Jesus Christ described His Church of the last generation of this age as a Church having grown lax, lukewarm, tepid --
spiritually lethargic, a compromising Church -- a Church in
GREAT DANGER! Old Testament Prophets warn of the same awesome peril! Do you understand the danger? Have you properly assessed the peril? Do you know how to ESCAPE from the Laodicean condition, without having to go through the Great Tribulation?
William F. Dankenbring
God Almighty has very little good to say about His Church during the last days of this planet earth --the final generation before the soon return of His Son, Jesus Christ, to rule the nations of the world!
But the present Church condition was prophesied long, long ago, in the pages of the Biblical prophets, as well as foretold by Jesus Christ Himself!
Thousands are blinded to the truth! They see and partake of the glittering facade of respectability, the glamour of Church formal dances, the dazzling display of entertainment programs held in the very "House of God," and think that they are all right with God. Their eyes have been taken off of Christ, their Savior and Protector, and have been hypnotized, mesmerized, by the seductive glamour of the palpable present -- the existence of lovely buildings, glamorous television programs, record-breaking mail, financial income -- but they are in increasing danger of forgetting Christ, and ignoring His dire warnings of what is to befall this present generation!
The apostle Paul warned us, today, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth TAKE HEED LEST HE FALL" (1 Cor.1O:l2).
The apostle Paul also warned the Hebrews, in a warning written down and preserved for us, today, "Therefore we ought to give the MORE EARNEST HEED to the things which we have heard, lest AT ANY TIME we should let them slip . . . How shall we escape, if we NEGLECT so great salvation. . . ?" (Heb.2:l-3). Jesus warned that in the end times, many would be BLIND -- they would lose sight of the truth. He rebukes the Laodicean Church, the last generation of His Church before His Second Coming, saying, "thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and BLIND, and naked" (Rev.3:17).
condition of spiritual "blindness" has come upon many in the
"THE MYSTERY OF INIQU1TY"
Notice Paul's warning, written precisely for this end time in which we live. He wrote, "For the mystery of iniquity doth ALREADY WORK" (II Thess.2:7). He admonished the Thessalonians, that in the days of the end-time, the Wicked one would finally be revealed whom Christ will destroy at His coming (II Thess.2:8). This evil person will come "after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with ALL DECEIV ABLENESS OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS in them that PERISH because they received not the LOVE OF THE TRUTH that they might be saved" (vs.9-10).
Notice! How easy it is for the devil to deceive and mislead people with his subtle poison! The ways of unrighteousness are extremely deceptive, alluring; they even appear righteous, on the surface. They seem reasonable. But people are led into error step by careful step, all as a part of Satan's crafty plot to deceive the world (Rev .12:9). Like the frog put into a pan of tepid, lukewarm water, with the water being brought slowly to a boil, the frog never notices the true plight he is in until it is too late. The gradual rise in temperature until he is boiled alive dulls his alertness, and before you know it, he is dead!
So it is with the devil's deception of people. Because so many people do not really "love the truth," and cling to it, but willingly follow their leader into error, Paul says "for this cause God shal1 send them STRONG DELUSION that they should BELIEVE A LIE . . . That they all might be damned (judged, condemned) who BELIEVED NOT THE TRUTH, but had PLEASURE IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESSS" (vs.11-12).
God Himself allows this to happen! Why? Because of the lukewarm, lackadaisical attitude of His people! Because they don't really CARE about the truth!
The world today, and the
apostle Paul warns, "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the
Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. . . . But ye, brethren, are not in
darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children
of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of
darkness. Therefore LET US NOT SLEEP, as do others; but let us
It’s time to
Paul exhorts, "And that, knowing the time, that now it is HIGH TIME to A W AKE OUT OF SLEEP -- for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Rom.13:11).
Parable of the Ten Virgins
Jesus declared, "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept And at there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him" (Matt25:l-6).
Notice this amazing parable! Nobody seems to believe it, today. Here
This parable applies to TODAY! Today we are living at the HOUR of this world's history! TODAY the cry is going out, "Prepare to meet your God, O Israel! " Today, the message of Christ's soon coming is being broadcast, thundered, trumpeted to the world!
This refers to THIS GENERATION!
And notice! Not half, but ALL the virgins "SLUMBERED AND SLEPT"! (Matt25:5). Do you see? ALL the virgins -- that is, ALL the Church -- has been asleep. That means, even YOU!
"Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out (Greek, "going out"). But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were READY went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matt.25:7-13).
A Special Warning to Our Generation!
parable describes the condition of the entire
But some -- fully half of the Church -- will not be ready when He comes. For them, it will be TOO LATE! It will be too late for them to build the character, overcome, master themselves, put sin out of their lives, and to get ready to meet Christ! They will have allowed the Holy Spirit in them to diminish, and lessen, to the point of extinction. They will have grieved the Holy Spirit by their careless disregard of the truth (Eph.4:30). They will have carelessly, negligently, foolishly quenched the very Spirit of God which imparts LIFE (I Thess.5:19).
Their lack of love for the truth will do them in. They, and their foolish leaders, will find out that the thing which mattered most to God was the very thing that they neglected and ignored and treated with disdain and contempt -- the very truth of God!
God says to this generation, II And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book (Heb., letter) that is sealed which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.
"Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their HEART FAR FROM ME, and their FEAR toward me is TAUGHT BY THE PRECEPT OF MEN. Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder. . . for the wisdom of their wise men shall PERISH and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid" (lsa.29:ll-14).
is a prophecy for TODAY! GOD says the
Why is this the case?
God lays the blame squarely where it belongs! He thunders that their HEART IS FAR FROM HIM! Oh, on the outside they may appear righteous to men, but on the inside they are full of GREED, AVARICE, JEALOUSY, HATRED, STRIFE, BI1TERNESS, REBELLION, LUST, and HYPOCRISY!
They honor God verbally, with their lips, and make magnificent prayers in public, and preach long, windy, boring sermons, but it is all a phony facade --a charade -- a dazzling display of spiritual ineptitude!
God says that in the midst of this confusion and spiritual CHAOS in His Church, He will begin to do a special, unique, wonderful WORK -- a work that men will marvel and wonder at! It will be done, not by human power, or might, or money -- but BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD (Zech.4:6)!!!
looks upon the works of modern Church leaders as seriously wanting in many
respects. His description of the
God says of such spiritual leaders, "WOE UNTO THEM that draw iniquity with cords of VANITY, and sin as it were with a cart rope" (Isa.5:18). They drag their sins after them, all tied up in a huge bundle, refusing to part with a single one of them! They are full of VANITY and PROUD ARROGANCE -- not understanding that God HATES "self esteem"! We don't need to have more "self esteem" as the false prophets and pundits say -- rather, we need more HUMILITY and the fear of the Lord!
GOD says to such religious leaders, "WOE unto them that call EVIL GOOD, and GOOD EVIL, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isa.5:20).
God says WOE to them -- "they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands" (lsa.5:12). They have become distracted, bogged down, blinded to what is really important They minimize the fulfillment of Bible prophecy at the very time we should be sober, vigilant, and watching. They disregard what is the TRUE work of God, WARNING this world and its nations of the coming punishment for their sins. They "water down" the message of God, dilute it, claiming "people won't listen to fiery words" of warning.
The true Work of God? They are so deceived, spiritually, that they wouldn't recognize it if they fell over it! Rather, they are doing their OWN work, and calling it by God's name, claiming He sent them! In the greatness of their folly, they have GONE ASTRAY!
God Almighty warns them urgently to REPENT!
God says to the modem leadership of the Worldwide Church of God, and Church of God International: "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will LAUGH AT YOUR CALAMITY; I will MOCK when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and yourdestruction cometh AS A WHIRL WIND, when distress and anguish come upon you" (prov.l:24-27).
Because of this attitude, God says: "For the TURNING A W AY of the simple shall SLAY them, and the PROSPERITY OF FOOLS shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil" (prov.l:32-33).
What about you? Are you willing to rub the sleep from your eyes, splash cold spiritual water in your face, and W AKE UP to the true condition of modern Church leaders and ministers?
Because of them, God says, "Therefore MY PEOPLE ARE GONE INTO CAPTIVITY, because they have no knowledge; and their honorable men are famished (Heb., "their glory are men of famine"), and their multitude dried up with thirst" (Isa.5:13).
spiritual compromise, and lukewarmness, tens of thousands of members of God's
A Warning Straight from Jesus Christ!
Jesus Christ says of the Laodicean end-time
The apostle Paul wrote of this fire. He said, "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be REVEALED BY FIRE; and the FIRE shall try [test, prove] every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be BURNED, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire" (I Cor.3:13-15).
The prophet Ezekiel specifically foretold that this "fire" refers to Great Tribulation and captivity. God told him, "And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber's razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair.
"Thou shalt BURN WITH FIRE a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and SMITE about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt SCA TTERE in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them.
shalt also take thereof a few in number , and bind them in thy skirts. Then
take of THEM again, and cast them into the MIST OF THE FIRE, and BURN THEM IN
THE FIRE; for thereof shall a FIRE come forth into all the house of
This punishment is coming upon our modern nations, who have forsaken the Living God, and also upon the End- Time Church of God, which has departed from the truth and settled down to become a part of this evil world.
But what about you?
Jesus warned, "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and PRA Y ALWAYS (always be praying), that ye may be accounted worthy to ESCAPE all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21:34-36).
Are you watching? And praying? Or are you following men into error and fantasy?
Are you redeeming the time? Are you vigilant, alert, and sensitive to the danger?
The spiritual condition even within the Church of God would be so bad during the final end-time generation before the second coming of Jesus Christ, that Christ Himself asked, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8).
Jesus warned the Laodicean Church, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor not: I would thou wert cold or not. So then because thou art LUKEWARM, and neither cold nor hot, I will SPUE THEE OUT OF MY MOUTH. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with good, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art WRETCHED, AND MISERABLE, AND POOR, AND BLIND, AND NAKED" (Rev.3:15-17).
But why? Why should a Church in the midst of prosperity and seeming plenty, be so spiritually poor, wretched, blind and naked?
Two causes can be ascertained for this: First, the members of the Church, instead of overcoming the world around them, have instead been overcome by the world and its negative, alluring, powerfully seductive influences! Secondly, God ascribes a great measure of the blame and responsibility upon the leaders of the Church -- the ministry -- the shepherds of the flock! Notice!
The prophet Zechariah was inspired to write, “Mine anger was kindled against the SHEPHERDS, and I punished the goats” (Zech.10:3).
God continues, in the next chapter, "There is the voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled . . . Thus saith the Lord my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter. . . whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the Lord; FOR I AM RICH, and their own shepherds pity them not" (Zech.ll:3-5).
Notice this passage carefully. Here is described in a prophecy for the "last days" a picture of a "flock of the SLAUGHTER -- a flock, that is, which is to be killed, devastated, martyred, slaughtered --in other words, a flock which goes straight into the Great Tribulation! This flock is the Laodicean Church!
Notice again: The shepherds of this flock say to themselves, and its leaders say, "I am rich. " How remarkable! Jesus said the Laodicean Church says of itself, "I am rich and increased with goods" (Rev.3:18). Both Churches think of themselves as "rich." This Church will be slaughtered and sold into slavery. The Laodicean Church, Jesus said, must buy "gold refilled in the fire" -- Great Tribulation!
How plain! The prophecy in Zechariah is speaking of the end-time LAODICEAN CHURCH!
“1nstruments of a Foolish Shepherd”
What could be plainer? Dropping down to verse 15 of Zechariah 11, God says, “And the Lord said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. For, 10, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be CUT OFF (put out of the Church, or isolated from the Church, for some reason), neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still (he does not really "feed" the flock good, nourishing, strong meat!); but he shall eat the flesh of the fat (that is, he and his cronies will live "high off the hog," in luxury and wealth), and tear their claws in pieces” -- he will actually destroy the flock, devouring the sheep by extorting from them every last cent they have, in the name of tithing, offerings, and sacrificial gifts to the Church and ministry! (Zech.11:15-16).
God is not pleased with this kind of wicked, self- serving, evil ministry. He continues,
"WOE to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock!
the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right
eye; his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye
shall be utterly darkened" (verse 17).
This end-time shepherd of God's people will suffer greatly because of his wickedness.
But what shepherd is this speaking about? Could this be a prophecy regarding some flagrantly wrong minister in the world, one of Satan's ministers over his false churches? For the apostle Paul said even the devil has his own churches and ministers (II Cor.11:13-15).
But notice! God Himself answers this question. He says about this shepherd, " Awake, O sword, against MY SHEPHERD, and against the man that is MY FELLOW, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn my hand upon the little ones" (Zech.13:7).
This shepherd of the end-times is not one of Satan's ministers; rather, he is God's shepherd, one whom God calls "my fellow." God would not say this of a minister serving Satan, in one of Satan's churches, masquerading as God's Church. This must be written of a man in the End time OVER THE TRUE CHURCH OF GOD -- but a man who has departed from the faith, and gone seriously astray!
Obviously, this minister over the Work and Church of God must be GOD'S OWN MINISTER --one who was initially selected and appointed by Him! -- but one who begins to err, and to sin, and to go astray from the faith, and from the truth of God!
His authority begins to go to his head. His power and position begin to cause him to become arrogant, proud, and to abuse his authority and control over the Church! He becomes a spiritual TYRANT! He becomes a spiritual Ogre -- a type of the very "Beast" of Revelation!
God says this vain and arrogant shepherd shall be "smitten," that is, killed, and the sheep shall be scattered. This scattering occurs during the Great Tribulation.
Notice! Zechariah continues, "And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third part shall be left therein. And I will bring the THIRD PART through the FIRE, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried . . ." (Zech.13:8-9).
What period of time is this prophecy describing? As we already saw in Ezekiel 5, this "fire" is describing the GREAT TRIBULATION! God is going to scatter His sheep in the Great Tribulation, and turn His hand upon the little ones. He will work with each individual personally, to determine whether they have the character traits necessary to enter His Kingdom. Many of them will be martyred!
This prophecy is a prediction of the Great Tribulation and time of Jacob's trouble, which is shortly to descend like a nightmare upon the world. Notice that a "third part" will be scattered. Only a "few in number" would be protected by God, symbolized by the few bound up in Ezekiel's skirts (Ezek.5:3-4). This "few in number" undoubtedly refers to the Philadelphia Church of God, the few members left alive in it, as Jesus promised only them divine protection from the hour of trial which will come upon the whole earth (see Rev.3:10).
The prophet Ezekiel adds, concerning this horrible event, " A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them."
This scattered flock is further described in Ezekiel 34. This chapter is a stinging indictment of the ministers of God in this end-time generation! Notice!
"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel,
prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God
unto the shepherds: WOE be to the shepherds of Israel
that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed
"Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe ye with the wool, ye kill
them that are fed (spiritually destroy or "disfellowship"
those who truly understand God's Word!): but ye feed not
"The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye
healed that which sick, neither have ye bound up that which
was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was
driven away (thrust out of the Church), neither have ye
sought that which was lost: but with FORCE AND WITH
CRUELTY have ye RULED them (exercising "authority"
in the Church of God).
"And they were SCATTERED, because there is no (true,
godly) shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered" (Ezek.34:1-5).
This is a very severe indictment of the end-time Church of God and its ministry!
God continues His rebuke: "There- fore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will DELIVER my flock from their MOUTH that they may not be meat for them.
"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are SCATTERED; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day" (Ezek.34:9-l2).
This "cloudy and dark day" refers to the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord (see Matt24:2l-22, 29-30). Joel describes it as "a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness" (Joe12:2). It is a day of "destruction from the Almighty" (Joel 1:15).
Jeremiah also pronounces God's curse upon the ministers of His Church during the final end-time generation --the time in which we now live!
"Woe Be Unto the Pastors"
Jeremiah is inspired by God Almighty to continue in the same vein as Ezekiel. He writes, "Woe be unto the pastors that DESTROY and SCATTER the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the EVIL OF YOUR DOINGS, saith the Lord" (Jer.23:l-2).
Jeremiah continues: "Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness. For the land is full of adulterers. . . . For both PROPHET AND PRIEST ARE PROFANE; yea, IN MY HOUSE HAVE I FOUND THEIR WICKEDNESS, saith the Lord. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring EVIL UPON THEM, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord" (Jer.23:9-12)
This is a prophecy for the End-time -- the time when God's flock is going to be scattered in captivity (Jer.23:2). God Himself will finally regather His flock, those left alive, from all the countries where they will have been driven (verse 3). At that time Christ Himself will rule over the earth (Jer.23:4-6). All these things show clearly that this prophecy is for the END TIME, not some other time or age!
The leaders and members of the Laodicean Church will not escape the Great Tribulation. They will find themselves right in the middle of it!
In Revelation 12 the apostle John says,
"Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!
for the devil is come down unto you, HA VING
GREAT WRATH, because he knoweth that he
hath but a short time.
"And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto
the earth, he PERSECUTED the woman which brought
forth the man child. And to the woman were given two
wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilder-
ness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time,
times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. . .
"And the dragon was WROTH with the woman, and
went to MAKE W AR WITH THE REMNANT OF
HER SEED, which keep the commandments of God,
and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev.12:12-17).
Satan, will "make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 12:17). As Ezekiel and Zechariah prophesied, a "sword" will be drawn out after them, wherever they have been scattered.
This will be a time of tremendous persecution and martyrdom of saints. Many will have to give their lives for the sake of Jesus Christ, or recant their faith and suffer the seven last plagues of the wrath of God.
Speaking of this time, John records, "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were SLAIN for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
"And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, UNTIL THEIR FELLOWSERVANTS also and their brethren, that should be KILLED AS THEY WERE; should be fulfilled" (Rev.6:9-ll).
This "fifth seal " represents the Great Tribulation -- the wrath of Satan upon the members of God's Church who were not among the "few" hidden in the skirts of Ezekiel -- the "few" who are to be kept from the "hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Rev.3:10).
ARE YOU PREPARED TO GIVE YOUR LIFE IN MARTYRDOM?
THE GREAT TRIBULATION!
This period of world-engulfmg Great Tribulation will come upon the entire earth. Jesus Christ foretold, "For then shall be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as was not since there was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever will be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved (alive): but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matt.24:21-22).
Jesus was talking about OUR DAY -- the "end of the world" (Matt.24:3) -- the time just before His Second Coming (same verse). He meant the future just immediately ahead of us!
Speaking of this end time, Jesus said: "Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And GREAT EARTHQUAKES shall be in divers places, and FAMINES, and PESTILENCES (such as AIDS!); and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. But before all these they shall lay their hands on you (my servants, true Christians), and PERSECUTE you, delivering you up to the synagogues (churches!), and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake" (Luke 21:10-12).
Jesus added, "For these be the days of VENGEANCE, that all things that are written may be fulfilled" (verse 22). "But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and WRATH upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive (as SLA YES) into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (verses 23-24).
During this time the resurrected Roman Empire, with a supreme Dictator ruling Europe, perhaps from the Atlantic to the Urals, and over a re-united Germany, in league with the Pope and the Catholic Church, will "make war with the saints" and will "overcome them" and will rule over many nations (Rev. 13 :5-7). All who do not fall down and "worship" this political-religious union of church and state will be "killed" -- martyred (Rev.13:15).
Hundreds of thousands --even MILLIONS -- will be killed -- put to death -- because they will not submit to the Vatican and Papacy, and "worship" their "image" of the "Beast"!
Who would this group include? Most likely multitudes of Seventh Day Adventists, Evangelicals, Baptists, Church of God Seventh Day, Church of God groups, including United Church of God, Living, Philadelphia, and a host of others -- and certainly the apostate Worldwide Church of God!
God knows His own. That is not our problem. John records, " And I saw the woman (great False Church) DRUNKEN WITH THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS, and with the BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS OF JESUS" (Rev.17:6). This great harlot church (Rev.17:5), ruled by a great Pope or False Prophet like Balaam (Rev.13:11-14), will persecute, hound to the death, harass, bully, torture, and cause to be martyred, everyone it can catch who will not submit to its authority and worship its "god" -- the Dictator himself, taken over and inspired by Satan the devil (Rev.13:12, 11).
God says of this coming great religious/political union, "they have shed the blood of saints and prophets" (Rev.16:6).
Daniel the prophet wrote also of this time. He declared,
"And they that UNDERSTAND among the people shall
INSTRUCT MANY: yet they shall FALL BY THE
SWORD, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, MANY
DA YS. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen
with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with
flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall F ALL,
to TRY them, and to PURGE, and to make them WHITE,
even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time
appointed " (Daniel 11 :33-35).
Only a few of God's servants will be spared from this future devastating persecution and martyrdom. Only a relative "handful. "
The prophet Malachi wrote, "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, when I make up my jewels; and I WILL SPARE THEM, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him" (Malachi 3:16-17).
God says to His faithful servants, "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: HIDE thyself as it were for a LITTLE MOMENT, until the indignation be overpast. For behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain" (Isa.26:20- 21 ).
The prophet Zephaniah exhorts all of us, " Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be HID in the day of the Lord's anger" (Zeph.2:3).
Jesus Christ says to His Philadelphia Church:
"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also
will keepthlee from the hour of temptation, which shall
come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the
earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou
hast, that no man take thy crown" (Rev.3:10-11).
The Messiah also declared:
“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted
worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and
to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36, NKJV).
Will you be one of them?
Mystery of mysteries, this question intrigues
thousands of people -- just where is and what is
the "Laodicean Church" mentioned in the book
of Revelation? Is there a Church on the face of the
earth, today, which fits the description Jesus Christ
gave of Laodicea? What is the truth? Can we
PROVE conclusively, at this time the IDENTITY
of the Laodicean Church? And if so, what should
you do about it? What is going to happen to those
who belong to that Church? Can you "choose"
which Church of Revelation you belong to?
I have been until very recently a member of the Worldwide Church of God. For thirty years, I was a member of that Church, originally known as the "Radio Church of God. " For thirty years, despite trials and tests and obstacles, I remained faithful to the Church and the truth of God, and although it became increasingly difficult to do both at the same time, I managed to do it as long as Herbert W. Armstrong was alive and in charge.
But few people really understand what is going on, what is happening, to the Worldwide Church of God, today, since the death of its founder in January, 1986. Great changes are now beginning to take place. Few comprehend it, but these changes are very significant!
These changes could directly involve your own personal life, here and now, and your ETERNAL SALVATION!
Stop for a moment, and look at the facts!
Crises in The Worldwide Church of God
In 1967 Mrs. Lorna D. Armstrong died. After her death, and without her leveling influence, Mr.
Herbert W. Armstrong tried to carry on the Work of God without her. But being a strong-willed individual, he found it difficult to take criticism from others, and he was peculiarly susceptible to flattery .He began making mistakes in his old age. He himself confided to a few personal friends, "There is no fool like an old fool." Herbert Armstrong was very concerned what would happen to the Church after his death.
In 1971-2 a bombshell hit the Worldwide Church of God. It was discovered by leading evangelists that the son of Herbert Armstrong had been guilty of gross sexual sins and rampant adultery --cohabiting with allegedly scores of young women, including young Ambassador College coeds, babysitters, as well as consorting with prostitutes in Mexico City, Hawaii, and on other trips overseas. When confronted with the documented evidence, and the threatened resignation of 8 evangelists, Herbert Armstrong was forced to suspend his son from the ministry and exile him. Ted's latest flame, at the time, was a stewardess on the Falcon jet used by him in his travels around the country. His affair with "Gail" shocked the ministers at the ministerial conference held in 1972, and although Ted never publicly admitted the other liaisons at that time, other evidence surfaced that he had been leading a double, hypocritical life, as part-time evangelist on the one hand, and sexual raconteur on the other side.
Although these sins were never admitted publicly, in order to safeguard the future of the Church and Work, the fact was that eventually it was discovered that Garner Ted Armstrong had been guilty of such things at least since 1965. Although these sexual indiscretions-- blatant SINS in God's sight- were discovered in 1965, only a mild reprimand was given to Ted Armstrong by his father at that time, and the sins were swept under the carpet and covered up.
In the early 1970's Ted Armstrong was exiled from the Church for a few months until his father was "satisfied" that he had repented. Then he was brought back into the Church, and given more authority than ever, as the "heir apparent" to take over when Herbert Armstrong finally died.
During the subsequent years Herbert Armstrong himself remarried, a much younger woman. Many opposed this marriage, but nobody could resist the desires of Herbert Armstrong. In fact, according to information published in a periodical called The Ambassador Report, Herbert Armstrong and his new "loved, " Ramona, had sexual relations at least for one year before they formally became "married. " This information came out in testimony and statements made during the course of the infamous divorce trial between Ramona and Herbert Armstrong. Eventually, the divorce trial was settled out of court
In the meantime, in 1978 a split erupted into a chasm between father and son. Although Herbert Armstrong had appointed his son to run the day-to-day functions of the Church, a crisis arose when Ted Armstrong tried to move Ambassador College to Big Sandy, Texas. The move would have cost the Work millions of dollars, and when somebody secretly presented this information to Herbert Armstrong, he hit the roof and exploded. He removed his son from his office as the overall director of the Work, but said he could continue making the broadcasts and telecasts. Angered, Ted Armstrong went to the newspapers to tell his side of the Story. This course of action infuriated his father, who then put him out of the Church -- "disfellowshipped" him.
During this time, the animosity and passion was so great that at one point Ted Armstrong threatened his father, saying, "I could destroy you, Dad." He was, it turned out, referring to the sordid truth about Herbert Armstrong's long incestuous relationship with his own daughter in the 1930's and 1940's.
In a book published by David Robinson, a former minister of the World- wide Church of God, entitled Herbert Annstrong’s Tangled Web, the author devoted an entire chapter to the sad Story of the incest which occurred for years between Herbert Armstrong and one of his daughters. Herbert Armstrong never denied the allegations. In fact, when his son threatened him with public exposure of the abominable details, his father admitted, "There have been times when I have not bee close to God."
During the late 1970's the Worldwide Church of God began publishing out of New York a fashionable magazine called Quest Ostensibly, this new magazine, on which millions of dollars were spent, was to help Herbert Armstrong preach the gospel. Although he never wrote a single article for Quest during its existence, the magazine was a disaster from the very beginning.
In the very first issue, the feature article about the famous football coach Vince Lombardi made profligate use of profanity and four-letter dirty words which no Christian should ever use! A subsequent article in this magazine described a man masturbating into a knothole in a tree!
At that time the Church also created Everest House Publishing. Their best-selling book was Danse Macabre by the horror-fiction writer Stephen King. This satanic author, who also authored Carrie, The Shining, Salems Lot, The Stand and a host of other horror novels and stories, used blasphemous words and took the names of God and Christ in vain repeatedly throughout the entire book! At the time I wrote a letter of protest to the Church, but the only answer I received was a one paragraph reply from evangelist Ellis LaRavia, in which the Church admitted to no wrongdoing, but did acknowledge they had discontinued any connection with either Quest or Everest House. All these horrors occurred while Herbert W. Armstrong was still ostensibly running the Worldwide Church of God. He permitted these things to happen. Whether he really knew what was going on, I don't know. But he should have known, since he was ultimately responsible for all Church activities and enterprises.
What must Almighty God and Jesus Christ have thought of this entire despicable, abominable era of God's End-Tirne Church? What must they have felt concerning the Church sponsored profanity , blasphemy, compromise with evil, and endorsement of Satanic writings?
In 1979 another crisis struck at the Worldwide Church of God. The state of California put the Church into receivership after receiving depositions and statements by top officials and former officials of the Church as to allegations of mismanagement, misuse of money, fraud and various abuses of government and leadership by Herbert W. Armstrong and his right-hand rnan, Stanley Rader. At first C. Wayne Cole, whom Herbert Armstrong had appointed to manage affairs while he was recovering in Tucson from ill health, wanted to cooperate with the authorities. But after speaking with Stanley Rader , Herbert Armstrong removed Cole from his responsibilities, and appointed Stanley Rader to manage the Church during the receivership crisis, and to resist the states's probe into the affairs of the Church.
One of the most scandalous accusations was the claim that Stanley Rader had profited enormously with his connections with the principal advertising agency used by the Church, and the claim that he made millions of dollars by the sale of a personal residence in Beverly Hills, bought for him by the Church. Although these claims were true, technically there was no illegality involved, although the "morality" of making personal profit using the tithe money of Church members was certainly questionable. How does such conduct square with the statements of Jesus Christ who said we must give up all to follow Him?
Shortly after this time the state ended the infamous receivership, due to the passage of new legislation in Sacramento. Churches, it was decided in the Petris bill, were not answerable to state officials as to how they manage their money, as such state involvement would jeopardize the constitutional rights of freedom of religion and separation of church and state.
Thus, although the receivership crisis exposed a very serious lack of accountability as to the Church usage of tithes and monies, it solved nothing. Of course, the final One to whom Church officials must give account is God and Jesus Christ, to whom they are very accountable! The receivership crisis, however, underscored the fact that many thousands of dollars, and millions of dollars, have been misspent for personal pleasure, extravagant hotel bills, yachts in Monte Carlo, paintings, silver and gold personal items, and so forth. How Jesus Christ will judge such activities and expenditures we shall see!
In January, 1986, Herbert Armstrong died at the age of 94. During his last years, he himself admitted that he was no judge of character. He had been completely fooled by some men. He did not know how to judge character. He was too easily impressed by mere ability and appearances.
Like king Hezekiah, in his old age Herbert Armstrong began to make many mistakes. He was cut off from the people. There was a formidable wall between him and the members of the Church. He was insulated behind the top administrators who erected a "wall" between him and the common people. But who was to protect him from the ambitions and aims of the top administrators?
During the last few years of Herbert Armstrong's life, it was virtually impossible to present new truth to him.
In 1985 during the fall I presented an astounding research paper on the amazing new truth of Daniel's 2300 day prophecy (Daniel 8). This paper was given to 12 top ministers, including those right under Herbert Armstrong. But they never presented it to him. It was ignored and pushed aside, while they waited for him to die.
In the fall of 1986 I once again presented this paper to the top administration of the Church. It was updated and improved, showing that this amazing new truth CORROBORA TED the feeling of Herbert Armstrong that the Six Day War of 1967 was in direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy! But again, this vital new revelation from God was completely ignored, and swept under the table. Those who were destined to take control of the reins of the Church after Herbert Armstrong did not present this paper to him. They ignored it They suppressed it
In January 1987, I decided to advertise this new truth about Daniel's 2300 days, and offer a booklet on the subject to my entire worldwide mailing list When the new leadership of the Church saw my new catalog, a local Pasadena minister was sent to my home to announce that I was suspended from Church. The following week he returned, announcing that I was disfellowshipped. The next week he called to inform me that I was going to be "marked" in the Pastor Generals Report. and the announcement made in all the Churches worldwide.
I was shocked -- stunned. I fasted three days about the matter and came to a decision. As Peter and John told the Pharisees, the visible "leaders" of the "church of God" in their own day, "We must obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:29), so I decided that I had no real choice. I could go crawling back into the Church, confessing sin where I was innocent, and give up the truth of God -- or I could stand tall and firm, and cling to the truth of God, and continue serving Him without fear or favor.
The decision was not hard for me to make. Many years before I had affirmed with Paul, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
I also felt with Paul, who said, "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Tim.1:12).
What Is the Real Significance?
What is the real significance of these things? What do they mean? Do you grasp it?
Notice what Jesus Christ wrote to the Laodicean Church.
Jesus said, "1 know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or not
So then because thou art LUKEW ARM, and neither cold nor hot, I will SPUE THEE OUT OF MY MOUTH. "
Jesus added, "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art WREfCHED, and MISERABLE, and POOR, and BLIND, and NAKED. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I REBUKE and CHASTEN: Be zealous, therefore, and REPENT" (Rev.3:15-19).
Notice! This Church needs REBUKING and CHASTENING. It has waxed lukewarm in spirit It is blind --spiritually blind. This means its LEADERSHIP is spiritually blind. And it is poor, and naked, and woefully wretched and miserable -a very sad state for the Church of the Living God to be in!
Are we also blind?
Age of Laodicea!
Can we not see from all the fruits that the Laodicean Age of the Church is now upon us?
From the death of Mrs. Loma Armstrong in 1967 till the death of Herbert Armstrong in 1986, a complete 19-year time cycle, as God views time, the Church of God has undergone a major TRANSITION! The "Philadelphia Chapter" has been written. We are now in the midst of the "Laodicean Chapter"!
This leadership rejects new truth. It is self-sufficient It thinks it is all right, but God says it is in miserable condition. It is totally lacking in true spirituality! It has the image, the facade --but it is a fraud! It refuses to admit it is wrong. It refuses new truth. Although it may change doctrine as it decides, it rejects what it does not want
Jesus describes this wicked leadership as "wretched" and "miserable" and "blind" and "naked." If we carefully look at the fruits of the Worldwide Church of God during the last 20 years, what do we see?
I have only hit the "highlights " in this article. I have only traced a mere outline of what has happened in the Worldwide Church of God during the past 20 years. Look at the evidence! You be the judge! "Prove all things," as Paul commanded (1 Thess.5:21).
THE TRUTH ABOUT LAODICEA
The Laodiceans and the Pharisees have very much in common. In the eyes of Jesus Christ, the Pharisees were wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. So were the Laodiceans!
Jesus said of the Pharisees, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widow's houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe unto you, ye blind guides. ..Ye fools and blind. ..Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe. ..and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
"Ye BLIND GUIDES.. which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Matt23:13-28).
Now consider carefully the following: The ancient Pharisees were the leaders of God's Church in their day. They "sat in Moses' seat" (Matl23:2-3). They had a great deal of true teaching (v.3). But yet their doctrine and teaching were extremely DANGEROUS! They had so much truth that it compounded their error, because people assumed they were teaching the truth in all things.
The Pharisees of that time were the rulers and ministers over the Church of God. But they had gone far astray from the real, spiritual truth, so much so that they did not even recognize their Saviour and Messiah! There had been no prophets in Israel since Malachi, four hundred years earlier. During the ensuing 400 years, the Jews became religious sectarians, led by the Pharisees, their "ministers" and shepherds. In that sense, then, those Pharisees were JUST LIKE THE MINISTRY AND HIERARCHY OF THE WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD, TODA Y!
Joseph Tkach and his lieutenants, therefore, are nothing more than carbon copies of the ancient Pharisees! Like them, they are guilty of all the things Jesus condemned the original Pharisees for, including binding heavy burdens, getting their priorities mixed up, stealing widow's houses, overly stressing the "outside" of the cup -- the image and dress -- and neglecting the inward man.
Even so it is with the modern Laodicean/Pharisees!
Jesus warned the Pharisees, and His warning applies with equal force to the MODERN PHARISEES:
"YE SERPENTS, YE GENERATION OF VIPERS,
HOW CAN YE ESCAPE THE DAMNATION OF
Jesus warned His disciples about the "doctrine" and teachings of the Pharisees. He declared, "TAKE HEED and BEW ARE of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Mat.16:6).
What was this mysterious "leaven "?
The disciples thought He may have meant the literal bread they ate. But Jesus answered them, "How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadduccees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the DOCTRlNE of the Pharisees and of the Sadduccees" (Mat.16:11-12).
Luke explains this more clearly. Jesus said, "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in the closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops" (Luke 12:1-3).
The "leaven" of the Pharisees is fully described in Matthew 23 and Mark 7 as their hypocrisy and false, teachings. They were more righteous than God, in their own eyes! They did not hesitate to "add to" or pervert the meaning of His Word and His commandments.
Tradition Before Truth
Jesus said of these Church administrators and leaders, "Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men. . ."
"Full well ye reject Ole commandment of God that ye may keep your own tradition" (Mark 7:7-13). They made the Word of God of "none effect" because of their tradition, which they put before the Word of God.
The very word "Laodicean" is meaningful and descriptive. It means: "The people decide," or "The people judge." In other words, like the Pharisees the Laodicean departs from the pure and true Word of God and becomes PEOPLE CENTERED instead of GOD CENTERED. He adds do's and don't's to the plain and simple Word of God. He becomes hypocritical. Like the Pharisee, the Laodicean minister loves to exercise authority over the people, loves the acclaim of men, and rules the Church of God with an "iron" hand. Notice the following comparisons between Laodiceans and Pharisees, as Jesus described them.
1) both are self righteous. The Laodicean thinks he is okay in the sight of God, but God says he is really "wretched" and proud. He "thinks" he is rich, spiritually, just like the Pharisees did of themselves, but God says he is really "poor" spiritually.
2) both appear righteous before men. On the outside, they seem to be righteous, but beware their secret motives and inward agenda. They may look good, but God calls them both "miserable"! Christ rebuked both strongly!
3) both are "blind" spiritually. Christ repeatedly called the Pharisees "blind, " and "blind fools." Even so, He also said the Laodiceans are "BLIND" spiritually. They cannot see beyond the end of their noses!
4) Christ commands both to get serious and REPENT! The Laodiceans are warned that if they do not repent, they will be cast into the Great Tribulation, to be given a chance to be purged from their sins. The Pharisees, on the other hand are warned that unless they repent they are headed straight for the lake of fire (Matt.23)!
5) both worship the use of authority , and love to wield the rod. The Pharisees claimed authority from Moses, and cast people out of the Church who did not bow before them and submit to them. They cast out the man blind from birth because he acknowledge that Jesus had healed him, and must have received power from God (John.9:30-34). What about the Laodiceans? How would they use Church authority? Obviously, since Jesus said they are proud, and blind, and wretched, and miserable, and naked, it should be clear that they must also abuse and misuse Church authority. In other words, they must exercise Church government like the Gentiles!
Even Church-Sanctioned MURDER!
Jesus warned. “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. THEY SHALL PUT YOU OUT OF THE SYNAGOGUES; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever KILLETH YOU will think that he doeth God service” (John 16:1-2).
Can modern leaders of God's Church really become so degenerate and wicked? Jesus said so. He certainly knew what He was talking about!
Jesus declared in a prophetic warning to His true servants,
"BUT BEWARE OF MEN: for they will deliver you
up to the councils, and they will SCOURGE you
in their synagogues (churches, or places of religious
worship); and ye shall be brought before governors
and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them
and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take
no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be
given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For
it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father
which speaketh in you" (Matt.I0:17-20).
The prophet Isaiah also foretold that in the last days the Laodicean Church would abuse Church authority. He declared, “Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word,. YOUR BRETHREN THAT HATED YOU, THA T CAST YOU OUT for my name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed” (Isa.66:5). Isaiah continues, " A voice of noise from the city , a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord that rendereth RECOMPENSE to his enemies" (v.6).
Obviously, those "brethren" that "CAST OUT" true believers, true Christians, are in actuality acting like the "enemies" of God. Isaiah clearly shows that they shall be properly paid back -- recompensed! They will receive their "just deserts"!
The abuse of Church government was prophesied to increase as we neared the Second Coming of Christ Jesus Himself foretold it!
End- Time Church ABUSE Prophesied
Jesus intended for His ministers to be "examples" for the flock. They are to be humble, teachable, pliable, and gentle. He told His disciples, "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles EXERCISE DOMINION over them, and they that are great EXERCISE AUTHORITY upon them. But it shall NOT BE SO but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant, even as the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt.20:25-28).
Jesus did not intend for his true ministers to "lord it over" the flock of God! Peter was inspired to write that ministers should not be "lords over God's heritage" but "ensamples to the flock" (1 Pet5:3).
Yet Jesus predicted that in the very end times, just before His Second Coming, the Church of God would suffer a severe decline in leadership. He warned, in the Mount Olivet prophecy, "But and if that EVIL SERVANT shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall BEGIN TO SMITE his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall CUT HIM ASUNDER, and appoint him his portion WITH THE HYPOCRITES: there shall be weeping. and gnashing of teeth " (Matt24:48-51).
These conditions would occur, Jesus said, at the time leading up to His return from heaven (Matt24:3-4).
It should be clear to anybody that any Church which is "wretched, " and "miserable," and "blind," and "naked," will undoubtedly be seriously misusing and abusing the truth about CHURCH AUTHORITY and CHURCH GOVERNMENT in order to maintain their own control and authority! Such ministers would be very slow to accept correction, reproof, or rebuke -- especially from anyone not in a prestigious position within their own government structure! They would ridicule, reject, and ignore anybody who came along with powerful words of correction, even if such an one were sent by God Himself! If God should decide to send a prophet to REBUKE such a Church, even as Nathan rebuked David for his sin with Bathsheba, such a Church era or age as the Laodicean Church would NOT LISTEN to the prophet any more than they would listen to Christ Himself in His warning in Revelation, chapter 3!
Such a Church as the Laodicean Church would gradually depart from the truth of God and into greater and greater error, even while they profess to be growing in TRUTH! As they reject new revealed truth and knowledge, God would begin to cut them off from true understanding. They would become "blind." They would cease to "see" spiritually. They would become candidates for deception and error, because they have lost the "love of the truth" (see II Thess.2:10).
My friends, God has called me to serve Him, and to proclaim His truth. Part of my duty as God's servant is to REBUKE the errors and sins of the Church, and to cry out to the Church to REPENT, and to CHANGE, and to "be zealous therefore, and REPENT!" (Rev.3:19).
I have been a member of God's Church since age 15, when I was converted, back in 1956. I attended the Worldwide Church of God and Radio Church of God, as it was formerly known, beginning in 1957. I graduated from Ambassador College in 1963 and went full-time into the "Work. " I wrote articles for all the Church magazines and publications from 1963 til11974, when I was let go. I began Triumph Publishing Company at that time, and continued witnessing to the truth of God. Since the Church unjustifiably disfellowshipped me in January 1987, I have been publishing the truth in articles, Bible study cassettes, and the monthly newsletter Prophecy Flash.
The apostle Paul commanded Timothy, an evangelist, " Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. THEM THAT SIN REBUKE BEFORE Au. " (1 Tim.5:19-20).
The whole history of God's Church shows that Churches do fall into error, and go astray, and eventually slide into heresy and error. This phenomenon should not surprise us. Jesus warned it would happen. So did Paul, Peter, James and Jude. John wrote of it in the book of Revelation, a special warning for these "last days."
As God's servant, it is my duty to point out these sins and errors which have been committed in the Church of God during this end-time generation. It is not a pleasant duty .It is not something I enjoy doing at all. It does not bring me great honor and respect In fact, just the opposite. It brings me reproach, calumny, slander, persecution, back-stabbing, and hatred.
But I must not hold back! God Almighty thunders,
"CRY ALOUD, SPARE NOT, LIFT UP THY VOICE
LIKE A TRUMPET , and SHOW MY PEOPLE THEIR
TRANSGRESSIONS, and the house of Jacob their SINS"
This is a direct command of Almighty God!
For the past twelve years, I have been publishing the truth of God in books, by means of Triumph Publishing, which God raised up to serve Him. I warned about the growing decline in Church leadership in the book Escape from Annageddon. Few understood, or got the message. I warned that we were entering the Laodicean age. But how many today see the "signs of the times"? How many really understand the danger around us? How many really see the grievous sins and abuse of authority that is occurring inside the Church of God today?
In that book published in 1983, I wrote:
“In these last days, therefore, it is vital that we be very
careful, and check up and prove every word we hear from
every minister or prophet or evangelist who claims to
proclaim the Word of God” (p.6).
“If you ever follow a person, or a group, because they
pressure you to do so, and insist that you do so, on a point
of teaching where you know they are wrong, then you are
sinning against God -- you are putting that person, or that
group, before God -- you are worshipping them instead of
the true God! Why would you do that? Can they give you
salvation? Can they deliver you from death? Would you do
it just for ‘convenience’ sake? Would you do it just to
humanly ‘avoid trouble’?
“God's Word is clear. Anybody who comes to you saying,
‘Follow our authority, right or wrong!' or, 'Follow God's
Church, right or wrong!'; any such person, knowingly or
unknowingly, is actually preaching a doctrine of heresy,
falsehood, error and Satanic teaching! He is opening the
doors to Satan to come in and steal away the true believers
of God! He is misleading the ignorant and confusing those
who believe in Christ!” (p.9).
In that same book, concerning the Laodicean Church age or era, I wrote:
“Here is a lethargic, phlegmatic church -- lazy, indifferent. It
is big and rich and thinks it has need of nothing. It is spiritually
smug, superior, and self-satisfied It is resting on its oars. It is
dreamily soaking up the sun on a lazy summer's afternoon, like
the boy sleeping at the fishing hole while his bobber bobs up and
down in the water, lazily drifting along with the current. These
people, also God's Church, are spiritually lukewarm. They have
lost all sense of zeal, fervor, enthusiasm and spiritual spunk. They
no longer bother to check up and prove all things. They are insipid
like stale coffee or tea. They have no sense of urgency about them.
They are totally asleep at the switch while the Midnight Express
thundering down the track headed right toward them. Because of their
blatant sins and lethargy, they will be plunged right into Great
Tribulation, in order to refine their slip-shod character until it gleams
and glitters like pure gold! But those who repent and overcome will
be given positions in the Kingdom of God and will sit with Christ
in His throne and role with Him!" (Escape from Armageddon, p.350).
God commands me to SPEAK OUT! He thunders to me to W ARN HIS PEOPLE! He says to me, as He did to Ezekiel, His prophet, So it is with you, son of dust I have appointed you as a 'W ATCHMAN for the people of Israel; therefore listen to what I say and WARN THEM FOR ME" (Ezek.33:7).
This is not a calling or mission I invented for myself. God has revealed to me His warning witness, and I have no choice but to deliver the message! As Jesus said, "He that hath an ear, let rim hear" (Rev.3:6, 13,22). You had better listen!
God Almighty commands, in regard to the errors that His Church has fallen into, " AS MANY AS I LOVE, I REBUKE AND CHASTEN: BE ZEALOUS THEREFORE, AND REPENT" Rev.3:19). Will YOU repent? Will YOU change? Even if the leadership of the Church refuses to repent, and is plunged into the Great Tribulation -- what about you?
Will you take warning now, before it is too late? Will you listen NOW, and get serious with your prayer and private Bible Study, and begin to live as Christ intended, so that you can escape the plagues of the Great Tribulation?
Take stock of yourself. Examine yourself. How much time do YOU spend daily in prayer on your knees? How much time do YOU spend studying the Word of God daily? In a survey of a congregation of the Worldwide Church of God held an Arizona Church a few years ago, it was found that the average time the average Church member spent praying on his knees was only five minutes per day!
What need I say more? No more eloquent proof that this really is the Laodicean Church Age can be given. What are you going to do about it?
ESCAPE FROM LAODICEA!
In January 1987, after being a member of the Church
of God for over 30 years, I was suddenly disfellow-
shipped by the leaders of the Church without being
given any chance or opportunity for a hearing. Why?
Sir Winston Churchill once declared, "The truth is
incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may
deride it; malice may distort it; but there it is. "What is
the truth? Why was I suddenly exiled? What were the
leaders of the Church of God afraid of? And what
does it have to do with YOUR life and salvation?
January 22, 1987 was the fateful day. On January 15, Jim Reier and Curtis May were sent to my home to inform me, without a "hearing," or any discussion, that I had been suspended from Church by Larry Salyer, second-in-cornmand to Joseph Tkach, because of an advertising brochure I had sent out to people on my rnailing list for Triumph Publishing. Then, on the 22nd they returned, even though I had sought to speak with Herman L. Hoeh and Larry Salyer during the interim, and informed me that I was then "disfellowshipped" from the Church.
There was no hearing. No chance of explaining anything. No court or opportunity to present my case before my peers, or any tribunal or grand jury. It was all decided in private, by Joseph Tkach and his associates.
The whole episode is very reminiscent of the very tactics used by the Jewish High Priest and the Sanhedrin when they, too, captured, tried and condemned Jesus Christ illegally, almost 2,000 years ago, by night They were not seeking the truth. Their interrogation of Christ was totally insincere --a mockery of justice, a "kangaroo court." They had condemned Him before He ever appeared before them!
Jesus went through such a cruel miscarriage of justice, for us --for you and me. But He also said of His true servants and followers, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8:34).
If we are truly servants of Christ, then we must follow Him! That is our calling --our destiny --our life! Jesus added, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
It hurts deeply, like a terrible wound, to be treated with cavalier contempt and disdain by people you have known for years. It hurts to be railroaded unjustly and condemned when you have done nothing evil but have only striven to serve Christ with all your heart and soul. It hurts deeply.
To me, of course, this act of tyrrany was only the final episode in a tragedy which began some 12 years ago. At that time I had been writing articles for the Worldwide Church of God in the PLAIN TRUTH and GOOD NEWS magazines. I had written many Bible Correspondence Course lessons and booklets as well. But during a sudden change in Church leadership, I suddenly found myself without a job!
No reason was given for my dismissal at that time. Along with four other PLAIN TRUTH writers, I suddenly found myself the victim of a "purge" --supposedly a "budgetary decision. " As a consequence, a new editor was put over the magazine, and the rest of us were suddenly "fired"! I was accused of no wrong-doing. It just "happened." One editor called me "one of the walking wounded."
At that time I began, on a shoestring of money and sheer faith in God, to publish books, and started Triumph Publishing Company. Over the years I published about 18 books that glorified God and taught the people His wonderful truth. Books on prophecy, history , Christian living, Church history. Nobody ever objected or criticized me for doing it.
One of the books I published was ASCENT TO GREATNESS by evangelist Raymond McNair. Another was THE INCREDIBLE HISTORY OF GOD'S TRUE CHURCH by Ivor Fletcher. These books, as all the books I published, were well received. Even the Church of God had nothing negative to say about them.
But now, in January 1987, suddenly the leading officials of the Worldwide Church of God, have decided to get rid of me --to put me out of the Church? Why? What is the plain and simple truth? Do you want to know? Or are you satisfied with hearsay, and gossip? Are you one who checks up and gets the facts, all the facts, or are you satisfied with an slanted, biased, distorted version of the truth? What about it? Do you really care?
How do you react when a brother is mistreated, vilified, falsely accused, and denigrated? When a brother is stabbed in the back by evil-doers, do you feel the pain?
When a brother suffers adversity, do you suffer with him?
No Small Dissension"
"About two thousand years ago a similar event occurred in the Church of God. Leaders in the Church of God began "going astray" at headquarters, in the days of the apostle Paul. A great controversy arose in the Church. Certain ministers came from headquarters preaching error! In the book of Acts we read that "Paul and Barnabas had NO SMALL DISSENSION AND DISPUTATION with them" (Acts 15:21).
Later, Paul wrote of this very trying time in his life, that these men were actually "false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage" (Gal. 2:4).
These "brethren" in the Church of God were PHARISEES! (Acts 15:5). They wanted to bring the whole Church under the government of the laws, statutes, and judgments of Israel, given by God, including male circumcision. They wanted to make Christianity a religion of "do's and don'ts," of careful regulations, of measurements of skirt-length, new edicts and strict codes, just like the original Pharisees did, adding to the laws of God their own self -righteous laws and customs and religious edicts.
Paul said of these bondage-bringers, "To whom we gave place by subjection, NO, NOT FOR AN HOUR . . ." (Gal.2:4-5).
Paul did not bow before them. He stood up to them, and rebuked them. Although these men seemed to have positions of leadership in the Church ("these who seemed to be somewhat") Gal.2:6), Paul learned nothing from them.
Things were so bad, at that time, that even Peter himself, whom some say was in authority over Paul, had to be rebuked publicly. Paul said, "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I WITHSTOOD HIM TO THEFACE, because he was to be BLAMED" (v.11).
Even so, during this present age, I have been viciously attacked by high officials in the Church of God, and wrongly accused of sin. But what is the sin I have been accused of! What was my "error"? Permit me to go back over the story, so you can understand the truth -- the whole truth.
In the spring of 1980, after I had sent a letter to the mailing list of Triumph Publishing, advertising new books, I was suddenly called into the office of Joseph Tkach and Ellis LaRavia. They criticized me for having written the letter, saying it was "apostolic" in nature. Why did they say such a thing? Because in the letter I had asked people to pray for me, and for the books I had published!
Can you imagine it? Such a small thing to be criticized for, but suddenly I found myself being persecuted by various ministers within the Church of God. It was a ridiculous situation. Our conversation ended with nothing really being accomplished, except that I, like Paul, gave my defense before them.
Solomon wrote, in a powerful, telling Scripture inspired by God, "A righteous man, FALLING DOWN BEFORE THE WICKED is as a TROUBLED FOUNTAIN, and a CORRUPT SPRING" (prov.25:26). Such a man would be a fouled fountain of water, utterly useless, or a spoiled spring, of no value whatsoever!
Therefore, I did not kowtow before them. I continued with publishing books to the glory of God!
A few years later I was once again called in to talk with the same two men. "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the RIGHTEOUS are BOLD AS A LION' (Prov.28:1), Solomon wrote. Once again I boldly defended the books I published, and a letter I had written to my mailing list
Although they did not criticize the books I had written, again they found fault with a letter I wrote, and questioned me on several small points. At the time I was suffering many trials and financial straits, and it seemed as if I might have to stop publishing books. They appeared overjoyed at this prospect In fact, Joseph Tkach then invited me to contribute some articles to the PLAIN TRUTH. As a result, I did as he asked, and sent four or five articles to him. But during the next year I heard nothing back.
Then, in August of 1985, I wrote a letter to various motels and hotels at areas where the annual Festival of Tabernacles is held, asking if any of them would like to carry the books published by Triumph Publishing. When the Church got notified of this, once again I was called in to see Joseph Tkach. This time Selmer Hegvold was with him. This time Joseph Tkach was concerned about my having asked such business facilities to carry and sell the books published by Triumph Publishing. Again, he did not criticize the books as such, or my right to be in the book publishing business, but was upset that I had boldly approached such stores at the Festival sites to carry the books.
We discussed the situation and when he say it was a very small operation, he decided to do nothing about it At this time he told me that he had sent my articles down to the editor of the PLAIN TRUTH and did not know what became of them. Later when I called the editor, he said he had merely had them evaluated and returned them to Mr.Tkach. But he had no need of any articles from me, and he had a fulltime staff to write for the magazine!
So, once again I was knocked with a low blow. I felt that I had been deceived in being asked to even write the articles in the fIrst place. Nothing had come of it, and nobody had gotten back in touch with me.
In the meantime, in October 1984 I submitted an article to the leading ministers regarding Daniel's 2300 day prophecy. I had discussed it over dinner with Dr. Herman Hoeh, who seemed to think it was "remarkable." I sent copies to other ministers, and nobody rejected it or criticized it. I felt that it was basically accepted. One minister called it "interesting." Even Joseph Tkach said he found it "very interesting. " Since out of 12 ministers, nobody criticized it, I felt it was accepted, even though for some reason the editor would not publish it
In the following September, I rewrote the article on Daniel's 2300 day prophecy, and resubmitted it to Joseph Tkach once again, and several other ministers. One said he would like to discuss it over lunch; one said it was quite interesting, but he had "no time" to study into it as his responsibilities were so great Again, I had no response from Joseph Tkach at all. In the meantime, I kept on studying and learning. God revealed several fascinating new prophetic truths or pieces of understanding to me.
I gave a speech in Spokesman's Club about the 2300 days of Daniel, and it was very well received. After the speech one minister remarked, "We have heard some very remarkable things here today." Another shook my hand and said, "Even I could understand it."
During the ensuing year, God revealed even more startling new truths to me -- some of which I shared with Dr. Hoeh involving the Jubilee time cycles. He did not object to the knowledge and seemed to think it was very interesting.
Finally, in January of 1987 I had completed my new edition of Triumph Catalog, containing articles on Daniel's 2300 day prophecy, the Jubilee cycles in prophecy, and other subjects which I had been studying, including the truth about cremation, insurance, and the "king of the south " of Daniel 11. In this catalog I pointed out several amazing predictions which I had made in the book THE LAST DAYS OF PLANET EARTH, which was written in 1979. It predicted drought in 1982-3, the beginning of the collapse of modem day America, and these predictions all came to pass. I pointed out that the truth about Daniel's 2300 day prophecy has been revealed to no one but me, because God chose to reveal it to me, even though I am personally not worthy -- but such matters are for God to decide, not us. In advertising the new articles, I asked the question in the brochure, "ARE THERE ANY PROPHETS TODAY?"
In that very same catalog, I said pointedly, "1 do not CLAIM to be a prophet." But I went on to state categorically that "it is a fact that God in heaven has revealed to me the meaning of astounding Biblical prophecies that He has revealed to no other man on the face of this earth!" To the best of my knowledge, that was a TRUE statement, especially in regard to the 2300 day prophecy of Daniel!
Jesus said, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt.7:20). The "fruits" clearly prove that God did reveal amazing new prophetic truth to me, regardless of my personal weakness. God is the revealer of secrets. None of us has any right to question Him or deny Him.
Why then did the Worldwide Church of God, once Herbert Armstrong was dead and buried, seize the opportunity to reject the catalog which I wrote, repudiate the new truth which it seemed to have accepted, and which was clearly PROVED to an open mind, and then -- without so much as a simple hearing or fare-thee-well – peremptorily put me out of the Church?
Does such an action sound like the Philadelphia Church of God -- the Church of brotherly love? Or doesn't it sound much more like the actions we would expect from the Church which Jesus Christ said is "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev.3:17).
Consider deeply this profound observation! Don't be deceived by outward appearances!
The truth is that I don't claim to be a prophet But, on the other hand, I must candidly admit that I have prayed fervently and continually to God for the "gift of prophecy," which Paul said we should desire, or "covet" (1 Cor.14:39).
As Paul the apostle wrote, "Follow after charity (love), and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy" (1 Cor.14:1).
I have served God faithfully for over 30 years. I have written over 100 articles, booklets and lessons for the Church in the past I have written 9 books, including books on prophecy.
Why, then, does the Church suddenly reject this fact?
Does it make any sense? Can you understand it? Why would the leaders of the Worldwide Church of God, beginning with Joseph Tkach with whom I have had face-to-face discussions over the past seven years, suddenly declare that I am no longer a member of the Church of God?
Have they not clearly abused and misused their authority?
They did not send anybody out to see me, to speak with me, to bring back any information or new truth about prophecy. They did not even have an open mind on the subject Rather, they practiced the" smoking gun" brand of Church authority or government That is, shoot first, and after you have killed your victim, put your gun away. But never, never ask any questions first Never bother to stop, pause, and get the facts, first!
What does God Almighty say about that brand of Church leadership?
"He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him" (Prov.18:13).
A Church which is led of God's Holy Spirit, in the way of true brotherly love, such as one would expect of the true Church of God, particularly the Philadelphia Church of God, would not be so imperious, so cavalier, so wicked, so insensitive, or so tyrannical in its leadership.
Rather, it is the LAODICEAN CHURCH which blinds itself to newly revealed truth! It is the LAODICEAN Church which treats its members with contempt, disdain, and haughty disregard, but which strives to appear righteous by printing and publishing family style photos in its periodicals! It is the Laodicean Church which really acts one way while professing itself to be another!
I really hate to have to point these things out But for the sake of everybody, the truth must be made known!
For years there have been those in the Church who have disapproved of me, and Triumph Publishing. Even though nothing was done, or said, for years, to me personally, I know that rumors have abounded and run amuck for years. People who came to Pasadena, on finding out that I was still a member of the Church, exclaimed in bewilderment, "What! You mean he is still a member of the Church!"
For years I heard of people attending the Feast of Tabernacles and seeing my books in a book store, who said to other people, or even the store managers, "He is not of us -- he is not a member. His books are not approved by the Church. You shouldn't read them!"
During all these years the Church refused to clarify matters. No matter how good the book was, they refused to endorse it, or approve of it. Even the book THE INCREDIBLE HISTORY OF GOD'S TRUE CHURCH they refused to endorse, promote, or approve. Instead, they treated it with silence. They gave it the "silent treatment." They attempted to give it the "damn with faint praise" treatment.
But Almighty God will judge them for their evil, selfish, arrogant works. He will judge them for their cavalier disregard of His divine revelation, and their Pharisaical attitude toward new truth!
The Pastor General’s Report
In the April 23, 1982 issue of the Pastor Generals Report an article appeared which was published even though the author or writer never bothered to meet with me first, or to ascertain the facts about Triumph Publishing. For six months I had been trying to settle any differences or questions relating to publishing books and the position of the Worldwide Church of God. I had even sent a letter and copies of several books to Mr. Aaron Dean, to present to Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. In that letter, I said I supported the Church and Mr. Armstrong 100 percent. I asked him to look over the books. I invited any comments or criticisms.
I heard nothing in response.
Then, in April l982 an article appeared behind my back which proceeded to roast and excoriate me, and stabbed me viciously in the back. The article, either approved or directly written by Joseph Tkach, admitted that I was "classified" as a member of the Church, but proceeded to say that membership does not imply that the Church either approves or endorses my privately-sold writings.
The author went on to say,
"Human nature seems to want to use God, or God's
Church, for personal gain or profit. The moneychangers
used God's temple as a place of business to sell at a profit
to God's people. In blazing anger, Jesusdrove them out.
Jesus said, 'Take these things hence; make not my Father's
house an house of merchandise' (John 2:16). We, the members,
are God's house, builded into a HOLY TEMPLE (Eph.2:20-21)."
Written apparently with blazing anger and self-righteous condemnation, the article continued -- and remember, I had never seen it in advance, I had not been spoken to about the contents, nor was I told officially about it after it appeared -- the article continued,
"In II Peter 2:3 God warns, “And through covetousness
shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.'
Yes, SELLING FOR PROFIT their words in writing
to the members of God's Church.
"Perhaps the selling of doves and things for sacrifice was not in itself wrong, but exploiting God's HOUSE
as a place or means of selling to God's people was."
Thus by innuendo and association the author of the article condemned me, the books I publish, and did it all behind my back to the entire ministry of the Worldwide Church of God! I was given no chance to answer it. I was given no explanation. When I first heard about it later, I immediately called Joseph Tkach to arrange an interview about it. He said he would arrange it. But he never did. He lied.
The same article went on to deliberately take out of context a comment I made in the personal letter to Aaron Dean in which I said, very candidly, "I appreciate him (Mr. Armstrong) very much, although I have disagreed with him from time to time on some relatively 'small' matters or 'little' things." Haven't we all? Don't we all have personal opinions about various things? Maybe we disagree on favorite colors, or the choice of an automobile, or whether a particular desert is good for you, or some other personal item. So what?
In my second book published, I pointed out strong evidence that there was animal life on earth before the time of Adam. But this book, published in 1975, disagreed with Herbert Armstrong's book The Incredible Human Potential, where he opined that there was no animal or plant life on earth -- or sexual reproduction -- before the creation of Adam and Eve. Well, every scientist in the Church that I respect disagrees with Mr. Armstrong on that point. Dr. Hoeh himself disagreed. However, Herbert Armstrong, or Joseph Tkach or his agent -- whoever wrote the PGR article -- quoted me out of context in my letter in order to make me appear very rebellious and heretical.
Can you imagine it? This nasty diatribe was printed in the Pastor General's Report. without my knowledge or consent or understanding -- without my ever having talked with anybody about the specific issues addressed.
Does such an action sound like the loving Philadelphia Church of God?
Frankly, Jesus Christ Himself condemns the action of the back-stabbing accusers, because He said to His disciples, "Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault BETWEEN THEE AND HIM ALONE" (Matt.18:l5). This is what Jesus said we should do. But nobody bothered to come to me, to discuss this matter privately. Rather, they aired it behind my back, before the entire Church!
What lessons have I learned from all these things?
One lesson I learned is that Jesus really meant what He said when He declared: "But BEWARE OF MEN: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues (churches)" (Matt.10:17).
Yes, we must BEWARE OF MEN -- even men who seem to be important, men who may seem to be converted members of the Church of God! Appearances can be deceiving. Their "conversion" may be an illusion -- a HOAX!
Another lesson I learned is to be careful with the truth of God. Don't just naively give it to anybody. When I sent copies of books to Aaron Dean, hoping to obtain a meeting or chance to discuss Triumph Publishing with him and Mr. Armstrong, instead the books were trampled in the dirt, and I was "rent" by those to whom the books were given.
This lesson was vividly described by Jesus Christ again, in Matthew 7. He said, "Give not that which is HOL Y unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and REND you" (Matt 7:6).
Of course, at the time I did not know that those to whom I sent the books and letter were, in God's sight, "dogs" or spiritual "swine."
But Jesus does not mince words! He called the Pharisees of His day "blind guides," "fools," "fools and blind," "serpents," "a generation of vipers," and "hypocrites" (Matt23:l7, 24, 27, 33). Our modern day variety of Pharisees are just as bad, just as self-righteous, just as vindictive and venomous, as those in Jesus' day!
Another lesson I learned the hard way is found in Proverbs 9. Solomon wrote: "He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee" (prov.9: 7-8).
I have found from bitter experience that some men who are high up in the Church of God are not interested in being reproved, rebuked, or corrected in any way. Woe be to the person who tries!
Nevertheless, my duty is clear. God also says, "Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (prov.27:5-6).
Solomon also wrote, "He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall fmd more favor than he that flattereth with the tongue" (prov.28:23).
In the Law, God commands us, "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise REBUKE thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him" (Lev.19:l7).
Check the Fruits!
The bottom line is, when we look at the .FRUITS, we see clearly that we are living in the days of the Laodicean Church. These fruits will become more readily apparent and discernible as time progresses, but to those who are enlightened and close to the Word of God, the fruits are already observable and obvious.
Of course, the Laodicean age still has time to go. It still has several years, before the final END, and the Laodicean Church fmds itself spewed out of the mouth of Christ and cast into the jaws of the Great Tribulation!
Jesus severely rebukes the Laodicean Church because of its headstrong, self-righteous attitude, its smug complacency, its aloofness, its "holier than thou " attitude, and its cavalier treatment of the lowly Church members. That Church has an "elitist" problem. The ministers at the top are a "favored elite," while the average Church member is more or less a victim, a pawn, a puppet -- one who has no voice, but who must support the power-structure of the Church as it exists, one who cannot question "authority" or its actions, but who must submit, and serve, whatever happens in the administration of the Church.
Historically, this major problem of the Laodicean Church is known as the "totalitarian myth." It is a serious misunderstanding of the "authority from the top down" principle. It states that authority in the Church of God is like a ladder, and the higher up your rung of the ladder, the more power and authority you exercise over those below you on the ladder.
Jesus clearly did not teach this concept of Church government He taught that those at the top of the Church, or ladder, should view themselves as SERVANTS of those below -- and act that way, and SERVE them! But the "totalitarian myth" states that those below must serve those above, with blind obedience, because they exercise divine government!
Hitlerian Germany, and the Nazis, were an example of the "totalitarian myth." Adolf Eichmann, in his defense of his participation in the murder of hundreds of thousands of J ews in the death camps during World War II, said that he was merely obeying orders --that to him, the highest form of service was to immerse his own will into the will of his leader, der Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler -- to him, this was sublime submission. And thus by obeying authority, his conscience felt clear and he was able to ignore the laws of God and human decency and participate in the most incredible orgy of blood the world has ever known!
The Laodicean Church, because it is in many aspects similar to the Pharisees of the New Testament times, is also guilty of following the "totalitarian myth." Only in their mythology, the one wielding absolute power is the apostle who rules the Church. Whatever he says, they assume comes direct from God and is to be obeyed without question.
This myth began in the later years of Herbert Armstrong, who was in his nineties, and who felt very insecure in his office over the Church. As a result, he increasingly looked with favor on all who supported and flattered him, and viewed with sour distrust anyone who disagreed with him or opposed him on anything at all, no matter how trivial or small.
Because of this need for assuaging, and total agreement, on the part of those under him, when Roderick Meredith firmly disagreed when Herbert Armstrong suddenly decided to ordain Stanley Rader to the rank of evangelist, Herbert Armstrong did not kindly listen to Mr. Meredith's remarks. Instead he disfellowshipped him on the spot, and exiled him to Hawaii, forbidding him to contact any other Church member until he was admitted back into the Church!
Had Rod Meredith sinned? No, not unless "sin" is defined as disagreeing with your human boss! No, rather it was Herbert Armstrong who was making the mistake -- sinning -- and who was in no mood to be opposed or corrected about it His mind was made up; and no amount of facts would serve to dissuade him!
Even so, the "totalitarian myth " has become the focal point of the Laodicean Church. They insist on total agreement, and harmony, between ministers, members, and the apostle, Joseph Tkach -- even if he is in error! Of course, that means that the WHOLE CHURCH will be in error, as it follows him into error! Thus the Church will increasingly reflect the characteristics and personality of its chosen leader and apostle!
ESCAPE FROM LAODICEA!
How can one "escape" from the Laodicean Church? Where can one go if one sees that his or her present Church is the Laodicean Church? Are there any viable alternatives?
In the book of Revelation, in the letters to the seven Churches, Jesus Christ says we should all listen to what the Spirit of God says to each and every one of the seven Churches. The message to the seven Churches is meant as instruction for all of us.
Some believe that the seven churches represent seven successive Church Eras down through time, spanning the Christian era from the days of the apostles to the present. Most Biblical scholars interpret the seven Churches as representative of seven typical "attitudes" or "states" that the Church would fall into. Another reasonable approach is to view the seven Churches as representative of seven stages of "spiritual growth" found in individual Christians.
All three interpretations have merit There is no question that the seven churches are representative of various "attitudes" or stages of spiritual growth -- from the "first love" phase of the Ephesian Church, to the dynamic growth and activity stage of the "Thyatira " Church, the "spiritually near-death" phase of the "Sardis" Church, and the degenerate, carnal stage represented by the "Laodicean" Church. The highest stage of spirituality was attained by the "Philadelphia " Church, which represented a mature Christian creative stage of "brotherly love" and selfless service to Christ and devotion to the Word and truth of God.
Even the historical interpretation of the seven Churches admits that at least three of the Church "eras" will exist at the return of Christ -- Sardis, Philadelphia (which will escape the Great Tribulation --Revelation 3:10), and finally Laodicea -- the final, ultimate stage, which is the most wicked, degenerate, spiritually blind and wretched stage of all. The Laodicean stage seems to be representative of a condition of Pharisaical totalitarianism, or abusive and tyrannical Church government. It is a proud, self-righteous stage which has a peculiar mind-set and never progresses to true, mature, out-going love stage, of the Philadelphian Church.
But can one determine which Church phase, stage, or era one belongs to? Some seem to think that once you are born or begotten of God, you are "stuck" in the Church stage or "era" you begin with. Historically, that may be true. However, remember, Jesus said we should all listen to what the Spirit says to ALL the Churches, for our own spiritual benefit!
Thus our fate is not determined by which Church we are initially members of; but rather of our own individual effort at overcoming sin and repenting, and being zealous for the truth of God! To the members of all seven Churches, Jesus says, "To the overcomer" He will give rewards, and eternal life, and rulership in the Kingdom of God!
"Listen to What the Spirit Says to the Churches"
At the present time, it should be clear that the true Church of God is composed of many individuals, some in the "first love" stage, some almost "dead" like the Sardis Church, some full of self-righteousness and outward prosperity, like the Laodicean Church, and a number who truly seem to have the non-judgmental, loving attitude of the Philadelphia Church characterized by "brotherly love."
However, the primary years of the Worldwide Church of God under the leadership of Lorna and Herbert Armstrong, on the whole, seemed to be representative of the youthful, small, struggling Church of Philadelphia, to whom God opened doors which no man could shut! Even then, of course, the Church suffered from many problems, including the problem of "false brethren" entered in unawares (Rev.3:7-9), "which say they are Jews (spiritually), and are not, but do lie" (v.9).
However, the fruits show that the past 19 years, from the death of Lorna Armstrong in 1967 until the death of Herbert Armstrong in 1986, a complete "time cycle" as God's calendar shows, were years of definite transition from the youthful exuberance and sincere love and humility of the Philadelphia Church to the emergence of the Laodicean Church, characterized by prosperity, which says, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing" (Rev.3:17).
The fact that the Worldwide Church of God now operates on an annual budget of between $150-200 million, and is blessed with beautiful facilities and grounds, and is growing at a staggering rate, fits the description of Laodicea perfectly -- as does the parallel fact that never was corruption more of a problem, mismanagement, blindness to new truth, self-righteousness, pride, arrogance, and a pervasive spirit of POLITICS in the highest circles. A careful study of the Laodicean Church, as Jesus described it, would indicate that it is a Church where politicians, smooth and bland, with sweet smiles and honey-dripping words, would reign supreme. It would be a Church of flatterers, back slappers, and men-pleasers, straying from the pure and simple truth of the gospel of Christ!
Since the death of Herbert Armstrong, the Church of God has entered a "New Chapter" -- a new phase, or era. There can be no doubt about it! The whole tenor and personality of the Church is different than it was under Herbert Armstrong, with his drive, zeal, ambition, and detem1ination.
Today we see a man at the top, at the helm, who is nothing like Herbert Armstrong, who has none of his strengths, but some of his weaknesses. The new leader is a "team" player, we are told, and striving to focus on the "family," and "unity" in the Church. He is Joseph Tkach. But how much do people really know about him? How did a relative unknown climb to the top so fast?
But even as he professes "love," he writes an article blasting alcoholics and victims of alcoholism (seemingly without any real sensitivity to the problem, which is actually an addiction, like drug addiction, and not merely something you overcome by sheer will power). While professing "unity," he rejects new revealed TRUTH about prophecy, particularly the 2300 days prophecy of Daniel. While professing a desire to "unite" the Church, he disfellowships long-time, earnest, sincere members without a hearing or explanation, other than frivolous and trivial misinterpretation of things written.
Since Joseph Tkach took charge of the Church, the doctrine on healing has been totally reversed in most respects, with the concept "anything goes." Birthdays are all right Make up is all right Herbert Armstrong's books are discontinued, and his booklets cancelled, abolished, or rewritten by staff members. Accreditation of Ambassador College, which Herbert Armstrong deplored, is eagerly sought -- the approval of the world! And Ambassador College, Pasadena, is up for sale! But above all -- the gospel message has been changed, prophecy watered down and totally "de-emphasized," and no longer are there any hard-hitting articles in the Church magazines.
What does all this mean?
Indeed, the baton has been passed. We are now in the midst of a NEW GENERATION of the Church of God. The "Old Guard" is dying off, or being replaced. The "New Guard" will increasingly take over and make its stamp impress felt on every phase of the Church and Work.
In the meantime, we see a unique situation. Some of the true remnants of the Philadelphia Church are now dwelling in the midst of the growing and expanding Laodicean Church. The two are now mixed together, like the wheat and the tares of the parable of Jesus.
The remnant Philadelphians are characterized by their love, service, generosity, and kindness, and patience. They are a suffering, struggling minority. They do not occupy "high places " or offices in the Church. Some of them may even be a part of other congregations, such as the Church of God International. Their lives are not characterized by political in-fighting and struggle for supremacy. They are not striving for selfish ambition, to "reach the top " in the Church hierarchy. Their lives are spent in loving kindness to others, good works, and outgoing love and giving, as they are able.
What is the difference between the Laodiceans and the Philadelphians dwelling in their midst?
As a whole, the Philadelphians spend much more time studying the Bible itself, at least 30 minutes to an hour a day, and also pray much more, from 30 minutes to over an hour a day. As a result, and because of their zeal and earnestness, they are closer to God. They seek God. Despite their trials and difficulties, they are closer to God. On the other hand, the Laodiceans tend to pray very little on their knees, maybe 5-10 minutes per day --and that seems very difficult for them. They also seldom study the Bible itself, but are content to read "official" Church literature instead. Their Bible study is minina1. But they tend to be very outgoing, extroverted, ambitious, and striving to rise up in the ranks of the Church.
Jesus gave a parable which describes this very phenomenon of two types of Christians dwelling together in the same Church. In the parable of the ten virgins He said at the time of the end, our age, today, when the ten virgins -- representing ten Christians -- went out to meet the returning Bridegroom --Christ -- "five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps" (Matt.25:1-4).
We read that "While the Bridegroom tarried, they ALL SLUMBERED AND SLEPT" (v.5).
But then, at midnight, at the very last moment, as it were, a cry went forth that the Bridegroom was coming. "Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out (Greek, "going out"). But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you; but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves" (vs.6-9).
Here we see Christians dwelling together, as it were -- members of the same Church. but only HALF have sufficient "oil" which symbolizes God's Spirit to go forth to meet the returning Christ! The other half are not ready; they don't have the "oil" of God's Spirit. They have been allowing the Spirit of God to be "quenched" in their lives (I Thess.5:l9). They have been "despising prophesyings" (I Thess.5:20). They have not been "proving all things" (I Thess.5:2l). They have not been holding fast to that which is good (same verse).
Obviously, these two kinds of Christians cannot dwell together for very long in agreement or harmony. The one will tend to despise the other. The carnal will despise the good. The Laodicean will despise the Philadelphian. The proud will despise the humble. Those with a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, will despise those that are good (II Tim.3:3,5).
God inspired the prophet Amos to write, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3). Thus the Philadelphia Christians will not for long be able to walk with the carnal, self-aggrandizing, self-promoting Laodicean Christians who will increasingly gain the power and control over the Church operations around the world!
But it will all be for nought.
Even though a work will be done, and a witness performed, by the Laodicean Church, before the END comes, it will not impress God. Jesus states, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied (preached) in thy named? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
"And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU. DEPART FROM ME: ye that work iniquity" (Matt.7:22-23).
The five virgins which had no oil of God's Spirit, may be involved in doing a great worldwide Work, God says, but they are workers of iniquity -- sin -- lawlessness! They will wake up too late, and fmd themselves locked out of the Kingdom of God (Matt.25:10). Jesus will say to them, "I KNOW YOU NOT"! (verse 12).
ALREADY, a separation has begun to occur, as the Philadelphia Christians are beginning to remove from the midst of the great, impressive, physically powerful and prosperous Laodicean Church!
More and more people are getting disgusted with the direction of the Worldwide Church of God, and other churches, and are leaving. Many are getting on the mailing list for Prophecy Flash, and the Triumph Bible Study cassette tape series. Many are having their eyes opened, and their zeal and enthusiasm rekindled, reignited, and renewed!
The "Midnight Cry"!
According to the parable of the Ten Virgins, this separation will occur at "Midnight " That is, just before the very END! We are living in that time, right now! God commands His people to REPENT of their lethargy, and to GET READY to meet the returning Christ! This is no time to "settle in" for the duration, and make plans to achieve great things in this world. This present world system will not last much longer.
The time of the Great Tribulation is fast approaching. The apostle Paul warns us today, "Wherefore he saith, A WAKE THOU THAT SLEEPES7: and ARISE from the dead; and Christ shall give thee light See then that ye W ALK CIRCUMSPECTLY, not as fools, but as WISE, REDEEM/NG THE TIME; because the days are evil" (Eph.5:14-16).
In the book of Revelation, we fmd that J esus promises to separate the loving, mature, spiritually grown Philadelphia brethren, which has kept the Word of His patience, from the others. He says, "I also will KEEP THEE FROM THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION (the Great Tribulation), which shall come upon all the world, to try (test, prove) them that dwell upon the earth" (Rev.3:10).
How will He do this?
Revelation 12 provides the answer. "And to the woman (the Philadelphia brethren who are still living) were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is NOURISHED for a time, times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent" (Rev .12:14). These are the Christians whom Christ will safeguard and protect from the wrath of the devil!
These are the ones who have the attitude expressed in Psalm 91, who "dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High" and who "shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." They say, "I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust."
God says of these deeply converted, loving Christians,
"Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge,
even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil
befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee
in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest
thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon
the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou
trample under feet.
"Because he hath set his LOVE upon me, therefore will I
DELIVER him: I will set him on high, because he hath
known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer
him: I will be with him in trouble; I will DELIVER him,
and honor him.
"With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my
salvaion " (psalm 91:14-16).
But what will happen to the Laodiceans -- the V AST MAJORITY -- in the final End Time?
Jesus said they shall suffer the wrath of Satan, and be plunged into Great Tribulation! When the dragon, Satan, finds he cannot get at the Philadelphia brethren, who are supernaturally protected by God in a place of safety (Rev .12:15-16), he will change his course. "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her s~ which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 12: 17)
These are the ones to whom Jesus says, "I counsel thee to buy of me GOLD TRIED IN THE FIRE (that is, character created under great stress), that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see" (Rev.3:18).
The zealous, humble, earnest Philadelphian type of Christians, who love their neighbor, and love Christ, will be spared the Great Tribulation, and hidden in a secure, safe place of God's choosing from Satan's wrath. But the lukewarm, insipid Laodiceans, and their leaders, will be plunged into Great Tribulation, and those who refuse to repent, will be cast also into the Lake of Gehenna Fire!
These things are serious business. True Philadelphians should immediately take an analysis of their situation, and the leadership of the Church they attend, and make some hard choices. God says to His true, zealous people:
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with UNBELIEVERS:
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
and what communion hath light with darkness? And what
concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that
believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple
of God with idols? for YE ARE THE TEMPLE OF THE
LNING GOD; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and
walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my
"Wherefore COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM and be
ye SEPARATE saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean
thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you,
and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord
Almighty" (II Cor.6:14-18).
The End-Time Church of God has begun a dramatic departure from the Truth of God. It has begun a rapid return to paganism, and the practices and beliefs of Babylon. A sinister false leader is trapping the unwary, and leading them astray, just as Jesus, Paul, and the apostles Peter and Jude specifically prophesied. The "mystery of iniquity" has begun working undercover in the Worldwide Church of God.
The apostle Paul warned:
"Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for that day
will not come except the APOSTASY COMES FIRST --
that is, unless the [predicted] GREAT FALLING AWAY
of those who have professed to be Christians has come --
and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, who is the
son of doom (perdition) "For the MYSTERY OF LAW-
LESSNESS --that hidden principle of REBELLION against
constituted authority -- is ALREADY AT WORK in the world,
[but it is] restrained only until he who restrains is taken out
of the way.
"And then the lawless one (the Antichrist) will be revealed
and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His
mouth and bring him to an end by His appearing at His
coming" (II Thess.2:3-8, Amplified Bible ).
This prophecy is DUAL. It not only refers to the coming "Beast" of Revelation, who will fulfill this role on the world scale, but it also refers to a man leading the End- Time Church of God --those who have had the truth --astray into apostasy and rebellion against God's laws. This must be true, for in order to "fall away" from the truth you must already have it! In order to apostatize, and depart from God's way, you must have been going God's way to begin with. Therefore, a GREAT APOSTASY IS PREDICTED IN AND OF THE MAJORITY OF THE CHURCH OF GOD!
This is not pleasant news to contemplate -- but it is true! Paul goes on to explain that many will follow this evil spirit of compromise, error, seduction and delusion. He points out that all who do not welcome Truth, and love the Truth, and cling to the Truth, are the ones who will be the victims of this End-Time spiritual FRAUD! Notice!
"And by UNLIMITED SEDUCTION to evil and with
all wicked deception for those who are (going to perdition)
perishing because THEY DID NOT WELCOME THE
TRUTH but REFUSED TO LOVE IT that they might
"Therefore God sends upon them a MISLEADING
INFLUENCE, a working of error and a strong delusion
to make them believe what is false, in order that all may
be judged and condemned who did not believe -- who
refused to adhere to, trust in and rely on -- the Truth,
but [instead] took pleasure in unrighteousness"
(II Thess.2:10-12, Amplified Bible).
It is time that Church members all W AKE UP to the great danger and peril they are standing in at the present time. Things are not so wonderful and pleas and as they seem on the surface. The world has never been in greater danger in all its history, and the Church of God has never been in greater danger, either --not even in the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, or the persecutions under the Roman Empire, or the violence of Emperor Nero in the first century!
May Almighty God help you to take heed, wake up, and COME OUT of apostatizing spiritual "Babylon"!
“Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands -- who
feels sure he has a steadfast mind and is standing
firm -- take heed lest he fall (into sin)” (I Cor.10:12,
Amplified Bible ).
“Since all this is true, we ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard,
lest in any way we drift past [them] and slip away.”
“How shall we escape [appropriate retribution] if we
neglect and refuse to pay attention to such a great salvation [as has been offered to us, letting it drift past us forever]?” (Heb.2: 1-3, Amplified Bible).