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Where Is God’s Church Today?
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Jesus said, “I will build My Church…” There is a single organization that teaches the entire truth of the Bible, and is called to live by “every word of God.” Do you know how to find it? Christ said it would:

  • Teach “all things” He commanded
  • Have called out members set apart by truth
  • Be a “little flock”

Do you know David C. Pack?

“Anoint Your Eyes”

Christ’s Warning to His People

by David C. Pack

Christ warns Laodiceans to “anoint your eyes”—WHY? What did He mean? WHO did He mean—and how can you know? This all-important instruction, to all Christians living in the last days, must be understood.

This extensive book—the most crucial written to the WCG splinters—thoroughly covers things never before explained, and in extraordinary detail. For those hoping to escape the Great Tribulation, it reveals exactly what Christ meant and how to apply this most critical warning!

Video Introduction
Introduction

Few doubt that the Laodicean age has arrived. This means questions of supreme importance stand before the twenty-first century Church of God. Prophecy reveals that most brethren today will avoid them or answer them incorrectly. Why? Because they will be unwilling to believe and obey Christ’s counsel to “anoint your eyes…that you may see” (Rev. 3:18). The result will be that they will never come to understand how to apply His instruction to “buy of Me [Christ] gold tried in the fire.”

Once the Great Tribulation is here—the worst fire of all time!—only one-half of Laodicea will be saved, but then only after enduring torment and death. Having lost God’s Spirit as the only means to spiritually survive, the other half will accept the mark of the beast, trading eternal life for only a very little more physical life.

What could be more serious for those who miscalculate—who make the wrong decisions at the end of the age?

Yet, who really questions or talks about “anointing their eyes”? Very few, if any. How often do you hear, or have you ever heard, people discussing the meaning of the term? Even though there is nearly universal agreement that the Laodicean age has arrived, and even though Christ commands Laodiceans to do this, when was the last time—if ever—that you were concerned about it? Also, have you ever heard a sermon about this subject, even one? Almost certainly not, and this is because virtually no one believes that he or she could be Laodicean.

Why examine or study what could not apply?

Questions arise: Where is Laodicea? Whom was Christ addressing? Have you anointed your eyes? Are you sure? Are you certain you know what this means?

You can know what—and whom—Christ meant!

Understanding these questions, and the issues they represent, is vital to every true Christian. While all of our books to the “splinters”—addressing crucial issues now facing each one of God’s people—must be read to grasp the scope and manner in which the prophesied falling away arrived, this book overarches the others, with the exception of my book The True Church – One Organization, or Many? It puts into perspective the decision you cannot avoid if you hope to escape the Great Tribulation—and receive eternal life!

Making the Right Comparison

This book will look at the subject of Laodicea in detail—and in a way that most have never begun to understand. We will closely examine what Christ said to this era and why. This will include an examination of the ancient city of Laodicea, as well as what Mr. Armstrong taught about the final era of the Church. We will also carefully review what a Philadelphian is, and this includes a fascinating look at ancient Philadelphia. Also, since the last era is known for being lukewarm, this volume will explain how to take your temperature—in relation to what Jesus Christ reveals, not to how your organization fares when compared to others.

Paul warned, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (II Cor. 10:12), then added, “For not he that commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (vs. 18). The meaning of “approved” will slowly grow in your thinking.

In two places, Daniel stated that at the “time of the end,” only “the wise shall understand” (12:10). He was referring to unfolding conditions and events, and God’s purpose (11:32-35). In other words, in part, whom God commends—approves!—and whom He does not. Both of Daniel’s passages identify and connect this understanding with being spiritually “tried, purged, made white and purified.” All of this will be made abundantly clear as the book progresses. You will not be able to misunderstand, unless you choose to!

There is much, much more in what Paul recorded than meets the eye. You will learn what the process of receiving God’s approval is, and how it directly ties to Christ’s New Testament command for His people to “anoint your eyes.”

Two Views—Both Wrong!

Two incorrect views—one hostile, the other simply wrong—describe how most have seen “Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People.

On the one hand, for obvious reasons, certain brethren and leaders feel threatened by this book. This has caused some to attack it. Of course, they have done this at their own risk, jeopardizing their own future safety. That is their decision. But you must ask whether you will allow the attacks—and the “analysis”—of others, in effect, to do your thinking for you.

On the other hand, some generally agree with the book but reduce it to merely containing some “nice points” or “good principles” or “interesting insights.” Be very careful of summing up the book in this way, because you could be fooled into thinking this meant you applied its message. Any who diminish what should be the tremendous impact of its message on the reader into simply “helpful hints” has, in fact, completely missed the message of the book!

Extensive Spiritual Exercise

What you will read is not an intellectual treatise, written for the scholarly, in the language of scholarship. It has been written as much as is possible in a style similar to Mr. Armstrong’s. God’s people are generally “the weak and foolish of the world” (I Cor. 1:27-29). Since I am not an exception, I know we need things clearly spelled out.

Therefore, this book is written as a practical guide explaining precisely what the title references. At times, it will use very explicit detail to make points impossible to miss.

It will reveal how you must undergo an extensive—and intensive—spiritual exercise, not able to be accomplished through the application of an easy formula. It will tell you how to be “wise” to Christ’s instruction to His people—how to “anoint your eyes.” It will explain exactly how to be “approved” of God in this age—and why Christ says that He “counsels” His people about this.

“ANOINT YOUR EYES” will explain what Christ meant when He described Laodicea as “naked,” and how this was connected to a certain kind of “shame.” All of this is directly tied to Laodicea’s “lukewarm(ness),” which, in turn, is connected to other aspects of what Christ describes as Laodicea’s condition.

You will learn why Christ said, “Be zealous and repent”—and the specifics of how it is zeal that propels Laodiceans to grasp what they must repent of to achieve the only proper spiritual outcome that Christ will accept. We will see what they must repent of.

You will also learn how all those with God’s Spirit must return to Christ’s one Body. Those who do not answer His knock, when Christ calls them “by name” (John 10:3-4), will wither and eventually spiritually die.

All of this must be explained, and the book will thoroughly do this.

I am aware that some have seen the title and skipped reading it, on the assumption that they have already fulfilled Christ’s command or know its contents. I pray the number doing this is few, because they have almost certainly not correctly done what Christ requires—and in all likelihood have not even begun the process!

From time to time, in the book’s early stages, I will sprinkle critically important statements without immediate qualification. But we will later return to examine them in greater detail. I urge you to be patient with the need to develop this enormously important subject in the only way to do it. There is too much to cover, and too much at stake, to dismiss the book early on because you may see things mentioned before they are thoroughly addressed!

Compelling Reading

In the world, books containing mysteries are often the bestsellers. Everyone seems to like a “Whodunit?” The meaning of Christ’s instruction to His people in the last days has been a mystery!

The mysteries of men’s religions always remain mysteries. They are never explained—never solved—in the end, and followers are told to accept this on faith. Of course, most do. Yet, the Bible’s mysteries can—and should—be made plain (I Cor. 2:9-10). What Jesus taught about anointing the eyes should be understood!

What has happened in our time is truly a modern “Whodunit?” As with any mystery involving a crime, there are several critical elements that must come to light: perpetrator, victim, crime scene, weapon, motive and other evidence.

Although some crimes remain mysteries—and there are those guilty of spiritual “crime” in this matter—Christ has solved this one through and within His Word! We will watch the Bible interpret the Bible in everything that is covered. No guesswork will be necessary—anywhere in the book!

Consider. Most people do not typically think of technical Bible explanations as “compelling reading.” But this book is an exception. It is truly the story never told—until now.

If you will set aside any personal offense that you may feel early in your reading, particularly when your group is being described, you will go on to learn things more fascinating than you can now dream. And, if you read far enough, you may not be able to put the book down.

Armstrong Worshippers?

At the risk of being called “an Armstrong worshipper,” I have chosen to quote Mr. Armstrong periodically—and sometimes extensively—throughout. There will also be quotes from other apostles. But this does not mean I worship any of them. The term “Armstrong worshipper” has been used to denigrate and belittle those who hold fast—who will not compromise the truth—to make them feel guilty for doing this and for being “unable to grow” with others who have not been willing to take the stand for proven truth that such “Armstrong worshippers” have taken.

Tragically, the apostasy has produced a class of “survivors” who do largely worship Mr. Armstrong’s person. These have mistaken God and Christ for focus on a man. Like the Catholics with Mary, these people need a visible, physical human being from whom to draw their strength to continue. (Remember, a lesson of the world’s religions is that physical minds require visible idols to substantiate their worship.) They confuse the teachings and work of Mr. Armstrong with the man himself. My experience with such people is that they rarely recover. They are perhaps the group least likely to “see” that Christ’s command applies to themselves, and most certain to believe that it is addressed to others—assuming they believe this subject to be important at all.

But, in general, there are those who understand and accept what Mr. Armstrong taught, and those who will not. It is also unlikely that I can say anything to this latter group to change their minds. However, Mr. Armstrong’s statements are included, without apology, for those with an open mind—for those who wish to remember his words.

The Full Picture

Finally, I caution you now: What is written here is both graphic and direct. This is not by accident. Understand that your group, if you are in one, will likely be named. Very strong language is used because this is what today’s circumstances demand. Vital truths are contained here and I am trying to communicate them in the most urgent manner possible!

This book is also very comprehensive. What the living Jesus Christ says about and to His people in the final Church age is much more profound than meets the eye, yet, again, virtually no one bothers to consider it. That is the biggest part of the problem.

Understand therefore. To get the complete—full—picture being presented, and to realize what you must do to receive God’s approval, you must read it all. Each section builds on the previous one—and each chapter builds on the one before it, causing the entire book to build as it continues. Realize that it is only in the book’s latter chapters that its many elements are completely tied together.

Do not lose sight of this method in which the book is written.

While some may feel they can “hop around” within the text, and still get the point, this cannot be done! Neither can you speed-read any part, including the quotes from Mr. Armstrong. I urge you to study each page most carefully, and then read the book a second time with an open Bible.

The points, principles, scriptures and teachings that will be covered are neither suppositions, hypotheses, theories nor opinions. They are the facts of our time—and are proofs, straight from God’s Word, history, Mr. Armstrong and basic logic, about the truth of what you face.

Note that the complete picture of events at the end of the age, because of the apostasy that struck the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), is presented and explained in additional detail in the books listed at the back. Various sermons—all part of our Splinter Explanation Packet—also shed light on truths explained in this book. Each assists in helping to fully understand the other. (So do the crucially important books The True Church – One Organization, or Many?, 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?) Occasionally it has been necessary to repeat certain principles from other parts of the packet because of their direct application to Christ’s warning. There will also be some necessary repetition within the book. This will happen when different aspects of related points need to be driven home in a different context.

For reasonable minds, this book will explain beyond all question exactly how to “anoint your eyes”—and exactly to whom the warning is addressed!

Christ’s time to reveal this vital understanding has come. But first the stage must be set, and this will take time.

Chapter One – What Really Happened?

World history is replete with historians who revisit, review, revise and sometimes even completely rewrite the actual truth of events to reflect what current circumstances seem to dictate. They bring their own agenda and worldview to history.

In the same way, within the Church, thousands have either forgotten or never understood even the most fundamental facts of what has happened since Mr. Armstrong’s death. The who, what, when, where, why and how of recent Church history have become blurred almost beyond recognition by people who think that they have a grasp of the basics.

Some review sets the stage for the rest of this chapter.

A Brief History

Herbert W. Armstrong died in early 1986. In summary, here is what followed. In the years after Mr. Armstrong’s death, false leaders captured the corporate church and ceased to believe and teach virtually every one of the doctrines revealed through him. Over time, these men completely threw out the truth and destroyed the visible church, leaving it spiritually dead. Subsequently, several ministers left the Worldwide Church of God to form organizations comprised of brethren generally unhappy with the changes that had occurred.

Through the first half of the 1990s, approximately 75 percent of the members completely departed from the truth. The remaining 25 percent scattered into various splinters, holding to varying degrees of the truth. Most agreed on certain basic doctrines, but disagreed on many others.

The problem is best defined this way: While most agreed that they disagreed with Mr. Armstrong on various doctrines, they could not agree on where they disagreed. As a result, thousands found themselves no longer able to “walk together” (Amos 3:3) in the unity that the Church once enjoyed. Thus, they scattered into many places—where they could meet with others of relatively similar belief. However, in every case, these groups generally saw themselves as “standing up for the truth.”

A vital distinction must be made at this point. These organizations are not to be confused with earlier groups that left in the 1970s, prior to Mr. Armstrong’s death. These were born of rebellion against the truth and God’s government when the Church was on track. Most brethren were once able to recognize that none of these organizations were of God—period. We all knew they had left Christ’s Body. Time, coupled with the blindness that has settled over most of God’s people, has clouded the ability of most to even see this much. Many now consider these early groups to be additional, viable options. This new position represents an astonishing reversal of understanding.

Now let’s briefly profile the groups that appeared afterthe truth began to be cast from the Church.

In December 1989, the first true WCG “splinter”—The Philadelphia Church of God (PCG), led by Gerald Flurry—was created. This organization eventually became home to several thousands, who went there believing it would help them hold to the full truth.

In December 1991, another pastor, John Ritenbaugh, left, claiming the Work was over and that Mr. Armstrong had put too much emphasis on it. He named his organization The Church of the Great God. Over time, several hundred people came and went from his group.

In January 1993, The Global Church of God (GCG) formed. This occurred after Roderick C. Meredith, who started it, petitioned Mr. Armstrong’s successor to remain in the WCG “as a Local Church Elder.” Only after being turned down did he begin his group, and it quickly grew in size. This group later became The Living Church of God (LCG).

In May 1995, the largest splinter formed, The United Church of God (UCG), consisting of hundreds of ministers, with certain senior WCG leaders, and many thousands of brethren. This group had finally decided to end their inaction after witnessing almost 300 doctrinal changes. They organized under the leadership of an elected committee, which in turn elected the group’s leader.

In 1998, GCG and UCG suffered major splits within their ranks, each involving 1,500 or more brethren. Both of these splits were essentially power struggles, and were almost entirely unrelated to doctrine. In late 2010, UCG split again, almost down the middle, with those departing forming the Church of God, A Worldwide Association (COGwa). These organizations have experienced the breakaway of numerous additional smaller offshoots. PCG has also suffered numerous splits, often over administration and dictatorial government, but also over doctrine, because of the absolutely blasphemous, unbiblical nonsense taught by its leader.

Like the vast majority who remained in Sardis, UCG, having begun with many false doctrines already in place, is quickly passing out of Christianity altogether. This is because it continues to accept additional heresies and continues watering down the remaining truths it has. The end of the age and the Great Tribulation will not cut short their accelerating, journey back to the world. They will have already returned.

On the other hand, the leader of PCG has already completely departed from God, becoming as false as the original apostates themselves. Tragically, the others near him at the top have followed his lead. This organization has developed two mindsets—those who agree with the leader’s many assumed titles and offices and those who do not. It appears that more splits there may be imminent, with survivors choosing where to go or giving up entirely. Attendance has already dropped by thousands.

The result of all this has been that LCG (although becoming increasingly Pentecostal and suffering ongoing and severe internal problems and tragedies), and a couple of other smaller groups, sit smugly in the middle, believing themselves more balanced, loving and “able to grow” than PCG, and more zealous and doctrinally faithful than UCG. These “middle” groups generally see themselves as the best option—the “true remnant of Philadelphia.” Therefore, it will be harder for them to see their ever-worsening condition in a true light.

We will learn why none of these groups could remotely be the true Church—or represent Philadelphia!

Mr. Armstrong Shouted Warnings

Throughout his ministry, Mr. Armstrong “cried aloud and spared not” when fulfilling his duty to warn those headed for punishment—for sudden calamity. He always “lifted up his voice like a trumpet,” never worrying about what people thought. He told people what they needed to hear, with no regard for what they may have wanted to hear.

With a consistent boldness, strength and descriptive language, Mr. Armstrong continually practiced—in reality, obeyedIsaiah 58:1. He saw the clear responsibility to warn those—of either physical or spiritual Israel—who were headed for the Tribulation. (To learn more, see my thorough article on this subject, “‘Cry Aloud, Spare Not’—What ALL Forgot!”) We must examine how he did this, taking extra time as we do, so that you will never doubt Mr. Armstrong’s approach to warning those headed for certain disaster, if they did not awaken.

Following is an extensive series of urgent quotes from Mr. Armstrong. In effect, they are his voice, fulfilling the responsibility to warn you now. Later, we will read statements from other specific areas of what he taught, which directly apply to Christ’s command to “anoint your eyes.” This will happen periodically throughout the book.

Be careful you do not find yourself offended at the strength of Mr. Armstrong’s language, which you may not have heard for many years. Instead, savor his words, beginning to carefully reflect on your own condition. These set the tone for how I have tried to write the entire book. (Most of the emphasis is Mr. Armstrong’s, and some—generally the italics—is mine throughout.) Read slowly, carefully:

“Brethren, I am terribly DISTRESSED and sick at heart at the reports from all over, that MANY of our members are LUKEWARM, or entirely LETHARGIC, spiritually. If YOU are one of those, I have to warn you—you may not be on the way to God’s Kingdom—but on the way to your END in the LAKE OF FIRE!”

“Reports indicate that many have ‘come in’ to God’s Church in this manner: They have come to really SEE and KNOW that this is, truly, GOD’S Church. They know there is terrible WORLD TROUBLE just ahead. They have heard how God’s Church is to be taken to a PLACE OF SAFETY…So these people come in, selfishly, for a sort of spiritual and physical SECURITY—to assure PROTECTION when the Great Tribulation bursts upon the world! But they are NOT themselves ‘on fire for GOD!’ They are spiritual DRONES! And God will not give them protection!”

let me burn your ears before the Almighty God burns you in the Lake of fire! If that has been your attitude—if you are only on the getting side, and shun helping, and giving to the cause of God, then I say to you on authority of Jesus Christ, if you don’t repent and quickly, and change…you do not belong in God’s Church! You are some of the rotten, putrid, spiritual waste that has been plugged up inside the spiritual body of Christ’s wife …” [Editor’s note: Does this language offend you—or does it lift and stir you to action?]

“And if THAT doesn’t make your ears tingle, and AWAKEN you, then Jesus Christ says to YOU through me, YOU are in danger of the Lake of Fire!”

“Did you ever read of Gideon’s experience in choosing men for battle? There were 32,000 men. There are about 32,000 actual BAPTIZED adult members (or professing members) in the Church of God today! God had Gideon proclaim to them: ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead. And there returned of the people 22,000; and there remained 10,000.’ Then God put them to a TEST, and, finally, ONLY 300 out of that 32,000 were chosen by the living ETERNAL!”

“Oh BRETHREN! MUST it be that way with God’s CHURCH today—the very BODY of the living Christ?”

“Unless I PUSH you—PULL at you—REMIND you to act in this DUTY TO GOD AND HIS WORK, you don’t go along on God’s road—you lie down and QUIT…”

Brethren Letter, Mar. 2, 1967

“The world has sunk into a complacent, indifferent slumber.”

“The world is too busy enjoying this new found prosperity, basking in the comfortable sunshine of luxury, to be much concerned about the on-coming NUCLEAR World War III that WILL, unless prevented by Almighty God, simply erase human life from this planet!”

“Soft words and pretty speeches do not arouse people out of this pleasant dream. It takes a JOLT!”

“Personal from the Editor,” PT, Sept. 1965

“Ezekiel’s message is for our day—a prophetic warning for America and Britain, now!”

Always the true prophets and ministers of God have stood almost alone, and opposed by the overwhelming majority in Israel. That is Israel’s history of old. It is true today.”

“Ezekiel catalogs our sins—our customs and ways which seem right in our eyes but which are contrary to God’s laws and an abomination in HIS sight.”

“Our people today can’t see where these things make any difference! But Ezekiel says the preachers have deceived the people, and led them astray. They have condoned all these things, until the people have lost God’s pure TRUTH!”

“In the meantime, our job is to WARN America and Britain of what lies ahead! To shout the warning to come out of BABYLON (Rev. 18:4)—that those who heed may find God now—may come under His divine protection (Psalm 91), and by a true Spirit-filled life obedient to GOD’S WAYS and laws, be prepared to become a ruler or a teacher in Christ’s soon-coming glorious Kingdom!”

“Will Russia Invade America?”, PT, Nov. 1948

“There are times, I have to confess, when I feel impotent, helpless, frustrated. I wonder if any of our readers could put themselves in my place, and realize what I see and know, and how I feel.”

“Yes, millions are hearing God’s last solemn, frantic warning! Would you suppose that fact would fill me with joy, sweep my being with elation? it doesn’t! Instead, I feel defeated—frustrated!”

“Do you know why? Because I see, as Christ said of his preaching to the people, that ‘they seeing see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.’ Only at Nineveh did the people ever heed a warning!”

“It gives me a feeling of utter futility—of putting forth supreme effort, fighting thru the years with all my own strength and energy, plus all that I’ve been able to drink in from God—and yet, it’s like being on a tread-mill—actually making no progress!”

“I, personally, see what lies ahead! It fills me with frantic terror—for the safety of all the people whom I love—people who could be spared and protected from the catastrophes they are bringing on themselves—even as I fully expect to be spared thru God’s supernatural protection—but they won’t!”

will you understand? Will you heed—and spare your own precious life from the things to come? will you take warning?”

“God says that if we ourselves see these things coming, and warn you, we have acquitted ourselves—your blood is not on our hands. But that is not enough to satisfy me—just to save my own skin. I want to see you saved, too!!”

“Heart to Heart Talk With the Editor,” PT, Apr. 1956

“If someone tells me my house is on fire, I’m not going to laugh at him and refuse to take it seriously. I’m going to examine, and be sure! If he’s wrong, then at least I shall KNOW my house is safe. I learned years ago that it can be very dangerous to carelessly assume, or just take for granted. It’s much wiser and safer to get all the FACTS, and then decide.”

“And one’s life for eternity is much more precious than his house.”

“I have given you God’s Word faithfully. It is not popular. It is not what the popular majority tell you.”

My responsibility ends with telling you. I have cried aloud. I have lifted up my voice .”

Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? (1976), pp. 7, 107

“God sent His prophets—HIS DIVINE SON—His Apostles—His true ministers, pleading with a world forced to choose—warning this world of the inevitable result of its folly of rebellion.”

“Most people today are like a person in a deep sleep, dreaming a pleasant dream. When one tries to arouse him to tell him his house is on fire and he’s about to be burned up, he drowsily protests:”

Don’t! Don’t wake me up! Go’ way—let me sleep!”

Well, listen! Your house is on fire!”

I have to warn the people—or have their blood required at my hand! God Almighty commands me, ‘cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions.’ (Isa. 58:1). God doesn’t say ‘whisper.’ He does not say, ‘preach soft and smooth things soothingly.’ He tells me to lift up my voice—to cry aloud!—to thunder forth His warning!”

“The time for soft, dainty, purring, soothing preaching is past!”

I do not talk softly, soothingly, on the air. I cry aloud! I do not spare you—I tell you the truth with all the power God gives me!

“We seek not to please people. We seek only to obey God, and to help and to save people—because we love them!”

“In His Message to His true Church of this time, which is yielding itself to be His instrument for shouting this very warning, and carrying Christ’s gospel to the world, Jesus said: ‘Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of trial (Great Tribulation—day of the Lord), which shall come upon all the world.’ (Rev. 3:10). But those that are lukewarm, careless, indifferent, Christ says He will spew out of His mouth. (Rev. 3:16).”

“I feel exactly as the prophet Jeremiah felt, when God revealed to him the destruction soon coming on the land of Judea, because of the sins of the Jews of his day. The Chaldean armies of King Nebuchadnezzar were about to march on Jerusalem. Jeremiah saw it—realistically. But the people were sound asleep. It made Jeremiah sick at his stomach.”

“‘My bowels, my bowels!’ Jeremiah cried, clasping his hands tightly around his abdomen. ‘I am pained at my very heart! My heart is beating wildly. I cannot keep silent!’ (Jer. 4:19.)”

“Yes, I know how Jeremiah felt!”

Do you think I can keep silent, today? God has revealed to me your danger! I can also see your lethargy.”

“Some few have written me gripes and criticisms. Some few have not wanted to see such realistic pictures of what’s coming in real life! Some few have threatened to stop reading The plain truth …”

“…if by God’s grace, thru his power, I can make this real enough, I can be the means of saving some of you. And your lives are very precious! Every single one that is saved is worth all the effort—all the criticism from those who want soft and smooth things and deceits—all the persecution.”

your life is very precious. It’s a potential child of God! I hope to see you, and know you, and love you, in the kingdom of God! Yes, your life is very precious to me! I’m going to try to wake you up to reality, if I can. Criticize and condemn me…I can do no other than to make this warning plain! It’s motivated by a spirit of love! God help you to wake up and heed!”

“Yes, I Know,” PT, Feb.-Mar. 1955

Does it upset you that I have quoted Mr. Armstrong so many times and in this way? Do you think it was presumptuous? If so, why?

The principles and truth of Mr. Armstrong’s words are timeless. Of course, he is no longer here to deliver—to shout!—these warnings himself. Someone else must do it for him, recognizing that the danger he spoke of is now greater—more imminent—much closer at hand—for those who have not heeded!

All ministers of God must possess the heart of a shepherd. True shepherds love God’s sheep, and must be prepared to give their lives for them. God says that He chastens every son that He loves (Prov. 3:11-12; Heb. 12:6-11), and He often uses His servants to bring His chastening. If the balance of this book offends you, that may be good—if it stirs you to action. If you choose to resent my words, this is a price that I am prepared to pay—with the hope that it could then awaken you later to what you must do.

There is no longer time in this age to speak any way but boldly. But doing this—and with authority—comes at a price. I will continue to do this—no matter the price for me personally, and no matter how few or many are willing to pay it with us! Those who will not pay God’s price now ought to recognize that prophecy reveals that price will soon increase dramatically for His people—and for all people on Earth.

Fix this clearly in your mind: It is still not too late to forsake the majority and escape what they must endure!

Proving People of Two Conditions Fled

Over time, it became apparent that when the WCG completely left the truth, leaving it a dead church, brethren of potentially two different Church eras (Philadelphia and Laodicea)—actually two different conditions—were forced to flee. They did this in a co-mingled fashion. This departure process from the WCG continued throughout the 90s.

Before continuing, and before one can understand all that has happened since, it must be recognized that those reflecting Laodicea and those few possibly then still reflecting Philadelphia both left the Worldwide Church of God! To conclude otherwise is to believe that the WCG is still part of Laodicea—and any who believe this either no longer understand or never understood God, the Bible and the truth—period!

Therefore, departure from the apostasy has always been a two-step process. Let me explain.

When the WCG leadership rebelled against God and completely fell away, as explained, all converted minds there were forced to leave that organization to survive spiritually. The vast majority have long since done this. (Although highly unlikely, possibly some very last few could still wake up and leave.) And this was the first step.

The second step mirrors Mr. Armstrong’s willingness to leave the Sardis era to fully serve God. Today, those with God’s Spirit, seeking to return to the condition of Philadelphia (the sixth era), must subsequently depart from the splinters and slivers, or from sitting at home. This step has been much more confusing and difficult for most to understand.

Of course, prophecy shows that many will never recognize and accept the need to take the second step! It is much like the proverbial “frog in the pot,” sitting in water slowly being brought to a boil. Before long, the frog is too cooked to escape.

Unlike the frog, those who are willing to take the second step know that they have to escape the hot water—destined to get much hotter in the Tribulation. But, in the strange twist of today’s circumstances, those who want to escape being boiled in the hot water must actually increase their own temperature to do it.

This book will clearly demonstrate—beyond all doubt—that Christ has established His one unified Church and Work for those with clear vision and who are willing and strong enough to take both steps. And, gradually, more and more faithful brethren have separated from the splinters. All who love the full, pure, uncompromised truth, as the whole Church once understood it, and want to finish God’s Work, under His government, as the Church once did it, now have a place to do this!

Forgetting What You Once Recognized

Because I was fired in early 1993, I watched and counseled a great many people who were fleeing the apostasy very early. They were seeing things that thousands of others, who followed later, could not yet see. Many once knew that they had an obligation to act, even though tens of thousands could not yet bring themselves to take a stand and leave. Herein lies a true irony. Let’s understand this.

In retrospect, we now know that the WCG completely departed from God. They threw out practically every single doctrine, and details within them, that brethren all once identified as truth. Again, this disqualifies that organization from further consideration in God’s equation for His Church. This much is now at least generally, though not fully, understood.

Here is the point. Thousands were not sure of this prior to early 1995, when many had either already left or were in the process of leaving the WCG. Therefore, a fascinating reality becomes evident: Large numbers of people were willing to leave the WCG when they believed that it was Laodicea. They did this believing that it was necessary in order to remain Philadelphian!

But a dramatic change has occurred. Most brethren have come to be unwilling to take an identical step—a second time—that they were once willing to take!

Many thousands of brethren once heard my “90 Reasons to Follow the Truth” sermon series (given in 1993-94). These reasons have the exact same application—once again!—that they did when God’s people left the WCG. In one sense, they are even more applicable now—and I cover several of them throughout the book, with a section near the end devoted to many more. For those who have heard these points, recall that one of the very first of the “90 Reasons” explained that objects eventually take on the temperature of the room they occupy. This is still the same danger for all of God’s people!

Here is the difference now—and this is what is confusing so many. The splinters, large and small, house the majority of Laodiceans today, having become what we once thought the Worldwide Church of God would remain. Their acceptance of a mixture of right and wrong doctrines, continually adding more that are wrong, and now reflecting what the WCG taught in the early-to-middle stages of the apostasy—plus new false teachings—proves this. (Our other splinter books demonstrate this beyond question.)

Why then do so many remain among them? What happened to the conviction of most, when they were willing to join a smaller group even though the majority would not?

I liken it to what Paul told the Galatians: “You did run well; who did hinder you that you should not [any longer] obey the truth?” (5:7). This verse has come to pass in the lives of many thousands of God’s people. They took the first step correctly—then stopped dead in their tracks!

Of course, UCG, formed in the spring of 1995, may be somewhat of an exception to what I have said. Here is why.

This was the only organization (essentially the last to form) that left the WCG as it simultaneously passed completely off the Christian radar screen. When the previous Pastor General there threw out the Law, the Sabbath, the Holy Days, tithing and the knowledge of unclean meats, all doubt about whether the remnant of WCG would remain Laodicea was removed.

More than any other, from the beginning, UCG almost seemed to set out to prove itself Laodicean. We will discuss later how their formation is subtly confusing many thousands who are not with them. Keep this in mind. Having demonstrated their ability to tolerate far more heresy than those who had left earlier, the people in this final organization may be the least likely to understand what I have just explained.

The vast majority of God’s people are Laodicean. They are simply not fully holding fast and are not Philadelphian—but are kidding themselves that they are. Many today like to refer to “the Laodicean climate,” as though the problem is not Laodicean organizations, comprised of Laodicean individuals—in the same way that there were Sardis organizations, comprised of Sardis individuals!

Organizations are made up of individuals, of which you are one. It is not merely a climate issue as so many gullible people seem willing to believe.

When the Time Comes to Flee

Let’s look ahead for a moment. A kind of mystical, superstitious, blind “faith” now exists that all Philadelphians will magically—and simultaneously—arrive at Petra, or wherever the place of safety is, but supposedly come from many organizations and backgrounds. The great majority today, of those even still believing in a literal place of safety, have accepted the idea that Christ will gather Philadelphians from throughout the splinters when it is time to flee.

This theory is wrong, actually ludicrous—and can be proven to be impossible! Yet, so many seem to believe it.

Imagine thousands of people arriving at the entrance to the place of safety with a host of different doctrinal ideas and approaches to government. They would be coming from different organizations, practicing different beliefs and different traditions, having followed different—and favorite—leaders. There would be mass confusion over just the question of which leader to follow, let alone the division caused by all the other doctrines that some might think should or should not be believed or practiced. Loyal to their chosen organizations, as the best background from which to come, most would never even be able to agree on who the leader should be, let alone what form of government he should employ. And in today’s environment, have no doubt that people would want their voices heard in this matter. (And then there is the separate question of how people in many organizations would simultaneously receive and recognize God’s signal to flee. This is covered in much greater detail in a long latter chapter of The Work of God – Its Final Chapter!)

Let’s state this again for emphasis: Everyone would have been practicing totally different forms of government—under different leaders—in differing groups—with different beliefs and traditions—and doing so for years!

God would NEVER reward such compromised organizations and people with protection. Doing this would be merging the confusion of those who have not held fast with the unity and clarity of those who have. Grasp this central understanding! God would also never permit such impossible circumstances—such terrible division—to exist at the place of safety. Supposed “Philadelphians” of every stripe could not arrive with a hodgepodge of different ideas, and be able to circumvent Amos 3:3, permitting them to “walk together” in disagreement in such a close confine for 3½ years, with other very different kinds of supposed “Philadelphians.”

None should be foolish enough to believe there are many faithful people (“Philadelphians”) hidden invisibly in every organization who are secretly holding to and carefully practicing all the correct teachings that the rest of their organization is not. You cannot decide, in effect, that “I will just be a ‘Philadelphian’ in the middle of all these Laodiceans. I don’t have to actually do anything, or take a stand now.” You will learn that you do.

This is identical thinking to those who claim that they do not have to actually eat unleavened bread, during the seven days, as long as they merely have “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” in their minds—their “hearts.” Many in the world know and practice this verse and others like it in exactly this way.

This said, those small few, who may already now be in the process of anointing their eyes, and who could soon be ready to take action, will—and must—also soon, come to understand that they have to leave their group. All others who eventually leave will have to first anoint their eyes to be able to see and accomplish this.

Mr. Armstrong repeatedly explained why there must be complete unity in God’s Church. While no organization should claim to hold your automatic “ticket” to the place of safety (and one group does claim this), all those who will be protected must come from a common background, administration and doctrinal position—meaning from one organization! They must all see the truth in the same way. This subject is covered in detail in my book on THE TRUE CHURCH.

It is my hope that after reading “ANOINT YOUR EYES, you will reject the soothing, reassuring (and rehashed Protestant) siren song illusion that God will accept you and your beliefs “just as you are”—regardless of your spiritual condition, your beliefs and the organization you have chosen—and then permit you to be protected from the Great Tribulation!

What Mr. Armstrong Taught about Government, Unity and Division

You do not need to believe me on this matter—you may read Mr. Armstrong’s own words. The first quote asks you to “stop and think.” In one sense, this is the greatest goal of this book. Take time to consider how each quote is intertwined with Church government, unity and division. Also notice that these statements span many years in Mr. Armstrong’s thinking:

“What about the ‘loner’ Christian who says, ‘I will serve Christ in my own way’? What about the one who leaves God’s Church to have his own private relation with Christ—to get his own salvation—without giving his part of the Church’s effort to send the true gospel into all the world?

“Or, what about the one who follows a man because of that man’s personality, charisma or attractiveness, or some other group?

Stop and think !

“Is Christ going to marry a number of differing groups, not in complete harmony with each other—yet all ‘professing Christ’?

“Jesus said, ‘He that is not with me [and since He is the Head of God’s one and only Church, He plainly meant with Him where He is working—in God’s one Church] is against me; and he that gathers not with me scatters abroad’ (Matthew 12:30).

Jesus Christ is going to marry the one and only true Church not a number of scattered groups or scattered individuals.

“…The one who tries to get his salvation apart from the one Church Christ is going to marry is on the ‘get’ way. Those loyally in the Church are giving of their prayers, loyalty, encouragement and support…in giving the good news to the world—its only hope!”

“7 Proofs of God’s True Church,” PT, Sept. 1979

“The Word of God clearly teaches us that there is but the one Spirit, and the one Body. (I Cor. 12:12-13, 20).”

“That one body of Christ, carrying on his work, must function as a unit. It must work in harmony and unity, with teamwork, for God is not the author of confusion. There must be no pulling off in different directions by different men in that one Body. There must be no competition, or division. And any who knowingly promotes, or encourages anyone in promoting, such disharmony, competition, and division, becomes the enemy of God, and is serving the devil and not God!

“In order that this oneness—this unity of purpose and action—this harmony and co-operative teamwork, be maintained and preserved in God’s work, God has ordained government in His Church. And He has empowered His Church with divine authority.”

“That government in God’s Church is government from God, thru Christ, thru apostles, thru evangelists, thru pastors, thru other elders, in that order!”

“Must God’s Ministers Be Ordained by the Hand of Man?”, GN, Oct. 1962

“Until about 1969 we in God’s Church did all ‘speak the same thing.’

“By 1978 many…ministers were speaking different things! God had withdrawn…His blessing and power that for 35 years caused the Work of His Church to grow at the approximate rate of 30 percent every year over the preceding year!”

What caused God to withdraw His blessing and power?”

“Precisely the same thing that choked the growth of the Church of God at Corinth from a.d. 56, 25 years after the Church was founded at Jerusalem. They were following different leaders, speaking different things, watering down the sacred and precious truths of Christ!

“Christ’s apostle wrote to the Corinthian church, in a.d. 56, ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment’ (I Corinthians 1:10).”

“They were starting to follow different leaders teaching different doctrines. The Church was becoming divided! And a church divided against itself cannot stand!”

“It is only common sense to realize that if everyone teaches what he, personally, believes, or if we follow different leaders each speaking his own thing, we have only confusion!”

But the self-minded among us, even…in the ministry, do not understand! ” [Author: Do you?]

“Christ Sets Church…on Track Doctrinally,” GN, Apr. 1979

“I want you, brethren, to think about and understand what happened to God’s Church in the 1970s lest history repeat itself! I want you to see the ‘fruits’ of rebelling against God’s way and God’s government.”

After all, the basic issue all along was that of God’s government in the Church. One who followed one liberal who, as the apostle Paul predicted, sought to draw away followers after himself (Acts 20:30) said, ‘We are liberated from that church government and now have a loosely knit organization, and that’s the way we like it.’”

“The Church is ‘built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy Temple in the Lord’ (Ephesians 2:20-21). Note, the Church is organized and fitly framed together, not organized with competing and differing branches.”

“Notice Ephesians 4, there is only one organized church ‘fitly joined together and compacted’ (verse 16)—compacted as if welded together into one well-organized body. And how did He organize this body? How was it governed? ‘And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith…(Ephesians 4:11-13). It is not DISunity or some other type of organization and government. Paul also said ‘that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment’ (I Corinthians 1:10).”

“To make clear one of the reasons—if not the primary reason—for the conflict caused by the liberal element, I quote from a Western newspaper. In an interview with a former minister, who had sought to draw away a following of members after himself, it was stated concerning this split-off church that they have ‘a completely different administrative structure.’ [Author’s note: This is the problem in so many of the splinters.]

“Most…dissension of the past in the Church has been over…government. The dissenters believe in a very liberal government—the way of Satan and his world.”

“We who remain in the one and only true Church grieve over the loss of those who are so far failing in their final exams.”

“Recent History of the Philadelphia Era of the WCG,” WN, June 24, 1985

“…the one and only true Church is not an organization of men, but a spiritual organism. Yet that fact does not preclude organization.”

“This spiritual organism is the ‘Body of Christ’ existing for the purpose of carrying on the Work of God.”

“If every individual in it goes out alone, independently, trying to carry out the divine Commission in whatever way he sees fit, we shall have confusion, a house divided against itself.”

“Christ has, indeed, organized His Church, so fitly joined together as a physical building put together with the precision of every part of the most expert craftsmen.”

“Just What Is the Church,” Reprint, 1970

“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, Mar. 6, 1981

Mr. Armstrong spoke constantly of organization, structure and absolute unity within the Church, so necessary to stabilize and feed the flock. Many today have come to believe that Christ no longer requires such complete unity—or that it was ever possible in the first place. As a result, believing it passé, many no longer even look for this among God’s people and are content to ignore many false teachings within their splinter.

Such people have almost become blind by choice!

Mr. Armstrong Left Sardis

It is well known that Mr. Armstrong slowly ceased contact with the Sardis organizations that he originally fellowshipped with during and after the time he learned the truth. Armed with the facts necessary to make a correct decision, he made a conscious choice to separate in order to not compromise what he had proven.

Given the same choice in the 30s (and assuming you could have known then that Mr. Armstrong was leaving to establish what would become the Philadelphian era), would you have remained in any of the then dominant Sardis groups of the fifth era? Would you have ignored the opportunity to join the tiny organization led by Mr. Armstrong? Would you have believed that you could either be or become Philadelphian while staying in Sardis?

Of course not! Why? Because all once understood that only those who left—who removed themselves from fellowship with—the fifth era and actually joined with those of the sixth era could be considered part of it. Why then are so many unwilling to leave a dominant group of the seventh era? Why have they forgotten that they still—today!—must actively join—must do the Work with—must fellowship with the brethren of God’s one Church—of those striving to be of the sixth era and condition?

Laodiceans are Christ’s people, but in a weak and deplorable condition. They must allow Him to lead them to His Body—out of their organizations. Again I ask, why? Most probably understand by now that the word Laodicea essentially means, “the people rule, judge and decide.” It was Christ who gave all those of the final era this name! Surely He understands that He is not ruling those to whom He gave this name!

We will learn later that Mr. Armstrong taught that the government of God was re-established only in the Philadelphian era. This is the only place where people actively hold fast the full truth. This is the only place where Christ is leading and present within the government.

This is plain. Any converted people in Sardis (are there some tiny few today? – Rev. 3:4) could never be considered Philadelphian unless they stop making excuses, leave Sardis and join Philadelphia. The same is true of any “Thyatirans,” of which some few apparently carry at least certain thinking (however highly improbable that any could or will be converted), somewhere on Earth today (Rev. 2:25). These all would eventually have to come to the one, unified Body of Christ—and this is what Mr. Armstrong taught as early as 1954 regarding those who may still have had God’s Spirit in Sardis!

If this has long been obvious to everyone, why do so many seem unable to see that those who wish to be of Philadelphia must do the same—that they must separate from those who do not want to return to all of God’s Way? Why do thousands exempt themselves from what God’s people have long recognized about other Church eras?

Let’s be most plain. One is Laodicean until he takes action—moves!—all excuses notwithstanding—whether he is a laymember, deacon, elder, pastor or evangelist. Yet, how many brethren may have the best of intentions, but will never leave the comfort and familiarity of their organization, deciding instead to just consider themselves “Philadelphian” where they are?

Remember that God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). The great lesson of this instruction was to avoid a mixture of true and false knowledge. This would certainly include right and wrong doctrinal knowledge. Mr. Armstrong repeated this scores, if not hundreds, of times, throughout, and especially near, the end of his life. This constant theme was, quite literally, the essence of his final message to God’s Church before he died!

Of course, Mr. Armstrong practiced this himself throughout his life. This unwillingness to compromise the truth began with the decision—and willingness—to leave his association with Sardis to fellowship with a tiny, initial group of just 19 people (six of whom were his own family) in October 1933. But his determination went on to include every later encounter with error that tested his resolve.

In retrospect, I cannot help but believe God allowed Mr. Armstrong to leave this often-repeated “two trees” message as a strong witness—and warning!—to those in the final era, who now seem to have so completely ignored or forgotten it.

It will become evident by the conclusion that one had to be commissioned to bring you Christ’s next and almost certainly final warning, explained in this book.

Chapter Two – The Only Place to Start

Many years ago, a popular television commercial illustrated how most people were not inclined then to wear a seatbelt when riding in a car. Of course, laws have changed and this is now generally required everywhere in the United States, and in many other countries. The message sought to convince travelers of the danger of not buckling up.

The commercial worked off a familiar cliché—“accidents only happen to others.” It went something like this: “Of course, we all know that accidents only happen to others, but, just in case you are one of the ‘others,’ please wear your seatbelt.” The commercial took a left-handed approach to get peoples’ attention. I never heard statistics demonstrating whether it worked before laws changed, but it was catchy and it worked from a correct premise in the thinking of the majority of human beings.

Most people do live their lives believing that bad things generally only happen to others—other people get cancer—other people’s houses burn down or are struck by tornadoes—other people’s children die of drug overdoses—and so forth. The truth is that for everyone who is forced to suffer one of these tragic events, there is someone who probably believed such awful things could only happen to someone else.

Discerning Philadelphia and Laodicea

God understands human nature. He recognized that the natural tendency in people to whitewash themselves, coupled with the nature of society in the last days, would give birth to the final era. He also knew that most brethren alive at the end of the age would start with the assumption that Laodicea is somebody else, somewhere else—that this accident could only happen to others. Therefore, He would have to be sure that no one had an excuse for accidentally choosing the wrong era. He had to provide a plain, clear way for all those humble, determined and sincere brethren to be able to know where He is working, so that they can escape “the hour of trial,” prophesied to strike the whole world (Rev. 3:10; Luke 21:35).

God expects and requires each converted person to properly recognize—correctly discern—Church eras or conditions. Yet, most are confused about the identities of Philadelphia and Laodicea (and, of course, some have now rejected the whole idea that there are Church eras).

But they are without excuse! Here is why.

Let’s return to consider Sardis for a moment. No one with any understanding is confused about their identity. Why? Because the Church was taught who they were by the Bible, Mr. Armstrong and history. Likewise, everyone was also taught—again, by the Bible, Mr. Armstrong and history—how to recognize the identity of Laodicea. (We will later examine this much more closely.)

Almost no one has become confused about or forgotten the identity of the fifth era. So why have so many become confused about who constitutes the last era of God’s people?

What is it that they have forgotten?

Understand this. Virtually no one will tell you that he is Laodicean. Neither will any group. Yet this era is now dominant. On the other hand, virtually everyone will tell you that he is Philadelphian. So will almost every group. Yet, this era is not dominant now. Remember, Christ said that Laodiceans are blind. Obviously, just from this single sampling of peoples’ thinking, a great many have become blind to the reality of their condition—and the era or condition in which they reside.

This great question arises: How does one know which is which—who is who?

Remember, God expects you to correctly discern the difference between the two final eras, or spiritual conditions. Again, since what people say is obviously not a sufficient guide, God must reveal this! Sincere people must have some means to discern the earmarks of each era. God must offer a standardHis standard—of how to do this. Otherwise, He could not hold individuals accountable for the conditions they select.

Recall that Christ taught the apostles to “Beware when all men speak well of you.” Therefore, what persecutors or detractors say about this, that or the other group, could not be the guide—except perhaps to serve as an indirect compliment of who may be right, depending upon what is being said (John 15:20; II Tim. 3:12). Therefore, God’s people must have a clear means—a scriptural method—of discerning an organization’s true “fruits”—its doctrine, Work, government, objectives and how it feeds the flock. It has become my task to explain this.

Mr. Armstrong always emphasized that prospective members should never simply believe what he said, but rather should prove his words from their Bibles. As an aside, let me say at this point that the same is true of The Restored Church of God as with any other group. Our teachings, Work, government, objectives and fruit should be easy to determine—and examine! The same standard should be applied to all groups.

If you read this book and apply its contents to anoint your eyes, the fog of confusion will lift from your thinking in an astonishing way! This is why I spent thousands of hours writing well over 2,000 pages of “splinter” material, with this volume as one of the four all-important centerpieces, thoroughly proving who truly represents the remnant of Philadelphia—and where Christ is now gathering His faithful flock.

Beginning in 1999, and led by God more than I then knew, I determined to remove all doubt and opportunity for procrastination and excuse-making by those who seemed unable to make a clear decision. Almost every conceivable question one could ask about the enormous choice now facing all who have God’s Spirit is answered by this book and the rest of our splinter material.

I urge you to read all of it!

However, in all probability, because of what prophecy states, even you will be tempted to procrastinate, ignore or explain away the need to take the second step! This book could make the difference—if you dig deep into its message, and act on it.

“He who thinks he stands…”

One of the greatest warnings in the New Testament is found in I Corinthians 10:12: “Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” If the entire Church had merely practiced this verse, the Laodicean age would never have come. Sadly, almost no one applied it—and the seventh era hit with full force!

The context in which this statement is found offers fascinating insight into what people are willing to blindly tolerate, while thinking their spiritual condition to be sound. Take a moment to read the seven verses preceding verse 12. Almost the entire chapter is about ancient Israel’s tendency to slip into idolatry and the worship of false gods without resistance. Actually, this is exactly what most of spiritual Israel did from October 1992 until the spring of 1995.

Let me explain, because an amazing insight arises from it, bearing directly on what happened.

The infamous God Is… booklet arrived in the WCG in November 1992. This booklet plainly introduced a false god to the Church. It was soon followed by acceptance of the idolatrous, pagan symbol of the cross in January 1993. It was during this three-month period that I determined I had to leave the Worldwide Church of God. I do not condemn others who left sooner, but I knew my point of departure had only then arrived.

Let’s understand. The context of I Corinthians 10:13 reveals that God creates a way of escape at this point of false doctrine entering the Church. After all, once the true God has been removed by Church leadership, it can no longer be the Church of God. Rather, it has become the “church of another god.” Of course, many of God’s people remained in the WCG even though the true God was gone. Technically, it was at this point, not when the Law, the Sabbath and the Holy Days were cast aside, that the WCG officially rejected the God of the Bible, thus passing out of true Christianity.

Do not miss this central reality!

Here is the point. Most brethren who eventually left were neither reading nor practicing I Corinthians 10:5-13. If they had been, they would have left long before they did. This is important to understand because it shows that the vast majority of people who eventually came to believe they were “standing up for the truth,” had, in actuality, been perfectly willing to sit for years in an organization that had disfellowshipped the true God. Incredibly, they did not seem to miss Him!

This alone reflects an astonishing blindness in most brethren, already present on a scale that surpasses the ability to characterize in words.

Of course, about 75 percent of the WCG happily, knowingly, willingly and permanently accepted this false god. Understand therefore. I am only speaking of the condition of those who were strong enough to eventually leave. This is one of the greatest proofs that the blindness (Rev. 3:17-18) of the Laodicean age had already descended on the Church.

Do you see this? Will you see this?

A Revealing Prophecy

Let’s examine an aspect of human nature, through use of a familiar prophecy. It illustrates most poignantly the amazing ability of human beings to become blind to impending danger, and virtually overnight, even in the face of repeated strong warnings, given over a long period of time. Let’s fast-forward, in our minds, over 1,000 years into the future, to the end of the millennium.

All brethren know that Satan is prophesied to be loosed “for a little season” at this time. Revelation 20:6-9 describes how just before the millennium ends vast numbers of people—described as “Gog and Magog”—will become so deceived (apparently happening very quickly) that they will actually turn and attack what is called “the camp of the saints,” gathered at Jerusalem, possibly for the Feast of Tabernacles. Their rebellion will result in immediate destruction at the hand of God.

How could this happen? What quirk of their own nature could allow so many to be so completely deceived so suddenly—and in the face of so many warnings?

Think. Obvious, intensifying and ever more frequent warnings of Satan’s imminent release from the bottomless pit will be given as the millennium draws to a close. The approaching “little season” will surely be much talked about. Despite all nations having been continually cautioned—for 1,000 years!—that millions will soon be deceived, it will happen anyway. No doubt, prior to this, none of these same millions will believe “It could happen to me”—yet it will! The extraordinary aspect of human nature, hidden in this prophecy, testifies to people’s ability to become blind—faster and more profoundly than they could believe possible!

Similarly, in our age, though long foretold, the “falling away” took the vast majority of the WCG by surprise. Though God knew it would, this should never have happened. But further, in the apostasy’s wake, the arrival of the Laodicean age, in the very same way, caught people almost completely by surprise. Despite repeated warnings for years, from Mr. Armstrong and others, most of those with God’s Spirit (apparently, as he often wondered aloud, most in the WCG never had it) took on all the characteristics of the last era in short order.

This occurred almost entirely because so many assumed “accidents only happen to others.” They were unwilling to “take heed lest they fall.”

When Judgment Begins

In John 9, Christ had an unusual—and most instructive—exchange with the Pharisees. A familiar verse, though not quoted as often today, serves to introduce it.

First, notice the apostle Peter’s warning to the Church. It sets the stage: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (I Pet. 4:17).

A basic question arises: Why does God begin His judgment of mankind with those who are in His Church? Two verses reveal the obvious answer—and set up the account in John 9. All of this has a direct bearing on the prevailing blindness in our age. The first is James 4:17: “Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.” The second is Hebrews 10:26: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.”

These verses show that those who have been given the knowledge of what sin is—in other words, what is not “good”—are the ones held responsible for avoiding it. Hebrews 10:26 drives home what is at stake for all who ignore their responsibility to act on what they know. Knowing the truth is not enough. People must act on it or they will be judged for sins they recognized but did not address and overcome. This is not new understanding, but it forms a helpful review serving as the background for what follows.

Those Claiming “We see”

All of this has a direct bearing on another incredible quirk of human nature. It explains why some will anoint their eyes at the end of the age and most others will not. It has to do with what people may claim to see or not see in regard to matters for which they are responsible. The following account carries a remarkable parallel with the condition of God’s people today.

Now for Christ’s fascinating discussion with the Pharisees in John 9. The exchange is specifically about those who “see” and those who are “blind.” Notice verse 39: “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

What is Christ saying?—what is He talking about?

The Pharisees wanted to know what He meant, and if this applied to them: “And some of the Pharisees which were with Him heard these words, and said unto Him, Are we blind also?” (vs. 40).

Before reading Christ’s answer, let’s consider the similarity of the above passage to Christ’s statement in Matthew 9:13: “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” In the previous verse there, He had just said, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (vs. 12). What Christ meant was, “I come not to heal the righteous, but to heal the sick.”

Since the Bible says, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10; Psa. 14:1-3; 53:1-3), what did Christ mean? He was talking about the self-righteous—those who think they are whole, when they are actually sick, or even very sick. This is another way of saying that many people think they are righteous when their lives are actually filled with sin. The problem is that they do not see themselves as god sees them.

How does this relate to Christ’s words in John, “that they which see not might see”?

God calls the weak of the world—people not having so many talents and abilities that these would cloud their ability to see the truth that God is trying to show them (I Cor. 1:29-31). Those God calls are people who admit—who are able to see—that they “see not.” Do not be confused. This is not difficult understanding. These are people who generally know that they are not the “great” of this world. They can at least see that they do not see the answers to life’s biggest questions. They realize that only God can reveal these spiritual truths to them.

On the other hand, the world is filled with people who think they see the answers, who think they know it all. They think they see the right approach to life—the right culture, church, society, political position, comfortable philosophy to live by, and so forth. In general, no one can tell them that they are wrong. Because such people think they see, Christ states that His judgment is to make them blind—another way of saying, “they which see might be made blind.”

To those who are willing to admit, “I see not, I do not understand life, I do not know what makes me tick, or why I was born, or what makes the world go around,” Christ says, in effect, “I am come that you who are willing to admit that you are blind, will see.”

Christ continued with the Pharisees in verse 41: “If you were blind, you should have no sin…” In other words, if they had no knowledge of their sin, or sin in general, they would not be judged at that time. Instead, the Pharisees claimed to see. Christ acknowledged their position, “…but now you say, we see”—and His conclusion was: “…therefore your sin remains.”

Without realizing it, the Pharisees had painted themselves into a corner. They saw and portrayed themselves as people who understood the Law, could explain the Bible, knew who Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David were, what Solomon wrote and who the prophets were. They were plainly saying to Christ, “We see, therefore, we don’t need You to teach us!” Christ answered, in effect, “Well, if that’s your thinking, then your lives are loaded with sin and that sin remains.” Truly, Christ could not teach such people.

This account presents a titanic message for every spiritually blind Christian of today—all those of Laodicea!

In truth, all who claim to see had better hope that they have always been blind, because otherwise God was and is judging them. Could you be doing what the Pharisees did? Could you be saying that you see when you are actually blind and need to “anoint your eyes…that you may see”? Does it concern you that just claiming to have sight, when you could be completely blind, will bring Christ’s judgment that “your sin remains”?

Consider—and reconsider—and consider again—this account very carefully. Its message is to every person alive in the Laodicean age. Jesus tells you, “Admit that you are blind and I will help you see” or “Continue to claim that you see and I will ensure that you remain blind—and that your SINS REMAIN!”

Will you receive Christ’s counsel in this book the way the Pharisees received His counsel?

The Greatest Wrong Assumption

As previously explained, it is now clear that the Worldwide Church of God totally left the true God. If you accept this reality, a painful question looms: If the WCG is not even Laodicea, then where are all the people of the dominant, seventh era? In other words, where are all the laodiceans?

No one hoping to escape Laodicea—to recover from its condition—can escape a direct confrontation with this towering question!

Remember, this group forms the majority of God’s people at the end. Their numbers are so large—so dominant among God’s people in their time—that Christ declares they constitute their own era. Also remember the pattern of Church history. We have long understood that there is a change in eras when the majority of Spirit-begotten people in God’s Church have taken on a completely different set of spiritual characteristics. This can be either very good, as with Smyrna and Philadelphia, or generally quite bad, as with Pergamos, Sardis and Laodicea.

Let’s return to the above question. My experience is that most brethren even willing to consider the question of identity begin with this assumption: Laodicea is somebody else—somewhere else!

This is the crux of why almost all today are Laodicean! Again, this very majority factor is why God calls it an era.

We now ask a greater question in two ways: How could this happen when we were forcefully warned for decades that this era was coming? It arrived and few were ready! Why? What was it that set up so many people to be caught in a trap they could not see coming?

For the time being, set aside who these people are, and keep your focus on these questions.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

The American justice system holds that those accused of crimes are “innocent until proven guilty.” Almost everyone is familiar with this phrase. Though this has now changed, the British justice system historically operated on the opposite premise—one was “guilty until proven innocent.”

These two legal templates have a direct application to all Christians living in the Laodicean age. Let me explain!

As described, most people start with the assumption that they are not Laodicean. Though no longer true, there was a time when, at least theoretically, this might have been a more fair way to start the personal examination of one’s spiritual condition.

When Mr. Armstrong was alive, the Church was on track doctrinally, God’s government was in place, the Work was going full force and we were in the Philadelphian age. No one was confused about these things. In principle, converted people within the WCG were possibly—perhaps even probably—more likely to be Philadelphian. In effect, regarding being Laodicean, brethren were a little more generally “innocent until proven guilty.”

This has all changed!

The dominance—the majority factor—of the Philadelphian era is gone, replaced by the Laodicean age and condition. Strangely, most do not start with the assumption that they are part of this new era. Yet, this is the case. Actually, it has to be the case.

In the Laodicean age, everyone is “guilty until proven innocent.” It could not possibly be any other way! It does not have to remain this way—for anyone—but recognizing this is the only correct starting point toward recovery!

Another question looms: Why are so few willing to believe they are part of an era that is dominant in their time—that involves the vast majority of all those with God’s Spirit? Again, why is it that only rarely will anyone start with the assumption, “If this is the Laodicean age, the odds are that it includes ME”?

The greatest reason people do not begin by examining themselves is because Laodicea, among other things, is “blind”—and also “naked” (Rev. 3:17). These two characteristics work together. Would anyone unintentionally walk around naked, unless he were also blind? Of course not! Therefore, the worst part of being “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” is being blind! Look at all that just this one condition leads to.

Why do I say this?—why is blindness worse than the other bad characteristics of this era? Do not all these qualities sound equally bad?

The answer is that if one is not blind, he can see that the rest of this description applies to himself. This is why Christ tells Laodicea to first “anoint your eyes with eye salve.” This era does not see itself for what it is—its brethren do not see themselves for what they are! Nothing can change until their eyesight is restored. Above all else, this must happen first.

The remainder of this book is to help you see what so many others now cannot see.

Christ also tells His people in the seventh era to “be zealous…and repent”—and to “buy gold tried in the fire.” Unfortunately, prophecy shows that the majority will never awaken to their condition—will never attempt to “be zealous …and repent.” They will not be willing to put in the effort to anoint their eyes, and to improve their spiritual condition and character (“gold”). They will never come to accept how to anoint their eyes, and where to buy more gold. This is because they will stubbornly insist that they already see. Sadly, although this is not necessary, prophecy foretells that blindness will permanently grip most brethren at the end of the age.

My prayer is that these words sober you—as they should!

All human beings are free moral agents. You need not remain blind. You can break rank from the majority. You can recover, even if most others do not!

Chapter Three – A Look at the Warning

No one enjoys issuing a warning. Certainly I never enjoy having to warn or caution brethren whose conduct is jeopardizing either their personal safety or their eternal life. It is a serious responsibility—never to be taken lightly.

The most important part of a warning is to be sure that people understand what is at stake, if they reject it. Christ has issued a very powerful warning to His people at the end of the age. If you reject it, you need to understand what you have rejected.

Double Warning to Laodicea

Revelation 2 and 3 describe Christ’s evaluation of, and (in five cases) His warning message to, each of the seven eras of His Church (Matt. 16:18). At the end of each message (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22), Christ cautions, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the Churches.” The phrase is identical in every case. The implication is that some in every age will not hear—will not listen to—Christ’s words.

Naturally, this warning is also repeated to Laodicea. This is interesting because their problem has to do with sight—with the need to anoint their eyes as the way of addressing and solving their problems. In effect then, with Laodicea, Christ is emphasizing a double need for all people there to stop, LOOK and LISTEN—to start with a personal examination in the light of how He describes them.

Obviously, some in every era have a tendency not to listen. But only this era is in danger of being both deafand blind! In other words, in this case, Christ is saying, “If you have ears to hear, you will anoint your eyes with eye salve!” (We will later learn what the eye salve is.)

This is the message of this stronger—double!—warning from Christ to His people in this age! In Laodicea’s case, it is as though His warning is to receive special emphasis—and He is adding extra punch to what He is trying to convey.

Christ actually proves that blindness is this era’s worst problem, because He instructs His people to “anoint your eyes.” This is because it is the anointing of the eyes that starts them on the path to recovery.

Above all, get this straight!

(An aside: At this point, it is understood that we are not explaining what the anointing process is—what it consists of. This will come later. But we must establish that Laodicea has a vision problem—that one’s eyes must be corrected.)

Obviously, self-righteousness and smugness also define this era, with an attitude reflected by “It can’t include me, so it must be somebody else, somewhere else!” Yet, it does include many thousands who do not see themselves within the parameters of Christ’s command.

The problem with these brethren is that so many are not willing to anoint their own eyes. The Pharisees proved that very bright, educated, knowledgeable people can think that they see, when they are actually stone blind! Take time to read these additional passages in which Christ repeatedly labeled them “blind” (Matt. 23:16, 24, 26).

First, you must deeply desire to see the spiritual condition of your character! You must desperately want to avoid ingesting false information, false doctrines—and anything else that is false.

Over and over again, the lesson of physical Israel is that they refused to see the truth, preferring soothsayers to the messages of God’s true servants. Here is the point. God, in His Word, states that the accounts of their mistakes are “written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4), and “they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor. 10:11). Note this last verse well. It is found in the verse immediately preceding “Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Also note this well: The time of the “ends of the world” has arrived. This time is NOW—so this means US!

The command to “anoint your eyes with eye salve” applies to all Spirit-led minds throughout the splinters. Here is how you know this.

Let’s return to the current condition of the WCG. Having fallen away and returned to the world, they are no longer God’s people—either having never had God’s Spirit or having lost it if they did. Anointing their eyes—and you will learn later why this would be impossible—is out of the question. They would never be willing to consider it. (I am not saying some very few still retaining a tiny amount of God’s Spirit somehow could not still leave the WCG, if they repent and take action soon—but the WCG remnant has been in a Protestant church and in the presence of a false god and false ministers since late 1992.)

I often hear of people who remained there who supposedly still believe in “government.” This is ridiculous! Understand that 99.9 percent of these have already fallen away—demonstrated by the fact that they now meet on Sunday and have ingested many other abominable doctrines, no matter their protestations to the contrary. They are also sending God’s tithes to assist His very worst enemies. They have been directly helping these enemies to murder God’s flock! “Following government” is merely an excuse to avoid the decision to follow truth, no matter the cost.

Therefore, recognize this. Christ’s “counsel” to “anoint your eyes” has to be primarily to those who escaped the WCG apostasy—but who have not reflected the eight crucial characteristics of Philadelphia.

Christ “Counsels” His People

While Christ’s words to Laodicea could be described as correction, instruction or warning, He uses the word “counsel” to describe His intentions. Notice: “I counsel you to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Rev. 3:18).

The Greek word for “counsel” is sumbouleuo. Its meaning is fascinating, and particularly instructive for those interested in receiving the counsel. It means: “To give or take advice jointly, to recommend, consult, give or take counsel together.” After Christ had stated, in verse 17, that Laodiceans are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked, He says, in effect, “Let’s talk about this together.” Another way of describing the meaning of this word is similar to when Christ, as God of the Old Testament, said, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isa. 1:18).

This form of counsel includes give and take—involving the willingness of a Christian to ask Christ to counsel him about why he is in such an awful spiritual condition! Extensive “give and take” must occur. This becomes more fascinating to understand when you read verse 20: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man [spoken to individuals] hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.”

Once again, being willing to listen first appears to actually precede what Christ will say to individuals who open the door, and accept Him into their house so that they can reason together. Since listening to Christ’s voice (calling from outside the house) precedes receiving His counsel, we must know precisely—removing all doubt—how to identify Christ’s voice.

First, recognize that this verse pictures an open dialogue, initiated by Christ, but accepted by the one who answers the door. The result is a meal shared together, for the obvious purpose of discussing what Christ wants the individual (remember, “if any man,” not “if any organization”) to see regarding his spiritual condition. (Take note: Organizations do not—and will never—collectively wake up, so Christ does not picture Himself knocking on the door of churches, groups or organizations. This is critical to see. Note it well.)

Defining Christ’s Voice

At this point, we must note that the living Head of the Church always warns His people when they are in danger. An extraordinary promise is outlined in John 10:3-5, revealing what Jesus Christ always does when His sheep are threatened. Let’s take a moment to read it.

Now notice that Christ says He calls His sheep “by name” at these times: “To Him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and He calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out. And when He puts forth His own sheep, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”

Christ’s use of His voice to call His sheep is specific—individual—by name! It is not general in nature. Christ is concerned about every one of His sheep—every one of His brethren. But all these—unless their condition is too weakened!—will still “know his voice.” This will be true even if they find that they have not heard it for a long time.

But we must ask the all-important question: Exactly what is the “voice” of Christ?

The most critical of the twelve rules of Bible study is that the Bible always interprets the Bible. (How many of these rules do you still recall?) Therefore, Jesus must define His voice or the statement has no meaning. He does this eight chapters later in John, where He was conversing with Pilate: “Everyone that is of the truth hears My voice” (18:37). This “voice of truth” will take on far greater meaning to you as the book develops. But it is certainly clear at this point that the most important matter that Christ would discuss—“counsel”—with each person would be a series of issues involving the truth—and its relationship to them per doctrine, conduct, receiving His government, doing His Work and where to fellowship with others who believe and do the same. This much should now at least be obvious.

Revelation 3:19 shows that the core of Christ’s message involves having to “rebuke and chasten” those who let Him in the door. He understands that jolting people is the only way to awaken them to their awful, deplorable spiritual condition! However, it should be easy to see that most people’s natural tendency would be to avoid this kind of unpleasant discussion. I liken it to a bill collector or one with a legal subpoena ringing the doorbell. It would be natural and easy for human nature to make excuses, and to hide in the back of the house until the person stops knocking. No one enjoys potentially unpleasant confrontations.

Do you see this? Christ wants you to “answer the door.” If you do not return to God’s Church, you will eventually be spiritually dead. Notice that Christ talks about gold “tried in the fire.” The word “tried” means “ignited, to glow, be refined, to be inflamed, on fire.”

We will learn later that the Tribulation is actually Christ’s second choice for which kind of fire Laodiceans can use to “buy gold.” The “wise virgins” of Matthew 25:1-13 will take this path. Of course, many will never do this at all, choosing the third kind of fire—the lake of fire—by refusing to return to His Church. These will succumb to the mark of the beast, and fail God’s greatest test. We will learn that these are the five “foolish virgins” of Matthew 25.

Grasp this central understanding. The warning to Laodicea to “anoint your eyes” is actually ongoing—continuing up to and into the Tribulation—for those unwilling to take action now to regain their sight. Once Christ’s message is ignored beyond the arrival of the Tribulation, a person has, by his (at this point) long inaction, chosen to place himself into the Tribulation where he must then anoint his eyes. So Christ’s warning actually stands for the rest of the age.

Therefore, if you are going to have to do this to receive eternal life, why not address it now? Why wait until circumstances force you, when the steadily worsening condition for those who have not done it will make it harder to do? Either way, you must return to God’s Church before the Tribulation, or become a foolish virgin having lost God’s Spirit. Also, there is another hidden danger in delaying, which will be revealed later in the book.

As God’s minister, in the spirit of Christ’s message, I now counsel you about something that I have learned, which, for reasons I will explain, could not be discerned by any other minister in any other organization.

What Our Website “Downloads” Reveal

We will see that The Restored Church of God is in an extraordinary—a truly unique—position, one unlike that of any other organization on Earth. This allows us to make an observation that no one else can about God’s people and, to some degree, no other can make about those in the world.

Two things make this observation possible, and distinguish us from other groups. We now offer more literature—more truth in writing (in number of pages and publications)—than at any other time in the history of God working with mankind. (You may wish to carefully check this for yourself.) The second point is that we offer all of this on our websites, thus making it more readily available around the world than at any other time in history. In fact, we are the largest (most extensive) religious publishing operation in the world today.

To help get a sense of proportion and why I can make the above claim, as you may be aware, we have rewritten all of the books, booklets, articles and form letters from the past—and many more besides, including books such as this one—at a record rate. I do not say this to boast, but rather to illustrate a vitally important point. Our websites, collectively, are also now among the largest (and most extensive) religious websites of any kind in the world!

Because we offer so much literature on our websites (some other groups post items but have produced relatively little material to do this), a very clear pattern of “downloads” has developed—many thousands of items per day and going up—which we can carefully measure. What it reveals is astonishing—a true commentary on what the people of God in this age are thinking!

First, here is what we are able to do. Our Website Services staff is able to track which literature moves faster and which moves slower. We can measure individual pieces of literature, sermons and other items by country, and do it in snapshots of months, weeks, days, hours and even minutes! With well over 400 pieces of literature just in English (not counting magazines and the articles they contain, which we can also track), you can imagine the treasure trove of statistical information available to us on a regular basis!

Before discussing what we have learned, let me say that we can generally tell—by timing, topic, search engine statistics and other means—when those from the world, from Restored or from the splinters are coming to our site. (Without being able to differentiate, it would somewhat skew what I am about to explain.) It is too complicated to fully explain how we can do this, but there are a variety of sophisticated indicators that we use to measure information with significant accuracy. Typically, a very large report is generated every week, revealing the previous week’s activity and breaking down the many thousands of items that were taken.

When we post a new item, depending upon what it is—and because we generally announce each new posting in advance—the item initially goes through a period of virtual explosion from our site. This has happened literally hundreds of times. Obviously, over time, this initial burst wanes and settles at a level reflecting search engine activity and advertising, which continues to steadily bring people primarily of non-Church-of-God background to the item.

With almost no exceptions, the following pattern continually repeats itself in four categories:

First are downloads of literature about prophecy (we offer far more than any other organization in the world), which absolutely dwarf all other topics. There are three additional categories that invariably also rank high on the index of weekly activity.

Second are controversial topics, such as the use of makeup, birthday-keeping, military service, evolution, sex and Mr. Armstrong’s role (almost no one else publishes material on any of these or similar “controversial” topics).

Third are items explaining the origin of pagan holidays and customs (we also offer far more of these than any other organization, and these are mainly being taken by people of non-Church-of-God background).

Fourth is the enormous and increasing amount of material we offer for children—The Story of the Bible series, coloring and activity books, Children’s Bible Lessons, etc.—that people generally take by the thousands in the first 48 hours of their release.

Here is the shocking truth. Downloads of any kind of literature about Christian growth, personal development, character building and how to strengthen one’s relationship with God lag far behind the above four categories. While the first categories are important, they have become much more important to most than matters of personal growth and one’s relationship to God.

Christ states that Laodicea’s temperature is “neither hot nor cold”—but rather is “lukewarm.” Through many tens of thousands of weekly literature downloads, our websites are literally—and accurately!—“taking the temperature” of thousands in the splinters, and in a way no other group can really begin to do!

Here are two illustrations: First, many thousands read our The Story of the Bible series, written largely for children, but choose to generally ignore our books and booklets about childrearing and marriage, which are both directly connected to working with children. On one occasion, we posted a Children’s Spring Holy Days Activity Book on the same day that we posted our booklet You Can Build a Happy Marriage. The children’s book was downloaded at over ten times the weekly rate of the marriage booklet. This continued for weeks. Related to this, our Children’s Bible Lessons typically see between 8,000 and 15,000, or even more, taken per week. (Obviously, even the biggest splinters, which, for instance, do not produce these, cannot measure such a thing. Their members come to our site for these lessons.)

Second, almost 2,000 people took our book America and Britain in Prophecy in the first two or three days it was available. That number has continued to soar. Downloads of my many sermons about prophecy also exceed others on different topics by a wide margin. However, booklets and articles on conversion, faith, overcoming, aspects of salvation, healing, prayer, study, fasting, meditation and exercising God’s Spirit consistently rank far below the above-listed “hot button” topics.

For example, I have written a very clear, thorough and strong booklet on healing, yet only a few thousand have shown interest in it. This is a sad commentary on peoples’ priorities. While going to doctors is certainly not sin, we will see that this practice does, however, reflect a fascinating parallel with those who lived in ancient Laodicea and were pre-occupied with doctors and medicines.

Consider this: Most brethren who use the Internet are familiar with the almost endless number of prayer requests and lists, shared between groups on websites and in chat rooms. Yet, how many actual—true—healings are being announced? Ironically, at the same time, most do not even realize the futility of the Church at large praying for sick relatives and others in the world. Christ’s own prayer in John 17:9 applies to God’s Church. It does not replace James 5:16, which is to be done between brethren. Further, “healings” is a gift given and evidenced only within the Body of Christ, and most no longer have even a clue what this means. (The one with the gift of healing must be in Christ’s Body.)

Also, most no longer appear to understand or even remember whom God promises to heal and whom He is not working with! Remember, the world is cut off from God, but a true minister could be used to heal one being called. Finally, with so much of even this most basic understanding now lost to most of God’s people, it is not strange then that so many brethren today spend nearly as much time in doctors’ offices as do those in the world.

Despite its relatively small size, in comparison to the big splinters, The Restored Church of God is experiencing dramatic healings, including demons being cast out. There is a reason for these miracles. Christ describes Philadelphia as having “little strength” (Rev. 3:8). We have always understood that this is directly connected to a little miraculous power. This is what the Greek word here means. Laodicea is not so described. (In this regard, many should also read I Corinthians 11:28-30—it might yet save their physical lives through healing.) The Revelation 3:8 reference can be easily proven to be a by-product of apostolic power and authority present. (THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD book to the splinters explains this.)

Take your own overall spiritual temperature on this crucial point. Those with a Church of God background should ask themselves: “Which topics on Restored’s sites—or anyone else’s—do I find most interesting?” Honestly assess your conclusion for the message it is sending you.

A Lovely Song

There is a potent message in what we have just discussed. Most brethren (not all) today seem to assume that their character is generally in order and, as a result, choose to focus on prophecy, controversial topics and material that will occupy their children. Why, for instance, are more not focusing on how to have a happy marriage, tying this to how to train their children?

Let’s begin, from God’s Word, to make the point more strongly.

Mr. Armstrong repeatedly taught that the Ezekiel warning is for the nations of modern Israel. Chapter 33 summarizes the responsibility of God’s Church to act as a “watchman.” Mr. Armstrong recognized that he held this role. In verse 30, God speaks to Ezekiel about how “…the children of your people [the modern nations of Israel]” talked constantly to each other about his apparently attractive message and wonderful style of preaching. Verse 31 describes how these nations want to appear to be God’s people, as they sit before Ezekiel: “…and they hear your words, but they will not do them.” Verse 32 describes this prophet’s words as “a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument.” But the verse goes on to repeat, “for they hear your words, but they do them not.”

While this prophecy speaks primarily of the millions around the world who heard Mr. Armstrong preach the truth, then did little or nothing about it—still occurring with the millions hearing us today—it is also an exact commentary on God’s people of the last era. My literature and sermons are also apparently a lovely song to thousands of God’s people in the splinters. While I could be flattered by this, I am not. Rather, as with Mr. Armstrong’s statements quoted earlier, I am sick at heart! I am profoundly sad that so many have grown so terribly and desperately blind to their need to seek Almighty God—and to clean up their character, along with their woeful and confused doctrinal understanding. Like Ezekiel “sighing and crying” (9:4) for the sins of modern Israel, I personally sigh and cry for the wretched, deplorable condition of so many thousands of brethren whom I know personally!

Helping Some Now—Others Later

If you are unwilling to accept the need to endure the trial—the modern Christian tribulation (Acts 14:22) of holding fast doctrinally now, and cleaning up your character now—then you are headed for the most horrible time ever—the Great Tribulation! In other words, if many will not accept the Philadelphian’s more difficult path of personal “tribulation” before “Jacob’s trouble” begins (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1), they should expect to endure the far worse one later.

This is the choice each person makes.

But I take heart in the following two points of understanding. First, more and more people are waking up, recognizing who and what we are, and are joining us to finish the true Work of God, and to prepare for the Wedding Supper. Second, of those thousands who read our material and return to God’s Church, but who will not wake up before it is too late to escape, it will be the witness, work and zeal of this Work that they will reconsider when they are in the horrible Great Tribulation. We take consolation in this—and those of brotherly love understand that we still have a responsibility to help all of God’s people escape this coming trial on the modern descendants of ancient Israel (Dan. 11:32-35)!

Those who remained Laodicean will remember the doctrinal understanding and fuller way of life that God restored through His Church, lost to so many now, and will yet be saved in the Tribulation!

Chapter Four – Inside Ancient Laodicea

You have probably heard it said that “the past is prologue!” This means that events, patterns and trends of the past are always repeated in the future—they serve as an introduction (a prologue) to what will happen again. Actually, Solomon made a similar statement long before this modern phrase was coined. He recorded, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

This passage is more true of the twentieth-century apostasy than you might have realized. The first-century falling away, which began to occur before all of the original apostles had died, was a very close parallel to our time. So were other later periods in Church history. Therefore, it is worth briefly examining the first apostasy for lessons we can apply.

At very least, you will be surprised.

First-Century, Post-Apostasy Splinters

About A.D. 135, the Jews were defeated by the Romans in their second revolt (the Bar Kochba rebellion) since the Church’s beginning in A.D. 31. After the Romans put down this rebellion, they destroyed Jerusalem, renamed what was left “Aelia Capitolina” and forbade Jews to re-enter the city.

At this point, the Jerusalem-Pella congregation of the true Church came under the control of an Italian “Christian” named Marcus. This persuasive leader was able to convince the majority of the congregation (largely Jewish converts) to renounce the “Law of Moses”—the Ten Commandments. This gained them admittance to Jerusalem by the Roman authorities.

Here is what the famous historian Edward Gibbon said about the few who refused to follow Marcus (emphasis mine throughout): “…the crimes of heresy and schism were imputed to the obscure remnant of the Nazarenes, which refused to accompany their Latin bishop…In a few years after the return of the church of Jerusalem, it became a matter of doubt and controversy, whether a man who sincerely acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, but who still continued to observe the law of Moses, could possibly hope for salvation…[the followers of Marcus] excluded their Judaising brethren from…the common offices of friendship, hospitality, and social life” (The Decline and Fall, ch. 15, pp. 516-517).

Nazarenes, Ebionites and Quartodecimani

The majority, so willing to give up the truth they once embraced, began to shun and condemn the few who held fast to what they had all formerly believed. The Nazarenes, those who chose to remain loyal to the teaching of the apostles, were accused of being divisive—charged with being guilty of creating “schisms”—meaning more than one group of disagreeing factions.

“Nazarenes” came to be a contemptuous term, given by the world to Christians, especially in Judea. It later came to include all who still acknowledged and kept the precepts of the Law of Moses—meaning all the laws of God, including the Ten Commandments and Holy Days. As early as about A.D. 57, the Jews had accused Paul before Felix (the Governor in Caesarea), calling him a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5). The name “Nazarenes” is derived from Nazareth, where Christ had lived. It simply meant “Christian.”

Because they kept God’s Law, the Nazarenes were looked upon with wonder by the world: “Nazarenes, an obscure Jewish-Christian sect…they dated their settlement in Pella from the time of the flight of the Jewish Christians from Jerusalem, immediately before the siege in A.D. 70; he [Epiphanius] characterizes them as neither more nor less than Jews pure and simple, but adds that they recognized the new covenant as well as the old, and believed in the resurrection, and in the one God and His Son Jesus Christ…born of the Virgin Mary, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rose again, but adds that, ‘desiring to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither the one nor the other.’ They used the Aramaic recension of the Gospel according to Matthew, which they called the Gospel to the Hebrews, but, while adhering as far as possible to the Mosaic economy as regarded…sabbaths, foods and the like, they did not refuse to recognize…Paul or the rights of heathen [Gentile] Christians” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 19, p. 319).

During the closing years of the Ephesian era, many lost their first love and fell prey to shades of false teaching, which slowly gained momentum.

Those who remained faithful—the ones who determined to exactly follow the apostle John and those loyal to him—were considered inflexible and uncompromising about receiving “new enlightenment.” This is often said of The Restored Church of God.

The Smyrna era suffered the full brunt of the apostasy. During this time, those faithful to the truth were in the small minority. Persecution by the Roman Empire affected all forms of Christianity—the true Church, various other groups (including a variety of groups that splintered from the truth into hybrid mixtures of truth and error), and even the early Catholic movement at Rome.

By the mid-second century, the Judean Nazarenes seemed to disappear, with those called “Ebionites” replacing them. But, as Gibbon explains, these were the same people: “The name of Nazarenes was deemed too honorable for those Christian Jews, and they soon received, from the supposed poverty of their understanding, as well as their condition, the contemptuous epithet of Ebionites” (Decline and Fall, ch. 15, p. 516). Also note: “…the Nazarenes of the 4th century are…to be identified with the Ebionites” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 19, p. 319).

Their enemies called them Nazarenes, Ebionites, or Quartodecimani—they called themselves the Church of God.

The faithful few who remained, constituting the true Church, were scornfully called Ebionites or “paupers” in reference to their “simplicity” in accepting the Bible literally. This group was certainly never considered “rich and increased with goods,” like the bigger groups who disdained this remnant for striving to obey God as the apostles had taught them.

Maintaining their headquarters at Pella, they spread into Syria near Damascus. There is record of a small group in Boerea (not the Greek Berea of Acts 17), today called Aleppo. Traces of Ebionites were found here as late as the fourth century.

Other “Ebionite” Groups?

Because most of their writings have perished, we know little of Ebionite history. Most information about them is from their enemies. They were few in number, with at least two other groups bearing the same name—one rigid and Pharisaical, and a larger liberal group that adopted certain of the most popular doctrines and philosophies of their time. These were nothing more than early splinter groups, mistakenly connected with God’s Church.

The more rigid splinter, labeled Ebionite, was actually antagonistic to Paul. It was composed of carnal Jews who did believe that Jesus was God, but who opposed Paul for letting Gentiles rise to the level of Jews by “allowing” them opportunity for salvation. Irenaeus indicated that this group was strict like the Pharisees and only accepted the gospel of Matthew.

The most popular, larger splinter bought into various Gnostic doctrines. As the second century ended, many had exchanged the simplicity of Christ for a blend of truth and Essenism (radical conservatism). Some became known as Elchasaites, after their leader, a false prophet led by demonic visions (a stunning parallel to today’s Philadelphia Church of God [PCG], but also some smaller groups). Adopting a strange mix of Gnosticism and outright demonism similar to modern spiritism, another of their leaders, Alciabides, spread their doctrines to Rome about A.D. 220.

All three groups of Ebionites existed side by side during the Smyrna era. The former Nazarenes, who maintained the apostles’ teachings to the letter, were fewest in number and most despised by the majority—yet were accused of causing division by not joining the majority.

The liberals, under influence of apostate leaders like Marcus, were prone to compromise—and were willing to adopt the latest intellectual attraction, Gnosticism. (The parallel with the largest splinters, so obviously, but unwittingly, still under the hypnotic spell of the WCG apostates, is unmistakable. This is also seen in my splinter book about THE TRUE CHURCH.) Similarly, the faithful Quartodecimani of Asia Minor were ultimately betrayed by the “enlightened” majority who had abandoned some of the truth.

At the other end of the spectrum were those who seemed more comfortable with a Pharisaical code of beliefs in an atmosphere of tyrannical leadership. (This again reflects the first large modern splinter—PCG—plus several smaller “slivers” that came from it.)

Differing shades of belief have reappeared in the final era of the Church—in the twenty-first century.

Nothing New

Well-known Harvard professor George Santayana stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Recall again what Solomon said: “There is nothing new under the sun.” God’s people continue to make the same mistakes for generations, centuries and millennia!

Recognizing the parallel between liberalism today and what, by comparison now, must be acknowledged as the less liberal years of the mid-70s in the WCG, let’s read what Mr. Armstrong said about this. It was written about nine months after he began to put the Church back on track following those early liberal years (emphasis his):

“God says to His Church, through the apostle Paul, ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment’ (I Corinthians 1:10).”

“This passage continues saying the church at Corinth, precisely like today’s Church of God, was following various and differing men with differing doctrines.”

“What happened in those churches…has happened to us today. Those guilty of causing division are fighting God and shall be judged by Him!”

“This group of liberals assumed the authority of setting Church doctrine [with the goal of unity in mind]…that is, unity in watered-down doctrines that older loyal ministers did not and never would accept! That was not unityit was DIVISION!”

“What Is a Liberal?”, GN, Mar. 1979

Human reasoning has affected every era of God’s Church. When false leaders manage to seize internal control, human reasoning springs to life and devises a variety of partial solutions—because most are not willing to wait for God to reveal His solution. No wonder it has also been said, “The lesson from history is that nobody learns from history.”

The first-century pattern of splinter development offers a vital lesson for us today. Do not let it be lost on you. Eventually, the Nazarenes—God’s true Church—were discounted because they were deemed too small and rigid. The large splinters moved on without them—and, in the end, moved completely away from God and became lost to history!

(The reader is urged to take the time to read our inspiring and truly fascinating book Where Is the True Church? – and Its Incredible History! It offers revealing—and stunning—insight into the path that God’s Church has walked for 2,000 years.)

How Mr. Armstrong Described Laodicea—the Ten Virgins

This book would not be complete without an in-depth examination of how Mr. Armstrong saw and described Laodicea. His numerous and thorough statements stand as one more stark testimony, sweeping away excuses, to those looking for a reason to whitewash themselves.

Many have erroneously come to believe that the parable of the ten virgins, in Matthew 25, means that half the Church is Philadelphian and half is Laodicean. Mr. Armstrong never taught this—and it is certainly not true, because Christ said all of the virgins “slumbered and slept.”

The first three quotes below bring a chilling reality to the grave danger of misunderstanding this parable. Based directly on Matthew 25:1-13, referenced in the first three quotes, Mr. Armstrong always understood and taught that Laodiceans—depicted by all ten virgins, not just the five foolish ones—only have a 50/50 chance at salvation.

Do not be confused—these are your odds if you do not awaken!

I urge you most strongly not to read these statements as though they apply to someone else, somewhere else. Read them as though they apply to YOU. Those who ignore Mr. Armstrong’s warnings do so at their own peril. You and I are guilty in this age unless proven innocent! Once again, be very careful not to give yourself a passing grade when the facts do not!

I have included more quotes than might seem necessary. This is done for a purpose. As you read, notice the constant thread in Mr. Armstrong’s thinking directly connecting Laodicean lukewarmness to watering down and compromising doctrine. (Italics generally mine—all other emphasis is his.)

“While we are in this place of safety three and a half years, the two witnesses shall be preaching to the whole world, protected from Satan. But Satan in his mad wrath will then make war with the REMNANT Church. This has to be the Laodicean era of the Church (Revelation 12:17).”

“Finally, what of the Laodicean era of God’s Church? Remember, it, too, is GOD’S Church—having the commandments of God and Testimony or Word of Jesus (Rev. 12:17).”

“But that era of the Church is pictured in Matthew 25. Matthew 24 shows the sign Jesus gave prior to His coming to end the present world order, and the Great Tribulation, Day of the Lord and Second Coming.”

Matthew 25 shows the time just before Christ shall return. It pictures the Laodicean Church as 10 virgins who took their lamps (their Bibles) and went forth to meet Christ at His coming. But five of them—half of the Church—took their lamps (Bibles) but without oil to light the lamps (having the Holy Spirit to enlighten their minds to UNDERSTAND the Bible). Some translations render this into English indicating they were losing the Holy Spirit, because of negligence, lack of prayer, fellowship with the brethren and with God and Christ and being overcome with materialistic and worldly interest. Are some of us like that, even now?” [All italics are mine here for a reason more clear later.]

“While they—the backsliding half of the Church—were trying to get back closer to God, the coming of Christ shall take place, and the door into God’s Kingdom will be SHUT in their faces! WHAT A TERRIBLE AND AWFUL TRAGEDY! It could happen to you or me.”

Co-worker Letter, Jan. 20, 1981

“Now back to Revelation 12:17: Satan shall be full of wrath against the remnant—the last remaining generation of the Church—the ‘Laodicean’ Church, and will terribly persecute her. But Matthew 25 shows that though that final generation of the Church shall be lukewarm—not less emotional, but more ‘liberal,’ more secular and less spiritual—less strictly biblical—yet half of them shall be saved at Christ’s coming, though half shall be spewed out of Christ’s mouth (Rev. 3:16).”

“Personal,” PT, Aug. 1980

“We are getting frighteningly close to the end of this age.”

“This Church was drifting into a Laodicean condition.”

“The Laodicean church will be characterized by spiritual lukewarmness—half of its membership (Matt. 25:1-13) will be shut out of the Kingdom of God.”

“But, the bad news, as it appears today, my dear brethren, is that we, undoubtedly of the Philadelphia era—my son’s ridicule notwithstanding—are in serious danger of becoming also the Laodicean era. I am personally much concerned about that. If you are not concerned, then indeed we are in mortal DANGER.”

“What God Never Did—Never Will—Allow…,” GN, Aug. 1979

“The…Court…has now removed the Receiver, but the lawsuit is not over.”

“We need to ask seriously, WHY is God allowing [this trial]? I can answer that. Our people of this ‘Philadelphia’ era were becoming lukewarm, drifting little by little into the ways of this world. Even some ministers were ‘watering down’ the truths and doctrines a loving Christ had put in His Church.”

“We need a real EXPLOSION to wake us up!

Brethren Letter, Feb. 24, 1979

“…when my son…came to take over more authority than had been delegated to him, surrounding himself with a group of liberals, who led him, and mis led him into watering down God’s doctrines—under their false influence a Laodicean lukewarmness and indifference, losing the love of God’s truth , found root in the Church.”

“Christ Sets Church on Track,” GN, Apr. 1979

“The Church was being turned upside down. It seemed to be a matter of going as far as possible in the ways and beliefs of this world’s ‘Christianity’ as influenced by Satan—which amounts to going as far as possible into Satan’s ways and away from God’s ways!”

“The harm that was done as a result of this attitude to God’s Church is INCALCULABLE! It harmed, in a way I think my son did not realize, thousands of members of the Church of the living God. It led to lukewarmness, a more careless attitude toward real or strict obedience to the ways of God.”

“Reports About Garner Ted False,” WN, Mar. 6, 1981

“Instead of wholeheartedly OBEYING Christ through HIS WORD, THE BIBLE, there was creeping in, during years when I was in other parts of the world up to 300 out of the 365 days in the year, a LIBERAL spirit of SATAN.”

“Those leaders to whom I had delegated the responsibility of ADMINISTERING the POLICIES and DOCTRINES Christ had set in God’s Church through His apostle, went way BEYOND the authority given them. They started CHANGING POLICIES and watering down God’s TRUTH, changing DOCTRINES, compromising—seeing HOW CLOSE they could go—and lead the Brethren in going—to the ways of SATAN! They wanted to be more LIBERAL—more like THIS WORLD OF SATAN.”

“…there still remains among a FEW of us a tendency to LET DOWN—to lose our zeal—and even to become LUKEWARM.”

Brethren Letter, Sept. 15, 1980

“Of the ‘Philadelphia’ Church, Christ says, ‘I know that you have but little power.’ It is probably the weakest in numerical and physical strength and power—the smallest in membership, of any of the Churches from the time of the Apostles until the Second Coming. It has but few ministers.”

“But some of those in the Church today will grow weary with well-doing. They will brag about being the true Church—thinking they are spiritually rich, when they are, in fact, almost spiritually destitute. Because they are indifferent to the real work of God, lukewarm, lacking in zeal, Christ will spew them out of His mouth. They cannot be used in His work. They shall lose the very salvation they boast of having unless they repent! God help you to never drift into the Laodicean church!”

“Must God’s Ministers Be Ordained By the Hand of Man?”, GN, Oct. 1962

“Jesus Christ, the Head of God’s Church, has been moving swiftly to RE-AWAKEN and set His Church back on the track, during the past five months.”

“We are shaking off the Laodicean lukewarmness that was beginning to drug us to sleep.”

“We’re OFF TO AN INSPIRED, AROUSED NEW START! Let’s now INCREASE our dedication and deep devotion. GOD’S WORK is FAR FROM FINISHED!”

Brethren Letter, Oct. 23, 1978

“‘A house divided CANNOT STAND,’ says Jesus. My son has made God’s Church DIVIDED! Up until ten years ago, WE WERE NOT DIVIDED!”

“Again God says to us, ‘Except GOD build the house, they labor in vain that build it.’ GOD through the living JESUS CHRIST built God’s Church of OUR time, as surely as the time of the first original Apostles. The Work GREW AND GREW with God’s blessing for the thirty-five years up to 1969—SINCE THEN GOD’S BLESSING HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN. We had been tending to forget GOD, letting Laodicean lukewarmness leaven us. CHRIST SAYS NOW, AWAKE! Rise up from this stupor that has drugged us! RALLY BEHIND CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLE! LET'S GET ON WITH GETTING THE JOB DONE.”

Brethren Letter, June 28, 1978

“When we face a serious or alarming situation, there is…a tendency toward LETTING DOWN IN PRAYER—in BIBLE STUDY, and consequently in that zeal and willingness to sacrifice for GOD’S WORK.”

“Do you suppose Satan does not know all this? He knows! He will do all in his power to get you discouraged to get you to find some fault—to let down in prayer and Bible study—to lose your inspired zeal for God’s Work!”

“I KNOW that most of us have not, yet, come back to that full WHOLEHEARTED energetic ZEAL for GETTING ON WITH THIS WORK that we MUST have to finish it!”

“Looking at present FACTS, and TRENDS, that might seem impossible! But this is THE WORK OF GOD—A WORK OF FAITH—and existing facts, trends, circumstances, HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH FAITH. The living Christ has resources, and ways WE KNOW NOTHING OF!”

“And whereas, it is incumbent on us…to CONFESS and deplore…our SINS in allowing worldly interests and pleasures to start drawing us away from our God, and our zeal for HIS WORK, I call on all Brethren to CONFESS this lukewarmness…and to PRAY, with all FERVENCY and CONTRITION, for God’s pardon for these offenses, and for a permanent BLESSING on HIS WORK henceforth, continuously to its final completion.”

“Brethren, many if not most of us have let other interests creep into our minds and hearts till we do not have ANYWHERE NEAR the ZEAL for the GREATEST WORK ON EARTH, that the football players have for a football game.”

“WHY can football players get themselves ‘UP’ in almost fanatical ZEAL, motivated by HATE, when we are indifferent, ‘DOWN,’ and lukewarm about the MOST IMPORTANT AND GLORIOUS CALLING OF ALL TIME?”

Christ is doing his part—opening new doors. Only one thing has been wrong!—and we must face it!—too many of us have been growing lukewarm …”

“We may think, because we keep [God’s] Sabbath, that we have no wicked ways or sins to turn from. But laxitycan be sin.”

Brethren Letter, Nov. 2, 1972

This last quote began by referencing prayer and Bible study. We will later see that intensive prayer and thorough, detailed Bible study is far more important than most begin to realize in regard to those whom God approves.

Before continuing, it is crucial that you settle the following understanding in your mind: Throughout the remainder of the book, it is of central importance that you accept Mr. Armstrong’s understanding—straight from the Bible!—identifying all ten virgins of Matthew 25 with Laodicea. This is an enormous key to seeing the danger that you are in, if you do not anoint your eyes in the way Christ instructed—and if you do not return to God’s Church first. This parable is about the dominant number of brethren at the end of the age. Half return to God’s Church but never return to Philadelphian condition. The others, remaining outside Christ’s Body, and thus cut off—“unplugged”—from Him, simply lose God’s Spirit. Their character slowly collapses because they would not return to God’s Church or do what Christ tells them is necessary for them to recover! And the latter is impossible while cut off from the Vine.

An alternative understanding, that half of the virgins are Laodiceans and half are Philadelphians, has taken root in those who any longer even concern themselves with this issue. This is particularly dangerous thinking! It lulls those who accept it into the much more comfortable belief that being Philadelphian or Laodicean is a 50/50 proposition, and also then—and this is the greatest problem—that missing out on salvation is not seen to be part of the question!

This simply could not be more wrong! Laodiceans have become numerically dominant—involving the majority with God’s Spirit today. Remember, they are big enough to be called an era. You must—you must!—grasp this central reality! The “50/50” chances are strictly related to who survives eternally and who does not—from a number who all enter the Tribulation!

Inside the Ancient City

Jesus Christ compared the seventh and final era of His people to the ancient city of Laodicea. Now let’s see why He chose this particular city to reflect the majority of Christians alive in the last days. There are numerous parallels, and they set the stage for what any of God’s people can determine to understand. Christ knew that the record of history would have to assist us—and it does. I will point out the more obvious parallels as we progress. Most will be reserved for a little later.

As we proceed, be careful of the tendency to scoff or sneer. Christ had very specific reasons for choosing a comparison of this city with His people of the final era. These parallels will become obvious to those with “ears to hear” and “eyes to see”—to those who truly want Christ’s insight.

Antiochus II founded the original city of Laodicea between 261 and 253 B.C. and named it after his wife Laodice. Antiochus II was a Seleucid king who ruled Syria (Laodicea was originally part of greater Syria) after Alexander the Great died. It was more accurately known as Laodicea ad Lyceum (“on-the-Lycus” river) to distinguish it from at least six other cities with the same name. Two roads, actually important trade routes, passed through the city.

The area in and around Laodicea is beautiful country, with pleasant fertile valleys surrounded by rolling hills, leading to an easily accessible, excellent harbor on the southwest coast of today’s nation of Turkey. Farther inland, however, the country becomes much more rugged and difficult. It was easy for travelers to want to stop at this point, when they may have originally planned to go farther inland.

Many visitors found the atmosphere in and around Laodicea too inviting to leave. It enjoyed a Mediterranean climate with plenty of rainfall, moderate temperatures and gentle sea breezes, even during the relatively hot, dry summer. Only an occasional snow or frost appeared in the higher altitudes around the city in the winter. Also, two small rivers passed by at some distance on either side of the city, and surrounding hills were generally covered with forest. I have studied many pictures of the area and it is lovely.

Playground of the Wealthy

The commercial environment of Laodicea was vibrant, with a number of successful businesses there. (This is possibly connected to the fact that in the first century, it had a large Jewish population.) Extensive vineyards grew on the hillsides all around the city and a bathing beach was nearby, as was Hierapolis, just 6 miles north, famous for its thermal baths.

Within the city were fountains, public baths, gymnasiums, an immense stadium, special meeting and banquet halls, and two lavish theaters (one large and one small). These all reflected the prosperity of Laodicea and why it has been described as “a favorite pleasure resort frequented by dignitaries,” including governors and royalty.

As the banking center of the Roman province of Asia, Laodicea, widely known for its wealth, was the most prosperous city in the region. Its numerous mausoleums are a testimony to the number of the wealthy buried there. The citizenry was so wealthy that, when its first major earthquake destroyed their city in A.D. 60, they refused Roman aid, choosing to rebuild the entire city themselves. This made Laodicea famous as an example of self-sufficiency.

Is it any wonder that Christ said modern Laodiceans proclaim, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Rev. 3:17)? A study of the key words in this passage demonstrates that Christ was referring to monetary wealth and accumulation of material goods. Upon returning to God’s Church, they are introduced to greater and fascinating knowledge about what this means.

Laodicea also derived some of its wealth from its textile industry, being famous for weaving—and its citizens wearing with pride—a soft, silk-like, glossy-black, wool fabric. Once again, it is easy to understand why Christ counsels modern Laodiceans to buy the “white raiment” of purity and righteousness. It is fascinating that so many young people in the world, but also in the large splinters today seem to pride themselves in wearing all black clothing, deriving this trend directly from the world. For those who look closely, God always provides enough clues to get the big picture!

The big splinters, like Laodicea itself, are felt to be pleasant, comfortable places, entered with easy access from the “harbor” or “major roads” of popular travel. Of course, brethren arriving there would not be eager to go farther “inland” where travel is more difficult and challenging. Also, many senior “dignitaries” of God’s Church (evangelists and senior pastors) reside (“vacation” is probably a better word because of the tiny “workloads” most carry) in the splinters, where the “climate” is pleasant, the “wine” is good and the “beaches” are sunny. (Take note that, while Philadelphia’s true remnant today has what could be called the “goods”—much, much more literature and other materials to continue God’s Work and feed the flock—the big splinters for a while offered more “services”—a few more local halls, pastors, Feast sites, youth camps, socials and fellowship.)

Historic Meeting Place

In the fourth century, Laodicea became the scene of at least two important religious councils, reflecting how outside theologians and church “dignitaries” also felt comfortable in its pleasant confines. In about A.D. 365, Roman Emperor Constantine personally presided at “The (Catholic) Council of Laodicea,” in which he decided that Roman Catholicism was to be the single state religion of the empire. It was here that Sabbath observance was officially made illegal.

The original WCG Correspondence Course states, “The most famous canon from this council—the twenty-ninth—reads thus: ‘Christians must NOT judaize by resting on the SABBATH (GOD’S true rest day), but must WORK on that day…and, if they can, resting then (on Sunday) as (professing) Christians. BUT if any be found to be Judaizers (God’s true Sabbath keepers), let them be anathema (ecclesiastically accursed) from Christ’ (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. XIX, p. 148).”

This massive heresy—forbidding the very sign that identifies the true God with His people (Ex. 31:13; Ezek. 20:12)—was introduced to the empire beginning at Laodicea. How ironic that it was from this city that those serving the true Jesus Christ were formally declared anathema by the Roman church!

Remember! The word Laodicea generally means “the people rule, judge and decide”—because Christ’s leadership has been unwittingly expelled from this era. Regarding the political environment of Laodicea, it is interesting to note that this ancient city practiced democratic rule. It prided itself in allowing the people to have a voice in civil affairs. Interestingly, and we will see this, history records that the ancient city of Philadelphia, just next door, was led by a series of benevolent monarchs.

Sudden Destruction

In A.D. 494, a massive earthquake devastated Laodicea without warning. Eventually, it was totally destroyed by Islamic invaders, who left it what has been called by historians “a scene of utter desolation.” Two later attempts to rebuild it were unsuccessful. While it rose to significant prominence, the city of Laodicea ended in complete ignominy, with little more than shattered fragments of archeological remains, across an area approximately one-half square mile in size, as a permanent testimony to its destruction. It has remained uninhabited for almost 1,500 years. Historians and archeologists have marveled at the scant, very “unspectacular ruins” (as one historian described it) of this once dynamic, thriving city.

The parallel of these two events (the earthquake and invasion) striking ancient Laodicea is an unmistakable parallel to what will strike the final era of God’s Church. For this reason, the section of Revelation describing it omits any statement that Christ will “come” to this era. This is because it will not yield a single survivor still alive at His Return. Half of the “virgins” will have died in the Great Tribulation by beheading (Rev. 12:17; 20:4), the result of Satan’s wrath on physical and spiritual Israel—and the other half long before will have sold out and gone on to accept the mark of the beast, thus dying in the Day of the Lord, the time of God’s final wrath on all nations before Christ’s Return.

A Water Problem

The one drawback to Laodicea’s location was that it had no local water supply—neither the cool well water of adjacent Colossae nor the hot springs of Hierapolis, just beyond the Lycus River valley. As a result, Herod the Great built an enormous aqueduct to the city. Significant portions are still visible, as is the tower from which the water was distributed. There are still a few remnants of the “pipes,” made from cut stone, which are partially plugged today from the heavy mineral content of the water they carried. (I have been able to examine close-up photographs showing them to be over 80 percent clogged.)

Unfortunately, the only source of spring water available, for any aqueduct that might be built, was at some distance, allowing this already mineral-laden water to become stale and lukewarm in temperature by the time it arrived in the city. The result was that this water often induced vomiting in those who drank it!

No wonder Christ tells those of the seventh era that “I will spew [Greek emeo: “to vomit or throw up”] you out of My mouth.” Despite the enormous prosperity and manifold pleasures of living in Laodicea, the inhabitants had to get used to stale, mineral-laden water always at this temperature.

A stunning and unanticipated parallel will later present itself!

Treating Bad Eyes and Ears

Finally, a very famous, respected medical school (initially 13 miles to its west, but eventually moved to Laodicea) existed there, whose doctors were so famous that their faces were inscribed onto the local coins. This school produced a special ear ointment and an eye salve (called “Phrygian powder”) made from alum, and famous from as far back as the time of Aristotle.

This powder, exported in tablet form throughout the Mediterranean region, was sold to improve, or supposedly even cure, weak eyes. It was placed, topically, directly on the eyes. While Laodiceans took enormous pride in their medical skill generally, and in their particular ability to help those with hearing problems, they specialized in helping those we might describe as “legally blind.”

As explained, many of God’s people today form a remarkable modern parallel. Most brethren in the splinters frequent doctors almost as often as do their counterparts in the world. How sad that we seemed to be the only organization that has written a booklet about healing.

It is important to note that history records that the citizenry of Laodicea also saw themselves as especially perceptive, and prided themselves on their education, wisdom and intellect—their keen “mental eyes.”

No wonder again that Christ tells His people of the modern era to buy eye salve so they might have spiritual vision. It is also interesting that a special ear ointment was commonly sold in this city. Yet, the majority of modern Laodiceans are not only blind but also do not “have ears to hear” Christ’s words of warning to them.

Chapter Five – Inside Ancient Laodicea

The examination of the ancient city of Laodicea only has value if we use it to help understand where the same conditions or characteristics have reappeared in the modern age. Otherwise, all we have had is a geography and history lesson that however interesting reveals nothing of spiritual significance or value.

From here on, the book will slowly develop and build toward the completion of a graphic picture for all Christians in the twenty-first century to analyze with themselves in mind.

Nothing Good to Say

At this point, it is critical that we re-introduce the central question: Where are all the Laodiceans? Remember, the Bible shows that all of them are in an absolutely terrible spiritual condition, and that their numbers are dominant. Christ would surely offer enough information about their identity that those who choose to remain in such a large, dominant condition must do so without excuse. So, recognizing them should be easy—if one has “eyes to see.”

All those who participated in a WCG Spokesman or Ambassador Club know that the first rule of effective speech evaluation is that the evaluator should always begin his remarks with praise—he should have something good to say about the speaker’s efforts. Similarly, Christ always had something good to say about each of the first six eras (and nothing bad to say about Smyrna and Philadelphia), before offering correction. Yet, He has absolutely nothing good to say about Laodicea. Christ’s warning “counsel” is sharp, strong and clear, underscoring the truly awful condition of Laodiceans. Again, this should make the task of identifying them very easy. Their spiritual condition alone separates—and distinguishes—them from faithful Christians!

Eight Signs of a Laodicean

The Bible has, in fact, given specific and descriptive signs—or earmarks—of those in the Laodicean era. They are not difficult to identify or enumerate. While there are seven obvious earmarks, we will actually examine eight—the eighth is unique and must be explained to be understood. This happens at the end of the chapter.

The Message

To better reference Christ’s warning to Laodicea, here is the entire message to this era, found in Revelation 3:14-22: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; these things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue you out of My mouth. Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel you to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.”

The Water Problem Reappears

Verse 16 describes the first condition—being “lukewarm.” The obvious problem is that these brethren are not hot with zeal. We will later see that, like the ancient city’s difficulty with obtaining water, and having to settle for it being “lukewarm,” modern Laodicea’s spiritual problems are traced directly to insufficient spiritual water in their lives (John 7:38-39)! Also, like the many minerals in the water of the ancient city, which were fouling the value of the good “H2O” they were in, the “power, love and sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7) of God’s Spirit within modern Laodicea are also being “fouled,” if you will, by a different another spirit. We will see that what John called the “spirit of error” (I John 4:6)—and Paul called “another spirit” (II Cor. 11:4) and the “spirit...of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2)—is intermingled with God’s Spirit in their minds.

Their lukewarmness leads to six more conditions, all relating to a lack of zeal.

The second problem is expressed as “I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing.” Like those of ancient Laodicea, this is an attitude of self-sufficiency. Such people feel no need, compulsion or urgency to examine themselves. Self-satisfied, and happy with themselves, they reflect the Protestant song “Just as I am.” This causes the next three conditions, specifically, to be largely byproducts of the first two.

Most have not understood the extent to which Jesus Christ specifically, and repeatedly, explained the degree to which those who would be His true followers must “sell all that they have” (Matt. 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22) to be His disciples. When the verses are all put together on this subject, and read objectively, the message is stunning. In fact, it is impossible to misunderstand. Jesus said so much about it, as did Paul and others, that I had to give four sermons to cover it all. The result is that “rich and increased with goods” carries a much greater meaning than most ever realized.

The third, fourth and fifth conditions are described as “wretched,” “miserable,” and “poor.” Interestingly, the Greek word for wretched can be translated either “wretched” or “miserable.” The word for miserable means “miserable” or “pitiable.” These words are so similar that it is as though Christ is using words comparable to awful, terrible, appalling and deplorable to intensify His point!

The Greek word for “poor” (ptochos) is particularly fascinating. It means to “crouch and cringe as a beggar, pauper, poor.” This brings to mind images of homeless street people. What average resident of wealthy, ancient Laodicea would have been willing to even remotely consider himself to be in such a debased condition? On what basis would he have come to such a conclusion about his own state? This condition reflects the difficult challenge facing Christ in reaching His people today.

If those in today’s Laodicea had merely followed Christ’s very first two instructions to His disciples, given in the Sermon on the Mount—to develop attitudes of being “poor in spirit” and to “mourn” (Matt. 5:3-4)—they could not have continued feeling so rich (including trusting in physical goods and money) while remaining so spiritually poor. If they had recognized their own weakness of being insufficient in God’s Spirit, they would have regularly mourned over their sins and continually “hungered and thirsted after righteousness” (vs. 6).

Tragically, this did not happen.

Everything Traced to Blindness

The most fascinating part of Christ’s description of Laodicea comes to light in the sixth identifying sign. The only possible way that anyone could not see such an absolutely horrible condition as the one that Christ describes is if he is totally BLIND! The Greek word Christ uses for “blind” is tuphlos, meaning “opaque, blind, physically or mentally.” In other words, the vision problem afflicting the Laodiceans is profound—what we would call “stone blind”—and is much worse than the mere weak eyesight of those who actively sought treatment with Phrygian powder 2,000 years ago.

Let me reiterate an earlier point: It is the very condition of blindness that is Laodicea’s worst spiritual fault. Remember, if those of this era were not blind, they could see that they are lukewarm, wretched, miserable, poor, etc. Of course, no ancient Laodicean, thinking himself to be intellectually enlightened, as well as an expert in both physical eyesight and perception (mental eyesight), would ever even remotely consider that he might be totally blind! How interesting that the foolish virgins of Matthew 25 apparently do not see themselves slowly losing God’s Spirit—the “oil” in their “lamps” (Bibles)—until it is too late.

Note that the Smyrnans (Rev. 2:9) were described by Christ as being the polar opposite of the Laodiceans. This era, like Philadelphia, did not receive any correction from Christ. Take note. Historically, the Smyrnans were physically poor, yet Christ described them as spiritually rich. Knowing this, they were willing—like their Philadelphian counterparts—to let their enemies call them Ebionites—meaning spiritual “paupers.”

There is a thunderous message here for Philadelphia—what might be called today’s “Ebionites”!

Where the Wealth Is

Be willing to examine the big splinters in a different light. Annually, these organizations take in millions of dollars, individually, and scores of millions, collectively. Be honest with yourself and admit that these groups openly acknowledge their relatively vast financial reserves.

For five years, upon inheriting it in 1995, I owned and managed a fairly successful company. (I also watched my close relatives and parents build several successful companies.) I probably have at least as good a working knowledge of business balance sheets and profit and loss statements as any other minister. That even UCG would keep several millions of dollars in the bank, when there is so much to do and when well over one hundred million dollars of annual income were lost in the apostasy, is a towering testimony to being literally “rich and increased with goods” in an organizational sense. The other four larger splinters are, proportionately, similarly wealthy. Holding so much in reserve to physically protect themselves, particularly ministerial salaries and unbiblical retirement Mr. Armstrong never allowed, when the need to expand the Work is now so great, is a deeply selfish—and truly appalling—attitude.

Bank balances of this size go a long way toward producing a confident, self-sufficient feeling of invincibility—a kind of mental insulation—against what the future would be able to bring upon such an organization. It is this very temptation that caused Paul to instruct Timothy to “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God…” (I Tim. 6:17). Verse 18 contains the antidote—what Timothy was also to charge the rich: “That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute…” This means individuals and organizations.

In this light, at least briefly examine the enormous scope and Work of The Restored Church of God, which is being accomplished by the tithes and offerings of a relatively small number of people, and a staff of over 70 who work almost unending hours to continue God’s Work and to give His full truth back to people who had it taken away. Yet, like the very miracle of the “fish and loaves,” God multiplies the output of our effort, allowing us to do vastly more than our size might seem to permit.

A Pleasure-Loving Age

The modern age, through scientific advancements, increases in knowledge, but also breakdown of character, has produced a pleasure-crazed world, with western societies awash in physical, material accumulation of goods, and the money necessary to buy more. Seemingly, this has become the only thing that most in this generation think about.

Paul said that conditions in the Church, in the “last days,” would reflect many who had become “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” Take a moment to carefully read the passage from II Timothy 3:1 (where conditions “in the last days” are established as the context) through chapter 4, verse 4. While most readers think that the first few verses of chapter 3 have only to do with society’s descent into greater immorality, character breakdown and sin, even a cursory glance at the full context shows this is not the case. Though modern society is certainly included in the description, the primary focus there is the Church, where “not enduring sound doctrine” could happen. (We will see this demonstrated much more clearly later in the book.)

This worldwide pursuit of pleasure has had a far greater impact on thinking among God’s people today than most people would ever suspect. And this is exactly what happened to the brethren living in the similar environment that was ancient Laodicea. God’s people cannot help but be affected by what is happening in the world around them. This is why so many want the “services” of the large splinters instead of the “goods” held by Philadelphia’s remnant. Brethren should have seen this change in materialistic thinking coming—except that widespread blindness had already set in, preventing it.

Get clearly in your mind who Paul is talking about—then reread the first few verses of II Timothy 3 to appreciate the kinds of awful attitudes and conduct so many of God’s people have fallen into right along with the world.

A Spiritual Nudist Colony

We must at least briefly comment at this point on the fact that Christ also calls Laodiceans naked—the seventh earmark. This is exactly what the Greek word means: “nude – absolutely, relatively, literally or figuratively.” Stated bluntly, it is as though the entire last era has become a spiritual nudist colony. I do not say this—Jesus Christ does! More than the other conditions afflicting Laodiceans, we might again ask: Would people walk naked unless they were also blind? In addition, if all the others around them were also blind, they could not expect anyone among their constituents to point this out. This changes upon returning to God’s Church.

It takes someone with sight to tell a blind person, or a whole group of blind people, that he or they are naked. The messenger (Rev. 3:14) sent to warn them must have sight and thus must come from outside this era. Naturally, this man is part of God’s Church.

Once again, it is the very blindness afflicting Laodiceans that prevents them from seeing all the other bad qualities within their spiritual condition. Therefore—let’s say it again!—addressing blindness FIRST is the key to clearing away the rest of what is weak or wrong about them. You now know why Christ warns His people straight at the heart of the problem—that they must anoint their eyes, so that they can regain their sight, as the first step to recovery.

Before continuing, remember that Christ tells His people that the “shame of [their] nakedness” must be removed. In fact, at least generally, most would not be ashamed of exposed body parts unless their private parts were exposed. It is the private parts of the body that must always be covered.

Now let’s see the special emphasis the Bible places on covering one’s “loins.”

Paul instructed the Ephesians to “Put on the whole armor of God” (6:11). Verses 14-17 describe the six pieces of “gospel armor” that Christians must wear to “stand against the wiles of the devil” and, ultimately, to achieve salvation.

The very first piece that Paul mentions is to “Stand therefore, having your LOINS girt about with truth.” This is an astonishing scripture for all who will receive it! Laodiceans have forgotten enough of the truth they once knew that their “loins”—their private parts—have become exposed! Simply put, they are walking in this shameful condition because they have forgotten many true doctrines, but cannot see that they have.

Before this book is complete, this point of understanding will be proven beyond all doubt! You will have no choice but to believe that this is exactly what Christ had in mind when He counseled His people to “anoint [their] eyes.”

But there is another aspect of the nudity problem that is directly affecting you. It has to do with naked teachers bringing their false doctrines to you. I must be most graphic. Unless you regain your sight, you cannot recognize when you are being “flashed” by spiritual “streakers” flaunting their new doctrines at you, and trying to also rip your clothes off!

Think of the future course—the punishment—awaiting Laodicea in this way: Those of this era had—and threw away!—much truth, understanding and special knowledge. This wonderful truth was re-established for God’s Church (Philadelphia) after 19 centuries—and much of it had not been understood by any other era since the apostles’ age. Also, even the original 12 apostles did not understand certain major aspects of prophecy, sealed until the time of the end (Dan. 12:9), but revealed through Mr. Armstrong. To have been given so much truth and understanding—that uncounted billions have been denied for millennia—and to either let it slip away or to reject it outright, Christ considers unconscionable.

Magnificently adorned in the beautiful clothing of all God’s doctrines, so generously given to them, and at such great sacrifice by God’s leading servant, the members of the last era stripped themselves naked in public. He cannot hold such people guiltless—and He does not!

But, let me say this again for emphasis. Christ would never punish an entire era—or even one person—for becoming “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” without having first made plain exactly what this means—in other words, exactly what would bring the punishment. Therefore, the Head of the Church is duty-bound to explain, in crystal clear detail, precisely what “anoint your eyes” means—and He does!

Before studying in the next chapter the vital first phases of what this instruction means, recognize that this chapter referenced eight distinctive earmarks of all Laodiceans. We have only discussed seven. Since it applies to one half, the eighth sign is that of a permanent Laodicean—one who, after admonition and warning, will still not anoint his eyes, thus sealing his fate eternally!

For those who truly want to understand what they now must do, continue reading. All others may want to stop here.

Chapter Six – Addressing the Problem

Mr. Armstrong spoke repeatedly of the law of cause and effect, and how it permeates every action in life. He continually reminded the Church of how man treats the effects instead of the causes of his problems, because, cut off from God, he does not know the causes that produce world peace, happiness, abundance, well-being and prosperity. Until humanity yields to God, it will never be able to identify the way—the now hidden causes—behind its problems, evils and ills. Hence, real and lasting solutions remain elusive.

Laodicea has a problem similar to the world at large. It can never resolve its many problems, reflected by its awful condition, until it deals specifically with the cause bringing them. Christ identifies it, for those who first exercise “ears to hear.” After all, His entire message to this era is just nine verses long—and much of this describes the effects of their condition before identifying the cause.

But the living Christ has not left His sheep without specific direction from Him pointing straight at the cause behind all of the bad effects in their lives!

Anoint Your Eyes

If you are willing to hear—the first step to regaining sight—we now ask: Exactly why does Christ use the term “anoint”?—and why does He specify the “eyes”?

The answer involves the second step.

Remember that, historically, the citizens of Laodicea saw themselves as especially perceptive. They prided themselves on their education, medical skill regarding seeing and hearing, and their wisdom and intellect. This is a classic reflection of our time, sometimes referred to as the Information Age.

Today’s society is more educated and informed than any other in history. The modern person generally sees himself as very enlightened. Yet, all of God’s people know that the world is utterly blind to the global calamity lying immediately ahead.

In part, it is this very feeling of enlightenment that becomes the cause of the blindness. Like the Pharisees of John 9, why would people who already think that they see be motivated to take steps to correct a supposed loss of vision? Can you see this connection?

Just as the world’s pursuit of materialism has smitten the Church, the above prevailing modern “information” environment has also literally incubated the final era of God’s people. Now consider this: Within the greater “church” at large today—church merely means “called out ones”—a broad variety of splinter-produced literature, coupled with numerous independent websites, offering vast amounts of “church” information, leave most of God’s people quite content with the available knowledge that they are able to obtain on a regular basis—and easily.

These seemingly countless websites, newsletters and tape ministries, run by self-appointed “teachers,” “gurus” and sundry “sources of light,” now plague God’s people as never before, and add immensely to the general confusion that now exists. Again, though, this leaves people feeling quite pleased that they are getting—and seeing—the “big picture” of all that is happening among the different organizations. But this also generates another reason that so many believe they can see—that they are “okay.” Thinking of worse problems, attitudes and conditions that they observe elsewhere in other groups, many decide, “I’m not that bad!” Self-satisfaction enters.

This is why I cannot help but believe that there will not be a great number who will take seriously even a sobering book such as this—and also when so much is at stake!

Could you be one of the exceptions?

Extraordinary Passage

A remarkable passage in I John 2 unlocks the door to understanding the phrase “anoint your eyes” and answers the two questions introducing the last subhead. What this single scripture reveals is truly “eye-opening”—if you will receive it.

Written in the 90s A.D., after all of the other apostles had died, all three of the apostle John’s epistles are against the backdrop of a developing apostasy, with many brethren beginning to exchange the truth for false doctrines. Like his gospel, the words truth, true, and truly are found over and over throughout John’s epistles. While known as the “apostle of love,” John should probably be at least equally known as the “apostle of truth.” This is because this very old apostle so urgently—and repeatedly—exhorted God’s people to hold onto the truth!

This sets the stage for what we can learn about anointing the eyes. As we read, you will not have to accept my word. Once again, the critical rule of Bible study is to always let the Bible interpret itself. Watch how clearly the Bible interprets Christ’s words to Laodicea.

Open to I John 2 and read each verse cited.

The context of John’s message is also vital. Verse 4 warns that anyone who claims “I know Him [Christ],” but “keeps not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” It is crucial to note that verse 5 goes on to reveal that only those who “keep his [Christ’s] word” can develop and perfect the love of God in their lives. (In the end, others can only talk about the law and love.) After all, John 17:17 states, “Your [God’s] word is truth.” Keeping “His word” is identical to keeping or holding to the truth.

Do you clearly see this?

I John 2:11 goes on to issue a warning by speaking of any man who “walks in darkness, and knows not where he goes, because that darkness has blinded his eyes.” Of course, this is the central problem with every man and woman in Laodicea. So, let’s read carefully.

The “Unction”—the “Anointing”

The context, building to verse 20, continues with a warning about not slipping back into the ways of the world. Verse 20 begins the explanation of how to avoid—or recover from!—blindness and the resultant departure from truth that inevitably accompanies it. Notice: “But you have an unction from the Holy One, and you know all things.” Verse 21 continues, “I have not written unto you because you know not the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie [doctrinal or otherwise] is of the truth.” So then, this unction, which allows recipients to “know all things” of the truth, is crucial.

But what is it?

Let’s continue. John was showing that it is this “unction” that keeps people secure in God’s truth. Note this well. The exact same Greek word is translated “anointing” in verse 27. It is most critical to understand this. The Greek word translated “unction” and “anointing” is chrisma, meaning, literally—“the endowment of the Holy Spirit: anointing, unction.”

Let’s speak plainly—let’s leave no room for misunderstanding: At conversion and baptism—through begettal, making them sons—God anoints all new Christians with His Holy Spirit. However, the amount varies from person to person, and this can be even more so over time. We will learn that it is this variance that introduces the biggest part of the problem.

Verse 26 reveals why John had to write as he did: “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.” Here was the problem. Certain leaders were trying to pull the brethren away from elements of the truth. This was the challenge that the brethren were facing and John was addressing! Of course, it is the same today.

Verse 27 makes absolutely plain the connection between the Christian “anointing” with God’s Holy Spirit and retaining “truth.” (Make a mental note for later that anointing is always done with oil.) Now read carefully: “But the anointing which you have received of Him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in Him.”

Spirit of Truth

But how does one “abide” in Christ? The answer to this is more important than you may think.

On the last night before His crucifixion, Jesus told the disciples that He would send them “the Comforter…even the spirit of truth” (John 15:26). A few verses later, He adds, “Howbeit when it, the spirit of truth, is come, it will guide you into all truth” ( 16:13).

A Christian is to “abide” only in what the spirit of truth has led the Church, and therefore him, to see. Think! It should be obvious that this is not an endorsement for anyone, anywhere to follow any supposed “spirit of truth” as he sees fit, because the real Spirit of truth, the only one flowing from God, will always guide brethren toward doctrinal truth already proven. Do not miss this!

Can you better understand why James wrote, “Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits…” (1:18)? Of course, it is the holy spirit (of truth) that, in fact, enters the new child of God at baptism (Acts 2:38), begetting him.

The Holy Spirit is synonymous with “the word of truth” and “the Spirit of truth.” Grasp this. These three are all one and the same.

Now you can better understand I John 2:4—“the truth is not in him.” This is another way of saying that the “Spirit of truth,” or the “word of truth,” is not present in people who are not obeying God.

Let me repeat again for emphasis: All of the virgins of Matthew 25 were running out of “oil”—the Holy Spirit. Half had dwindled so far in their supply that they lost it, and thus could not spiritually recover. By now, it should at least begin to be obvious that they were long in the process of losing this unction—the anointing!—the oil!—the word of truth!—the “Spirit of TRUTH!” This is why the foolish virgins in the parable were instructed to “go…buy” oil (the Holy Spirit) from “them that sell” (the Father and Christ). But it was too late!

So, we can now state one of the most vital conclusions to be drawn in this book. Christ’s use of the term “eye salve” can now be understood—it stands revealed. It is the Spirit of truth—spiritual “Phrygian powder”! The wise Laodicean will go buy more NOW!

Removing the Cause of Shame

We are ready for the next verse in I John 2. Verse 28 begins (and only begins) to explain the all-important tie between the anointing with God’s Spirit—to be able to clearly see the truth— and why Christ connected the anointing of the eyes as the way to eliminate the “shame of their nakedness.”

Notice what John adds: “And now, little children, abide in Him [Christ]; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His Coming.”

Standing before God with “our loins girt about with truth”—because we are anointed with an abundance of the Spirit of truth—removes the condition of being naked and ashamed. The Greek root for “shame” and “not ashamed” is the same, schune. The meaning of “not ashamed” could also be correctly translated “not disgraced.” It certainly would be a shameful disgrace to stand before God with exposed private parts, when you are expected to appear before Him in spotless white clothing.

No wonder Christ will send such utterly “shameless” people into the Great Tribulation, the last remaining place where they can recover—where they can “buy”—sufficient character and truth (“gold”) to receive salvation.

Are you beginning to understand why brethren of the seventh era—who have been shown to have but little interest in regular, diligent prayer, study, fasting and meditation—have a dwindling supply of the Spirit of truth? And why many may have already lost this Spirit?

Let us state this plainly. You must “anoint your eyes” with much more of the “Spirit of truth,” or you will never remove the “shame of your nakedness.” While we will learn much more later about how to do this, you must see that this connection has been established by God through His words—not mine!

In order to receive your sight back from Christ, you must first be willing to recognize—to admit—that you are blind. Also, you could certainly never help any other person with eye problems unless you first address your own.

All real understanding of God’s Plan and spiritual truth comes from God. It was only the action of His Spirit that opened our eyes when we were first called. Notice again the Bible interpreting the Bible: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what [are] the [real] riches of the glory of His inheritance” (Eph. 1:17-18).

If you will admit that you have grown low in God’s Spirit, causing you to lose sight of some or much of the truth, then God will replenish, once again, “the eyes of your understanding.” You can once again “be enlightened” to all that you previously understood.

Recall that ancient Laodicea seemed to have everything—except good water to drink from a local source. Can you begin to see the strong parallel with Christ’s people in the final era of the Church? Similarly, brethren today seem to “have it all,” except the one thing that really counts—enough of the living water of God’s Spirit of truth flowing out of their spiritual “bellies” (John 7:37-38). They desperately need strong eye salve to see all that they have lost!

Loving—and Living—the Truth

Before concluding this section, one more absolutely vital seed from I John 2 must be planted into your understanding. It introduces how what we have just learned about truth is also inseparable from Christian conductrighteousness.

The last verse of I John 2 expands the context into another element, continuing into chapter 3: “If you know that He is righteous, you know that every one that does righteousness is born [begotten] of Him” (vs. 29). Loving the truth is not merely an act of the mind. It involves building righteous character—doing righteousness—as evidence that one has been begotten with God’s Spirit. It involves “deed and truth” (I John 3:18).

Notice that the first two verses of chapter 3, which are really the continuation of chapter 2 (men made these divisions), speak of receiving salvation and becoming “like” Christ in the resurrection. Verse 3 adds, “And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He [Christ] is pure.

In Chapter 8, we will learn the vital and fascinating spiritual connection between righteousness, the Christian purification process—living the truth—and the Laodicean condition.

What Many No Longer Discern

On one occasion, when both the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Christ, tempting Him for a sign from God, He cut to the heart of their problem. Here is what He said: “When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and threatening. O you hypocrites, you can discern the face of the sky; but can you not discern the signs of the times?” (Matt. 16:2-3.)

Here is an irony—this verse with a modern twist. Unlike the Pharisees, many people today seemingly can (at least partially) discern the signs of the times—ominous and continually worsening world conditions—but they can no longer fully discern the truth and the all-importance of building character. It is as though these brethren have lost the ability to even recognize what they once claimed to have proven. Christ’s explanation for why He spoke in parables has come to pass in their lives. While many have come to believe that they still see what God teaches, these same brethren have returned to blindness.

Notice this: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matt. 13:13-15).

Certainly, all those who were there listening to Christ were not without physical sight and hearing, but rather were without any ability to perceive the meaning of things they saw and heard.

This describes Laodicea!

When Mr. Armstrong decried the false doctrines that had entered the Church in the 1970s, he was generally referencing many of the very same wrong ideas now so popular in the splinters—wrong government, altered definitions of what is the Body of Christ, birthday-keeping, wearing of makeup, mixing the Person of Christ with the gospel of the kingdom, believers marrying unbelievers, interracial marriage, de-emphasis of Christ’s broken body for healing, voting, compromising or even dismissing some of God’s tithing laws, laxity regarding Sabbath dress, improper hair length for both men and women—and so many other doctrines and traditions lost today (II Thes. 2:15; 3:6).

Besides all these ideas, a whole host of othernew!— false teachings, which Mr. Armstrong could not yet even remotely have had in mind, have also appeared throughout the splinters and slivers. Conditions have grown much worse today!

Yet, like those hearing Christ’s parables, few seem to be able to perceive what is happening! You are learning why.

Those Who Love the Truth

Another critical New Testament passage reveals what God explains has always been at stake for those who do not sufficiently love the truth—who stop replenishing the spirit of truth within their minds. Can you guess—do you recall—what I am referring to?

In II Thessalonians 2:3, Paul foretold the “falling away” to occur prior to Christ’s Return: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [Christ’s Return] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…” Of course, the falling away has now become a fact of history!

The next six verses in the chapter describe the incredible deception perpetrated by the final man of sin. Then, verse 10 reveals which people are swept away by deception. Read carefully: “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” We have seen that half in the last era of the Church will eventually buy into this horrific final deception.

Verse 11 explains the great hidden danger inherent when people begin to compromise the truth—and when their love of it begins to diminish: “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” This will happen to at least half of the people who are now saying, “Accidents only happen to others.”

Guarding the Pearl of Great Price

Has your love of the truth waned? Have you forgotten all that is at stake for everyone who does not continue to love this greatest of all possessions? When was the last time you read the above verse showing what God will send upon those who will no longer take a stand for the “pearl of great price” they should have sold everything to buy? These same people were once also presumably willing to sell everything to purchase the “hid treasure” found in a “field.” Recall the parables.

Is it important to you that the “pearl of great price” is not permitted to be chipped or blemished? Do you still thrill to all of the precious items found in God’s special chest of “hid treasure”? Force—force!— your mind to give an honest answer to these questions. If you quickly answered, “yes,” stop and repeat the question, because you did not even consider it.

Are you further understanding why Christ always warns His sheep with the voice of truth when they are in danger (John 10:3-5)? Remember, He calls each one “by name,” because He is concerned about every one of them. Do you also now better understand why He said that His true sheep “know His voice…of truth” (18:37)?

Such is this book!

Also recall I mentioned that the term “voice of truth” should take on far greater meaning to you as the book develops. It should now be obvious that the most important matter that Christ would discuss—“counsel”—with each person who answers His knock would be matters involving truth—doctrine and conduct—and how much of the Spirit of truth he has lost!

Vital Sermons

You should now be seeing this importance more clearly. The sermon “Do You Love the Truth or the Idea?” on our website will be most helpful in understanding how so many have fooled themselves into believing they love the truth, when they are merely intellectually attracted to and in love with a theory or concept of it.

Also, many have lost the central truth of who and what is the Body of Christ, and how one must remain in it to be connected to the only Source of where they can receive more of the Spirit of truth. This subject is addressed in Chapter 11, and is carefully explained in The True Church – One Organization, or Many?

The nineteenth-century philosopher, William James, once declared, “The ultimate test of what a [the] truth means is the conduct it dictates or inspires.” How true! Previously, we talked about those who purify themselves in order to receive salvation. These are the people who live the truth. It is not enough that we just “love” it—we must also live it! In Chapter 8, we will analyze in careful detail what it means to love and live God’s truth!

Next, however, we will take an in-depth look at Philadelphia—both the modern era and the ancient city.

Chapter Seven – What Philadelphians Can See

In a previous chapter, we discussed the fact that Laodiceans are, in effect, a spiritual nudist colony, an entire Church era of God’s people that walks naked—unclothed.

Being fully clothed means wearing several pieces of clothing. One of the most important garments, which no Christian can be without, must be introduced at this point. In turn, it introduces all of Chapter 7. This garment could probably be equated in importance to the outer garments that all people wear.

Clothed With Humility

Here is what Peter wrote, “…be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God…” (I Pet. 5:5-6). Similarly, Paul instructed the Colossians to “Put on [like clothing]…humbleness of mind, meekness…” (3:12).

By now, you have surely seen the need to approach your task at the end of this age—and the scriptural instruction in this book—with extraordinary humility. No other approach has any chance to yield true success—God’s approval. Without this most basic of Christian qualities, none of us have any hope of seeing ourselves as God sees us—let alone actually building His character by growing, overcoming, improving, and learning—living—His truth! It takes a truly deep humility to acknowledge that you might be blind, wretched, naked, etc.—especially when your feelings may be strongly telling you otherwise (Prov. 14:12; 16:25).

In this light, what do Philadelphians see that Laodiceans cannot? Having described the signs of a Laodicean, what then are the signs of a Philadelphian? In effect, what have those of this era remembered that all Laodiceans can no longer see?

Humility Introduces Eight Philadelphian Signs

The people of God live in an age when their counterparts in the world no longer care about international events and conditions in the way that most once did. Many factors, including information overload, have contributed to mankind feeling jaded to what is now happening all around it.

Christ described our age as a time when “iniquity (lawlessness) abounds” and “the love of many waxes cold” (Matt. 24:12). Yet, Ezekiel 9:4 records that God places a special mark on those who “sigh and cry” because of every kind of “abomination,” now occurring on a worldwide scale. Obviously, for an entire group to receive this mark, there must remain a very special people who have not allowed themselves to become calloused.

These are people who still care!

We have always understood that the Church of God, in every age, is directly affected by the society around it. To some degree, its condition ebbs and flows with prevailing social trends and character traits. This was exactly the problem with the brethren living in ancient Laodicea—and is part of the very reason Christ compares His people today (though they are a spiritual city) to the citizenry of that physical city. Today, with spiritual blindness comes the inability to still deeply care either about people or important matters. Most of God’s people have become, at least in part, “past feeling” (Eph. 4:19) toward human conditions, events and other things that once moved them. This includes doctrines that have slipped from their understanding.

At the same time, relative to the above point, an entire generation of people (actually several, which have come in waves) absolutely filled with pride (the opposite of humility) has emerged in society and completely surrounded God’s people. This makes it much easier for even those with God’s Spirit to naturally absorb this attitude. Recognize that even the normal human physical humility of just a generation or two ago has almost completely disappeared. Any kind of conscientious, regular approach to a humble personal examination is much like the old American South—it is “gone with the wind”!

Before proceeding, accept the incredibly arrogant spiritual environment in which you live.

The Message

To become a Philadelphian, one must first examine Christ’s description of this era. Then he must examine himself for where he reflects it—or, in the Laodicean age, where he almost certainly falls far short. You will find that there are also eight different signs reflected in those of Philadelphia.

Here is how Christ describes the sixth era of the Church in Revelation 3:7-13: “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; these things says He that is holy, He that is true, He that has the key of David, He that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens; I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown. Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.”

Before discussing the other seven earmarks of Philadelphia, recognize the one that Christ considers most important is the characteristic for which He names the sixth era. It is, quite literally, “the brotherly love era.” We will see that He could have given it several other names, yet chose this one. We will also discuss this first trait—that of brotherly love—in some detail later. Suffice to say at this point, Christ’s name for this era reflects how important it is to Him that His people retain brotherly love, while those around them grow more jaded and calloused to the lawlessness mankind is enduring. Therefore, one of the two vital areas of Christianity that Philadelphians never stop caring about is their fellow man—in the world, as well as God’s people.

This is the first earmark describing the sixth era.

The Second and Third Earmarks

The second—and most vital—point that Philadelphians continue to care about is the need to hold on to the entirety of God’s truth and traditions. They understand that they must “hold…fast what they have” at all costs! They continue to “see” the need to not let the truth slip away. Obviously, the amount of God’s Spirit of truth, necessary to do this, is not allowed to wane. When they see that it has, they return to the only Source who can replenish it—and continue to do this over and over again throughout their conversion. This necessarily begins with returning to God’s Church. There is no hope of recovery until one permits God’s Spirit to lead him (Rom. 8:14; John 16:13) back to the only Church where the truth is taught.

This is actually a central part of “enduring to the end” in order to be saved (Matt. 24:13)—and it is no accident that this instruction immediately follows the warning about those whose love waxes cold (vs. 12). Remember, Romans 5:5 shows that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the [same] Holy Spirit” that is the Spirit of truth.

These two elements are interconnected within the instruction to endure!

Jesus tells these people, “You have kept My word” (Rev. 3:8). Some use this phrase as license to change doctrines by asserting, “I get my doctrines directly from God—from the Bible. I keep God’s words, not Mr. Armstrong’s.” Of course, everyone, including the Pope, the apostates and every other religious leader and minister, always claim this same thing. Naturally, so do the splinter leaders. Would any claim to get their doctrines from outside the Bible? (Recall how often Mr. Armstrong stated that Christ establishes doctrine only through apostles. This will be addressed later in much more detail.)

While many consider themselves to be Philadelphian, it is impossible to be Philadelphian if you are not holding fast to EVERY doctrine (and established tradition!) the Church was taught. Ignoring just this point specifically disqualifies one for protection in the place of safety (vs. 10). Only this unwavering group is protected from the “hour of trial” that will soon strike all civilization.

The Laodicean remnant, described in Revelation 12:17, apparently has at least some of the core doctrines in place, such as obedience to God’s commandments, but falls short of what Christ calls “holding fast.” He considers the difference in their doctrinal positions profound! grasp this! It is on this point that He also ties in the danger of one losing his crown (vs. 11). This will be discussed in an unexpected and fascinating way throughout the next chapter.

Verse 10 contains the third earmark of Philadelphians. Notice the phrase “You have kept the word of My patience.” This underscores the fact that Philadelphians recognize the ongoing need to patiently endure, as Christ instructed His people living at the end: “In your patience possess you your souls [lives]” (Luke 21:19).

This is the most impatient age in history. People want instant gratification and fulfillment in almost everything they do. With the advent of the “now generation” some decades ago, few are willing to wait patiently for almost anything. Yet, practically everything of worth requires some amount of patience to achieve. In the end time, when very salvation is at stake, the familiar cliché is even more true spiritually—“Good things come to those who wait.”

“An Open Door”

The fourth sign of a Philadelphian is that he recognizes he must continue to participate in and support the Work of God—“I have set before you an open door.”

The true people of God always try to do the Work—and their hearts are in it. Their brotherly love is partly seen in their desire to take the full truth of God to their fellowman in all nations. Matthew 24:14, 46 and 28:19-20 show that this effort continues until the Tribulation. Mr. Armstrong always considered supporting the Work of God to be a minimum standard for being a Christian at all.

Once those of Laodicean thinking became dominant in number, the size and scope of the Work ceased to be relevant in the same way that it was when Mr. Armstrong was alive. This should be very obvious. Those looking for the greatest church size today fail to understand that there has been a change in era. This is one of the biggest reasons I will not talk about the numeric size of The Restored Church of God’s attendance or income. This is no longer our time—and we understand that “largeness”—“bigness”—“size”—of numbers in God’s Church, or amount of income, works directly against groups more than for them, as it once did when the golden age and wonderful time of Philadelphia and Mr. Armstrong’s ministry were flourishing. The bigger groups have a big problem in explaining how their members are not part of the big, dominant era of Laodicea.

On the other hand, the big splinters are attempting some “work.” Because of their collective size, they (though divided) have for a time done a larger “Work” than the small remnant of Philadelphia. (Of course, their work has no real meaning, because their doctrines reflect a mixture of truth and error—and Christ is not leading them.) The Work done by God here is already passing—and will soon dwarf—all the human efforts in the splinters and slivers.

You must not miss this overall point!

The Work that Philadelphia does is covered in more detail near the end of this book. But it is also covered in much greater detail in my book to the splinters devoted entirely to this subject, The Work of God – Its Final Chapter! All whose hearts are still in the Work of God will be left in awe after reading of what is being—and is yet to be!—accomplished in The Restored Church of God.

Here is what so many cannot see regarding God’s Work. Philadelphians are very evidently not “rich and increased with goods.” (Remember, the Greek words in Revelation, paralleling ancient Laodicea, specifically mean financial wealth and material goods.) How could Philadelphia possibly produce the same size Work as before, when it obviously does not have large amounts of money? Beware of those crowing about the great size of their “work.” (Of course, I do not preclude that God must have a plan to inject, for a short period, extraordinary, or even miraculous, super income into His final Work before the age is complete.)

All with even one “eye to see”—squinted half shut—cannot miss this point. Yet, there is a way that Philadelphians compensate, without great financial resources.

Zeal Under Persecution

This leads directly to the fifth sign, which is that Philadelphians, once again as opposed to Laodiceans, are tremendously zealous. Christ does not have to remind the sixth era to “be zealous and repent.” An extraordinary fervency toward the preaching of the gospel and other truths is evident in the incredible production—and speed—at which this very dynamic group continues the Work. This is because it is empowered by an abundance of God’s Spirit!

It should also be evident that their zeal causes them to do the Work, not with the soft, purring sounds that the splinters typically use, but with Mr. Armstrong’s plain, straightforward style, trumpeted in the spirit of Isaiah 58:1!

Because of their zeal, unity of purpose and the vital special blessings poured upon them—because Christ is leading this undivided group—they are, as mentioned, still able to accomplish far more than their size would ever seem to permit!

Their zeal is also obviously witnessed, among other kinds of actions and service, by their love and preservation of the full truth, as explained above.

The sixth sign of Philadelphians is that they endure terrible persecution at the hands of the “synagogue [Church] of Satan.” People also fail to understand that there are not just Philadelphians and Laodiceans at the end of the age, but there are also tares, some—an increasing number of them—vicious, among the wheat (mega-tares when they are in a leadership role). Some of these tares, in the form of the synagogue of Satan, persecute Philadelphia, as they did faithful brethren of other eras. (Recall that Smyrna—Revelation 2:8-9—was also described as physically poor, but spiritually rich, and received no correction from Christ. How interesting that they were also persecuted by this “synagogue.”)

The Restored Church of God is certainly the greatest testimony to this persecution. When properly understood, the enormous amount and nature of the outrageous things said about us, generally, and me, personally (as was always the case with Mr. Armstrong—before and after his death), becomes a testimony to who we are much more than who we are not!

Though this is addressed briefly in the last chapter, I have also devoted an entire book to the subject of persecution and issues related to it. Vital to all at the end of the age, it is Should Accusers Be Answered?

Therefore, recognize that “ANOINT YOUR EYES” is being and continues to be countered, both with scare tactics and certain measured “explanations” seeking to rebut the soundness of Christ’s counsel to His people. Completely missing the point as it applies to themselves, and lacking in a sufficient amount of God’s Spirit, many easily dismiss it as “Mr. Pack’s personal opinion.” I recognize this, and you should, too.

Revelation 3:9, referencing the “synagogue,” concludes with a fascinating statement about, and to, Philadelphia, overlooked by almost everyone: “I will make them to…worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.”

Read this passage again. It is as though people simply cannot recognize Philadelphians for who they are until God reveals His love for them. They appear to remain a small, discounted, largely unrecognized and despised group, perceived as irrelevant, only to be later identified by God in front of the synagogue of Satan, the world and even Laodicea for who they were.

A Little Miraculous Power

The seventh characteristic visible in Philadelphia and its remnant is somewhat related to size and lack of financial resources, mentioned in number four. Philadelphians have little strength—though they are spiritually strong, they do not have a lot of miraculous power. I have previously explained that in Restored we see a variety of miracles on a regular basis—which are again directly connected to apostolic authority given to this era—but these are only significant when considered collectively in comparison to our small size. (Of course, not everyone was healed every time even when Philadelphia was on track and Mr. Armstrong was alive.) Therefore, it should be clear that faithful people, having only a small amount of miraculous power, could not possibly be described this way unless they represent a relatively small organization.

Be sure to get this picture squarely in mind!

Upholding Christ’s Authority

The eighth and final earmark of Philadelphia is described in verse 8: “You have not denied My name.” The people of the sixth era comprehend all that this means, in light of the extraordinary presence that God brought to the Church when He was leading His twentieth-century apostle, Herbert W. Armstrong.

This man fully understood that Jesus Christ’s power—His authority—His “name”—was behind all that he, personally, and the Church supporting him, did! Mr. Armstrong clearly recognized that no more than a tiny fraction of all that he accomplished would have been remotely possible without the miraculous power of God behind him (Zech. 4:6).

Anyone who forgot this, and some did, when talking to or trying to flatter Mr. Armstrong about his accomplishments, never forgot it twice!

As stated, Mr. Armstrong knew that Christ puts truth into the Church only through apostles. No other office can bring new doctrine to the Church with Christ’s authority—by His name. Mr. Armstrong also knew that the Church had to completely rely on God for all things—and he never exuded self-sufficiency, now so evident in people who seem to enjoy talking about God (and this only periodically), while ignoring so much of what He tells them to do!

It is the very authority of Christ—embodied in His name—that the synagogue of Satan, indicted in verse 9 immediately after this reference, despises. This drives them to focus their persecution on Philadelphia. Understand that a whole booklet could be written solely about what it means to “not deny (Christ’s) name.” (The Bible says much more about this synagogue—this assemblage of devilish men—than meets the eye. My sermon “The Synagogue of Satan Identified—and Marked! explains this final group, including where and how they came to be.)

What Philadelphians See

In an overall sense, Philadelphians see the truth, the Work of God, their fellow man and themselves. They also see how to recognize the place where God’s government is leading. Therefore, they still “see” the one true Church and Body of Christ (and Temple of God!) doctrine and how Christ’s leadership is not, and never has been, divided! They have not forgotten what we all once understood on this point. They can “see” that Christ is not leading any of the organizations where the people’s and ministers’ opinions “rule, judge and decide,” usurping His authority. They can “see” that all with God’s Spirit must leave these groups or lose God’s Spirit. They “see” that He is calling each sheep “by name” (John 10:3) to “follow” Him, and knocking on “doors” to enter “homes” (Rev. 3:20), where He can work with “any man” who hears His voice of truth.

Luke 21:36 describes those who “watch …and pray always, that [they] may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass.” Obviously, those who are blind cannot do this—it takes sight to watch anything! But Philadelphians do it continually, because they are equipped with enough of the spiritual element that allows them full vision.

All this understanding became darkened and completely lost from the minds of so many thousands of brethren who can no longer see. Spiritually speaking, thousands can no longer see the hand in front of their face. They have allowed themselves to become so blind even to things that were once so fundamental and so basic, that only half will ever be able to recover themselves—and it will take the fiery trial of the Tribulation to fully accomplish this.

The Great Propagandist

The governments of men typically use propaganda to spread their ideas, both good and bad. Generally, the worst governments use the most propaganda, and it is always driven by their agenda—what they are trying to ultimately accomplish.

So many of God’s people have forgotten that the greatest propagandist in the universe is Satan the devil. They no longer seem to grasp the power of his ability to dispense misinformation (Rev. 12:9) from his government as “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4). Yet, he has spread so much disinformation, misinformation, outright lies and propaganda against both Mr. Armstrong and the truth he taught, almost all of the brethren have become terribly confused about what they once thought they saw so clearly. What once seemed like the plain truth is now open to debate, question, challenge or even ridicule. (I am not speaking about the false leaders of the WCG or those people and smaller offshoots who, at every turn, vomit absolutely satanic rhetoric upon anyone who will listen—this is to be expected from these people—but rather of the apostasy’s “survivors.”)

Daniel said that “the wise shall understand” what is happening at the end of the age (12:10). Referencing him, Jesus re-emphasized this point in Matthew 24:15. Mr. Armstrong often expressed doubt about whether 90 percent of the Church “got it.”

In summary, Philadelphians “get it”—all of it! They remember where they learned the truth and know exactly what to do (II Tim. 3:14) during the period when “evil men and seducers shall grow worse and worse” (vs. 13).

Conditioned to Compromise

Recall that the second point Philadelphians continue to care about—and it is most vital to recognize this—is their need to hold on to every point of God’s truth. They understand that they must “hold fast what they have” at all costs!

Most of God’s people live in democratic countries. Democracies function almost solely on the ability to get people of different points of view to compromise their position—and their values. This seems to be the only way any kind of even partial peace can be obtained. Like other elements discussed above, God’s people unconsciously absorb this spirit of compromise, permeating nearly everything in government, business, education, religion and society around them. It is as though people are conditioned—virtually trained!—to believe they have to “give on a few points” in order to get along or get what they want.

This is not the way of God. Philadelphians will not compromise—EVER. Unlike so many others around them in the last days (II Tim. 3:1; 4:3), they continuously “endure sound doctrine.” They refuse to be turned from the truth to “fables”—of any kind!

Think of the word compromise as having two parts—“com” and “promise.” Com means “with,” and promise means what it says. Those who compromise are attempting to take a new position and make it work with an old promise that they had made—in this case, made to God!

Will you continue such a pattern?

For those with “eyes to see” and “ears to hear,” this puts the whole matter of changing doctrines into a very different light.

Mr. Armstrong and Doctrinal Compromise

Mr. Armstrong had a great deal to say about doctrinal compromise. Here are some statements from him demonstrating how strongly he felt. The first quote is repeated from earlier in the book because of its re-application here.

Notice:

“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, Mar. 6, 1981

“Forty-three years ago, the living Christ committed to me His great commission.”

“But during these 43 years, I have frequently been pressured to compromise—‘just a little’—with God’s truth.”

“He entrusted me with this precious truth.”

“But honestly, now, what do you think?”

“Wouldn’t it be all right to compromise, ‘just a little,’ on some ‘unimportant minor point’? Especially on some ostensibly unimportant 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 been charged with the commission of keeping God’s word. Keeping it inviolate—no compromise! I have never compromised with God’s truth—regardless of the cost or the circumstances. I never shall!”

“Just as Israel is little in population and financial means among the nations, so God’s Church is little in numbers and popularity among churches or religious organizations. But Israel stands strong and alone among this world’s nations in determination to not yield one inch to the outrageous methods and demands of terrorists!”

“Satan is the chief of terrorists. He hates God’s holy, sacred Word.”

“I will change whenever proved wrong. I will accept new truth as often as proved to be new truth to me or to the Church. But I will not compromise with the truth! I never have!”

“I won’t compromise—not even ‘just a little.’”

“Personal,” GN, Dec. 1976

“Why are the different branches of ‘Christianity’ talking about union? WHY is it possible for them to make overtures toward compromise?”

“And anyway, is it not right that they should all get together? Why should Christianity be divided?”

“The Vatican Second Ecumenical Council is making many overtures toward both Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox church. They are even taking a conciliatory attitude toward Jews. Recently Pope Paul VI assured the non-Catholic Christian world of his purpose to clear away every obstacle blocking ‘Christian unity.’”

“The big question is WHY is such compromise possible?”

“Can you imagine Jesus Christ beginning to compromise and get together with the Pharisees?”

“Did all the hundreds of differing and disagreeing sects and denominations calling themselves ‘Christian’ receive their varying faiths from the same source? Quite obviously not!”

“Now we ought to begin to see the answer to the question, how can these differing religious groups compromise and get together? Their beliefs, their customs, are the inventions of humans. In actual fact, they did not receive their beliefs from the true and living God—or from His Word, the Bible. Their religions are of human origin. Therefore humans feel at liberty to alter or change their own beliefs and ways.”

“We ought to understand, therefore, how those who, like the Roman Catholic Church, reject the Bible as the supreme authority—setting themselves, as a church, ahead of it as supreme authority…we ought now to understand how they can compromise and get together.”

“Since [the one and only true Church] is ruled and guided by the living God, whose written Word means what it says, it cannot and will not compromise or unite with the churches of this world.”

“Personal,” PT, Dec. 1964

All brethren live in a world literally defined by the spirit of compromise. There is almost no end of ways that Satan, the world and human nature will work on God’s people to get them to compromise virtually every truth, law and principle in the Bible. While many still somewhat recognize this regarding sin—albeit to a much lesser degree than in times past—many have not ever fully recognized its all-important application to not compromising true doctrine at the end of the age.

Mr. Armstrong understood and taught the Church of God not to compromise—to hold fast—and one of the doctrines he taught the Church was that true doctrine only enters the Church through apostles. Realize that this truth must first be rejected before any other truth can be overturned.

Practice telling yourself Mr. Armstrong’s words: “I have NEVER compromised with God’s TRUTH—regardless of the cost or the circumstances. I never shall!” and “I won’t compromise—not even ‘just a little.’”

I have followed the practice of periodically repeating these phrases to myself for many years. Though I have not done this perfectly, it has served me in untold ways!

II Peter 3:18—and the Great Misunderstanding!

The apostasy should have taught all of us that there were dozens of methods that the apostates used to seduce the Church into hundreds of false doctrines. I have listed 43 of these tricks and ploys near the front of my book There Came a Falling Away.

Some of these gimmicks are practiced in the splinters with even greater skill than that of the WCG’s false leaders. The most popular—and by far the most effective—has been the gross misuse of II Peter 3:18: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

This passage is often referred to in short with the phrase “We must grow in knowledge.” And those invoking this scripture almost always have doctrine in mind.

This verse is NOT talking about doctrine, but rather knowledge—and this is the Greek word used! A simple review reveals this. The word used here for “knowledge” is gnosis, meaning “(the act of) knowing, i.e. (by implication) knowledge.” This is not a hard word to understand. Almost everyone learns some kind of knowledge (gnosis) every day of his life. Of course, it is “the knowledge of Jesus Christ” that is the most important knowledge to learn. But make no mistake—this verse is talking about “knowledge,” not “doctrine.”

On the other hand, the Greek word for “doctrine,” found dozens of times throughout the New Testament (as is “knowledge”), is didache. This word means “instruction (the act or the matter), doctrine (what has already been taught).” Take special note of the phrase “already been taught.”

Once again, the Greek word for “doctrine” (didache) is totally different than the one for “knowledge” (gnosis). I cannot state this strongly enough. There is a very clear difference between knowledge and doctrine.

Please, for your own sake—get this straight!

General Epistle

The background and purpose of Peter’s epistles is critical to appreciate. Each of his letters is what is known as a “general epistle.” In effect, they were open letters to all brethren in the Church throughout the ages. Imagine God inspiring Peter to tell individual Christians, and leaders, everywhere—for all time—to grow in doctrine through what would have to be, presumably, their own Bible research.

This is an absolutely ludicrous idea, and would be the surest way to have complete, absolute chaos and confusion—not to mention horrific division—throughout the Church, and in every era! Yet, this is the very premise upon which so many unqualified teachers are justifying departure from truth straight into error—directly away from “what has already been taught”! Like the very apostates themselves, every splinter leader almost routinely introduces outright heresies in the name of “growing in knowledge.”

Not wanting to seem inflexible or resistant to growth, most of their members almost eagerly swallow their line.

Do not fall for such deceit—and stupidity! Anyone so ignorant of the Bible that they confuse didache with gnosis is hardly qualified to teach you the truth about anything—period! Such people need to first grow in their knowledge of the very word “knowledge.” Then they ought to spend their time focusing on, proving and holding fast to true doctrines they obviously never proved.

Mr. Armstrong repeatedly told new people learning the truth for the first time to “prove all things, hold fast that which is good.” Apparently, only a few bothered to do this with all of God’s doctrines. Also apparently, the vast majority in the Church may have almost never done it.

But there is a middle group, consisting of those who seem to have “proved some things,” leaving themselves only able to “hold fast some things which are good.” These people have really put themselves in a dilemma. They are insufficiently prepared to resist the persuasions of those seeking to “turn them to fables.” It then becomes easy to rationalize their weak doctrinal understanding and commitment by simply asserting, “Oh well, Mr. Armstrong changed doctrines, so I am just growing in knowledge.” What has really happened is that such people’s “private parts” have just been further exposed.

Incredible! In effect, they just took their underclothes off—and pronounced that they now look better. Such blindness!

Here is a worse irony about such people. They often talk as though they have actually outgrown the “somewhat primitive,” or others will say “simplistic,” understanding that they like to dismiss as having “worked well for Mr. Armstrong in his time.” Can you imagine the sheer gall—and utter arrogance—of people walking around shamelessly naked, while asserting that they have outgrown Mr. Armstrong?

Let’s put this another way. You cannot “grow in knowledge” from what you have already proven! This is literally impossible to do.

Proof is proof is PROOF!

Obviously, vast numbers of brethren never fully proved God’s truth. As a result, coupled with now being lower in supply of the “Spirit of truth,” they lazily claim that they have “grown” to see “new truth”—as they march straight into error.

Once again, you cannot grow out of things that you have proven. I repeat: You cannot grow out of, or beyond, matters you truly proved!

Those who accept false teachings, while calling them “growth,” are trumpeting that they never really researched and carefully proved what they are now throwing aside! They are virtually crowing that they believed neither God nor Mr. Armstrong—when he was alive—regarding I Thessalonians 5:21 and Romans 12:2.

How many would do this if they saw their actions in this light?

Appalling Ignorance

On a side note, I have been appalled at the outright biblical ignorance of many who I thought were giants in the faith. Circumstances forced me to observe this. It was as though some of them could barely seem to find the book of Matthew—let alone resist false doctrine.

Believe me! I have sat in meetings with evangelists and senior pastors who almost appeared to be biblical illiterates. Some only rarely opened their Bibles, and this is when they had even brought them to meetings. I do not say this to put them down, but to recognize that Christ said, “By their fruits you know them.”

Do not be afraid to apply Christ’s statement in this regard—to know what and who He said you can know!

Sadly, many of these men learned to parrot Mr. Armstrong while apparently never actually building their house on the rock of Christ’s words, taught to them by Mr. Armstrong. It is no wonder that so many have failed in their responsibility to fulfill Titus 1:9, found in the middle of the qualifications for ordination into the ministry: “Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince [convict] the gainsayers”—and, I would add, save a great many more people from being unnecessarily swallowed by compromising leaders pursuing a personal doctrinal agenda.

Paul warned of “dishonest” ministers who “handle the word of God deceitfully” (II Cor. 4:2), because they, like their students who are willing to believe them, “received not the love of the truth” (II Thes. 2:10).

God’s true servants and ministers never—under any circumstances—follow these practices! They do not ever spin scriptures toward their own end.

In most cases, if one is properly trained and sufficiently grounded in the truths of the Bible, it is quite easy to see through and expose the deceptive logic misapplied to a verse, and to correctly explain it.

Now ask yourself: Has my pastor sought to protect me from gainsayers? In MYSTERY OF THE AGES, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “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.”

This book is part of my responsibility to fulfill this duty.

I urge you to recognize that II Peter 3:18 has become the banner—but really the ruse—for introducing wrong doctrine. While everyone wants to and should be concerned with the need to continually grow in “the knowledge of Jesus Christ,” this verse has become an excuse for accepting false doctrine—a means for labeling plain false teaching as “growth.”

Now consider this for a moment, so that this vital point cannot be missed. Every minister will surely tell you that he hopes all of his sermons have brought listeners more knowledge—that people were able to go home aware of new aspects about already established doctrines—that they never saw in the same way before. I certainly do. This is basic and easy to see.

Try this little experiment. The next time you hear your pastor preach a basic, routine sermon, ask him if it involved new doctrine. He will almost invariably answer, “No!” Next, ask him if he hoped that the congregation learned any new knowledge. He will most certainly answer, “Yes!” Then you may wish to respectfully ask him if he always knows the difference!

Growing in knowledge has never been an equation with changing doctrine—without a living apostle guiding the process, as did Mr. Armstrong. I challenge any member or minister to find where Mr. Armstrong said otherwise—or that the Bible does!

A Look at Ancient Philadelphia

The subject of Philadelphia, like Laodicea, would not be complete without examining, this time in retrospect, the ancient city of Philadelphia. Though geographically close to Laodicea, Philadelphia was a very different place to live.

As with the old city of Laodicea, there are also several fascinating parallels between ancient Philadelphia and the modern brethren of this era. Even the briefest examination of this city reveals comparisons that are impossible to miss. History presents an inspiring picture, filled with spiritual meaning.

The city was named for its founder, Attalus Philadelphus II, king of Pergamum (159-138 B.C.). King Attalus was given the name Philadelphus because of his unusual love for his brother, and because of his reputation for loyalty and trustworthiness. Little did this king know what the name he then chose for the city would portend for the history of God’s Church.

Cities are often said to have their own “personality”—New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Rome, etc. When Christ inspired the apostle John to record the book of Revelation, the city of Philadelphia was about 250 years old. Therefore, the nature of the city was well established, and, when Christ compared it to the faithful brethren of the twentieth-century era of the Church, He was well aware of the city’s personality.

It is interesting to note that Philadelphia sits at a somewhat higher altitude than the other six “era” cities on the same major trade and mail route. It also stood above all the other surrounding cities, found closer than the six for which the eras are named. With this commanding view, it became a powerful fortress city.

The comparison here is clear—and I have seen this personally. Modern spiritual Philadelphians have become a kind of “fortress” among their brethren—impenetrable in determination and unwillingness to compromise. And they do have a clearer view of things. They are within a city that cannot be defeated—that, unlike the Laodiceans, will exist at Christ’s Return.

Communication, Water and Government

While wealthy Laodicea was a banking center, it is interesting that Philadelphia, somewhat less prosperous, was considered a vital link in communication to surrounding cities, including all those on the trade route through the cities for which the other eras were named. This “communication” parallel, to how Philadelphia has been and is still being used today, thunders home its point!

Mr. Armstrong’s ministry was unquestionably the greatest spreading of “spiritual communication” to the world that has ever occurred. Its twenty-first century remnant continues to produce an enormous amount of material in the same spirit as when the era was at its zenith. Just the modern accessibility of the Internet, coupled with this vast amount of literature, proves this point.

Unlike Laodicea’s lukewarm water supply, Philadelphia had a very good supply of water because the Meander (or Cogamus) River flowed along the north side of the city, below the knoll that the city sat upon. (The word meander, meaning “to follow a winding and turning course,” derives from the name of this particular river.) This knoll also overlooked the expanse of the Hermus River Valley. The Meander flowed into the Hermus not far from Philadelphia. These rivers afforded the city plenty of cool, fresh water. The next chapter will show the incredible parallel between ancient Philadelphia’s water supply and the modern era’s “water” supply.

In Chapter Four, we mentioned that democracy was Laodicea’s general form of government, with the populace having ultimate political control. Philadelphia was different in that it was governed by what came to be labeled an “Emperor cult”—a fascinating parallel to how some viewed Mr. Armstrong! It is most interesting that the people in Philadelphia preferred to have one man—a benevolent monarch—govern the city, rather than practice democracy. This form of governance apparently lasted for many decades in Philadelphia.

We will later see a fascinating parallel with today’s form of government, which was restored to the brethren of the modern era who still carry Philadelphia’s name. This is understanding that they have not forgotten.

A History of Earthquakes

Perhaps the most fascinating part of Philadelphia’s history is that it suffered a whole series of earthquakes, with most of them almost completely destroying the city. The worst was in A.D. 17. Each time, the city was rebuilt—demonstrating an indomitable spirit in the local citizenry that lasted for generations. However, these earthquakes made people more wary, causing them to live on the outskirts of the city, for fear of additional quakes and aftershocks. But they would not leave it.

While self-sufficient Laodicea was unwilling to accept help from Rome, after its first great earthquake, the Philadelphians were willing to receive aid from the Emperor Tiberius. Because of their tremendous gratitude, they actually renamed Philadelphia Neocaesarea, or “New Caesar.”

The comparisons here are obvious. Modern Philadelphians have suffered multiple spiritual earthquakes, but they have never given up and quit. The total destruction of the Worldwide Church of God, as God’s Church, is a good parallel to the A.D. 17 earthquake, but both the modern brethren and the ancient city by this name endured other earthquakes.

It is also interesting that the citizenry of the ancient city, because earthquakes occurred so often, would actually bolt from the city at the slightest sign of a tremor. This is because they were attuned to the environment in which they willingly chose to live.

The famous Greek historian Strabo wrote, “Philadelphia has no trustworthy walls, but daily in one direction or another they keep tottering and falling apart.” It is reported that he questioned the sanity of the local citizenry because they continually wanted to return and rebuild! They are also reported to have been willing to live in makeshift huts on the outskirts of the city rather than abandon it to live elsewhere. Obviously, maintaining an appearance of wealth and prosperity meant little to such people.

Also unlike Laodicea, Philadelphia always rebounded from the earthquakes that struck it over the centuries. As a matter of fact, the city of Philadelphia still exists today. Yet, the long pattern of earthquakes in the area permanently destroyed at least ten cities surrounding it.

Historian Edward Gibbon wrote, “Among the Greek colonies and churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect, a column in a scene of ruin” (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, p. 509). The fact that he also refers to the more significant (than Laodicea) archaeological remnant of ancient Philadelphia standing as a “column” will momentarily take on greater significance.

Fortress City Defending Beliefs and Freedom

Gibbon went on to describe the extraordinary tenacity of the city’s inhabitants: “At a distance from the sea, forgotten by the (Greek) emperor, encompassed on all sides by the Turks, her valiant citizens defended their religion and freedom above fourscore years” (Ibid.).

This is a truly powerful parallel with the modern age. As the book continues to develop, it will be even more clear that, even though surrounded by enemies, modern Philadelphians, like their ancient counterparts, battle to hold on to what they believe. They understand what it means to defend (Phil. 1:17, 27-28) what they have—their “religion [beliefs] and freedom.”

But religion and freedom, for the true Christian, are really one and the same. Here is how Christ defines true freedom—which is the core of true religion: “Then said Jesus…If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

Those who deeply know the full truth of God’s Word see that it is the only real way to be completely free—from bondage to Satan, human nature, the world, confusion, the penalty of sin (with its effects), unnecessary suffering, and so much more.

A City with Five Names

Philadelphia had an interesting history of changing names. A Roman city for over 15 centuries, it fell in A.D. 1392 to the Turks, who renamed it Allah-Sheher, or “City of God.” This in itself is interesting, because it still carries this name—and God still leads its modern counterpart.

However, in addition to Philadelphia, Neocaesarea and Allah-Sheher, the city also expanded its name to Philadelphia Flavia in the first century A.D. About two hundred years later, it was given the name Little Athens, because it fell into widespread idolatry. The parallel with the WCG is unmistakable.

Christ’s promise, in Revelation 3:12, to give spiritual Philadelphians a new name, takes on new meaning: “And I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God.” One more name is all that Philadelphians can expect to receive for eternity. Since the city had to tolerate at least four previous name changes (thus, five names in all), it becomes obvious why Christ would make such a promise!

An Era of Pillars

Gibbon spoke of the entire city as “a column in a scene of ruin.” This is also interesting because Christ describes each Philadelphian as becoming “a pillar in the temple” and that “he shall go no more out” (Rev. 3:12). Philadelphians obviously have had to repeatedly “go out”—of either the ancient city, or the modern organization(s) they once attended, beginning with Mr. Armstrong himself—to save their lives.

It is also interesting that there are many more ruins of ancient Philadelphia still in existence than of Laodicea. One ruin is that of four powerful marble pillars that have survived all of the earthquakes. They stand as extraordinary testimony to the strength and endurance of modern spiritual pillars within Philadelphia.

This, coupled with Christ’s reference to becoming pillars in God’s Temple, are the reasons that our magazine, written for the members of the Church in the spirit of the old Good News, is called The Pillar of the Truth (generally referred to as The Pillar). A point of interest: This is why we carefully thought through the idea of putting a pillar design on the left front of all our books to the splinters (note this book’s cover), beside our seal, which also shows the two enormous pillars of Solomon’s temple (Jachin, meaning “establish,” and Boaz, meaning “strength”).

How many people will eventually choose to become pillars of God’s way in an otherwise “scene of spiritual ruin” today, first in the WCG, and then within the splinters? In this light, recognize that the ancient city of Philadelphia was never very large in population. Despite its age, at over twenty-one centuries, it is still no more than about 40,000 to 45,000 in population. But even more interesting is that, after remaining small for over 2,100 years, the city’s population suddenly doubled to its current size (though still remaining relatively small), beginning early in the twentieth century!

No explanation of this comparison, either to our time or the rise of the Philadelphian age, is necessary!

One other phrase from Gibbon’s quote should be addressed. Apparently, Philadelphians were also discounted—“forgotten by the emperor”—as a cause for concern. At one point, they were permitted to practice their religion without interference for over 80 years. Could this be a modern parallel of how this era will be “forgotten” by the authorities until it is time for God to remove it to safety, possibly because these brethren are eventually expelled by the governments of the countries in which they reside?

It will certainly require extraordinary faith to await how God works this out!

However, the much more pressing concern for those who will receive God’s coming protection is to be sure that they have qualified to be protected.

Chapter Eight – Receiving God’s Approval

Though most have probably never thought of it exactly this way, the greatest goal of a Christian is to build whatever qualities that will ultimately bring him God’s approval so that he can inherit the kingdom of God. What could be more important?

There is, in fact, revealed in God’s Word, a certain spiritual “seal of approval” that every Christian MUST obtain. Specific actions in a person’s conduct confer this approval upon him, and, because God is not a respecter of persons, there are no exceptions to what He expects. Without these actions, the Christian, no matter how sincere, has no hope for salvation.

Consider for a moment. In the context of the coming famine, noisome beasts, the sword and pestilence, foretold to strike modern Israel, the prophet Ezekiel wrote, “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness…” (14:14). Verse 16 reiterates, “Though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered.” Almost verbatim, verses 17-21 repeat this entire passage for emphasis. For those who still care about such blunt warnings, quoted so often in the past, this is chilling to read.

God’s instruction has always been to “work out your own salvation” (Phil. 2:12). Most people are familiar with this scripture, but few any longer seem to take it personally as God intends. This had better change for many—and soon!

A Shocking Survey

Since entering the ministry, I have worked directly with well over 10,000 brethren. This has given me an enormous exposure to and understanding of the spiritual temperature of God’s people. Let me offer one case study for your consideration.

In each of my pastorates, beginning in the 1970s, I asked brethren during a sermon to anonymously answer five very simple questions (on a 3 x 5 card) about how often they were praying, studying and fasting.

The answers were always stunning—more like appalling! Invariably, about 20 percent would not even turn in the card, presumably because their answers were not good. (Some in this category were openly offended that they would even be asked to do this.) Astonishingly, another 20 percent admitted to being virtually zero in all categories. Yet, a third 20 percent prayed and studied only 5-10 minutes a day—on the days that were not zeros! A fourth 20 percent were generally praying enough, but not studying enough, and rarely fasting between Days of Atonement. The last 20 percent (interestingly, about the number surviving the apostasy) were generally praying and studying close to 30 minutes most days. But only about 2 or 3 percent of the total group were reaching or exceeding these numbers every day in both categories, and fasting on a regular basis.

Is it any wonder that 80 percent of the WCG did not survive the apostasy? I knew as early as the late 70s and early 80s, following the liberal years, that most never fully recovered the zeal they may have once had, and that most in the Church were headed for big trouble! While I certainly did not envision just how big that trouble would be, I saw a disturbing lack of use of the most basic Christian tools—tools necessary for any amount of spiritual growth.

Over this same period, I began to monitor what I came to call “The Disappearance of Self-examination,” and there is a sermon under this title on our website, describing this condition in some detail.

All of this forms a backdrop to examine some truly fascinating understanding that every person with the Spirit of God alive today must eventually have an opportunity to learn and address. Those who comprehend what we will now cover will find that it is the only corridor leading out of the dark tunnel of blindness to the spiritual light at the end of the tunnel.

In this chapter, we will walk this corridor step-by-step—scripture-by-scripture—so that you perfectly understand your path from blindness, and learn the rest of what Christ meant when He said, “anoint your eyes…that you may see.”

Grasp this. The importance of this chapter cannot be overstated. No step described can be missed. May God help you comprehend the awesome importance of what you are about to learn!

God’s Word Is a Lamp

Proverbs 6:23 states, “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light.” The Hebrew word for “law” is torah, which literally means “to cause to see the light.” All of us are familiar with the phrase “see the light,” but probably very few know that it springs directly from the word “law.”

The Psalms expand this statement in 119:105: “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” When put together, there is no misunderstanding exactly how God intends His Word to function within our lives.

A New Testament passage expands this equation. But it uses a different way of stating what God’s Word is, and we have referenced it in another chapter: “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). When placed together, God’s Word—the Bible—is revealed to be a lamp of light, identically defined as truth. Before continuing, I urge you to stop and think about what you have just read.

The one thing that blind people do not see is any kind of light. Their world is pitch black!

John records additional important insight into the natural tendency of human nature in every person to actually choose darkness over light, as well as why they do this. Carefully read—and believe—the following verse:

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (3:19-21).

Several points spring from this passage. First, remember that we talked about those who live the truth, as well as love it. Both are essential. Notice the passage above also talks about the one that “does truth.” And recall that everyone who has the “anointing” of God’s “Spirit of truth” continually “purifies himself” (I John 3:3). Are YOU “seeing the light” here?

This process describes the one who regularly “comes to the light”—“the word of truth”—so that he can examine his “deeds,” to be able to see whether they are “wrought in God.” In other words, is he conducting himself like a Christian? Is his life filled with God’s Spirit and true doctrine—particularly as it relates to becoming pure? Does his life reflect Christ’s conduct? Is he growing in character? Only intense study of God’s Word reveals this.

It is most interesting that during the Days of Unleavened Bread, God instructs Christians to “purge out” leaven before eating the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Cor. 5:7-8). You are about to see that there is much more here than what the surface suggests, and it relates specifically to “anointing your eyes.”

The Greek word for “sincerity” is fascinating. It means “examine by the sun’s light and to be found pure.” It is also most interesting that God links sincerity, carrying this meaning, with truth, and that purging (the process of making pure) is involved. How this happens will soon become more clear.

Next, back in John 3, the word translated “reproved,” is better translated “discovered.” Many Bible margins carry this word. Let’s state this plainly so that none can miss it. Most people will not come to the light of God’s Word because they do not want their conduct to be discovered—exposed!—for what it is! They would rather remain in darkness, unable to see where they are going, than to admit they need to make changes in their lives. Read it again.

Also, if they are not living the truth, this contributes to their nakedness. Of course, some, having at least partially discovered that their conduct is sorely lacking, want to hide from the light. Obviously, not many people are eager to prance around naked in public. Sadly, however, they find it easier to turn out the light (avoid God’s Word) than to put clothes on!

Could this be you? Take very methodical inventory, and continue to do this as you read. Honestly recognize this powerful pull at work within you—honestly admit that you are naturally no different from anyone else.

There is much more to understand. Let’s watch the complete—and truly fascinating—picture slowly emerge!

Washing to Become Clean

In the Psalms, David recorded another critical element of what the purification process is intended to yield. After his sin with Bathsheba and subsequent conspiracy to murder Uriah, he opens Psalm 51 by humbly asking for God’s mercy.

In verse 2, David cried out to God, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Verse 7 introduces one more element: “purge me with hyssop [an ancient herbal remedy used to purify], and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Finally, he asks, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me…and take not Your Holy Spirit from me” (vs. 10-11).

Because he was in such a terrible spiritual condition, as a result of massive sin, the Spirit of God was waning in David, and he knew he was in danger of losing it. He knew that God might proceed to withdraw what little was left, if he did not repent. Every converted person should take note. If this could happen to David—and we will later see that Paul also held the same concern about himself—it could happen to you! In fact, if you do not return to God’s Church, it WILL!

These verses link cleansing and washing to purgingpurifying oneself with God’s help. But how does God say to do this?

In Ephesians 5, Paul describes how husbands are to love their wives “as Christ also loved the Church” (vs. 25). Verse 26 continues, explaining the overall goal, “That He might sanctify [God’s Word of truth sanctifies us – John 17:17] and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word [the word of truth].”

The Williams translation renders this best: “…cleaning her through His Word, as pictured in the water bath.”

This passage introduces the element of corrective Bible study directly into the purifying, washing, cleansing and sanctifying process—core to everything a Christian is to practice!

Is it any wonder then that just before His betrayal and crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “Now you are clean through the Word which I have spoken” (John 15:3)? This verse should now come to life for its real meaning.

But there is still much more to understand!

Correction and Truth

In II Timothy 3:16, sandwiched in the middle of a long passage about continuing in sound doctrine, Paul explained that one of the four purposes of Bible study is “correction.” This is translated from the Greek word epanorthosis, meaning “a straightening up again, rectification, correction.”

The root of this word is used in medicine. Orthopedics—doctors who work with bones, connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, cartilage, etc.) and general body structure—derive their name from this Greek word because they understand its connection to proper alignment and skeletal function. These physicians are skilled in recognizing and addressing posture problems—where a person is no longer physically straight. They understand that it often takes surgery to “correct” the problem, sometimes major surgery.

It should be obvious that Laodiceans do require major surgery, which Christ is willing to perform—if they will come to Him having done their part in preparation.

Jeremiah 5:3 and 7:28 connect accepting or rejecting correction to the production of truth in one’s life. Take time to read them carefully.

“Show Yourself Approved”

We are now ready to examine a crucial scripture, launching any who want God’s correction much further toward the light and full vision at the end of the tunnel. Probably once part of the scriptural vocabulary of nearly every member of God’s Church, it is one of the most important passages cited in the book!

Paul wrote Timothy, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).

Three huge and interconnected points spring from this single scripture. Each is profound:

(1) Bible study, done properly, leads to being “approved of God.”

(2) Those who do this “need not to be ashamed.”

(3) They must “rightly divide the word of truth.”

This passage almost explodes with meaning. First, the Greek word for “approved” is dokimos. Its meaning is fascinating, and vastly more important than most (of those few who even know of it) have realized. It is the central window into what Christ means by “anoint your eyes.” Dokimos means, literally, “to put to the test by trial in order to produce truth and genuineness; without alloy.” This word has powerful meaning, and once again connects truth and purity, this time to a kind of intensive Bible study—the kind that “rightly divides the Word of truth.”

This process is the key to being approved of God. Of course, those who study, but who cannot rightly divide the Bible, or those who do not study at all, will not be approved of God—and they will be ashamed!

Do you see the connection to Revelation 3:18—“buying gold tried in the fire”? By now, it should be impossible to miss. Recall that Christ said Laodiceans should be ashamed, because they are naked. How are they naked? Remember, they do not have their private parts—their “loins”—“girded with truth” (Eph. 6:14). It is the Spirit of truth that guides “rightly dividing” God’s Word of truth.

We will come to understand that II Timothy 2:15 is saying that when you study the Bible, it should be a trial—and this means a fiery trial if done properly. This is its message. You should be putting yourself to the test, to the end that truth and genuineness (purity, sincerity) result—gold without alloy.

No wonder Christ also taught in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). This is exciting understanding—and I hope you find its clarity of meaning inspiring! The connection to purity—and the ability to see God—should now be unmistakably clear. And so should be its tie to always pursuing truth. Grasp that Laodiceans also cannot see God, including how and, until they return to His Church, even where He works.

But there is still more!

The Key Within “Dokimos”

Let’s briefly return to the Days of Unleavened Bread, this time focusing on what should always be done before Passover. I Corinthians 11 contains two statements that shed more light on precisely how to apply dokimos in our lives.

Before Christians may take the Passover, Paul instructed, “But let a man examine himself…” (vs. 28) so that he did not eat “unworthily.” The Greek for “examine” here is dokimazo, from the same root as dokimos. This shows that God intends the pre-Passover examination to be far more intensive than most have probably ever recognized. It also means that without this kind of examination, one is not even approved by God to take the Passover.

This examination is that vital! Did you know this?

Something else is important from earlier in this chapter, where Paul had previously used the word dokimos. It is tied directly to discerning truth from heresy—true doctrines from false ones. Notice: “I hear that there be divisions among you…For there must be also heresies”—WHY?—“that they which are approved [dokimos] may be made manifest [obvious] among you” (vs. 18-19).

Now think hard about this. Only when people are swept away by false doctrine, obviously because they were not “studying” and “rightly dividing the word of truth” as they should (and also because the amount of God’s Spirit in them was diminishing) do those who are practicing, believing and living the truth become immediately obvious (“manifest”) for what they are—“approved of God.”

Why? Because they are not swept away by the heresies. They can RESIST because they are pure in truth, and this necessarily includes having an abundance of the power of the Spirit of truth. They are able to avoid the “shame” of being “caught with their pants down” (naked) like those who got pulled into error and lost their clothes.

GRASP THIS!

Intensive, corrective Bible study, crying out to God to wash and clean you up, is much more vital than the blind of today want to believe! Let’s face it. Most brethren never have, and still do not, study very much—let alone intensively. They allow the “care of the world” (Matt. 13:22) to daily steal their time. Diligent, in-depth dokimos Bible study is necessary to return to true doctrine.

Will you make time for this?

Two Levels of Examination Required

In II Corinthians 13:5, Paul stated, “examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?” We will examine each key word here.

We first focus here on the meaning of “reprobate.” Understanding this is central because it is the ultimate by-product of ignoring or misapplying this verse. Let’s strip away the mystery. The Greek word for reprobate is adokimos—and it simply means “unapproved.” Of course, unapproved is the opposite of approved.

Now for more insight. This verse actually describes two different levels of self-examination. One is summarized by “examine”—the other by “prove.” This is most interesting to understand.

Surprisingly, though dokimazo is found in this verse, it is not the word translated “examine,” which comes from the Greek word peirazo, meaning instead, “to test, endeavor or scrutinize.” This is the less intense personal examination that some are willing to do. Of course, many will not even do this much. But those who do must recognize that this passage shows peirazo to be merely the beginning point for proper, thorough examination—the starting point of determining whether one is “in the faith.”

Interestingly, the word dokimazo here is translated “prove.” It is not enough that a Christian just examines (scrutinizes) himself. He must also go on to the more fiery level of intense examination, yielding “proof” of his conversion, character, purity and truth!

Understand! This verse commands God’s people to perform both kinds of examination, and here is the point: Those who will not do these cannot even discern whether they are Christians—whether “Christ [the Spirit of truth] is in you” or whether they are “reprobates”—unapproved!

This is a truly pitiful condition for anyone to fall into.

Can you now begin to see why half of the Laodiceans are so far gone spiritually that they eventually fall away completely? Their problem is coming clearer.

Now notice that the greater context in II Corinthians 13 concludes with verse 8, which connects the process to being either “against the truth” or “for the truth.” (Take note that dokimos—“approved”—is also found in verse 7.)

Is your thinking being expanded? Do you see the vital role of God’s truth here? Be sure you are periodically stopping long enough to ponder key words and phrases.

The context in chapter 13 is discussing how some in Corinth were challenging Paul—actually questioning whether he was “approved” (vs. 6-7). In this light, it is important to note that five chapters earlier (8:8), Paul told the Corinthians that he was seeking to “prove the sincerity of your [their] love”—not his own in the matter. In that passage, dokimos (“prove”) is again tied to sincerity—and love (the fulfilling of God’s Law, His light).

However, a fascinating passage comes to light here concerning Paul—and ultimately us. In his first epistle to Corinth, Paul had expressed concern that even he could become a “castaway” and lose salvation. He wrote, “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (9:27).

The Greek word translated “castaway” is adokimos. Like David in Psalm 51, Paul was himself concerned about, and remained vigilant toward, his own spiritual condition, and whether even he, as an apostle, could be unapproved in God’s sight.

The point should be obvious—and hit you with the force of a loaded Mack truck. If even apostles, and converted kings, need to be concerned about approval from God, then what about you? Will you be cavalier—largely uninterested—about what Paul beat his body to avoid?—what David cried out to God about?

What Most Never Did!

Recognize this. There are two and only two categories of human beings on planet earth—the dokimos and the adokimos—the APPROVED and the UNAPPROVED!

All of this makes it easier to understand why Paul also told most of the other congregations he wrote to apply “dokimos” to their conversion. He admonished the Galatians this way: “Let every man prove [dokimazo] his own work” (6:4). Paul made no exceptions with them—“EVERY man” should do this.

He also similarly exhorted the Thessalonians. Recall how we saw that most in the Church never took the time to “prove all things,” and therefore have not been able to “hold fast that which is good” (I Thes. 5:21).

You guessed it! The word “prove” there is also dokimazo. This should hit you with the force of a thunderbolt accompanied by the noise of a bomb blast!

How many people do you think proved God’s truth early in their calling at this level of fiery Bible study? Surely not many! No wonder so many scores of thousands fell away. At best, a few tens of thousands seem to have applied peirazo, while only a tiny number ever went on to practice dokimos. Pause and reread the last sentence before continuing.

I want to offer a personal side note. It was this very kind of Bible study that reinforced in my thinking all of the understanding recorded in this book. In addition, rewriting all of Mr. Armstrong’s literature, in just 4½ years (when he had 52 years to write it)—actually well over twice as much overall—was one of the most incredibly intense processes of restudying the truth probably ever attempted before now, at least in the same way I had to do this over such a short period. This is not said to brag, but rather to try to explain what I was forced to do because no other minister was sent to help me. In another sense, this endeavor—this “dokimos experience”—actually lasted over ten years, from the time I was first fired from the WCG in early 1993. I could never forget its value!

You can do the same thing. It is not too late to dig in and prove now what you should have proven earlier. But you must consciously decide to do it.

I cannot make this any plainer. I am literally trying to shout in your ears with all the force that I can muster—because it is not yet too late to do this. A little bit of time remains before the Great Tribulation, when it will be too late to avoid the second kind of fire that a loving God has reserved for those who lack “ears to hear” and “eyes to see” what He commands them to do NOW!

The Restored Church of God has reproduced the entire body of God’s truth in writing. If you no longer have Mr. Armstrong’s books, booklets and articles, and the other literature that contained the truth, to help you do this (many threw them away in the early 90s when Pasadena directed them to), use ours, freely available on our website. We are honored to be of assistance in your effort, and hope that any who need additional help in this pursuit will just ask.

For reference, my exhaustive book There Came a Falling Away details and proves 280 WCG doctrinal changes, and it can be very helpful in your research.

Drawing Near to God

James wrote, “But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (1:22). He went on to compare the “hearers only” to those who use a mirror to successfully identify their spiritual problems, only to then immediately ignore their findings. These are called “forgetful hearers.” Verse 25 describes those who “look into the perfect law of liberty” and follow it with action.

This takes us to Hebrews 10, which expands on how to take action: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (vs. 22).

Only God can forgive our sins and help us to properly use His scriptural “pure water” to get “our bodies washed.” Notice that the verse begins, “Let us draw near…” This means we draw near to God through studying His Word and through fervent prayer. It is no accident then that the very next verse instructs, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised).” And this is in turn followed three verses later with “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (vs. 23, 26-27).

Do not misunderstand! All of this is most serious to God! He is indignant when people trample His revealed doctrinal truth, and considers those who take it lightly to be His adversaries. All brethren and ministers—and Paul’s warning is to everyone with the Holy Spirit at the end of the age (vs. 25)—ought to fear and tremble at such a terrifying thought!

May God help all who read this to hold fast to every part of the truth and escape His fiery anger!

Now let’s return to James’ epistle, where an extraordinary biblical promise is found. It is introduced with “God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God…” (4:6-7). Notice that the vital first key paving the return to closeness with God is once again seen to be humility. This is because pride brings—in fact, triggers—God’s resistance. It becomes more clear that donning the humility garment early, referenced previously, grows even bigger in importance in the recovery process.

Now for the promise: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (vs. 8).

Do not miss this. When we “draw near to God,” He promises to reciprocate—always. He has bound Himself to do this—IF we also “cleanse” ourselves from sin (and we have seen that He even helps with this), now understood to happen through extremely intense Bible study, rightly dividing the word of truth—but also guided by the renewed and increased Holy Spirit at work in the mind. Verse 9 continues by adding, “Be afflicted [this means to fast!], and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness,” when circumstances demand this. In fact, most Christians at the end of the age are faced with exactly these circumstances!

Ask yourself: How many times have you been concerned enough about your condition to fast solely for the purpose of discovering whether you have unknowingly become Laodicean?

In a moment, we will see a fascinating connection between dokimos and the much closer contact with God that results.

Getting Started

It has been said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Where does this journey begin? The answer is to honestly admit where you are today.

Proverbs 16:2 states, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weighs the spirits [attitudes].” Accept this scripture for what it reveals. All human beings were born naturally believing that everything they do is “clean.” Proverbs 21:2 repeats the same thing, except that it uses the word “right” in place of “clean.” The meaning is the same in both scriptures. (Proverbs 12:15 specifically ties this thinking to foolishness.)

The natural human approach—yours, too—is a far cry from David’s request that God “wash,” “clean” and “purge” him (Psa. 51).

These are the choices: Declare yourself “clean and right in your own eyes,” or ask God, who weighs attitudes, to cleanse you, truly making you right.

Since being “approved of God”—not “approved of ourselves”—is the goal, we must go to God, seeking correction from His inspired Word, so that we can be brought back to truth and purity. The process begins—is initiated—when we admit that we are not “clean” before God.

I ask yet again: Are you able to see the most crucial element of humility as the very first garment that you must “put on” to reach your goal?

Another important scripture, the last one using dokimos, bears directly on how some approve themselves—when they should seek God’s approval. (It was cited at the book’s outset.)

Notice the standard once again: “For not he that commends himself is approved [dokimos], but whom the Lord commends” (II Cor. 10:18). The word “commends” means literally “stands near, set together.” That is right. God truly does “stand near”—is “set together” with—those HE approves! Remember that this is what Christ promises to do—to “[sit] together”—with all those who allow Him to enter their home for counseling over a meal (Rev. 3:20).

How marvelous to watch God’s “living” Word (Heb. 4:12) fit together like a giant puzzle, revealing a magnificent picture, only clear when all the pieces are in place!

Do not misunderstand what you have read. God’s approval, and His alone, is what matters. You cannot play games of self-deception, declaring yourself approved by simple assertion. You must be willing to come through fire to the purity and truth that God requires! (This will also by itself lead one back to God’s Church.)

Three Fires: Choose One

I Corinthians 3 introduces one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle, absolutely inseparable from the process we are learning. You must grasp how God builds character, and brings people to truth and purity. Remember, studying for correction— doctrinal or otherwise—always becomes a fiery trial.

The passage begins by introducing the different kinds of character that people build: “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble…” (vs. 12). Three of these materials—likened to character—endure, and are actually purified through fire, while the other three are consumed by it.

Now notice what God says literally “tests the metal” (or precious stones) of every man’s character: “Every man’s work shall be made manifest [obvious]: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (vs. 13).

Christian development involves many “fiery trials.” (I Peter 4:12 states this.) In a sense, I Corinthians 3 reveals that the entire Christian experience is one long “trial by fire,” which we have seen is inseparable from the meaning and ongoing practice of dokimos. Recall that this is the kind of trial that “produces truth and genuineness—without alloy.” The only way to remove alloys (false teachings and wrong or false conduct) connected with metals that are not pure—not the genuine article—is through extreme heat in a furnace of fire! These must be burned away.

Now read how righteous character, depicted by gold, silver and precious stones, purified through fire, brings God’s reward: “If any man’s work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward” (vs. 14). On the other hand, wood, hay and stubble will not survive fire, of even much of the lowest intensity of added heat: “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (vs. 15).

Those whose character is depleted to the point that some of their work must be “burned,” meaning they “suffer loss,” may still be saved, but this can only happen “as by fire.” Understand that significant character loss could mean that salvation may also be lost.

This section references and describes three fires. Every human being—past, present and future—must, with no exceptions, choose one of these three fires.

First, there are those who choose to examine themselves by studying God’s Word in such an intensive, corrective fashion, seeking to grow in purity and truth, that God likens this to a trial by fire. These are approved. (Remember, this is not the other, lesser—non-fire—type of peirazo examination that only involves “testing at the level of scrutiny.”)

Second, are those whose lukewarmness and inaction now, because they will not enter the dokimos level of fiery trial, through study and prayer, including asking for much more of God’s Spirit, will require God to put them through the worst fire of all time—the coming Tribulation. Of course, we have seen that, like the six materials above, one-half of those who enter the Tribulation will “suffer loss,” but will be saved “as by fire.”

Third, as with those who do not spiritually survive the Great Tribulation, some will ultimately choose the lake of fire as their final “reward.”

At this juncture, recall that Christ specifically counsels Laodicea “to buy of me gold tried in the fire…” He explains that only this would produce the “white raiment” necessary to clothe the “shame of [their] nakedness.” Some of Laodicea will humbly accept and apply Christ’s counsel before the Tribulation. Others will delay the process (but having returned to God’s Church) and be forced to do it during the Tribulation. In other words, some will choose fire now and some will choose fire later—and, tragically, some will choose the lake of fire much later. (This is true of the other half of Laodiceans who, out of foolishness, fear and weakness, will completely corrupt their character—quench God’s Spirit—and give up the truth entirely—to temporarily save their physical lives!)

Like the old Fram Oil Filter television commercial, in which the customer is told, “You can pay me now or pay me later,” you can repent now and avoid the Tribulation, or repent later IN IT. While you can still be saved at that point, is this the path you wish to travel? That fire will be most real—even to those now blindly believing that “Accidents only happen to others.”

Understand! There are no categories other than dokimos fire now, Tribulation fire later—or the lake of fire much later!

Mr. Armstrong Understood

Mr. Armstrong understood more about the interconnection of scriptures and principles explained here than you may think. Let’s examine just a little of what he said about the importance of proper Bible study and crying out to God to wash and cleanse us within this type of corrective study. It prepares you for the rest of the chapter.

The first quote is repeated from an earlier section. This is because it particularly applies here. Having come to understand the vital meaning behind “dokimos”—being approved of God—reread it with yourself in mind (all emphasis his):

“When we face a serious or alarming situation, there is…a tendency toward LETTING DOWN IN PRAYER—in BIBLE STUDY, and consequently in that zeal and willingness to sacrifice for GOD’S WORK.”

“Do you suppose Satan does not know all this? He knows! He will do all in his power to get you discouraged to get you to find some fault—to let down in prayer and Bible study—to lose your inspired zeal for God’s Work!”

“I KNOW that most of us have not, yet, come back to that full WHOLEHEARTED energetic ZEAL for GETTING ON WITH THIS WORK that we MUST have to finish it!”

“Looking at present FACTS, and TRENDS, that might seem impossible! But this is THE WORK OF GOD—A WORK OF FAITH—and existing facts, trends, circumstances, HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH FAITH. The living Christ has resources, and ways WE KNOW NOTHING OF!”

“And whereas, it is incumbent on us…to CONFESS and deplore…our SINS in allowing worldly interests and pleasures to start drawing us away from our God, and our zeal for HIS WORK, I call on all Brethren to CONFESS this lukewarmness…and to PRAY, with all FERVENCY and CONTRITION, for God’s pardon for these offenses, and for a permanent BLESSING on HIS WORK henceforth, continuously to its final completion.”

“Brethren, many if not most of us have let other interests creep into our minds and hearts till we do not have ANYWHERE NEAR the ZEAL for the GREATEST WORK ON EARTH, that the football players have for a football game.”

“WHY can football players get themselves ‘UP’ in almost fanatical ZEAL, motivated by HATE, when we are indifferent, ‘DOWN,’ and lukewarm about the MOST IMPORTANT AND GLORIOUS CALLING OF ALL TIME?”

“…Christ is doing his part—opening new doors. Only one thing has been wrong!—and we must face it!—too many of us have been growing lukewarm …”

“We may think, because we keep [God’s] Sabbath, that we have no wicked ways or sins to turn from. But laxity…can be sin.”

Brethren Letter, Nov. 2, 1972

“Now this tribulation [mentioned in Matt. 24:9] did actually occur, in the typical forerunner sense, to the nation Judah, in 70 a.d. But that was merely the early type, and forerunner of the great national invasion and captivity yet to occur.”

“[Matt. 24:10-13, 21]: ‘And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved…For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be…’

“Now this is also speaking individually of truly Spirit-begotten christians who have become so lukewarm, so out of prayerful contact with God, that they will not be accounted worthy to escape all these things. And that phase of this Great Tribulation is very clearly brought out in the opening of the 5th Seal of Rev. 6…”

The Book of Revelation Unveiled At Last (1972)

The next and final quote from Mr. Armstrong (also repeated) sets the stage for absolutely vital understanding that both concludes this chapter and caps the connection between effective Bible study, seeing through false doctrine, the amount of God’s Spirit that one has, and anointing one’s eyes. All the parentheticals are his—read carefully his words.

Now notice:

Matthew 25 shows the time just before Christ shall return. It pictures the Laodicean Church as 10 virgins who took their lamps (their Bibles) and went forth to meet Christ at His coming. But five of them—half of the Church—took their lamps (Bibles) but without oil to light the lamps (having the Holy Spirit to enlighten their minds to UNDERSTAND the Bible). Some translations render this into English indicating they were losing the Holy Spirit, because of negligence, lack of prayer, fellowship with the brethren and with God and Christ and being overcome with materialistic and worldly interest. Are some of us like that, even now?”

“While they—the backsliding half of the Church—were trying to get back closer to God, the coming of Christ shall take place, and the door into God’s Kingdom will be SHUT in their faces! WHAT A TERRIBLE AND AWFUL TRAGEDY! It could happen to you or me.”

Co-worker Letter, Jan. 20, 1981

The first paragraph in Mr. Armstrong’s statement reiterates that the “lamps” and “oil” of Matthew 25 are, in fact, the Bible and the Spirit of God, in this case, barely at work in the wise virgins’ lives. Remember, the foolish virgins took “no oil” in their lamps, so obviously then the lamps had “gone out,” as it says. “Gone out” in the Greek means “to extinguish.”

Keep this foremost in your thinking.

This central question must be asked at this point, and it is all-important to the whole process of anointing one’s eyes: How could those who once knew the truth so completely lose sight of it? What was actually happening within their minds? The correct answer lies in understanding exactly—precisely—what real conversion is!

Another Look at What Enters Upon Begettal

Let’s remain basic, and begin with some simple review. We saw earlier that the Bible reveals that a true Christian is actually begotten at conversion with what James called the “word of truth” (1:18). We also saw that Christ called this the “Spirit of truth” in John (15:26; 16:13), and that Peter identified both of these terms as another way of referencing and describing the “Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38), given after repentance and baptism.

The latter passage referenced in John (16:13) reveals that it is through the all-important Holy Spirit—again, the Spirit, or Word, of truth—that the Christian, as Jesus explained, is “guide[d]…into all truth.” The meaning here is absolutely vital to grasp. To comprehend what Jesus meant, we must examine another series of scriptures in careful sequence.

First, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that His true followers would be those who build their “houses” on His “sayings”—meaning on His words. When He instructed them to build on a “rock,” and that this would protect them from “rain,” “floods,” and “winds” (Matt. 7:24-28), this is what He intended they do.

Put another way, when new converts speak of building on Christ, they should actually be thinking of building on His instruction—His truth—building as one who “hears these sayings of Mine, and does them” (vs. 24).

Next, let’s revisit the middle of John 8, where the context is Christ speaking to those who “believed on Him” (vs. 30). Recognizing their unseen murderous attitude, and realizing they did not really care about His teachings, but had rather merely assumed that they were His followers, He explained to these empty “believers” that His disciples (Greek: students, learners or pupils) are only identified as true Christians “if [they] continue in My word, then are [they] My disciples indeed; and [they] shall know the truth, and the truth shall make [them] free” (vs. 31-32).

Let’s continue further. Earlier in John, Jesus had explained to His disciples that He was “the Bread that came down from heaven that a man may eat thereof, and not die” and that that man “shall live forever” (6:50-51). In verse 63, He explained what He meant: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

This is an extraordinary statement, and most have absolutely no idea what Jesus meant by it, or once knew and have forgotten it!

A Living Book

We must understand. Unlike any other book ever written, the Bible is, in a sense, alive—remember, Paul calls it “quick” in Hebrews 4:12. In other words, the Bible is a living book. Those who study it must understand this, and that studying it is different than studying any work of men. When the Holy Spirit is at work inside a person, it is writing God’s words—His law—His truth—inside that person’s mind. This means that without this Spirit at work during Bible study there is no hope of achieving proper understanding. Further, for those who do have the Holy Spirit, but only a small amount at work in their minds, “another spirit” (II Cor. 11:4)—the “spirit of error” (I John 4:6)—can easily—and quickly!—corrupt the study and result in wrong conclusions! In fact, this is what always happens.

Even those who are at the stage of just being “drawn” to Christ, not yet converted, have the Holy Spirit at work “with” them (not yet “in” them), making initial understanding possible. (Take a moment to recall and read John 6:44 and 65, followed by John 14:17.) In fact, you literally cannot understand any of the points that I am explaining here if God, through His Spirit, is not either working with you—drawing you—or, if you are converted, in you (I Cor. 2:13-14).

Let’s return to Hebrews 4:12 because it also directly introduces a related point. God’s inspired, living Word is revealed to be a kind of “sword.” Notice: “For the word of God is quick [living], and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit…and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

But what exactly is Paul speaking of?—how is this sword more fully defined? This is answered in Ephesians 6, referenced several times previously, about the armor of God—“helmet of salvation,” “breastplate of righteousness,” “loins girded with truth,” etc. Notice this piece of the armor: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day…and take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (vs. 13, 17).

This is truly crucial understanding to every Bible student seeking to faithfully use God’s Word. You simply must not miss this if you hope to understand Scripture—or to recapture truths lost. The Bible is a living, Spirit sword, and this sword will cut every false doctrine to pieces, slicing with both sides—“two edges”—but this is only true IF the one wielding it has a large measure of the Holy Spirit!

For centuries, millions, even billions, in the world have studied the Bible—often diligently—yet without comprehension. Now you more fully understand why! Their minds lack the Spirit Word of truth. The Bible’s readers have no chance for spiritual understanding. But one who is low on God’s Spirit is only a little better off.

Anointed with Oil at Conversion

Finally, before leaving the subject of conversion, let’s look at one more related point, connected through several additional passages.

We saw in Chapter 6 that receiving God’s Holy Spirit is an “anointing” (I John 2:27). Of course, again, anointings are always done with oil, and we will return to what this means momentarily. Before continuing, recall that the entire first epistle of John repeatedly established the importance of holding to the truth.