Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mr. Armstrong's Role Part 2 - Mr. Armstrong Learned the Truth from the Bible

This post is a continuation of the last post in this series. This series of posts is a refutation of some points made in an article, "Just What is an APOSTLE?", published by Church of God in Wales (COGIW). In the first post is a link to their website.

This COGIW article will try to show that Mr. Armstrong was an apostle. I have no problem with calling Mr. Armstrong an apostle. I personally think he was an apostle, though I cannot prove it with certainty. But in saying that Mr. Armstrong was an apostle, the COGIW article then furthermore says that we should not change or question his teachings. That is wrong.

The COGIW article consists of an introduction and twelve chapters.

In the summary at the end of the first chapter, the COGIW article says that God's truth is only available via revelation specifically given to an apostle through the power of the Holy Spirit. As I pointed out in my first post, this is not true. For example, the original twelve apostles received much of the truth of God directly from the mouth of Jesus Christ.

But if this is true, if God only reveals His truth today by direct revelation to an apostle, then Mr. Armstrong could not be that apostle.

Mr. Armstrong did not receive the truth of God by direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. He did not receive the truth of God by dreams, visions, voices, face-to-face communication with Christ or an angel, or by direct revelation of the Holy Spirit apart from the Bible. He received the truth of God the same way we can prove it is the truth of God - by the Bible.

Read Mr. Armstrong's autobiography. He received the truth of God by the Bible. Of course the Holy Spirit helped him to understand the Bible and the truth of God. But it came from the Bible. The same Holy Spirit helps those who are called to understand the Bible when they check up on Mr. Armstrong's teaching in the Bible.

In other words, the method by which we receive the truth of God is the same as with Mr. Armstrong, and it has nothing to do with being an apostle. We read the Bible. If God is calling us, he opens our minds by the power of His Spirit to understand the Bible, and that helps us escape Satan's deceptions. If we are not being called, God does not open our minds, and He allows Satan to continue to deceive us.

That process works in us the same whether one of us is an apostle or not. We learn the truth from the Bible.

Is there a difference between us and Mr. Armstrong in this? Yes. But the difference is in degree, not kind. Mr. Armstrong was to be the leader to help others find the truth in the Bible. So that he could be the leader, God gave him much more help to learn the truth from the Bible. Then Mr. Armstrong showed us how to find that truth in the Bible and said to us, don't believe me, believe your Bible. In saying this, he was preaching what he himself practiced. He never believed any man over the Bible.

Then God's Holy Spirit has to work in us the same way it worked in Mr. Armstrong so that when we check up on the scriptures as Mr. Armstrong showed us, we could also understand the scriptures correctly. Otherwise, we could not accept the truth from the Bible.

Now, some people may have disobeyed Mr. Armstrong's instruction to not believe him but to believe their Bible. They may have believed Mr. Armstrong without checking in the Bible. If so, it seems their faith is in man, not God. How much value does that have even if they believe true doctrines? In my opinion, not much, but God is the judge.

But those who followed Mr. Armstrong's instruction to not believe him but to believe the Bible and who have checked the Bible and believed what they saw, have put their faith in God, not man, and have received the same help of the Holy Spirit to understand the scriptures as Mr. Armstrong, but in lesser degree and at a slower pace.

But the COGIW statement does not stress the role of Bible study in how Mr. Armstrong, or those who learned with his help, learned the truth.

If you read Mr. Armstrong's autobiography, you will see how he learned the truth from the Bible one point of doctrine at a time. It was not easy and it did not happen overnight. Mr. Armstrong had to work at it. But God helped him because he was willing to believe God. He was willing to believe the Bible.

Even so, the truth came slowly, and Mr. Armstrong made mistakes along the way. For example, he used to teach that Pentecost was on a Monday. Later, he corrected that mistake and taught it was on a Sunday.

God allowed Mr. Armstrong to make mistakes, even in doctrine. And while Mr. Armstrong corrected many mistakes, he did not correct all of them. For example, he never corrected his statement that we need to follow the next pastor general (Mr. Tkach) if we want to be in the Kingdom of God. He never qualified that statement with, "as he follows Christ" or "as he follows the Bible" (which is the same thing).

Nevertheless, even though God allowed Mr. Armstrong to make mistakes, God was able to use him to do a powerful work because he believed what God said in the Bible.

But Mr. Armstrong never received the truth of God by special direct revelation from God apart from the Bible. If such revelation coming through an apostle is the only way God gives His truth to us, then Mr. Armstrong was never an apostle. But COGIW is wrong - that is not the only way God reveals His truth to us. In fact, as far as I can see, that is not a way at all that God revealed His truth to us in our time. He revealed His truth through the Bible, which was written by both prophets and apostles, and whose writings in the Bible are the direct word of God and thus infallibly sure and correct.

One might say, "God revealed these things through apostles in the Bible, and they received these things by revelation".

That is true, but I do not think that is what the COGIW article is talking about. I think the article is implying that Mr. Armstrong received this truth by revelation apart from the Bible.

So here is the path by which the truth of God is transmitted to us and the Church of God in our time:

God revealed His truth to the prophets and apostles through direct revelation by various means including the direct spoken word. God made sure the writings of the prophets and apostles that were canonized as part of the Bible were free from error, since the Bible was to be God speaking to us directly.

Those teachings come to us by the Bible, and the Bible is therefore the direct word of God, infallibly correct and free from error.

Mr. Armstrong, with the help (not direct revelation apart from the Bible) of the Holy Spirit, understood the Bible, but that understanding came over time, not all at once. He then helped Church of God members find that same understanding and truth in the Bible, and God helped us in the Church to understand the Bible the same way He helped Mr. Armstrong understand the Bible, by the Holy Spirit, but not by direct revelation apart from the Bible.

So the chain is:
God ---> apostles and prophets ---> Bible ---> Mr. Armstrong and the Church of God today.

At every step of the way, God helped the process by His Holy Spirit. So God gave the truth to the apostles and prophets who wrote the Bible. God made sure the Bible was free from error. God helped Mr. Armstrong understand the Bible. And God helps us also to understand the Bible when we study the scriptures that Mr. Armstrong has shown us.

This is how the truth of God has come to us. Not by direct revelation to Mr. Armstrong through the Holy Spirit apart from the Bible, and then from Mr. Armstrong to us. But from the Bible to both Mr. Armstrong and us with Mr. Armstrong, as a teacher, helping us to find the answers in the Bible.

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