Letters to the Church
Was Herbert W. Armstrong the only person commissioned to proclaim the gospel around the world as a prophetic calling by Jesus Christ?
I thought I would send out an email to clarify what I said in the sermon on the Sabbath about Mr. Armstrong and Matthew 24:14, specifically his use of the the word “end” as the end of the age and the return of Christ.
I received a question from one of our brethren and I felt it better and beneficial, to send the answer to all who heard the sermon, and those who might hear it in the future so that we are all on the same page.
The question as follows:
“Does your explanation of "telos" in Mat 24:14 mean that Mr. Armstrong was wrong about this often stated view? "His disciples had asked what would be the sign by which we might know when we were at the end of this world (age), just before Christ's return to earth. First He warned them against being deceived. Many would come, He said, in His name, claiming to be the ministers of Christ saying that He – Jesus – was the Christ and at the same time deceiving the many. But when "...this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations." This proclaiming of the KINGDOM OF GOD could not be the sign that we are at the end of the age, if it had been proclaimed all along! (Incredible Human Potential chapter 13)”
Let me begin by explaining what Mr. Armstrong was meaning when he wrote... “This proclaiming of the KINGDOM OF GOD could not be the sign that we are at the end of the age, if it had been proclaimed all along!” If we read chapter 13 of Incredible Human Potential, from the sub-heading “The Written Record,” you will understand why he made that statement. The gospel of the kingdom had been suppressed from after A.D. 70. Paul was shocked, that the churches in Galatia were “removed” from the true gospel Gal. 1:6-7 and also 2 Cor. 11:3-4; 13-14 and various other scriptures mentioned by Paul. The only time the gospel began to be preached world wide, was when it went out on radio Luxembourg in 1953. So IF the gospel had been proclaimed from A.D. 70 to the time of writing of Incredible Human Potential (1978), then it could not be a sign of the end of the age as Mr. Armstrong stated. But he went on to say at the end of that chapter... “So all signs show we are in the very last generation of this present evil world.” He did – and still is – proclaiming the kingdom of God in all the world, but the end of the “age has not yet come.
Let me now begin with Mr. Armstrong's understanding of the job, God called him to:
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, the late Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God and the apostle of Jesus Christ, addressed a Congress of Leading Ministers in March, 1981 (reported in the World Wide News (WWN) of March 6, 1981) in that address, Mr. Armstrong said... “My son [Garner Ted] said on local television just over this weekend that I'm a dictator and that a dictator never appoints anyone to succeed him. I once appointed my son Garner Ted to succeed me. I didn't know any better. Today I wouldn't. What I've told you today is something, as I said, I would not have said a few years ago. But I look back and I look at the fruits and I see what prophecy says and I see that prophecy has been fulfilled. I wonder if you brethren see it? And brethren, I have to say to you, no one is going to succeed me. God has called me to a job, to a commission” Think about it, one of the reasons he often said “you just don't get it” is because he “wonder if you brethren see it?”
A Divided and Dis-united Church
Today in this twenty first century, we have hundreds of offshoots of the Worldwide Church of God spread around the world. Many of these are led by men – here in the United States – who “sat at the apostles feet” and heard those words. Yet, they chose to ignore what he said, and disagreed with his belief that his work was a “prophesied job” and they are NOW in the business of succeeding him in their efforts to do that “prophesied work”.
Mr. Armstrong in that 1981 WWN went on to say to these men... “I think that when God lets me die, the thing He's called me for will have been completed, preparing the way for the Second Coming of Christ carrying that Gospel of the Kingdom to the world for a witness to all nations”. The present leaders and those men who were ministers when Mr. Armstrong said those words, and THEY KNEW he meant Matt 24:14 would be fulfilled, in other words, the job he was given, would be DONE! The door which Christ opened (Rev 3:8) for the Gospel as a world wide work, to be done by Mr. Armstrong was CLOSED!
Now, let us continue with what Mr. Armstrong said to these “ministers”... “But I think God has called me someone in the power and the spirit of Elijah. remember there is no prophecy that God will have an Elisha following Elijah. There is no one in the Church that has the qualifications, the experience that could carry on the work that God has given me to do”.
And as we can see that men such as Roderick Meredith, Richard Aims (LCG), David C. Pack (RCG), the leaders and ministers of UCG and COGWA, John Ritenbaugh (COTG), Don Billingsley (CGFF), and many, many others who now claim to lead churches of God all did not believe Herbert W, Armstrong. Raymond Cole, the late founder of The Church of God The Eternal, rejected Mr. Armstrong. He was disfellowshipped for rebellion in the Worldwide Church of God, contrary to what their present leaders may say, Mr. Armstrong wrote... “God forbids and condemns going off separately, one being of one of Apollos, one of Cephas, one of Garner Ted, one of Raymond Cole, one of Ernest Martin, one of Ken Westby. WHERE have all those who went out gone? What fruits have they borne? How much of this whole world has heard the TRUE GOSPEL MESSAGE through them?” (September 25, 1978).
To the credit of Mr. Gerald Flurry (PCG) and his assistant John Amos, they stood up against the apostates in late 1989 and were fired by Tkach Jr. and Feazell. However, this does not excuse the PCG from abusing Christ's flock, separating families or from removing a paragraph in Mystery of the Ages (page 245) to promote Mr. Flurry's claim to the office of prophet.
Mr. Armstrong did not know, neither could he have known what would happen to the Worldwide Church of God after his death. But one thing he did require was... “If anything happened to me I would expect the Church to continue right on and the local churches and the local church ministry. But the job God has called me to do is a prophesied job. It has been being done.”
The church was to continue to prepare the Bride of Christ, Jesus Christ's Church. When Mr. Armstrong quoted Matt 24:14 he would quote it in the context of the end of the church age or as verse 3 stated, the end of the world (age–aion Greek). We have seen Mr. Armstrong believed his work was a prophesied job and it was not given to a successor to continue with, rather when he died that job would die with him.
Answer to the Question
To answer the question: Mr. Armstrong was certainly right in what he said about that verse 14, being the end of an age, however that age was not the same age as mentioned in verse 3. So what age is the question? As I said in the sermon, the complete understanding was not for the messenger to Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13), which Mr. Armstrong knew he was. He thought the Worldwide Church of God ministry supported him as Christ's apostle and would faithfully continue to feed the flock and prepare the church for Christ's return.
Mr. Armstrong did understand that he was called to do a prophesied work (Rev 3:8), he knew he had an open door to fulfill Matt 24:14 and to proclaim the gospel around the world.
Because no one would succeed him as an apostle to do the same work, there would be "NO passing of the baton,” or a man who would follow him, to do that same work. Because, as he said, “no one was qualified!” Meaning, they were neither called to do that prophesied work by God, nor did any one else have the office of “one sent” – as an Apostle. Of course today two men claim that office to themselves and will have to answer to Christ.
Mr. Armstrong was the messenger to Philadelphia, not Laodicea. Therefore it was not needful for him to understand this age we are in. This lack of understanding does not take away from the incredible and phenomenal work Christ did through him, nor the fact that Mr. Armstrong came in the “power” and the “spirit” of Elijah. Regardless of what David Pack of his Restored Church has to say!
Matthew 24: 3, 6, 13 and 14...
Now in Matt 24 verses 3, 6, 13, 14 and 31 there are three Greek words used for the word “end”. Each has a different meaning and need to be used in the context they are given in.
Let us look at each of these words in the context they are given.
Verses 3: “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
There are three questions in this verse. Jesus had just spoken about the destruction of the temple. And they wanted to know: 1. when the destruction of the temple would be. 2. a sign of His coming and 3. a sign of the end of the world. We are dealing with the word “end” and that Greek word used is “synteleia” (Strong's number G4930) and it means entire completion, that is, consummation (of a dispensation) or end. The root word is syntele (Strong's 4931) and means to end together or at the same time. Also, to bring to an end, finish, complete. The disciples were asking about the completion of the age, the age of man and the return of Christ, who would usher in the Kingdom of God under his rule.
Verses 6,13 and 14 the word is “telos” and this word means - the point aimed at as a limit, that is, (by implication) the conclusion of an act or state (termination).
Mat 24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. This word end is telos and as we can see in this verse 6, what Christ is saying about “wars and rumours of wars” becomes clear because they are still continuing to this very day, they have not been terminated yet as the word telos explains, nor have they reached the point aimed at. That point aimed at is Christ's return, to stop man's inhumanity toward his fellow man.
Matt 24:12-13 “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” This scripture addresses the Church of God today. Christ then says, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Again, in this verse Jesus uses the word telos–the conclusion of an act–to explain, that those who endure the lawlessness, which will prevail in the Church of God until it is terminated by Christ's return, will be saved.
Matt 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Christ, in this verse, is telling the reader that when the gospel as a world wide work is concluded, the preaching of it as world wide work, will be terminated. In other words, the conclusion of an act, or state of preaching the gospel would end.
Mr Armstrong said... “I think that when God lets me die, the thing He's called me for will have been completed, preparing the way for the Second Coming of Christ carrying that Gospel of the Kingdom to the world for a witness to all nation” That is Matthew 24:14.
Matt 24:31 "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
The Greek word end in this verse is “akron” and means the extremity – one end, other, tip, top, uttermost part. This verse is self explanatory.
Jesus Christ, the head of His Church, raised up one man in the twentieth century to fulfill the prophecy in Matthew 24:14, and then to walk through the door set before him as foretold in Rev 3: The Church of God has disfellowshipped Herbert W. Armstrong. Why? Well these leaders of the churches of God were tainted by the false leaders led by Joseph Tkach Snr. who, with his minions, changed the doctrines and traditions of the Church. Those that were restored to God's Church, when it was under the tenure of Mr. Armstrong. These present leaders of Churches of God, by denying that the work of Mr. Herbert Armstrong, was a prophetic and a revelatory work, have locked Jesus Christ out of their congregations (Rev 3:20). They deny Christ was working through him in such a powerful way.
What should the ministry be doing?
The apostle Peter said to the ministry... “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock”(1Peter 5:1-3). Nothing is said in these verses about going out to proclaim the gospel as a world wide work! That was the responsibility laid on an Apostle – a real Christ appointed Apostle, sent to fulfill that job as well as... “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world Amen” (Matt 28:19-20).
Paul told Titus what elders were ordained for, notice... “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” (Titus 1:5). For what purpose were these men ordained? Verse 9, "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers". No preaching of the gospel world wide here either, nor is it implied. Only Apostles were commissioned to preach the gospel.
Ephesians 4:11 "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” Notice the reason... “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”. In the work of the ministry there were different responsibilities placed on those in the ministry. The Apostles' work was to preach the gospel as a witness the other ministers were to edify and help perfect the saints, the Body of Christ. Paul continues in verse 13... “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.
Paul told the elders from Ephesus the following... “And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Act 20:25-30). This is what IS taking place today.
One more thing...
Mr. Armstrong said the following in Co-Worker letters...
“I need another three to five years to FINISH this Great Work which God started through me in January, 1934 - more than 40 years ago. I am getting to these nations as fast as I can. This particular job God has now opened to me is one which I, alone (with the team assisting me, of course), can do.
So I want to ask you to continue to PRAY, very specially and fervently for me personally, that God will grant me these additional years of vigorous, youthful life, that, as a parallel to His servant Zerubbabel of some 2,400 years ago, since my hands began this Work, my hands may FINISH IT!” (August 29, 1974) “Zerubbabel built the second temple to which Jesus came the first time.
John the Baptist prepared the way before the FIRST coming. But WHO was to build the SPIRITUAL temple to which Christ shall soon come the second time? Who was to prepare the way before His Second Coming? Remember, God does things in DUAL stages. As Zerubbabel built the first temple of MATERIAL stone, wood and other materials, he was a forerunner, or type, of one through whom Christ would raise up, or build the SPIRITUAL TEMPLE - His Church of our time, prior to the Day of the Lord and Christ's Second Coming.
JUST AS John the Baptist prepared the way, in the PHYSICAL wilderness of the Jordan River for the first coming of the HUMAN Jesus (both man and God). Then coming to His MATERIAL temple, and to His PHYSICAL people Judah, ANNOUNCING the Kingdom of God to be set up more than 1,900 years later, SO God would use a human messenger in the SPIRITUAL wilderness of 20th-century religious confusion, to be a voice CRYING OUT the Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD, about the SPIRITUAL CHRIST, coming in SUPREME POWER AND GLORY to His SPIRITUAL TEMPLE, to actually ESTABLISH that spiritual KINGDOM OF GOD.
Brethren, HAS THAT BEEN DONE BY THIS CHURCH?
Did God raise up a one-man LEADERSHIP to be used by Him in building this spiritual TEMPLE and in proclaiming after 1,900 years the true GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD in ALL THE WORLD--to even go to kings and heads of nations (Rev. 10:11) in bringing the Church back to the FAITH ONCE DELIVERED (Jude 3)? HAS THIS HAPPENED, IN YOUR DAYS, AND HAS GOD BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT AS A PART OF IT? HAS ANYONE ELSE DONE IT?” …. “Further, "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house (the first temple); his hands shall also FINISH IT!" So far as I know, GOD HAS NOT RAISED UP ANYONE ELSE (March 19, 1981).
And brethren, no one else was raised up to do it. God has used a marvelous vehicle to fulfill the statement “his hands shall also FINISH IT” and that is the internet, the work Christ gave to Mr. Herbert W Armstrong and the unadulterated TRUTH, is still going into all nations around this world.