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.
Saturday, January 2, 2021
This is the third post in a series about Elijah.