loudly asserting they are not doing this. Wake up to this and think about it as you read this book. Then consider your leaders!
Invariably, those who no longer believe that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah have accepted many additional doctrinal errors. This book explains why losing the Elijah understanding was the door into Laodicea. The direct connection between this understanding and holding fast will be plainly demonstrated later.
Those who are part of the first category generally constitute the United Church of God (UCG) and the Living Church of God, the two largest splinters. While most in these two organizations will probably never awaken (or re-awaken) to the importance of the Elijah understanding, some will! Many in category one will yet have an opportunity to come to their senses—with God’s help—if they “anoint their eyes” as Christ instructed (Rev. 3:18).
Actually, it is the faulty thinking of this first group—specifically LCG—that brought me to conclude I must write this volume. I decided I could no longer allow the clever “logic” of false teachers to go unchallenged. Far too much is at stake for thousands of people. This meant being forced to address the deception on this crucial issue in a way that goes beyond my four earlier “Elijah” sermons.
It is my hope that this book will hit you with the force of a wrecking ball. Yet, though conclusive, it will not help those who are willingly ignorant or truly committed to following someone who has his own doctrinal agenda. Such people could no more accept one who “restored all things” than could the apostates themselves. Though dissimilar, both kinds of leaders have their own doctrinal agendas apart from God’s truth!
There is another reason many have rejected our previous understanding—they have been repulsed by, and have recoiled from, the bizarre beliefs of many who constitute the second and third groups described below. Many in this first group have “thrown the baby out with the bath water.” Let me explain.
The Second Group
The second category is best described as those who do believe this teaching, but who have also accepted many bizarre prophetic ideas taught by the leader of the Philadelphia Church of God (PCG), Gerald Flurry, who asserts that he is “That Prophet” of Deuteronomy 18:15, among numerous other divine titles that he applies to himself. This blasphemous false prophet takes to himself many titles belonging only to God and/or Christ. (Our book Is “That Prophet” Alive Today? – The Rise of False Prophets exposes, in careful detail, the enormous danger of his thinking.)
Consider! The devil hates all the truth of God. He hates that any of it was restored to God’s Church. Obviously, he also hates Mr. Armstrong and everything about him. Therefore, he would like nothing more than to discredit Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment. It serves his purpose to make as many people as possible, who do hold to the Elijah teaching, look like radical extremists on the “lunatic fringe” of Christianity. He recognizes that if he can surround this correct understanding with outright prophetic craziness and junk, and other bizarre thinking, he can automatically discredit Mr. Armstrong’s role in the minds of many.
In other words, tightly linking Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment to a kook works marvelously in making this doctrine repugnant to reasonable minds. It also allows the leader of LCG to appear reasonable when he rejects the correct understanding about Mr. Armstrong’s role as something now only believed by those he labels as “oddballs” and “kooks.” This has made it easier for Roderick Meredith to then discount those who still hold to the Church’s previous understanding as people who, as he put it, “worship Mr. Armstrong like some kind of god.”
The leaders of categories one and two regularly attack each other. Both want to appear to hold the high ground—while each actually stands in a ditch! Roderick Meredith attacks Gerald Flurry as a false prophet oddball who worships Mr. Armstrong. Gerald Flurry attacks Roderick Meredith as a rebel heretic who rejects Mr. Armstrong as Elijah. The result is thousands of confused, sickened and turned-off people, with thousands of others each backing their chosen champion.
Of course, many who once followed the leader of PCG have been able to escape him. Others reject his bizarre ideas, but see no viable alternative—the place where the people of category five fellowship! Yet, over time, more people will escape his organization, and some will find this alternative.
The Third Group
The third category is an even more extreme version of category two. This group believes that, as the Elijah, Mr. Armstrong was so holy—so special—that only he was commissioned—or even permitted—by God to warn the nations of modern Israel or to announce the kingdom of God to the world as the age ends. Anyone else who attempts to do this is considered presumptuous, rebellious or ignorant of Mr. Armstrong’s supposed instruction to now only “prepare the Church for the Wedding Supper.”
Invariably, this category is also home to an increasing number of people with strange and extreme prophetic ideas. In their misguided zeal, these people seem to enshrine Mr. Armstrong as beyond human. Their warped personal feelings for him seem to supersede any obligation or responsibility to preach the kingdom of God or to warn of the terrible calamities lying ahead for America and Britain, and other Western countries. They see no further need to share the treasure of God’s truth and the gospel with anyone beyond themselves. In effect, this means that for what has become over 25 years, the traditional Work of God is no longer to be done. These people cannot comprehend that the ongoing need to continue God’s Work did not end after the appearance of the two previous Elijahs (the second was John the Baptist).
I wish that many of these people could have personally known Mr. Armstrong. They have absolutely no idea that he would have forcefully pointed out the error of their unbalanced thinking—and would have disfellowshipped certain of them, because of their selfish, lazy, rebellious unwillingness to work, meaning to do the Work. Mr. Armstrong wrote scores of times that our “heart must be in the Work,” often tying it to the very purpose for our calling. He taught this so often that it became doctrine—and he also often stated that the Work would continue until the Tribulation. Category three people willingly ignore this.
Sadly, these typically accusative people are so upside-down in their thinking they believe that anyone who does the Work is in rebellion. In almost every case, they once attended PCG. Upon leaving PCG’s leader, they usually first join “slivers” that are merely “moons” trapped in the gravitational pull of the splinter “planet” they think they escaped. (To understand the ludicrous, even satanic, nature of this “the Work is over” thinking, read our thorough book The Work of God – Its Final Chapter! You will never again doubt that the true Work of God must continue until the Tribulation.)
The Fourth Group
The fourth category is probably the simplest to describe. This group believes, to some degree, that Mr. Armstrong was, or probably was, the Elijah. Their problem lies in that they are blind to the implications—the enormous ramifications—of this understanding. They seem unable to grasp why it is important to recognize Mr. Armstrong’s role. It is as though they agree that it is a “nice idea”—that it is “possibly true,” “probably true” or even “certainly true”—but they hold no conviction about its significance. They miss its connection to many other elements of doctrinal and prophetic understanding—and to Philadelphians’ central instruction to “hold fast” to protect their crown (Rev. 3:11).
The leader of the Church of God, an International Community, the large 1998 offshoot of UCG, once remarked that he generally believes Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah. However, the amount of false doctrine this man teaches reveals his lack of understanding of what Mr. Armstrong’s role means. Many sincere people in his organization are learning that their ministry disconnects the prophecy from its implications.
The Fifth Group
All of these categories, but most particularly two and three, obscure the fact that thousands of brethren—the fifth category—do have a balanced approach both to Mr. Armstrong’s role and to its implications.
These people do not ignore the obvious facts—the PROOF of this fulfillment. They do not follow a false prophet, and do not believe countless crazy prophetic ideas. They understand the Work is not over until the Tribulation. And they do not reflect the unsound, unlearned, untrained, unbalanced, unteachable and ungovernable attitudes obvious in so many category two and three people who cannot see beyond the single point of merely who was the Elijah.
This fifth category (those of The Restored Church of God) also does not slander and attack confused brethren on this or any other matter. This said, I cannot avoid profiling and naming those leaders who subtly attack Mr. Armstrong while denying it.
Summarizing the Devil’s Goal
Many lazy extremists now believe that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah, while virtually all the remaining proud, doctrinally-unsound, “respected” senior ministers do not believe it or will not preach it if they do. The devil wins when “the blind follow their blind leaders” into either ditch.
Be under no illusion—deceivers and attackers will try to defeat the scriptural soundness and proofs here! You must recognize who is the one guiding their efforts, and that sound minds (II Tim. 1:7) see through unsound fables (II Tim. 3:13-14; 4:3-4)—and unsound leaders!
Understand that no book of this kind could answer every conceivable objection that the devil or human nature can devise. Therefore, any attempt to counter false thinking has a reasonable and natural limit. Recognize that this short book could easily be longer. However, no one else has even attempted to correctly address this subject to any thorough degree.
A wise minister told me long ago that when I had done all that I could in trying to help someone, “God’s Spirit now has a job to do.” After you finish this material, you will have read the great preponderance of evidence—and God’s Spirit truly will have a job to do in your mind. It will in every case lead those who have it back to Christ’s one Church. You must follow its lead or lose God’s Spirit (I Thes. 5:19).
The first and most important evidence to consider is what God’s Word reveals about the prophecy.
Chapter Two – What the Bible Teaches
Perhaps the biggest reason so many have lost this understanding is that they have forgotten the many verses revealing and explaining it. These require careful review. We now examine the Old and New Testament verses describing the Elijah prophecy.
Throughout this chapter, we will periodically intermingle some of the proofs that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah—and that this role is not to be fulfilled by one of the Two Witnesses or anyone else. Occasionally, we will even take supposed “proofs” that one of the Two Witnesses will be the Elijah, and see that they are actually proofs of Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment—in some cases, powerful proofs!
The Elijah prophecy first appears in the last two verses of the Old Testament, at the end of Malachi (4:5-6), written about 500 years before Christ’s First Coming. The magnitude of meaning in this passage is truly stunning. It sets the stage for seeing why the Elijah prophecy is so important, and why God would never allow its fulfillment to stand in doubt for all with “eyes to see” and “ears to hear.” Accept these next verses for what they say. After reading them, we will pose a critical question. Also, the preceding verse four is included since it is often cited as supposed “proof” that a second Moses will join Elijah as the other Witness:
“Remember you the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments [vs. 4]. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord [vs. 5]: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (vs. 6).
The word “curse” comes from the Hebrew word cherem, and is better translated “extermination, utter destruction or doom.” Consider this phrase for exactly what it says, neither adding to nor taking from it.
Let’s understand the meaning here. God declares that He would utterly destroy—exterminate—doom—the entire planet, if one lone man did not come PRIOR to the Day of the Lord. This is an absolutely incredible statement. It carries the most profound implications. In other words, God states that this one man’s appearance stands between Him (God) and the destruction of all mankind!
It should now be obvious why this prophecy is arguably the third most important in the Bible. In fact, what other whole group of prophecies, if they failed to occur, carry such profound ramifications?
The Bible is approximately one-third prophecy—or about 250,000 words. Take a moment and ask: What single prophecy even begins to rival this one in importance? Also, could a prophecy so huge—so enormous—so staggering in impact—be fulfilled, and afterwards, no one be able to prove it? Would God leave such an important prophecy open for debate—where, like agnostics toward God’s existence, people could only say “I just don’t know”—or “We can’t know”? No serious thinker could believe this.
The statement “I just don’t know” sounds fair, sincere—open-minded. Roderick Meredith, who denies Mr. Armstrong’s role, said three times in his sermon, “If the Bible doesn’t say so, we don’t know.” Does any serious person think that God would actually name the Elijah in His Word? Must God actually NAME Mr. Armstrong for us to know he had fulfilled this role? Of course not! Where would be the test of faith, including a need to pursue and accept proof? (During his latter years, Mr. Armstrong deliberately kept this same man at arm’s length. Despite the fact that Roderick Meredith loves to talk about his “thousands of hours in the early years” with Mr. Armstrong, he did not witness the fullness of Mr. Armstrong’s growth in many areas of doctrinal understanding in the years before he died. This may also partly explain why, in addition to rejecting Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment, he now teaches over 50 other false doctrines, with more continually appearing.)
Consider this parallel. Converted minds do not doubt the identity of the “beast” of Revelation 13 or the “great whore” of Revelation 17. Yet, God does not actually name either of these in His Word. Why then must He name Mr. Armstrong? In all three cases, God offers sufficient proof for those who will accept it.
You must be willing to examine the evidence.
When dozens of individual prophecies in Daniel 11 were fulfilled, it was clearly known (and no individuals were identified). When Christ’s first appearance fulfilled numerous prophecies, it was clearly known. The destruction of the Temple, in A.D. 69-70, as Christ had foretold, was clearly known. When the Great Tribulation strikes, we will all know. When Christ returns, we will all know. When the devil is bound, we will all know. When the New Heavens and the New Earth arrive, we will all know.
Similarly, the fulfillment of this enormous prophecy is something that converted minds can and should KNOW! To suggest otherwise insults God. In effect, it declares that He did not give us enough information to recognize whether He had fulfilled His Word! We will learn that Christ specifically said that the issue would be settled with each individual—if he had “ears to hear.” The problem would not, and could never, rest with God, but rather with people’s willingness to accept a provable prophecy!
On a side note, we will later discuss that the Jews know Malachi 4:5-6 well, yet are still awaiting this Elijah. As with their rejection of Christ, they reject other important New Testament verses that further qualify how to recognize the last Elijah. You will learn that their confusion carries grave implications for the world—and the Church.
Before continuing, take a moment to note that nothing in Malachi 4:5-6 refers either to the Two Witnesses or to Christ sending Moses with Elijah at the end of the age.
Now let’s read an important New Testament passage: “And His disciples asked Him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias [Elijah] must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that He spake to them of John the Baptist.”
This scripture contains several key points. First, it speaks of two Elijahs—one who “is come already” (John the Baptist) and the second who “truly shall first come,” prior to Christ’s second Coming. Jesus could not possibly have been speaking of John the Baptist in both past and future tense. He clearly spoke of two separate men. Also, John did not come just before the Day of the Lord, but rather almost 2,000 years prior to it!
Second, the latter-day Elijah was foretold to “restore all things.” John restored nothing, to the Church or anyone or anything else. Over the course of an approximately one-year ministry (with about another six months in prison), he merely announced Christ’s first Coming and baptized many, probably in advance of a later conversion, as a means of “preparing a people for the Lord.”
Third, Jesus makes a tremendously important statement (about John) with a message for our time. Though there were clear differences, John was a type of the final Elijah. And, despite the fact that there was no greater human being who ever lived than John, Jesus proclaimed, “They knew him not.”
Could any reasonable person doubt the parallel here with the final Elijah? Mr. Armstrong was generally not known for who he was by the world and, we now know, by most in the Church! Do not miss this point. Some twist it to show that one of the Two Witnesses, through prophesied execution—since John was also executed—is a better parallel of Elijah than was Mr. Armstrong.
It is true that John the Baptist was so misunderstood and unappreciated that his persecutors killed him. However, some have said this proves the latter Elijah will be one of the Two Witnesses—simply because these men will be killed also. This ignores Christ’s own explanation of what He meant—what He was referring to—found in the very next phrase. After referring to how John was killed—“they did to him what they listed [wanted]” (vs. 12)—Christ added, “Likewise also shall the Son of man suffer of them.” He did not say, “Likewise also shall one of the Two Witnesses suffer of them.” Christ was pointing to HIMSELF—and HIS SACRIFICE—not to the death of one of the Witnesses! Basic reading skills reveal this.
Bear in mind, those who assert the above parallel also cite the first three verses of Matthew 17. Indeed, these do describe Christ’s transfiguration (vs. 2) and appearance with Moses and Elijah (vs. 9) in a vision. However, there is no mention or even hint of the Two Witnesses anywhere in this passage. The reference to Elijah is obviously to set up a discussion about both John the Baptist and the final Elijah. I am not saying this—the Bible is! Do not be deceived by people saying that Christ is talking about the Two Witnesses, when CHRIST did not say this is what He was talking about!
Of course, these same people include the Malachi 4:4 reference to Moses as proof that he is the other Witness. But neither Malachi nor Christ says this. However, it is certainly clear that some deceivers will say what Christ and the Bible do not. You be the judge of who to believe—Jesus Christ or those who insert their own interpretation where the Bible points to something entirely different. Sadly, regarding Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment, some seem to parallel the Scribes’ and Pharisees’ view of John—Christ stated of them, “and they knew him not.”
Now read the account of an angel telling John’s father of his up-coming birth:
“And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, Fear not, Zacharias: for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elisabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you shall have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah] to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Consider: First, John the Baptist would be “great in the sight of the Lord.” We have learned he was not great in the sight of vast numbers of people. For those with “eyes to see,” this so clearly parallels Mr. Armstrong.
Second, he would not come as an actual reincarnation of Elijah, but rather “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” Note that when John said he was not Elijah (John 1:21), he meant one of two possible things: (1) He was not the literal resurrection of the Old Testament prophet Elijah, or (2) he sincerely did not see himself fulfilling this role. John’s father, Zacharias, knew for over 30 years of the role that his son would fulfill. Therefore, at the time John answered that he was not Elijah, it only makes sense that Zacharias would have long since told his son of the angel’s prophecy concerning him! However, like Mr. Armstrong, John then, for some or most of his life, must have shied away from seeing himself as the fulfillment of one so great as Elijah.
Elijah, John and Mr. Armstrong were all similar in that they were passionate men, with significant weaknesses (Elijah was fearful to the point of wanting to die at one point)—and, because of this, none of them saw himself as a great man!
In Chapter Four, we will see that, as Zacharias and Elizabeth his wife knew of their son’s role before he did, some Church publications revealed the understanding of Mr. Armstrong’s role before he publicly acknowledged it.
Mr. Armstrong came to understand hundreds of truths over a period spanning his entire ministry. Late in his life, he often said that he was learning more than at any previous time. Therefore, it is natural that Mr. Armstrong would not have seen himself as the one prophesied to restore all things until later in his ministry—when he had largely finished the process. It should be obvious that only in his latter years could he more clearly see a process that was now mainly behind him.
We will learn that this is exactly what happened.
Third, John was foretold to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Of course, he baptized so many that he was referred to as “John the Baptist.” We do not know exactly how many of these people went on to become members of the Church (Acts 19:1-6), but we see that he certainly prepared some.
Let’s return to Malachi to review two other critical verses. In context, they actually introduce Malachi 4:5-6:
“Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, He shall come, says the Lord of hosts (3:1). But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap” (vs. 2).
These verses discuss two different people—two separate Elijahs! The beginning of verse 1 describes John the Baptist. We will see the proof momentarily. John came preparing the way for and announcing Christ’s First Coming. The phrase “even the Messenger of the covenant” is an obvious reference to Christ at His First Coming.
The phrase “I will send My messenger” carries a dual meaning. It includes a preparation for and an announcement made by the second Elijah regarding Christ’s Second Coming.
How do we know this?
Verse 2 describes a very different time than the circumstances surrounding Christ’s First Coming. Obviously, everyone could quite easily “abide the day of His (First) Coming.” They were able to kill Him. Christ certainly did not come as “a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap” 2,000 years ago. At His Second Coming, He will. Verses 3 and 4 could only be referring to this event. Read them carefully. No wonder Malachi 4:5 speaks of Elijah coming prior to the Day of the Lord. God would never have Christ return following the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord without first warning the nations of the world of why all this is necessary. After all, events surrounding His Second Coming are cataclysmic, and all-encompassing in scope and nature. They require a tremendous warning and announcement, and this should be most obvious.
Let’s now return to another series of verses earlier in Matthew. They offer more insight into John the Baptist, and certain vital lessons for our time. Let’s read carefully:
“And as they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what went you out for to see? A prophet? Yes, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before your face, which shall prepare your way before you [Mal. 3:1]. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”
The six verses preceding this text discuss John having been offended at Christ. Why he allowed this to happen, and what lessons can be learned from it, will be examined in greater detail in the next chapter. But here are several points for consideration now.
Verses 7-9 contain a message for the “multitudes” about how most people at that time were looking for someone other than—and unlike—John the Baptist. The masses had to be told that they had the wrong perspective of what a great servant of God should look like. God’s servants are not skinny “reeds” who blow with the “wind.” Nor do they wear “soft” clothes or look like “kings.” And John was also not “a prophet.” Since he was a forerunner of Mr. Armstrong, this fact is important. Christ said that he (this one who was a type of Elijah) was actually “more than a prophet.”
This is a fascinating statement!
The Bible states plainly in Revelation 11:3 and 10 that the Two Witnesses “are prophets.” Mr. Armstrong was an apostle. This means, quite literally, that he also was “more than a prophet” (I Cor. 12:28-29; Eph. 4:11) and, at the same time, more like John the Baptist than either of the Two Witnesses.
In any event, the multitudes had to be told how to recognize John. Most simply did not “get it.” Frankly, far more people came to recognize after John’s death that he fulfilled the Elijah role than did the relatively few who understood it when he was alive. (Vast millions, or more realistically billions—all who have read the Bible over the last 2,000 years—learned it later.) Remember that Christ had to explain John’s role to the disciples. But after He explained it to them (Matt. 17:13), they understood it!
Back to Matthew 11:14: “And IF you will receive it [the understanding about John], this is Elijah.” Verse 15 concludes, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” Again, most did not receive John. They did not have ears to hear!
What about you? Do you see Christ’s subtle warning for those today, regarding the final Elijah? I ask God’s people today, “What went you out to see [from 1934 to 1986]?” Did you expect to see some other kind of person? Will you “receive” Herbert W. Armstrong? Do you have “ears to hear”?
A related point needs examination. Mr. Armstrong has been accused of being a “false prophet” many times. Here is the point—and most never seemed to understand this—Mr. Armstrong was NEVER a prophet. He was always “more than” a prophet—he was an apostle! To those who apparently went out to “see a prophet,” you missed the entire point of one of the greatest reasons Mr. Armstrong was the final Elijah! It is also one of the reasons that we can now see, in retrospect, his office was greater than that of the Two Witnesses (I, like the rest of the Church, once thought he would be one of them). Mr. Armstrong was an APOSTLE. These men will be PROPHETS. Understand. To assert that the final Elijah will be one of the Witnesses is to, in fact, diminish—reduce!—the office of the final Elijah as Christ intended it to be understood.
This point should have been clear to all of God’s people long ago, because the Bible has always been most plain that the Two Witnesses will be prophets, not apostles. Perhaps we might have better understood why Mr. Armstrong recognized that he may not live to the end of the age. His office and role is greater than theirs (so says the New Testament). Not only was he an apostle, but he was also the final Elijah.
The Two Witnesses will be neither!
This passage explains why Mr. Armstrong was not received as the third Elijah by most who knew him—and it explains why John was not received as the second Elijah by most who knew him. These verses also make reference to the original Elijah, who was a prophet:
“And He said, Verily I say to you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias [Elijah], when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta [Greek: Zarepheth], a city of Sidon, to a woman that was a widow.”
I Kings 17 is an interesting chapter, and one that should be read in the context of this passage. It contains the account that Christ referenced, and discusses events in the life of the Old Testament Elijah. Take time to read it.
Only one widow in the city of Zarephath (Hebrew: Sarepta) gave food and shelter to Elijah (vs. 10). Yet, many widows lived in this city, and any or all of them could have helped him. Like John’s preaching, Elijah’s message was unpopular. Because he had prophesied that no rain would fall on earth for 3½ years, he was very unpopular in his day. As a result, when others could have come forward to support him, only one did. He otherwise stood alone.
As with the original Elijah and John, Mr. Armstrong’s message was very unpopular. Many who did once believe that he was sent by God are now even afraid to give “food and shelter” to his memory. The Restored Church of God is not!
Now note Christ’s statement that “No prophet is accepted in his own country.” This describes how overfamiliarity breeds contempt—in this case, for the greatest of God’s servants. The Corinthians lacked respect for Paul. The Jews crucified Christ. Israelite kings often imprisoned or murdered God’s prophets (Matt. 23:37). Jeremiah was imprisoned and Isaiah was apparently “sawn asunder” (cut in two). Jezebel threatened Elijah with death. Noah temporarily fled to Egypt, before returning to complete the ark. John the Baptist was killed. David was chased and persecuted by Saul—and so on.
A modern paraphrase of Christ’s statement in Luke 4:24 would be something like “No servant of God is accepted in his own time.” Christ said, “A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house” (Matt. 13:57). Let’s apply this principle to our time in a parallel way: “One who is an apostle and the Elijah is not without honor—except in his own Church, and in his own family.”
Make yourself see the powerful point contained in Christ’s warning for our time. Like John, Mr. Armstrong will be honored infinitely more in ages to come than by the relative few with the strength to honor his role now!
One more series of Old Testament verses must be understood. They speak of a single voice proclaiming—“crying out”—before Christ’s Return. This voice explains what will happen when the kingdom of God is established:
“The voice [singular] of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”
The Church’s previous literature and numerous statements from Mr. Armstrong contain references to this passage. Notice that it speaks of “The voice of him.” It cannot be referring to the Two Witnesses, or it would say, “The voices of them” (more than one). Both of these men will witness—both will use their voices. Isaiah 40:3-5 refers to a person who speaks ALONE—a single voice—crying out prior to the Return of Christ!
This is another proof that there are three separate people (Elijah and the Two Witnesses) who carry out separate functions, at different times, prior to Christ’s Return. (One other warns Laodicea and modern national Israel before the Tribulation.) Let no disbelieving, confused deceiver tell you otherwise!
Finally, some have suggested that the next passage represents the true Elijah fulfillment. It speaks of Christ coming to restore all things. Of course, Christ does, in fact, restore the entirety of God’s Way to the whole world at His Return. Notice:
“Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution [restoration] of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
Here is why this cannot refer to the final Elijah. This man comes “prior to” the Day of the Lord. Jesus Christ is sent after it! Enough said.
Now, what did Mr. Armstrong teach about the Elijah prophecy?
Chapter Three – What Mr. Armstrong Taught
In the previous chapter, we learned what the Bible—GOD!—teaches about the final Elijah. This chapter is primarily comprised of statements from Mr. Armstrong, representing his understanding—and official teaching—on the fulfillment of this prophecy. His words require minimal commentary.
Let’s see if he agreed with the Bible.
Removing All Doubt
This chapter removes all doubt concerning what Mr. Armstrong believed about his role. Of course, it will mean nothing to those who do not care what he taught. Such people usually do not care what he taught on any other doctrine—and will not receive any of these teachings. This book is generally not written for them, although I do not preclude that God might awaken some of them, if they read it. However, for those who do value what can be proven that Mr. Armstrong did teach, this chapter establishes it—clearly and emphatically! The plain understanding flowing from these quotes makes its own enormous statement.
The following quotes are presented in chronological order—for two reasons.
First, Roderick Meredith states, “Mr. Armstrong went back and forth on this.” You will see that this man speaks falsely—as do so many others who were once close to Mr. Armstrong. Taken from the last six years of Mr. Armstrong’s life, these quotes demonstrate his unwavering consistency!
Second, you will read from Mr. Armstrong’s very final sermon, and his final book, MYSTERY OF THE AGES, proving what he believed at the end of his life. Even if he had gone back and forth, which he never did publicly (nor did he ever state this to me privately—and we discussed prophecy for hours), he established his final position before his death.
You will have absolutely no doubt of this.
Mr. Armstrong did, in fact, wrestle back and forth over time on many issues, before reaching a final conclusion. This is natural for anyone. God did not reveal every truth to him in an instant, via a booming voice from heaven. To assert that Mr. Armstrong went “back and forth” is to blur the issue, and throw the dust of confusion into the air through an irrelevant statement. While the purpose is to make Mr. Armstrong appear confused, weak and vacillating, it is really the one saying this who is uncertain, and who has drawn back from believing Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment.
The prudent see through ploys like this.
Mr. Armstrong apologized for having permitted makeup back into the Church from 1974 to 1981. The argument that he went “back and forth” on this matter has also been used to justify re-allowing the use of make-up—when most women remember exactly what he said. After correcting an error largely committed behind his back, he strongly stated that make-up would return “over my dead body!” This has not stopped women from ignoring his final position on make-up—and his statements here will probably not move most people to repent of rejecting Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment.
How far will people go to twist his words? Some now argue that God inspired Mr. Armstrong to say “over my dead body” regarding use of cosmetics because He wanted cosmetics allowed again upon Mr. Armstrong’s death. Astounding!
The second Elijah, John, actually did go “back and forth” on whether Christ WAS CHRIST! Read it for yourself in Matthew 11:2-3, 6. Christ recognized that John was “offended in” Him (Christ). Think of it! Yet, this did not invalidate where John stood at the time he was beheaded, regarding Christ as the Messiah. Neither did it diminish his role as the Elijah who preceded and announced Christ’s First Coming. After such colossal doubt and faithlessness, John was still considered, by the very Jesus Christ whom he doubted, to be the single greatest human being who ever lived. Yes, Christ stoutly defended him in the face of such a terribly wrong attitude.
Ponder this very carefully.
Remember, John had actually heard a voice from heaven, when he baptized Christ, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17)—and yet he doubted. Christ was also his cousin, and had been known to him for 30 years as the Messiah—and yet he doubted. But he was still as great as any human being “born of women”!
Some of Mr. Armstrong’s critics take great delight in pointing out his weaknesses, mistakes, sins and frailties (real or imagined) to prove that he could not have been the Elijah. (However, these same accusers do not want anyone pointing out their doctrinal errors—or God pointing out their sins!) Should you ever be tempted to find Mr. Armstrong’s righteousness insufficient to your standards, think long and hard about the scope of John’s failure.
Human standards of what God should or should not have allowed in Mr. Armstrong’s conduct have been a big roadblock in the thinking of many (particularly among the self-righteous) on this matter. They should reflect on John. While I acknowledge Mr. Armstrong was not perfect, I stoutly defend him—as Christ defended John the Baptist!
Mr. Armstrong died in January 1986. Let’s review his quotes from 1980 to his death. The italicized portion is generally my emphasis throughout:
“I did not know it as a young man, late teens, 20s and into my 30s, but God was guiding my life from birth…Jesus Christ, through His written Word, opened my mind to the prime basic truths He wanted me to have in starting me out as His servant…God’s time had come! His time for one, of whom John the Baptist was type and forerunner, to prepare for Christ’s second coming…I did not seek these basic foundations of truth of my own volition! Jesus Christ revealed them…He was preparing one called and chosen by God, even against that one’s will, for an important service in restoring the law and government of God to earth—even in the comparatively small Worldwide Church of God. He was preparing one whom He conquered and brought to repentance and faith, for this great end-time commission!”
Good News, Apr. 1980, pp. 25-26
“Nineteen-and-a-half centuries ago A VOICE CRIED OUT in the material wilderness of the Jordan River, announcing the imminent coming of the human Jesus to His material Temple and His physical people Judah, who Himself was to announce the far-future KINGDOM OF GOD to take over the GOVERNMENT over all the earth!
“Today God has raised up A VOICE CRYING OUT in the spiritual wilderness of religious and political CONFUSION, announcing the imminent SECOND COMING of the GLORIFIED Jesus in Supreme Almighty POWER to His SPIRITUAL Temple (His Church then translated into Spirit immortality)—to His SPIRITUAL people the Church—this time ESTABLISHING the KINGDOM OF GOD that shall take over the RULE of ALL NATIONS with the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. No longer the government of MAN deceived, swayed and manipulated by SATAN THE DEVIL!
“YOU are one who has been behind that VOICE CRYING OUT THE WORLD’S ONLY GOOD NEWS!”
Co-worker letter, Aug. 27, 1980
“But John the Baptist was a man in the power and spirit of Elijah. John the Baptist came to prepare the way before the First Coming of Christ. He was a type of someone to prepare the way for the Second Coming of Christ.
“I’m going to say something to you now, that I would not have said five or six years ago under any circumstances. I don’t go out trying to fulfill prophecy. BUT Jesus said, by their fruits you know. And sometimes you look back on fruits and you can tell some things you couldn’t tell in advance before the fruits had been performed.
“So now prior to the Second Coming of Christ, there is someone… with a voice in the spiritual wilderness…crying out amid religious confusion…and preparing the way not for a physical Jesus, but a glorified Christ…
“God was going to raise up someone who is going to prepare the way for the Second Coming and calling people, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. That’s exactly what Elijah did physically. He reminded them that they had gotten away from the Kingdom and the Government of God, and needed the restoring of the Government of God.
“And now before the Second Coming, as John the Baptist fulfilled that before the first coming, someone…had to build the spiritual temple. Of course, God is doing it all. Christ is the One who is doing it.
“God has built it, but He has used me.
“Do you think that has happened? Do you think we’re near the time of the coming of Christ? Has anyone proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom of God? Has anyone proclaimed the law of God? Has anyone been calling on them to repent?
“The job God has called me to do is a prophesied job. It has been being done.”
Worldwide News, Mar. 6, 1981, pp. 10-12
None can miss the plainness of these early statements. The third one mentions Mr. Armstrong’s unwillingness to “try to fulfill prophecy.”
Now ask: Would God permit Mr. Armstrong to so presumptuously—arrogantly—and mistakenly—appoint himself to this enormous role, and still use him as His servant? Do apostles make mistakes of this magnitude and remain apostles? In this light, recognize that, during the latter years of Mr. Armstrong’s life, the period when he had come to fully understand his role as the final Elijah, the fruits of his ministry were greater than at any other time—dwarfing previous periods!
These quotes, and others below, date from when Mr. Armstrong was putting the Church back on track. This resulted in great blessings and growth that had been lacking during the liberal mid-70s. Obviously, God validated him most strongly during the very time he most clearly understood his Elijah fulfillment!
People who worked around Mr. Armstrong remember that he always played down emphasis (and sometimes even grew angry) from those he thought were improperly elevating him. That is a simple fact of history! Mr. Armstrong only came to recognize that he was an apostle in late 1952. Yet, he had probably held this rank for some time by that date, having already known that he was serving as “Watchman” to Israel (Ezek. 33:7) for some years. He understood that whether or not God had “sent” a man to hold this highest office was solely predicated on the man’s “fruit.” Further, he spoke only infrequently of his office prior to 1968, when he began to visit kings—and only much more frequently began to assert his apostolic authority in 1978 when liberals had sought to destroy the Church. Note that he never used the mention of “apostle” on his 1931 ordination certificate because he knew that virtually all Sardis ordination certificates mentioned this office. (He actually first saw the office that he held in 1952.)
Now ask: Does all of this sound like a man seeking to vault himself above where God had stationed him?
When people said that he was “too important to die” (I once foolishly said this to him), he grew angry and felt that the brethren were over-magnifying his office. He also loathed flattery, though, by his own admission, he could not always recognize it. But the arrogant usually crave flattery!
This must be understood, because LCG’s leader, who has coveted power over the Church more than any man I have known, had the gall to suggest that Mr. Armstrong and others “appointed themselves as Elijah.” I heard his sermon. He does not want those like me testifying to the fact that Mr. Armstrong charged the Advisory Council of Elders, shortly before his death, that he (this man) “must never be allowed to lead the Church.” (At that time, I thought the man Mr. Armstrong did select meant that God had simultaneously blinded him to this evangelist’s hidden strength. I was wrong!)
Roderick Meredith has also privately expressed his hope that God will use him to “shake the nations” through many “miracles.” This desire for personal elevation from God will be examined later.
This man also uttered this in his sermon “The Elijah Question”: “Some people have felt Mr. Armstrong was Elijah.” Like the apostates before him, he suggested that what the entire church, including mr. armstrong, once believed was merely a belief once held by “some people.” The false leaders of the WCG successfully used this ploy time and again when changing a doctrine. They often lumped Mr. Armstrong and the entire Church into a group labeled as merely “some people.” History is repeating itself in the splinters. The famous statement “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” applies again.
A personal story is in order here. In the days immediately following the start of the receivership, in January 1979, Mr. Armstrong made a remarkable statement to me that sprang from his humility. In a moment of great emotion, he stated that he was willing, at age 86, to go to prison before he would let the court-appointed receiver have God’s tithes! He added that all of the other apostles had gone to prison, and that “maybe he would not even be a true apostle until he demonstrated his willingness to do the same.” These are not the words of a man looking for titles and offices that he could have easily assigned to himself. It reflects the very opposite, and this leads to another story.
Aaron Dean, Mr. Armstrong’s long-time personal assistant, alleges that Mr. Armstrong privately doubted he was the Elijah. I liken this to me reporting the above story as supposed proof that Mr. Armstrong privately doubted he was an apostle. Should any believe me, if I asserted such a thing based solely on a moment of Mr. Armstrong’s personal emotion? Of course not! Then why pay attention to similar stories that his chief assistant spins as “proof” from Mr. Armstrong that he was not the Elijah? Now notice:
“As John the Baptist prepared the way, in the PHYSICAL wilderness of the Jordan River for the first coming of the HUMAN Jesus (both man and God), then coming to His MATERIAL temple, and to His PHYSICAL people Judah, ANNOUNCING the Kingdom of God to be set up more than 1,900 years later, SO God would use a human messenger in the SPIRITUAL wilderness of 20th-century religious confusion, to be a voice CRYING OUT the Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD, about the SPIRITUAL CHRIST, coming in SUPREME POWER AND GLORY to His SPIRITUAL TEMPLE, to actually ESTABLISH that spiritual KINGDOM OF GOD.
“Brethren, HAS THAT BEEN DONE BY THIS CHURCH?
“Did God raise up a one-man LEADERSHIP [a ‘voice of one’] to be used by Him...in proclaiming after 1,900 years the true GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD in ALL THE WORLD—to even go to kings and heads of nations (Rev. 10:11)—in bringing the Church back to the FAITH ONCE DELIVERED (Jude 3)?
“HAS THIS HAPPENED, IN YOUR DAYS, AND HAS GOD BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT AS A PART OF IT?
“HAS ANYONE ELSE DONE IT?”
Co-worker letter, Mar. 19, 1981
“God inspired a prophecy in Malachi 3:1-5, saying he would send a human messenger to prepare the way before Christ’s coming: Verses 3 to 5 show the prophecy speaks of one preparing the way before his SECOND Coming—our time now—although the four gospel books in the New Testament speak of John the Baptist as being in the power and spirit of Elijah, preparing the way before Jesus’ FIRST coming. But God uses the DUALITY principle throughout the Bible. John the Baptist was the type, or forerunner, of the one preparing the way before Christ’s SECOND coming. As John was a voice crying out in the PHYSICAL wilderness of the Jordan River, preparing the way for the HUMAN Jesus to come to his MATERIAL temple in Jerusalem, to his PHYSICAL human people Judah, with the gospel message about the FUTURE Kingdom of God, SO Malachi 3:1-5 and 4:5-6 foretell one in the power and spirit of Elijah to come in OUR TIME, NOW—a voice crying out in the SPIRITUAL wilderness of modern religious confusion, preparing the way for the DIVINE Christ to come to his SPIRITUAL TEMPLE (his Church [Ephesians 2:21]) to ESTABLISH the KINGDOM OF GOD as a ONE-WORLD GOVERNMENT ushering in the happy, peaceful WORLD TOMORROW!”
The Plain Truth, Letter from Mr. Armstrong, June 20, 1982
In the same “Elijah Question” sermon referenced in Chapter One, the LCG leader quoted a letter from which the next quote is taken. I mention this because it reveals a carefully contrived deceit. This man actually used the following letter as “proof,” supposedly in Mr. Armstrong’s own words, that Mr. Armstrong did not believe that he was the Elijah. He carefully excerpted and juxtaposed the portions that he needed as proof, and omitted most of what you will read. I will say this for the man: To cite a letter proving Mr. Armstrong believed he was the Elijah as disproof is bold—and truly bald deceit on an outrageous level! Those in the Living Church of God should take time to research this to see who speaks the truth. Then frame it with other statements from Mr. Armstrong, before and after that time.
Now for this next quote:
“What about the prophet Elijah? The original Scriptures, prior to Christ’s first coming, close with these words: ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come [second coming] and smite the earth with a curse [total destruction]’ (Mal. 4:5-6).
“Was John the Baptist the Elijah that was to come? When asked that question he said, ‘No.’ Jesus explained that John had come ‘in the power and spirit of Elijah’—a different man, but carrying out the mission preparing for Jesus’ first coming. This is also explained in Malachi 3:1-5, speaking of him as a human messenger preparing the way for Christ’s coming as the ‘messenger of the covenant’—the NEW covenant. But this (verses 2-5) is speaking of preparing the way before Christ’s SECOND coming!
“Now notice what Jesus said: ‘Elias [Elijah] truly shall first come, and restore all things’ (Matt. 17:11). Notice at that time, John the Baptist already had come, completed his mission preparing the way before Jesus’ first appearing—yet Jesus said, ‘Elijah truly SHALL first come.’ Elijah was yet to come, IN THE FAR FUTURE, although John’s mission was already completed and he was in prison. Then Jesus continued: ‘But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not [did not recognize that he was Elijah], but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.’
“John had come in the power and spirit of Elijah, but they did not recognize who he was.
“Now why, then was Elijah YET, in the future, to come—just before the ‘day of the Lord?’ Verse 11, Jesus said to ‘restore all things.’ John the Baptist DID NOT do that! Even Jesus did not come the first time to ‘restore all things.’ He came over 1,900 years ago to announce the KINGDOM OF GOD, which will restore all things. He came to set up his CHURCH—but not then to set up the KINGDOM. The Church was merely the embryo that shall BECOME the Kingdom of God WHEN RESURRECTED—when changed to immortal SPIRIT—at Christ’s second coming.
“Now notice where Jesus is NOW! He (God) ‘shall send Jesus Christ…’ back to earth, ‘whom the heaven must receive UNTIL the times of restitution [restoration] of all things…’ (Acts 3:20-21).
“Jesus shall come, SOON NOW, to RESTORE ALL THINGS! He did NOT restore all things when he first came. John the Baptist did not ‘restore all things.’ But the one who was to ‘restore all things’ just before the ‘day of the Lord’ and preparing the way for Christ’s second coming, was YET to come, in the future, as Jesus said.
“Now what are the ‘all things’ to be RESTORED? ‘Restitution’ means restore to a former state or condition. It DOES NOT and CAN NOT mean restoring things to a condition as they were in the days of Adam and Eve. It was Adam who was given the opportunity to ‘restore all things’ as they were before Lucifer and the angels SINNED—before Lucifer became Satan and his angels became demons. Before that, THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD ruled the earth. Lucifer sat on the throne of the earth, administering the GOVERNMENT OF GOD by the LAW OF GOD! Sin is the transgression of the spiritual Law. It is the GOVERNMENT OF GOD that needs to be restored. Adam failed.
“Jesus QUALIFIED to restore God’s government—to set up the KINGDOM OF GOD, ruling over the earth, administering the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Jesus’ Gospel Message was the GOOD NEWS that he would (at his second coming) RESTORE the government of God through the KINGDOM OF GOD. That was the true GOSPEL! That Gospel was suppressed within 22 years (Gal. 1:6-7), and was not proclaimed to the world until THIS CHURCH began proclaiming it—within the United States beginning 1934, and going worldwide beginning 1953—precisely a century of time cycles after it had been suppressed!
“Have WE, through this Work, RESTORED anything? Indeed we have! We have RESTORED the TRUE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST—through us JESUS CHRIST has already begun RESTORING the KNOWLEDGE of what had been taken away—the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Through us the living Christ has been preparing for his SECOND COMING for the PURPOSE of RESTORING ALL THINGS!
“NONE OTHER has RESTORED the knowledge of the fact GOD’S GOVERNMENT was established on earth, and then DESTROYED and taken away by the Cherub Lucifer (Satan) and his demons.
“Jesus did NOT restore God’s government at his first coming. Instead, he proclaimed the GOOD NEWS (Gospel) of it. He was crucified for the SINS of the world, he overcame Satan, he qualified to establish and rule God’s Kingdom, THEN HE ASCENDED TO HEAVEN.”
Co-worker letter, Aug. 24, 1982
“Jesus said the Elijah shall yet come and restore all things. [The original] Elijah did not restore what was taken away…The government of God was taken away. It was to be restored…God raised me up to restore it. God raised me up to restore the government of God. But it is only restored so far in the Church. I have no authority from God, no ability, to restore the government of God any further than just over you brethren in the Church. But that has been done. That has been done, brethren. You go back and read Malachi 3:1-5 and Malachi 4. [And] where Jesus said, ‘Elijah truly shall come’—even after John the Baptist was put in prison, he was yet to come. He [the Elijah] was to restore. John the Baptist didn’t restore. You’d better realize what this Church is and what you are behind when you say you are behind me 100 percent.”
Sermon, Oct. 2, 1982
This latter statement is powerful. Mr. Armstrong knew that God’s government had been restored to the Church. Yet, not one splinter correctly practices it, and this is largely because so many never fully understood it. Perhaps three use a similar form of government, but they have ignored much of what else was restored.
Of the four big splinters, one—the Philadelphia Church of God—is led by a blaspheming false prophet, Gerald Flurry, who takes numerous of Christ’s titles. A second group—the Living Church of God—is led by Roderick Meredith, who rejects Mr. Armstrong as the Elijah, as well as numerous other doctrines that he taught. A third group—Church of God, an International Community—is led by David Hulme, who may believe that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah but who has rejected many other doctrines. Also, a fourth group—the United Church of God, now having split and including the Church of God, a Worldwide Association (COGwa)—does not even believe God’s government was restored through one man. It practices democracy—government by elected committee—and originally had more people and ministers than the other three groups combined. Since 80 percent of the old WCG left the truth, and these four large groups have departed in so many ways from what was restored, I often wonder, “Didn’t anyone ever believe Mr. Armstrong? Did it merely take his death for virtually everyone to forget most or much of what he taught?”
The Restored Church of God is the only organization that still believes (1) God’s government was restored to His Church, (2) practices it, (3) preaches both aspects of the true Work of God, and (4) holds to all of what God restored through Mr. Armstrong.
I have written a supremely important book that takes the reader inside the government of God as it led the Church under Mr. Armstrong. Titled The Government of God – Understanding Offices and Duties, it is a companion to The True Church – One Organization, or Many? and “Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People. Mr. Armstrong explained many times that God raised him up to restore God’s government to His Church. You must take the time to comprehend what this meant to God’s Church of the Philadelphian era—and means to you today! You will find it to be most compelling reading, and a vital complement to the Elijah understanding.
“In the Bible God says NUCLEAR WAR IS COMING—on our present generation. He sends me to proclaim to the world Christ’s true Gospel of the Kingdom—a VOICE CRYING OUT IN THE SPIRITUAL WILDERNESS OF RELIGIOUS CONFUSION! The GREAT TRIBULATION—nuclear war—will come! But for the elect’s sake (GOD’S CHURCH), God will cut the nuclear war short BEFORE all mankind is blotted out of existence! Millions and billions will be destroyed—AND SOON! But God will protect us in his Church!”
Co-worker letter, Dec. 18, 1983
“…Matt. 17…The disciples asked Jesus, Well how did they [the scribes] say then that Elijah is going to come? Now John the Baptist had already come. And Jesus said, Elijah truly shall come and restore all things. But, he said, I say unto you Elijah is come already, and they did with him what they pleased, and they beheaded him and killed him. And John the Baptist was already killed when he said that, but he said Elijah shall come. What has been restored? The gospel of the kingdom of God has been restored. The government of God has been restored in this Church! And something has been restored brethren! And Christ is coming to restore everything and world government, not just the Church, but the whole world! And we are to reign and rule with him.” [Author’s note: Could this quote be more ironclad?]
Sermon, F.O.T., Sep. 21, 1983
The next year, he grew stronger:
“People are being deceived. People are being misled, and it’s time for a voice to cry out. It’s time for a voice to awaken the people to this deception, and to come out of this religious Babylon, just as John the Baptist prepared the way for the first coming of Christ. A voice crying in the wilderness, the physical wilderness of the Jordan River proclaiming the way for a physical Jesus to be born, placed in a manger and coming to his physical people, Judah, his own who received him not. So a voice is to cry out today preparing a way in the wilderness of modern, spiritual, and religious Babylon to come out of this Babylon and preparing the way for the second coming of Christ when He’s coming in power and glory as the Lord of lords and the King of kings to rule and to sit on that throne that Satan’s been sitting on for six thousand years…And I tell you the Day of the Lord is coming!
“…Malachi 4 and beginning with verse 5, ‘Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and the dreadful Day of the Lord.’ It’s talking about the Day of the Lord and before that time someone will come. Elijah the prophet lived a long time ago. He is gone and dead. But someone will come in the power and the spirit of Elijah. John the Baptist came in the power and spirit of Elijah but he was not Elijah, preparing the way for Jesus Christ at His first coming. He was a voice crying out in the physical wilderness of the Jordan River, and preparing the way for the physical Jesus born of the human virgin, Mary…coming to His physical people, Judah, and the physical temple at Jerusalem at that time built of stone and wood and precious stones. Now a voice is to cry out before the second coming of Christ coming in power and glory, as the King of kings and the Lord of lords to rule the Earth and to replace Satan…!
“…And some voice has got to come in the spiritual wilderness of Modern Babylon or confusion and call the people out of this Babylon as you read in the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, ‘come out of her My people,’ and prepare the way for the spiritual Christ to come in power and glory as the King of kings and the Lord of lords and to come to His spiritual Temple, the Church that will rise and meet Him in the air, changed from mortal to immortal...
“I tell you my people we are coming to that time. And it…is time for a voice to cry out and to tell the people that we are coming to that time, and as they come out of this Babylon of religious confusion of our day and believe the Word of God. Because there are many that are preaching something altogether different today. It’s time to believe the Word of God and exactly what it says.
“Now it continues here in the fourth chapter of Malachi, ‘And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers lest I come and smite the earth…’ it says ‘with a curse’ here but the original Hebrew word there was a word that means ‘utter destruction’...We’re coming to that time now. We are very close to that time. Now you need to understand these things...”
Broadcast, Aug. 4, 1984
“There was an Elijah to come and to restore things in the Church. THAT HAS HAPPENED and what has been restored is the government of God—and many of the truths, at least 17 or 18 principal, vital doctrines of truth, have been added to about the three that had survived in the Sardis era of the Church.”
Final Sermon, Trumpets, Sep. 16, 1985
The following very extensive statement, broken by Mr. Armstrong’s subheads, comes from MYSTERY OF THE AGES—Mr. Armstrong’s final and most important book. It is clear, thorough and profound:
“The real causes of all this world’s religious confusion—and all its evils—are revealed in seven basic mysteries that decry this babylon of religious confusion and the resulting world chaos!
“But now God’s time has come! He now sends a voice to cry out with amplified world-covering power to reveal the way out of this senseless madness, into the world of peace and righteousness that soon shall grip the earth!
“In the book of Isaiah is a ‘now’ prophecy: ‘The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord…lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say…Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him’ (Isa. 40:3, 9-10).” [Author’s note: The Church had long understood this passage, and it has always fascinated me that the man God selected as the voice to fulfill it was named Arm-strong (strong arm). Notice the “strong arm” reference to God returning is preceded by “and His Work before Him.” The Church has also long been aware that this was the Work once led by Mr. Armstrong. Incidentally, because of this scripture, Mr. Armstrong had originally considered A Voice Cries Out as the title for MYSTERY OF THE AGES.]
“That voice now cries out!
“The prophet Malachi confirmed this: ‘Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple…’ (Mal. 3:1).
The Elijah to Come
“Both of these prophecies have a dual application. First, they refer to John the Baptist, who prepared the way before Jesus’ human ministry more than 1,900 years ago. But, as a prototype, or forerunner, these prophecies foretell one to prepare the way before Christ’s Second Coming as the King of kings and Lord of lords to rule over all nations!
“Malachi’s prophecy, like Isaiah’s, if you will read on past the first verse, refers to a human messenger preparing the way before Christ’s now imminent Second Coming, this time in supreme power and glory as Ruler over all nations!
“Understand the duality principle here. These prophecies refer to a type and its fulfillment.
“John the Baptist was a voice crying out in the physical wilderness of the Jordan River area, preparing for the human physical Jesus’ First Coming to a material temple at Jerusalem, to a physical Judah. But that was a prototype, or forerunner of a voice ‘lifted up’ (greatly amplified by modern printing, radio and TV), crying out in the midst of today’s spiritual wilderness of religious confusion, announcing the imminency of Christ’s Second Coming as the spiritually glorified Christ, to his spiritual temple (the Church resurrected to spirit immortality) (Eph. 2:21-22).
“Jesus came, over 1,900 years ago, to announce the future kingdom of God. He’s coming this time to establish that kingdom. That end-time last warning message is now going out worldwide in amplified power.
“It’s going before kings, emperors, presidents, prime ministers of nations—and to their peoples, on all continents and all nations of the earth!”
Hardcover, pp. 9-10
“It is revealed in Malachi 3:1-5 and 4:5-6 that God would raise up one in the power and spirit of Elijah, shortly prior to the Second Coming of Christ. In Matthew 17:11 Jesus said, even after John the Baptist had completed his mission, that this prophesied Elijah ‘truly shall first come, and restore all things.’ Although it is plainly revealed that John the Baptist had come in the power and spirit of Elijah, he did not restore anything. The human leader to be raised up somewhat shortly prior to Christ’s Second Coming was to prepare the way—prepare the Church—for Christ’s coming, and restore the truth that had been lost through the preceding eras of the Church. Also a door was to be opened for this leader and/or the Philadelphia era of the Church to fulfill Matthew 24:14: ‘And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.’
“These prophecies have now definitely been fulfilled.”
Elijah to Come in Our Day
“Remember, once again, God’s principle of duality. As Jesus said in Matthew, the prophecy of Malachi 3:1 applied to John the Baptist in type; but if you will continue reading through verse 5, it becomes very clear that the prophecy is speaking of one to prepare the way before the Second Coming of Christ. John the Baptist was a voice crying out in the physical wilderness of the Jordan River, preparing the way for the First Coming of Christ, as a physical human being, to his physical Temple at Jerusalem and to the physical people of Judah, announcing the advance good news that the kingdom of God would in the future be established. But also preparing the way before his Second Coming was a messenger of whom Elijah was a type. A voice crying out in the worldwide spiritual wilderness of religious confusion, preparing the way for the spiritual glorified King of kings and Lord of lords to come in the supreme power and glory of God to his spiritual temple, the Church (Eph. 2:21), to actually establish the kingdom of God.
“Further, in Matthew 17:1-8, Peter, James and John saw the vision of Moses, Elijah and Christ glorified in the kingdom of God. Then in verse 10 the disciples asked Jesus, ‘Why then say the scribes that Elias [Elijah] must first come?’ Remember John the Baptist had finished his ministry and had been imprisoned before Jesus even began his ministry. At the time the disciples asked this question, John the Baptist had come and been put to death. Yet Jesus answered, speaking of the yet future, ‘[Elijah] truly shall first come, and restore all things’ (verse 11).
“This could not possibly refer to John the Baptist. John the Baptist restored nothing, but called on people to repent in preparation for the First Coming of Jesus as a physical human.
“In the first few years of the New Testament Church, Jesus’ true gospel had been suppressed and supplanted with a false gospel—not the gospel of Christ (the kingdom of God) but man’s false gospel about a Christ who did away with his Father’s commandments.
“Also Malachi 4:5-6 pictures the Elijah to come at the very end of the Church age—at a time when, if this end-time message were not proclaimed, the glorified Christ would come and smite the world with total destruction. (The word curse in this verse is translated from the Hebrew, which some translators render total destruction.)”
Again, some who were once close to Mr. Armstrong now claim that he did not really believe he was the Elijah. Having read these statements, ask if honest people could possibly assert this—or have they just forgotten?
“Most Important Book”
In this regard, again, Mr. Armstrong stated publicly that he believed MYSTERY OF THE AGES was the most important book since the Bible. (Who from that time could forget his statements?) It was there that he made his most thorough and forceful statement about his fulfillment as the Elijah. Could he have been so wrong in a book that he felt was so important? Is it any wonder the apostates so quickly sought to destroy this book when they decided to throw all truth from the Church? Although thousands in the splinters no longer see its value, the devil did—and still does. His agents still belittle it.
In a tone dripping with sarcasm, Roderick Meredith, the splinter leader who gave “The Elijah Question” sermon that denigrated those who respect and support Mr. Armstrong’s role, shouted, “He was like a god—the Elijah to come. His writings are to be enshrined—MYSTERY OF THE AGES is kind of like a New Testament, inspired by God, so you don’t mess with it.”
So far, we have seen more than ample proof that Mr. Armstrong believed God had specially trained him, from at least his teen years, to fulfill Malachi 4:5-6 and Matthew 17:11. In reviewing his last statements concerning his fulfillment, we have established his firm conviction and final position—and why he felt so strongly about this understanding of his calling!
Did he stand alone in his conviction? Did the Church support him? Is there evidence that it did? If so, what is it and when did the Church begin to acknowledge how God was using Mr. Armstrong? The next chapter answers these and other questions. It will also explain that Headquarters believed, understood and still taught Mr. Armstrong’s role as the Elijah for at least seven months after his death!
Chapter Four – What the Church Taught
Let’s ask in straightforward fashion: Did others in the Church, including within the Church’s publications, teach in unison with Mr. Armstrong about his fulfillment of the Elijah role? We will begin at the end and then go back to the beginning and move forward.
What then did the Church teach?
Seven and a half months after Mr. Armstrong died, the WCG editorial department produced a full-page article titled “God restored these 18 truths: How thankful are you for them?” Joseph W. Tkach requested its production, and his lead-in begins it.
Read these next statements recognizing that even the apostates once understood Mr. Armstrong’s Elijah role and teaching—and, at least initially, seemed to believe it. Of course, they later rejected it because their doctrinal agenda prevented believing Mr. Armstrong restored “all things”—or anything—to God’s Church. But these men previously accepted this truth because the whole Church did up to and through Mr. Armstrong’s death. Will you allow the blindness of false leaders to blind you?
“The Editorial Services staff has compiled here, for the first time in any of the Church’s publications, 18 essential, basic truths that God restored to His Church through our late Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong.
“As you prepare spiritually for the coming Feast of Tabernacles, please spend time with this important article, reviewing each of the 18 truths and thanking God for restoring them to His Church.”
Pastor General, Joseph W. Tkach
The article also asked: “How much do you value God’s truth? Do you daily give God thanks for your calling and the knowledge of His ways?
“In his last book, MYSTERY OF THE AGES, the late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote: ‘This Church, until after the year of 1933, had lost many…vital truths. At least 18 basic and essential truths have been restored to the true Church since that year’ (page 251, hardcover edition).
“Mr. Armstrong listed some of these truths in a sermon Dec. 17, 1983. He listed a few others and enumerated them when he spoke to the Ministerial Refreshing Program May 2, 1984.
“It’s good to review this list to better appreciate how much we have benefited from what God restored through Mr. Armstrong.
“These points are listed basically in the words Mr. Armstrong used when he spoke to the Ministerial Refreshing Program.
“Jesus said, ‘Elias [Elijah] truly shall first come, and restore all things’ (Matthew 17:11). Jesus was referring to something that was to happen in the future. John the Baptist had already come, and Jesus didn’t even begin His ministry until John had been put in prison. John didn’t restore anything. Jesus was referring to another man, not John.
“Shortly before the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, someone would come in the spirit and power of Elijah, in the spirit and power of John the Baptist, and would restore all things to the Church. Now, what has been restored to the Church?
“Where would we be without these truths? Without them—without [Mr.] Armstrong’s legacy of these 18 restored truths—there isn’t much left.”
A caption under a picture featuring MYSTERY OF THE AGES, The United States and Britain in Prophecy, The Incredible Human Potential, The Wonderful World Tomorrow and Why Were You Born?, also stated: “A LIFE’S WORK—Though Mr. Armstrong didn’t know it at the time God began to call him, God had a lifelong job for him: to restore to His Church truth that the centuries had dimmed. In the last year of his life, Mr. Armstrong finished MYSTERY OF THE AGES, his final collection of the essential truths.”
WN, Aug. 25, 1986
Every member of the Worldwide Church of God should have understood all of this up to, and through, a period at least 7½ months after Mr. Armstrong’s death. The apostates’ record removes all excuse for those asserting “I never knew.” If not, they should have.
My 1982 “Elijah” Sermon
On April 24, 1982, I first preached about Mr. Armstrong fulfilling the Elijah role. The Church had already known this since 1971, or earlier. The title drove home the point: “The Prophetic Significance of Mr. Armstrong’s Office.” It is posted on our website—and it proves that neither I nor anyone else “dreamed up,” after Mr. Armstrong’s death, what had been our long-held understanding. All who take the time to listen to this sermon will recognize there was once no doubt or confusion about who we believed had fulfilled the Elijah prophecy.
If you hear it, ask if I would have been permitted to give this sermon on my own authority. Certainly not! As mentioned, Mr. Armstrong was always uncomfortable with ministers artificially elevating him. We will later see he completely understood that a sermon like mine did not do that. Over 600 people heard it when I delivered it. (Also, I know of one senior evangelist who gave a similar sermon in 1979.)
I quote it so that you will have no doubt of its strength or clarity—or of my long-held position. Looking back, it also spoke directly to attacks that did come on Mr. Armstrong’s office, possibly even beyond what I even envisioned, and I was plain. For simplicity, an ellipse separates several short sections that are placed together:
“That office as we come to see becomes the focal point of all the prophecies about the warnings as we go through the scriptures. And because there is a two-fold authority that an apostle holds, that’s why from Satan’s point of view, all kinds of attacks have to ultimately be directed toward that office.
“Look, if you knock out a deacon somewhere or a Church elder or a pastor or even an evangelist, and we’ve lost some of those, it may be a small ripple effect in the Church. Even a pillar member locally could cause a small ripple effect in the Church, but if you can knock out an apostle, if you can knock out an Eisenhower in World War II, you know, the general of the armies, the five-star general, or a MacArthur in the Pacific Theater, you’d have far greater effect than an infantryman who dies storming Iwo Jima. The effect is not the same.
“So it will become clear as we go on why these attacks have to continue to come against that man. If there is no other thing that’s accomplished, and I’m sure there will be after the sermon is over, than just to explain that one point to us—why those attacks must come, not as single rifle shots but almost in machine gun bursts, one bullet after another flying—then I will have accomplished what I wanted to do.
“Now turn to Matthew 17. We’re going to look at a couple of lengthy verses in Matthew…And again, brethren, I think we are going to begin to see that Mr. Armstrong’s office is far, far greater than any of us realize, far, far greater…
“John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah. Was he really Elijah? No. But he was in the spirit and power of Elijah. He was one like Elijah. He was a messenger. Was he Elijah incarnate in the flesh? Of course, not. John the Baptist was not a Rosicrucian or one of these people who believe in reincarnation. He didn’t pop up and claim to be Elijah. If you asked him, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘John.’ He didn’t say ‘Elijah.’ He understood who he was…
“‘And if you will receive it [him], this is Elijah, which was for to come. He that has ears to hear, let him hear’ (Matthew 11:7-15).
“Now the question that I want to ask is: Did people receive John the Baptist? No. They cut his head off. A few did. How about the original Elijah? He was the one that got so discouraged, he said, ‘I’m all alone. I’m left here.’ He was chased from pillar to post and persecuted his whole life and, eventually, God just had to spirit him away to protect his life, because there was so much persecution in his life. Was the original Elijah received? No. He was not…
“There are two messengers in Malachi 3, there are two separate messengers talked about. We’ll come back to that so don’t let me lose you.
“All right, John prepared the way in the spirit and power of Elijah before the First Coming of Christ—and there has to be another one that comes before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord to prepare the way before the Second Coming.
“And it says, ‘And IF you will receive him, this is Elijah.’ Will the world receive Herbert Armstrong? The answer is no, they will not. Will a certain few receive him as they did John the Baptist? As they did Christ His First Coming? Even the original Elijah—what did God say? ‘No…I’ve reserved seven thousand unto Me who have not bent the knee to serve Baal.’
“Was the original Elijah all alone…? No. But was he received and accepted as Elijah? No. None of them have been. When Christ comes again…what’s going to happen? Is He going to be received when He comes in power? NO!
“John the Baptist came 2,000 years before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord. He certainly wouldn’t have been warning the world about utter destruction then. But we are today. [Mr.] Armstrong is today. How important is his office? How important is the office of the modern day Elijah? Well, you just read the verses yourself. If that Elijah stops the work he’s doing, God says, ‘I will come and smite the earth with utter destruction.’
“There is one man at this point in time—not the human form of the man, we should say, that makes him special, but that particular office that that man holds, as a great servant of God, is the one that stands between utter destruction for this world and continuing on to the Return of Jesus Christ. Have you ever looked at it in that context? Have you ever seen the office of Herbert Armstrong as that big before? Does that sound blasphemous to you? Does that sound like we’re boasting of apostolic office? Brethren, I hope not. I hope we understand it. You could say, ‘That can’t be Herbert Armstrong…’
“It’s somebody in the spirit and power of Elijah. It is somebody, by the way, who, when you ask him, ‘Who are you?’ will not say, ‘I am Elijah,’ as we have had people say. He will say, just as John said, ‘I am John.’ I don’t think John called himself John the Baptist. Maybe he did. If you ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He will say, ‘My name is Herbert’ or ‘Mr. Armstrong’ or whatever.”
Advisory Council Presents Cup of Elijah to Mr. Armstrong
Here is why I could so confidently give my 1982 sermon. On May 10, 1982, the Worldwide News carried a picture called “The Cup of Elijah,” which the Advisory Council of Elders had presented to Mr. Armstrong one week earlier, just nine days after my sermon. The picture was on the front page, beside the headline. Under the picture was the following caption:
“PASADENA—A ‘surprised’ Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong received a piece of Steuben crystal entitled the ‘Cup of Elijah’ from the Advisory Council of Elders and wives May 3, reported evangelist Ellis LaRavia, a member of the council.
“Mr. LaRavia quoted the pastor general as saying: ‘You mean, I get a piece of Steuben crystal? I give away a lot, but I’ve never received one.’
“The formal dinner was the last of three Mr. Armstrong was host to in his Pasadena campus home for the advisory council.
“Designed by Peter Yenawine of the Steuben Glass Works in Corning, N.Y., the cup is No. 14 in a limited series of 25. Flared at the rim and the base of the stem, the cup is quadrangular with its rim carefully cut in shallow beveled edges. The words ‘The cup of Elijah, the prophet’ are inscribed below the rim in 16th–century-style Hebrew lettering. Its four-pillared crystal stem is supported by an inner silver rod that extends from a circular silver stand.”
An Inspiring Story
Our office contacted Mr. Peter Yenawine in 2001 in preparation for writing this book. We had been unable to secure an original picture of this cup because even the Steuben Glass Works no longer carried a photograph in its files. They explained it was out of date and the company only carried pictures of their newest version of the cup. Also, there is only one book in existence that contains a picture (1”x1¼”) of the earlier cup, but we found it unsuitable for reproduction.
A search on the Internet led us to Mr. Yenawine. We decided to contact him. He told us the history of the cup and explained that he only had one original picture in his files. Our research showed that it is the only known photograph of this piece in existence. (It is pictured here.) Mr. Yenawine actually left his vacation in northern New York State and drove twelve hours, round-trip, to below Philadelphia, so that he could mail it to us for use in this book. This allowed us to have a very clear reproduction of this magnificent work. His unselfishness was stunning, as was the story he related to us about the cup’s creation.
When we asked him to tell its story, after a moment of silence, he said, “I’m going to tell you the truth…” He then explained that he had made the cup in 1976, during a seven-year period when he was with Steuben. (He is currently the President of a company called Crystal Signatures.) He went on to relate that he is not a “gambler” and does not presume to believe the religion he currently practices is the only right one. He wanted to give a gift in service to “the true Creator,” and explained that his artistic creation was, in the best sense, his “prayer in crystal.” He considered it “an offering to the Creator from the depth of [his] faith to be used in the service of the work of God on earth.” Considering who ultimately received this gift, and its new use via a picture here, this is a remarkable statement.
Mr. Yenawine mentioned his only regret is that, because of the nature of his craft and the materials used, it is not a gift just anyone can afford or receive. He explained that the Hebrew letters, visible in the photograph, simply say “ELIJAH”—the entire inscription reading: “The Cup of Elijah the Prophet.”
I was left awe-inspired after our encounter with Mr. Yenawine.
The first edition of this book was written in late 2001. It should be noted that in 2009, The Restored Church of God was able to purchase one of the other 24 cups made by Mr. Yenawine. It now sits prominently displayed in our Executive Office. A picture is on the opposite page.
The Entire Council Sold Out
None who served on the Advisory Council of Elders in May 1982 can possibly deny the truth of the facts presented here. If “a picture is worth a thousand words,” then this one fulfills that cliché. It was seen by 130,000 brethren on the front of their Worldwide News.
This picture, and its caption, indict the entire Council, who spent $11,500 presenting a beautiful gift depicting a doctrine—and prophecy—that only one of them had the courage to acknowledge. The best you might hear the others mumble is something like, “Well, maybe he could have been the Elijah.” At least you can now see through their phony stories about how the Church, or Mr. Armstrong, as they put it, “didn’t really, seriously believe or teach this idea.”
Some on the 1982 Council were: Dibar Apartian, Aaron Dean, Roderick C. Meredith, Raymond F. McNair, Ellis LaRavia, Robert Fahey and Leon Walker. There may have been others who also slipped into a splinter. Of course, some others, like Dr. Hoeh and Dean Blackwell, never left the WCG, and both died having left the faith.
Think! The entire 1982 WCG Advisory Council of Elders and senior ministry have sold out to numerous false doctrines. This is a fact, not because I say so, but because history proves IT IS A FACT! Though some assert otherwise, most of these men have abandoned many doctrines that Mr. Armstrong taught.
How then could any of them possibly still believe Mr. Armstrong fulfilled Matthew 17:11 and “restored all things”? See this point! The false doctrines they all accepted prohibit acceptance of Mr. Armstrong as the Elijah. Holding to new doctrines and to Mr. Armstrong as the Elijah are bi-polar positions. It is impossible to hold both—no one can simultaneously stand on the North and South Poles!
Some do assert that they see Mr. Armstrong’s role, but accept a variety of false teachings. This is because they do not realize the implications of his fulfillment.
Here is a classic example of how far some will go, through bald lies, to protect their position. Anticipating the release of this book and my 1982 sermon, one attack website, eager to counter this material in advance, quoted the oldest living evangelist at the time. It was almost humorous to hear him state how this evangelist said, “Mr. Armstrong told him he was not the final Elijah.”
Can you imagine me telling you to believe Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah simply because “he told me so”? Would that be sufficient for you? How would you know if I was telling the truth? How can we know if this man is telling the truth? The answer is simple: You have seen Mr. Armstrong’s own words—many times over.
You can know who speaks the truth!
If you are willing to wait long enough, the truth always comes out. In time, impostors and fabricators are always exposed for what they are. Incidentally, this evangelist was on the 1982 Council. That alone tells you what he really knows!
The 1985-86 annual God’s Sacred Calendar publication, produced by the WCG and sent to the entire membership, further establishes what the Church taught. This calendar was hung on thousands of refrigerators and bulletin boards for the whole year, before and after Mr. Armstrong’s death. The major theme throughout was that Mr. Armstrong was fulfilling the Elijah role by turning the hearts of the children to the fathers.
The cover features little children greeting Mr. Armstrong. A red banner in the lower corner states “The Hearts of the Children.” On page one is a caption for the cover: “‘Remember the Law of Moses, My Servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. And the hearts of the children to their fathers. Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse’ Malachi, Revised Authorized Version.”
The calendar is filled with images of dancing children, a father reading The Bible Story to his child, smiling children at Feast sites around the world, Imperial students in concert, three little girls running on a track, and young adults learning golf, canoeing and archery at the Australian SEP. Mr. Armstrong is pictured with two Little Ambassadors from Shanghai on his lap. There are also images of SEP camps around the world—Orr, Minnesota is represented with young people sitting around a campfire and receiving instruction on living an abundant life. Loch Lomond, Scotland shows youth learning the fine art of scoring a soccer goal. The last page has pictures of the Youth Bible Lessons and the January YOUTH 85.
In all, there were 40 pictures of activities in which children were the focus. All showed how God was using Mr. Armstrong to teach a generation to look to God to guide them into adulthood. This calendar demonstrates there is absolutely no question that the Church was actively endorsing and teaching the Malachi 4:6 role that Mr. Armstrong was fulfilling, and doing so near—and through—the end of his life! Also understand that this becomes the position that the Church held right to Mr. Armstrong’s death, less than a year later.
But pictures of children with Mr. Armstrong were not the only way that children in the Church were connected to the prophecy. The Church was also making certain that its youth were being taught specifically about the Elijah prophecy. For instance, Lesson 8 for the 11-year-olds of the Church (Level 6 in Y.E.S.) even taught children of this age certain specifics of the prophecy. On the last page of a lesson about Elijah, following a description of how John the Baptist introduced Christ’s First Coming, was found the following:
“John was a type of the future ‘Elijah’—one who would also be sent by God to the world in the spirit and power of the Elijah the prophet, this time just before Christ’s Second Coming to rule the earth.
“As John prepared the way for Christ’s first coming, so the prophesied Elijah to come would prepare the way for Christ’s Second Coming to earth. Jesus said that this man would ‘restore all things,’ referring to God’s Government in His Church and Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom of God. This has been done today by God’s end-time apostle, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. The work of proclaiming the Gospel message Jesus Christ brought is today being done by Mr. Armstrong with the active support of the membership of the Worldwide Church of God.”
How much more explicit could this be? Even the little children of the Church were taught not to lose sight of Mr. Armstrong’s role at the end of the age.
The entire Church read the next statement from a Good News article in 1983:
“God prophesied of three ‘Elijahs.’ The first was the man Elijah, who was the pattern or type of the two following. John the Baptist was the second ‘Elijah’ (Matt. 17:12-13). And in this end time, Herbert W. Armstrong supported by God’s true Church is fulfilling God’s commission as the third ‘Elijah’ (Mal. 4:5-6, Matt. 17:11).”
“The world is being warned! Lives are being changed! God has provided the open doors of the media to this Philadelphia era of God’s true Church to get the job done (Rev. 3:7-8). God has raised up this era through Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong, and uses him as head spokesman. We are called to support him and this end-time Work of a third and final Elijah!”
“Fervent Prayer Avails Much,” Jerold Aust, Good News, March 1983
“Jesus also said the Elijah to come would ‘restore all things’ (Matt. 17:11). Restitution is restoring to a former state or condition—restoring something that had been taken away. What former state or condition needs restoring? What was taken away and when?
“God’s government was taken away from the earth at Lucifer’s rebellion. But it was not restored at Jesus’ first coming. Christ will restore it when He returns (Acts 3:19-21)…
“Just as Christ shall restore the government of God over the entire earth, the one who was to come in the spirit and power of Elijah would restore it in God’s Church. God’s government has been restored in the one true Church of God!
“In the process of restoring the government of God in the Church through the modern Elijah, God has used him to restore many related truths. Of primary importance was the restoration of Christ’s true gospel of the Kingdom of God! That gospel was restored when Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God first went on the air with ‘The World Tomorrow’ radio program the first week in January, 1934, in Eugene, Oregon, United States of America, and then to the world when he went on Radio Luxembourg and Radio Ceylon in 1953…”
Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, Les. 18, p. 14
“Malachi 4:5 is a prophecy being fulfilled in your lifetime—right now! ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.’ Luke 1:17 says that John the Baptist came ‘in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah]’ to prepare the way before the first coming of Christ. Another ‘Elijah’ is prophesied to warn the world ‘before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord’—the return of Jesus Christ in power and glory to punish the unrepentant nations of the earth!
“You are being warned in advance! The Day of the Lord is coming.”
Is This the End Time?, pp. 35-36, 1971, 1973
1971 and Our Previous Belief About Who Fulfills Elijah
“There is but the ONE VOICE crying out in this worldwide chaotic wilderness, proclaiming THE WAY to PEACE, HAPPINESS, WELL-BEING! That is the powerful VOICE OF THIS WORLDWIDE WORK!
“ONE VOICE proclaiming the way that will CAUSE peace—ONE WORK that is PREPARING THE WAY for the supernatural intervention that MUST COME to save humanity ALIVE! And YOU are having YOUR PART in that great WORK!”
Plain Truth EXT. DEPT., June 28, 1971
You may wonder what Mr. Armstrong and the Church believed before God revealed that his Elijah role was a personal one. The above quote gives a hint. You may also wonder why some today think that the Church fulfills the role of Elijah, or that the Church did an “Elijah-like Work.”
The next quote reveals where this past idea originated. Under the subhead “The Work of ‘Elijah,’” the 1969 Correspondence Course (Lesson 53, p.14) stated this:
“1. Did Christ affirm that ‘Elijah’ must come before His own return? Matt. 17:11. Is his job to ‘restore’? Same verse.
“comment: Note that Christ is not speaking of the original Elijah. John the Baptist, who was a type of ‘Elijah,’ came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Luke 1:17). John the Baptist did a one-man work. But today God works through the Body of Christ—the Church composed of many members (Eph. 4:12, 16).
“After Christ’s ministry on this earth, it was no more a single individual that did God’s Work…
“This is what the ‘Philadelphia’ Era of God’s Church is doing today!”
Though the Church once saw the Elijah prophecy in this way, we grew out of it! As was often the case, Mr. Armstrong came to his final understanding in stages. First, he came to see that Malachi 4:5-6 and Matthew 17:11 had to be fulfilled. Next, he and others concluded it had to be the Church as a whole that did this. Finally, it became clear that only one voice—one man—could qualify to fulfill this role. Continuing in the old belief would be comparable to thinking that the Two Witnesses are not individuals, but rather two organizations. While no one would likely ever fall for this, some want to return to a similar limited thinking that the Church grew out of over 40 years ago.
Possibly take the time to review the book The Wonderful World Tomorrow (p. 54, 1966 edit.). It shows we were already beginning in 1966 to see the parallel between Elijah’s three schools of the prophets and the three Ambassador Colleges that Mr. Armstrong started.
1999 Global Church of God Controversy Reveals the Past
I was fired from the Global Church of God on May 3, 1999. Just prior to this, the “Elijah question” had become a matter of great controversy. I knew Raymond McNair believed that Mr. Armstrong was the final Elijah and, at that time, we had many discussions about this. The Living Church of God, under Roderick Meredith, had just split from Global as the “Elijah” issue became full-blown. You will read Mr. McNair’s own words describing Mr. Meredith’s position.
Even though he returned to LCG for some years, Mr. McNair still believed Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah. (He died in 2008.) He stood by the facts and accuracy of his paper, which acknowledges where Mr. Armstrong stood, among other things. It reflects the clarity of Mr. McNair’s thinking in early 1999, and for over 20 years prior.
In 1999, he and a staff writer wrote a lengthy paper containing much valuable information, which, in fact, effectively represented the understanding that Mr. Armstrong was Elijah. While I do not agree with every part of the paper, it was, in principle, very good and quite thorough. It will be quoted momentarily.
I begin with an excerpt from a cover letter sent to the remaining Global ministry with the paper’s first draft. The final paper differed only slightly, and was released shortly after I was fired, to neutralize any effect my position on Mr. Armstrong’s role might have among the then remaining Global members. Again, Mr. McNair stood by his lengthy paper and what you will read here:
“Dear fellow ministers…A number of you recently contacted…me concerning the subject of whether or not Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was the prophesied end-time Elijah, or whether he and his co-workers merely did an Elijah-like Work. You gave us certain ideas, which you had concerning this subject. Recently, Tom Robinson and I wrote an article on the subject of ‘Has Elijah Already Come?’ After going over your brief comments, we decided it would be good to get the field ministers’ input on this subject before running our ‘Elijah’ article in the Global Church News. We do, however, want to spend some time discussing this topic, as time permits, during the Conference. In any event, I want all of you to know that even though it is very clear what Mr. Armstrong taught on this subject, we do not believe the Church leadership should ever make this ‘Elijah’ issue a major doctrinal belief of the GCG.”
Letter to Global ministry “Elijah,” R. F. McNair, Feb. 4, 1999
Obviously, Mr. McNair did not want to see what was an enormous truth become “a major doctrinal belief,” as it should have been seen. Here is an extensive quote from the actual paper (all italics mine):
“…in April of that year , Roderick Meredith and I were in almost complete doctrinal agreement as we had been for the past 50 years. But one important point about which we disagreed at this time was that concerning the Elijah to come. I firmly believed that Mr. Armstrong had fulfilled this prophetic role. Dr. Meredith, however—while rejecting the idea that the Church in general primarily fulfills this role—did not believe that Mr. Armstrong had fulfilled it either. The reason he gave was that Mr. Armstrong and the Work he did weren’t well enough known—that Mr. Armstrong didn’t make a big enough impact on the world to qualify him as the one who fulfilled the Elijah prophecies. I heartily disagreed. Furthermore, over the course of Global’s six-year existence, we had numerous conversations with Dr. Meredith—at private ministerial lunches and doctrinal meetings—concerning this question. But in all those discussions, he held steadfast to his position.
“Now I must say here that I believed this to be his private opinion—even if made in a public context. After all, our stated objective early on was to stick to the doctrines taught at the time of Mr. Armstrong’s death unless there was a consensus among the leading ministry that a point should be changed [Author’s note: Of course, any such “consensus” change would be wrong]…Although Dr. Meredith talked to us a number of times about the Doctrinal Team officially taking up the Elijah question, we never did. However, I have since learned that personal correspondence letters were being sent out with Dr. Meredith’s viewpoint on this matter as Global’s official position. This should never have happened—though it is by no means the fault of those sending the letters.
“Here’s an example of a response Dr. Meredith gave in 1993: ‘You asked “Was Mr. Armstrong Elijah?”…The original Elijah was well known to all Israel. And the second Elijah, John the Baptist, also virtually “shook” the whole nation (Mark 1:5, “Then ALL the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins”). But in my own broad experience, and through extensive interviews and research, it becomes very obvious that Mr. Armstrong was virtually unknown to at least two-thirds or three-fourths of the American people. And all the leading men in the Worldwide Church of God’s British Work have told me that even Mr. Armstrong’s name would not be recognized by ninety-nine percent of the British people let alone what he preached. So it may be that God will raise up a powerful spiritual leader just before the Great Tribulation, and that this man will perform great miracles and shake the nations! In fact, he might end up being one of the “two witnesses.” [Author’s note: This is evidence of Dr. Hoeh’s thinking having spread into “high circles.” Dr. Hoeh spoke regularly to Mr. Meredith while I was in Global.] However, Mr. Armstrong did do an Elijah-like Work to the extent he could. And we do sincerely honor him for that and intend to follow the basic Truths God revealed through him.’
“Interestingly, Dr. Meredith related to a number of us that he felt God would use him to ‘really shake the nation and the world’ with a powerful end-time message. Let it be stated here that we do not agree with his assessment of the scope of Mr. Armstrong’s work, as will shortly be explained…
“Further, consider that if Mr. Armstrong wasn’t the Elijah to come, the restoration is yet to happen. This would mean that we are still far from the faith once delivered—and that either Mr. Armstrong was wrong about most of what he said or the truth he restored is paled into insignificance by what is still to be brought back from the Apostolic Era. Yet can you imagine the understanding of who and what God is, as well as the overall purpose and plan of God for mankind, being paled into insignificance? This seems highly unlikely.”
The End-Time Elijah—Has He Already Come?, R. F. McNair and T. Robinson
I will go further than Mr. McNair’s conclusion that “This seems highly unlikely.” A better one would have been “This would be impossible.” In the next chapter, when we thoroughly address the “Elijah-will-be-one-of-the-Two-Witnesses” theory, we will revisit Mr. McNair’s last paragraph. Several related issues derive from it and must be clarified.
Chapter Five – Many More Proofs
We have already seen several significant proofs of Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment of the Elijah prophecy. This chapter presents numerous additional ones. As we have seen, some proofs that he was the final Elijah have actually been “spun” to prove that he was not. Therefore, in discussing those other proofs, we cannot avoid certain related questions and objections. They are best addressed as we examine certain proofs.
The proofs are not presented in any specific order of importance. Also, you may choose to view some as mere “indications,” not proofs, that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah. I will present the facts—and you must assign each a value of your choosing. Then, after seeing all the proofs, you must assign a value to the overall mass of evidence.
“Restoring All Things”
There are two ways that the phrase in this subhead is misapplied to mean someone other than Mr. Armstrong did this. Raymond McNair made the point well, so we should examine these two ideas.
First is the idea that someone else will come and restore vast numbers of doctrines in such a way as to pale the hundreds of truths Mr. Armstrong restored. In other words, as much as he restored, it becomes insufficient to fulfill the prophecy when compared to some supposed far greater amount that someone else will bring—knowledge, therefore, that is still lost to the Church from the Apostolic Era. No serious, thinking person could possibly believe this. If there are such people, nothing written here will reach them.
Second is the only other suggested option: One of the Two Witnesses restores the truth to the Church—A SECOND TIME. Recall that it cannot be both witnesses, since only one can be Elijah. This means the other would have to be a sort of “bystander” to this process, even if, as some suppose, he is moses—even though Moses was the one used to first give God’s Law! Absurd! Watch how silly this becomes. And remember that Christ will restore all things (Acts 3:19-21) to the world another time—in effect then, a third time—immediately on the heels of what one of the witnesses will have supposedly just done. Realize the Bible nowhere states that the Two Witnesses teach the Church anything in this regard!
Also, before proceeding, recognize that nowhere does God’s Word say that “One of the Two Witnesses restores all things.” Nothing like this is there. The Bible says that Elijah restores all things (Matt. 17:11), and to believe one of the Two Witnesses does this, one must assume that Elijah is one of them. Do you see how flimsy is this house of cards?—how basic is the false assumption?
Never start any study of the Bible with broad assumptions.
Nevertheless, this theory generally develops in the following way: The Church is “scattered” (Dan. 12:7). The truth has somehow become lost or scattered with it. Someone must restore—actually return—it to the surviving remnant of God’s people again. Seventy-five percent of the WCG left the truth entirely. Yet, somehow, when this fictional “Elijah” restores the truth again, to just 15, 20 or 25%—the remaining “faithful”—of the Church, this is supposedly the real “restoring of all things” Christ foretold.
Now, let me explain one reason why this idea is so preposterous—so utterly ludicrous. At the same time, you will see why this thinking should be particularly attractive to me personally!
Anyone who has been to our website or knows anything about us recognizes that RCG generally, and I personally, have “restored” the absolute precision, exactness and fullness of every single doctrine that Mr. Armstrong taught. I have personally rewritten—“restored” if you will—all of the truths in his books, booklets and articles. No other person or organization is even attempting or planning to do what we have already done. Now, guess who the above theory has described as both the Elijah and one of the Two Witnesses—ME!
At least you understand why I say the above theory is so ludicrous, while, at the same time, “attractive” to me personally. Forgive me—I “speak as a fool” to make a point.
Mr. Armstrong led a vast worldwide Work. The size of its infrastructure was staggering. It greatly exceeded the size and impact of all the weak, small WCG splinters that now exist—COMBINED! This should stand as its own towering proof of how God used Mr. Armstrong. Recognize that restoring the truth to a few relatively tiny, shattered groups would be very little restoration at all—even if one Witness were prophesied to do this.
Over 200,000 people entered the Church during Mr. Armstrong’s lifetime. Of course, most turned out to be unconverted, but that has always been the case all through Church history. It is beyond ludicrous to suggest that Mr. Armstrong’s work was of lesser importance than a restoration of some of that same understanding—and by men who would have learned it from Mr. Armstrong—to a few thousand scattered brethren. I say “learned it from Mr. Armstrong” because who would doubt that the Two Witnesses are alive today?—or that they have been associated with God’s Church of our time? Therefore, they would surely have learned the true doctrines of the Bible from Mr. Armstrong. This is but one more reason that everything about the Two Witnesses is secondary to Mr. Armstrong and his role!
“Preparing a People”
Consider. Both John the Baptist and Herbert W. Armstrong truly “prepared a people for the Lord.” This is a clear and unmistakable parallel between their ministries.
The Church never taught that the Two Witnesses will baptize even one person. But we have always taught that they will “witness”—as prophets, foretelling certain horrific oncoming events. Remember, John and Mr. Armstrong were “more than” prophets. We have always understood and emphasized that the Two Witnesses’ job description does not involve bringing about any conversions. In many ways, their role is radically different from any minister. The Bible certainly does not state that they “prepare a people for the Lord.” Idle speculation about how they might “bring about mass conversions one day” is designed to make this theory fit, when the Bible does not say it.
In other books to the splinters, I quote many places in which Mr. Armstrong taught that God’s Work ends when the Great Tribulation begins. God’s Word plainly supports him. We have always known that the preaching of the kingdom of God, which does yield conversions, ends when “the night comes and no man can work” (John 9:4). The Two Witnesses certainly do not restore the true gospel. Mr. Armstrong often explained that the knowledge of the true gospel was restored during his ministry. Most remember at least this much.
Looking for Miracles
Roderick Meredith has spoken more than all others (probably combined) about the need for his church to be granted “miracles” so that he can do “a really big Work.” He has asked his entire membership to pray and fast about this multiple times. This man has spoken incessantly for years—publicly and privately—about the importance of miracles. Of course, miracles are wonderful. I have been instantly healed by God of serious problems more than once, have anointed people and watched God heal them as a result, and, on numerous occasions, I have had to cast out demons. Miracles are certainly inspiring, and we are seeing a steady and increasing number in RCG. Mr. Armstrong certainly performed miracles, and clearly taught the doctrine of healing. No reasonable person can be against miracles. I certainly am not. Numerous dramatic miracles have been an inspiration to The Restored Church of God.
Nevertheless, Revelation 3:8 states that Philadelphia has “a little strength.” This actually means “little miraculous power.” The Greek is dunamis, and is translated “power” in II Timothy 1:7 and other places. It means “special miraculous power or force, by implication a miracle itself.” While the Philadelphian Era has enjoyed periodic miracles, it is not known for them, as was the Apostolic Era. Philadelphia has little miraculous power! Grasp this before proceeding.
Even this is misunderstood, however. Most brethren have no idea why certain miracles followed Philadelphia—that miracles are a direct by-product of apostolic presence and authority. This means Mr. Armstrong. This is very carefully explained, and in an inspiring way, within THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD book.
Some seem to use classic Catholic reasoning toward Mr. Armstrong—they require more miracles of him before they will “canonize” him as Elijah in their minds. But does the fact that God may have only performed a few miracles directly through Mr. Armstrong make him an insufficient candidate for the Elijah role? Is this true? Certainly Elijah did call fire down from heaven. But the final false prophet will also do this. Elijah did do some other miracles. So will the false prophet. But it is entirely speculative to say that either the number or kind of miracles that Mr. Armstrong did was greater, lesser or the same as Elijah.
But any conclusion to this speculation is irrelevant. Here is why.
John the Baptist was also an Elijah. Recall that he was at least equal to the greatest person who ever lived. This means he was even greater than the original Elijah. Yet, he did not perform a single miracle (John 10:41)! So, by comparison, Mr. Armstrong in fact exceeded John in another important regard.
Be careful that you do not put an evangelist’s (one who does not carry apostolic authority) personal “miracle agenda” into the Elijah issue when God does not. I have often wondered if some Laodiceans—the foolish virgins—may someday be mesmerized into an even deeper sleep (and spiritual death) because they looked for and eventually received certain counterfeit “miracles” that Philadelphia was never foretold to enjoy.
A related point must be examined at this time. Some have noted that the original Elijah had, and the Two Witnesses will also have, the power to stop the rain for 3½ years (Rev. 11:6; Jms. 5:17)—though we do not know whether they will do this for the entire Tribulation. However, these men certainly do have the power to do it when they choose. Some believe that this 3½-year parallel proves that one Witness is the final Elijah. But the only reason that the Two Witnesses prophesy for 3½ years is because this is the length of the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, not because their 3½-year witnessing is a type of Elijah’s shutting up the heavens nearly 3,000 years earlier. I have often wondered if God does not sometimes dangle such supposed “parallels” in His Word, so that insincere people can find a few points to justify ignoring a mountain of evidence to the contrary—to suit their own purpose.
In Chapter Seven, we investigate how an almost obsessive desire to “look for miracles” and for an “Elijah” in the end time is fraught with far more danger than many dare to believe.
Elijah to “Shake the Nations”?
The previous chapter’s final quote discussed the belief that “Mr. Armstrong did not do a big enough Work to be considered to have shaken the nations.” Ask: Who said the final Elijah was to “shake the nations”? Certainly not God! The original Elijah was not commissioned to, nor did he, “shake the nations” with his message. There is no evidence of this, though he did prophesy it would not rain for 3½ years. However, John did reach “all the land of Judea” (Mark 1:5). This phrase has been used to assert that Mr. Armstrong did not do a big enough Work.
What does Mark 1:5 really say? “All Judea” was probably no more than 500,000 to perhaps two or three million people. For the moment, assume that John the Baptist reached every one of them. In comparison to Mr. Armstrong, this was an extremely small Work. By contrast, Mr. Armstrong was heard all over the world and known by one-third of the world leaders of his time. An estimated 25 million people were reading his magazine just at the time of his death. (It entered every country.) Ten times as many heard him on radio and television during the last years of his life. In addition, millions of copies just of The United States and Britain in Prophecy were sent out over the course of his ministry. Thousands of ministers and staff served under his leadership. Of course, technology took him to many places that his physical body could never have reached. In the end, his ministry completely dwarfed that of John the Baptist—in every measurable way. Conceivably, he reached more people, in his 52-year ministry, than all the other servants of God who ever lived—combined! And I am certainly not the first to suggest this.
To shout, as did Mr. Meredith, “He reached ALL JUDEA!”, as though John did a huge Work, is like shouting, “He reached all Rhode Island!” or “all Delaware!” If Mr. Armstrong only reached all of either of these tiny states, would we think he led a bigger Work—or a far smaller Work—than he did? Again, to quote Paul, “I speak as a fool.” Do not be deceived by anyone whose real agenda is that God will use him to do a mightier Work than Mr. Armstrong. Such arrogant presumptuousness!
However, there is an irony accompanying this thinking. This same man is on record as having said it is “presumptuous and arrogant to claim we know who Elijah is.” Besides calling Mr. Armstrong presumptuous and arrogant (remember, Mr. Armstrong repeatedly stated and wrote that HE KNEW who the Elijah was), this man diverts attention from his own pomposity by attributing this attitude to others. I have been sickened by how, in almost as many words, he indicts those who teach the proper Elijah doctrine as veritable false prophets—and, therefore, he must include Mr. Armstrong in this.
In his sermon assailing Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment, Roderick Meredith actually compared those with the greatest respect for Mr. Armstrong’s writings to how some view Ellen G. White’s (Seventh Day Adventists) and Joseph Smith’s (Mormons) writings. He compared the Church’s previous Elijah understanding to Mr. Armstrong’s—and this is what he called it—“speculation” in The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like, denigrating how Mr. Armstrong spoke of God’s “possible future appointments” of certain Bible servants in His kingdom. He explained how he had tried to “keep Mr. Armstrong from embarrassing himself” when writing that book. He concluded a portion of his attack against those who believe that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah by shouting at them, “Get real!”
Understanding the power of repetition, this deceiver said, time and again, that Elijah is yet to come. He proclaimed, “People are getting mixed up about this and confused.” But he is the one who is confused and one of those who is mixing people up. There was a time when none of God’s people were confused. However, his presentation was, in a sense, “spectacular”—and it is causing confusion. Incredibly, he reduced Mr. Armstrong to merely “some man,” and asked, “Is this question a matter of salvation?”, then stated, “Our foundation is what Christ taught not what some man taught.” He finally asked, “Why isn’t it mentioned in the book of Acts?”, and added, “The apostles didn’t stress it as an important point.”
The apostles did not have to stress this knowledge, Christ did!—as do many other verses! Why would the apostles have needed to emphasize this in their time? Christ had said it would happen and that was sufficient for people living in the first century. In essence, though, this man placed a greater emphasis on what the apostles wrote (or, in this case, did not write) than on what Christ and God have inspired in numerous other Bible texts! How many in LCG caught him doing this? Almost certainly very few, because no hue and cry arose. No mass exodus ensued.
He then declared that Mr. Armstrong’s “date-setting was probably his biggest doctrinal error”—as he tied this to Mr. Armstrong’s “error” in the timing of Elijah’s appearance. His final, outrageous, insulting slam of virtually Mr. Armstrong’s entire ministry was to state, “GTA (Garner Ted Armstrong) did 90% of all radio and television programs ever made, and 1958-1978 was the period of greatest growth in the Church.” I could not believe my ears and wondered why I did not hear many feet running from the meeting hall to escape his presence. And he spewed this sermon over his entire church, and from its website. Again, no hue and cry was evidenced, accompanied by mass exodus.
No amount of public denial of his desire to be the Elijah can negate this man’s many private statements, reflecting his unbridled ambition. Remember, Brer’ Rabbit denied that he wanted to be thrown into the briar patch. Mr. Armstrong warned me personally and forcefully of this “leader’s” ambition. How I wish I had realized its true depth. Just as Mr. Armstrong needed years to fully end his association with Sardis, it took me years to recognize that I needed to disassociate from this deceiver.
Neither Mr. Armstrong nor the WCG ever taught that vast numbers would be converted at the end of the age. This happens during the Millennium and beyond. The reader surely recognizes this as long-held, basic understanding. It is this man’s heresy to suggest otherwise in order to build a case for himself to be one of the Two Witnesses (his statements suggest he may be hoping to be both) and to be the Elijah. Paul compared heresy to both leaven and cancer. Both always spread until they fill or kill their host.
We have examined a classic example of taking a proof for Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment and, by twisting a single phrase, making it “proof” of the opposite. Will you see through such seductive cunning?
Length of Ministry
This next proof could be considered part of the previous point. But, because it hits so hard, I want it to stand alone as its own easy-to-be-remembered fact. Let’s review.
We have learned that John the Baptist’s entire ministry lasted only about one year (with another six months in prison). Dare anyone suggest that the Work Mr. Armstrong did was smaller—when his ministry lasted about 55 years? Put another way, Mr. Armstrong’s ministry was about 55 times longer than John’s!—and he reached probably 100 times more people—and all over the world!
The point: If this were sufficient for John to be an Elijah, where and how does Mr. Armstrong fall short?
Over the course of his ministry, Mr. Armstrong established three colleges to train full-time servants for God’s Work. Apart from the giant scope of the rest of his ministry, this was an enormous accomplishment in itself (of course, God did it through him). However, these colleges carry a remarkable parallel.
The original Elijah also organized three schools of “sons of the prophets,” located at Gilgal, Bethel and Jericho (II Kgs. 2:1-7, 4:38). Since at least 1966, the Church has understood that these were not merely “religious schools,” but full-education Liberal Arts colleges (The Wonderful World Tomorrow, p. 54, 1966 edit.). Incidentally, John established no colleges.
Is this merely an enormous coincidence? If you feel tempted to say “Yes,” ask, “How many other people—throughout human history!—have developed three colleges?” You may discover a handful, but you will likely find none. Yet, both of these men did this!
Will another come and build three colleges? Who is kidding whom?
Depressed and Lonely—Yet a Few Remain
Elijah battled depression and loneliness to the point of actually wanting at one point to die. Others of God’s greatest servants (Job, Jonah and Moses) also fought similar feelings—but each for different reasons. Jonah was rebellious, Job was stubbornly self-righteous and Moses was overwhelmed by having to lead millions of murmuring Israelites.
Mr. Armstrong’s autobiography—and our biography of his life, Herbert W. Armstrong – His Life in Proper Perspective—reveal that he also struggled with feelings of discouragement, and even depression, as he pressed on alone for many years. He certainly did feel overwhelmed by the amount of work he had to do by himself during a long period. Elijah, after thinking he had been left alone, was to learn that at least a few—just 7,000—“had not bent the knee to Baal.” While this may seem like a large number, it was really only a fraction of a nation of possibly several millions.
Like Elijah’s time, very few have “held fast” to the truth that so many believed when Mr. Armstrong was alive. When he occasionally said, “I don’t think 90% of you get it,” his understanding truly foreshadowed how few would “not bow the knee to Baal” in our time.
Both men struggled with discouragement and loneliness, only to learn that a few others had also not caved in to the false leaders surrounding them—Elijah, during his lifetime, with Mr. Armstrong to learn this final number later in the First Resurrection.
This proof, in favor of Mr. Armstrong’s fulfillment, is another one used as “proof” against it. This is done in so pitiful a fashion that I hesitated to dignify it here. But it is included to show how shallow the thinking of some is.
One former WCG minister from South Africa is perceived as a kind of “fountain of wisdom” on the Internet. Some see this man as a “scholarly” voice, shining amid today’s confusion. In his 1995 paper rejecting Mr. Armstrong as the Elijah, he spun this proof by 180 degrees. His “counter-proof,” as it relates here, develops in the following way: We have seen that Elijah and John largely worked alone—as did Mr. Armstrong. This man notes that the Two Witnesses do not, because they have each other. Here is how he then used this difference to prove that one of the Witnesses will be Elijah: He proclaimed that God (I am paraphrasing) had solved Elijah’s “loneliness” problem by providing him with a companion—an “assistant”—to keep him company.
At least I warned you that it was pitiful!
This man’s silly theory reduces one of the Two Witnesses to an “assistant” (presumably Moses, since he is a popular choice as the other Witness) and portrays the leading Witness as a kind of “wimp” who cannot go it alone. However, since Mr. Armstrong largely did function alone, he was, therefore, much stronger than this skewed concept of the Two Witnesses, who, under this theory, should better be called the “Two Weaknesses.” Incidentally, we have also just made a statement about the greatness of Mr. Armstrong’s courage, while at the same time recognizing the devil’s remarkable ability to diminish a great office of God, and appear “reasonable” in doing so. On a side note, this “scholar’s” theory also indirectly undermines the enormous and necessary special great strength of the Two Witnesses themselves!
Revelation 17:10 From a Mid-1930s Perspective!
God revealed a tremendous amount of overall prophetic understanding to—and through—Herbert W. Armstrong. Ponder for a moment just the number of books and booklets he wrote that were almost entirely about prophecy: The Wonderful World Tomorrow, The United States and Britain in Prophecy, The Book of Revelation—Unveiled at Last!, The Middle East in Prophecy, Are We In the Last Days? and more. This introduces a major point of proof.
Revelation 17:10 speaks of the seven heads of the Holy Roman Empire. We have long known that one of the most amazing facts about this scripture is its time-sensitive phrase, “Five have fallen, one IS, and one is yet to come.” Mr. Armstrong carefully discusses this passage in another of his booklets on prophecy titled, Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? (p. 14).
Let’s understand. The sixth head, or Roman revival, culminated in Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany. In late 1933, as Mr. Armstrong’s Philadelphian ministry began, Hitler had been in power for almost a year. He was the existing head described as “one is.” The phrasing of this verse shouts that the full understanding of Daniel’s prophecies would remain hidden (they were “closed up and sealed till the time of the end” – Dan. 12:9), along with the book of Revelation, until the 1930s, when the sixth head would be in place.
This puts Herbert W. Armstrong directly into the center of the revealing process that God would initiate thousands of years after the books of Daniel and Revelation were written. Think of this another way. Had Mr. Armstrong come a little earlier, the verse would not have fit, or it would have had to state, “Five are fallen, and two are not yet come.” Had Mr. Armstrong’s ministry started just 12 years later, the verse again would not fit, or it would have had to state, “Six are fallen, and one is yet to come.”
How long has it been since you were reminded of the profound importance of this astonishing passage? Honest minds simply cannot explain away its direct correlation to how God intended, for thousands of years, to use a certain man to restore (or actually reveal)—AT THAT SPECIFIC TIME!—to full understanding the approximate one-third of the Bible that is prophecy.
Remember, as an apostle, Mr. Armstrong was “more than a prophet.” By contrast, Daniel was a prophet, yet he was not permitted to understand his own prophecies (12:8-9)—and other passages show that he was still one of God’s greatest servants (Ezek. 14:14). But Daniel was merely used to record great future events, while God used an apostle to explain them.
We must consider one additional—and related—important point before continuing. We have established that Mr. Armstrong restored a vast amount of general prophetic understanding. Would—could—the enormous understanding of the prophetic fulfillment of who was the final elijah be an exception to the revealing process? Considering the implications of Malachi 4:5-6, it might be one of the last prophecies for which God would make an exception! It should not then be thought unusual or surprising that Mr. Armstrong would also be used by God to correctly explain this prophecy. It is rather to be expected, and even necessary, that He would, when one considers the giant overall framework of end-time prophecy that God did reveal to him. In other words, the fact that explaining the Elijah prophecy included recognition that he was the one who had fulfilled it does not preclude God from using him to reveal it. The fact that it was describing himself has no relevance to God using him to explain it. Think this through very carefully until it is impossible to miss.
Mr. Armstrong was the tool that God was using to do all the restoring to His Church!
Two More Important Matters of Timing
The particular time period that Mr. Armstrong appeared validates his fulfillment of the Elijah role in two more critical ways.
first: Some suggest that Mr. Armstrong died too soon to fulfill the role. But consider! The apostasy and resulting Laodicean dominance that now prevails among the splinters could never have happened had he remained alive—the scattering could never have happened! Mr. Armstrong, active as Elijah, absolutely had to pass from the scene well before the Tribulation for the seventh and final era to be able to rise. Not grasping this, people’s thinking is 180 degrees from where it should be. The Elijah had to precede, not follow, the last era! But there is another equally important point about the timing of Mr. Armstrong’s arrival. It may be even more critical.
second: Virtually all of God’s people realize that Sardis, the era preceding Mr. Armstrong and Philadelphia, had lost more of the truth than did probably any previous era. Mr. Armstrong described Sardis as having very little truth, and God describes this era as almost “dead” (Rev. 3:1-2, 4). Only a “few” were still converted in this nearly deceased era, which had little true understanding remaining. You can probably see where this is going: When is the most logical time, in the grand scheme of prophecy and Church history, to raise up one to restore the largest amount of truth that had ever been lost to the Church? In other words, in Sardis, Christ’s Church was in danger of becoming completely dead. ALL truth would soon have disappeared from earth without this restoration. And that would thwart Christ’s promise in Matthew 16:18—that His Church would never die out. So then, when would be the greatest time of NEED in history for one to stand up and “restore all things”?
No wonder God raised up Mr. Armstrong exactly when He did—in the mid-1930s!
Incidentally, Roderick Meredith has stated in 2001 that Mr. Armstrong dying “15-20 years before the Tribulation rules him out as the Elijah.” But remember, vastly more people learned of John’s fulfillment after his death than before. So it would not be strange for the same to be true of Mr. Armstrong. The precise timing of both his early arrival—and his death—is tied far more closely to the two additional points described in this second timing proof!
“Hearts of the Fathers to the Children and…”
Much controversy is raised about Mr. Armstrong not having done enough of “turning the hearts of the fathers to the children,” and vice-versa, to have fulfilled Malachi 4:6. This is perhaps one of the flimsiest—truly silliest—things one can consider. In Luke 1:17, the angel of the Lord said that John, in just a one-year ministry that converted no one, would “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.” We cannot ignore this statement when assessing the scope of what Mr. Armstrong did in comparison! Yet, how many consider it?
First, remember that Mr. Armstrong started three colleges, preached over 50 times longer than John, and started youth programs (Y.O.U. and Y.E.S.) and a major youth magazine in a way that was unprecedented—in the entire history of civilization. John did none of this! The fact that these youth programs later grew largely ineffective, and almost entirely sports-oriented, is an indictment of parents, the field ministry and others who administered the program, rather than Mr. Armstrong. Many of those same parents and ministers now seek to fault Mr. Armstrong for their own negligence and disinterest in their children’s development—and the fruits of that generation, now adults, show that they have paid a terrible price for their own neglect! Sadly, so many have chosen the easy path of blaming the Church or Mr. Armstrong.
Second, consider the central meaning of what the angel and Malachi 4:6 were probably most referring to. Many physical Israelites (the Jews) were “children of Israel” whom John turned back to the truths of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—“the fathers.” He also turned them back to the teachings of the prophets, preachers of righteousness (Noah and seven others) and other great servants of God, such as Moses, Job and David. But surely Mr. Armstrong brought many more people to true spiritual conversion, and to the teachings of the fathers described above, than did John the Baptist. Not one soul was spiritually converted under John—though many were, no doubt, later converted on or after Pentecost A.D. 31, and the birth of the New Testament Church.
Sent to Kings
None of the ten proofs covered so far in this chapter included a direct statement from Mr. Armstrong about another critical aspect of why he fulfilled the Elijah office. John the Baptist warned one king in Judea. Elijah apparently worked with two or three kings in Israel, and perhaps certain others.
Mr. Armstrong went to vastly more than both of these men put together—he was sent to modern Israel’s national leaders, several leaders of modern Judah and many Gentile leaders. He came to know personally above one-third of all the kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers and chancellors—heads of state—on earth, perhaps 70 or more.
In a February 21, 1974, Letter to the Brethren (while over the Pacific on the way to the Philippines), under the subhead “Elijah Went to Kings” he wrote:
“God had hid Elijah from King Ahab of Israel—first by the brook Cherith, fed by the ravens, then in the house of the widow in Zarephath. Finally, God told Elijah in the third year to go to King Ahab. In the way Elijah met Obadiah, governor of the king’s palace, who greatly feared God. Elijah told Obadiah to go tell King Ahab Elijah had come.
“But Obadiah feared for his life! He said, ‘As the Eternal thy God liveth, there is NO NATION OR KINGDOM whither my lord [King Ahab] hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not’ (I Kings 18:10).
“Ahab’s servants did not inquire or take an oath of the sheepherders, farmers, or common people. Obviously, Ahab’s men went directly to the KING of each nation, indicating that Elijah was known to the kings of the earth in his day.
“Today, after 40 years, the DOORS TO THESE NATIONS ARE OPENING one after another, faster than I can get to them! THIS IS DEFINITELY OF GOD!
“And now, PUBLIC APPEARANCE CAMPAIGNS are planned already in THREE nations, sponsored by officials high in the governments of these nations. Already I have gotten the MESSAGE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD to audiences of 55 to 100 of each nation’s LEADERS in banquets or dinners in India, Japan, Thailand, South Vietnam, Ethiopia, and the Philippines.
“This is positively miraculous! It is GOD’S DOING!”
This is the earliest indication I can find that Mr. Armstrong may have already been coming to believe that he was personally fulfilling the Elijah office.
“Taken Away from the Evil to Come”
One other remarkable parallel exists between the original Elijah, John the Baptist and Mr. Armstrong. Each man was spared from impending calamity to occur just beyond their time. Isaiah wrote, “The righteous perishes, and no man lays it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come” (57:1).
Let’s “consider” what few seem to consider.
Who can doubt that Mr. Armstrong, after a lifetime of intense persecution, was “taken away” from the greatest period of prophesied worldwide trouble to ever strike earth—the Great Tribulation, as well as the long difficult period preceding it, and the horrific Day of the Lord, foretold to last an entire year? The original Elijah was miraculously taken away into the heavens in a whirlwind (II Kgs. 2:1) after undergoing intense persecution and fleeing for his life. Israel experienced great—and almost nonstop—difficulty and instability after he was gone. John the Baptist did die through beheading after barely reaching beyond age 31. But he was also taken away from having to witness the horrible crucifixion of Christ, 2½ years later, and the catastrophic destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple a little more than 40 years later.
Let none of us be counted among the “none considers” category in regard to an obvious parallel of how God spared these three men, removing each from impending evil.
Disconnecting What Was Never Connected
For many years, we believed that Mr. Armstrong would live until Christ’s Return. Think! It became inconceivable that he could live this long and not be one of the Two Witnesses. Therefore, we assumed that he would be both Elijah and one of the Witnesses. Again, were he alive, it would have been completely incomprehensible that he would not. Herein grew a problem.
People automatically (probably mostly at a subconscious level) linked the two offices—when the Bible does not. (I certainly did try to link the prophecy about Mr. Armstrong at the end of Revelation 10 with chapter 11, describing the Two Witnesses.) It was simply natural to assume that if Mr. Armstrong were to hold both offices—Elijah and one of the Witnesses—then these roles must be connected. My 1982 sermon demonstrates that I felt Mr. Armstrong would probably be one of the Two Witnesses, while at the same time making clear that I also recognized he could die before the Tribulation. I understood that these two offices were not linked, because Mr. Armstrong publicly said he could die before Christ returned!
Mr. Armstrong never believed both offices must stand or fall together. Ask: How could he state he was the Elijah, believe he could die before the Tribulation and also believe Elijah must be one of the Two Witnesses?
Here is what happened: When death precluded Mr. Armstrong any longer being one of the Two Witnesses, people seemed to ignore all the proof that he WAS the Elijah, and decided that he could fulfill NEITHER role. It became “all or nothing” for him. The baby got thrown out with the bath water—and Mr. Armstrong was no longer here to counter the erroneous assumption!
A Final Related Problem Arises
The third category of people described in Chapter One have fallen into a ditch related to the “connection” problem just described. It deserves mention at the end of this chapter. This is the group that believes Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah, but also believes that no one else may preach the kingdom to the world or warn modern Israel—that the Work is over! These people have also connected two things that Mr. Armstrong never connected. As mentioned, I once held to their error, and my 1982 Elijah sermon demonstrates it.
Let’s consider: Most of us once believed that only apostles could continue the Work of God—preaching the gospel to all nations and the Ezekiel Warning to the nations of modern Israel. People who link Mr. Armstrong to sole authority to do this Work forget that he delegated the Work to a non-apostle—and that he himself did the Work for almost 19 years before recognizing in late 1952 that he was an apostle. In addition, recognize that he also authorized three other non-apostles (one also not an evangelist) to continue the telecast after his death. Others, deceitfully, recognize this but choose to only focus on the part of his instruction to his successor to “Get the Church ready for the Wedding Supper.” They throw out his “continue the Work” instruction. Such people are lazy, selfish, self-focused, rebellious and heretical. They are also stealing God’s tithes and giving them to lazy ministers who, like themselves, refuse to do the Work.
Mr. Armstrong never—I repeat, NEVER!—believed the Work would end simply because his life ended. There is not space in this book to include his numerous quotes proving this. Our book The Work of God – Its Final Chapter! conclusively proves Mr. Armstrong would have believed unthinkable the linking of himself having any supposed “exclusive right” to preach the gospel and the Ezekiel Warning. Rather, you will see that he would have disfellowshipped anyone who believed this, describing them as enemies of the Work!
I repeat: It was a veritable DOCTRINE, repeated by Mr. Armstrong hundreds of times, that we were called to do God’s Work (Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20)—and that our hearts must be in this. It insults both Mr. Armstrong and his memory to suggest he would think we should lie down on the job as soon as he took his last breath. Believe me, I knew him well enough to know that he would thunder—and worse!—at anyone remotely suggesting such misguided, selfish thinking.
If this includes you, then WAKE UP from your self-focus and selfish delusion and REPENT! Read what Mr. Armstrong really said instead of what some deceiver has convinced you that he said, or privately believed. You may yet recover and qualify to rule with Jesus Christ over the very nations you are now refusing to warn—and with whom you have refused to share the precious knowledge of the coming kingdom of God, so unselfishly shared with you!
Chapter Six – Implications and Walls of Defense
The first five chapters conclusively proved Mr. Armstrong was the final Elijah. We can now discuss the implications of his fulfillment. God’s people must understand the ramifications of accepting or rejecting this. What does the prophecy mean to God’s people today? If Mr. Armstrong “restored all things,” no one else may alter that body of restored understanding. This is what the Elijah doctrine says to you!
Actually, this is but the first of FOUR great walls of defense (all are interwoven) that God has provided to protect Christians from false teaching at the end of the age. Later, we will see more of what this means. In the end, if you fight through or over all four walls of God’s doctrinal defense system, you are a determined heretic, and nothing can help you.
But why do I say “first of four” walls?
Let’s play “Just Suppose.” Does God permit you and me to alter doctrine, simply because we may not believe that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah? Were there any other teachings of the Bible and Mr. Armstrong that one must overthrow to bring a personal doctrinal agenda into place? There are—and it is the second wall. Actually, we will see that Mr. Armstrong’s own words construct this next wall.
The Second Wall—Truth is Only Revealed Through Apostles
Those who make no exceptions in holding fast to all of the truth that the Church once believed are often accused of “worshipping Mr. Armstrong.” This is ironic. When 150,000 people held to what he taught while he was alive, no one suggested that we were “worshipping Mr. Armstrong.”
Why do some say this now?
God’s people have all long striven to follow the teachings of other apostles (Peter, Paul, James, John, Jude, Matthew) and no one has ever suggested they were worshipping any one of them. Why is Mr. Armstrong singled out for special attention in this way? Consider this. Like all apostles before him, he is dead. Those who practice balanced obedience to the instructions of deceased apostles neither enshrine nor worship them. This includes Mr. Armstrong. Truly, he has become an apostle “without honor from those of his own time” to those who now think simply following him (I Cor. 4:16; 11:1) is worshipping him.
Now for the second wall: Mr. Armstrong plainly taught that true doctrine could only enter the Church through apostles. This, in itself, was a strongly held doctrine. Rejecting the truth of this understanding is its own false doctrine. Think! People must reject this doctrine to be in a position to reject other doctrines. Actually, people must first reject the doctrine that Elijah has come and restored all things before, actually secondarily, rejecting the apostolic role in how truth enters the Church.
Let’s review Mr. Armstrong’s teaching on this doctrine. The following quotes come from the period when he was “putting the Church back on track”—after liberals had watered down many doctrines! The truth was under assault, and Mr. Armstrong’s instructions show exactly how the Church is brought back to unity. This is what RCG has done. Notice:
“The word apostle means ‘one sent forth.’
“The New Testament Church of God received all its teachings, practices, customs, from the apostles, with Peter chief over all the others.
“Yet the apostles were the teachers, who instilled in the Church the beliefs, teachings, practices and customs of the Church. And all members of the Church were required by God to believe and speak the same thing!
“there was no doctrinal board! The teachings of the Church did not come from a council of ministers and/or lay members, who voted on what to believe. [Author’s note: Those in the largest splinter should review this.]
“Right here, mark well this point: god put his truth into his church through christ and through the apostles!
“note this! The Church of God is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets…
“I have shown you…that Peter was leader of the apostles—and that the Church received its teachings and doctrines from the apostles!
“So now let it be made official—by Christ’s present-day apostle—that this binding and loosing plainly, clearly was given to Christ’s chief apostle—not to lower-rank ministers ordained by his authority—not by the church as a body—but by the apostle!
“jesus christ is the living head of this Church! he built it through His apostle. And He, christ, still rules supreme in the one and only area on earth where the government of god is being administered today!”
“How Christ Gives the Church its Beliefs,” GN, Nov. 20, 1978
“God says we in His Church must all believe and speak the same thing—we must be agreed on what is truth and right and good as opposed to what is evil and sin.
“But HOW? How does Jesus Christ put his doctrines into His Church? How did He in A.D. 31? How in A.D. 1933?
“Only by His chosen apostles.
“Our teaching and doctrines must come from god! Through christ! And through His apostle!
“God has always, in dealing with humans, worked through one man at a time—one who believed God! Some in ancient Israel challenged this one-man leadership. Some, likewise, have challenged it today!
“First, Moses’ own brother and sister challenged his one-man leadership…‘And the anger of the Eternal was kindled against them’ [Num. 12:9].
“Yet, though our members and ministers all know this, some are not afraid to speak contemptuously, in hostility, or defamingly against Christ’s apostle today! They need not fear ME! For I will not turn on them or strike them.
“Why, then, do they not fear God? It must be one of two things. Either they do not really comprehend this teaching…or they do not believe that God has chosen me as His apostle and human leader today. [Author’s note: As the one chosen to be the human leader of the Church today, you now know why I do not fret when attacked.]
“The church is GOD’S Church. The head of the Church, under god, is Jesus Christ. Under Christ, on the human level, is His chosen apostle, through whom He has raised up and built this spiritual TEMPLE to which the reigning christ shall soon come in glory (Eph. 2:20-21).
“All doctrines in the Church as it began, A.D. 31, were put in by the apostles. All doctrines in the present Philadelphia era were put into the Church by Jesus Christ through His chosen apostle.”
“And Now Christ Sets Church Back on Track Doctrinally!”, WN, Feb. 19, 1979
“Church teachings were being changed. The most resultful booklet of all, The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy, was attacked…the same with a number of other basic and important booklets written by Christ’s apostle.
“How does God’s Church receive its doctrines, beliefs and teachings? Direct from God, through the channels of Jesus Christ as head of the Church, and from Him through the apostles! never by any others! never by a group of ministers appointing themselves as a Doctrinal Committee! So it was in the first century.
“How did the Worldwide Church of God receive its doctrines, beliefs and teachings? Exclusively through Christ’s apostle!
“But every doctrine, belief and teaching in the Worldwide Church of God has come from christ through his chosen apostle!”
“What Is a Liberal?”, WN, Feb. 19, 1979
“The living Jesus Christ founded the one true Church of God, A.D. 31. The same living Jesus Christ started the Philadelphia era of God’s Church through me, as His chosen apostle, August 1933.
“God commands in His word that we all ‘speak the same thing.’ That ‘same thing’ He put into His Church through His apostle.”
“Watering Down—Or Slowly Building Solidly Up?”, WN, June 11, 1979
Why Mr. Armstrong Was Right
After examining what Mr. Armstrong said, we must ask where he got the idea that only he, as Christ’s apostle, could be used to bring doctrine to the Church.
Notice what Paul recorded: “Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-20).
In conjunction with Christ’s leadership of the Church, apostles and prophets play a special role. Since apostles outrank prophets, their role exceeds that of prophets. Yet, since prophets recorded much of the Bible, and because the Bible was complete by Mr. Armstrong’s time, it required an apostle to properly explain, and thereby restore to the Church, the true doctrines of God. This was never thought to be difficult to understand. What got lost to the thinking of so many?
One other passage makes this ironclad. It involves the first “snapshot” of the New Testament Church at the moment of its birth. This is a telling scripture. You will recognize the occasion but may not have noticed what else has always been there. Now notice: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:41-42).
No wonder verses 44 and 46 go on to state that the brethren “were together” and “with one accord” in the temple. When people hold to the apostles’ doctrine, their fellowship is unified! Mr. Armstrong understood this. He did not teach it to elevate himself, but rather because he understood the all-important principle of how unity is maintained in God’s Church. When the apostates finished with the Church, they had even convinced (primarily at an unconscious level) most of the 20% who survived and fled that it was “open season” on any doctrine that people might wish to target. (Of course, by this time, they had thoroughly destroyed the second wall!)
Why is this so difficult for people to understand? History and prophecy show these things have always been the case—and they are actively so once again!
The Third Wall—Philadelphians “Hold Fast”
Let’s again play “Just Suppose.” Suppose we still wish to consider ourselves Philadelphian, but choose to no longer believe that only apostles can bring doctrine into the Church. Do any other walls of defense protect God’s people from changing doctrine? We are ready to discuss the third wall.
We have long known that two Church conditions co-exist at the end, eventually to be co-mingled all in one organization. Mr. Armstrong led Philadelphia. The dominant final era, Laodicea, generally entered the scene as doctrinally unsound, disagreeing and scattered. (Our book Surviving “Perilous Times” explains what the Bible teaches, and what Mr. Armstrong taught, about doctrinal compromise, now so pervasive.)
However, there is one towering scripture that perhaps most defines Philadelphia, in the doctrinal sense. Grasp its meaning: “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown” (Rev. 3:11).
In many Bible versions, the italicized phrase is translated, “Hold fast what you have.” How does one change some or even one doctrine, and then claim to be “holding fast”? This could only be described as “letting go.” It is no accident that God placed this verse within the Revelation 3 description of Philadelphia. It ties directly to the two doctrinal centerpieces constituting the Elijah truth “restoration,” and the unique apostolic role in bringing truth into the Church. God long ago foresaw that, when He planned to “restore all things” through an apostle/Elijah, this man would also powerfully teach that all truth enters the Church only through the highest office in the Church. Understand that this was no less a truth that needed restoration than any other.
Do you see how Revelation 3:11 is inextricably woven around these two other centerpieces? This presents THREE reasons (the prophetic restoration, apostles’ roles regarding truth, and holding fast) that one cannot change doctrine and remain Philadelphian. Would God allow these three pieces of understanding to be given in conjunction at the end of the age, and expect His people to somehow “figure out” that they were to almost immediately dismiss them all after Mr. Armstrong died? Ridiculous—God would never permit, let alone author, such confusion (I Cor. 14:33)!
It is absolutely crucial to understand that Satan seeks to pierce all three walls at once when he attacks the Elijah prophecy. Consider. He has already confused most people on the truth of this previous understanding. This means that Mr. Armstrong could have then also been wrong about the doctrine of apostles and how truth enters the Church.
Satan long ago breached this monumental second wall in most people’s thinking. Once this occurred, it became easy to breach the third wall by saying that holding fast only involves “core doctrines”—“fundamental doctrines”—“basic doctrines”—“doctrines essential for salvation,” etc. (Remember again, two great doctrines had to be thrown out to even get to the third wall.) I have learned that false teachers love to make doctrinal changes while saying that their changes do not rise to the level of “essential for salvation.”
Here is the problem with this thinking. In the past, “core,” “basic,” “fundamental” and/or “essential for salvation,” as parameters, were never imposed on the truth as a license to change doctrine outside this kind of artificial boundary. No one ever talked in these terms until the apostates raised them. Keep this simple. In the splinters, these terms are defined as anything that anyone needs them to be in order to exclude whatever doctrine(s) they wish to alter or throw out.
The Fourth Wall—What the Bible Directly States
The fourth wall represents the last inner wall of defense to preserve one’s doctrinal integrity! Let’s play the theoretical “Just Suppose” one last time. If the first three walls are breached, one huge wall still stands to protect a person from all further false teaching. I say “further” because, again, breaching the first three walls means one has already accepted three false teachings! So, of course, any more discussion, beyond wall one, is artificial—academic. Remember, heresy began the moment the first wall was pierced!
A series of verses address how God expects His Church—and you—to maintain doctrinal unity. Lack of space prohibits explaining each passage in detail. (This is done in the book The True Church – One Organization, or Many?, as well as “ANOINT YOUR EYES.”) Their clarity allows them to largely speak for themselves:
(1) “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10). Note that, in this one verse, five separate phrases describe the need for complete doctrinal unity.
(2) “I am set for the defense of the gospel…Only let your conversation be as it becomes the gospel of Christ…stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries” (Phil. 1:17, 27-28).
(3) “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up…” (Eph. 4:13-15).
(4) “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Meditate upon these things; give yourself wholly to them; that your profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you” (I Tim. 4:13, 15-16). I exhort all who are reading this now—will you “hear” this scripture?
(5) “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie…Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (II Thes. 2:10-11, 15). Compare this with II Thessalonians 3:6 on the next page.
(6) “…in the last days perilous times shall come…evil men and seducers shall wax 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 …For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap (Greek: “pile up”) to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 3:1, 12-14; 4:3-4). Read this passage often, recognizing we learned the truth in the “last days” through Herbert W. Armstrong.
(7) “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)…Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much more, as you see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins…But we are not of them who draw back into perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10:23, 25-26, 39).
This verse is very, very serious! The context is end-time—“as you see the day approaching.”
(8) “Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Titus 1:9-11). True ministers teach “as we have been taught.” This defines “holding fast” in that context and, with the next four verses, explains what must be done to those bringing heresy.
(9) “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (II Thes. 3:6).
(10) “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sins, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:10-11).
(11) “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yes, strife and reproach shall cease” (Prov. 22:10).
(12) “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17-18).
(13) “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). The many splinters cannot agree on what to believe and teach. This is why they cannot walk together.
(14) “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as does a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus” (II Tim. 2:15-17). This verse sets up the next one.
(15) “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (I Cor. 11:19). Only those who do not yield to heresy are “approved” by God.
(16) “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9). This verse is found in the context of obeying the truth—verse 7.
(17) “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psa. 133:1).
(18) “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add you not unto His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar” (Prov. 30:5-6).
(19) “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever…” (II Pet. 3:18).
I included this final verse for a special reason. It has become the banner under which many doctrines are changed today. After a change is effected, leaders pronounce it “growing in knowledge.” I have heard hundreds of sermons, and hopefully have given as many, where much new knowledge was given—yet no new doctrines were taught. I have even watched deceitful leaders cite this passage to describe how God’s people have to “grow beyond” Mr. Armstrong. When you hear this, look out! Philadelphians are being tested over whether they will hold fast “what they (already) have”—not doctrinally “grow beyond” to something else. (The book “ANOINT YOUR EYES” has an extensive section carefully explaining the correct approach to II Peter 3:18.)
Will you be “approved” of God in this way?
We have read many verses about the importance of holding fast without exception. All are tied directly to maintaining Church unity. Complete unity, in the full restored truth, overarches the one true Church doctrine.
If you pierce this final wall, through your own reasoning or because of a deceiver’s words, no more walls remain to protect you. Invaders have entered your city and captured you. But you can still escape!
Mr. Armstrong’s View of Compromise
You can anticipate how Mr. Armstrong viewed even slight compromise. He was consistent and emphatic throughout his 52-year ministry:
“But it is still true that two can’t walk together except they be agreed. I am agreed with God and with Christ the Head of the Church. I shall never water down the truth He has revealed to me, nor in any manner compromise with it. We are all of us going to have to agree with God and with Christ HIS Son, if we are to walk together with them, into God’s Kingdom.”
“Reports About Garner Ted False,” WN, March 6, 1981
“But during these 43 years, I have frequently been pressured to compromise—‘just a little’—with God’s truth. [God] entrusted me with this precious truth.”
“But honestly, now, what do you think?
“Wouldn’t it be alright to compromise, ‘just a little,’ on some ‘unimportant minor point?…’ where we appear ‘crazy’ to the world.
“Nevertheless, if we begin to compromise with God’s truth, even in smallest, slightest manner, we have allowed Satan to get a foot into the door of the Church, and soon he will push open the door (he is stronger than we) and take over the whole Church.”
“A little leaven leavens the whole lump! I have never compromised with God’s truth …I never shall!”
GN, “Personal,” Dec. 1976
Those who rejected this official Church position, in order to bring their own ideas into the Church, were always disfellowshipped. Mr. Armstrong understood the need for courage and decisiveness in the ministry when confronting threats to the flock that shepherds are charged to protect. He tells you in MYSTERY OF THE AGES of this responsibility. I quote it often: “It is the duty of Christ’s true ministers (and how scarce today) to protect the begotten but yet unborn saints from false doctrines, from false ministers” (p. 262). I have sought to do this with you within the covers of this and other books to the splinters.
RCG compromises none of God’s doctrines! We also strive to prohibit those who do from joining us. The first six chapters of the book have explained why!
The Two Walls of Church History
Although we have described four walls that God designed to protect Christians from false doctrines in the end time, all previous eras had only two. The Elijah fulfillment and Philadelphia’s instruction to hold fast did not directly apply to them. The truth and warnings of the Bible and the knowledge that only apostles bring truth into the Church was sufficient defense for all Christians preceding our time!
You now know why I said this book will not help one who is determined to punch through four protective walls—when all converted people since Abel (he only had one—God’s personal oral instruction), survived with just TWO!
A word to all learning the truth for the first time: Your newness and inexperience make you much more vulnerable to spiritual attack and confusion (Heb. 5:11-12). Figuratively, move to the center of your “doctrinal city,” and carefully close all of the four gates behind you.
You can now better understand why God spews even the wise Laodiceans (wise virgins) into the Tribulation. They utlimately ignored four giant stop signs, but also detailed instructions from Christ about exactly how to have avoided their condition, leaving themselves without excuse before the “judgment seat of Christ” (II Cor. 5:10)! You can also better see why you have been so strongly warned about splinter leaders who so routinely ignore ALL four walls!
Chapter Seven – Summary and Grave Warning
Mr. Armstrong often cited Isaiah 58:1, never fearing to “Cry aloud! Spare not! Lift up [his] voice like a trumpet and show [God’s] people their sins!” I have striven to do this, hoping to help you replace a fear of your compromising leaders with the fear of God! If you have “eyes to see and ears to hear,” it could save your eternal life.
This final chapter represents the last attempt to warn of the grave danger you are in, if you reject Mr. Armstrong as the Elijah. You must see what is at stake if you reject the one whom God used to restore all things prior to the Day of the Lord.
A future “Elijah counterfeit” will almost certainly soon deceive many unsuspecting brethren. Knowing that many false prophets would exist just before His Return, Jesus directly warns His servants of this in the last days. Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 are called the Olivet Prophecy. Matthew’s account contains several powerful warnings.
Three times, in Matthew 24, Jesus 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.” Reasonable people do not doubt this has happened—both in the world and the Church. Many have, in fact, come “in [Christ’s] name,” which means by his authority—and many have been deceived. About 75% of the WCG have left the truth. Certainly great numbers were deceived there, including many who left to join a splinter, thinking they had survived unscathed.
Verse 11 is more specific. While it warns of “many” being deceived, the difference here is that it is by “false prophets.” This 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 also only in the Church where iniquity (lawlessness) could abound in such a way as to cause godly love to grow cold. These are all conditions in the Church!
Do not miss this point. False prophets deceive the Church at the end! (This is made much clearer in the eye-opening article “Matthew 24 – The Rise of False Prophets,” in our book Is “That Prophet” Alive Today? – The Rise of False Prophets.)
Most Ignore Warnings
Keep this basic understanding in mind: there has never been an important warning that christ has given his church that has not, at times, been ignored! Ponder this thoroughly!
Now I ask: Will you ignore the powerful warning of the next four verses? Remember, Christ is warning THE CHURCH about deception at the end.
The world has always been deceived (Rev. 12:9)! Only with this in mind can we address the specific nature of Matthew’s warning. Chapter 24 speaks of conditions in the world and the Church just before Christ’s Coming: “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” (vs. 23-26).
Several important elements stand out here, each requiring careful consideration. First, Jesus warns His disciples that they could be deceived. Notice the repeated use of the word “you.” Since the disciples did not live in the end time, but we do, the warning is obviously for us. See verse 3!
Is There A “Very” Elect?
Gerald Flurry, the leader claiming 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 verse as proof that deception, for the very elect, is impossible. He tries to make a distinction between the “elect” and the “very elect.” Of course, the Bible makes no such distinction! Because so many have asked me about this passage, it must be clarified. The idea that it is not possible to deceive the elect is ludicrous. But we need to understand why this is preposterous—and such a dangerous trap for the unsuspecting.
Consider! What is the point of Christ warning His disciples about false prophets and false Christs if they cannot possibly be deceived? Think about this!
Jesus declares, “Behold, I have told you before” (vs. 25). This means He had previously warned them about this danger. What is the point of issuing multiple warnings, if there were no danger? It insults God to suggest, in the face of Revelation 12:9, that free moral agents cannot be deceived, and that His warnings are 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 suggesting this idea simply do not understand their Bibles. Such people are already desperately deceived! Recognize that it serves a false prophet’s purpose to tell you that if you follow him, you cannot be deceived. Someone who is following a false prophet, or a false Christ, is already deceived. This extremely clever deception proves the very truth of Jesus’ words. His reference to potential deception (“if possible”) is not a hollow warning—it is not Bible “filler material.” Actually, this passage is one of the very greatest warnings in the New Testament!
This is why I have repeated this section several times in different contexts in the books to the splinters.
Deception at the end was foretold to be so great that the potential would exist for God’s people to follow not only false prophets, but also false christs! Christ 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!
Understand what this means. A false prophet or false messiah is already a deceiver. He is not slowly becoming one. He is already a proven, cunning, dangerous deceiver! It is very much in his interest to convince you that following him eliminates all danger of deception. Do you understand this? Will you consider it? If not, I urge you to wake up! All who follow Gerald Flurry or Ron Weinland—or others like them—are in grave danger!
It has been my experience that people always start by assuming other people are deceived or in danger of it. Like the old saying “accidents only happen to others,” most assume this is true of deception—and this is its own enormous deception!
When faced with those saying Christ is “here or there,” Jesus says “believe it not” (Matt. 24:26). Will you believe false prophets and false Christs, or the TRUE CHRIST? He says that deception will get worse (vs. 24) and that some false prophets and false Christs will perform miracles, deceiving many, including brethren.
Does this concern you? Truly, it should. Jesus said this would happen and people would be duped when it did. None could have believed that over 110,000 people (75%) would completely walk away from the truth, and yet they did!
Will you believe Christ meant what He said?
It is a very dangerous doctrinal error to ignore, reject or even minimize the “sound doctrine” once known to the Church concerning the Elijah fulfillment. We have established that holding to this is one of the big, end-time protective walls to ensure Christian survival. Therefore, Satan must send his agents to counter this book and its contents. I repeat: The devil must discredit all that you have read.
Consider this. When people are fixated against a correct idea or understanding—after obsession has captured them—history demonstrates that they are only rarely able to return to balanced thinking. So it is with the leaders of groups one, two and three, described in Chapter One. But you could be different.
The leaders of the splinters want, and seem to need, to put their own signature on their respective organizations. These men do not want to appear unable to “grow,” but rather wish to be seen as men of vision—as able to “advance” beyond Mr. Armstrong’s understanding. This is why they never address “restoring all things,” and why they also never speak about how Mr. Armstrong taught that only apostles can bring truth into the Church.
Think hard about this as you observe them!
Now think of your leaders in the following way: Through the false doctrines they teach, your leaders are clearly, directly shouting a warning to you to leave them! They are “announcing” to you that you are in danger if you remain in their presence! They are as much as telling you to get away from them! Will you heed their warning—their “announcement”—and leave?
Catholics, Jews, Muslims—and “Elijah”
An extraordinary parallel now exists between the thinking of many modern-day Jews (particularly Israelis) and most of those who scattered to the splinters, and most have no idea of it. We will even see that this has a connection to the world of Islam. This thinking also represents what is perhaps the gravest danger to former brethren who reject Mr. Armstrong’s Elijah fulfillment.
Let’s first discuss the Jews.
Again, many Jews today are awaiting the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6. The Scribes and Pharisees of John the Baptist’s time rejected him because he did not fit their description of this passage. He did no miracles and did not sweep away the Roman legions from Jerusalem and Judea. He announced the Coming of a Christ they were unwilling to receive, whom they found to be a “stumblingblock” (I Cor. 1:23; I Pet. 2:7-8). As a result, they rejected John and Christ, and went back into a waiting mode for the Elijah. Even today, many orthodox and conservative Jews put an empty place setting for Elijah at their Passover tables.
As with certain deceivers today, modern Jews await an “Elijah” who will call fire from heaven to devour their adversaries. Prophecy reveals that they will not be disappointed! In order to receive a powerful endorsement from the Jews and to aid in his transition into Jerusalem (Dan. 11:45), the false prophet of Revelation may well assert that he is Elijah. If so, many Jews will accept him. In the same breath, this man will almost certainly proclaim that the Beast is the Second Coming of Christ whom he, as “Elijah,” was foretold to precede. Remember, the whole world is foretold to worship the Beast (Rev. 13:4, 8, 11-12; 14:9, 11; II Thes. 2:3-4; Ezek. 28:2).
Most brethren in the splinters have absolutely no idea that various authorities within THE CATHOLIC CHURCH have also come to believe that Elijah will be one of the Two Witnesses. You can read their comments. Some of these authorities have also speculated that MOSES may be the other one and that these men will come back from heaven to assume these roles. You can also find these comments.
Remember for a moment which spirit it is that is guiding the Catholic church. Surely none in the splinters have any doubt about this. Is it not instructive to you—and should it not be instructive to thousands, if they were paying attention—which spirit then is guiding parallel thinking within the splinters today?—meaning the idea that the final Elijah, accompanied by “Moses,” will be the Two Witnesses.
Now consider this additional striking parallel: How many know that many in the Islamic world are also looking for an Elijah-like figure, called Imam Mahdi? According to some within the Islamic belief, this man is said to appear before a supposed second physical coming of Jesus, whom Muslims consider a prophet. The term “mahdi” means “the guided one.” This figure is expected to appear suddenly at the time of the end, when the earth is filled with injustice and tyranny. Ruling over the Muslim community for about seven years, he will spread “brotherhood, equity and devotion” among Muslims, pulling them together, and thereby paving the way for what they think of as the return of Hadhrat Isa bin Maryam (Jesus Son of Mary). This “Isa” is foretold to marry, to live 40 years and to defeat the “anti-Christ” before dying and ushering in the time of final judgment.
As you read these last paragraphs, do you find yourself with goosebumps—sobered!—shocked and stunned!—at what YOU may have fallen into believing? Have you carefully “tried the spirits” in this matter (I John 4:1-2)?
Let’s be blunt: Will you derive your understanding of who is the Elijah from Herbert W. Armstrong—or from the apostates, their disciples leading the splinters and from THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?
The Bible plainly reveals that the devil will grant the false prophet power to perform miracles. Again, because of the great power that the Beast will wield, and with validation by many Jews, the world will believe him. In a sense, at this point, the devil’s “two witnesses” will have arrived—and one will likely claim to be Elijah. The Church has long understood this overview.
In light of Daniel 11:45, the passage revealing that the final false prophet will “plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas” (the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea), one can easily envision how the Jews will welcome this man into Jerusalem, happy to receive his “help” in this most troubled region of the world.
It should not be difficult to see how Jews, Catholics, other Christians and Muslims could happily welcome the final “Elijah” as a fulfillment of the same event, depending upon how it is “sold” to the masses. It should also not be difficult to see how half the world’s population may request his presence in Jerusalem to bring peace where three religions cannot co-exist.
Carefully reread the last several paragraphs until you cannot miss their meaning!
The Coming “Strong Delusion,” and Its Connection to a “Mighty Man”
All who do not “love the truth”—among or not of God’s people—will eventually be “sent strong delusion to believe a lie” (II Thes. 2:10-11). The false prophet will come “after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (vs. 9). This final duo (including the Beast) will deceive about half of the Laodicean brethren (Matt. 25:1-13)—we have long known that half will take the Beast’s mark to save their physical lives. The other half will be beheaded (Rev. 6:11; 20:4) to save their eternal lives.
Let’s now examine the thinking of many in the splinters.
Little different from billions around them, thousands of brethren today tacitly proclaim they are also awaiting one man to come and “unite the Churches of God.” I describe this as the “Mighty Man Syndrome”—people awaiting a “strong man” to fix everything. But this thinking has no basis whatsoever in either prophecy or Church history. While the concept is pure fiction, it has nevertheless become popular to a growing number of disaffected splinter members.
Recall that the idea develops in this way: The Church is scattered. Doctrinal compromise is rampant. Competition between organizations abounds, as does confusion. Leaders are “fighting each other.” A great man of God—ELIJAH!—must “rise up, unite the Churches and solve all of our problems.”
At this point, take note. If Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah, this illusory hope evaporates! No white knight is coming, and brethren would have to get over the ensuing disappointment, and find God’s Church.
Remember prophecy reveals that only one-half of the Laodiceans will receive salvation (the wise virgins). The other half will take the mark of the Beast. Can you begin to understand how the half that does this (the foolish virgins) may be duped? Like the Jews, they are waiting for something to happen that has already happened.
Can you begin to see that more is at stake on the Elijah issue than you ever dreamed? Look out! Every conceivable idea that one could imagine to counter correct thinking on this subject will be offered before the age is over.
Will the devil’s agents dupe you?—and I speak of those in the splinters! Will you arm yourself against all of their arguments?
I have referenced one widely-read paper circulating on the Internet. While exploding with wrong thinking and conclusions, it has taken hold in the form of the “Mighty Man Syndrome.”
More must be said about why this silly idea is unscriptural—and dangerous!
First, it assumes that far more people love the full truth than either history, prophecy or even practical reality shows. The biggest reason many are “scattered” today (Dan. 12:7) is that they do not truly care about the full truth of God—not because they lack a “Mighty Man” to follow. Most simply love portions of God’s Way instead of all of it. They have forgotten many crucial doctrines and Mr. Armstrong’s emphasis on purity in all matters. The wise virgins must return to God’s Church.
Second, this concept conveniently assigns the task of “restoring all things” to one imagined to come as the hoped-for “Mighty Man”—Elijah! Of course, this book has debunked the fallacy of this part of the thinking. But, since Elijah’s “restoring of all things” prevents the utter destruction of earth, a huge question looms.
For 52 years, Mr. Armstrong restored the truth to a total number of probably over 200,000 people in the Church. Additionally, hundreds of millions more heard his broadcasts and read his literature. Now the question: Can any serious, intelligent person possibly believe that “restoring some portions of the truth” to a few thousand left in the splinters—whose own carelessness allowed these truths to slip away!—is the only thing standing between survival and the utter destruction of earth?
While this thought is beyond absurd, many have swallowed it!
Third, this idea severely overcredits the strength and resolve of people in the splinters who are unwilling RIGHT NOW to return to the full truth. Tell most people that only apostles can bring truth into the Church and they will fight you. Tell most of them that they cannot keep birthdays, wear make-up, marry outside the Church or practice democratic government and they will fight you. Tell them that they must continue doing the same Work that Mr. Armstrong did and many will fight you. Tell them that they should return to the correct Elijah understanding and most will fight you. I could include a longer list, but you see the point.
The profound, prevailing spiritual weakness (Rev. 3:15-17) of the last era makes so many long for a “strong man” to sweep them into his arms and make things easy again. This tragic but powerful illusion drives the thinking of thousands of splinter members today.
In early 1993, I was fired from the Worldwide Church of God for unwillingness to compromise God’s truth. From the moment this happened, I was forced to learn, again and again, that most people will wait and wait and wait and wait and wait for some EASY moment to take action—a moment that usually never comes. In retrospect, it is clear that many built their “houses” (Matt. 7:24-27) directly on Mr. Armstrong—the man—instead of Jesus Christ—apparently using Mr. Armstrong as their “mighty man.” When he died, so did their strength and conviction!
So Few Survive
The lesson of Church history in every age is that only very few survive false Church leaders. Most people will walk away from some, or even all, of God’s truth as easily as they would leave a restaurant. And rest assured that this book will not send throngs rushing back to doctrinal precision.
I hope that it helps the few thousand somewhat stronger brethren, those willing to anoint their eyes.
A sobering caution: Be careful if you are looking or praying for miracles—or being told that you should. You are being set up to fall into a disastrous trap. If a strong man were to arise, very few if any would follow him. And if miracles were necessary to induce—to move—these people to action, what a profound statement this is about people’s weakness and lack of determination to take a stand based purely on doctrine. Further, those who think that they have “grown” beyond Mr. Armstrong’s doctrinal understanding, have actually grown. They have grown very spiritually WEAK!
Of course, anointing their eyes can change this.
The only time that God ever used “strong men” was when he raised up judges to lead carnal, physical Israelites out of captivity. This has never happened in the New Testament period, when God has been leading people through His Spirit. (Of course, the surviving Israelites will be led back from captivity one more time, just before the beginning of the Millennium.)
When a great servant (Mr. Armstrong) arose and disassociated from Sardis in the 1930s, did thousands (or even hundreds) leave Sardis en masse to follow him? Of course not!
If, after reading this book, you merely decide that in the future you will be more vigilant—more watchful—then you have missed the entire point here, and are a prime candidate for the coming final delusion! Also, if you only plan to take action “if things get worse in my (your) group,” you will never do it! The full truth, as the whole Church once understood and preached it, the true Work of God, the government of God, and Christ’s reconstituted Church exist and are available right now. If you will not follow these NOW, you will never follow them, and at least partial delusion has already seized you!
The Beast will come. So will the False Prophet—and he will perform miracles. The world will welcome these men as saviors sent to deliver mankind from poverty, ignorance, misery, famine, disease, terrorism, war, economic upheaval and religious confusion. I repeat: You can almost certainly expect that the False Prophet will claim to be Elijah and that the Beast is the Second Coming of Christ.
The world will shout in agreement!
Christ’s Matthew 24 warning explains that others will appear as false prophets and false Christs before these last two men arrive. I have already seen several arise in the splinters and deceive large numbers of people in a very short time. It was almost too easy—like taking candy from a baby. Sadly, when in doubt, most people seem to ignore Christ, assuming His warnings are for someone else.
Beware of any who privately wish to “shake the earth.” That is the role of the Two Witnesses. Beware of any who, like Simon Magus (Acts 8:17-24), covet the power to use God’s Spirit to do miracles. Particularly beware of those who do this, while denigrating Mr. Armstrong’s role as Elijah, suggesting that their organization will do a “mightier Work than ever before.”
The Jews and Muslims await their “Mighty Man”—Elijah or the Mahdi—and most in the splinters are doing the exact same thing, sometimes referring to this man as a “Chief Shepherd.” Again, neither group will be disappointed! They will get their “Mighty Man.” However, he will not bring the wonderful peace and unity they seek. I tell you, on scriptural authority, no “strong man from God”—the final Elijah!—is coming to sweep all God’s people back to unity. This will never happen, because Elijah already came! But all with God’s Spirit will be led back to His Church.
Jesus Christ is the only One coming to save the Jews (from captivity!), to resurrect the dead and to change the living saints—and to bring the “restoration of all things” to mankind.
In the end, in this age, so many lukewarm Christians did not accept the true Elijah, any more than the Jews accepted John the Baptist and the true Christ. Christ is, however, gathering His faithful flock now. Your love of the truth is being tested now. If you want unity in the full truth, it is available to you NOW!
An Extension of the Elijah Ministry
Jesus Christ stated, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receives whomsoever I send receives Me; and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Me” (John 13:20). May God help those who will not receive the one whom God and Christ sent, as the Elijah, to understand this verse. The LCG deceiver who assaults Mr. Armstrong’s role as the Elijah has accused me of being nothing more than an extension of everything Mr. Armstrong taught and did.
Finally, I can agree with this “leader”!
Roderick Meredith had no choice but to slander and mark me as an enemy of his church. He knows that I would not agree with his subtle assault on Mr. Armstrong’s person and teachings, and his overt attack on Mr. Armstrong’s role as the Elijah. He had no choice but to depict me as a dangerous extremist leading a cult. Sadly, his attack has been effective to so many who one would hope would not believe his inventions. I temporarily forgot the greatest lesson in Church history—that most willingly follow false leaders into the ditch. I have no doubt that, as he continues to assault the doctrines taught by Mr. Armstrong, his role as the Elijah, and me, he will reassert that he himself is under attack by me! Tragically, most will believe him.
Do not misunderstand. If you let such men do this to you—if you willingly allow them to delude you with their ideas—you are responsible for your decision!
The following statement by Mr. Armstrong was written in 1963. It explains that he understood why he had to be attacked. (My 1982 Elijah sermon reiterated it.) He understood what drove the thinking of those who would do this to him. I have found it personally very helpful in understanding exactly why, as the extension of his ministry and teachings, I also must be attacked and accused almost beyond all bounds:
“WHO AM I? A false prophet, or a man sent from God with a Message? Do you know they asked Jesus Christ that question?
“They asked John the Baptist. Was he the Christ? Was he Elijah? No, he answered—he was merely a voice in the wilderness of religious confusion. But the man is not important—it is his Message.
“Why do people seem always to want to follow a man? Why do they look to the man, himself—and either become a follower of him, or an accuser and persecutor? Why must they look to the man instead of the truth?
“The enemies of the truth know this trait of human nature. And they utilize it to turn people away from the truth by discrediting the person who proclaims it. Or else they seek to attract people to their false way by exalting the person of their leader, and inducing people to follow that person.”
“Do you want to know who I am? Well, who I am is not important. But if you want to know the truth about it, do not ask those who are imbued with this world’s competitive spirit. They can’t tell you the truth about who I am, or whether what we proclaim is true, because they don’t know! If you want to know about me personally—it’s not important—but if you still want to know, ask me, not uninformed enemies. [Author’s note: I ask this same question of those who are uncertain as to whether they should believe accusations about me or attacks on RCG.]
“Check up, as the Bereans did on the Apostle Paul—they listened with open minds, unprejudiced, then searched the scriptures, whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).
“If we proclaim the truth—if we make it plain and understandable, and lead you to the truth which you prove to be the truth, then believe that truth.
“Look to the Fruits. By the thousands, people are being converted—their lives changed—brought to Christ and the Kingdom of God. Christ’s own gospel is being proclaimed, as a witness, to the whole world—on every inhabited continent. God’s own flock is being fed. Those brought to Christ, and who through Him are now begotten children of God, are finding happiness and joy that literally radiates in their lives! The sick are being healed. Future leaders in God’s work are being trained in God’s Colleges. Those are the fruits. This is the work where God is working. [Author’s note: Today, in the same sense, point by point, this paragraph describes the work of The Restored Church of God.]
“Yes, even as Jesus, the living head of this work of God said: ‘Though you believe not me, believe the Work [of God], that you may know …’
“Be a follower of jesus christ—I am not seeking followers of my own. Don’t be a follower of a man—but of christ!”
PT, Personal, Sep. 1963
The Final Decision
In the Introduction, I said that at the conclusion, you would face a clear and inescapable choice! I have attempted to make the truth plain to you. Your crown—your eternal life—is at risk, if you ignore the words of God, Christ and Mr. Armstrong! (You will certainly not have hurt me if you do this.) If hundreds or thousands around you will not act, will you allow that to affect your decision? (I repeat: Our vital books The True Church – One Organization, or Many? and “Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People explain this profoundly important choice in extraordinary detail. You must read them!)
Many peoples and religions today have some truth within their theologies. This does not make them Christians, and the Church has long understood this! Do not forget it now. No one can follow a false prophet or a false Christ and remain even a lukewarm christian! Similarly, no one can ignore mr. armstrong’s role and be or remain philadelphian!
The conclusion of any book about Mr. Armstrong fulfilling the Elijah role should include a quote from him. This one discusses an important question posed by Elijah himself, which best describes the colossal decision you now face.
The remnant of God’s people (Rev. 12:17) are in a great crisis. People are sorting themselves out spiritually, and deciding where they stand. In reality, they are establishing their doctrinal positions and their personal “works,” and the era in which they reside, including whether they stand completely outside true Christianity. Of course, this means certain people are also establishing themselves as false brethren. In doing this, many have not considered the implications of their actions.
When the truth was under tremendous assault, and he was putting the Church back on track, Mr. Armstrong laid it on the line. So do I now, through his words.
Let’s read a final time:
“Some few of you who will read this have been holding back your offerings and God’s tithes, perhaps waiting to see how this crisis comes out. But NOW is the time when your help is direly needed! I have to say to you now, as Elijah said to ancient Israel; HOW LONG HALT YE BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS? IF THE ETERNAL BE GOD, FOLLOW HIM; but if the god of this world be Satan, then follow him! The time for standing up and showing where you stand is HERE! God’s sifting time is here! God is TRYING us now, as never before!” [Author’s note: I urge you to remember that such urgency was being used over 30 years ago.]
Co-worker letter, Feb. 24, 1979
Sometimes life demands that big choices be made. This is certainly one of the biggest you will ever face. After thoroughly examining the facts of any matter, a point comes when the choice—the decision—must be made. It cannot be postponed further.
Now that you have read this book, you can no longer “halt between two opinions” on the fulfillment of the Elijah prophecy. You must make a choice. No choice is a choice. No decision is a decision not to take action!
You must either: (1) Return to the correct teaching and its implications, and accept the happy “consequences” of your decision, or (2) reject the correct teaching and its implications, and accept the catastrophic consequences of your decision. Continuing to halt between two opinions, because you do not sufficiently “love the truth” (II Thes. 2:10), will eventually result in being “sent strong delusion” (vs. 11), and to believe probably the greatest lie ever foisted by Satan on an unsuspecting mankind.
Most in the world have not been warned. You have!
I tell you one final time, the great “False Prophet” will come, calling fire from heaven, to the great acclamation of vast millions of people—and many brethren—still awaiting the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6 and Matthew 17:11!
The “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4) wants the earth destroyed—he hopes that it will come to “utter destruction.” The fulfillment of the Elijah prophecy thwarts the devil’s dream. Once again, almost certainly, one of Satan’s “two witnesses” will assert that he is the Elijah. The devil wants “his Elijah” and “his two witnesses” to restore to the whole world “his doctrines” through “his great false system”—Babylon! We have long understood that Daniel 11:45 reveals that the devil will place his two servants in Jerusalem, where they can operate right beside God’s two final servants! This scenario is not new understanding.
Further, if you do correctly believe the Elijah doctrine, you cannot sit alone or huddled with a small group doing nothing but focusing on yourselves, “preparing for the Wedding Supper.” Know that there are others who “have not bent the knee to Baal”—literally the same as the different “Jesus” with his different “gospel” and different “spirit” in the splinters. God’s government, the full truth and His true Work and Church have been restored and reconstituted HERE—in The Restored Church of God! While God’s Church will never again grow giant in size, we are growing very fast, and are witnessing the development of an immense Work reaching around the world, and will remain doctrinally pure. Are you willing to yield to God and give up your independence?
As God’s chosen servant at the end of the age, I tell you that time is growing short. The powerful ministry of the final Elijah and the falling away that followed are fading deeper into the past. The world spins closer to prophesied disaster. This means that the arrival of the Beast and the False Prophet also loom closer. We are entering the twilight, and “the night” draws near (John 9:4).
I have said all that I can—“God’s Spirit now has a job to do.” Will you ignore this warning or will you WAKE UP—before it is too late? God has established His name here. Christ is gathering His faithful flock now. Have you sufficient courage and love of God’s Way to join us in holding fast, finishing the warning (Ezek. 33:7-9) to Israel and taking the gospel of God’s kingdom (Matt. 24:14) to all nations?