Christ tells Philadelphia to hold fast to what they have. "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown" (Revelation 3:11). There is something Philadelphians have that they are to hold fast to. But what?
What is it that Philadelphians are to hold fast to?
Some say a list of doctrines. But Mr. Armstrong was a Philadelphian before those doctrines were finished. What did he hold fast to? Mr. Armstrong had the open door promised to Philadelphia long before he had all of his 18 restored truths that people claim we are to hold fast to. How could he hold fast to doctrines that he was still in the process of learning? How could he hold fast to some doctrines he himself did not yet have? Yet, it is to him and other Philadelphians that Christ says, "See, I have set before you an open door" (Revelation 3:8) and also, "Hold fast what you have" (Revelation 3:11). Both statements are in the same message. But when did that message apply to Mr. Armstrong?
Mr. Armstrong was given an open door in 1934. So this message applied to him as of that time. So as of 1934, Christ says to Mr. Armstrong, "Hold fast what you have".
But what did Mr. Armstrong have in 1934 that he was to hold fast to?
It could not be a list of restored doctrines. He had a few restored doctrines at that time, such as the identity of the lost tribes of Israel and the truth that the Church of God was to keep the holy days. But other truths, such as God reproducing Himself in mankind, he did not have at that time. He was yet to restore much truth years after he was given an open door for preaching the gospel in 1934. He was years in the process of restoring truth long after he was first given the open door and while that door remained open.
Yet in the same message in which Christ said He had given an open door to Mr. Armstrong, He told Mr. Armstrong to hold fast to what he had. I repeat the question - what was Mr. Armstrong to hold fast to in 1934?
Not only were doctrines to be restored incomplete in 1934, if Mr. Armstrong thought this passage meant he was to hold fast to the doctrines he had - not changing anything in other words - it could have inhibited him from learning new knowledge and restoring the doctrines that remained to be restored.
What was Christ telling Mr. Armstrong to hold fast to when Christ spoke to Mr. Armstrong through the Bible in 1934, 1938, 1940, 1945? Did Christ speak to Mr. Armstrong through the verses of Revelation 3:7-13 from 1934 to 1945 and shortly later? Yes, if Mr. Armstrong was a Philadelphian during those years. Was he?
Yes, because he had the open door promised to Philadelphia.
So during those early years of the Philadelphia era of God's Church, Christ, through the Bible, told Mr. Armstrong to hold fast to what he had. "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown" (Revelation 3:11).
In other words, the command to hold fast does not seem to come later than the promised open door. They are part of the same message, so I would expect they would apply at the same time. It is probably because of something Mr. Armstrong had, which he was told to hold fast to, that Christ gave him an open door.
So Mr. Armstrong had something, something Christ valued, and because of it Christ gave Mr. Armstrong an open door. Christ then, in the message to Philadelphia, tells Mr. Armstrong that He has given him the open door and tells him to hold fast to what he had.
And the same thing applied to those coming into the Church during the Philadelphian years - true Philadelphians - who came into the Church in the latter 1930s, the 1940s, the 1950s, etc., who, together with Mr. Armstrong as part of the Philadelphia era of the Church, had an open door for preaching the gospel. They came into the Church and had an open door during the years when the restored truths were in the process of being restored. So it could not have been a list of doctrines they were to hold fast to because those doctrines were not yet complete.
What Mr. Armstrong, as a Philadelphian with an open door, had that he was to hold fast to, and his Philadelphian supporters with him, was the same thing that Philadelphians have today that they are to hold fast to.
What was that?
It could not have been a list of restored doctrines or even the whole body of doctrine that he taught, which was not complete before the 1950s. It was something they had from the time the Philadelphian work started with an open door from 1934 on.
What Mr. Armstrong had, what he held fast to, what Philadelphians have today that they are to hold fast to, is a WAY OF LIFE.
Not a list of doctrines. A way of life.
A way of life that caused those doctrines to be discovered.
What is more important to God, a list of true doctrines or a way of life that produced those true doctrines?
The doctrines are the good fruits of that way of life, but it is the way of life that produced those good fruits that we are to hold fast to if we want to be Philadelphian and have an open door for preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel.
For evidence, you can look at those COGs today that try to hold fast only to a list of doctrines and see if they have a wide-open door for preaching the gospel to the world as Mr. Armstrong had. They do not. Holding fast to a list of doctrines does not make anyone a Philadelphian. It won't give us an open door.
Do not Laodiceans have the same doctrines? For the most part, not in every case, but generally they have the same overall body of doctrine from Mr. Armstrong that Philadelphians have. They have more truth today than Mr. Armstrong had in 1934. So that cannot be the thing that Philadelphians have, that makes them unique, that they are commanded to hold fast to.
It is a way of life that makes a Philadelphian. It is a way of life that produces true doctrines. The true doctrines, true doctrinal knowledge, and true doctrinal learning are the fruits or the evidence of a Philadelphian way of life, but it is not that way of life itself. There are plenty of COG members today, and ministers, that hold fast to Mr. Armstrong's doctrines but not his way of life. They are not Philadelphian. They do not have the open door Mr. Armstrong had.
Those who hold fast to a detailed list of doctrines, thinking that makes them Philadelphian, but rejecting the Philadelphian way of life, are like the Pharisees who practiced a list of do's and dont's, thinking that made them righteous in God's sight, but rejecting the way of life of loving God and loving their neighbors that God taught.
What is that way of life that Mr. Armstrong practiced? It is a way of life that many who would like to claim the title of Philadelphian do not practice. They do not hold fast to that way of life.
They have abandoned it.
They have not abandoned the doctrines that have come from that way of life. But they have not held fast to the way of life that produced those doctrines. They have abandoned the way of life that Mr. Armstrong practiced.
They use Mr. Armstrong's name, but they do not practice the way of life that Mr. Armstrong practiced, the way of life that made him a Philadelphian, the way of life he had that he held fast to in obedience to the command of Christ to Philadelphians. They are like traditional so-called Christians who call Christ "Lord" and use His name but do not do what He said or live as He lived.
What is that way of life?
Just what I have been saying in my past posts in this blog. The way of life is the way of practicing what we preach to the public. It is the way of striving to obey God's commandments, of learning new knowledge from the Bible, and of believing God and what we see in the Bible for ourselves more than any man, minister, leadership, Church fellowship, or Church tradition. It is the way of putting God first.
This is what Mr. Armstrong did.
There is irony here. For the very mental act of committing to believing, unconditionally, any list of doctrines Mr. Armstrong taught or any other COG leader has taught, makes one NOT a Philadelphian and disqualifies him or her from the promised open door.
Our commitment must be to God's word, the Bible, not to a list of doctrines and not to any COG leader or ministry or tradition.
Mr. Armstrong himself changed his own doctrines when he saw in the Bible that he was wrong.
I, personally, do not know of any major doctrine Mr. Armstrong taught that is wrong according to the Bible or according to history, facts, and true logic. Small details, maybe. But major doctrines, no. I do not question or doubt any of the doctrines identified in any list of eighteen restored doctrines of Mr. Armstrong. I see evidence for myself, in the Bible, that these doctrines are true.
But what if sometime in the future I notice something in the Bible that contradicts one of those major doctrines, something I never noticed or understood before?
My commitment is to God's word. I would believe the Bible even if I had to give up my belief in one of the eighteen major restored points of doctrine that Mr. Armstrong gave us. This is what Mr. Armstrong himself would do. That is the way of life he practiced.
I do not expect that to happen. I think Mr. Armstrong's major doctrines are correct. I don't think I will have to make that choice. But I am willing to give up any point of doctrine to believe what God says to us directly in His word, the Bible.
And I am willing to learn new things from God I never knew before in addition to the truths Mr. Armstrong restored personally.
That is what Philadelphians are to hold fast to if they are to have an open door.
Friday, January 15, 2021
Christ tells Philadelphia to hold fast to what they have. "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown" (Revelation 3:11). There is something Philadelphians have that they are to hold fast to. But what?
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
If God shows you something in His word, the Bible, and opens your mind to understand it, He is speaking to you. And if the thing he shows you contradicts what you have believed before, you may have a problem. You have to make a choice - believe your traditions and maybe your ministry and fellowship, or believe God. Maybe it will be easy. But not always. It might be hard, especially for a minister, to admit he has been wrong in what he has believed and taught and to begin to teach some new truth God has shown him, if he is the leader, or to at least refrain from now on from teaching error if he is employed by a Church of God fellowship and forbidden to openly teach the full truth.
It thus becomes a test from God. Will you believe what God says, or will you reject the Word of God in favor of your existing beliefs?
It can be a very serious thing to reject the word of God. There are warnings about that, from the Bible and from Church history.
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children" (Hosea 4:6).
To king Saul of Israel, Samuel said, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king" (1 Samuel 15:23).
"The wise men are ashamed, They are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; So what wisdom do they have?" (Jeremiah 8:9).
We criticize the people of the world for rejecting the word of God, yet at the same time some of us do the same. What must God think of that?
If we knowingly teach to the brethren what God shows us in His word is false, we are lying to God's people. We are lying to God's Holy Spirit which dwells in the minds of the brethren. The seriousness of that is shown in Acts 5:1-11. Ananias lied to Peter, and Peter had God's Holy Spirit. By lying to Peter, he lied to the Holy Spirit that was in Peter, and by lying to the Holy Spirit he lied to God. God struck him dead for it, and his wife who participated in his lie.
And if we lie to others, we open ourselves to deception.
God says, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7).
If we sow deception, God may allow us to reap deception. If we lie to others, God may allow us to be deceived by others. That is a dangerous thing considering the worldwide deception that is coming.
Consider the life of Jacob. Jacob lied to his father to obtain a blessing, and if you look at his life after that, God allowed him to be the victim of the lies of others. Laban lied to Jacob, and later Jacob's sons lied to him about Joseph. Jacob suffered needlessly thinking that Joseph was dead. He sowed a lie, and he reaped being deceived.
There is an example in Church history, in the life of Mr. Armstrong as related in his autobiography, of how God dealt with someone who rejected His word.
There was a man who had the gift of healing. He was a Sunday keeper, but God answered his prayers for the healing of others. Mr. Armstrong learned about God's promises of healing from this man. But Mr. Armstrong shared with the man the knowledge from God's word that the seventh day Sabbath, not Sunday, is the day God wants us to rest on and observe.
The man had a decision to make. He chose to reject God's word.
God took from him the gift of healing. He no longer answered his prayers.
We must not reject God's word lest God reject us.
Monday, January 11, 2021
In the last two posts I talked about the way that God primarily communicates with us today regarding doctrine. In Bible times, God communicated with His people primarily through miracle-working servants - prophets and apostles. Today, He primarily communicates with us through the Bible, which today is complete, widely available, and able to be proved to be the word of God through the miracle of fulfilled prophecy. I talked about how and why this change was made.
I have one more thing to add.
God laid the foundation for using the Bible as His primary means of communication with us in the Bible itself - in the writings of the prophets and apostles.
God has emphasized several times that the Bible is His word and is infallibly true.
The Bible claims God as its author. "Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure' " (Isaiah 46:9-10).
God declares His word is true and sure.
"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him" (Proverbs 30:5).
" 'For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,' Says the Lord. 'But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word' " (Isaiah 66:2).
When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He answered every temptation with a quotation from scripture (Matthew 4:1-10, Luke 4:1-12).
Many events took place in the New Testament for the very purpose of fulfilling Bible prophecy. Here is a list from the book of Matthew alone: Matthew 1:22-23, 2:14-15, 17-18, 23, 4:13-16, 8:16-17, 12:16-21, 13:34-35, 21:4-5, 27:9-10, 27:35.
In at least one case, Jesus Christ took actions for the very purpose of fulfilling prophecy - Jesus was concerned that prophecy be fulfilled and made choices to make sure that prophecy was fulfilled (Matthew 26:51-54).
Paul affirmed that scripture is inspired by God and is the word of God. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Peter likewise affirms this, "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation [or origin], for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Paul reasoned with his listeners using the scriptures. "Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, 'This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ' " (Acts 17:2-3).
"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).
Perhaps the strongest affirmation of the truth of the Bible is this: "Jesus answered them, 'Is it not written in your law, "I said, 'You are gods' "? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken)... ' " (John 10:34-35).
With that background, showing that Bible scripture is true and is the word of God, God gives this example of how some in the New Testament used Bible scripture to determine the truth, not just the words of the apostles. "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men" (Acts 17:11-12).
We are also told, "Test all things; hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Not everyone had access to the books of the Bible in the first century, and the Bible was not complete. Nevertheless, God gives us these statements and examples to lay a foundation for our time when most of God's communication to us is through the Bible, not miracle-working prophets and apostles.
Sunday, January 10, 2021
Why Does God Communicate With Us Primarily Through the Bible Today Instead of Through Miracle-Working Apostles?
In my last post I explained that God today communicates with His people differently than in the first century. In Bible times, God communicated primarily through miracle-working prophets and apostles. Today He communicates with us primarily through the Bible. God has changed the pattern of how He communicates His truth to us, and He used Herbert W. Armstrong as a tool to change that pattern and make the new pattern known to us.
He still uses miracles to confirm the truth of His message - to show that it is from Him. But in Bible times he used human servants - prophets and apostles - to work public miracles and to deliver God's truth to the people in person. Today, He uses the miracle of fulfilled prophecy in the Bible, which was not available in Bible times for three reasons: the Bible was not complete, the Bible was not widely available to everyone, and the prophecies in the Bible had not yet been fulfilled.
Why has God changed the pattern to use the Bible instead of individual servants to communicate with us?
There is a very practical reason why God has changed the pattern.
Personal messages from miracle-working servants would not serve God's purposes right now as well as the Bible does.
There will come a time when the two witnesses perform public miracles. And there may come a time when God provides prophets to the Church to give us particular messages, such as going to a place of safety and other matters. But right now, it appears God does not use miracle-working servants to communicate with the Church or the world. He uses the Bible.
There is a reason why God primarily uses the Bible, not human servants, to communicate truth to us.
Suppose, in this day of a world population of seven billion or more and a population of the United States - just one tribe of Israel - of about 330 million people, God sent human servants working miracles. How many people could they reach? Not many. Even using the Internet and modern communications, people would simply not believe it. The Satan-dominated news media would not report it. And if you published in a blog or website that your aunt was miraculously healed of cancer by a minister in the Church of God, who outside the Church would believe you?
In Bible times, Paul and the other apostles worked with small numbers of people who were eye witnesses or who could personally talk with eye witnesses of the miracles the apostles performed. The population of the earth was much smaller, and God was not trying to reach everyone anyway. Why? He had no reason to reach more people than were being called, and He only calls a few. Those people could be reached personally by the apostles.
But today, God has a reason to reach everyone in the tribes of Israel with the gospel and warning message, regardless of whether or not He is calling them. Why? Because we are living in a time when the tribulation is almost upon us. Everyone needs a warning so they know God is fair to warn them and give them time to repent before punishing them.
Just using the United States as an example, you can't reach 330 million people with a message from miracle-working prophets and apostles. You can't reach that many people personally. You can only deliver the message via mass media, but the people won't believe - nor should they. Would you believe a website from a man that says he can perform miracles?
You need a different way to verify and prove the message is true.
So God has caused the Bible to be freely available and widespread. All Americans, for example, can acquire a Bible and look up answers. And God can prove the fulfillment of prophecy by history that is also freely available. So all that remains for a preaching ministry to do is point people to the Bible and to the proof that the Bible is inspired. You need some kind of mass media to do this, but people don't have to believe you - they don't have to take your word for it - that there are any miracles to prove the message. People can prove it for themselves from their own Bible and from historical facts that are freely available.
That is why God has changed the way He communicates today. He needs to reach multiple millions with a warning message that has credibility, and He can't do that with one or a few miracle-working servants. So He uses the Bible.
And our job is to point people to answers and proofs in the Bible. Then they can check up for themselves and find the proof and know the message is from God, if they are willing. And if they are not willing, they will at least remember that God was fair to warn them, but they didn't heed or take the trouble to check it out. They can know that God was fair, and they can repent during the tribulation and be ready for conversion in the millennium.
Thursday, January 7, 2021
One who thinks that we should believe ministers more than the Bible and not learn directly from the Bible ourselves may want to emphasize the examples in the Bible that show how God's truth and knowledge are passed to us from individual people, who received it from other people and from God. One might say that this is still the pattern for today, and thus we should believe what was passed to us by Mr. Armstrong and not what we see for ourselves, our "own understanding" of scripture as they put it, in the Bible. But that is wrong.
The pattern has been broken. God has changed it. How?
In Bible times, those who taught the Church, the prophets and the apostles, performed public miracles. In the case of the New Testament Church of God, all teachings came from miracle-working apostles. Anyone could know that the apostles were from God because of the evidence of the miracles.
God gave supernatural evidence to back up the message of His servants.
Even Nicodemus knew Christ was a teacher from God because of His miracles (John 3:1-2).
That pattern has been broken. Even the healings from Mr. Armstrong were not the kind of public miracles that enabled anyone to know that his message was from God.
God has changed the pattern. He has given us a different pattern of how to know the truth to replace the pattern of miracle-working servants teaching us God's message directly from God. He used Mr. Armstrong to do it.
God still gives supernatural evidence to back up His message, but of a different kind.
Mr. Armstrong taught that new pattern. It is simple. Today, unlike the early days of the first century Church of God, we have the Bible complete. It was not complete most of the time in the first century Church of God. The New Testament was in the process of being written.
Also, today, the Bible is widespread and readily available to anyone who wants to read and study it. In Bible times, not only was the Bible incomplete, but it was rare and expensive. Some individuals had access to a few books of the Bible, each of which would be a scroll, but very few people had all the books that were even written at that time.
And finally, we have the proof of fulfilled prophecy to prove that the Bible is inspired by God and is God's word. That was not true in the first century because those prophecies were not yet fulfilled. But now, any objective person can prove that the Bible is God speaking. In effect, fulfilled prophecy is the miracle that proves that the teaching of the Bible is from God just as miracles of the apostles were the proof their teaching was from God. Fulfilled prophecy in the Bible is the supernatural evidence God gives people today so they can know the message is from God.
For that reason, there has been a change in the way God communicates with us. He no longer does it directly through human servants whom He backs up with miracle-working power. Instead, He gives us proof that He speaks through the Bible, and He makes the Bible easily available to everyone.
So comparisons of how Mr. Armstrong taught us with how the first century apostles taught the Church are not valid for showing that God works the same way today. They worked public miracles to prove their message, Mr. Armstrong did not.
Instead, Mr. Armstrong pointed us to the Bible, saying, don't believe me, believe your Bible, believe God.
That is a change and a difference.
That is the new pattern.
And for that reason, we should believe what we see for ourselves in the Bible more than we believe Mr. Armstrong's teaching or any man's teaching in the Church of God. The ministry has the job of helping us see the truth in the Bible. That is their role. They can help in various ways. They can point out scriptures on a subject we may have overlooked, for example. But they must show us so we can see the answer ourselves in the Bible. That is God's way, today.
Even Mr. Armstrong followed the new pattern. He did not learn God's truth passed from another person to him. He learned it direct from God in the Bible. Others may have helped him find the truth in the Bible, Loma Armstrong for example, as ministers should help us find answers in the Bible today. But he didn't believe any new truth until he saw it for himself with his own understanding in the Bible.
The Bible interprets the Bible. Clear passages help to explain difficult passages. We should never let the Church and the ministry "interpret" the Bible for us. Our faith must be in God and His word direct. Faith in man, even Church of God ministers, even Mr. Armstrong, is a form of idolatry.
Members who are Philadelphian in character and spiritual condition should always believe what they see in the Bible for themselves more than their ministry, and should always be willing to learn new knowledge from the Bible, if they want a wide-open door for preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel. And we need that wide-open door if we do not want the blood of the people to be on our heads (Ezekiel 3:16-21) and if we want to glorify God's name and reputation for fairness and help more of Israel be saved.
And Philadelphians should never move their tithes and offerings and support from a group with an open door to a group that has no open door.
Here is a list of other posts in this blog on the subject of God communicating with us through the Bible today as contrasted with communicating through miracle-working apostles and prophets in Bible times:
Friday, August 14, 2015:
Why Does God Communicate to Us through the Bible Today, More than through Miracle-working Apostles and Prophets as He Did in the First Century and Before?
Wednesday, January 10, 2018:
Principle of Knowing God's Revelation - How Can One Know the Truth? / How to Preach the Gospel More Effectively
Saturday, January 2, 2021
This is the third post in a series about Elijah.
This will be a short post. This will also be more personal.
Repetition is a form of emphasis. And some people, I think, still don't "get it".
There is a controversy in the Churches of God about whether the Church can rightly change or add to the doctrines of Herbert W. Armstrong. Some, such as I, say yes, and some say no based on the belief that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah to come and restore all things, and since he has restored all things there is nothing left to change or add.
This controversy is with many fellowships, not just one or two. It has been going on for a long time.
As with any controversy over doctrine - and this is a major doctrinal question - we should settle it by the Bible.
Some in the Church, even some ministers, have grown up in the Church. They never had the experience of having to reject their family traditions to follow God's word. They never really experienced looking to the Bible for answers in the same way as someone who had to give up their religious traditions and in some cases even give up their families in order to obey the Bible. Following a list of Church of God doctrines was easy for them. They were not really tested before they were baptized the same way as those who did not grow up in the Church. They had it easy in that way, so far.
Maybe some of them are being tested now.
If we want to know what God thinks about this controversy concerning Mr. Armstrong's role as the Elijah to come and restore all things, we need to look at what God says about Elijah himself - the first Elijah.
You say that Mr. Armstrong was the Elijah to come. Fine. I have no quarrel with that. You say it was his work, from God, to restore all things, meaning doctrine. Fine. I have no problem with that.
But the question is, does his work, which he started (or God started through him if you want to word it that way), continue after he is gone, or did it stop when he was removed by death from the Church?
Does his work continue today? If it does, then we are to continue his work of restoring all things, even today.
What does God say in His word?
God says that the work of Elijah continued after Elijah was removed from the scene. It was continued by those who were supervised and no doubt trained by Elijah and followed him.
You can read the details in my last two posts. The work God gave Elijah included anointing Jehu king over Israel. This was done by others, probably trained and definitely led and supervised by Elijah, but only after Elijah was gone. This shows that the work of Elijah that he starts continues after he is gone. This is a principle from God, which applies to Mr. Armstrong, the Elijah of our time, as well as to the first Elijah. I am convinced it is for the purpose of teaching this principle, so we can know that we should continue Mr. Armstrong's work of restoring doctrine, that God put this example in the Bible and gave us the details we need.
Did Elijah's work of anointing Jehu continue after he was gone?
Does Mr. Armstrong's Elijah work of restoring doctrine continue today after he is gone?
If someone can't see this, is he really following the God of the Bible?
I have doubts.
Is he following where Christ leads?
I don't think so. Christ leads through the Bible. If a man rejects what God says in the Bible, he is rejecting the leadership of Jesus Christ.
Maybe he doesn't understand these particular passages. Maybe he is blinded to their meaning. Maybe he needs more time for God to work with him and open his mind.
If a man grew up in the Church, learned his religious values and doctrines from his parents as most people in this world learn their religious traditions, has never had to choose between the Bible and those traditions, has had it "easy" in that sense, and is now not willing to admit error and change his view to believe God's word because he is afraid or unwilling to admit he was wrong and change - this may be a time when he has to exercise courage and faith to obey God.
It can take courage to hike one hundred miles on a difficult trail, to stand up for what you believe and be fired and have to go out on your own, and even to refrain from wearing a face mask to stick with your convictions.
But it can also take spiritual courage to admit to yourself and to God that you have been wrong in what you have believed and taught and to change and be corrected by the Bible. That is the kind of courage Mr. Armstrong had.
If a man is only willing to follow the traditions his parents raised him in, but is not willing to change to follow the Bible, is he really converted?
A man may be a workaholic and be filled with energy to build an organization. He may be a great speaker and have the kind of personal charisma and people skills that win supporters and followers. He may be faithful to the religious traditions he was raised in and taught by his parents.
Many unconverted people in the world today (and in history) have exactly those qualities. Some are fired by their employer for standing up for what they believe. Some face physical challenges and dangers in the outdoors. Some scorn face masks. Some are workaholics and are filled with energy. Some are good speakers and have pleasing personalities, the kind that win the support and loyalty of their followers. Some faithfully follow their family traditions.
A man may be willing to practice a minority religion. Does that make him converted?
No. Look at the Jehovah's Witnesses. Look at the Jews.
He may keep the seventh day Sabbath. Does that make him converted? No. Look at the Seventh Day Adventists. They do not keep the holy days. But neither did the Church of God Seventh Day or much of the true Church of God in the last several centuries before Mr. Armstrong.
Why would a man who rejects God's word, including what God teaches us about Elijah's work continuing after he is gone, imagine that he is converted and has God's Holy Spirit dwelling in him?
The answer is easy. Millions of Catholics and Protestants do the same thing. Such a man might not know this, having been raised in the Church of God. He might not know how those Catholics and Protestants who are zealous and religious and fervent think they have God's Spirit within them, how they fervently pray and trust in God all day.
If a man or woman in the Church of God is not willing to make difficult changes when confronted with and corrected by God's word, the Bible, what evidence is there that he or she is converted at all? Such a person needs to ask himself or herself this question, especially as we approach self-examination time for Passover. This would be a good question for many Church of God members to meditate on in preparing for Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
You think you have God's Spirit leading you? You sense it somehow? You say you feel God's presence in your mind and life? You say you see the evidence of God's answers to your prayers? So do many Catholics. So do many Protestants. You follow the traditions of your parents? So do Catholics and Protestants. You are willing to be part of a minority religion, out of step with people of the world around you? So are Jehovah's Witnesses. So are Jews. So are people of many religions who are minorities in certain regions of this world, surrounded by people of different faith, often persecuted.
But are you willing to change what you believe to be corrected by God's word? When have you ever faced that test? Loma Armstrong faced it. Herbert W. Armstrong faced it. Thousands of Mr. Armstrong's radio listeners in the 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's faced it. Dr. Roderick Meredith faced it. But you grew up in the Church. When have you ever faced that test?
Maybe you're facing it now.
If you are facing it, pass the test. Have the faith and humility and courage to believe God, admit to yourself and to God that you have been wrong in your beliefs, and change.
If you trust God, believe what He says. Believe what He says about Elijah. He won't lie to you. Put Him first.