Referenced in the introduction, a new question has arisen in most of the splinters, particularly the larger ones: Just what is the gospel? Is the role of Jesus Christ separate from or part of the gospel? Do those claiming to fulfill the Great Commission still teach the correct gospel?—and why does one large organization now list within its mission to actively “witness for Jesus”? Is healing part of Christ’s gospel? Do the splinters still understand the Great Commission given to the Church? Is the subject of the gospel separate from who warns Israel? What did Mr. Armstrong teach?
All these questions and more require that this section be the longest in the book. In fact, the subject commands two chapters, and beyond.
It is hard to believe that confusion over the most central and fundamental doctrine and understanding in God’s Word could have arisen, but it has. Most today, having been conditioned to believe the apostates’ “gospel,” which focuses exclusively on the personage of a “Jesus,” have merged the role of what is (when correctly understood) a different Jesus with the kingdom of God, creating a new kind of hybrid “gospel.” In most cases, because this has been subtle, it has been missed by God’s people. (Of course, some have noticed but do not care.) This fogged thinking is now also developing among those who form the growing “evangelical wing” of the smaller splinters, briefly referenced at the book’s outset. But the large splinters have also moved much closer to a focus on the “messenger,” with his “message” increasingly subordinate to this new priority. Again, some of these now also actively “witness” for their “messenger.”
It is important to take significant extra time to make perfectly clear the distinction between the role of the true Jesus Christ and what is the correct gospel. Much more is at stake here than meets the eye—and most in the splinters are now being badly fooled on this very centerpiece of the entire Bible! It is critical that the reader understands how all of this is connected to where and with whom you should be found doing the Work. It is also enormously important to see how this wrong approach has permitted a kind of creeping indoctrination in, and involvement with, the popular “social gospel” and “another Jesus” of the world’s churches.
As I have decried the false gospel circulating in the splinters, the subject of the gospel has become a hotly contested, much more serious issue to those teaching various errors. This has meant my coming under direct attack for defending the Bible and Mr. Armstrong regarding this truth.
The apostle Paul declared, “I am set for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:17) and he admonished all future generations of the Church to “strive together for the faith of the gospel” being “in nothing terrified by your adversaries” (vs. 27-28)!
This becomes instruction for me—and you!—and should be received as a veritable command to every true minister alive today. I, too, am set to defend what hundreds of ministers seem to no longer even understand, let alone defend!—and I do this without apology in the pages ahead. I am certainly not “terrified” of being attacked for exposing the false leaders who are in plain violation of what Mr. Armstrong taught and of all that is written here. They will not like what comes next.
Study carefully everything in these two chapters. They are of near incalculable importance to your life—and your salvation!
Only the Kingdom of God!
The New Testament is most plain about the true gospel, and prior to the apostasy all of God’s people were very clear on this. Literally, in scores of scriptures, the gospel is referenced—explicitly defined!—as “the kingdom of God,” “the kingdom,” “the kingdom of Christ and of God” or “the kingdom of [not in] heaven.” Nowhere, and in no sense, is the gospel described as involving “Jesus,” “Christ” or “Jesus Christ”—and not one of the over 10,000 people I worked with, either in the Worldwide Church of God or in the years after, over a 30-year period, asked about this or evidenced confusion about it! Nor did I ever even hear of one WCG pastor having to address this as a local problem. Never mind the idea of whether the Church should witness—profess!—Jesus to all nations.
These “kingdom” phrases are consistent with what Mr. Armstrong taught throughout his 52-year ministry. And you have noticed in his statements throughout this book so far that not once did he reference Jesus as part of the gospel—not once! Neither did he in his booklet What Is the True Gospel? I would challenge the reader to find even one book, booklet, article, letter or sermon in which Mr. Armstrong EVER even suggested—or speculated—that the Person of Jesus Christ was part of the gospel. (Also, the original correspondence course certainly never taught this.) There is good reason for this and, in fact, he both taught and stressed precisely the opposite. (Those claiming he privately believed or spoke otherwise are plain liars!) You will see this momentarily within the avalanche of proof about to be offered.
Of course, Mr. Armstrong thoroughly understood every one of Jesus’ roles as Savior, High Priest, Captain of our Salvation, Apostle and Great Shepherd, as well as all of His future titles and roles. And he knew when and where—in what context—to stress these. He was neither “obsessed with the kingdom message” (as some claim), nor ignorant of the need to stress the vital roles of the true Christ of the Bible in a Christian’s life. And those who are aware of the full picture of all that he preached witnessed this!
The majority of ministers and professing Christians of the world have tried to say “the gospel of Christ” is a gospel about Christ. So many in the splinters have forgotten they once knew otherwise. This thinking is both false and ignorant—because “of” merely connotes possession. This is basic English grammar. As the kingdom of God is God’s kingdom, so the gospel of Christ is Christ’s gospel. The message about the kingdom of God is Jesus’ gospel—and this is all most basic past understanding.
How could so many forget it? How could so many so easily be pulled back into what they repudiated when God called them?
Mr. Armstrong Makes Plain
Mr. Armstrong was absolutely emphatic on the enormous difference between the Messenger—Jesus Christ—and the Message He brought—the kingdom of God (the future, world-ruling supergovernment under the God Family).
Most brethren today simply do not understand the tremendous—the supreme!—importance of understanding and believing the correct gospel. They have forgotten what should have been impossible to forget—and this is only part of the mass amnesia connected to the many elements of the Work of God that will be discussed later. They should have remembered bedrock statements such as the one that follows.
Here is how Mr. Armstrong opened his booklet on the subject of the true gospel. The subhead within it is his:
“Why should there be such perplexity—such confusion—in every phase of life today? It should be the function of religion to point the way. Yet here, too, we find only confusion of tongues—hundreds of religious denominations and sects, in a Babylon of disagreement.
“Even in the professing Christian religion of the Western world, we find different sects and denominations preaching a variety of different Gospels! Some designate their gospel as ‘The Gospel of Jesus Christ.’ Others call their gospel ‘The Gospel of Salvation.’ Still others profess ‘The Gospel of Grace,’ some ‘The Gospel of the Kingdom.’ And many now blossom out with a modern ‘Social Gospel,’ while others call their gospel ‘The Israel Message.’
“Why have they lost the only true Gospel which God sent by Jesus Christ? Why?
How Many Gospels Are There?
“Does it make any difference which Gospel we believe? Listen to the answer of the Eternal God as inspired in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, the first chapter, the 8th and 9th verses:
“‘But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.’ And it is made a double curse! For the next verse says: ‘...So say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed’!
“Why, then, has the world lost sight of that Gospel? Why do people believe different gospels today?
“This is an astounding, incredible situation! It ought to shake you out of passive indifference. Your eternity is at stake! This is not a nonconsequential, unimportant matter!
“Jesus Christ said it is necessary to believe the Gospel to be saved! Yet the many—the hundreds of millions—today, do not know what that Gospel is! Again, His parting commission to His apostles, being sent out as His ministers to build His Church, was this: ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel.’ They were to preach the Gospel.
“Jesus then said: ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned’ (Mark 16:16). Notice! Jesus said, He that believeth. Believeth what? Why, believeth that which they preached, of course—the Gospel! Not a gospel. Not any gospel. The Gospel! On the authority of Jesus Christ, it is necessary to believe that precise identical Gospel in order to be saved! And to believe the true Gospel, we must first come to know what it is!”
What is the TRUE GOSPEL?, pp. 3-4
Did you realize—have you remembered?—that a person, any person—this includes you!—cannot receive salvation unless he believes the one correct gospel—and this means “that precise identical Gospel”?
What could be more important? What words could Mr. Armstrong have chosen to crash louder on the ears of his listeners? Make yourself grasp and remember his warning!
What then did Mr. Armstrong teach was the correct gospel? Beginning with this quote, let’s hear it in his own words from a later portion of his booklet that appeared under the subhead “Kingdom of God to Be Preached TODAY”:
“Yes, Jesus proclaimed and taught the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. But did He command His ministers, in building His Church, to preach this same Gospel? Quickly let us notice the Scriptures.
“Luke 9:1-2: ‘Then he called his twelve disciples together...and he sent them to preach the kingdom of God.’
“Luke 10:1, 2, 9: ‘After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them...heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.’
“In Jesus’ prayer, so commonly called ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ He prayed, ‘Thy Kingdom come’— then it wasn’t here yet, and it isn’t here yet, today—but He taught us to pray for it to come, for His Kingdom and that alone shall bring peace and happiness to this sin-sick, war-weary earth! ‘Thy Kingdom come—thy will, be done on earth, as it is in heaven.’ The Father’s will.
“What Gospel did the early evangelists preach, in first sending out the faith once delivered? How did the early Church carry out the commission?
“Notice Philip preaching at Samaria! Acts 8:12: ‘But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.’ Philip preached the things concerning the Kingdom of God. [Author’s note: It is absolutely clear from Mr. Armstrong’s highlighting or special emphasis, and lack of emphasis, on the words he wrote, that he did not consider “the name of Jesus Christ” to be part of the gospel. Reread this paragraph to be clear and notice the same emphasis in the next one.]
“Paul? Acts 20:25, 21: ‘I have gone preaching the kingdom of God... testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.’
“And notice the Gospel Paul preached to Gentiles, after he had turned completely away from the Jews.
“Acts 28:30-31: ‘And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ.’
“And, what gospel did Jesus say should be preached today?
“Matthew 24:14, speaking of the present: ‘And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness’—for a witness—‘ unto all nations; and then shall the end come’!—the end of this age.”
What Is the True Gospel?, pp. 10-11
This second quote leaves no room for confusion. It holds no ambiguity—no way for the sincere and honest seeker of truth to misunderstand what the gospel includes, and excludes!
However, we cannot go on to other elements of this doctrine until all doubt is removed about what Mr. Armstrong taught consistently for 52 years. This happens momentarily.
Christ’s Role Entirely Separate
First, take serious warning! The idea that Jesus Christ is, or is part of, the gospel is entirely Protestant thinking. The second error of “witnessing” or professing Jesus is classic evangelical Protestant thinking. As mentioned in the introduction, the attempt to bring Jesus into the gospel is not only wrong, but it derives from a much greater danger—that of importing “another Jesus,” borne of “another spirit” (II Cor. 11:3-4) into the Church’s fellowship. This very passage describes the Corinthians—God’s own people!—as having fallen into belief in “another gospel” and “another Jesus.” And if Jesus is, or is part of, the gospel, why did Paul list these as two separate and distinct problems of belief within Corinth (and that these problems were both connected to a third problem—that of following “another spirit”)? Would you have thought these things remotely possible within God’s Church?
History demonstrates they are!
First, for instance, The United Church of God, terribly misunderstanding I Corinthians 15:1-4 (we will look more closely at this passage in the next chapter), and possibly a couple other passages, through careless reading, and states in its “gospel” booklet that the gospel of the kingdom includes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Though carefully worded, it describes the apostles as having gained “enhanced” understanding of Christ’s message—His “gospel”—about the kingdom. This organization’s purpose from the beginning seems to have been to include Christ’s role in helping people enter the kingdom as something that is part of the gospel. Their media philosophy statement once declared this openly. Here is what it said: “Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God is a divine commission given to the Church…The gospel message, which includes God’s offer of the gift of salvation…”
But the role of Jesus Christ is entirely separate—distinctly different!—from the gospel of the kingdom of God.
The Living Church of God goes much, much further, and actually lists Christ’s role as the first element of the gospel. They describe the gospel this way in their public mission statement: “The Gospel of Christ is the ‘Good News’ of the forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s sacrifice, and of the soon-coming Kingdom and government of God.”
This is fiction, invented entirely from outside God’s Word—and from inside the churches of Satan’s world. This organization also declares in its mission statement that its first purpose is “To preach the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God…AND the name of Jesus Christ…as a witness to all nations” (emphasis mine). When understood, this “witnessing” error is inseparable from the wrong gospel. No wonder this organization has now also gone into a third “gospel” error—teaching that healing is part of the gospel. (This will also be examined in the next chapter.) Remember, Paul describes false teaching as like leaven—it spreads.
This means their gospel is wrong in three distinct and separate ways!
Why? We will learn later that an emphasis—any emphasis—on Christ within the gospel leads to the next step of “witnessing Jesus,” wherever “He” is preached. You will see that the drift into this automatic next step is not accidental. Neither is accepting the third error.
So many seem perfectly willing to be lied to about these things by their leaders. Why? How could they have forgotten all that is at stake on just the truth of the gospel? Why are they not “prosecuting” the arguments and blatant deceit of their leaders? Why are thousands in the Living Church of God (and others) not asking whether another spirit could be present and leading where they think God’s Spirit is guiding?
How could so many so quickly copy the apostates and the Protestants, and in such BIG WAYS?
Beyond ANY Reasonable Doubt!
Certain splinter leaders have made their shift to another gospel by asserting that Mr. Armstrong taught what they teach. We will see that this is a patently false claim.
First, Roderick Meredith, the man leading LCG, is a prime case in point. By “cherry-picking” a single statement that, after carefully ellipsing crucial portions, makes Mr. Armstrong appear to include Christ in the gospel, thousands can be fooled. Doing this requires that gross deceit be employed. The mass of contrary facts must be covered up, ignored and denied.
But you need to see proof of this. That comes now!
Mr. Armstrong spoke about the gospel of the kingdom of God literally hundreds of times in books, booklets, articles, co-worker letters and sermons. He considered this one of the two most vital truths re-established for the Church during his ministry—with the government of God— and said this many times, including more than once in MYSTERY OF THE AGES. But the reader needs to see this constant theme and emphasis for himself. More important, the reader must see Mr. Armstrong did not—EVER!—place Christ within the gospel. You will also notice that he never spoke of witnessing for or professing Jesus, discussed in detail in Chapter Five.
Any subheads from this point forward are Mr. Armstrong’s, as is all emphasis. My comments generally appear in parentheses as author’s notes. Any bold is mine. The early quotes establish two vital points: (1) What Mr. Armstrong said constituted “Christ’s whole gospel” and (2) Christ is never included in his or the Bible’s definition.
Do not speed read. Read everything carefully. You will see there has been no “cherry-picking” quotes. Mr. Armstrong taught that one of the greatest rules of Bible study is to always start with the clearest scriptures on a subject to establish the truth of a doctrine, and to only then look at less clear scriptures. The same should be done with his statements on a doctrine. We should start with the clearest ones, and only then move on to others. We begin with two very short paragraphs five pages apart in MYSTERY OF THE AGES, and two others:
“His gospel is the good news of the now soon-coming kingdom of God—the only hope of this world and its mixed-up mankind!”
“His gospel is the message he brought mankind from God the Father, the good news of the coming kingdom of God! That is the one thing above all Satan wants to defeat.”
pp. 51, 56
“Now what Gospel did Jesus preach? He proclaimed the Gospel of THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Mark 1:1, 14-15). Paul preached only the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to gentiles (Acts 28:30-31).”
Co-Worker Letter, January 22, 1982
“Jesus preached a definite Gospel. That and that alone is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a Gospel message about the Kingdom of God—the begotten and finally to be born family of God—a family of divine persons, begotten and finally to be born of God.”
WWN, Recent History of the Philadelphia Era,
June 24, 1985
Let’s pause to make a point. None of these quotes have said that the kingdom of God is “part of” or “most of” or the “key component of” the gospel, but rather always that it IS the gospel. Keep this understanding in mind as you continue to read. In fact, before returning to more statements from Mr. Armstrong, let him make plain himself this point (again, the bold is mine):
“In other words, not one of them knows what spiritual salvation really is, what the KINGDOM OF GOD (Christ’s whole Gospel) really is, WHY God put humanity here on earth: WHAT is our real ultimate human POTENTIAL, or HOW we shall reach it. They know not God’s PURPOSE, nor His MASTER PLAN for working it out. They do not know why we are here, where we are going, or THE WAY. Those are the BIG, MAIN branches of the tree of knowledge. They are the MISSING DIMENSION in knowledge.”
Co-Worker Letter, November 19, 1976
The Story From History
Let’s return to a longer sequence of statements, and allow Mr. Armstrong to complete the big picture. At this point, he adds more to how Satan replaced the truth and injected his counterfeit gospel:
“I realize that when ministers and evangelists of this world and its organized denominations claiming to have the ‘CHRISTIAN religion’ preach ABOUT CHRIST, urge people to accept Christ, to believe on Christ, to ‘make their decision for Christ,’ etc., that they are ‘preaching the Gospel.’ BUT THAT IS NOT THE GOSPEL! Christ is NOT the Gospel—He was the Messenger who BROUGHT the Gospel! The GOSPEL was the MESSAGE He brought from God, as the MOST IMPORTANT AND SENSATIONAL ANNOUNCEMENT ever made to mankind.”
Co-Worker Letter, July 30, 1973
“What did Jesus say? That many would come in His name, claiming to be His ministers, saying that Jesus was the Christ, and deceiving the MANY. This is what happened. They preached CHRIST, but they DENIED HIS MESSAGE—His GOSPEL! Even the ministry was deceived. The GOSPEL is the MESSAGE God sent for mankind by His Messenger who was Christ.”
“It is THE GOSPEL—Christ’s own Gospel—which points THE WAY to world peace. The Kingdom of God is the GOVERNMENT of God, which soon will replace ALL the governments of ALL nations and bring us world PEACE.”
“But what the world has been deceived into accepting as the Gospel has been preaching a Christ WITHOUT ANY LAW—a different Christ who is supposed to have done away with His Father’s Law. Those who have ‘preached CHRIST’ to the world have said ‘the Law is done away.’ The missionaries have not taught anything in these big Gentile nations about GOD’S LAW. And yet God’s Law is THE WAY that will CAUSE world PEACE!”
“And THAT MESSAGE IS THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD! It is CHRIST’S Gospel, that has NOT been proclaimed before in those nations.”
Co-Worker Letter, October 25, 1973
“The MESSAGE God sent by Christ was the GOSPEL—and that Gospel was the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It was the Message of the Covenant, which Covenant, as I said, shall establish the KINGDOM OF GOD on earth. The KINGDOM OF GOD is the GOVERNMENT of God which shall rule all nations. But also it is the FAMILY OF GOD into which we may be BORN—the DIVINE FAMILY which becomes a SPIRIT-NATION, ruling all nations on earth—a WORLD-RULING GOVERNMENT!
“Jesus was sent to ANNOUNCE that message—not to force men to accept it, believe it, and act on it. NEVER DID JESUS PLEAD WITH A SINGLE ONE TO BE CONVERTED. He merely announced the GOOD NEWS of the Kingdom of God, and He left it to people to decide whether to believe it and whether to act on it. He did not come THEN to CONVERT the world! He did not start a ‘soul-saving’ crusade—the Protestants did! He came to ANNOUNCE the GOSPEL—the GOOD NEWS of His coming KINGDOM! [Author’s note: No witnessing for or professing Jesus, as only the true eyewitness apostles could—and needed—to do.]
“But people hated His message. Many BELIEVED on Him—realized and BELIEVED He was the Messiah. But they did not believe His message—His Gospel!”
“When the curtain lifts on that ‘LOST CENTURY’ of Church history, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God was no longer preached to the world. Jesus and His apostles had carried on a dual ministry—proclaiming the Kingdom of God and healing the sick. But after that ‘Lost Century’ neither the Gospel of God’s Kingdom nor healing was going out to the world.” [Author’s note: The gospel and healing are listed as separate subjects by Mr. Armstrong.]
“That happened. They claimed to be the ministers of Jesus Christ. They said Jesus was the Christ. They preached CHRIST (the Messenger) to the world, but NOT His message—His Gospel—the Kingdom of God. And they indeed have deceived the MANY—the MILLIONS and hundreds of millions!”
Co-Worker Letter, February 21, 1974
“The Gospel was GOING OUT! These thousands of brethren coming in were either carrying out the Gospel, or backing those who did. And WHAT GOSPEL? The Gospel GOD SENT BY JESUS—the Gospel of the Kingdom of God—which is both the FAMILY of God and the GOVERNMENT of God. (Mark 1:1, 14-15, Acts 1:3, etc., etc.) Philip went to Samaria proclaiming the KINGDOM OF GOD. (Acts 8:5, 12.) Paul proclaimed the KINGDOM OF GOD. (Acts 20:25, 28:23, 31.)”
Co-Worker Letter, March 18, 1974
“Jesus’ prophecy for NOW—our very time now—says, ‘This gospel OF THE KINGDOM shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the END [of the world] come’ (Matt. 24:14). The Church of God was founded in A.D. 31. About A.D. 53 the apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia that they had already turned to ANOTHER Gospel! At that time a fierce controversy arose over whether the gospel to be preached was the gospel OF Christ, or ABOUT Christ. [Author’s note: History is repeating itself. This chapter is proof.] The Gospel OF Christ—that is, the Gospel he proclaimed, was the good news of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:1, 14-15). That Gospel (or ‘good news’ announcement) was not preached from about A.D. 53 until 1953—a century of 19-year time cycles—when God opened up the most powerful radio station on earth, Radio Luxembourg in Europe, to me.”
Co-Worker Letter, January 15, 1984
“This Work is the direct and one and only fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus in Matthew 24:14 for this very time: ‘This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the END [of this world] come.’ [Author’s note: Again, the Living Church of God specifically adds witnessing Jesus to Matthew 24:14.] The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is the ONLY true Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the first 20 years of the founding of the true Church in A.D. 31, a fierce controversy arose as to whether the gospel to be preached was the Gospel OF Christ or a gospel ABOUT Christ. A false church rose up, teaching a gospel of false prophets, ABOUT Christ. See II Corinthians 11:3 and verses 13-15. Also both Jude and John, writing in the 90s A.D., warned of false prophets already changing the truth of the Gospel, and warning brethren to turn back to the true faith once delivered to the saints. Also, Paul wrote the churches in Galatia, about A.D. 53, that they already had turned to ANOTHER gospel.”
“From that time on, a false gospel ABOUT Christ was preached in the name of traditional Christianity, by which (Rev. 12:9) Satan deceived the whole world.”
Co-Worker Letter, April 18, 1984
“But what is the gospel of the kingdom? It is the gospel OF JESUS CHRIST. In Mark 1:1, ‘the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ’ and in verses 14-15, it is ‘the gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD.’”
“Traditional ‘Christianity’ has been deceived and has deceived the world with a false gospel ABOUT Christ, instead of the gospel OF Christ, which Jesus preached. He was a messenger sent from God with a message, and that message is the GOSPEL. The word gospel means ‘GOOD NEWS.’ It was an ANNOUNCEMENT about the coming kingdom of God—that we can be born into that kingdom, and that kingdom IS the divine FAMILY of God.”
Co-Worker Letter, August 23, 1984
New Testament Kingdom Passages
It is worth taking at least a little time to see from the scriptures how often Christ and the apostles talked about the kingdom of God. Here are just a few passages. Also, notice how often the message of the kingdom is accompanied by healings:
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23).
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matt. 9:35).
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God; And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).
“And He said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent” (Luke 4:43).
“And it came to pass afterward, that He went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with Him” (Luke 8:1).
“Then He called His twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-2).
“And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where” (Luke 9:6).
“And the people, when they knew it, followed Him: and He received them, and spoke unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing” (Luke 9:11).
“Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go you and preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60).
“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them…into every city and place, whither He Himself would come…heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (Luke 10:1, 9).
“To whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
Mystery Of The Ages
So far our focus has been on Mr. Armstrong’s constant theme in co-worker letters of how the gospel was the kingdom of God. You saw that he never added anything else to what was always an unwavering description. He repeated these references because he wanted God’s people, as well as all those who were contributing to the Work (many thousands of co-workers), to never lose this focus.
Obviously, Mr. Armstrong spoke in many other places about the kingdom. The reader is certainly aware that the final, largest and defining work of his life was the book MYSTERY OF THE AGES, already cited briefly. Time and again in this book he referenced not only the gospel of the kingdom of God, but also more of the history about the raging controversy surrounding what the Bible said was the true gospel. Here are just six more quotes from the book. Read each carefully to gain the fuller picture of what Mr. Armstrong explains:
“On this point the entire world of traditional Christianity has been deceived. Here is a most important truth: Satan sitting on earth’s throne tried to kill the Christ child. He then tried to tempt and disqualify Jesus just before the Christ started his earthly ministry (Matt. 4). Satan caused the martyrdom of most of the apostles. He caused intensive persecution against the Church. He caused a violent controversy to flare up in the early months and years of the Church disputing whether the gospel to be proclaimed was the gospel OF Christ, or man’s gospel about Christ. Satan caused the latter to win out, and in less than 20 years a false and counterfeit gospel about Christ was being proclaimed by all but the persecuted few who loyally remained as the small and persecuted true original Church of God.”
“[Jesus] came also with a message from God called the gospel. The word gospel means good news. And actually, his gospel—the message sent by him from God—was the good news of the kingdom of God. And the kingdom of God, as we shall see, is to be the restoration of the government of God over the earth and the ousting of Satan from that throne.
“Prior to the begettal and birth of Jesus, God had said to his mother-to-be, Mary, by his angel: ‘And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end’ (Luke 1:31-33). His gospel was the good news of that kingdom—the kingdom of God.
“Now another vital prophecy. In Isaiah 9:6-7: ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.’ Notice the government would be on his shoulder. Jesus is going to be King over all the earth. And one of the purposes of his coming was to announce that kingdom. Jesus’ gospel was not only good news—it was an announcement or good news proclamation of the coming kingdom of God. What a tragedy that a ‘traditional Christianity’ has forsaken and lost that vital and glorious gospel message and substituted their own gospel about the person of Christ.”
“His human birth was the arrival of the ‘second Adam.’ He had come 1) to qualify, where the first Adam failed, to replace the former archangel Lucifer on the throne of the earth, ruling with the government of God. He had come 2) to announce the future establishment of the kingdom of God and teach that prophetic good news (gospel) to his chosen future apostles. He had come 3) to take on himself, as our direct Creator, the penalty for our sins by his death on the cross—that we might share in that world. And he had come 4) to be resurrected from the dead by God, making possible eternal God-life for the people of God and after his Second Coming for all who are willing, of all humanity, who have ever lived on this earth. And he had come 5) to establish God’s Church, to be trained to rule under him.”
Ibid., pp. 209-211, 215
“We read of it in Mark chapter 1: ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God...Jesus came into Galilee, preaching [proclaiming, teaching] the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel’ (Mark 1:1, 14-15).
“And, from Matthew, ‘And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom’ (Matt. 4:23).
“This prophetic message (gospel) of the kingdom of God will be explained in detail in Chapter 7. It was the good news of the future establishment on earth of the government of God, restored and administered by the divine God family—the kingdom of God, to replace the present evil world of Satan.
“Jesus’ proclaiming of this amazing future news—combined with his miracles of healing, turning water into wine and others, caused great excitement. [Author’s note: Notice that miracles, obviously including healings, are separate from the gospel.] Immense crowds followed him and his disciples. He was teaching his disciples to become the future apostles, while he preached this message to the public.”
Ibid., pp. 222-223
“Satan is a great counterfeiter! He appears as ‘an angel of light’ (II Cor. 11:13-15). And he has his counterfeit churches! His ministers are deceived by him into believing they are ‘ministers of righteousness’ and of Christ (II Cor. 11:15; Matt. 24:5).
“‘But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him...For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works’ (II Cor. 11:3-4, 13-15).
“Notice these deceived but false churches believe they are the true church, and their ministers ‘are transformed as the ministers of righteousness’—in other words, appear to be the true ministers of Jesus Christ. And indeed, many of them may be entirely sincere, being themselves deceived. Yet they have neither known nor preached Jesus’ true Gospel of the kingdom of God (Matt. 24:14). Nor do they comprehend what is written in this book about the Church of God!” [Author’s note: What a powerful message in this paragraph for those who will heed.]
Ibid., pp. 250-251
“For that training—that spiritual development of God’s character, God has given his Church a dual responsibility:
“1) ‘Go ye into all the world’ and proclaim the good news—announcement—of the coming kingdom of God.
“2) ‘Feed my sheep.’ [Author’s note: There is no third commission! The Ezekiel Warning is part of the First Commission at the end of the age.]
“But in feeding the ‘sheep,’ developing in them God’s spiritual character, God has given them their part in supporting, backing up, the great commission: ‘Go ye into all the world.’
“This first and great commission was given to the apostles. To a lesser extent evangelists were used in carrying forth the message. Other leaders—ordained ministers—were stationary, yet even the local pastor of a church may hold evangelistic services in his area—not the ‘soul-saving crusade’ type, but lectures announcing and proclaiming as a witness the coming kingdom of God (the true gospel)!
“This entire great commission—proclaiming the good news of the coming kingdom, and ‘feeding the sheep’—is a combined administration and function of the Church.”
Ibid., pp. 265-266
“It seems that today all churches have lost the gospel of Jesus Christ. They preach primarily their gospel ABOUT Jesus Christ.
“Jesus Christ came preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. Yet few preach about the kingdom of God today, for they have lost all knowledge of what it is! But does any, except God’s true Church, proclaim the true gospel of the kingdom of God today?
“A prominent evangelist said to a worldwide radio audience that the gospel of the kingdom of God is not for us today. Some denominations proclaim a ‘gospel of grace’, some what they call a ‘gospel of salvation’; most a gospel about Christ; some a social gospel; some the ‘Science of Mind’ or ‘Religious Science.’” [Author’s note: Take note of the reference to the “social gospel” for later.]
“What is the one and only gospel of Jesus Christ? The world does not know! It has not been preached for 19 centuries, strange as that may seem. Look into your Bible. Look at it from the very beginning!
“‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ’ you’ll read in Mark 1:1. ‘Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel’ (Mark 1:14-15).
“It is necessary to believe that gospel to be saved! And how can you believe it, unless you know what it is? And for 1,900 years, the world did not know. That gospel was suppressed and replaced by man’s gospel about Christ.
“Jesus went everywhere preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. He taught in parables about the kingdom of God. He sent out seventy men preaching, and commanded them to preach the kingdom of God (Luke 10:9). He sent the apostles, on whom the Church of God was founded, to preach only the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-2). After the resurrection, before ascending to heaven, Jesus taught his disciples about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
“Isn’t it amazing that the world has lost the knowledge of what it is?
“The apostle Paul preached the kingdom of God (Acts 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). And God Almighty, through Paul, pronounced a double curse on man or angel that would dare preach any other gospel! (Gal. 1:8-9.)
“Why, then, do so many dare to preach so many other gospels? The good news of the kingdom of God is something you must understand, and believe, in order to be saved! Jesus Christ said so! You had better be finding out what it is!
“That gospel—the kingdom of God—is the subject of this chapter. It follows the chapter on the mystery of the Church, because the kingdom of God follows the Church. The purpose of the Church, remember, is to prepare ‘called-out-ones’ to teach and to rule in the kingdom of God.
Ibid., pp. 294-296
Much, much more of MYSTERY OF THE AGES could have been included. You may wish to reread this book just to see Mr. Armstrong’s constant focus on the gospel of the kingdom. In fact, every one of God’s people should consider rereading this vitally important book at some point, anyway. (Be sure to get an unaltered copy.)
The Incredible Human Potential
But MYSTERY OF THE AGES and his booklet about the true gospel are not the only publications in which the gospel received special attention from Mr. Armstrong. The Incredible Human Potential included almost as much as either of these. In fact, the book’s entire first chapter could be included as one long statement here. Also consider rereading that chapter. He explains that the gospel involves a vast expanse of knowledge. I have brought just one section, under the subhead “What Christ’s Gospel Was All About,” so you can at least understand the broader nature of what he knew the subject of God’s kingdom included. Christ’s role is conspicuously absent:
“I say Christ’s gospel – the message He brought from God – was the advance good news of the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
“But just what does that include?
“And why is the Kingdom of God necessary?
“Just how does it affect and relate directly to your personal and individual life?
“Actually, Christ’s message of God’s coming Kingdom is directly concerned with world conditions as they are – with human nature – its source and origin – with world evils, suffering, unhappiness – with world peace. It’s concerned with government – with the reason present human governments fail to be the benefactors of their peoples they are supposed to be.
“His message hits directly at the very roots of individual personal happiness and at the awesome transcendent potential of each human life. It is concerned with the CAUSES of present conditions that affect every human and with the WAY that will solve all problems.
“But it is concerned with far, far more.
“It is concerned with God’s tremendous, overwhelming, overall purpose as Creator of the entire universe. It’s concerned with the entire vast universe, filled with its uncountable galaxies, nebulae, suns, stars, planets, and with God’s purpose for them. It’s concerned with all the angels – with the fact that one third of all God’s created angels turned to SIN from which there can be no redemption, and God’s great purpose and plan to prevent such a catastrophe happening to the other two thirds.
“Most of these things are never remotely considered in religious teachings in this world. God’s message is concerned with overall truth.
“What has been covered so far should be considered as merely the introduction to the entire story of Christ’s gospel message.”
The reader cannot possibly miss the unwavering emphasis that Mr. Armstrong gave to the gospel of the kingdom of God in virtually everything that he wrote. How interesting that in their longer, more detailed description of the gospel is nothing about the person of Jesus.
I have included a few more quotes from other publications to complete the chapter. First is one more brief statement from his gospel booklet, and the chapter closes with another:
“Now, how do we enter into that glorious kingdom? Jesus came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying, Repent, and believe the gospel.
“Just two things we do—repent, and believe. We must believe the Gospel, and that means [Author’s note: The believing means, not the gospel means.] also believing on Jesus Christ, the King of the Kingdom of God, and coming King of kings over all the families of the earth. It means believing in Him as personal Saviour, as High Priest now, and as coming King.
“But to repent is to completely change the mind in respect to sin, and ‘sin is the transgression of the law’ (I John 3:4)—the Law of God by which God rules the Kingdom.
“It means a total, complete change of mind and of life. It means we repent of transgressing the rule, the will, the laws, of God. What did Jesus say to the young man who asked Him how to inherit eternal life? He said, ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments’ (Mat. 19:17).”
What Is the True Gospel?, p. 10
“It’s about time that someone speaks out, in this world, and tells the world that the very Gospel of Jesus Christ was the advance announcement of this very world government— a government, not by selfishly motivated man but by the living all-powerful God.
“Jesus Christ’s message—His Gospel—was the Kingdom of God—the Government of the living God!”
Ibid., p. 12
“We are not to convert everyone in the world in this age, but to declare the Gospel. What Gospel? The good news of the Kingdom—the good news of the thousand years of restitution of all things when Christ returns to reign in power and great glory!”
Pagan Holidays—or God’s Holy Days—Which?, p. 36
“Let me explain a very important fact here. Soon after Christ’s ascension to heaven and the founding of the church in A.D. 31, a violent controversy arose, according to church history, as to whether the gospel to be proclaimed was the gospel of Christ, or a gospel about Christ. [Author’s note: The number of times that Mr. Armstrong mentions this ought to serve as a sobering warning for every one of God’s people today. Since “there is nothing new under the sun,” Satan would never give up his attempt to pervert Christ’s message. Read carefully his even more sobering next words.] The latter won out. False prophets did arise in the first century, saying Jesus was the Christ, but omitting altogether Jesus’ gospel which was the message of the coming world ruling kingdom of God to rule all nations after Christ’s Second Coming.”
Are We In the Last Days?, p. 8
“There ensued ‘the lost century’ in the history of the true Church of God. There was a well-organized conspiracy to blot out all record of Church history during that period. A hundred years later, history reveals a ‘Christianity’ utterly unlike the Church Christ founded.
“It had taken the name of Christ and applied it to the Babylonian mystery religion. It had replaced the message Jesus brought from God with a ‘gospel’ about the person of Christ—proclaiming the Messenger but suppressing the entire missing dimension from His message.
“And for at least eighteen and one-half centuries the true gospel was not proclaimed publicly to the world.”
Your Awesome Future – How Religion Deceives You, p. 5
“Why do people not understand the very Gospel Jesus Christ taught? He taught the Kingdom of God. So did the apostles, including Paul.”
Just What Do You Mean...Conversion?, p. 8
“Today you hear preached many different gospels. Some call what they preach the gospel of salvation—some the gospel of grace. Some the gospel of going to heaven. Some preach a message ABOUT Christ—about His PERSON—but although they may CALL it the gospel of Christ, it is NOT the Gospel Christ TAUGHT and preached.
“Note it! The Gospel Jesus said it is necessary to believe is ‘the Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD’. A kingdom is a GOVERNMENT. So Jesus preached the Gospel—or GOOD NEWS—of the coming GOVERNMENT OF GOD being restored to the earth!
“It is VITAL that you establish, clearly once for all, WHAT Gospel Jesus brought from God—WHAT Gospel God also sent to the Gentiles. For ‘traditional Christianity’ HAS PREACHED A DIFFERENT GOSPEL. And your Bible says THE WHOLE WORLD—ALL NATIONS—have been DECEIVED!
“Have YOU? Better make SURE!
“Now I want you to notice TWO important points.
“1) The Message Jesus taught was SENT BY GOD.
“2) Jesus was powerless, OF HIMSELF. The WORK OF GOD, which He started, was carried on BY THE POWER OF GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT. It was that Spirit, IN HIS PERSONAL HUMAN BODY, which carried on GOD’S WORK.”
The Plain Truth, Personal from the Editor, April, 1968
Before concluding this chapter, we need to look at one more absolutely crucial—and definitive!—statement from Mr. Armstrong. He removes all doubt concerning whether the gospel includes the understanding about Jesus Christ’s role—about whether believing the gospel involves believing in or on Jesus. It also comes from his gospel booklet and appears under the subhead “Which Gospel Did Jesus Preach?”:
Comprehensive Literature: The Restored Church of God offers to the public a wide range of free books, booklets and Bible Introduction Course lessons that thoroughly explain the incredible future awaiting every human being.
“And what do we read? ‘Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.’
“Notice, Jesus said, ‘Believe THE GOSPEL!’
“What Gospel? The one He was proclaiming—‘the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.’
“But, one may ask, don’t we need to believe on Jesus? Of course. Other scriptures teach that. But at this particular time Jesus said we must believe Him—believe what He said—believe the Gospel of the Kingdom of God! [Author’s note: This is one of the most important paragraphs in the book. Get this! In regard to “belief on Jesus,” Mr. Armstrong bluntly explains, “OTHER SCRIPTURES (meaning, not the gospel) TEACH THAT.”]
“Some believed on Jesus, but did not believe Jesus—did not believe what He said (John 7:31; 8:30, 31, 46).”
“We hear a great deal today of the gospel of men about the person of Jesus Christ—confining the message solely to the things about Jesus. As a result, millions believe on Christ, who do not believe Christ! But Jesus’ Gospel is His message!”
“And so now, what is that Gospel?
“The English word Gospel comes from the word ‘God-spell,’ and means good news. Daily, we read the news of world happenings—mostly bad news! We live in a troubled, chaotic world. And the very best news you can hear in this day, or any other, is the good news of the
Kingdom of God.” [Author’s note: Not the “good news of the forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s sacrifice,” as the Living Church of God declares.]
What Is the True Gospel?, pp. 6-8
Understand that a vast number of additional quotes could have been included. (There will be more later.) But everything in life has a reasonable and natural limit. If you are not yet convinced the gospel is solely about the kingdom of God, you probably never will be. Such people are doomed to suffer the curse of accepting—or tolerating and at least tacitly supporting—another gospel!
Sent to Reveal the Father
The churches of the world routinely speak about Jesus Christ. How often did you hear about the Father in the church you attended before you were called? Probably never or almost never.
Remember Christ explained that His purpose was not to speak of Himself, but rather to reveal the Father to mankind for the first time. In fact, He said this: “He that speaks of himself seeks his own glory: but he that seeks His [the Father’s] glory that sent Him [Jesus], the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him” (John 7:18).
Consider what Jesus was saying. If the gospel of the kingdom of God was either an equation with the Person of Jesus Christ or He was a major component of the gospel along with the kingdom, then Christ would have had to speak of Himself almost continually, meaning as often as He preached the gospel. How many have thought of this? And how many have recognized that Christ would have had to routinely violate His own acknowledgement every time He preached the gospel?
Of course, Jesus certainly did explain His role as mankind’s Savior when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). Even this revelatory information given to His listeners was intended to show that He was the way to have access to the Father. Matthew 11:27 is plainer, stating, “neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” Jesus understood that He must both reveal the Father and point people to the Father. This is what He always did!
Now remember the “Lord’s prayer.” Jesus explained that it was to teach people how to pray to the Father. Sadly, most in the world ignore this and pray primarily to Christ (or Mary) and they speak almost continually of “the Lord this” and “the Lord that.” Few pray to the Father, and even fewer regularly speak of the One who is the ultimate Head of a Family into which we are called to be His sons, not Christ’s.
In John 6, Jesus also called Himself the “Bread of life” (vs. 48). Then, later in this chapter He spoke of how the Father must do the calling of anyone who comes “to the Son” (vs. 44, 65).
This is all very, very basic understanding that the entire Church once seemed to understand. Why will not the entire world of Christendom understand that the Christ who spoke the gospel everywhere He went also uttered what He did in John 7:18? Much more important, why will not the splinter leaders remember what they once knew? But the greatest question may be why so many thousands in the splinters seem so willing to believe that Christ (if He were part of the gospel) must have talked continually about Himself.
Jesus Christ did not do this, because He is not part of the gospel!
Four Keys to Deception
You have seen the plain, unmistakable teaching from Mr. Armstrong, quoting the Bible, about what is the true gospel—that it is the kingdom of God, and nothing else!
This requires mentioning again the vital principle forgotten by so many: One of the 12 rules of Bible study is to always begin with the most basic, plain scriptures, and only then go on to verses which are less clear. We have applied that principle, only this time we employed it with what Mr. Armstrong wrote about a doctrine.
Understand a most basic point: When leaders deceive, they have to employ a methodology—an often predetermined logic of deception—to the process. False teachers today must do four things ( wittingly or unwittingly), with the latter three employed when they cite Mr. Armstrong as the authority for the error—any error—that they teach:
(1) Ignore (or twist) the clear weight of scripture.
(2) In this case, ignore the mountain of crystal clear—absolutely plain—and conclusive statements from Mr. Armstrong emphatically stating, for instance, that the gospel is only about the kingdom of God.
(3) Isolate one less clear quote from him to make their point.
(4) Carefully ellipse that one statement because even it demonstrates, if shown in its entirety, that the gospel has nothing to do with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice or anything else. LCG has done this in the most egregious fashion when they offer the only quote they could find to suit their purpose, which is to alter the gospel, baldly lie to God’s people about it and continue seizing His tithes for themselves!
The subject of how splinter leaders deceive is of colossal importance to the twenty-first century people of God. Chapter Twelve will take you much deeper into why and how God has permitted their presence as one of the final great tests for His people.
God attaches such enormous importance to believing and preaching only the true gospel of the Bible that this subject is simply too big for even one large chapter. There are other errors being taught in regard to the mixed-up counterfeit gospel believed by many thousands today…