This section begins—and only begins!—the presentation of a very clear choice before you. On May 3, 1999, I was terminated from the Global Church of God (GCG), and led to begin and organize The Restored Church of God. What is written here is primarily a summary of events, and answers questions surrounding the beginning of Restored. It is not intended to be more than the briefest look at who and what we are. (“Anoint Your Eyes” – Christ’s Warning to His People, The True Church – One Organization, or Many? and my 2-volume Biography now address, with a much fuller perspective, virtually all of the issues described here.)
Many of God’s people have come to realize that what all knew was the true “faith once delivered” (Jude 3) to the sixth era of Christ’s Church has been watered down by all the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) splinters. They have also come to recognize this problem has grown much worse with time. Therefore, brethren within every organization have been searching for where every truth of the Bible is still taught, wanting safety from all false teachings.
By the late 90s, an ever-growing number, tired of continual compromise in both doctrine and conduct, had come to desire “everything the way it was”—all points restored again doctrinally. Some of these people had gone from the WCG to a splinter in which they waited for God to guide them, with others going to one group and some moving among several. Others left the WCG (early or late in the apostasy) and chose to wait at home. Still others stayed in the WCG, waiting for the correct place to attend before they left. And still others who were merely longtime readers or former prospective members wondering what happened, seemed to wait in “unconscious mode” until the full truth reappeared again in one organization, only then resurfacing to make a decision. All of these categories awaited the place that would not dismiss or alter anything the Church once understood to be truth.
Of course, there is an additional category of people who are largely unconcerned about doctrine and tradition, but who are concerned that Restored represents “more division.” These see only surface matters.
Early phone calls and emails showed that people generally had the same questions:
- What happened?
- Why did you start a “new church”?
- Has God provided a place where the full truth is upheld?
- What importance do we place on Mr. Armstrong’s teachings?
- Does this Church intend to continue the Work?
- Who is David Pack?…and a host of related questions.
We hope this overview helps you to recapture your vision and first love of the truth. Christ tells Laodicea, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock” (Rev. 3:20). Sadly, prophecy reveals many will not answer their “door,” and will lose God’s Spirit (I Thes. 5:19). But Jesus promised that, when His flock is in danger, He calls “His own sheep by name” (John 10:3-4), and leads them to safety. Since the Christ of the Bible keeps His promises, the question becomes, will you recognize His voice, and answer Him?
We are not competing with other groups that formed from the WCG rubble. They may compete with us, but we do not compete with them—for members or money! I cannot stress this strongly enough! We have come out of the squabbling groups, and the continuing attacks between them. One of our primary tasks has been to make clear that there is an organization that has risen above all of the disagreeing, divisive, confusing nonsense and partisan fights to stand on the only truly secure foundation, summarized in Ephesians 2:20. The one Church Jesus Christ built (Matt. 16:18) continues forward!
The Restored Church of God is the only place in which people can meet without confusion from false ideas. This makes practicing real brotherly love and unity easier. Paul said, and Mr. Armstrong reinforced, “I beseech you, brethren…that you ALL speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10). Peter added (after baptizing 3,000), “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42). Philadelphians are told, “Hold that fast which you have” (Rev. 3:11).
This verse directly ties holding fast to keeping one’s crown!
Paul warns of perilous times in the last days (II Tim. 3:1, 13-14), and explains what to do when threatened by “evil men and seducers…growing worse and worse.” The context describes a time when many “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (4:3). As this happens, Paul instructs, “Continue you in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them” (3:14).
Further, I Timothy 4:13 and 16 is vital instruction to all ministers who would be found faithful by Christ, and to those who will hear us. We know other ministers and elders are tired of compromise. Paul tells them, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you.”
Will you “hear” this instruction? It may save your eternal life!
“Why Did You Leave the Former GCG?”
I did not leave the Global Church of God voluntarily, but rather was fired and disfellowshipped for taking a stand and defending the flock against false teachers and doctrines. Any minister or elder in any organization who truly does this should expect the same! John 10:15 and 15:13 tell ministers to give their lives for the sheep, and I have striven to do this. The charges against me were described as “sowing division and discord.” Of course, I was not charged with “defending the flock,” and I certainly was “guilty” of this!
In early 1999, many members had been contacting GCG headquarters to report false teachings being heard in sermons by various pastors. After leaders ignored them, some called me. Faithful ministers never refuse to discuss such concerns. I referred them to their local ministers.
At this point, GCG trumped up charges against me. But Mr. Armstrong’s instruction from MYSTERY OF THE AGES was, “It is the duty of Christ’s true ministers (and how scarce today) to protect the begotten but yet unborn saints from false doctrines, from false ministers” (p. 262). Obviously, Mr. Armstrong agreed with both Christ and Paul. Knowing these instructions, I could not have done otherwise!
In spite of grave internal problems, which their later collapse and disintegration into numerous groups bore out, I would not have left GCG as soon as I did. Although aware that it was tolerating false teachers and doctrines, I first tried to work from within by appealing to the leaders to address the issues. To simply depart, without trying to convince those at the top to correct the organization’s wrong teachings and problems—and to help in this—would have been reckless and irresponsible. However, when the headquarters would not take action to protect the sheep, I realized that either I would soon be forced out, or GCG might collapse for financial reasons—or both! I wanted to be careful that I did not become the cause of the financial collapse certain to come. (Later, a Living Church of God [LCG] leader essentially sued GCG out of existence.)
I determined to exercise at least some patience for as long as reasonably possible. I had felt that after LCG split away, there was still some chance the remaining leaders would deal with what became even worse false teachings. Instead, upon approaching them, they “shot the messenger.” (Most of these men later joined the United Church of God [UCG], the most doctrinally compromised splinter, thus proving truth carried little weight in their thinking.)
Terminating me is what the founding leader of GCG, Roderick Meredith, also attempted to do for the same reasons less than six months earlier. At that time, he accused me of sowing division in Michigan during a sermon. (I had preached very strongly there to hold to the truth and reject false doctrines entering GCG at an alarming rate.)
Some claimed I left that organization because I “lacked faith that God would provide the funds to keep GCG going.” This is silly. Impending bankruptcy is not a reason to leave. Actually, if the leadership had been making every effort to save GCG, then leaving—at least at that time—would have been abandonment.
History shows that poor stewardship eventually implodes any organization—even where there is “faith.” I have faith God blesses those who please Him—nothing more or less. I certainly did not have faith in the leaders of GCG. In time, as mentioned, GCG did collapse and break apart. But the disintegration of any splinter is bad because people involved are further hurt and scattered!
I was fired and disfellowshipped from GCG for the same reasons I was fired and disfellowshipped from the WCG—and said so both times. Many will recall my first “30 Reasons to Follow the Truth” sermon (of May 15, 1993). It made clear to thousands of witnesses that I believed then as I did in 1999. The Bible teaches that when an organization goes into apostasy, God’s people leave for the place Christ provides. Those who heard that first of three sermons (perhaps 10,000-15,000 did), with the other two, realize I did not deviate from this in establishing Restored!
When I became a minister of GCG, I believed that Roderick Meredith, the Presiding Evangelist there, and later the number two man, Raymond McNair, also a long-time evangelist, were forming it to uphold all the truths the Church received through Mr. Armstrong. I began to notice the leader watering down and changing truths. In addition, it became apparent that the basic conduct of certain ministers was directly contrary to God’s laws.
Having been on the GCG Council of Elders from its inception, I tried as hard as possible to work within to get the Church back on track. I sincerely believed this was what God wanted me to do. I had a “voice” in the Council and I used it—a lot! Later, after the split and the previous leader’s departure, I initially thought that many problems would be alleviated. I was wrong!
After three months, I saw that the new leader was also willing to tolerate false teachers and was compromising almost as much as his predecessor. Also, other leaders at headquarters were still not exercising proper stewardship over tithes and offerings. (In the event a plan was underway to possibly sue LCG and/or its leader, I went on record that I could not participate in such an action. I Corinthians 6 clearly prohibits initiating the awful spectacle that this would have become.)
I recognized that the flock was being divided and scattered. However imperfectly, I worked diligently to hold them together until I was driven out. However, I acknowledge that I forced their hand by confronting them, because I could no longer accept false teachings that were being so comfortably tolerated.
“How Did All the ‘Splinters’ Get Off Track?”
The original Global Church of God formed in 1993 because of the apostasy engulfing the WCG. I was actually the first WCG pastor fired, because I insisted on adherence to the doctrines that Mr. Armstrong taught. It is that simple, and the record bears me out. (One other local pastor, Gerald Flurry, in late 1989, had been fired for believing and teaching numerous false ideas relating to prophecy.) By 1993, many had come to believe that the WCG was becoming the Laodicean Church of Revelation 3:14-22. However, its false doctrine became much worse than any could have imagined. In the end, the leadership eventually left God completely.
Mr. Armstrong explains, in effect, how all the splinters got off track. He writes as if he were observing events of today (all emphasis his throughout):
“But it is still true that two can’t walk together except they be agreed. I am agreed with God and with Christ the Head of the Church. I shall never water down the truth He has revealed to me, nor in any manner compromise with it. We are all of us going to have to agree with God and with Christ HIS Son, if we are to walk together with them, into God’s Kingdom.”
“Reports About Garner Ted False,” WN, March 6, 1981
With this statement in mind, there is a critical biblical principle that all of the organizations have abandoned, or have not properly applied, after emerging from the WCG. The Bible instructs—commands—that His people avoid those who teach heresy or sow division—all of them—and this command is not ambiguous!
What happened to “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (II John 10)? What became of “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject” (Titus 3:10)? How about “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17)? What about “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers…whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Titus 1:10-11)? And, finally, what about “cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yes, strife and reproach shall cease” (Prov. 22:10)?
Certainly Mr. Armstrong never forgot these verses, and so many others. Notice:
“The apostle Paul instructs that in the Church we must be of one accord all speaking the same thing (I Cor. 1:10). We are to mark those who, in hostile attitude, cause division and controversy among brethren and avoid them.”
“If the entire Church had followed these commandments from God’s Word we would not have had the troubles in the Church in 1974 and the later 1970s…God’s Church must follow these biblical instructions…”
Member Letter, April 1, 1984
“In the Church we are commanded that all must speak the same thing as Christ does—all AGREE 100 percent. The CHURCH must be 100 percent in LOVING SUBMISSION to God’s authority. Just one hostile teammate on an athletic team will cause the whole team to lose games. One rotten apple rots those next to it in the crate. God COMMANDS we must MARK those who cause division and are in hostile attitude, and avoid them by disfellowshipment. It is because we did not obey that command in Scripture that we had trouble in the Church for a few years…”
Member Letter, Sept. 20, 1983
“The Apostle Paul, speaking his farewell to the elders of the large Church of God at Ephesus, said: ‘I know this, that after my departing, shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them’ (Acts 20:29-30).
“That did happen in that church!
“The greatest danger of all is when one who is among us, supposed to be one of us, approaches you with some doctrine or interpretation contrary to that of God’s Church, and of God’s ministers.
“Whether it be a so-called ‘Jehovah Witness’ or even one supposedly a member of God’s own Church, remember this command: ‘If there come any unto you’—it does not say member of another church—it says if ANY come unto you—‘and bring not this doctrine, RECEIVE HIM NOT INTO YOUR HOUSE…’—don’t listen to him!
“…we say…do not listen any longer to those who bring a different doctrine! If you have already seen these truths for yourself—already proved them in your own Bible—already proved this is the true Church of God, then God’s teaching, as I have shown you in this article from the bible, is, do not listen to those who bring a different doctrine.”
“Should We Listen to Others?”, GN, May 1960
Mr. Armstrong did not worry whether some thought he was “harsh,” “too strict,” “unloving” or “abusive” when he was protecting God’s people from false teaching:
“Are some of us trying to be more kind, merciful and considerate even than God? Are we actually disobeying God in our soft, fence-straddling approach toward certain others?
“‘Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly,’ and, ‘if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him…’ (II Thes. 3:6, 14).
“God is far more strict in all such matters within the Church than we have sometimes been inclined to be.
“We must not appear to try to be more kind than God. Christ will say, ‘Depart from me!’ We must not compromise! God does not!
“I do pray for all such. I pray that God will bless them—with whatever He in His supreme wisdom knows is best for them—even though that may be severe punishment!”
“Can We Fellowship the Disfellowshipped?”, WN, May 4, 1981
The Restored Church of God addresses both heresy and the heretics who bring it—this has been very rare, and largely at our beginning—not to be harsh or abusive, but because it protects the flock and God commands it!
“Is Restored Just Another ‘Splinter’ Group?”
Initially, many expressed sorrow and anger that The Restored Church of God appeared to be another “split”—“more division.” It is true that the leaders of many groups have split their organizations for wrong or even outright corrupt reasons. Internal civil wars, driven by personalities, administration, politics or other non-doctrinal issues, have multiplied the splinters. Those privy to the facts recognize this. However, we are not “just another split.” Why?
When one teaches false doctrine, he is the one causing division!—not those actively resisting it! Was Mr. Armstrong “divisive” when he left Sardis over seemingly minor truths? When I left the WCG over false doctrine, did I “divide” the Church? When you left family and friends there, did you cause division—or stand up for truth?
Here is what this means: Each splinter upholds some truth. (Again, however, the amount is diminishing.) As a rule, the later that individuals or groups left the WCG, the more doctrinal baggage they carried with them. A second rule is that the more false doctrines people pick up, the less they seem to see it. (I address this in greater detail in our book Surviving “Perilous Times”)
Most simply do not recognize the danger of entertaining even one false doctrine. God only authorizes apostles to introduce new doctrine—even “minor” ones. (And this only applies to matters that do not alter old understanding.) Missing this vital key has unlocked the “Pandora’s Box” of doctrinal confusion and division so widespread today. Neglecting to hold fast has repeatedly split God’s people, with devastating results—and this process has only been growing worse!
Christ is gathering brethren back to His Church—not dividing and scattering them. God raised up this reorganization of His Church for all who are determined to fellowship with others who care about the precision and exactness of doctrine and Way of life God’s people once knew.
As mentioned before, many have sought a place where the full restored truth is upheld. Ever growing numbers have been learning the only place this is happening. To many others who remained in larger organizations, it is becoming more obvious that their leaders will not hold to and defend everything the Church once believed. God’s doctrines have never been mere courses of food at a smorgasbord to pick over, depending upon one’s taste!
We realize it takes courage to come with us. In life, most people take the easy path and, in the Church, this means staying where they are “settled in”—“comfortable,” mistakenly rationalizing, “Well, my pastor seems to be teaching the truth.” This must be repented of before it becomes fatal.
To learn more about the doctrine of the true Church, read our thorough book The True Church – One Organization, or Many?
“What Are Our Priorities?”
- To preach the gospel of the coming kingdom of God in all the nations of the world (Matt. 28:19-20).
- To continue and complete the “Watchman” role—the Ezekiel Warning (Ezek. 33:7)—to the modern nations descended from ancient Israel.
- To warn all those with God’s Spirit in the splinters to “anoint their eyes” in order to regain their eyesight, as Christ “counsels” His people in Revelation 3:18, and to return to God’s one Church.
- To gather, feed and teach those wishing to return to God’s Church, and to remain Philadelphian, to hold fast what was handed down by Christ through His prophets and apostles, including Mr. Armstrong.
- Directly related to this, zealously recapture and practice true brotherly love within God’s Church and to the splinters of the seventh era.
“What Government Does Restored Follow?”
The WCG, under Mr. Armstrong, practiced one-man-leadership government. This was because the Church was led by an apostle who, literally, outranked all other ministers. But God’s form of government has always started with one man. Mr. Armstrong’s office authorized him to bring truth into the Church and to make doctrinal corrections, as well as to have all final “say” in the Church. No one of lesser rank can claim the exact same authority. For some years after Mr. Armstrong’s death, God had not provided another apostle to guide the Church in the same way. Therefore, after that time, God’s form of Church government was best described as one-man leadership. In time, as was the case with Mr. Armstrong, God made it evident through the “fruit” that He had once again sent one to hold this office.
(Of course, the reader will have by now thoroughly examined the truth—the abundant facts, proof, evidence and fruit—of the last statement. Do not take my word. Be sure you have proven this! This was very carefully explained in a series of sermons titled “Twenty-First Century Apostle,” and its companion two-part sermon titled, “Watchman to Israel—Messenger to Laodicea,” which introduces the “Apostle” series. These should have removed all doubt!)
We practice the exact same form of government—in every sense—practiced by the Worldwide Church of God under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership. This includes an active Advisory Council of Elders, different from the ruling Councils in some of the splinters. (The introduction referenced a book titled THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Most of God’s people have forgotten the importance of and even what is God’s government. This fascinating book explains—actually re-explains—the most crucial subject in the entire Bible.)
Some could ask why we do not use a Corporation Sole structure of corporate government. Essentially, this means the corporation, per se, is one person. Mr. Armstrong did temporarily use this form of corporate government from Arizona, during the illegal “receivership crisis” of 1979. It may or may not be needed again. This cannot be precluded, should future circumstances warrant such a change. Also, since Ohio law does not permit it, the question is now largely moot for us because God put our Headquarters here.
Under Christ, there is one leader in the Church. What does this mean? No one, including me, is allowed to change existing doctrine. Our by-laws state this and cannot be overruled, because our doctrinal positions define who we are and why this organization exists! My office does not permit me to overturn what Mr. Armstrong taught. I may only add to the foundation Christ laid through him—and these would almost certainly be minor points clarifying existing truths, most likely regarding prophecy.
While an Advisory Council of Elders has been established to advise on major decisions, just as Mr. Armstrong employed a similar council, I have tried to regularly seek counsel from our elders and certain others since our beginning. But understand. Our Council will never change doctrine—by some percentage of majority “vote,” or by any other means!
“Haven’t You Changed Your Position on Government?”
I have always believed, as Mr. Armstrong taught in the first of his “18 truths,” that God works through one leading man. Again, however, only an apostle can bring truth to the Church. GCG’s first leader began to change doctrine. As a result, for a time, I thought that only an empowered Council could “check” a leader going astray, and preserve GCG—and I sincerely did not see another man or organization that I could follow. As explained, and like Mr. Armstrong in Sardis for a period, I tried to work from within as long as possible—partly because I had not yet considered how or that God would use me.
After the LCG/GCG split, I supported the remaining older evangelist as the decision-maker. It was not until April 13, 1999, that I learned we did not even have a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) making final decisions on behalf of the corporation. (Mr. Armstrong was the WCG CEO.) When I complained, I learned later that they had quietly appointed one. Three men had been sharing the leadership, with no one man taking responsibility to do what needed to be done. Time is never kind to organizations led this way.
Christ said, “For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (Luke 16:8). Even in “this world,” no successful corporation is run by committee. Mr. Armstrong strongly disliked committees. Councils and boards, holding final authority, are just nice words for committees!
Our website (rcg.org) carries several sermons carefully explaining God’s form of government. They show that God has always worked through the servants HE selects, not those people choose or elect. (THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD book works together with these sermons.)
“What Emphasis Is on Mr. Armstrong vs. His Teachings?”
God gave hundreds of doctrines to His Church through Mr. Armstrong. Many seem oblivious to the fact that much of what Mr. Armstrong taught has been lost again. We have rewritten and “restored” what had been revealed to the Church between 1934 and 1986.
Like all previous apostles, Mr. Armstrong died. Therefore, his teachings are part of the “foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20) on which the Church stands. However, as the final Moses, Mr. Armstrong fulfilled a greater prophecy than any other apostle in New Testament Church history. He reached many more people than all the earlier apostles combined. But we do not overly focus on or even appear to remotely worship him. This can become idolatry, and it terribly dishonors his memory. Tragically, many now seem to unwittingly do this.
We can add to what God already gave through Mr. Armstrong—but without altering that foundation. And we will grow in truths already revealed. Mr. Armstrong freely stated (openly and privately) that there were prophetic details that God had not fully revealed to him. Again, this may be the primary area in which new or more clear understanding may be given.
“Are You Preaching the Gospel to the World?”
Our book The Work of God – Its Final Chapter! shows our absolute commitment to continuing the Work of God, and exactly as was done in The Worldwide Church of God under Mr. Armstrong. I repeat: We are already doing this through our vast websites and a variety of other means, including television across the world. As God has empowered us, we have been greatly expanding the Work. Of course, this will never be done at the expense of properly feeding the already-existing flock! But this is not a real concern for the Church truly led by Christ. We are a BIG Work, growing bigger!
As explained, God’s Church is taking the announcement of the kingdom of God to the world and the special warning to the nations of modern Israel, through a vast array of books, booklets, articles and magazines—more than has ever existed over the 6,000 years God has been working with human beings. We offer a greater diversity of, and more, literature than all the other splinters combined—with more added regularly.
Just a quick glance through either one of our three websites reveals a stunning picture!
Anyone who believes there is no ongoing obligation for the Church to announce the kingdom of God to all nations does not understand basic Christianity, let alone what Mr. Armstrong taught! No one can claim to love people, while saying the spiritual treasure shared with us should no longer be shared with others! You saw that this attitude is now common, and that some even cite Mr. Armstrong as the source of their belief.
Here are just two quotes from Mr. Armstrong about the need to continue the Work until the Tribulation. Many others could be included. They demonstrate that those quoting Mr. Armstrong as proof the Work is over, are terribly misguided. As the understanding of what is my office became more clear, this became its own proof that the Work of God is far from over until there is no more time to do it:
“Brethren, if we are to continue to grow—and to grow spiritually as well as in numbers—we must remember that the purpose of the Church is, first, to go into all the world and preach Christ’s gospel. The first commission to the Church is just that. Anyone who looks on that Great commission of Christ as ‘Armstrong’s private work’ is just not a member of God’s Church. Anyone who does not have his whole heart in that work is not a member of god’s true church, and has no right whatsoever to attend or fellowship in any of its local congregations.”
“Why Local Assemblies?”, GN, March 1954
“We CANNOT AFFORD TO BECOME LUKEWARM! We cannot afford to let our minds drift from the intense NEED for this very special mission of this particular time in world history, so shortly before Christ’s coming and HIS KINGDOM!
“Now about the Work itself.
“Few understand just what IS the Church. There are so many churches in the world. People just take churches for granted. But more than 1,953 years ago, Jesus Christ said, ‘I will build my Church.’ Few know WHY He built it—for what PURPOSE. The purpose, primarily, was dual:
“1) to proclaim to the world the Gospel Message God sent to mankind by Jesus as God’s Messenger (Mal. 3:1) of the coming Kingdom of God,
“2) to call and prepare a chosen people…
“I have NEVER SAID I expect to live until Christ comes.”
Co-worker Letter, March 19, 1981
We will continue the Work to whatever size and degree God permits. Of course, Restored already has a sizeable staff (almost 80), and is continuing to hire more. As mentioned, we have a tremendous amount of literature, and have already employed many ideas about how to do the Work.
For instance, The Plain Truth Newsstand Distribution Program was a project I largely developed, almost from its inception (others actually started it). I loved working with this program in conjunction with conducting Public Bible Lectures in every major and medium-sized city in all of my pastorates. We now have a similar worldwide Newsstand Distribution Program with our magazine The Real Truth. The full magazine is also available on our realtruth.org website. We have also produced over 100 World to Come video broadcasts, which are all available on our worldtocome.org website, but again, we are on weekly television across North America.
Jesus Christ is the active Head of His one Church. Although an absolutely immense Work will continue to ensue, only He knows how much time is left in this age and how big we will grow before the Two Witnesses appear (from out of His one Church). Certainly, the warning message God will issue to the nations of Israel will be the greatest that has ever occurred. However, we also recognize the prophesied “famine of the Word” may not be many more years ahead, so we are careful to follow Christ—neither getting ahead of Him nor falling behind His lead, yet always ready to step out in faith to go through any open doors presented to us. This will not change!
“What Else Is Different About Restored?”
The Headquarters of The Restored Church of God truly strives to do everything “decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:40), and we are determined to eliminate the confusion Satan always injects wherever he can. One identifying characteristic of God’s Church is that we all “speak the same thing.”
Notice again Mr. Armstrong’s words:
“But during these 43 years, I have frequently been pressured to compromise–‘just a little’–with God’s truth. “[God] entrusted me with this precious truth …But honestly, now, what do you think?
“Wouldn’t it be 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 the smallest, slightest manner, we have allowed Satan to get a foot into the door of the Church, and soon he will push open the door (he is stronger than we) and take over the whole Church. ‘A little leaven leavens the whole lump!’ …I have never compromised with God’s truth…I never shall!”
“Personal,” GN, Dec. 1976
Reread this last statement. The honest person knows that Mr. Armstrong would disfellowship most ministers in the splinters today. Raymond McNair, who eventually went on to lead his own small splinter (he is now deceased), asserted that Mr. Armstrong “tolerated alternative views.” The above statement disproves this. He never “tolerated alternative views.” I was disfellowshipped from two organizations (and marked by others) for not compromising—not tolerating “alternative views.” It is astounding how quickly so many leaders seemed to revert to the same tactics of Mr. Armstrong’s successors!
As stated, we promote and practice true brotherly love. One cannot be of the era known for this unless he himself is known for this vital companion to avoiding all compromise. We accept those who picked up different splinter “cultures,” but only if they are determined to return to the full truth and to this crucial quality of the sixth era.
Everyone traveled different paths from the WCG to Restored. All absorbed different ideas, attitudes and practices. We work patiently with brethren to help them unlearn these. Mr. Armstrong taught that conversion is two-fold—learning the truth and unlearning error. In this way, we “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind” (Phil. 1:27), striving to actively polish our unity. Most have had to do this unlearning for the second time.
We make certain that Restored is the best-informed organization. God’s sheep are not dumb. They appreciate honesty and forthrightness—and recognize it when they see it. Brethren are being repeatedly betrayed by leaders they once trusted. Sadly, suspicion toward authority runs rampant, with people having been disfellowshipped after merely questioning leaders not upholding the truth. We are striving to be “squeaky clean”—to stand on integrity, principle and Christian ethics. For this and other reasons (John 15:14-15), I strive to be as open as possible with the membership of God’s Church. Besides, I can no longer be fired for it!
Headquarters and all departments within it also strive to be good stewards of God’s tithes and offerings. Much care is taken to never spend beyond what God sends. No leader is authorized to do this. Just as Mr. Armstrong did, we maintain prudent reserves. Also, we do thorough and honest budget projections to carefully control spending and cash flow. I am aware of the staggering size of some splinter leaders’ salaries, and am paid much less than what most of them receive.
Tithes belong to God—and they must be treated as such!
In addition, Restored brethren are experiencing—and demonstrating—real, genuine happiness. Before the age ends, it will be said that we were the happiest group—although we will almost certainly also be the most persecuted prior to the Tribulation. When all believe the same things and truly practice God’s love, two giant reasons that the Church of God ceased to be a place of joy are removed. Making Christianity the way of joy again is its own high priority with us. The Bible is filled with verses showing how truly happy human beings become when fully obeying God.
Examine our overall fruits!
Finally, we do not declare ourselves “Philadelphians” by simple assertion, thus “coronating” ourselves to this status. That is God’s job! We fervently strive to be Philadelphian. The greatest reason lukewarmness is dominant at the end of the age is that everyone starts with the same general assumption—Laodicea is somebody else, somewhere else! There is no more dangerous assumption! Being Philadelphian is a direct by-product of what you do and what you believe, including membership in the one, unified, organized Body of Christ—and nothing else.
Do not be seduced! Do not fall prey to the idea that you can be Philadelphian by simple declaration or by mere membership in a particular organization. This trap is snaring many thousands of unsuspecting people!
Each organization has its own, usually highly creative and wrong theory of, “Here’s why we’re Philadelphia and everyone else is Laodicea.” We ask God to help us meet the biblical earmarks of the sixth era, and then pray that He finds us worthy of this.
We believe the one true Church and the one organized, unified Body of Christ understanding! We know that all who hold to what Philadelphia once believed will eventually have to walk together—in one organization. Many verses make this unmistakably plain (I Cor. 1:10 and 12:1-31; John 15; Eph. 4:2-16; Phil. 1:27; Acts 2:42; Matt. 12:25-30; and so many others)! The interested reader will also want to read my splinter book on THE TRUE CHURCH.
“What Do You Teach About…?”
I am often asked questions starting with “I know that you intend to teach what Mr. Armstrong taught, but what do you teach regarding…?” While the rest of the question varies from person to person, these two introductory phrases usually do not. This subject bears repeating in a different way. The answer to all the questions that follow this lead-in is the same:
We teach (and do so actively) what God taught His Church through Mr. Armstrong! There are no exceptions!
In this regard, some see solutions where others only see problems. Many express that they see “problems” with anyone trying to hold completely to what Mr. Armstrong taught. They offer various “reasons” this cannot be done, or why no one should even try anymore, asserting that some policies and doctrines he taught were “problematic”—or plain wrong. Yet, few said this when Mr. Armstrong was alive! Now that he is gone, there seems to be no end of those who feel this way.
Think! Why would 150,000 (in the WCG) believe we could be united under what God gave His Church through Mr. Armstrong—that people could routinely and confidently practice this understanding when he was alive!—and now feel this is virtually impossible? It is incredible that only a few percent (at most) even appear to be able to understand—and in the case of thousands, even recollect—what all brethren believed for decades. We were often told to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thes. 5:21). How many actually did this with every doctrine?
Why does this same way of life now seem so incomprehensible to so many?
The Restored Church of God officially disregards all naysayers and does not tolerate the division that false doctrine and the rejection of established Church traditions inevitably bring!
“Why Do You Say That All Other Groups Are in Error?”
All of the other groups have compromised or directly thrown out numerous doctrines, and justify these changes with the same clever ruses used by the apostates. Gimmicks and ploys used by the WCG have been reinvented and are being employed on God’s people again. Yet, and this is unbelievable, only the most perceptive seem to see this—or even care to. Do some of the following phrases sound familiar? Are you still hearing them in your organization?
- “This is new understanding.”
- “Mature Christians will see it.”
- “It is not a big change or the trunk of the tree.”
- “We must grow in grace and knowledge because Mr. Armstrong did.”
- “This change is not essential for salvation.”
- “This is a minor change”—or “only a clarification.”
- “Mr. Armstrong often changed doctrine. We need to follow his example.”
- “This is just speculation.”
- “This is not a core doctrine.”
- “There are no changes.”
In There Came a Falling Away, I carefully list 43 different ways—methods—that changes were explained away by the WCG leadership, either as or after being introduced. Consider! Anyone can change virtually anything, after first declaring it “minor.” I watched two leaders do this repeatedly with great success, and without the members knowing anything had happened. Most groups have an “official” statement of beliefs. These are invariably anemic, incomplete and broad enough to satisfy most factions within their respective organizations, and also permit a wide diversity of teachings within their groups. Actually, most groups could swap statements and find them virtually interchangeable!
In addition, splinter leaders tend to look the other way while their more popular, well-known ministers promote unscriptural pet theories. In this way, tithepayers who enjoy and prefer these kinds of “ministers” remain “in house” (at least temporarily).
Understand that false teaching exists at two distinct levels in all the splinters—official and unofficial! What does this mean? The official level consists of errors taught and sanctioned by Headquarters. The unofficial level consists of a wide range of strange, quirky, even bizarre (but often superficially attractive) ideas, with which rogue ministers are allowed to freelance from their own or others’ pulpits, unimpeded by official restraint or discipline.
On the other hand, almost 2,000 years of Church history have shown that ministers who will not compromise will be restrained and disciplined by leaders who do! This happened to me three separate times.
“PCG Claims to Hold Fast—How Are You Different?”
Strangely, despite our almost unending list of differences with the organization known as The Philadelphia Church of God (PCG), we are often thought to be at least similar to them, if not the same. This view could scarcely be more incorrect!
The leadership of PCG has now probably departed further from the truth taught by Mr. Armstrong and the Bible than any other splinter. What may have begun as an attempt to uphold the truth has become something very, very different. A fair-minded look at just the keynote book about the book of Malachi reveals this, yet his book on this subject has been the veritable anchor of PCG’s teaching from its inception. To those who know their Bible, it is ridiculous nonsense and, of course, was certainly never the “little book” of Revelation 10, as claimed! Mr. Armstrong more than once identified this as the book of Ezekiel. Take time to review Revelation 22:18 and Proverbs 30:5-6 in this regard!
Also, while we have clear standards, as did the WCG under Mr. Armstrong, people are not made to “run a gauntlet” to join The Restored Church of God.
I have learned that many brethren who went with PCG are among the most zealous I have seen. I commend them for this! But sadly, terrible fear exists among many of them because of tactics used on them by their leaders. Thousands have either left or been disfellowshipped there due to the brutality and outright spiritual terrorism—besides much false doctrine—practiced there. Since “perfect love casts out fear,” then it could also be said, “perfect fear casts out love.”
PCG proves this with so many!
I have seen many, many people who leave groups that continually attack others end up no longer even capable of loving other human beings. Tragically, it is as though some of them have been spiritually “ruined.” Bitterness and a puffed-up spirit of criticism has been the results in minds unable to see what happened.
Brutal treatment generally produces a lack of love and instills fear and mistrust within its victims. Because of past abuse, some people come to despise any form of government, becoming literally unteachable and ungovernable. PCG has destroyed brethren—and has done this relentlessly! Those who remain there will eventually be spiritually ruined. Many are taught that Mr. Armstrong forbade members to talk with ex-member relatives, or those of any other groups.
In Ezekiel 34:4, God speaks of this world’s shepherds: “…but with force and with cruelty have you ruled them.” Woe to leaders who routinely discipline brethren without cause. Mr. Armstrong was no shrinking violet, and neither am I. But he was often accused of being harsh when he was not at all—when he was merely defending and protecting the truth or God’s flock. I have certainly experienced the kind of accusations that were leveled against Mr. Armstrong. However, this is very different from what is occurring in PCG.
“Who Are You?”
Before answering who I am, here is who I am not. I am not an evangelist. I am not a “Presiding” anything. And I certainly am not one of the Two Witnesses. I was led to organize The Restored Church of God believing I was merely a determined Senior Pastor who would not compromise with God’s truth or the need to continue His Work. The sermons referenced earlier explained in detail what God eventually showed my office and responsibilities to be—just as He did with Mr. Armstrong in late 1952, a full 19 years after he had begun the Work. I have always felt that in the resurrection, I will face God and Christ (and, for that matter, Mr. Armstrong), and I am resolved to give a good account of myself. God alone will continue to decide exactly how He uses me. I have complete faith in this!
My first assignment in the ministry was in the summer of 1970. After that time, I served in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey and Ohio, working directly with 10,000-plus brethren. Except for my final assignment, I always replaced ministers who were either fired or suspended, or who had resigned. These circumstances forced me to face and learn many lessons about division, confusion, heresy, corrupt conduct and vile practices by both ministers and members. In each case, I inherited a series of chaotic and very challenging circumstances. Just having to solve one serious problem after another was enough to give me a reputation for being harsh and abusive—and perception became reality in the minds of many who have never known me.
I have had to accept that I will never outrun this perception. Of course, many seem to look for “corroboration” of my reputation until they “find” it. But Christ’s sheep hear His voice of truth through the fog of murderous false charges and lies. These attacks remain part of the test for every Christian for the remainder of the age.
I decided years ago that I would compromise nothing. I have certainly not always done this perfectly. Some claim I allege that I have never compromised doctrine, but that is untrue. I accepted a couple of false ideas in the early nineties. I apologized to my pastorate in writing. That letter was once cited as “proof” that I “compromised.” I freely admit this, and took responsibility for what I did.
Where are the others who have done the same? I am not aware of any other minister who wrote a letter of apology to his congregation. As the first WCG pastor fired for not supporting the apostates, I taught much less that was wrong (two doctrines)—and for a far shorter period of time—than any other minister. Most taught many wrong doctrines, and still do, and have apologized for nothing! Certainly no one can accuse them by pointing to their letters of apology. Such letters do not exist!
It is a source of continual amazement that ministers who still teach many false doctrines get a virtual free pass merely because they are not claiming to hold fast. Four former “friends,” who all later went with the United Church of God, turned me in to Pasadena and secured my termination from the WCG. These same men taught, and still teach, many false doctrines. They have never apologized. But I have had to realize that the longer I will not compromise, the more I will probably be attacked by certain people for having done this imperfectly. Having no choice anyway, I accept this as a cross I have to bear.
As mentioned, my policy of no-compromise has repeatedly gotten me fired—and demoted three other times. And I have also been literally put on trial by Church leaders five separate times, and been threatened by Pasadena, and later San Diego (the Global Church of God headquarters), many other times. I have been “marked” for “sowing discord and division”—always over doctrine, although this was never the given reason announced publicly. (Eventually, all the groups may mark our brethren and/or our leaders and me.) I am still teaching the exact same truths I have taught for the past three-plus decades. It was this that drove me, in 1993, to collate in There Came a Falling Away all the heresies taught by Mr. Armstrong’s successors. (For those who wish to know more about me personally than contained in the brief comments here, my 2-volume Biography is available.)
I had the unique opportunity to have had a close personal relationship with Mr. Armstrong. I was not as close as his most personal aides at Headquarters, but I was privileged to spend many wonderful hours discussing with him doctrine, prophecy, administrative matters, and numerous other things, over a 15-year period. This relationship began when I married his secretary (the former Miss Shirley Ochs) in 1971, and it slowly grew from that time. In late 1978, Mr. Armstrong made me promise, personally, that I would never preach anything other than the truth. Though I never dreamed this promise could lead me to my current position, it is one that I am still determined to keep.
I treasure the hours spent with Mr. Armstrong during the time he was putting the Church “back on track.” We sometimes discussed this process at length. More was learned from this time with him than I could possibly relate here. He would occasionally write articles and letters, and then call to read them to me. We also discussed strategy, liberalism, job appointments, and much more through those years. Obviously, although I was certainly appreciative at the time, this experience has vastly more meaning and value to me today than it did then.
I watched Mr. Armstrong courageously face and make bold decisions time and again. He never shrank from the “tough calls,” and always strove to do what was right! I observed his unwillingness to compromise—no matter the cost. He did not care if people left the Church or income dropped due to doctrinal or administrative decisions. He absolutely would not ever compromise on anything doctrinal. He was concerned about pleasing God—not men!
I have learned that many will say this, but Mr. Armstrong practiced it—and simply did not fear men!
Shortly after I went with GCG, as mentioned earlier, I gave three “30 Reasons to Follow the Truth” sermons. They helped thousands around the world understand that they had to leave the apostasy in the WCG. Of course, many came with GCG. Those sermons, with the early book There Came a Falling Away, demonstrate that I have certainly sought to teach God’s people not to deviate from His truth. Having gone on record for so long in this way, I could never get away with false teaching. God’s people—and my detractors—would immediately “call me on it.”
God called Mr. Armstrong out of the business world. He repeatedly told the Church that his training was in advertising. In this regard, some may know I inherited a small company upon my father’s death in 1995. (I sold it in 2000.) Also, I have been exposed to successful businessmen in my family throughout my life. Though not Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or a “captain of industry,” I do have a solid working knowledge of the corporate, business side of the Church and Work of God. But only God, not human beings, sustains the Church. Yet, He does give His leaders and people certain experiences so we can become His tools. I was given certain business experiences that are invaluable to me now!
Again, when the GCG leader established a Council of Elders in 1995, I was included and served for over four years until my termination. I strove to work within to influence the leaders to remove false teachings (and false teachers, when necessary).
At one point, there was offered a very high position at GCG headquarters. I declined because I did not want to leave the brethren in Akron, Ohio. I have always considered myself a field pastor, and to some degree still do. But I have had to adjust to a role requiring me to do things other than my first love of pastoring. Nevertheless, I was able to gain experience as a Regional Pastor over the northeastern United States for several years. Eventually, addressing false teaching and false teachers in my region resulted in my removal from this office. I was repeatedly told, in no uncertain terms, by Roderick Meredith that my actions were “costing the Church money.” This led directly to his decision to systematically work very quietly toward my eventual removal from the ministry.
I have tried to protect those entrusted to me. Many have accused me of being harsh, simply because I would not permit God’s people to be harmed by division and false doctrine. Obviously, those who cause division can sometimes be worked with, and shown how they are hurting Christ’s flock. However, when they are of a different spirit, a pastor’s first duty is to the flock. He cannot worry about what people—let alone enemies!—think. In those moments, a minister is in a certain catch-22: protect the flock, but be thought harsh—or do not protect it, and be viewed as a “nice guy.” (Yet, I have had to actually disfellowship no more than five people throughout the last 20 to 25 years, since the early 80s.)
Ultimately, it is the difficult decisions made to shield the flock that define leaders!
After seeing so many evangelists and senior ministers compromise doctrine and conduct, I had no choice but to proceed alone, knowing Christ had selected me for an extraordinary purpose. But in the end, the response of courageous, convicted people who joined us sent its own message. This said, I am determined to always remain “little in my own eyes.” I have seen what happens to those who forget this.
“Why Are You So Often Attacked?”
It should be no surprise that taking a stand for the truth brings persecution. Mr. Armstrong fearlessly taught God’s Way and was—and still is—more persecuted than possibly anyone in the history of God’s Church. During the events surrounding my GCG termination, all sorts of accusations were directed at me as part of a scare campaign to deter people from leaving GCG. Here is a small sampling:
- “He wants to promote himself and gather a following.”
- “He advises members not to tithe so GCG will fail.”
- “He lacks faith when he predicts bankruptcy for GCG.”
- “He doesn’t practice Matthew 18:15.”
- “He sows division and discord.”
- “He is disrespectful and rebellious.”
While these accusations are ridiculous, they were predictable. Actually, the behavior imputed to me for so long by my detractors has virtually made my ministry a subject of legend. If even a quarter of the things ascribed to my character were true, no one would have followed me to the kitchen, let alone stayed in my congregations—trusting they were following Christ. The people who call me harsh all fit the same description—they compromise God’s doctrines, teachings or law, in some clear way, and would not be instructed or corrected when necessary. Circumstances often required me to address wrong conduct, usually when other ministers would have found such decisions politically incorrect or “unsafe,” because of headquarters’ probable reaction.
Many ministers find reasons to avoid “hard call” decisions. And I have had to learn that leaders are often lonely. But I have never forgotten what my father taught me, time and again: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This motto has served me without fail.
Consider. Satan’s hatred toward those teaching and believing God’s truth is directly proportional to how much truth they teach and believe. Do not expect people to understand those who love, are zealous for, and courageously protect and defend all of God’s doctrines when they do not feel this way themselves. On what basis can they understand or relate to us? To them, we seem strange—rigid—intolerant—stuck in the past—unable to grow—narrow-minded—self-righteous, etc. Their spiritual values will not permit them to see us otherwise. In their misguided zeal, they attack and persecute what they cannot comprehend.
Philadelphians never respond in kind! They accept that their “tribulation” is now—that they “through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22)! We treat with brotherly love those who choose not to join us, while willingly taking their “shots” at us as “blessings with rejoicing” (Matt. 5:11-12). (Carefully read our thorough book Should Accusers Be Answered?)
The Proverbs state, “The righteous are bold as a lion” (28:1). We are not intimidated by attacks. The psalmist said, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” (118:6).
Understand this point! I will not buckle under persecution or false charges, no matter how relentless or intense!
Satan’s effort to attack me and scare off God’s people seems to have had the opposite effect for some. Sadly, when others have become confused or are deterred merely by false accusations, the truth suddenly becomes less important.
“Do You Want or Expect Other Groups to Fail?”
Many organizations formed in the wake of the apostasy. They play a role in prophecy, and are home for the vast number of true Christians—those who are not fully holding fast. Together, they still contain much or most of Laodicea—God’s people—who have not yet left them for His Church! No Christian, let alone one with brotherly love, can hope these groups fail. However, in time, they will be devoid of God’s Spirit and collapse because all those with God’s Spirit will return to His Church.
Consider! Those who: (1) Will not do God’s Work, (2) reject His government and all authority over them, (3) do not pay God’s tithes, (4) reject the one true Church doctrine, and (5) will not assemble with it, among other false teachings—“damnable heresies”—in time cease to be Christians. In addition, these tend to accuse and slander others, and almost by routine. No one has to wish for their demise because they have already passed beyond the seventh era and out of Christianity altogether.
They are gone!
We in God’s Church want all corporate groups to survive at least for now—in whatever doctrinal state. The alternative is that many there would otherwise fall away completely. A Christian prays for all God’s people, no matter their spiritual condition. We should want to see all brethren repent and in the kingdom of God. God is “not willing that any should perish” (II Pet. 3:9) and would “have all men to be saved” (I Tim. 2:4). You cannot want less!
“Why Have You Written So Much About GCG and LCG?”
There is only one reason I originally focused on the doctrinal problems of GCG and LCG. Many of the questions we initially received were from brethren in those organizations or from those leaving them to return to God’s Church. After all, it had been the center of my focus for six-plus years. If I had come through another group, I would be answering questions about that group instead of GCG and LCG. These organizations are no different from others, having taken their place among the various corporate segments constituting most of Laodicea today. Most or all of the people in these organizations will not remain where they are. (The corporate leadership is another matter, with most simply not of God.) Actually hundreds have left them to join us, with this exodus having accelerated for some time.
It is absolutely critical to see that, in time, all those who love the full truth—those who are willing to “anoint their eyes”—must join one organization—The Restored Church of God! Many more faithful brethren and ministers in these organizations will eventually vacate to hold fast and finish the Work with us.
After questions about why I left GCG/LCG subsided, it was no longer necessary to focus as much on the doctrinal problems of these groups. (Reading the article “Endless False Doctrines” in Surviving “Perilous Times” is invaluable.)
These organizations may feel I am attacking them simply because their errors are being identified. But they are not our enemies. They feel threatened by my unwillingness to compromise where they do, and are left with no recourse but to treat me as an enemy. Nevertheless, we strive to “turn the other cheek…love our enemies…bless them that curse us” (Matt. 5:39-44), and continually pray for them.
“Are You the ‘Doctrinal Watchdog’ For All the Groups?”
Some few have written suggesting that I fulfill this role. This idea came from reading my books on the WCG doctrinal changes. In a sense, I have been doing this since early 1993. But God has not specifically designated me to count every false doctrine without end.
The difficulty with this is that many false teachings are given in sermons instead of writing. This makes “proving” them much more difficult. Think of the hours necessary to hear every sermon by every minister in every organization. Then I would have to transcribe them in some documented, organized form. This would be a staggering task, requiring tremendous time. Even a whole team of many full-time people could never accomplish this. Keeping God’s Church doctrinally pure is my primary responsibility—and the all-powerful Christ is well able to find those who will anoint their eyes and bring them here.
The two-part sermon (especially the second part) “Foretold: Watchman to Israel—Messenger to Laodicea” explains that God selected one to carry the final warning to the last era of His people. The sermons and books in the SEP fulfill this responsibility.
We have done our part. It is the responsibility of those in the other organizations to evaluate their own headquarters’ teachings and compare them with God’s doctrines. It was always the intent that There Came a Falling Away would greatly assist in this. In the end, you must take personal responsibility as your own watchdog of doctrine and tradition, and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).
“Where Is the Church in Prophecy Today?”
I left the WCG thinking it would remain Laodicea instead of becoming fully apostate. My first “30 Reasons” sermon plainly reflects this. Soon after, I realized that, after Christ called all His people out of the apostasy into various organizations, He then must call those who will anoint their eyes from the splinters before taking them to the Place of Safety. Understand! Mr. Armstrong had to leave Sardis to be Philadelphian—though he only fully understood this much later.
It is apparent that there are those striving to be Philadelphian, those who are willing to “anoint their eyes,” in virtually all the splinters. The fact that organizations are Laodicean does not mean that all people with them will remain so (or that many there are not even converted). Again, those who wish to return to a Philadelphian condition eventually must leave their group. We have long known—and this was always plainly understood!—that God will eventually separate Philadelphians and Laodiceans when the Church flees to safety. People must leave the Laodicean mindset to become Philadelphian again. If not, they will worsen in character until they lose God’s Spirit. In time, all brethren assume the spiritual temperature of the corporate “rooms” in which they reside.
God’s people scattered when they were simultaneously (1) holding to some truth, but (2) losing zeal for holding to all God’s doctrines. Laodicea lacks the understanding and zeal to protect the truth Christ calls “hidden treasure.” So many have permitted much to fall from their treasure chest. People are unable to agree on which doctrines to keep, and cannot “walk together” (Amos 3:3). Hence, groups keep splitting.
This condition is part of a great master plan playing out in a remarkable way. Nothing is out of control! God’s Plan is fully under control! There are two groups at the end: “The wise that understand” this plan (Dan. 11:32-34; 12:10; Matt. 24:15), and the “blind and naked” who do not (Rev. 3:17).
The big corporate splinters have become a lesser partner of the apostasy. People went to many organizations, believing these would help them uphold truth. Invariably, all held to some things, but not everything. Within each group, perhaps a tiny few strove to fully hold fast (be careful of this assumption about yourself), but most did not.
People of two separate potential conditions emerged from the apostasy. When counted together, one is large, but split up—“scattered” (Dan. 12:7)—unable to be united in doctrine because it cannot agree on what is thought to be error and what should be accepted as truth.
If new converts receive God’s Spirit in any of these groups, Christ promises to “knock on their door” (Rev. 3:20) with all others who are converted and bring them to His Church. Remember, He calls “His sheep by name” when in danger. If they answer, He then places them (back) into the smaller group—the Body of Christ—comprised of those “holding fast to what they have” (Rev. 3:11).
I often hear people declare they are waiting for someone, a “mighty man” of sorts, to come and unite the churches. Many think this may be the role of a yet future Elijah, based on Malachi 4:5-6 and Matthew 17:11.
It is certainly natural to want everyone together again. Actually, God has allowed this anticipation to be present among His scattered people, ahead of its ultimate fulfillment. But it will not come the way any outside the Body of Christ expect!
Now understand! History will record that Restored did everything that it could to gather the flock, rather than scatter it. But I do not believe for an instant that all entering God’s Church are automatically Philadelphian. Just joining the right organization—meaning even the true Church—does not make one a part of the sixth era condition. However, absolute doctrinal unity within the teachings that God gave the Church through Mr. Armstrong is the only correct starting point! This must be understood.
“How Big Do You Expect Restored to Get?”
Many have asked how “big” we are—what is our attendance. I have no plan to answer this, other than that we number in the thousands. Though I have a general idea, I do not know for certain and do not really care to know. The Restored Church of God is not concerned with “numbers.” They are no longer important at this point in prophecy—except that the last era is numerically much LARGER! We are certainly growing rapidly—and more so by far than any splinter (these are generally splitting and shrinking)—and this has been true almost since our beginning.
King David learned a painful lesson when he numbered Israel—and I have made this mistake, thinking size is important. God is gathering all who have His Spirit. That number will be whatever it is. I have been amazed to hear of many trying to stand firm under extraordinary conditions. Sometimes individual circumstances have been difficult, requiring people to demonstrate great courage, patience and conviction to endure. But people of the same mind have often been able to find one another—no doubt with God’s unseen help. This has been an aspect of the unfolding story of The Restored Church of God.
In God’s Church, we do not have as a goal to “get big!” This is no longer Philadelphia’s time! Those of Philadelphian attitude must expect to be outnumbered. However, when all those with God’s Spirit have been joined to us, we will likely become the largest group—and maybe by far. For now, since people join us from all the groups, we are attacked by all of them. Of course, most prefer the “security” of larger organizations and bigger numbers. Holding fast is too hard—too difficult—for most!
Consider the following trend that has been growing for decades within the politics of the West. The Church has long understood that social and political trends directly impact God’s people—whether they realize it or not. Politically, most citizens think in terms of liberals and conservatives. A well-established, 40-plus-year political trend has been affecting God’s people, almost entirely without their recognition. Let’s understand.
Many analysts and observers have noted that politicians and the general populace have been moving to the left for nearly 40 years! This swing in thinking has been so dramatic that liberal Democrats of the 60s would now be considered conservative Republicans. Many voters today may think they are conservative, but are actually ultra-liberal by the political standard of the 1960s, or even the early 70s. This trend has directly affected all of God’s people—and directly served prophecy!
One reason holding fast is now so difficult is it simply seems too conservative in a world constantly moving to the left, away from values of every kind! God’s people would not be exempted from this subtle process! Conservatives—all with God’s Spirit—are being pushed from the “church.”
Basically, everyone wants to be considered a progressive thinker! No one wants to be considered “stuck in the mud” or “lost in the past.” People want to be viewed as “in step,” not “out of step.” Let’s speak plainly. To most, holding fast feels out of step. Doing this will not permit them to be seen—and accepted—as “progressive” by peers among God’s people. Of course, being accepted by others is the motive behind 90% of all human decisions. Peer acceptance—real pressure—is often, by itself, enough to make people unwilling to take the harder, more difficult path of non-compromise! The result is they will quench God’s Spirit—and become foolish virgins (Matt. 25:1-13).
Honestly examine yourself—your thinking—in light of these last paragraphs!
Many waited to see our “fruit” before joining us. Be certain your definition of “fruit” does not include size. While numbers are irrelevant to your decision, one look at just our websites reveals an explosion of fruit—that we are already doing an immense work that towers over organizations much larger, older and wealthier than we. Our websites describe the who, what, where, when, why and how of God’s Church. Also, consider that if everyone waited to see appear whatever is their definition of “fruits,” for months or even years, no one would have come to help produce the “fruit” others—and possibly you—want to evaluate today. So, there are two types of people who will join us. In the end, both belong.
First: Those who will come through fire, hail, wind and storm to be at the right place—as long as they know it is right. Size means nothing to them! Second: The many additional people who must see many others do this before they will. They will want to see a certain amount of size before coming. Right or wrong, this is historically the way of human nature. Of course, we are well into this second phase, with most still recognizing and accepting they are joining a group still for a while smaller than the biggest splinters. But realize that many in the splinters are simply not yet aware of us, or are aware but still know little about us.
“What Is Our Headquarters Like?”
The many details of starting a new organization fell rapidly into place, from the outset. God moved swiftly to provide a wonderful facility ideally located along a major highway outside Akron, Ohio. The layout accommodates 200 for services. The owners did not even seek a standard security deposit. Also, to help us get started, the former tenant sold us good quality, used furniture and office equipment at a fraction of market value. We know that this was clearly of God. I could never have dreamed such a facility would come available so quickly, and be so perfect for our needs. We have since been able to remodel all of our space into a beautiful office complex of over 20,000 square feet. (THE WORK OF GOD book describes the beautiful campus of multiple buildings now being built a mile away for God’s Church, Work and college to expand. We are scheduled to move into our first building by mid-May, 2013.)
Incorporation, securing a post office box, establishing bank accounts, acquiring insurance, writing the by-laws, etc., all happened quickly. The first year and a half brought many roadblocks and hurdles that God always seemed to help us through. Miracle after miracle could be described for the next several pages, and each would demonstrate God’s intervention in its own remarkable way! Christ has sustained His Church—and will continue to do so!
Again, God has provided a sizeable and growing staff (almost 80) to help serve the brethren and do the Work. The staff’s zeal, enthusiasm and willingness to tackle new things wonderfully complements the needs of the task before us. While we had some initial employee difficulties, our current staff has been an answer to prayer. This is critical, because Headquarters exists to serve the brethren—not the other way around!
We are incorporated and have tax-exempt status in the U.S., Canada, and other countries, with more to follow. In addition, we have established Feast sites throughout the world. When brethren come with us in other countries, we establish local congregations and sites. Christ continually guides these matters!
We provide a thorough Host Information Manual for each person, family or congregation that meets so everyone conducts services in the same way. We also operate Ambassador Center, a selective training program with a full two-year curriculum for those God is training for greater service in His Work. We also hold annual summer Ministerial and Leadership Conferences for ministers, elders and deacons. Many other projects and programs have been developed, with more always in the works.
“Who Should Join The Restored Church of God?”
The second section of this book, Should You Join The Restored Church of God?, which the introduction explained was once a separate booklet, systematically answers this question. It is far more thorough than the few paragraphs here, written before that booklet existed.
Understand that Restored is certainly not for everyone! Many former brethren do not want all God’s doctrines back. God is allowing people to choose their own paths. I have had to periodically suggest to some that they look elsewhere, knowing we would lose tithes and offerings as a result. We do not compromise Christian principles and doctrine to attract members or income. I have witnessed far too much of this elsewhere!
Most in the splinters are not zealous enough to choose the difficult path. Many prefer to “heap [Greek: pile] to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (II Tim. 4:1-3). They do not have enough strength to care about “enduring sound doctrine” (vs. 3). They find it much easier to “go along to get along.” In the end, most will be content with three-quarters or “half a loaf” of doctrinal purity.
However rare, we have encouraged some people to find another place where they could be more “comfortable.” This does not mean some few will not join us importing other ideas. Although rare, this has already happened, and we remain alert to this. We have a sizable and rapidly growing ministry, but we still realize the need for God’s special protection until it grows more.
There is a particular mistake that most make when facing the decision to leave one organization for another. It has two equal but opposite applications. Let me explain: Though people should focus on God, most human beings watch people and personalities to gain a signal for what to do. While some make decisions solely on conviction, most watch to see who else joins before they will. Some say, “Well, if so-and-so goes, I will”—sometimes referring to either more ministers or particular senior ministers. The other application is the opposite: “Well, if so-and-so joins them, I won’t.” Both kinds of thinking are terribly wrong.
Go back 20 years. We now know that the vast majority in the WCG probably never believed or lived the truth in their personal lives. About 75% of those we thought were God’s people have now left the truth—but this did not mean that true brethren attending at that time were incorrect to do so. Headquarters was on track! People’s conduct and personal decision-making were never to be the standard keeping others in the WCG when it was on track. (The two letters to Corinth prove this!)
Tares, flatterers, wolves and false brethren will come and go among God’s Church (Matt. 13:24-30). Of course, some already have. but this should not be the basis for your decision. Again, we strive to be alert, and God has to watch over us to minimize how often this happens.
Take your eyes off people—brethren and ministers. Put them on GOD, and keep them there!
Grasp this all-important point. No one can make human beings care about things they do not or will not care about! This book is not written to change people’s minds—to get them to care—to love God’s truth again, if they do not now. Believe me, I have tried this! God Himself cannot make free moral agents care about, be zealous for or love righteousness or truth, if they are not interested. Do not try to do this. People must take responsibility to “anoint [their own] eyes with eye salve.”
You should, however, inform people of where you stand in a firm but gentle way. If you come with us, tell your friends what you are doing and why! Do not just “disappear.” But do not try to convince them to do the same. If they want to talk, be available—be helpful. Understand the decision they face. You faced it and it was probably a struggle. It will likely be no less for them. So please be careful. Above all, do not aggressively push people.
A word to all the “unaffiliated”—those who chose to “stay home”: Many of you may have recognized very early that heresies or improper conduct were condoned by every “corporate” organization that left the WCG. You chose not to join any of them (or did and then felt compelled to leave), but perhaps tried to hold firm, either on your own or in small, loose groups. Many of you have been abused, as a direct result of the politics in the WCG, but also later in other groups. You are urged to carefully consider what God is doing in His Church—The Restored Church of God! Do not forget this vital passage: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25).
All who truly hold firm (whether they eventually settle as Philadelphian or Laodicean) must eventually be brought together, as the unified Body of Christ, preparing itself as “His wife,” making “herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). If you come here, you will be fed! We will help you get ready. But you will have to diligently do your part.
A final word of caution: Brethren considering coming with us need to be sure of both our doctrines and us! But we are also careful to see that people returning to God’s Church are holding to all of God’s doctrines themselves. This means we want to be sure people are not coming with us unknowingly or unconsciously bringing false teachings. This is why we list 200 false ideas in the splinters in my book Surviving “Perilous Times”.
Many think they are holding to what Mr. Armstrong taught, when they are not! They have been told he taught things he never taught. This is why I recorded as many of his teachings as possible, in exhaustive fashion, in There Came a Falling Away. God wants His people to truly know what was taught, and we want them to know that we teach the same!
There are two kinds of deceived people: (1) Those willingly embracing different doctrines, believing others are “stuck on Mr. Armstrong”—are “unable to accept that he was often ‘wrong’” and (2) those who have unwittingly bought into different ideas they think Mr. Armstrong taught—but cannot be convinced he did not! This is particularly frustrating to witness. But it is one more way Satan has deceived some of God’s people into accepting false ideas. Believing Mr. Armstrong taught the Work would end when he died is just one of many examples.
Carefully ponder, analyze, comb through and honestly reflect upon all the beliefs you hold. What you discover may surprise you!
“What Would Mr. Armstrong Do Today?”
All of the older members from the WCG recall “the liberal years” of the mid-70s. (Most others have heard about them.) This period almost precisely parallels the general condition, collectively, of ALL the splinters today! To fully see this equation for what it is, merely subtract from the picture the current WCG, because it is no longer part of the overall equation in the last days. Now look at the remaining picture—two identical periods—30 years apart—best described as “liberalizing” and “watering down the truth.” Any fair-minded person cannot escape the parallel, and how it has replicated itself in the late 90s and beyond.
But there is one big difference. Conditions in the splinters have actually grown worse—in fact, much worse—than the mid-70s! This has already taken many there beyond Laodicea and out of Christianity. Others have still survived spiritually—barely—but must leave soon or lose God’s Spirit!
Setting aside that wrong doctrine is worse today—and this includes your organization whether you see it or not—once you can accept that each period mixed true doctrines with false, you know exactly what Mr. Armstrong would do! Just consider what he did do when he faced what God’s people face today.
He told the brethren repeatedly, and in absolutely no uncertain terms, that the Church and Work were “off the track.” He explained that Satan had gotten in the door, and he warned that the Church had become liberal—Laodicean! He thundered that God was withholding blessings! He also repeatedly explained how all of this had happened, and often reminded that CHRIST was putting His Church back on track. He focused on the truth, not tolerating any amount of false doctrine—no matter how small and seemingly insignificant! This sometimes meant removing high-ranking or senior ministers—on the spot! Looking back, we now know that one, lone, very elderly man, empowered by God, led well over 100,000 people back onto the “track.”
The result?—the Church took off again, absolutely exploding in statistical growth of every kind, reaching over 140,000 before his death!
How could so many people have so quickly forgotten this great lesson? Remember, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
In his latter years, Mr. Armstrong appeared “stuck” on the “two trees.” I confess to having thought, “Here we go again,” when he would start into this topic. Yet, I am now convinced God inspired Mr. Armstrong to continually repeat this account, at least in part, as a warning for today—and as a witness to and a witness against the seventh era just ahead. None could have known then what would happen upon his death—but God did! In no uncertain terms, Mr. Armstrong explained the extreme danger of mixing good and evil knowledge (doctrine is spiritual knowledge). You must become convinced this is the greatest lesson of the two trees!
When God called me in 1966, I heard Mr. Armstrong speak then of these trees. He explained how, if one baked a cake, consisting of good ingredients mixed with a little arsenic, cyanide or strychnine, it would always kill the one eating it. The good ingredients could not overcome the poison the cake contained. I was 17, and that lesson struck me like a ton of bricks. Remember this lesson and how often Mr. Armstrong repeated it. It could save your crown!
The name The Restored Church of God should now make clear who and what we are. All God’s restored truth is upheld and actively taught here. You now understand the title—“Why the Restored Church of God?”
I conclude with a quote from Mr. Armstrong. All should (but many no longer do) remember that he believed there was only one true Church. This statement (among many others) proves this emphatically. Our book on THE TRUE CHURCH proves this truth in exhaustive detail:
“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.
“God’s law and way of life may be summed up in the one word ‘love’—which is outflowing—the way of ‘give’—while Satan’s way is that of ‘get.’ 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
Throughout my ministry, regarding people facing crucial decisions, my single greatest observation has been: When facing a clear choice between doing what is right or doing what is wrong, most choose the easier path—WRONG! What will you choose?