SARDIS, AN ATTITUDE?

Were you a member of the Sardis church?  Was I?  You may very well be surprised as to what we were members of.  Did the Sardis church have an era?  Can we find and understand this in the end time?  The Bible is written for us:

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

The Philadelphian Church has an era.  When does it start?  It starts when Revelation 7:1-4, 9 and 14 begins.  But Christ claims he has sheep that are not of this fold (John 10:16) so is there a dominant fold as well as six others, making a total of seven at any given time.

John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Revelation 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel…….9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands…..14…And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Notice that the tribulation is held up so that this work can be done.  The Philadelphians help Elijah to do the end-time work.  Elijah is the only one promised to do this:

Malachi 4: 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Matthew  17: 10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

Luke 1: 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Notice Revelation 3:7-8: The Philadelphians go through the open door that Christ puts before them, and in the process, they turn many to righteousness (Daniel 12:3):

Revelation 3: 7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Daniel 12: 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

The tribulation is held up so that the 144,000 Israelites can be sealed, along with the multitude that no man can number.   Notice that the innumerable number comes out of the great tribulation:

Revelation 7: 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Notice also that the true Philadelphians are spared and kept in a place of safety:

Revelation 3: 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

No Christian alive is a member of the active Philadelphian church at this point in time, Fall 1998.  Some may be “Philadelphians” in attitude, but can only be Philadelphian in person if they have already received their cry at midnight and the tribulation is being held up.  Remember that there is a severe famine of the word and we’re all asleep:

Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

Matthew 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

The time frame on the Philadelphian church is concurrent with Elijah’s work and begins when the events leading up to the tribulation are held up.  The Philadelphian church won’t start before Revelation 7:1-4—the tribulation is then held up so that the end-time Christians may be sealed.  Has this begun to happen yet?  Maybe, maybe not.  We will only know in hindsight.  The cry at midnight has to go out and wake the virgins:

Matthew 25: 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

This cry is made by Elijah.  He is the only one who is prophesied to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17).  The people of Daniel 12:3 walk through the doors opened to the Philadelphian church in Revelation 3:7-8.

Luke 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Daniel 12: 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

Revelation 3: 7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

We are now experiencing the end-time famine of the word:

Amos 8: 11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

We would have to be totally blind to the Bible to overlook verse 12 and not understand that this certainly applies today.  We go from splinter group to splinter group, people seeking the word of God, but not finding it.

So, where does this leave us?  It leaves us groping for the word of truth, as God continues to shatter the power of the Holy People:

Daniel 12: 7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

“Scatter” is translated “crush” or “shatter” in most translations.  “Scatter” is Strong’s #5310: “to dash to pieces, or scatter, be beaten in sunder, break in pieces, broken…”

These verses put a specific time frame on the Philadelphian church era.

The Laodiceans are cast into the fire (the fury of the tribulation):

Revelation 3: 18 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.

These are the disobedient virgins of Luke 1:17, who have to be turned to the wisdom of the just, by Elijah.  This puts a time frame on the Laodicean era.

Does it not stand to reason if these two churches (Philadelphian and Laodicean) follow in sequence that they in turn would follow Sardis?

It is also very clear from the Bible that these churches (and attitudes) have existed down through the centuries.  No doubt, elements of all seven have existed simultaneously, but one of the attitudes has been more dominant in the prominent church of any given time period throughout church history.

Christ claims in Revelation 1:16 to have seven stars in His right hand.  In verse 20 He tells us the seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches.  Zechariah 4:10 tells us more about the seven eyes (or stars) that run to and fro throughout the earth.  (See my articles on Zechariah 3 and 4 and Haggai for a complete explanation).

Revelation 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength….20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Zechariah 4:10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

If these churches didn’t exist down through the centuries, did the seven angels take a 2000 year vacation?  Maybe Christ did too?  It would be absurd to think so.  In Revelation 2:1, Christ claims to walk in the midst of the seven candlesticks.  Revelation 1:20 tells us the candlesticks are churches.

Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

Does God’s word apply at any given time?  If it does, John 10:16 stands:

John 10: 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Jesus Christ claims He has sheep in other folds.  Would this apply to a person in the year 1552, as well as in 1998?  I suspect that the “other folds” are the other six, less dominant, churches.

Notice Revelation 1:12-13:

Revelation 1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

“Candlesticks” is Strong’s #3087: “a lamp stand (lit or fig):- candlestick.”  Notice that Jesus Christ is in the midst of these lampstands, and in his right hand are seven stars:

Revelation 1: 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength…. 20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Christ explains what these lampstands and stars are.  They are the seven churches, and Christ is in the midst of them.  We can know for sure that He keeps a close eye on His churches, and knows what is going on in them.

The seven angels are mentioned again in Revelation 5:6:

Revelation 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

It goes without saying that angels have eyes.  In Zechariah 3:9, these seven eyes are also mentioned:

Zechariah 3: 9 For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

“Stone” is Strong’s #68: “through the means to build…”  (This Joshua character in reality is Elijah.  See my papers on Zechariah 3 and 4 and Haggai)  Joshua (Elijah) has a means to build placed before him and it has seven eyes upon it.  Notice also Zechariah 4:10:

Zechariah 4:10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

This Zerubbabel character (who in reality is also Elijah) has this same stone with the seven eyes.  In this verse, we read additional information: the eyes run to and fro throughout the earth.  We might ask, “For what reason do the eyes run to and fro?”  Are they not checking on Christ’s churches?

The word “plummet” in Zechariah 4:10 is made up of two Hebrew words, Strong’s #68 and #913.  Remember, the definition of #68 is “the means to build…”   Strong’s #913 means “alloy (because removed by smelting)…”

With these Bible verses, can we not conclude that the seven churches exist at all times?  If the Philadelphian and Laodicean churches have only specific time frames in history, why wouldn’t Sardis, and the preceding churches?

Revelation 3: 1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Look at the characteristics of the Sardis church.  First, they had a name that was alive, but in fact were dead.  If you were to check out this word “livest,” you would see that it means “alive” as well as the term “dead” means “dead.” Now, this is speaking in spiritual terms.

This is a very important clue, just keep this in mind.  Just ask yourself who had the reputation of being alive, but was in fact dead—a house built on sand?

What caused this church to have a name of being alive and vibrant?  It was their works.  Oh, this Sardis church had great works, but in reality, they were dead!  If this Sardis church was dead, then it could only produce dead works. Are these the people mentioned in Matthew 7:22?

Matthew 7: 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

Look at James 2:14-18:

James 2: 14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

How would Sardis acquire this name of being alive when, in fact, in God’s sight, they were dead?  Remember that this is a church of God (one of the seven), that supposedly obeys God in keeping the Holy Days and Sabbaths, tithing, etc.  Was it not by “church curriculum,” so to speak?  The things they did?  Their “works” must have indeed impressed the world to some degree.

If their “works” were abundant enough to impress people in the world, to “have a name of being alive,” (given to them by other humans) they certainly must have had a vibrant (deceived) membership.  Why do I say “deceived?”  Two reasons: 1. They had to foot the bill, to pay the cost of operations, that allowed the church to be big enough and active enough to impress the people in the world.  2. Verse 4.  Only a few people of a whole church era obtain salvation. This was a church built on sand, not on the Rock.

Revelation 3: 4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

“Few” is Strong’s #3641: “puny (in extent, degree, number, duration or value)…  Webster’s II New College Dictionary defines “puny” as: “inferior in strength, size or importance.”  Remember, this is talking about the number of saved people from a whole church era.

Now, remember that this is God’s church.  These people were called of God, all except the tares:

John 6: 44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

We can know right up front that, at the very minimum, the congregation was at least 50% weeds (tares):

Matthew 13: 24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Notice especially verse 29.  The number of tares must be at least 50% (and in all probability, larger), because the wheat (good seed) were in danger of being uprooted along with the tares if the servants removed the tares before harvest time.

The works of this Sardis church would have to resemble something that could be attributed to God.  They would be keeping His annual Holy Days, the Sabbath, tithing, etc.  They would most certainly appear righteous, but God says that they are dead

Revelation 3: 1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

This church had the reputation of being God’s true church.  It must have been doing great “works” in order to create a name of being alive.  You know, they claimed to be doing God’s work on Earth.  But this mighty, ever-watchful God knows that they are actually dead.  Only a FEW people from this entire church era obtain Salvation.

This brings us to another point worthy of digression—The Parable of the Marriage Supper:

Luke 14: 16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

I’ve gone through this parable in other Bible studies and articles, so I will just hit on the high spots that pertain to the Sardis church.  (See my article “The Marriage Supper” for more information on this parable).  Notice in verse 16, above, many were bidden, or called.  If you are a student of the Bible, you know that many are called and few are chosen:

Matthew 20: 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Matthew 22: 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

(For more information, see my article “The Many and the Few”)

Notice, in Luke 14:17 that He sent His servant at supper time.  “Servant” is singular.  This must be the end-time Elijah, as explained below.  Supper time is just prior to the marriage supper and Christ’s return.  Notice now, these people were alive at supper time, and had been called.  Verses 18-20 list a few of the excuses made by those who were bidden.  The excuses would probably fill a large book—these people reject salvation and accept eternal oblivion. Verses 21 and 22 indicate that another calling, or effort, takes place.  In verse 23, the servant (Elijah) is sent into the “hedges” (prison camps).  If you don’t think the servant in this parable is the end-time Elijah, show me the promise of anyone else, other than Elijah and the two witnesses, prophesied to come in the end-time.

Remember 1 Corinthians 10:11:

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Elijah is guaranteed to come:

Malachi 4: 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Matthew  17: 10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

Luke 1: 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Back to the parable of the Marriage Supper:

Luke 14: 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

In Luke 14:24, notice that this word “men” is Strong’s #435: “a man (prop. as an individual male) fellow, husband, man, sir.”

Zodhiates’ Lexical Aids New Testament says “man, male, a man as related to a woman, a husband…”

Is this not a sobering, frightening statement?  Doesn’t this shed light to the statement in Revelation 3:4, that the Sardis church only produced a few who will obtain salvation and walk with Christ in white?  Will these few be mostly or entirely women?   Luke 14:24 says that none of the men who were bidden and alive at supper time (time of the marriage banquet) will taste of His supper.

Does this mean that the Sardis church produced no men to salvation?  No, it means that none of the men who were alive at supper time, when the cry at midnight went out, will taste of His supper.  If the Sardis church produced Christian men who secured their salvation and then died before the cry at midnight (supper time) goes out, those men will most certainly be in God’s family.

Let’s theorize as to how a whole church era of God’s church could only produce a few saved individuals.  Let’s ask some hard questions.  If members of the Sardis church are to be alive when the cry at midnight (supper time) goes out, doesn’t this church have to be alive and vibrant just prior to that point in history?

In John 10:16, God claims that He has sheep that are “not of this fold.”  So no matter which fold of God’s sheep (church) you are in, you can know that Christ claims to have other folds.

For some quick proof of this, the Philadelphians are the dominant fold during the end-time work, for they go through the open door in Revelation 3:8 and 10:

Revelation 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name…10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

The Laodiceans are a less zealous fold existing at the same time.  They could have partaken of all the blessings of the Philadelphians, but are cast into the tribulation at the end of the Philadelphians’ work (Revelation 3:18).  TheSardis Church was, no doubt, the dominant fold prior to its death.

Revelation 3:18 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.

Back to the prophesied famine of the word:

Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

Remember, the Bible is written for us, (1 Corinthians 10:11).  But remember that members of this Sardis church (dominant fold) were alive at supper time and were bidden:

Luke 14: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

Look again at the character of the Sardis church.  Notice Revelation 3:2:

Revelation 3: 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

“Be watchful and strengthen the things that are about to die.”  There is still a spark of life in these people.  These people are alive at supper time (Luke 14:17), when the cry at midnight goes out (Matthew 25:5-6).

Luke 14: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

Matthew 25: 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Everyone is asleep until then.  If these people are asleep, won’t God have to point out to them this fact about the Sardis church?  Won’t this be accomplished through the end-time Elijah as he produces the cry at midnight, since he is the only one guaranteed to come?

Continuing in Revelation 3:3:

Revelation 3: 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

“Remember how you have heard.”  At one point in the existence of the church, they had heard the truth, for they are exhorted to remember how they had received and heard.  The Sardis church members are warned to hold fast to the truths that they learned originally and repent of the errors that they had fallen into during the famine of the word (Amos 8:11-12) just prior to the cry at midnight (remember, Luke 14:17 is at supper time).

Notice another indication that they are alive at the end time.  They are exhorted to watch and strengthen in verses 2 and 3.  They are told if they won’t watch, Christ will come as a thief in the night.   The word “watch” is Strong’s #1127: “to keep awake…”  Zodhiates’ Lexical Aids to the New Testament says “to watch, to refrain from sleep…”

Now, notice a shocking inset verse in Revelation 16:15.  The fact that this verse is inset is more obvious in a red-letter Bible, and you will notice that verses 14 and 16 continue with the general theme.

Revelation 16: 14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.  15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. 16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

God has put this verse in the Bible as a warning to the ten virgins.  The word “watcheth” in verse in 15 is the same Strong’s #1127.  Review the above definition, “to stay awake.”  Who needs to stay awake?  The virgins do.

Matthew 25: 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Now, one of the main reasons that none of these men that were bidden at supper time will make it, Luke 14:17, 24.  Notice that they are still virgins when the cry at midnight goes out.  They wake up and turn out to be foolish virgins by continuing in the old foolish ways and reasoning away God’s truth that Elijah wakes them up with.  They then go right back to sleep.

Luke 14: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready….. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Are we now experiencing the end-time famine of the word?

Amos 8: 11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

Notice in verse 12, how they run to and fro, seeking the word of truth.  You know how it is in the mid to late 1990’s.  We run to and fro, from splinter group to splinter group, looking for truth, but there is very little truth to be found because of the famine of the word.  How can the “no shepherds” of Ezekiel 34:5-8 feed us?  Even the shepherds that God will eventually claim (last part of verse 8) are not getting the job done.

Ezek 34:5  And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.  6  My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.  7  Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD;

8  As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;

Most of you reading this paper will be far ahead of me at this point.  What other church could I be speaking of, referring to the Sardis church, than the Worldwide Church of God?  This was the dominant fold for many years.  They falsely took the name among themselves as the Philidelphian church.  They foolishly, and at the behest of Satan, assigned the name of “Sardis” to the Church of God Seventh Day, a church head-quartered right here in DenverColorado, about 40 miles east of where I live.

Did the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) have a name of being alive?  What about all the mighty works we did?  (And I say “we,” because I was associated with this church from 1966 to 1995, and was baptized in 1967.)

We produced 7-8 million Plain Truth magazines monthly.  We were broadcasting over hundreds of TV and Radio stations and had hundreds of congregations throughout the world during the church’s zenith.  The church operated three college campuses (minister mills), Ambassador Auditorium, an archaeological dig in Jordan, a dig in Jerusalem—on and on this list goes.  WCG certainly had a name of being alive.  There were hundreds of ordained ministers on the pay roll and many so-called local elders (here is a very major problem that we will deal with later in this paper).

Did God call a bunch of spiritual cadavers (“corpses,” if you will), to start this church?  What led to its death?  The track record for people who are called of God (John 6:44) is not that great.

Notice in Matthew 13:3-8, the success rate is 1 out of 4 who are truly called of God:

Matthew 13: 3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

To make the situation even worse, Satan comes along and God allows him to fill the church with tares:

Matthew 13: 24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

The tares must make up at least 50% of the congregation to be thick enough to uproot the wheat if they are pulled out, (verse 29).

We need to realize that the tares receive their calling and opportunity for salvation while sitting in church and associating with the good seed.  They waste their calling and are gathered into bundles (some sort of confinement) to be burned (verse 30).

What can lead to a church downfall or an individual downfall?  Perhaps there are many possible causes, but the most common would probably be rejection of truth.  What happens when we reject truth?  We refuse to obey Philippians 2:5 when we reject truth:

Philippians 2: 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Wouldn’t each rejection cause God to yank a little of the Holy Spirit from someone’s mind?

Before you know it, Luke 9:62 applies:

Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Before we get into some actual examples of truth rejection by Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA), lets look at a couple of Bible principles.  Do the principles below apply to HWA just as they apply to everyone else?  They most certainly do and there’s a penalty to be paid for not following them.

Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

I know that many people who read this paper, written in October/November 1998, hold HWA as an idol, whether or not they realize it.  I most certainly did, even up until two years ago.  I thought that whatever this man did and said was straight from God.

I refused to believe the accusations made against him and the despicable hierarchical system of church government he put in place.  HWA went to his grave with it still in place—a system that stands in defiance of God’s word, a system that He HATES.

Let’s be realistic as we look at WCG’s history.  Was it a church built on the rock, or sand?

What happened when Joe Tkach, Sr. and Joe, Jr., came on the scene?  The house of WCG quickly dissolved and was swept away by the floods.

Matthew 7: 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Notice verse 24: to hear and do the sayings of Christ equals building on a rock.

In verse 25, the floods came and the house stood, for it was built on Christ’s true word.  The builder did as Christ said:

Matthew 4: 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Continuing in verses 26 and 27 of Matthew 7, the person who hears God’s word, and does it not is a foolish man who builds on sand.

Now, you tell me where HWA and the WCG fit into this instruction?  Was WCG built on a rock?  Is HWA guilty of Matthew 7:26?

Matthew 7:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

When God turned this flood (Joe Tkach, Sr. and Jr.) loose in Pasadena, after January 1986, the house came down in the flood of Satan’s attacks.

Remember, didn’t this church do great works like 7-8 million Plain Truth magazines per month, hundreds of TV and radio shows, works in many different languages, many archeological and civic accomplishments, etc?

The crash of this church started many years before its obvious fall—sometime after 1939, because HWA understood church government then unless he had plagiarized the February 1939 Good News article on church government. But by the early 50’s, the hierarchical form of government was taking shape.

Are you willing to believe the truth as it unfolds to you?  HWA taught in accordance with God’s word in the early years of his ministry and he apparently was originally ordained by God’s methods.

Are we willing to face God’s word, and what He says about truth rejection, and the penalty for it?  Have you read HWA’s article on church government, published in the February 1939 edition of the Good News of the Kingdommagazine?  If you haven’t, I would highly recommend that you do so.  The title of the article is “Did Christ Reorganize the Church?”

The following quotes from WCG literature are taken directly from a disc, “HWA Literature CD,” that is available free of charge from The Church of God at http://www.herbertwarmstrong.org/cdlist.html.  Each quote will be identified and the exact location on the disc noted in parentheses.

 

Herbert W. Armstrong’s article, “DID CHRIST Re-Organize THE CHURCH?” in the February 1939 issue of The Good News of the Kingdom details the true Bible form of organization and church government:

“A startling new truth now comes to light through God’s precious word.” (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 36)

“We must be continually ON OUR GUARD, never trusting any man, or even a board or group of men, but God alone, through His Holy Word!” (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 51)

Remember, this was 1939.  How had HWA changed his opinion by the late 1960’s, when I started attending WCG?  You had better believe what the ministry said.  If you publicly talked about what you didn’t believe or if you made an issue of it, you would be put out of the church.  If one of the brethren approached a member of the local ministry with a clear Bible statement that was contrary the beliefs of WCG headquarters in Pasadena, CA, he had better not insist, or the local ministry would kick him out.

The following quote comes under the caption, “The 12, The 70, And The 7,” (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 261):

But, did not Jesus SET THE CHURCH IN ORDER?  Did He not REORGANIZE it again, at His First Coming?  Did He not set up a definite “BIBLE FORM OF ORGANIZATION,” and establish a definite “CHURCH GOVERNMENT?”

We have always ASSUMED He did!  Yes, we have taken this carelessly for granted!  But let us prove THIS point — let us prove ALL THINGS!  Let us search the Scriptures whether this assumption be so!

First, did Christ ever set up an ORGANIZATION, with its boards of HEAD MEN, with authority to GOVERN over the “spiritual affairs,” or the “FINANCIAL AFFAIRS” of the Church?

Let us see if we can find such boards, or Scriptures giving them such authority.

True, Jesus did call out TWELVE disciples, who afterward were called “Apostles.”  But WHERE in the Scripture are they called “THE BOARD OF THE TWELVE” — a term we hear freely used today, under claim of having “the BIBLE form of organization.”

(Remember, “today” is 1939.)

WHERE do we read of one of them being appointed as the “CHAIRMAN OF THE TWELVE” or another as the SECRETARY OF THE TWELVE? Is THIS Biblical and Scriptural?  If so, where is the text?

When Jesus called them, and ordained them, did He give them AUTHORITY TO RULE?  Just what did He give them POWER and AUTHORITY to do?

Notice it, in Luke 9:1-2:

“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority” — for what?  To GOVERN?  To RULE the Church? Notice carefully!  Let us have a BIBLE REASON for all we accept and do! … “… and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.  And he SENT THEM to” — He sent them to WHAT?  To rule and govern?  To have supervision over the spiritual affairs of an organization?  Notice it, IN THE BIBLE! … “He sent them to preach the Kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.”

The word “apostle” means “one sent.”  The definition in Cruden’s Concordance is “one sent forth.  Used as referring (1) chiefly to one of the 12 disciples of Christ; or (2) to any of various other followers of Christ who did evangelistic work.”

An apostle does not mean one IN authority, but one UNDER authority — one SENT by the authority of another!  The only power and authority Jesus ever gave even His original twelve was to heal the sick, and cast out demons.  And He SENT them, not to rule, but to PREACH — not to BEAR authority, but to MINISTER, to serve!

Nowhere in the Scripture do we find the slightest hint that the twelve constituted a higher-up church board, and nowhere were they ever given power to rule, or govern, or decide what doctrines the other disciples must believe.

I must ask the question after reading the above statements of HWA: What was the fruit of the organization that he put into practice after writing this 1939 article?  This system remained in place to the day of his death.  Did they, the hierarchy system that he put in place, RULE God’s people?  Ezekiel 34:4 describes exactly how they ruled God’s people:

Ezekiel 34:4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.

With force and cruelty they ruled us.  I personally was intimidated into “pay, pray and stay out of the way and don’t make any waves.”  This method of ruling stays in effect even today, November 1998, in all the splinter groups of the WCG that I am aware of except for Fred Coulter’s group.  Fred seems to make no attempt at all to rule God’s people the way HWA and his ministers did.

The following quote comes under the caption “WERE THE ‘SEVEN’ A FINANCIAL BOARD?” (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 442):

And now a brief glimpse at “THE SEVEN.”

Were they set up as a FINANCIAL BOARD?  Were they appointed to receive and handle the TITHES of the whole world-wide Church?  Did they ever supervise the financial affairs of the ministry, hiring and firing ministers, and paying them their salaries, or “allowances?”  Were they set over THAT business?

Now, what was in place in 1967 when I was baptized into the Worldwide Church of God?  Did they receive tithes?  You bet they did!  Did this hierarchy system that HWA put into place hire and fire ministers and pay them salaries? You bet they did!  They even had three “minister mills” in place, cranking out 22 year-old “elders” (SENIORS), sent out to teach people who, in many cases, had been in the church longer than they had been alive.  What a farce! What a joke HWA’s work built on sand turned out to be!  His system was just another brand of the system he had so fiercely attacked in 1939.

The following quote continues under the caption “WERE THE ‘SEVEN’ A FINANCIAL BOARD?” (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 466):

The business for which the seven were appointed had nothing whatsoever to do with receiving and disbursing tithes for the ministry and preaching of the Word!

We should like to see any text in the New Testament showing that there ever was appointed any BOARD to act as a TREASURY for the tithes of the disciples, and to receive and disburse the money for the whole church!  We say such a thing IS UNSCRIPTURAL and unless SCRIPTURE can be produced for it, such a practice ought to be discontinued!

If there is ONE LINE of scripture for such procedure under the New Testament, the editor of The GOOD NEWS agrees to print it in the next issue — if any can supply it!  This is our challenge, and we await replies!

What type of system was well entrenched by the 1960’s?  The message was “send Pasadena your tithes and offerings and let US spend them FOR you.” That was the same message and system in place when HWA died in 1986.

The following quote comes under the caption, “JESUS’ TEACHING ON CHURCH GOVERNMENT,” (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 480):

There is not one single HINT in the New Testament of any Church BOARD with authority to rule, to govern, to decide doctrine, or to handle tithes and church finances (the whole church).  In the later number we shall devote an article to explaining Acts 15, which certainly sets no such example.

Jesus never organized, or re-organized His church!  There is NO SCRIPTURE for it!

All authority and power to rule is limited solely to each LOCAL congregation.  But there is NO BIBLE AUTHORITY for any super-government, or organization with authority over the local congregations!

Again, I ask the question: What happened when HWA put into practice, on a grand scale, the same system that he had so fiercely attacked?  Is there a penalty to be paid for such blatant rejection of God’s word?  You bet there is!  Did the local congregation in the 1960’s have local rule?  No!  A super-church government was already in force by then.  If you were a member of WCG then (and many of you reading this article were) can you imagine what would have happened if any congregation had insisted on self-rule?

The following quotes come under the caption, “THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH”:

“Finally, what is the very PURPOSE of the New Testament Church? Is it to BUILD AN ORGANIZATION?” (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 566)

“Jesus never set up an organization, nor did He establish any church GOVERNMENT.  He did not RE-ORGANIZE the Church!” (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 609)

“Our heavenly Father never planted any super-organization, or established any church GOVERNMENT, or set man IN AUTHORITY over either spiritual or financial affairs, in the New Testament Church.”  (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 660)

What did HWA plant and build?  He built a super organization.  And he did this in spite of what he believed in 1939.  I ask the question again: did HWA blatantly reject the truth, and put into place the exact same system that he had so fiercely attacked?

What happened to HWA’s church that he built on sand, with Satan’s blessing, after he had rejected plain Bible truth.  When the Tkach’s were loosed on the church, this plan of HWA’s was “rooted up,” just as he himself had ironically warned in his 1939 article under the caption, “THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH,” (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 70):

For this purpose — and that all things may be done decently and in order — the Scriptures give us instructions for ordaining local elders and deacons, in every city —

[I will explain Acts 14:23 on the following page]

every local congregation, or Church.  But there is no super-organization over and above local congregations IN THE NEW TESTAMENT!  And any such “plant” is certain to be ROOTED UP!  (emphasis mine)

All such organizations and governments came out of BABYLON — and are today a part of BABYLON!

Brethren, let us have the kind of co-operative FELLOWSHIP, based on LOVE, that was practiced by the early saints, as recorded in the Book of Acts.  Let us work together, in unselfish effort to GIVE of the Gospel truth to the world — to GIVE of the “waters of life” to as many precious souls as we can reach — to give out the last warning message with great POWER!

But let us drop all effort to BUILD UP A MOVEMENT or AN ORGANIZATION.  Let us quit working FOR organizations, and work FOR THE LORD — and the salvation of souls!

What has split and divided up the saints in the Church of God? Nothing but ORGANIZATION — which has led to politics, ministers lusting for rule and for power — striving against each other, lining up the brethren on THEIR side, against the other!  It is SUCH PREACHERS who have split up and divided our brethren!

God’s Word commands us to COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM, and be separate.  God’s last warning is “COME OUT OF BABYLON!!”

2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Continuing with the quote:

Organization and church GOVERNMENT has brought us only strife, jealousies, division, bitterness!  It is not of God, and it can bear no other fruit.

The CHURCH OF GOD needs more of the POWER OF GOD — more of HIS LOVE — of HIS HOLY SPIRIT, that the work may now begin to go forth IN MIGHTY POWER!  We ought to be ASHAMED of the pitiful, puny, weak, feeble work that has split up and divided brethren, reached but so very FEW with the message, with almost no real conversions! All this, while leaders desiring power to RULE send out misleading, exaggerated, deceiving statements designed to convince tithe-payers that “the work is progressing.”  What a mockery!  What a tragedy! What a pity!

What a 180 degree turn by HWA!  The very things attacked so fiercely and vehemently in 1939 were gradually put into practice by him and those surrounding him in the years following.  They all were being influenced by Satan, and their system was still in practice and sanctioned by HWA till the day of his death in January 1986.

Is there a price to pay for the blatant rejections of God’s truth?  Will HWA pay the price?  You bet he will!  Is God a respecter of persons?  Absolutely not:

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

The leaders of all these anti-God, hierarchy systems will pay the same price.  They put themselves between the sheep and the Shepherd, and then they lead the sheep astray.  They fleece the flock of God’s tithe money and spend it in their corporate organizations.  In reality, the parables of the talents and pounds teach us that we, as individuals, are responsible to God as to how we spend His money.  Passing God’s tithe money on to a corporate organization is totally unacceptable to Him.

There’s more to this story of rebellion against His Creator by HWA, as he himself explained in his autobiography.  What a tragedy that a man who started out so great would end in massive rebellion against God!

Autobiography of HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG, Volume I (AUTOBIO1.DTH Page 1 Line 12805):

I shall never forget that moment of my ordination.

The meeting was being held outdoors. I do not remember where — except it was in the general rural area of Jefferson. I do not remember other circumstances.

But I do remember the ordination itself. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences like being married, and being baptized. Only this seemed to me to be the most momentous event of my entire life.

All the brethren — as many as could get their hands through to my head — laid their hands on me — on my head, my shoulders, my chest and my back.

When have you or I, as former members of the WCG, ever had any input into a minister’s ordination?  The system of ordination used by WCG is in direct defiance of God’s word. Have you, as a lay member, ever been allowed to lay hands on a person being ordained?

Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

“Ordain” is Strong’s #2525: “to place down (permanently) i.e. (fig.) to designate, constitute, convoy…”

How did Paul and Barnabas ordain?

Acts 14:19 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. 20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Notice in verse 23, “ordained” is Strong’s #5500: “(to stretch), to be a hand-reacher or voter (by raising the hand)…”

When were you or I ever allowed to vote on who our minister would be?  When was the congregation allowed to lay hands on the minister being ordained?  Notice the quote above regarding HWA’s ordination.  Notice that the congregation laid hands on him.

Just because the members of the hierarchy system in place now (put in place by HWA) will not accept this verse, does it make it any less true and binding?  We are judged by what is written in the books:

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Notice the word “elders” in Acts 14:23 (above).  “Elders” is Strong’s #4245: “(elderly) older, as a noun senior…”

What a mockery HWA made of God’s word with his three minister mills: Ambassador College in Pasadena, Big Sandy in Texas and Bricket Wood in England.  These colleges ground out a steady stream of twenty-two year old “elders” (seniors) who were sent out as ministerial trainees to teach church members who, in many cases, had been in the church longer than he had been alive!

Does God overlook this blatant disobedience to His word?  You can bet the ranch that he doesn’t.

The following quote is taken from the article “Local Assemblies Are Not Social Clubs,” by HWA, published in the Good News Magazine, October 1957 (LAANSC.DTH Page 1 Line 219):

In God’s true Church, GOD has set His ministers in charge.  He has given them AUTHORITY.  He has authorized them to bind and to loose.  He has told them to RULE — to preach the WORD which, like a sharp two edged sword cuts both ways — is profitable for correction, reproof, instruction.  But this shows the people would try to SELECT THEIR OWN pastor — “heap to THEMSELVES teachers.  Not the teachers God set over them — those of THEIR choosing, who will show their kind of perverted “love” by turning them away from the TRUTH, pleasing them with what they WANT to hear!

How does this quote of 1957 square with HWA’s 1939 Good News article “Did Christ Reorganize the Church?” (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 307):

When Jesus called them, and ordained them, did He give them AUTHORITY TO RULE?  Just what did He give them POWER and AUTHORITY to do?

Notice it, in Luke 9:1-2:

“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority” — for what?  To GOVERN?  To RULE the Church? Notice carefully!  Let us have a BIBLE REASON for all we accept and do! … “… and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.  And he SENT THEM to” — He sent them to WHAT?  To

rule and govern?  To have supervision over the spiritual affairs of an organization?  Notice it, IN THE BIBLE! … “He sent them to preach the Kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.”

The word “apostle” means “one sent.”  The definition in Cruden’s Concordance is “one sent forth.  Used as referring (1) chiefly to one of the 12 disciples of Christ; or (2) to any of various other followers of Christ who did evangelistic work.”

An apostle does not mean one IN authority, but one UNDER authority — one SENT by the authority of another!  The only power and authority Jesus ever gave even His original twelve was to heal the sick, and cast out demons.  And He SENT them, not to rule, but to PREACH — not to BEAR authority, but to MINISTER, to serve!

Nowhere in the Scripture do we find the slightest hint that the twelve constituted a higher-up church board, and nowhere were they ever given power to rule, or govern, or decide what doctrines the other disciples must believe.

Is it not easy to see the total rejection of the truths HWA believed in 1939?  In less than twenty years, he had taken a 180 degree turn.

Dr. Herman L. Hoeh was a member of the Board of Elders and a lead evangelist and protégé of Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA).  Herman L. Hoeh was a great contributing force to this rejection of God’s word, but that’s no excuse for HWA.  He accepted and allowed this rejection of God’s word to take place.  Let’s look at some quotes from Dr. Hoeh’s October 1957 Good News article, “Should You Assemble Without a Minister?” (SYAWM.DTH Page 1 Line 96):

To many people, a local congregation becomes a place of SOCIAL rather than SPIRITUAL fellowship.  People join themselves together, instead of BEING JOINED TO CHRIST.  In John 15:5, Jesus said: “I am the vine, ye are the branches.”  What would you think if the branches would say to themselves, let us bundle ourselves together?  Yet that is exactly what you are doing when you meet OF YOUR OWN ACCORD WITHOUT MINISTERS!

Isn’t Dr. Hoeh saying that there can be no real spiritual (Holy Spirit) activity without a minister being present?  In other words, the average lay member cannot access God without a minister.  Isn’t this a Catholic doctrine?

Look at another quote from this same article by Dr. Hoeh (SYAWM.DTH Page 1 Line 148):

Then God intends THE PASTORS to set the right example and to instruct the flock which should assemble WITH a minister.  IF BRETHREN COULD ACCOMPLISH THIS BY ASSEMBLING WITHOUT A MINISTER, THEN JESUS WASTED HIS TIME TO TRAIN INDIVIDUALS TO BECOME PASTORS OR ELDERS.  Then He was mistaken in training the disciples to preach and to feed the flock, if the flock could feed itself!

The very fact that the ministry is FOR the edifying of the church is PROOF POSITIVE that assembling without a shepherd will NOT lead to UNITY and perfection in knowledge.  Without a pastor, disunity, contention and error will inevitably arise in a local group.  EXPERIENCE PROVES IT!

This garbage is in total defiance of Philippians 2:12!  God WILL NOT have a human being between Him and you!

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Have you have ever seen the organizational diagram of the WCG under HWA?  The three top characters were God, Christ, and HWA, in that order.  What blatant rejection of God’s word.  The order should be God, Christ, and YOU! YOU = every true Christian.  God will accept nothing except His one-on-one relationship with you, with no man in between.

In his June-July 1958 Good News article “Government in Our Church,” Dr. Hoeh states “What some have failed to grasp is not that ALL government is wrong, but that HUMAN government — of man ruling man is wrong.”  (GIOC.DTH Page 1 Line 41)

I must ask the question: Was the brutal manner of ruling the flock (by so-called ministers of God) in the 60’s and later of God or of man?  You were disfellowshipped for almost any doctrinal disagreement with headquarters.  You dared not insist on talking to others about clear Bible statements that were not in agreement, as one friend of mine in North Carolina made the mistake of doing.  He recognized the truth in James 5:14 about the word “elders” referring to “a senior” member of the church who can anoint.  He approached a mutual friend, and probably others as well, regarding this truth, but pretty soon he just vanished from the church.  IS THIS AN EXAMPLE OF GOD’S RULE?  NO, IT’S SATAN’S.

Continuing with Dr. Hoeh’s article “Government In Our Church, “Notice it!  There is to be no exercising of lordship by HUMAN will and HUMAN desire.” (GIOC.DTH Page 1 Line 84)

Really, Herman Hoeh?  Just what was the condition in the local congregation?  I clearly remember the exercising of lordship by human will and desire!  Always there was the threat of disfellowshipment for whatever reason.  When was Matthew 18:15-17 ever applied?  I, as a member, never had any input into anyone’s disfellowshipment.

Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

GIOC.DTH Page 1 Line 293:

Here, then, is the spiritual government of God in the early Church plainly stated: The Father manifested His will to Jesus, the living Head of our Church, Who in turn manifested His will to the apostles.  They in turn instructed the evangelists in carrying out the gospel.  The evangelists, together with the apostles, taught the elders who presided over the local congregations.  In each congregation was a presiding pastor, usually with other elders, who taught the members.  There was no membership politics, no voting on church offices or doctrines. The elders RULED the local church, but WERE NOT RULED BY the congregation or lay boards.

Yes, Herman L. Hoeh, the elders ruled the local churches, and Ezekiel 34:4 shows how they ruled them:

Ezekiel 34:4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.

Really, Herman Hoeh?  How do you explain Acts 14:23, the method Paul and Barnabas used for ordaining elders?

Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Remember, “ordained” is Strong’s #5500: “(to stretch), to be a hand-reacher or voter (by raising the hand)…”  Isn’t Dr. Hoeh being a little loose with God’s word?  Isn’t he stretching it a little in the above quote?  Of course, that’s how a heirarchist interprets the Bible.  But God HATES the deeds of the Nicolaitans, and we will take a close look at that shortly.

So how would Herman Hoeh and the rest of the die-hard hierarchists deal with the statement in Acts 15:22?

Acts 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:

“Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church…”  When, after the institution of the Ambassador College minister mill, did the WHOLE CHURCH have any input in spiritual matters?

What about Acts 6:1-5?

Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

I would like for Herman Hoeh and the rest of the hierarchists to especially notice verse 5: “And the saying pleased the whole multitude [church]” and they chose the deacons.  I was a member of the WCG for almost 30 years and I never had any input into who was ordained a deacon or minister.  What an anti-God system HWA had developed!

Continuing with Dr. Hoeh’s article, “Government in Our Church,” (GIOC.DTH Page 1 Line 359):

But in our Church, the Church of God, IN WHICH THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD EXISTS TODAY, Jesus has chosen Mr. Armstrong as His direct representative, as an ambassador of the Kingdom of God to the nations of this world, as a man through whom He can work in preaching and publishing the true gospel to the whole world.  Mr. Armstrong’s office carries with it divine authority, backed up by the POWER OF GOD. Jesus has sent him to speak in His name and by His authority, and has given testimony to it BY THE FRUITS WHICH ONLY GOD CAN PRODUCE.

Really, Herman Hoeh?  Where are the fruits of HWA and his hierarchical system in November, 1998?  The WCG was a church and work built on sand.  What happened when the floods came?  WCG came crashing down and now has gone back into blatant Satan worship: Sunday, Christmas, Easter, etc.  God will not bless an organization built on sand.  He will only bless those who build on the Rock of Jesus Christ.

“In the work of carrying the gospel to the nations, Mr. Armstrong has had to choose young men, as did the apostle Paul; and as God has given proof by their fruits, they have been ordained as ministers, with authority, ministering to local churches and serving in various other fields in our complex ministry of today when we must also use the radio and the printing press.”  (GIOC.DTH Page 1 Line 372)

This choosing of young men–was it because there were no true elders in the church?  Refer back to Acts 14:23, “ordained” is Strong’s #5500: “(to stretch).  To be a hand-reacher or voter (by raising the hand)…”  Or was the training of young men necessary because he could take kids and mold them into the hierarchy using his three minister mills?  They would stick purely to the party line when sent out into the local churches, whereas true elders (seniors) could read and study the Bible and the Holy Spirit might just lead them into real truth that might conflict with the party line.

“Elders” in Acts 14:23 is Strong’s #4245: “(elderly) older, a senior.”  Zodhiates’ Complete Word Study New Testament adds, “a person who is older, commonly translated elder…”

Let’s get real, Dr. Hoeh—a 22 year old ELDER, SENIOR?  Where is the fruit of wisdom that comes with age?  How can a 22 year old have any wisdom other than childhood wisdom? GARBAGE!

“In every way it is the government of God.  THOSE WHO ARE THE GREATEST IN AUTHORITY SERVE THE MOST.  It is not a rule by the will of man, but by the will of God.”  (GIOC.DTH Page 1 Line 377)

…or were those in authority served the most?  You know how it was if you were a member of the WCG—minister parking, minister tables at church functions with Y.O.U. kids serving these tables, reserved seating, choice lodging at the Feast, on and on this list could go…This may not be 100% true with all ministers, but in the majority of cases, it was true.

Let’s be honest in our hometown churches.  Did the little widow lady get the same attention as the minister’s wife?  What about the elderly gentleman?  Did he get the same attention as the ministers?  I know the elderly and handicapped went through the food line first, and that is as it should be.  But did those in the greatest authority in the local church serve the most?  I really know two deacons in the past that were real work horses and both would deserve high praise.  But the quote above is far from 100% accurate.

“All offices are appointive, by a superior office.  It is government from GOD down to each individual member in the Church.”  (GIOC.DTH Page 1 Line 385)

Offices were appointed by God—that certainly is true.  The church has the office of choosing and voting on the selection of ministers and deacons—this right was given by God, but the hierarchists would not (and still don’t) accept this.

The local church congregation is a superior office to the minister and deacons that they would ordain.  The individual church member and local congregation holds the office of being distributors and keepers of the third tithe:

Deuteronomy 14:28 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:

But with the hierarchy system it was confiscated by the ministry.  The local congregation should have self rule and should do the work in their community as God leads them.

Another paragraph of blatant rebellious garbage HWA has used to choose young men.  I ask you again, Herman Hoeh, to explain Acts 14:23.

Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

“Ordained” is Strong’s #5500: “(to stretch). To be a hand-reacher or voter (by raising the hand)…”  “Elders” is Strong’s #4245: “(elderly) older, as a noun a senior…”  So why did HWA have to choose young men?  This is in blatant rebellion to God’s written word.  Did someone hold a gun to his head and make him do it?  No!  It was done by the inspiration of Satan.  His three minister mills, Ambassador College in Pasadena, Big Sandy and Bricket Wood, were cranking out twenty-two year old, wet-behind-the-ears, SENIORS.  What a SICK JOKE!

Let’s look at this term “Nicolaitan.”  It is in the message to the Ephesus Church.  God states in both messages in no uncertain terms that He hates the deeds and doctrines of the Nicolaitans.

Revelation 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Revelation 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

The Bible is written to the end-time Christians (you and me):

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Since the Bible is written for the end-time Christians, this is very important to each of us.  We are also warned in the message to the Philadelphian Church.  We are warned about the synagogue of Satan:

Revelation 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

Notice in this verse that you have people playing church, claiming to be Jews (Christians) and we are told what they will have to do before they are fried in the lake of fire.

Since the Bible is written for us (1 Corinthians 10:11), could there be a connection between the Nicolaitans and the synagogue of Satan?  You bet there is!

“Nicolaitans” is Strong’s #3531: “3531 is from 3532, a Nicolaite, i.e. adherent of Nicolas.”  Strong’s #3532 comes from Strong’s #3534 and 2992: “victorious over the people…”  Strong’s # 3534 comes from #3529: “a conquest (concr.) i.e. (by impl.) triumph, victory.”  Strong’s #3529 means “conquest, i.e. (fig.) the means of success…”

Unger’s Bible Handbook, page 845, adds, “The church is again commended for detesting ‘the deeds of the Nicolaitanes,’ a symbolic name apparently of a party attempting to introduce a false freedom into the church.  They abused grace, which led to licentiousness, 6 (cf. V. 2; 2 Pet 2:15-16, 19; Jude 4, 11).  Some take this symbolism, however, as indicating the origin of clericalism (nikao, ‘conquer,’ and laos, ‘people’), making them a group that early favored a clerical system which later developed into the papal hierarchy.  To the individual overcomer is promised a reward in the eternal state (cf. Gen 2:9; rev 22:2, 14).

It is very clear that the lay people are conquered by the ministry.  Is this not what happened in WCG?  If you were a member of this system, and were not a part of the hierarchy, you were conquered just like I was.  We called the ministers “Mister” which is just another term for “master.”  The excuse was to respect the office, not the man.  Sixty-year-old men were calling twenty-two-year-old kids “Mister.”  How absurd!!!  Do you call your natural brother “Mister”?

We, as lay members, had absolutely no input into who was ordained. We had no input into the selection process at all.  In reality, we lay members should have been allowed to vote on who was ordained, the way Paul and Barnabas selected elders:

Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Remember, “ordained” is Strong’s #5500: “(to stretch). To be a hand-reacher or voter (by raising the hand)…”

God makes it known in no uncertain terms that He HATES these deeds and doctrines that conquer the lay members and leads them into Satan worship by forcing them to look to a man instead of directly to the true God.

Revelation 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Revelation 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

HWA was doing exactly what he had so fiercely attacked in the February 1939 Good News article.  Look again at this quote from his article “Did Christ Reorganize the Church?”  (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 492):

JESUS’ TEACHING ON CHURCH GOVERNMENT

There is not one single HINT in the New Testament of any Church BOARD with authority to rule, to govern, to decide doctrine, or to handle tithes and church finances (the whole church).  In the later number we shall devote an article to explaining Acts 15, which certainly sets no such example.

Jesus never organized, or re-organized His church!  There is NO SCRIPTURE for it!

All authority and power to rule is limited solely to each LOCAL congregation.  But there is NO BIBLE AUTHORITY for any super-government, or organization with authority over the local congregations!

HWA let Satan take him away and inspired him to place God’s people under a system that God and Christ HATE.

Jesus Christ will not allow you or me to have a man between us and Him.  When this end-time Elijah comes on the scene, all he will do is wake us up through the spiritual truths that God puts in his mind and mouth.  He will pass these truths on to us but HE WILL NOT RULE OVER US.  He will tell us that Philippians 2:12 applies to us all:

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Let’s continue to look at the term “Nicolaitans.”  In FW Grant’s booklet Nicolaitanism or, the Rise and Growth of Clerisy, Grant states on page 5:

It means, then, ‘Conquering the people.’  The last part of the word (‘Laos’) is the word used in Greek for ‘the people,’ and it is the word from which the commonly used term ‘Laity’ is derived.  The Nicolaitanes were just those ‘subjecting—putting down the laity’—the mass of Christian people, in order unduly to lord it over them.

What makes this clearer is, that,—side by side with the Nicolaitanes in the epistle to Pergamos,—we have those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, a name whose similarity in meaning has been observed by many. ‘Balaam’ is a Hebrew word, as the other is a Greek; but its meaning is, ‘Destroyer of the people…”

I have no clue as to who FW Grant is, but this just goes to show us that this hierarchy system of clergy over laity is of Satan and it is very commonly known among any and all who would have an open mind to believe God’s word.

We, as end-time Christians, are judged by what is written in the books:

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

To put it into street language for those of us who have come through the WGC system, “we’ve been had,” that is, taken advantage of.  We’ve been had by Satan and his ministry—he certainly has ministers, and we’ll look more at this shortly.

Since the Bible is written for us (1 Corinthians 10:11), we must be aware of Amos 8:11, 12 and Jeremiah 23:20:

Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

Jeremiah 23:20 The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.

This famine of the word takes its toll.  There is no way to escape it until the cry at midnight comes to us because there are NO shepherds:

Ezekiel 34:4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered….Ezekiel 34:8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;

Are the sheep scattered today because there is no shepherd?  That’s what God says.  Review Amos 8:11 and 12 above—does verse 12 apply today, November 1998?

Can we reason away Ezekiel 34:8?  Has the flock become meat for Satan?  You bet it has!  Satan is having a field day.  God seems to indicate in the last part of verse 8 that there are some shepherds that he will eventually claim, but they aren’t getting the job done.  Can we argue with Ezekiel 34:5 and 8?  If you do, how do you explain Amos 8:11 and 12?  Do Matthew 25:5 and 6 not apply to you or your hierarchist group leader?

Matthew 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they ALL slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Notice Ezekiel 34:3:

Ezekiel 34:3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.

Notice the statement “ye clothe you with the wool.”  You know how it is in the hierarchists’ system—fleece the flock!  The shepherds clothe themselves using God’s tithes and offerings.

Notice “ye kill them that are fed.”  Try out some pure Bible truth on the hierarchists, as I have, and see how long you last.

Can anyone argue that with verse Ezekiel 34:6?

Ezekiel 34:6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.

Does anyone want to defend these shepherds of Ezekiel 34:4?  If you have been through the WCG system, you have been ruled with force and with cruelty.  Wasn’t every deacon and every elder ordination FORCED on you?  Is it not CRUEL to the sheep to forbid (steal) their God-given right to vote on their leaders as Paul and Barnabas did in Acts 14:23?

Is it not cruel to put someone out of the church for believing and discussing a plain, clear Bible statement that is contrary to what the church headquarters teaches?  If you’ve been around a long time, you can probably recall many instances of force and cruelty perpetuated by the WCG hierarchy system.

One final verse in Ezekiel 34:

Ezekiel 34:10 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.

God claims that He will deliver the sheep from these false shepherds.  Does that spell doom for all the splinter groups of the WCG?  God will take the good seed out of these groups as the cry at midnight gets under way.  If you are a leader of one of these groups, don’t be caught fighting God.

Daniel 12:7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

God promises to “scatter the power of the holy people.”  This word “scatter” is Strong’s 5310: “to dash to pieces, to scatter, be beaten in sunder, break (in pieces), broken, dash in pieces…”

What a tragedy!  What an end to what HWA began!  It is obvious, by reading his 1939 Good News article, that he understood proper church government and defended it fiercely unless he plagiarized.  So how is it that Satan was able to take him away into such depths of deception?

By reading some of Herman Hoeh’s articles, I can plainly see that he contributed to the deception.  I am not as familiar with Rod Meredith’s early writings, but from what I have read, I see that he was certainly contributing to the deception as well.  However, the amount of their influence is neither here nor there if God called HWA and placed him in a position of leadership.  He was personally responsible to God, regardless of how many people Satan surrounded him with.

Does Satan have ministers?  You bet he does!

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Would you like to argue this point?  OK, how do you explain verse 15?  Who are “transformed as the ministers of righteousness?”  They are those who pretend to be righteous.  We, as end-time Christians, know that we must be righteous.  We must keep God’s commandments and His laws regarding the Sabbath, Holy Days, tithing, the Ten Commandments, precepts, etc.  We were taught to obey these things to some degree, but all Satan has to do is deceive us on any given point:

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

The fact is that Satan deceived everyone in the Worldwide Church of God, minister and lay member alike.  And it all stems back to HWA rejecting truth and being deceived, which came on down to the ministry lay members, hence the famine of the word took hold:

Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

The Worldwide Church of God was built on sand and collapsed after Joe Tkach Sr. and Jr. moved in.  This should tell us that Christ was not supporting this church, that it was not built on The Rock.

If WCG was the Philadelphian Church of God, and if its ministers were of God, then why did it collapse?  We need to think about this.  The fact is that we were taught by these hierarchist ministers who appeared to be righteous, but who were in reality a fulfillment of 2 Corinthians 11:15.

2 Corinthians 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Furthermore, why are we warned about the synagogue of Satan in the Revelation 3:9 message to the Philadelphian Church?  Is this some kind of sick joke by Christ or is it for real?  He says that the true Philadelphian Church will be infiltrated by people who are only playing church.  They claim to be Jews (Christians) and are not.  Weren’t we just told in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 that Satan has ministers who appear to be righteous?

By recognizing, in hindsight, how this scenario has unfolded since 1939 until 1998, it is easy to see why we are in a famine of the word:

Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

…and why the cry at midnight is needed:

Matthew 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Because we have all been put to sleep by these NO shepherds of Ezekiel 34:

Ezekiel 34:5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered…..Ezekiel 34:8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;

By studying the entire chapter of Ezekiel 34, you will see that it is referring to end-time events leading into the millennium.

So what do we do about all this?  God gives us clear instruction as to what we should do.  Remember that the events recorded in the Bible are for our admonition, upon whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:11). We are then warned in verse 12 about those who are playing church.  In 2 Corinthians 6, God tells us exactly what we should do:

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living 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 people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

If we refuse to believe God’s word we will be toast, destroyed in the lake of fire.  We are told to come out and be separate and not to be yoked with unbelievers.  We are told that the righteous and the unrighteous cannot have proper fellowship—that Christ and Satan have no agreement.

Can God’s temple (us) be in association with idols and idol worship?  Doesn’t this clearly tie in with Revelation 3:9?  The true Philadelphians are warned about a church of Satan.  In 2 Corinthians 6:17 we are clearly commanded to come out and be separate and “touch not the unclean thing.”  Isn’t the “unclean thing” the church of Satan described in verses 14-16?

This word “touch” is Strong’s #680: “to attach oneself to, i.e. to touch…”

Clearly, the end-time Christians must disassociate themselves from the church of Satan.  1 Corinthians 10:11 makes this information apply to you and me.  How can we side-step it?

Continuing in 2 Corinthians 17 and 18, if we follow God’s instructions he will accept us and we can be His children.  If we refuse, we are all familiar with the penalty for disobedience.  We are instructed in Revelation 18:4 to come out of the system of Babylon and not to be included in her punishment:

Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

Doesn’t this apply to us individually in the end-time?  Don’t forget 1 Corinthians 10:11.  We have been swallowed up by this Babylonian System of Nicolaitan Clergy over laity.  Doesn’t God expect us to come out and be separate? Otherwise, we will receive of her (Babylon’s) plagues.

We must come out of the system put in place by HWA after he began rejecting the truth that he had expressed in his 1939 Good News article.  Will a penalty be paid by anyone who rejects truth?  If God’s word is true, there is most certainly a penalty.

2 Thessalonians 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Let’s examine these verses.  Who is “them that perish” who loved not the truth “that they might be saved?”  Isn’t the Bible written primarily to the end-time Christians (1 Corinthians 10:11) and secondly to Israel and the world?

Half of the virgins are foolish when the cry at midnight goes out, but the situation is even worse before the cry at midnight.  Read the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-8 and Christ’s explanation in verses 18-23.  Only one out of the four potential good seed sown produces any fruit to salvation.  The third category in verse 23, the seed sown among thorns, produces fruit for a while and then becomes unfruitful.  So three out of four blow their chance at salvation.

In at least thirteen different places in the New Testament, we are told that the many will be lost and the few saved.  (See my article “The Many and the Few”)  Verses such as, “MANY are called, FEW are chosen,” and “fear not LITTLE flock, it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  Matthew 7:22-23 is another example:

Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:10, who are “them” and “they?”  Isn’t this verse speaking of us, the end-time Christian brethren?

2 Thessalonians 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Notice verse 11.  God sends these people strong delusion to believe a lie.  Why?  Because they love not the truth!  Isn’t it very cleat that HWA didn’t keep loving the truth that he had so fiercely defended in his 1939 Good Newsarticle?  He later put into practice the very system that he had so vehemently attacked: (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 492):

JESUS’ TEACHING ON CHURCH GOVERNMENT

There is not one single HINT in the New Testament of any Church BOARD with authority to rule, to govern, to decide doctrine, or to handle tithes and church finances (the whole church).  In the later number we shall devote an article to explaining Acts 15, which certainly sets no such example.

Jesus never organized, or re-organized His church!  There is NO SCRIPTURE for it!

All authority and power to rule is limited solely to each LOCAL congregation.  But there is NO BIBLE AUTHORITY for any super-government, or organization with authority over the local congregations!

If this mighty God who counts all nations as nothing (Isaiah 40:17) says that He will send delusion and make someone believe a lie, we can bet it’s a done deal.

Isaiah 40:17 All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

God is no respecter of persons:

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

In 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, “them” and “they” are the end-time Christians.  Verse 12 plainly says that anyone who believes not the truth will be damned.  Verse 10 says that we also have to LOVE the truth.

Did I, Edgar Bennett, say this or this mighty God who inhabits eternity?  He has the power to back up and enforce any decree He makes.

What are the fruits of HWA?  Isn’t it clear that he didn’t love and believe the truth?  He understood in 1939.  What does the Bible say?

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

HWA refused to keep and obey the truths he clearly understood in 1939 regarding church leadership, the use of tithes, etc.  In his 1939 article “Did Christ Re-organize the Church?” HWA states, “Jesus said, ‘Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be ROOTED UP!’  Our heavenly Father never planted any super-organization, or established any church GOVERNMENT, or set man IN AUTHORITY over either spiritual or financial affairs, in the New Testament Church.” (3902.DTH Page 1 Line 660)

There’s more to this end-time scenario of gross rejection and disobedience to God’s word by these so-called “Christians.”  God is all-powerful and can back up His word.  God says in Isaiah 66:1-5 that He will ignore us if we do not have the right attitude and if we don’t tremble (fear) before His mighty word:

Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. 3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. 4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. 5 Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that 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.

In verse 1, notice the word “house.”  This word is Strong’s #1004: “a house in the greatest variety of applications, especially family…”  God says, “Where is the family that you build for ME?”  We have to suppose that He is speaking to the NO shepherds of Ezekiel 34:5 and 8.  We will see that there are two types of worship going on in Isaiah 66:1-5 and that these verses are marked end-time.

Verse 3 shows us what God thinks of their efforts at worshipping Him.  Because their acts of worship were being carried out in the wrong attitude, He considers the killing of an ox as a sacrifice equal to murdering a man.  Sacrificing a lamb equals cutting off a dog’s neck, and an offering equal to swine’s blood.  He considers the burning of incense, another act of worship, as blessing an idol.  These people are choosing their own ways.  Did HWA choose his own ways, contrary to the Bible?  Read again the quotes from his 1939 article.

In verse 4 of Isaiah 66, God claims again that he will choose their delusions and bring their fears upon them.  When He called these people (three out of four good seed and tares), through the preaching of the Holy Spirit, personal Bible study, fellowship, etc., they would not listen.  When God sees a potential good seed going bad, He will try to salvage them through whatever method He chooses.  But in this example, they would not listen.  1 Corinthians 10:11 still applies and there is no way to ignore its dominating influence on us.

Isaiah 66:3 and 5 show us that there are two kinds of worship going on and that this is an end-time event.  The true worshippers hear and fear, trembling at the word of God.  Their “brethren” hate them and kick them out of the church.  Notice that they are “brethren,” sitting together in the same congregation.  We had better take heed that this is the synagogue of Satan mentioned in Revelation 3:9.  God warns the Philadelphians about this synagogue of Satan, the Nicolaitans who do the casting out are mentioned in Revelation 2:6 and 15.

Revelation 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

Revelation 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Revelation 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

Notice the time setting in Isaiah 66:5:

Isaiah 66:5 Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that 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.

This is just prior to Christ’s return.  Isaiah 66:1-5 certainly describes what is going on in the church today, late 1998, and in previous years: playing church; a false worship of God; brethren and ministers refusing to listen when God calls them through the pages of the Bible; a definite attitude of not trembling and fearing before the word of God.

These are the ministers of Satan mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:14 and 15:

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

These are the hierarchist, dictator ministers of the Worldwide Church of God.  They now, in late 1998, continue on in the splinter groups of the WCG.  Will these ministers repent when God sends them the cry at midnight?  The last part of Ezekiel 34:8 indicates that some (few) will repent, but the many will not.  They will reject the truths that God will send, through the end-time Elijah, to wake us up.  Hosea faced the same situation:

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

Who are “my people?”  They are the end-time Christians of 1 Corinthians 10:11.

How do you expect the cry at midnight to occur?  God will simply present a series of truths to wake us up and if will stay awake, He will give us more.  If we insist on going back to sleep, as 50% if the virgins will do, then we will lose salvation.  Luke 16:27-31 clearly tells us that this Elijah character won’t be doing any miracles to convince (persuade) us to be saved.

Luke 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Notice this quote from HWA’s article “Must God’s Ministers Be Ordained BY THE HAND OF MAN?” published in the January 1960 Good News Magazine.  (MGMBOBHM.DTH Page 1 Line 506):

Ordained, and Under Authority

Finally, brethren, though I have mentioned it in the Autobiography, many may not realize the significance of the fact that I personally was fully ORDAINED by the laying on of hands after fasting and prayer of those in authority in GOD’S CHURCH. It was in the summer of 1931.  I had held a short evangelistic campaign for the Oregon Conference, Church of God (Stanberry, Mo.), six months before, after three and a half years of receiving instruction in the Gospel from Christ, thru His written Word.  In the summer of 1931 those in authority in this Church of God asked to enter the full time ministry, starting with a tent campaign in Eugene,Oregon.  And for this ministry I was ORDAINED, by fasting and prayer and lying on of hands of the presbytery — those in authority in God’s Church.  This Church is now clearly identified, in the light of carefully documented historical research, as the “Sardis” era of the Church described prophetically by Jesus in Revelation 3:1-6.

HWA claimed to head up the Philadelphian Church.  He has been dead for twelve years—the tribulation has not started and we are not in the place of safety.  His work, his church built on sand, has collapsed and been washed away by the flood of Satan’s attacks.

Now, really, was this man a man of God?  Was the church we were in Philadelphian or Sardis?  What were the fruits?  If HWA was a man of God, please prove it to me in writing from the Bible.  What a joke!  He even labeled another church as Sardis—the pot calling the kettle black.

What is the conclusion of the matter?  Are we willing to face the facts of what is now history?

What happened to the Worldwide Church of God?  Did it not fold and crumble?  It now has no resemblance to God’s true church.  The splinter groups and the living room churches do resemble God’s true church to some degree.

Is there a conclusion to draw other than that the WCG was built on sand, not on the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ?  When the storms hit (in the form of the Tkach’s, the leaders left in charge at HWA’s death), down came the church with a thud.  If this church had been built on the Solid Rock, it would have stood while the Tkach’s came down.

Can we honestly, before God, come to any other conclusion than that HWA started out correctly, obeying God’s word?  By reading his early writings, such as the February 1939 Good News article, I personally have to assume that he understood what he had written and did not plagiarize his work. His early understanding is completely contradictory to the unbiblical organization that he put in place in the 1950’s and continued until the day of his death.

God is not a respecter of persons:

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

Will HWA be held accountable for his actions?  You bet he will!

Can we argue with the point that the WCG had a name of being alive, just as the Sardis church is described in Revelation 3:1?

Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

We members of WCG did great works, or so we thought.  I dutifully sent my tithes and generous offerings.  I continued this practice in two of the splinter groups that I attended, until I began to understand the whole truth surrounding this hierarchical system of church government.  I came to see that this practice was in gross defiance of God’s written word.

Now, I can easily believe the statement in Revelation that only a few people from the whole Sardis Church era would obtain salvation:

Revelation 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

This is truly frightening to me, a member who was baptized in 1967.  “Few” is Strong’s #3641: “puny (in extent, degree, number, duration or value)…  Webster’s II New Collegiate Dictionary defines “puny” as inferior in strength, size or importance.”

Is this not frightening to you—that a whole church era only produces a few to salvation?  In the many, many years that I was a member of the WCG, I believed that HWA had a direct line to the Father and Jesus Christ.  I believed that whatever he did or said was sanctioned by God.  What a fool I was for swallowing this line from Satan!

I came to find that HWA had succumbed to Satan’s practices of deception and had put in place a hierarchical system of government that is in total defiance of God’s word and which God hates:

Revelation 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Revelation 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

The end-time Christians are given clear instructions in 2 Corinthians as to what to do when we wake up in this situation:

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living 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 people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

If we, the end-time Christians to whom the Bible is written (2 Corinthians 10:11) refuse to come out and be separate, we cannot be God’s children (2 Corinthians 6:18).

We are also warned in Revelation 3:9 that there is a group of people playing church in the midst of the true Philadelphians.  These impostors are known and labeled by God as the synagogue of Satan:

Revelation 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

We all want to be Philadelphians, so is this not a message to us?  Can we assign this “synagogue of Satan” to the Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans or other Protestant religions?  No!  These people in Revelation 3:9 are claiming to be Jews (real Christians), so they must be keeping the Holy Days, tithing, obeying the Ten Commandments, or at least appearing to.  God is not fooled—He knows their hearts.

The decision is mine—the decision is yours.  Will we come out and be separate?

Published December, 1998

© Edgar Y. Bennett
PO Box 509
Black Hawk, CO 80422 USA
edgar@solidrockspeople.org
www.solidrockspeople.org