The Bible, above all else, is a book about government. While I learned this from Mr. Armstrong, almost 40 years of studying Godâs Word has confirmed it to be true. Consider just these things: Luciferâs rebellion against Godâs government, Adam doing the same, how God governed ancient Israel (Moses, Joshua, the judges, kings and prophets, etc.), Korahâs rebellion, Saulâs rebellion, the special scepter (government) promise to the House of David, how Christ qualified to replace Satan, the government of God in the Church, why the governments of this world do not and have never worked, and the coming of Godâs world-ruling supergovernment, administered by Christ and the saints, to replace menâs governments and bring peace, happiness, abundance and prosperity to all nationsâand moreâmake this subject central to the Bible!
The gospel of the kingdom of God is a message entirely about governmentâthe one just describedâunder the ruling Family of God. And this subject is the absolute bedrock centerpiece of the entire Bible. This is why government was the constant theme of Mr. Armstrongâs writing, referenced and described, in one way or the other, in almost every one of his books and booklets. Believe me, having now completed the task of rewriting them all, I know! I now comprehend, in a way that I must admit I never fully understood before, why Mr. Armstrong taught, âGovernment is everything.â You can probably remember his words, stated more than once in this exact way. We will read his statements in a moment.
There is a great reason why he felt this way, beginning in the winter of 1952-53, when God first revealed this enormous truth to him. Mr. Armstrong, with the Radio Church of God, then 19 years old, and beginning to grow much faster, began to take the gospel beyond North America to the world in January 1953. It was no accident that God revealed this particular truth at that time! God knew, and Mr. Armstrong understood in retrospect, that an enormous Work, girdling the globe and reaching all nations, must have the right form of government in place to achieve the immense size that it would eventually reach. An enormous prophecy had to be fulfilled. Had the Church been forced to suffer the infighting, competition and disagreement occurring in Sardisâbecause of their clumsy, inefficient and unscriptural manner of government, which also so badly divided their effortâthe Work, under Mr. Armstrong, would have been slowed to a crawl and permanently limited to no more than a fraction of what it became.
Here are just two such quotes from Mr. Armstrong, introducing the entirety of this chapter, and the extreme importance of understanding the subject of how God governs His Church. All who read just the first statement will never doubt again how strongly Mr. Armstrong felt aboutâand how comprehensively he sawâgovernment. It was delivered in one of his final sermons, and it almost appears that God intended he say this at the end of his life as a special testimony to the Church of the crucial importance of the one thing the Church must never forget. Having listened to this portion again, I only wish I could transmit the power and intensity with which this then almost 93-year-old man delivered these words. The upcoming book to which he referred was MYSTERY OF THE AGES. The second quote amplifies the first:
âBut when I was challenged, before I learned about the Holy Days or anything, I was challenged on the point of Godâs law and of Godâs government! The whole thing was government. The thing that Satan took away was government. The thing that Christ is coming to restore is government. And what He raised me up for was to restore government in His Church! And the whole test of the challenge in the first place after God had softened me by other things that will be recorded in this book was the point of government.â
Rely on God, April 6, 1985, Sermon
âAnd this is Peter talking to them at that time. Verse 19 the third chapter of Acts. Peter said, âRepent 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 (the time when He shall send) Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven(s) must receive (now Heâd ascended up to heaven and the heavens would receive Him until a certain time) until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.â
âNow restitution. Look that word up in the dictionary. Restitution means restoring to a former condition, a former state or condition. Restoring what had been taken away. Restoring what had been taken away [said twice]. So now I ask you, what is Christ coming to restore that had been taken away? What had been taken away was the government of God. The government of God! And if you know the whole Bible, thatâs the whole story of the Bible. Thatâs the whole purposeâeverything.â
The Mission of the Philadelphia Era of the Church,
Dec. 17, 1983, Sermon
Savor what you have just read in these two short statements. They contain a theme that literally impelled Mr. Armstrongâs entire life, ministry and thinking. He knew that God sent him to the nations of the world and its leaders with the constant messageâthe âannouncementâ as he put itâof Godâs coming world-ruling government under the God Family in his mind and speaking.
Receiving False Prophets
One of Christâs final instructions to the Church was to warn that just prior to His Return, false prophets and false christs would appearâand would seduce many into following them. Jesus simply said, regardless of what any false prophet says, âBelieve it not.â These warnings have produced an incredible irony for the last era of Godâs people. Letâs begin to examine it, and its ultimate connection to governmentâand to government in His Church. This next section helps to set up all of the remainder of the chapter.
The parallel chapters of Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, called the Olivet Prophecy, contain several powerful warnings. Three times, in Matthew 24, Christ warns of those who would come and âdeceive many.â Notice: âFor many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive manyâ (vs. 5). None can doubt that this has happenedâboth in the world and the Church. For 2,000 years, many have come âin [Christâs] name,â which means by His authorityâand many have been deceived.
Verse 11 is more specific, warning again of âmanyâ being deceived, this time by âfalse prophets.â Jesus is speaking to the Church! How do we know? Verses 12-13 speak directly to the Church because it is only there where people may not endure to the end. Only in the Church could lawlessness (âiniquityâ) abound in such a way as to cause godly love to grow cold. Do not miss this point. False prophets were foretold to deceive the Church at the end!
Remember, the world has always been deceived (Rev. 12:9)!
Now for Christâs strongest warning: âThen 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 notâ (24:23-26).
Several points emerge. First, Christ warns His disciples that they could be deceived. Notice His repeated use of âyou.â However, since the disciples did not live in the end time, but WE do, the warning must be for US today (24:3)!
Do not miss this emphasis.
Deception at the end is so great that the potential exists for Godâs people to follow not only false prophets, but also false christs! Jesus is warning that the subtlety and sheer deception necessary for such false prophets or false christs to succeedâand more and more areâmust be staggering! Yet, some today, in PCG, having been told that this cannot happen to the âvery electâ (vs. 24), in effect, brush off this greatest of all warnings as not a warning to them at all.
This in itself is one of the most incredible deceptions I have ever heard!
Again, when faced with those saying Christ is âhere or there,â Jesus said, âBelieve it notâ (Matt. 24:26). Yet, many in the splinters almost seem to eagerly believe false prophets and false christs, instead of the true Christ. As explained earlier, it has been my experience that people generally start by assuming other people are deceived or in danger of it. Christ warned that deception will get worse (vs. 24), and that some false prophets and false christs will even perform miracles. These will also deceive many, including brethren, because so many now blindly receive those whom Christ has NOT SENT. Ignoring the crucial importance of fruits, large numbers do not bother to examineâto seeâif one is chosen of God, but rather only if a man says that he is! And I am not an exception. A leader must be able to stand up to the scrutiny of Godâs qualificationsâexhibiting the right fruitsâbut, in a sense, this becomes unnecessary if attendees are giving their leaders âa free pass.â
Astonishingly, two or three splinter leaders, who have professed themselves to be prophets, have duped thousands of people who completely ignoredâor forgotâChristâs warning! They thought His warnings were for âsomeone else.â
Christ warned that all this would occur. Does it concern you? It should. He warned the Church about who not to receive! The result? More than 110,000 people (75 percent) left the truth! Most of the remaining 25 percent have bought into some false doctrines. Following the pattern of 2,000 years of Church history, this happened because people were only too willing to happily receive those God had not sent.
Keep the following basic principle in mind: There has never been an important warningânot one!âthat Christ has given His Church that has not, at times, been ignored!
Letâs continue with what is a colossal irony.
Truth Only Through Apostles
Many brethren, including all splinter leaders, have chosen to knowingly reject certain doctrines that the Church once believed. However, by now, it should be clear that most of Godâs people have simply forgotten certain other doctrines once known to the entire Church.
Most brethren will recall how Mr. Armstrong would repeat, for emphasis, the most important teachingsâthose that the Church must never forget or confuse. Despite this, some of even the most central doctrines he taught have been rejected orâagainâforgotten! Few are more important than the basic biblical understanding that Christ puts truth into His Church through apostlesâand only through apostles!
Before continuing, letâs examine just four statements from Mr. Armstrong. As you read them, see if the strength and clarity of his words do not revive memories of how we all once knew this. Notice at the beginning of the first quote, in regard to whom God sends, how Mr. Armstrong explains the definition of an apostle:
âThe word apostle means âone sent forth.â
âThe New Testament Church of God received all its teachings, practices, customs, from the apostles, with Peter chief over all the others.
âYet 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!
âthere 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.
âRight here, mark well this point: god put his truth into his church through christ and through the apostles!
ânote this! The Church of God is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophetsâŚ
âI have shown youâŚthat Peter was leader of the apostlesâand that the Church received its teachings and doctrines from the apostles!
âSo now let it be made officialâby Christâs present-day apostleâthat this binding and loosing plainly, clearly was given to Christâs chief apostleânot to lower-rank ministers ordained by his authorityânot by the church as a bodyâbut by the apostle!
âJesus 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!â
âHow Christ Gives the Church its Beliefsâ
GN, Nov. 20, 1978
âGod says we in His Church must all believe and speak the same thingâwe must be agreed on what is truth and right and good as opposed to what is evil and sin.
âBut HOW? How does Jesus Christ put his doctrines into His Church? How did He in A.D. 31? How in A.D. 1933?
âOnly by His chosen apostles.
âOur teaching and doctrines must come from god! Through christ! And through His apostle!
âGod has always, in dealing with humans, worked through one man at a timeâone who believed God! Some in ancient Israel challenged this one-man leadership. Some, likewise, have challenged it today!
âFirst, Mosesâ own brother and sister challenged his one-man leadershipâŚâAnd the anger of the Eternal was kindled against themâ [Num. 12:9].
âYet, though our members and ministers all know this, some are not afraid to speak contemptuously, in hostility, or defamingly against Christâs apostle today! They need not fear ME! For I will not turn on them or strike them.
âWhy, then, do they not fear God? It must be one of two things. Either they do not really comprehend this teachingâŚor they do not believe that God has chosen me as His apostle and human leader today.
âThe church is GODâS 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).
âAll 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.â
âAnd Now Christ Sets Church Back on Track Doctrinally!â,
WN, Feb. 19, 1979
âChurch teachings were being changed. The most resultful booklet of all, The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy, was attackedâŚthe same with a number of other basic and important booklets written by Christâs apostle.
âHow does Godâs 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.
âHow did the Worldwide Church of God receive its doctrines, beliefs and teachings? Exclusively through Christâs apostle!
âBut every doctrine, belief and teaching in the Worldwide Church of God has come from christ through his chosen apostle!â
âWhat Is a Liberal?â, WN, Feb. 19, 1979
âThe living Jesus Christ founded the one true Church of God, A.D. 31. The same living Jesus Christ started the Philadelphia era of Godâs Church through me, as His chosen apostle, August 1933.
âGod commands in His word that we all âspeak the same thing.â That âsame thingâ He put into His Church through His apostle.â
âWatering DownâOr Slowly Building Solidly Up?â,
WN, June 11, 1979
Numerous other statements, some extensive and equally strong, could also have been included. But these four should be sufficient for all those who wish to know the truth aboutâand who are determined to return and adhere toâwhat Mr. Armstrong taught regarding how all true doctrine enters the Church. Before continuing, reflect for a moment on whether you still believe this.
Worshipping Mr. Armstrong or Faith in God Based on Proof?
Those who refuse to make exceptions in holding to the doctrines the Church once believed, and believed came only through apostles, are often accused of âworshipping Mr. Armstrong.â I referenced this in the introduction and again later. Apart from the point to be made in a moment, this is another irony.
Consider. When almost 150,000 people held to what Mr. Armstrong taught, while he was alive, no one suggested that we were âworshipping him.â Why do some say this now? What changed?
Many brethren have long striven to follow the teachings of other apostles (Peter, Paul, John, James, Matthew, Jude) and no one has ever suggested they were worshipping any of them. Why is Mr. Armstrong singled out for special attention in this way?
Consider this. Like all apostles before him, Mr. Armstrong died. Those who practice balanced obedience to the instructions of other deceased apostles are not said to be enshrining or worshipping them. This should include Mr. Armstrong. Truly, he is an apostle âwithout honor from those of his own timeâ (Mark 6:4)âto those who think merely following him (I Cor. 11:1) has become worshipping him, now that he is gone.
Mr. Armstrong plainly taught that true doctrine could only enter the Church through the highest New Testament office. This, in itself, was a strongly held doctrine. Most knew not to challenge the solid proof Mr. Armstrong offered. But how many internalized that proof? Rejecting this colossal understanding is actually its own false doctrine. Think again! People must first reject this doctrine to be in a position to reject other doctrines. Recognize that this is the only way to accept any new teachings from non-apostles. I repeatâthere is no other way to move away from previous beliefs.
Adhering to just this truth protects against loss of any others!
Many now lack the faith to fully believe that God guided Mr. Armstrong to the degree, and in the extraordinary way, that the whole Church once believed. But they would not doubt this if they had proven what he had taughtâand this includes that Christ only teaches truth to His Church through apostles.
Think! This is almost certainly one of the reasons that Christ asked, âWhen the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?â (Luke 18:8). Of course, this question references the period just prior to His Return. The only people who could possibly be candidates for either having or losing faith would be those in His Church. He knew the world was not in the equation. Jesus obviously understood that conditions in the last days would cause large numbers to lose faith in how He had successfully guided and blessed His Church for so longâand how He led it into the truth. How short is the human memory!
When Mr. Armstrong told the Church repeatedly that the all-powerful, living Christ was guiding himâthat what was being accomplished in the Worldwide Church of God was not the product of a human beingâmost saw all that was taking place, and believed he was right, some having proved it. Mr. Armstrong died, time passed and faith waned. Now, many are no longer even sure that he was an apostle or, if he was, they are unsure what this meant to the Church.
Receiving Those God Sends
We return to the subject of false prophets and false christs. There is an opposite side to Christâs warning to not receive such men. There are, of course, those God HAS sentâthose who should be received. Many have forgotten this all-important distinction, having first forgotten that God would not send someone without ensuring we could know that he came from God. Remember, the word apostle means âone sent forthââfrom God! If God sends a man, He would obviously want it known to His other servants so that they can support that man.
Just before His crucifixion, Christ told His disciples, âVerily, verily, I say unto you, He that receives whomsoever I send receives Me; and he that receives Me receives Him [the Father] that sent Meâ (John 13:20).
This represents a supremely important test for all of Godâs servants in every age. To receive those whom God sends is to receive both Christ and the Father. Converselyâand obviouslyâto reject or ignore those Christ has sent is to reject or ignore Christ and the Father!
A longer passage amplifies this point, making absolutely crystal clear just how important this principle is to God. It is found in Matthew 10:40-42. We will examine it one verse at a time: âHe that receives you receives Me, and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Meâ (vs. 40). This portion of the passage is almost identical to John 13:20.
But it does not end here. The next verse reveals there is more at stake than meets the eyeâmore than just obeying Christâs instruction to receive servants that He has authorized or sent: âHe that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophetâs reward; and he that receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous manâs rewardâ (vs. 41).
There is, quite literally, something in it for you and meâif we discern whom God has sent from whom He has not. A very realâand eternalâreward is at stake. Notice the next verse: âAnd whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his rewardâ (vs. 42).
Ponder this. Just giving a simple drink of water, in the name of a disciple, brings an absolutely certain reward from God. Here is why. Whatever we do for Godâs true servantsâeven those holding the most elementary âoffice,â if you will, of âlittle oneââChrist considers having been done directly to Him. Notice: âAnd the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto MEâ (Matt. 25:40).
This last passage introduces the need to always receive the true brethren of Christ. Of course, unlike apostles, prophets, evangelists, etc., this is much harder, and sometimes impossible, to discern. In fact, that is the whole point of this extensive passage in Matthew 25. People might not always discern that they were receiving one of Jesusâ âbrethrenââHis âlittle ones.â But Jesus takes note of brethrenâs conduct toward even âthe leastâ of His sheep.
What is the point? Just this: How important is it to God, then, that we fulfill the command to receive an apostle when God has sent him? Since an apostle is âone sent forthâ from God, woe unto those who ignore John 13:20, Matthew 10:40-42 and Matthew 25:40! Soon, with Mr. Armstrong, this will be seen to carry an even greater connotation.
I cannot stress enough how serious this is to Christ, who attaches your willingness to receive one He has sent to whether or not you would receive Himself and the Father. Do not kid yourself that anything less than this is at stake! Grasp this. A very specific reward is assured to anyone who understands that he is merely giving a drink of water to a disciple in the name of a disciple. What then of an apostle?
Of course, some do not care what God says about this matter. They seem to receive those whom they wish and reject those whom they wish without consideration for what God instructsâor for whether God has sent a man.
âThough one rose from the deadâ
Actually, this is one of the main points in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, which reveals the extent to which some peopleâs thinking becomes entrenched, unwilling to reconsider a wrong position they have taken. At the end of this story, when the rich man realized that he had blown his salvation, he urged Abraham (obviously figuratively), then in the kingdom, to send Lazarus to warn his five brethren of what the rich man had rejected. Abraham responded, âThey have Moses and the prophets; let them hear themâ (Luke 16:29).
The rich man, thinking that one resurrected from the dead would carry more weight, urged Abraham to reconsider (vs. 30).
Abrahamâs response carries a thunderous warning to all those who rejectâin whole or in partâthe authority that God placed in His apostle Herbert W. Armstrong. Notice: âAnd he [Abraham] said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the deadâ (vs. 31).
It is extremely hard to move people who have set their minds. Based on this parable, I recognize that this book, written by one whom most will see as speaking presumptuously, and certainly not sent by God, will likely not move a great number of brethren. (And it may only move a very few ministers, if any.) But, because Christ inspired it, it will move some. I hope you will reflect on what the rich man did not understand about the stubbornness of human natureâabout how people can recognize what Moses and the prophets taught, but will not be moved to take personal action in their livesâeven if one returned from the dead to exhort them!
Letâs now explore further the enormous irony I mentioned. How astonishing that people will receive false and compromised leaders, false prophets and false christs, directly contrary to Christâs personal warning (to those in the end time) not to do this. Yet, when a truly great servant of God died, at the end of a phenomenal 52-year ministry that reached beyond 250 million people, the vast majority who knew this great leader have now largely rejected how God used himâin favor of the very people Christ warned us to reject! Astonishing!
How times have changed. There was once a time, not long ago, when over one-third of all the heads of state on Earthâkings, queens, presidents, prime ministers and chancellorsâreceived Mr. Armstrong as âAn Ambassador Without Portfolio.â He was given special honors, awards, gifts and treatmentâby carnal world leaders, men who had no idea what the Church once understood his role to be. Now, scores of thousandsâwho once did understandâhave rejected all or many of his doctrines, his policies, the traditions he taught, his character, and even, in many cases, that he was an apostle. They also reject his extraordinary, remarkable, truly historic fulfillment of prophecy!
All of this sets the stage to see the even greater need to receive one sentâwho in this case was more than an apostle! What does this mean?
Leaders Unaware of Mr. Armstrongâs Role
Letâs continue with a very large step beyond the understanding that truth is revealed to the Church through apostles and how to recognize when one is sent. Actually, in addition to rejecting this understanding, people must, if they are to change doctrinesâany doctrineâalso reject the understanding that a final Moses (Mal. 4:4) has come.
Some background: Nearly all who left the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) unwittingly absorbed and carried, hidden in their âbaggage,â false doctrines taught to them by the apostates.
It was a certain renowned âDr.â in Pasadena who long believed and privately taught to any who would listen that the Two Witnesses would be the final Moses and 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 âresistanceâ there until his death)âhis false theory did! Certain ministerial âfollowers,â Harold Smith chief among them, still privately expound his âwisdomâ from their homes in the splinters and slivers. In turn, these followers have trained their own disciples in his false counter-theory.
Ask: Would God use a largely apostate evangelistâno matter his long seniority, ordination dating to 1952âto reveal Mr. Armstrongâs role?
This counterfeit idea notwithstanding, the books of Malachi and Matthew foretold that a Moses figure would come, ahead of a final Elijah. Malachi 4 verses 4-6 read, âRemember you the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto 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 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.â The Elijah figure is more familiar to most than is the end-time Moses. But, in the modern age, this prophecy has been fulfilled! My extensive three-part sermon series on the subject, âFirst a MOSES, Now ELIJAHâ130 Proofs!â brings irrefutable evidence.
If Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Moses, then all the truths that he taught must be retainedâheld fast! The implications of his fulfillment are tremendous! (The sermon series examines them.)
Though some debate its meaning, most will not deny that God states of Philadelphians that they âhold fastâ to the truth. But no one in the splinters understands the enormous Moses fulfillmentâand teachingâand the implications that flow from this command.
However, many hundreds of Godâs people do have a balanced approach to Mr. Armstrongâs role and its implications. These people do not ignore the obvious factsâthe mountain of proof that is available about who he was. They neither follow a false prophet nor believe endless crazy prophetic ideas. They understand the Work is not over until the Tribulation. Those in this category also do not slander and attack confused brethren on this or any other matter. They do not reflect the unsound, unlearned, untrained, unbalanced, unteachable and ungovernable attitudes obvious in so many who profess to follow Mr. Armstrongâusually most evident in those who stayed in PCG for a long time.
Kissing His Tomb
Of course, most splinter leaders consciously or unconsciously assist in the deception of many brethren because they continually state, âWe love Mr. Armstrong.â Get this. The WCG false leaders still assert that they âlove Mr. Armstrong.â Like the Pharisees who hung flowers on the tombs of the prophets they had killed (Matt. 23:29), they regularly âkiss his tombâ for political impact. For that matter, the Pope and every modern television evangelist would surely say, if asked, that they too âlove Mr. Armstrong.â
Not even the devil would attempt to deceive you by starting with the words âI hate Mr. Armstrong,â or even âI donât like Mr. Armstrong.â Most splinter leaders often add, âHe was a fine man,â or âHe did a fine Work,â or âHe was, or probably was, an apostleââbefore they invariably go on to explain why he was âwrongâ about something(s). They understand that their chance of swaying you (and their own organizations) into their wrong thinking and/or new doctrine is much better if they appear to respect and generally agree with Mr. Armstrong. Therefore, they subtly follow the classic practice of âdamning him with faint praise.â Obviously, their tactics are working.
Godâs enemies, and others who compromise His truth, always attack His greatest servants. But those at least within the âchurchâ at large usually do it craftily, while asserting they are notâstating that they ârespect what he accomplished.â
Every splinter leader wants to put his own signature on his group. These men do not want to appear âunable to grow.â They do want to be seen as men of visionââable to grow.â They also never speak about how Mr. Armstrong taught that only apostles can bring doctrine into the Church. Think hard about this as you observe them! These men have not been willing to continue receiving Mr. Armstrong as sent from God as an apostle, possessing sole authority to convey truth to the Church.
The Great Unspoken Motivation
Consider the man or men whom you now follow. Keep your focus on doctrineââand on how God would pick the leader under whom He would gather His faithful flock.
Most leaders willinglyâand convenientlyâteach certain popular false doctrines to keep people attending withâand tithing to!âtheir organizations. They well understand the financial consequences of rejecting widely accepted errors, such as wearing makeup and doing away with third tithe. In this way, they allow âtruth to be evil spoken ofâ and âmake merchandiseâ (II Pet. 2:1-3) of Godâs people to retain their tithes.
These leaders will answer for their actions! (I sincerely hope they are more blind and deceived than they appear.) But make no mistakeâthese men are committed to their positions. If any doubt this, try actively opposing them by warning affiliated brethren to abandon their heresies and to leave their organizations. All who do this will soon learn their fate! But ministers who do this will have Godâs reward if they are not hirelings (John 10:11-13). But take note: Many verses reveal that more than just ministers have a responsibility in this way (Jms. 5:19-20; Gal. 6:1-2; Jude 22-23; Dan. 11:32-35; among others)!
Many thousands can no longer even distinguish those who have compromised and disqualified themselves, and worse, cannot distinguish those sent by Satan from great servants SENT BY GOD!
Read very carefully Hebrews 5:13-14, regarding mature Christians spiritually âdiscerning good and evil.â Then ask yourself what happened to so many who were once so sure of what they now cannot even recall, let alone discern.
âBut I Saw Government Abusedâ
Before examining some statements about whereâand to whomâMr. Armstrong said that the government of God was re-established, it must be recognized that both the Moses fulfillment and the one true Church and Body of Christ doctrine are directly connected to this foundational teaching.
Sadly, many were victims of administrative abuse and injustice even when the WCG was on track. I certainly was. Wherever human beings are involved, there is always imperfection. Sometimes this imperfection means people get hurt. But if they are seeking God, and correctly focusing on developing His perfect character, their thinking remains clear and they recognize that even Christ âlearnedâŚby the things which He sufferedâ (Heb. 5:8)âand that loving Godâs Law will overcome all offenses (Psa. 119:165).
They also recognize that they must remember Godâs other instruction when this occurs: âFor this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfullyâŚif, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an exampleâŚâ (I Pet. 2:19-21).
Over time, most began to forget the importance of right government in the Church. Almost from the time Mr. Armstrong died, his successors in Pasadena put down and denigrated Godâs government, making it into something that was harsh and terribleâunless they needed its authority to persecute those they could not compromise or control for wrong purposes. I tasted more than once the extreme harshness of their rebellion against what God intended His government to bring to the Churchâand their deceit used to make their new way appear more âloving.â
Ministers (and I heard this often) were almost browbeaten into avoiding the use of government in even the most serious matters having to do with Church discipline locally. They were continually told that almost any use of government was âbeing a sheriff and not a shepherd.â This very phrase became a mindless clichĂŠ, repeated endlessly by people who had not a clue what God taught about the subject or what they themselves were talking about. Another phrase, âWe should never run peopleâs livesâ (this is true), virtually came to mean that Godâs ministers should neverâor only very rarelyâcorrect His people or tell them that they were wrong about anything. Serious offenses were openly tolerated as members quickly learned how to âblow the whistleâ on their âsheriffâ pastors. After all, what could Godâs worst enemies know about the blessings of a government that largely existed to protect the truth?
Certainly, the misuse of government repulsed a great many people. But, would you abandon Sabbath observance because certain people misuse and abuse the truth about this weekly blessing? I have seen people steal Godâs tithes, but I have never used this as a license to ignore my responsibility to tithe correctly. If people misuse and abuse the biblical principles of proper childrearing, are all who witness this then licensed to be permissive parents? Should marriage be thrown out because half of all married people get divorced?
Since when does what other people do incorrectly dismiss our Christian responsibility to do those same things correctly?
Because we may be able to say, âI saw government abused,â does not mean there exists no further obligation to practice it as God intended. Be careful you do not blame Godâs system for what Satanâs agents didâor still do. This is truly âthrowing the baby out with the bath waterââand you are the one who will get hurt if you make the wrong distinction in your judgment. Carefully discern this. Do not blur the fact that men, not the system, were in error. Also be careful that you are not unconsciously saying that the system, which produced so much wonderful fruitâand brought you to Godâs truth, Work and Churchâwas not of God!
Government Re-established Only in Philadelphia
Mr. Armstrong was not ambiguous about how the government of God was made plain to the Church during the Philadelphian age. He pulled no punches, as the following statements reveal. Read them most carefully:
âI did not know it as a young man, late teens, 20s and into my 30s, but God was guiding my life from birthâŚJesus Christ, through His written Word, opened my mind to the prime basic truths He wanted me to have in starting me out as His servantâŚGodâs time had come!âŚI did not seek these basic foundations of truth of my own volition! Jesus Christ revealed themâŚHe was preparing one called and chosen by God, even against that oneâs will, for an important service in restoring the law and government of God to earthâeven 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!â
âThe HistoryâŚof the Worldwide Church of God,â GN, Apr. 1980
âJesus QUALIFIED to restore Godâs governmentâto set up the KINGDOM OF GOD, ruling over the earth, administering the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Jesusâ 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 itâwithin the United States beginning 1934, and going worldwide beginning 1953âprecisely a century of time cycles after it had been suppressed!
âHave WE, through this Work, RESTORED anything? Indeed we have! We have RESTORED the TRUE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRISTâthrough us JESUS CHRIST has already begun RESTORING the KNOWLEDGE of what had been taken awayâthe GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Through us the living Christ has been preparing for his SECOND COMING for the PURPOSE of RESTORING ALL THINGS!
âNONE OTHER has RESTORED the knowledge of the fact GODâS GOVERNMENT was established on earth, and then DESTROYED and taken away by the Cherub Lucifer (Satan) and his demons.
âJesus did NOT restore Godâs 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 Godâs Kingdom, THEN HE ASCENDED TO HEAVEN.â
Co-worker letter, Aug. 24, 1982
âThe government of God has been restored to the Church, and the government of God has been placed in the Church. You read that in Ephesians 4 and I Corinthians 12. Christ is the head of the Church and under Christ in the administration of the government are an apostle or apostles, then evangelists, then pastors, then all are called elders, all ministers all the way up clear down to the lowest. So then there are teachers and elders both speaking elders and preaching elders, deacons and deaconesses. And the Church is restored in that form of government. The Sardis Church even didnât have the right form of government.â
Sermon, Dec. 17, 1983
Remember. Philadelphians hold fast doctrinally to what they were taught, without exception. Since Mr. Armstrong taught (correctly) that âgovernment is everythingââand that it was âplacedâ in the Church for those of Philadelphiaâit should go without saying that wherever Philadelphians are gathered, one should expect to find the exact same form of government in place that Mr. Armstrong taught. It should be clear that if any other form was there, it would violate Christâs description that Philadelphians hold fast âwhat they have.â Any doctrinal compromise becomes a disqualifier. How much more with so great a doctrine?
We have a tremendously important and thorough book that brings back the full understanding of Godâs government in His Church. Titled The Government of God â Understanding Offices and Duties, it serves as a companion alongside THE TRUE CHURCH and âANOINT YOUR EYES.â It covers the working details in a much greater way than possible here, including ample proof Mr. Armstrong âgot it rightâ in the way he taught Godâs government.
Who You Follow
Are you prepared to refute the above statements, reasoning they no longer have application because false leaders held the power to permanently destroy Godâs government in the Church for the rest of the age? Or do you not think Godâs government was ever re-established for the Church?
The committee leading UCG believes that God has not raised up one man to follow. They repeatedly declare that if He had, they would follow himâand that if God does, they will yet follow him.
Who is kidding whom? Many questions ariseâfor them and for you: Have they sought that man? Have they examined the fruit of any possible candidates in their thinking? Do they know what to look for? Where do they think this man will come from? If they are eliminating various possibilitiesâministers or organizationsâare they doing this on the right basis? Do they concern themselves with, or ever think about, the doctrines he would have to be teachingâand how many they would have to change to follow him? Do they realize that this man could notâand would neverâcompromise government as they do? Is there a working plan in place for how to close down UCG (and COGwa) and follow him when he arrives? I speak as a fool.
Most important, have they sought Godâs guidance to find this leader, perhaps collectively praying and fasting in their search? Then, have they considered that God would never condone their âwaitingâ for such a man under a completely unbiblical form of government? Do these men actually believe that they will suddenly be willing to come under the authority of one man again after so many years of following leadership by âconsensusââwhere they had a vote and âvoiceâ?
Again, who are they kidding with such incredible hypocrisy?
No serious personâone who really thinks this throughâcould possibly believe the elected bunch professing this is actively doing ANY of these things! Like the researchers seeking a cure for cancer, these people know if they actually find one they will be out of a job. Do not let this committee deceive you into believing that you can safely trust them to let you know when they have located this man. They are not looking for him. They have no plan or process in place to find himâand are not about to devise one! (We could say humorously that it is surprising they have not appointed a committee for this purpose since they have one for everything else!)
Blindness has covered their eyes. But they are without excuse. Like so many todayâif these men were even lookingâthey would be inclined to seek one whom men speak well of, even though Christ said, âBeware when all men speak well of you.â Will you follow them, or men like them? Is their shallow, phony, self-serving âpromiseâ good enough for you?
Be sure that YOU are not looking to follow one who âplayed the game,â rose to the top, and has the approbation of men.
The splinters and slivers today have lost track of Godâs government. Sardis had also long since lost sight of correct Church government by the time Mr. Armstrong came into contact with them. They also had become disagreeing, divided and competing! This is but one more proof that only the sixth eraâPhiladelphiaâsandwiched between these two eras, experienced the marvelous restoration of Godâs wonderfully unified government.
Letâs consider some other points. Several organizations do have varying forms of hierarchical government. But this does not mean they have the government of God. There are at least two reasons for this.
First, some do not really understand what hierarchical government is. They seem to think it can involve ultimate control by a committee, where the leader can be removed by a majority vote of a committee (also itself elected). This is not even hierarchical governmentâlet alone Godâs government! It is democratic, pure and simple. A couple smaller groups also practice this system. They are blind to what they do, not recognizing that God, and God alone, selects and installs the one He has chosen. Godâs leader reports to Him and none otherâand if God wants to remove this man, He will do it. Mr. Armstrong stated, âThe government of God is of necessity government from the top down. It cannot be âgovernment by the consent of the governedââ (MYSTERY OF THE AGES, p. 49). This includes committees, small or large.
In the modern spirit of âone man, one vote,â the entire ministry of the United Church of God votes on budgets, strategic plans, doctrines, traditions, policies and selection of council members. This is all done in the spirit of unlimited âopenness,â âtransparencyâ and âhaving nothing to hide.â But this is also done to ensure that their somewhat untrusting members (and ministers!) are pleased withâsatisfied byâand will continue giving their seal of approvalâtranslate this: their tithesâto their âhome officeâ!
Such leaders and brethren following them lack faith in Christâs ability to direct His Church, beginning with one man.
This group even announces publicly which council members voted one way and which another, as well as revealing the names of men being considered for high offices. Such open divisionâand foolishness! However sincere these leaders may be in their attempt to âcorrectââtemporarily or permanentlyâthe method of government they feel Mr. Armstrong erroneously installed into the Church, and apparently on his own mistaken authority, this represents an astonishing departure into confusion, division and appalling blindness. Sadly, in a remarkable parallel with Jeremiahâs prophecy (5:31), where âthe priests [ministers today] bear rule by their means,â most of Godâs people now seem to âlove to have it so.â
Such is the age when âthe people rule, judge and decide.â
Understand. Men are not authorized to establish a redesign of Godâs form of government, and then notify Christ that He will need to modify His thinking. Most cannot even seem to remember that all ânotificationâ works the other wayâfrom Christ to them!
However, there is also this problemâand it is large. Some leaders do carry final authority over decision-making, but, at the same time, teach a whole variety of false doctrines, which they have invariably described as âgrowing in knowledgeâ or âminor adjustmentsâ to doctrines that are ânot essential for salvation.â Theirs would be a hierarchical government, but it cannot possibly derive its authority from Godâcarrying HIS PRESENCE in the government! This is because the real remnant of Philadelphia holds to the full truth (Rev. 3:11). In fact, these men have appointed themselves, and their fruits, meaning in part their teachings, show that God could not possibly have installed any of them as the leader of His Church. He cannot be directing such governments, or He would be working against Himselfâand His truth!
Pause and consider yourself. After witnessing apostate leaders, coupled with one or more compromised splinter leaders, including the leadership of the first splinter (begun in 1989) who has used government to so terribly brutalize his flock, you are presented with a personal choice. You must either: (1) Conclude that the system of government led by one man was wrong, because it was capable of producing bad leaders, and, as a result, support putting power into the hands of an elected committee to select your leader, or (2) in faith, determine to find the uncompromising man that God has trained and raised up.
There are no other choices. Think this through most carefullyâTHERE ARE NO OTHER CHOICES!
Godâs government was restored to the sixth era of His Church. Mr. Armstrong taught that government is everything. No apostate leader or any man carries the authority (from God or anyone else)âor the powerâto permanently banish or remove it from His Church. Neither can they alter its form. The government of God is found where His full, restored truth is taught and practiced, where the gospel is being preached to the whole world, where the special warning is being given to the nations of modern Israel, where the flock is being properly fed and where Christâs appointed leader is found.
There can be only one such place!
What Mr. Armstrong Taught
What follows next is a single, long quote from Mr. Armstrong. The subject of how many organizations God chooses to work through at one time would be incomplete without it. It is from Mr. Armstrongâs benchmark May 1974 Member letter of thirty pages. This single letter, carrying extensive proof, set the standard for what the entire Church understood and believed about government, when it was confronted with the greatest rebellion that had occurred in the Philadelphian era to that point.
Mr. Armstrong recognized that Godâs government has always been from the top downâbeginning with one man, which means it must always rest in one organization at a time. Admit that there is no way that the leadership of one man can be divided among several groups. Do not be among those who conveniently believe that how leaders in the splinters choose to design their groupâs government can in any way alter the manner in which God governs those of the sixth era (all emphasis Mr. Armstrongâs):
âToday some in the Church of God do not UNDERSTAND just what the Church of God really IS! Some have become confused as to whether there is ORGANIZATION or government in itâand I mean in GODâS OWN CHURCH! And God HAS ONLY ONE CHURCH! (I Cor. 12:12, 13.) But we of âthe wiseâ shall understand! That understanding shall be made PLAIN in this letter.â
âMany times I have told you, dear Brethren, that when God first called me, beginning in the autumn of 1926, that the living Christ brought me into His truth a step at a time. YOU have not had to learn the truth so slowlyâChrist used me to do it for you. And one of the very last truths He opened to me was that of church organization and government!â
âBrethren, I have felt it necessary that you should know and understand these things, so you may realize WHY I did not yet fully understand the truth regarding church government and organization, in February, 1939âMORE THAN 35 YEARS AGOâwhen I wrote an article on church organization.â [Authorâs Note: Many now love to quote this article to advance their own agendas.]
âThere had been much confusion and argument among the âSardisâ brethren about church organization. When the new so called âBible Form of Church Organizationâ was introduced at Salem, naturally the Stanberry people argued against it. I think we all became confused on the question. Itâs like being too close to one tree to see the forestâŚIn both of thoseâStanberry and Salemâthe people votedâgovernment from the bottom like these dissenters today.â
âWe published an article revealing new truth about church organization in The GOOD NEWS, November, 1952, and again in August, 1953, âGOVERNMENT in Our Church,â and in November, 1953, âJUDGING and DISCIPLINE in Godâs Church.â As God revealed truth, His Church accepted it. And long since, we came into the FULL TRUTH on church organization and government.â
âNotice, now, the FORM, or PRINCIPLE of Godâs government in ancient Israel: Itâs given in Exodus 18:13-27.â
âHere is government FROM THE TOP (GOD) on down. Here is Godâs own PYRAMID principle of government in ancient Israel.
âAt that time the whole NATIONâwith church and state unitedâoccupied one concise area. The form of organization could be administered by ONE MAN under God, at the top. It was Government from GOD. Under the Eternal God in authority was Moses. Under Moses a NUMBER of rulers, each over THOUSANDS (it could have been several thousands under each ruler). Under each ruler of a thousand, rulers over hundreds. Under each ruler of a hundred, rulers of fifties, and under each of them rulers of tens.
âIt was RULE FROM THE TOP DOWNâthat is, FROM GODâit was the GOVERNMENT OF GOD! God chose Moses. Moses chose rulers of thousands, and so on down.â
âIn the days of Samuel, the people of Israel rejected GOD as their real Ruler, ruling through such humans as HE chose, as at that time, God was ruling through Samuel. They demanded a MAN to be their king. God gave them Saul, who rebelled against God. Then God gave them David, a man after His own heart. Still it was government FROM THE TOP DOWN!
âThat is Godâs PRINCIPLE OF GOVERNMENT. Itâs the SAME TODAY in His Church! He says, âI CHANGE NOT!â (Mal. 3:6.)â
âAs we progress through the Bible on the question of GOVERNMENT, the PRINCIPLE of government, from the TOP DOWN, is consistent. But the application, or details of STRUCTURE differs, and varies to adapt to the time, conditions and facilities. The revolters from Godâs Work confuse structural form with PRINCIPLE of government, which is ALWAYS from the TOP (GOD) down. They are NOT THE SAME.
âIn the Old Testament, God chose ONE (Moses, Samuel, Saul, David, etc.) at a time, UNDER GOD, because Israel was ONE nation in ONE location or area. ONE at the top of the human level, under God, with others under him, was all that was required to administer the PRINCIPLE of government FROM THE TOP DOWN.
âBut in the first century of the Gospel Work in the New Testament, God was sending the Gospel into MANY COUNTRIES, over wide areas. So He organized His Work into TWO principal divisions, or areasâISRAEL and GENTILES. They were widely separated geographically. Communication was virtually nil, except by personal contact. Transportation was by foot, horse or muleback, or by camel or elephant, or sailboat. If Peter were the sole human head under Christ, it might take him weeks to communicate with the man next under him in Rome, if he were in Jerusalem. So God worked directly with TWO in separated areas.â
âWith such communication and transportation facilities available today, Christ requires only ONE, once again, directly under him. Several times I have questioned whether Christ would ordain one or several more apostles, but always on counseling with evangelists, their response has been a decisive and absolute âNO.ââ
ââŚthe GOVERNMENT OF GOD [is] organized from the TOP DOWN.â
âNow letâs look into New Testament teaching to see how this is POSITIVELY REVEALED.
âI quoted from Galatians 2:7-8 about how Paul was assigned by Christ to head THE WORK to the Gentiles.
âNow notice Titus 1:4-5 and 2:15âPaul wrote to Titus (UNDER PAUL), âTo Titus, mine own son after the common faith (even as those under me in THE WORK today, are MY own sons, directly or indirectly, in the Lord),âŚ from God the Father (first in rank) and the Lord Jesus Christ (second in rank) our Savior. For this cause left I (next in rankâto Gentilesâunder Christ) thee (under Paulâs authority in the Work) in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders (under Titus who is under Paul, who is under Christ) in every city as I had appointed thee.â
âNo authority in the Church? What did God MEAN when He says in His Word, âOBEY them that have the RULE over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account (as I know I shall) that they may do it with JOY, and not with grief: for that (causing those over you grief) is unprofitable for YOU. Pray for us (THOSE OF US GOD HAS SET IN AUTHORITY TODAY) for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things, willing to live honestlyâ (Heb. 13:17-18).
âNo government in Godâs Church? Then WHY did God inspire this to the Thessalonians? âAnd we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are OVER YOU in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their workâs sake. And be at peace among yourselvesâ (I Thes. 5:12-13).
âOne of the things SATAN works overtime in injecting into any mind that will let it enter, is RESENTMENT OF AUTHORITY. GODâS authority is administered in LOVEâand actually as one SERVING those under His authority for THEIR GOOD and out of loving CONCERN for them. That is the way I try to use what authority God has delegated to me, and I try to teach those under me to use it in the same mannerâas a servant, not one lording it over those under himâas JESUS gave us an example. Satan DESPISES government, except as HE himself harshly and in hate employs it.
âBut what does God say about DESPISING GOVERNMENT?
ââBut chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and DESPISE GOVERNMENT. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities, whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruptionâ (II Peter 2:10-12).
âBrethren, THATâS GODâS WORD, not mine!
âNow notice I Corinthians 12: In this chapter God is showing that in THE WORK of the Churchâproclaiming the Gospel to the world, and feeding the flock, there are different ADMINISTRATIONS, different OPERATIONS, in the Church, and for these, God has given various spiritual GIFTS, or empowerments, by His Holy Spirit.â
âSo in the Church, God has set differences of ADMINISTRATIONS. For example, we have today the Division of Church Administration (CAD), or, Executive Administration over ministers and churches. There is the Educational Administration, or Executive direction over the Colleges and Imperial Schools. There is Publishing Administration, Broadcast Administration over radio and TV, etc. This of necessity requires organization. The exact pattern or STRUCTURE may vary according to conditions, needs, etc., but the PRINCIPLE of the organization MUST BE THAT OF GODâS GOVERNMENT, from the TOP, God, then Christ, on down, as CHRIST has directed and chosen.â
âThe very fact that God has endowed different members in His Church with additional spiritual gifts, added to their own natural talents and abilities, in itself shows emphatically that there is definite ORGANIZATION in His Church, and that the ORGANIZATION must flow from a chain of authority, according to the PRINCIPLE which GOD (our legislative branch), has setâthat is, AUTHORITY FROM THE TOP DOWN. That is the PRINCIPLE. The OPERATIONS refers to functioning according to the practical application of the PRINCIPLE of government given us by GOD.
âThe ADMINISTRATIONS in the Church refers to executive performance and managerial responsibilities, NOT to policy-making. In other words, adapting the method of functioning, according to the PRINCIPLE which GOD (the Policy Maker and Law Giver), not we, has laid down.â
âNow WHAT is this chapter (I Corinthians 12) showing? That the Church is ONEâand ONE ONLYâand has many members. That there are different Administrations and different operations (verses 5-6). That there are different spiritual GIFTS (but ONE SPIRITâverses 4, 7-11). Christ is the Head of the Church, called âthe Body of Christ,â having many members for many functions. To show many functions, it is compared to the human body (verses 12-26). Then, we read of the respective offices in rank (verses 27-30).â
âSo, as to RANK of offices of executive administration, and operational functions, âAnd GOD hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues (languages)â (I Cor. 12:28).â
âNotice now! GOD saysâthe Holy WORD OF GOD says: âAnd GOD set some in the church, first, apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachersâŚâ Thatâs what GOD says. But [a] leader of the theology of the dissenters from Godâs Church says, âBUT I THINK it is far better to call these titles, rather than ranks.â He THINKS his way around the GOVERNMENT OF GOD, and the AUTHORITY which CHRIST has delegated.â
âGOD SAYS, first, secondly, thirdly. But HE THINKS his way around GODâS WORD! Brethren, GODâS Church dares not handle the Word of God so carelessly, so deceptively.â
âIn the world of the unconverted, those in authority do exercise lordship over those under them. Christ said it should NOT be so with us. But He did not in so saying abolish all authority or rulership. He PUT RULERSHIP in His Church. He DELEGATED authority. What He was teaching His future apostles, is that we in GODâS GOVERNMENT should NOT bear rule IN THE SAME HARSH AND UNLOVING MANNER as the unconverted in the world.
âLetâs get this point CLEAR. Itâs basic. Misunderstanding at this point has caused some to leave Godâs Church, and perhaps even Godâs salvation and gift of eternal life!
âNotice what Jesus taughtâŚ [in] Mark 10:42: ââŚye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over themâŚbut so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,âŚâ But no one can say Jesus had no authority.
âYears ago, seeing this, and not considering the many, MANY Scriptures charging some in the Church with authority, rulership, saying to ârebukeâ the unruly, etc., I took the above scriptures to mean there is no authority in the Church. I did not want to exercise authority. I was still NEW in Godâs truth (this was over 40 years ago). So, in the early days of the parent Church of the Philadelphia era, at Eugene, Oregon, I allowed âwolves in sheepsâ clothingâ to come in and sow the seeds of discord among brethren. It resulted in splitting the church in twoâpossibly turning half my flock onto the way that leads into a lake of fire! God had His own way of REBUKING ME SOUNDLY, making me see this in its true light. Jesus here is talking about THE MANNER in which the authority Christ delegates is used. He is NOT saying there is NO AUTHORITY.â
ââŚin the same speech where Jesus taught against âlording it overâ those under oneâs authority [Luke 22], He delegated to them authority of KINGSHIP, sitting on twelve thrones.
âI have had to correct some under me in Godâs Work on this very pointâthe manner in which authority was used. Those of us in Godâs Church are not YET perfect. We must OVERCOME and GROW in grace. But the remedy is not to take all authority which Christ has delegated OUT of the Church, but to learn to administer it IN THE MANNER Christ has taught.â
âThe parallel instruction on the RANK of authority in the Church is Ephesians 4, beginning with verse 11: âAnd he (Christ) gave some,âŚâ The RSV translates it more clearly: âAnd His gifts were that some should be apostles,â etc. Continue, âsome prophets, and some evangelists, and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for THE WORK of the ministry (proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom to all the world), for the edifying of the body of ChristâŚââ
âGod has ONLY ONE CHURCH on earth, which He directs in the doing of His Workânot TWO churchesânot MANY denominations and sects, and âgroups.â âBut now are they many members, YET BUT ONE BODYâ (I Cor. 12:20âsee also v. 12, 13). âFor by one Spirit are we all (not part of us) baptized into ONE bodyââ (all emphasis his).
Brethren Letter, May 2, 1974
This is a powerful statementâand the entire letter is worth reading. Mr. Armstrong leaves no doubt about Godâs pattern of government. Take careful note that he never stated leadership through âone manâ was only applicable if there was a living apostle. He simply never taught this. And note well Mr. Armstrongâs last paragraph! We will revisit it in detail in the next chapter.
Mr. Armstrong neither designated nor ordained his successor an apostle, and the complete above-quoted letter describes many that God used who also were not apostles (judges, kings, etc.). Without checking, some blindly assert the âWe-have-no-apostle-todayâ argument as the reason they no longer must follow one manâall the while claiming to have a âhierarchical governmentâ (where a board can remove a leader that it no longer wishes to follow). This is a baldly dishonest representation of what Mr. Armstrong taught, offered by men unwilling to yield to the one that God has chosenâand also unwilling to carefully examine whether in fact that man could be an apostle.
How careful will you be in this regard?
We could ask, regarding such groups: What is their point? Why not just say they disagree with Mr. Armstrong on government, since they disagree with him in so many other areas? They reinvent and distort Mr. Armstrongâs plain statements about God working through one man to divert attention from other false doctrines they openly teach or tolerate.
Makeâforceâyour mind to come to grips with this!
Where Godâs chosen leader is not present as the human leader of an organization, and a board or eldership has selected the spiritual leader, that leader has, in fact, accepted the authority of the board over him. He has no right to claim that the same board cannot remove himâparticularly since he cannot possibly claim that God installed him as the leader of the church he presides overâor that he solely reports to and takes direction from God. It would be utterly dishonest for a man to claim that God installed him into leadership, when it was a board or committee of men who cast ballots placing him into office over the organization he âleadsâ!
This is the very premise used by the âleaderâ of one of the bigger splinters today, who rebelled and left UCG because it no longer endorsed his leadership, and removed him as President in 1998. He went on record as saying, in effect, âSince the board installed me twice, this means I was Godâs choice.â
Ridiculous! But upwards of 2,000 people initially followed this man!
The leader of Godâs Churchâthe man that God has chosenâwould NEVER allow himself to be voted into office by a group of any kind in the first place.
Godâs leader is always placed into office by Christ after he has been carefully trained and preparedâafter he has endured numerous trials and tests, designed to ensure that he would never compromise, with either the truth or the Work, once God installs him into office! This training process, of necessity, ensures that Godâs selected leader must lead an organization coming from the humblest possible beginningâwhere the fruits of growth, works and truth expand around and under him, after he began essentially aloneâas Mr. Armstrong did. He cannot rise through the ranks of an already-existing organization run by committee without always having to derive his authority from the committeeâsâinstead of from Godâs lone chosen leaderâsâdecision to hand him the top position.
What committees of men can give, they can also take away!
Any large organization, one beginning with hundreds or thousands of people, and involving many ministers, like UCG or COGwa, would automatically face the difficult question at the outset of âWho is in charge?â Of necessity, because it started this way, such a group would have no choice but to elect a leader. Think this through, recognizing that Godâs chosen leader would never participate in such a process. (Of course, once again, UCG justifies its rejection of Godâs method of selection, in place of its own, by continuing to mindlessly assert that God has not yet made clear His choice for them to follow. But I ask one more time: Who among them is looking to see if God has sent another chief shepherd today?)
I repeat: The Government of God â Understanding Offices and Duties is of titanic importance to those who really want to know the why of all the confusion and chaos of the Laodicean age. The chapter here merely introduces the subject. The reader must study and grasp the contents of that book. It is unlike anything you have ever read before on this subject, and recaptures the truth of Godâs government that so many have lost.
I implore you to carefully consider the spiritual logic of what Mr. Armstrong understood when he left Sardis with only thirteen brethren joining his family of six. This represented truly the humblest of beginnings, yet it began an organization that eventually grew to enormous size, and had a global impact beyond imagination. This was because of the miraculous power of God working through the man that He had chosen and sent. Be careful of what you may overlook in the message this sends!
This leads directly to a related subject that must be addressed and clarified at this point.