This article is a must-read for every one of God’s people. It introduces and explains why more articles will follow—and why I have addressed men such as Ron Weinland and Gerald Flurry by name. It also explains why this will continue.
Isaiah 58:1 describes a special commission given to God’s leader at the end of the age. This article opens and clarifies this verse by looking at 12 Hebrew words within it. After reading it, for those who even remember Isaiah 58:1, you will see the verse as almost infinitely more important than you previously thought. Throughout, it looks at what Herbert W. Armstrong recognized about this duty—in his own words—and how he carried it out to the Church and the world. The article covers how this passage applies today, focusing on what I have been doing and will do in a broader way regarding the splinters.
Jesus Christ always spoke as “having authority” (Matt. 7:29)—never with ambiguity, or soft, purring tones. He never “spared,” and had no interest in everyone “speaking well of Him” (Luke 6:26). Words—labels!—Jesus used to describe those He was indicting would be thought by most of God’s people today as “unloving” and “too strong.” Think how He (and other biblical writers) described false leaders and others: “Serpents” – “vipers” – “dogs” – “ravening wolves” – “swine” – “thieves” – “robbers” – “hypocrites” – “murderers” – “liars” – “slothful” – “workers of iniquity” – “wicked and adulterous generation” – “heretics” – “cretians” – “heathen” – “slow bellies” – “tares” – “unruly mouths” – “foxes” – “evil workers” – “open sepulchers” – “synagogue of Satan” – “children of the devil” – “false prophets” – “false teachers” – “false apostles” – “deceitful workers” – “his (the devil’s) ministers” – “evil men” – “seducers” – “fools” – “blind guides” – and more.
This article also speaks with authority. A sermon to be posted on April 21, titled “The Synagogue of Satan Identified—and Marked!” will add more.
Throughout his ministry, Herbert W. Armstrong “cried aloud and spared not,” warning those headed for punishment foretold in God’s Word. In fact, he spent his life fulfilling Isaiah 58:1, and knew he had God’s authority to do it. He always “lifted up his voice like a trumpet,” never worrying what people thought. He addressed what needed to be said, with no regard for what they wanted to hear.
With a consistent boldness, strength and descriptive language, Mr. Armstrong continually practiced—in reality, obeyed—Isaiah 58:1. He saw the clear responsibility to warn those—of either physical or spiritual Israel—who were headed for the Tribulation. After reading this article, you will not doubt Mr. Armstrong’s approach to warning those headed for disaster, if they did not awaken. Nor will you doubt mine. Included are extensive quotes from Mr. Armstrong demonstrating how seriously he took this responsibility to warn both the nations of Israel and God’s people.
Conditioned to the endless what could be called “Baptist love speak” heard in UCG, LCG, COGwa and other groups, be careful of offense at the strength of Mr. Armstrong’s language, which you may not have read for many years. Instead, savor his words, carefully reflecting on your own condition. Most emphasis is Mr. Armstrong’s, but some italics and all bold is mine. Read carefully all of his statements, asking what splinter leader speaks with even 25% of the force of just the first one:
“Brethren, I am terribly DISTRESSED and sick at heart at the reports from all over, that MANY of our members are LUKEWARM, or entirely LETHARGIC, spiritually. If YOU are one of those, I have to warn you—you may not be on the way to God’s Kingdom—but on the way to your END in the LAKE OF FIRE!”
“Reports indicate that many have ‘come in’ to God’s Church in this manner: They have come to really SEE and KNOW that this is, truly, GOD’S Church. They know there is terrible WORLD TROUBLE just ahead. They have heard how God’s Church is to be taken to a PLACE OF SAFETY…So these people come in, selfishly, for a sort of spiritual and physical SECURITY—to assure PROTECTION when the Great Tribulation bursts upon the world! But they are NOT themselves ‘on fire for GOD!’ They are spiritual DRONES! And God will not give them protection!”
“let me burn your ears before the Almighty God burns you in the Lake of fire! If that has been your attitude—if you are only on the getting side, and shun helping, and giving to the cause of God, then I say to you on authority of Jesus Christ, if you don’t repent and quickly, and change…you do not belong in God’s Church! You are some of the rotten, putrid, spiritual waste that has been plugged up inside the spiritual body of Christ’s wife …” [Author’s note: Does such language offend you—or lift and stir you to action?]
“And if THAT doesn’t make your ears tingle, and AWAKEN you, then Jesus Christ says to YOU through me, YOU are in danger of the Lake of Fire!”
“Did you ever read of Gideon’s experience in choosing men for battle? There were 32,000 men. There are about 32,000 actual BAPTIZED adult members (or professing members) in the Church of God today! God had Gideon proclaim to them: ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead. And there returned of the people 22,000; and there remained 10,000.’ Then God put them to a TEST, and, finally, ONLY 300 out of that 32,000 were chosen by the living ETERNAL!”
“Oh BRETHREN! MUST it be that way with God’s CHURCH today—the very BODY of the living Christ?”
“Unless I PUSH you—PULL at you—REMIND you to act in this DUTY TO GOD AND HIS WORK, you don’t go along on God’s road—you lie down and QUIT…”
Brethren Letter, Mar. 2, 1967
The tone has been set!
Passage Like None Other
Isaiah 58:1 declares, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” A simple definition of the Hebrew from Strong’s Concordance follows each key word in bold. These words become your focus. The definitions are so strong they need no comment from me. First, they demonstrate what GOD intended. Second, notice how certain Hebrew words are repeated twice in the original text. This is God’s own emphasis—a way of HIM saying to not only be strong but to do it with double emphasis. This is much like Christ saying “verily, verily,” meaning “truly, truly.” You are already learning more about this verse than you probably knew:
(1) Cry qârâ' (kaw-raw')—the idea of accosting a person met; to call out to (that is, properly address by name)…bewray [self]…call (for, forth, self, upon), cry (unto), (be) famous…mention, (give) name, preach, proclaim (-ation), pronounce, publish…say.
(2) Aloud gârôn gârôn (gaw-rone', gaw-rone')—the throat…as roughened by swallowing…aloud, mouth, neck, throat.
(3) Spare [not] châśak (khaw-sak')—to restrain [not] or refrain [not]…refuse [not], spare [not]…assuage [not], forbear [not], hinder [not], hold back [not], keep (back) [not]…reserve [not]…withhold [not].
(4) Lift-up rûm (room)—to be high actively to rise or raise…literally or figuratively…bring up, exalt (self)…go up…heave (up), (be, lift up on, make on…) high (-er, one), hold up…lift (-er) up…loud, mount up…tall (-er).
(5) Voice qôl qôl (kole, kole)—to call aloud; a voice or sound: aloud, bleating, crackling, cry (+ out), fame, lightness…[pro-] claim, proclamation, + sing, sound, + spark, thunder (-ing), voice, + yell.
(6) Trumpet shôphâr shôphâr (sho-far', sho-far')—in the…sense of incising; a cornet (as giving a clear sound) or curved horn: trumpet.
(7) Show nâgad (naw-gad')—to front, that is, stand boldly out opposite…to manifest…announce (always by word of mouth to one present); specifically to expose, predict, explain…bewray…certify, declare…denounce, expound, fully, messenger, plainly, profess, rehearse, report, shew (forth), speak, surely, tell, utter.
(8) People ‛am (am)—a people (as a congregated unit); specifically a tribe…hence (collectively) troops or attendants; figuratively a flock: folk, men, nation, people.
(9) Transgression pesha‛ (peh'-shah)—a revolt (national, moral or religious): rebellion, sin, transgression, trespass
(10) House bayith (bah'-yith)—a house (in the greatest variation of applications, especially family, etc.)…home.
(11) Jacob ya‛ăqôb (yah-ak-obe')—heel catcher (that is, supplanter); Jaakob, the Israelitish patriarch: Jacob.
(12) Sins chaṭṭâ'âh chaṭṭâ'th (khat-taw-aw', khat-tawth')—an offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness), and its penalty…sacrifice, or expiation; also (concretely) an offender: punishment (of sin), purifying…sin.
Reread the power in this list! Come to grips with—and never lose sight of—the awesome commission built into this single colossal passage within God’s Word. Someone, somewhere, must be fulfilling Isaiah 58:1. Mr. Armstrong said time and again that God’s pattern of government is that He always works through one chief servant and leader at a time. Finding the person and organization performing this commission is among the greatest responsibilities of God’s people today.
Physical AND Spiritual Israel
Two more brief quotes from Mr. Armstrong further set the table:
“If someone tells me my house is on fire, I’m not going to laugh at him and refuse to take it seriously. I’m going to examine, and be sure! If he’s wrong, then at least I shall KNOW my house is safe. I learned years ago that it can be very dangerous to carelessly assume, or just take for granted. It’s much wiser and safer to get all the FACTS, and then decide.”
“And one’s life for eternity is much more precious than his house.”
“I have given you God’s Word faithfully. It is not popular. It is not what the popular majority tell you.”
“My responsibility ends with telling you. I have cried aloud. I have lifted up my voice.”
Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? (1976)
“The world has sunk into a complacent, indifferent slumber.”
“The world is too busy enjoying this new found prosperity, basking in the comfortable sunshine of luxury, to be much concerned about the on-coming NUCLEAR World War III that WILL, unless prevented by Almighty God, simply erase human life from this planet!”
“Soft words and pretty speeches do not arouse people out of this pleasant dream. It takes a JOLT!”
“Personal from the Editor,” PT, Sept. 1965
Do Mr. Armstrong’s words seem old-fashioned to you—too strong for today? A loving God always warns before punishment, particularly severe punishment—and the worst punishment in all history now lies just beyond the horizon. Mr. Armstrong spoke long ago in the terms above. Those who are even casually watching prophecy—and know anything of the speed, sequence and magnitude of oncoming events—realize calamity is now imminent. God’s people are supposed to grasp what happens when, as well as where and to whom—and why. Make yourself remember that the final era of God’s people are not promised protection from what is coming—and make yourself remember WHY!
The straightforward statements above fulfilled God’s command to “Cry aloud, spare not.” Mr. Armstrong always did this. He never feared the opinion of people, the “critics.” Neither do I.
Isaiah 58:2 continues, “Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God” (vs. 2). Israel’s conduct was a charade—they appeared “as” God’s people, but were not in conduct and faithfulness. They enjoyed “approaching” God, not DOING what He said. But this passage also describes most brethren today—spiritual Israel—who think they are following God’s will, but are not even close.
So tragically, this has become the case with many clear points of Bible teaching once understood by the whole Church!
Consider another familiar passage also quoted often by Mr. Armstrong because he recognized his connection to it: “Son of man, I have set you a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me” (Ezek. 33:7). Later in the same chapter, God speaks to another group at the end of the age whom He calls “My people.” This group also loves to hear God’s words, but will not DO them (vs. 31-34). The whole chapter speaks of a “sword” to come on all those—BOTH GROUPS!—who will not take heed to their conduct. God makes plain to the watchman that he will be no exception if he does not fulfill his duty.
Reread Isaiah 58:1, recognizing it is both a COMMAND from God to His servants and a TWO-FOLD commission: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression, AND the house of Jacob their sins” (Isa. 58:1). There is more to this verse than first meets the eye. Who is the first group introduced—those whom God calls “My people”? And what is their “transgression”? It cannot be speaking of physical Israel because the “House of Jacob (Israel)” is referenced next—after the word “AND.” The identity of this second group referenced is obvious, as are their “sins.” The first group is also obvious. They are God’s people at the end of the age who have committed a particular “transgression”—one tied to rebellion or religious revolt (recall the definition above). It becomes obvious what that transgression is when one merely understands the meaning of Laodicea—“the people rule, judge and decide.” This revolt/rebellion is against the government of God in His Church, although proving this is not the main subject of this article. See the point. God no longer rules the great majority of His people at the end of the age. His final leading servant is to tell you this widespread transgression in no uncertain terms (he is to “spare not”)!
The Ezekiel Warning has long been understood as directed to physical Israel. But the watchman of Ezekiel 33 (and 3:17) takes a warning to the physical nations of Israel AND spiritual Israel—the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). Revelation 12 and other New Testament passages reveal that the Church, Old Testament and New, is identified as Israel. Most know that the carnal ancient Israelites constituted the “congregation” of Israel or, as it is referenced in Acts 7:38, the “church in the wilderness.” The Church of the New Testament is clearly seen to be spiritual Israel. She is pictured as a woman in Revelation 12, with verses 1 to 5 describing Old Testament Israel, and the rest of the chapter (verses 6-17) depicting the New Testament Church. (Compare Galatians 4:26 with Hebrews 12:22-23 and II John 1, 5.)
Mr. Armstrong at times applied Isaiah 58:1 to both the modern nations of Israel and the Church, doing this in writing and sermons. So do I. This explanation of Ezekiel 33 and Isaiah 58 helps you understand why. Mr. Armstrong’s pattern to God’s people is being repeated. Again, the task involves warning in both cases. And in both cases it involves trying to awaken people to biblical truths that have been ignored. It also involves—again in both cases—speaking in the spirit and tone of Isaiah 58:1. Make yourself comprehend.
Separate warnings must be issued during the period before the Great Tribulation. The stakes for both groups—physical and spiritual Israel—are in part the same. Because those who will not heed will be sent into the worst punishment of all time, a fair, just, loving and merciful God would send an unmistakable warning, explaining there is a way of escape. In every Bible account in which punishment was to take place, God warned well in advance—the Flood, Nineveh, Israel and Judah before captivity came, and sometimes individual kings within Israel and Judah. This is God’s established pattern.
It should be easy to see why the final Church era, Laodicea—in the worst spiritual condition of any in 2,000 years (and this after it had been given the full truth through a special restoration, Matt. 17:11)—must receive a POWERFUL WARNING from God’s designated servant!
We might ask: While God could use two different men before the Tribulation, one to warn Israel and one to warn Laodicea, is this what He would do? This is not what He did when Mr. Armstrong was alive, and the sixth era was involved. This becomes God’s pattern at the end of the age.
NO OTHER VOICE WILL BE SENT TO CRY WITHOUT SPARING!
“The Spiritual Leader” Is “Watchman”
Here is another short but all-important statement from Mr. Armstrong. It comes from his booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast?:
“God expects the spiritual leader of His people to be His ‘watchman’ (Ezek. 33:7) and to warn the people.”
This statement is literally impossible to misunderstand. Like others from Mr. Armstrong, you either believe it or you do not. (And you either proved it or you did not.) If you do believe it, you must go and find whoever is the man—one spiritual leader—commissioned to fulfill this responsibility. But you will not be able to see the importance of locating the Church carrying out this duty until you grasp the nature and magnitude of the task Mr. Armstrong references. Once this extraordinary responsibility is truly understood, it automatically becomes its own powerful motivator and magnet to search for whom God has selected to be the final “watchman” to “warn the people” before calamity strikes.
See this point. Mr. Armstrong’s statement is meaningless if you cannot know who the leader of God’s Church is. This means you must know where the Church and Body of Christ is. That is where the government of God would be in place, and where Christ would be directing and empowering His chosen servant to carry out this special responsibility. It goes without saying that whoever this man is, he would have to be clear on these things himself. How else could he know it is his responsibility to sound the warning!
If the appointed leader can know—and he would have to know with absolute certainty—so can you! In fact, for this man to fulfill his duty, he would require to be with him a great many people who also knew this and who would back him up. This means that the proof, with all necessary facts and evidence—the fruit!—of whom Christ is using must be available to God’s people. Only then could they be in a position to decide if they are—or are not—going to support this effort.
Finally, God would have to have made available for review the fruits of the man whom He had selected, so that all could prove and know that CHRIST had selected him, and that the man had not presumptuously appointed himself. God’s people would also have to be able to correctly discern all imposters, remembering the devil counterfeits everything.
It is vital to make clear that God knows He could not have left any of these things in doubt. He simply could not, and you will find that He did not. Presenting that evidence is not the purpose of this article. Numerous books, booklets and sermons do this. You owe it to yourself to review them.
“He that receives you receives Me…”
As with Mr. Armstrong, some reject me personally as the one Christ would choose and send to continue His Church, Truth and Work. Be careful. Jesus told His disciples, “He that receives you [God’s representatives] receives Me, and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Me” (Matt. 10:40). Take time to also read John 13:20—but also Luke 10:16! Again, be careful.
God would not send someone without ensuring we could know that he came from God. If God sends a man, He would obviously want it known. He would make it plain!
Think just of this article, and ask: Who else is saying these things?—any of them? NO ONE!
Understand again. Someone, somewhere—I repeat, someone, somewhere!—had to be raised up after Mr. Armstrong’s death to continue God’s Work and lead in the reconstitution of the Church. Someone has to carry the authority to do this and can be found to be carrying it out. Someone has to warn the nations of Israel. Someone must also warn all God’s people in a lukewarm state. God does not speak audibly from the heavens, but rather through His human servants. If you decide God is not using The Restored Church of God and working through its leader, you must go in search of what would be a clone of this Church and Work. Be sure to keep in mind all the established “qualifiers” in your pursuit. If you do this sincerely, whether your journey is short or long, it will bring you full circle to one place!
Mr. Armstrong’s Warnings to the World
The following quotes represent Mr. Armstrong’s approach to his duty of crying aloud to the world. I have listed many so the reader can experience how often and how strong he was in fulfilling God’s command regarding Isaiah 58 and Ezekiel 33. You will see he intermingled references to both passages. Note how strong Mr. Armstrong was in several quotes just when writing The Plain Truth readership, who could not hear his piercing tenor voice as did the brethren. Again, bold is mine:
“God BEGAN intervening in WORLD AFFAIRS over 33 years ago, in the very smallest way at first, with this WORLD TOMORROW broadcast and The PLAIN TRUTH magazine. This intervention is PREPARING THE WAY for Christ’s coming.
“It is restoring the knowledge that SIN is the transgression of God’s Law (I John 3:4). It is, by a preaching of LOVE, showing the people THEIR SINS! It is making plain WHAT sin is! It is lifting up its voice like a trumpet, and is CRYING, ALOUD, with the AMPLIFIED POWER of more than 45 million watts of radio power, WORLDWIDE! It is fulfilling Isaiah 58:1.
“God says He will do nothing without first WARNING the people (Amos 3:7).
“Very soon, now, God is going to INTERVENE in WORLD AFFAIRS, just prior to Christ’s Coming, by sending on the SINNERS OF THE WORLD the PLAGUES of ‘The Day of the Lord.’ That is a time of GOD’S WRATH against evil spoken of in more than 30 different prophecies—both Old and New Testaments!”
Brethren Letter, April 17, 1967
“God sent His prophets—HIS DIVINE SON—His Apostles—His true ministers, pleading with a world forced to choose—warning this world of the inevitable result of its folly of rebellion.”
“Most people today are like a person in a deep sleep, dreaming a pleasant dream. When one tries to arouse him to tell him his house is on fire and he’s about to be burned up, he drowsily protests:”
“Don’t! Don’t wake me up! Go’ way—let me sleep!”
“Well, listen! Your house is on fire!”
“I have to warn the people—or have their blood required at my hand! God Almighty commands me, ‘cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions.’ (Isa. 58:1). God doesn’t say ‘whisper.’ He does not say, ‘preach soft and smooth things soothingly.’ He tells me to lift up my voice—to cry aloud!—to thunder forth His warning!”
“The time for soft, dainty, purring, soothing preaching is past!”
“I do not talk softly, soothingly, on the air. I cry aloud! I do not spare you—I tell you the truth with all the power God gives me!”
“We seek not to please people. We seek only to obey God, and to help and to save people—because we love them!”
“In His Message to His true Church of this time, which is yielding itself to be His instrument for shouting this very warning, and carrying Christ’s gospel to the world, Jesus said: ‘Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of trial (Great Tribulation—day of the Lord), which shall come upon all the world.’ (Rev. 3:10). But those that are lukewarm, careless, indifferent, Christ says He will spew out of His mouth. (Rev. 3:16).”
“I feel exactly as the prophet Jeremiah felt, when God revealed to him the destruction soon coming on the land of Judea, because of the sins of the Jews of his day. The Chaldean armies of King Nebuchadnezzar were about to march on Jerusalem. Jeremiah saw it—realistically. But the people were sound asleep. It made Jeremiah sick at his stomach.”
“‘My bowels, my bowels!’ Jeremiah cried, clasping his hands tightly around his abdomen. ‘I am pained at my very heart! My heart is beating wildly. I cannot keep silent!’ (Jer. 4:19.)”
“Yes, I know how Jeremiah felt!”
“Do you think I can keep silent, today? God has revealed to me your danger! I can also see your lethargy.”
“Some few have written me gripes and criticisms. Some few have not wanted to see such realistic pictures of what’s coming in real life! Some few have threatened to stop reading The plain truth …”
“…if by God’s grace, thru his power, I can make this real enough, I can be the means of saving some of you. And your lives are very precious! Every single one that is saved is worth all the effort—all the criticism from those who want soft and smooth things and deceits—all the persecution.”
“your life is very precious. It’s a potential child of God! I hope to see you, and know you, and love you, in the kingdom of God! Yes, your life is very precious to me! I’m going to try to wake you up to reality, if I can. Criticize and condemn me…I can do no other than to make this warning plain! It’s motivated by a spirit of love! God help you to wake up and heed!”
“Yes, I Know,” PT, Feb.-Mar. 1955
“There are times, I have to confess, when I feel impotent, helpless, frustrated. I wonder if any of our readers could put themselves in my place, and realize what I see and know, and how I feel.”
“Yes, millions are hearing God’s last solemn, frantic warning! Would you suppose that fact would fill me with joy, sweep my being with elation? it doesn’t! Instead, I feel defeated—frustrated!”
“Do you know why? Because I see, as Christ said of his preaching to the people, that ‘they seeing see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.’ Only at Nineveh did the people ever heed a warning!”
“It gives me a feeling of utter futility—of putting forth supreme effort, fighting thru the years with all my own strength and energy, plus all that I’ve been able to drink in from God—and yet, it’s like being on a tread-mill—actually making no progress!”
“I, personally, see what lies ahead! It fills me with frantic terror—for the safety of all the people whom I love—people who could be spared and protected from the catastrophes they are bringing on themselves—even as I fully expect to be spared thru God’s supernatural protection—but they won’t!”
“will you understand? Will you heed—and spare your own precious life from the things to come? will you take warning?”
“God says that if we ourselves see these things coming, and warn you, we have acquitted ourselves—your blood is not on our hands. But that is not enough to satisfy me—just to save my own skin. I want to see you saved, too!!”
“Heart to Heart Talk With the Editor,” PT, Apr. 1956
“But Christ raised up this Work—preaching the PLAIN TRUTH. God’s Truth CUTS—it cuts right AGAINST human nature—it angers some people—it corrects, it reproves, it shows people what SINNERS they are—it shows them WHAT THEIR SINS ARE! People don’t LIKE to be criticized, reproved, rebuked, told they are DOING WRONG. It is the most UNpopular teaching there is! It’s the HARDEST to accept. Yet Christ guided this Work exactly THAT WAY! He caused it to start out THE SMALLEST, like the proverbial grain of mustard seed. It started with NO MONEY—NO CAPITAL—NO GROUP, ORGANIZATION, OR SPONSOR of any kind—none but the living GOD, that is!
“Christ caused this Work to start out proclaiming His Truth straight from the shoulder—pulling no punches—and these punches DID hit a lot of people! It did correct, reprove and rebuke. It did show people just WHAT were their sins! It DID ‘cry aloud and spare not, and show God’s people their sins’ (Isaiah 58:1).
“It never even ASKED the public for support.”
Brethren Letter, August 28, 1966
“You may search the Bible from beginning to end. You’ll find the true prophets, apostles, ministers of God put first emphasis on the right cause, not the effect. They proclaim the way that leads to peace, happiness, security, and finally, eternal life. In Bible language, this means that God’s Word, and God’s true prophets and ministers put first emphasis on God’s law.
“And, further, since sin is the transgression of God’s law, the true ministers lift up their voices to show the people their sins (Isaiah 58:1). They call the people to repentance, reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sins, leading those who have been going astray back into the right way of God’s Law through God’s free grace.
“It’s just this simple: There is a right way that leads to every desired result—blessings now, and eternal life forever. God’s Law is merely a defining of that way. But the whole world has been going astray—going the wrong way. God sends His prophets and ministers to proclaim the right way, to show people that they are going the wrong way, to cause them to turn around and get back on the right way through Jesus Christ by God’s free grace. Then the desired result follows. And that’s the only way to that desired result!”
The Plain Truth, Personal from the Editor, May, 1966
The next quote comes from Volume One of Mr. Armstrong’s Autobiography, under the subhead “The Crucial Test”:
“A man accosted me as I was walking along the gravel country road, between the Firbutte School and the Jeans School in the fall of 1933.
“‘You won’t get far,’ he said. ‘You’re preaching the straight truth of the Bible. That offends people. The Bible is like a sharp two-edged sword. It cuts—it reproves, corrects, rebukes—people won’t support that kind of preaching! You won’t get far.’
“But I was not relying on the support of people. If people paid me, I would have to serve people. If I were to serve God, I would have to look solely to God for support!
“Of course God does work through human instruments. But I had to rely on God to lay it on the hearts of people to support the kind of preaching that obeys Isaiah 58:1 by crying aloud—lifting up my voice and showing the people their sins!
“Never was a more important decision made than that decision to cut loose entirely from relying on men, and instead, relying solely on God—not only for truth, and for direction, but also for support! That’s why we never solicit the public for contributions.
“Very quickly after that decision the living Christ began opening doors! Very small ones at first. Then additional small ones—then a big door—then more and more of them!
“And, to finance what He opened before me, He added, slowly, gradually, but consistently to the little family of Co-Workers who voluntarily wanted to have a part in God’s Work—in changing hearts, changing human nature, preparing for Christ’s coming to change and SAVE the WORLD! But I could not invite people to become Co-Workers. I could welcome them with gratitude when God caused them voluntarily to become Co-Workers with Christ—but until they took the initiative I could not ask them. No other activity on earth is operated like this—and perhaps none has grown so surely.”
Mr. Armstrong Warns the Church of a Laodicean Condition
The article has not yet focused on what Isaiah 58:1 once meant TO THE CHURCH. In a sense, this lone passage set the tone for how Mr. Armstrong led God’s Work throughout his ministry. When he needed to correct the Church on matters of great importance, he did it in the spirit of this verse. Naturally, when he needed to speak out in warning to powerful nations, he also did it in the spirit of this scripture.
The point. You must recognize how the special warning to Israel is being, and will continue to be, issued. What TONE OF VOICE—what CLARITY OF ISSUES—and what LEVEL OF VOLUME!—God expects His servants to use. He compares the voice of His Work, and of His chief servant at the end of the age, to that of a TRUMPET!
Here are just a few quotes showing this time how he warned GOD’S PEOPLE about falling into a lukewarm state. Many more could be included. Note how he connected being lukewarm to watering down doctrinal truth:
“Instead of wholeheartedly OBEYING Christ through HIS WORD, THE BIBLE, there was creeping in, during years when I was in other parts of the world up to 300 out of the 365 days in the year, a LIBERAL spirit of SATAN.”
“Those leaders to whom I had delegated the responsibility of ADMINISTERING the POLICIES and DOCTRINES Christ had set in God’s Church through His apostle, went way BEYOND the authority given them. They started CHANGING POLICIES and watering down God’s TRUTH, changing DOCTRINES, compromising—seeing HOW CLOSE they could go—and lead the Brethren in going—to the ways of SATAN! They wanted to be more LIBERAL—more like THIS WORLD OF SATAN.”
“…there still remains among a FEW of us a tendency to LET DOWN—to lose our zeal—and even to become LUKEWARM.”
Brethren Letter, Sept. 15, 1980
“This Church was drifting into a Laodicean condition.”
“The Laodicean church will be characterized by spiritual lukewarmness—half of its membership (Matt. 25:1-13) will be shut out of the Kingdom of God.”
“But, the bad news, as it appears today, my dear brethren, is that we, undoubtedly of the Philadelphia era—my son’s ridicule notwithstanding—are in serious danger of becoming also the Laodicean era. I am personally much concerned about that. If you are not concerned, then indeed we are in mortal DANGER.”
“What God Never Did—Never Will—Allow…,” GN, Aug. 1979
“Now back to Revelation 12:17: Satan shall be full of wrath against the remnant—the last remaining generation of the Church—the ‘Laodicean’ Church, and will terribly persecute her. But Matthew 25 shows that though that final generation of the Church shall be lukewarm—not less emotional, but more ‘liberal,’ more secular and less spiritual—less strictly biblical—yet half of them shall be saved at Christ’s coming, though half shall be spewed out of Christ’s mouth (Rev. 3:16).”
“Personal,” PT, Aug. 1980
“…when my son…came to take over more authority than had been delegated to him, surrounding himself with a group of liberals, who led him, and mis led him into watering down God’s doctrines—under their false influence a Laodicean lukewarmness and indifference, losing the love of God’s truth, found root in the Church.”
“Christ Sets Church on Track,” GN, Apr. 1979
“Of the ‘Philadelphia’ Church, Christ says, ‘I know that you have but little power.’ It is probably the weakest in numerical and physical strength and power—the smallest in membership, of any of the Churches from the time of the Apostles until the Second Coming. It has but few ministers.”
“But some of those in the Church today will grow weary with well-doing. They will brag about being the true Church—thinking they are spiritually rich, when they are, in fact, almost spiritually destitute. Because they are indifferent to the real work of God, lukewarm, lacking in zeal, Christ will spew them out of His mouth. They cannot be used in His work! They shall lose the very salvation they boast of having unless they repent! God help you never to drift into the Laodicean church!”
“Must God’s Ministers Be Ordained By the Hand of Man?”, GN, Oct. 1962
“Laodicean is the dominant Church attitude at the end…At the end, the Laodicean condition of lukewarmness dominates in the churches.”
Radio Broadcast, early 1960s
“When we face a serious or alarming situation, there is…a tendency toward LETTING DOWN IN PRAYER—in BIBLE STUDY, and consequently in that zeal and willingness to sacrifice for GOD’S WORK.”
“Do you suppose Satan does not know all this? He knows! He will do all in his power to get you discouraged to get you to find some fault—to let down in prayer and Bible study—to lose your inspired zeal for God’s Work!”
“I KNOW that most of us have not, yet, come back to that full WHOLEHEARTED energetic ZEAL for GETTING ON WITH THIS WORK that we MUST have to finish it!”
“Looking at present FACTS, and TRENDS, that might seem impossible! But this is THE WORK OF GOD—A WORK OF FAITH—and existing facts, trends, circumstances, HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH FAITH. The living Christ has resources, and ways WE KNOW NOTHING OF!”
“And whereas, it is incumbent on us…to CONFESS and deplore…our SINS in allowing worldly interests and pleasures to start drawing us away from our God, and our zeal for HIS WORK, I call on all Brethren to CONFESS this lukewarmness…and to PRAY, with all FERVENCY and CONTRITION, for God’s pardon for these offenses, and for a permanent BLESSING on HIS WORK henceforth, continuously to its final completion.”
“Brethren, many if not most of us have let other interests creep into our minds and hearts till we do not have ANYWHERE NEAR the ZEAL for the GREATEST WORK ON EARTH, that the football players have for a football game.”
“WHY can football players get themselves ‘UP’ in almost fanatical ZEAL, motivated by HATE, when we are indifferent, ‘DOWN,’ and lukewarm about the MOST IMPORTANT AND GLORIOUS CALLING OF ALL TIME?”
“…Christ is doing his part—opening new doors. Only one thing has been wrong!—and we must face it!—too many of us have been growing lukewarm …”
“We may think, because we keep [God’s] Sabbath, that we have no wicked ways or sins to turn from. But laxity…can be sin.”
Brethren Letter, Nov. 2, 1972
Does it upset you that I have quoted Mr. Armstrong so many times and in this way? The principles and truth of his words are timeless. Of course, he is no longer here to deliver—to SHOUT!—these warnings himself. Someone else must continue it, recognizing the danger he spoke of is now greater—more imminent—MUCH CLOSER AT HAND—for those who have not heeded!
All real ministers of God must possess the heart of a shepherd. True shepherds love God’s sheep, and must be prepared to give their lives for them. God says that He chastens every son that He loves (Prov. 3:11-12; Heb. 12:6-11), and He often uses His servants to bring His chastening. If this article offends you, that may be good—if it stirs you to action. If you choose to resent my words, this is a price I am prepared to pay—with the hope that it could awaken you later.
There is no longer time in this age to speak any way but boldly. But doing this with authority does come at a price. I will continue to do this—no matter the price for me personally, and no matter how few or many are willing to pay it with us! Those who will not pay God’s price now ought to recognize that prophecy reveals the price will soon increase dramatically for His people—and for all people on Earth.
It is still not too late to forsake the majority and escape what they must endure!
An Uncertain Sound?
The apostle Paul wrote, “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to battle?” (I Cor. 14:8). Ask yourself why your organization, either in written or spoken form, does not speak with the clarity, authority and BLAST OF POWER described in Isaiah 58:1. Ask why there is not the same urgency in its words and “tone of voice” as Mr. Armstrong used—and as I am trying with all my might to use with you RIGHT NOW!
The United Church of God has used a variety of approaches to their telecast. These tend to almost resemble “fireside chats,” in which the sometimes two different men together pretend to “broadcast” as they exchange “interesting” questions and ideas. Most of what they say could be described as little more than weak, syrupy whispering. (Popular televangelists are stronger!) The Living Church of God is doing little better. Ask regarding its leader. Would God warn through a man who himself needs strong warning? Of course not.
The Church of God, an International Community prides itself, and this thinking emanates directly from the leader, in presenting the truth as an intellectual “vision,” a view he has declared Mr. Armstrong failed to realize was the more correct way to take the gospel to the world, never mind any kind of warning to Israel.
A side note: Any number of slivers and individuals can claim they are “doing the Work.” I can think of several groups who have anemic and almost pitiful websites, which are invariably badly conceived and poorly maintained. That they are far from speaking in the manner of Isaiah 58:1 is apart from the fact that God is not leading them. Just their paltry store of material and lack of quality reflects this much.
On the other hand, the one who believes himself to be “That Prophet” bellows and rages, primarily attacking those of Laodicea as though brothers and sisters in Christ are “enemies” in a way no true servant of God would ever do. He actually takes pride in thundering, “We are AT WAR with Laodicea!” Obviously, God is not at war with His own people, and neither are His servants. He certainly does want to warn those of Laodicea because of what lies ahead for all who do not repent of their spiritual condition. By no definition is this strange, bizarre man’s self-proclaimed “responsibility” related to the true Work of God today! It is alien to everything of God.
Certainly nothing in the approach or manner of these groups or “leaders” remotely resembles the way Mr. Armstrong’s literally “trumpet-like” tenor voice pierced the airwaves as though it was coming from a charging bull elephant!
So tragically, most splinter members (and ministers) today seem to prefer their leaders practice what God condemns: “Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isa. 30:10). Too weak, timid and afraid to be unpopular and persecuted, leaders of the organizations happily supply what their tithe-paying voters want.
As with the article’s very first quote from Mr. Armstrong, I am also sick at heart! I am terribly saddened that so many have grown so desperately blind to their need to seek Almighty God—and to clean up their character, along with their woeful and confused doctrinal understanding. Like Ezekiel “sighing and crying” (9:4) for the sins of modern Israel, I personally sigh and cry for the wretched, deplorable condition of so many thousands of brethren whom I know!
I urge you to see the tone and language in our books and booklets, such as America and Britain in Prophecy, Who or What Is the Beast of Revelation?, Are These the Last Days?, Why Man Cannot Solve His Problems, Tomorrow’s Wonderful World – An Inside View!, War, Killing and the Military, and so many, many more.
To understand Isaiah 58:1 is to know why we write as we do—why I speak with a spirit of warning to both national Israel and the majority of God’s people, in spiritual Israel (Laodicea). Both are in deep trouble. I repeat: a fair, just, loving, merciful God wants them to awaken before it is too late! Given the terrible time just ahead, the Great Tribulation, do any believe soft, purring tones and “commentary” about events and trends gets the job done? By no stretch!
Each of God’s people must decide the manner in which he supports who and what this article describes.
Do not miss my next two postings. The first will be a sermon (posted April 21) that identifies—and MARKS!—the modern “synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 3:9). The second, an Open Letter (posted sometime in May), will present the truth and clear up many of the greatest lies told about me personally that are circulating throughout the splinters. Brethren must have an opportunity to cut through the 10-foot-thick layer of deceit surrounding my name. I have come to see it as my duty to give all of God’s people a fighting chance to defeat these lies and deceit. I will be specific! The April sermon sets up the May follow-up article.